- The Prophet.
Family and Social Connections (§ 1).
His Life and Times (§ 2).
Literature Ascribed to Jeremiah (§ 3).
- The Book of the Prophet Jeremiah.
- The Contents.
Chapters i.-x. (§ 1).
Chapters xi.-xvii. (§ 2).
Chapters xviii.-xxix. (§ 3).
Chapters xxx. lii. (§ 4).
- The Composition.
The Groundwork and its Expansion (§ 1).
The Greek and the Hebrew Text (§ 2).
- The Importance of the Book.
- The Lamentations of Jeremiah.
Names Place in the Canon (§ 1).
The Artistic Form (§ 2).
Traditional View of Authorship (§ 3).
Arguments Concerning Jeremianic Origin (§ 4).
I. The Prophet:
1. Family and Social Connections.
The name (Hebr. Yirmeyahu
) is borne not only by the
prophet, but also by the father-in-law
of King Josiah (II Kings xxiii. 31), by
a Rechabite (Jer. xxxv. 3
), by a priest
of the time of Nehemiah (Neh. x. 3
and by persons in the Chronicler's
tables (I Chron. v. 24, xii. 4, 10, 13
). In spite of
his importance the prophet is seldom mentioned
in the Old Testament outside of his book
(II Chron. xxxv. 25, xxxvi. 12, 21, 22
Ezra i. 1
; Dan, ix. 2
which remains the principal and quite full source
for knowledge of his life. According to this source
Jeremiah was of priestly lineage from the little city
of Anathoth, 3 m. north of Jerusalem
(i. 1), a son of
Hilkiah (i. 1), and nephew of Shallum
A possible relationship to Abiathar is suggested by
I Kings ii. 26
, but the identity of his father with
the Hilkiah of II Kings xxii
, is improbable. His
known history begins in the thirteenth year of Josiah
), when he was called to the prophetic
office (i. 6)
His Position regarding sacrifice
is against the supposition that he acted as a priest.
Notwithstanding the hatred aroused among the
people of Anathoth by his preaching, he exercised
his rights there (xi. 21, xxxii. 8, xxxvii. 12
his duties as prophet were performed at the capital.
From xvi. 2
it seems probable that he was unmarried.
2. His Life and Times.
Jeremiah lived in criticaI times. Five years after
his call the law book was found which caused the
Josianic reformation, to which his words in chap.
xi. apply. But little is known, however, of his
work under Josiah, though of his activities under
Jehoiakim (q.v.) more is told. *Text Missing*
of a nature to respond to prophetic ideals, being
a brutal despot wrapped up his building-projects
xxii 13-19). The prophet denounced
in his addresses the heathen and unethical
influences protected by the
princes, and at the time of the battle
of Carchemish appeared with a prophetic program
which aroused against him the bitterest hate.
At the beginning of the king's reign an address
in the court of the temple foretelling the fate of
that structure incensed priests, prophets, and
people (vii., xxvi.), and
in 605 he gave definite form
to this, pointing to the Chaldeans as the people into
whose power Judah was to fall, and had Baruch
commit it to writing. This was brought to the king,
who tore it into pieces and threw it into the fire
(xxxvi). The events of succeeding years proved the
justification of Jeremiah, though they caused him,
in his love for his people, the deepest suffering.
