OT Survey I Jeremiah, Lamentations
Author • Jeremiah • From a priestly family just north of Jerusalem • A “prophet to the nations” (1:5, 10) • More personal material than any other prophet • “Weeping Prophet” • His “modi operandi“ • Speaking (e.g., 2:2) • Writing (e.g., 36:2, 27-28; 51:60) • Acting (e.g., 13:1-7; 19:1-15; 32:1-15)
Date • Began in the days of Josiah (~ 627 BC) • Included two initial exiles • 605 BC: Daniel and other nobles (Dan 1:1-6) • 597 BC: Large scale exile, including Ezekiel (2 Kings 24:10-16; Ezek 1:1-3) • Climaxed in the destruction of Jerusalem (586 BC) • Ends with the release of Jehoiachin from prison (~ 561 BC)
Time Period Israel enters Egypt 1876 BC (Ex 12:40-41) Solomon begins building the temple 966 BC (1 Kgs 6:1) Judah exiled by Babylon 586 BC (also 605, 597) (2 Kgs 25) Israel exiled by Assryia 722 BC (2 Kgs 17) Abraham’s birth 2166 BC (Gen 12:4; 21:5; 25:26; 47:9) The Exodus from Egypt 1446 BC (1 Kgs 6:1) Cyrus allows exiles to return 539 BC (Ezra 1:1-4) Torah (Gen-Deut) Former Prophets (Joshua-Kings) Latter Prophets (Isaiah-Malachi)
Time Period (cont…) Jeroboam II (Israel) Uzziah (Judah) 770 BC Assyrian exile 722 BC Assyrian Defeat 701 BC Babylonian exile 586 BC Cyrus’s decree 539 BC Nehemiah in Jerusalem ~ 420 BC Jonah, Hosea, Amos Isaiah, Micah Nahum, Zephaniah, Jeremiah, Habakkuk Ezekiel, Daniel Haggai, Zechariah Malachi Joel? Obadiah?
Time Period (cont…) Events 639 Josiah reigns 626 Call of Jeremiah 612 Fall of Ninevah 609 Josiah dies Jehoahaz reigns Jehoiakim reigns 605 Carchemish First exile 597 Jehoiakim rebels Jehoiakim dies Jehoiachin reigns Second exile Jehoiachin imprisoned Zedekiah reigns 586 Zedekiah rebels Jerusalem destroyed
Jeremiah and Other Revelation • Earlier • Isa 39: Babylon is coming! Jeremiah: They’re here! • Appeal to Mosaic Covenant: 11:1-13 • Appeal to earlier prophets: 26:17-24 • Later • Inspiration for Daniel’s prayer (Dan 9:2) • Inspiration for exiles’ return (2 Chr 36; Ezra 1) • NT will pick up on idea of New Covenant • NT will pick up on Babylon’s judgment
Structure “What makes these books [i.e., Jeremiah and some other prophetic books] particularly, and one might say needlessly, difficult is the very manner of their arrangement—or to be more accurate, their apparent lack of arrangement. The reader who meets them for the first time is likely to be quite at a loss. All seems confusion. There is no narrative for him to follow, nor can he trace any logical progression running through them and binding their parts together into a
Structure coherent whole. No sooner has he grasped a line of thought, and prided himself that he is following it tolerably well, than it breaks off and something quite different is being discussed. The impression he gains is one of extreme disarray; and one can scarcely blame him for concluding that he is reading a hopeless hodgepodge thrown together without any discernable principle of arrangement at all.” John Bright, Jeremiah, Anchor Bible, lvi. (quoted in Dorsey, Literary Structure of the Old Testament, 236).
Structure (continued…) a Oracles against Judah; invasion and disaster from the north (1-12) b Judah’s exile and suffering predicted (13-20) c Dated messages of judgment about specific kings/groups (21-29) d CENTER: Messages of future hope (30-33) c Dated messages of judgment about specific kings/groups (34-35) b Judah’s fall and exile (36-45) a Oracles against the nations; invasions and disasters from the north (46-51) Taken from Dorsey, Literary Structure of the Old Testament, 244.
Major Themes • Sovereignty of Yahweh • Sin of Judah • Impending Judgment • Babylon • God’s Instrument: Submit to them! • Will be punished • False prophets • Future restoration (centerpiece) • New Covenant (remember Kings, Chronicles?) • Jeremiah’s experience (much like that of Jesus!)
Jeremiah and Jesus(see Expositor’s Bible Commentary) • Matt 16:13-14: “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?" And they said, "Some say John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; but still others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets. • Similar historical settings – Jerusalem about to fall • Both foretold temple’s destruction • Both wept over Jerusalem • Both condemned commercialism of temple worship • Both accused of political treason • Both tenderhearted, knew loneliness • Both enjoyed unusual fellowship with God
Purpose • Though Yahweh used Babylon to judge Judah and Jerusalem because of her sin, a day would come when Babylon herself would be judged and Israel would be restored beyond her former glory.
New Covenant (Jer 31:31-34) • Remember the former prophets, God renewed covenant with Israel several times. • But, in the end, God refused to have further compassion on them. • However, this covenant will not just be a renewal; it will be truly new in another sense: It will no longer be external; rather, God will write His law on their heart! • Does the church benefit from this covenant?
Title • Talmud: Lamentations • LXX: Tears • Hebrew: How! • “How lonely sits the city that was full of people!” (Lam 1:1) • “How the Lord has covered the daughter of Zion with a cloud in His anger!” (Lam 2:1) • “How dark the gold has become, how the pure gold has changed!” (Lam 4:1)
Lamentations and Other Revelation • Validates the truthfulness of previous prophets (e.g., Zephaniah) • “…before the day of the LORD’s anger comes upon you…Perhaps you will be hidden in the day of the LORD’s anger” (Zeph 2:2-3). • “There was no one who escaped or survived in the day of the LORD’s anger” (Lam 2:22). • Job wrestles with individual suffering; Lamentations “revisits Israel’s most painful memory” (House, 483) and tries to explain it, find hope. • Followed by Esther which shows that God has not “utterly rejected” Israel (Lam 5:22)
Acrostic • Chapter 1: 3 lines/stanza, 1st line acrostic • Chapter 2: 3 lines/stanza, 1st line acrostic • Chapter 3: 3 lines/stanza, all lines acrostic • Chapter 4: 2 lines/stanza, 1st line acrostic • Chapter 5: 1 lines/stanza, no acrostic pattern!
Structure • See poetic structure in Dorsey, p. 251 • CENTER: Lamentations 3:21-32 • Qinah pattern? • Instead of 3+3, 3+2 • Note most stanzas are like this • Note the entire book is like this • Could the lack of an acrostic pattern in chapter 5 play into this?
Structure (cont…) • Chapter 1: Destruction of Zion • Chapter 2: Yahweh as the destroyer • Chapter 3: Complaint and hope • Chapter 4: Results of the destruction • Chapter 5: Prayer: How long?
Major Themes • Judgment • God as the judge (not Babylon!) (e.g., 1:5) • Reasons for (e.g., 4:6) • Pain of (e.g., 2:11) • Future Hope • Israel’s enemies • Their arrogance (e.g., 3:60-63) • Their future punishment (e.g., 4:21-22)
Purpose • To express and explain Israel’s suffering and to provide hope for the future in the midst of her suffering.
Next Week Ezekiel