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Holman Bible Dictionary

Jeremiah

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(jehr ih mi' uh) Personal name meaning, “may Yahweh lift up,” “throw,” or “found.”

1. The head of a clan of the tribe of Manasseh in East Jordan (1 Chronicles 5:24 ). 2 . Three soldiers of David's army at Ziklag (1Chronicles 12:4,1Chronicles 12:10,1 Chronicles 12:13 ). 3 . The father-in-law of King Josiah of Judah (640-609 B.C.) and grandfather of the Kings Jehoahaz [609 B.C.] (2 Kings 23:31 ) and Zedekiah (597-586 B.C.) (2 Kings 24:18 ; Jeremiah 52:1 ). 4 . A representative of the sect of the Rechabites (Jeremiah 35:3 ). 5 . Three priests or heads of priestly families in the times of Zerubbabel about 537 B.C. (Nehemiah 12:1 ,Nehemiah 12:1,12:12 ) and Nehemiah about 455 B.C. (Nehemiah 10:2 ; Nehemiah 12:34 ).

Other persons by the name of Jeremiah are referred to in Hebrew inscriptions from Lachish and Arad about 700 B.C. and in a number of ancient Jewish seals. The Bible has a short form of the name seventeen times and a long form 121 times. Both forms are applied to the prophet. Inscriptions use the longer form.

Jeremiah, the prophet The Bible tells us more about personal experiences of Jeremiah than of any other prophet. We read that his father's name was Hilkiah, a priest from Anathoth (Jeremiah 1:1 ). He was called to be a prophet in the thirteenth year of King Josiah (627/6 B.C.) (Jeremiah 1:2 ). He was active under the Kings Jehoahaz-Shallum (609 B.C.) (Jeremiah 22:11 ), Jehoiakim (609-587 B.C.) (Jeremiah 1:3 ; Jeremiah 22:18 ; Jeremiah 26:1 ; Jeremiah 35:1 ; Jeremiah 36:1 , Jeremiah 36:9 ), Jehoiachin/Jeconiah/Coniah (597 B.C.) (Jeremiah 22:24 ; Jeremiah 24:1 ; Jeremiah 27:20 ; Jeremiah 28:3 ; Jeremiah 29:2 ; Jeremiah 37:1 ), and Zedekiah (597-586 B.C.) (Jeremiah 1:3 ; Jeremiah 21:1 ; Jeremiah 27:1-12 ; Jeremiah 28:1 ; Jeremiah 32:1 ; Jeremiah 34:2 ; Jeremiah 37-38 ; Jeremiah 39:4 ; Jeremiah 52:7 ). When Jerusalem was destroyed by the Babylonians in 587 B.C., Jeremiah moved to Mizpah, the capital of Gedaliah, the newly appointed Jewish governor of the Babylonian province of Judah (Jeremiah 40:5 ). When Gedaliah was assassinated (Jeremiah 41:1 ), Jeremiah was deported to Egypt against his will by Jewish officers who had survived the catastrophes (Jeremiah 42:1-43:7 ). In Egypt he continued to preach oracles against the Egyptians (Jeremiah 43:8-13 ) and against his compatriots (Jeremiah 44:1-30 ).

Jeremiah is depicted as living in constant friction with the authorities of his people, religious (priests Jeremiah 20:1-6 ; prophets Jeremiah 28:1 ; or both Jeremiah 26:1 ), political (kings Jeremiah 21-22 ; Jeremiah 36-38 ), or all of them together (Jeremiah 1:18-19 ; Jeremiah 2:26 ; Jeremiah 8:1 ), including Jewish leaders after the Babylonian invasion (Jeremiah 42:1-43:13 ). Still his preaching emphasized a high respect for prophets whose warning words could have saved the people if they had listened (Jeremiah 7:25 ; Jeremiah 26:4 ; Jeremiah 29:17-19 ; Jeremiah 35:13 ). He trusted in the promise of ideal future kings (Jeremiah 23:5 ; Jeremiah 33:14-17 ). He recommended national surrender to the rule of the Babylonian Empire and called Nebuchadnezzar, Babylon's emperor and Judah's most hated enemy, the “servant of the Lord” (Jeremiah 25:9 ; Jeremiah 27:6 ). He even incited his compatriots to desert to the enemy (Jeremiah 21:8 ). He was accused of treason and convicted (Jeremiah 37:11 ; Jeremiah 38:1-6 ), and yet the most aggressive oracles against Babylon are attributed to him (50–51). Enemies challenged his prophetic honesty and the inspiration of his message (Jeremiah 43:1-3 ; Jeremiah 28:1 ; Jeremiah 29:24 ), and yet kings and nobles sought his advice (Jeremiah 21:1 ; Jeremiah 37:3 ; Jeremiah 38:14 ; Jeremiah 42:1 ).

