Jeremiah 1

1:1 The words [may also be translated “matters” or “affairs” or “deeds” as in 5:28] of Jeremiah [meaning of name is uncertain, but possibly “Yahweh loosens (the womb)” or “Yahweh exalts” or “the Lord hurls”] son of Hilkiah [name means “the Lord is the portion”; most likely not the same Hilkiah who discovered the book of the law (2 Kings 22)], one of the priests at Anathoth [a city set aside for priests and their families (Josh. 21:18); located 3 miles northeast of Jerusalem] in the territory of Benjamin [name means “son of the right hand” or “son of the south”; lay on the northern frontier of the Southern Kingdom of Judah; remained with Judah when the kingdom divided (1 Kings 12:1-25)].

1:2 The word [used here in the customary sense meaning “message”] of the LORD [Jeremiah’s message had a divine source] came to him in [Jeremiah’s message given in a historical context] the thirteenth year [626 BC] of the reign of Josiah [name means “the Lord heals”] son of Amon king of Judah [reigned from circa 640 to 609 BC],

1:3 and through the reign of Jehoiakim [name means “the Lord raises up”; reigned circa 609-598 BC] son [third son] of Josiah king of Judah, down to the fifth month of the eleventh year of Zedekiah [598-587 BC; name means “the Lord is righteous”; ignored Jeremiah’s warnings; encouraged idolatry; permitted social injustice] son of Josiah king of Judah, when [587 BC] the people of Jerusalem went into exile.

1:4 The word of the LORD came to me, saying,

1:5 [God had taken the initiative and set Jeremiah apart for prophetic ministry before his birth…] “Before I formed you in the womb [cf. Ps. 139:13-16] I knew you, before you were born I set you apart [consecrated or set apart for a specific use]; I appointed [to a specific assignment] you as a prophet [Heb. nabi means ”one who announces”; cf. Deut. 18:18] to the nations [included the Gentiles, not just Judah alone; a reminder that there are no limits to God’s sovereignty].”

1:6 “Ah [or “Alas” (suggesting lament)], Sovereign LORD,” I said [Jeremiah was reluctant], “I do not know how to speak [Jeremiah did not feel qualified or equipped for the task before him]; I am only a child [Heb. noun is flexible and is used to denote a person from infancy to manhood].”

1:7 But the LORD said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am only a child.’ You must [suggests moral obligation] go [God empowers those He sends] to everyone [those nations to whom God would send him] I send you to and say whatever [Jeremiah was to speak only God’s message] I command you.

1:8 Do not be afraid of them [literally “do not be afraid of their faces”; cf. Ezek.3:9], for I am with you [cf. Ex. 3:12; Matt. 28:20] and will rescue you,” declares the LORD.

1:9 Then the LORD [God would be personally involved with Jeremiah throughout his ministry] reached out his hand and touched my mouth [reminiscent of Deut. 18:18] and said to me, “Now, I have put my words in your mouth.

1:10 See, today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms to [note four verbs of destruction that describe some of the themes of Jeremiah’s prophecies…] [1] uproot and [2] tear down, to [3] destroy and [4] overthrow, to build and to plant [these two words remind us that God’s final word is redemptive].”

1:11 The word of the LORD came to me: “What do you see, Jeremiah?” “I see the branch of an almond [Heb. word shaqed] tree [the first tree to bud in spring; Anathoth was a center for almond growing],” I replied.

1:12 The LORD said to me, “You have seen correctly, for [as the almond (shaqed) tree blossoms in the spring] I am watching [Heb. word shoqed] to see that my word is fulfilled.”

1:13 The word of the LORD came to me again: “What do you see?” “I see a boiling pot [a symbol of tragedy and doom], tilting away from the north [and thus about to spill its scalding contents on the south],” I answered.

1:14 The LORD said to me, “From the north [the source of a coming national disaster] disaster will be poured out [impending disaster will be judgment of God] on all who live in the land [God’s people].

1:15 I am about to summon all the peoples of the northern kingdoms,” declares the LORD. “Their kings will come [suggests a massive invasion of Judah from the north] and set up their thrones [a symbol of conquest and new rulers over the land] in the entrance of the gates of Jerusalem; they will come against all her surrounding walls [the figure of a siege] and against all the towns of Judah.

1:16 I will pronounce my judgments on my people because [note that God’s judgments are never capricious] of their wickedness in forsaking me, in burning incense to other gods [those who forsake God replace him with other gods] and in worshiping what their hands have made [cf. Ps. 115:4-8].

1:17 [note threefold charge (cf. charge to Joshua in Deut. 31:6-8; Josh. 1:6-9)] [1] “Get yourself ready [literally “gird your loins”; prepare for action]! [2] Stand up and say to them whatever [not just what is convenient or expedient] I command you [cf. Jer. 1:7]. [3] Do not be terrified by them [mere men], or I [God would deal with Jeremiah if he fled from his mission] will terrify you before them.

1:18 Today I have made you a fortified city [impregnable], an iron pillar [strong] and a bronze wall [difficult to breach] to stand against the whole land—against [the establishment…] the kings of Judah, its officials, its priests and [ordinary citizens…] the people of the land.

1:19 They [the powerful and influential] will fight against you but [note strong assurance…] will not overcome you, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the LORD.

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