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Jeremiah: Chapter 1

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1The words of Jeremiah son of Hilkiah, of the priests who were in Anathoth in the land of Benjamin, 2to whom the word of the LORD came in the days of King Josiah son of Amon of Judah, in the thirteenth year of his reign. 3It came also in the days of King Jehoiakim son of Josiah of Judah, and until the end of the eleventh year of King Zedekiah son of Josiah of Judah, until the captivity of Jerusalem in the fifth month.

4Now the word of the LORD came to me saying,5

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”

6Then I said, “Ah, Lord GOD! Truly I do not know how to speak, for I am only a boy.” 7But the LORD said to me,

“Do not say, ‘I am only a boy’; for you shall go to all to whom I send you, and you shall speak whatever I command you. 8 Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, says the LORD.”

9Then the LORD put out his hand and touched my mouth; and the LORD said to me,

“Now I have put my words in your mouth. 10 See, today I appoint you over nations and over kingdoms, to pluck up and to pull down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant.”

11The word of the LORD came to me, saying, “Jeremiah, what do you see?” And I said, “I see a branch of an almond tree.” a Gk Syr Vg Tg: Heb it is 12Then the LORD said to me, “You have seen well, for I am watching b Gk: Heb Pul over my word to perform it.” 13The word of the LORD came to me a second time, saying, “What do you see?” And I said, “I see a boiling pot, tilted away from the north.”

14Then the LORD said to me: Out of the north disaster shall break out on all the inhabitants of the land. 15For now I am calling all the tribes of the kingdoms of the north, says the LORD; and they shall come and all of them shall set their thrones at the entrance of the gates of Jerusalem, against all its surrounding walls and against all the cities of Judah. 16And I will utter my judgments against them, for all their wickedness in forsaking me; they have made offerings to other gods, and worshiped the works of their own hands. 17But you, gird up your loins; stand up and tell them everything that I command you. Do not break down before them, or I will break you before them. 18And I for my part have made you today a fortified city, an iron pillar, and a bronze wall, against the whole land— against the kings of Judah, its princes, its priests, and the people of the land. 19They will fight against you; but they shall not prevail against you, for I am with you, says the LORD, to deliver you.

Notes:

b Gk Syr Vg Tg: Heb it is

c Gk: Heb Pul

Text Commentary view alone

1.1–3 : Superscription.

The superscription conforms to the superscriptions of several of the propheticbooks (Hos 1.1; Am 1.1; Mic 1.1; Zeph 1.1 ) and seems, therefore, to represent a stage in the gatheringand editing of the larger prophetic corpus as a whole.

1 :

Words, the Heb term may also mean “thing”or “matter.” It need not be understood as a claim that all the words contained in the book stem fromJeremiah himself, especially since significant portions are written in the third person. The name Jeremiahmay mean “the LORD [Yahweh] exalts.” Priests … in Anathoth, see Introduction. Anathoth is locatedat modern Ras el‐Kharrubeh about 4.5 km ( 2.8 mi) northeast of Jerusalem.

2 :

Thirteenth year of his reign, 627 BCE. (See Introduction.)

3 :

Eleventh year of King Zedekiah, 587 BCE. Captivity … fifth month, 2 Kings 25.8–12.

1.4–19 : Jeremiah's call and related visions.

The narrative of Jeremiah's call follows a typical pattern(see Ex 3–6; Judg 6.11–18; Isa 6 ) involving God's identification of a task and commission of the calledone to be God's agent (v. 5 ), the excuses of the commissioned one (v. 6 ), God's promise to be with thecommissioned one (vv. 7–8 ), and God's giving a sign (vv. 9–10 ).

4 :

Word of the Lord, characteristicexpression in Jeremiah, emphasizing that his message is God's word.

5 :

Knew, connotes a profound andintimate knowledge. To the nations, the call narrative introduces and presumes the entire book ofJeremiah, including the oracles against the nations. It portrays Jeremiah's ministry as a critical momentin world history (cf. Jer 25 ).

6–8 :

The call narrative invites comparison between Jeremiah and Moses(cf. Ex 4.10–12 ), suggesting that the editors of the book understood Jeremiah as the “prophet like Moses”predicted in Deut 18.15–19 .

7–8 :

Cf. Ex 4.11–12 .

9 :

15.16; cf. Ex 4.12; Deut 18.18.

10 :

To pluck up and to pull down … to build and to plant anticipates the themes of both judgment and restoration. Thephrases are echoed throughout the book in various prose passages ( 18.7; 24.6; 31.28,40; 42.10; 45.4;cf. 18.14 ).

11–12 :

It is unclear whether vv. 11–19 are to be understood as elements of the call or assubsequent visionary experiences. Almond tree, play on words (see textual notes a and b). Cf. similarvision/puns in Amos ( 7.7–9; 8.1–3 ).

13–14 :

Tilted away from the north, this translation implies that thepot was spilling its hot contents toward the south. Invaders into Palestine often came from the north, and “the foe from the north” comes to be a stereotype of the invading enemy, even of chaos ( 6.22; Ezek38.15 ).

15–19 :

An expansion, perhaps secondary, of the thought in vv. 4–8 . The phraseology is characteristic of other prose sections of the book.

15 :

Set their thrones, 43.10; 49.38 .

16 :

Offerings to other gods, 7.9; 11.12,13,17; 19.4,13; 32.29; 44.3,5,8 , etc.

17 :

Gird up your loins, in preparation for actionor combat.

18 :

Fortified city, 6.27 . Iron pillar, bronze wall, 15.12,20; cf. 28.13,14.

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