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Book of Jeremias

Book of Jeremias
by Timothy Kenney, PhD

The Book of Jeremias, second of the Major Prophets of the Old Testament of the Bible, derives its name from the the Holy Prophet Jeremias. He was son of the priest Helkiah, from the city of Anathoth near Jerusalem, and he lived 600 years before the Birth of Christ, under the Israelite king Josiah and four of his successors. His prophetic career ranged from about 626 BC, during the reign of Josiah, at least to the fall of Jerusalem (586 BC) and the deportation of the people. At that time Jeremiah was taken by the remaining Jewish community to Egypt, where he died. The career of Jeremias embraced the period of Josiah's reformation (626-622 BC); the years of resurgent Judaic nationalism(608-597BC); the period leading to the final demise of Judah (597-586 BC); and the time in Egypt. His Feast Day in the Orthodox Church is May 1st.

The Prophet Jeremias wrote his Book of Prophecies and also the Book of Lamentations about the desolation of Jerusalem and the Exile. The Septuagint version of Jeremias also includes the Book of Baruch and the Epistle of Jeremiah. The arrangement of the text in the Septuagint varies from that of the Hebrew text and the Vulgate. The discourses against the heathen nations, in the Hebrew text, Chapters 46-51, are, in the Septuagint, inserted after 25:13 and partly in different order. Great differences exist also as to the extent of the text of the Book of Jeremias. The text of the Hebrew and Latin Bibles is about one-eighth larger than that of the Septuagint. In many cases the Alexandrian translation has retained the better and original reading; consequently, in most cases the Hebrew text is glossed. In a book as much read as Jeremias the large number of glosses cannot appear strange. The dogmatic content of the discourses of Jeremias is not affected by these variations in the text.

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Brief sunmmary.

The book of Jeremias covers the period of the seventh century before Christ and, like Isaias, prophecies the Lord's wrath upon His sinful people. He was called to prophetic service at the age of fifteen, when the Lord revealed to him that even before his birth the Lord had chosen him to be a prophet. Jeremias refused, citing his youth and lack of skill at speaking, but the Lord promised to be always with him and to watch over him. He touched the mouth of the chosen one and said, "Behold, I have put My words into your mouth. Behold, I have appointed you this day over nations and kingdoms, to root out and to pull down, to destroy and to rebuild, and to plant" (Jer. 1:9-10). From that time Jeremiah prophesied for twenty-three years, denouncing the Jews for abandoning the true God and worshipping idols, predicting sorrows and devastating wars. The book is referred to many times in the New Testament. The messianic prophecies of salvation in Jeremiah are often read in the festal services of the Church.

The Book of Jeremias can be organized into three areas:

  1. Prophecies Relating to Current History & Domestic Matters - Jer 1-45
  2. Oracles Against Foreign Nations - Jer 46-51
  3. Appendix: The Fall of Jerusalem and Related Events - Jer 52

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Detailed Outline.

I. Prophecies Relating to Current History and Domestic Matters - Jer 1-45.

  • Chapters 1-20. Prophicies occurring between 625 BC and the fourth year of Jehoiachin.
  • Chapters 21-25:14. Utterances relating to the kings of Judah and false prophets.
  • Chapters 25:15-38. A summary of prophecies against foreign nations.
  • Chapters 26-28. Predictions of the fall of Jerusalem.
  • Chapter 29. Letter to the deportees in Babylonia.
  • Chapters 30-31. Messages of consolation.
  • Chapters 32-44. Prophecies from the time of Zedikian.
  • Chapter 45. A message to Baruch.

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II. Oracles Against Foreign Nations - Jer 46-51.

  • Chapter 46. Against Egypt.
  • Chapter 47. Against Philistia.
  • Chapter 48. Against Moab.
  • Chapter 49:1–6. Against Ammon.
  • Chapter 49:23–27. Against Edom.
  • Chapter 49:28–33. Against Damascus.
  • Chapter 49:34–39. Against Kedar and Hazor.
  • Chapter 49:34–39. Against Elam.
  • Chapters 50-51. Against Babylon.

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III. Appendix: The Fall of Jerusalem and Related Events - Jer 52.

Chapter 52. Capture and destruction of Jerusalem. Favor shown to Jehoiachin.

We now turn to the Book of Lamentations in our next article.

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