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You will find an outline and introduction to Jeremiah here.

Here is a from the Book of Common Worship to use before reading.

Blessed Lord, who caused all holy scriptures to be written for our learning: Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which you have given us in our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

 

An Outline of Jeremiah (based on Overholt)

I. 1:1-25:38 Confronting the People with Words and Deeds

II. 26:1-45:5 Narratives Concerning the Nation’s Fate

A. 26:1-24 Jeremiah’s Temple Sermon

B. 27:29:32 Prophecy and Politics

C.30:1-31:40 The Book of Consolation:These chapters are a collection of oracles traditionally supposed to have been collected by Baruch. Scholars believe these are early oracles because of the frequent mention of Israel, Ephraim, Jacob and Rachael- the Northern Kingdom which was conquered by the Assyrians a century before. (721 BCE). These oracles may have then been reworked and then addressed to the Southern Kingdom before its fall.

Notice the significant change in tone and theme.There are parallels between the language and images in these chapters and second Isaiah (40-55).

Even though Israel is incurably injured (30:12-13), God will heal her (30:17). In verse 18 the reference to rebuilding the city upon its mound reflects the ancient practice of building a city on top of the ruins of the previous city. In chapter 31 there are three prose oracles which begin with “Behold, the days are coming, says Yahweh”. The verses of 31:15-20 are familiar to readers of the New Testament (Matt 2:18).Rachael was the mother of Joseph and Benjamin who were the “fathers” of the tribes of Joseph (Ephriam and Manasseh)  and Benjamin. The Joseph tribes were taken captive by the Assyrians.

The phrase “a woman encompasses a man” in verses 22 is somewhat cryptic. Scholars think because the word “encompasses” is used in Deut 32:10 to describe God’s encompassing care that this use indicates a reversal of the status quo where a woman was under a man’s care. See also Isaiah 11:6-9 for the reversal of the normal in the new age.  On 31:29-30, see Exodus 20:5; 34:7 and then Deut 24:16, 2 Kings 14:16, and Ezekiel 18. It appears that Jeremiah reinterprets a traditional principle. 31:31-34 a new covenant! 31:38-40 Jerusalem will be rebuilt.

D. 32:1-35:19 Tales of Life under Siege: These chapters all tell about events which took place in Jerusalem during the Babylonian siege. Chronologically speaking, chapters 32 and 33 should come after 34, but notice how the ordering of these events works to link chapters 32-35 to the Book of Consolation.

32:1-44 Jeremiah buys land in Anathoth even though Jerusalem is under siege and Jeremiah is in prison.Why does God have him do that?  There was not money as coin currency as we think of it at that time. Money was weighed. It was common to store documents in clay pots. These verses give us a detailed description of how business transactions were handled. Then Jeremiah prays and God answers.

33:1-26 Oracles of Restoration: After punishment, there will be healing and restoration.Notice that God’s restoration and healing are gifts from God and not dependent on Israel and Judah’s actions. Verses 14-26 are not in the Septuagint and may be later (450-400 BCE) than the rest of the chapter. These verses focus on the establishment of a Davidic king.

34:1-7 A warning to Zedekiah. Notice Jeremiah is not in prison here.

34:8-22 is about the temporary manumission of slaves during the siege. See Deut 15:1,12-18 for the law concerning slaves.In addition to following the Law, scholars think the slaves were most likely released for practical reasons, because feeding them was difficult during the siege and perhaps as feed people they would fight for the city. When the Egyptian army approached Jerusalem, the Babylonians temporarily lifted the siege to face the Egyptian threat. Once the siege was lifted, the manumission was rescinded.

35:1-19 The Symbol of the Rechabites: The Rechabites were a religious order (somewhat like the nazerites). Jeremiah takes them to the Temple and offers them wine. The Rechabites decline because they are faithful to their ancestor’s command. Jeremiah uses them as an example of faithfulness to their tradition.Obedience matters.

Here are several good sources to aid your reading.

Anderson, Bernhard W., Katheryn Pfister Darr, Understanding the Old Testament Abridged fourth Edition. (Upper Saddle River,New Jersey: Prentice Hall) 1998.

The New Interpreter’s Bible, Vol 7, Keck, Leander E. ed. (Nashville: Abingdon Press) 2001.

Hutton, Rodney R. “Jeremiah” in The New Oxford Annotated Bible with Apocrypha: New Revised Standard Version.Coogan, Michael D.; Brettler, Marc Z.; Perkins, Pheme; Newsom, Carol A. (2010-01-20) Oxford University Press. Kindle Edition.

Gold, Victor R., William Holladay, “Jeremiah” in The New Oxford Annotated Bible with Apocryphal/Deuterocanonical Books, Metzger,Bruce M.;Murphy,Roland E., eds. (New York:Oxford University Press) 1994.

Overholt,Thomas W. “Jeremiah” in  HarperCollins Bible Commentary Mays, James L. ed.(San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco) 2000.

 

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