I’ve been reading the Book of Jeremiah for my daily quiet time. Allow me to present some puzzling verses, both from Jeremiah 48.
Jeremiah 48:13: “And Moab shall be ashamed of Chemosh, as the house of Israel was ashamed of Bethel their confidence” (KJV).
Jeremiah 48:35: “Moreover I will cause to cease in Moab, saith the
LORD, him that offereth in the high places, and him that burneth incense
to his gods” (KJV).
Why do I call these verses puzzling? Because, in many places of the
Hebrew Bible, the idea is that Israel is to worship the LORD alone,
while other nations are allowed to worship their own gods. See
Deuteronomy 4:19, Deuteronomy 32:8-9 (preferably in other versions than
the KJV), and also Judges 11:24, where the Israelite judge Jephthah
appears to acknowledge the existence of the Moabite god Chemosh. Israel
is in covenant with the LORD and is thus required to worship the LORD
alone, but other nations are not under that covenantal requirement.
Some scholars have argued that this is why the Book of Amos criticizes
Gentile nations for international crimes, but never for worshiping gods
other than the LORD: because they were not required to worship the LORD
In Jeremiah 48:13, 35, however, the belief seems to be that God
required Moab to worship the LORD alone. Why else would God gleefully
say that Moab will be ashamed of Chemosh, compare that to Israel’s shame
at her idolatrous site of Bethel, and criticize the Moabites for
offering in the high places?
Is Jeremiah (or whoever wrote Jeremiah 48) a voice for universalism,
one who believes that all nations should worship the LORD alone? Or is
Moab expected to worship the God of Israel because Moab was descended
from Lot, the nephew of Abraham, and thus Moab is close to the Israelite
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