Jeremiah, the son of Hikiah was a priest who lived close to the city of Jerusalem in the town of Anathoth. An important religious writing is represented by the book who bears his name. It is believed that he is the author of the book. The present paper will analyze and interpret the first ten verses.
Verses one to three give information regarding the identity of the author and also some coordinates which allow the reader to better understand the context in which the verses were produced. " The words of Jeremiah the son of Hikiah, of the priests who were in Anathoth in the land of Benjamin." Since Jeremiah is the first thing to be mentioned, one can easily understand that he is the subject of utmost importance. His identity is defined through the belonging to his family. This is why the name of his father is mentioned right after.
There is a chronological dimension to be identified. On the time axis he comes as the son of Hikiah. In addition there is a spatial dimension. We come to know that the action takes place in the area of Anatoth, in the land of Benjamin. We also get to know that, whatever it is that is happening, it is taking place in the presence of priests. Taking into account the available information, one may understand that a matter of religious importance is taking place.
The second serves to further define the identity of Jeremiah: " to whom the word of the LORD came in the days of Josiah the son of Amon, king of Judah, in the thirteen year of his reign." It can be stated that the importance of Jeremiah is explained (justified) by the fact that the Lord had spoken to him. We realize we are dealing with a text of religious nature, since the fact that God had talked to Jeremiah is not an assumption but a firm declaration. The context of the event seems to be extremely important. This time we have a historical reference to the king Josiah who was in his thirteen year of reign, just like in the case of Jeremiah, Josiah's identity is defined in relation to that of his father " Josiah, the son of Amon." It seems that where we come from is what defines us. This approach is typical for the Jewish tradition.
The third verse includes further information regarding the temporal context of the event " it came also in the days of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah, until the end of the eleventh year of Sedekiah the son of Josiah, king of Judah, until the exile of Jerusalem in the fifth month."
On the temporal axis we move ahead in the period of Josiah's son. People are defined through their status and through their origins. So far we have been dealing with "the son of" and "the king of." It is important to underline that in the case of Jeremiah we don't have information regarding his status. We know who his father is but we don't know who he is and what he does. At least not yet. The geographical location is the same.
" Now the word of the LORD came to me saying" is the fourth verse. We can notice that the speaking person changes. We are now dealing with direct speech. We understand that the person who is directly addressing to us is Jeremiah since in the introductory verses it was stated that the words of God came to him and that later we would be explained the entire situation. The fact that the word "LORD" is written in capital letters underlines its importance for the speaker but also the fact that the author of the verses wants to render the concept important for the reader as well.
The temporal dimension where we are situated is "now." On the one hand the "now" refers to the time context that has already been defined. On the other hand it can be stated that it is an eternal now since we are projected into a temporal dimension which is different than the one in which we are reading the text. It is interesting to notice that it is not the Lord who came to speak to Jeremiah, but the word of the Lord who reached him.
Therefore, the matter of most importance is the word and not the presence of God. The word is a metaphor for a message. At the same time, it is a direct reference to God's power who created the world through the use of the word.
The Logos is however more than speech, it refers to knowledge. And since god is omniscient, it refers to absolute knowledge. Since the word cam to him, we must understand that he had contact with and was contaminated by this absolute knowledge. Being a man in possession of the absolute truth, Jeremiah defines himself as a prophet.
" Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, And before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations." The person speaking changes again and we have a reproduction of God's exact words. We acknowledge that God had a master plan for Jeremiah, that his role was conceived before he was conceived and that his consecration took place before his physical birth. The idea of destiny is strong in this part of the text, just like that of God's absolute power.
And indeed, the destiny of Jeremiah is that of being a prophet. What does a prophet do? He preaches to the people in an attempt to teach them the truth or to teach them how to see the truth on their own. His instrument is the word. Therefore, now it makes even more sense the fact that the first contact which Jeremiah had with the divine instance was through the word.
It is important to underline the fact that he is meant to be a prophet of the nations. On the one hand there is the suggestion that God's kingdom on earth is not limited to a single people, but it meant to be universal. On the other hand, the identity of a people is defined through their nationality. The history of the Jewish people is a relevant motivation in this direction. Since nationality is determined by birth, it is easy to understand why the fathers are always mentioned.
"Then I said, " Alas, Lord GOD! Behold, I do not know how to speak, Because I am a youth." The following verse describes the initial reaction that Jeremiah had when hearing God's words. He is not only excited, but also afraid. He thinks of being unworthy of doing what the lord asks because he lacks experience. The age is directly connected with experience. A young boy is supposed silent, not because he is unmarried, but because his status is one lacking experience.
The reply that the lord gives him is " But the LORD said to me: Do not say "I am youth," Because everywhere I send you, you shall go, And all that I command you, you shall speak." We now understand that Jeremiah is a chosen one, that age does not matter because he will not be the one inventing the speeches he has to make, but he will be an instrument that God himself uses in order to speak to the people. God's is an imperative command and Jeremiah must obey. In other words, Jeremiah is God's mouth on earth, a physical incarnation of the sacred Word.
"Do not be afraid of them, For I am with you to deliver you" declares the LORD." Again we have the eternal present. "Don't be afraid of them" suggests that…