The Book of Jeremiah is one of the books of the “major prophets,” which are so called not because they are more important than those that we know as the “minor prophets,” but because of their length. There are 5 books of major prophets (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, and Daniel) compared to twelve of minor prophets. Jeremiah is 52 chapters in length.
Jeremiah was a preacher of God’s word – a priest. He was called to be a prophet about 627 B.C. as a youth (Jeremiah 1:6), and served as such for 40 years (Jeremiah 1:2-3), making it likely that he was born ~650-645 B.C. He became a priest living in Anathoth – the land of Benjamin (Jeremiah 1:1). This was where Abiathar, the high priest during David’s reign, lived. But Jeremiah’s ancestral heritage is unknown. Abiathar was removed as priest by Solomon for his part in support of Adonijah (1 Kings 2:12-27), which fulfilled the Lord’s prophecy of the end of the house of Eli as priests way back in 1 Samuel 2:27-36.
Jeremiah is referred to by many as “the weeping prophet” (see this previous post on Lamentations). But this tends to convey a mistaken image of him as weak. Jeremiah was anything but weak. He lived a very difficult life, and was imprisoned, nearly put to death (Jeremiah 26), and even banned from the Temple for preaching the truth as God told Him (Jeremiah 36:5).
At least part of the Book of Jeremiah was dictated to his scribe, Baruch, to write on scroll (Jeremiah 36:1-4). Some scholars have referred to the book by such descriptions as a “scrapbook” or diary that was pieced together by topic or content. The book is not in chronological order, and remembering that as one reads it helps put things in context. For that reason, we have included an approximate chronological order for the book at the end of this blog.
The book is set in the time after the fall of the Assyrians and the rise of the Babylonians to power. Jeremiah witnessed the capture and removal of multiple groups of the people of Judah to Babylon, as well as the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple. He was called to speak to God’s people during the times of revival under king Josiah, and continued on past the final fall to Babylon.
Summary of Jeremiah
- Biographic Introduction (Jeremiah 1)
- Israel as a faithless spouse (Jeremiah 2-3:5)
- Call to repent (Jer 3:6–4:4)
- Disaster predicted (Jer 4:5–31)
- Refusal to repent and the result (Jer 5)
- God’s rejection of His people (Jer 6)
- False Religion, Apostasy, and Idolatry (Jer 7-10)
- Jeremiah’s Struggles with God and Judah (Jer 11-20)
- Jeremiah’s Struggles with kings, prophets, and the people (Jer 21-29)
- God’s promise of restoration (Jer 30-33)
- Will make a new covenant (Jer 31)
- Will honor the Davidic covenant (Jer 33)
- God judges Judah (Jer 34-45)
- Judah’s rejection of God’s word (Jer 36)
- Jerusalem’s last days (Jer 37-39)
- Judah’s futile rebellion
- God’s judgment on other nations (Jer 46-51)
- Fall of Jerusalem (Jer 52:1-11)
- Destruction of the Temple and exile (Jer 52:12-30)
- Continuation of the Davidic line (Jer 52:31-34)
Approximate Chronolgical Order
- During the reign of Josiah
- In the 13th year – Chapter 1
- Later years of Josiah’s reign – Chapters 2-6 and probably a great deal of chapters 7-20
- During the reign of Jehoiakim
- Early in his reign – Chapter 26 and probably 7:1-8:3; 22:1-23
- During the 4th year Chapters 25; 36; 45; 46:1-12
- After the 4th year – Chapter 35
- During the reign of Jehoiachin
- Chapters 22:24-30 and probably ch. 14
- During the reign of Zedekiah
- At beginning – Chapters 24 and 49:34-39
- In the fourth year – Chapters 27-28; 51:59-64
- In other years – Chapters 21 and 29
- In early seige, pause, and resumption of seige – Chapters 34, 37, 32; 33; 38; 39:15-18
- In Judah after Jerusalem’s fall – Chapters 39:1-4; 40:1-43:7
- In Egypt, after Jeremiah taken there – Chapters 43:8-44:30
image © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers
All of my comments in this blog are solely my responsibility. When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.