Published on March 5, 2014
Jeremiah (11-20) The Weeping Prophet Introduction to the Old Testament 2 Dr. Vanessa Ward United Theological Seminary By Natasha Harrell and Angeline Lee
An Introduction To Jeremiah • By word count the Book of Jeremiah is the largest of the prophetic books of the Old Testament. Because of its size, this book was placed at the head of the Major Prophets in some ancient lists and manuscripts. • Later tradition identifies Jeremiah as the author of the book of Lamentations.  • Jeremiah’s ministry extended more than forty years, encompassing much of the reigns of the last five kings of Judah. He was a contemporary of the prophets Zephaniah, Nahum, Habakkuk, and Ezekiel. Jeremiah’s ministry beginning with his call in 627 b.c. extending beyond the fall of Jerusalem in 586 b.c.  • Because his ministry is one of the most thoroughly documented in the Old Testament, Jeremiah is one of the best known of the prophets. 
An Introduction To Jeremiah • Jeremiah is known as “The Weeping Prophet.” This man suffered as no other Biblical character save the Son of God himself.  Some scholars have documented aspects of Jeremiah’s public ministry themed as that of “agony” with three distinct aspects of his personal suffering being: – Ministerial: Jeremiah experienced the agony of his message of judgment. He saw clearly in vision the total destruction of the land he loved. He saw the suffering of men, women and children. Emotionally he was drained each time he shared those dire visions with his audience (13:17). The people he loved—the people he knew were standing on the brink of national destruction —refused to listen. The men of his own hometown plotted his demise (11:19, 21).
An Introduction To Jeremiah – Psychological: Jeremiah’s personal loneliness intensified his agony. If ever a man needed a sympathetic spouse, this prophet surely did. Yet God ordered him not to marry (16:2). For the same reason God prohibited Jeremiah from attending social gatherings, whether feasts or funerals (16:5– 9). This prophet was to be a “loner” and through his loneliness he would preach a sermon. – Physical: Jeremiah’s agony had physical as well as psychological dimensions. The chief officer of the Temple had him seized, flogged and put in the public stocks overnight (20:1). During the last days of Jerusalem, Jeremiah was arrested on the charge of treason. Again he was beaten, then was thrown into a subterranean dungeon where he nearly died (37:11).
Historical Contextual Analysis A Timeline Perspective… Historical Background of the Book. As predicted by the prophet Nahum, the Assyrian capital city of Nineveh had fallen to the expanding Babylonian empire around 612 B.C. During this time, King Josiah finished his reign in Judah around 609 B.C. (2 Kings 22). He was initially replaced in rapid succession first by Jehoahaz and then by Jehoiakim who ruled from 609 B.C. to about 602 B.C. During his reign, the Babylonians first invaded Judah in 606 B.C. and carried some Jews into captivity. Very shortly, Jehoiakim would rebel against the Babylonians and be replaced by Jehoiachin around 598 B.C. In turn, Jehoiachin rebelled, the Babylonians again invaded the land, confiscated most of the treasures from the temple, carried most of the Jews into captivity in Babylonian territory, and installed Zedekiah as King. After about 10 years, Zedekiah also rebelled which resulted in the third deportation of Jews, an 18 month siege of Jerusalem, and the destruction of the city in 586 B.C. (2 Kings 25). Solomon's temple, which had existed for about 360 years, was destroyed along with the city. 
Historical Contextual Analysis Additional Points… – Chapters 2–25 form the first major division of the book. These chapters are mainly pre605 b.c. Jeremiah had been preaching for twenty-three years before he was instructed to record his sermons on a scroll. The prophet dictated his messages to the scribe Baruch. – This first edition of the Book of Jeremiah was destroyed in 604 b.c. by the tyrant King Jehoiakim. God, however, commissioned Jeremiah to produce another scroll. This second edition of the book contained all the words of the first scroll and “many similar words” as well (36:32). A third edition of the book must have been produced by Baruch about 560 b.c in Egypt after the death of Jeremiah. – The historical Jeremiah was deeply in the politics of his day and paid a high price for it by way of ridicule, rejection, persecution, imprisonment, and exile. At the same time, the literary character of Jeremiah personifies the sufferings of the inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem during the final years of the Davidic monarch” 
Literary Analysis • The book of Jeremiah has been recognized as “an anthology of anthologies,” a compilation of various collections of Jeremiah’s oracles and pronouncements as well as biographical and autobiographical accounts of his life and ministry with prose and poetic forms juxtaposed throughout the book. • The first half of the book, which includes Chapters 11-20, is comprised primarily of oracles against Judah and Jerusalem and dates primarily from the reign of Jehoiakim. • There is clear evidence throughout the book of Jeremiah of edits made under the Deuteronomic school of writers.
Literary Analysis • The arrangement of materials in the Book of Jeremiah has been called the most confused in the Old Testament. The material contained in the book has large portions presented in chronological order, however, there are inserted chapters that jump forward or backward in time lending exegetes to believe that Jeremiah (for those who subscribe to the ‘historical Jeremiah’ perspective) or his editor Baruch must have at times grouped material according to a topical rather than a chronological purpose. • Clustered in the first major section of the book are the “Confessions” of Jeremiah which are specifically found in passages 11:18-12:6, 15:1021, 17:4-18; 18:18-23, and 20:7-18. – “Confessions” are variations of the lament genre found principally in the Psalms and in the Book of Job. Laments which are “appeals for divine help in distress and are subdivided into two principal categories of Individual Laments and Communal Laments. 
