Many conservatives, however, believe that Jeremiah himself was responsible for the final form, though it is likely that the book went through several revisions before it reached its final canonical form. Jeremiah could even have written the last chapter, which describes events that took place about 25 years after the next latest events, since he would have been approximately 83 years old, assuming he was still alive. Clearly, Jeremiah's secretary, Baruch, provided the prophet with much assistance in writing the material and possibly arranging it in its final form ; Baruch was to Jeremiah what Luke was to Paul: his companion, amanuensis, and biographer.
The book bears marks of having been assembled by one person at one time, at least in its final form. The Book of Jeremiah tells us more about the prophet Jeremiah than any other prophetic book reveals about its writer. It is highly biographical and autobiographical. We know more about his personality than that of any other writing prophet. Jeremiah's hometown was Anathoth, a Levitical town in the territory of Benjamin three miles northeast of Jerusalem.
Thus, Jeremiah had ancestral connections to Shiloh, where the tabernacle stood during the Judges Period of Israel's history. Jeremiah referred to Shiloh in his Temple Sermon , 14; cf. Abiathar was the sole survivor of King Saul's massacre of the priests at Nob, also only a few miles northeast of Jerusalem 1 Sam. Jeremiah's father Hilkiah may have been the high priest who found the book of the Law in the temple during Josiah's reforms 2 Kings Jeremiah's date of birth is a matter of dispute.
Many scholars believe he was born about B. His call to the prophetic office came in B. Several reliable scholars believe that Jeremiah's ministry ended about B.
Jeremiah evidently exercised his ministry mainly during periods of crisis in Judah's history, though it is impossible to date some of his prophecies. His ministry involved prophesying about Judah and the other ancient Near Eastern nations of his time One writer divided Jeremiah's life into three periods. Judging by Jeremiah's autobiographical remarks and the narrative information about him in this book, his life was a sad one, one long martyrdom.
He probably encountered more opposition from more enemies than any other prophet. Much of it stemmed from his message to his own people: unconditional surrender to Babylon. Jeremiah is the only prophet who recorded his own feelings as he ministered, which makes him both very interesting and very helpful to other ministers.
Some authorities believe that his greatest contribution to posterity is the revelation of his personality. Leon Wood described Jeremiah as a man of spiritual maturity, courage, deep emotion, compassion, and integrity. There are many similarities between Jeremiah and Hosea. Hosea announced the fall of Samaria, and Jeremiah announced the fall of Jerusalem.
Both prophets experienced much personal tragedy. In his ideas as well as in his vocabulary, Jeremiah demonstrates familiarity with Hosea's prophecies. There are also affinities with Job and the Psalter. There are also remarkable parallels between Jeremiah and the Lord Jesus Christ. No other prophet bears as many striking similarities to the Savior, which makes him the most Christ-like of the prophets. The people of Jesus' day noted these similarities Matt.
He was alone for most of his ministry. It seemed that no one gave any heed to his words. He was dragged off finally to live his last days in exile against his own will. He was a failure as the world judges human achievement. But a more balanced assessment of him would be that his very words of judgment saved Israel's faith from disintegration, and his words of hope finally helped his people to gain hope in God's future for them. His speech is clear and simple, incisive and pithy, and, though generally speaking somewhat diffuse, yet ever rich in thought.
If it lacks the lofty strain, the soaring flight of an Isaiah, yet it has beauties of its own. It is distinguished by a wealth of new imagery which is wrought out with great delicacy and deep feeling, and by 'a versatility that easily adapts itself to the most various objects, and by artistic clearness' Ewald. Terence Fretheim's commentary on Jeremiah contains a sidebar that shows the similarity between Jeremiah's words and God's words in the book, indicating that the prophet felt and expressed the same passions that his Lord did.
The biblical records of the times in which Jeremiah ministered are 2 Kings 21—25 and 2 Chronicles 33— His contemporary prophets were Zephaniah and Habakkuk before the Exile, and Ezekiel and Daniel after it began. A greater concentration of writing prophets existed just before the fall of Judah than at any other time in biblical history. King Manasseh had been Judah's most ungodly king, but toward the end of his life he repented 2 Chron.
He was responsible for many of the evil conditions that marked Judah in Jeremiah's earliest years cf. His long life was not a blessing for faithfulness, as his father Hezekiah's had been, but an instrument of chastening for Judah. King Amon succeeded Manasseh and reigned two years B. Rather than perpetuating the repentant attitude that his father had demonstrated, Amon reverted to the policies of Manasseh's earlier reign and rebelled against Yahweh completely. This provoked some of his officials to assassinate him 2 Kings Josiah was eight years old when his father Amon died.
He began reigning then and continued on the throne for 31 years B. Josiah was one of Judah's best kings and one of the four reforming kings of the Southern Kingdom. He began to seek the Lord when he was 16 years old and began initiating religious reforms when he was 20 2 Chron. Jeremiah received his call to minister in the thirteenth year of Josiah when the king was 21, namely, B. Josiah's reforms were more extensive than those of any of his predecessors. He began the major projects when he was During these years Assyria was declining as a world power and Neo-Babylonia was not yet the dominant empire it soon became.
One of Josiah's projects was the repairing of Solomon's Temple 2 Kings ; cf. During its renovation, Hilkiah, the high priest and possibly Jeremiah's father, discovered the Mosaic Law, which had been lost for a long time cf. This discovery spurred a return to the system of worship that the Book of Deuteronomy specified 2 Kings Josiah also did much to clear the land of idolatry, sacred prostitution, child sacrifice, and pagan altars—not only in Judah, but also in some formerly Israelite territory.
