1The words of Jeremiah, son of Hilkiah, one of the priests from Anathoth,* in the land of Benjamin. 2The word of the LORD came to him in the days of Josiah, son of Amon, king of Judah, in the thirteenth year of his reign,a 3and again in the days of Jehoiakim, son of Josiah, king of Judah, until the end of the eleventh year of Zedekiah, son of Josiah, king of Judah—down to the exile of Jerusalem, in the fifth month.b

Call of Jeremiah

4The word of the LORD came to me:

5Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,

before you were born I dedicated you,

a prophet to the nations I appointed you.* c

6“Ah, Lord GOD!” I said,

“I do not know how to speak. I am too young!”*

7But the LORD answered me,

Do not say, “I am too young.”

To whomever I send you, you shall go;

whatever I command you, you shall speak.

8Do not be afraid of them,

for I am with you to deliver you—oracle of the LORD.

9Then the LORD extended his hand and touched my mouth, saying to me,

See, I place my words in your mouth!d

10Today I appoint you

over nations and over kingdoms,

To uproot and to tear down,

to destroy and to demolish,

to build and to plant.

11The word of the LORD came to me: What do you see, Jeremiah? “I see a branch of the almond tree,”* I replied. 12Then the LORD said to me: You have seen well, for I am watching over my word to carry it out. 13e A second time the word of the LORD came to me: What do you see? I replied, “I see a boiling kettle whose mouth is tipped away from the north.”*

14The LORD said to me, And from the north evil will pour out over all who dwell in the land.f

15Look, I am summoning

all the kingdoms of the north—oracle of the LORD

Each king shall come and set up his throne

in the gateways of Jerusalem,

Against all its surrounding walls

and against all the cities of Judah.g

16I will pronounce my sentence against them

for all their wickedness in forsaking me,

In burning incense to other gods,

in bowing down to the works of their hands.h

17But you, prepare yourself;

stand up and tell them

all that I command you.

Do not be terrified on account of them,

or I will terrify you before them;

18For I am the one who today

makes you a fortified city,

A pillar of iron, a wall of bronze,

against the whole land:

Against Judah’s kings and princes,

its priests and the people of the land.i

19They will fight against you, but not prevail over you,

for I am with you to deliver you—oracle of the LORD.

* [1:1] Anathoth: a village about three miles northeast of Jerusalem, to which Solomon had exiled Abiathar the priest (1 Kgs 2:2627); it is likely that Jeremiah belonged to that priestly family.

* [1:5] Jeremiah was destined to become a prophet before his birth; cf. Is 49:1, 5; Lk 1:15; Gal 1:1516. I knew you: I loved you and chose you. I dedicated you: I set you apart to be a prophet. The nations: the neighbors of Judah, along with Assyria, Babylonia, and Egypt.

* [1:6] I am too young: like Moses (Ex 3:11, 13; 4:10), Jeremiah at first resists God’s call. This narrative is perhaps patterned after the story of Moses’ call in order to identify Jeremiah as the prophet “like me” in Dt 18:15.

* [1:11] There is wordplay between the Hebrew noun shaqed, “almond tree,” and the Hebrew verb shoqed, “watcher/watching.” Because the almond tree begins to bloom in late winter in Palestine, it is called “the watcher” for the coming of spring. God is also “watcher,” observing the fulfillment of the prophetic word.

* [1:13] Kettle…the north: symbol of an invasion from the north; cf. vv. 1415.

a. [1:2] Jer 25:3.

b. [1:3] Jer 25:1.

c. [1:5] Jer 49:1; Gal 1:1516.

d. [1:9] Dt 18:18; Is 6:7.

e. [1:13] Ez 11:3, 7; 24:3.

f. [1:14] Jer 4:6; 6:1.

g. [1:15] Jer 6:22.

h. [1:16] Is 2:8.

i. [1:18] Jer 6:27; 15:20; Ez 3:8.

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