THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH
Part 1: Oracles to Judah and Jerusalem
(Babylon Conquers Judah and Jerusalem)
Additions to the Book of Consolation:
The Eternal Covenant and the Branch of David
We know that You move events in the history of humanity to bring about the salvation of all peoples. You use good men and woman, but You also use imperfect men and woman in Your Divine Plan for humanity's salvation. Help us to understand that, as imperfect as we are, we can also have a part in Your Divine Plan; we just have to be open to Your call and ready to serve. The success or failure of our part is not our responsibility. As St. Mother Theresa so wisely said, her mission was not to be successful; her mission was to be obedient and faithful to God's call. Lord, we ask You to instill in all Christians the obedience of faith to move forward Your Divine Plan that will culminate in the Second Advent of Christ, the High Priest of Your heavenly Sanctuary and the eternal Davidic King. We pray in the name of God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen
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God is ever
faithful, and he has placed himself in our debt, not because he has received
anything from us, but through all the promises he has made to us. In his own
eyes, the promises seem to be of little value; he has put them in writing, a
compendium of promises, so that we will be able to read then, one after
another, as they come to pass. As had been said many times before, the
prophetic era is made up of the days in which the Lord made his promises.
St. Augustine, Enarratinoes in Psalmos, 109, 1
Chapter 32: Additions to the Book of Consolation
Chapters 32-33 are additions to Jeremiah's Book of Consolation with the same themes as those in Chapters 30-31:
This section dates to the tenth and last year of the reign of King Zedekiah (reined 597-587 BC) and the eighteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar (reined 605-562 BC). The date according to 32:1 is 587 BC, when the Babylonian siege prophesied in 34:21-22 was resumed (32:2 and 24). This section contains Object Lesson #8 and its related message. The additions to the Book of Consolation are in prose except for the Messianic prophecy in 33:15-16.
After the introduction, there are a series of six oracles in Chapter 32 with Jeremiah's prayer to Yahweh and Yahweh's answer at the center:
Jeremiah 32:1-5 ~ King Zedekiah Imprisons Jeremiah: Oracle #1
1 The word that came to Jeremiah from Yahweh in the tenth year of Zedekiah king of Judah, which was the eighteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar. 2 The army of the king of Babylon was then besieging Jerusalem, and the prophet Jeremiah was confined in the Court of the Guard in the king of Judah's palace, 3 where Zedekiah king of Judah had confined him, saying, "Why do you keep prophesying like this, Yahweh says this: I am going to hand this city over to the king of Babylon and he will capture it; 4 and Zedekiah king of Judah will not escape the clutches [hands] of the Chaldaeans, but will certainly be handed over to the king of Babylon, speak to him personally and see him face to face. 5 He will take Zedekiah away to Babylon and there he will stay until I attend to him, Yahweh declares. If you fight the Chaldaeans you will not succeed!'"
The "word" that came to Jeremiah is the oracle that the king repeats in verses 3b-5. It is the tenth year of Zedekiah's reign when these events take place (Zedekiah ruled eleven years as the ancients counted according to Jer 3:3). The events in this section took place during Jerusalem's darkest hours in the second and final siege of Jerusalem, after Jeremiah's confinement in the Court of the Guard (Jer 37:21), and after the Egyptian army's defeat by Nebuchadnezzar.
The Egyptians coming to Zedekiah's aid forced the Babylonians to temporarily lift their first siege of Jerusalem (Jer 37:5). However, the siege resumed on the 1st of Adar (February 24), 587 BC, after the Babylonians defeated the Egyptians (Jer 33:2, 24; 34:21-22). The incident reported in this chapter took place before Jerusalem fell to the Babylonians. When the siege was temporary lifted, Jeremiah decided to leave the city to see about his property in his hometown of Anathoth. He was stopped at the Benjamin Gate where the guard commander arrested him, accusing Jeremiah of deserting to the Babylonians. Jeremiah was beaten and imprisoned in an underground vault. After a long time, King Zedekiah sent for him. The king asked Jeremiah for a prophecy from Yahweh, and when Jeremiah told him the city would fall to the Babylonians, the king confined Jeremiah to the Court of the Guard in the palace to keep him from continuing to give his prophecy of defeat to the crowds in Jerusalem (Jer 37:11-21).
5b If you fight the Chaldaeans you will not succeed! The "you" is plural and is addressed to the people of Jerusalem and not just to the king. The city will fall to the Babylonians six months after the siege was resumed in July/August 587 BC, in the eleventh year of Zedekiah (as the ancients counted), and Jeremiah's mission will come to an end (Jer 1:3).
