Jeremiah is another one of those books that presents some difficulties for students in terms of interpretation and understanding. The book is a collection/combination of messages given on many different occasions, and the overall structure is not at all easy to figure out. Again, the best approach is to treat Jeremiah as an anthology, not worrying about the overall structure just yet. Read as much as you can of the book over the next week, looking especially for answers to the following study questions.
1. Read the story of King Josiah, the priest Hilkiah, and the
prophetess Huldah in II Kings 22-23 or II Chronicles 34-35. How would
these events have affected Jeremiah and his prophetic ministry? In
what ways would the young Jeremiah have been encouraged? In what
way would these words/events have made his burden tougher?
2. Jeremiah is often called “the weeping prophet.” Does he have good reasons to weep? Why?
3. Like Isaiah, Jeremiah frequently uses the word “woe” [“oy” in Hebrew]. But rather than using the word as just a warning to evil doers, Jeremiah takes the woe to his own heart. Its often woe is *us* or woe is *me.* Not his personal laments in 4:13, , 4:31, 6:4, 10:19, 15:10 and 45:3. What exactly is his complaint in each instance?
4. What personal sacrifices does Jeremiah have to make in order to fulfill his role as a prophet? Why does he have to make these sacrifices? Which would be most difficult? Note especially Chapter 16.
5. What images does Jeremiah use in describing the fallen state of Israel? Why does he choose these particular images? What sins seem particularly to disturb Jeremiah?
6. Note Jeremiah’s conflict with Pashur in Jeremiah 20. Note also in the same chapter Jeremiah’s lament at being a prophet. What does he particularly complain of here?
7. Note the response to Jeremiah’s message in Chapter 26–and notice his defenders and what happens to them. Why would this be particularly discouraging? Any encouragement here?
8. Note Jeremiah’s conflict with the prophet Hananiah in Chapter 28. Why would this be particularly discouraging? Any consolation here?
9. Look at Chapters 32-33 and note Jeremiah’s imprisonment. What adds to his burdens here?
10. Why would Jeremiah’s dealings with Zedekiah have been particularly burdensome?
11. What about the story of Gedaliah in Chapters 40-41? How would this have affected Jeremiah?
12. Is there any consolation in Jeremiah? What about 31:31?
And Lamentations 3:16-30?