Day 252 – Queen of Heaven

Thoughts and Reflection

Today we read the people flee to Egypt regardless of the Lord telling them not to. Jeremiah warns again not to do it. but they don’t listen. They take Jeremiah as a hostage as they flee Jerusalem. In Egypt, the Israelites fall back into idolatry. The people are confused as to why things are happening to them. They think it is because they haven’t worshiped their idols enough, but Jeremiah tells them it is because they have neglected God.

Ishtar was sometimes called the queen of heaven. Later Catholics have called Mary the queen of heaven.

About This Project

For the year 2022, I decided that my New Year’s Resolution was to read the whole Bible following the Bible in the Year plan presented by Fr. Mike Schmitz. It is a big and bold undertaking. You can follow along by subscribing. Feel free to look at previous day’s post and comment. It’s something we can all learn from together!

Daily Readings

Jeremiah 43

1 When Jeremiah had finished telling all the people all the words of Yahweh their God, which Yahweh their God had sent him to tell them — all the words quoted above-

2 Azariah son of Hoshaiah, and Johanan son of Kareah, and all those arrogant men, said to Jeremiah, ‘You are lying. Yahweh our Goddid not send you to say, “Do not go to Egypt and settle there.”

3 It was Baruch son of Neriah, who keeps inciting you against us, to hand us over to the Chaldaeans so that they can put us to death or deport us to Babylon.’

4 So neither Johanan nor any of the military leaders nor any of the people obeyed the voice of Yahweh by staying in the country of Judah.

5 Instead, Johanan son of Kareah and all the military leaders led off the entire remnant of Judah, those who had come back from all the nations where they had been driven to live in the country of Judah:

6 men, women, children, the royal princesses too, and every single person that Nebuzaradan commander of the guard had left with Gedaliah son of Ahikam, son of Shaphan, including the prophet Jeremiah and Baruch son of Neriah.

7 And so, in disobedience to the voice of Yahweh, they reached Egypt and arrived at Tahpanhes.

8 At Tahpanhes the word of Yahweh was addressed to Jeremiah as follows,

9 ‘Take some large stones and bury them in the cement on the terrace outside the entrance of Pharaoh’s palace in Tahpanhes, where the Judaeans can see you.

10 Then say to them, “Yahweh, God of Israel, says this: Look, I shall send for my servant Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, and he willplace his throne on these stones I have buried, and spread his canopy above them.

11 When he comes, he will defeat Egypt: Those for the plague, to the plague; those for captivity, to captivity; those for the sword, to the sword!

12 “He will set fire to the temples of the gods of Egypt; he will burn these gods or take them prisoner; like a shepherd wrapping his cloak round him, so he will wrap Egypt round him, and then leave without anyone laying hands on him.

13 He will break the obelisks of the temple of the Sun in Egypt, and burn down the temples of the gods of Egypt.” ‘

Jeremiah 44

1 The word that came to Jeremiah for all the Judaeans living in Egypt, those, that is, living in Migdol, Tahpanhes, Noph and the territory of Pathros.

2 ‘Yahweh Sabaoth, God of Israel, says this, “You have seen all the disaster I have brought on Jerusalem and all the towns of Judah; today they lie in ruins and uninhabited.

3 This was because of the wicked deeds they committed to provoke my anger, by going and offering incense and serving other gods whom neither they, nor you, nor your ancestors knew anything about,

4 although I urgently and untiringly sent you all my servants the prophets to say: You must not do this loathsome thing, which I hate.

5 But they would not listen or pay attention, and turn from their wickedness and stop offering incense to other gods.

6 And so my furious anger overflowed, burning down the towns of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem, which were reduced to ruins and wasteland, as they still are today.

7 And now, Yahweh, God Sabaoth, God of Israel, says this: Why bring complete disaster on yourselves by cutting yourselves off from Judah — your men, women, children and babes in arms — so as to leave yourselves no remnant,

8 by provoking my wrath by your actions, offering incense to other gods in Egypt where you have come to settle, as though bent on your own destruction and on becoming a curse and a laughing-stock for all the nations of the earth?

9 Have you forgotten the wicked deeds of your ancestors, of the kings of Judah and of your princes, your own wicked deeds and those of your wives, committed in the country of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem?

10 To this day they have felt neither contrition nor fear; they have not observed my Law or my statutes, which I prescribed for you, as for your ancestors.

