Jeremiah
New American Bible Revised Edition

* [1:1] Anathoth: a village about three miles northeast of Jerusalem, to which Solomon had exiled Abiathar the priest (1 Kgs 2:26–27); it is likely that Jeremiah belonged to that priestly family.

* [1:5] Jeremiah was destined to become a prophet before his birth; cf. Is 49:1, 5; Lk 1:15; Gal 1:15–16. I knew you: I loved you and chose you. I dedicated you: I set you apart to be a prophet. The nations: the neighbors of Judah, along with Assyria, Babylonia, and Egypt.

* [1:6] I am too young: like Moses (Ex 3:11, 13; 4:10), Jeremiah at first resists God’s call. This narrative is perhaps patterned after the story of Moses’ call in order to identify Jeremiah as the prophet “like me” in Dt 18:15.

* [1:11] There is wordplay between the Hebrew noun shaqed, “almond tree,” and the Hebrew verb shoqed, “watcher/watching.” Because the almond tree begins to bloom in late winter in Palestine, it is called “the watcher” for the coming of spring. God is also “watcher,” observing the fulfillment of the prophetic word.

* [1:13] Kettle…the north: symbol of an invasion from the north; cf. vv. 14–15.

* [2:1–3:5] These chapters may contain some of Jeremiah’s early preaching. He portrays Israel as the wife of the Lord, faithful only in the beginning, when she walked behind him (2:2–3, 5; 3:1). Consistent with the marriage metaphor, he describes her present unfaithfulness as adultery (2:20; 3:2–3); now she walks behind the Baals.

* [2:2] Devotion: Heb. hesed; Israel’s gratitude, fidelity, and love for God.

* [2:3] First fruits: the first yield of a harvest offered as a sign of dependence on and gratitude toward the Lord of the land, thus divine property. Israel, then, is a gift made to God, set apart for his use; cf. Ex 23:19.

* [2:8] Experts in the law: the priests. The shepherds: the kings and nobles.

* [2:10] Kedar: a nomadic tribe in north Arabia. Cyprus and Kedar represent west and east.

* [2:14] House-born servant: one born in the master’s house, in contrast to a slave acquired by purchase or as a captive; cf. Lv 22:11.

* [2:16] Memphis: the capital of Lower Egypt. Tahpanhes: a frontier city of Egypt, east of the Delta. Shave the crown of your head: an image for Egypt plundering Judah; perhaps a reference to the capture of King Jehoahaz in 609 B.C. (2 Kgs 23:34).

* [2:18] Egypt and Assyria were the competing foreign powers favored by rival parties within Judah. The desire for such foreign alliances is a further desertion of the Lord, the source of living waters (v. 13), in favor of the above-named powers, symbolized by the waters of the Nile and the Euphrates rivers.

* [2:20] Served as a prostitute: idolatry (because Israel is the “bride” of God); cf. vv. 2–3.

* [2:23] The Valley: probably Ben-hinnom, south of Jerusalem, site of the sanctuary of Topheth, where children were sacrificed to Molech; cf. 7:31.

* [3:1] Can she return to the first?: i.e., her first husband. Here the Hebrew is emended in light of the Septuagint and Dt 24:1–4, which forbids a man to take back a woman once he has divorced her. The prophet uses this analogy to illustrate the presumption of Judah, the unfaithful wife, who assumes she can easily return to the Lord after worshiping other gods.

* [3:2] An Arabian: here depicted as a marauder lying in wait for caravans.

* [3:14–18] A remnant of Israel (v. 14) will reunite with Judah (v. 18). The former Israelite community, represented by the ark of the covenant, will be replaced by a universal alliance, symbolized by Jerusalem, the Lord’s throne, to which all nations will be gathered (v. 17).

* [3:24] The shameful thing: Heb. bosheth (“shame”), a term often substituted for the name of Baal, a Canaanite god worshiped at local shrines.

* [4:2] As the Lord lives: this oath, made sincerely, implies Israel’s return and loyal adherence to God. Thus the ancient promises are fulfilled; cf. Gn 12:3; 18:18; 22:18; 26:4; Ps 72:17.

* [4:4] The external rite of circumcision accomplishes nothing unless it is accompanied by the removal of blindness and obstinacy of heart. Jeremiah’s view is reflected in Rom 2:25, 29; 1 Cor 7:19; Gal 5:6; 6:13, 15.

* [4:10] You really did deceive: Jeremiah complains that the Lord misled the people by fostering their complacency, leaving them unprepared and unrepentant as judgment approaches.

* [4:11] My daughter, the people: the covenant people personified as a young woman. Ezekiel 16 presents Israel and Judah as female infants whom the Lord adopts and then abandons and punishes because they desire other lords.

* [4:19–21] Probably the prophet’s own anguish at the coming destruction of Judah.

* [5:12] They denied the Lord: the people act as though God does not matter and will not interfere.

