Jeremiah Adapted from http://www.usccb.org/nab/bible/jeremiah/intro.htm Not this guy This guy (by Rembrandt) Jeremiah Adapted from http://www.usccb.org/nab/bible/jeremiah/intro.htm O Lord, you have enticed me, and I was enticed; you have overpowered me, and you have prevailed. I have become a laughingstock all day long; everyone mocks me. For whenever I speak, I must cry out, I must shout, “Violence and destruction!” For the word of the Lord has become for me a reproach and derision all day long. If I say, “I will not mention him, or speak any more in his name,” then within me there is something like a burning fire shut up in my bones; I am weary with holding it in, and I cannot. For I hear many whispering: “Terror is all around! Denounce him! Let us denounce him!” All my close friends are watching for me to stumble. “Perhaps he can be enticed, and we can prevail against him, and take our revenge on him.” But the Lord is with me like a dread warrior; therefore my persecutors will stumble, and they will not prevail. They will be greatly shamed, for they will not succeed. Their eternal dishonor will never be forgotten. O Lord of hosts, you test the righteous, you see the heart and the mind; let me see your retribution upon them, for to you I have committed my cause. Sing to the Lord; praise the Lord! For he has delivered the life of the needy from the hands of evildoers. Jeremiah 20:7-13 Josiah hearing the rediscovered early edition of Deuteronomy Jeremiah was born about 650 B.C.E of a priestly family from the little village of Anathoth, near Jerusalem. While still very young he was called to his task in the thirteenth year of King Josiah (628), whose reform, begun with enthusiasm and hope, ended with his death on the battlefield of Megiddo (609) as he attempted to stop the northward march of the Egyptian Pharaoh Neco. The prophet heartily supported the reform of the pious King Josiah, which began in 629 B.C.E. There are connections in literary style and content linking Jeremiah and Josiah to Deuteronomy and the Deuteronomistic History (Joshua-2 Kings, minus Ruth). Some scholars (like Friedman) think Jeremiah’s scribe Baruch may have been the author of both. Recently discovered clay seal with Baruch’s name After the death of Josiah the old idolatry returned, and the leaders continued to exploit the poor. Jeremiah opposed this with all his strength. Arrest, imprisonment, and public disgrace were his lot. Jeremiah saw in the nation's impenitence the sealing of its doom. He saw the newly reborn Babylonian empire as God’s judgment on Judah for their faithlessness, idolatry and social injustice. During the years 598-587, Jeremiah attempted to counsel Zedekiah in the face of bitter opposition. The false prophet Hananiah proclaimed that the yoke of Babylon was broken and a strong pro-Egyptian party in Jerusalem induced Zedekiah to revolt. Jeremiah contradicted him Hananiah by walking the streets of Jerusalem wearing a yoke, the symbol of coming slavery. He counseled Zedekiah instead to submit to Babylon and spare his people, placing all his trust in God’s power to save. Jeremiah’s advice was refused, and he was labeled a traitor. Nebuchadnezzar took swift and terrible vengeance; Jerusalem was destroyed in 587 and its leading citizens sent into exile. About this time Jeremiah uttered the great oracle of the "New Covenant" (Jeremiah 31:31-34) sometimes called (by Christians) "The Gospel before the Gospel." This passage is a landmark in the theology of the Jewish Bible. The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant that I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt—a covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, says the Lord. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other, “Know the Lord,” for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the Lord; for I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more. The prophet remained amidst the ruins of Jerusalem, but was later forced into Egyptian exile by a band of conspirators. There, according to an old tradition, he was murdered by his own countrymen. The influence of Jeremiah was greater after his death than before. The exiled community read and meditated on the lessons of the prophet, and his influence can be seen in Ezekiel, certain of the psalms, and the second part of Isaiah. Shortly after the exile, the Book of Jeremiah as we have it today was published in a final edition.