11 So, Yahweh Sabaoth, God of Israel, says this: Look, I have determined on disaster and shall destroy Judah completely.

12 I shall take the remnant of Judah who were determined to come to Egypt and settle there, and in Egypt they will perish; they will fall to the sword or perish of famine, from least to greatest; by sword and famine they will die and be an object of execration and horror, a curse, a laughing-stock.

13 I shall punish those who live in Egypt just as I punished Jerusalem: by sword, famine and plague.

14 Of the remnant of Judah which has come to settle in Egypt, not a single one will escape or survive to return to the country of Judah where they long to return and live. For none of them will return, except a few refugees.” ‘

15 At this, all the men who knew that their wives offered incense to other gods, and all the women who were standing there, a great crowd (and all the people living in Egypt, in Pathros), answered Jeremiah as follows,

16 ‘We have no intention of listening to the word you have just spoken to us in Yahweh’s name,

17 but intend to go on doing all we have vowed to do: offering incense to the Queen of Heaven and pouring libations in her honour, as we used to do, we and our ancestors, our kings and our chief men, in the towns of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem: we had food in plenty then, we lived well, we suffered no disasters.

18 But since we gave up offering incense to the Queen of Heaven and pouring libations in her honour, we have been destitute and have perished either by sword or by famine.

19 Besides, when we offer incense to the Queen of Heaven and pour libations in her honour, do you think we make cakes for her with her features on them, and pour libations to her, without our husbands’ knowledge?’

20 To all the people, men and women, all those who had made this answer, Jeremiah retorted,

21 ‘The incense you offered in the towns of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem, you, your ancestors, your kings, your chief men and the people at large — was this not what Yahweh kept remembering, and found so repellent

22 that Yahweh could not endure your misdeeds and your loathsome practices any longer, with the result that your country has become the uninhabited ruin, the object of horror and cursing it is today?

23 Because you offered incense, because you sinned against Yahweh, refusing to listen to the voice of Yahweh, or to observe his Law, his statutes and his decrees — that is why the present disaster has overtaken you.’

24 Further, Jeremiah said to all the people, and particularly to all the women, ‘Listen to the word of Yahweh, all you Judaeans in Egypt,

25 Yahweh Sabaoth, God of Israel, says this, “You and your wives, what your mouths promised, your hands have indeed performed! You said: We shall punctiliously fulfil the vows we have made and offer incense to the Queen of Heaven and pour libations in her honour. Very well, keep your vows, perform them punctiliously! 

26 But listen to the word of Yahweh, all you Judaeans living in Egypt: I swear by my great name, Yahweh says, that my name will no longer be uttered by any man of Judah throughout Egypt; no one will say: As Lord Yahweh lives.

27 No, I am going to keep my eye on them for disaster, not for prosperity, and all the Judaeans in Egypt will perish either by the sword or by famine until they are wiped out.

28 Yet, though few in number, those who escape the sword will return to the country of Judah from Egypt. Then the entire remnant of Judah which has come and settled in Egypt will know whose word comes true, mine or theirs.

29 “And here is the sign for you, Yahweh declares, that I shall punish you in this place: so that you will know that the words with which I threaten you will come true:

30 Yahweh says this: Look, I shall hand Pharaoh Hophra, king of Egypt, over to his enemies and to those determined to kill him, just as I handed Zedekiah king of Judah over to his enemy Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, who was determined to kill him.” ‘

Judith 15

1 When the men who were still in their tents heard the news they were appalled.

2 Panic-stricken and trembling, no two of them could keep together, the rout was complete, with one accord they fled along every track across the plain or through the mountains.

3 The men who had been bivouacking in the mountains round Bethulia were fleeing too. Then all the Israelite warriors charged down on them.

4 Uzziah sent messengers to Betomasthaim, Bebai, Choba, Kola, throughout the whole territory of Israel, to inform them of what had happened and to urge them all to hurl themselves on the enemy and annihilate them.

5 As soon as the Israelites heard the news, they fell on them as one man and massacred them all the way to Choba. The men of Jerusalem and the entire mountain country also rallied to them, once they had been informed of the events in the enemy camp. Then the men of Gilead and Galilee attacked them on the flank and struck at them fiercely till they neared Damascus and its territory.

6 All the other inhabitants of Bethulia fell on the Assyrian camp and looted it to their great profit.

7 The Israelites returning from the slaughter seized what was left. The hamlets and villages of the mountain country and the plain also captured a great deal of booty, since there were vast stores of it.

8 Joakim the high priest and the entire Council of Elders of Israel, who were in Jerusalem, came to gaze on the benefits that the Lord had lavished on Israel and to see Judith and congratulate her.