* [5:24] Rain early and late: autumn and spring rains respectively. Appointed weeks of harvest: the seven weeks between the Passover (Dt 16:9–10) and the feast of Weeks (Pentecost), when it did not ordinarily rain.

* [6:3] Shepherds come with their flocks: foreign invaders with their armies.

* [6:16] Pathways of old: history and the lessons to be learned from it.

* [6:17] Watchmen: the prophets who, like Jeremiah, had upheld God’s moral law.

* [6:27–30] God appoints Jeremiah to be a “tester” of his people. The passage uses the metaphor of the refining of silver: the silver was extracted from lead ore, but the process in ancient times was inexact, so that sometimes all that was left was a scummy mess, to be thrown out.

* [7:1–15] The Temple of the Lord will not guarantee safety against enemy invasion or any other misfortune.

* [7:6] The alien: specially protected within Israelite society; cf. Ex 22:20; Nm 9:14; 15:14; Dt 5:14; 28:43.

* [7:12] Shiloh: an important sanctuary where the ark of the covenant was kept, according to the Books of Joshua, Judges, and 1 Samuel. In response to the corrupt behavior of the priests serving there, God allows the Philistines to destroy Shiloh and take the ark of the covenant. Cf. 1 Sm 1:9; 4:3–4; Ps 78:60, 68–69.

* [7:18] Queen of Heaven: probably Astarte, goddess of fertility (cf. 1 Sm 31:10; 1 Kgs 11:5), worshiped particularly by women (cf. Jer 44:15–19). Such worship was evidently reinforced during the reign of King Manasseh (2 Kgs 21:3–7) and was revived after Josiah’s death.

* [7:22] I gave them no command: right conduct rather than formal ritual was God’s will concerning his people (v. 23).

* [7:29] Hair: the unshorn hair of the nazirite, regarded as sacred because of a vow, temporary or permanent, to abstain from cutting or shaving the hair; nazirites also avoided contact with a corpse and with all products of the vine; cf. Nm 6:4–8. The cutting of this hair was a sign of extreme mourning.

* [7:31] Valley of Ben-hinnom: this valley was probably south of Jerusalem. Topheth: perhaps, “fire pit.”

* [8:2] Host of heaven: the stars, worshiped by other nations and even by the inhabitants of Jerusalem, particularly during the reigns of Manasseh and Amon.

* [8:8] Lying pen of the scribes: because the teachings and interpretations of the scribes ran counter to the word of the Lord.

* [8:11] Daughter of my people: see note on 4:11.

* [8:22] Gilead: a region southeast of the Sea of Galilee noted for its healing balm.

* [9:3] Jacob, the supplanter: in Hebrew, a play on words. In the popular etymology given in Gn 25:26, the name Jacob means “he supplants,” for he deprived his brother Esau of his birthright (cf. Gn 25:33).

* [9:25] Shave their temples: some Arabian tribes practiced this custom. None of the nations who practice circumcision understand the meaning of their action, not even Israel; no one conforms to life under the covenant.

* [10:2] Signs in the heavens: phenomena in the sky, such as eclipses or comets, used to predict disasters.

* [10:11] This verse is in Aramaic.

* [12:3] Jeremiah calls the Lord to account for allowing the wicked to flourish while he himself is persecuted for his fidelity to the Lord’s mission; cf. 20:12. See Jesus’ judgment, Mk 9:42. The metaphors indicate that Jeremiah has even greater trials ahead of him.

* [12:14] My evil neighbors: nations surrounding Israel, the land belonging to the Lord; cf. Is 8:8.

* [13:1–11] In this symbolic action, Jeremiah probably went to the village and spring of Parah, two and a half miles northeast of Anathoth, whose name closely resembled the Hebrew name of the river Euphrates (Perath), in order to dramatize the religious corruption of Judah at the hands of the Babylonians.

* [13:25] Heb. sheqer: lit., “deception,” often used to designate an idol.

* [15:13–14] Though the wording of these verses is close to that in 17:3–4, the present passage is evidently God’s word to Jeremiah, whereas 17:3–4 is evidently a word of judgment on Judah. It is noteworthy that the references to “you” in the present passage are singular, until a shift to plural in “against you” in the last line; this “you” is then doubtless a reference to both the prophet and his enemies.

* [16:6–7] These verses refer to popular mourning practices in the land; cf. Dt 14:1–2.

* [17:19] The Gate of Benjamin: this gate, probably part of the Temple area, is otherwise unknown.

* [18:1–12] The lesson of the potter is that God has the power to destroy or restore, changing his plans accordingly as these nations disobey him or fulfill his will. Cf. Jon 3:10.

* [18:14] Lebanon: here apparently including Mount Hermon, whose snow-capped peak can be seen from parts of Palestine all year round. The prophet contrasts the certainties of nature with Israel’s unnatural desertion of the Lord for idols (v. 15).

