THE HOLY PROPHET JEREMIAH

May 1

From the Prologue

Jeremiah was born about six hundred years before Christ in the village of Anathoth not far from Jerusalem. He began to prophesy at the age of fifteen during the reign of King Josiah. He preached repentance to the king and noblemen, false prophets and priests. During the reign of King Josiah, Jeremiah barely escaped death from the murdering hands of the enraged nobles. Concerning King Jehoiakim, he prophesied that the king's burial would be like the burial of an ass, i.e., his dead body would be tossed outside Jerusalem and that his body would be dragged along the ground without benefit of burial: "He shall be buried with the burial of an ass, drawn and cast forth beyond the gates of Jerusalem" (Jeremiah 22:18). Because of this, Jeremiah was cast into a prison. Not being able to write in prison, Jeremiah invited Baruch [the son of Neriah], who stood near the small window of the prison and dictated to him. When this prophecy was read to the king, the enraged king grabbed the paper and threw it into a fire. Divine Providence saved Jeremiah from prison and the word of the prophet was fulfilled in Jehoiakim. Concerning King Jeconiah [son of Jehoiakim, King of Judah], Jeremiah prophesied that Jeconiah would be taken to Babylon with his entire family and that he would die there. All of which came about shortly: ". . . after that Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, had carried away captive Jeconiah, the son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah" (Jeremiah 24:1). ". . . when he carried away captive Jeconiah, the son of Jehoiakim, the king of Judah from Jerusalem to Babylon, and all the nobles of Judah and Jerusalem" (Jeremiah 27:20). Under King Zedekiah, Jeremiah placed a yoke around his own neck and walked through Jerusalem prophesying the fall of Jerusalem and bondage under the yoke of the Babylonians. "Thus said the Lord to me; Make thee bonds and yokes and put them upon thy neck" (Jeremiah 27:2). "I spoke also to Zedekiah, king of Judah, according to all these words saying, bring your necks under the yoke of the king of Babylon, and serve him and his people, and live" (Jeremiah 27:12). To the Hebrew captives in Babylon, Jeremiah wrote telling them not to hope for a speedy return to Jerusalem for they would remain in Babylon for seventy years, which came to pass. "This whole land shall be a ruin and a desert. Seventy years these nations shall be enslaved to the king of Babylon" (Jeremiah 25:11). In the valley of Topheth near Jerusalem [the Valley of Slaughter], where the Jews offered children as a sacrifice to the idols, Jeremiah took a potter's clay vessel in his hands and shattered it before the people prophesying the impending humbling of the kingdom of Judah. "Even so, I will break this people and this city, as one breaks a potter's vessel that cannot be made whole again" (Jeremiah 19:11). The Babylonians shortly captured Jerusalem, slew King Zedekiah, plundered and destroyed the city, and beheaded a great number of Jews in the Valley of Topheth on the same spot where children were slaughtered for sacrifice to the idols and where the Prophet Jeremiah smashed the potter's vessel of clay. Jeremiah, with the Levites, removed the Ark of the Covenant from the Temple to Mt. Nebo where Moses died and there he hid the Ark in a cave. However, he hid the fire from the Temple in a deep well. Jeremiah was forced by some Jews to accompany them to Egypt where he lived for four years and was then stoned to death by his countrymen. To the Egyptians, Jeremiah prophesied the destruction of their idols and the arrival of the Virgin and the Christ-Child to Egypt. There is a tradition which states that King Alexander the Great visited the tomb of the Prophet Jeremiah. By order of King Alexander, the body of Jeremiah was translated and buried in Alexandria.





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