Jeremiah the Prophet: A Historical Witness

Born toward the end of the long reign of King Manasseh (687-642 B.C.E.)- the prophet Jeremiah began his prophetic calling in the year 627 B. C. E. His career covers the forty-year period which saw the collapse of the Judaean state and, with it, the destruction of the temple built by King Solomon.

A century earlier, the prophet Isaiah had assured the well-being of Jerusalem:

For I will defend this city to save it, for my own sake and the sake of my servant David

Isaiah 37: 35

The royal establishment had convinced itself that the city that had stood out against every foreign power for over 400 years was historical proof that Jerusalem and the Temple were inviolable and that God had committed himself to protect them, come what may. Assyria may have conquered Damascus but will never conquer Jerusalem.

Because of greed and ethical misconduct, for Jeremiah, the moment “the temple of the Lord “turned into “a den of robbers,”

it became not different from any other city. 

Neither the city nor the temple had any fundamental holiness or special immunity. Jeremiah’s message was that Jerusalem had failed to qualify for God’s guarantee of peace and preservation.

             For the majority of those with a nationalistic, religious orientation, the entire cultural and theological basis on which the identity of Judean society rested would be shaken. The brutal struggle during and after the exile by various political factions to gain and maintain power in the community required the denigration of the past and those who still had claims on the territory. The oracles of Jeremiah served such purposes admirably and contributed to the ideological struggles of the period.

The fact that 2600 hundred years later, a very similar situation is emerging makes the study of the biblical book of Jeremiah an eye-opening experience.

Course Curriculum