Jehoiakim had become the vassal of the Chaldean
king, but soon began to intrigue against him, relying
on the power of Egypt, thus causing a Chaldean
attack which was the beginning of the end, and his
successor Jeconiah, with the best of the people, was
carried away to Babylon (597 B.C.). The new king
Zedekiah, was not so hostile to Jeremiah, and
indeed twice saved his life in spite of the court
party which wished to continue the policy of
prophets, who predicted speedy restoration of
power and reliance on Egypt was *Text Missing*
After this, the final revolt *Text Missing*
of Zedekiah *Text Missing* conditional
surrender, to the Chaldeans. Temporary
retirement of the Chaldeans filled the people with
joy, which Jeremiah foretold would be short-lived,
as events proved (xxxiv.). Meanwhile, as Jeremiah
was going out of the city to visit Anathoth, he was
arrested and thrown into prison, but removed by
the king to another place of detention and by him
supported there (xxxvii.). His opponents, who
rightly feared his influence, besought the king to
have him put to death, and to that end had him
thrown into a foul cistern to die, whence he was
again rescued by the king's order and placed in
detention near the king (xxxviii.). At the capture
of the city Jeremiah was taken prisoner, but was
released by a Babylonian commander and given his
choice between going to Babylonia and remaining
in Judea, accepting the latter alternative. He gave
his support to Gedaliah, the governor appointed by
the Chaldeans. Gedaliah was soon after murdered,
and the leaders of the people, in fear of the consequences,
and following the advice of a prophet
who opposed Jeremiah, fled with a number of the
population to Egypt, taking with them both Jeremiah
and Baruch. There the hostile relations between
prophet and people continued because of his denunciations
of their heathen proclivities and his prediction
that Egypt should fall into the power of
Nebuchadrezzar (xxxix.-xliv.). This closes the
authentic record of the prophet's life. The Old
Testament does not tell of his death. Tradition
has it that he was stoned to death in Egypt
, viii.; ANF
, iii. 640; II Macc. ii.
gives a report of his hiding certain sacred utensils
in a cave, on which is founded the Paralipomena
of Jeremiah and the apocryphal Baruch literature
with its sequellæ (see APOCRYPHA
, A, IV., 5;
, II., 10-11, 35; and
cf. Schürer, Geschichte
, iii. 223 sqq., 285-286, Eng.
transl. II., iii. 83-93; II Macc. xv. 11
sqq.; Matt. xvi. 14
3. Literature Ascribed to Jeremiah.
It is reported in II Chron. xxxv. 25 that Jeremiah
wrote a dirge on the death of Josiah, called Lamentations;
this is probably the first trace
of the tradition which ascribes to him
the book of that name, which is, however,
opposed by the contents of the
book. A manuscript of the Septuagint
ascribes Ps. lxv. and cxxxvii. to him, and there is
an apocryphal Epistle of Jeremiah (see APOCRYPHA,
A., IV., 6). A passage in the Book of Jeremiah is
luminous for the history of that production (xxxvi.
2 sqq.). According to this, in the fourth year of
Jehoiakim Jeremiah dictated to Baruch the prophecies
which he had uttered in the twenty-three
years of his prophetic activity. This being burned
by the king, he had Baruch rewrite it with many
additions (xxxvi. 32). This new book is not identical
with the present book, since the latter contains
prophecies of a later time; but that it formed the
basis of our book may be confidently assumed, and
it may be reconstructed by putting together the
pieces which are older than Jehoiakim's fifth year.
II. The Book of the Prophet Jeremiah.
--I. The Contents:
Chap. i states that the prophet is informed
in the thirteenth year of Josiah before his
birth that he had been called to predict the coming
of powers from the north against his people,
whose hate he was to incur. But the indication
in the chapter itself of the lapse of
twenty years proves that the narrative
depends upon the memory of the
prophet and is not exactly contemporary with the
utterance itself. It is clear that Jeremiah narrates
the story of his earlier experiences in the light his
later life had given him, and sharp distinction between
later and earlier utterances is not possible.
In ii.-vi. the parts are closely related to each other
and belong to the same conditions in the reign of
Josiah. These chapters bewail the people's sins,
their idolatry, their fondness for covenants with
foreign powers, and foretell coming judgment.
Yet in this section passages suggest the time of
Jehoiakim (v. 1, ii. 18, 36). Who the northern foe
in these chapters is raises a difficult question. They
are an ancient people, whose speech is unknown to
Israel, carrying bow and spear and possessing
chariots. Some of these marks appear when the
prophet's utterances concern the Chaldeans in the
time of Jehoiakim. Some scholars refer them to the
Scythians, in which case Jeremiah must later have
modified them, since their present form hardly fits
references to that people. It is questionable therefore whether Jeremiah's earlier prophecies were not
general; when the Chaldeans appeared on the scene
he may have identified them with the foe foretold.
