Lange Commentary on the Holy Scriptures















JEREMIAH was the most prominent personage in a period of deepest distress and humiliation of the Jewish theocracy. He witnessed one by one the departure of all prospects of a reformation and deliverance from impending national ruin. Profoundly sympathizing with the calamities of his people and country, he is emphatically the prophet of sorrow and affliction. The first quotation from him in the New Testament is “a voice of lamentation and weeping and great mourning” (Matt. 2:17, 18). In his holy grief over Jerusalem and his bitter persecutions he resembles the life of Christ. Should he, instead of David, be the author of the 22. Psalm, as HITZIG plausibly conjectures, the resemblance would even be more striking; but the superscription is against it. Standing alone in a hostile world, fearless and immovable, he delivered for forty years his mournful warnings and searching rebukes, dashed the false hopes of his deluded people to the ground, counselled submission instead of resistance, denounced the unfaithful priests and false prophets, and thus brought upon himself the charge of treachery and desertion; yet in the midst of gloom and darkness he held fast to trust in Jehovah, and in the stormy sunset of prophecy he beheld the dawn of a brighter day of a new covenant of the gospel written on the heart (31:31). He is therefore the prophet of the dispensation of the Spirit (Hebr. 8:13; 10:16, 17). The character and temper of Jeremiah is reflected in his strongly subjective, tender, affecting, elegiac style, which combines the truth of history with the deepest pathos of poetry. It is the language of holy grief and sorrow. Even his prose is “more poetical than poetry, because of its own exceeding tragical simplicity.” Jeremiah has proved a sympathizing companion and comforter in seasons of individual suffering and national calamity from the first destruction of Jerusalem down to the siege of Paris in our own day.

The elaborate Commentary on Jeremiah and the Lamentations, which appeared in 1868, as a part of Dr. LANGE’s Bibel-werk, was prepared by Dr. C. W. EDWARD NAEGELSBACH, pastor in Bayreuth, Bavaria, the author of a Hebrew Grammar, of several small monographs, and important articles in HERZOG’s Theol. Encyclopædia.

The Commentary on the Book of the Prophet Jeremiah was translated by the Rev. SAMUEL R. ASBURY, Rector of Trinity Church, Moorestown, N. J.

The Commentary on the Lamentations was translated by the Rev. WM. H. HORNBLOWER, D.D., of Paterson, N. J.

Considerable additions, amounting to 147 pages, were made in both works, especially the latter.1 Dr. HORNBLOWER justly dissents from Dr. NAEGELSBACH’s opinion concerning the authorship of the Lamentations, and defends the old tradition which assigns it to Jeremiah.

In justice to the German author, I extract from his Preface what he says concerning his views on Biblical criticism:

“With reference to the critical principles I have adopted I ought perhaps to say something. There is inconsiderate criticism; there is also inconsiderate hostility to criticism. Between these two I have endeavored to preserve the golden mean. The absolute integrity of the received text cannot be maintained, and indeed is now held by none. But once granting that the original has undergone corruptions, and the right of criticism is admitted in principle. Of this right, however, a very unrighteous use may be made, as is the case whenever criticism sets itself in opposition to the spirit in which a work was produced. Such criticism may possibly hit the truth, it may discover errors, which the eye of love and reverence has failed to observe. It has done undeniable service in this regard. But this effect is accidental and exceptional, not necessary and universal. Criticism proceeding from adverse opinions will do more to render the good and genuine suspicious than to purify it from spurious elements. We must correct it, not with a denial of its right per se, but on the one hand with a rejection of the principles which govern the application of this right, and on the other with a rigid examination of the objective results. In the latter respect it is important, above all, not to confound the eternal truth with human traditional conceptions thereof. The eternal truth is not prejudiced, even though, an interpolation or a lacuna may be discovered here and there in a canonical book. Did such discoveries inflict a vital injury, care would have been taken that not a single variation should creep into the sacred archives. But such variations do exist in number; there are, as we have said, unquestionable distortions of the original text of greater or less extent. It is thus seen that the Almighty was not concerned at a little dust, a slight rent, or a small piece of patchwork, affixed by an unhallowed hand, on the hem of the majestic garment of His holy oracles. There is always enough of the unassailable sacred text remaining intact, which to some may be a ‘fountain of living water,’ to others the ‘sword of the Spirit.’ Now would it be of any advantage to the good cause if we admitted no critical suspicion, but warded off every such attack at any price? Would it be well—would it be right—to ward off such attacks by artificial expedients? We should thus be in danger of defending the truth, consciously or unconsciously, with lies, so that the good cause would be rather injured than subserved. For thus we should undermine the citadel we were defending; we should induce in our readers the conviction that we were acting on the principle that ‘the end justifies the means,’ and were anxious not so much for truth as for victory. I have from the first guarded, for God’s and my conscience’ sake, against such unspiritual knight-errantry.

“And yet I consider that there is great advantage in criticism exercised with conscientious care. In the first place, the good cause is thus spared the miserable testimonium paupertatis to which a paltry fear of criticism exposes it, and it receives a testimonium opulentiæ, that is, we thus testify that we know the cause we espouse to stand on an impregnable basis and to be able to withstand every trial of critical fire. In the second place, we afford to ourselves a testimonium honestatis, that is, we cause it to be understood that we have to do with the truth, and will contend for it only with honorable means. In the third place, if the unquestionable, but relatively insignificant, corruptions do no harm, still a knowledge of the correct text is, directly for exegesis and indirectly for doctrinal theology, always of some importance. In the fourth and last place, a right exercise of criticism is an exemplification of the ἡλικία τοῦ πληρώματος τοῦ Χριστοῦ (Eph. 4:13) and the αἰσθητήρια γεγυμνασμένα πρὸς διάκρισιν καλοῦ τε καὶ κακοῦ (Heb. 5:14).”


New York, 40 Bible House, April, 1871.






The Old Testament theocracy in its external relations suffered two disastrous shocks; the destruction by Nebuchadnezzar and that by Titus. Both culminated in the demolition of the temple and the holy city, and the carrying away of the people. Each of the two catastrophes had its prophet: the latter, as definitive, forming the first act of the judgment—Christ, the Judge, Himself (Matth. 24): the former, the prophet Jeremiah.