He also reinstituted the Passover. Unfortunately for Judah, Josiah felt compelled to travel to Megiddo to try and block Pharaoh Neco II from advancing north to assist the Assyrians in resisting the westward expanding Babylonians. Josiah died at Megiddo, in B. His death was a tragic loss for Judah. Some of Jeremiah's prophecies date from Josiah's reign. Zephaniah also ministered in Judah during the reign of Josiah, as did the prophetess Huldah 2 Kings There have been many attempts to date all the various sections of Jeremiah.
However, much of this is guesswork, and even conservative commentators disagree about the dating of many sections of the book. Three of Josiah's sons and one of his grandsons ruled Judah after his death. The first of these, though he was the second son, was Jehoahaz, who ruled for only three months in B. The Judean people favored Jehoahaz, but Pharaoh Neco, who by slaying Josiah gained control over Judah, found him uncooperative.
Therefore, Pharaoh deported Jehoahaz to Egypt as a prisoner where he died God gave Jeremiah a few prophecies during this king's brief reign. Jehoahaz's older brother Jehoiakim succeeded him on Judah's throne, thanks to Pharaoh Neco. He reigned for 11 years B. Jehoiakim was a weak king who changed allegiances between Egypt and Babylon whenever he thought a change might be to Judah's advantage. During his tenure, Prince Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon defeated the allied Egyptian and Assyrian forces at Carchemish, thus establishing Babylonian supremacy in the ancient Near East B.
Jehoiakim refused to follow Jeremiah's counsel to submit to the Babylonians. Instead he showed his contempt for the prophet by burning his prophecies ch. Jeremiah despised this king for his wickedness ; ; Jehoiakim rebelled against Babylon in B. Later they allowed him to return to Jerusalem where he died in B.
Several of Jeremiah's prophecies apparently date from Jehoiakim's reign. Habakkuk probably also ministered at this time, as the content of his book suggests. Jehoiakim's son Jehoiachin succeeded his father but only reigned for three months B. During that time Nebuchadnezzar attacked Jerusalem and carried off a large portion of the city's population in B. The king was evil, and Jeremiah predicted that none of his sons would rule over the nation He ended his days in Babylon, enjoying the favor of the Babylonian king Evil-merodach Zedekiah was the third son of Josiah to rule Judah, and he too ruled under Nebuchadnezzar's sovereignty B.
The Babylonian monarch summoned Zedekiah to Babylon in B. The Babylonians took Zedekiah captive to Riblah, in Syria, where they executed his sons and put out his eyes. He died later in Babylon. Since Jeremiah advocated surrender to the Babylonians, Nebuchadnezzar allowed him to choose where he wanted to live when Jerusalem fell, and the prophet elected to stay where he was. Shortly after he defeated Zedekiah, Nebuchadnezzar set up a pro-Babylonian Judean named Gedaliah as his governor of Judah But a group of Jewish nationalists under Ishmael's leadership assassinated Gedaliah within the year B.
This ill-advised act resulted in the rebels having to flee to Egypt for safety from Nebuchadnezzar. They forced Jeremiah to accompany them against his will chs. There the prophet evidently spent the remaining years of his life and produced his final prophecies. Important Dates for Jeremiah . Nabopolassar founds the Neo-Babylonian Empire. The book of the Law discovered in the temple. Josiah killed in battle by Egyptians at Megiddo. Jehoiakim made king of Judah by Pharaoh Necho.
Nebuchadnezzar defeats the Egyptians at Carchemish. The first deportation of exiles including Daniel to Babylon. The second deportation of exiles including Jehoiachin to Babylon. Zedekiah made king of Judah by Nebuchadnezzar. Zedekiah is besieged in Jerusalem for treachery. Gedaliah appointed governor of Judah by Nebuchadnezzar. Judean refugees flee to Egypt taking Jeremiah with them. Fall of Babylon to Cyrus the Persian considered by some scholars to be the same ruler as Darius the Mede.
Cyrus issues his decree allowing the Jews to return to Palestine. Jeremiah gave the prophecies and composed the narratives that constitute this book at various times during his long ministry. Many scholars believe that editors continued to add and rearrange the material long after Jeremiah's day.
However, the tradition that Jeremiah was responsible for the book is old and has encouraged many conservative scholars to view it as the product of the prophet himself or perhaps his scribe Baruch. If Jeremiah was the final editor of the work, as well as its writer, he completed this editorial task after his last historical reference and before his death.
The last historical reference is Jehoiachin's release from captivity in Babylon B. We do not know when Jeremiah died, but if he was born about B. Some scholars believe Jeremiah wrote this account himself, or that Baruch provided it. Others believe the writer of the Book of Kings added it to the collections of Jeremiah's writings. Jeremiah ministered to the people of Judah during the last days of the Judean monarchy and the early part of the captivity. Almost all of his ministry took place in Jerusalem. He spoke to kings, priests, and prophets, as well as to ordinary citizens, and he delivered oracles against foreign nations.
Jeremiah's purpose was to call his hearers to repentance in view of God's judgment on Judah, which would come soon by an army from the north chs. Judgment was coming because God's people had forsaken Yahweh and had given themselves to idolatry. Jeremiah spoke more about repentance than any other prophet.
