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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 send the people of Israel a message to turn from their idolatrous ways or Jerusalem will fall.

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

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.

Structure of the books:

  • Prologue: Jeremiah's call and vision (Jeremiah chapter 1)
  • Jeremiah calls for repentance (Jeremiah chapters 2 to 25)
  • Jeremiah stands firm despite harassment (Jeremiah chapters 26 to 36)
  • Jeremiah sees destruction ahead (Jeremiah chapters 37 to 45)
  • Prophecies against the nations (Jeremiah chapters 46 to 51)
  • Epilogue: the fall of Jerusalem (Jeremiah chapter 52)


  • The city (an outside view; Lamentations chapter 1)
  • The wrath of God (an inside view; Lamentations chapter 2)
  • The compassions of God (an upward view; Lamentations chapter 3)
  • The sins of all classes (an overall view; Lamentations chapter 4)
  • The prayer (a future view; Lamentations chapter 5)


  • Baruch calls exiles to turn away from sin (Baruch 1:1-14)
  • Confession and plea for mercy (Baruch 1:15-3:8)
  • Praise for wisdom (Baruch 3:9-4:4)
  • Comfort and hope for Jerusalem (Baruch 4:5-5:9)

Epistle of Jeremiah:

  • Introduction and opening (Epistle of Jeremiah verses 1 to 6)
  • The body of the epistle (Epistle of Jeremiah verses 7 to 71)


