O.T. #41: Jeremiah, Baruch ben Neriah,Kings, Lamentations,
Josiah, Bet ha Mikdosh, Kohen, Nephi, Josiah, Jehoiakim, Pashur, Zephanihah, stoned to death. November 2014
Jeremiah, (Heb. יִרְמְיָהוּ, meaning Yah Exalts), also called the “Weeping prophet”, one of the major prophets of the Hebrew Bible. He was a prophet, not to the Jews only, but to the neighboring nations.
Born: 655 BC, Anathoth, near Jerusalem, Died: 586 BC, Egypt
In the premortal spirit world, God appointed certain spirits to fulfill specific missions during their mortal lives. This is called foreordination. Foreordination does not guarantee that individuals will receive certain callings or responsibilities. Such opportunities come in this life as a result of the righteous exercise of agency, just as foreordination came as a result of righteousness in the premortal existence.
The Lord told Jeremiah, “The word of the Lord came to unto me, saying, before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations” (Jeremiah 1:5). John the Baptist was foreordained to prepare the people for the Savior’s mortal ministry (see Isaiah 40:3; Luke 1:13-17; 1 Nephi 10:7-10).
In the opening chapters of the Book of Mormon, Nephi laments that the prophet Jeremiah has been cast into prison (1 Ne 7:14) sometime before the 8th year of the reign of Zedekiah: 600-592 b.c. However, the Bible does not mention Jeremiah being imprisoned before the 10th year of the reign of Zedekiah (Jer 32;1-2)
Credited with authoring the Book of Jeremiah, 1 Kings, 2 Kings and the Book of Lamentations, with the assistance and under the editorship of Baruch ben Neriah, his scribe and disciple. Judaism considers the Book of Jeremiah part of its canon, and regards Jeremiah as the second of the major prophets. Son of Hilkiah, a Kohen (priest), he was called to prophesy in 626 b.c., at 30. (See Jer 1:6-8)
It is likely that Jeremiah knew Lehi. Others in and around Jerusalem at this time were: Habakkuk, Ezekiel, Urijah, Zephaniah, Daniel, and Nephi. Nephi himself mentions “many prophets” prophesying to those in Jerusalem that they “must repent” or the city would be destroyed (1 Nephi 1:4).
Active from the thirteenth year of Josiah, king of Judah (3298 HC, or 626 BC), until after the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of Solomon’s Temple in (3358, or 587 BC). This period spanned the reigns of five kings of Judah: Josiah,
Jehoahaz, Jehoiakim, Jehoiachin, and Zedekiah.
The Lord called Jeremiah to prophetic ministry about one year after Josiah king of Judah had turned the nation toward repentance from the widespread idolatrous practices of his father and grandfather. Ultimately, Josiah’s reforms would not be enough to preserve Judah and Jerusalem from destruction, both because the sins of Manasseh, Josiah’s grandfather, had gone too far and as a result of Judah’s return to Idolatry (Jer 11.10). Such was the lust of the nation for false gods that after Josiah’s death, the nation would quickly return to the gods of the surrounding nations. Jeremiah was appointed to reveal the sins of the people and the coming consequences.
“…the major portion of the substance of this ‘book’ was never designed for the literary context in which it has survived; the stuff of which Jeremiah’s book is constructed started life in various contexts, ranging from public proclamation to private diary. What we are dealing with, then, in reading the Book of Jeremiah, is a work that is essentially an anthology, or more precisely an anthology of anthologies.” Craigie,et.al.
Jeremiah saw the destruction of Jerusalem and of the Bet ha Mikdosh (Temple), after his warnings and prophecies fell on deaf ears. When the catastrophe came, he lamented the terrible fate of his people in the Book of Eichah(Lamentations) lamenting destruction of the Temple He was a source of courage to his people by pointing out to them the path that would lead to their redemption.
After the death of Josiah, Jehoahaz was placed on the throne but the Egyptians took him in exile after only 3 months. The Egyptians made Jehoiakim king; he allowed the swift deterioration of Josiah’s reforms and vexed Jeremiah. He wasted the kingdom’s resources on a new palace. In 605 BC, the Egyptians were routed by the Babylonians at Carcamesh and thereby the Assyrian Empire vanished.