Literary Analysis • It is also key to note that until the late twentieth century, a majority of scholars used the many narrative and historical details in the book to construct a biography of the ‘historical Jeremiah.’ More recently many have concluded that while biography is one purpose of the book, the prophet is more a literary character in the book than an actual historical person.”
Jeremiah: Peripheral or Centralist Prophet? Jeremiah was a Centralist Prophet because from before his birth he was called by Yahweh to be the one to go the nations of Judah and Jerusalem. He was not appointed to intercede for them but to declare Yahweh’s word against their actions towards Yahweh. Centralist Prophet Definition: “They apparently played no role in the cult and did not act as intercessors, but they did have governmental functions” 
Jeremiah: Peripheral or Centralist Prophet? • • • • Jeremiah: NO CULT Jeremiah was called by Yahweh before his birth as “prophet to the nations”  Deeply involved in the politics of his day Understood his purpose was to be Yahweh’s shepherd/servant to the Nations of Judah and Jerusalem Biblical References • • • “It was the Lord who made it known to me and I knew.” (Jer. 11.18) “Your words were found and I ate them, and your words became to me joy and delight of my heart; for I am called by your name, O, Lord of hosts.” (Jer. 15.16) “But I have not run away from being shepherd in your service…” (Jer. 17.16)
Jeremiah: Peripheral or Centralist Prophet? • • Jeremiah: Was Not An Intercessor Jeremiah was instructed by God not to speak nor to pray on behalf of the Nations he was instructed to go to the where the Kings entered and declare Yahweh’s prophetic word Biblical References • • • “As for you, do not pray for this people, or lift up a cry or prayer on their behalf, for I will not listen when they call to me in their time of trouble. (Jer. 11.14) “The Lord said to me: Do not pray for the welfare of this people .” (Jer. 14.11) “ For thus says the Lord: Do not enter into the house of mourning, or go to lament, or bemoan them: for I have taken away my peace from this people, says the Lord, my steadfast love and mercy.” (Jer.16.5)
Jeremiah: Peripheral or Centralist Prophet? Biblical References (continued) • • “..proclaim all this in the cities of Judah, an in the streets of Jerusalem..(Jer. 11.3), Go and stand at the peoples gate, by which the Kings of Judah enter and by which they go out, and in all the gates of Jerusalem,…(Jer. 17.19) Other biblical references of Jeremiah being called to the city gated can be found in Jer. 18.1-4 and 19.1-3 Text references • • Jeremiah was an eye witness to the proceedings of the divine council The prophet was instructed to stand at the entrance of the Temple and there to announce Yahweh’s conditions…
Jeremiah’ s Theological Message • The meaning found in Jeremiah serves to remind, restore, and reward the nations-if the people of the nation turn back to Yahweh. A message of hope. Biblical Reference • • “At one moment I may declare concerning a nation or kingdom…but if that nation…turns from its evil, I will change my mind about the disaster that I intended to bring it. Jeremiah presents a reminder for the life and death circumstances that have come against the nations. Within his elaborate illustration of pain and endurance to the calling he created a paralleling theological message that speaks to the need for the relationship with respect to the covenant to be restored between God and the people. 
Jeremiah’ s Theological Message Biblical reference (continued) • He illustrates how he was covered and rewarded by Yahweh’s protection because of his relentless faithfulness to Yahweh’s prophecy. Text Reference • However, the prophet continued to maintain that Yahweh would not entirely abandon his people.
Jeremiah’ s Theological Message • The meaning found in Jeremiah serves to remind, restore, and reward the nations-if the people of the nation turn back to Yahweh. A message of hope. Biblical reference • • “At one moment I may declare concerning a nation or kingdom…but if that nation…turns from its evil, I will change my mind about the disaster that I intended to bring it. Jeremiah presents a reminder for the life and death circumstances that have come against the nations. Within his elaborate illustration of pain and endurance to the calling he created a paralleling theological message that speaks to the need for the relationship with respect to the covenant to be restored between God and the people. 
Jeremiah’ s Theological Message • He illustrates how he was covered and rewarded by Yahweh’s protection because of his relentless faithfulness to Yahweh’s prophecy. Text Reference • However, the prophet continued to maintain that Yahweh would not entirely abandon his people.
References  Smith, J. E. (1992). The Major Prophets. Old Testament Survey Series (Je). Joplin, MO: College Press.  Coogan, Michael David (2011). The Old Testament: A Historical and Literary Introduction to the Hebrew Scriptures, 2nd ed. New York: Oxford University Press.  Smith  Myers, A. C. (1987). The Eerdmans Bible dictionary (566). Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans.  Smith  Ibid  http://www.biblequestions.org/archives/bqar419.htm  Smith  Ibid  Coogan  Myers  Ibid  Ibid  Coogan  Smith  Coogan  Ibid  Ibid  Wilson, Robert R. "Early Israelite prophecy." Interpretation 32, no. 1 (January 1, 1978): 3-16. ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials, EBSCOhost (accessed February 10, 2014). Pg. 14  Coogan, 369  Ibid.368  Ibid.371  Ibid.373  Ibid.374  Ibid.373  Ibid.374  Ibid.373
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