Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges

General Editor for the Old Testament:—A. F. KIRKPATRICK, D.D.














by the


The present General Editor for the Old Testament in the Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges desires to say that, in accordance with the policy of his predecessor the Bishop of Worcester, he does not hold himself responsible for the particular interpretations adopted or for the opinions expressed by the editors of the several Books, nor has he endeavoured to bring them into agreement with one another. It is inevitable that there should be differences of opinion in regard to many questions of criticism and interpretation, and it seems best that these differences should find free expression in different volumes. He has endeavoured to secure, as far as possible, that the general scope and character of the series should be observed, and that views which have a reasonable claim to consideration should not be ignored, but he has felt it best that the final responsibility should, in general, rest with the individual contributors.



During the 32 years which have elapsed since this volume of the Cambridge Bible was first published much study has been bestowed by English and Continental theologians on the Book of Jeremiah as well as upon the function discharged by the prophets in the development of O.T. religion. The results of that study have made it necessary to include large additions and modifications in the Introductions and Notes. In the Introduction to Jeremiah chs. 2, 5, and 6 will be found to be altogether new, while chs. 3 and 4 have received considerable expansion.

A. W. S.


January, 1913



I.  Introduction

Chapter I. Life and Times of Jeremiah

Chapter II. The Religious Teaching of the Book

Chapter III. Jeremiah and other Prophets. Character and Style of the Book

Chapter IV. Contents and Arrangement

Chapter V. The Use of Metre by Jeremiah

Chapter VI. Bibliography, etc.

II.  Notes


I.  Introduction

Chapter I. Name, Position, and Structure of the Book

Chapter II. Authorship, Date, and Place of Writing of the Book

Chapter III. Subject-matter and Purpose of the Book, etc.

II.  Notes




Syria, Assyria, Armenia, etc.

Jerusalem (Ancient)

Jerusalem (Modern)

“It is difficult to conceive any situation more painful than that of a great man, condemned to watch the lingering agony of an exhausted country, to tend it during the alternate fits of stupefaction and raving which precede its dissolution, and to see the symptoms of vitality disappear one by one, till nothing is left but coldness, darkness, and corruption.”

Lord Macaulay.





1. The public life of Jeremiah embraces a period marked by political and social changes of no ordinary character, and the Book itself displays to us the circumstances and relations of the people of the time to a degree which the writings of none of the other prophets can approach.

2. Notices of Jeremiah before his call to prophetic office.

Ch. 1:1 gives us (a) his name, (b) his parentage, (c) his descent, and family dwelling-place.

(a) In the Hebrew his name takes the form Yirmĕyâhû, or (shortened) Yirmĕyah. Its meaning has not been reached with any certainty. Conjectures are,

i. that of Gesenius1[1], ‘whom Jehovah appoints.’

[1] ‘Jecit; id est, collocavit, constituit.’ He refers it (Thesaurus, sub v.) to an Aramaic root, occurring Daniel 7:9, ‘I beheld till the thrones were cast down’ (R.V. mg.).

ii. that of the Oxford Hebrew Lexicon (BDB), which is perhaps the most probable, ‘Jehovah looseneth’ (sc. the womb).

The name occurs as that of seven or eight other persons in the O.T., two of whom are mentioned in this Book (Jeremiah 35:3, Jeremiah 52:1).

(b) We are told (ch. Jeremiah 1:1) that Jeremiah was the son of Hilkiah. The same is the name of the high-priest, who in the eighteenth year of Josiah’s reign, and therefore five years subsequently to Jeremiah’s call (ch. Jeremiah 1:2), discovered the Book of the Law in the house of the Lord (2 Kings 22:8). We cannot, however, consider them identical. Had this been so, the fact would have been brought out clearly, and the name was not an uncommon one. Moreover it is plain that Jeremiah was not directly connected with the authorities of the Temple.

(c) Jeremiah was ‘of the priests that were in Anathoth’ (Jeremiah 1:1), one of the cities which with the lands in their neighbourhood had been assigned to priestly use.

Anathoth1[2] is mentioned as a city of the priests in Joshua 21:18. Thither Abiathar withdrew, when he was deposed from his office (1 Kings 2:26)2[3]. The landscape of Anathoth supplied to Jeremiah’s imagination its broad framework, the ‘hills of Ephraim’ (Jeremiah 4:15, Jeremiah 31:6; Jeremiah 31:15-20), ‘pride of Jordan’ (Jeremiah 12:5, Jeremiah 49:19; cp. Jeremiah 50:44), ‘bare heights’ on either side of Jordan (Jeremiah 3:2; Jeremiah 3:21, Jeremiah 4:11, Jeremiah 7:29)3[4]. So too the withering effect of its prevalent east winds would naturally suggest to his mind the figure used in Jeremiah 4:11.

[2] Now ‘Anata, a town in the tribe of Benjamin, 2½ miles N.E. of Jerusalem. “From its commanding position it has a fine view northward and also eastward over the broken hills of the wilderness, stretching down towards the north end of the Salt Sea.… A quarry at ‘Anata still supplies building stone to Jerusalem.” HDB s.v. Anathoth. We may add that there is no reason for connecting Josiah’s high-priest with that place.

[3] Thus Jeremiah may well have been descended through him from Eleazar (not Ithamar, see Art. Abiathar, HDB.), son of Aaron. Family tradition would thus have exercised an inspiring influence on his early training.

[4] See Findlay, The Books of the Prophets, vol. iii. Jeremiah and his Group, p. 159.

Jeremiah’s expression ‘a child’ (ch. Jeremiah 1:6), though doubtless signifying a sense of incompetence for the work to which he was being summoned, indicates that he was still a young man at the time of his call, as we find him apparently in full vigour of manhood for the space of forty years from that date.

3. The political condition of neighbouring nations so far as it affected Judah.

The position of Judah exposed it to attack from Egypt on the one side, from the eastern empire of Nineveh on the other. It was not strong enough to cope alone with either of these, and therefore the problem which it had to solve was, with which it should throw in its lot. Isaiah, whose prophecies terminated in the reign of Hezekiah, had earnestly dissuaded his countrymen from an Egyptian alliance (Isaiah 30:1-7). Sennacherib, king of Assyria, gave similar advice to Hezekiah through his messenger Rabshakeh (Isaiah 36:5-6). The destruction of Sennacherib’s army (b.c. 701)1[5] secured Judah against the fate which had befallen the Northern kingdom at the hands of Sargon (b.c. 722). The only important expedition made against Palestine during Esarhaddon’s reign (b.c. 681–668) was that which resulted in the removal of Manasseh, Hezekiah’s son and successor, as a captive to Babylon2[6]. Esarhaddon’s son Assurbanipal (b.c. 668–626) sent expeditions into Egypt, which he divided into twelve small principalities, thus delivering Judah from all present fear from that quarter. He is thought to have been ‘the great and noble Osnappar’ (Ezra 4:10) who brought over various tribes and settled them in the cities of Samaria, but, although Assyrian inscriptions of his time mention that Manasseh paid tribute to him3[7], yet the Ninevite king would appear to have left Judah undisturbed. Meanwhile Psammetichus I reunited Egypt under his sovereignty, and during his long reign (b.c. 666–610) succeeded in making his country extremely formidable to its Jewish neighbour. In his time Manasseh died, Amon his son followed for two years, and was succeeded (b.c. 639) by his son Josiah, whose reign was marked by an outward reformation of morals and the renewal of religious rites long in abeyance. No small addition to the political dangers in which Judah was involved consisted in a threatened incursion into its territory, probably c. b.c. 625, on the part of Scythian hordes1[8], a barbarous race swarming southward from the neighbourhood of the Black Sea, N. of the Crimea, after the manner of the Huns and Mongolians in later ages. They simply sought plunder, to be obtained by the most ruthless methods. Terror at their approach seems to have reached its height about the time of Jeremiah’s call, with which that event was doubtless closely connected2[9]. The dismay, well-grounded as it was, after all was not justified by the event. They advanced as far as Ashkelon, but Psammetichus, against whom their march was directed, purchased by heavy tribute exemption from actual attack, and their route in both going and returning lay in the immediate neighbourhood of the coast. Thus Judah was spared, while Jeremiah’s position must have become a very trying one, as his predictions appeared discredited by the event. We should not omit to notice that the existence of these formidable enemies to the power of Assyria had a considerable share in that weakening of the empire which led to its overthrow (b.c. 607), while the alarm also had its effect in quickening Josiah’s perception of the need in which his country stood of reformation.

[5] This date is now clearly established from Assyrian inscriptions. See HDB, i. 401 b.

[6] Esarhaddon was the only king of Nineveh who had Babylon for one of his residences. This shews the accuracy of the narrative.

[7] See Pinches, The O. T. in the Light of the Historical Records of Assyria and Babylonia, p. 389.

[8] See Herod. i. 103–105.

[9] See notes on 1:14.

4. The social condition of Judah at the time of the prophet’s call.

The religious reform of Hezekiah’s time had been followed by a terrible reaction in the reign of Manasseh (2 Chronicles 32:5 f.). His subsequent repentance (2 Chronicles 32:13 f.) seems to have come too late to have much permanent effect upon the ordering of the kingdom, nor was Amon’s brief reign productive of improvement. This was the state of affairs when Josiah came to the throne. With good advisers in Ahikam, Hilkiah, and others, and with a nation probably more than half weary of idolatry and its attendant evils, even before the discovery of the lost Book of the Law, it was an opportunity not to be neglected for an attempt at the revival of religion. And yet the reformation, as in the time of Hezekiah, seems not to have penetrated much below the surface. Dishonesty, open licentiousness, murder, adultery, false swearing—such is the picture that Jeremiah draws (Jeremiah 7:9).

5. Jeremiah’s call and subsequent history.

Apparently Jeremiah, so far as human means went, was prepared for his work, not by any formal training in the schools of the prophets, but by the instruction and associations which he would have in Anathoth. In particular the discovery of the Book of the Law by Hilkiah, which took place a few years after Jeremiah’s call, doubtless made much stir at his native town, as we know that it did in Jerusalem, including, as it must have done, those graphic pictures which stand in Deuteronomy 28 of the punishments which were to follow neglect of God and lapse into idolatry. For a discussion of Jeremiah’s attitude towards the newly discovered Law book, see notes on ch. 8:8 and ch. 9. Meanwhile we may notice that that Book made upon him a profound impression, of which we see the fruit in the references to and quotations from it which abound in his prophecies1[10]. The need of contending with the prevalent apostasy, together with a realisation of the grave external dangers we have noted, helped to render him responsive to the commission which had been already imposed upon him.

[10] We assume the correctness of the opinion, now largely adopted, that the document found by Hilkiah was identical with the main part of Deuteronomy. For parallels between Jeremiah and Deuteronomy see p. xxxvi.

6. The actual call had come to him in a form evidently altogether unlooked for. It did not present itself in the shape of a vision of the Divine Majesty as to Isaiah (ch. 6), or of the mysterious living creatures and wheels within wheels such as was given to Ezekiel (ch. 1), but without startling symbol or ecstatic trance. He shrinks from its fulfilment, distrusting his own power to take the lead and deal boldly and successfully with the evils of the day. The Lord reassures him, touches his mouth, and sends him forth as His prophet to the nations. The illustrations, by which He strengthens his hands and suggests the burden of his prophecy, we shall consider in their place in ch. 1.

7. Jeremiah addresses himself to the impurity and crime which he sees around him. The worship of heathen gods and the corruptions to which that worship ministered, were the subjects at once of bitter mourning and of stern rebuke. The restoration of the Temple and celebration of the Passover Jeremiah tells them are of no avail so long as their hearts are as foul as they were before. Nothing short of a complete amendment can avert the calamities threatened in the newly discovered Book (Jeremiah 7:4-7). Such was Jeremiah’s teaching during the eighteen years which lay between his call and the death of Josiah (b.c. 608) at Megiddo1[11], when the Egyptian king was attempting to take advantage of the weakness of the Assyrian empire by annexing the neighbouring portion of its territory. The disaster was the subject of bitter national mourning (2 Chronicles 35:24 f.; cp. Zechariah 12:10 f.). The conviction was gradually growing upon the prophet that a real reformation was not to be looked for. “The life and rule of this second David [Josiah] was destined to end with a harsh discord. Out of the idyll of his religious reformation and his patriarchal style of government he was dragged into the vortex of the complications of universal history, in which he perished2[12].” There is but little of incident to record during this period. Jeremiah presented himself from time to time “rising early and speaking” (Jeremiah 25:3), but it was to no purpose. The men of Anathoth itself sought his life (Jeremiah 11:21), and his brethren “dealt treacherously” with him (Jeremiah 12:6). He is sometimes inclined to be silent and leave the world to take its course, seeing that in his own words, uttered probably at a somewhat later date, he was but “a man of strife and a man of contention to the whole earth” (15:10).

[11] See notes on 2 Kings 23:28 ff. in C. B.

[12] Cornill, Das Buch Jeremia, Einl. S. xiv.