He constantly proclaimed God's judgment upon Judah and Jerusalem, and yet he was also a prophet of hope, proclaiming oracles of salvation, conditioned (Jeremiah 3:22-4:2 ) or unconditioned (30–31; Jeremiah 32:36 ; Jeremiah 33:6 ; Jeremiah 34:4 ). God forbade him to intercede for his people (Jeremiah 7:16 ; Jeremiah 11:14 ; Jeremiah 14:11 ; compare Jeremiah 15:1 ); yet he interceded (Jeremiah 14:7-9 ,Jeremiah 14:7-9,14:19-22 ). God ordered him to live without marriage and family (Jeremiah 16:2 ). He had to stay away from the company of merrymakers (Jeremiah 15:17 ) and from houses of feasting (Jeremiah 16:8 ). He complained to and argued with God (Jeremiah 12:1-17 ), complaining about the misery of his office (Jeremiah 20:7-18 ). At the same time he sang hymns of praise to his God (Jeremiah 20:13 ).

Jeremiah's call came in the thirteenth year of King Josiah, about 627/6 B.C. (Jeremiah 1:2 ; Jeremiah 25:3 ; compare Jeremiah 36:2 ). Josiah remains however, the only Jewish king contemporary with Jeremiah to and about whom no word is spoken in the whole book. No concrete reference appears to any of the dramatic changes of national liberation and religious reformation within the last eighteen years of Josiah's reign (2 Kings 22:1-23:30 ). The words of the call narrative: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, I appointed you as a prophet to the nations” (Jeremiah 1:5 NIV), may suggest that the date of Jeremiah's call and birth is one and the same. In this case his prophetic activity must have begun many years later, but again with uncertain date.

The Book of Jeremiah

1. Origin This second longest book of the Bible, next to the Psalms, is the only one of the Old Testament that tells us some details of its origin. According to Jeremiah 36:1-26 , Baruch had written a first version at the dictation of Jeremiah. The scroll was read first in public, and then again for the state officials and for the king. King Jehoiakim burnt it piece by piece. Jeremiah therefore dictated a second and enlarged edition of the first book to Baruch (Jeremiah 36:32 ). Additional references to Jeremiah's own writing activity (Jeremiah 30:2 ; Jeremiah 51:60 ; compare Jeremiah 25:13 ) forbids the identification of the scroll of Jeremiah 36:32 with the present form of the biblical book.

2. Structure and Content The book may be subdivided into the following main sections:

I. Call narrative and Visions (Jeremiah 1:1-19 )

II. Prophecies and Visions (Jeremiah 2:1-25:14 )

III. Stories about Jeremiah (Jeremiah 26:1-45:5 )

IV. Oracles Against Foreign nations (Jeremiah 25:15-38 ; Jeremiah 46:1-51:64 )

V. Historical epilogue (Jeremiah 52:1-34 )

VI. Oracles on the restoration of Israel (Jeremiah 30:1-31:40 )

This structure is not based on chronology as seen above. Nor is it based on form. The so-called confessions of Jeremiah (Jeremiah 11:18-23 ; Jeremiah 12:1-6 ; Jeremiah 15:10-21 ; Jeremiah 17:14-18 ; Jeremiah 18:19-23 ; Jeremiah 20:7-13 ,Jeremiah 20:7-13,20:14-18 ) are scattered through Jeremiah 11-20 . Oracles of hope (Jeremiah 30-31 ) interrupt the stories about Jeremiah (Jeremiah 26-45 ). Words against kings (Jeremiah 21:11-22:30 ) and against prophets (Jeremiah 23:9-40 ) appear to be independent collections. The complex nature of the structure is further complicated by evidence from the earliest Greek translation. There the oracles against foreign nations are in a different order and appear immediately after Jeremiah 25:13 rather than at Jeremiah 46:1 . This and other evidence suggests a long and complicated process of collection of the Jeremiah materials into a book. Traditional scholarly theories have tried to attribute poetic oracles to Jeremiah, stories about the prophet to Baruch, and prose sermons to a later editor who used the Book of Jeremiah to exemplify and teach the theology of the Book of Deuteronomy. Such theories are much too simplistic and must be discarded. Aside from the stories of the scroll's destruction, expansion, and recopying (Jeremiah 36:1 ), we do not know all the processes through which God led to produce His inspired Book of Jeremiah.