Jeremiah 32:6-15 ~ Jeremiah Buys a Field as a Symbolic Act and a Sign
of Future Prosperity: Object Lesson # 8 and Oracles #2 (verses 6-14) and #3 (verse 15)
6 Jeremiah said, "The word of Yahweh has been addressed to me as follows, 7 Look, Hanamel the son of your uncle Shallum will come to you and say: Buy my field at Anathoth, for you have the right of redemption to purchase it.' 8 And as Yahweh had said, my cousin Hanamel came to me, in the Court of the Guard and said, Buy my field at Anathoth in the territory of Benjamin, for you have the right of inheritance and right of redemption; buy it.' I knew then that this was Yahweh's order. 9 Accordingly, I bought the field from my cousin Hanamel of Anathoth and weighted him out the money: seventeen silver shekels. 10 I drew up the deeds and sealed it, called in witnesses and weighed out the money on the scales. 11 I then took both the sealed deed of purchase with its stipulations and clauses and its open copy 12 and handed over the deed of purchase to Baruch son of Neriah, son of Mahseiah, in the presence of my cousin Hanamel, of the witnesses who had signed the deed of purchase, and of all the Judaeans who then happened to be in the Court of the Guard. 13 In their presence I gave Baruch this order, 14 Yahweh Sabaoth, God of Israel, says this: Take these deeds, the sealed deed of purchase and its open copy, and put them in an earthenware pot, so that they may be preserved for a long time. 15 For Yahweh Sabaoth, God of Israel, says this: Houses, fields and vineyards will again be bought in this country.'"
The continual attacks of the Babylonian army resulted in the burning of parts of the city and the desolation of the countryside. Amid the peoples' despair, God commands Jeremiah to buy a field of ancestral land in his hometown of Anathoth from his first-cousin in a public ceremony. Jeremiah first learns of his cousin's visit from a "word" from Yahweh which is confirmed when his cousin arrives (verse 8).
my cousin Hanamel came to me, in the Court of the Guard and said,
Buy my field at Anathoth in the territory of Benjamin, for you have the right
of inheritance and right of redemption; buy it.'
In his confinement in the Court of the Guard, Jeremiah was able to receive visitors, make business transactions in the presence of witnesses, and even speak freely to those present who were mostly the members of the royal guard.
The Promised Land belonged to Yahweh and the Israelites were only tenants on the land. If a man fell into financial difficulties, it was the obligation of his nearest relative to purchase his portion of ancestral land (Lev 25:23-28). Such a man was referred to as go'el, or "kinsman redeemer," as Boaz was to Naomi and Ruth in the Book of Ruth. While it was true that the men of the tribe of Levi were not given a portion of the Promised Land after the conquest, they did receive property rights to certain Levitical towns and the right to own associated pasture lands (Lev 25:34; Num 35:1-8; Josh 21:1-8). Ancestral lands had to remain in possession of each allotted tribe (Num 18:23; 36:7; Rt 4:1-12). Jeremiah is acting as his cousin's go'el/kinsman redeemer to keep the ancestral property within the family. Both Anathoth and Jerusalem are located in the ancestral lands allotted to the tribe of Benjamin.
Jeremiah's cousin is motivated to selling the ancestral property in
Anathoth, a village near Jerusalem, because Nebuchadnezzar's army is probably encamped
near by, and he suspects he will never be allowed to return there. The irony is
that Jeremiah believes and preaches that the Babylonians will take the city and
send all the people into exile, yet he still agrees to purchase the land.
Question: So why does Jeremiah purchase the land?
Answer: For two reasons: 1. God told him, and 2. he believes God's promise that the exiled people will return to the land.
9 Accordingly, I bought
the field from my cousin Hanamel of Anathoth and weighted him out the money:
seventeen silver shekels. 10 I
drew up the deeds and sealed it, called in witnesses and weighed out the money
on the scales.
One shekel was equivalent to 11.4 grams in weight, which means 17 shekels of silver weighed about 193.8 grams or 6.78 ounces (Lundbom, page 507). Jeremiah was able to send for his savings, perhaps since he was a priest his personal fortune was kept in the nearby Temple treasury. The money was weighed out on scales because the silver was in the form of ingots.(2)
13 In their presence I
gave Baruch this order, 14 Yahweh
Sabaoth, God of Israel, says this: Take these deeds, the sealed deed of
purchase and its open copy, and put them in an earthenware pot, so that they
may be preserved for a long time. 15 For
Yahweh Sabaoth, God of Israel, says this: Houses, fields and vineyards will again
be bought in this country.'
