Places Written: Judah and Egypt
Writing Completed: 580 B.C.E.
Time Covered: 647–580 B.C.E.
THE prophet Jeremiah lived during dangerous and turbulent times. He was commissioned by Jehovah in the year 647 B.C.E., the 13th year of the reign of God-fearing King Josiah of Judah. During repairs on the house of Jehovah, the book of the Law of Jehovah was found and was read to the king. He worked hard at enforcing this, but he could at most only temporarily turn back the falling away to idolatry. Josiah’s grandfather Manasseh, who had reigned for 55 years, and his father Amon, who had been assassinated after a reign of just 2 years, had both done wickedly. They had encouraged the people in impure orgies and gruesome rites, so that they had become accustomed to offering incense to the “queen of the heavens” and human sacrifices to demon gods. Manasseh had filled Jerusalem with innocent blood.—Jer. 1:2; 44:19; 2 Ki. 21:6, 16, 19-23; 23:26, 27.
2 Jeremiah’s task was no easy one. He had to serve as Jehovah’s prophet in foretelling the desolation of Judah and Jerusalem, the burning of the magnificent temple of Jehovah, and the captivity of his people—catastrophes almost unbelievable! His prophesying in Jerusalem had to continue 40 years, through the reigns of bad Kings Jehoahaz, Jehoiakim, Jehoiachin (Coniah), and Zedekiah. (Jer. 1:2, 3) Later, in Egypt, he had to prophesy concerning the idolatries of the Jewish refugees there. His book was completed in 580 B.C.E. The time covered by Jeremiah is thus an eventful period of 67 years.—52:31.
3 In Hebrew the name of the prophet and of his book is Yir·meyah′ or Yir·meya′hu, meaning, possibly, “Jehovah Exalts; or, Jehovah Loosens [likely from the womb].” The book occurs in all the catalogs of the Hebrew Scriptures, and its canonicity is generally accepted. The dramatic fulfillment of a number of the prophecies during Jeremiah’s own lifetime attests fully to its authenticity. Moreover, Jeremiah is referred to several times by name in the Christian Greek Scriptures. (Matt. 2:17, 18; 16:14; 27:9) That Jesus had studied the book of Jeremiah is evident from his combining the language of Jeremiah 7:11 with that of Isaiah 56:7 when he cleansed the temple. (Mark 11:17; Luke 19:46) Because of Jesus’ boldness and courage, some people even thought him to be Jeremiah. (Matt. 16:13, 14) Jeremiah’s prophecy of a new covenant (Jer. 31:31-34) is referred to by Paul at Hebrews 8:8-12 and 10:16, 17. Paul quotes Jeremiah 9:24 in saying: “He that boasts, let him boast in Jehovah.” (1 Cor. 1:31) At Revelation 18:21 there is an even more forceful application of Jeremiah’s illustration (Jer. 51:63, 64) of Babylon’s downfall.
4 Archaeological findings also give support to the record in Jeremiah. For example, a Babylonian chronicle tells of Nebuchadnezzar’s (Nebuchadrezzar) capture of Jerusalem in 617 B.C.E., when he seized the king (Jehoiachin) and appointed one of his own choice (Zedekiah).—24:1; 29:1, 2; 37:1.
5 We possess a more complete biography of Jeremiah than of any of the other ancient prophets with the exception of Moses. Jeremiah reveals much about himself, his feelings, and his emotions, indicating an intrepid boldness and courage, mingled with humility and tenderness of heart. He was not only a prophet but also a priest, a compiler of Scripture, and an accurate historian. By birth he was the son of priest Hilkiah of Anathoth, a priest’s city in the country to the north of Jerusalem, “in the land of Benjamin.” (1:1) Jeremiah’s style of writing is clear, direct, and easily understood. Illustrations and pictorial imagery abound, and the book consists of both prose and poetry.Who was Amos? When and where did he live? We find the answers to those questions at Amos 1:1, where we read: “The words of Amos, who happened to be among the sheep raisers from Tekoa, . . . in the days of Uzziah the king of Judah and in the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash, the king of Israel.” Amos was a resident of Judah. His hometown was Tekoa, ten miles [16 km] south of Jerusalem. He lived at the end of the ninth century B.C.E. when King Uzziah ruled in Judah and Jeroboam II was king of the ten-tribe kingdom of Israel. Amos was a sheep raiser. In fact, Amos 7:14 says that he was not only “a herdsman” but also “a nipper of figs of sycamore trees.” So he spent part of the year as a seasonal worker. He nipped, or pierced, figs. This work was done to speed up the ripening of the figs. It was tedious work.
3 Amos candidly said: “I was not a prophet, neither was I the son of a prophet.” (Amos 7:14) He was neither born as a prophet’s son nor trained as a prophet. Of all the people in Judah, though, Jehovah chose Amos to do His work. At that time, God did not select a powerful king, a learned priest, or a wealthy chieftain. This provides a reassuring lesson for us. We may possess little in the way of secular status or formal education. But should that make us f
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