8. Jehoahaz (the Shallum of ch. Jeremiah 22:11), Josiah’s son and successor, reigned but three months. He was the third3[13] son of Josiah, and probably on account of his personal qualifications was raised to the throne in preference to his elder brother Jehoiakim. His new name (Jehoahaz = Jehovah hath grasped) was probably intended to serve as a charm or happy omen. If so, it grievously failed of its object. He was presently carried off by Pharaoh-neco to Riblah, while the land was put under tribute (2 Kings 23:33). Although he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord (2 Kings 23:32), Jeremiah speaks of him, as of his father, with kindness and sorrow (Jeremiah 22:10).

[13] See list in 1 Chronicles 3:15. Of “the firstborn Johanan” mentioned there nothing is known, while Zedekiah, who is there called “third,” was in fact younger than Jehoahaz, as we see by comparing dates in 2 Kings 23:31; 2 Kings 23:36; 2 Kings 24:18.

9. Jehoiakim was next placed on the throne by the king of Egypt and reigned about eleven years (b.c. 608–597), during which period Jeremiah occupies a most important position. The favour of the court was no longer, as in the days of Josiah, on the side of the godly. Violence, oppression, and exaction of forced labour characterized Jehoiakim’s rule. He resolved that luxurious palaces should mark his reign and minister to his comfort. The new king’s desire for his own glorification and his neglect of the worship of God are the subject of a striking portion of Jeremiah’s writings, viz. ch. 26, and also ch. 22.

10. Jeremiah exasperates priests and false prophets alike by the very truth of the charges which he brings. They accuse him before the princes and people of disloyalty and demand his death; while he replies that the message does not consist of his own words (Jeremiah 26:11-12). He is declared to be “not worthy to die,” in accordance with the precedent adduced of Hezekiah’s conduct towards the prophet Micah in a similar case. Ahikam comes to the prophet’s rescue, and so obviates a repetition of the crime committed in the case of Uriah the prophet (Jeremiah 26:17-24).

11. During the two years which followed, Jeremiah continued to declare the signs of the times and to maintain, in opposition to those who still advocated alliance with Egypt against Babylon, that the latter kingdom would assuredly prevail. He illustrated his words by the symbols of the moulding and remoulding of the potter’s clay, and by the public breaking of an earthen vessel in the valley of Hinnom (chs. Jeremiah 18:19). This excited the wrath of Pashhur, son of Immer (to be distinguished from Pashhur the son of Melchiah of ch. 21), who appears to have been like Jeremiah both priest and prophet, but one who prophesied lies in the name of the Lord (Jeremiah 20:6). At his hands Jeremiah underwent ignominious treatment (Jeremiah 20:2), including apparently imprisonment for a time.

12. At this period there occurred the decisive victory gained (b.c. 605) by Nebuchadnezzar1[14] acting as general for his father, Nabopolassar, over the Egyptian king, Pharaoh-neco, at Carchemish (see on Jeremiah 46:2). This was politically the turning point of the age, and the prophet was thenceforth convinced that the Chaldaeans were destined to become the supreme power in Western Asia (see introductory note to ch. 25). Nebuchadnezzar advanced into Palestine, driving many of its inhabitants to seek refuge within the walls of Jerusalem. Among these were the Rechabites, from the prophet’s interview with whom he pointed a moral for his countrymen (ch. 35). Nabopolassar, joined with Cyaxares the Mede, as leader of the insurrection at Babylon, had just succeeded in overthrowing the ancient empire of Nineveh, of which Assurbanipal, mentioned above (§ 3), was the last monarch. Nebuchadnezzar was in command of the army, and would doubtless have taken more effectual measures for the subjugation of Judah, but for the report of his father’s illness, which caused him to return hastily in order to secure his succession to the throne.

[14] The correct form is Nebuchadrezzar. See note on 21:2.

13. The Jews failed to profit by the warning. In the course of the year following the withdrawal of Nebuchadnezzar, Jeremiah sent Baruch his disciple with a Roll to be read in the Temple on a solemn fast day in the ears of all the people (ch. 36). The substance of it was reported to the king; the Roll was fetched by his order, read before him, and in spite of the intercession of certain of the princes who were present, was burned piece by piece in the fire that was upon the hearth. Whereupon there was written by Baruch at the prophet’s dictation another Roll containing in addition to the contents of the former a rebuke for the impious act and further announcements of God’s coming vengeance. It would appear from the indignation and dismay with which Jeremiah’s words were greeted, that up to that date the Chaldaeans had not actually come to Jerusalem. The time of judgement however at length arrived. Jehoiakim after three years rebelled against Babylon (2 Kings 24:1), was attacked (Nebuchadnezzar being too much occupied to come in person) by numerous bands of Chaldaeans, Ammonites, Moabites, and Syrians, the subjects of Babylon (2 Kings 24:2), and, probably in an engagement with some of these, came to a violent end and a dishonoured burial.

14. Jehoiachin (= Jeconiah, chs. Jeremiah 24:1, Jeremiah 27:20, Jeremiah 28:4, Jeremiah 29:2, and = Coniah, chs. Jeremiah 22:24; Jeremiah 22:28, Jeremiah 37:1), son of Jehoiakim, succeeded him at the age of eighteen, and reigned like Jehoahaz but three months (b.c. 597). The prominence given to Nehushta, the queen-mother, in the notices of his reign (Jeremiah 13:18, Jeremiah 22:26, Jeremiah 29:2) indicates that her influence was predominant. At the end of the time, the city being besieged by Nebuchadnezzar, he yielded himself up. The king himself, the people of the land, except the poorest, the treasures of the Temple and of the king’s house, were taken to Babylon, where Jehoiachin was detained in prison for thirty-six years, till Evil-merodach, son and successor of Nebuchadnezzar, released him (Jeremiah 52:31). Of Jeremiah’s prophecies undoubtedly belonging to this reign we have but a few sentences (Jeremiah 22:24-30).

15. Zedekiah (b.c. 597–586), who received this name1[15] in place of Mattaniah from Nebuchadnezzar (2 Kings 24:17), was well-meaning, but weak, yielding now to the suggestions of the prophet, now to those of the princes, who advocated resistance single-handed or in alliance with Egypt. To this time belongs the symbol of the good and evil figs (ch. 24, where see notes), also ch. 29, containing his letter of advice to the exiles, to submit to their captivity and await restoration to their land.

[15] Meaning Jehovah is righteousness, or, Righteousness of Jehovah.

16. At the beginning of the ninth year of Zedekiah a Chaldaean army approached Jerusalem. The wealthiest of the people, who had taken advantage of the prevailing distress to make slaves of their brethren, consented under this pressure to release them in accordance with the law. But on the departure of the besieging army to meet that of Pharaoh Hophra, which was thought to be aiming at raising the siege, the princes withdrew this boon from those lately manumitted. Jeremiah denounced in the strongest terms the act and those concerned in it, including the king (Jeremiah 34:17-22). The prophet had several years previously appeared in the streets with a yoke upon his neck to symbolize the impending servitude of the nation; and when Hananiah, who prophesied deliverance, had broken the yoke, he received the sentence of speedy death at the mouth of Jeremiah, because he had “spoken rebellion against the Lord” (Jeremiah 28:16). Although still predicting the speedy overthrow of Jerusalem, he now also prophesied plainly of the future restoration, and like the Roman, the report of whose having purchased at full value the ground on which Hannibal’s army was encamped, carried dismay to that general’s heart (Livy, Jeremiah 26:11), he gave practical proof of his belief in the brighter days in store for his countrymen1[16] (Jeremiah 32:9 ff.). Jeremiah’s attempt during the temporary absence of the Chaldaeans to go forth to Anathoth2[17] gave his enemies the opportunity they desired to seize and imprison him as a deserter. After “many days” he was delivered by Zedekiah, who gave him liberty and a daily supply of food (Jeremiah 37:21). The captains, however, again seized him, Zedekiah shewing once more his weakness (ch. Jeremiah 38:5). They let down the prophet into a damp and miry cistern, from which he was rescued by Ebedmelech an Ethiopian eunuch. Finally in the 11th year of Zedekiah the city was sacked, the Temple was burnt, and he and his attendants were taken prisoners while in the act of flight. Zedekiah was taken to Riblah on the northern frontier of Palestine, his sons were slain in his presence, and his eyes being then put out, he was immured in a dungeon.

[16] His purchase of a portion of a field for seventeen shekels (about £2. 6s. 6d. but representing a much larger amount according to the present value of money) shews that Jeremiah could not even then have been in needy circumstances.

[17] See on ch. 37:12.

17. Jeremiah, having been recognised among the prisoners of war at Ramah a village about five miles from Jerusalem, is offered his choice of living in an honourable captivity at Babylon or remaining under the new governor of Judah. Gedaliah, son of Ahikam, and grandson of Shaphan, the friend of Hilkiah the high-priest, was doubtless marked out for this post, as being a supporter of Jeremiah’s policy of non-resistance. Within two months, however, Gedaliah was murdered by Ishmael a prince of the blood royal. Many were slain. Jeremiah was probably among the prisoners who while being carried off by Ishmael were rescued by Johanan. This last was one of those warlike captains who had sprung up during the later years of the kingdom. The prophet in vain warned the people against going down into Egypt, and foretold the want and misery which would ensue, if they disobeyed. The expectation of security from war and famine (Jeremiah 42:14) prevailed; they forced Jeremiah to accompany them to Tahpanhes (Tell Dafneh), a town near the eastern border of Lower Egypt. They looked upon him, we may suppose, as a man who, through his ability to interpret the Divine will, might be a convenient person to have at hand for advice or aid. It is from that country that we obtain the last certain notices of his life. He declares that Nebuchadnezzar’s throne shall be set up there at the entry of Pharaoh’s house (Jeremiah 43:10), and (44) makes a dying protest against the idolatry of his countrymen, and their wanton worship of “the queen of heaven1[18].” We have no notice in Scripture of his death.

[18] See on Jeremiah 7:18. For information as to the circumstances and religious attitude of Jeremiah’s countrymen in Egypt a century after his death, see Sayce’s Aramaic Papyri discovered at Assuan, 1906, or Der Papyrusfund von Elephantine, J. C. Hinrichs, Leipzig, 1912.

For traditions, etc., concerning Jeremiah and for the prophet considered as a type of Christ, see Appendix.



1. There is an element common to all the prophetic teaching of the Old Testament, viz. the conception of a unique relation existing between Jehovah and His people, and the consequent enforcement of righteous principles of action and of sincerity in life and conduct. The prophets of what one may call the Assyrian period, that of the century preceding the one in which Jeremiah lived—Amos and Hosea in the Northern, Isaiah and Micah in the Southern kingdom—had laid a foundation of this kind, upon which their successors should build.

2. The people to whom the prophets addressed their exhortations chose to infer that this unique relationship permitted them to indulge with impunity in various kinds of sin, while the presence of licentious accompaniments of heathen worship formed a strong inducement in the same direction. Thus Jeremiah’s hearers argued that a nation like Israel, which enjoyed Jehovah’s protection, which possessed a Temple consecrated to His Service, and which discharged the formal obligations of sacrifice and other ceremonial observances, had nothing really to fear from without. God, as being the God of our fathers, they said, is bound by His covenant with them to keep us in security.

3. Such being the relation between prophets and people, we proceed to note Jeremiah’s method of applying the general prophetic teaching to the needs of his own day, and to observe the influence of his personality and his consciousness of relationship to God upon his doctrinal utterances.

(a) Concerning God. To Jeremiah, as to his predecessors, the God of Israel is supreme. The question has been raised whether the prophet was a ‘speculative’ or a practical monotheist; in other words, had he completely broken with the conception which had prevailed in his nation up to his day? That conception was that the gods worshipped by Israel’s neighbours, such as Milcom, Chemosh, etc., were really existent, and that the relation of Jehovah to these was merely that of a God of immensely superior power, who might be trusted to protect His people within the boundaries of the land1[19], but whose omnipresence and claims to universal allegiance were not yet recognised. Whatever answer Jeremiah would have made to such a question, it is plain that he considered the heathen deities as at least practically non-existent, and that Jehovah demanded the homage of all the world. The gods of the nations are vanities (Jeremiah 2:5, Jeremiah 8:19, Jeremiah 18:8, etc.). Jehovah is the Source of life (Jeremiah 2:13). Everyone severed from Him is brought to shame (Jeremiah 17:12 f.[20]). He is One who tries the reins and the heart (see below), this utterance being directed against those who maintained that it was only the outward conduct, and due performance of ritual that mattered (Jeremiah 23:23 f.). And it follows from this that Jehovah is omniscient (ib.). As demanding universal obedience He compels all nations to drink the cup of His wrath (Jeremiah 25:15 ff.). In fact so far was Jeremiah from believing, as Ahaz e.g. had done (2 Chronicles 28:23), that the conquests of Assyria and Babylon were due to the superior power of the deities whom they worshipped, that he maintained that the secret of the success attained by those empires was only because they were the instruments employed by Jehovah for the chastisement of His guilty people.

[19] For this limitation see David’s words in 1 Samuel 26:19 end, and cp. Jdg 11:24.

[20] If these two verses be genuine. See notes.