Baruch the scribe is the one writing up the deed of sale since profession scribes were required to draw up legal documents. From seal impressions discovered by archaeologists that belonged to "the scribe Baruch ben Neriah," we know that he had his own official seal (Jer 36:4).(4) The deed was written in duplicate on a single piece of papyrus with several blank lines in the center separating the two texts. The top half would be the sealed copy and the duplicate was below and accessible for reference if needed. The top copy was then rolled up and sealed with clay seals secured with string. The bottom portion would also be rolled up and perhaps tied with string, but not sealed. Baruch is also the inspired writer of the Book of Baruch, written while he was in exile in Babylon.(5)
Question: What does God tell Jeremiah to do with the deed of
sale and why?
Answer: God tells him to put the deed of sale away into safe keeping in a clay jar for the future to emphasize his prediction that the captives in Babylon will one day return to land that will belong to them and be productive again.
The Dead Sea Scroll documents discovered in caves at Qumran near the Dead Sea were all originally rolled, sealed, and placed in clay jars.
15 For Yahweh Sabaoth, God of Israel, says this: Houses, fields and vineyards will again be bought in this country.
Verse 15 is another divine oracle, and Jeremiah's action in purchasing the field is another object lesson and symbolic action, witnessed by those present and retold as a sign that the prophet believes the people will return to claim the land.
Jeremiah 32:16-25 ~ Jeremiah's Prayer
16 After I had entrusted the deed of purchase to Baruch son of Neriah, I prayed to Yahweh as follows, 17 "Ah, Lord Yahweh, you made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. To you nothing is impossible. 18 You show faithful love [hesed = covenant love] to thousands but repay the fathers' guilt in full to their children after them. Great and mighty God, whose name is Yahweh Sabaoth, 19 great in purpose, mighty in deed, whose eyes are open on all human ways, rewarding every individual as that person's ways and actions deserve! 20 You performed signs and wonders in Egypt, as you still do in Israel and among humanity today. You have won the name for yourself which is yours today. 21 You brought your people Israel out of Egypt with signs and wonders, with mighty hand and outstretched arm and fearsome terror. 22 Then you gave them this country which you had promised on oath to their ancestors, a country flowing with milk and honey. 23 They then entered it, taking possession of it, but they would not listen to your voice nor follow your Law: they would do nothing you ordered them to do; and so you made this total disaster befall them. 24 Look! The earthworks are already in place to take the city and, by means of sword, famine and plague, the city is now within the clutches [hands] of the Chaldaeans attacking it. What you said has now come true, as you see. 25 Yet you yourself, Lord Yahweh, told me: Buy the field, pay for it, have it witnessed although the city is already in the Chaldaeans' clutches [hands]."
Verses 16-25 are a prayer from Jeremiah to which Yahweh replies in
Question: What is the theme of Jeremiah's prayer in verses 17-23a?
Answer: His theme is Yahweh's great works, beginning with His work in Creation, His mercy, His judgment, and continuing with a summary of Yahweh's works in Israel's history as well as Israel's unfaithfulness.
17 "Ah, Lord Yahweh, you
made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. To
you nothing is impossible. 18 You
show faithful love [hesed = covenant love] to thousands but repay the fathers'
guilt in full to their children after them. Great and mighty God, whose name
is Yahweh Sabaoth, 19 great
in purpose, mighty in deed, whose eyes are open on all human ways, rewarding
every individual as that person's ways and actions deserve!
Jeremiah begins his prayer by stating his belief that "nothing is impossible" for God. Yahweh disposes His mighty works according to His divine will, as Jeremiah says in 27:5 and 32:17, and as the angel Gabriel tells Mary of Nazareth in Luke 1:37. He is the Lord of the universe and the Master of history who governs people and events according to His Divine Plan (CCC 269).
In verses 18-19 Jeremiah speaks of both Yahweh's covenant love to the faithful and the punishment for the collective guilt of the sin of fathers that they pass on (teach) to their children. However, in verse 19, Jeremiah ends the judgment section of his prayer by emphasizing that every person receives just judgment according to his deeds.
Question: In verse 23, Jeremiah recalls the gift of the Promised
Land and the Israelites' failure as a people. What was the cause of their
failure that resulted in the present dire situation?
Answer: They lacked gratitude for Yahweh's gifts that led to their failure to listen to Yahweh's voice and follow His Laws.
24 Look! The earthworks
are already in place to take the city and, by means of sword, famine and
plague, the city is now within the clutches [hands] of the Chaldaeans attacking
it. What you said has now come true, as you see. 25 Yet you yourself, Lord Yahweh, told
me: Buy the field, pay for it, have it witnessed although the city is already
in the Chaldaeans' clutches [hands]."
