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From Repentance to Redemption: Jeremiah's Thought in Transition JSOT Press, - Religion - pages Volume 54 of JSOT Supplement Series.
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Payment Methods accepted by seller. Items related to From Repentance to Redemption. Jeremiah's Thought In his fourth lament —18 , Jeremiah pleads for God's saving help, embodying the panic of the community in his desperate words. A lengthy peroration on keeping the sabbath follows, implicitly serving as God's response.

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The parable of the potter —11 would seem to bear out this conditional approach to covenant: perhaps survival will still be possible if the people learn to obey God. But that possibility is immediately foreclosed as the people are made to reassert their stubborn sinfulness Jeremiah's opponents plot against him, actively resisting his message of doom , and the prophet laments once again, this time crying out for vengeance. Again following in the narrative as a divine response is a sign-act.

The reliability of Jeremiah's prophecies of doom is thus affirmed. Conflict with priestly authorities is one result of the prophet's continued public witness.

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Pashhur, a head official of the Temple, strikes Jeremiah and puts him in the stocks overnight. Jeremiah's prophecy of the exiling of Pashhur and his family represents a harsh assessment of the failure of Judah's priestly leadership and, possibly, an oblique attack on the authority of the Diaspora group in Babylon after the fall of Jerusalem. Jeremiah's sixth lament is a cry of rage against a God whose compelling word has become an irresistible force within the prophet.

This suffering prophet is schemed against, mocked, and threatened by his people; his only refuge is in God — Even though Jeremiah can acclaim God as divine warrior and his protector, he succumbs once more to despair — Sin may be disastrous, but faithfulness is costly too. Once again the prophet's anguish may be read as emblematic of the deep distress of his community. Opposition characterizes this block of diverse materials. Jeremiah delivers himself of blunt words of judgment against not only the people but King Zedekiah and other royal figures.

Prayer of Repentance "Your Past Does Not Equal Your Future"

Social injustice and covenant faithlessness are the prophet's chief charges. They may be heard and appropriated by interpretive communities of later generations as reflections on the flaws of Israelite leadership more generally. But prose comments—awkward and clearly secondary to the literary context—do make clear the identity of some targets. The monarchs who followed the beloved Josiah are judged: Jehoahaz called Shallum , who ruled just three months after the death of Josiah in ; Jehoiakim, who ruled from — B.

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Ignominy, exile, and death will be the fate of these rulers. Hope for a coming righteous ruler —6 ; similarly, —16 and an eventual end to the Babylonian Diaspora are articulated. Remarkably, the acclamation of God for bringing back the sixth-century exiles will eclipse the enduring praise of God for deliverance of Israel in the ancient exodus from Egypt long ago. As Second Isaiah waxes lyrical about a new exodus from Babylon Isa —10 , —21 , —12 , so this Jeremiah prose tradition exults over the prospect of a renewed, messianic kingship.

Historically, though, the monarchy would come to an end with the blinding and imprisonment of Zedekiah until his death and the confinement of Jehoiachin, who would live out his years in captivity in Babylon. Prophet and priest alike are accused of spreading ungodliness instead of guiding the people in obedience to God's purposes.

Jeremiah's impassioned refutation of lying prophets —40 reveals the Judean community's anxiety about the difficult matter of distinguishing true from false prophecy see Deut — Rather, they themselves are a heavy load to be borne, because. Cuneiform tablet summarizing the campaigns of Nebuchadrezzar II r. The text records Nebuchadrezzar's march westward in because Jehoiakim, the king of Judah r. Jer Jeremiah 24 reveals with chilling clarity the divisiveness of the exilic and postexilic community.

Here the political authority of the Diaspora Judeans in Babylon is privileged: they are the group that deserves God's care and protection in the postexilic world. No substantive reason is provided for this extraordinarily bitter invective against fellow Judeans. In Jeremiah 42—44 , it becomes clear that intractable political disagreements about whether to surrender to Babylon may be motivating the internecine hatred, at least in part. But it is likely that postexilic struggles for political authority also underlie the narration of the diatribe we see in Jeremiah.