9 On coming to her house, they blessed her with one accord, saying: You are the glory of Jerusalem! You are the great pride of Israel! You are the highest honour of our race!

10 By doing all this with your own hand you have deserved well of Israel, and God has approved what you have done. May you be blessed by the Lord Almighty in all the days to come! And the people all said, ‘Amen!’

11 The people looted the camp for thirty days. They gave Judith the tent of Holofernes, all his silver plate, his divans, his drinking bowls and all his furniture. She took this, loaded her mule, harnessed her carts and heaped the things into them.

12 All the women of Israel, hurrying to see her, formed choirs of dancers in her honour. Judith took wands of vine-leaves in her hand and distributed them to the women who accompanied her;

13 she and her companions put on wreaths of olive. Then she took her place at the head of the procession and led the women as they danced. All the men of Israel, armed and garlanded, followed them, singing hymns.

14 With all Israel round her, Judith broke into this song of thanksgiving and the whole people sang this hymn:

Judith 16

1 Break into song for my God, to the tambourine, sing in honour of the Lord, to the cymbal, let psalm and canticle mingle for him, extol his name, invoke it!

2 For the Lord is a God who breaks battle-lines; he has pitched his camp in the middle of his people to deliver me from the hands of my oppressors.

3 Assyria came down from the mountains of the north, came with tens of thousands of his army. Their multitude blocked the ravines, their horses covered the hills.

4 He threatened to burn up my country, destroy my young men with the sword, dash my sucklings to the ground, make prey of my little ones, carry off my maidens;

5 but the Lord Almighty has thwarted them by a woman’s hand.

6 For their hero did not fall at the young men’s hands, it was not the sons of Titans struck him down, no proud giants made that attack, but Judith, the daughter of Merari, who disarmed him with the beauty of her face.

7 She laid aside her widow’s dress to raise up those who were oppressed in Israel; she anointed her face with perfume,

8 bound her hair under a turban, put on a linen gown to seduce him.

9 Her sandal ravished his eye, her beauty took his soul prisoner and the scimitar cut through his neck!

10 The Persians trembled at her boldness, the Medes were daunted by her daring.

11 These were struck with fear when my lowly ones raised the war cry, these were seized with terror when my weak ones shouted, and when they raised their voices these gave ground.

12 The children of mere girls ran them through, pierced them like the offspring of deserters. They perished in the battle of my Lord!

13 I shall sing a new song to my God. Lord, you are great, you are glorious, wonderfully strong, unconquerable.

14 May your whole creation serve you! For you spoke and things came into being, you sent your breath and they were put together, and no one can resist your voice.

15 Should mountains be tossed from their foundations to mingle with the waves, should rocks melt like wax before your face, to those who fear you, you would still be merciful.

16 A little thing indeed is a sweetly smelling sacrifice, still less the fat burned for you in burnt offering; but whoever fears the Lord is great for ever.

17 Woe to the nations who rise against my race! The Lord Almighty will punish them on judgement day. He will send fire and worms in their flesh and they will weep with pain for evermore.

18 When they reached Jerusalem they fell on their faces before God and, once the people had been purified, they presented their burnt offerings, voluntary offerings and gifts.

19 All Holofernes’ property given her by the people, and the canopy she herself had stripped from his bed, Judith vowed to God as a dedicated offering.

20 For three months the people gave themselves up to rejoicings in front of the Temple in Jerusalem, where Judith stayed with them.

21 When this was over, everyone returned home. Judith went back to Bethulia and lived on her property; as long as she lived, she enjoyed a great reputation throughout the country.

22 She had many suitors, but all her days, from the time her husband Manasseh died and was gathered to his people, she never gave herself to another man.

23 Her fame spread more and more, the older she grew in her husband’s house; she lived to the age of one hundred and five. She emancipated her maid, then died in Bethulia and was buried in the cave where Manasseh her husband lay.

24 The House of Israel mourned her for seven days. Before her death she had distributed her property among her own relations and those of her husband Manasseh.

25 Never again during the lifetime of Judith, nor indeed for a long time after her death, did anyone trouble the Israelites.

Proverbs 17:17-20

17 A friend is a friend at all times, it is for adversity that a brother is born.

18 Whoever offers guarantees lacks sense and goes surety for a neighbour.

19 The double-dealer loves sin, the proud courts ruin.

20 The tortuous of heart finds no happiness, the perverse of speech falls into misery.

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