The Chaldaeans are the Babylonians "the Chaldaeans being the ruling ethnic group of the Babylonian Empire. The Babylonian engineers built earthwork ramps to scale the wall of Jerusalem. At the end of the prayer, he finally states what is really on his mind: Jeremiah is certain that the siege will be successful, so why did Yahweh tell him to buy the field? It is only in verse 25 that we learn Yahweh instructed him to purchase the field and call for witnesses; this was not mentioned in verse 7.
Jeremiah 32:26-37 ~ Yahweh's Response to Jeremiah's Prayer
26 The word of Yahweh was addressed to me as follows, 27 "Look, I am Yahweh, God of all humanity. Is anything impossible to me?
In His short answer to Jeremiah's prayer, Yahweh reminds Jeremiah that nothing is impossible in His divine plan; even the return of the exiled people of Judah to live in the Promised Land. Yahweh repeats Jeremiah's same statement in 32:17, affirming His complete power over all aspects of life.
Jeremiah 32:28-35 ~ Oracle #4: A Repeat of Yahweh's Judgment
28 So, Yahweh says this, I shall hand this city over to the Chaldaeans and to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and he will capture it; 29 the Chaldaeans attacking this city will enter it, fire it and burn it to the ground, with the houses on whose roofs incense has been offered to Baal and libations poured to other gods, to provoke my anger. 30 For the people of Israel and Judah alike have done nothing but what displeases me since they were young. The people of Israel in fact have done nothing but provoke my anger by their actions, Yahweh declares. 31 Yes, from the day when this city was built until today, it has been such cause of anger and wrath to me that I mean to remove it from my sight, 32 on account of all the wickedness of the people of Israel and the people of Judah have done to provoke my anger; they, their kings, their chief men, their priests, their prophets, the people of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem. 33 They turned to me their backs, never their faces; and though I taught them so urgently, so untiringly, they would not listen and accept correction. 34 Instead, they set up their Horrors in the Temple that bears my name to defile it, 35 and built the high places of Baal in the Valley of Ben-Hinnom, to burn their sons and daughters alive in honor of Molech: a thing I have never ordered, that had never entered my thoughts, that they would cause Judah to sin by anything so loathsome!"
Question: Who are those responsible for the coming destruction?
How many different groups of people are named?
Answer: Everyone is responsible:
Question: Instead of repenting their sins and returning to
fellowship with Yahweh, what sins did the people continue to commit because
they refused to repent and follow God's laws? "Horrors" refers to images of
The reasons Yahweh lists for the destruction of Judah, Jerusalem, and the exile are the same reasons for God's divine judgment that Jeremiah has been preaching for the past 35 years. It was a reoccurring theme of Jeremiah's ministry that the people failed to listen and take correction (Jer 2:30; 5:3; 7:28; 17:23), and the same theme continues in 32:33 and 35:13. He also continually condemned illicit worship from the beginning of his ministry, and his object lesson of the broken jug in 19:13 was a visual demonstration of what was to happen to the people of Jerusalem because of their illicit worship in the Temple and their attraction to pagan gods.
33 They turned to me
their backs, never their faces; and though I taught them so urgently, so
untiringly, they would not listen and accept correction.
To turn one's back on another is a sign of contempt or disrespect. The people did not respect Yahweh enough to listen to His voice through His prophets or to accept His divine correction.
35 and built the high
places of Baal in the Valley of Ben-Hinnom, to burn their sons and daughters
alive in honor of Molech: a thing I have never ordered, that had never entered
my thoughts, that they would cause Judah to sin by anything so loathsome!
Yahweh reaffirms that He always condemned human sacrifice. Some Bible scholars suggest that false prophets and fallen priests misled the people in thinking that Molech sacrifice was compatible with Yahweh worship.
Jeremiah 32:36-41 ~ Oracle #5: Yahweh's Promise of a Return to the
Land and a Future Eternal Covenant (Messianic Promise).
36 "So now, this is what Yahweh, God of Israel, says about this city of which you now say: By means of sword, famine and plague, it is already within the king of Babylon's clutches [hands]: 37 Look, I shall gather them in from all the countries where I have driven them in my anger, my fury and great wrath. I shall bring them back to this place and make them live in safety. 38 Then they will be my people, and I shall be their God. 39 I shall give them singleness of heart and singleness of conduct so that they will always fear me, for their own good and that of their children after them. 40 I shall make an everlasting covenant with them, never to cease in my efforts for their welfare, and I shall put respect for me in their hearts, so that they will never turn away from me again. 41 My joy will lie in them and in doing them good, and I shall plant them firmly in this country, with all my heart and soul."
