• The call of Jeremiah
– Jeremiah’s struggle and call in the tradition of
the Hebrew people
• Oracles in the Days of Josiah
– God loves his people with tenderness; sin
disturbs the covenantal relationship
• Oracles against the nations
– God is in control and will overcome all those
who are opposed to him and his people.
• Jeremiah’s own words
• Writings of his scribe, Baruch
• Sermons of Jeremiah’s disciples, reflecting on
Jeremiah’s words and actions
Biography of Jeremiah
• Jeremiah was born, perhaps about 650
B.C., of a priestly family from the village
of Anathoth, two and a half miles
northeast of Jerusalem.
• The name, Jeremiah, means:
The Lord raises up
• He was called to his task in the thirteenth year
of King Josiah (Jer 1:2). Josiah’s reform, begun
with enthusiasm and hope, ended with his death
on the battlefield of Megiddo (609 B.C.) as he
attempted to stop the northward march of the
Egyptian Pharaoh Neco, who was going to
provide assistance to the Assyrians who were in
retreat before the Babylonians.
• Nineveh, the capital of Assyria, fell in 612 B.C., preparing
the way for Babylon, which was soon to put an end to
the independence of Judah.
• The prophet supported the reform of King Josiah (2 Kgs
22–23), but after the death of Josiah the old idolatry
returned. Jeremiah opposed this as well as royal policy
toward Babylon. Arrest, imprisonment, and public
disgrace were his lot.
• In the nation’s apostasy Jeremiah
saw the sealing of its doom.
Nebuchadnezzar captured Jerusalem
(598 B.C.) and carried King
Jehoiachin into exile (Jer 22:24).
• During the years 598–587, Jeremiah
counseled Zedekiah in the face of bitter
opposition. The false prophet Hananiah
proclaimed that the yoke of Babylon was
broken and a strong pro-Egyptian party in
Jerusalem induced Zedekiah to revolt.
Nebuchadnezzar took swift vengeance;
Jerusalem was destroyed in 587 and its
leading citizens sent into exile.
• The prophet remained in Jerusalem, but
was later forced into Egyptian exile. We
do not know the details of his death. The
influence of Jeremiah was greater after his
death than before. The exiled community
read and meditated on the lessons of the
prophet; his influence is evident in Ezekiel,
some of the psalms, Is 40–66, and Daniel.
• Jeremiah, The Prophet
• Josiah: king of Judah (641–609 BC), who
instituted major reforms. Josiah is credited by
most historians with having established or
compiled important Scriptures during the
Deuteronomic reform that occurred during
• Jehoiakim – Son of Josiah, King of Judah who
revolted against Babylon, which led to
capture of Jerusalem in 597
• Nebuchadnezzar -was king of the Babylonian
Empire c. 605 BC – 562 BC. He is credited
with the construction of the Hanging
Gardens of Babylonand for the destruction of
the First Temple.
• Jehoiachin – king of Judah dethroned by
Babylon and taken into captivity
• Zedekiah – warned by Jeremiah not to join
the Egyptians in revolt against Babylon,
which led to destruction of Jerusalem and the
Temple in 587. When he and the people
were carted off to Babylon, Jeremiah
remained and wanted to stay in Jerusalem.
He was physically dragged to Egypt where he
• Gedaliah – governor of Judah, appointed by
Nebuchadnezzar who encouraged the
cultivation of fields and vineyards to bring
stability to Judah. He was attacked and
killed by a group of Jews, further angering
• Poetry sermons focused on Exodus and the
covenant – very personal, agonizing
• Confessions – arguments with God over his
call as a prophet
• Narrative sections compiled by Baruch that
outline Jeremiah’s theology.
Purpose of the Book
• Jeremiah’s writings provided a voice of
compassion and prayer to a tumultuous
• Linked fidelity to covenant to one’s own
• Jeremiah’s life is the message.
Sin and Atonement
Faith and Prayer
True and false prophecy
Jeremiah, in his life, shows us:
Honest, painful struggles with God
Courage in confronting rulers
Agony over the fate of Jerusalem
Perseverance amid continuous rejection
Irritability, and sometimes a desire for
• Sensitivity to the beauty of nature
• The joys and struggles of celibacy
• Jeremiah changes, adapts to work out God’s
purpose in his life and the life of the
• His discernment is much like our own, and
the life of everyone who seeks God sincerely.
• The New Covenant
– Suffering, coming days, completion
– Covenant that is written on hearts, not stone
– Influences understanding of what it means to
be a member of God’s family
• Sin and Atonement
– Sin brings its own sorrow
– People are transformed, for good or ill, by the
things they seek
– Punishment for sins can bring purification and
– God’s compassion leads us to hope in
forgiveness and restored life in grace.
• Faith and Prayer
– Wrestling with God, baring soul and heart
– Confronting God with bold questions, but
never wavering in his reliance on God’s
faithfulness and care for him and the
– God’s relationship is the only one he can
really count on.
• True and False Prophecy
– Jeremiah’s message was not popular or
– Classic example of rejected prophet
– Lasting impact.
In the Lectionary
• 33 appearances
– 9 Sunday
– 25 weekday
– 12 Ritual Masses