Jeremiah 14 – Judah Beyond Deliverance & The Atrad Ostraca

Wow, they wrote on pieces of pottery.  If there were a lot of letters I bet it was tough on the mailman.  Yet, I’m sure life was tough back then anyway, no cars or cell phones or computers, but I bet life was better.  Yeah, they were violent and evil, but look at the world today, and we have cars, phones and computers.

Ancient Kition
Kition was a city-kingdom on the southern coast of Cyprus. It was established in the 13th century BC.Its most famous, and probably only known, resident was Zeno of Citium, born c. 334 BC in Citium and founder of the Stoic school of philosophy which he taught in Athens from about 300 BC.

The architectural ruins of the ancient city-kingdom of Kition provide the first clear evidence that the Mycenaean Greeks arrived in Larnaka in the 13th century BC, and the Phoenicians in the 9th.

Achaeans redesigned and rebuilt the city around the end of the 13th century, fortifying it with cyclopean walls made of giant blocks of stone, whilst the Phoenicians settled in the area in the 9th century. In 312BC, Kition was occupied and then destroyed by Ptolemy 1st Soter, though habitation continued into Christian times.

Kition was well known for its harbour during antiquity, from which many agricultural products were exported to the eastern Mediterranean, Egypt and the Aegean. Moreover, its strategic position rendered it an exceptional naval base. Of particular interest at the ancient port are the drawings of ships etched into the walls of buildings.

The most interesting architectural remains are those of the Temple of Aphrodite – Astarte, built by the same Phoenician masons that built the Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem, both originating in the 9th century BC.

Egyptian-style temples of the 18th Egyptian Dynasty – which are older than the Greek equivalents and served the pre-Hellenic Cypriot population – have also been found nearby.

It would seem that the devil and his demons didn’t have to do much back then.  They could probably just toss a bone or two around and let the people fight over it.

Yet, once Jesus came then the devil got real worried.  Maybe that’s why he got technology going, and it’s really booming now.  He probably figures the more technology he teaches us the better because less people will think of Jesus because their thoughts will be consumed of greed.

Jeremiah 14
Judah Beyond Deliverance

1 The word of the LORD that came to Jeremiah concerning the dearth.

2 Judah mourneth, and the gates thereof languish; they are black unto the ground; and the cry of Jerusalem is gone up.

3 And their nobles have sent their little ones to the waters: they came to the pits, and found no water; they returned with their vessels empty; they were ashamed and confounded, and covered their heads.

4 Because the ground is chapt, for there was no rain in the earth, the plowmen were ashamed, they covered their heads.

5 Yea, the hind also calved in the field, and forsook it, because there was no grass.

6 And the wild asses did stand in the high places, they snuffed up the wind like dragons; their eyes did fail, because there was no grass.

7 O LORD, though our iniquities testify against us, do thou it for thy name’s sake: for our backslidings are many; we have sinned against thee.8 O the hope of Israel, the savior thereof in time of trouble, why shouldest thou be as a stranger in the land, and as a wayfaring man that turneth aside to tarry for a night?

9 Why shouldest thou be as a man astonied, as a mighty man that cannot save? yet thou, O LORD, art in the midst of us, and we are called by thy name; leave us not.

10 Thus saith the LORD unto this people, Thus have they loved to wander, they have not refrained their feet, therefore the LORD doth not accept them; he will now remember their iniquity, and visit their sins.

11 Then said the LORD unto me, Pray not for this people for their good.

12 When they fast, I will not hear their cry; and when they offer burnt offering and an oblation, I will not accept them: but I will consume them by the sword, and by the famine, and by the pestilence.

13 Then said I, Ah, Lord GOD! behold, the prophets say unto them, Ye shall not see the sword, neither shall ye have famine; but I will give you assured peace in this place.

Jeremiah reminds the Lord of what the false prophets are saying.

Larnaca
The advantages of Larnaca as a tourist resort are numerous. The town is large enough to give everything one may need but still is not overcrowded especially at its beautiful beaches which extend for 25 km (16 mi).

The archaeological sites and its six museums are in the center of the city within walking distance. Summer sports, sea activities and cruises are readily available. The shops are well stocked, medical care is excellent, its cinemas are screening films simultaneously with the cinemas of Europe and the USA .