While v. 18 and the related v. 10 are not unJeremianic,
they do not fit their present place;
similarly iii. 6-iv. 2 is hardly intelligible unless iii.
14-18 is taken out. It is probable that these passages
are genuine, but transferred hither by an editor.
Chapters vii.-x. contain a discourse delivered in
the court of the temple, upon which structure the
people put their trust. If they continue in their
sins, the temple will be no help, but will perish as
did the sanctuary at Shiloh. Its sacrifices are
worthless, the people who bring them are untrue
and have filled it with heathen symbols which represent
their own unethical nature. Chaps. ix. 22-x.
give the impression of fragmentariness, and, as the
Septuagint shows, have been expanded, and suggest
a deutero-Jeremiah. The little pieces ix. 22-23 and
24-25 have no connection with the previous context,
while x. 17 sqq. appear to be genuine and the original
continuation of ix. 21. Genuineness is apparent
in vii. 1-ix. 21, but, contrary to Hitzig, Hävernick,
and others, the passage appears to belong rather
with xxvi. and to connect not with the time of
Josiah, but with the beginning of the reign of
Jehoiakim, especially in the matter of heathen
2. Chapters xi.-xvii.
In xi. 1-17 Jeremiah warns the people to regard
"the words of this covenant." In spite of the punishment
of their fathers, the present
generation continues its service of other
gods and renders divine punishment
imminent. That the "covenant" is
the law book found under Josiah is generally recognized;
the passage can not, however, in its present
form have been uttered then, but in the time of
Jehoiakim and so furnishes a good example of the
way in which in the reduction of his words to
writing Jeremiah mingled past and present. In xi.
18-xii. 6 the prophet deals with the hostility of
his fellow villagers of Anathoth. Formally, by the
"then" of xi. 18
it is connected with the preceding;
but the exact relation expressed is not clear,
and this suggests that the passage is not in its original
context. Uncertain in date is
contains a lament for the desolation of the land
and threats against the neighbors who have done
the evil. It fits in well with the destruction suggested
by II Kings xxiv. 2
, but still better with
conditions during the exile. Indeed, the lament
seems to have been put together out of two diverse
compositions of different age. The humiliation of
Judah in Babylon is figuratively described in
with a lament for the condition resulting. Most
critics date the piece (by verses 18-19) in the time
of Jeconiah (Jehoahaz), Graf in that of Jehoiakim,
the latter regarding verses 18-19 as an addition out
of Jeconiah's age. A terrible drought is the occasion
of xiv.-xv., in which Jeremiah prays for his
people--unavailingly, for even Moses and Samuel
could not save them (xv. 1). At the close (xv. 10-21)
Jeremiah bewails his personal sorrows caused
by his foes. Whether this piece is in its original
connection is uncertain, but it may be placid in
the original book and dated at the beginning of
the reign of Jehoiakim. In xvi.-xvii, the prophet
is forbidden to marry, or to participate in mourning
or feasting; the destruction of the people is near,
since its sins can not be forgotten and its punishment
is certain. The connection of this with the
preceding is quite certain, though probably xvii.
14-18 is inserted by a later hand from another
place. The genuineness of xvii. 19-27 is, however,
3. Chapters xviii.-xxix.
In xviii. 1-10 the work of the potter pictures
God's methods with man; judgment might be
averted were it not for the people's
wilful sin (11-17); the prophet bewails
his people's hostility to him (18-23);
as an earthen vessel is broken, so shall
the people be (xix. 1-15); the prophet retorts upon
Pashhur, who had put him in the stocks, with a
prophecy of personal evil and general doom (xx.
1-6), and then bewails his own sad lot (7-18).
