: Jeremiah's call.
The introductory verse tells who Jeremiah was and when he prophesied. He was from a family of priests from a town outside
Jerusalem, Anathoth. His call came during the time of King Josiah and extended until the fall of Jerusalem to Babylon in 587 BCE, a 40-year period that symbolically links him with Moses' 40 years of leadership in the wilderness. Jeremiah is presented
as a prophet
like Moses, as promised in Deut 18.18
In a poetic conversation between God and Jeremiah, Jeremiah receives his mission. His call before birth indicates that his
prophecy was not his own invention but given to him by God. His resistance on the grounds that he is only a boy and so cannot speak properly also indicates that God has sent him; he has not chosen this task for himself. God tell him
not to be afraid, promises to be with him, and touches his mouth. This gesture symbolizes the divine origin of the words Jeremiah
speaks and the words recorded in this book. The book claims that Jeremiah's words are from God.
Jeremiah is a prophet to the nations and will tear down and build up. This short poem gives Jeremiah and his book authority in the face of opposition.
Jeremiah's mission gains substance from two visions written in prose.
Jeremiah sees a branch of an almond tree, a “shaqed” in Hebrew. In a play on words, God replies, I am watching (“shoqed”) over my word to perform it. What God says through Jeremiah will happen. Next Jeremiah sees a boiling pot, tilted away from the north. The boiling pot is a symbol of destruction, overflowing and burning. The north may refer to a historical enemy, but more
likely the threat from the north refers to a mythic enemy, coming like a superhuman monster. Only in
will the foe from the north be identified as Babylon.
The tilting pot will spill out an army of invaders who will stream upon the land. God is calling the kingdoms of the north to invade Jerusalem. Jeremiah himself should have courage throughout the terror, for God will be with him.
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