It is however noteworthy that Jeremiah began his dirge at a time when the sick nation appeared to have been healed. The abomination of apostasy reached its acme in the act of Manasseh, the son of Hezekiah (2 Kings 21:1–17), who placed idols and idol-altars in the temple, dedicated to the exclusive worship of Jehovah. After the short reign of his like-minded son Amon (2 Kings 21:18–25) Josiah ascended the throne of Judea, a prince of whom the book of Kings declares (23:25) that neither before him nor after him was there a king like him, who turned to the Lord with his whole heart, according to all the law of Moses. This pious king cleansed the land from all the abominations of idolatry, and restored the worship of Jehovah with a completeness which had not before existed (23:22–24, etc.). Unfortunately, notwithstanding his earnestness and good-will, Josiah’s reform was only partial. The good soil was wanting for the seed, and hence his reformation was but a sowing among thorns. He had cleansed the land but not the hearts of the people (Jer. 4:1–4. HERZOG, Real-Enc. XII. S. 227) and after his death the weeds shot forth again in fell luxuriance. From its geographical position the theocracy was placed between two great powers, that of Egypt on the South, that of Assyria on the North. Assyria was about to succumb beneath the heavy blows of the Babylonians and Medes, and Pharaoh Necho, King of Egypt, regarded this as a favorable opportunity to conquer Syria. If he succeeded in this, Judea would be surrounded and in constant danger of being overpowered by him. Josiah attempted to repel P. Necho, and made the independence of Syria the final object of his policy (see NIEBUHR, Ass. u. Bab. S. 364). But he was defeated and slain at Megiddo, and Necho conquered Syria as far as the Euphrates. (2 Kings 24:7). In the meantime Nineveh had fallen, B. C. 606. Nabopolassar, king of Babylon, sent the army thus set at liberty, under the command of his son Nebuchadnezzar, against the Egyptians, with whom a decisive and victorious battle was fought at Carchemish B. C. 605–4. In the same year his father died, and the youthful conqueror mounted the Babylonian throne. In Judea, after Josiah’s death, the people had elected king not the eldest but second [surviving] son, Jehoahaz, probably fearing the despotic character of Jehoiakim. But Jehoahaz did not prove to be a good sovereign. He did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord, according to all that his fathers had done (2 Kings 23:32). In Riblah, where he had probably gone to treat with Necho, he was taken prisoner, and was afterwards carried away as captive to Egypt, since Necho did not desire a ruler in Jerusalem, who would pursue a national policy (2 Kings 23:32, 34; Jer. 22:10–12). Jehoiakim was appointed by the Egyptian king in his place, and thus, as the creature of the latter, laid under obligation to serve him. The fears entertained as to his character were realized. He ruled despotically; his love of splendid architecture leading him to oppress the people severely (Jer. 22:13 sqq.); he shed much innocent blood, (Jer. 22:17) and served idols like the ungodly kings before him. The overthrow of the Egyptian power in consequence of the battle of Carchemish involved his fall also. Although Nebuchadnezzar did not immediately take possession of Judea, his father’s death necessitating his hasty return to Babylon, his supremacy over Syria and Egypt was secured. It was four years after the battle, in the eighth year of Jehoiakim, that he took Judea and Jerusalem (2 Kings 24:1). The circumstance that the book of Kings makes no mention of the battle of Carchemish indicates that this made no perceptible difference in the condition of the kingdom of Judea. If Nebuchadnezzar had then invaded Judea, besieged and taken Jerusalem, and carried off prisoners and booty, it would certainly have been mentioned. The book of Jeremiah also contains no trace of Judea having then come into the actual possession of the Chaldeans. Jeremiah is always exhorting to submission. Jehoiakim reigns undisturbed in his fourth and fifth year at Jerusalem (comp. Jer. 25 and 36) The fasting mentioned in 36:9, may as well have been occasioned by a danger threatening from a distance as any other,—least probably by the burden of a foreign rule then weighing on the people, since there is not a syllable intimating such an occasion. I therefore agree with those, who assume with Josephus (Antiq. X. 6, 1) that Nebuchadnezzar took Jerusalem for the first time in the eighth year of Jehoiakim. Comp. DUNCKER, Gesch. d. Alterth., I. S. 825, on the other side FR. R. HASSE, De Prima Neb. adv. Hierosol. expeditione, Bonn.,. 1856. NIEBUHR, Ass. u. Bab., S. 370, 373 sq. NIEBUHR seems to me to make too much of the passage, Dan. 1:1, 2, as well as of a notice in the Seder Olam Rabba, c. 24, and on the other hand too little of the testimony of the book of Kings and of Jeremiah. But however this may be, Jehoiakim, as well as the large majority of the people, took no heed to Jeremiah’s exhortation to submit willingly to Nebuchadnezzar, and the consequence was that they were compelled to do so (2 Kings 24:1). Three years afterwards Jehoiakim again revolted. A Chaldean army, with auxiliaries from Syria, Moab, and Ammon, reduced the rebellious people again to submission. At this juncture Jehoiakim lost his life, but whether in consequence of the capture of the city (JOSEPHUS Antiq. X. 6, 3, speaks of a voluntary admission of the Chaldeans into the city) or being taken prisoner outside the walls (so VAIHINGER in HERZOG, Real-Enc. VI. S. 790, as it appears, on the basis of Ezek. 19:8 sq.) is uncertain. According to the book of Kings the Chaldeans do not appear to have taken the city immediately after the death of Jehoiakim, for his son Jehoiachin succeeded by right of inheritance, not by the will of the Babylonian monarch. As heir to his father’s obligations he is indeed made war upon and punished, but not so severely as Zedekiah (comp. 2 Kings 24:15; and 25:27 sq., with 25:6 sq.; Jer. 52:9–11). Whether the siege of Jerusalem began before Jehoiakim’s death or after cannot be ascertained; certainly not long after, for Jehoiachin (who had also reigned in a manner displeasing to Jehovah) only three months after his accession to the throne, had to yield to the besieging forces of Nebuchadnezzar. The latter carried him, his family, the princes, the soldiers, and the smiths, all who could make or bear arms, captives to Babylon. (2 Kings 24:14 sq.). This was the first deportation, and did not attain its object of rendering the people incapable of resistance. Nebuchadnezzar seems not to have been aware of the amazing tenacity of the Jewish character, or he would have done then what he was obliged to do afterwards. He allowed the kingdom of Judah to remain, but appointed a king of his own choice, Mattaniah, the youngest son of Josiah. He, like Eliakim, had to change his name, and perhaps with reference to the promise given in 23:5, (יְהוָֹה צִדְקֵנוּ) assumed that of צִדְקִיָהוּ. This sounds like mockery when we read the actual history of this king. He was not indeed inaccessible to better feelings, and seems to have been by no means so barbarous and cruel as Jehoiakim, but he was weak, and from dread of his too powerful nobles permitted every kind of transgression of the laws of Jehovah and injustice towards His prophet. The whole fanatical national party of the Jews, supported by a number of false prophets, united to induce him to break his oath of allegiance to the king of Babylon (Jer. 23:9), and an impulse to this from without also was not wanting. In Zedekiah’s fourth year ambassadors came from Tyre, Sidon, Ammon, Moab, and Edom (Jer. 27) to consult together concerning a united revolt against the Babylonian rule. Then indeed Jeremiah appears to have stayed the revolt. The same year Zedekiah made a journey to Babylon to do homage (Jer. 51:59 sqq.), on which occasion by a strange turn Jeremiah gave to the king’s marshall his great prophecy against Babylon, that he might read it to his master on the banks of the Euphrates, and then sink it in the stream. But scarcely had the Jews received intelligence that Pharaoh Hophra, grandson of Necho, who ascended the throne B. C. 589, was preparing to make war on Babylon than they thought themselves strong enough to venture on a revolt. But Nebuchadnezzar was not to be trifled with. Quickly, before the Egyptians could come up, he appeared with his army before Jerusalem, in the ninth year of Zedekiah (B. C. 588). He was indeed compelled by the approach of the Egyptian army to raise the siege, but he succeeded in repulsing the Egyptians, and Jerusalem was at once invested and sorely pressed. After being devastated by famine and pestilence, the city was taken in the 11th year of Zedekiah. The king fled with a part of his army, but was overtaken in the plain of Jericho, brought before Nebuchadnezzar at Riblah, in the land of Hamath, and after his children and the captive princes of Judah had been slain in his presence, his eyes were put out. He was then laden with chains, and carried to Babylon, where he remained in prison till his death (Jer. 52:11; 2 Kings 25:7). Yet it appears that towards the end his imprisonment was less rigorous, and that he was honorably interred (Jer. 34:1–5). A month after the capture of the city, in the 4th month of the 9th year of Zedekiah, came Nebuzaradan, the captain of Nebuchadnezzar’s guard, to Jerusalem, and caused the city and temple to be completely destroyed, and the people carried away. A few of the common people only remained in the country, over whom Gedaliah, the son of Ahikam, was appointed governor. Concerning him see the article by OEHLER in HERZOG’S Real-Enc., IV. S. 699. To his care Jeremiah, who was given his option, and preferred to remain in the country, was committed. Gedaliah was however soon afterward murdered by a certain Ishmael, a descendant of the royal family, at the instigation of Baalis, King of Ammon. The remaining Jews feared the vengeance of the Chaldeans, and although Jeremiah promised them safety and exemption from punishment if they stayed in the country, they removed with their wives and children and whole possessions to Egypt, whither the prophet was compelled to follow them. In Egypt they appear to have settled in different places (44:1) and to have continued the worship of the queen of heaven (the Moabitish goddess, Astarte, see on 7:18). At a festival of this deity, for which all the Jews in Egypt assembled in Pathros (upper Egypt) Jeremiah for the last time raised his prophetic voice in warning and rebuke. From an intimation of the approaching death of Pharaoh Hophra, which he gave to his countrymen, as a prophetic sign, and which we can only regard as shortly preceding the death of that monarch, we may infer that he continued his prophetic labors till towards the year B. C. 570.

If now we survey at a glance the whole character of the historical position in which Jeremiah was placed, we see in him the herald of the first precursory catastrophe of the external theocracy. At the same time he had also a mission to Babylon, the power which was appointed, after Egypt and Assyria, to engulf the theocracy, and thus in a certain sense to be the first universal monarchy. He was first to prepare the way for the divine mission of this power as the instrument of judgment on the theocracy, and then to announce its appointed judgment, after a brief respite of seventy years, and the redemption of the theocracy. This he could do only in the form of that perspective fore-shortening, which is peculiar to prophetic pictures of the future, and which has to be rectified by the fulfilment. Thus we may say that Jeremiah stands at that epoch in universal history, at which the first precursory judgment is inflicted by worldly power on the kingdom of God, and here he has to announce to both judgment and redemption; to the kingdom of God first judgment and afterwards redemption, to the world first victory and glory, but afterwards judgment (Jer 50, 51).


The name יִרְמְיָהוּ (abbreviated and later form יִרְמְיָה 27:1; 28:5, 10, 11, 15; 29:1; Dan. 9:2) is not, with Jerome and many since (comp. NEUMANN, Jer. v. Anat. I., S. 8), to be derived from יֵרֶם יָהוּ a rad. רוּם = יָדַם with the meaning of elatio, elatus, Domini, but (according to many analogies יִזְרַחְיָה ,יִפְּדְּיָה ,יִבְנְיָה, etc.) from רָמָה, and the only possible meaning is Jova jacit, projicit, dejicit or ejicit (see HENGSTENBERG, Christology, Edinb. Transl. II. p. 362). It is probable, as HENGSTENBERG supposes, that the name is based on the passage Exod. 15:1 (אָשִׁירָה לַיהוָֹה סוּם וְרֹכְכוֹ רָמָה בַיָּם).

As to his origin, Jeremiah is called (1:1) “a son of Hilkiah, of the priests who were at Anathoth, in the land of Benjamin.” From this it is seen that he was of the sacerdotal race. It is possible, but cannot be proved, that his father was the same with that high-priest Hilkiah, who, in the 15th year of Josiah, found the book of the law in the temple (2 Kings 22:3 sq.), as maintained by CLEM. ALEX., JEROME, THEODORET, KIMCHI, ABARBANEL, EICHHORN, VON BOHLEN, and UMBREIT. Comp. NEUMANN, Commentar. S. 16 sqq. [HENDERSON: “The opinion that his father, Hilkiah, was the high priest of that name who discovered the book of the law, can only have originated in the identity of name; for if that exalted official had been his father, he could not have failed to be designated by the appellative הַכֹּהֵן הַגָדוֹל, the high priest, or at least הַכֹּהֵן, the priest, by way of eminence; whereas, he is merely spoken of as belonging to the priests who resided at Anathoth.”—S. R. A.]

