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Baruch by Nebuchadnezzar on the conquest of Egypt, and died there (Seder Olam rabba, c. 26); or the other, that he returned to Judaea (Eashi on Jer. xliv. 14). His grave was afterwards shown at Daphne or in Cairo. The extraordinary affection with which his memory was cherished among the people, is shown by the legendary embellishments of his life, e.g. 2 Mace. ii. 1 ff., and references to him like 2 Mace. xv. 12-16, as well as by his identification with his nation's most glorious hopes. Cf. Matt. xvi. 14.
III. JEREMIAH'S PERSONAL CHARACTERISTICS.
The personality of Jeremiah looks out on us from his book in more individual distinctness than that of any other prophet . Not only are his life-incidents, interwoven as they are most closely with his long prophetic work, more fully recorded than is the case in similar books; even in Jeremiah's discourses his personal, subjective feelings come far more to the front than in an Isaiah or Ezekiel. He reveals himself in these as a soul of gentle nature, yielding, tender-hearted, affectionate, with almost a woman's thirst for love, with which certainly the iron, unbending firmness and immovable power of resistance belonging to him in his prophetic sphere are in strange contrast . There were in him two different, widely diverging potencies,—the human flesh in its weakness, yet with all its lawful generous impulses, and the Divine Spirit with its boundless strength. Though the former was thoroughly subject to the latter, it suffered, sighed, bled under the heavy, almost intolerable burden laid upon it by God's Spirit and word. No doubt the youth received the divine revelations with delighted eagerness (xv. 16); but it went hard with him to be obliged to renounce every joy of youth on account of the "hand of the Lord" that came upon him, and to be obliged to experience and proclaim to his people nothing but wrath, ruin, woe! How utterly all this cut across his natural
inclination (xv. 17 f.)! Moreover, the office of this witness of Yahveh was in itself highly tragical; he had to preach repentance to a people unfaithful to its God, while knowing that this final call to salvation would pass away unheeded! He had to picture to the nation and its God-forgetting leaders the terrible danger accruing to it from its guilt, and he was not understood, because no one wished to understand him! "No more apt motto could be prefixed to the Book of Jeremiah than the sorrowful saying of Jesus: Ovk rj6ekr)aa.Te (Luke xiii. 34), or vvv Be eKpvfir) dirb otpdaXfimv aov (Luke xix. 42)," Delitzsch, Messianic Prophecy. Thus he himself suffered most under the disobedience of the nation which he loved, without being able to save it. And at the same time, he, the warmest, noblest friend of his country, was forced to let himself be counted among traitors, as though in league with the enemy! And yet it was God's inspiration that compelled him again and again to beat down without mercy every deceitful hope to which sinking courage strove to cling; not cowardice but courage made him dissuade those eager for war; not treachery but love for people and city made him enjoin submission to the conqueror chosen of God. If such a position—in some respects like the one forced on Hosea in the last days of the northern kingdom—would have been terribly hard for any one, for the deeply sensitive Jeremiah, who felt the wounds of his nation as his own, it was almost crushing! That he who interceded with priestly heart for Judah saw himself rejected in his constant intercession before God's throne (vii. 16, xi . 14, xiv. 11, xviii. 20), that he who consumed himself for the salvation of his country and strove only to avert the ruin threatened by God, had to listen to the bitterest suspicions and revilings (ix. 1 ff., xii. 5 f, xv. 10, xvii. 14-18, xviii. 23, etc.), often brought him to despair; nor does he restrain his feelings. Nothing can again cheer him and heal his inner wounds (viii. 18, 21); he wishes he could dissolve in tears for his poor people (ix. 1, xiii . 17); he would fain dwell alone in the wilderness to escape the wickedness of his surroundings (ix. 2); he wishes God had never persuaded him to enter His service, since God's words make him reel like wine (xxiii. 9) and burn in him like fire, when he would suppress them (xx. 7 ff.). Yea, in this conflict between his heart of human feeling and God's inexorable word he wishes he had never been born (xv. 10, xx. 14-18), like Job, iii. 1 ff. But just because what the Lord announces to him is so contrary and painful to his natural feelings and wishes, he is so certain that a stronger one has come upon him; and he opposes with invincible certainty of triumph the false prophets, who publish the flattering dreams of their own heart as revelations from above. Over against all outward attacks he stands as an iron pillar and brazen wall (i. 18, xv. 20), whilst inwardly mourning the ruin of Judah and Jerusalem as none else does.