The Babylonians moved into the Philistine plain the next year and devastated Ashkelon as well as causing great anxiety in Jerusalem. Jeremiah took advantage of the situation to preach his “Temple Sermon” (ch. 26). His preaching was not merely an attack on the state, it was a call to individual men to decide for the Kingdom of God against the kingdom of Jehoiakim. And his own life was an illustration of the immense cost of that decision. Jer 2:2-13: People commanded to hear word of God: Unrighteousness-you have gone far from Me, become vain. Land defiled, heritage now an abomination. I am the fountain of living water. You have made cisterns that hold no water.
Jer 15: Therefore thus said the LORD, If you return, then will I bring you again, and you shall stand before me: and if you take forth the precious from the vile, you shall be as my mouth: let them return to you; but return not you to them. Interpreted as a gentle rebuke to Jeremiah for his doubts respecting God’s care of him. Compare with (v.1), (6:29), (Ezek 44:23). May refer to prophet’s putting himself under protection of Gedaliah, governor of a province in Babylon.
Jer 20:1-6: Pashur was son of Melchiah (1Chron 9:12), a captain or overseer of the Temple w/power to arrest false prophets. He punished Jeremiah as disturber of peace. On the great festivals, the whole body of priests were called upon to assist in the sacrifices; multitudes came to the temple at these times. Jeremiah prophesied on temple grounds. Guards doubled, greater number of captains on constant duty; Pashur smote Jeremiah, and put him in the stocks of Benjamin. Jeremiah was silent till God put words into his mouth. ( Jer 20:9) and he prophesied death and burial of Pashur and his friends, giving Judah to Babylon. This is when persecution really began for him.
Jeremiah recounts how if he tries to shut the word of the Lord inside and not mention God’s name, the word becomes like fire in his heart and he is unable to hold it in.
Jeremiah 26 is a narrative of the danger to which Jeremiah was exposed by reason of the prophecy contained in Jeremiah 7and should be read in connection with it. Prophecy said to be revealed in fourth year of reign of Jehoiakim. Jeremiah 26:4-6 contain a summary of the prediction contained in Jeremiah 7, and that again is an outline of what was a long address. It was probably pronounced at one of the great feasts: Feast of Tabernacles – for the inhabitants of “all the cities of Judah” are represented as present (Jer 7:1, 26:2).The prophet threatened that the temple shall be as Shiloh, and the land a curse: exhorted to repentance, Jer 26:1-7. He is apprehended and arraigned, Jer 26:8-11. His apology, Jer 26:12-15. The princes clear him by the example of Micah, Jer 26:16-19, and of Urijah, J er 26:20-23, and by the care of Ahikam, Jer 26:24.
Jeremiah 36-38: Jeremiah here inserts a history of some things which related to, or had a connection with, his prophecies; (as Isaiah did with regard to his) We are informed they came to be writtenby the express order of God, that they might stand upon record before the things foretold came to pass; so that there might be no room to say he had never prophesied such and such things, or that the prophecies were made after the things they pretended to foretell had happened.
In Jewish rabbinic literature Jeremiah and Moses are often mentioned together; their life and works being presented in parallel lines. The following ancient story is especially interesting, in connection with Deut. 18:18, in which “a prophet like Moses” is promised: “As Moses was a prophet for forty years, so was Jeremiah; as Moses prophesied concerning Judah and Benjamin, so did Jeremiah; as Moses’ own tribe [the Levites under Korah] rose up against him, so did Jeremiah’s tribe revolt against him; Moses was cast into the water, Jeremiah into a pit; as Moses was saved by a slave (the slave of Pharaoh’s daughter); so, Jeremiah was rescued by a slave (Ebed-melech); Moses reprimanded the people in discourses; so did Jeremiah.”