(b) Concerning the nations. Owing to the position and circumstances of Judah, it was inevitable that the range of Jeremiah’s prophecies should not be confined to his own small State. Moreover, as Israel’s God is King of all the earth, it follows that nations from all quarters shall acknowledge His sway (Jeremiah 16:19). If the neighbouring peoples will renounce Baal-worship, and substitute Jehovah as their Ruler and Guide, “then shall they be built up in the midst of my people” (Jeremiah 12:16).

We gather, however, that, before this happy consummation is reached, Jehovah’s anger at the violence and cruelty shewn by the nations in the chastisement of His people is to be visited upon them. The cup of God’s wrath has to be tasted indeed by Israel, but a fortiori by their foes also (see above for references), and in particular by Babylon (Jeremiah 25:26 end)1[21].

[21] But see note on the absence from LXX. of the words “the king of Sheshach, etc.” The same teaching concerning foreign nations is found in Amos (chs. 1, 2), Is. (13–23), in Zeph. (Jeremiah 3:8) and Hab. (Jeremiah 2:16 f.), both of whom were contemporary with Jeremiah, in Ezek. (25–32), and in 2 Isaiah (Isaiah 51:22 f.).

(c) Concerning sin. The nation as a whole, rather than its individual members, was in those days considered as the primary object of Jehovah’s disciplinary treatment. Accordingly, during Jeremiah’s earlier ministry it seems to be mainly the sinfulness of the people collectively that troubles him (Jeremiah 2:5; Jeremiah 2:32), although even here we have the element of repentance, as a matter affecting the individual members of the community, introduced in ch. Jeremiah 3:14. On the whole, that which perplexes the prophet is Israel’s desertion of Him who had ever been their Friend and Protector. So God by his mouth demands: “What unrighteousness have your fathers found in me?” (Jeremiah 2:5). Is it to be believed that, while the nations are loyal to the vain objects of their worship, the subjects of the true God are faithless (Jeremiah 2:11 ff.)? In Israel’s nomadic days she clung to Him as a loving spouse to her husband. But, as a nation, she has long since made light of her marriage vows, and, under the stimulus afforded by the conditions of her agricultural life, been led to unite herself with Baalim, false gods, givers of fertility, and to grasp at the sensual excitements of heathen worship.

But the meditation on a spiritual relationship between Jehovah and the true Israel begat in Jeremiah a gradual realisation of a greater intimacy with God than had been present to the mind of his predecessors. Accordingly, the history of O. T. religion presents Jeremiah to us as the first who is recorded to have had habitual recourse to prayer. He brings to God all that troubles and thwarts him, and in a sense discusses the whole with the Almighty (Jeremiah 12:1, Jeremiah 20:7 ff.).

In him there comes into prominence the recognition, amid national danger and overthrow, that holiness is a concern for the individual, that “sin and righteousness become matters of the relation of the personal mind to God1[22].”

[22] A. B. Davidson, Theology of the O. T., p. 216. We may perhaps see some relation between this and Jeremiah’s strong sense of the rights of the individual, as shewn by his language in ch. 34 (as to the treatment received by Hebrew slaves).

Jeremiah was thus led to make his special contribution to the doctrine of sin. His thought penetrated beyond its particular manifestations, in the form of idolatry or otherwise, and recognised that the root of all this evil is in the heart of man, the element which really constitutes his being. The Divine law will not be obeyed until it is written there. This part of the prophet’s teaching culminated in the doctrine of the New Covenant (Jeremiah 31:31-34, where see notes).

In such teaching then we have the change from collective to individual religion. If God writes His law in the heart, He must deal with men singly. This indicates a marked advance. Jeremiah’s predecessors emphasized the great value that lay in the nation’s being able to claim that “God is with us.” He, on the other hand, gazing on his own soul, saw its worth, and declared, virtually for the first time, “God is with me.” While still emphatically insisting on the thought of the nation as a whole (e.g. Jeremiah 31:16; Jeremiah 31:28; Jeremiah 31:31-34), his most spiritual thoughts are yet those which deal with the individual soul. The prophet is dismayed as he recognises the possibilities of evil which lurk there, and recoils at the sight (Jeremiah 17:9). And so he prays the great Healer to effect a cure (Jeremiah 17:14).

We may add that Jeremiah’s conception of the necessity of personal union with God, the Fountain of life, had an important share in making preparation for the doctrine of immortality, towards which the devout in pre-Christian times were already feeling their way.

(d) Concerning religious observances. The attitude of the prophet’s hearers has been described as a “light-hearted optimism.” They maintained that they need pay no regard to the spirit in which they acted, to the admixture of foreign elements in their worship, or to their immorality in conduct. They refused to believe that the fate which had overtaken Shiloh, once the home of the Ark (1 Samuel 1:3; 1 Samuel 3:3), could ever be that of the Temple. Zion, according to their view, was impregnable, and anyone who, like Jeremiah, maintained the contrary, was only a fanatic. The prophet on his side points out that sacred things, such as the Temple and sacrifices, are of no weight as against character and life. Righteousness alone gives peace and the true sense of God’s approval. The moral law must therefore take precedence of the ceremonial.

This principle the prophet applies to the people’s reverence for the Ark (Jeremiah 3:16) and the Tables of the Law (Jeremiah 31:31 ff.; cp. Jeremiah 32:40), to the Temple (Jeremiah 7:4; Jeremiah 7:10 ff., Jeremiah 11:15 [Jeremiah 26:6; Jeremiah 26:9 f., Jeremiah 27:16]), to circumcision (Jeremiah 4:4, Jeremiah 6:10 [Jeremiah 9:26[23]]), to sacrifices (Jeremiah 6:20, Jeremiah 7:21 f., Jeremiah 14:12).

[23] References enclosed in square brackets are to passages whose genuineness there is considerable ground for doubting.

(e) Concerning Messianic hopes. “Israel was the people of Yahweh, Yahweh was the God of Israel; the punishment could not last for ever, the sin in course of time was worked off (Isaiah 40:2)1[24].”

[24] S. A. Cook in Journal of Theological Studies, xiii. 86.

Taking then the expression “Messianic hopes” in the widest sense as relating to the prophetic visions of future spiritual as well as material blessings and of restoration to God’s favour, we may trace the following features brought out by Jeremiah:

(i) The people shall return from exile, and the exiled Northern tribes (“Ephraim”) shall upon repentance be given their share in the blessedness of the future and have rulers (“shepherds”) who shall impart to them true knowledge (Jeremiah 3:11 ff., Jeremiah 23:6-8, Jeremiah 31:2-6; Jeremiah 31:15-22; Jeremiah 31:31-34). To such a reinstatement of the undivided nation Jeremiah is bidden to summon Israel and Judah alike (Jeremiah 3:12 ff., Jeremiah 23:6). We are shewn the homeward journey and the joys of the return (Jeremiah 31:8 ff., Jeremiah 33:10 ff.[25]). The Exodus deliverance, hitherto unique, shall be forgotten in this new cause for exultation ([Jeremiah 16:14 f.], Jeremiah 23:7 f.). No longer shall false rulers (“shepherds”) hold sway, such as have troubled them in time past (Jeremiah 2:8, Jeremiah 22:22, Jeremiah 23:1 f.), but those who are set over them shall be their leaders in righteousness, so that there shall be no more dismay nor fear (Jeremiah 23:4).

[25] See, however, notes discussing the genuineness of these passages.

(ii) The Temple shall be rebuilt, purified now from every defiling element. The city shall even bear the name of the righteous king, both king and city witnessing by their title “Jehovah is our righteousness,” that righteousness, with all the blessing which springs from it, is to be the basis on which the national superstructure rests (Jeremiah 23:6 [Jeremiah 33:14 ff.]).

(iii) Jehovah’s love shall be more than ever manifested for His repentant people (Jeremiah 31:20).

(iv) The Messianic King shall take the place of the false shepherds who have disgraced the sceptre. The people shall serve David their king (Jeremiah 30:9), meaning that the looked for Messiah shall spring from the Davidic line, and that, as ruler of a reunited people, he shall renew the glories which were associated with the last days of the undivided nation. Moreover, the Messiah shall have a priestly character, possessing the privilege of a special approach to God (Jeremiah 30:21). “If his picture of the Messianic king and his kingdom is less magnificent than Isaiah’s, the true glory of that rule comes into fuller prominence in proportion as the outward splendour falls away; and we make a long step forwards to the idea of that spiritual kingdom which was to be the true fulfilment of the hopes of Israel1[26].”

[26] Kirkpatrick, The Doctrine of the Prophets, 3rd ed. p. 323.

(v) The Ark itself shall cease to be the cherished symbol of Israel’s perpetual covenant. It shall be utterly overshadowed by Jehovah’s presence in the Holy City. No expression could indicate more forcibly the directness of intercourse with God to be granted to the restored nation (Jeremiah 3:16 f.).

(vi) The New Covenant (Jeremiah 31:31 f.), like the former, the gift of God, shall, unlike the old Covenant, be permanent and secure. The sins of the nation have rendered the former one inoperative. Jehovah will in the new provide against the risk of such failure. What He desires His people to be, that He will make them to be; for He will put His law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts.

4. It is very possible that Jeremiah may at first have had hopes that the reform under Josiah, though lacking much in reality and depth, might still mark the dawn of a better day. However this may be, we can see that in the early part of Jehoiakim’s reign despair had begun to alternate with the brighter thoughts that continued occasionally to struggle to the surface. The nation’s obduracy was proof against the pleading of Jehovah: “we will walk after our own devices, and we will do every one after the stubbornness of his evil heart” (Jeremiah 18:12). From the fifth year of Jehoiakim onwards the prophet plainly had come to know that punishment in the shape of national overthrow was inevitable. Any anticipation of permanent reform, as cherished by him in the days of Josiah, had disappeared. The Divine word now had come to be this, “Though Moses and Samuel stood before me, yet my mind could not be toward this people: cast them out of my sight, and let them go forth” (Jeremiah 15:1, see note there). Nevertheless, as the hope of deliverance from temporal disasters fades and finally disappears from the seer’s utterances, the prospect of the restoration of Israel, and the other brighter thoughts already referred to, shew themselves from time to time with an apparent abruptness. It is especially noteworthy that the prophet is inspired to utter such prophecies in the darkest days of his nation’s history. The promise of restoration, when the time is fulfilled and the chastisement has done its work, is set forth in chs. 30–33, as it had been hinted already in Jeremiah 3:14 ff., Jeremiah 23:3 ff.

5. In this chapter we have dealt with Jeremiah’s work as including the forecast of brighter times. A part, yet only a part, of a prophet’s duty, as one sent from God and declaring the Divine will, lay in the direction of prediction. His principal function was not to foretell the future condition of the world, but to alter for the better its existing condition. As has often been pointed out, the word prophet does not itself express the idea of announcing future events. It means, not a foreteller but a forth-teller, one who sets out God’s messages, whether as teaching the lessons of the past, or emphasizing the duties of the present, or heralding the Divine purposes in the future. A prophet’s declarations in this last respect are modified by the circumstances under which he delivers them and by the conditions of his age. The fulfilment may be in a completeness of form and detail which the prophet was wholly unable to picture to himself. Jeremiah’s Messianic hopes have thus attained in the Advent of the Saviour and the founding of the Christian Church a consummation much more glorious than it was granted to him to perceive. We may, however, see under the figures and in the accustomed language of the prophetic age his inspired realisation of a coming time when the chasm which separated God from man should be somehow bridged over, when forgiveness of sins and spiritual religion should take up a prominence which they had never before held. In this connexion it is also suggestive for us who live in the light of the New Testament to note where Jeremiah’s vision stops short, while partially revealing to him the Christian dispensation. However clearly certain aspects of the New Covenant appeared to him with its promise of spiritual gifts of life and power, there is yet no mention of a perfect Sacrifice to take the place of those of the Law. Yet it has been truly said that with him the idea that a man and not a beast is the sin bearer is struggling into the prophetic consciousness.



1. Jeremiah is personally the most interesting to us of all the prophets, because the various qualities which made up the man are quickly and easily gathered from his own lips. We have just seen that they were no ordinary times in which he lived. The spirit of disobedience and rebellion, which had been so long working in his countrymen, was now past remedy by all common means. Nothing but the nation’s total overthrow, at least for a time, could effect a radical cure.

2. It will be well, however, first to take some notice of the connexion or contrast between Jeremiah’s teaching and that of earlier or contemporary prophets.

3. Hosea (c. b.c. 747–735) has been called “the Jeremiah of the Northern kingdom1[27].” In style, it is true, the two differ much. Hosea delights in metaphor, and his language contains more in the shape of ornament. In fact, his utterances have been likened to “the dreams of a fever-stricken patient; the images and thoughts press and chase away each other2[28].” Compared with his mode of writing that of Jeremiah is simple and straightforward. But in subject-matter they have much in common. They both look back upon the wilderness days, when Israel was like a wife faithful to her spouse, as being the best period in the history of the nation (Jeremiah 2:2 f.; Hosea 1-3; Hosea 13:5). As Hosea had rebuked the idolatry and moral corruption of the Northern kingdom in and shortly after the prosperous reign of Jeroboam II, so Jeremiah denounces the same sins in his utterances against Judah. Accordingly, we have descriptions of idolatry as adultery or whoredom (Hosea 1:2; Hosea 2:2 ff.; Jeremiah 2:31 ff; Jeremiah 3:1 ff.), or as a forsaking of the first love of youth (Hosea 6:4; Jeremiah 2:2 ff.). Further parallels in thought are: the relative unimportance of sacrifice as compared with moral qualities (Hosea 6:6; Jeremiah 7:22 f.), condemnation of the people’s habit of looking alternately to Egypt and to Assyria for help (Hosea 7:11; Jeremiah 2:18), the sins of the people generally (contrasted with the upper class) as the result of ignorance for which the priesthood is responsible (Hosea 4:4 ff; Hosea 5:1; Hosea 6:9; Hosea 10:5; Jeremiah 2:8; cp. Ezekiel 34)[29]. In a general comparison of the two prophets, however, we see that Hosea “has no conception of the relation of Jehovah to the individual soul apart from the nation, and therefore no presentiment of Jeremiah’s profound idea of the new covenant2[30].”