The indications favor the time of Zedekiah, especially
the mention of Pashhur and the imprisonment
of Jeremiah in the stocks. Some have seen in chap.
xvii. an earlier piece, and regard xix.-xx. as pieces
edited by later hands and containing genuine experiences
of the prophet. To the time of Zedekiah
belongs xxi. 1-10, and to the time of the siege
verses 4-5, but 11-14 has no connection with the
preceding, and perhaps goes with xxii. The kings
of Judah are dealt with in xxii. 1-xxiii. 8. A king,
not identified, is warned to do justice in order to
escape judgment (xxii. 1-5); in succeeding verses
Shallum (i.e. Jehoahaz), Jehoiakim, and Jeconiah
are dealt with; better shepherds are to be given
(xxiii.l-4), and a new shoot is to spring from the
Davidic stump (4-8). The principal part of this is
of the time of Zedekiah, but xxii. 6-9, 20-23 are
later insertions. The genuineness of xxiii. 1-4
has been questioned and is hard to prove, and the
passage has been assigned to exilic times. A speech
against false prophets is found in xxiii. 9-40. In
xxiv. the exiles are compared with good figs, Zedekiah
and the people remaining with bad ones.
According to the superscription xxv. belongs to the
fourth year of Jehoiakim, the year of the battle of
Carchemish. In it Jeremiah foretells the desolation
and captivity which are to come through Nebuchadrezzar,
and then after seventy years God will
again rule his people. The genuineness of this
chapter has been sharply attacked (cf. verses 12-14),
though Giesebrecht rightly sees a Jeremianic
basis. The cipher in verse 26 (cf. R.V. margin) is
not in Jeremiah's style. A report of the danger
of death incurred by the prophet through the address
in the temple court, given in chap. vii., is given
in chap. xxvi. It does not belong to the groundwork
or original basis of the book. According to
xxvii.-xxix., ambassadors had come to Jerusalem
from the neighboring states to urge common action
against Babylon (xxvii.). A prophet Hananiah
foretells the return of the exiles to Babylon within
two years; Jeremiah retorts with a prediction of
Hananiah's death within the year and a contradiction
of his prophecy of a speedy return (xxviii.). A
letter from Jeremiah to the exiles in Babylon is in
xxix. These chapters appear to have existed at one
time as a separate and independent section.
4. Chapters xxx.-xxxiii.
A series of prophecies of comfort are continued in
xxx.-xxxiii., and xxxii. rests on a personal relation
of Jeremiah regarding the purchase
of a field, which is made the basis of a
prediction of return from exile. The
chapter bears the marks of an editor,
however, and verses 17-23 have been especially
suspected, while xxxiii. 14-15 recall xxiii. 5-6, the
genuineness of which is under a cloud. Even if the
earlier passage is genuine, it does not seem likely
that Jeremiah would so modify the representation
as the later passage does. Smend denies xxx.-xxxi.
to Jeremiah, and is possibly right as to xxx., though
xxxi. seems to contain more of Jeremiah's work;
possibly those two chapters are exilic. Chapter
xxxiv. belongs to the narrative part of the book
and is placed in the time of the siege of the city.
The Rechabites appear in xxxv. as an example of
faithfulness and as a lesson to Judah. The time is
that of the passing of a Chaldean army through the
land in the time of Jehoiakim, but the occasion can
not be decided; it belongs to the narrative portion
of the book, and Jeremiah speaks in the first person.
Chapter xxxvi. is also narrative, and tells of the
committal to writing of the predictions of the
prophet. Similar narrative portions are xxxvii.-xliv.;
xxxix. is an insert and an expansion of part
of Iii. Consolation is offered in xlv. A series of
prophecies against foreign peoples is contained in
xlvi.-Ii., the nations mentioned being Egypt, Philistia,
Moab, Ammon, Edom, Damascus, Arabia,,
Elam, and Babylonia. Chapters l.-li., according
to li. 59-64 imparted to Seraiah in the fourth year
of Zedekiah, are by most modern critics regarded
as un-Jeremianic. These chapters depend not only
on secondary parts of Jeremiah, but on later parts
of Isaiah. Some critics separate li. 59 sqq. from the
rest as genuine; others regard the chapters as
expanded statements of genuine oracles of Jeremiah.
In general, the use of other predictions in these
chapters and the departure from the accustomed
forms of Jeremiah's usage seem to warrant suspicion.
