Who is the "Queen of Heaven?"By Rabbi Jack Abramowitz
G-d told Jeremiah to position himself in front of the main entrance to the Temple. Jeremiah was to proclaim to those who came to the Temple that they should heed G-d’s word. If they would improve themselves, G-d would allow them to continue to inhabit the land and have the Temple. The people were encouraged to ignore the false prophets who say that G-d would never allow His Temple to be destroyed. They must improve themselves by being proactive in mitzvos like judging righteously and aiding the weak and needy. Bloodshed and idolatry must stop. If they do this, G-d will let them live in the land forever.
Listening to the false prophets does no good. Do you think people can steal, kill, commit adultery and worship idols, then just go to the Temple and everything will be overlooked? Not so! Don’t expect to treat the House of G-d like a cave where wild people gather. (I assume they gather to party, or perhaps to plot their evil. Jeremiah doesn’t specify.)
If you think Jerusalem is impenetrable because of the Temple, remember Shiloh, where the Mishkan (Tabernacle) stood. G-d allowed it to be destroyed because of the people’s sins. And now, since the people didn’t learn their lesson from the destruction that took place there, G-d will allow Jerusalem and the Temple to be destroyed as well. G-d will allow the people to be exiled as He did with the Ten Tribes of the Northern Kingdom.
G-d tells Jeremiah not to pray for the people, because He won’t listen. How can Jeremiah even think to pray for the people; doesn’t he see what they’re doing? They’re preparing offerings for false “gods!” (One of them is referred to as “The Queen of Heaven.” This is probably a star or the planet Venus, which was identified with the Assyrian goddess Ishtar.) Do these idolatrous people think they’re making trouble for G-d? Really, they’re making trouble for themselves because, ultimately, they will come to regret their actions!
G-d says that His anger will come upon people, animals, trees and crops – it will burn and not be extinguished. G-d tells the people that they might as well take their burnt offerings (which are given up completely to G-d) and turn them into peace offerings (which are eaten by their owners). Since G-d won’t accept their sacrifices anyway, they might as well enjoy the meat! People weren’t commanded to give sacrifices, they were commanded to obey G-d. The former without the latter is meaningless. Since the people refused to listen to G-d, they were moving backwards, not forwards.
Ever since they left Egypt, G-d continuously sent the people prophets with His message, but they didn’t listen and they became increasingly more obstinate. It’s reached the point that G-d tells Jeremiah up front that the people simply won’t listen to him. Jeremiah is to tell the people that they are the nation that wouldn’t listen to G-d or allow themselves to be corrected. They don’t have truth in their mouths, and certainly not in their hearts! Tear out your hair in grief because G-d has rejected this generation! The people of Judah have polluted the Temple with idolatry and they built altars to pass their children through fire – this is the service of the idol Molech; G-d hates the practice!
Days are coming, G-d says, when the Valley of Tofes will be called “The Valley of Slaughter” because of all the people who will be killed there; they will also be buried there because they will run out of grave space in the usual places. The carcasses of the fallen will be food for the animals and birds, with no one to scare the scavengers away. The sound of rejoicing will cease to be heard in Judah and Jerusalem – neither bride nor groom – because the land will be desolate.