[27] Stanley, Lectures on the Jewish Church, 11. 369.

[28] Cornill, quoted by Ottley, The Hebrew Prophets, p. 29.

[29] Other parallels of language and thought with Hosea are as follows: “Cp. Jeremiah 3:22 with Hosea 14:1; Hosea 14:4; Jeremiah 4:3 with 10:12; Jeremiah 5:30; Jeremiah 18:13; Jeremiah 23:14 with 6:10; Jeremiah 7:9 with 4:2; Jeremiah 9:12 with 14:9; Jeremiah 14:10 with 8:13, 9:9; Jeremiah 30:9 with 3:5; Jeremiah 30:22 with 2:23.” Kirkpatrick, Doctrine of the Prophets, p. 117 (3rd ed.). But see note on the last passage of Jeremiah.

[30] Cheyne, Hosea (C. B.), p. 31.

4. Amos, a contemporary of Hosea, but prophesying at a slightly earlier date, handed on to Jeremiah the conception of the Lord of hosts, the Controller of powers of nature and kingdoms of the world, the moral Ruler and Judge of the nations. Accordingly, it is not surprising to find that Jeremiah was led, as were Amos (see 1, 2) and Isaiah (see 13–27) before him, to declare judgements that were impending ever other nations (46–49). For a parallelism of language in this connexion see the note on Jeremiah 17:27.

As compared with Amos and the first Isaiah our prophet is more tender and patient, while yet unflinching and vehement. Moreover, “the transition from Amos and Hosea to Jeremiah resembles in religion that which is marked among the [Greek] philosophers in passing from Plato to the Stoics. As national life decayed and the State religions of classical Greece broke down, philosophy threw off its political habit and became introspective and ethical; so with the ruin of the Israelite nationality, as city and monarchy and temple fell under the doom pronounced by prophecy, the life of the individual soul struck deeper root1[31].”

[31] Findlay, The Books of the Prophets, Vol. III.; Jeremiah and his group, p. 156.

5. Micah, who prophesied contemporaneously with the first Isaiah 2[32], did not support the latter in his vision of speedy deliverance from Assyrian oppression, and thus anticipated Jeremiah’s utterances in at least one important particular, when he announced (Jeremiah 3:12, quoted in Jeremiah 26:18) that the overthrow of Jerusalem was not to be averted3[33]. In general, both Amos and Micah differ from Jeremiah in their view of the essence of religion. While he holds it to consist in close communion of the individual soul with God, their conception contains much more of the element of externality, and regards religion as consisting to a large extent in conformity to the Divine will, as shewn forth by the outward life.

[32] “In the days of Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah” (Micah 1:1).

[33] Passages like Jeremiah 15:1 seem to imply this.

We may also note that in common with Hosea (see above) and Jeremiah, Micah denounces false prophets and priests (Micah 2:11; Micah 3:11). As Micah had a prominent share in bringing about Hezekiah’s reforms, so Josiah’s reformation followed upon the earliest years of Jeremiah’s warnings. So too both prophets cherish brighter hopes both for their own people and for the nations of the world in the future. Israel’s punishment shall bring about its restoration (Micah 2:13; Jeremiah 31-33); the monarchy shall be re-established under an ideal Davidic king (Micah 4:7; Micah 5:2; Jeremiah 30:9), and the kingdoms of the world shall thereby be brought to accept Jehovah as their God (Micah 4:1 f.; Jeremiah 12:16; Jeremiah 16:19).

6. The prophets with whom we have hitherto dealt belonged to the eighth century b.c., when Assyria was still the ruling power in the East. After the interval of half a century, during which, under the fierce and heathenish rule of Manasseh (b.c. 697–642), prophecy seems to have been silent, we reach what we may call the Chaldaean period, in which (c. b.c. 607) Nineveh, the Assyrian capital, fell, and Babylon became mistress of the world. In the latter half of the seventh century b.c. there appeared four preachers of righteousness, Nahum, Zephaniah, Habakkuk, and Jeremiah. Of these Nahum (probably c. b.c. 640) presents a marked contrast to the last named, for, though maintaining God’s moral rule in the world and proclaiming Divine vengeance to be exercised on the enemies of his country, he makes no reference to the sins of his own people. Zephaniah’s description of the injustice, corruption, and indifference of his time (Zephaniah 1:2-4; Zephaniah 1:8 ff., Zephaniah 3:1-7), uttered as it was in Josiah’s days (Zephaniah 1:1), points to a date preceding that king’s reforms, and so coincides both in the circumstances which called it forth and in its general tone with Jeremiah’s prophecies in the earliest years of his ministry. Again, Zephaniah’s comprehensive views of history, and his announcement (a) of the punishment which “the day of the Lord” shall bring alike on his own countrymen and on the nations in general (Zephaniah 3:1-6), and (b) of the removal of the Divine wrath upon their repentance (Zephaniah 3:7 ff.) have much in common with Jeremiah’s words. Habakkuk, like Nahum, not a preacher but a writer, probably composed his prophecies during the reign of Jehoiakim (b.c. 608–597), and thus was a somewhat younger contemporary of Jeremiah 1[34]. His was a philosophic mind, full of questionings as to the strange dispensations of Providence in making use of cruel and heathen peoples for the chastisement of the chosen nation (Habakkuk 1:12-17). Yet he feels that in the end, though it be far distant, the righteous shall be vindicated and the idolatrous punished (Habakkuk 2:1-20). As in the case of Nahum, the sin of Israel, so prominent in Jeremiah, scarcely appears as a subject of the prophet’s thought. “The Books of Jeremiah and Habakkuk shew conclusively enough how different the reflections were which God’s providence in the treatment of His people awoke in the minds of two contemporary prophets2[35].”

[34] But cp. Peake (Problem of Suffering in the O. T., pp. 151 ff.), who places him in the time of the Exile, and later than Ezekiel.

[35] A. B. Davidson, Nahum, Habakkuk, and Zephaniah (C. B.), p. 63.

7. We next proceed to consider Jeremiah’s surroundings, the functions which he had to discharge, his character, and style. Glowing appeals, such as had been made by an Isaiah, a Hosea, a Micah in former days, would now have been of no avail. Jeremiah’s office was to utter and reiterate the message, though recognising all the while that the sentence of condemnation was passed and would speedily be put into execution.

8. Such a task as this demanded one who, however weak in body, should be a man of rare courage, unterrified by popular clamour or princely disfavour, fixed in resolve, and thoroughly devoted to the ascertained will of God. He needed not natural gifts of oratory. His work was not to persuade, but rather to testify, to express the thoughts of the few remaining pious ones of the nation. The wearing effect of constant failure, the intense pain of seeing his nation advance step by step on the road to its overthrow, the hostility and abuse which it was his daily lot to bear from those whom he sought to warn—these required as a counterpoise a heroic spirit that should not shrink from the encounter, as well as ceaseless devotion to Him whose commission he had borne from the womb[36].

[36] Ch. Jeremiah 1:5.

9. And yet he was naturally of a disposition that shrank from public life, and deprecated all possibility of prophesying in God’s name[37]. And after he had entered upon his work, his naturally desponding mind would dwell upon the fact that the message was received with lightness of heart, incredulity, and irritation. “I am become a laughing-stock all the day, every one mocketh me3[38].”

[37] Ch. Jeremiah 1:6.

[38] Ch. Jeremiah 20:7.

10. At times he seems to have well-nigh despaired not only of success but of life itself. “Woe is me, my mother, that thou hast borne me a man of strife and a man of contention to the whole earth!… every one of them doth curse me4[39].” Immediately afterwards he contracts the joy in which, inspired no doubt by the promises given him[40], he had entered upon the prophetic office, with the disheartening reception that awaited him. Such is the bitterness of his sufferings that on one occasion we find him relating his efforts to keep silence. “And if I say I will not make mention of him, nor speak any more in his name, then there is in mine heart as it were a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I am weary with forbearing, and I cannot contain[41].”

[39] Ch. Jeremiah 15:10.

[40] Ch. Jeremiah 1:10; Jeremiah 1:18.

[41] Ch. Jeremiah 20:9.

11. Belonging to the orders both of Priest and Prophet, and living at the very time when each had sunk to its Iowest state of degradation, he was compelled to submit to the buffeting which they both bestowed upon a man who by his every word and deed was passing sentence upon them. “From the first moment of his call he was alone, amidst a hostile world2[42].” But through it all conscientious devotion to duty maintained its place within his heart. Although not a born ruler of men, he was nevertheless faithful in expostulation and warning, and regardless of personal consequences, “a here not in attack but in suffering3[43].” The promise that he should be as a brasen wall made at the time of his call4[44] and renewed later5[45] never failed him.

[42] Stanley’s Jewish Church, II. 439.

[43] Duhm, Jeremiah, Introd. p. 12.

[44] Ch. Jeremiah 1:18.

[45] Ch. Jeremiah 25:20.

12. Jeremiah has been likened to several characters in profane history—to Cassandra, the Trojan prophetess, whose fate it was never to be believed, though prophesying nothing but the truth; to Phocion, the rival of Demosthenes in the last generation of Athenian greatness, who maintained the unpopular but sound doctrine that, if Athens were to escape worse evils, she must submit peaceably to the growing power of Macedon; to Dante, whose native state, Florence, was in relation to France and the Empire as Palestine was to Egypt and Babylon, while the poet like the prophet could only protest without effect against the ever-growing dangers.

13. As the true and the false prophets were at variance in their predictions both during Jeremiah’s life (Jeremiah 28:1-4; Jeremiah 28:8-9; cp. Ezekiel 13:16) and at other times (1 Kings 22:6), we may here ask what was the criterion by which the people should have discriminated between the one and the other class of persons in their day? And the answer seems to be that it was the nature rather than the truth of the prediction which supplied the immediate test, as the latter could not be the guarantee till time had been allowed for the prediction to be verified. The passage, Jeremiah 28:8 f., suggests the principle to be followed. The difference of conception between the false and the true prophets as to the nature of God lies at the root of the discrepancy between them. The former viewed Him as simply the national God of Israel, and therefore as bound to take the side of His people and rescue them from all national disaster, the latter as the God who ruled the whole world in righteousness, and therefore must visit upon His people their offences against His moral code (Amos 3:1 f.). “Any prophetic voice which would reflect on Jehovah’s righteousness, or shew respect for persons, would be self-condemned1[46].” It follows that, when the prophets confined themselves to foretelling disasters to the empires of the world, no resentment was felt by their hearers, but if they added, like Jeremiah, that their own nation should be visited with retribution for sin, they became very unpopular, and were held to be lacking in patriotism, and even courting disaster.

[46] Buchanan Blake, How to read the Prophets, Part 1. p. 221.

We need not hold that the prophets who opposed themselves to Jeremiah’s teaching were in all cases conscious impostors. Some of them may have sincerely convinced themselves that they were right, starting, as we have said, from their view of Jehovah as a purely national Deity, and led by their patriotism, including as it did a powerful religious element, to use language which would flatter the susceptibilities of their hearers (see 14:13 ff.). Their religion was to a large extent traditional, giving undue prominence to the ritual side, and ignoring or at least under-estimating the ethical; above all things, insisting that the doctrine of the indestructibility of Jerusalem, as applied by Isaiah in reference to the circumstances of his time, was a principle of permanent application.

14. Jeremiah’s style corresponds closely with what we should expect from his character. The following features may be noted.

(a) Absence of ornament. Full of humility as of zeal for God’s honour, he naturally was led to the simplest form of words to express the painful images which ever held possession of his thoughts. While his style has a beauty of its own, it has at its best a shade of sadness, and when it rises to fervour, it is the fervour of expostulation or grief.

(b) Frequent repetition. This also is to be expected, inasmuch as the main subject, on which he is charged to deliver himself, is the same throughout. However manifold the images by which he illustrates the thought, however varied the intensity with which he regards it, the sins to be denounced and the penalties foretold are in the main identical.

We give below a list of verses and clauses (a) repeated in more or less identical terms, (b) where the same thought or image is repeated, (c) containing phrases which recur once or oftener. The number of repetitions given might have been much increased, had it not appeared best only to include cases which may fairly be considered to belong to the original text, as harmonizing with their respective contexts and found in the LXX. We may add that some even of those given (e.g. Jeremiah 9:14 and Jeremiah 23:15) would be excluded by critics who attach great weight to metrical considerations. See ch. 5.