Anathoth, the birth-place of our prophet, is mentioned Josh. 21:28; 1 Kings 2:26; Isa. 10:30; 1 Chron. 7:60; Neh. 2:32. In the Talmud the place is called עֲנָת in which we may perceive the transition to the present Anâta, which, according to ROBINSON (Bibl. Res. II. 109, comp. Zeitschr. f. d. K. d. Morgenl. II. S. 354 f.; TOBLER, Topog. II. S. 395; RITTER [Palestine, GAGE’S Transl. IV. 217; STANLEY, Sinai and Pal., p. 212. THOMSON, The Land and the Book, II. 548.—S. R. A.]), is situated about three miles to the north-east of Jerusalem. This agrees pretty accurately with the statement of EUSEBIUS (Onomast, s. v.) and of JEROME (on 1:1; 11:21; 32:7), according to which Anathoth was three Roman miles, and of JOSEPHUS (Antiquities, X. 7, 3), according to which it was twenty Roman stadia distant from Jerusalem.

According to 1:6, Jeremiah was called to the prophetic office while still young, and according to 1:2; 25:3, in the thirteenth year of Josiah, therefore B. C. 627. This was the time in which Josiah had commenced his work of reformation (2 Chron. 34:3), and also that in which the overthrow of Syria by the united forces of the Medes and Babylonians was impending. Jeremiah thus appeared at a moment when the chief internal and external enemies of the theocracy idolatry and Assyria, had been sensibly checked. Apparently excellent auspices for the success of his ministry! But it is noteworthy that in his book we do not find the trace of an allusion to these two circumstances. From 11:21 it is probable that Jeremiah prophesied for a while in his native place, but afterwards we find him fixed in Jerusalem, where, in the temple (e. g., 7:2; 26:1 sq.), in the gates of the city (17:19), in prison (32:2), in the king’s house (22:1; 37:17), and in other places (18:1; 19:1), by word, by writing (29:1; 36:2), and by signs (18:1; 19:1; 27:2), he proclaims the word of the Lord. The first twenty-two years of his ministry flow by without any special personal experiences, and the quintessence only of his life at that time is preserved in the earlier prophetic sections. The year 605–4 however forms a turning point in the prophet’s career. This was the year of the battle of Carchemish and the succession of Nebuchadnezzar to the throne, two facts which involve a new epoch in history, the founding of the Babylonian universal monarchy, and its subjugation of the Jewish theocracy. Jeremiah had long before, even in the commencement of his labors (1:13), prophesied evil to the theocracy from a people coming from the north, but he had not said that these people were the Chaldeans. It has been much debated what nation Jeremiah understood by these enemies to be expected from the north, and in recent times the view has been almost universal that they were the Scythians (see Comm. on 1:14), but it is plain that the prophet did not himself know the name of the enemies announced by him. If he knew, why should he not have named them? He names them first in that most important prophetic discourse (Jer 25), which may properly be regarded as central to, and presenting in outline, the whole of his prophecies. The highly important events of that year had manifestly given the external historical occasion to this extension of the prophet’s vision. Although Nebuchadnezzar did not invade Judea till four years later, yet the facts of his victory, over the Egyptians and his accession to the throne furnished to the prophet sufficient support for a prophetic programme, which he proposed, for the next seventy years, and which ran thus: “Since ye, inhabitants of Jerusalem and Judea, to whom I have proclaimed the word of the Lord for twenty-three years from the thirteenth year of Josiah, would not hear, ye shall be given into the hands of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, and not ye only, but Egypt, Uz, the Philistines, the Phœnicians, Edom, Moab, Ammon, the Arabians, Elamites and Medes (25:19–25). Resistance to this instrument of God will not avail, but lead to greater misery (27:8). Hence the only remedy for entire overthrow will be voluntary submission. Those who yield will at least be allowed to inhabit the land and cultivate it (27:11). For seventy years all these nations will serve the king of Babylon, but at the expiration of this period the king and the land of the Chaldeans will themselves be visited (25:11 sq. with 27:7; 29:11), and Israel will be freed from their dominion.”

This is the great prophetic programme which Jeremiah proposed in the fourth year of Jehoiakim for the next seventy years; for it is evident that he reckons the seventy years from this epoch. Though he does not expressly say so, it is plain from this circumstance that from this moment he regards the supremacy of Nebuchadnezzar, with remarkable distinctness, as a fait accompli. Though it was not so outwardly, it was so according to the inner reality known, only to the prophet. To him the victory at Carchemish seemed the principle, which, as the manifestation of a divine purpose, infallibly involved all the subsequent successes of that prince. Hence it was settled in his mind that from the moment of victory at Carchemish, Nebuchadnezzar, if not de facto, yet de jure, and moreover de jure divino, was lord and ruler of all the nations mentioned in 25:11 sqq. (See the Comm. on 25:1–11).

In the same year Jeremiah received the command of the Lord to write out his prophecies, which is evidence that his prophetic labors were about to close. The twenty-fifth chapter and the chapters pertaining to it are the kernel and centre of his prophecies. Having reached this point, they were ripe and ready to be committed to writing, and at the same time a final assault was to be made on the hard hearts of the people by the powerful impression of all the discourses combined into a single whole (36:3, 7). This object was attained with respect neither to the people nor their leaders. At this time indeed Jeremiah had many patrons among the princes, and the majority seem to have been well disposed toward him. For when, after hearing the great discourse (Jer 7–9), priests, prophets and people threatened Jeremiah with death, the princes brought the people over to their side, and took the prophet into their protection from the priests and prophets (26:8, 16). And when the existence of Jeremiah’s writing was communicated to Jehoiakim, who, according to 26:22, had, before this, caused the prophet Urijah to be brought from Egypt and executed, the princes instructed Jeremiah and Baruch to hide themselves, without doubt, on the correct presumption that the king would cause them to be apprehended. After reading the book, the king did indeed give the order for their apprehension, “but the Lord hid them” (36:26). The writing and reading of the collected discourses passed over without the desired effect, though the destruction of the book produced a slight feeling of respectful awe in some of the princes. The catastrophe took place. Jehoiakim and Jehoiachin came to the miserable end predicted. Jeremiah’s period of suffering began in the reign of the feeble Zedekiah. The princes who had taken him under their protection from the priests and prophets, now appear to be his bitterest enemies. They seem to have regarded his constant exhortation to submit to the Chaldeans as in the highest degree dangerous and treasonable (38:4). DUNCKER (Gesch. d. Alterth. I. S. 831) is disposed to think that they were right. But he forgets that the Jews persevered in their opposition with impenitent, criminal and superstitious obstinacy (7:4), and that Jeremiah rebuked not their patriotism, but their ungodliness. Once indeed it seemed as though they would enter on the path of obedience to the commands of their God, when, in accordance with the law, they proclaimed the emancipation of the Hebrew slaves (34:8). But their conscientiousness was only apparent: it was to subserve the interest of defence, and when, in consequence of the temporary withdrawal of the Chaldeans, this interest seemed less important, the emancipation was revoked. About this time Jeremiah was apprehended on a false pretext (37:11), beaten and kept in close confinement until the city was taken. The king indeed was compelled repeatedly to seek counsel from the despised and hated prophet (37:17; 38:11 sq.), but the weak monarch could accomplish nothing against the will of his nobles, who cherished the fiercest resentment toward the prophet who had humbled so severely their carnal disposition of pride and stubbornness. Since Jeremiah, even in prison, persisted in proclaiming the decree of the Lord that Jerusalem must be given up to its enemies, and that he only would escape with his life, who should surrender himself to the Chaldeans, they caused him to be thrown into a pit full of slime, from which he was rescued only through the intercession of a royal eunuch, Ebed-melech, the Cushite (38:1–13). This was the lowest point in the personal sufferings of Jeremiah. How fearful they were, is evident from the representation of Jer 38, which, though uncomplaining, is all the more eloquent from its silence. It is highly significant that it is just in this most terrible period of the prophet’s life, and in the midst of the immediate preparation for the entire destruction of the theocracy, that we find the glorious prophecy of THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS (Jer 33). In the deepest affliction the Lord here also bestows the highest consolation.

