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Bible Commentaries
Jeremiah 1

Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New TestamentZerr's N.T. Commentary

Verse 1

General remarks. Jeremiah lived and wrote about a hundred years after Isaiah. The captivity of the ten tribes under the Assyrians had taken place over a century before, and that of the two tribes by the Babylonians was soon to occur. About all of the prophetic hooks contain some history although the books as a whole are classed among the books of prophecy. It will be necessary for ua to be. careful not to confound the parts that are Intended as actual history with those that are predictions and yet may seem to be historical in their form of speech. Jeremiah Is often called the "weeping prophet” because of his emotional and sympathetic interest in the misfortune of others. He was also a true patriot and had a deep love for his country. This accounts for his many sentimental passages, and his many repetitions of the same phrase with the apparent purpose of Impressing his readers with the seriousness of his grief. He belonged to the priestly line, but it is not clear whether he was directly descended from Abiathar or Zadok. The genuineness and authenticity of his writings is beyond question, for he was quoted with approval in Mat 2:17; Mat 27:9, there spelled Jeremy. This prophet wrote about the captivity, also he made predictions concerning the Gospel age of religion. In addition to writing prophecy and history, he, like Isaiah and the other prophets, wrote many severe passages of rebuke against the sinful nation, particularly its leaders. for which he was persecuted most shamefully by them. Many of the matters pertaining to Jeremiah will appear as the study of the book proceeds and will be commented upon in the order of their appearance. Jer 1:1. Land, of Benjamin refers to the district that was allotted to that tribe when Joshua divided the land among the 12 tribes (Jos 18:11-28). Anathoth was a city in this district of Benjamin but was not far from Jerusalem. It was the site of the homes and landed estates of the priests of the common order.

Verse 2

Jer 1:2. The date when Jeremiah began to write by the word of the Lord was the 13th year of Josiab, king of Judah. Josiah began to reign B.C. 639, which would make it B.C. 626 when Jeremiah was inspired by the Lord and began his writing. This was 20 years before the Babylonian captivity began. He continued his writing about the same number of years after it began, We shall see near the close of the book that the date of the termination of his writings is somewhat obscure on account of the difficulties thrown around him by his enemies.

Verse 3

Jer 1:3. The preceding verse states the time when Jeremiah began to write, this one gives the date when he completed his work on the book that bears his name. The books of the Bible were thus not composed all at any one “sitting,” but many of them were written just as the Lord would have something more he wished the writer to record. For instance, we have just seen that Jeremiah began to write In the 13th year of Josiah and concluded his writing In the 11th year of Zedekiah. But the work was not continuous through that period for this verse also tells us he wrote some in the days of Jehoiakim, another king of Judah who followed Josiah. It Is interesting to note that the close of Jeremiah's writing came at the same time the city was taken into hands by the Babylonians and the people taken off into captivity. That fact doubtless will account, for the termination of his writings; not that he personally was taken out of the land. But there will he more information on this subject before the end of the book.

Verse 4

Jer 1:4. Having given the important dates of the book of the prophet, this verse comes to some of the particulars regarding his “call” to the work of a writing prophet. Not all of the prophets in the Bible were writing prophets but many of them did their work orally only, while others both wrote and spoke in the name of the Lord, hence the distinction “writing prophet” just stated. In the beginning of this verse the pronoun me is used which, when connected with the statement in the first verse, shows definitely that Jeremiah is the author of the book. It is significant that Jeremiah began to write after the word of the Lord came to him which settles the question of his inspiration. It also agrees with the statement made in General remarks where the endorsement of the New Testament is cited.

