This particular section of the book of Jeremiah talks about a revelation from Yahweh that entails a promise of a “new covenant” for His people Israel; one that would enable them to fully know and follow Yahweh and his commands. This vision of consolation comes despite Israel’s consistent unfaithfulness to Yahweh, and also at a time when the people are truly suffering; by way of the destruction of their land by the hands of the Babylonians (Anchor 4141). It is believed that either the prophet Jeremiah, the man by which this shocking revelation came through, or his disciple Baruch ben Neriah, who also was going through this ordeal, are believed to be the author(s) who penned this passage (Anchor 4142). Irregardless of the actual author, the message is what is of the greatest importance; which is best understood by exploring the historical background of the text, the type of writing the theme is presented through and a critical in-depth analysis of it.
Even though the selected text is characterized with a promise of hope, the background of this passage is one that is wrought with much turmoil; for both the prophet Jeremiah who proclaimed it and the people of Israel who were to hear it. It is believed among scholars and historians that Jeremiah was born near the beginning of the reign of King Josiah and was raised in a sanctuary in or near Anathoth (Anchor 4135). Jeremiah was called to be a prophet, most likely when he was just a teenager, in the 13th year of the reign of Josiah; this was around 627 BCE (Anchor 4137). Around 622 BCE, when the temple scroll was found and king Josiah’s reforms ensued, Jeremiah also started his ministry preaching Yahweh’s word and centralized worship; which most likely was the causation of the closing of his Anathoth sanctuary from the rest of the priesthood who still held to the ways Manasseh; the former king who allowed worship in multiple places and to different gods (Anchor 4138). Although Jeremiah tended not to participate in the celebrations that ensued during Josiah’s reformation, he states such in 15:17, he did not stay altogether by himself, in that he preached more rigorous observance of the Sabbath, intense devotion to the service of Yahweh and for Israel to be independent of its controlling neighbors (the Assyrians and Egyptians) wherever he went (Anchor 4139). In his last days as a prophet of Yahweh, the southern kingdom of Judah was under siege by the more newly in power Babylonians, more specifically Jerusalem, and Jeremiah, who had already been preaching much “doom and gloom,” continued to do so even as he was arrested and made to be under house arrest by the guard of the court (Anchor 4141). This situation, facing both Jeremiah and the people of Judah, is what sets up for the drive behind this passage; for the suffering that Jeremiah already had been shown would come, has indeed arrived. The general theme delivered in Jeremiah is that of the general repentance, centralized worship, faithfulness to Yahweh and the consequences that are coming for sin, however, it also speaks of both a general and specific consolation and renewal to be had for faithfulness. This specific passage, which is by way of a series of oracles, a divine word/revelation given by God/Yahweh by way of a prophet, by Jeremiah is believed to have been written during the time of the Babylonian siege as a word of consolation to the bleak situation facing the whole of the southern kingdom of Judah (Anchor 4142). Jeremiah uses this passage to point out to his audience, the people of Judah, that a new covenant, which includes forgiveness of sin and a closer relationship with Yahweh, will relief the tension between Judah/Israel’s sin and punishment they’re suffering and the commitment of Yahweh to their survival; a much needed comfort for a desperate situation (Word 127). This passage also becomes a vehicle of hope that is delivered...
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