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Literature / Book of Jeremiah

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"Before you were formed I knew you. Before you were born I set you apart"

This page focuses on the second two books after Isaiah in the five books of the Major Prophets - Jeremiah and Lamentations:

Jeremiah - God appoints Jeremiah to warn the people of the fall of Jerusalem if they don't turn away from sin. Unfortunately, things went downhill after their disbelief.

Lamentations - Jeremiah writes a song of mourning and sorrow over the destruction of Jerusalem.

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Baruch - A Deutercanonical Spin-Off attributed to Jeremiah's secretary.

Epistle of Jeremiah - A Deuterocanonical letter that addresses the issue of idolatry, sometimes included as the sixth chapter of Baruch.


Tropes:

  • Accomplice by Inaction: In Jeremiah 5:28 God condemns the wicked in Jerusalem for not judging with justice the cause of the fatherless and not defending the rights of the needy.
  • Anachronic Order: While the story begins with Jeremiah being called a prophet in the days of King Josiah and ends with the Babylonian exile and the surviving Judeans fleeing to Egypt, the middle chapters alternate between the reigns of King Jehoiakim (Jeconiah's father) and King Zedekiah and also between various states of Jeremiah's freedom during the reign of Zedekiah.
  • Book Burning: In Chapter 36, Jeremiah had Baruch write all God's words down in a scroll and read to the people of Jerusalem in the hopes that they would repent. When the scroll was being read before King Jehoiakim, the king first cut out the first two or three columns from the scroll with a pen knife, then he would burn the entire scroll in the fireplace, showing how much he cared for listening to God's words.
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  • Cargo Cult: Verses 3 to 5 of Chapter 10 in the King James Version and certain other translations are used by some Christians to condemn the practice of Christmas trees by stating that those verses showed how they were used by certain pagan religions in that area as part of their worship of other gods.
    For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe. They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not. They are upright as the palm tree, but speak not: they must needs be borne, because they cannot go. Be not afraid of them; for they cannot do evil, neither also is it in them to do good. (King James Version)
  • The Cassandra: Jeremiah. Unfortunately, things went downhill as God destroys Jerusalem.
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  • Cassandra Truth: Gedaliah, the appointed governor of Judah after the final Babylonian invasion, is warned that Ishmael the son of Nethaniah was going to kill him, but he keeps ignoring it, calling it a baseless claim. Unfortunately, he found out the truth much too late to do anything.
  • Celibate Hero: God asked Jeremiah not to marry nor have children, since there was going to be so much disaster happening to Jerusalem that having a wife and children would not be recommended due to the amount of slaughter of people's families.
  • The Chosen One: Jeremiah was chosen by God who already knew him before the day he was born.
  • Corrupt Church: God condemns the priests and false prophets of the ancient Judaic religion in Jeremiah 5:30-31.
    An appalling and horrible thing has been committed in the land. The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests rule by their own authority; and My people love to have it so. Yet what will you do in the end?
  • Curse:
    • King Jeconiah (called Coniah to disassociate him from being blessed of God) was written off by God as "childless" in Jeremiah 22:30, that "no man of his seed shall prosper, sitting upon the throne of David, and ruling any more in Judah." In the Christian interpretation, this curse would eventually carry itself into the time of Jesus' birth, when Joseph, a descendant of Jeconiah, would only become the foster father of Jesus while Mary, descended from another family line of David, would be from whom the Messiah would be born.
    • Hananiah, a false prophet from Jeremiah chapter 28, was cursed to die within the year that he prophesied that the Lord would return the vessels that were taken from the Temple by the Babylonians along with the king.
  • Den of Iniquity: What God sees His Temple being turned into by His own people, as voiced by Jeremiah:
    Shall you steal, murder, and commit adultery, and swear falsely, and burn incense to Baal, and walk after other gods whom you do not know, and come and stand before Me in this house, which is called by My name, and say, “We are delivered,” so that you may do all these abominations? Has this house, which is called by My name, become a den of robbers in your eyes? Certainly, even I have seen it, says the Lord. (Jeremiah 7:9-11)
  • Despair Speech: Jeremiah in one of his complaints to God vocalizes his wish that he was never born, as recorded in Jeremiah 20:14-18.
    Cursed be the day in which I was born.
    Let not the day be blessed in which my mother bore me.
    Cursed be the man who brought tidings to my father,
    saying, “A baby boy has been born to you!”
    and made him very glad.