The two concluding oracles in Chapter 32 parallel the two concluding oracles in Chapter 31:
Yahweh repeats His promise to deliever the exiled covenant people, to return them to the land, and return them to a covenant relationship with Him, saying, Then they will be my people, and I shall be their God. This statement is covenant language and a reference to the symbolic imagery of the marriage covenant in which a bridegroom says: "You will be my bride and I shall be your husband," which God proclaims for the first time in Exodus 6:7 and repeats in Deuteronomy 7:66 (with slight variation) and throughout the Old Testament books of the prophets.
39 I shall give them
singleness of heart and singleness of conduct so that they will always fear me,
for their own good and that of their children after them.
Yahweh will restore the people spiritually by placing within them and their children the desire to please Him. The "fear" that is "for their own good" is not servile fear but filial fear, meaning the fear of a child to displease or disappoint a loving father.
40 I shall make an
everlasting covenant with them, never to cease in my efforts for their welfare,
and I shall put respect for me in their hearts, so that they will never turn
away from me again. 41 My
joy will lie in them and in doing them good, and I shall plant them firmly in
this country, with all my heart and soul."
The new covenant promised in Jeremiah 31:31 will be an everlasting/eternal covenant to replace the broken Sinai Covenant. The Sinai Covenant with its temporal blessings and curses was never guaranteed to be eternal. The new and eternal covenant is without conditions or limitations.
Question: Was the concept of an eternal covenant new or unique
to the Israelites/Judahites? See the list of
Yahweh's Eight Covenants,
and also see Gen 9:16; 17:7, 19;
Ex 31:16; Num 25:13; 2 Sam 23:5; 2 Chr 13:5;
Sir 44:18/19; 45:7/8, 19, 24/30.
Answer: God also formed eternal covenants with Noah and the earth, Abraham, worship on the Sabbath, Aaron and Phinehas, David and his heirs.
The "everlasting/eternal covenant" is promised in Isaiah 55:3; Jeremiah 32:40; 50:5, in Ezekiel 16:60 and 37:26. It is fulfilled in the New Covenant promised in Jeremiah 31:31 and announced by Jesus Christ at the Last Supper in Luke 22:20. The inspired writer of the Letter to the Hebrews (believed by many scholars to be St. Paul) wrote that Jesus Christ fulfills the Messianic prophecy of a new and eternal covenant: I pray that the God of peace, who brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great Shepherd of the sheep, by the blood that sealed an eternal covenant, may prepare you to do his will in every kind of good action; effecting in us all whatever is acceptable to himself through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever, Amen (Heb 13:20). Jeremiah repeats the promise of an everlasting/eternal covenant in Jeremiah 50:5 where it is also described as "a covenant of peace" as is the covenant with Phinehas in Numbers 25:12-13.
Question: What does the new and eternal covenant make possible for those who accept Jesus as Lord and Savior? See 2 Pt 1:11.
Answer: The new and eternal covenant makes possible our eternal salvation in the eternal Kingdom of Jesus Christ.
|Prophecy||Jeremiah reference||New Testament Fulfillment|
|Everlasting Covenant||Jer 32:40; 50:5||Heb 13:20|
Jeremiah 32:43-44 ~ Oracle #6: The People and the Land Restored
43 For Yahweh says this: "Just as I have brought this complete and total disaster on this people, so I shall bring them all the good things I have promised them. Fields will again be bought in this country of which you now say: It is a wasteland without human or animal, already in the clutches [hands] of the Chaldaeans. 44 People will buy fields, pay money, draw up deeds, seal them and have them witnessed in the territory of Benjamin, in the districts around Jerusalem, in the towns of Judah, of the highlands, of the lowlands and of the Negeb. For I shall bring back their captives, Yahweh declares."
Yahweh promises that the whole of Judah will be repopulated, with people making land purchases like Jeremiah made in 32:6-15. The key phrase in the final verse, For I shall bring back their captives, Yahweh declares (verse 44) is repeated at the end of Chapter 33 (verse 26).
Chapter 33: "The Branch of David"
The prophecies in this Chapter date from the same period as those in Chapter 32, when Jeremiah was confined in the Court of the Guard in Zedekiah's palace. Of the twenty Davidic kings who ruled Judah during the 400 years between David and the Babylonian captivity, only a few were good men who served Yahweh and were worthy of the title "sons of God" (2 Sam 7:14). Earlier in Chapters 22 and 23, God, through His prophet, bitterly indicted the family line of kings to whom He gave the promise of an eternal throne (2 Sam 7:16, 29). In Chapter 33, Yahweh repeats the prophecy of one great king from the line of David called "the Branch" who will fulfill the promises of the eternal Davidic covenant. See the list of the seven Old Testament covenants that are fulfilled in an eighth, new and eternal covenant promised by Jeremiah in 31:31-34; 32:40; 50:20 and Ezekiel 16:60: Yahweh's 8 Covenants.
