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Bible Commentaries
Jeremiah 1

Everett's Study Notes on the Holy ScripturesEverett's Study Notes

Verses 1-3

Superscription to the Book of Jeremiah Jeremiah 1:1-3 contains the superscription to the book of Jeremiah, identifying the prophet (Jeremiah 1:1) and placing his office and ministry as a prophet to Israel within a specific scope of time (Jeremiah 1:2-3).

Jeremiah 1:1 The words of Jeremiah the son of Hilkiah, of the priests that were in Anathoth in the land of Benjamin:

Jeremiah 1:1 Comments The Manner in which Divine Oracles were Delivered unto the Prophets - God spoke through the Old Testament prophets in various ways, as the author of the epistle of Hebrews says, “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets…” (Hebrews 1:1). The Lord spoke divine oracles ( מַשָּׂא ) through the Old Testament prophets in three general ways, as recorded in the book of Hosea, “I have also spoken by the prophets, and have multiplied visions; I have given symbols through the witness of the prophets.” (Hosea 12:10) ( NKJV) In other words, the prophets spoke to Israel through the words they received, they described divine visions to the people, and they acted out as divine drama an oracle from the Lord.

(1) The Word of the Lord Came to the Prophets - God gave the prophets divine pronouncements to deliver to the people, as with Hosea 1:1. The opening verses of a number of prophetic books say, “the word of the Lord came to the prophet…” Thus, these prophets received a divine utterance from the Lord.

(2) The Prophets Received Divine Visions - God gave the prophets divine visions ( חָזוֹן ), so they prophesied what they saw ( חזה ) (to see). Thus, these two Hebrew words are found in Isaiah 1:1, Obadiah 1:1, Nahum 1:1, and Habakkuk 1:1. Ezekiel saw visions ( מַרְאָה ) of God.

(3) God Told the Prophets to Deliver Visual Aids as Symbols of Divine Oracles - God asked the prophets to demonstrate divine oracles to the people through symbolic language. For example, Isaiah walked naked for three years as a symbol of Assyria’s dominion over Egypt and Ethiopia (Isaiah 20:1-6). Ezekiel demonstrated the siege of Jerusalem using clay tiles (Ezekiel 4:1-3), then he laid on his left side for many days, then on his right side, to demonstrate that God will require Israel to bear its iniquities.

Jeremiah 1:2 To whom the word of the LORD came in the days of Josiah the son of Amon king of Judah, in the thirteenth year of his reign.

Jeremiah 1:3 It came also in the days of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah, unto the end of the eleventh year of Zedekiah the son of Josiah king of Judah, unto the carrying away of Jerusalem captive in the fifth month.

Jeremiah 1:2-3 Comments The Dates of Jeremiah’s Ministry - Jeremiah the prophet ministered during the reigns of four kings of Judah, from approximately 627 to 586 B.C., a period of about forty years.

1. Josiah 640 to 608 B.C. 31 years His thirteenth year is 627 B.C.

2. Jehoiakim 608 to 597 B.C. - 11 years

3. Jehoiachin 597 B.C. - 3 months

4. Zedekiah 597 to 587 B.C. - 11 years His eleventh year is 587 B.C

Verses 4-19

Jeremiah’s Divine Commission In Jeremiah 1:1-19 we have the account of the prophet’s calling into the ministry through a divine visitation from the Lord. This may well have been his first supernatural encounter with the Lord. Each of the Major Prophets received a divine visitation in which the Lord calls them and gives them a specific ministry and message to bring to the children of Israel. For Jeremiah, it was to prophesy over the nations to bring about God’s plan of redemption for Israel and the nations.

We often find a divine commission at the beginning of the story of God’ servants in the Scriptures. We see in the book of Genesis that Adam, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob each received their commissions at the beginning of their genealogies, which divide the book of Genesis into major divisions. We also see how Moses received his divine commission near the beginning of his story found within Exodus to Deuteronomy. Joshua received his commission in the first few verses of the book of Joshua. In addition, we see that Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel each received a divine commission at the beginning of their ministries. The book of Ezra opens with a divine call to rebuild the Temple and the book of Nehemiah begins with a call to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, which callings Ezra and Nehemiah answered. In the New Testament, we find Paul the apostle receiving his divine commission in Acts 9:1-22 at the beginning of the lengthy section on Paul’s life and ministry.