    Let that man be as the cities
    which the Lord overthrew and did not relent,
    and let him hear the cry in the morning
    and the shout of alarm at noon,
    because he did not kill me from the womb,
    so that my mother might have been my grave,
    and her womb be always pregnant.
    Why did I come forth from the womb
    to see trouble and sorrow,
    so that my days are spent in shame?
  • Dishonored Dead: Jeremiah 22:18-19 speaks about the fate of King Jehoiakim:
    They will not lament for him, saying,
    “Ah, my brother!” or, “Ah, sister!”
    They will not lament for him, saying,
    “Ah, lord!” or, “Ah, his glory!”
    He will be buried with the burial of a donkey,
    drawn and cast out
    beyond the gates of Jerusalem.
  • Doomed Hometown: Chapters 50 and 51 are aimed squarely at pronouncing Babylon's coming doom, for those living there.
  • Et Tu, Brute?: God speaking to Jeremiah in Jeremiah 12:6:
    For even your brothers and the household of your father,
    even they have dealt treacherously with you.
    Indeed, they have cried aloud after you.
    Do not believe them
    though they speak fair words to you.
  • Face–Heel Turn and Heel–Face Turn: God tells Jeremiah in Chapter 18 that, concerning a nation, if He tells a nation that He will bring disaster upon them for their sins, and they turn and repent of their deeds, then He will relent of the disaster that He will bring upon them. Conversely, if a nation that He says He will plant and build turns against Him and commits sins, then He will relent of the good that He promised for them.
  • The Famine: Happens during the course of King Zedekiah's reign in Jerusalem, when the Babylonians lay siege on the city, causing the food to run dry and its citizens to resort to cannibalism to stay alive. Jeremiah was kept prisoner in the court of the king during this time, given only bread to stay alive until the food ran out.
  • God of Evil: Many passages involve God promising to bring "evil" upon the nation as a form of judgment for their sins.
  • God of Good:
    • A stock verse that's used as inspiration for people is Jeremiah 29:11: "For I know the plans that I have for you, says the Lord, plans for peace and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope."
    • As Jeremiah 31 puts it, God may be angry with His people's sins, but He doesn't take any pleasure in punishing them since He still loves them.
    • Lamentations 3:22-23 says "It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed; His compassions do not fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness."
  • Good Is Not Soft: God says a few times in this book that He will save His people Israel, but they will not go unpunished for their sins.
  • Heel–Face Door-Slam: God's likely reaction to His people Israel, as voiced in the last few verses in Lamentations:
    You, O Lord, remain forever;
    Your throne endures from generation to generation.
    Why do You forget us forever,
    and forsake us for so long a time?
    Restore us to Yourself, O Lord, that we may return!
    Renew our days as of old,
    unless You have utterly rejected us,
    and are very angry with us. (Lamentations 5:19-22)
  • Heroic BSoD: Jeremiah in "Lamentations".
  • The High Queen: A pagan deity known as "the Queen of Heaven" (no relation to the Catholic designation of the Virgin Mary being that, although opinions vary) is worshiped by the Jews at this point, which God Himself hates.
  • Human Sacrifice: God through Jeremiah speaks to Judah against their practice of sacrificing their children to the fire to Molech in the Valley of Ben Hinnom, with God saying in Chapter 7 that He will no longer call it the Valley of Ben Hinnom, but the Valley of Slaughter, that there will be so many dead bodies that there will not be enough room to bury them.
  • Humans Are Bastards:
    • Jeremiah 13:23 has God telling His people, "Can an Ethiopian change his skin color, or a leopard its spots? Then neither can you do good, who are accustomed to doing evil."
    • Also Jeremiah 17:9 says that the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked, and who can know it?
  • I Am A Humanitarian: Lamentations has accounts of women eating their children after the fall of Jerusalem.
  • Just a Kid: Jeremiah, at the time he was called to be a prophet, though it can alternately be interpreted as just Jeremiah thinking himself to be too young to be used by God. God thought otherwise, however.
  • Know When to Fold 'Em: Advised submission to the Babylonians. For this, he was considered The Quisling.
  • Loincloth: Jeremiah is told by God to wear a linen loincloth in Chapter 13, then bury it in the ground and some days later dig it back up again. Jeremiah does so and finds that the loincloth has been ruined. God tells Jeremiah that, just as the loincloth is ruined and good for nothing, so shall the people of Judah be who have gone after worshiping other gods. As a sort of interesting visual, God then says that, as a loincloth clings to a man's waist, so He has caused Israel and Judah to cling to Him.
  • Mad Oracle: What Jeremiah was considered as being by the people of Judah during the days of his prophesying.
