By R. K. Harrison

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Ancient Near Eastern war was essentially total in nature, so that a city which resisted a siege unsuccessfully could only expect complete destruction, without respect to property, age or sex. The content of verses 12 to 15 is recapitulated in 8:10–12 (cf. also Deut. 28:30). The stern message of destruction is aimed at the five stages of life mentioned here: the children in carefree play (cf. Zech. 8:5); the adolescents in their clubs or groups (cf. 15:17); the married adults; the more senior citizens; and finally those advanced in age.

Israel comprised God’s portion of the harvest of nations, but her neglect of covenantal responsibilities had virtually nullified her witness to contemporary society, thus depriving God of a fuller harvest. Because Israel was the Lord’s hallowed portion, just as the firstfruits were (Exod. 23:19; Num. ), she was under divine protection and any who harmed her would be punished. The term ‘firstfruits’ is used of the Christian church in James 1:18, which as the new Israel of God (Phil. 3:3) has fallen heir to the honour ascribed to the old Israel.

2 Kgs 17:25). Here the nation is thought to be as defenceless as a city-dweller in a forest of wild animals. For other references to wolves and leopards see Habakkuk 1:8; Zephaniah 3:3; Hosea 13:7. 7–9. Jeremiah reiterates that God can hardly forgive his rebellious people freely because they had forsaken his covenant and had sworn oaths by idolatrous nonentities. They had evidently misunderstood the source of their bounty because, although God had satisfied them amply, the people had become depraved instead of grateful (cf.

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