Each of these divine callings can be found within God’s original commission to Adam in the story of Creation to be fruitful and multiply. For these men were called to bring the about the multiplication of godly seeds. The patriarchs were called to multiply and produce a nation of righteousness. Moses was called to bring Israel out of bondage, but missed his calling to bring them into the Promised Land. Joshua was called to bring them in to the land. Esther was called to preserve the seed of Israel as was Noah, while Ezra and Nehemiah were called to bring them back into the Promised Land. All of the judges, the kings and the prophets were called to call the children of Israel out of sin and bondage and into obedience and prosperity. They were all called to bring God’s children out of bondage and destruction and into God’s blessings and multiplication. The stories in the Old Testament show us that some of these men fulfilled their divine commission while others either fell short through disobedience or were too wicked to hear their calling from God.

Isaiah’s vision and commission is recorded in Isaiah 6:1-13. This commission reflects the atoning work of Christ in that the prophet’s call to pronounce Israel’s sins is rejected by his people in the same way Jesus’ atonement will be rejected by the Jews centuries later. In contrast, Jeremiah’s commission reflects the office and ministry of God the Father’s divine plan of redemption in that the prophet is set over nations to “root out, pull down, destroy, throw down, build and plant.”

Jeremiah 1:4-19 Jeremiah’s Divine Commission (Divine Foreknowledge: Predestination and Calling) The first acts of God’s redemption in each of our lives in His divine foreknowledge of all things is our predestination and calling. Jeremiah 1:4-19 reveals these aspects of God’s redemptive work in the life of the prophet Jeremiah. God revealed His divine predestination to Jeremiah in Jeremiah 1:4-8. We see God’s predestined plan for him in the words, “Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations,” (Jeremiah 1:5), and “for thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak,” (Jeremiah 1:8). God then called him in Jeremiah 1:9-19.

Jeremiah 1:4-8 God’s Predestined Plan for Jeremiah In Jeremiah 1:4-8 the Lord reveals the plan that He has predestined for the prophet from eternity past. This is the first step in God’s redemptive work in every man’s life.

Jeremiah 1:4 Then the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,

Jeremiah 1:5 Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.

Jeremiah 1:5 Comments - Each of the Major Prophets will emphasize one of the members of the Trinity. Jeremiah will emphasize the redemptive work of God the Father, Isaiah will emphasize the redemptive work of Jesus Christ, and Ezekiel will emphasize the redemptive work of the Holy Spirit. Thus, in Jeremiah 1:5 we see God the Father’s foreknowledge of Jeremiah emphasized. We know according to Romans 8:29-30 that the Father’s foreknowledge consists of predestination, calling, justification and glorification.

Romans 8:29-30, “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.”

Two of these phases, predestination and calling, are being emphasized in Jeremiah 1:5 for God knew him before Jeremiah was born, and ordained him to be a prophet unto the nations.

Jeremiah 1:6 Then said I, Ah, Lord GOD! behold, I cannot speak: for I am a child.

Jeremiah 1:6 Comments - Jeremiah told the Lord that he could not speak because he was just a youth. This would probably mean that he was under the age of twenty, most likely a teenager. In other words, he did not have the authority to speak as an adult in his culture, particularly to the leaders and elders. He did not think that the adults would listen to what he had to say. Thus, the Lord responded by delegating to him authority over nations and kingdoms. In contrast, when Moses told the Lord that he could not speak (Exodus 4:10), he was referring to his speech impediment. In this case, God gave to him his own brother Aaron as his spokesman.

Why would God choose a youth to speak to a nation of elders? In looking for an answer to this question, it has been my observation that young people who have been properly schooled look for a purpose in life and often want to change the things that are wrong in their society. These young people have the zeal and energy, though they often lack the wisdom and influence. In contract, the elders and leaders of many societies have been too corrupted to be of any benefit to help others. These older people have allowed society to corrupt them, rather than them changing their society. Therefore, God mostly likely choose a young man like Jeremiah who had the zeal, and was willing to trust the Lord for the anointing and divine protection and be obedient to speak the words of the Lord.

