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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

 

III. 46:1-51:64 Oracles Against the Nations: Oracles against foreign nations were a common type of prophetic literature. Similar collections are found in Amos, Isaiah and Ezekiel. These chapters are placed in different locations of the book in the Hebrew and Greek (LXX) versions. In the Greek text they chapter 25:13. Oracles against other nations appear to be an old tradition but we do not know exactly how they were used. They may have been used to curse the enemy and thought thus undermine their strength and/or they may have served as psychological encouragement for the nation’s soldiers.

A. 46:1 Heading: This verse announces the new section of the book.

B. 46:2-28 Against Egypt: There are two oracles in this chapter. The first (1-12) is set in 605 BCE and concerns Egypt’s defeat at Carchemish. Egypt’s defeat is seen as an act of God. A buckler and shield are two different sizes of shields. A buckler is smaller and the shield covers the entire body.

Verses 13-28 concern a battle in 588 BCE a later invasion of Egypt.  Aphis was a bull deity. Notice that verses 27-28 offer a hope of restoration for Israel.

C. 47:1-7 Against the Philistines: This oracle alludes to the battle against and the destruction of Ashkelon in 694 BCE.

D. 48:1-47 Against Moab: This chapter is a collection of several oracles; verses 1-9, 11-12,14-20, 28-33, each followed by a prose section which expands on the theme of the preceding oracle. Chemosh was the national god of Moab. Verse 9 in the ancient world victors would put salt on a conquered land to destroy the soil’s fertility. Verse 34, these are several cities in Moab. Verse 37, ritual signs of mourning. Verses 40-46 tell that Moab’s destruction is punishment from God.

E. 49:1-39 Against Ammon, Edom, Damascus, Kedar, Hazor, and Elam: Moab and Ammon were used as proxies by Babylon against Israel. Milcom (verse 1) was the national god of Ammon and Rabbah was its capital. Notice the oracle against Ammon concludes with a promise of restoration. Part of this oracle against Edom is found in the book of Obediah. Recall that in Genesis, Essau (Jacob’s brother) is the founder of Edom. Damascus was one of Israel’s traditional enemies. Kedar and the kingdoms of Hazor refer to desert nomadic wanderers. Their cities were unwalled. In 599/598 BCE Nebuchadrezzar led a successful campaign against them. Zedekiah became king of Judah in March 597 BCE after Jehoiachin was disposed. Notice again a promise of restoration.

F. 50:1-51:64 Against Babylon:The location of this oracle, last of the series reflects its importance. This long oracle is made up of several fragments. v 3 the nation out of the north may refer to Persia and Cyrus who conquer Babylon in 539 BCE. Bel is a title for Marduk (Merodach) the main deity of Babylon. Verses 4-10 refer to the restoration of Israel and Judah. Verses 11-16 an oracle against Babylon and verses 17-20 are about the restoration of Israel. Verse 21-32 God’s judgment against Babylon. Verses 33-34 Israel is helpless but God is her redeemer. Verses 35-40 judgment against Babylon. Verses 41-43 the enemy from the north. Verses 44-46 God is like a lion. 51:1-64 God’s judgment against Babylon. Cyrus was king of the Medes and Persians. 51:15-10 a hymn of praise to God.  Verses 25-33 Babylon is destroyed. Verses 34-44 Babylon devours Jerusalem. Verses 45-46, Israel is to come out. Verses 59-64 the oracles against Babylon are taken to Babylon, read publicly and then tied to a stone and thrown into the river.

G. 52:1-34 Historical Appendix: This is similar to 2 Kings 24:18-24:30. The story of the siege and fall of Jerusalem is told. Why do you think the book of Jeremiah ends with this story? Why do you think the oracles against Babylon (and the other nations) were placed before the telling of the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the temple?

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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