* [18:16] Hissing: in some ancient Near Eastern cultures hissing was not only a sign of derision but a magical means of keeping demons away; people hissed in order to ward off danger, like whistling in a cemetery.

* [18:21] Give their children: often an extended family is meant, to be rewarded or punished as a unit.

* [19:2] Potsherd Gate: perhaps in the south wall of Jerusalem, through which potsherds and other refuse were thrown into the Valley of Ben-hinnom.

* [19:6] Cf. note on 7:31.

* [20:1] Chief officer in the house of the Lord: head of the Temple police; cf. 29:26. By entering the Temple court (19:14), Jeremiah had put himself under Pashhur’s jurisdiction.

* [20:3] Terror on every side: the name indicates the siege that will beset Jerusalem.

* [20:4] Babylon: mentioned here for the first time in Jeremiah as the land of exile. The prophecy dates from after 605 B.C., when Nebuchadnezzar defeated Egypt and made the Babylonian (Chaldean) empire dominant in Syria and Palestine.

* [20:7] You seduced me: Jeremiah accuses the Lord of having deceived him; cf. 15:18.

* [20:14–18] Deception, sorrow and terror have brought the prophet to the point of despair; nevertheless he maintains confidence in God (vv. 11–13); cf. Jb 3:3–12.

* [21:1] Zedekiah: brother of Jehoiakim, appointed king by Nebuchadnezzar after he had carried Jehoiachin away to captivity (2 Kgs 24:17). Pashhur: different from the one in 20:1–3 but also one of Jeremiah’s enemies; cf. 38:1, 4.

* [21:10] Jeremiah consistently pointed out the uselessness of resistance to Babylon, since the Lord had delivered Judah to Nebuchadnezzar (27:6). Because of this the prophet was denounced and imprisoned as a traitor (37:13–14).

* [21:11–23:8] This section contains an editor’s collection of Jeremiah’s oracles against the kings of Judah. They are placed in the chronological order of the kings, and are prefaced by oracles against the kings of Judah in general (21:11–22:9).

* [21:13] Ruler of the Valley, Rock of the Plain: Mount Zion, surrounded by valleys, was regarded by the royal house as impregnable. Despite this natural fortification, God derides it as no more than a rock rising from the plain, useless against the attack of his fury.

* [21:14] Its forest: probably the royal palace, built of cedar wood; cf. 22:14; in 1 Kgs 7:2 the palace is called “the house of the forest of Lebanon.”

* [22:10] Him who is dead: Josiah. His successor, Jehoahaz, was deported by Pharaoh Neco to Egypt, where he died (2 Kgs 23:33–34).

* [22:11] Shallum: i.e., Jehoahaz; cf. 1 Chr 3:15. This may have been his name at birth, in which case Jehoahaz would have been his throne name.

* [22:13] Without pay: either by forced labor in public works, or by defrauding the workers. Despite the impoverishment caused in Judah by the payment of foreign tribute, Jehoiakim embarked on a building program in Jerusalem (v. 14); cedar was an expensive building material which had to be imported. Social injustice is the cause of much of the prophetic condemnation of the kings (v. 17).

* [22:15–16] The rule of Josiah, Jehoiakim’s father, shows that authentic kingship is rooted in knowledge of the Lord and creates a society in which the most disadvantaged can expect and receive justice.

* [22:18] “Alas! my brother”; “Alas! sister”: customary cries of mourning.

* [22:19] The burial of a donkey: no burial at all, except to be cast outside the city as refuse. This prophecy describes the popular feeling toward Jehoiakim rather than the actual circumstances of his burial. According to 2 Kgs 24:5 he was buried with his ancestors in Jerusalem.

* [22:20–23] The prophet first bids Jerusalem to scale Lebanon, Bashan, and Abarim, i.e., the highest surrounding mountains to the north, northeast, and southeast, and gaze on the ruin of its lovers, i.e., the false leaders of Judah, called its shepherds (v. 22); cf. 2:8. Jerusalem still stands (v. 23), apparently as secure as the heights of Lebanon, but destruction is to follow (cf. v. 6).

* [22:24] Coniah: a shortened form of Jeconiah, the name Jeremiah gives King Jehoiachin (cf. 24:1). A signet ring: the seal used by kings and other powerful figures—a symbol of their power and status—mounted in a ring worn constantly on the hand. The Lord says that even were Jehoiachin such a precious possession, he would reject him. Hg 2:23 uses the same imagery to signal the restoration of Zerubbabel. The words in Jer 22:24–30 date from the short three-month reign of Jehoiachin, before he was deported by Nebuchadnezzar.

* [22:26] You and the mother who bore you: the queen mother held a special position in the monarchy of Judah, and in the Books of Kings she is invariably mentioned by name along with the king (1 Kgs 15:2; 2 Kgs 18:2). Jehoiachin did indeed die in Babylon.

