Jeremiah: The World, the Wound of God

By Daniel Berrigan | Go to book overview

5
The Temple, an Idol? Yes!
(7:1–8:22)

Sacrifice, Public Behavior, All One (7:1–16)

7:1–3. Eventually it becomes clear that the king’s reforms have failed. Too little, too late. And the prophet, who digs to the root of things, diagnoses with a kind of merciless mercy, and goes unheard. Jeremiah has no stomach for “reform.”

The people, in any case, are unimpressed with the king’s earnest homilies. The “old ways” of Deuteronomy, austere and minatory, win few hearts or minds.

Then, perturbation on high. Jeremiah is told to go preach at the gate of the temple—a task that might be thought bootless in the extreme.

Only consider: this is the magnificent temple of Solomon. A recent event has underscored once more the numinous character of the place—a discovery in the temple precincts; a sacred object, a kind of Dead Sea Scroll. The event was taken by authorities as a watershed in the religious life of the populace. The lost text of the law lay in their hands! There was much talk of new beginnings, even of a new covenant with Yahweh.

Talk and more talk. Alas, something far different from spiritual renewal hung heavy on the air: idolatry toward the temple itself. Jeremiah sensed it: “The temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord!” He mocked without mercy the incantation, the

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