The variety of restaurants, tavernas, cafeterias and bars is very great. The Cyprus “meze” is the food specialty of the town. Night life is interesting and security in the streets unsurpassed. Cultural life is rich and many events are organized by the town’s Municipality almost daily.

14 Then the LORD said unto me, The prophets prophesy lies in my name: I sent them not, neither have I commanded them, neither spake unto them: they prophesy unto you a false vision and divination, and a thing of nought, and the deceit of their heart.

15 Therefore thus saith the LORD concerning the prophets that prophesy in my name, and I sent them not, yet they say, Sword and famine shall not be in this land; By sword and famine shall those prophets be consumed.

16 And the people to whom they prophesy shall be cast out in the streets of Jerusalem because of the famine and the sword; and they shall have none to bury them, them, their wives, nor their sons, nor their daughters: for I will pour their wickedness upon them.

17 Therefore thou shalt say this word unto them; Let mine eyes run down with tears night and day, and let them not cease: for the virgin daughter of my people is broken with a great breach, with a very grievous blow.

18 If I go forth into the field, then behold the slain with the sword! and if I enter into the city, then behold them that are sick with famine! yea, both the prophet and the priest go about into a land that they know not.

19 Hast thou utterly rejected Judah? hath thy soul lothed Zion? why hast thou smitten us, and there is no healing for us? we looked for peace, and there is no good; and for the time of healing, and behold trouble!

14:19-22 – Jeremiah prays on behalf of the people.

20 We acknowledge, O LORD, our wickedness, and the iniquity of our fathers: for we have sinned against thee.

21 Do not abhor us, for thy name’s sake, do not disgrace the throne of thy glory: remember, break not thy covenant with us.

22 Are there any among the vanities of the Gentiles that can cause rain? or can the heavens give showers? art not thou he, O LORD our God? therefore we will wait upon thee: for thou hast made all these things.

The Atrad Ostraca

Ostracon of a cat and mouse, Egyptian, dates to ca.1295-1075 BCE.
An ostracon is a piece of pottery, usually broken off from a vase or other earthenware vessel. In an archaeological or epigraphical context, ostraca refer to sherds or even small pieces of stone that have writing scratched into them.

Usually these are considered to have been broken off before the writing was added; ancient people used the cheap, plentiful and durable broken pieces of pottery around them as convenient places to place writing for a wide variety of purposes, mostly very short inscriptions, but in some cases surprisingly long.

Jeremiah 14 reflects the panic and dismay of the people as they sought to preserve life and home in the face of overwhelming military threats.  We see evidence of the same conditions reflected in a series of notes written on pieces of clay from this time period.

The site of Arad, an ancient Judean desert fortress, has yielded approximately 200 ostraca (ink-inscribed potsherds) of Hebrew and Aramaic inscriptions that constitute the largest collection of written texts recovered from Biblical times.

These broken pottery pieces preserve the history of the citadel and grant a glimpse into the life of its occupants during the last decades of the kingdom of Judah.  The majority of the sherds, written in paleo-Hebrew, are military communiques dating back to approximately 600 B.C.

They are addressed to the commander of the fortress, Eliashiv ben Eshiyahu, with instructions to ration four, wine and oil to soldiers serving in the Negev, as well as to the “Kittim,” an estimated 25 Aegean mercenary soldiers serving in the Judean military.

A number of ostraca contain listings of names, most likely used for recording the distribution of rations.  Ostracon #24 speaks of an imminent Edomite invasion.  In this letter the commander requested that reinforcement troops be sent from Arad and from the smaller fortress of Qinah to Ramat Negev, a town six miles away, in order to repulse the Edomite threat.

In the vicinity of the Arad sanctuary, sherds with individual, personal names, possibly used as lots for priestly duties, were uncovered.  Among those represented are Pashhur and Meremoth (Jer 20:1; Eze 8:33), as well as “the sons of Korah” (2 Chr 20:19; Ps 84:1), all priestly families mentioned in the Bible.

Ostracon #18 contains the earliest extra biblical mention of the temple as “the house of Yahweh.”  In addition to their historical value, these ostraca have contributed greatly to the study of Hebrew orthography (conventional or standardized spelling of words) and its development.

You see all this that is going on, so I’m wondering what do You want from us?

Ostraca #24 and #40
Letter 1, to Zedekiah: “No troops sent”
Letter 2, from Zedekiah: “Send troops or be executed.”
Click on image to read more.