Like the previous chapter, Chapter 33 contains six oracles, with each oracle beginning with the words "Yahweh says this" or "Yahweh Sabaoth says this":
The last four oracles concern God's faithfulness to the covenant promises to David, the Aaronic priesthood, and Israel.
Jeremiah 33:1-9 ~ Oracle #1: Another Promise of the Restoration and
Unification of Israel
1 Jeremiah was still confined to the Court of the Guard when the word of Yahweh came to him a second time, as follows, 2 "Yahweh who made the earth, who formed it and set it firm; Yahweh is his name says this, 3 Call to me and I will answer you; I will tell you great secrets of which you know nothing. 4 For this is what Yahweh, God of Israel, says about the houses of this city and the palaces of the kings of Judah which are about to be destroyed by means of the earthworks and the sword; 5 about those now fighting the Chaldaeans, only to fill the city with corpses, those whom I have slaughtered in my furious anger, those whose wickedness has made me hide my face from this city: 6 Look, I shall bring them remedy and cure; I shall cure them and reveal a new order of peace and loyalty to them. 7 I shall bring back the captives of Judah and the captives of Israel and shall rebuild them as before. 8 I shall cleanse them of all their guilt, by which they have offended me, I shall forgive all their guilty actions, by which they have offended me and rebelled against me. 9 And, for me, Jerusalem will become a name of joy and praise and pride for all the nations on earth to see; when they hear of all the prosperity that I shall give, they will be seized with fear and trembling at all the prosperity and the peace that I provide for it.'"
As Jeremiah's captivity in the Court of the Guard continued, God comforted His prophet. In this oracle, God emphasizes His Divine Name, Yahweh, (the name by which God said every generation should invoke Him in Ex 3:15b). Yahweh assures Jeremiah that everything is going according to His divine plan. He has not abandoned His prophet and will continue to confide in him, telling Jeremiah, "Call to me and I will answer you; I will tell you great secrets of which you know nothing."
God tells Jeremiah that the city will fall to the Babylonians with a
terrible slaughter in judgment for the people's collective sins. This disaster
will happen because God will not intervene on behalf of the city. However, as
is always the case with judgment oracles, God follows His dire prophecy with
words of hope.
Question: Using the divine "I," in what five ways does God promise to do mighty works to bring about the restoration of the people, physically and spiritually?
8 I shall cleanse them
of all their guilt, by which they have offended me, I shall forgive all their
guilty actions, by which they have offended me and rebelled against me.
This section has echoes of Chapter 31. The five-part promise of redemption recalls the four ways God previously promised to bring the covenant people back from exile in 31:8-9, and verse 8 repeats the new covenant promise of 31:33-34.
9 And, for me, Jerusalem
will become a name of joy and praise and pride for all the nations on earth to
see; when they hear of all the prosperity that I shall give, they will be
seized with fear and trembling at all the prosperity and the peace that I
provide for it.'"
Yahweh promises Jerusalem a glorious future. Today, all Christians and Jews speak the name of the holy city with love and joy; however, the enemies of God's old and new covenant people are filled with envy and hatred, more perhaps than even in past generations. It is ironic that the city, whose name means "Yahweh will provide peace," is, and always has been, filled with strife.
Jeremiah 33:10-11 ~ Oracle #2: The Towns and the Fields of Judah will be Repopulated
10 "Yahweh says this, In this place of which you now say: It is a ruin, without human or animal, in the towns of Judah and desolate streets of Jerusalem where there is neither human nor animal, once more will be heard 11 shouts of rejoicing and mirth, the voices of bridegroom and bride, and the singing of those who bring thanksgiving sacrifices to the Temple of Yahweh: Give thanks to Yahweh Sabaoth, For I shall bring back the country's captives, as before, Yahweh says.'"
Despite the people abandoning Yahweh and His covenant that brought
about the judgment of the covenant curses outlined in Deuteronomy 28, God will
not abandon His people: for Yahweh is good, for his faithful love [hesed] is
Question: What does "as before" refer to? When "before" did God bring back the captives to the land?
Answer: The "as before" refers to the Exodus liberation when the children of Israel were the captive slaves of the Egyptian Pharaoh. God will bring the people back from Babylon to the land in the same way He brought back the children of Israel to Canaan in the Exodus liberation.
