Jeremiah – Family

Jeremiah and his family are a major topic in the Book/prophecies of Jeremiah.  Chapters 6 + 8 are directed at the “priest and prophets” which are Jeremiah’s uncles, cousins, and father/grandfather.  Hilkiah is the High Priest for Israel.  Baruch, Jeremiah’s scribe, introduces Jeremiah as the “son of Hilkiah” Jeremiah 1:1.  This phrase puts Jeremiah as a family member, possibly a real son/child but at least a grandson.  More importantly, it means that Jeremiah could have been the High Priest or at the very least been a part of the daily duties and sacrifices of the Temple.  Ezra, who wrote the book, is also identified as a “son of Hilkiah” and so he was a relative of Hilkiah/Jeremiah.  We can extend this relationship to Zachariah the father of John the Baptist, Luke 1: 5 because he was a priest.  

Hilkiah and his family are mentioned in 2 Kings 18, 22, 23, 1 Chronicles 6:13, 2 Chronicles 34, and Isaiah 36.  He was the priest that “found” the Book of the Law for King Josiah and helped in restoring the Temple.  I called Jeremiah possibly a true child of Hilkiah because “the word of the Lord” came to him during the lifetime of Josiah.  This could put Jeremiah’s birth early in the reign of Josiah. Many other brothers, cousins, and uncles are mentioned in the references I gave.  All of these family members add to the drama/narrative in Jeremiah and make Jeremiah the misfit/standout of the family.

Some background – Jeremiah’s hometown was Anathoth of Benjamin, which is one of the towns given to the Levitical families by Moses/Joshua.  The field that Jeremiah bought in chapter 32:7 was in Anathoth.

Hilkiah (#2518 in Strong’s) means “Portion of Jah”.  

Jeremiah (#3414) means Jah will rise.

In case you are noticing that many names, especially in this family, have “iah” or “el” as a portion of the name.  It is because “iah” and el refer to the Eternal or Jah/God.  Israelites took the name of God very seriously and considered it holy and it was not used in common speech.  Jah was one version that could be said out loud or pronounced. 

Names within families were frequently “recycled” as part of the tradition and a way of honoring relatives.  (That is why the name John was questioned in Luke.)  See 1 Chronicles 6, especially 3 – 13, for details on the family tree of Levi and Aaron.  Also 1 Chronicles 9:10 -13.  Remember that there was a shift in the priesthood in the days of Samuel, David, and Solomon, which had to do with Eli and several other factors during those days. See Samuel and the Priest.  From other studies about priests, I know that a High Priest may not serve long, just a few years.

It is not mentioned that Jeremiah ever married.  If he had the bride would have been a member of the Levitical/priestly clan as it was required to keep the bloodline pure.    

Mother – Jeremiah 15:10 is the end of a section that starts in verse eight.  The section starts with widows, and goes to “mothers of young men”, and a mother of seven, and then to Jeremiah’s mother.  Now, you could make an argument that the term “mother” is referring to Israel and that is possibly another level.  But verse ten is referring to Jeremiah’s mother.  It is a recurring idea that Jeremiah was not a “happy camper”, he has several complaints against God and this verse seems to edge on blaming his mother for his birth.

In Jeremiah 20:14 his mother is mentioned again.  This is part of one of Jeremiah’s complaints, this one begins in verse 7 and goes to number 18.  Once again Jeremiah is not directly blaming his mother for his problems, but if she was still alive this would have been a hard saying for her to hear.  I choose to take Jeremiah’s statements as a lament for the pain that he is feeling and what it must have been doing to her.  Remember, she was of Aaron’s linage.  She should have been “important” in the sense that she was married to the High Priest.  I could also believe that she was being blamed for Jeremiah and his not conforming to “family standards.”

Brother – Jeremiah 29 is best known for verse eleven and the prophecy that Daniel is praying about in Daniel 9, the one about seventy years.  This chapter also introduces us to Gemariah.  He was special and important enough to Jeremiah that Gemariah was entrusted with the letter to the Exiles in Babylon.  Gemariah would have been a brother/half-brother to Jeremiah because he is also a “son of Hilkiah.” (That is taking for granted that Hilkiah may have been alive or just died.) So, it is possible that not “all of the world” was against Jeremiah. 

Cousin/Uncle – This is a good time to remind us that names were frequently reused, refer to 1 Chronicles 6 + 9 for example.  Jeremiah 32: 6 has Hanamel son of Shallum coming to sell a field to Jeremiah.  Jeremiah does buy the field in Benjamin and seals up the deeds for future reference.  (I THINK that Jeremiah was being taken advantage of by his uncle/cousin because of the imprisonment and the siege.  But Jeremiah did this as a prophetic gesture so my opinion counts very little.)  There are many Shallums in the Levitical family and the officials of the court and other officers of the Temple.  It is very possible that the court officials were Levities.

Tree of Knowledge – The Bad Guy In This Story

In the story of the Tree of Knowledge and the Garden, a look at the “bad guy” is in order.  No, this is not Adam but the serpent.  Why not just call him Satan?  Good question.  According to BAS (Bible Archaeology Society), the term Satan was not in use when Genesis was written.  I have no problem in the thought that it is Satan; let us look at a set of scriptures that connect a “type” of Satan with the Garden and his fall.