He also assured his audience that God had a future for Israel and Judah chs. Once it became clear that the people would not repent, he advocated submission to Babylon to minimize the destruction that was inevitable. As God's prophetic spokesman, he also uttered oracles against the nations that opposed God's chosen people chs. In addition to announcing coming judgment, Jeremiah promised restoration.
Some writers have argued that both emphases combine to constitute the book's theme. It does not contain the same development of the counsels of God respecting this earth that Isaiah does. It is true, that we are told many things in it concerning the nations; but it is principally composed of testimony addressed immediately to the conscience of the people, on the subject of their moral condition at the time the prophet speaks, and with an eye to the judgment with which they were threatened. The Book of Jeremiah is not theologically organized in the sense of developing a certain theological emphasis as it unfolds, as Isaiah does.
Rather it presents certain theological truths in greater or lesser degree throughout its entirety. The dominant theological emphases are as follows. The prophet paid more attention to God and the Israelites than to any other subjects of revelation. His appreciation for God as the Lord of all creation is noteworthy. In contrast to Isaiah, Micah, Zechariah, and Daniel: Jeremiah did not reveal much about the coming Messiah, though he did record a few significant messianic predictions.
A coming revealer would outshine the ark of the covenant , and the fulfillment of the Davidic Covenant promises would come Regarding the Israelites, Jeremiah stressed the fact that immorality always accompanies idolatry. Israel's present problems were the result of her past and present apostasy. The priests, Jeremiah asserted, were primarily responsible for the degeneration of worship from the spiritual to the merely formal—though several false prophets also misled the people.
The Judahites could not escape going into captivity because they refused to repent. Therefore, they needed to accept the inevitable and not resist the Babylonians. Jerusalem and Judah would suffer destruction, the Davidic kings would not rule for some time , and the Israelites would lose their land temporarily. But there would be a return from exile ; Israel had hope of a glorious future in view of God's faithfulness to His promises In the distant future, Israel would return in penitence to the Lord Messiah would rule over her The nations were God's agents in executing His will, particularly Nebuchadnezzar But Babylon would fall chs.
The nations, as well as Israel, needed to demonstrate righteousness chs. God had a concern for the nations as well as for His people In the distant future, the remnant of the nations would enjoy blessing from the Lord ; There is also a strong emphasis on the biblical covenants in Jeremiah, particularly the Mosaic and New Covenants.
Jeremiah viewed Israel as the chosen people of God, adopted by Him for a special relationship with Himself, and for a special purpose in the world. The Mosaic Covenant was pure grace, and Yahweh had made it with a redeemed people. It involved promises from God and responsibilities for the Israelites that required trust, obedience, and holiness.
Obedience would result in blessing from God, and disobedience would yield divine cursing. The prophet knew the Mosaic Law and compared the conduct of the people to what it required. This feature is so prominent that some scholars have argued that someone from the so-called Deuteronomistic School composed or edited the book. Writers identified as Deuteronomistic in their emphasis, especially writers of the books of Joshua through 2 Kings, consistently compared the conduct of the Israelites to what God required in the Mosaic Law, which was Moses' practice in Deuteronomy.
Jeremiah anticipated the appearing of the promised Davidic Messiah and the fulfillment of the kingdom promises that God had made to David. He also predicted that God would make a new covenant with the Israelites sometime in the future that would involve new provisions and conditions for living It would replace the old Mosaic Covenant, and would feature a personal relationship with God to an extent never experienced before.
He saw how secondary the temporal features of Judah's faith were. The present canonical form of the book was probably the result of a long and complex process of collection. The Book of Psalms also underwent compilation in a similar fashion over many years. The compilation is not chronological, but it evidently occurred in stages. In some cases key words link units of material together. There is also some grouping of subject matter according to genre within the larger sections of the book.
The attempt to identify the original sources of material in Bible books is a worthy subject of study. This information explains to some extent the anthological structure of the book and suggests that Jeremiah, Baruch, and perhaps others added even more prophecies as time passed and that the final product is what we have in our Bibles.
About half of Jeremiah is poetry and half prose. But poetry and prose appear side by side in many sections of the book, and several literary units contain both forms of composition. There is more poetry before chapter 25 and more prose after it. Scholars have identified three main types of literature genre in Jeremiah: poetic sayings or oracles so-called Type A material , prose narratives that are largely biographical and historical so-called Type B material , and prose speeches or discourses so-called Type C material. Several generations of scholars have held that the poetic oracles toward the first part of the book represent Jeremiah's original sayings, and the historical and biographical narratives that follow were the product of Baruch, Jeremiah's scribe.
This view, while a common one, contains serious problems, and many competent authorities have pointed out the inconsistencies of this position. I mention it here because it is a common view, not because I accept it, which I do not. Of the three main types of oracles judgment, repentance, and salvation , Jeremiah contains mostly oracles of judgment and repentance. Like most other prophetic books of the Old Testament, Jeremiah is a collection of oracles and other materials.
It is an anthology of Jeremiah's speeches and writings, really an anthology of anthologies. It is not like a novel that one may read from start to finish, discovering that it unfolds in a logical fashion as it goes. Yet there is general chronological progression as the book unfolds. This book, even more than most of the other prophetic books, strikes the western mind initially as not following any consistently logical order, especially within the body of the book.
To the end of chapter 24 it is a reasoning, a moral pleading with the people. In chapter 25 there is a formal prophecy of judgment on divers nation by the hand of Nebuchadnezzar. And afterwards we find prophecies much more distinct from each other, and connected with historical details. Chapters contain promises of assured blessing for the last days.
