Devotional Commentary on Jeremiah 1


It is amazing how history works. The wife of Nebuchadnezzar was given to him by Cyaxares the Mede through his father Nabopolassar. In the Spring of 609 BCE the allied forces of Babylonia and Medes marched against Niniveh of the Assyrians. When Jeremiah was called in 629 BCE in the 13th year of Josiah, Sardanapalus, the younger son of Esarhaddon was ruling and three years later Saracus took over from him in 626 BCE. They were weak and from now on the history of Assyria was wrapped up with what goes on in Cilicia and Babylon. Take note that the beginning of classical neo-Babylonian empire was given a boost by the Mede Cyaxarus and was taken down by the Mede Gobryas who came with Cyrus in 539 BCE. The Medes kicked in and the Medes kicked out. Thanks to the information of Delitzsch and Keil in 1889 page 6 [English translation]. In ANET by Pritchard page 202 is the fall of Niniveh. Saracus name in cuneiform format was Sinsharishkun. It provides the detail that Delitzsch and Keil is speaking about from a translation of the original cuneiform text. The battle took place in the 14th year of Nabopolassar. This cuneiform is 21901 and is in the British Museum and published by Gadd in 1923. This 14th year of Nabopolassar was in 612 BCE. Big powers were crumbling and other big powers were to take over. A paradigm shift in political powers. In 622, the 18th year of Josiah, he issued a reformation back to true religion. It was very necessary to talk about such a decadence in religion in 629 BCE when Jeremiah was called. It was a time when in the Negev and Jerusalem and Acco, evidence indicate that the Hebrew woman had comfort rooms for Assyrian horsemen and other traders on hills dedicated to Asherah and Baal, for example at Kuntillet `Ajrud. Textiles were popular there. Fashion parades. When wine or oil or grain was send there from Jerusalem, the blessing to the receiver included the saying: “to Yahweh and to his [the receiver’s] Asherah such and such ….” Spiritually, this period of Assyrian fall was not good in Israel.


The Book of Jeremiah is well dated and chronology is well supplied. He was called in 629 BCE when he was maybe 16 years old “I know not how to speak for I am a youth” (verse 6). Just like Moses Jeremiah did not know how he will speak since there are protocols in society for saying something. But the Lord said that He will take care of those protocols for him (verse 7-8). The Lord then touched his mouth and laid the words in his mouth. “Behold I have appointed you over the nations and over the kingdoms, to uproot and to crush, and to destroy and to demolish, to build and to plant” (verse 10).


Jeremiah’s father was a pastor of his society. He grew up as a PK. Hilkiah was of the priestly family and was High Priest later in his life. When Josiah received the conviction that some reform needs to come, it was in 624 BCE or five years after the calling of young Jeremiah. To be a son of a PK is to know Moses and the prophets very well. The Lord spoke using formulae of the biblical text known to Jeremiah: From Psalm 139:15-16 is the idea that before he was born in the womb God formed and shaped his destiny. Isaiah talked about it also before Jeremiah in Isaiah 49:1-5.


An interesting situation is that when Jeremiah’s father got his responsibility to acquire about reform from Josiah, he called Huldah the prophetess although his son Jeremiah in his house had the same message as her in 629 BCE. The citations from Deuteronomy 18:18 and Isaiah 51:16 are noteworthy in verse 10.


Jeremiah’s narrative is not to speak his own words. He decorate everything that needs to be said with citing the Lord directly as in the interview or referring back to prooftexts of what other prophets, including Moses said before.


God showed Jeremiah two things to see: a rod of an almond tree (verse 11), and a bubbling pot whose foam is to the north (verse 13).


The meaning comes from the Lord saying to him that “from the north the misfortune will break forth upon all the inhabitants of the land”. The families of the kingdoms of the north will come to place their thrones at Jerusalem. Faithful families became faithless and the judgment of the Lord against them is exactly this aspect (verse 16). They “offered up burnt-offerings to other gods and they prostrated themselves to the work of their hands”. Kuntillet `Ajrud a case in point. How serious is Kuntillet `Ajrud. Very serious. There is a mixture of Yahweh and Asherah and Baal even from Jerusalem. This is all evidenced in inscriptions from Kuntillet `Ajrud in the Negev. A similar inscription came from Khirbet el-Kom. Asherah is a woman ordination feminist parachute religion that even today in websites have an attempt to revive her legacy, a legacy they blame the male authors and priesthood of Israel robbed from her with their exclusive male dominance in the religion of ancient Israel (see online the work of D. Kosnik 2014 for the attempt to revive Asherah in modern times). Also Harvard University’s take on the same in S. I. Johnston 2004.  


The Lord promised Jeremiah, despite the fact that he is young, he will be like a fortified city for the Lord (verse 18). He will be an iron pillar, into copper walls against Judah and Israel, princes, people, priests. The Lord was to save him from their attempts to attack him (verse 19).


Dear Lord

All of us are called in one way or another to fulfill a very special task for you in our own space. What you said to Jeremiah we realize is just a small window in the life of each one of us to be used as instruments of Your messages. Do so we pray in Jesus name. Amen.