On the other hand, in the undoubted portions of
the book there are prophecies against foreign nations,
and in this portion Nebuchadrezzar is represented
as the medium of divine punishment, which is a
Jeremianic conception; moreover, the time noted
in xlix. 34 looks genuine. Chapter lii. is not by
Jeremiah, but is chiefly an excerpt from II Kings
xxiv. 18-xxv. 30.
2. The Composition:
1. The Ground work and its Expansion.
The foregoing review shows
that to the groundwork written in the fourth year
of Jehoiakim and rewritten the
next year belong i. 2-6, xi. 1-17, vii. 1-9,
21, xi. 18-xii. 6, xiii. (except verses
18-19), xiv.-xv., xvi.-xvii. (except
some interpolations), xxv. (so far as it
is original), and xlvi. 1-xlix. 33 (so far
as they are Jeremianic), referring to the times of
Josiah and Johoiakim. To the time of Zedekiah
belong xxiv., xxi., xxiii. 9-40, and xlix. 34 sqq. (if
genuine). Of the rest which may be ascribed to this
prophet the time of writing is less evident, though
xxxi., iii. 14-16, and perhaps the genuine parts of
xxiii. 1-8, seem to belong to the time of the capture
of Jerusalem. Larger parts which can not be certainly
ascribed as a whole to Jeremiah are x. 1-16,
xvii. 19-27, l.-lii. The narrative portions present
a difficult problem, and the boundaries between
them and the oracle portions are not always easy
to fix. Some of these are in the first person, and
were doubtless dictated to Baruch. Such pieces are
xviii. (probably from the beginning of Jehoiakim's
reign), xxxii. (under Zedekiah), and xxxv. (under
Jehoiakim). Other pieces speak in the third person
of "Jeremiah" or " the prophet Jeremiah," and
can be only secondarily Jeremianic; such are xix.-xx.,
xxvi., xxvii.-xxix., xxxiv., xxxvi., xxxvii.-xliv.
These rest on Baruch's authority, as does xlv., an
oracle of consolation imparted to him by the prophet.
So that in the Book of Jeremiah there are earlier
and later pieces passages in Jeremiah's words and
those reported of him, and some not at all Jeremianic,
bound up together in variegated fashion. Chronological
order can not always be determined. The
history of the book is not one that can at the present
be made out. Certainly the composition of the
fourth year of Jehoiakim lies at the basis, and this
is expanded by later oracles and by narrative portions.
The latter is in part no doubt from Baruch
and contains reports of Jeremiah's discourses delivered
to him by the prophet. The supposition
that a life of the prophet has been interwoven into
the book is improbable, since the earlier life of the
prophet is not related. More likely is it that a
literature of Jeremiah including his later speeches
and narratives about him grew up, out of
which our book is edited. Little dependence can be
placed in i. 3, since that verse is probably only a
2. The Greek and the Hebrew
To the foregoing considerations is to be added the
fact that the Book of Jeremiah belongs to those
Portions of the Old Testament in which the Septuagint
diverges essentially from the Massoretic
text, a divergence which is very variously explained.
Some esteem the Septuagint so highly
that they speak of two recensions, a Palestinian
and an Egyptian; while others speak of arbitrary
changes by the translator. Both of
these hypotheses have been shown
unfounded (Kuenen, Giesebrecht, and
others). While evidences of misunderstanding
by the Greek translator
and indeed of wilful change exist, there are passages
where the text at the base of the Septuagint points
to a text more original than the Massoretic. One
such passage is that relating to the foreign nations,
in which in the Greek xlvi.-li. follow xxv. 13, and
the order of arrangement is different. The original
connection of these parts is evident, though the
entire section should not stand before xxvi. 15, and
the Alexandrine order is less natural than the
Massoretic. The difference in the length of the two
texts, altogether apart from proofs of arbitrariness
on the part of the translator, show that at the time
of the translation the book had not yet reached a
fixed form, a conclusion which is strengthened by
observation of the evidence of inclusion of glosses.