For abundant evidence of the bitter divisions in postexilic Judah, one need look no further than the book of Ezra-Nehemiah. In Jeremiah 25 , several motifs are articulated that are thematically crucial for the theology of the book.

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First comes a summation of Jeremiah's career as a prophet —7. On display here is the cultural consciousness of an enduring prophetic tradition that repeatedly has met with the willful stubbornness of the people. The prophets' function of warning the people to repent has been fruitless in the history of Israel and Judah, leaving us with a picture of the Israelite prophet as a frustrated and marginalized figure.

This is a conception of prophecy strikingly different from the view characteristic of the Deuteronomistic History, where the prophetic word is an efficacious predictive word that is completely fulfilled. Also in the foreground of Jeremiah 25 is the notion of retributive justice: the disastrous fall of Jerusalem and exiling of Judean leaders constitute God's appropriate punishment of a rebellious people.


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This conviction is fundamental to the theology of the book of Jeremiah. Such thinking is not unique to Jeremiah: in Isaiah —6 , Assyria is wielded in God's hands like a club to punish God's people, and in Isaiah —7 , God deploys King Cyrus of Persia as a weapon in international politics.

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A prediction that the nations will serve Babylon for seventy years here is used to show that Babylon's domination is for a prescribed time only. In Jeremiah , this prophecy of a seventy-year exile is used toward a diametrically opposed political end: to shore up the long-term legitimacy of the Judean expatriate community in Babylon. The seventy-years prophecy is cited toward various theological ends in later books of the Hebrew Bible Dan , 24 ; Zech ; Ezra ; 2 Chr —22 , showing how malleable even highly specific prophecies can be in the hands of skilled traditionists.

Situated after in the Old Greek textual tradition are the oracles against the nations, definitive evidence that different editions of Jeremiah were in circulation before the Hebrew text received its final form. The rest of Jeremiah 25 reflects on an extended and terrifying metaphor: the cup of God's wrath will be forced upon all the nations of the world, including Judah and Babylon. The ideological perspective here is certainly not that of the Diaspora Judeans, who expect their own political group to thrive in exile and enjoy God's favor.

Internecine conflict is foregrounded in Jeremiah 26 : the prophet pronounces words of judgment and is immediately surrounded by a hostile mob of priests, prophets, and people. Jeremiah defends himself against the implicit charge of sedition, and the officials and the people are persuaded of his reliability as a prophet. Micah's prophecy about Zion being plowed as a field Mic is cited in Jeremiah's defense: oracles of doom need not necessarily be seen as antagonistic toward political authorities but may be intended simply to catalyze repentance in the hearers.

Despite the eloquent citation from tradition, the threat against Jeremiah persists; the point is driven home via an anecdote about Jehoiakim doggedly pursuing and executing a prophet who had spoken just as Jeremiah did — Jeremiah's rescue is effected by one Ahikam son of Shaphan; here and elsewhere in Jeremiah, the Shaphanides play an important political role as allies of the prophet. These chapters promote the accommodationist politics of the Diaspora group over against opposing views : submitting to the Babylonians is the only faithful response, and the exile will be long enough for Diaspora Judeans to flourish for generations in Babylon.

According to the theopolitical program laid out here, resisting the invaders or even simply hoping for a speedy return of the Temple vessels looted by Nebuchadnezzar count as acts of rebellion against God Jeremiah writes a letter commending the flourishing of the Diaspora community and urging that they pray for the welfare of enemy Babylon , thus underlining the authority of the Diaspora group from afar.

That there was opposition to this position is clear — A lengthy passage in the Hebrew text directing harsh invective at those back in Judah —20 is entirely absent from the Old Greek tradition, showing that intra-Judean struggles for authority continued after the Jeremiah tradition represented in the LXX had been finalized. Luminous oracles of hope are collected in these two chapters.