  • Marriage to a God: As early as chapter 2, God equates His relationship to His people Israel to a marriage and asks them what happened that made them decide they were better off being without Him, that they would rather worship false gods than the true God. In chapter 3, God says that He has given Israel a certificate of divorce (which contextually is talking about the northern kingdom of Israel, NOT Israel as a whole, as some Bible students interpret it), yet He still calls out to them to return, since He says "I am married to you".
  • Meaningful Rename: In chapter 20, Pashhur the son of Immer the priest struck Jeremiah and put him in the stocks for what he was saying. Jeremiah responds by saying, "The Lord has not called your name Pashhur, but Magor-missabib." (Terror On Every Side) "For thus says the Lord: I will make you a terror to yourself and to all your friends. And they will fall by the sword of their enemies while your eyes will see it.
  • Mucking in the Mud: Jeremiah was put into the cistern of Malkijah son of Hammelech by request of the people, where there was nothing but mud, which Jeremiah sank into and would have drowned in if Ebed-Melek the Ethiopian had not spoken to the king about what was done to Jeremiah.
  • Nasty Party: Ishmael son of Nethaniah invited Gedaliah the governor to dinner and then had him slain by his servants.
  • Oh My Gods!: God swears by Himself in Jeremiah 22:5.
    "But if you will not hear these words, I swear by Myself, said the LORD, "that this house shall become a desolation."
  • Out, Damned Spot!: Versed as God's condemnation of Israel's behavior, in Jeremiah 2:22:
    "For though you wash yourself with lye, and use much soap, Yet your iniquity is marked before Me."
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: God implies this in Jeremiah 49:12 (New Living Translation):
    "And this is what the LORD says: 'If the innocent must suffer, how much more must you! You will not go unpunished! You must drink this cup of judgment!'"
  • Prayer of Malice: A few times in this book, Jeremiah prays these kind of prayers in regard to the people of Judah who were making all sorts of plots against him for his prophesying.
  • The Promise: To put Jeremiah 29:11 to context, God through Jeremiah tells the exiles in Babylon that they must build houses, marry, increase their population, plant farms, and prosper while they stay there for 70 years. When the 70 years are up, God promises them that they'll be brought back to Jerusalem.
  • Punished for Sympathy: As found in Jeremiah 48:10, God will not take kindly if the Chaldeans don't carry out His vengeance on the land of Moab. ("...cursed be he that keepeth back his sword from blood.")
  • Riches to Rags: In Lamentations 4:5:
    Those who once ate delicacies are desolate in the streets; those who were brought up in scarlet embrace ash heaps.
  • The Siege: As also mentioned in the books of Kings, Jerusalem was held in siege by the Babylonians during the reign of King Zedekiah until there was a famine, resulting in its citizens resorting to cannibalism in order to stay alive, and then eventually the city was sacked, its king was captured, and its citizens were taken into exile. Jeremiah was released by the Babylonians from his imprisonment at the time the city was sacked so he could go wherever he wanted.
  • Sinister Minister: Chapter 23 has God speaking about the prophets who prophesy lies in His name and the priests who strengthen the hands of evildoers so that they don't turn from their sin, saying that He will bring judgment upon them soon.
  • Stop Worshipping Me: In Chapter 44, when Jeremiah speaks to the Judean fugitives in Egypt about their worshiping the pagan Queen of Heaven and they refuse to turn away from doing that, he tells them that if they're so dead-set on worshiping pagan gods, they should go ahead and do it, on the grounds that they no longer invoke the Lord's name in any of their vows, because now He's watching after them to bring disaster upon them.
  • Unaccustomed as I Am to Public Speaking...: Jeremiah, at first.
  • Was Too Hard on Him: Some scriptures such as Jeremiah 8:21 shows us that God does not take any pleasure in punishing sinners:
    "For the hurt of the daughter of my people am I hurt; I am black; astonishment hath taken hold on me."
  • Where Is Your X Now?: Invoked by God Himself through Jeremiah against His own people in Jeremiah 2:26-28:
    As the thief is ashamed when he is found,
    so is the house of Israel ashamed.
    They, their kings, their officials,
    and their priests, and their prophets
    say to a tree, “You are my father.”
    And to a stone, “You gave birth to me.”
    For they have turned their back to Me,
    and not their face.
    But in the time of their trouble they will say,
    “Arise and save us.”
    But where are your gods that you have made for yourself?
    Let them arise, if they can save you
    in the time of your trouble;
    for according to the number of your cities
    are your gods, O Judah.
  • You Can't Go Home Again: Jeremiah fled to Egypt and probably died there. He also tells the Judeans that fled to Egypt to escape the Babylonians that a good deal of them will never return to the land of Israel, in part because of their Queen of Heaven idolatry which they continued doing in Egypt.

Alternative Title(s): Book Of Lamentations, Book Of Baruch, Epistle Of Jeremiah

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