Verse 5

Jer 1:5. God sees into the future with as much certainty as he does in the present. But he does not always determine what that future shall be; he never Interferes with the personal responsibility of any as regards matters of right and wrong. Yet he does frequently decree certain facts that pertain to his great work, and one of such instances is that of Jeremiah. Before he was even conceived by his mother God knew him. The lexicon definition of the original Hebrew for this word knew includes, "To ascertain by seeing" and "designation.1’ So God not only saw tile fact of Jeremiah’s conception and birth, but also designated (predetermined) that it should take place. Before he was born God sanctified him for the work of a prophet. That word is from qadash which Strong defines, "A primitive root; to be (causatively make, pronounce or observe as) clean (ceremonially or morally).” Since the word Is here used in regard to Jeremiah as a prophet, the part of the definition that applies is “ceremonially." Foreseeing that Jeremiah was going to be born by divine decree, and that he would be personally a righteous man, God decided to have him for one of his prophets. Nations is from cot which has been rendered in the A.V. by Gentile 30 times, heathen 142, nation 373 and people 111. Jeremiah was a Jew and his work was primarily on behalf of his own people. However, the Jewish nation had more or less dealings with other nations, hence the prophets of God wrote about them and made predictions either of blessings or punishments against them depending on the circumstances. Not only did they write about them, but many of their predictions referred to the coming of Christ which was to be of Interest to the whole world.

Verse 6

Jer 1:6. Then is an adverb of time and refers to the occasion when the word of the Lord came first to Jeremiah. The exact date of his birth is not available; Funk and Wagnalls Bible Dictionary says he was perhaps twenty when he received his prophetic call. At any rate his own statement in this verse indicates be was young at the time; we also have the information of the lexicon. The word child is from NAHAB and Strong defines it, "A boy (as active), from the age of Infancy to adolescence.” Jeremiah seemed to underestimate his qualification as a prophet due to his tender years. He certainly overlooked the truth that inspiration does not need to rely on natural talents for Its work since the power comes from Him who made all things.

Verse 7

Jer 1:7. Say not I am a child does not mean to dispute the fact of Jeremiah’s age, but the thought is that he was not to consider that as an obstacle In the way of the work before him. There is nothing too hard for the Lord, and he who caused the dumb beast to speak (Num 22:28-30) can surely enable the weakest of man to do so. I shall setid thee and whatsoever I command gives tiie explanation of how Jeremiah was to be able to speak regardless of bis youthful age. But the ability to speak is not all there is of Importance in this passage. Thou shalt speak indicates that. Jeremiah will not be at liberty to say just what he might personally wish to say, but he must say what the Lord directs him to say. The same restriction is placed on the teachers in the kingdom of Christ. (2Ti 4:2; 1Pe 4:11.)

Verse 8

Jer 1:8. The word for faces is sometimes rendered "countenances" and that is the idea In this place. Jeremiah was destined to go up against people who would not like his teaching and who would give him many threatening looks. The Lord is assuring him of his support and that he need have no fear because of the threats of enemies.

Verse 9

Jer 1:9. The Lord sometimes resorts to literal actions, both by himself and through his servants, in bringing about certain results. This doubtless is for the effect of making a strong impression, In Jeremiah's case his inspiration was indicated by the hand of the Lord being brought into contact with his mouth. The action would especially denote his inspiration when speaking to the people.

Verse 10

Jer 1:10. It is evident that Jeremiah did not actually contact the institutions of the world to pull them down, hence the words are used In some indirect sense. A similar statement was made by Ezekiel (Eze 43:3), and the marginal reading at that place is, "When I came to prophesy that the city should be destroyed.” The same kind of rendering should be made in our verse. It means Jeremiah will be Instructed to prophesy to the nations and kingdoms that God is going to cause tho threatened calamities, or else bring the favorable events according to the circumstances of the case.

Verse 11

Jer 1:11-12. The word almond is bhaqeo and Strong's definition is, “The almond (tree or nut; as being the earliest in bloom)." Hasten is from shaqao which Strong defines, “A prim* itive root; to be alert, i.e, sleepless; hence to be on the lookout (whether for good or ill).” Here is an unusual coincidence of words. The two in italics have no similarity of meaning in the English, yet the originals are almost identical in meaning. The circumstance gives us one of the methods the Lord takes in his use of words that get their meaning from the characteristics of the objects bearing the names of said words. The almond is one of the earliest of trees to Show up in the spring blooming season. Because of this fact the Lord chose the word in his descriptive prediction because it was practically the same in meaning as another word in the Hebrew vocabulary that specifically does mean to hasten or be on the alert. And the underlying reason for this peculiar phrasing was the truth that the things being predicted were soon to be fulfilled; not be on the list of happenings that were many years in the future. As a visual circumstance for the impressions on the mind of the prophet, God caused him lo see a rod or limb taken from the almond tree. The event that was soon to occur was the Babylonian Invasion that was to result in the captivity of the nation. Jeremiah began to write in the year 627 B.c„ and the invasion came in G06 u.c,, only 21 years later. This short interval of time would justify the prediction made by the imagery of the almond tree.