3. Text of the Book The earliest Greek version of Jeremiah, dating back to pre-Christian centuries, is more than 12.5% shorter than the Hebrew text. Only a few longer sections are missing (Jeremiah 33:14-26 ; Jeremiah 39:4-13 ). The Greek text rather uses less titles and epithets, and single words and verses are missing throughout the book. More than 2700 words of the Hebrew text do not have Greek equivalents. Fragments of Hebrew manuscripts from Qumran show that a longer and a shorter Hebrew text existed side-by-side in the time of Jesus. This confirms that the development of the Book of Jeremiah continued for centuries. Growing agreement among Jeremiah Bible students suggests that the shorter text represents an older stage of development.

4. The Message Theologically, the Book of Jeremiah stimulates the search for the will of God in moments when all the institutions and religious representatives normally in charge of administrating His will are discredited. Neither the Davidic monarchy (Jeremiah 21:1-22:30 ), nor prophets and priests (Jeremiah 23:9-40 ), nor the cultic institutions of the Temple (Jeremiah 7:1-34 ; Jeremiah 26:1-9 ) could help the people to prevent impending calamities; nor could they detect that inconspicuous apostasy that mixes up the little aims of personal egoism (Jeremiah 2:29-37 ; Jeremiah 7:21-26 ; Jeremiah 28:1-17 ) with God's commission (Jeremiah 4:3 ). God's justice and righteousness cannot be usurped by His People. He can be a stumbling block even for His prophet (Jeremiah 12:1-6 ; Jeremiah 20:7-12 ). Execution of judgment and destruction is not God's delight. God himself suffers pain because of the alienation between Himself and His people (Jeremiah 2:1-37 ). Better than the prophet was able to admit, the apostate members of God's people remembered a correct notion of the nature of God. He continued to be their Father, and His anger would not last forever (Jeremiah 3:4 ,Jeremiah 3:4,3:12-13 ). Conversion is possible (Jeremiah 3:14 ,Jeremiah 3:14,3:22 ; Jeremiah 4:1-2 ), but this is no consolation for the apostate generation. Contrary to the expectations of the religious and political authorities, Judah and Jerusalem would meet the cruel catastrophe. This was not God's last word. His faithfulness prevails and creates new hope where all hope is lost (Jeremiah 30-33 ).