From chapter 39 it is the history of that which followed the taking of Jerusalem, and the judgment of Egypt and Babylon. The difficulty that students of Jeremiah have had in discovering its underlying plan is clear from the fact that commentators have offered so many different outlines of it. Harrison even provided two different outlines of the book in his Old Testament Introduction and in his commentary on Jeremiah.
The resultant portrayal is highly impressionistic, perhaps even surreal, and leaves the reader with a sense of the situation that is much more effective than a photograph or linear argument could achieve. Sidlow Baxter believed that following an introductory chapter 1 , the prophecies are general and undated chs. Arno C. Gaebelein arranged the prophecies according to the Judean king in whose reign Jeremiah gave them: Josiah chs.
Jeremiah is the longest book in the Bible in terms of words and verses. In addition to the lack of a clear organizing plan, Jeremiah is quite repetitive. The repetition is for emphasis, no doubt, and many very similar passages occur two or more times.
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The last chapter is unique because someone must have written it long after the rest of the book. The options are that Jeremiah or Baruch wrote it or that some other writer added it later. There is no way to tell for sure who wrote it or when, but it's purpose seems clear enough. It provides hope at the end of a record of discouraging circumstances.
The biographical and autobiographical sections of the book are also distinctive. No other prophet wrote as much about himself and his experiences as Jeremiah did, and no other prophet let us into his head and his heart as much as he did by sharing how he thought and felt.
Jeremiah used object lessons to communicate spiritual truth more than the other prophets. He made his prophecies concrete and vivid by this means. He did not delight to paint word pictures as much as Isaiah did, but he performed acts and spoke of real situations far more than that earlier prophet did. The history of the textual transmission of Jeremiah is unusual. The Septuagint Greek translation, made in the third and second centuries B. The Septuagint version of Jeremiah differs from the Hebrew more widely than is true of any other Old Testament book.
There are omissions, additions, transpositions, alterations, and substitutions. Probably the Septuagint translators worked from a different version of Jeremiah than the one that was the basis for the Masoretic Text. Some Dead Sea Scroll fragments of Jeremiah point to the existence of such a version.
The Septuagint was the Bible of most of the early Christians, especially those who lived outside Palestine. Which version is more reliable: the shorter one that they used and quoted in the New Testament , or the longer one that we have? Most conservative scholars believe that the Masoretic Text has a solid history, and is more reliable than the Septuagint.
The differences between these two versions are not significant in terms of theology. We do not have contradictions between what the New Testament writers quoted as being from Jeremiah and what we read in our English translations of Jeremiah. The swift and complete destruction coming on Judah and Jerusalem — The reader of Jeremiah must understand the times in which this prophet lived and ministered in order to appreciate the message of this book. This is more important for understanding Jeremiah than it is for understanding any other prophetic book.
Jeremiah lived in days of darkness and disaster. He ministered about a century after Isaiah had finished prophesying. The Northern Kingdom was no more; it had ceased to exist with the Assyrian invasion of B. Only the Southern Kingdom of Judah remained. Two strong nations greatly influenced life in Judah when Jeremiah began his ministry: Egypt on the southwest, and Assyria on the northeast. Judah was the "jelly" in this "sandwich" and found herself pressed on both sides.
Instead of looking to God for their security, the people looked either to Egypt or to Assyria. There were two parties in Jeremiah's day: the pro-Egyptian party, and the pro-Assyrian party. Each vied with the other, trying to gain supporters for alliances with their particular favorite superpower, and trying to outwit their opponents and trick their enemy. The internal condition of Judah was the result of 52 years of rule by the apostate King Manasseh, who reacted to godly King Hezekiah's trust in Yahweh. Manasseh, and King Amon, who ruled after him for two years, set up pagan altars all over Judah.
These kings encouraged idolatry of every sort, even in the Jerusalem temple. The people departed further and further from the Lord. It was a condition very much like the one in North America in the early twenty-first century. The next king was Josiah. Josiah tried to turn the people back to the Lord, but his reforms were more external than internal. There was reformation, but not revival. The people just did not want to submit to Yahweh. They had gone their own way for so long that they viewed following the Mosaic Law as a step backward rather than forward.
Jeremiah began to minister during Josiah's reign. Unfortunately Josiah died prematurely, so his reforms did not last very long or have much effect. The four kings who followed Josiah, the last four in Judah's history, were all weak men who lacked spiritual conviction. They just played politics and tried to win Judah's security through political intrigue and alliances. Three of these sad rulers were sons of Josiah: Jehoahaz, Jehoiakim, and Zedekiah. The fourth was Josiah's grandson, Jehoiachin, the son of Jehoiakim. The last of these kings was Zedekiah, the most spineless of them all.
He was a chameleon, a double-minded man who was unstable in all his ways James Jeremiah ministered during the reigns of these four kings until Jerusalem fell to the Babylonians in B. Throughout Jeremiah's entire ministry, he was never blessed to see the people of Judah turn back to God. Repentance was one of his greatest pleas, but the kings, priests, false prophets, and ordinary citizens did not return to the Lord.
He did not check the deterioration of his nation. He was very unpopular in his day, because he was always preaching to the people to do the opposite of what they wanted to do. Even after the fall of the nation, the Judahites proved unresponsive to his preaching. There was no encouraging revival in his day, as there was in Isaiah's day with the appearance of King Hezekiah.