A Quick Recap of the Life of the Prophet Jeremiah
He took an official tour to announce to the cities of Judah the contents of the book of the law, found in the temple (Jer 11:6) five years after his call to prophesy. On his return to Anathoth, his countrymen, offended at his reproofs, conspired against his life. To escape their persecutions (Jer 11:21), as well as those of his own family (Jer 12:6), he left Anathoth and resided at Jerusalem. During the eighteen years of his ministry in Josiah’s reign he was unmolested; also during the three months of Jehoahaz or Shallum’s reign (Jer 22:10-12).
On Jehoiakim’s accession it became evident that Josiah’s reformation effected nothing more than a forcible repression of idolatry and the establishment of the worship of God outwardly. The priests, prophets, and people then brought Jeremiah before the authorities, urging that he should be put to death for his denunciations of evil against the city (Jer 26:8-11). The princes, however, especially Ahikam, interposed in his behalf (Jer 26:16, 24), but he was put under restraint, or at least deemed it prudent not to appear in public.
In the fourth year of Jehoiakim (606 B.C.), he was commanded to write the predictions given orally through him, and to read them to the people. Being “shut up”, he could not himself go into the house of the Lord (Jer 36:5); he therefore deputed Baruch, his amanuensis (literary assistant), to read them in public on the fast day. The princes thereupon advised Baruch and Jeremiah to hide themselves from the king’s displeasure. Meanwhile they read the roll to the king, who was so enraged that he cut it with a knife and threw it into the fire; at the same time giving orders for the apprehension of the prophet and Baruch.
They escaped Jehoiakim’s violence, which had already killed the prophet Urijah (Jer 26:20-23). Baruch rewrote the words, with additional prophecies, on another roll (Jer 36:27-32). In the three months’ reign of Jehoiachin or Jeconiah, he prophesied the carrying away of the king and the queen mother (Jer 13:18; 22:24-30; compare 2Ki 24:12). In this reign he was imprisoned for a short time by Pashur (Jer 20:1-18), the chief governor of the Lord’s house; but at Zedekiah’s accession he was free (Jer 37:4), for the king sent to him to “inquire of the Lord” when Nebuchadnezzar came up against Jerusalem (Jer 21:1-3, &c.;
Jer 37:3). The Chaldeans drew off on hearing of the approach of Pharaoh’s army (Jer 37:5); but Jeremiah warned the king that the Egyptians would forsake him, and the Chaldeans return and burn up the city (Jer 37:7, 8).
The princes, irritated at this, made the departure of Jeremiah from the city during the respite a pretext for imprisoning him, on the allegation of his deserting to the Chaldeans (Jer 38:1-5). He would have been left to perish in the dungeon of Malchiah, but for the intercession of Ebed-melech, the Ethiopian (Jer 38:6-13). Zedekiah, though he consulted Jeremiah in secret yet was induced by his princes to leave Jeremiah in prison (Jer 38:14-28) until Jerusalem was taken. Nebuchadnezzar directed his captain, Nebuzar-adan, to give him his freedom, so that he might either go to Babylon or stay with the remnant of his people as he chose.
As a true patriot, notwithstanding the forty and a half years during which his country had repaid his services with neglect and persecution, he stayed with Gedaliah, the ruler appointed by Nebuchadnezzar over Judea (Jer 40:6). After the murder of Gedaliah by Ishmael, Johanan, the recognized ruler of the people, in fear of the Chaldeans avenging the murder of Gedaliah, fled with the people to Egypt, and forced Jeremiah and Baruch to accompany him, in spite of the prophet’s warning that the people should perish if they went to Egypt, but be preserved by remaining in their land (Jer 41:1-43:13). At Tahpanhes, a boundary city on a branch of the Nile, he prophesied the overthrow of Egypt (Jer 43:8-13). Tradition says he died in Egypt. According to legend, he was stoned at Tahpanhes. The Jews so venerated him that they believed he would rise from the dead and be the forerunner of Messiah.
Here Jeremiah continued to prophesy the destruction by the Babylonians of his fellow refugees as also of the Pharaohs and of the temples of Egypt (Jer 37). Jeremiah probably died in Egypt. Whether his countrymen killed him can be neither affirmed nor denied. His life ended in suffering. His chief opponents belonged to the same two classes of which he himself was a member. The priests fought him because he declared sacrifice to be of little importance, and the prophets because he declared that it was self-interest which prompted them to prophesy good for the people.