* [22:30] Childless: Jehoiachin is considered childless because none of his seven sons became king. His grandson Zerubbabel presided for a time over the Judahite community after the return from exile, but not as king. According to Ezekiel, whose oracles are dated by Jehoiachin’s fictitious regnal years, the people expected Jehoiachin to return. Jeremiah’s prophecy dispels this hope, despite the words of Hananiah (28:4).

* [23:1–8] With the false rulers (shepherds) who have governed his people the Lord contrasts himself, the true shepherd, who will in the times of restoration appoint worthy rulers (vv. 1–4). He will provide a new king from David’s line who will rule justly, fulfilling royal ideals (vv. 5, 6). “The Lord our justice” is an ironic wordplay on the name of the weak King Zedekiah (“The Lord is justice”). Unlike Zedekiah, the future king will be true to the name he bears. Verses 7–8 may have been added during the exile.

* [23:9–40] After the collection of oracles against the kings, the editor of the book placed this collection of oracles against the false prophets. With them are associated the priests, for both have betrayed their trust as instructors in the ways of the Lord; cf. 2:8; 4:9; 6:13–14.

* [23:14] Cf. note on 13:25.

* [23:17–20] Not only are the false prophets personally immoral, but they encourage immorality by prophesying good for evildoers. The true prophet, on the other hand, sees the inevitable consequences of evil behavior.

* [23:23–24] Near at hand only…far off: a divine claim that no one can hide from God and that God is aware of all that happens.

* [23:28–29] Straw…wheat: a contrast between false and true prophecy. True prophecy is also like fire (cf. 5:14; 20:9), producing violent results (v. 29); Jeremiah’s own life is a testimony of this.

* [23:33–40] A wordplay on massa’, which means both “oracle” (usually of woe) and “burden.” In vv. 34–40 the word massa’ itself is forbidden to the people under the meaning of a divine oracle.

* [24:1–10] For Jeremiah, as for Ezekiel, no good could be expected from the people who had been left in Judah under Zedekiah or who had fled into Egypt; a future might be expected only for those who would pass through the purifying experience of the exile to form the new Israel.

* [24:1] Jeconiah: alternative form of Jehoiachin (cf. note on 22:24).

* [25:1–14] The fourth year of Jehoiakim: 605 B.C. Officially, the first year of Nebuchadnezzar began the following year; but as early as his victory over Egypt at Carchemish in 605, Nebuchadnezzar wielded dominant power in the Near East. Jeremiah saw in him the fulfillment of his prophecy of the enemy to come from the north (cf. 1:13; 6:22–24). In vv. 11–12 the prophecy of the seventy years’ exile occurs for the first time; cf. 29:10. This number signifies that the present generation must die out; cf. forty in the exodus tradition (Nm 14:20–23).

* [25:15–17] Jeremiah is a prophet to the nations (cf. 1:5) as well as to his own people. All the nations mentioned here appear again in the more extensive collection of Jeremiah’s oracles against the nations in chaps. 46–51.

* [25:15] Cup…wrath: a metaphor for destruction that occurs often in the Old Testament (cf. Ps 11:6; 75:9; Hb 2:15–16; Ez 23:31–33, etc.).

* [25:20] Uz: the homeland of legendary Job, in Edomite or Arabian territory.

* [25:22] The shores beyond the sea: Phoenician commercial colonies located throughout the Mediterranean world.

* [25:23] Dedan and Tema and Buz: North Arabian tribes.

* [25:26] Sheshach: a contrived word from the Hebrew letters of Babylon.

* [26:1] The beginning of the reign: a technical expression for the time between a king’s accession to the throne and the beginning of his first official (calendar) year as king. Jehoiakim’s first regnal year was 608 B.C.

* [26:18] Micah of Moresheth: the prophet Micah, who appears among the canonical minor prophets (cf. Mi 1:1).

* [26:24] Ahikam, son of Shaphan: one of Josiah’s officials (2 Kgs 22:12) and Jeremiah’s friend. He was the father of Gedaliah, who was governor of Judah after Zedekiah’s deportation (cf. Jer 39:14; 40:5–7).

* [27:1–29:32] A special collection of Jeremiah’s prophecies dealing with false prophets. Stylistic peculiarities evident in the Hebrew suggest that these three chapters once existed as an independent work.

* [27:1] Zedekiah: The Hebrew text actually has “Jehoiakim,” but the content of the chapter indicates that Zedekiah is intended.

* [27:3] The time is the fourth year of Zedekiah, 594 B.C., the occasion of a delegation from the neighboring states, doubtless for the purpose of laying plans against Nebuchadnezzar.

* [27:9] Your prophets: seers and diviners served non-Israelite kings just as the professional prophets served the kings of Judah.