Ezekiel 28: 1- 19 is three different prophecies to the ruler/king of Tyre, again the word Satan is not used in this chapter.  Parts of these messages are directed at a “man and a physical place” while other phrases make no sense if we try to imagine them talking about a human.  The verse that is important for this study is #13, “you were in Eden, the garden of God”.  Verse 14 identifies this ruler as a guardian cherub, #15 says he was blameless, but #16 talks about trade, violence, and sinning.

Verse 2, 5, and 17 mentions that pride was the reason for his (Satan’s) downfall.  Verse 17 mentions that his wisdom was also corrupted because of his beauty and splendor.  (All my references are from the NIV.)  Place these ideas into the Garden narrative and there are similar problems that Eve and Adam faced.  The fruit was “pleasant to the eyes” and “desirable for gaining wisdom”.

Other interesting facts about Tyre are: 

  1. It would have been in the land that had belonged to the Tribe of Asher.
  2. Jesus healed a little girl that lived in that place.
  3. We tend to lump it together with Sidon.  But starting at verse 20 Sidon gets its own judgment.  Verse 24 to 26 seem to reference Israel, this is interesting because Asher and the people of the northern kingdom were relocated many years before this prophecy.
  4. The town of Zarephath is in Sidon just up the coast from Tyre.

Humility and pride are opposites.  It is very easy now to see why the Father used Moses (most humble man) and opposes anyone that is ruled by pride.

Jeremiah – 6 + 8

In Jeremiah 6:12 – 15 and 8:10 – 12 are two identical thoughts/statements.  Actually, the body of those verses is the same with just the first verse in both carrying the same thought with different wording.  Psalm 14 and 53 are also similar sets of verses, so things being repeated in the Bible are not unusual.  When you find “repeats” it is a good idea to give them some extra attention.

Jeremiah, the book, is a collection of prophecies, history, and “family” problems that are recorded by Baruch son of Neriah (36:4 and chapter 45).  Jeremiah’s ministry covers about forty years (1:2+3), Josiah had eighteen more years, and the other two kings had eleven-year reigns.  (There will be other studies on topics of Jeremiah’s life and ministry.)

We will start with a summary of those two sets of verses and then look at some of the topics before, in-between, and behind 8:12.  In this block of prophecies are many “says the Lord” with a few variations off of this idea.  Since we like to read things in a linear timeline within “books of the Bible” it is really hard for us to deal with the concept that not all of these may have been said one right after the other.  We know Baruch wrote more than one copy of this text.  The “history” with in the book does seem to go fairly linear but chapters 46 through 51 could have been “pieced together” by Jeremiah/Baruch for better reading.  It seems that Chapters 6 – 9 may have come over a longer period of time than what we would except.  Plus 6:27 – 30 seems disconnected within the chapter. (That is a section on metals, the people, and Jeremiah.  See What Type of Metal Are You.)  I would have put it there because of Jeremiah’s statement that starts this group of prophecies – Jeremiah does not know who he will speak this message too (6:10+11).  However, in keeping with the restating of the same thought, 9:7 does refer to refining and testing.  NOTE. I do think that the similar verse in chapters 6 and 8 was spoken at different times and these utterances may have been years apart.

I will work from 6:12 – 15 as this is really the section that caught my attention.  Verse twelve (actually the thought starts in 11b) promises that land, houses, and wives will be taken away and given to someone else. This promise is focused on prophets and priests (v 13).  I need to remind myself that Jeremiah is of the priestly family and he is a prophet.  He is speaking to family, which is why the priest and prophets come against him so hard.  A reference for prophets is 28:1 and for the priest, it is 5:30 + 31.  

Some of the standout thoughts are that these “men of God” dress the “wound” of the people and proclaim “peace, peace” while they are lying and looking out for themselves.  The fact that the wound is singular in both sections brings me to think at unfaithfulness is the problem, with the priest excusing bad conduct, in all of its forms, as not a real problem.  The people can see that judgment is coming but they are being told that it will not affect them because they such “good people” and are “okay”.  

Other areas that will be worked with are below.

  • Verse 6:16 is one statement that caught my attention in reading this section.  It is part of the message that John the Baptist spoke as he prepared the way for Jesus. 
  • Chapter 7: 1- 29 calls out the regular people for their unfaithfulness and unwillingness to follow God.  Verse 23 is the Lord restating His commands and expectations.  This will be a separate post, but these commands were given to the family of Israel starting in Genesis and restated in Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. 
  • 7:30 to 8:3 talks about Topheth.  This valley had a long ugly history that possibly started with Solomon and his unfaithfulness to God as he honored his many wives over the Lord.

THOUGHTS: I will extend this series and cover other topics in Jeremiah.  Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel are contemporaries but are writing from three different viewpoints.