Things just kept going from bad to worse. The meaning of the name "Jeremiah" is not clear. It could mean "Yahweh founds or establishes," "Yahweh exalts," "Yahweh throws down," "Yahweh hurls," or "Yahweh loosens. He announced that Yahweh founds or establishes those who trust in Him rather than trusting in other people or nations. He announced that Yahweh eventually exalts those whom He has chosen, and that He throws down and humbles those who disregard Him.
He also announced that Yahweh hurls into captivity people who depart from Him, and loosens from their captivity those whom He has disciplined. Just as God had foreordained Jeremiah to his ministry , so He had foreordained Israel to a royal priestly ministry on the earth Exod. Just as Jeremiah felt inadequate for his ministry , without divine enablement, so Israel was inadequate to fulfill her calling. And just as Jeremiah received divine enablement for his ministry , so Israel received divine enablement for hers.
What was true for Jeremiah on the personal level, and for Israel on the national level, is also true for Christians on the personal level, and for the church on the corporate level. The Book of Jeremiah also reveals more about the person of the prophet than any other prophetic book.
Jeremiah shared his life with His Lord, and the Lord shared the record of Jeremiah's life with the reader. Four things characterized Jeremiah: his simplicity, his sensitivity, his strength, and his spirituality. We see the first indication of Jeremiah's simplicity in his response to the Lord's call when he was a teenager. He realized that he was an inadequate child He never lost that sense of inadequacy.
He was poor in spirit in that he sensed his own personal lack of resources to carry out the task God had given him cf. We see his sensitivity in the way he shrank from his work. He confessed to his Lord how much he disliked having to proclaim messages of judgment to the people that he loved. He felt the pain of the prophecies he delivered. He mourned over the fate of his hardhearted and stubborn fellow Judahites cf. We see Jeremiah's strength in his willingness to stand alone against the popular opinions and opinion makers of his day. He always delivered the whole message that God had given him to proclaim, and he never stopped speaking what God told him to say.
He was persecuted for the sake of righteousness cf. His contemporaries reviled him, persecuted him, and said all kinds of evil things against him falsely Matt. Nevertheless through it all, Jeremiah followed God faithfully, and undoubtedly his reward in heaven will be great Matt. He faithfully represented the true King of Israel, Yahweh, when the Judahites rejected His authority and neglected His grace.
He was God's representative on the earth when people were acting like there was no Sovereign in heaven. God knew him and chose him before his birth, and He equipped him by giving him His word.
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He led him to practice a simple and solitary lifestyle, and strengthened him to love his people. He enabled him to oppose the apostasy of his day, and preserved his life until his work was done. One of the great values of the Book of Jeremiah is that it reveals how God behaves when His people fail Him and depart from Him. When His people fail Him and depart from Him, God judges their sin.
As Isaiah emphasized the salvation of God, Jeremiah stressed the judgment of God. God enabled Jeremiah to see what the Judahites did not see, namely: that all the bad things that were happening to them were divine discipline for their apostasy. The people interpreted these calamities as the result of their failure to continue worshipping the Queen of Heaven and their other pagan idols Jeremiah saw, by the long and graphic example of the Judahites, that sin leads to death Rom. He came to appreciate the devastating effects of sin. Ever since the Fall, Satan has been convincing people that they can sin with impunity.
Jeremiah shows that the sin of God's people will find us out, and when it does there is a terrible price to pay. Jeremiah also reveals how human sin causes God to suffer. It breaks His heart when His people sin. Not only did God explain to Jeremiah how sin hurt Him, but Jeremiah reflected God's pain over sin with his own tears and terror at the prospect of the fall of Jerusalem and its attending horrors.
We see God's attitude toward the people in the prophet's attitude. Jeremiah also reveals that there is life beyond sin—there is victory over sin. In the prophet's life, we see how God blessed him and preserved His faithful servant in the midst of what we might compare to the bombing of the World Trade Center in New York City. In Jeremiah's messages to Judah, Israel, and the nations, we see how bright the distant future is beyond the present judgment for sin.
God's plans for humankind are plans for blessing ultimately. Judgment is His immediate response to sin, but blessing is His ultimate purpose. The politicians in Jeremiah's day blamed Judah's troubles on the nations around them. Jeremiah blamed them on the internal condition of Judah herself. We need voices and lives like Jeremiah's today, calling people to recognize the fact that all ruin and loss and national decay are due to forgetting God, who lifts up or breaks down according to how we relate to Him. Though Jeremiah lived some 2, years ago, his voice continues to challenge us today.
Christians appear to be ministering in a context very similar to Jeremiah's. The study of his life and ministry encourages and motivates us to remain faithful. He enables us to understand what Christ-like ministry in such a context looks like. What is the timeless message of Jeremiah? Jeremiah teaches us that God's judgment falls when people break His covenant. There are constant references to Judah's covenant unfaithfulness to her sovereign Suzerain in Jeremiah's messages. Judgment is inevitable unless there is repentance. But when there is repentance, God is rich in mercy. One of Jeremiah's favorite words was the Hebrew word shub , meaning "return.
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However, as with Pharaoh, repentance is not always possible when one resists Yahweh continually cf. Eventually it was not possible for Judah. First, sin brings destruction. No policy can outmaneuver God. National rebellion is national ruin. Sin brings with it its own destruction and retribution. Second, sin wounds the heart of God.
He weeps over the doom of a city and its people. He does not delight in bringing devastation and ruin, and neither should His servants. Third, the ultimate victory is with God. He will remake the vessel that He destroyed because of its flaws: Israel. The stump of David's line will sprout again. Though the last Davidic king died in exile, God promised that another Davidic King would emerge ; There was hope of a new covenant to come, and enabling grace, that would replace the old covenant—that no one kept except Jesus The first chapter of this great book introduces the prophet to the reader and records his calling by Yahweh into the prophetic ministry.