3. The Importance of the Book:
This can not be
appreciated if only the contents of the predictions
are kept in mind. In this particular Jeremiah is
not specially original, and particularly so if the
purely Messianic passages, such as xxiii. 5-6, xxxiii.
15-16, are the basis of estimate, since these are
lusterless in comparison with such passages as
Isa. ix. 5-6, xi. 1-2. One might say in general that
Jeremiah took over the prophecies of Amos and
Hosea, being in his earlier deliverances especially
dependent upon Hosea. For twenty years the
prophet preached the insecurity of the basis of the
people's hopes and trust. Even by the captivity
of 597 the people were not awakened, but supposed
that the deportation of Jeconiah was the excision
of a worthless limb. For Jeremiah it was the fulfilment
of prophecy which demanded submission and
humility instead of new pride and the waking of
hopes to be unrealized. The complete destruction
of Jerusalem awaited persistence in the people's
wilful course. Yet the prophet was not without
hope in its truest sense. A new generation was to
arise which was to bear Yahweh's law on the inner
tablets of the heart, not on tablets of atone. In all
this there was little that was not already existent
in prophecy. Jeremiah's originality stands out in
the vivid impression of his work as that of a prophet
who was accounted a traitor to his people and a
godless despiser of the sanctuary while he was yet
the mouthpiece for the utterance of divine truths.
It was this which made of him the greatest martyr
among the prophets, and the evidence of it exists
in his prayers written in his book, which give the
clearest insight into the motive of his his life. He
bewails the hate with which the people pursued him
who was that people's truest mediator with God,
and reveals himself not merely as a prophet, but
as a man living in the closest fellowship with God.
In this respect he is creative and a pattern of
religious sincerity, and thus be inspired the poets
of the Psalm-book and the great poet of the Book
of Job. The sense of the personal relation of the
individual to God which appeared in later Judaism
is a result of his work. In view of the importance of
this service, the question of external form becomes
a minor one. The disturbed conditions of his times
did not minister to esthetic expression. The beauty
of the book lies not in its poetic form, but in its
deep and noble expression of the life of tenderness
which it portrays.
III. The Lamentations of Jeremiah:
1. Names, Place in the Canon.
This is the
name given by tradition to five elegies bearing a
close resemblance to one another and
in bewailing the sad lot which befell
Jerusalem and its inhabitants during
and after the siege by the Chaldeans
). In Hebrew manuscripts
and editions these elegies usually bear the
, "how," from the opening word of three
of them; the Jews were, however, familiar with the
, "lamentations" (Jerome, Preface
to Lamentations, cf. Baba Bathra
, 14b; LXX,
; Lat. Threni
). In the
Greek version, which differs in character from that
of the prophecies of Jeremiah, they are placed next
to the prophecies (after Baruch), and are counted
with the prophecies as one book. Only in this way
could twenty-two canonical books be counted
, i. 8; Origen in Eusebius, Hist.
., vi. 25; Jerome in Prologus galeatus
). Still the
number twenty-four was common, in which computation
Ruth and Lamentations were counted
separately and placed among the Hagiographa.
This arrangement differs from that followed by the
Christians, which was the same as that of the Septuagint,
but is in accord with that of the Talmud
14b), which places Lamentations
among the Kethubim
, where they probably stood
from the time of the formation of the third division
of the canon.
2. The Artistic Form.
In form the first four of these five elegies are
characterized by an acrostic use of the alphabet.
They are also composed in the rhythm
which Budde has shown to be that of
the lament or threnody. In
a group of three lines in this
meter (composed of a normal and a
shortened member) is placed under each of the
acrostic letters; the same is true in
chap. iii., except
that each of the three lines (in this case a verse)
begins with the same letter, which, therefore, appears
three times. In chap. iv.,
on the other hand,
each acrostic letter includes two lines. No acrostic
is found in chap. v.,
although the elegy consists
of twenty-two verses presenting the usual parallelism,
though the peculiar meter of the dirge is not
very manifest. The five elegies refer to the same
national misfortune and have many similarities in
thought and form; yet each has its own peculiar
quality. So chap. i. shows the sorrowing Zion,
deserted and abandoned;
chap. ii. describes the
act of the angry God, the just enemy, who has
destroyed the city;
presents a more individual
point of view; chap. iv. describes the sad
fate of the populace of the city during and after
the siege; chap. v.
sketches briefly the resulting
miserable state of the people. That the five songs
were all produced under one inspiration is psychologically
improbable; but in any event they did
not arise without regard to one another. Style and
language show many points of resemblance, and the
historical situation is essentially the same in all.
