Baruch writes the book of Jeremiah (Jer 45:1-45:3)

“The word

That the prophet Jeremiah

Spoke to Baruch,

The son of Neriah,

When he wrote

These words

In a scroll,

At the dictation

Of Jeremiah,

In the fourth year

Of King Jehoiakim

The son of King Josiah

Of Judah.

Thus says Yahweh!

The God of Israel!

To you!

O Baruch!

You said.

‘Woe is me!

Yahweh has added sorrow

To my pain.

I am weary

With my groaning.

I find no rest.’”

This is a very brief chapter that almost seems like it should have been after chapter 36, where Baruch was writing the scroll dictated by Jeremiah. In fact, the dating of this section puts it back during the 4th year of King Jehoiakim (609-598 BCE) around 605 BCE, at least 20 years prior to the passages just concluded. These words of Yahweh, via Jeremiah, are addressed to Baruch himself, the secretary scribe of Jeremiah. Baruch had said that Yahweh was adding to his sorrow and pain. He was getting weary because he had no rest. Like the preceding chapter, this small chapter has a different numbered chapter in the Greek translation of the Septuagint, chapter 51, not chapter 45 as here.

All the Judeans in Egypt (Jer 44:1-44:1)

“The word came

To Jeremiah

For all the Judeans

Living in the land

Of Egypt,

At Migdol,

At Tahpanhes,

At Memphis,

As well as in the land of Pathros.”

Jeremiah received an oracle that was to be addressed to all the Judeans living in Egypt. No longer was this a small group of the remnant led by Johanan at Tahpanhes, but this was addressed to all the other Judeans living in different cities and places in Egypt. How did these Judeans get there? How big were these Israelite colonies? Were they left over from Exodus times? Were they also recent immigrants? The remnant group with Jeremiah and Baruch at Tahpanhes had just arrived. Were there other Judeans before they arrived in that town? Migdol was an island in the Nile River, east of Tahpanhes. Memphis was the ancient capital of lower Egypt, in the Nile River delta area. Pathros was also in the southern part of Egypt where Judean colonies might have been. As these places are mentioned, the assumption is that there must have been some other Judeans there. At least the author of this work knew something about them. Like the preceding chapter, this section has a different numbered chapter in the Greek translation of the Septuagint, chapters 51, not chapter 44 as here.

They refuse to accept the words of Jeremiah (Jer 43:1-43:3)

“Thus Jeremiah finished speaking

To all the people

All these words

Of Yahweh their God,

With which Yahweh their God

Had sent him to them.

Then Azariah,

The son of Hoshaiah,

Johanan,

The son of Kareah,

With all the other insolent men,

Said to Jeremiah.

‘You are telling a lie.

Yahweh our God

Did not send you

To say.

‘Do not go to Egypt

To settle there!’

But Baruch,

The son of Neriah,

Is inciting you

Against us.

He wants to hand us over

To the Chaldeans.

Thus they may kill us.

Or they may take us

Into exile in Babylon.’”

During the 10 days that Jeremiah waited for Yahweh, there must have been a change of heart in the camp. Some people think that this section should have been in the preceding chapter. This chapter equivalent in the Greek Septuagint is chapter 50, not chapter 43 as here. So once that Jeremiah had finished speaking the words that Yahweh, their God, gave him, both the leaders of this insolent remnant group, Azariah and Johanan, called into question Jeremiah’s veracity. They said that Jeremiah was lying. Yahweh did not say to him that they should not settle in Egypt. It must have been his secretary Baruch who incited Jeremiah against the main group. They said that Baruch wanted them to be captured or killed by the Chaldeans, if they stayed in this Judean territory. They might he sent into captivity in Babylon, if they were caught there. Basically, it was a fight between the interests of Egypt versus the interests of Babylon.

Johanan asks Jeremiah for help (Jer 42:1-42:3)

“Then all the commanders

Of the forces,

With Johanan,

The son of Kareah,

Also with Azariah,

The son of Hoshaiah,

All the people,

From the least

To the greatest,

Approached

The prophet Jeremiah.