Finally, in the 11th year of Zedekiah Jerusalem was taken. There seems to be a double account of the fate of the prophet at this juncture. According to 39:11–14, Jeremiah appears to have been liberated at Jerusalem, while according to 40:1 sqq., he was first dragged in chains to Rama and then set at liberty. Yet the contradiction is only apparent, for if after he had been declared free by the commander he remained among the people (וַיֵּשֶּב בְּתוֹךְ הָעָם, 39:14) he might in the confusion have been treated like the rest by the common soldiers. After his liberation Jeremiah betook himself to Mizpah, to Gedaliah, the governor appointed by Nebuchadnezzar (40:1–6), but the latter being soon after murdered, the people compelled the prophet to accompany them to Egypt, although he had most emphatically advised against their course, as displeasing to Jehovah (41:17; 43:7). The Jews settled first in Tahpanhes [a strong boundary-city on the Tanitic or Pelusian branch of the Nile. HEND.] Here and again in Pathros, ten years later, Egypt heard the voice of the prophet admonishing and rebuking his people (43:8–13; 44). This is the last that we learn of Jeremiah from biblical sources. Further we have only traditions concerning him. Neither the time, place nor manner of his death is known. It may be inferred that he lived to a great age, from the fact that he was still alive about the year B. C. 570 (see § 1). It is a common assumption that at the time of his call in the thirteenth year of Josiah, he was twenty years old (1:6, נַעַר), so that in 586, the year of the fall of Jerusalem, he was 61, and 16 years after was 77. But this calculation, resting on a mere assumption, is only problematic. With respect to the place and manner of his death, the tradition of the fathers, which has been adopted by the Romish church and fixed in the Martyrologium Romanum 1 May, is that he was stoned by the people at Tahpanhes (a populo lapidibus obrutus apud Taphnas occubuit, ibique sepultus est). Comp. TERTULLIAN Scorp. 8, coll. c. Marcion, 6, in which latter passage he says: “nulla morte virum constat neque cæde peremtum.HIERON. adv. Jovin 2, 37; EPIPHAN. περὶ τῶν προφητῶν, etc. Opp. II, pag. 239. According to another Jewish tradition, Nebuchadnezzar having subdued Egypt in the 27th year of his reign, took Jeremiah and Baruch with him to Babylon (Seder Olam Rabba, c. 26).

Greatly persecuted during his life-time, Jeremiah was as greatly honored by his fellow-countrymen after his death. It was natural that the prophecies relating to the captivity should become in an eminent degree the objects of reverence and study to the captive Jews. Comp. Dan. 9:2; 2 Chron. 36:21; Ezra 1:1. The destruction of the holy city and the captivity were themselves the most brilliant justification of the formerly despised and hated prophet. As it not rarely happens in such cases, a complete revolution gradually took place in the estimate of the prophet. His person was transfigured into a purely ideal character; multitudes of marvellous legends contributed to his glorification (2 Macc. 2:1; 15:12–16. Comp. HERZOG, Real-Enc. VII. S. 245) and to his countrymen he appeared so much the greatest of all the prophets that they called him ὁ προφήτης (in which sense also Deut. 18:15 was interpreted) and believed that he would return at the end of days. Allusions to this belief are found even in the New Testament, Matt. 16:14; John 1:21; coll. 6:14; 7:40. Comp. Wisd. 49:6–8.—CARPZOV, Introd. P. III. C 3, § 2; FABRICIUS, Codex pseudep. V. T. p. 1110 sqq.; BERTHOLDT, Christol. Jud. § 15, pp. 61–67 and his Einl. IV. S. 1415 sq.; DE WETTE, Bibl. Dogmatik, § 197.—Concerning an apocryphal Jeremiah in the Hebrew language, from which the quotation Matt. 27:9, is alleged to have been made, see FABRIC., p. 1103, etc.; HERZOG, Real-Enc. XII. S. 314. For a very full synopsis of the material relating to this subject, see NEUMANN, Jer. v. Anat. Einl. I. S. 67.—On the supposed influence of Jeremiah on Grecian philosophy, see especially GHISLERUS, In proph. Jerem. Comment. I. Præf. cap. 5.

From this historical sketch it may be perceived under what difficult external conditions Jeremiah had to exercise his prophetic office. If we compare with these his mental constitution, the task appears still more arduous. By nature of a mild and timid disposition, more of a John than a Peter, a Baptist or an Elijah, he had yet to conduct a life and death struggle against powerful and imbittered foes. The deep degradation of his people in the carnal lust of idolatry and their almost inconceivable presuming on the privileges of the chosen race, and the seemingly indestructible safeguard of the הֵיַקל יְהוָֹה (7:4), and in consequence their stiff-necked refusal to obey the Lord’s command to submit to the Chaldeans as the only means of escape—all this Jeremiah had to combat. And as though he did not suffer enough from the enmity of his own people he was also obliged to denounce, with threatening words and signs, the judgments of the Lord on foreign nations (chapters 25, 27; 46–51.). Thus on all sides arose fearful hatred and likewise fearful scorn of the prophet, who on his part was impelled by no other motive than a most hearty love for his people, which in the hour of his deepest affliction he never renounced (comp. 8:21 sq.), on which account he is called in the second book of Maccabees, φιλάδελφος and πολλὰ προσευχόμενος περὶ τοῦ λαοῦ καὶ τῆς ἁγίας πὀλεως (15:14), and by GREGORY NAZIANZ. (Orat. X) συμπαθέστατος τῶν προφητῶν. Comp. GHISLER, Præf. Cap. l. His life was exposed to constant danger, his honor to constant insult (11:21; 20:7–10; 38:4; Lam. 3:14). Like a second Job he curses the day of his birth (20:15), and longs to be free from the office, which he accepted only with fear and trembling (20:92). But the consciousness of his vocation leaves him no rest. “But it was in my heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing and I could not.” Comp. HERZOG, (Real-Enc. 17 S. 628, 634). But the: Lord’s strength was mighty in his weakness. “For behold I have made thee this day a defenced city and an iron pillar and brazen walls against the whole land” (1:18). He needed this the more since he was deprived of all human aid. He had not even a fellow-prophet to stand by him, at least not in the time of his greatest distress. For of the prophets contemporary with him, Zephaniah and the prophetess Huldah (2 Kings 22:14; 2 Chron. 34:22) lived in the reign of Josiah, Habakkuk and Urijah (26:20) in the reign of Jehoiakim, that is, in the first and calmer period of his ministry. Ezekiel and Daniel indeed survived with him the great catastrophe, but they lived at a distance, themselves already in exile. Jeremiah could derive no support from them.

It has been correctly inferred from 16:2 that our prophet was unmarried, and his virginitas has therefore been extolled, especially by JEROME, in his Præfatio and Comm. on Jer 23. We read that here and there among the people, and in earlier times among the princes (26:16, 24; 36:19), a favorable disposition towards him was manifested; even King Zedekiah was secretly inclined to favor him, and besides these he may have had many friends, as Baruch. (Jer 45) and his brother, Seraiah (51:59), the royal eunuch, Ebedmelech (38:7 sq.), and Ahikam, the son of Shaphan, with his son Gedaliah (26:24; 39:14; 40:5), but what were these to the hostility with which he was persecuted by the great mass of the proud princes, prophets, priests, and the people led by them! We see Jeremiah standing alone in the midst of that great catastrophe which forms the lowest point in the history of the Old Testament theocracy and resisting the attacks of ungodly power, not in the strength of natural ability, but wholly in the strength of Him who had chosen him, against his will, to the prophetic office. We behold here “the servant of God,” as represented in the sphere of a prophet’s personality, on the highest stage of his Old Testament history. He was the type, not of John the Baptist (as HENGSTENBERG, Christol. Eng. Tr. II., p. 362), but of Christ, the Lord, Himself. I do not mean this in the sense of the older theologians (comp. NEUM. S. 28, etc., and GHISLER, cap. 1, etc., “Jerem. Christum præfiguravit vitæ puritate, innocentia, sanctitate, ærumnarum perpessione; consignatione doctrinæ suæ per proprii sanguinis effusionem”) for the points of resemblance which, they trace are not specific, but in the sense that Jeremiah and Christ stand at two corresponding epochs in history, as their divine witnesses and heralds, their inner resemblance being also manifested outwardly, as when (11:19) Jeremiah calls himself a sheep brought to the slaughter, when he weeps over Jerusalem (11:1; 13:17; 14:17), and when again our Lord, at the crowning point of His life, utters the opening words of Psalm 22, the composition of which by Jeremiah is opposed by nothing but the superscription. Comp. also HILLER, Neues System aller Vorbiler J. Christi, 1858, S. 522.


