Jeremiah 1:5-10

5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew[a] you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”
6 “Alas, Sovereign LORD,” I said, “I do not know how to speak; I am too young.”
7 But the LORD said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am too young.’ You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you.
8 Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the LORD.
9 Then the LORD reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, “I have put my words in your mouth.
10 See, today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant.”

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Jeremiah 1:5-10 Meaning and Commentary

INTRODUCTION TO JEREMIAH

The title of the book in the Vulgate Latin version is, "the Prophecy of Jeremiah"; in the Syriac and Arabic versions, "the Prophecy of the Prophet Jeremiah". According to a tradition of the Jews {a}, this book stands the first of the Prophets, the order of which is, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Isaiah, and the twelve. Kimchi makes mention of it in a preface to his comment on this book; and Dr. Lightfoot from hence concludes, that this is the reason why a passage in Zechariah is cited under the name of Jeremy, Mt 27:9, because he standing first in the volume of the Prophets gave name to the whole; just as the book of Psalms, being the first of the Hagiographa, they are called the Psalms from it, Lu 24:44. The name of the writer of this book, Jeremiah, signifies, "the Lord shall exalt", or "be exalted"; or, "exalting the Lord"; being composed of Mry, "he shall exalt", and hy, "Jehovah", according to Hillerus {b}. Though others {c} take it to be a composition of hy, and hmry, "the Lord shall cast down"; as he did his enemies, and also himself, he being greatly afflicted; and which suits with the argument of his book, foretelling the casting away of the people of the Jews. His style of writing, according to the opinion of Jerom {d}, is more rustic than that of Isaiah and some other prophets, and which he attributes to his being born and brought up in a country village; and Abarbinel to his age, being a child when he began to prophesy. The duration of his prophesying was forty years and upwards. He began to prophesy in the thirteenth year of Josiah's reign; in 3375 A.M. or before the era of Christ 629, according both to Bishop Usher {e} and Mr. Whiston {f}, and the Universal History {g}; and according to Mr. Bedford {h} 627. If any credit can be given to Epiphanius {i}, or to the writer that bears his name, he was stoned to death by the people at Taphnas in Egypt, and was buried where Pharaoh dwelt. Abulpharagius, an Arabic writer {k}, says, that he went to Egypt, where some of the Jews took him and put him into a well, and afterwards took him out and stoned him, so that he died, and he was buried in Egypt; and was from thence removed by Alexander, in his time, to Alexandria, and buried there. And both Tertullian {l} and Jerom {m} affirm that he was stoned by the people. This prophecy contains several discourses delivered to the people of the Jews; charging them with many sins they were guilty of; exhorting them to repentance; threatening them with the destruction of their city and temple, and with captivity in Babylon; and comforting the saints, not only with a promise of deliverance from thence, but of spiritual redemption by the Messiah. And it also has in it several predictions of judgments upon other nations; and gives a particular account of the destruction of Jerusalem, and of the carrying of the Jews captive into Babylon; which he lived to see, as the fulfilment of his prophecies.

{a} T. Bab. Bava Bathra, fol. 14. 2. {b} Onomastic. Sacr. p. 326, 508. {c} Schmidt in loc. {d} Praefat. in Hieremiam, tom. 3. fol. 9. B, {e} Annales Vet. Test, A. M. 3375. {f} Chronological Tables, cent. 9. {g} Vol. 21. p. 56. {h} Scripture Chronology, p. 673. {i} De Vit. Prophet. c. 8. Vid. Isidor. Hispalens. de Vit. & Mort. Sanct. c. 38. {k} Hist. Dynast. p. 46. Vid. Elmacin. Hist. Eccl. p. 128, Apud Hottinger. Thesaur. Phil. p. 478. {l} Scorpiace, c. 8. {m} Adv. Jovinian. l. 2, tom. 2. fol. 32. I.

\\INTRODUCTION TO JEREMIAH 1\\

This chapter contains the title or inscription of the book; the call of the prophet to his office, and the encouragement he had to enter upon it. In the inscription the prophet is described by his name, by his descent, by the place of his birth, and the time of his prophesying, Jer 1:1-3, the appointment and ordination of him to his office, which was very early, and the signification of it to him, are in Jer 1:4,5, his excuse, on account of his childhood and weakness, Jer 1:6, the encouragement given him, notwithstanding this, from the mission and command he had from the Lord, and the promise of his presence with him, Jer 1:7,8, and not only is he encouraged by words, but also by signs; by the Lord's touching his mouth with his hand, as a symbol of putting his words into his mouth, and setting him over nations and kingdoms, to publish in a prophetic way their destruction, Jer 1:9,10, and by a vision of an almond tree, signifying the quick and hasty performance of the word of the Lord by him, Jer 1:11,12, and by another vision of a seething pot northwards, intimating the coming of the Chaldeans from the north against Jerusalem, and their taking it, and carrying the Jews captive because of their wickedness, which was a principal part of the message he was sent with, Jer 1:13-16 and the chapter is concluded with an exhortation to him to take heart, and be of good courage, and not be dismayed; since he was made a defenced city, an iron pillar, and brasen wall, against the whole land of Judea, its kings, princes, priests, and people; who, though they should fight against him, should not prevail, because God was with him, Jer 1:17-19.

Jeremiah 1:5-10 In-Context

3 and through the reign of Jehoiakim son of Josiah king of Judah, down to the fifth month of the eleventh year of Zedekiah son of Josiah king of Judah, when the people of Jerusalem went into exile.
4 The word of the LORD came to me, saying,
5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”
6 “Alas, Sovereign LORD,” I said, “I do not know how to speak; I am too young.”
7 But the LORD said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am too young.’ You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you.
8 Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the LORD.
9 Then the LORD reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, “I have put my words in your mouth.
10 See, today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant.”
11 The word of the LORD came to me: “What do you see, Jeremiah?” “I see the branch of an almond tree,” I replied.
12 The LORD said to me, “You have seen correctly, for I am watching to see that my word is fulfilled.”

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Cross References 16

  • 1. S Psalms 139:13
  • 2. Psalms 139:16
  • 3. S Isaiah 49:1
  • 4. John 10:36
  • 5. ver 10; Jeremiah 25:15-26
  • 6. S Exodus 3:11; Exodus 4:10; S Exodus 6:12
  • 7. 1 Kings 3:7
  • 8. S Genesis 15:1; S Joshua 8:1; Ezekiel 2:6
  • 9. S Genesis 26:3; S Joshua 1:5; Jeremiah 15:20
  • 10. ver 19; Jeremiah 15:21; Jeremiah 26:24; Jeremiah 36:26; Jeremiah 42:11
  • 11. Jeremiah 20:11
  • 12. S Isaiah 6:7
  • 13. S Exodus 4:12
  • 14. Jeremiah 25:17; Jeremiah 46:1
  • 15. Jeremiah 12:17
  • 16. Jeremiah 18:7-10; Jeremiah 24:6; Jeremiah 31:4,28

Footnotes 1

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