  • 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.
  • Added Alliterative Appeal: As with Isaiah 24:17, Jeremiah 48:43 in the Evangelical Heritage Version has "panic, pit, and peril" in its rendering of the original Hebrew words pahad, pahat, and pah.
  • 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 penknife, then he would burn the entire scroll in the fireplace, showing how much he cared for listening to God's words.
  • Can't Take Criticism: From Jeremiah 6:10 of the NET Bible:
    I answered,
    “Who would listen
    if I spoke to them and warned them?
    Their ears are so closed
    that they cannot hear!
    Indeed, what the Lord says is offensive to them.
    They do not like it at all."
  • 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.
  • 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. Others interpret that the curse has been lifted around the time of Jeconiah's descendant Zerubbabel, whom God through the prophet Haggai made His "signet ring", who was one of the exiles who returned to Jerusalem to rebuild the Temple.
    • 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.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Jeremiah's sidekick Baruch, a scribe. To quote Jeremiah 36:17-18:
    And they questioned Baruch further, "Tell us how you wrote down all these words that [Jeremiah] spoke."
    Baruch: "He himself recited all those words to me, and I would write them down in the scroll in ink."
  • 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)
  • Desecrating the Dead: "'At that time, declares the LORD, the bones of the kings and officials of Judah, the bones of the priests and prophets, and the bones of the people of Jerusalem will be removed from their graves. They will be exposed to the sun and the moon and all the stars of the heavens, which they have loved and served and which they have followed and consulted and worshiped. They will not be gathered up or buried, but will be like refuse lying on the ground.'" (Jeremiah 8:1-2)
  • 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?
  • The Disease That Shall Not Be Named: Lamentations hints at a sexually-transmitted disease, resulting from carousing with prostitutes and other types of illicit sex, saying that the people of Israel are "polluted with blood" and that the nations that they are carried into say they cannot stay there. (That could have been avoided, or at least not been an epidemic, if they played by the rules.) It's not mentioned what STI it is, but the symptoms do read an awful lot like syphilis. (Which new evidence suggests did exist in Afro-Eurasia before Columbus returned from the Americas.)
  • 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.
  • Everybody Must Get Stoned: In Jeremiah chapter 25, God has Jeremiah pass along a cup to all the kings of the earth for them to drink, which turns out to be "the cup of God's wrath", all for the purpose of getting the nations drunk to the point of destroying themselves so that they will fall and rise no more.
  • The Exile: Jeremiah's is sent to warn the people that if they don't stop their idol worship and injustice, they will be exiled from the land and conquered by an empire from the North.
  • 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.
  • False Reassurance: The people of Judah in Jeremiah's day were being given false assurances of peace by the priests and prophets, and one of them even dared to prophesy that the holy items from the Temple which King Nebuchadnezzar took will be brought back in a year or two along with the king he took into exile. In Lamentations, the people complain when they realize that God's words about those "prophets" were true, that they were nothing but wind, that He never sent 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.
  • Forced to Watch: A priest named Pashhur throws Jeremiah into jail for the night because of his prophesying about Judah's sins and the upcoming invasion by Babylon. The next morning Jeremiah declares that God has changed Pashhur's name to Magor-missabib, "terror all around," because he will watch all his friends die in the attack before being dragged off to Babylon for the rest of his life.
  • Foreshadowing: God tells Jeremiah in Chapter 31 that He will make a "new covenant" with the people of Judah and Israel: that He will write His laws upon their hearts; that nobody will teach another person to know the Lord, for all will know Him from the least to the greatest; and He will forgive their iniquities and no longer remember their sins. In traditional Christian interpretation, this was fulfilled with Jesus Christ dying on the cross for the people's sins, with His blood putting the "new covenant" into effect.
  • 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.
  • Good Shepherd: From Jeremiah 31:10 in the NET Bible:
    Hear what the Lord has to say, O nations.
    Proclaim it in the faraway lands along the sea.
    Say, “The one who scattered Israel will regather them.
    He will watch over his people like a shepherd watches over his flock.”
  • Half the Man He Used to Be: In Chapter 34, when God saw that the people of Jerusalem who made a covenant with Him to free their Hebrew slaves ended up taking them back and made them slaves again, He told them that He was going to do to them like what they did with the calf when they sliced it in two in order to seal the covenant, implying that they were also going to be bisected.
  • 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.
  • Ignored Expert: Jeremiah advises King Zedekiah to surrender himself to the king of Babylon and he will be treated well, and Jerusalem would not be destroyed. Zedekiah, as it turns out, ignores this advice and makes an attempt to escape capture, only to become a prisoner of King Nebuchadnezzar and cause Jerusalem's destruction.
  • Just a Kid: Jeremiah, at the time he was called to be a prophet, though it can alternatively be interpreted as Jeremiah thinking himself too young to be used by God (similar to how Solomon, when he was made king as an adult, confessed to God that he was "a little child" who doesn't know how to direct God's children). God thought otherwise, however.
  • Know When to Fold 'Em: Advised submission to the Babylonians by the revelation of God. For this, he was considered The Quisling by his fellow Israelites.
  • 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.
  • Man on Fire: In Chapter 29, in Jeremiah's letter to the exiles in Babylon, he writes to them concerning two false prophets, Ahab the son of Kolaiah and Zedekiah the son of Maaseiah, who were prophesying lies to them in the Lord's name, that God will deliver them into the hands of King Nebuchadnezzar and slay them before the people, so that they will say as a curse to any who would dare to follow their example, “May God make you like Zedekiah and Ahab, whom the king of Babylon consigned to the flames!” (Jeremiah 29:22)
  • 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.
  • Mordor: One Bible commentator believed that Jeremiah in Jeremiah 4:23-26 was seeing the Earth in its devastated condition when God wiped out whatever existed in the "gap period" of Genesis 1:1 and 1:2 and started anew.
    I looked on the earth, and behold, it was without form and void;
    and to the heavens, and they had no light.
    I looked on the mountains, and behold, they were quaking,
    and all the hills moved to and fro.
    I looked, and behold, there was no man,
    and all the birds of the air had fled.
    I looked, and behold, the fruitful land was a desert,
    and all its cities were laid in ruins
    before the Lord, before his fierce anger. (English Standard Version)
  • 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."
  • The Omniscient: God. As learned in Jeremiah 1:5, He knew Jeremiah before he was formed in his mother's womb.
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: God implies this in Jeremiah 49:12 (New Living Translation) when speaking to Edom:
    "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!'"
  • Phony Psychic: Throughout the book, God tells Jeremiah that those who called themselves "prophets" who were prophesying of peace, and that no calamity will fall upon the people as they continue to do evil, are prophesying lies in His name, that He did not send those people, that they are inventing things out of their own minds. In Chapter 28, when Hananiah makes a false prophecy that the exiled king of Judah shall be returned along with the vessels of the house of God, Jeremiah says, as though testing the "prophet", "So if a prophet prophesies good fortune, then only when the word of the prophet comes true can it be known that the LORD really sent him." (verse 9)
  • Place of Protection: God criticizes His people Israel by saying this in Jeremiah 7:4 (NET Bible):
    Stop putting your confidence in the false belief that says, “We are safe! The temple of the Lord is here! The temple of the Lord is here! The temple of the Lord is here!”
  • Prayer of Malice:
    • A few times in the titular 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.
    • Lamentations 1:22 and 3:61-66 has Jeremiah (speaking for his people Jerusalem) praying this against his enemies.
  • The Promise: To put Jeremiah 29:11 into 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.")
  • Quicksand Sucks: When Jeremiah is cast into a cistern by radical followers of King Zedekiah, the mire at the bottom has this effect, though he is rescued as even Zedekiah thought that was escalating things a bit too far.
  • 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.
  • Screaming Birth: God says this to Judah in Jeremiah 4:31 (The Message):
    And what’s that I hear? The cry of a woman in labor,
    the screams of a mother giving birth to her firstborn.
    It’s the cry of Daughter Zion, gasping for breath,
    reaching out for help:
    “Help, oh help me! I’m dying!
    The killers are on me!”
  • 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.
  • The Tooth Hurts: "He [God] has also broken my teeth with gravel, And covered me with ashes." (Lamentations 3:16)
  • 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.
    • In the spirit of the trope, Jeremiah complains:
    See how they harass me: "Where's the LORD's word? Let it come now!" (Jeremiah 17:15, Common English Bible)
  • 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