The peculiarities of his person and official work are fully reflected in the literary character of our prophet. Jeremiah as an author is like a brazen wall, and at the same time like soft wax. Brazen, since no power on earth could induce him to alter the tenor of his proclamation; but soft, in that we feel that a man of gentle disposition and broken heart has given utterance to these powerful words. His style is wanting in the noble, bold conciseness and concentration which we so much admire in the older prophets, Isaiah and Hosea. His periods are long, the development verbose. Even when he quotes the language of others, he does it in such a way that it is robbed of all that is harsh or incisive, and moulded over, as it were, into a milder form. “Sæpius complura epitheta adduntur et difficiliora vel audaciora aut fusius explicantur aut formis ætate Jeremiæ usitatioribus receptis in speciem leviorem abeunt,” says KUEPER (Jer. libr. ss. interpr., p. 14). The same peculiarity is displayed in the prophet’s logic. While he maintains his fundamental thoughts with such undeviating monotony that the contents of his discourses seem almost meagre, yet on the other hand there is such luxuriance in the development that the unity and the consecutiveness of the thoughts seem to suffer. For one is not deduced logically from another, but we see, as it were, a series of tableaux pass before us, of which each presents the same stage and the same persons, but in the most various groupings (see my work Der Proph. Jer. u. Bab. S. 32, etc.). This peculiarity of his logic refutes the objection which has been made and constantly repeated, that Jeremiah springs analogically from one thing to another (“non ad certum quendam ordinem res dispositæ sunt et descriptæ, sed libere ab una sententia transitur ad alteram,” MAURER). The transitions are frequently abrupt, but there is still a logical progression, and the repetitions are a necessary feature of the tableauesque style. There is, however, another kind of repetition very frequent in Jeremiah:—he not only quotes himself very often (there is a table of these self-quotations in my work, S. 128, etc.), but he likes also to introduce the sayings of others. Jeremiah is especially at home in the Pentateuch, and most of all in Deuteronomy. (Comp. KUEPER, ut supra, and KÖNIG, Alttest. Studien 2 Theil: das Deuteronomium u. d. Prophet Jeremia). It is on account of this reproduction of the thoughts of others that he has been reproached with a want of originality (see KNOBEL, Prophetismus der Hebræer II., S. 367). But this is as true as that he was deficient in poetry. In power he is certainly not equal to Isaiah. But he is not wanting in originality, for who could say that he has himself produced nothing or only an insignificant amount? To lose himself in his predecessors is necessary even for the most original author. As to a deficiency in poetry I point to UMBREIT, who says (Prakt. Comm. S. XV.): “The most spiritual and therefore the greatest poet of the desert and of suffering is certainly Jeremiah. But we have maintained yet more than this, having boldly asserted that of all the prophets his genius is the most poetical.” I fully subscribe to this judgment. For assuredly universal sympathy and deep and pure emotion are the qualities of a poet, and we undoubtedly find these elements of poetic inspiration, in the highest degree, in the finely-strung nature of Jeremiah. The circumstances of his life caused his emotions to be predominantly sad, hence in the whole range of human composition there is scarcely a poetical expression of sorrow so thrilling as that of this prophet (8:23, Eng. Bib. xi. 1): “O that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people.” UMBREIT remarks (S. XIV., etc.) that these words form the portrait of the prophet, and BENDEMANN, in painting his celebrated picture, seems really to have had this passage especially in view.

It cannot be denied that, in form, Jeremiah, though not discarding art altogether, has far less polish than ISAIAH. JEROME refers to this in his Præfatio:Jeremias propheta sermone quidem apud Hebræos Isaia et Hosia et quibusdam aliis prophetis videtur esse rusticior. Sed sensibus par est, quippe qui eodem spiritu prophetaverit. Porro simplicitas eloquii a loco ei, in quo natus est, accidit. Fail enim Anatotites.” This charge of rusticity has, however, been exaggerated. Let us also regard the counter-testimony in the word “sensibus par est,” and which is given still more strongly in expressions like that of SIXTUS SENENSIS (in GHISLER. Kap. III., etc.), “sermone quidem inculto et pæne subrustico, sed sensuum majestati sublimo”—and of CUNÆUS (De rep. Hebr. III. 7), “Jeremias omnis majestas posita in verborum neglectu est, adeo illum decet rustica dictio.” Finally, in respect to language, it may be remarked that the influence of the Aramaic idiom on Jeremiah may be detected, but not in the degree usually supposed. Comp. KNOBEL, Jeremias Chaldaizans dissert. Vratisl., 1831; HAEVERNICK, Einl. I. 1, S. 231 sq.; STAEHELIN, Spez. Einl. in die kan. Büch. des A. T., S. 279 sq.; comp. UMBREIT, S. XV. Anm., etc.


1. Concerning its origin, the book itself gives us some, but not complete, information. According to 36:2, Jeremiah, in the fourth year of Jehoiakim, dictated to Baruch the discourses which had then been delivered. In the fifth year of Jehoiakim (36:9) the writing was finished and publicly read. Jehoiakim burned it, upon which the prophet was commanded to re-write it, and this time it was severer than before. This writing consisted of prophecies which had been spoken in denunciation and threatening against Israel. Historical and consolatory passages, with prophecies against foreign nations, were excluded. This is clear both from the object of the writing (comp. Comm. on 36:7) and the fate to which Jehoiakim consigned it (36:23). When the second transcription was finished, we are not informed, but it is evident from 1:3, “It came [the word of the Lord to Jeremiah] unto the end of the eleventh year of Zedekiah, unto the carrying away of Jerusalem captive in the fifth month,” that it was after the destruction of the city and the deportation of the people. For the superscription, 1:1–3, is suitable only for a writing which contains nothing of later date than the period mentioned. But the book does contain prophecies relating to the time subsequent to this epoch, which even pertain to the residence of the prophet in Egypt toward the close of his life. If now it is possible that Jeremiah, during the two months that he spent with Gedaliah in Mizpah (comp. on 1:2 sq.), or perhaps still better (on account of the allusions to the journey to Egypt in 2:16, 36), on the way to Egypt, or in Egypt itself, continued the writing begun in the fourth year of Jehoiakim to the time mentioned in 1:3, and concluded it, it follows that this writing forms the main body of the book, written and edited by the prophet himself, to which the superscription, 1:1–3, refers. The subsequent portions of the book, though the genuine production of Jeremiah, were added by a later editor, who did not venture, to alter the original title, though it was no longer suitable.

Thus it is evident, as it seems to me, that the present form and arrangement are not those of Jeremiah, for he would certainly have given the whole a title corresponding to its contents. Some other circumstances, to be mentioned hereafter, also favor this view.

2. As to the arrangement or plan of the book, as we have it, it has been accused of endless confusion,3 and the most various theories have been broached to account for this confusion. Compare, to name only the most eminent, EICHHORN, in the Repert für biblische u. morgenländ. Lit. Th. 1, S. 141; Einleit. iii. S. 157, etc.; BERTHOLDT, Einl. iv. S. 1457; MOVERS, De utriusque recensionis vatic. Jer. indole et origine. Hamb., 1837; HITZIG, Comm., S. XII. ff.; then the attempts of EWALD, UMBREIT (in their commentaries), HAEVERNICK (Einl. II. 2, S. 206 ff.), KEIL (who follows HAEVERNICK almost entirely, Einl., S. 252 ff.), SCHMIEDER (in GERLACH’S Bibelwerk), STAEHELIN (on the principle at the basis of the arrangement of Jeremiah’s prophecies, in the Zeitschr. der deutsch morgenl. Gesellsch, 1849; Heft 2 and 3, S. 216 ff.; and in his Spez. Einl. in die kan. Bücher des A. T., 1862, S. 260 ff.); NEUMANN (Comm. S. 81 ff. and S. iii. ff.). In my opinion, the case is not so bad as represented, but a reasonable arrangement will at once present itself, if we only take the following points into consideration. 1. In general, the principle of chronological order is followed, but admitting, in some cases, a certain order of subjects, which is sometimes suggested by external occasions (comp. Jer 21:1–7). 2. With respect to the chronological order in particular, we have a safe guide in the fact that before the fourth year of Jehoiakim, viz., before the battle of Carchemish and Nebuchadnezzar’s accession to the throne, Jeremiah never mentions the latter or the Chaldeans, while after this time he presents them constantly in all his discourses as appointed by God to be the instrument of His judgments on Israel and the nations. Until shortly before the battle of Carchemish, Assyria was at war with the Medes and Babylonians, and it was undecided which of the three would obtain the supremacy. After the fall of Nineveh and the defeat of Pharaoh Necho, the star of Nebuchadnezzar rose above the horizon like an all-prevailing sun. Jeremiah now knew definitely that the people coming from the North (1:13, etc.) were the Chaldeans under Nebuchadnezzar, and he could no longer speak to the people without counselling submission as the only means of safety. I think, then, that I may lay down this canon distinctly, that all parts of the book in which the threatening enemies are spoken of generally, without mention of Nebuchadnezzar or the Chaldeans, belong to the period before the fourth year of Jehoiakim, viz., before the time represented in Jer 25 as that of Jeremiah’s first acquaintance with them; while all the portions in which Nebuchadnezzar and the Chaldeans are named belong to the subsequent period; so that a passage which mentions the Chaldeans and is yet dated in the beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim (Jer 27), may be safely regarded as bearing a false superscription, as likewise one that is dated in the reign of Zedekiah, and does not mention the Chaldeans (49:34 sqq.). In the first place, it is quite clear that our Hebrew recension, omitting chapters 1 and 52 as introduction and conclusion, falls into two principal divisions: 1. The portions relating to the theocracy (Jer 2–45). 2. The prophecies against the nations (Jer 46–51). Chapter 45, the promise given to the writer of the book, the faithful Baruch, is to be regarded (as it is by KEIL) as an appendix to the first division. To attach this chapter to the second division, as HAEVERNICK does, is entirely unsuitable. The first division may evidently be divided again into two subdivisions, the collection of discourses, with appendices, Jer 2–35, and the historical portions, Jer 36–44. In speaking of a collection of discourses, it should be remarked that, according to the intention of the arranger of the book, we must not always understand by a discourse one which forms a rhetorical unit, but also a complexus of rhetorical and historical passages, if in its fundamental thought, its form or its chronology, it presents a connected whole. In this sense our collection contains eleven (or ten) discourses, the beginning of each of which is designated by a superscription (comp. 3:6; 7:1; 11:1, etc.). The first two pertain to the reign of Josiah (Jer 2 and 3–6). It is natural that in the earliest period the proportionally smallest amount of matter should be committed to writing, so that in the passages mentioned, especially in Jer 2, only the quintessence of the discourses of the earliest period is given. The third discourse pertains to the reign of Jehoiakim (Jer 7–10). These two, Jer 3–6 and Jer 7–10, are distinguished from the rest by their length, and may therefore, with Jer 25, which is inferior in length, but far superior in importance, be designated as the principal discourses. Ch. 11–13, which also pertain to the reign of Jehoiakim, have a common title, but only Jer 11 and 12 form a rhetorical whole. For Jer 13. is entirely independent, though of the same date with the preceding, and on account of its brevity, added as an appendix. The fifth discourse, though somewhat inferior to the second and third, is still one of the most important. It belongs to the period before the fourth year of Jehoiakim. The passage 17:19–27 is related to the fifth discourse as Jer 13. to the fourth. I regret that by an oversight I have not designated them in the same way in the text. The seventh discourse is an account of two symbolical occurrences, to which is appended that of a personal experience and the outburst of feeling thus occasioned. Although these occurrences belong to different periods, before and after the fourth year of Jehoiakim, they are brought together because both symbols are derived from pottery and on account of the unity of the subjects. All is here brought into connection which the prophet spoke at different times against the false shepherds of the people (kings and prophets). The opening passage (21:1–7) though in general, as oratio contra regem, not altogether unsuitable for this place, is doubtless placed here chiefly on account of the name Pashur, which it has in common with the preceding. The transitional words (21:11–14) seem also to be a fragment which is subjoined here not altogether appropriately. But in what follows we have a well-ordered series of denunciations against the evil kings of Judah. The first, in which no name is mentioned, seems to stand first as a collective admonition, though the king addressed in 21:2 can be no other than Jehoiakim (22:1–9). The second is a prophecy relating to the person of Jehoahaz. It is of earlier date than that which precedes it, and is evidently an interpolation (22:10–12). The third is directed against Jehoiakim by name (22:13–23). The fourth relates to Jehoiachin (22:24–30). As a foil to these dark pictures of the kings of the present, the prophet, by an antithesis reminding us of Jer 3, gives us a bright picture of the King of the Messianic future (23:1–8). The second part of the main discourse (23:9–40) is an earnest rebuke of the false prophets. The conclusion is formed by Jer 24, a vision which the prophet had in the reign of Zedekiah, and which is added here evidently in order that the fourth bad king Jeremiah had lived to see might not fail to receive his appropriate denunciation. The ninth discourse is that highly important one which Jeremiah pronounced in the fourth year of Jehoiakim after the great catastrophe which made an epoch in the prophet’s ministry, the battle of Carchemish and the succession of Nebuchadnezzar. To this are attached a series of three historical appendices, of which the first falls before the fourth year of Jehoiakim, the second in the fourth year of Zedekiah, the third somewhat earlier than the preceding. All three appendices, however, relate to the conflict of the true prophet (it should be noted, however, that Jeremiah is called הַנָּבִיא for the first time in 25:2) with the false prophets. Here also is a pre-arranged antithesis. Ch. 26 standing before Jer 27 and 28 has a clear chronological basis, while Jer 29, which in time is somewhat earlier than Jer 27 and 28 coming after them, has a topical basis, since thus the prophet’s conflict with the false prophets at home is first shown, and then his conflict with those at a distance. The tenth passage occupies an independent סֵפֶּר, viz., the book of consolation, which consists of two discourses, with a double appendix. Ch. 30 and 31, originally written specially, and not as a part of the first writing, Jer 36:2–10, form a rhetorical unit, certainly contemporary with Jer 3–6, and therefore pertaining to the reign of Josiah. The second consolatory discourse consists of two separate passages, which, however, are most closely connected. The first relates to the purchase of a field which, at the command of the Lord, Jeremiah made while confined in the court of the prison, at the time of his greatest affliction. The second is connected with the demolition of many houses in Jerusalem for defensive purposes. On this double, gloomy background the prophet presents the most glorious Messianic salvation. It is not, as I have already said, a connected discourse.; in Jer 32 we have first the account of the purchase of land, then the prayer expressing the prophet’s astonishment, then the Lord’s consolatory promises. Ch. 33 is, however, from beginning to end, a connected prophetic discourse.

