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The Jewish Study Bible Contextualizes the Hebrew Bible with accompanying scholarly text on Jewish traditions and history.

Jeremiah - Character Of The Work

THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH presents oracles attibuted to the prophet Jeremiah son of Hilkiah and narratives that depict the major events of his lifetime. Jeremiah lived during one of the most crucial and terrifying periods in the history of the Jewish people in biblical times: the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple of Solomon, followed by the beginning of the Babylonian exile. Because he is one of the key witnesses to the last years of the kingdom of Judah, Jeremiah emerges as one of the major figures who grappled with the theological problems posed by the destruction of the nation, and who laid the foundations for the restoration of Jerusalem and the Temple in the years following the end of the exile. In the course of his struggles to understand the tragic events of his lifetime, he tells the reader more about himself than any other prophet, including his anguish and empathy at the suffering of his people, his outrage at God for forcing him to speak such terrible words of judgment against his own nation, and his firm belief that the people of Israel would return to their land and rebuild Jerusalem once the period of punishment was over.

The introduction to the book in 1.1–3 identifies Jeremiah as a priest from the city of Anathoth in the territory of the tribe of Benjamin. He is therefore a descendant of the priestly line of Eli, who presided as high priest in the sanctuary at Shiloh in the early years of Israel's history in the land (1 Sam. chs 1–4 ). Elide priests served as Israel's chief priests until the reign of King Solomon, who expelled Abiathar from Jerusalem to Anathoth in favor of Zadok, a high priest under David who founded the Zadokite priestly line in Jerusalem (1 Kings chs 1–2 ). The introduction further states that Jeremiah spoke from the thirteenth year of the reign of King Josiah son of Amon of Judah (627 BCE), through the reign of King Jehoiakim son of Josiah (608–598), and until the end of the eleventh year of King Zedekiah son of Josiah (597–586) when Jerusalem went into exile.

Thus,like Moses, who was of Levitical descent, Jeremiah is a priest and prophet who guided his people for forty years—often in the face of stiff opposition—but, unlike Moses who led the people from Egypt into the promised land, Jeremiah saw the exile of his people from that same promised land and lived out his own days in Egypt. He was a constant opponent of King Jehoiakim, an Egyptian sympathizer who led his nation into waragainst Babylonia,and of King Zedekiah, a Babylonian appointee who was unable to prevent a second war against Babylonia. Jeremiah claimed that Judah must submit to Babylonia or suffer the consequences, and he pointed to the destruction of his own ancestral sanctuary at Shiloh to make his point: The people must observe God's teaching (torah), including its moral injunctions and its portrayal of Egypt as Israel's oppressor, rather than rely on the security symbolized by the existence of the Jerusalem Temple. He adhered to earlier traditions, especially Deuteronomy, which reflects a similar viewpoint concerning the necessity of observing torah and the consequences for failing to do so. Indeed, his oracles also frequently cite the earlier words of the prophet Isaiah son of Amoz, who spoke during the 8th century when Assyria threatened Israel, but Jeremiah apparently believed that Isaiah's words of judgment—and restoration—would not be realized until his own time, when the Babylonians would replace the Assyrians as God's agent of punishment. He was repeatedly imprisoned and castigated as a traitor for his views. When the Babylonians offered him a comfortable life in exile in recognition for his efforts, he refused it in order to remain with his people and begin the process of rebuilding even though the exile had just begun. Ultimately, Jeremiah fled to Egypt (ch 43 ), and he likely died there.

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