- The name Jeremiah is somewhat uncertain, but
scholars think it means, "the Lord founds,"
"the Lord exalts," or "the Lord
- Jeremiah hailed from Anathoth, about 3 miles
north of Jerusalem.
- His father was the priest, Hilkiah, but there
is no evidence that Jeremiah was ever a priest.
- Jeremiah's ministry covered forty years and
- Scholars think Jeremiah began his ministry
in 627 BCE when he was only 16-20 years old.
(This would have been the time that Josiah began
his reforms. But there are those who argue that
627 was the date of Jeremiah's birth and that
he didn't begin his ministry until 10-12 years
- God chose Jeremiah to be a prophet before
he was born.
- Like Moses, Jeremiah said he didn't know how
to speak and that he was only a boy. Neither
reason was accepted by Yahweh.
- His call was confirmed the day he noticed
a branch on an almond tree. Yahweh asked what
he saw and told Jeremiah that he would be "watching"
over his word.
- Another vision involved a cauldron on a hot
fire. The wind was coming from the north and
was so hot that the cauldron was boiling over.
Because it was slightly tipped, the liquid was
running toward the south (Judah).
- The covenant between God and his people was
paramount to Jeremiah.
- He used versions of the word "to turn"
or "repent" more than any other prophet.
Still the people did not listen to him.
- Jeremiah never married because God commanded
him not to.
- Jeremiah performed many symbolic acts.
- One was to not participate in a funeral because
he wanted the people to know that in the Day
of Judgment mourning would be impossible.
- He also refrained from festivities and eating
and drinking to illustrate that such happiness
would no longer be seen in the land.
- One day he smashed an earthenware jar in front
of some elders and priests to indicate that
as the jar was broken so was the community.
Neither could be repaired.
- At another time he gathered a group of people
(Rechabites) who had been faithful and insisted
they drink wine (after their father forbid them
to do so). They refused and only then did he
commend them for their obedience, while again
pointing out to the people the difference between
their behavior and that of the Rechabites.
- Shortly after Jehoiakim became king, Jeremiah
delivered his "Temple Sermon" during
which time he listed all the king's evil deeds
and proclaimed that he would die a shameful
death. It almost cost him his life on the spot,
and although he was acquitted from all charges,
it set the stage for continued conflict with
the elders and priests.
- It might have been about a year later that
he dictated "everything he'd been told
to preach the past 23 years" to his secretary
Baruch ben Shaphan. He wanted the nation to
know that Yahweh's words (and hence everything
he had been saying) were about to be fulfilled.
- Baruch read the scroll to those at the temple
courtyard because Jeremiah had already been
forbidden to go there. The message was so inflammatory
that those in attendance took it to the king,
who promptly had it burned. He tried to find
Jeremiah and Baruch, but by this time they were
- Obviously, another scroll was dictated and
passed down through the ages.
- During the siege of Jerusalem (when Jeremiah
was locked up in the court of the guard), he
bought some land to indicate that land would
be bought and sold again in Judah.
- After the initial siege of Jerusalem, when
foreigners gathered to plot a rebellion against
Nebuchadnezzar, he paraded in front of them
with a yoke around his neck, hoping to convince
people to submit to Babylon and NOT to provoke
- Later on, the prophet, Hananiah, took the
yoke off from Jeremiah's neck and broke it while
prophesying that Yahweh would break the yoke
of Babylon. Of course, people preferred his
version, and Jeremiah was mocked.
- or these reasons, his countrymen accused him
of being a traitor.
- The Babylonians apparently knew some of what
he had been saying (especially about submitting
to them) and thought he was on their side.
- But Jeremiah saw the bigger picture and knew
that if Yahweh had chosen them for judgment,
it was pointless to resist.
- Indeed, he tried to convince Zedekiah to surrender
early on. (In the end, of course, Jeremiah was
right about everything.)
- He gave a person on the way to exile a scroll
and told him to throw it in the Euphrates to
illustrate how the Babylonians would "sink,
to rise no more."
- In 587 BCE, Jerusalem was captured and the
temple was destroyed. Jeremiah would have been
in his late 50s.
- When he got to Egypt (he was taken against
his will), he buried some huge stones at the
entrance to the government building and pronounced
that one day the king of Babylon would sit upon
those very stones on his throne. (This actually
- No one knows what happened to Jeremiah after
he got to Egypt. His last act was to condemn
the people who went there and who forced him
to go along.
- Jeremiah saw lessons to be learned in simple
everyday things. Good and bad figs represented
those in exile and those who stayed behind.
- Watching a potter made him realize that the
potter has absolute control over his work, much
like Yahweh had absolute control over the future
of his people.
- Jeremiah suffered terribly and was rejected
by his countrymen.
- His preaching was very upsetting to them,
so much so that they oftentimes laughed him
- Occasionally, Jeremiah blamed Yahweh for making
him a laughingstock of the people.
- At one point, Jeremiah cursed the day he was
born. He was much like Job in his lamenting
with God. Jeremiah believed that good people
would prosper and wicked people would suffer.
And he knew that he was carrying God's message
(and therefore good), but he was still suffering
terribly. This did not make sense to him.
- He was in constant conflict with other prophets
and was generally hated by a populace that didn't
want to hear what he was being told to say.
- He complained to God, and several times asked
him to wreak vengeance against his enemies.
- But at other times, Jeremiah found strength
and joy in preaching God's words. He praised
Him and prayed to Him.
- Jeremiah is unique among the prophets for
disclosing more of his personal feelings than
any other prophet.
- His writings are filled with emotional conflict
and the cost of being God's spokesperson.
- For his reward, he spent a night in stocks,
was thrown in a cistern, and was imprisoned
various times. People plotted to kill him and
usually ostracized him.
- Someone might think that Jeremiah's ministry
was a failure because he lived a very conflicted
life and no one listened to him. But others
are quick to point out that it is because of
Jeremiah that people were able to see through
the judgment of the exile and disintegration
of their nation to the promise of hope and restoration
that lay ahead.
Brueggemann, Walter. "Jeremiah, 1-25. To Pluck Up, To Tear Down." International Theological Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm B Eerdmans, 1984.
Davidson, Robert. "Jeremiah." Daily Study Bible Series. Philadelphia, PA: Westminster Press, 1984.
Harrison, R.K. "Jeremiah & Lamentations." Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1973.
Herbert, A.S. "Jeremiah - 26-52." The Cambridge Bible Commentary. Great Britain: Cambridge University Press, 1975.
Thompson, J.A. "The Book of Jeremiah." The New International Commentary on the Old Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm B Eerdmans, 1980.