* [29:3] Elasah: probably the brother of Ahikam (cf. 26:24). Gemariah: probably the son of the high priest Hilkiah; cf. 2 Kgs 22:4. Zedekiah had dispatched these men to Nebuchadnezzar for some other purpose, possibly the payment of tribute, but Jeremiah took advantage of their mission to send his letter with them.

* [29:26–29] Jeremiah’s message to Shemaiah is not completely preserved in the current Hebrew text, hence the incomplete sentence in vv. 25–28.

* [30:1–31:40] These two chapters contain salvation oracles that originally expressed the double expectation that the Lord would return the exiled survivors of the Northern Kingdom of Israel and reunite Israel and Judah as one kingdom under a just Davidic king. They were probably composed early in Josiah’s reign (the reference of v. 9), when he took advantage of Assyria’s internal disintegration and asserted control over northern Israel (cf. 2 Kgs 23:15–17). With the destruction of Jerusalem, the oracles were re-worked to include Judah and their fulfillment along with the renewal of the Davidic dynasty became associated with the eschatological “day of the Lord.”

* [30:9] David, their king: a descendant of David (“his leader” in v. 21) who, like his ancestor, would rule a unified kingdom and “walk in the ways of the Lord,” as the Deuteronomistic historians claimed David did. Other prophets also refer to this idealized ruler as “David”; cf. Ez 34:23–24; 37:24–25; Hos 3:5.

* [30:21] His leader: cf. v. 9. Approach me: i.e., in the sanctuary of the Temple for worship. This new David is given a priestly function to perform on behalf of the assembly. To approach God on one’s own brings death; cf. Lv 16:1–2.

* [31:2–3] Jeremiah describes the exiles of the Northern Kingdom on their way home from the nations where the Assyrians had resettled them (722/721 B.C.). The favor they discover in the wilderness is the appearance of the Lord (v. 3) coming to guide them to Jerusalem. Implicit in these verses is the presentation of the people’s return from captivity as a second exodus, a unifying theme in Second Isaiah (chaps. 40–55).

* [31:15] Ramah: a village about five miles north of Jerusalem, where one tradition locates Rachel’s tomb (1 Sm 10:2). The wife of Jacob/Israel, Rachel is the matriarchal ancestor of Ephraim, chief among the northern tribes. She personified Israel as a mother whose grief for her lost children is especially poignant because she had to wait a long time to bear them. Mt 2:18 applies this verse to Herod’s slaughter of the innocents.

* [31:19] Struck my thigh: a gesture signifying grief and dread (cf. Ez 21:17).

* [31:22] No satisfactory explanation has been given for this text. Jerome, for example, saw the image as a reference to the infant Jesus enclosed in Mary’s womb. Since Jeremiah often uses marital imagery in his description of a restored Israel, the phrase may refer to a wedding custom, perhaps women circling the groom in a dance. It may also be a metaphor describing the security of a new Israel, a security so complete that it defies the imagination and must be expressed as hyperbolic role reversal: any danger will be so insignificant that women can protect their men.

* [31:26] I awoke…satisfying: an intrusive comment.

* [31:29] “The parents…on edge”: Jeremiah’s opponents use this proverb to complain that they are being punished for sins of their ancestors. Jeremiah, however, insists that the Lord knows the depth of their wickedness and holds them accountable for their actions.

* [31:31–34] The new covenant is an occasional prophetic theme, beginning with Hosea. According to Jeremiah, (a) it lasts forever; (b) its law (torah) is written in human hearts; (c) it gives everyone true knowledge of God, making additional instruction (torah) unnecessary. The Dead Sea Scroll community claimed they were partners in a “new covenant.” The New Testament presents the death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth as inaugurating a new covenant open to anyone who professes faith in Jesus the Christ. Cf. Lk 22:20; 1 Cor 11:25; Heb 8:8–12. Know the Lord: cf. note on 22:15–16.

* [31:38–40] The landmarks in these verses outline the borders of Jerusalem during the time of Nehemiah: the Tower of Hananel (Neh 3:1; 12:39) in the northeast and the Corner Gate (2 Kgs 14:13) in the northwest; Goah in the southeast and Gareb Hill in the southwest; the Valley of Ben-hinnom (“the Valley of corpses and ashes”), which met the Wadi Kidron in the southeast, and the Horse Gate in the eastern wall at the southeast corner of the Temple area.

* [32:1–44] This chapter recounts a prophecy “in action.” At the Lord’s command, Jeremiah fulfills his family duty to purchase the land of his cousin, carrying out all the legal details, even putting the deed away for safekeeping against the day he will have to produce it to verify his ownership of the land. The Lord defines the meaning of this symbolic action: In the future, Judah will be restored and daily life will return to normal.

* [32:1] The tenth year of Zedekiah: 588 B.C. The eighteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar: dating his reign from his victory at Carchemish; see note on 25:1–14.