Expressions not found in books other than Jeremiah are in italics[47].

[47] (a) Verses or clauses repeated in more or less identical terms:

Jeremiah 2:28 b and Jeremiah 11:13 a; Jeremiah 4:6 and Jeremiah 6:1 b; Jeremiah 5:9; Jeremiah 5:29 and Jeremiah 9:9; Jeremiah 7:16 and Jeremiah 11:14; Jeremiah 7:23 a and Jeremiah 11:4 b; Jeremiah 9:15 and Jeremiah 23:15; Jeremiah 9:16 b and Jeremiah 49:37 b; Jeremiah 11:20 and Jeremiah 20:12.

(b) Places where the same thought or image is repeated:

Brasen wall, Jeremiah 1:18, Jeremiah 15:20. Shepherds (meaning princes, rulers), Jeremiah 2:8 (R. V. mg.), Jeremiah 10:21, Jeremiah 22:22, Jeremiah 23:1-2; Jeremiah 23:4; cp. Jeremiah 49:19 (R. V. mg.). Woman in travail, Jeremiah 4:31, Jeremiah 6:24, Jeremiah 22:23; cp. Isaiah 13:8; Isaiah 21:3; Isaiah 42:14; Hosea 13:13; Micah 4:9-10. Rising up early (spoken of God or of prophets), Jeremiah 25:3, Jeremiah 26:5, Jeremiah 32:33; cp. 2 Chronicles 36:15.

(c) Phrases which occur once or oftener:

To pluck up and to break down, to build and to plant, Jeremiah 1:10, Jeremiah 18:7; Jeremiah 18:9, Jeremiah 24:6. To receive instruction (or correction), Jeremiah 2:30, Jeremiah 5:3, Jeremiah 35:13; cp. Zephaniah 3:2; Zephaniah 3:7; Proverbs 1:3; Proverbs 8:10; Proverbs 24:32. Men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem, Jeremiah 4:4, Jeremiah 11:2, Jeremiah 35:13; cp. 2 Kings 23:2 = 2 Chronicles 34:30; Daniel 9:7. A great breaking (destruction), Jeremiah 4:6, Jeremiah 6:1 (cp. with notes Jeremiah 8:21, Jeremiah 10:19, Jeremiah 30:12; Jeremiah 30:15, Jeremiah 48:5), Jeremiah 14:17, Jeremiah 48:3; cp. Zephaniah 1:10. Terror on every side! Jeremiah 6:25, Jeremiah 20:10, Jeremiah 46:5, Jeremiah 49:29; cp. Psalm 31:13. Amend your ways and your doings, Jeremiah 7:3; Jeremiah 7:5. This place (of Jerusalem or Judah), Jeremiah 7:3; Jeremiah 7:6-7; Jeremiah 7:20, Jeremiah 14:13, Jeremiah 16:2-3; Jeremiah 16:9, and elsewhere; cp. 2 Kings 22:16-17; 2 Kings 22:19-20; Haggai 2:9. The cities of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem, Jeremiah 7:17; Jeremiah 7:34, Jeremiah 11:6. I will be your God, and ye shall be my people (or in the converse order), Jeremiah 7:23, Jeremiah 11:4, Jeremiah 24:7, Jeremiah 31:33, Jeremiah 32:38; cp. Ezekiel 11:20; Ezekiel 36:28; Ezekiel 37:27. (Refusing) to incline the ear, Jeremiah 7:24; Jeremiah 7:26, Jeremiah 11:8, Jeremiah 34:14; cp. Isaiah 55:3. (Prophets spoken of as God’s) servants, Jeremiah 7:25 (and in five other somewhat doubtful places); cp. in 2 Kgs (all being by the compiler of that Book), Jeremiah 9:7, Jeremiah 17:13; Jeremiah 17:23, Jeremiah 21:10, Jeremiah 24:2; cp. also Amos 3:7; Zechariah 1:6; Ezra 9:11; Daniel 9:6; Daniel 9:10. Behold, the days come, etc., Jeremiah 7:32, Jeremiah 9:25, Jeremiah 23:5; Jeremiah 23:7, Jeremiah 31:31; Jeremiah 31:38, Jeremiah 48:12, Jeremiah 49:2; cp. Amos 4:2; Amos 8:11; Amos 9:13; 1 Samuel 2:31; 2 Kings 20:17; Isaiah 39:6. The voice of mirth and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, Jeremiah 7:34, Jeremiah 16:9, Jeremiah 25:10. Time (or year) of their visitation, Jeremiah 11:23, Jeremiah 23:12, Jeremiah 46:21, Jeremiah 48:44; to these we should perhaps add Jeremiah 6:15 (with LXX.), Jeremiah 49:8 (with Vulg.). The sword, the famine, and the pestilence (not always in this order), Jeremiah 14:12, Jeremiah 24:10, Jeremiah 32:36, Jeremiah 34:17. A hissing (expressing contempt), Jeremiah 18:16, Jeremiah 25:9; cp. Micah 6:16; 2 Chronicles 29:8.

(c) Frequent cases of coincidence in language with earlier prophets, as well as especially with the Book of Deuteronomy[48]. It was natural that one daily exposed to so much obloquy for the nature of his predictions should be anxious to shew that what he maintained coincided with the teaching of the older prophets, viz. that idolatry and national crimes entailed national overthrow. The newly-discovered Book of the Law supplied him with many examples of this teaching.

[48] See § 16 below.

(d) Numerous images used by way of illustration. Here we occasionally notice a peculiar mingling of the image and the thing signified by it. Jeremiah’s vehemence and rapidity of thought are so great, that before he has done more than present us with a portion of the figure, he dismisses it, and falls back upon the subject itself. Thus e.g. (ch. 1:15) he speaks of the attack of hostile nations upon Jerusalem under the guise of judges sitting at the city gates for judgement. But no sooner has he indicated the simile, than he returns to language not of judgement but of war[49].

[49] A similar characteristic is found chs. 3:1, 6:3–5, 27–30, 22:6, 25:16, where see notes:

15. The Hebrew of Jeremiah displays a considerable number of words and grammatical forms, which do not belong to the language in its purer state. For the species of cypher, or secret writing, called Atbash, see on chs. Jeremiah 25:26, Jeremiah 51:1.

16. Parallels between Jeremiah and Deuteronomy are as follows:

  1.  Vain or vanity, in connexion with idolatry, Jeremiah 2:5, Jeremiah 8:19, Jeremiah 14:22, Jeremiah 16:19 and Deuteronomy 32:21.

  2.  The wilderness … a land of deserts, Jeremiah 2:6 and Deuteronomy 32:10 a desert land … the waste howling wilderness.

  3.  Stubbornness of the heart, [Jeremiah 3:17], Jeremiah 7:24, Jeremiah 9:14, [Jeremiah 18:12], Jeremiah 23:17 and Deuteronomy 29:19.

  4.  Circumcising the foreskin, Jeremiah 4:4 and Deuteronomy 10:16.

  5.  A nation of foreign tongue consuming harvest and cattle, Jeremiah 5:15; Jeremiah 5:17 and Deuteronomy 28:49; Deuteronomy 28:30 f.

  6.  Provoking Jehovah to anger, Jeremiah 7:18 f., Jeremiah 8:19, [Jeremiah 11:17, Jeremiah 25:7, Jeremiah 32:29-30; Jeremiah 32:32] and Deuteronomy 4:25; Deuteronomy 31:29; Deuteronomy 32:16; Deuteronomy 32:19.

  7.  Abandonment of dead bodies to fowls and beasts, Jeremiah 7:33, Jeremiah 16:4 and Deuteronomy 28:26.

  8.  Curse on the disobedient, Jeremiah 11:3 and Deuteronomy 11:26 ff.

  9.  The iron furnace (spoken of Egypt), Jeremiah 11:4 and Deuteronomy 4:20.

  10.  Gift of a land “flowing with milk and honey,” Jeremiah 11:5; cp. Deuteronomy 7:13.

  11.  Tossed to and fro among all the kingdoms of the earth, Jeremiah 15:4, Jeremiah 24:9 and Deuteronomy 28:25.

  12.  A spectacle to the nations, [Jeremiah 22:8 f. and] Deuteronomy 29:24 f.

  13.  Ye shall have peace (the language of the false prophets), Jeremiah 23:17; cp. Deuteronomy 29:19.

17. In the tone and subject-matter of certain Psalms we are reminded of Jeremiah. This is notably the case in Psalms 31, 35, 55, 69, , 79. The parallels existing between his Book and the Psalms, when joined to our knowledge of his disposition and of the circumstances of his life, make it natural that several of them should have been ascribed to him as their author. Although we have no clear evidence for such ascription, we may at any rate point to the most noteworthy instances of similarity: (a) in Psalms 31 where there are several points of contact (confined, however, to the second (Psalm 31:9-18) of the three sections into which it may be divided): cp. Psalm 31:10 with Jeremiah 20:18, Psalm 31:12 and Jeremiah 22:28, Psalm 31:13 and Jeremiah 20:10; (b) in Psalms 35 cp. Psalm 35:6 and Jeremiah 23:12, Psalm 35:12 and Jeremiah 18:20[50]; (c) in the tone of Psalms 55, where indignation at the treachery of a trusted friend reminds us of the harshness and cruelty shewn to Jeremiah, and of his resentment at Pashhur’s treatment of him (ch. 20): cp. Psalm 55:6-8 and Jeremiah 9:2, Psalm 55:13 and Jeremiah 9:4 f., Psalm 55:20 (“such as were at peace with him”) and Jeremiah 20:10; Jeremiah 38:22; (d) in Psalms 69, where a stronger case can be made out. Not only does the Psalm in its last verses (Psalm 69:33-36) point to the time of the Exile, but the writer’s circumstances and his denunciations against his foes are like those of the prophet (see Jeremiah 11:18 ff; Jeremiah 12:1 ff; Jeremiah 15:10 ff; Jeremiah 18:18 ff; Jeremiah 20:7 ff.). There are also many parallels of language. Such are Psalm 69:1 (“unto my soul”) and Jeremiah 4:18, Psalm 69:5 (appeal to God as omniscient) and Jeremiah 12:3; Jeremiah 15:15, Psalm 69:7 and Jeremiah 15:15, Psalm 69:9 (intensity of zeal for God’s honour) and Jeremiah 20:9, Psalm 69:10-12 and Jeremiah 4:8; Jeremiah 6:26, Psalm 69:24 and Jeremiah 10:25, Psalm 69:35 (“Zion and … the cities of Judah”) and Jeremiah 7:17; Jeremiah 7:34; Jeremiah 11:6, Psalm 69:35-36 and corresponding passages in Jeremiah 30-33. The parallels are noteworthy; nevertheless it must be acknowledged that “when we bear in mind how apt Hebrew writers are to borrow expressions from their predecessors, we cannot feel the requisite assurance that these similarities are due to identity of authorship.” LOT, p. 382.

[50] Against the view, however, which would ascribe the Psalm as a whole to Jeremiah, it has been pointed out that “the military figures of vv. 1–3, which would not be natural for him, find no parallel in his book” (Kirkpatrick, Psalms, ad loc. C. B.).

18. Jeremiah was deeply emotional, and his style reflects the phases of his thought. Elegy befitted his temperament, and his general tendency to poetic forms of expression, whether in actual metre or not, is very marked. “In sombre realism he has no match among the prophets[51].” His style has been called diffuse and abounding in stereotyped formulae and repetitions. The force of such criticism is to some extent diminished by the fact that certain parts of the Book as we now have it are to be ascribed (see next chapter) to the authorship of Baruch and later supplementers. If we regard the portions of the Book which can be assigned to the prophet himself, we see that his literary merits are by no means insignificant. His style, however much of a contrast it may be with that e.g. of Isaiah, is yet truly poetical. “When the word burned within his heart, he must utter it without tarrying till his lips were touched by the Muse of poetry with a living coal from her altar[52].”

[51] HDB, II. 576.

[52] Peake, Jeremiah, 1:49.

19. We may here mention that some Jewish scribes, apparently in order to join Jeremiah closely with the Books of Kings on account of its connexion in subject-matter with the last part of the history contained in them, placed it (with Ezekiel) immediately before instead of after Isaiah 2[53]. This effected their purpose, since in the arrangement of the Hebrew Canon all the Books which in our order stand between 2 Kings and Isaiah are found (but in a different order among themselves) after the Minor Prophets.

[53] This is the order found in the Talmud of Babylon (Baba Bathra, 14 b, 15 a. The explanation is given, viz. “Kings ends in desolation, Jeremiah is all desolation”).



1. The prophecies of Jeremiah cover, as we have seen, a period of more than forty years. But when we proceed to read the Book in which they and the events which accompanied them are contained, we find that the order of time is repeatedly violated without apparent reason. Prophecies uttered in the reign of Zedekiah occur in the midst of those that relate to Jehoiakim. The Jewish captives carried to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar are addressed in words of comfort, several chapters earlier than the announcement made to Jehoiakim that that event is imminent, while the prophecies relating to foreign nations (chs. 46–51), which chiefly form the later portion of the Book, were delivered long before the final overthrow of the city and kingdom.

2. So far as any order is observable, it is an order not of time but of subject-matter. The following is a summary of the contents of the Book.