Tree of Knowledge – The Tree They Could Eat

The other tree, the one they could eat, that is specifically mentioned in Genesis is the Tree of Life.  I have always thought in interesting that Adam and Eve were not forbidden to eat of the tree of life!  So, of course, the serpent did not tempt them on that one.  If we skip to the end of the Bible we find out that the Tree produces twelve crops and the leaves are for healing the nations. 

Some comparing and contrasting is in order here.  In Genesis the Tree of Life is mentioned three times, in Revelations it is referenced four times (but three thoughts), in Proverbs, it is mentioned four times, and has a possible reference in Ezekiel 47: 12.  A look at its physical location is also important.

Genesis: 2:9 – the tree’s physical location, at the center of Adam and Eve’s world (the Garden).  It is connected with a river that waters the whole earth. 

            3:22 – the command to not eat of the Tree of Life and live forever.

            3:24 – the way “back” was blocked/guarded. 

Thoughts – 1. Would eternal life have been passed on to their children?  2. It would have been horrible to live on and see all of the sins they allowed into the world.

Revelations: 2:7 – “overcomers” get to eat of the Tree.

22:2 – Its location by the River of Life on the main street in the City.  This location and river are in Ezekiel 47:12 and Zechariah 14:8. This also mentions the leaves being for healing, as does Ezekiel.

22:14 – repeats who may eat of the Tree.  Overcomers and those who “washed their robes” may be similar ideas.  This stands in contrast to Genesis 3:22 where the ability to eat of the tree is blocked.

22:19 – This is a way to be blocked from eating the fruit or leaves.  If you use the KJV the Tree is not in this verse it is a book. Since I do not have a great reason why except that “paper” is from trees.  The KJV is the only translation I found that uses “book”.

Thoughts – 22:2 mentions twelve crops.  Some translations use twelve fruits.  The Vulgate has twelve fruits of the Spirit instead of nine.  My best feeling on this is it shows God’s continuous provision.  Artists, in some renditions, will also put twelve trees along the river.  I will wait to see it for myself. 

Proverbs: 3:18 – Wisdom is a tree of life.  Jews will use this to represent the Torah.

11:30 – the fruit or things the righteous do are a tree of life.   

13:12 – longings fulfilled are a tree of life.  

15:4 – a soothing tongue is a tree of life.  

Thoughts – I am viewing these four as “Leaves” on the tree of life.  

Tree of Knowledge – The I’s

In Genesis 2 God has planted a garden for man to enjoy.  The center of His garden has two special trees – life and knowledge.  The tree of life is referenced too again in Proverbs 11 and in Revelations 22.  The tree of knowledge, apparently, has references in Proverbs but English translators don’t expand on the metaphor.  To be fair this study is going to cover more than just this tree, I will be looking at several concepts and ideas in Chapter 1, 2, 3, and probably 4.  To clear away a possible problem let me stress that the tree is the KNOWLEDGE of good and evil.  This tree is NOT good and evil.  

Since the Garden is where mankind started I saw the grace and love of your God and Father starting in Genesis 1:29 + 30.  This is a simple thought but this post focus will be on the word “I”.  God says it four times and Adam adds five more by verse twelve, which is where the conversation spreads out, and God’s tone changes.

God’s uses of the word “I” are in 1:29,30; 2:18; and 3:11.  They flow this way – I give, I give, I will make, and I commanded.  The command actually comes in 2:16 but “I” is not used at that time.  So, the first thing God does is to give Adam and the beast plants with seeds and every green plant for food. God commands against the eating of just one tree and then turns His attention again to man and his need for companionship.  

Some Thoughts1. The disobedience of Adam changed the plants as food, as some plants are not suitable for our consumption now.  2. Chapter 2:4 is actually another story of creation that Moses compiled when he wrote Genesis.  Chapter1:1, 4:1, and 5:1 are also separate stories that were possibly oral traditions that he wrote down at the prompting of the Holy Spirit.  3. Notice the only command Adam is given is to not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  Adam was not given instructions about the tree of life.  

All four of God’s “I’s” are directed for Adam’s good, not his harm.  Well, why did God even put that tree in the garden!  Since I try not to judge God, this is my thought.  God has always wanted people to willingly follow Him.  The tree was a simple thing and Adam failed.  Jesus is the only human to not fail the Father, which is why we need to be found in Him.

Adam’s five “I’s” are the result of nibbling on knowledge.  His response to God is one of “shame and blame” and mankind has lived with that since then.  Adam’s shame “I’s” are – I heard, I was afraid, I was naked, and I hid.  The confession of “I ate” comes after he blames God for supplying the woman which he was singing about in 2:23 + 24.

Adam’s “I’s” are about himself while God’s “I’s” are about doing good for man.

Some More Thoughts1. Most translations quote Adam as saying the poem/song of 2:23 and leave verse 24 as an included explanation.  That would mean Moses or someone else added to the text later.  It just sounds better to extend the quote to include verse 24 and make it a prophecy about his children. 2. I am confident that Adam and Eve were intelligent and that they talked with God about things.  I have always wondered how they would have had a contextual understanding of the word “die” since they had never seen death!  That may have been part of the knowledge that Eve was so eager to get when she chose to eat the fruit.

Well, enough for the intro more will come later on the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.