Most of the prophetical books begin with some indication of authorship and date to put them in their historical contexts, and this is true of the Book of Jeremiah. This was a common name in Israel. The Old Testament refers to many different individuals who bore it. His father was Hilkiah also a common name meaning "Yahweh is my portion" , who may or may not have been the high priest who found the book of the Law in the temple during Josiah's reforms 2 Kings Jeremiah's father was a priest who lived in Anathoth, a village three miles northeast of Jerusalem in the territory of Benjamin where other priests also lived cf.
Thus Jeremiah was a priest by ancestry. The book never refers to him as serving as a priest, though, and he was often a severe critic of the Levitical priests. According to one writer, the words "to whom the word of the Lord came," and similar phrases, occur times in Jeremiah out of a total of times in the entire Old Testament. Jeremiah received his first instructions from Yahweh as a prophet in the thirteenth year of King Josiah of Judah's reign B.
The writer evidently omitted Jehoahaz and Jehoiachin from this list of kings because their reigns each lasted only three months, in and B. This event was the climax to Jeremiah's preaching and a demonstration of his authenticity as a genuine prophet of Yahweh, for in that event the basic thrust of his prophecy was fulfilled. We know from elsewhere in the book that Jeremiah also prophesied after the fall of Jerusalem cf.
So the dates in this verse fix the period of Jeremiah's main ministry and set it in a historical context. This account of Jeremiah's call prepares the reader for the prophet's ministry that unfolds beginning in chapter 2. The events recorded here prepared Jeremiah for that ministry, a ministry that frequently discouraged him and made him wish that God had never called him.
This section is a chiasmus focusing on the visions that the Lord gave the prophet: the vision of his call vv. Throughout this book, an indication that the Lord had told Jeremiah something is often the sign of a new pericope, as here cf. These references are not the only indicators of a new section of text, but they usually indicate the beginning or ending of a section when they appear.
Jeremiah existed as a human being during his gestation period cf. God had set him aside Heb. His prophetic ministry would involve many nations chs. This in turn doubtless contributed to his determination to fulfil his prophetic mission regardless of personal considerations. On this basis, He also had the sovereign prerogative to appoint Jeremiah to be a prophet. God is understood to be active with the mother in forming the child in the womb also in Job ; Ps.
Jeremiah's age at his call is not clear except that he was a youth Heb. Jeremiah was probably about 20 years old. The estimates of several reliable commentators range from about 16 to 25 years old. Jeremiah's response to his call reveals the first of his many similarities to Moses cf. The people to whom they spoke did not believe either prophet, and both men claimed to be inadequate as speakers, to name only two likenesses.
Jeremiah's contemporaries could very well have mistaken him for "the prophet like Moses," which Moses predicted would come after himself Deut. It did not matter that he was young and inexperienced, because the Lord had called him. He would go where God sent him and say what God told him to say cf.
Lundbom estimated Jeremiah's age at this time as 12 or 13, at most 15 or The Lord always supports the servants whom He sends on His missions cf. He also explained the meaning of His act. This was a powerful way of visualizing that the Lord Himself would participate in all that Jeremiah would undertake cf. God uses ordinary people to accomplish His extraordinary work if they trust in Him in spite of their fears, obey Him in spite of their inexperience, and proclaim His Word in spite of their feelings of inadequacy. Against this power nothing earthly can stand; it is a hammer that breaks rocks in pieces, xxiii.
He would announce both good news and bad, oracles of judgment and messages of comfort and encouragement. The verbs in this verse anticipate the whole message of this book, as one might expect in an introduction. The latter are strong verbs of destruction e. There must first be the message of judgment, the tearing down. There are times, and Jeremiah's day and ours are such times, when we cannot expect a constructive revolution if we begin by overemphasizing the positive message.
Second, with love we must face squarely the fact that our culture really is under the judgment of God. We must not heal the sickness lightly. We must emphasize the reality. The Lord gave Jeremiah two visions to clarify the nature of his calling and commission, two witnesses if you will. The first one stresses the ultimate effectiveness of his ministry and the second its negative emphasis.
The first deals with the time of judgment and the second with the direction and nature of it. The almond tree is distinctive, as it is the first tree to blossom in the spring in Israel, sometimes even in February. This is the first of many botanical references in Jeremiah. The connection with the almond branch is a play on words. The meaning seems to be that just as the blooming of the almond branch announced that spring was near, so the prophet's word would herald the imminence of what he predicted.
The NEB translated the last part of the Lord's statement in this verse, "I am early on the watch to carry out my purpose. These two verses summarize a central theme of Jeremiah: the inevitable fulfillment of Yahweh's announcements concerning Judah and the nations. This vision may have come to Jeremiah immediately after the preceding one or at some other time. The Hebrew clarifies that a strong wind was blowing, thus making the fire under the pot hot, and causing it to boil over. Many of the commentators, and I, believe this refers to Babylon cf.
Whereas Babylon and Assyria lay to the northeast of Palestine, its invading armies would descend from the north, since the Arabian Desert kept them from advancing directly from the east. These enemies would invade Judah, besiege Jerusalem, and seek to conquer and rule the land. These sins demonstrated Judah's covenant unfaithfulness for which God had promised curses Lev. He was not to let fear discourage him from being obedient cf. The disobedient believer not only fears people, but he or she also has God to fear because God becomes his or her adversary cf.