Jeremiah 1:7 But the LORD said unto me, Say not, I am a child: for thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak.

Jeremiah 1:8 Be not afraid of their faces: for I am with thee to deliver thee, saith the LORD.

Jeremiah 1:9-19 God’s Calling for Jeremiah After God reveals to Jeremiah what he was predestined to do in Jeremiah 1:4-8 the Lord then calls him to this task in Jeremiah 1:9-19. In this passage of Scripture, the Lord equips him by touching, or anointing, his lips for prophecy (Jeremiah 1:9-10).

Jeremiah 1:9 Then the LORD put forth his hand, and touched my mouth. And the LORD said unto me, Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth.

Jeremiah 1:9 Comments - The phrase “the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah” will be used repeatedly throughout the book of Jeremiah. This prophet was faithful to obey the Lord each time God gave him a divine word to proclaim despite the hardships that it brought him.

Jeremiah 1:10 See, I have this day set thee over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down, to build, and to plant.

Jeremiah 1:10 Comments Jeremiah’s Divine Commission - In Jeremiah 1:10 the Lord gives to this young man his calling for his life. His prophetic ministry was for the purpose of establishing the destinies of Israel and the Gentile nations in accordance to God’s overall divine plan of redemption for mankind, which is reflected in Jeremiah’s divine commission, “See, I have this day set thee over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down, to build, and to plant.” Thus, the book of Jeremiah emphasizes the office and ministry of God the Father as He establishes His plan of redemption for Israel. In fact, the Jews saw Jeremiah’s prophecy of the seventy-year restoration of Israel as a key verse in this book because the angel Gabriel came to Daniel and interpreted this prophecy for him as a two-fold meaning of a literal seventy-year period when Israel will return and rebuild Jerusalem, but also figuratively of a four hundred ninety-year period when the Messiah will appear (Daniel 9:20-27).

Jeremiah 29:10, “For thus saith the LORD, That after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place.”

In contrast to Jeremiah’s ministry, the Lord gives Isaiah the calling to preach to a people who would reject his message and be judged by the Lord. A remnant would be preserved by God and later used to restore the nation of Israel as an appointed time. Isaiah’s calling is figurative of the ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ at His First Coming, when the Jews rejected Him and crucified Him. Thus, Jesus told His disciples how His earthly ministry was a fulfillment of the Lord’s words in Isaiah 6:9-10. The restoration of Israel will take place at the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. Thus, the book of Isaiah emphasizes the office and ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ in His role of redemption for the nation of Israel.

Matthew 13:13-14, “Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive:”

When we compare the third major prophet Ezekiel to the other two prophets, we see how he places emphasis upon the role of the Holy Spirit in restoring the children of Israel. In fact, a popular passage quoted from the book of Ezekiel is Ezekiel 36:25-28, which tells us that God will put a new spirit within them.

Ezekiel 36:25-28, “Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them. And ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; and ye shall be my people, and I will be your God.”

Jeremiah 1:10 Comments The Authority of Speaking God’s Word - God used Jeremiah to put in motion God’s Word against Israel by speaking them into existence (James 3:6).

James 3:6, “And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature ; and it is set on fire of hell.”

Jeremiah received spiritual authority ordained of God (2 Corinthians 10:4-6, Revelation 11:3-6).

2 Corinthians 10:4-6 ( For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled.”

Revelation 11:3-6, “And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth. These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth. And if any man will hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies: and if any man will hurt them, he must in this manner be killed. These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy: and have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will.”

Jeremiah 1:10 Comments The High Calling of the Ministry - I was praying about the divine calling of God on a man’s life. I prayed and asked the Lord to show me this high calling. Jeremiah 1:10 quickly came to my remembrance. As I read it, I saw that the calling of God is above those who lead nations and rule over Kingdoms. (December 19, 1992)

The office of a divine ministry is the highest calling in a society. For example, President Lyndon B. Johnson once asked Billy Graham to considering running for President of the U.S. He said that he would never run for President, and if elected he would not serve. [10] Billy Graham believed that the calling of God into the ministry was a higher calling than the office of the President.