* [32:6–9] Jeremiah’s imprisonment by the weak-willed Zedekiah was a technical custody that did not deprive him of all freedom of action.

* [32:7] The first right of purchase: the obligation of the closest relative to redeem the property of a family member in economic distress so that the ancestral land remains within the family (Lv 25:25–28); see note on Ru 2:20.

* [32:11] The sealed copy…and the open copy: the legal deed of sale was written on a scroll, which was then rolled up and sealed; a second scroll containing a copy of the legal deed was then rolled around it and left unsealed so the contents of the legal deed would be accessible without destroying the original seal.

* [32:14] In an earthenware jar: to protect the scroll from drying out and disintegrating. Some of the Dead Sea Scrolls were found in such jars.

* [32:35] Molech: a god to whom human sacrifice was offered in the Valley of Ben-hinnom. Here, as in 19:5, he is called “Baal”; see note on Lv 18:21.

* [33:14–26] This is the longest continuous passage in the Hebrew text of Jeremiah that is missing from the Greek text of Jeremiah. It is probably the work of a postexilic writer who applied parts of Jeremiah’s prophecies to new situations. The hope for an eternal Davidic dynasty (vv. 14–17; cf. 2 Sm 7:11–16) and for a perpetual priesthood and sacrificial system (v. 18) was not realized after the exile. On the canonical authority of the Septuagint, see note on Dn 13:1–14:42.

* [34:7] Lachish, and Azekah: fortress towns southwest of Jerusalem which Nebuchadnezzar besieged to prevent any help coming to Jerusalem from Egypt. At Lachish, archaeologists found several letters written on ostraca (pottery fragments) dated to 598 or 588 B.C., which mention both Lachish and Azekah.

* [34:8–22] During the siege of Jerusalem, its citizens made a covenant at Zedekiah’s instigation to free Judahites they held in servitude, thus providing additional defenders for the city, leaving slave owners with fewer mouths to feed, and making reparation for past violations of the law, which dictated that Hebrew slaves should serve no longer than six years (Dt 15:12–15). But when the siege was temporarily lifted, when the assistance promised by Pharaoh Hophra arrived (cf. Jer 37:5), the inhabitants of Jerusalem broke the covenant and once more pressed their fellow citizens into slavery (v. 11).

* [34:18–19] Both the Old Testament (Gn 15:10–17) and the eighth century B.C. Sefire inscription indicate that sometimes contracting parties ratified an agreement by walking between dismembered animals, invoking upon themselves the animals’ fate if they failed to keep their word. The covenant: that mentioned in vv. 10, 15.

* [35:1] In the days of Jehoiakim: probably in 599 or 598 B.C. (cf. 2 Kgs 24:1–2).

* [35:2] House: both members of the family of Rechab (cf. v. 3) and the place where they live; cf. note on v. 11. The Rechabites: traditionalists who rejected the settled agricultural and urban cultures to which other Israelites had assimilated, maintaining their loyalty to the Lord by perpetuating the semi-nomadic life of their distant ancestors (cf. 2 Kgs 10:15–17). Jeremiah contrasts their adherence to their vows with the Judahites’ disregard for divine commands.

* [35:4] The sons of Hanan: probably disciples of Hanan. Man of God: occurring only here in Jeremiah, the title frequently is applied to prophets: e.g., Samuel (1 Sm 9:6–10), Elijah (2 Kgs 1:9–13), Elisha (2 Kgs 4–13). Whatever the function of the sons of Hanan, they encourage Jeremiah by lending him their room. Maaseiah: perhaps the father of the priest Zephaniah (29:25; 37:3). Guard at the entrance: an important priestly responsibility (cf. 52:24).

* [35:6] Jonadab: another spelling of Jehonadab, a contemporary of King Jehu; cf. 2 Kgs 10:15–17.

* [35:11] The army of the Arameans: Nebuchadnezzar enlisted the help of Judah’s neighbors in his assault on Jerusalem. Living in Jerusalem: the current military threat and the prospect of being killed or captured as plunder drove the Rechabites into the city and away from their tents.

* [36:5] I am barred: Jeremiah could have been forbidden to enter the Temple for any number of reasons: e.g., his inflammatory preaching (the Temple sermon, 7:1–15; the broken pot); the hostility of Temple guards; the restrictions of arrest.

* [36:10] Gemariah: member of a family friendly to Jeremiah with rights to a room in the gateway fortress overlooking the court of the Temple. His father Shaphan had been Josiah’s secretary of state (2 Kgs 22:3). From a window in this room Baruch read Jeremiah’s scroll to the people.

* [36:12] The scribe’s chamber: the office of the royal secretary.

* [36:23] A scribe’s knife: used to sharpen reed pens.

* [36:30] Jehoiakim’s son Jehoiachin was named king, but reigned only three months; he was better known for his long exile in Babylon. His corpse shall be thrown out: just as Jehoiakim had thrown pieces of the scroll into the fire (cf. 22:19).