  (i)  Chs. 1–45. Prophecies mainly relating to home events and history of the times.

  (ii)  Chs. 46–51. Prophecies relating to foreign nations.

  (iii)  Ch. 52. Supplementary and historical.

  (i)  may be subdivided thus:—

(a)  Chs. 1–20. Prophecies falling to a large extent between the dates of Jeremiah’s call (13th year of Josiah) and the 4th year of Jehoiakim.

(b)  Chs. Jeremiah 21:1 to Jeremiah 25:14. Prophecies directed at various times against the kings of Judah and against the false prophets.

(c)  Ch. Jeremiah 25:15-38. A kind of summary of the fuller predictions against foreign nations which occur chs. 46–51.

(d)  Chs. 26–28. Prophecies concerning the fall of Jerusalem, with historical notices interspersed. These belong to different occasions in Jeremiah’s life.

(e)  Ch. 29. Letter and message to the captives in Babylon.

(f)  Chs. 30, 31. Prophecies mainly of comfort and hope.

(g)  Chs. 32–44. History of the two years preceding the capture and destruction of Jerusalem by the Chaldaeans, with prophecies interspersed. Chs. 35, 36 break the chronological order here.

(h)  Ch. 45. A special message to Baruch.

  (ii)  may be subdivided thus:—

(a)  Ch. Jeremiah 46:1. Superscription.

(b)  Ch. Jeremiah 46:2-28. Against Egypt.

(c)  Ch. 47. Against the Philistines.

(d)  Ch. 48. Against Moab.

(e)  Ch. Jeremiah 49:1-6. Against Ammon.

(f)  Ch. Jeremiah 49:7-22. Against Edom.

(g)  Ch. Jeremiah 49:23-27. Against Damascus.

(h)  Ch. Jeremiah 49:28-33. Against Kedar and Hazor.

(i)  Ch. Jeremiah 49:34-39. Against Elam.

(j)  Chs. 50, 51. Against Babylon.

3. We must now examine the internal evidence which the Book affords for our guidance in solving the problem presented by the conspicuous lack of arrangement. In the case of Jeremiah, to an extent which has no parallel in any other composite Book of the Old Testament, we can trace the growth and point to the successive stages, thus seeing the Book in the making. The clue from which to start is given in ch. 36. The battle of Carchemish (b.c. 605) in the fourth year of Jehoiakim’s reign formed a turning point in the history of the times, as demonstrating the powerlessness of the Jews to resist the forces of Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonian Empire. It was therefore natural that at such a crisis Jeremiah should make a solemn effort to arouse the consciences of king and people. Accordingly he receives a special divine direction to commit to writing all his prophecies “against Israel1[54] and against Judah, and against all the nations” from the days of Josiah to the present year of Jehoiakim. At his dictation (Jeremiah 36:4) Baruch writes them down, and publicly reads the Roll in the Temple. When this Roll was burnt by the king, Baruch wrote another at Jeremiah’s dictation, containing the whole of the previous one, while “there were added besides unto them many like words” (Jeremiah 36:32). This therefore gives us the nucleus or first stage in the framing of the Book, although the portion which precedes this part of the narrative in its present form, cannot have been wholly contained in the Roll which Baruch then wrote. Ch. Jeremiah 13:18 f. evidently belong to Jehoiachin’s reign. Chs. 21 and 24 (in the main) were written in the days of Zedekiah, and much else now contained in this part of the Book must on internal evidence be excluded from the Roll. For instance, we need not suppose that it had the utterances (such as those of Jeremiah 2:4 ff.) concerning the Northern kingdom which we now find in these chapters. On the other hand prophecies concerning foreign nations were doubtless included in it, even though in a much briefer form than those now grouped at the end of the Book. As the Roll was read aloud three times the same day (Jeremiah 36:10; Jeremiah 36:15; Jeremiah 36:21), it was probably not of great length.

[54] See note on “Israel” in 36:2.

We should not, however, be safe in assuming that, even with these reservations, the prophecies contained in chs. 1–36 exactly represent Jeremiah’s language during this period of his ministry. Modifications either suggested by the course of events or arising from his utterances remaining long in an oral form, make it improbable that we should have the ipsissima verba of prophecies delivered over so widely extended a period.

4. As regards the contents then of the first Roll, all that we can say with tolerable certainty is that it began with the utterances of ch. 1, followed by chs. 2–6, and ended with prophecies against the nations, while the intermediate portion contained a considerable amount of the matter which is now found in the first twenty chapters.

5. The second stage or second edition of the Roll was a reproduction and extension of the first, but containing (Jeremiah 36:32) “many like words” of doom. We have no means of identifying with any certainty the matter thus added; but we may well hold that it included further portions of the prophecies belonging to the same period, and it seems likely that the fiercer denunciations of sin and threats of judgement were added at this time.

Details as to the respective dates of the prophecies contained in this portion of the Book will be discussed in the notes on the text. We need only here remark generally that passages of a Deuteronomic character1[55] naturally belong to a period subsequent to the discovery of the Law book (2 Kings 22:8 ff.) rather than to the five years intervening between the prophet’s call and that event.

[55] See above in ch. iii § 16.

6. In due course materials became available for introduction at the third stage in editing. These consisted of later memoirs and of prophecies uttered subsequent to the fourth year of Jehoiakim, and written down by the prophet himself or his scribe either at the date of their delivery or after some lapse of time. Ch. Jeremiah 1:3, as an addition to the original title2[56], evidently refers to such a compilation, although even its terms do not embrace that part of the materials which belongs to a period after the fall of the Southern kingdom. Within the limits of the existing Book we find historical notices and biographical narratives[57] relating to the last years of the kingdom and to the events which followed immediately upon its overthrow. These were evidently composed by some one in sympathy with Jeremiah and familiar with the circumstances of the time, and they are furnished with dates. The introduction both of these and of the interspersed prophecies we naturally ascribe to the editorship of Baruch, as the amanuensis of the Roll and the prophet’s trusted friend. Doubtless individual prophecies existed in a separate form for a while and were then collected and combined, perhaps shortly before, or, more likely, soon after Jeremiah’s death. While we may safely say that we owe much in this way to Baruch, one or more compilers later than Baruch are suggested by the lack of chronological arrangement, as shewn, e.g. by the position of chs. 35, 36. This absence of chronological order supports the view that they were inserted at various times.

[56] The phraseology of v. 2 evidently referred at first only to the prophecy immediately connected with Jeremiah’s call at that particular point in Josiah’s reign.

[57] See Conspectus of the constituent elements of the Book, as given below.

7. We may notice an interesting and important confirmation of the process by which the contents of the Roll were afterwards supplemented. That confirmation takes the form of certain remarkable differences in language between the parts of the Book which we may presume to have been included in the Roll and the later portions. In the former the prophet speaks in the first person. The word of the Lord came unto me, or some equivalent expression, is frequently found. Here we have Jeremiah dictating to his amanuensis. We have indeed a few instances of this formula in later prophecies (chs. 24, 27, 28), but in subsequent chapters we find that the third person is used, thus suggesting the work of the compiler. There the regular expression is The word of the Lord came to Jeremiah. Moreover, from ch. 20 onwards the expression Jeremiah the prophet is often found, a designation which is much more natural if coming from Baruch as the scribe, than as applied by the prophet to himself. It suggests therefore the independent action of the former in this portion of the Book, as opposed to the simple taking down from the dictation of his master. “Thus the positive information which we have with reference to the origin of the Book of Jeremiah is remarkably confirmed by internal evidence, and we are able by the help of the internal evidence to supplement that partial information by an exceedingly probable conjecture1[58].”

[58] Kirkpatrick, The Divine Library of the O. T., pp. 19f.

8. The Book, however, before being admitted in later days to the Hebrew Canon in the form in which our English Versions present it, evidently came under the hand of editors who here and there modified or added to its contents, thus forming a fourth stage, which may well have been spread over a series of years. Such additions were no doubt in many cases brought about by the posthumous honour bestowed upon Jeremiah by succeeding generations, as indicated by the traditions which grew up around his name[59]. They were considered by their authors either to be genuine prophecies not hitherto incorporated in the Book, or at any rate to express Jeremiah’s teaching. The chief example of this latter is found in chs. 50, 51 (the prophecy against Babylon)[60]. On the other hand passages are occasionally found which are apparently genuine, but displaced from their proper context4[61].

[59] See Appendix as to these.

[60] See note introductory to ch. 50.

[61] E.g. 2:14–17, where see notes. For other instances see the Conspectus given below.

9. Since the first edition of this Commentary appeared (in 1881) much close investigation has been bestowed by English and foreign theologians upon the Book. While some writers owing to various considerations (notably that of metre[62]) attribute only a small portion of the Book to Jeremiah’s authorship, others take a much more conservative view. Among these Cornill is conspicuous, and we subjoin in the following Conspectus[63] his arrangement. While its details may here and there not be quite convincing, its classification is no doubt largely to be accepted, and it illustrates the general account which we have here given of the origin of the Book.

[62] See next chapter.

[63] Taken from his Book of Jeremiah in Hebrew (Eng. trans. of notes), 1895. See his p. 79.


1. Discourses delivered during the first 23 years of ministry (b.c. 626–604), Jeremiah 1:2; Jeremiah 1:4-19, Jeremiah 2:1-13; Jeremiah 2:18-37, Jeremiah 3:1-5; Jeremiah 3:19-25, Jeremiah 4:3-9; Jeremiah 4:11-31, Jeremiah 5:1-19; Jeremiah 5:23-31, Jeremiah 6:1-30, Jeremiah 3:6-16; Jeremiah 3:11, Jer 12:1–3, 5, 6, 18, 7, 8, Jeremiah 9:1-21, Jeremiah 10:17-24, Jeremiah 25:1-3; Jeremiah 25:7-11; Jeremiah 25:13 a, Jeremiah 25:15-29, Jeremiah 46:1-12; Jeremiah 47, Jeremiah 48:1-21 a, Jeremiah 48:25; Jeremiah 48:28; Jeremiah 48:35-44, Jeremiah 49:1-33.

2. Discourses delivered in the later years of Jehoiakim, 14, Jeremiah 15:1-10; Jeremiah 15:15-21, Jeremiah 16:1-13; Jeremiah 16:16-18; Jeremiah 16:21, Jeremiah 17:1-4; Jeremiah 17:14-18, Jeremiah 12:7-17, Jeremiah 35:1-14; Jeremiah 35:17-19.

3. Discourses in the reign of Jehoiachin, 13.

4. Discourses in the reign of Zedekiah, 24, Jeremiah 29:13-15; Jeremiah 29:21-22 a, 31b, 32, Jeremiah 49:34-39; Jeremiah 49:22, Jeremiah 23:1-6; Jeremiah 23:9-18; Jeremiah 23:21-40, Jeremiah 21:1-10; Jeremiah 21:13-14, Jeremiah 20:14-18; Jeremiah 20:7-12, Jeremiah 32:1 b, Jeremiah 32:2 a, Jeremiah 32:6-15; Jeremiah 32:24-44, Jeremiah 33:1; Jeremiah 33:4-13, Jeremiah 23:7-8 (= Jeremiah 16:14-15).

5. Discourses delivered after the destruction of Jerusalem, Jeremiah 30:1-9; Jeremiah 30:13-21, Jeremiah 31:1-9; Jeremiah 31:15-34; Jeremiah 31:38-40, Jeremiah 46:13-26.

6. Displaced genuine passages which cannot be assigned to their proper places, Jeremiah 2:14-17, Jeremiah 9:22-25, Jeremiah 12:4, Jeremiah 16:19-20, Jeremiah 17:5; Jeremiah 17:11-13.

7. Biographical chapters written after the prophet’s death, 19, Jeremiah 20:1-6, Jeremiah 26:1-19, Jeremiah 26:24, Jeremiah 26:20-23, Jer 26:36, 45, Jeremiah 28:1 a transferred to begin Jeremiah 27 a (deleting from בראשית to יהודה in Jeremiah 27:1 a), Jeremiah 27:1 bJeremiah 27:6; Jeremiah 27:8-22, Jeremiah 28:16-17, Jeremiah 51:59-60 a, Jer 61, 63, 64, Jeremiah 34:1-7, Jeremiah 37:5; Jeremiah 37:3; Jeremiah 37:6-10, Jeremiah 34:8-22, Jeremiah 37:4; Jeremiah 37:11-21, Jeremiah 38:1-28 a, Jeremiah 39:15-18, Jeremiah 38:28 b, Jeremiah 39:3; Jeremiah 39:14, Jeremiah 40:6-16; Jeremiah 41, 42, 43, Jeremiah 44:1-28.

8. Biographical chapters written neither by J. nor by the author of the biographical chapters, Jeremiah 10:1-4; Jeremiah 10:9; Jeremiah 10:5-8; Jeremiah 10:10; Jeremiah 10:12-16, Jeremiah 17:19-27, Jeremiah 39:1-2; Jeremiah 39:4-12, Jeremiah 40:1-5; Jeremiah 50, 51, 52.