[10] Billy Graham, Just as I Am: The Autobiography of Billy Graham (New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1997), 410-411.

Jeremiah 1:10 Scripture Reference Note a similar passage of Scripture:

Jeremiah 31:28, “And it shall come to pass, that like as I have watched over them, to pluck up, and to break down, and to throw down, and to destroy, and to afflict; so will I watch over them, to build, and to plant, saith the LORD.”

Jeremiah 1:11 Moreover the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Jeremiah, what seest thou? And I said, I see a rod of an almond tree.

Jeremiah 1:11 Word Study on “the rod” Strong says the Hebrew word “rod” “maqqel” ( מַקֵּל ) (H4731) means, “a shoot, a stick, a rod, a staff,” and is derived from an unused root meaning, “to germinate.” The Enhanced Strong says it is used 18 times in the Old Testament Scriptures, being translated in the KJV as “rod 8, staff 7, stave 2, handstave + 03027 1.”

Jeremiah 1:11 Word Study on “an almond” Strong says the Hebrew word “almond” “shaqed” ( שָׁקֵד ) (H8247) means “almond, almond tree,” and is derived from the verb “sahqad” ( שָׁקַד ) (H8245), which means, “to be alert, watch for, hasten.” The Enhanced Strong says it is used 4 times in the Old Testament Scriptures, being translated in the KJV as “almond 2, almond tree 2.”

Jeremiah 1:12 Comments - From the context of the vision of the almond branch, it appears that Jeremiah saw the budding branch of an almond tree, which was a well-known tree in the land of Palestine ( ISBE). [11] However, some scholars suggest that this was a dry rod, and thus, a rod used for discipline and correction. However, if it was a dried rod, Jeremiah would not so easily have identified the type of tree.

[11] E. W. G. Masterman, “Almond,” in International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, ed. James Orr (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., c1915, 1939), in The Sword Project, v. 1.5.11 [CD-ROM] (Temple, AZ: CrossWire Bible Society, 1990-2008).

Jeremiah 1:12 Then said the LORD unto me, Thou hast well seen: for I will hasten my word to perform it.

Jeremiah 1:12 Word Study on “I will hasten” Strong says the Hebrew word “hasten” “sahqad” ( שָׁקַד ) (H8245) is a primitive root, which means, “to be alert, watch for, hasten.” The Enhanced Strong says it is used 12 times in the Old Testament Scriptures, being translated in the KJV as “watch 9, wake 1, remain 1, hasten 1.”

Jeremiah 1:11-12 Comments - The Vision of the Almond Branch The first vision that the Lord gave to Jeremiah was of an almond branch. In this brief vision, the Lord shows Jeremiah the branch, or budding, of an almond tree, then tells him that God would watch over His words so that they would be sure to come to pass. The significance of the almond branch is that it was one of the earliest trees to bud in the spring season of the year, announcing that winter was ending. Thus, the people of Palestine watched for the budding of the almond tree as a sure proclamation that one season was past and a new season was beginning. In the same way, the Lord will watch over the prophetic words that Jeremiah proclaims to make sure their season of fulfillment comes to pass.

It is important to note that this passage of Scripture uses a word play to emphasize key statements. The Hebrew noun “shaqed” ( שָׁקֵד ) (H8247) “almond,” and verb “sahqad” ( שָׁקַד ) “to be alert, hasten,” are literally the same word in the original Hebrew language, with the vowel marks being added centuries later by the Massorites. Thus, God is using a play on words in this vision and its interpretation.

Jeremiah 1:13-16 The Vision of the Boiling Pot The second vision that the Lord gave to Jeremiah was of a boiling pot. Boiling water was a part of everyday life in these cultures. We know from Ezekiel’s prophecy (Ezekiel 24:1-14) that the boiling pot represented the armies of Babylon coming upon the land of Judah.

Jeremiah 1:13 And the word of the LORD came unto me the second time, saying, What seest thou? And I said, I see a seething pot; and the face thereof is toward the north.