Jeremiah 33:12-16 ~ Oracle #3: The Institutions of the Messianic Age
and the Messianic Prophecy of "The Branch
12 "Yahweh Sabaoth says this, In this ruinous place, without human or animal, in all its towns, once again there will be pastures for the shepherds to rest their flocks. 13 In the towns of the of the highlands, of the lowlands and the Negeb, in the territory of Benjamin, in the districts round Jerusalem and in the towns of Judah, once again the flocks shall pass under the hand of someone who counts them, Yahweh says. 14 Look, the days are coming, Yahweh declares, when I shall fulfil the promise of happiness I made to the House of Israel and the House of Judah: 15 In those days and at this time, I shall make an upright Branch grow for David, who will do what is just and upright in the country. 16 In those days Judah will triumph and Israel live in safety. And this is the name the city will be called: Yahweh-is-our-Saving-Justice.
This oracle of restoration only names the different parts of the land of Judah, listing Judah's territory from the tribal lands of Benjamin that marked the northern border of Judah to the Negeb on the southern border. Then verses 15-16 Yahweh confirms the future coming of the Davidic Messiah. It is a prophecy confirmed as fulfilled in the New Testament Gospels (Mt 1:1-17; 16:18; Mk 1:1; Lk 1:31-33; Jn 1:32-33, 41).
The name of Jesus' hometown in the Galilee is Nazareth; in Matthew's Gospel he calls it Nazara and gives a fulfillment statement from the Old Testament Scriptures that the prophets prophesied the Messiah would come from this town: There he settled in a town called Nazareth. In this way the words spoken through the prophets were to be fulfilled: "He will be called a Nazarene." Notice that Matthew writes "prophets" plural. There are two Hebrew words that can be translated as "branch" that are used in referring to the Messiah: tsemach (see Is 4:2; Jer 23:5; 33:15; Zec 3:8; 6:12) and netzer (see Is 11:1; 14:19; 60:21; Dan 11:7). Some Biblical scholars think netzer is the root for the word Nazareth (Hebrew = Natseret; Aramaic = Nasrat), the city where Jesus was raised.
The Messianic promise is that a righteous man from the lineage of David will bring saving justice to the people and the land. In verse 17, Yahweh repeats the covenant promise that David's line will never lack an heir.
Jeremiah 33:17-18 ~ Oracle #4: Continuation of Descendants for the
House of David and the Ministerial Priesthood
17 For Yahweh says this, "David will never lack a male descendant to occupy the throne of the House of Israel, 18 nor will the Levitical priests ever lack male descendants to stand before me and offer the burnt offering, to burn the cereal offering and offer sacrifice every day."
Despite the hardships of the exile, Yahweh reaffirms His commitment to the Davidic Covenant and the Aaronic priestly Covenant during the period of Babylonian captivity. When the people return from exile, a Davidic king does not take the throne of Judah, but descendants of Aaron return and take up their duties at Yahweh's altar of sacrifice in the rebuilt Temple. King Cyrus of Persia allows the exiles to return, Then the heads of families of Judah and Benjamin, the priests and the Levites, in fact all whose spirit had been roused by God, prepared to go and rebuild the Temple of Yahweh in Jerusalem ... (Ezra 1:5). The Book of Nehemiah lists the returning families of the priests and Levites in Nehemiah 7:39-43.
Jeremiah 33:19-22 ~ Oracle #5: Assurance of the eternal nature
of the Davidic Covenant and the Ministerial Priesthood
19 The word of Yahweh came to Jeremiah as follows, 20 "Yahweh said this, If you could break my covenant with the day and my covenant with the night so that day and night do not come at their due time, 21 then my covenant with David might also be broken and he would have no son to reign on his throne, and so also might my covenant with the Levitical priests, who are my ministers. 22 As surely as the array of heaven cannot be counted, nor the sand of the sea be measured, so surely shall I increase the heirs of David my servant and the Levites who minister to me.'"
The Catechism states concerning this passage: "Thus the revelation of creation is inseparable from the revelation and forging of the covenant of the one God with his People. Creation is revealed as the first step toward this covenant, the first and universal witness to God's all-powerful love. And so, the truth of creation is also expressed with growing vigor in the message of the prophets, the prayer of the psalms and the liturgy, and in the wisdom sayings of the Chosen People (CCC 288). In the creation event, Yahweh laid a foundation and established the natural/physical laws that govern the earth and the cosmos and remain fixed. Every faithful believer can rely with confidence on the continuation of these laws throughout every generation until Christ's return in glory. We should view the physical laws of the universe as a sign and pledge of the unshakeable power and faithfulness of God's covenant relationship with humanity.
Question: What is Yahweh's promise in the oracle?
Answer: As long as day follows night God will keep his covenant with David and the ministerial priesthood, and He will increase their numbers.
