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BOOK : Jeremiah

Description : Second of the ‘major prophets'

Author: possibly Baruch, Jeremiah's secretary

Date written : probably between 626 B.C. and sometime about 586BC

Chapters : 52


Brief Synopsis:


•  Gets its name from the prophet of that name.
•  It is a mixture of historical incidents and prophecies. (It has more historical happenings than Isaiah ad Ezekiel)
•  The history is especially important as it occurs in the period before, during and after the fall of Jerusalem and the Exile.
•  The prophecies against Judah , in particular, are important as they show us how the Lord sought again and again to draw this people back from the brink of destruction (Note: Ezekiel was doing exactly the same thing from Babylonia) 
•  The prophecies against the surrounding nations show us how the Lord holds accountable those who treat His people badly.
•  Jeremiah began prophesying in Judah halfway through the reign of Josiah (640-609BC) and continued throughout the reigns of Jehoahaz (609), Jehoiakim (609-598), Jehoiachin (598-597) and Zedekiah (597-586).

Outline :


Ch.1 Call of the Prophet
Ch.2-35 Warnings and Exhortations to Judah
Ch.2-6 Earliest Discourses
Ch.7-10 Temple Message
Ch.11-13 Covenant and Conspiracy
Ch.14/15 Messages concerning the Drought
Ch.16/17 Disaster and Comfort
Ch.17 Command to Keep the Sabbath Holy
Ch.18-20 Lessons from the Potter
Ch.21-24 Condemnation of Kings, Prophets and People
Ch.25-29 Foretelling the Babylonian Exile
Ch.30-33 Promises of Restoration
Ch.34/35 Historical Appendix
Ch.36-38 Sufferings and Persecutions of the Prophet
Ch.36 Burning Jeremiah's Scroll
Ch.37/38 Imprisoning Jeremiah
Ch.39-45 The Fall of Jerusalem and Its Aftermath
Ch.39 The Fall Itself
Ch.40/41 Accession and Assassination of Gedaliah
Ch.41-43 Migration to Egypt
Ch.44 Prophecy against Those in Egypt

Ch.45 Historical Appendix: Promise to Baruch 

Ch.46-51 Judgment against the Nations

Ch.46 Against Egypt

Ch.47 Against Philistia
Ch.48 Against Moab
Ch.49 Against Ammon , Edom , Damascus , Kedar & Hazor and Elam
Ch.50/51 Against Babylon
Ch.52 Historical Appendix


Symbolic prophecies


Jeremiah uses a number of things to act as prophetic symbols:

1:11-12   The Almond Rod
1:13,14`   The boiling caldron
13:1-11   The marred girdle
13:12-14   The full bottle
14:1-12   The drought
18:1-6     The potter's vessel
19:1,2     The broken bottle
24:1-10   Two baskets of figs
27:1-12   The Yoke
32:6-15   Buying a field
43:9-13   The buried stones
51:59-64   The book buried in the Euphrates



Messianic Pictures in Jeremiah


2:13     Fountain of living water
8:22     Great Physician
31:10/23:4   Good Shepherd
23:5     the Righteous Branch
30:9     David the King
50:34     The Redeemer
23:6     The Lord our Righteousness


Major Events during his ministry

1. Battle of Megiddo (609BC) when Josiah was fatally wounded by Pharaoh Neco of Egypt
    2 Chron 35:25 Jeremiah composed laments for Josiah, and to this day all the men and women singers commemorate Josiah in the laments.

2. Battle of Carchemish (605BC) where Nebuchadnezzar brought down Pharaoh Neco of Egypt

    Jer 46:2 Jeremiah prophesied over Egypt : “This is the message against the army of Pharaoh Neco king of Egypt , which was defeated at Carchemish on the Euphrates River by Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon in the fourth year of Jehoiakim son of Josiah king of Judah

3. Fall of Jerusalem (586 or 587BC) where Jeremiah was fully involved.



Key Verses :

1. The extent of Jeremiah's ministry

1:1-3 The words of Jeremiah son of Hilkiah, one of the priests at Anathoth in the territory of Benjamin . The word of the LORD came to him in the thirteenth year of the reign of Josiah son of Amon king of Judah , and through the reign of Jehoiakim son of Josiah king of Judah , down to the fifth month of the eleventh year of Zedekiah son of Josiah king of Judah , when the people of Jerusalem went into exile.
The method and hope of his ministry
36:1-3 In the fourth year of Jehoiakim son of Josiah king of Judah , this word came to Jeremiah from the LORD: "Take a scroll and write on it all the words I have spoken to you concerning Israel , Judah and all the other nations from the time I began speaking to you in the reign of Josiah till now. Perhaps when the people of Judah hear about every disaster I plan to inflict on them, each of them will turn from his wicked way; then I will forgive their wickedness and their sin."