As well in the occasional murmurings and outbreaks of despair, related in xv. 19 and elsewhere as faults of human weakness in the prophet, as in the imprecations on his enemies and persecutors, which Jeremiah now and then utters less from prophetic authority than from excitement of spirit (xi. 20, xv. 15, xvii. 18, xviii. 21-23), we see indeed the vast distance between this sufferer and his New Testament antitype, the Son of man, who, bearing in love a far heavier burden of sins of others, murmured not and threatened not, when misunderstood and persecuted still more grievously. But among the prophetic forerunners of this greatest Sufferer, Jeremiah stands first, not only on account of his discourse and teaching, but especially on account of his life and suffering. And that he even inspired his contemporaries, to whom he was so unwelcome a messenger and so inconvenient a witness, with high esteem, nay, divine reverence, is sufficiently shown by the circumstance that King Zedekiah, despite his constant disregard of the prophet's message, again and again sent for him to learn God's will from him, and even after the fall of Jerusalem the leaders of the people wished to have his consent to their scheme of migrating to Egypt; and when, on the contrary, Jeremiah solemnly advised them against this project, they carried the aged prophet himself with them to that country, like a palladium, to ensure the welfare of the nation! If further proof were needed of Jeremiah's genuine, unselfish, and absolute devotion to his people, it would be found in the Lamentations, which we have good grounds, according to tradition, for ascribing to him (Herzog, vi . p. 527 ff.). There, where he appears not as God's prophetic representative, but as a mournful singer, pouring out his people's complaints to God, he is able at last to give free course to his inmost human feeling, which he had long enough suppressed by force, if he could not shake it off.
IV. CONTENTS OF JEREMIAH'S PROPHECY.
As is already evident from Jeremiah's call, ch. i., his special mission was to warn his nation of judgment. But the reason of this judgment was the terrible guilt with which the nation had long been burdened. By way of example, the prophet constantly mentions in the first line idolatry, falling away from the true God, Yahveh, to other gods like Baal, Moloch, the Queen of Heaven, etc., even literal image-worship. This accusation runs like a dark thread through Jeremiah's addresses from the first (ch. ii.) to the last one (ch. xliv.). Idolatry is the main evil; on account of this deadly sin judgment is coming on the nation, i. 16, ii. 5, 8, 11, 13, 20, 23, 27 f. (cf. xi . 13), iii. 1 ff., 6, 9, 13, v. 7, 19, vil 18 f, ix. 14, x. 2 ff., xi . 10 ff, 17, xii. 16, xiii. 10, 27, xv. 4, xvi. 11, 19 f., xvii. 2, xviii. 15, xix. 4, 13, xxxii. 29, 34 f., xliv. 8,15,17 ff. It is clear from these passages (and the writings of Amos, Hosea, Isaiah et al. confirm) that hill-worship in particular, i.e. the cultus practised outside Jerusalem in consecrated places, fostered heathenism, and, from the Mosaicprophetic point of view, had to he condemned as a dallying with strange gods. But not merely were there ambiguous cults, but also glaring heathen ones, and that in the close vicinity of Jerusalem, where, in the vale of Hinnom in the place Tophet, at least until the reformation of Josiah, children were sacrificed in honour of Baal-Moloch, vii. 31, xix. 5, xxxii . 35, and heathen idols stood even in the temple itself, xxxii. 34. Baal is especially mentioned as the heathen deity, standing in this sense almost appellatively (sing. and plur.), because he was the supreme Semitic god, the universal deity, of whom Moloch et al. were special forms; also the "Queen of Heaven," vii. 18 (see there), xliv. 19.
These heathen abominations were introduced into the land principally by King Manasseh, who had shed the blood of the Lord's faithful confessors and prophets, 2 Kings xxi. 1 ff., 16, which heavy guilt was still cleaving to the land, Jer. xv. 4, 2 Kings xxiii . 26, when the worst abuses were abolished at a stroke by Josiah. Because the nation had not really turned away in heart from its heathen ways, perpetually falling back into them, before God it stood guilty of all the apostasy into which it had fallen since the days of Moses, ii. 5 ff., 9 ff., vii. 25 ff., xi . 7 f., xiv. 20, xv. 4, xvi . 11 f. Thus the prophet is familiar with the idea of an inherited burden of sin, which the present generation must perforce carry, and in this he is in full harmony with Lam. v. 7; only he points out plainly enough that the generation of to-day has not to expiate its fathers' guilt apart from its own (cf. especially xvi. .11 f.), which again the singer of Lam. v. 16, 21 knows quite well, and does not fail to notice. Jer. xxxi. 29 f., however, speaks not of a present, but a future experience.
But if, according to Jeremiah, the nation's entire corruption was rooted in its unfaithfulness to Yahveh, this led at once to all manner of unrighteousness and immorality, against which the prophet has also unceasingly to bear witness, v. 1 ff., 7 f., 26 ff., vi. 7, 13, vii. 5 f, 9, ix. 2-6, 8, xvii. 9 ff., xxi. 12,