Book of Jeremiah of The Old Testament

The Book of Jeremiah

Book of Jeremiah

photo by Gus Wallen

Jeremiah or the Book of Jeremiah is among the longest texts of Old Testament. It forms the second part of the Latter Prophets section of Nevi’im as well as the second part of Prophets in Christian Old Testament.  In this major prophetic work of Old Testament, the Book of Jeremiah, Jeremiah dictates his prophecies and oracles from the Lord which are then compiled by his scribe Baruch.

Born to a local priest of Anathoth, a small town in Judah, Jeremiah first received the call for divination or prophecy when he was around twenty years old, around the time of 627 BC. It was also the time when King Josiah’s supremacy was in its 13th year. Jeremiah continued with his prophecies for most of his adult years; i.e. for the next four decades. For his undeniable courage, Jeremiah was chosen by God to speak to the inhabitants of Judah on His behalf at a time when Judah and Jerusalem went through some of the most turbulent changes. Since Jeremiah’s teachings had little bearing with the common crowd, his words carry a substantial emotional depth and point to his sorrow over the state of affairs during this period of history. His lamentations, known as confessions, poignantly describe the struggles that he went through as a prophet of God.

Although the prolonged length of the Book of Jeremiah makes it difficult to associate any discernible structure to it, the book can be roughly divided into six sections. The main purpose of the book of Jeremiah was to highlight the fact that the people of Judah had fallen into sinful practices and were about to encounter the wrath of God in the form of destruction. The first 10 chapters of the book show that God calls for Jeremiah to carry out His divine mission. Jeremiah condemns the people of Judah for their faithlessness and blasphemous sins.

The acts of worshipping false gods and idols as well as dedicating sacrifices to them have enraged the Lord, who says that He will not respond to their yearnings for their sinful ways. Prophecies on the forthcoming disaster are made in chapters 11 through 28. Jeremiah then speaks of the New Covenant in chapters 29 through 38 and expresses hope that the Lord would deliver the people of Judah after the exile. King Zedekiah, who ignored Jeremiah’s warnings, first threw the prophet into a prison and then again into a cistern. Furthermore in the Book of Jeremiah, Jeremiah still warned Zedekiah that he would face attacks from the Babylonian King.

In chapters 39 through 52, the prophet records the events pertaining to descend of Jerusalem at the hands of the Babylonians in 586 BC. Much like it was envisioned by a lot of prophets in the past, the lands of Judah and Jerusalem was occupied by the Babylonian forces. This led to the end of exiles for both Northern Kingdom (722 BC) and Southern Kingdom (586 BC). King Zedekiah was eventually arrested, blinded, bounded and taken to Babylon as a captive. His son was murdered in front of him. God eventually promised to deliver His nation from captivity and punish the Babylonian King just as He punished Assyria.  The Book of Jeremiah is written in a complex, poetic from of hebrew.