It is better to have all the men in the world our enemies than God our enemy. He would make Jeremiah as impregnable as a fortress, as irresistible as a fortified city, as strong as an iron pillar, and as resistant to attack as a bronze wall. His greatness was "not his fame, but his faithfulness. The Lord would "rescue" him, as He had rescued the Israelites in the Exodus cf. It was not to be so in Jeremiah's day, and it cannot be so in a day like our own. The modern church is a 'non-prophet' organization. But now that the stage has been set, the reader must be careful not to forget this account of vocation, for its memory will return to haunt the prophet in later years and subsequent chapters.
The memory will emerge openly in the 'Confessions' that ensue from later trials, but still its shadow is felt in the last years of the prophet's life as a refugee in Egypt, cut off from the land in which the call came. Jeremiah's pre-birth calling was not really that unusual. God has also chosen every Christian before the foundation of the world Rom. He has chosen us to follow Him faithfully 1 Cor.
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He has also commissioned every Christian to announce His Word Matt. And He has promised to be with us, and to preserve us eternally, even though we live as aliens and strangers in a hostile world Matt. The first series of prophetic announcements, reflections, and incidents that comprise this part of the book deals with Jeremiah's ministry to his own people. Though Jeremiah ministered to the surviving Southern Kingdom of Judah after the fall of the Northern Kingdom of Israel to the Assyrians , he frequently referred to his nation as Israel, as did other prophets.
This reflects the fact that the Southern Kingdom, under Davidic kings, was the true Israel and that the Northern Kingdom was an apostate offshoot. Another main division of the book contains oracles against foreign nations chs. When lesser kings offended their overlords in some act of rebellion, the overlord sent a written message by the hands of a messenger. Several of these documents are extant today. It seems clear that there was a proper legal form in which to lay a charge against a rebel.
The shape was as follows: i an appeal to the vassal to pay heed, and a summons to the earth and the sky to act as witnesses; ii a series of questions each of which carried an implied accusation; iii a recollection of past benefits bestowed on the vassal with some statement of the offenses by which he had broken his treaty covenant ; iv a reference to the futility of ritual compensations, recourse to foreign cults, or other kinds of aid; v a declaration of culpability and a threat of judgment.
Chapter 2 reads like one of these documents in that it contains the basic elements. However, this was not a formal legal document that Yahweh sent to His people but spoken messages through His prophet. The form of the messages undoubtedly reminded the original hearers of these rib lawsuit documents and highlighted the position of the people as Yahweh's unfaithful vassals who had broken His covenant and were, therefore, in trouble with Him.
Those were the days of Israel's betrothal as a youth, before she settled down with the Lord in the land cf. Even though the Israelites were not completely faithful to the Lord in the wilderness, their commitment to Him then was much stronger then than it was in Jeremiah's day. Their error then was mainly lack of faith unbelief , whereas in Jeremiah's day it was departure from Him apostasy. We are going after the idol of the almighty dollar.
The best news out of New York is a vigorous stock market. The best news out of Washington is that which will put more money in our pockets. Money is the god of the present hour. The cry of America is, 'Great is the almighty American dollar,' and God is left out. She was His firstfruits among the nations that He would bless cf. The Lord punished peoples who tried to devour the Israelites then e. The oracle in introduces both the "apostasy-repentance" collection of oracles in — and the "foe-lament" collection in — The general flow of thought in this early part of Jeremiah's message is: from Israel's early devotion to Yahweh vv.
In this second pericope, the irrationality of Israel's apostasy stands out. Some scholars believe that attention-getting devices such as this one, and other clues in the text, indicate the beginning of a new oracle. This is possible, I think, but not absolutely certain. The Hebrew word hahebel , translated "emptiness," may be wordplay with the name Baal. They totally disregarded Him.
The priests, rulers, and false prophets all failed to direct the people to Yahweh and, instead, led them away from Him into unprofitable pursuits. One writer suggested that another wordplay with the name Baal may be lo' yo'ilu , translated "things that did not profit. The priests should have encouraged the people to be faithful to the covenant and should have kept the sacrificial system pure.
The governmental rulers lit. And many professing prophets, instead of bringing messages from the Lord, brought alleged directions from Baal and followed vain pursuits. We must treat men with love, we must treat them and talk to them humanly. But we must not tone down our message: the religious leaders of our day too are leading people astray. Even their grandchildren would experience His discipline because of their forefathers' sins. That is, they would have to live with the consequences of their forefathers' sins. None of their neighbor nations had ever forsaken gods whom they thought had blessed them in the past.
This was true of them all, from Kittim Cyprus , to Israel's northwest, to Kedar in the Arabian Desert , to the southeast cf. Yet the Israelites had forsaken the only true God, who had made them a glorious people, for gods that did not give them anything. These witnesses could only be appalled and shudder at such foolishness and feel desolate over such apostasy.
If he forsakes the living God, he passes in spite of himself into the service of dead, unreal gods. They had forsaken Yahweh who, like a fountain, had provided for their deepest needs cf. And they had pursued idols who, like broken cisterns, could not even hold water—much less provide it.
The most reliable source of water in Israel was a natural spring, and the least reliable was a cistern. Who but a fool positive, or one gone mad in love of filth, would exchange the sweet, wholesome stream of a living fountain for such an uncertain compound of nastiness and vermin! Perverse conduct was the consequence of Israel's apostasy and infidelity, and it led to slavery. People paid to purchase slaves for a period of service in Israel, but homeborn servants belonged to their masters as personal possessions Exod.
