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The Prophet Jeremiah

The Prophet Jeremiah


The great prophet Jeremiah lived during one of the most critical periods in Jewish history. He saw the destruction of Jerusalem and of the Beth Hamikdosh, after his warnings and prophecies fell on deaf ears. When the catastrophe came, he lamented the terrible fate of his people in the Book of Eichah (Lamentations) which we read on Tisha B'Av. At the same time he was a source of courage to his people by pointing out to them the path that would lead to their redemption. His prophecies are recorded in the Book of Jeremiah, which also contains the important events of his life.

Jeremiah was born in a priestly family, in the town of Anatoth belonging to the Tribe of Benjamin. His father was the prophet and Kohen-Gadol (High Priest) Hilkiah. Jeremiah began his prophecies in the thirteenth year of King Josiah's reign (in the year 3298). The prophet Zephania and the prophetess Hulda also lived at that time.

Jeremiah was still a young man when the spirit of prophecy came upon him. He was fearful to accept such a responsibility, declaring, "I am still a boy!" But G‑d said to him, "Say not, 'I am a boy,' for you shall go to all that I shall send you, and whatever I command you you shall speak. Be not afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you" (Jeremiah 1:6-8). From that moment, Jeremiah lost all fear and delivered his sad prophecies and warnings without regard for the king and his strong men, often at the very peril of his life. He prophesied during the remaining years of Josiah's reign (3285-3316) and during the reigns of his sons Jehoachaz (who reigned three months), and Jeohiakim (3316-3327), the latter's son Jehoiachin (who reigned for 100 days), and finally Zedekiah, the son of Josiah, the last king of Judah (3327-3338). Altogether Jeremiah prophesied for forty years until the Destruction of the Beth Hamikdosh, and for a short time thereafter.

One of Jeremiah's first missions was to go to the exiled Ten Tribes of Israel, whose kingdom in the north had been destroyed by the Assyrians less than a century previously (in the year 3205). Jeremiah brought them courage and hope and induced many of them to return to their native land.

King Josiah was the last G‑d-fearing monarch that reigned in Judah. He fell in battle against Pharaoh Necho, king of Egypt. After his death the people sank deeper in idolatry, and Jeremiah tried hard, but without avail, to bring them back to the path of the Torah.

In a moving prophecy, Jeremiah reminded his people of their early history, when, full of faith, they followed Moshe Rabbenu into the desert. He pictured the loyalty of the Jewish people to G‑d as that of a newly-wedded bride to her husband, and he wonders what has happened to his people that they had turned away from G‑d:

"Thus says G‑d: I remember unto you the affection of your youth, the love of your betrothal; how you went after Me in the wilderness, in a land that was not sown. Israel is G‑d's holy portion, the first harvest; all that devour him shall be held guilty; evil shall come upon them, says G‑d.

"Hear ye the word of G‑d, O House of Jacob, and all the families of the House of Israel. Thus says G‑d: What unrighteousness have your fathers found in Me that they are gone far from Me and have walked after vanity and have become vain?... I brought you into a land of plentiful fields, to eat its fruit and goodness; but when you entered, you defiled My land, and made my heritage an abomination... For My people have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, to hew for themselves cisterns, that can hold no water." (Jeremiah 2:2-13).

It is not enough, the prophet complained, that the Jewish people have forsaken G‑d and His Torah-the fountain of life, but they turned to idolatry and a false way of life which can give no life, but only misfortune.

The prophet declared that the wisdom of the idol worshipping nations, nor riches, nor power have real value, but only knowledge of G‑d and following in His ways. Thus, one of Jeremiah's most famous teachings is the following:

"Thus says G‑d: Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might; let not the rich man glory in his riches. But let him that glories, glory in this: that he understands and knows Me, that I am G‑d, Who practices mercy, justice and righteousness on the earth; for in these things I delight, says G‑d." (Jeremiah 9:22-23) .

The prophet also taught that it is no use relying on man, for in doing so one denies G‑d; only trust in G‑d is certain to be rewarded:

"Thus says G‑d: Cursed is the man that trusts in man, and makes flesh his arm (power), and whose heart departs from G‑d. For he shall be like a tamarisk in the desert, and shall not see when good comes... Blessed is the man that trusts in G‑d...for he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, that spreads out its roots by the river, that shall not see when heat comes, but its foliage shall be luxurious; and shall not be anxious in the year of drought, neither shall it cease from yielding fruit." (Jeremiah 17:5-8).

As already mentioned, the death of the pious king Josiah brought about a decline in the spiritual life of the people, for the kings that succeeded him did not measure up to him at all. Before his death King Josiah appointed his second son Jehoachaz to succeed him to the throne, because he seemed more inclined than his older brother to follow in his father's footsteps. The people accepted the choice and proclaimed Jehoachaz as their king. But his reign was very brief, lasting only three months, during which time he did not live up to his father's expectations at all. His reign was brought to an end by Pharaoh Necho, king of Egypt, who invaded the land of Judah, captured its king and took him in chains to Egypt, where he died in captivity. In his place Pharaoh Necho placed Jehoachaz's older brother Eliakim on the throne, changing his name to Joiakim.

King Joiakim was even worse than his brother. He disregarded the laws of the Torah which his father had so strictly enforced in the land, and set a poor example for his people by following the ways of wickedness and idolatry.