2. The Elements of his ministry: guilt, judgment, hope
The primary claim against the people: disregarding God's provision and looking to other for provision
2:13 My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.
The extent of the guilt of Jerusalem
5:1 Go up and down the streets of Jerusalem , look around and consider, search through her squares. If you can find but one person who deals honestly and seeks the truth, I will forgive this city.
The specific wrongs of Jerusalem and their false belief in the security of the Temple
7:1-11 This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD: "Stand at the gate of the LORD's house and there proclaim this message: "Hear the word of the LORD, all you people of Judah who come through these gates to worship the LORD. This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: Reform your ways and your actions, and I will let you live in this place. Do not trust in deceptive words and say, "This is the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD!"
•  If you really change your ways and your actions and deal with each other justly,
•  if you do not oppress the alien, the fatherless or the widow and do not shed innocent blood in this place, and
•  if you do not follow other gods to your own harm,
then I will let you live in this place, in the land I gave your forefathers for ever and ever. But look, you are trusting in deceptive words that are worthless. "Will you
•  steal and murder,
•  commit adultery and
•  perjury,
•  burn incense to Baal and
•  follow other gods you have not known,
and then come and stand before me in this house, which bears my Name, and say, "We are safe" - safe to do all these detestable things? Has this house, which bears my Name, become a den of robbers to you? But I have been watching! declares the LORD.


Nebuchadnezzar is God's instrument of discipline and judgment

27:3-7 send word to the kings of Edom , Moab , Ammon, Tyre and Sidon through the envoys who have come to Jerusalem to Zedekiah king of Judah . Give them a message for their masters and say, `This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: "Tell this to your masters: With my great power and outstretched arm I made the earth and its people and the animals that are on it, and I give it to anyone I please. Now I will hand all your countries over to my servant Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon ; I will make even the wild animals subject to him. All nations will serve him and his son and his grandson until the time for his land comes; then many nations and great kings will subjugate him.

This applies to Judah as well

27:12,13 I gave the same message to Zedekiah king of Judah . I said, "Bow your neck under the yoke of the king of Babylon ; serve him and his people, and you will live. Why will you and your people die by the sword, famine and plague with which the LORD has threatened any nation that will not serve the king of Babylon ?

Message of Hope to the Exiles

29:4-14 This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon : "Build houses and settle down ; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper." ……

This is what the LORD says: "When seventy years are completed for Babylon , I will come to you and fulfill my gracious promise to bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you," declares the LORD, "and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you," declares the LORD, "and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile."
(Note this very clear message of hope – you will come back!)
The Message of hope is reiterated (a number of times)

30:1-3 This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD: "This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: `Write in a book all the words I have spoken to you. The days are coming,' declares the LORD, `when I will bring my people Israel and Judah back from captivity and restore them to the land I gave their forefathers to possess,' says the LORD."

3) The Difficulties of Jeremiah

20:1,2 When the priest Pashhur son of Immer, the chief officer in the temple of the LORD, heard Jeremiah prophesying these things, he had Jeremiah the prophet beaten and put in the stocks at the Upper Gate of Benjamin at the LORD's temple.

Life under threat

26:10,11 When the officials of Judah heard about these things, they went up from the royal palace to the house of the LORD and took their places at the entrance of the New Gate of the LORD's house. Then the priests and the prophets said to the officials and all the people, "This man should be sentenced to death because he has prophesied against this city. You have heard it with your own ears!"

Conflict of prophecy

28:1011,15-17 Then the prophet Hananiah took the yoke off the neck of the prophet Jeremiah and broke it, and he said before all the people, "This is what the LORD says: `In the same way will I break the yoke of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon off the neck of all the nations within two years.' " At this, the prophet Jeremiah went on his way…...