9. Later glosses and interpolations, Jeremiah 1:3, Jeremiah 3:17-18, Jeremiah 4:1-2; Jeremiah 4:10, Jeremiah 5:20-22, Jeremiah 10:11; Jeremiah 10:25, Jeremiah 15:11-14, Jeremiah 17:12, Jeremiah 20:13, Jeremiah 21:11-12, Jeremiah 23:19-20, Jeremiah 25:4-6; Jeremiah 25:12-13 b, Jeremiah 25:14; Jeremiah 25:30-38, Jeremiah 27:7, Jeremiah 29:2; Jeremiah 29:16-20; Jeremiah 29:22 b, Jeremiah 29:31 a, Jeremiah 30:10-11; Jeremiah 30:22-24, Jeremiah 31:10-14; Jeremiah 31:35-37, Jeremiah 32:1 b, Jeremiah 32:2 b, Jeremiah 32:5; Jeremiah 32:17-23, Jeremiah 33:2-3; Jeremiah 33:11 a, b, Jeremiah 33:14-26, Jeremiah 35:15-16, Jeremiah 37:1-2, Jeremiah 39:13, Jeremiah 44:29-30, Jeremiah 46:27-28, Jeremiah 48:21-24; Jeremiah 48:26-27; Jeremiah 48:29-34; Jeremiah 48:45-47, Jeremiah 51:60 b, Jeremiah 51:62.

10. The question of which we have just treated, how far the Book of Jeremiah, as we now have it, gives us the exact words of the prophet himself, is closely connected with another, which we cannot omit to notice. It is well known that the earliest existing translation of the Old Testament is that made into Greek1[64] for the use of the Jews and others, speaking that tongue, who lived at Alexandria in Lower Egypt. For the most part it adheres with tolerable fidelity to the Hebrew as we now possess it. But the Book of Jeremiah presents in places so startling an exception to this rule, that we are bound to ask ourselves which is to be followed.

[64] Commonly called the Septuagint, or LXX., from the number of translators said to have been employed for the purpose by Ptolemy Philadelphus.

11. Two questions in fact present themselves: (i) whether the variations are due to the ignorance and capriciousness of the LXX. translators or to their use of a text differing from that which now appears in all Hebrew mss., and (ii) if the latter be the cause, whether their Hebrew text was better than that adopted by the Massoretes.

As regards (i), Graf2[65] takes the former view, saying, “After the innumerable instances given above of the arbitrariness and capriciousness of the Alexandrian translator, it is altogether impossible to give his new edition—for one can scarcely call it a translation—any critical authority, or to draw from it any conclusion as to the Hebrew text having ever existed in a different form from that in which we have it at present.”

[65] Einleitung, S. 56.

This charge of capriciousness, however, does not seem to be securely based, and may safely be set aside. It remains therefore to assume that their translation is a fairly close rendering of the Hebrew text which lay before them, and to ask further which of the two has a better claim to be taken as representing the original.

The two main differences which strike us on comparing the Hebrew and Greek texts are these.

(a) In the LXX., as compared with the Hebrew, there are very few additions but an immense number of trifling omissions besides some of more importance. On the whole in the LXX. about one eighth part of the text as it stands in the Hebrew is wanting. There is besides a certain amount of deviation affecting the sense.

(b) The position of the prophecies against foreign nations differs in the two. In the LXX. instead of coming near the end of the Book (chs. 46–51) they stand after ch. Jeremiah 25:13, and therefore before the section of kindred subject-matter which begins ch. Jeremiah 25:14. Also their order of sequence among themselves differs. See § 15 below.

12. The best account of the matter seems to be that the Book compiled in the manner set forth above underwent a process of gradual expansion by amplification of the text, e.g. by such expressions as “saith Jehovah,” “Jehovah of hosts, the God of Israel,” which form a considerable part of the shorter omissions in the LXX., while that process is presented to us at a much earlier stage in the Greek version1[66]. For the longer omissions in the LXX. as compared with the M.T. in their bearing upon the question of the comparative superiority of the two texts see notes on chs. Jeremiah 29:16-20; Jeremiah 33 (introd. notes), 39 (introd. notes); also on the last words of ch. Jeremiah 25:26.

[66] This is supported by the fact that metrical tests, so far as they go, give considerable support to LXX. readings. See next chapter.

Looking at the probabilities of the case we may safely suppose that the Hebrew form of the Book was based on mss. which received their shape from editors living in Babylon or Palestine. We may confidently believe that the prophet’s words would be for them a favourite study, and they would thus be induced to expand the texts which they copied, either by actual additions in the body of the work, or by marginal notes which were subsequently inserted in the text. On the other hand, owing to differences of language as well as of surroundings and modes of life, “Egyptian Jews would probably occupy themselves less with the original text than those of Palestine or Babylon, and thus the mss., even if transcribed, would retain more closely their primitive form. Amplifications of the text and interpolations really reflect the moods of religious life and hope, and this life was fuller in Palestine than in Egypt1[67].” While these considerations may be adduced as helping materially to account for the briefer form of the LXX. text, it must be acknowledged that real omissions, whether through accident or otherwise, are occasionally to be found2[68].

[67] A. B. Davidson, HDB, II. 575.

[68] E.g. in 2:7, 3:1, 4:11.

13. Apart from what we have termed “omissions” in the LXX., there are other reasons accounting for variations from the Hebrew. Such are (i) a desire for smoothness of sound, (ii) attempts to throw light on the meaning by alteration or addition, (iii) national or local feeling, and deference to Egyptian susceptibilities3[69]. Other causes lay in the illegibility of the Heb. mss. they used, or ignorance of the meaning of a Hebrew word or expression, slips of eye or ear, wrong vocalisation or wrong division of words4[70], errors arising from actual contractions or from what they took to be such, or lastly, the mistaking of one root for another of kindred form.

[69] E.g. in 2:18, where in dealing with the word “Shihor” (the Nile), as coming from a root which in Hebrew means black or muddy, they avoid its transliteration, and substitute Γηὼν (identified by Josephus with the Nile, Ant. I. i. 3).

[70] Words were written continuously, and the system of vowel points was as yet non-existent.

14. Mr H. St John Thackeray5[71] has brought forward convincing arguments arising from differences in the phraseology used, to shew that “the Greek version of the Book of Jeremiah falls into two nearly equal portions, which have been rendered by different translators, possibly from two separate collections of prophecies.” The former of the translators he considers to have been the more competent of the two. The portions of the translation he holds to consist (according to the Greek order of chapters) of chs. 1–286[72] and 29–517[73], while 52 is an appendix and “probably by a third hand.”

[71] Journal of Theol. Studies, IV. 245 ff. See further treatment of the subject in his Grammar of the O. T. in Greek according to the LXX.

[72] Heb. 1:1–25:13, 49:34–39, 46:2–28, 50:1–46, 51:1–64.

[73] Heb. 47:1–22, 49:1–5, 28–33, 23–27, 48:1–44, 25:15–38, 26:1–24, 27:2–22, 28:1–17, 29:1–32, 30:1–24, 31:1–40, 32:1–44, 33:1–13, 34:1–22, 35:1–19, 26:1–32, 37:1–21, 38:1–28, 39:1–3, 14–18, 40:1–16, 41:1–18, 42:1–22, 43:1–13, 44:1–30, 45:1–5.

15. The following Table shews how, as has been said above in § 11 (b), the order of succession of the prophecies against foreign nations differs in the two.

Hebrew.  Septuagint.

49:34–39 (Elam).  25:14–18.

46. (Egypt).  26.

50. (Babylon).  27.

51. (Babylon).  28.

47. (Philistines).  29:1–7.

49:7–22 (Edom).  29:8–23.

49:1–6 (Ammon).  30:1–5.

49:28–33 (Kedar and Hazor).  30:6–11.

49:23–27 (Damascus).  30:12–16.

48. (Moab).  31.

Thereupon the LXX. (ch. 32, etc.) takes up the Heb. ch. 25:15, etc.



1. It may be said in general that the parallel arrangement of verses or clauses corresponds in Oriental poetry to the use of metre among Western nations, and illustrations of the various kinds of parallelism, it need scarcely be said, abound in the Psalms and other poetic literature of the Old Testament. It is, however, now generally accepted by commentators that metrical arrangement is found also in prophetic writings, and in particular that it is a prominent characteristic of the Book of Jeremiah. Duhm in fact goes so far as to say that wherever this arrangement neither is shewn by the existing Hebrew text, nor can be obtained from it by what he considers a reasonable amount of emendation, the passage must be rejected as unauthentic. There is a further question, whether an arrangement of verses in strophes, i.e. groups of metrical lines, exists in Hebrew poetry, and if so, how far it is present, e.g. in Jeremiah. On this point much difference of opinion still exists. See the full discussion in HDB, III. 7 ff.

2. Those who maintain the existence of metre in either the whole or part of Jeremiah’s writings are by no means of one mind as to the exact nature of the metre adopted by the prophet. Duhm holds that the rhythm of the Ḳinah, or lamentation, is the infallible criterion, and by this test he reduces the genuine portion of the prophecies (apart from Jeremiah’s letter in ch. 29) to sixty short poems, amounting in all to about 280 verses. He arranges his material in stanzas of four lines, with three or two accented syllables in each line1[74]. The Ḳinah, we may observe, is the rhythm regularly used for Hebrew elegy2[75], and is to be found throughout the greater part of the Book of Lamentations. The distinguishing feature of this measure is that, while in the case of ordinary parallelism of two clauses the two parts of the distich are approximately equal in length and structure, in the Ḳinah, on the other hand, the second member is shorter, and, “instead of balancing and reinforcing it, echoes it imperfectly, producing a plaintive, melancholy cadence3[76].”

[74] Das Buch Jeremia, Einl. S. xii.

[75] See E. G. King, Early Religious Poetry of the Hebrews, pp. 39 ff.

[76] Driver on Amos 5:2 (C. B.). See further in LOT, p. 457.

3. Cornill’s treatment of the question of Jeremiah’s metre involves a much less wholesale elimination of passages than that of Duhm. He admits that the prophet wrote in prose as well as in metre, and in the poetical parts he holds that there is more than one metrical arrangement to be found. He acknowledges further that the character of any conclusions, whether reached by himself or others, is at present provisional. According to him4[77] the metrical basis in the Book is the “Oktastich,” the eight-lined “Knittelvers,” i.e. a combination of metrical lines in which each line contains four accented syllables and a variable number of unaccented. Examples given by him are Jeremiah 26:5-6, Jeremiah 29:11, and instances of the “Oktastich” broken into two groups of four each (a “Tetrastich”), Jeremiah 1:10, Jeremiah 7:29, Jeremiah 13:14, Jeremiah 14:10.

[77] Die metrischen Stücke des Buches Jeremia, S. 9.

Giesebrecht1[78] holds that groups of lines, each with two, three, or four accented syllables, occur, interspersed with Ḳinah groups. He adds abundant illustrations. Sievers2[79], followed by Erbt3[80], differs much in his metrical theories from the two writers just mentioned.

[78] Jeremias Metrik, S. iv.

[79] Studien zur Hebräischen Metrik, 1901.

[80] See next page.

4. Recognising then, as we cannot fail to do, the poetic colouring of this Book, it may still be held that a large part of the literature remaining to us in Jeremiah’s prophecies is written, not in studied rhythm, but in prose of a poetic character naturally expressive of his emotional nature. Those portions of his writings to which we may assign actual metre can be made without much difficulty to follow the arrangement of an eight-lined stanza4[81]. In view, however, of the fact that commentators who accept a metrical arrangement in the Book are by no means agreed with regard to details of the measures used, we can scarcely go further than this in ascribing to Jeremiah’s writings a metrical framework. Moreover, those emendations of the text which are dependent solely upon metrical considerations must be received with caution, as there was evidently much more elasticity in the Hebrew use of metre than is consistent with Western taste or usage5[82].

[81] So Cornill, Das Buch Jeremia, S. xlvi.

[82] See further in E. G. King, op. cit.



Such commentaries as Ewald (1841 and 1868), Graf (1862), Nägelsbach (1868), and Keil (1872) are now somewhat out of date. Among foreign commentators of value there stand out prominently the names of Orelli, Cornill, Duhm, Erbt, and Giesebrecht. Of these Cornill1[83] is perhaps the most useful to a German-reading student. Orelli’s best and latest (3rd) edition (1905) has not been translated, nor have the other three writers. Duhm, in the Kurzer Hand-Commentar zum A. T., 1901, is strongly appreciative of the prophet. On the other hand, the amount of emendation and omission which he carries out to support his theory of the metrical character of Jeremiah’s writings, is arbitrary and extravagant. Erbt (J. u. seine Zeit, 1902) presents a very useful treatment from the historical, exegetical, critical, and metrical points of view. Giesebrecht, besides his contribution to the Handkommentar zum A. T.2[84] has made a close study of metres, but without very assured results. In English we have the section on Jeremiah in Kirkpatrick’s Doctrine of the Prophets3[85], the articles in Hastings’ Dictionary of the Bible by A. B. Davidson, and Encyclopædia Biblica by N. Schmidt; Jeremiah, his Life and Times, by Cheyne (in the “Men of the Bible” series), and the Book as treated by the same writer in The Pulpit Commentary, also the volume in the Expositor’s Bible by C. J. Ball and W. H. Bennett. Specially valuable are Driver’s Book of the Prophet J., 1906, and A. S. Peake’s Jeremiah, Century Bible, 1910–11.

