Have you already read the Introduction to Jeremiah? If not, stop here and go back to it so there is foundation for the study of this book of 52 chapters. Jeremiah is not the longest book of prophecies per chapters but it is per verbiage. He, much like John the Baptist was preordained to be a servant and messenger (angel) of God. It was God’s purpose for his birth.
The first three verses reflect the fact that Jeremiah’s secretary, Baruch, did the penning as Jeremiah spoke the prophecies (see Jeremiah 36:4). The first copy was destroyed by Jehoiakim, King of Judah; son of King Josiah. The formal introduction in verses 1-3 are qualifiers as to the merit and authority of Jeremiah the prophet.
Jeremiah was the son of a priest thus a Levite. Baruch was of the Tribe of Judah. Jeremiah led a very complex life as he carried a message for the Kingdom of Judah and for the already dispersed tribes of the northern Kingdom of Israel. He saw into a future yet to be played out back then and some of it to this very day. In verse 4 Jeremiah goes into the first-person…”then came the word of the Lord unto me…”
Verse 5 tells us that he was a designated visionary and prophet before “God had formed him in the womb.” This is very unusual. Most appointed messengers of God are called after their childhood. Samuel was given by his mother (I Samuel 1:1) to serve the Lord in the Tabernacle as a condition on her delivering a son at birth. John the Baptist was chosen to be a forerunner of Jesus before he was born. Jesus was born as the Son of God through the Holy Spirit to pay the debt of our sin. Just as is Jesus, John the Baptist is mentioned in all four of the synoptic gospels; Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
Jeremiah was a very young man at this time (v6). In some ways, his life and calling per age at his calling paralleled that of Daniel, Shaddrach, Meshach and Abednego. All four of these folks knew, or knew of each other; certainly contemporaries.
Verse 9 says God touched his lips that day and the Word was put in him. But, what is the comparison with or analogy of 1:11b… “the rod of an almond tree?” In Hebrew history, the almond tree is one of the first trees to “wake up” in the spring and it produces its fruit (nuts) far earlier than do other similar trees. If we went back to Numbers 17 we could get the significance of the rod(s) and almonds. The twelve tribes, each represented by a rod, were bound together. The next day Moses upon entering the Tabernacle saw that Aaron’s rod had sprouted and produced almonds. This was not so of the other 11 rods.
“There is nothing remarkable about a piece of wood with buds, blossoms, or fruit on it. But a piece of dead wood with all these things appearing in one night after sitting in a tent is remarkable. “Miracles in the Bible are often of this sort: natural events in unnatural conditions, timing, and placement.” (Allen)
The leaders of Judah in particular those from the Tribe of Levi and in charge of the Tabernacle at this time would have known the significance of this. Jeremiah was a Levite and a direct descendant of Aaron, the first Levite.
Jeremiah times [https://www.biblicaltraining.org/library/jeremiah-prophet]
Chronology for Jeremiah times (686 B.C.-586 B.C.).
686—Manasseh assumed sole kingship of Judah
– Jewish tradition says that it was during the rule of Manasseh Isaiah was put to death
648—Birth of Josiah, son of Manasseh
642—Amon succeeded Manasseh as king of Judah
640—Josiah succeeded Amon in the line and DNA of King David.
633—Josiah sought after God (2 Chron 34:3)
– Ashurbanipal, king of Assyria died
– Cyaxares became king of Media
628—Josiah began reforms in Judah
627—Jeremiah called to be a prophet
626—Nabopolassar became king of Babylonia
621—book of the law found in the Temple
609—Josiah slain at Megiddo
– Jehoahaz ruled three months
– Jehoiakim enthroned in Jerusalem
605—Babylonians defeated Egyptians at Carchemish
– Daniel, other hostages, and vessels taken to Babylon (Dan 1:1)
– Nebuchadnezzar became king of Babylon
604—Nebuchadnezzar returned to Pal. to receive tribute
601—Nebuchadnezzar defeated near Egypt
598—Jehoiakim’s reign ended
– Jehoiachin ruled from 9 Dec 598 to 16 March 597 and deported 22 April 597.
597—Zedekiah began as king in Judah
588—Siege of Jerusalem began on January 15
Oct. 7, 586 — Gedaliah slain and Jews migrated to Egypt taking Jeremiah with them but against his will.
The above gives us a great look at other events during the life of Jeremiah. It helps us to put things into historical context and perspective. We might like to know that it is also during the life of Jeremiah King Sennacherib of Assyria sacked Babylon; King Xi of Zhou becomes King of the Zhou Dynasty of China; the Assyria and Egypt were at war; 668 B.C. Nineveh of Jonah fame becomes the largest known city in the world; the Mayan empire of South America was in full swing; Lucius Tarquinius Priscus becomes king of Rome; by 612 B.C. Babylon replaces Nineveh as the largest city of the known world; the Chinese invent printing; 640 B.C. Macedonia of (future) Alexander the Great fame is established as a city-state; the Kingdom of Judah followed Baal including child sacrifice.
God concludes chapter 1 with this promise to Jeremiah…