Jeremiah 1:13 “and the face thereof is toward the north” Comments - Most scholarship agrees that this boiling pot was tilted towards Jerusalem. Adam Clarke agrees with the translation of the word “toward” to be “from the face of”; for the next verse reads, “Out of the north an evil shall break forth…” [12] Most modern English translations follow this meaning.

[12] Adam Clarke, Jeremiah, in Adam Clarke's Commentary, Electronic Database (Seattle, WA: Hendrickson Publishers Inc., 1996), in P.C. Study Bible, v. 3.1 [CD-ROM] (Seattle, WA: Biblesoft Inc., 1993-2000), notes on Jeremiah 1:13.

ASV, “And the word of Jehovah came unto me the second time, saying, What seest thou? And I said, I see a boiling caldron; and the face thereof is from the north .”

NIV, “The word of the LORD came to me again: “What do you see?” “I see a boiling pot, tilting away from the north ,” I answered.

RSV, “The word of the LORD came to me a second time, saying, “What do you see?” And I said, “I see a boiling pot, facing away from the north .”

YLT, “And there is a word of Jehovah unto me a second time, saying, `What art thou seeing?' And I say, `A blown pot I am seeing, and its face is from the north .”

However, the ancient LXX follows the idea of the pot facing towards the north.

Brenton, “the word of the Lord came to me a second time, saying, What seest thou? And I said, A caldron on the fire; and the face of it is toward the north.”

Jeremiah 1:14 Then the LORD said unto me, Out of the north an evil shall break forth upon all the inhabitants of the land.

Jeremiah 1:15 For, lo, I will call all the families of the kingdoms of the north, saith the LORD; and they shall come, and they shall set every one his throne at the entering of the gates of Jerusalem, and against all the walls thereof round about, and against all the cities of Judah.

Jeremiah 1:15 “and they shall set every one his throne at the entering of the gates of Jerusalem” Comments - The gates of ancients was the traditional place for leaders and judges to pass judgment. This phrase in Jeremiah implies that their enemies will possess then entire land and impose their governmental powers upon the region of Judea.

Jeremiah 1:16 And I will utter my judgments against them touching all their wickedness, who have forsaken me, and have burned incense unto other gods, and worshipped the works of their own hands.

Jeremiah 1:16 “And I will utter my judgments against them” Comments - These divine utterances are to be proclaimed by Jeremiah the prophet.

Jeremiah 1:17 Thou therefore gird up thy loins, and arise, and speak unto them all that I command thee: be not dismayed at their faces, lest I confound thee before them.

Jeremiah 1:17 Comments - God knew Jeremiah’s heart when He gave him this divine commission. Jeremiah was young and hesitant to stand before kings and people and speak boldly in the name of the Lord. He was afraid of their faces speaking publicly was new to him. However, the remedy for this spiritual ailment was to stand up, to open his mouth and speak forth the words that God gave to him. This is the only cure for this type of fear. We all face this feeling as young preachers. However, as we crucify our flesh and stand up to speak, it becomes easier. Jeremiah did overcome this timidity and spoke fearlessly all the days of his life, even when it almost cost him his life.

Jeremiah 1:18 For, behold, I have made thee this day a defenced city, and an iron pillar, and brasen walls against the whole land, against the kings of Judah, against the princes thereof, against the priests thereof, and against the people of the land.

Jeremiah 1:18 Comments - The Lord lists the leadership of Judah in descending the order of authority, beginning with the kings, princes, priests, then the common people.

Jeremiah 1:19 And they shall fight against thee; but they shall not prevail against thee; for I am with thee, saith the LORD, to deliver thee.

Jeremiah 1:19 Comments - Jeremiah will face hardships because of his ministry, but God promises to deliver him from all persecutions. David, the king and psalmist of Israel, knew of these afflictions and of God’s faithfulness to deliver him (Psalms 34:19).

Psalms 34:19, “Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the LORD delivereth him out of them all.”

Bibliographical Information
Everett, Gary H. "Commentary on Jeremiah 1". Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghe/jeremiah-1.html. 2013.
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