This book of consolation is followed in Jer 34 and 35 by a double appendix, the second half of which (34:8–35:19) itself consists of two independent parts. The short passage 34:1–7 is only a more exact account of the occurrence narrated in 32:1–5, in consequence of which Jeremiah was confined in the court of the prison, and therefore refers only to the contents of Jer 32 and 33 The two facts however which are related in 34:8–22, and 35:1–19, are to be regarded as an appendix to the whole collection. For they show by a striking example, the accomplished but immediately revoked emancipation of the Hebrew slaves, how entirely indisposed the people of Israel were to obey the commands of their God, while a contrast to this shameful disobedience is given in the example of affecting obedience afforded by the Rechabites to the command of their earthly progenitor. We thus see that the arrangement is by no means without plan, and may in general have been made by the prophet himself. Only the mere juxtaposition of 21:1–7 for the sake of the name Pashur, and the insertion of the heterogeneous passage 21:11–14 in this place, seem to betray a different hand.

With chap 36 begins the second subdivision of the first main division. Historical passages follow each other in chronological order, which have for their subject partly personal experiences of the prophet, and partly the history of the fatal catastrophe of the theocracy in general. There is no difficulty here. Jer 45, as already remarked, is an appendix to the first main division. The second part contains the prophecies against foreign nations in an order to which there is nothing to object (46–51). Jer 52, finally forms the conclusion, which is not from the prophet himself.

The following table may serve to facilitate a review:





The collection of discourses, Jer 2–33

With appendices, Jer 34 and 35

1. First discourse, Jer 2

2. Second discourse, Jer 3–6

3. Third discourse, chaps 7–10

4. Fourth discourse, Jer 11 and 12 with appendix, Jer 13

5. Fifth discourse, Jer 14–17:18.

6. Sixth discourse, Jer 17:19–27.

7. Seventh discourse, Jer 18–20 (the symbols taken from pottery).

8. Eighth discourse, Jer 21–24

9. Ninth discourse, Jer 25 With three appendices, chaps 26–29

10. The book of consolation, consisting of

a. the tenth discourse, Jer 30 and 31

b. the eleventh discourse, Jer 32 and 33 With an appendix, Jer 34:1–7

11. Historical appendix to the collection—the disobedience of Israel offset by the obedience of the Rechabites, Jer 34:8–35:19


Historical presentation of the most important events from the fourth year of Jehoiakim to the close of the prophet’s ministry, Jer 36–44

1. Events before the fall of Jerusalem, Jer 36–38

2. Events after the fall of Jerusalem, Jer 39–44

Appendix to First Division, Jer 45 The promise made to Baruch



1. Against Egypt, I., Jer 46:2–12.

2. Against Egypt, II., Jer 46:13–26. With an appendix, Jer 46:27–28.

3. Against the Philistines, Jer 47

4. Against Moab, Jer 48

5. Against Ammon, Jer 49:1–6.

6. Against Edom, Jer 49:7–22.

7. Against Damascus, Jer 49:23–27.

8. Against the Arabians, Jer 49:28–33.

9. Against Elam, Jer 49:34–39.

10. Against Babylon, Jer 50, 51


3. The relation of the Masoretic text to the Alexandrian translation. It may here be premised that Jeremiah, closing his labors and probably his life in Egypt, was on this account especially honored by the Jews residing there. They regarded him as peculiarly their own, the Egyptian prophet. (Comp. Chron. Pasch. p. 156; FABRICIUS, in the Cod. pseudepigr. V. T. p. 1108; Apocr. N. T. p. 1111; HAEVERNICK, Einl. I. 1, S. 45, II. 2, S. 259; HERZOG, Real-Enc. VII. S. 255.) He was therefore diligently studied, and it is not improbable, as FABRICIUS says: “Codices græcæ versionis jam privata quorundam Apocryphis se delectantium studio interpolati, jam librariorum oscitantia manci fraudi beato Martyri fuerunt.” The difference between our Masoretic text and the Alexandrian version is twofold—in matter and in form. The former extends through the whole book, and consists of innumerable discrepancies, which sometimes affect single letters, syllables and words, sometimes whole verses. The difference in form consists in a different arrangement from 25:15 onwards, the LXX. introducing here (but in a different sequence) the prophecies against the nations, so that all in the Hebrew text from 25:15 to Jer 45. is deferred to make room for these prophecies, and since in the LXX. these extend from 25:15 to Jer 31 it follows that what in the Hebrew is from 25:15 to Jer 45 is in the Greek Jer 31–51 It should be remarked that the LXX. does not treat Jer 45 of the Hebrew as an independent chapter, but as part of Jer 51:31–35. The following little table will exhibit the discrepancies more clearly:




Jer 25:15 sqq.

The prophecy against


Jer 49:34 sqq.

Jer 26

The prophecy against


Jer 46

Jer 27:28.

The prophecy against


Jer 50–51

Jer 29:1–7.

The prophecy against

the Philistines,

Jer 47:1–7.

Jer 29:7–22.

The prophecy against


Jer 49:7–22.

Jer 30:1–5.

The prophecy against


4 Jer 9:1–6.

Jer 30:6–11.

The prophecy against


Jer 49:28–33.

Jer 30:12–16.

The prophecy against


Jer 49:23–27.

Jer 31

The prophecy against


Jer 48.

Jer 32


Jer 25:15–38.