* [37:4] Put into prison: as described in 32:1–3. Chronologically, the present episode follows 34:1–7.

* [37:5] Pharaoh’s army: the force sent by Pharaoh Hophra; when they arrived, the Chaldeans temporarily lifted the siege against Jerusalem (cf. 34:21).

* [38:1] Jeremiah enjoyed sufficient liberty in the court of the guard (37:21) to speak to the people; cf. 32:6–9. Gedaliah, son of Pashhur: the latter is possibly the Pashhur of 20:1. Pashhur, son of Malchiah: mentioned in 21:1.

* [38:4] He is weakening the resolve: lit., “he weakens the hands.” One of the Lachish ostraca (cf. note on 34:7) makes the same claim against the princes in Jerusalem.

* [39:1] In the ninth year…in the tenth month: the month Tebet (mid-December to mid-January) of the year 589/588 B.C., according to the Babylonian calendar, whose New Year began in March/April.

* [39:2] In the eleventh year…the ninth day of the fourth month: in July, 587 B.C.

* [39:3] The Babylonian officers act as a military tribunal or government, headed by Nergal-sharezer, Nebuchadnezzar’s son and successor.

* [39:4] By way of the king’s garden: along the southeast side of the city; the royal garden was in the Kidron Valley. A gate between the two walls: the southernmost city gate, at the end of the Tyropoeon Valley. The Arabah: the southern Jordan Valley. Zedekiah was perhaps trying to escape across the Jordan when he was captured near Jericho.

* [39:5] Riblah: Nebuchadnezzar’s headquarters north of Damascus; Pharaoh Neco had once used the town as a military post (2 Kgs 23:33).

* [40:1] The word: this “word” does not actually appear until 42:7.

* [40:6] While Jerusalem had suffered a great deal of damage, the Babylonian leaders’ selection of Mizpah as their local headquarters was probably as much a symbolic statement as it was a utilitarian move: Jerusalem and its political and religious worldview had given way to disorder and no longer existed as a symbol of order.

* [40:14] In an attempt, perhaps, to weaken Babylon’s hold on the area and to add Judah to the Ammonite kingdom, Baalis supported Ishmael’s claim to the throne of David (cf. 41:1 for Ishmael’s genealogy).

* [41:10] The princesses: the women of Judah’s royal house.

* [41:12] Gibeon: modern El-Jib; northwest of Jerusalem. A huge pit carved into limestone provided water in time of siege, here called the great pool, lit., “many waters”; cf. 2 Sm 2:12–14.

* [44:2–30] Chronologically, these are the last of Jeremiah’s words to his people. As the narrative ends, Jeremiah meets with rejection. According to tradition, recorded in a much later work, he was murdered in Egypt by fellow Judahites.

* [44:30] Hophra: killed by his own people. Hophra’s successor, Amasis, ruled Egypt when Nebuchadnezzar took control of the country.

* [45:1–5] At the conclusion of his narrative, Baruch appends a message Jeremiah had given him when he first wrote down Jeremiah’s words (cf. 36:4). The future revealed by the prophet overwhelmed Baruch; now he learns his own safety is assured, even though the Lord will destroy Judah.

* [46:1–51:64] A collection of oracles against foreign nations constitutes the final section of the Hebrew text of Jeremiah; in the Greek text they follow 25:13. The oracles here appear to be arranged in loose chronological order: 46:2 mentions the fourth year of Jehoiakim; the oracles in 50:1–51:64 are evidently from the end of Jeremiah’s life.

* [46:2] Carchemish on the Euphrates: the western terminus of the Mesopotamian trade route, where Nebuchadnezzar defeated Pharaoh Neco in 605 B.C., thus gaining undisputed control of Syria and Palestine.

* [46:13] In 601 B.C. Nebuchadnezzar advanced into Egypt itself, but finally had to withdraw to Syria.

* [46:15] Apis: the chief god of Memphis; the black bull honored as an incarnation of the god Ptah and, later, of the god Osiris.

* [46:17] “Braggart-missed-his-chance”: the Hebrew phrase may contain a pun on the Pharaoh’s name or royal title.

* [46:18] Tabor…Carmel: mountains in Palestine that seem to tower over their surroundings as Nebuchadnezzar towers over the nations in his path as he makes his way toward Egypt.

* [46:25] Amon: the sun-god worshiped at Thebes in Upper Egypt.

* [47:2–7] Nebuchadnezzar’s military campaign against Ashkelon in 604 B.C. may provide some historical background for this poem.

* [47:4] Tyre and Sidon: Phoenician seaports allied commercially with the Philistines and often rebelling against Nebuchadnezzar; cf. 27:1–4. After the capture of Jerusalem, Nebuchadnezzar carried out a partially successful thirteen-year siege of Tyre. Caphtor: Crete and other Aegean islands, points of origin for the Philistines and other sea peoples; cf. Am 9:7.