Then why had he become a prey to enemies? Enemy rulers, like "young lions," had threatened and devoured Israel's land and destroyed its cities. The lion was a symbol of both Assyria and Babylonia. The Northern Kingdom had gone into captivity in B. After that captivity, lions multiplied in the land and became a threat to the people who lived there cf. The Assyrians attacked the Israelites like voracious lions many times. But the statement of Israel's slavery in the form of two questions implies that slavery should never have come to pass. Israel, in its covenant, had been granted freedom.
Jeremiah personified Israel as a woman fem. In the ancient world long hair was a glorious thing cf. Perhaps Pharaoh Shishak's invasion of Judah in B. A more likely possibility is the slaying of King Josiah at Megiddo, when Pharaoh Neco took the crown king from the nation's head in B. In both instances Egypt had shorn Israel. Memphis Heb. Noph was the ancient capital of Lower Northern Egypt, about 13 miles south of modern Cairo. Tahpanhes Gr. Daphne stood near Lake Manzaleh in northeastern Egypt.
It was the first significant Egyptian town that travelers came to on a land journey from Judah to Egypt. It was about miles across the desert from Gaza. Later, Jeremiah and other Hebrew refugees settled there The Israelites had brought these calamities on themselves by forsaking Yahweh, their God, who had led them so competently in the earlier years of their history. In Jeremiah's day there was a pro-Egyptian party and a pro-Assyrian party. The Nile was muddy, and that may be the reason it was called "black. This reference to the Judahites seeking help from Egypt and Assyria probably dates this sermon sometime before the decline of Assyrian supremacy in the ancient Near East, namely, before B.
This should teach them that it was morally evil and experientially bitter for them to abandon Yahweh their God. All these bad things happened to them because they did not fear the Lord. No book in the OT contains so many nuances of this idea as Jeremiah. Ritual ablutions and sacrifices would not do the job cf.
All Judah had to do was examine her experiences, and she would see that she was all tangled up, like a young camel that got tangled up in its ropes from thrashing around where it did not belong. She goes backward and forward, quite literally 'crisscrossing her tracks. Like a wild female donkey in heat, Israel had done things that were unnatural cf.
Then she races down the road in search of the male. One Arab proverb runs, 'She is intoxicated with the urine of the male. Family members of a person addicted to drink do not have to look all over town for their errant one, they know precisely where he or she hangs out. The camel illustrates unreliability, and the donkey lust-based passion , in this instance. The people had worn out their sandals and fainted from thirst in their pursuit of idols.
Like many an alcoholic or drug addict, she believed it was impossible for her to submit to and serve her Master faithfully. John J. Reprinted in Idem, Lives and Miracles of the Saints. Essays in Honour of Anne Hudson , ed. Bari, , , Edipuglia, Quaderni di 'Vetera Christianorum', Northwestern University, Lloyd W. DALY, Padova, , 2 vols. An Investigation of his Works and Sources, Ph. Oxford University, HAHN, A. Plate et al. Apocalyptische geschriften en bewegingen door de eeuwen heen , ed.
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Karris, O. Introduction by Robert J. Bonaventure VII St. Karris, 3 Vols. Elise Saggau St. Cher, and St. Kitchen, J. Jahrhundert, Diss. The History of Its Interpretation. KREY, Ph. Luigi G. Ricci, G. Baroffio, L. Castaldi, M. La Bibbia in italiano tra Medioevo e Rinascimento. La Bibbia nel medioevo , ed. Leonardi, Collana la Bibbia nella Storia Bologna, La Scrittura infinita. Lay Bibles in Europe , ed. Testi sacri ebraici, cristiani, islamici dal Quattrocento al Settecento. Catalogo della mostra Venezia, Libreria Sansoviniana, 27 maggio luglio , ed. Studi, 51 Venice - Padova, Il Poligrafo, Le Moyen Age et la Bible, eds.
Actes du Colloque de Bordeaux de 22, 23 et 24 septembre , ed. LEVY, Ludwig ed. Die Wiederentdeckung der Freude im Liber super explanationem Lamentationum Ieremiae Willelmus Meldunensis monachus , ed. Michael Winterbottom, Rodney M. On non-biblical texts present in portable mendicant bibles. And these texts apparently were not so much for preaching purposes, but first and foremost for liturgical purposes. Bonaventure , trans. Migne, Literary Theory and Biblical Hermeneutics. Ganz, Proceedings of the Oxford International Symposium. Bibliologia, 4 Turnhout, , II, Il medioevo latino, 1.
La produzione del testo, eds. Paris: Beauchesne, , A Preliminary Investigation of his Sources," Biblica, 34, , ,, and Geburtstag , ed. The volumes also received an English translation. Mani's Psalms. Roma ottobre , Roma, , Irena Backus, 2 Vols. Leiden: Brill, , I, Freisinger Kolloquium , ed.
Haubrichs, E. SIMON eds. Scott, Medieval Literary Theory and Criticism c. University ofChicago, Proceedings of the Harlaxton Symposium , ed. Robert E. Nicholas of Lyra: The Senses of Scripture, ed. Philip D. Signer, and Mark Zier]. Nicolas Maniacoria, Suffraganeus Bibliothece , ed. See: TMR Nicholas of Lyra, Literal Commentary on Galatians , ed. Old Testament Narratives , ed. Friburgense i. Augustine's exegesis of Rom. See for this also under Tresley].
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