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

Guide to Reading

ALTHOUGH THE INTRODUCTION to the book indicates that Jeremiah spoke for a period of forty years from the reign of Josiah to the exile of Jerusalem, the order of the oracles and narratives in the book does not appear in a strictly chronological sequence. (This is not unusual; of the larger prophetic books, only Ezekiel is ordered chronologically.) There is some tendency to organize material topically in sections of the book (a collection of royal oracles begins in 21.11 ; a collection against false prophets begins in 23.9 ; the oracles against the nations are collected in chs 46–51 ). However, the main determinant of the sequence of materials is the concern to reflect upon the significance of the destruction of Jerusalem and the Babylonian exile. The book begins with the early oracles of Jeremiah and continues through the destruction of Jerusalem, but it frequently looks back into earlier periods to provide some perspectives on the later disaster as it proceeds through the prophet's career. Although Jeremiah clearly struggles with God over the nature of his prophetic role and message, the book attempts to defend God's righteousness by arguing that the people themselves brought punishment upon themselves by failing to observe God's torah and that God would act to restore Israel to Jerusalem once the punishment was over. Modern theology might justifiably raise questions about such premises, especially in the aftermath of the Holocaust, but the book of Jeremiah is the product of people who were adamant in their belief in God's righteousness and their adherence to Jewish tradition. Talmudic tradition claims that the book of Jeremiah is primarily a book of destruction (b. B. Bat. 14b), but it clearly points beyond the seventy years of punishment (ch 25 ) to atime when Jerusalem and the Temple would be rebuilt and the streets of Jerusalem filled with “the sound of mirth and gladness, the voice of bridegroom and bride, the voice of those who cry, ‘Give thanks to the LORD of Hosts, for the LORD is good, for His kindness is everlasting!’” ( 33.11 ). In the end, the book of Jeremiah is the product of a debate within Jewish circles from the late monarchy and the exilic periods concerning the question of theodicy or the righteousness of God. Although fully aware of the theological problems posed by the destruction of the Temple and the exile of the Jewish people, the book affirms God's existence and righteousness as well as the future of the restored nation Israel on its land.

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