But this material looks beyond the dire circumstances of the Babylonian invasion to divine promises of political autonomy, healing, rebuilding, and peace. God's enduring faithfulness and love for Israel are underlined —3 , 9 , The building and planting promised in Jeremiah's commissioning will be fulfilled, although not necessarily soon. Following the Book of Consolation is a story Jeremiah 32 that dramatizes a radical hope for Judah's future: Jeremiah purchases land in Anathoth while the Babylonians are besieging Jerusalem.

Eventual restoration is promised to Judeans in Diaspora in every land, not just Babylon , something that stands in notable discontinuity with rhetoric elsewhere in the book that aggressively privileges the Babylonian exiles and envisages the utter annihilation of Judeans in Egypt. The reversal of Judah's grim fate —13 will be a cause for rejoicing and a sign that God's covenant with Israel is everlasting and unbreakable—not conditional, as many of the prose passages in Jeremiah would have it —37 , — Jeremiah's complex maneuverings with Zedekiah absorb much of the attention of the following chapters.

In chapter 34 , the prophet predicts Zedekiah's capture and eventual death, and the people are indicted for enslaving Hebrews after having briefly offered them manumission. Jeremiah 36 is a fascinating account of writing, potentially devastating erasure, and rewriting. The people of Judah show themselves capable of repentance, proclaiming a fast and listening to Jeremiah —10 , but King Jehoiakim openly disdains God's word, destroying the scroll of Jeremiah's prophecies column by column.

Jeremiah and his scribe reconstitute the scroll, even adding new words; thus the indestructibility of the prophetic word is asserted as a sign of hope for later readers. In chapters 37—38 , Zedekiah warily consults Jeremiah. The monarch reveals himself to be a weak leader, first allowing Jeremiah to be thrown into a cistern and then yielding to pressure to rescue the prophet, and also confessing to fear of adversaries within his own community Jeremiah 39 narrates the fall of Jerusalem, the attempted flight of Zedekiah and his officials, the slaughter of Zedekiah's sons and Judean nobles, the blinding of the king, and the Babylonians' lenient treatment of Jeremiah.

Jeremiah 40—43 narrates in feverish detail the political intrigues and betrayals that lead to the assassination of Gedaliah, the official who had been appointed governor by Nebuchadrezzar. Various others are brutally executed, and surviving Judeans flee to Egypt, fearful of Babylonian reprisals. Jeremiah counsels against the migration to Egypt, promising that God will restore those who stay in the land this is ironic, given the strongly adversarial rhetoric elsewhere in the book about those remaining in Judah being exterminated by God. But the prophet is unsuccessful; moreover, he himself is taken to Egypt against his will.

Jeremiah 44 records the prophet's searing sermon against the Judean exiles in Egypt on the charge of idolatry involving other gods and, notoriously, the cult of the Queen of Heaven the Mesopotamian goddess Ishtar, possibly identified by ancient Judeans as the Canaanite goddess Astarte. The Egyptian expatriates' hyperbolically proud affirmation of their idolatry is meant to confirm that their disenfranchisement in the postexilic period is justified. Words of attenuated but real protection are offered to two who have acted as Jeremiah's allies throughout this conflict: Ebed-melech, who drew Jeremiah out of the cistern —18 , and Baruch —5 will be allowed to live.

These enigmatic figures—one a foreigner serving in the royal court, the other a scribe who ensures the preservation of the written prophetic word—become emblems of survival for the entire postexilic community. Oracles against foreign nations serve as a near-final word in the Hebrew text tradition of Jeremiah, followed only by the narrative of Jeremiah Various international and local opponents are rhetorically dispatched by means of humiliating taunt songs, sarcastic ventriloquism of the enemy, faux laments, ironic reversals, and straightforward oracles of doom.

The collection begins with Egypt and ends with Babylon, framing the general discomfiture of exilic Judah's enemies by means of attacks on the two most significant global powers of her time.