Reading through the Bible together
The people of Judah lived dividedly in four cities in Upper Egypt. Jeremiah received a message from God regarding the people of Judah in Egypt. He made it clear through Jeremiah why He allowed the city of Jerusalem to be destroyed. The reason was because of their idol worship and serving other gods. Even after the destruction of Jerusalem they had not repented, and had not returned to God. In Egypt they would not live unharmed as they thought they would. The message of God delivered to the people of Judah in Egypt was a message of the punishment against them.
Even if the message of God may look as if it is only a negative message, we must understand any message of punishment is conditional. For example, the message of God to the people in Nineveh was negative (Jonah 3:4). However, when the people repented, the city was not destroyed (Jonah 3:10). Also the message given to Ezekiel was negative (Ezekiel 3:18), nevertheless if the wicked would repent, their life could be prolonged (Ezekiel 3:21).
The people of Judah in Egypt answered Jeremiah and said, “We will continually serve the Queen of Heaven since our ancestors and our kings did so. When we served the Queen of Heaven we were happy and did not lack anything, but when we stopped offering incense and wine to her, we started to lack food and the city was destroyed by sword.” Jeremiah answered them and said, “What you and your ancestors and your kings and your princes and your people had done were wrong. God could not bear it anymore and the land of Judah became desolate by destruction. It is because you committed sin against God and did not obey Him.”
The wives of the people of Judah also said to Jeremiah, “We will offer incense to the Queen of Heaven, and offer wine and complete our vow to her.” So Jeremiah said to them, “The people of Judah will be destroyed by sword and famine. But a few in number will return out of the land of Egypt to the land of Judah.”
The name “Queen of Heaven” is another name of the Assyrian goddess of the planet Venus. In the Bible she is called Ashtoreth and Anath. The believers of this adulterous religion had practiced the ceremony of fertility officiated by the male and female prostitutes of their temples.
The people of Judah stubbornly stated that they would not serve God anymore, and violated two of the commandments of God: idol worship and adultery. How tragic for the people of God to become that caught up in wickedness. What a lesson for us today!
Yoshitaka Kobayashi, Ph.D., Japan