Verse 13

Jer 1:13. Again the Lord causes the prophet to see an object In his vision. It is a seething pot and the context indicates according to the original that it Is seething or boiling because it is being fanned by a brisk wind, Toward the north is rendered "from the face of the north” in the margin and the lexicon agrees with it, also the next verse so renders It in the text. This seething pot which contains a hot mixture that is being made more intense by the brisk blowing, represents the Babylonian army that was soon to come against Jerusalem and the country in general.

Verse 14

Jer 1:14. This verse expressly predicts that the evil is to break forth out of the north. The map shows that Babylon was east and not north of Jerusalem. But the picture represents the invasion as it will appear to the people of Palestine when they first see it. They will actually see that the Babylonian army is coming upon them from the north of the land of Palestine. This fact of history is explained by a lengthy note in connection with Isa, 14:31 in the 3rd volume, of this Commentary.

Verse 15

Jer 1:15, This is more along the same line as the preceding verses and is expressed in more direct language. The Lord told the prophet that he would call the people from the north as has been explained. At the time of the invasion there was to be but one government engaged in the movement, which would be the Babylonians. The terms families and kingdoms refer to the divisions of the army that were to operate in unison under the authority of the emperor. Set every one his throne or seat means these various units would fix their proper places in the siege against Jerusalem which was the capital of the Jewish nation. Of course at the same time the necessary attention would be given to the other cities of Judah to see that nothing is done to hinder the siege. The fulfillment of this invasion and siege is recorded in 2 Kings 24, 25 for the Biblical account. The historical fulfillment was quoted with the comments on Isa 3:1 in the 3rd volume of this Commentary.

Verse 16

Jer 1:16, Cities of Judah in the preceding verse is the antecedent of them. and their in this. Their wickedness refers to the idolatrous practices that the people of Judah (the 2-tribe kingdom) had been following for so long. It has always been true that "no man can servo two masters.” When the Jews took to serving idols it was after they had forsaken the true God. Other gods and works of their own hands refers to the different, kinds of idolatrous worship. They worshiped the sun and moon and other things in the creation, and also formed idols by hand out of wood and stone and metal. Part of the idolatrous worship (even as was true of that rendered to God) consisted of animal sacrifices burned on altars erected for that purpose. In other cases it consisted of burning of incense to the gods. The latter is the form that is charged against the people In this instance.

Verse 17

Verse 17. Gird, up thy loins is a figurative expression for the prophet to "Get hold of himself" or brace himself to meet the test. He is to meet the corrupt people and rebuke them for their sins, and it will arouse their anger and bring forth many threats if not actual physical violence. The Lord bids him not to be dismayed at their faces which means their threatening countenances. The prophet is also placed under a threat from the Lord in case he shrinks from the struggle which is decreed he shall have. To confound means "to prostrate” or "break down" according to the lexicon definition of the original word. Should Jeremiah flinch before those unworthy people then he will get some of the wrath of God poured out upon him.

Verse 18

Jer 1:18. The pronoun thee stands for Jeremiah and the passage is a figurative assurance to him that he will be able to withstand the attacks of the enemy. As a defenced city, iron pillar and brasen walls would provide a condition of security in literal things, so Jeremiah was to be just that secure against the would-be thrusts of those wicked Jews. The itemizing of kings, princes, priests and people would indicate that the prophet was to be set against all classes in the nation, for all had departed from the Lord. However, while all classes as a whole had departed from the Lord, we will bear in mind that a few exceptions existed among them such as our prophet Jeremiah and other men like him in character.

Verse 19

Jer 1:19. They refers to the kings and other persons mentioned in the preceding verse. The prophet was not only warned to prepare for opposition, but he is now plainly told that It will come from these sources. Again the assurance is given him that his enemies will not prevail. The reason for that assurance is also stated, that it is because the Lord is with him. (See Rom 8:31.)
Bibliographical Information
Zerr, E.M. "Commentary on Jeremiah 1". Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/znt/jeremiah-1.html. 1952.
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