Outline

I. God Calls His Spokesman (Jeremiah 1:1-19 ).

II. God's Spokesman Warns His People (Jeremiah 2:1-6:30 ).

A. God brings a lawsuit against His unfaithful people (Jeremiah 2:1-37 ).

B. God pleads with His faithless people to return (Jeremiah 3:1-4:4 ).

C. God threatens judgment through invasion (Jeremiah 4:5-6:30 ).

III. Prophetic Theology Opposes Traditional Theology (Jeremiah 7:1-11:17 ).

A. A place of worship cannot save (Jeremiah 7:1-15 ).

B. A prophet cannot fulfill his traditional role for a people who foresake God (Jeremiah 7:16-20 ).

C. Obedience, not ritual, is the most important (Jeremiah 7:21-28 ).

D. False worship will have its terrible reward (Jeremiah 7:29-8:13 ).

E. Lamentation, not praise, is the appropriate worship in face of desolation and deceitfulness (Jeremiah 8:14-9:22 ).

F. Worship of images is folly in light of God's creative power (Jeremiah 9:23-10:16 ).

G. God threatens judgment through exile (Jeremiah 10:17-25 ).

H. A covenant brings disaster on God's people (Jeremiah 11:1-17 ).

IV. Struggle with God Defines the Prophetic Role (Jeremiah 11:18-20:18 ).

A. Prophesying can be life-threatening (Jeremiah 11:18-12:6 ).

B. God laments His errant people (Jeremiah 12:7-17 ).

C. God's purpose is to punish pride and promote humility (Jeremiah 13:1-27 ).

D. God can reject and prohibit prayers for forgiveness (Jeremiah 14:1-15:9 ).

E. God's spokesman makes personal sacrifices because of God's calling (Jeremiah 15:10-16:21 ).

F. Trust in humans rather than God leads to destruction (Jeremiah 17:1-11 ).

G. God's spokesman must keep listening to God and preaching (Jeremiah 17:12-27 ).

H. God's spokesman centers his message on God's freedom, not on human expectations (Jeremiah 18:1-23 ).

I. God's message leads to persecution of His spokesman (Jeremiah 19:1-20:6 ).

J. God's spokesman struggles with God over the hostility of the people (Jeremiah 20:7-18 ).

V. God's Spokesman Confronts Unfaithful Leaders (Jeremiah 21:1-29:32 ).

A. God's spokesman calls for sorrow and judgment based on the king's injustice (Jeremiah 21:1-22:30 ).

B. God's spokesman bases hope on future righteous leaders (Jeremiah 23:1-8 ).

C. God's spokesman must condemn those who preach lies (Jeremiah 23:9-40 ).

D. God's word of hope is based in faithful, suffering people, not in institutions (Jeremiah 24:1-25:38 ).

E. Prophetic hope lies in repentance, not in the Temple (Jeremiah 26:1-6 ).

F. A prophetic precedent protects the endangered prophet (Jeremiah 26:7-24 ).

G. God can condemn faithless leaders to serve enemies to fulfill His purpose (Jeremiah 27:1-22 ).

H. God's true prophet overcomes false prophecy through God's divine Word (Jeremiah 28:1-17 ).

I. Hope rests in dependence on God, not on popular prophecies or political power (Jeremiah 29:1-32 ).

VI. God Promises Restoration (Jeremiah 30:1-33:26 ).

A. Restoration is based on God's promises in His preserved Word (Jeremiah 30:1-24 ).

B. Restoration is based on God's faithfulness (Jeremiah 31:1-14 ).

C. Restoration is based on God's mercy (Jeremiah 31:15-26 ).

D. Restoration is based on God's promises to establish a new covenant with His people (Jeremiah 31:27-40 ).

E. God's spokesman demonstrates his trust by a purchase of land (Jeremiah 32:1-44 ).

F. Restoration is based on God's promises to restore the nation and David's dynasty (Jeremiah 33:1-26 ).

VII. God Protects His Spokesman (Jeremiah 34:1-40:6 ).

A. God promises punishment upon the privileged for their treachery to their slaves (Jeremiah 34:1-22 ).

B. God commends the Rechabites for their faithfulness (Jeremiah 35:1-19 ).

C. God protects His servants and His Word from a wicked ruler (Jeremiah 36:1-32 ).

D. God protects His servant from a weak and foolish ruler (Jeremiah 37:1-38:28 ).

E. Prophetic preaching proves true (Jeremiah 39:1-10 ).

F. Even foreign leaders acknowledge prophetic authority (Jeremiah 39:11-14 ).

G. God protects His servant during a national crisis (Jeremiah 39:15-40:6 ).

VIII. God's Spokesman Warns Those Who Continue in Unfaithfulness (Jeremiah 40:7-45:5 ).

A. Political intrigue offers no basis for hope (Jeremiah 40:7-41:18 ).

B. Disobeying God's Word brings disaster, not hope, for the remnant (Jeremiah 42:1-43:13 ).

C. Disobeying God's law of loyal worship brings disaster, not hope, for the remnant (Jeremiah 44:1-14 ).

D. The people answer God's spokesman with continued defiance (Jeremiah 44:15-19 ).

E. Jeremiah promises punishment for the people (Jeremiah 44:20-30 ).

F. God promises His faithful servant his life despite desperate changes (Jeremiah 45:1-5 ).

IX. God's Spokesman Warns the Nations (Jeremiah 46:1-51:64 ).

A. God promises judgment upon Judah's pagan neighbors (Jeremiah 46:1-49:39 ).

B. God promises perpetual desolation for the destroyer of His people (Jeremiah 50:1-51:64 ).

X. Unfaithfulness Causes Destruction for God's People (Jeremiah 52:1-34 ).

Hans Mallau


Copyright Statement
These dictionary topics are from the Holman Bible Dictionary, published by Broadman & Holman, 1991. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman & Holman.

Bibliography Information
Butler, Trent C. Editor. Entry for 'Jeremiah'. Holman Bible Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/hbd/j/jeremiah.html. 1991.

Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, November 17th, 2019
the Week of Proper 28 / Ordinary 33
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