Jeremiah 33:23-26 ~ Oracle # 6: The Promise of the Continuation of
the Abrahamic and Davidic Covenants
23 The word of Yahweh came to Jeremiah as follows, 24 "Have you not noticed what these people say, The two families which Yahweh chose he has rejected'? So they despise my people, whom they no longer think of as a nation. 25 Yahweh says this, If I have not created day and night and fixed the laws governing heaven and earth, why, 26 then I shall reject the descendants of Jacob and David my servant and cease to choose rulers from his descendants for the heirs of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob! For I shall bring back their captives and take pity on them.'"
The two families Yahweh rejected are the rulers of Israel in the Northern Kingdom and the Southern Kingdom of Judah. God promised kingship over Israel to the sons of the family of David. When they failed in obedience to the Laws of the Kings (Dt 17:14-20; 1 Kng 10:14, 26-28; 11:1-13), Yahweh humbled them by offering the same promise of kingship to Jeroboam, a prince of Ephraim (1 Kng 11:29-39) who also failed in faith and obedience. However, God's rejection of the failed leadership of the Northern and Southern Kingdoms does not mean He has rejected the Abrahamic or Davidic covenants.
Question: Who does St. Paul identify as the heirs
of Abraham who inherit the promises of the Abrahamic covenant that promised a
kingdom, many descendants, and a worldwide blessing in Genesis 12:1-3? See Gal 3:26-29.
Answer: St. Paul wrote that all baptized Christians are "clothed in Christ" and "by simply being Christ's...are that progeny of Abraham, the heirs named in the promise." It is the members of the New Covenant Church of Jesus Christ who are the inheritors of the eternal Kingdom of God that Jesus came to establish, whose members cover the entire earth, and who bring a worldwide blessing to all humanity.
The key phrase in the final verse that summarizes the oracle, For I shall bring back their captives, and take pity on them (verse 26) repeats the promise in verse 44 at the end of Chapter 32, For I shall bring back their captives, Yahweh declares.
The New Testament demonstrates that all the prophecies in the Book of Consolation find their fulfillment in Jesus of Nazareth, son of David son of Abraham (Mt 1:1). He is the "Branch" of the Davidic line who is the King of the eternal Kingdom. Jesus is also the High Priest of the New and Eternal Covenant (Heb 8:1-13) whose very life is made present in the hands of His priestly representatives on every Catholic altar in the sacrifice of the Mass! Through Him the captives of sin are restored, and the promises made to Abraham are ours in a covenant that opens the doors to the Promised Land of Heaven.
Questions for reflection or group discussion:
Question: How does Jesus of Nazareth fulfill the eternal Davidic Covenant and the covenant with Phinehas that promised a perpetual priesthood? What three holy offices does Jesus fulfill as Messiah-king? See CCC 436 and 783.
Question: How is the covenant promise of a perpetual priesthood made to Aaron's grandson Phinehas (Num 25:10-13) continuing in Jesus Christ and His priestly representatives in the sacrifice of the Mass? See Heb 4:14-5:10; 7:26-28-8:3; Rev 5:6.
1. Our modern calendar changes years on January 1st, but the civil year for the Israelites began the first of Tishri, our September. This difference in observing the beginning of a new year in counting years in the Scripture results in Bible scholars sometimes using different years in their calculations; for example 586 BC instead of 587 BC. In addition, the ancients counted days, months, and years without the concept of a zero place-value; it is why Scripture says Jesus was in the tomb three days from Friday to Sunday, counting Friday as day #1.
2. Coins were first minted in the late 7th century BC at Sardis in Asia Minor, but it wasn't until the late 5th century BC that foreign currency was commonly used in Jerusalem.
3. Making two copies of legal documents was common in the ancient world, as in the case of the Ten Commandments, written front and back on the stone tablets with one a copy of the other. One was Yahweh's copy and the other the copy for the Israelites.
4. Image of a one of the several clay seal impression belonging to Baruch son of Neriah that has been discovered:
5. The Masoretic Jews dropped the Book of Baruch from their canon in the Middle Ages, and therefore it is not found in the modern Jewish Tanakh. Following the example of the revised Jewish Old Testament canon, the Book of Baruch was also dropped from the Protestant canon after the Protestants reset their Bible books in the 16th century AD during the Protestant Reformation. The Protestants did this even though the book was in the ancient Greek Septuagint translation of the Old Testament and is mentioned in 2 Maccabees 2:1-3 (another book dropped by Jews and Protestants). A copy of Baruch was found among the Dead Sea Scrolls at Qumran that dates to 100 BC. In our Catholic canon, it is listed after Lamentations and before the Book of Ezekiel.
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Catechism references for this lesson (* indicated that Scripture is either quoted or paraphrased in the catechism citation):