Jeremiah 1 – “God Summons Jeremiah”

Hebrew-English Text
I. Summary
God summons Jeremiah, tells him about future events, and encourages him to deliver his prophecies.

II. Photo
Jeremiah has a vision: “And the word of the Lord came to me a second time: ‘What do you see?’ I replied: ‘I see a steaming pot, tipped away from the north.’ And the Lord said to me: ‘From the north shall disaster break loose upon all the inhabitants of the land!’” (vv. 13-14)

III. Important Verses
1-3: The words of Jeremiah son of Hilkiah, one of the priests at Anathoth in the territory of Benjamin. The word of the LORD came to him in the days of King Josiah son of Amon of Judah, in the thirteenth year of his reign, and throughout the days of King Jehoiakim son of Josiah of Judah, and until the end of the eleventh year of King Zedekiah son of Josiah of Judah, when Jerusalem went into exile in the fifth month.
4-9: The word of the LORD came to me: Before I created you in the womb, I selected you; Before you were born, I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet concerning the nations. I replied: Ah, Lord GOD! I don’t know how to speak, For I am still a boy. And the LORD said to me: Do not say, “I am still a boy,” But go wherever I send you And speak whatever I command you. Have no fear of them, For I am with you to deliver you — declares the LORD. The LORD put out His hand and touched my mouth, and the LORD said to me: Herewith I put My words into your mouth.
13-16:  And the word of the LORD came to me a second time: What do you see? I replied: I see a steaming pot, Tipped away from the north. And the LORD said to me: From the north shall disaster break loose Upon all the inhabitants of the land! For I am summoning all the peoples of the kingdoms of the north — declares the LORD. ¶ They shall come, and shall each set up a throne Before the gates of Jerusalem, Against its walls roundabout, And against all the towns of Judah. And I will argue My case against them For all their wickedness: They have forsaken Me And sacrificed to other gods And worshiped the works of their hands.

IV. Outline
1-3. Introduction: Jeremiah and his time
4-10. God summons Jeremiah to prophecy
11-16. A northern kingdom will conquer Judaea
17-19. God encourages Jeremiah

V. Comment
As with most of the other prophetic books in the Hebrew Bible, the book of Jeremiah focuses on one of the major catastrophes that befell the kingdoms of Israel and Judah, namely the destruction of the first temple in 586 BCE. The book, which is a collection of oracles and narratives about Jeremiah, contains four types of material. Collins breaks them up as follows (334):

  • Poetic oracles
  • Narratives about Jeremiah (mostly in the second half of the book)
  • Sermons written in Deuteronomic style
  • Oracles against foreign nations (chs. 46-51)

The book begins with a preface in vv. 1-3, and, as Craigie points out, it contains three of the four elements found in all such prefaces  (2):

  • The specification that it contains a word or vision from the Lord (thereby defining the substance as prophecy).
  • The name of the person or prophet through whom the word was delivered.
  • The time and place at which the word was given, or the period during which the prophet ministered.
  • The subject or theme of the prophetic word.

After the preface, Jeremiah explains how he was summoned:

  • The word of the LORD came to me: Before I created you in the womb, I selected you; Before you were born, I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet concerning the nations. I replied: Ah, Lord GOD! I don’t know how to speak, For I am still a boy. And the LORD said to me: Do not say, “I am still a boy,” But go wherever I send you And speak whatever I command you. Have no fear of them, For I am with you to deliver you — declares the LORD. The LORD put out His hand and touched my mouth, and the LORD said to me: Herewith I put My words into your mouth. (vv. 4-9)

As Collins points out, this narrative shares many similarities to the summoning of Moses in Exodus 4. He writes: “The call of Jeremiah in chapter 1 follows the pattern of the call of Moses in Exodus rather than that of Isaiah. First, there is no vision involved. It is an auditory experience. Second, Jeremiah protests his unsuitability for the mission, as Moses does in Exod 4:10-17. Finally, the Lord encourages the chosen one and confirms him in his mission. The Lord touches Jeremiah’s mouth (1:9). He assures Moses that ‘I will be with your mouth’ (Exod 4:12).” (336)
VI. Works Used
(see “Commentaries” page)
Collins, John J. “Introduction to the Hebrew Bible,” (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2004).

Craigie, Peter C. “Jeremiah 1-25” Word Biblical Commentary v. 26 (Dallas, Texas: Wordbooks, 1991).

Photo taken from http://www.joeandris.com/images/large_images/20132_BurningPot.jpg

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