[83] Das Buch Jeremia, 1905. His Heb. text of Jeremiah with notes, the latter translated into English by C. Johnston, 1895, is also valuable.

[84] Abtheilung III. Band 2, Theil 1, 1894 (Das Buch Jeremia, 2nd ed. 1907 “fully revised”).

[85] 3rd ed. 1902.

For works dealing specially with the relation between the Hebrew and LXX. texts of the Book we may refer to those of Scholz, Die massor. Text u. die LXX.-Uebersetzung des Buches J., 1875; Workman, The Text of J., 1889, and the present editor, The Double Text of J., 1896.

The following may be added as works including valuable material on the subject in general and on the Book of Jeremiah in particular, Buchanan Blake, How to read the Prophets4[86]; Findlay, The Books of the Prophets, Vol. III. (“Jeremiah and his Group”); Kent, The Sermons, Epistles, and Apocalypses of Israel’s Prophets.

[86] Part III. includes Jeremiah.


O.T.  Old Testament.

N.T.  New Old Testament.

ms. (mss.)  Manuscript(s).

Heb. or MT.  The original Hebrew text, as edited by the Massoretes or Jewish scholars from about the 6th to the 10th century a.d.

LXX. or Sept.  The translation of the Old Testament into Greek; traditionally said to have been made by seventy persons. It was really made gradually, wholly or mostly during the 3rd and 2nd centuries b.c.

Aq. Symm. Theod.  Aquila, Symmachus, Theodotion, Translators of the O.T. into Greek in the 2nd cent. a.d.

Vulg.  The Latin translation of the Bible made by St Jerome (latter part of the 4th and beginning of the 5th century a.d.).

Targ.  A paraphrase or free translation in Aramaic, made for the use of those Jews who were no longer familiar with Hebrew. In its present form it dates from about the 5th century a.d.

Syr.  The Syriac translation known as the Peshiṭṭo.

Syr. Hex.  The Syro-Hexaplaric Version.

A. V.  The Authorised Version (a.d. 1611).

R.V.  The Revised Version (O.T. a.d. 1885; N.T. 1881).

R.V. mg.  Revised Version, margin.

E.VV.  Used where the English Versions (Authorised and Revised) agree.

C. B.  Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges.

Co. Heb.  Cornill, The Book of Jeremiah in Hebrew, with notes (Eng. trans. of latter), 1895.

Co.  Cornill Commentaries.

Dr.  Driver Commentaries.

Du.  Duhm Commentaries.

Gi.  Giesebrecht Commentaries.

Pe.  Peake Commentaries.

LOT  Driver, Introduction to the Literature of the Old Testament (8th edn., 1909).

HDB  Hastings’ Dictionary of the Bible.

Enc. Bibl.  Encyclopædia Biblica.

J. Th. S.  Journal of Theological Studies.

c.  (circa) about.



  c. 722.  Fall of Samaria.

  c. 697.  Accession of Manasseh.

  639.  Accession of Josiah, the next year (638) being counted as his first whole year.

  626.  Jeremiah’s call.

  621.  The new Law book discovered.

  610–594.  Reign of Pharaoh-necoh, king of Egypt.

  608.  Josiah dies at Megiddo. Jehoahaz reigns three months. Jehoiakim succeeds.

  607.  First (whole) year of Jehoiakim.

  605.  Battle of Carchemish. Defeat of Pharaoh-necoh by Nebuchadnezzar.

  604.  Fourth year of Jehoiakim. Jeremiah’s first Roll written.

  603.  The Roll re-written.

  597.  Jehoiachin reigns three months, then carried off to Babylon. Zedekiah’s accession.

  596.  First (whole) year of Zedekiah.

  594–589.  Reign of Psammetichus, king of Egypt.

  589–561.  Reign of Pharaoh Hophra, king of Egypt.

  586.  Jerusalem captured and burnt by the Chaldaeans. Jews carried to Babylon.

  561.  Evil-Merodach succeeds to the throne of Babylon, and sets free Jehoiachin from prison.

  538.  Babylon taken by Cyrus.

  537.  Exiles return, under leadership of Zerubbabel.



Traditions relating to Jeremiah

1. That Jeremiah addressed a severe rebuke to the Jews in Egypt is the last undoubted fact which we possess in connexion with him (ch. 44; see on v. 1), and it has been conjectured that it was in accordance with his own desire that his faithful minister Baruch refrained from inserting in the Book of his prophecies any further particulars of his life or record of his end—so slender at the outset and even inconsistent are the traditional notices.

2. The Christian tradition was that the Jews in Egypt, provoked by his rebukes, stoned him to death “Jeremias lapidatur” Tert. adv. Gnost. c. 8; “Jeremias lapidatus … a populo,” Hieron. adv. Jov. II. 37. See also beginning of § 8 below.

3. The Jewish tradition, perhaps, however, invented by way of hiding the truth of the charge brought against them by the Christians, was that the prophet had escaped from Egypt to Babylon, and there died.

4. In the Book of Ecclesiasticus (ch. Sir 49:7) (generally dated between b.c. 190 and 170), Jeremiah is referred to thus:—“They entreated him evil; and yet he was sanctified in the womb to be a prophet, to root out, and to afflict, and to destroy; and in like manner to build, and to plant.” See Jeremiah 1:10.

5. In 2Ma 2:1-7 we are told that Jeremiah at the exile “commanded them that were carried away to take of the fire,” and that “the prophet, being warned of God, commanded that the tabernacle and the ark should follow with him, when he went forth into the mountain where Moses went up and beheld the heritage of God. And Jeremiah came and found a chamber in the rock, and there he brought in the tabernacle, and the ark, and the altar of incense; and he made fast the door. And some of those that followed with him came there that they might mark the way, and could not find it. But when Jeremiah perceived it, he blamed them, saying, Yea, and the place shall be unknown until God gather the people again together, and mercy come.”

6. Judas Maccabaeus before his conflict with Nicanor sees in a vision (2Ma 15:12-16) “a man of venerable age and exceeding glory, and wonderful and most majestic was the dignity around him … the lover of the brethren, … Jeremiah the prophet of God,” who presents him with a sword of gold, by which to prevail.

7. The following is the form which the tradition had assumed in the time of Polyhistor (a Greek historian who was brought to Rome by Sylla the Dictator). He is quoted by Eusebius (Praepar. Evang. IX. 39) as stating that in the time of Jehoiakim Jeremiah prophesied. He found the Jews sacrificing to a golden idol, named Baal, and announced the impending disaster. Jehoiakim was for burning him alive, but he said that they (the Jews) should as captives cook food for the Babylonians and dig canals for the Tigris and Euphrates. The historian adds that Nebuchadnezzar hearing of these prophecies came with Astibar, king of the Medes, and captured Jerusalem, removing to Babylon the treasures of the Temple, “except the Ark and the Tables which were in it; these remained with Jeremiah.” On this last point, see § 5 above.

8. In our Lord’s time there are traces of a popular belief that Jeremiah’s work on earth was not yet done, and this was one of the phases of Messianic hope. See Matthew 16:14, and compare John 1:21, where “the prophet” is by some thought to have reference to him.

For other prophecies attributed to him, see Note 2.

9. The treatise De Vitis Prophetarum (Migne edn. Tom. xliii., p. 421) attributed to St Epiphanius (died a.d. 402) relates as follows (shewing that meanwhile the tradition had grown considerably), “Jeremiah the prophet was of Anathoth, and he was stoned to death by the people at Taphnae in Egypt. And he lies at the site of Pharaoh’s house, for the Egyptians honoured him, having received benefits from him; for asps and … crocodiles were destroying them, and at the prayer of the prophet Jeremiah both the venomous asps were driven from the land, and in like manner the treacherous beasts from the river, and all the faithful to the present day pray at that spot, and taking of the dust cure the bite of asps and put the crocodiles themselves to flight. This prophet gave a sign to the Egyptian priests, saying, that all their idols must be overthrown and all the works of their hands [see note on Jeremiah 25:7] collapse, when there should set foot in Egypt a virgin about to bear a Divine Child [Matthew 2:14]. And so it was.” Epiphanius adds that the memory of this prophecy is kept up by a ceremony continued to his own time. He continues:—“This prophet before the capture of the temple seized the Ark of the Law with all its contents, and caused it to be swallowed up in a rock, and said to the priests of the people and to the elders who stood by, The Lord departed from Sinai into the heavens, and He will come again in sacred might. And this shall be the sign of His coming, when all nations bow down before wood (the Cross, see Matthew 24:14). And he said to them, No one of the priests or prophets shall disclose this Ark, save Moses the chosen of God. The Tables that are in it none shall open save Aaron. And in the Resurrection the Ark shall rise first, and shall go forth from the rock and be placed on the Mount Sinai, and all the saints shall be gathered together to it, there awaiting the Lord, and shunning the enemy who desires to destroy them. And with his finger he impressed upon the rock the name of the Lord, and the impression was as though it had been cut with an iron tool, and a cloud overshadowed the rock, and no one knows that spot till the end of the world. And this rock is in the wilderness, where the Ark was first made, between the two mountains where Moses and Aaron lie. And at night a cloud like fire rests upon the spot, after the likeness of those of olden time, inasmuch as the glory of God will never desert His Law.”


Prophecies ascribed elsewhere to Jeremiah

1. The reference to Jeremiah in 2 Chronicles 36:21 may be direct to the passages Jeremiah 25:11, Jeremiah 29:10, as we now have them. It has been suggested, however, that it is taken from an early Jewish Commentary (Midrash) and that the same account is to be given of 2 Chronicles 36:22 f. (= Ezra 1:1 f.), where the nearest parallel in the Canonical Books is Isaiah 44:28. The prophecies of Jeremiah were evidently included in a definite collection of sacred Books when the Book of Daniel was composed. See Daniel 9:2, which shews that Jeremiah 25:12; Jeremiah 29:10 were in the writer’s mind.

2. The 6th chapter of the (Apocryphal) Book of Baruch purports to be an Epistle from Jeremiah to the captives in Babylon.

3. A quotation (really found in Zechariah 11:12-13) is attributed to “Jeremiah the Prophet” in Matthew 27:9. Lightfoot (Horae Hebraicae) on this N. T. passage quotes a Talmudic treatise (Baba Bathra, fol. 14 a) which makes the order of O. T. Books Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Isaiah, giving as the reason, that since the Books of Kings end with disaster, and Jeremiah and Ezekiel also deal with disaster, while Isaiah contains comfort, the former class should go together. Lightfoot accordingly explains the passage on this principle, and takes “Jeremiah” to denote the whole section of which it was the opening Book; comparing Luke 24:44, where by “the psalms” are denoted all the Books not included under the two other divisions there mentioned. Plummer (Comm. on Matt. l. c.) suggests that the quotation as from Jeremiah may be influenced by Jeremiah 18:2; Jeremiah 19:1; Jeremiah 19:11. See his note for other suggested explanations.

4. Justin Martyr (Dialogue with Trypho, Migne edn., Tom. vi. p. 646) ascribes evidently by mistake to Jeremiah a passage resembling 1 Peter 3:19.

5. Ephesians 5:14, “Awake, thou that, etc.” Grotius in his commentary on this passage remarks that certain (among whom he mentions, apparently by error, St Epiphanius) say that this is from the Apocryphal writings of Jeremiah. He adds that at any rate the word “Christ” does not agree with such a view.

6. In the works of Pseudo Abdias (about the latter part of the 6th century a.d.) these words (see Fabricius, Codex Pseudepigr. V. T. p. 1109) are quoted as Jeremiah’s: “Behold thy redeemer shall come, Jerusalem, and this shall be his token, He shall open the eyes of the blind, he shall restore to the deaf their hearing, and with his voice shall raise the dead.”

7. Other portions of Scripture which have been at one time or another ascribed to Jeremiah are Deuteronomy, Kings, many of the Psalms, e.g. 5, 6, 14, 22, 31, 41, 52–55, 69–71; Isaiah, chs. 49–66; Zechariah, chs. 9–14.


Jeremiah as a type of Christ

St Jerome (Commentary on Jeremiah 23:9) speaks of this prophet as one who (i) as leading a single life, (ii) as a prophet, (iii) as sanctified from the womb (compare Luke 1:15) and (iv) in his very name, the Lord’s exalted one, prefigured Christ. To state the parallel more fully in the words of a modern writer: “In both there is the same early manifestation of the consciousness of a Divine mission (Luke 2:49). The persecution which drove the prophet from Anathoth has its counterpart in that of the men of Nazareth (Luke 4:29). His protests against the priests and prophets are the forerunners of the woes against the scribes and Pharisees (Matthew 23). His lamentations over the coming miseries of his country answer to the tears that were shed over the Holy City by the Son of Man. His sufferings come nearest, of those of the whole army of martyrs, to those of the Teacher against Whom princes and priests and elders and people were gathered together. He saw more clearly than others that New Covenant, with all its gifts of spiritual life and power, which was proclaimed and ratified in the death upon the cross.” (Plumptre, Art. Jeremiah, Smith’s Dict. of Bible.)

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