Then the prophet Jeremiah said to Hananiah the prophet, "Listen, Hananiah! The LORD has not sent you, yet you have persuaded this nation to trust in lies. Therefore, this is what the LORD says: `I am about to remove you from the face of the earth. This very year you are going to die, because you have preached rebellion against the LORD.' " In the seventh month of that same year, Hananiah the prophet died
Active Opposition

29:20,21,24-28 hear the word of the LORD, all you exiles whom I have sent away from Jerusalem to Babylon . This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says about Ahab son of Kolaiah and Zedekiah son of Maaseiah, who are prophesying lies to you in my name: "I will hand them over to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon , and he will put them to death before your very eyes.

…… Tell Shemaiah the Nehelamite, "This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: You sent letters in your own name to all the people in Jerusalem , to Zephaniah son of Maaseiah the priest, and to all the other priests. You said to Zephaniah, `The LORD has appointed you priest in place of Jehoiada to be in charge of the house of the LORD; you should put any madman who acts like a prophet into the stocks and neck-irons. So why have you not reprimanded Jeremiah from Anathoth, who poses as a prophet among you? He has sent this message to us in Babylon : It will be a long time. Therefore build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce.' "

32:1-3 in the tenth year of Zedekiah king of Judah , which was the eighteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar. The army of the king of Babylon was then besieging Jerusalem , and Jeremiah the prophet was confined in the courtyard of the guard in the royal palace of Judah . Now Zedekiah king of Judah had imprisoned him there, saying, "Why do you prophesy as you do?


37:16,17 (21) They were angry with Jeremiah and had him beaten and imprisoned in the house of Jonathan the secretary, which they had made into a prison. Jeremiah was put into a vaulted cell in a dungeon, where he remained a long time. ( King Zedekiah then gave orders for Jeremiah to be placed in the courtyard of the guard and given bread from the street of the bakers each day until all the bread in the city was gone. So Jeremiah remained in the courtyard of the guard)

A different form of prison

38:6 (7,13) So they took Jeremiah and put him into the cistern of Malkijah, the king's son, which was in the courtyard of the guard. They lowered Jeremiah by ropes into the cistern; it had no water in it, only mud, and Jeremiah sank down into the mud. (Ebed-Melech, a Cushite, an official in the royal palace, heard that they had put Jeremiah into the cistern….. and they pulled him up with the ropes and lifted him out of the cistern. And Jeremiah remained in the courtyard of the guard.


4) The Message of Jerusalem 's fall encapsulated in one message: judgment, cause & hope

32:26-29 Then the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah: "I am the LORD, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me? Therefore, this is what the LORD says: I am about to hand this city over to the Babylonians and to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon , who will capture it. The Babylonians who are attacking this city will come in and set it on fire; they will burn it down, along with the houses where the people provoked me to anger by burning incense on the roofs to Baal and by pouring out drink offerings to other gods.


32:30-35 "The people of Israel and Judah have done nothing but evil in my sight from their youth; indeed, the people of Israel have done nothing but provoke me with what their hands have made, declares the LORD. From the day it was built until now, this city has so aroused my anger and wrath that I must remove it from my sight. The people of Israel and Judah have provoked me by all the evil they have done--they, their kings and officials, their priests and prophets, the men of Judah and the people of Jerusalem . They turned their backs to me and not their faces; though I taught them again and again, they would not listen or respond to discipline. They set up their abominable idols in the house that bears my Name and defiled it. They built high places for Baal in the Valley of Ben Hinnom to sacrifice their sons and daughters to Molech, though I never commanded, nor did it enter my mind, that they should do such a detestable thing and so make Judah sin.


32:36-44 "You are saying about this city, `By the sword, famine and plague it will be handed over to the king of Babylon '; but this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says:

•  I will surely gather them from all the lands where I banish them in my furious anger and great wrath; I will bring them back to this place and let them live in safety.
•  They will be my people, and I will be their God. I will give them singleness of heart and action, so that they will always fear me for their own good and the good of their children after them.
•  I will make an everlasting covenant with them: I will never stop doing good to them, and I will inspire them to fear me, so that they will never turn away from me.
•  I will rejoice in doing them good and will assuredly plant them in this land with all my heart and soul.
"This is what the LORD says: As I have brought all this great calamity on this people, so I will give them all the prosperity I have promised them. Once more fields will be bought in this land of which you say, `It is a desolate waste, without men or animals, for it has been handed over to the Babylonians.' Fields will be bought for silver, and deeds will be signed, sealed and witnessed in the territory of Benjamin , in the villages around Jerusalem , in the towns of Judah and in the towns of the hill country, of the western foothills and of the Negev , because I will restore their fortunes, declares the LORD."