* [47:5] Baldness…gash yourself: close-cropped hair, silence, and ritual slashing of the body express mourning and grief and here represent the mourner’s awareness that chaos has overcome order (cf. 41:5).

* [48:1–47] Moab, located east of the Dead Sea, was one of Israel’s bitter enemies (cf., e.g., Is 15–16; Am 2:1–3). According to Flavius Josephus, Nebuchadnezzar conquered Moab and Ammon in his twenty-third year (582 B.C.), five years after the destruction of Jerusalem. This chapter is full of local place names in Moab.

* [48:2] Madmen: a place name, not mentioned elsewhere in the Old Testament.

* [48:7] Chemosh: chief god of Moab (cf. Nm 21:29).

* [48:11–12] Moabite wine was known for its high quality. Here the wine is a metaphor for Moab’s complacency.

* [48:18] Dibon, the capital of Moab at that time, is situated on a height. The prophet here offers a personification of the city, pictured as a confident ruler.

* [49:1] Milcom: chief god of the Ammonites (cf. 1 Kgs 11:5). The Ammonites shared a border with Gad, an Israelite tribe in Transjordan (Jos 13:8–10); the Ammonites occupied its territory after the collapse of the Northern Kingdom.

* [49:7–22] Edom: southeast of the Dead Sea, a traditional enemy who profited from Judah’s downfall; cf. Ps 137:7; Lam 4:21–22; Ob 11–12.

* [49:7] Teman, a district of Edom (cf. Jb 2:11), represents the whole country, which was famous for the wisdom of its sages.

* [49:8] Esau: Jacob’s brother, the traditional ancestor of the Edomites; cf. Gn 36:1.

* [49:13] Bozrah: capital of Edom.

* [49:23] Hamath and Arpad: independent Aramean states north of Damascus, the direction from which the invasion is coming. Cf. Is 10:9–10.

* [49:27] Ben-hadad: a dynastic name for some of the kings who ruled in Damascus; cf. 1 Kgs 15:18, 20.

* [49:34] Elam: an ancient kingdom east of Babylonia.

* [50:1–51:58] A collection of miscellaneous oracles against Babylon introducing the story in 51:59–64.

* [50:2] Bel: originally the title of the god of Nippur in Mesopotamia, later associated with Merodach (Marduk), chief god of Babylon (cf. Is 46:1).

* [50:15] Its walls are torn down: the prophet describes the downfall of Babylon in conventional language. Babylon surrendered peacefully to the Persians in 539 B.C.

* [50:21] Merathaim…Pekod: “twice bitter,” “punishment,” symbolic terms for Babylon that recall the names of regions in the country.

* [51:1] The destroyer wind is the fierce dry wind from the east (cf. 4:11).

* [51:11] Kings of the Medes: the Medes and the Persians lived in the area known today as Iran.

* [51:27] Ararat, Minni, and Ashkenaz: regions in eastern Asia Minor under the control of the Medes.

* [51:59] Seraiah: the brother of Baruch; cf. 32:12. He may have gone to Babylon to explain away the presence of foreign ambassadors in Jerusalem that same year; cf. 27:3.

* [51:60] Jeremiah prophesied against Babylon, even as he foretold Judah’s release from Babylon’s power (3:14–18; 32:15; 33:6–9, 12–13); but his scroll against Babylon was thrown in the Euphrates (v. 63). Some of the preceding oracles may have been composed by later writers; see note on 50:1–51:58.

* [52:1–34] One of the editors of the Book of Jeremiah took most of this supplement from 2 Kgs 24:18–25:30 and placed it here to show the fulfillment of Jeremiah’s prophecies. The supplement repeats part of the history given in Jeremiah 39–41, but omits the history of Gedaliah in 2 Kgs 25:22–26.

* [52:4] In the tenth month of the ninth year of his reign, on the tenth day of the month: January 15, 588 B.C. Cf. 39:1.

* [52:12] On the tenth day of the fifth month…nineteenth year: the tenth of Ab—July/August in 587/586 B.C.

* [52:28–30] These verses, missing in the Greek text, do not come from 2 Kgs 25 but from a source using a different chronology. Besides the deportations of 598 and 587 B.C., this passage mentions a final deportation in 582/581, possibly a response to the murder of Gedaliah; cf. Jer 41:2.

* [52:31–34] In the year 561/560 B.C., Nebuchadnezzar’s successor Awel-Marduk (Evil-merodach), who reigned only two years, released Jehoiachin. Babylonian records confirm that Jehoiachin and his family were supported at public expense.

* [52:32] The other kings: heads of state brought as captives to Babylon.

g. ">32:2.

e. [49:9] Ob 5.

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Scripture texts, prefaces, introductions, footnotes and cross references used in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC All Rights Reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.





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