The combination of features in Jeremiah’s character proves his divine mission; mild, timid, and susceptible of melancholy, yet intrepid in the discharge of his prophetic functions, not sparing the prince any more than the meanest of his subjects—the Spirit of prophecy controlling his natural temper and qualifying him for his hazardous undertaking.
Zephaniah, Habakkuk, Daniel, Ezekiel and likely Nephi, were his contemporaries. Jeremiah’s style corresponds to his character: he is peculiarly marked by pathos, and sympathy with the wretched; his Lamentations illustrate this; the whole series of elegies has but one object—to express sorrow for his fallen country; yet the lights and images in which he presents this are so many. His heaping of phrase on phrase, the repetition of stereotyped forms are due to his affected feelings and to his desire to intensify the expression of them; he is at times more concise, energetic, and sublime, especially against foreign nations, and in the rhythmical parts.
Character of His Religious Views: In conformity with the subjectivity of his nature, Jeremiah raised the conception of the bond between God and His people far above the conception of a physical relation, and transferred piety from mere objective ceremonies into the human heart (see 4:4, 17:9, 29:13, 31:31)., Through this conception of man’s relation to the divinity, the idea of the divine universality was very clearly demonstrated.
Although a large part of the passages in which the universality of God is most clearly expressed (Jer. 27:5, 11; 32:19) are doubtful as regards their authorship, there are nevertheless undoubted passages in which Jeremiah, although from the standpoint that Yahveh is the special God of Israel, expresses his conviction that He can reject nations other than Israel and afterward take them again into His favor. The conception of God is not completely abandoned, nevertheless His universality is the direct consequence of the portrayal of His omnipresence and omnipotence, filling heaven and earth (23:23; 2:16). Thus Jeremiah, starting out from his conception of God, can characterize the gods of the heathen as “no gods,” and can express his conviction that “among the idols of the heathen there is not one which can cause rain,” whereas Yahveh has made all. Even he conceives of a final restoration of the tribe of Israel.
Quotations from Jeremiah
v. 1:14-15: Then the LORD said unto me, Out of the north an evil shall break forth upon all the inhabitants of the land. For, lo, I will call all the families of the kingdoms of the north, saith the LORD; and they shall come, and they shall set every one his throne at the entering of the gates of Jerusalem, and against all the walls thereof round about, and against all the cities of Judah.
v. 2:5, 6: This is what the LORD says: “What fault did your ancestors find in me, that they strayed so far from me? They followed worthless idols and became worthless themselves. They did not ask, ‘Where is the LORD, who brought us up out of Egypt and led us through the barren wilderness, through a land of deserts and ravines, a land of drought and utter darkness, a land where no one travels and no one lives?’
v. 15:15, 18: When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart’s delight, for I bear your name, LORD God Almighty. Why is my pain unending and my wound grievous and incurable? You are to me like a deceptive brook, like a spring that fails.
v. 20:9 But if I say, “I will not mention his word or speak anymore in his name,” his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot.
v. 20:11,14: But the LORD is with me like a mighty warrior; so my persecutors will stumble and not prevail. They will fail and be thoroughly disgraced; their dishonor will never be forgotten. Cursed be the day I was born! May the day my mother bore me not be blessed!
v. 26:2, 18: “This is what the LORD says: “Stand in the courtyard of the LORD’s house and speak to all the people of the towns of Judah who come to worship in the house of the LORD. Tell them everything I command you; do not omit a word.” Micah of Moresheth prophesied in the days of Hezekiah king of Judah. He told all the people of Judah, This is what the LORD Almighty says: “Zion will be plowed like a field, Jerusalem will become a heap of rubble, the temple hill a mound overgrown with thickets.'”
v. 38:4: Then the officials said to the king, “This man should be put to death. He is discouraging the soldiers who are left in this city, as well as all the people, by the things he is saying to them. This man is not seeking the good of these people but their ruin.
v. 38:25: If the officials hear that I talked with you, and they come to you and say, ‘Tell us what you said to the king and what the king said to you; do not hide it from us or we will kill you.’