They said to him.

‘Be good enough

To listen

To our plea!

Pray to Yahweh!

Your God!

For us!

For all this remnant!

There are only a few

Of us left

Out of the many,

As you can see.

Let Yahweh

Your God

Show us

Where we should go!

What we should do!’”

Apparently this small group of Judeans, with the leaders Johanan and Azariah decided to approach Jeremiah. As he had been released to the protection of Governor Gedaliah, he probably was at Mizpah while the attack of Ishmael had taken place. Thus he was with the freed group at Gibeon. Interesting enough, they referred to Yahweh as Jeremiah’s God not their God. They wanted Jeremiah to intercede for them with Yahweh, as Moses had done centuries earlier. They were only a small group or remnant of what had been many people. They wanted to know where they should go and what to do. Like the preceding chapter, this section has a different numbered chapter in the Greek translation of the Septuagint, chapters 49 and 50, not chapter 42 as here.

Second oracle in prison (Jer 33:1-33:1)

“The word of Yahweh

Came to Jeremiah

A second time,

While he was still confined

In the court of the guard.”

As in the preceding chapter, King Zedekiah (598-587 BCE) has confined Jeremiah to the royal prison. Here, Jeremiah receives a second oracle from Yahweh. Like the preceding chapter, this is a different numbered chapter in the Greek translation of the Septuagint, chapter 40, not chapter 33 as here.

The God of all Israelites (Jer 31:1-31:1)

“Says Yahweh.

‘At that time,

I will be the God

Of all the families                    

Of Israel.

They shall be my people.’”

Yahweh, via Jeremiah, speaks about a time in the future when he will be the God of all the families of Israel, not just the families of Judah and Jerusalem as he had often spoken about. Very clearly, all of Israel would be his people. This is a more universal outlook. Like the preceding chapter, this is a different numbered chapter in the Greek translation of the Septuagint, chapter 38, not chapter 31 as here.

The letter to the exiles (Jer 29:1-29:1)

“These are the words

Of the letter

That the prophet Jeremiah

Sent from Jerusalem

To the remaining elders

Among the exiles.

It was also sent to

The priests,

The prophets,

Including all the people

Whom King Nebuchadnezzar

Had taken into exile

From Jerusalem

To Babylon.

This was after King Jeconiah,

With the queen mother,

The court officials,

The leaders of Judah,

The leaders of Jerusalem,

The artisans.

With the smiths

Had departed from Jerusalem.”

Apparently Jeremiah wrote a letter to the elders from the first exile in 598 BCE. He sent this letter, like many of Yahweh’s oracles addressed to the priests, the prophets, and all the people, who went to Babylon during the first exile in 598 BCE. King Nebuchadnezzar had taken them from Jerusalem to Babylon. It is hard to tell whether this letter still exists in any form or when it was composed, but probably between 598-587 BCE. King Jeconiah or King Coniah or King Jeconiah of Judah had ruled for only a couple of months when King Nebuchadnezzar removed him in 598 BCE in favor of his uncle King Zedekiah or King Mattaniah (598-587 BCE). At that time, King Jeconiah’s mother, the wife of King Jehoiakim or King Eliakim (609-598 BCE), as well as the court officials and leaders of Judah and Jerusalem went into exile. With them also went the main artisans and iron workers of Jerusalem. Thus the remnant in Jerusalem was like a puppet government for King Nebuchadnezzar. Like the preceding chapter, this is a different numbered chapter in the Greek translation of the Septuagint, chapter 36, not chapter 29 as here.

Hananiah breaks the yoke of Jeremiah (Jer 28:10-28:10)

“Then the prophet Hananiah

Took the yoke

From the neck

Of the prophet Jeremiah.

He broke it.”

In a real symbolic efficacious action, the prophet Hananiah took the yoke off the neck of Jeremiah. Remember from the preceding chapter that Jeremiah wore a yoke around his neck to symbolize the power of King Nebuchadnezzar had over him and the people of Judah. Now this prophet Hananiah took the yoke off of Jeremiah and broke it.