Jeremiah watched the growing demoralization of his people with pain in his heart, and he sternly admonished them.

"Roam about the streets of Jerusalem, and see now, and know, and search in its broad places, if you can find one man, if there be one that executes justice, that searches the truth-and I will pardon it. And though they say, 'As G‑d lives,' surely they only swear to a falsehood...They have denied G‑d and said, 'It is not He; evil shall not come upon us, neither shall we see sword or famine...'

"Therefore, thus says G‑d, the G‑d of Hosts, Because you speak this word, I will make my words in your mouth as fire, and this people as wood; and it shall devour them. Behold, I will bring a nation upon you from far... a mighty nation it is; an ancient nation, a nation whose language you do not know, and do not understand what they say. Their quiver is as an open grave, they are all mighty men. And they shall eat up your harvest and your bread, which your sons and daughters should eat; they shall eat up your flocks and your herds; they shall eat up your vines and your fig-trees; they shall impoverish your fortified cities in which you trust, by the sword. Nevertheless, in those days, says G‑d, I will not make a full end with you." (Jeremiah 5:1-18).

In the meantime, important events took place among the neighboring mighty empires which rivaled for supremacy. About these, and more about the prophet Jeremiah, next month, please G‑d.

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Mary Ann Bristol January 4, 2017

God's name I dont understand, what did I say about his name? I understand quite well that "God's name" really describes His nature. Reply

Anonymous January 1, 2017

He was a Kohen in the territory of Binyamin. Remember, Kohanim cannot own land, so they were given gifts. Anatoth was one of those gifts from the Benjaminites. Reply

Karugu Kenya February 12, 2016

You indicate Jeremiah's father was a high priest while he was a Benjamite. I thought it was levites descending from Aaron can become high priests. Please comment. Reply

Anonymous Modesto November 10, 2015

Re. Comment of December, 27, 2012 below Writer stated Prophet Jeremiah had a daughter, Hamutal of Jer. 52:1; please note this was not the prophet Jeremiah the son of Hilkiah stated in Jer. 1:1. Jer. 52:1 is Jeremiah of Libnah. Reply

Anonymous CA October 28, 2015

Names of God Mary ann I just wanted to answer your question. You are right with regard to the word God. It is a title. That is why God says you shall have no other gods before me.

However, what you said about the name of the Heavenly Father is not true. His name has nothing to do with what he is called... But the nature of his name cannot be pronounced or there would be an equal to Him and so His name is in silent with the Hebrew letters YHWH that is pronounced Jehovah. There are no j's in the Hebrew language and it is replaced with Y so the pronunciation would be Yhovah. So just remember that his name is not to be spoken but it has nothing to do with what he's called but is His nature. That Nature is holy.

The last thing is this, there are nine Names of God that are sealed in the Old Testament.(Isa.29:9-13) These 9 names are given to the elect who dwell in the secret place to call upon Him. They represent the order of entering into God's presence by (hidden numbers) the Holy of Holies. Reply

Mary Ann Carrasquillo Stafford Springs January 14, 2015

Isn't the truth tho, that God or G-d is not Hia name anyway, it's kind of His job description, or "position" king, but neither are offered up as what God calls Himself. Isn't that true? Reply

Anonymous Tema ,Ghana May 28, 2014

May I know, if Jeremiah is from a priestly family , what are the names of his parents? Are the parents LEVITES? Reply Staff via May 6, 2014

Spelling of G-d There is a biblical prohibition against desecrating G-d's name, if we write G-d's name out fully and the page is printed and happens to fall on the ground and people step on it or similar occurrences, G-d's name would be desecrated, in order to avoid that we do not spell the Name out fully but spell it "G-d". For more information see this "link: Reply

Rubiato Polanco April 24, 2014

May I know why you are writing God as this "G-d"? Reply

Sandra Charlton Ohio April 14, 2014

I am just a little disturbed why biblical passages are quoted but God is spelled in this manner: G-D. Why go half way when you can give honor to whom it is due? Great information otherwise. Just a tad bit disturbing. Reply

JNSkambalata Zimbabwe March 11, 2014

The authors of these articles...thanks. Reply

Nalini Chitra India December 27, 2012

King Zedekiah was Prophet Jeremiah's grandson because Jeremiah's daughter Hamutal was Zedekiah's mother. Jeremiah 52:1 Zedekiah was twenty-one years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem eleven years. His mother’s name was Hamutal daughter of Jeremiah; she was from Libnah. Jeremiah's father was a Levi, mother Benjamite and his descendants Judah. Reply

Anonymous December 7, 2012

I am doing Jeremiah for my religion report! Reply

Yisroel Cotlar Cary, NC September 4, 2012

Re: It was the land that was in the region of Benjamin. Reply

Anonymous Medina, OH/USA September 3, 2012

Question regarding Jeremiah's Tribe You state that Jeremiah was of the Tribe of Benjamin and, yet, his father was the Kohen-Gadol or "High Priest, Hilkiah, which automatically places him in the Tribe of Levi. How, then, is not Jeremiah from the Tribe of Levi, unless, perhaps, his mother was a Benjamite? Reply

simon kampala, uganda April 17, 2012

apprecation this is good information and may God bless the authors so much! Reply

Osazee santander, Spain April 9, 2012

Thnaks Thanks for the Biblilografia of the great Prophet of God, I have read befor but this give another good point of view. Shalom. Reply

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