Thursday, 28 June 2012

The Prophet Jeremiah

The great prophet Jeremiah lived during one of the most critical periods in Jewish history. He saw the destruction of Jerusalem and of the Beth Hamikdosh, after his warnings and prophecies fell on deaf ears. When the catastrophe came, he lamented the terrible fate of his people in the Book of Eichah (Lamentations) which we read on Tisha B'Av. At the same time he was a source of courage to his people by pointing out to them the path that would lead to their redemption. His prophecies are recorded in the Book of Jeremiah, which also contains the important events of his life.
Jeremiah was born in a priestly family, in the town of Anatoth belonging to the Tribe of Benjamin. His father was the prophet and Kohen-Gadol (High Priest) Hilkiah. Jeremiah began his prophecies in the thirteenth year of King Josiah's reign (in the year 3298). The prophet Zephania and the prophetess Hulda also lived at that time.

Lineage and early life

According to the Book of Jeremiah, Jeremiah was a kohen (Jewish priest), from a landowning family. It is mentioned that he had a joyful early life; however, the difficulties in Jeremiah and the Book of Lamentations have prompted scholars to refer to him as "the weeping prophet”. Jeremiah was called to prophetic ministry in c. 626 BC, He was the son of Hilkiah from the village of Anathoth  The Book of Jeremiah says that Jeremiah was called by Yahweh to prophesy Jerusalem’s destruction that would occur by invaders from the North. This was because Israel had been unfaithful to the laws of the covenant and had forsaken God by worshiping the Baals. The people of Israel had even gone as far as building high altars to Baal in order to burn their children in fire as offerings to Baal.
This nation had deviated so far from God that they had actually broken the covenant, causing God to withdraw His blessings. Jeremiah was guided by God to proclaim that the nation of Israel would be faced with famine, be plundered and taken captive by foreigners who would exile them to a foreign land.


Jeremiah’s ministry was active from the thirteenth year of Josiah, king of Judah (3298 HC, -463 BCE [31], or 626 BC[32]), until after the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of Solomon’s Temple in -403 BCE (3358 HC, or 587 BC[33]). This period spanned the reigns of five kings of Judah: Josiah, Jehoachaz’s, Jehoiakim, Jehoiachin, and Zedekiah.[34] The Hebrew chronology work Seder HaDoroth gives Jeremiah's final year of prophecy to be -411 BCE (3350 HC), whereby he transmitted his teachings to Baruch ben Neriah.


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