Jer 33–51


Jer 26–45.

Jer 52


Jer 52

I was formerly of opinion that these two kinds of difference were to be judged alike, and were to be traced, not to a divergence of Hebrew MSS., but entirely to the ignorance, carelessness or caprice of the editor. I have now changed my view in so far that I am convinced that the case is not the same with the difference in form as with that in matter. The different order is certainly founded on a divergence in the Hebrew originals. If we had no other testimony to this than the text of the LXX, so far as this is the conscious and intended production of its author, this testimony would certainly be worthless. But in the first place, the Hebrew text is itself a witness, and secondly, we have in the LXX. an involuntary and impartial testimony. I believe that in the Comm. on 25:12–14; 27:1; 49:34, and in the introduction to the prophecies against the nations, I have furnished proof that these verses (25:12–14) presuppose the existence in their immediate vicinity of the סֵפֶּר עַל הַגויִם or rather that Jer 25 belongs to this ספּר. I think I have shown that the peculiar expression τὰ Αἰλάμ at the close of 25:13 (LXX.), and the absence of 27:1 in the LXX., with the strange chronology of 49:34, are evidence that the prophecies against the nations must at one time have had their place immediately after Jer 25 and before Jer 27 This τὰ Αἰλάμ shows that the superscription of the prophecies against Elam originally read like the rest, 46:2; 48:1; 49:1, 7, 23, 28, לְעֵילָם. The peculiar postscript to the prophecy in the LXX., however, which is no other than the missing verse 27:1, proves that the Alexandrian translator had an original text before him in which the prophecies against the nations stood before Jer 27, and in such wise that the prophecy against Elam was the last, as at present in the Masoretic text. But how is it that the present Masoretic text of the prophecies against Elam no longer bears the old simple inscription לעילם but likewise the words transposed from 27:1? I believe that it can be explained only in this way—that two originals were before the Alexandrian translator, of which one had the prophecies against the nations in the old place; the other agreed with the present Masoretie recension. The translator must have been guided by both. He adhered to the older recension so far as to retain its arrangement on the whole (altering only the sequence of the prophecies against the nations in detail). From this he adopted the position of Jer 27:1 immediately after the prophecy against Elam, while from the later test he took the περὶ Αἰλάμ (אֶל־עֵילָם Hebr.). The misplacement of the prophecies against the nations must therefore have taken place before the preparation of the Alexandrian version. Its originator must have first overlooked 27:1 and then altered it into an inscription for the prophecy against Elam, and he must also have put Jer 26 in its present place. Since in the LXX. the superscription of Jer 27 is still wanting it is possible, nay, probable, that it was wanting in the later Hebrew copy of the translator. The present verse, 27:1, of the Hebrew text, with the wrong name of Jehoiakim, would then be a later supplement. On the occasion of this error, comp. remarks on 27:1.

As to the difference in matter between the Alexandrian version and the Hebrew text, I still retain the conviction which I expressed in my work, Der proph. Jer. u. Bab., and in HERZOG, Real-Enc. VI. S. 488, that the far greater part of the discrepancies are to be explained, not by a difference in the original text, but by the caprice, ignorance or carelessness of the translator. Proof of this in detail may be seen in the earlier editions of DE WETTE’S Introduction, in KUEPER, Jer. libr. ss. interpr. atque vindex, p. 177; in HAEVERNICK, Einl. II. 2, S 250; in WICHELHAUS, De Jeremiæ versione Alexandrina, 1847, p. 67; in my work, Jer. u. Bab S. 86; but especially in GRAF. (Commentar. S. XL. sqq.), who, as it seems to me, by a thoroughly impartial and careful investigation, has brought the matter to a conclusion. The arguments in favor of the LXX. still adduced in the later edition of BLEEK’S Einleitung (1865, S. 491) possess no validity.

4. The integrity of the text has been relatively but little questioned. With respect to some passages, I have been unable to avoid the suspicion of an interpolation. The chief of these are the following: 10:1–16; 15:11–14; 25:12–14; 30:23, 24; 39; 50:14; 51:15–19. Ch. 52 even according to the editor, is not to be regarded as written by Jeremiah, as follows from the statement in 51:64, “Thus far the words of Jeremiah.” I formerly regarded the passage 50:43–46 as also interpolated, but, on closer examination, am convinced of the erroneousness of this view. In reference to other passages (especially Jer 30–33; 50; 51), on renewed investigation, I am perfectly satisfied of their authenticity. Though Jeremiah was one of the most read of the prophets, his text has been handed down to us, on the whole, pure and unadulterated.

5. The book of Jeremiah occupies in the Canon the second place among the major prophets, after Isaiah and before Ezekiel. This position, being the historical one, is the most natural. MELITO, of Sardis, and ORIGEN (in EUSEB. Hist. Eccl. IV. and VI. 25) in their lists of the Jewish canon make Jeremiah follow Isaiah, though between Jeremiah and Ezekiel the former inserts the twelve minor prophets and Daniel, the latter (omitting the twelve minor prophets altogether) only Daniel. But according to the Talmud, (Tractate Baba batra Fol. 14, b) the order was:—Regum libri, Jeremias, Ezechiel, Jesajas, duodecim prophetarum volumen. And ELIAS LEVITA (in Masoret hammasoret Præf. iii.) testifies that this is the order in the German and French MSS. This Talmudic divergence from the natural order appears to have a genuine Talmudic reason. Since Jeremiah treats only of desolatio, Ezekiel first of desolatio and then of consolatio, Isaiah only of consolatio, they wished, as the tract Baba batra informs us, to connect desolationem cum desolatione and consolationem cum consolatione. For further particulars see ROSENMUELLER, Schol. Proleg. in Jerem. p. 27; HERZOG, Real-Enc. vii. S. 253; NEUMANN, Comm. Einl. S. 10; DELITZSCH, Comm. zu Jes. S. XXII.


Of the church-fathers THEODORET and EPHREM SYRUS wrote complete commentaries on Jeremiah. A commentary by the latter in Syriac is still extant (Tom. II. of the Roman Edition of PETRUS BENEDICTUS, 1740). JEROME commented on the first thirty-three chapters only. From ORIGEN we have only homilies. The edition of LOMMATZSCH gives nineteen in Greek, two in the Latin translation of JEROME and some fragments. According to CASSIODORUS (Lib. Inst. Div. cap. 3) there were forty-five homilies, which were also known to RHABANUS MAURUS (according to a passage in his Præfat. in Jerem.). Comp. LOMMATZSCH, Prolegg. in Tom. XV., of his edition. GHISLERUS gives a catena of the Greek and Latin fathers in his commentary, of which hereafter.

Of Rabbinical commentaries the principal are those of RASCHI, DAVID KIMCHI, ABARBANEL and SOLOMON BEN MELECH.

There are Roman Catholic commentaries by RHABANUS MAURUS, RUPERT VON DEUTZ, THOMAS AQUINAS, ALBERTUS MAGNUS; by JOACHIM FLORIS, Comm. in Jer., Venice, 1525, and Cologne, 1577 (comp. GIESELER, [Church History, Philada. Ed. II., p. 300], etc., etc., and NEANDER, [Boston, Tr. IV. p. 291]); FRANC. ZICHEMIUS, Cologne, 1559; HECTOR PINTUS, Leyden, 1561, 1584 and 1590: ANDREAS CAPELLA, Tarracona, 1586; PETRUS FIGUEIRO, Leyden, 1598; CHRISTOF. DE CASTRO (Jesuit), Paris, 1609; CASP. SANCTIUS (Jesuit), Leyden, 1618: BENED. MANDINA, In pr. Jer. expositiones, Neap., 1620; MICHAEL GHISLERUS, In Jer. Commentarii cum catena P P. græcorum et comm. in Lamentt. et Baruch, Leyden, 1623. (This is the most complete commentary, and the most distinguished for patristic learning, that we have on Jeremiah, but heavy and with a Romish bias; comp. FABRIC., Biblioth. gr. ed. Harl. iii., p. 734).