5) The end of the ministry?
Final deliverance – by the invader!

39:11 Now Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had given these orders about Jeremiah through Nebuzaradan commander of the imperial guard: "Take him and look after him; don't harm him but do for him whatever he asks."

Options for Jeremiah

40:2- 5 When the commander of the guard found Jeremiah, he said to him, "The LORD your God decreed this disaster for this place. And now the LORD has brought it about; he has done just as he said he would. All this happened because you people sinned against the LORD and did not obey him. But today I am freeing you from the chains on your wrists. Come with me to Babylon , if you like, and I will look after you; but if you do not want to, then don't come. Look, the whole country lies before you; go wherever you please." However, before Jeremiah turned to go, Nebuzaradan added, "Go back to Gedaliah son of Ahikam, the son of Shaphan, whom the king of Babylon has appointed over the towns of Judah , and live with him among the people, or go anywhere else you please."

Warning not to go to Egypt

42:7-22 (extracts) the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah……He said to them….. If you stay in this land, I will build you up and not tear you down; I will plant you and not uproot you, …..and if you say, `No, we will go and live in Egypt, where we will not see war or hear the trumpet or be hungry for bread…… then the sword you fear will overtake you there, and the famine you dread will follow you into Egypt, and there you will die…..

Yet the rebellious remnant force the others to go

43:1-8 (extracts) Azariah son of Hoshaiah and Johanan son of Kareah and all the arrogant men said to Jeremiah, "You are lying! The LORD our God has not sent you to say, `You must not go to Egypt to settle there….. Instead, Johanan son of Kareah and all the army officers led away all the remnant of Judah who had come back to live in the land of Judah from all the nations where they had been scattered….. They also led away all the men, women and children and the king's daughters whom Nebuzaradan commander of the imperial guard had left with Gedaliah son of Ahikam, the son of Shaphan, and Jeremiah the prophet and Baruch son of Neriah. So they entered Egypt in disobedience to the LORD and went as far as Tahpanhes.

Even in Egypt Jeremiah continues prophesying

43:8-10 In Tahpanhes the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah: "While the Jews are watching, take some large stones with you and bury them in clay in the brick pavement at the entrance to Pharaoh's palace in Tahpanhes. Then say to them, `This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: I will send for my servant Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon , and I will set his throne over these stones I have buried here; he will spread his royal canopy above them.

44:1,14,30 This word came to Jeremiah concerning all the Jews living in Lower Egypt--in Migdol, Tahpanhes and Memphis --and in Upper Egypt ….. None of the remnant of Judah who have gone to live in Egypt will escape or survive to return to the land of Judah , to which they long to return and live; none will return except a few fugitives…… This is what the LORD says: `I am going to hand Pharaoh Hophra king of Egypt over to his enemies who seek his life, just as I handed Zedekiah king of Judah over to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, the enemy who was seeking his life.' "


Concluding Comments


•  The heart and happenings of Jeremiah are displayed more clearly than any of the other prophets.
•  He lived through this incredibly difficult time (for a man of God) of the last kings of Judah , anguishing against their folly and warning against the coming judgment.
•  Essentially he was ignored and even persecuted for being the Lord's mouthpiece, but the Lord was there for him when the fall of Jerusalem occurred and he was spared by the conqueror.
•  The remaining remnant in the land reveal their ongoing folly and the last we see of Jeremiah is him being taken by them (but still prophesying!) as they flee the land to go to Egypt .
•  The book is fascinating because of the historical nature of it, the things that Jeremiah went through. As the verses above show, he was still prophesying after he had been taken to Egypt .
•  It is also amazing in that it reveals just how many times the Lord sought to speak to this people to stop them plunging to destruction. it was a destruction they brought on their own heads.
•  Yet despite this there are a number of words of hope that the Lord WILL bring His people back to Jerusalem and to the Land. Hope is the all important word. There IS a future, even after God has dealt with this rebellious and foolish people; yet He will redeem them!


Additional Resources on this site:

       Jeremiah Bible Studies