An Historical Witness
Jeremiah, the Prophet that Transformed Judaism
Jeremiah Lamenting the Destruction of Jerusalem, Rembrandt van Rijn, 1630oil on panel, h 58cm × w 46c. At the collection of the Rijksmuseum-Amsterdam
A Four- Lectures Serie
November 1- 6- 15, 2023
The Book of Jeremiah, a multivoiced effort to make theological sense out of a geopolitical crisis.
Jeremiah’s activity covers the forty-year period that 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:
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.
In four presentations, rabbi Moshe Pitchon throws light on a complex book that aims at carving a path between ideology and pragmatism, wishful- thinking and reality, or using Jeremiah’s words: falsehood and truth.