By Protestant theologians we have the following commentaries:—ZWINGLI, Complanatio Jeremiæ, Zürich, 1531, etc; MART. BUCER, Complanationes Jer. proph., Zürich, 1531; OECOLAMPADIUS, In Jeremiam proph. comment, libri tres, Strasburg, 1533; BUGENHAGEN, Adnotationes in Jerem., Wittenberg, 1546; CALVIN, Prælectiones in Jerem., Geneva, 1563, etc. (notes, of lectures); VICTORIN STRIGEL, Conciones Jeremiæ proph. ad ebr. veritatem recognitæ, etc. Leipzig, 1566; LUCAS OSIANDER, Jes. Jer. et Thr. Jerem., Tübingen, 1578; HUGO BROUGHTON, Comment. in Jerem. prophetiam et Lamentationes, Geneva, 1606; AMANDUS POLANUS (Prof. in Basle), Comment. in Jerem. et exegesis in Threnos, Basle, 1608; PISCATOR, Herborn, 1614; JOH. HULSEMANN, In Jerem. et Threnos, comment, posthumus, etc., Rudolstadt, 1663; JOH. FÖRSTER, Comment, in Proph. Jeremiam., Wittenb., 1672 and 1699; SEB. SCHMIDT, Comm. in librum prophetiarum Jeremiæ, Strasburg, 1685; JACOB ALTING (Prof, in Gröningen, ob., 1697), Comment, in Jerem. Amsterdam, 1688; ELBERT NOORDBECK (Pastor in Workum), Bekoopté Uitlegginge van de prophetie Jeremie, Franeker, 1701; J. FRIEDRICH BURSCHER, Versuch einer kurzen Erlänterung des propheten Jeremiä, etc., with a preface by CHR. A. CRUSIUS, Leipzig, 1756; HERMANN VENEMA, Comment. ad librum prophetiarum Jeremiæ, Leuwarden, 1765; CHRIST. GOTTFR. STRUENSEE, Neue Uebersetzung der Weissagung Jeremiæ, etc., Halberstadt, 1777; (the last volume of STRUENSEE’S Translations of the Prophets); JOH. DAV. MICHAELIS, Observationes philolog. et crit. in Jeremiæ vaticinia et Threnos, ed. Schleussner, Göttingen, 1793; CHRIST. FR. SCHNURRER, Observationes ad vaticinia Jeremiæ, Tübingen, 1793 to 1794; A. FR. W. LEISTE, Observationes in vatt. Jer. aliquot locos, Göttingen, 1794, and extended in POTT and RUPERTI, Sylloge Commentt. Theologg, Vol. II., Helmst., 1801; HENSLER, Bemerkungen über Stellen in Jerem. Weiss., Leipzig, 1805; EICHHORN, Die helr. Propheten, 1816–19; GAAB, J. F. (Prelate in Tübingen), Erklärung schwererer Stellen in den Weissagungen Jeremia’s, Tübingen, 1824; TACONIS ROORDÆ, Commentarii in aliquot Jeremiæ loca, Gröningen, 1824; DAHLER, Jérémie traduit sur le texte original, accompagné de notes, Strasburg, 1825; ROSENMUELLER, Scholien, 1826; MAURER, 1833; EWALD, Die Propheten des alten Bundes, 1840; HITZIG (part of his Kurzgefassle exeget. Handbuch über das A. T.), 1841, 2te Aufl. 1866; and his Die Proph. Büch des A. T. übersetzt, Leipzig, 1854; UMBREIT, Praktischer Commentar, 1842.; WILHELM NEUMANN, Jeremias von Anatot, die Weissag. und Klagelieder ausgelegt, Leipzig, 1856–8; CARL HEINRICH GRAF, Prof. in the Landeschule at Meissen, Der Proph. Jeremia erklärt, Leipzig, 1862; ERNST MEIER, Prof. in Tubingen, Die proph. Bücher des A. T. übersetzt und erläutert, Stuttgard, 1863. Comp. with respect to the literature, CARPZOV, Introd. ad V. Test., edit. III. p. 169 sqq.; DE WETTE. Einl. 6 Aufl. S. 298; ROSENMUELLER, Scholien I. S. 32.

[Works in English:—WILL. LOWTH, Commentary upon the Prophecy and Lamentations of Jeremiah, London, 1718; BENJ. BLAYNEY, Jeremiah and Lamentations; A new translation with notes, etc., Edinb., 2d ed., 1810; Translation of CALVIN’S Commentary, 5 vols., Edinburgh, 1850; HENDERSON, The Book of the Prophet Jeremiah, etc., London, 1851, Andover, 1868; NOYES, New Translation of the Hebrew Prophets, Boston, 4th ed., 1868; DAVIDSON, Introduction to the Old Testament, London, 1863; CH. WORDSWORTH, Jeremiah, Lamentations and Ezekiel, with Notes and Introductions, London, 1869; H. COWLES, Jeremiah and Lamentations, with Notes, New York, 1869.–S. R. A.]

The following works may serve as critical aids and for the exhibition of the prophet’s character:—Dr. MICH. WEBER, Intempestiva lectionis emendandæ cura e Jeremia illustrata (4 Programme), Wittenb., 1785, ’88 and ’94; J. ANDR. MICH. NAGEL, Dissert in var. lectt. 25 capp. priorum Jer. ex. duobus Codd. MSS. hebr. desumtas, Altorf, 1772; JOH. JAC. GUILCHER, Observv. criticæ in quædam Jer. loca. in the Symbolis Haganis, Cl. I; G. L. SPOHN, Jer. vates e versione Judæorum Alex., emendatus, Leipzig, 1824; KUEPER, Jeremias libr. Sacrorum interpres atque vindex, Berlin, 1837; MOVERS, De utriusque recensionis vatt. Jer. indole et origine, Hamburg, 1837; KÖSTER, Die Propheten des A. u. N. B., Leipzig, 1838; J. L. KÖNIG, Alttest Studien, 2 Heft, das Deuteronomium u. d. Proph. Jeremia, Berlin, 1839; RÖDIGER, Art. “Jeremia” in Ersch u. Gruber’s Encykl., Sect. II., Bd., 15; CASPARI, Jer. ein Zeuge f. d. Aechtheit v. Jes. 34, etc., in der Zeitschr, f. Luth. Theol. u. Kirche, 1843; WICHELHAUS, De Jer. versione Alexandria, Halle, 1847; NAEGELSBACH, Der Prophet Jeremias und Babylon, Erlangen, 1850; Idem. Art. “Jeremia” in HERZOG’S Real-Enc.; NIEMEYER, Charakteristik der Bibel, Bd. V. S. 472; ROOS, Fuss-stapfen des Glaubens Abrahams, edited by W. F. ROOS, 1838, II., S. 281 ff.; SACK, Apologetik, S. 272, ff.; HENGSTENBERG, Christologie, Aufl. II., Bd. II., S. 399 ff.; E. MEIER, Gesch, d. poet. Nat-Lit. der Hebr., 1856, S. 385 ff.; REINKE, Die Messian. Weissagungen bei den grossen und kleinen Proph. d. A. B., Giessen, 1859–61; A. KÖHLER, Die Wirk-samkeit des Pr. Jer. während des Verfalls des jüd. Staats, in Beweiss des Glaubens. [A. P. STANLEY, Jewish Church, 2d series, 2d Ed., London, 1866; MILMAN, History of the Jews, Vol. I., London, 1863; ISAAC TAYLOR, Spirit of Hebrew Poetry, pp. 277, 8, New York, 1863; The Articles in SMITH’S and KITTO’S Biblical Cyclopædias.—S. R. A.]

The following practical works may also be mentioned:—HEINR. BULLINGER, In Jer. Sermonem primum (6 primis capp. comprehensum) conciones 26, Zürich, 1557; NIK. LUDW. COUNT ZINZENDORF, Jeremias ein Prediger der Gerechtigkeit [“Jeremiah, A Preacher of Righteousness”] reprinted from the second edition, Berlin, 1830; HEIM and HOFFMANN, Die vier grossen Propheten erbaulich ausgelegt aus den Schriften der Reformatoren, Stuttgard, 1839; Biblische Summarien (known under the name of “Würtembergische Summarien”), newly edited by the Christian Union in North Germany, Halle, 1848; J. DIEDRICH, Die Propheten Jeremia und Ezechiel kurz erklärt, Neu-Ruppin, 1863; E. HÖCHSTETTER, Zwölf Gleichnisse aus dem Propheten Jeremia, Kirchheim U. T., 1865, [MAURICE, The Prophets and Kings of the Old Testament, Cambridge, 1863; and the commentaries of T. SCOTT and MATTHEW HENRY.—S. R. A.]

I may also mention the peculiar, long-vanished Literature of a branch of the theologia prophetica, which set itself to the task of proving the Locos Communes of dogmatic theology by the prophets. This was done either by naming the locos contained in each passage, at the close of it (thus SEB. SCHMIDT, in his commentary, at the close of each chapter, evolves two locos from almost every verse); or by arranging the prophetic utterances according to the scheme of the dogmatic loci. Thus ex. gr. PHILIP HAILBRUNNER (Prof. in Lauingen) in his work, “Jer. proph. monumenta in locos communes theologicos digesta,” Lauingen, 1586, enumerates 28 locos, comprising under each the appropriate passages from the prophet in a Latin translation. The same course is taken by JOH. HEINRICH MAJUS, Prof. in Giessen, who, besides a Theologia prophetica ex selectionibus V. T. oraculis secundum seriem locorum theolog. dispositis, Frankfort, a. M. 1710, edited a similarly composed Theologia Davidis, Theologia Jesajana and Theologia Jeremiana (the complete title is: Theol. Jeremiana ex Jeremiæ vaticiniis et lamentationibus juxta articulos fidei ordine per theses collecta, Disput. Resp. Bened. Henr. Thering., Giessen, 1703).


[1]The German Commentary of Jeremiah has 401 (22 and 379), that on Lamentations 94 (17. and 77), both 495 pages. The English edition has 446 pages on the Book of Jeremiah, 196 on Lamentations, in all 642 pages.

[2] ISIDOR of Pelusium has therefore correctly styled him, πολυπαθέστατος τῶν προφητῶν (Epistt. Lib. I., Epist. 298). Comp. GHISLER.

[3]Even LUTHER (Preface to the prophet Jeremiah) says: “We often find some of the first part in the following chapter, which happened before that in the previous chapter, which looks as though Jeremiah did not arrange these books himself, but that they were composed piecemeal from his discourses, and compiled in a book. We must not trouble ourselves about the order, or allow the want of order to hinder us.”

Lange, John Peter - Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical

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