They can not have appeared during the siege itself;
the misfortune is already complete, intense agony is
already changing into a softer sadness, and feeling
finds relief in seeking for a form of artistic expression.
3. Traditional View of Author
Ancient tradition unanimously names Jeremiah
as the author. The Preface to the Septuagint declares
that "after the captivity of
Israel, and the desolation of Jerusalem,
Jeremiah sat down weeping and
sang this lamentation over Jerusalem
and said." This same tradition appears
in the Talmud and is accepted by the Church
Fathers. Jerome is indeed mistaken when (on
Zech. xii. 11)
he refers to Lamentations the statement
in II Chron. xw. 25, where mention is made
of elegies composed by Jeremiah on the death of
Josiah. Perhaps he was misled by
Lam. iv. 20.
Josephus had already fallen into the same error.
The Chronicler's notice shows that the prophet was
accustomed to compose such elegies, and was
naturally qualified to compose a kina on a grand
scale, treating of the fall of Jerusalem, just as
Ezekiel composed a series of such " threnodies "
over other cities and peoples. Many passages in
the Lamentations are in agreement with the thought
and diction of the prophet; indeed, a prophetic
note runs through these poems. The older authorities, almost without exception, hold the traditional
view; only in modern times has the Jeremianic
authorship been contested, and on grounds of importance.
Thenius attributed only
chaps. ii. and
to Jeremiah, Meier
chaps. i.-iii.; others, for instance, Ewald, Nöldeke, Schrader, Nägelsbach,
Löhr, Budde, entirely abandon Jeremianic authorship.
4. Arguments Concerning Jeremianic Origin.
The arguments against Jeremiah's authorship are
partly formal and founded on esthetic grounds and
partly refer to the contents of the
poems and their theological quality.
Nägelsbach (Commentary, p. xi. sqq.)
and Löhr (ZATW, 1894) have noted
statistically the agreements and differences
in the vocabulary of Lamentations
and of the prophecies of Jeremiah, and the
probability appears to favor difference of authorship
or a reediting of Jeremianic elegies. This probability
is strengthened by linguistic similarities
with the writings of Ezekiel. It was believed that
an important distinction had been discovered between
the writings of the prophet and these songs,
in that these lacked the strong emphasis upon the
sins of the people which would be expected from
the prophet. Thus v. 7
is cited, according to which
the unhappy generation suffered not so much for
its own sins as for those of its forefathers (contrast
Jer. xxxi. 29). That, in addition to inherited
suffering, the measure has been filled up by the
people's own faults and that thus a judgment has
been called down upon them is a thought which
runs through Lamentations also and finds particular
expression in v. 16, 21. Budde finds that the
consciousness of the guilt of the people is little
developed in chaps. iv. and ii. (but cf. iv. 6). If
Jeremiah was the author he does not here appear
as God's advocate to bring an accusation against
his people, but he gives free expression to natural
sympathy, which he had suppressed until at last
judgment was fully executed. Jeremiah loved his
people and his rulers more than did the patriots,
although a higher power had set him in opposition
to them (Jer. i. 18
). In this way
explained, where the manner in which the king is
spoken of might be thought strange as coming from
Jeremiah, while iv. 17
offers no difficulties since he
may well have voiced the timid hopes of the people
in the last period of their trials, although these hopes
were not shared by him. On the other hand, an
unsolved difficulty for all who reject Jeremiah's
authorship is offered by the unconditional condemnation
of the prophets of Jerusalem
(ii. 9, 14, iv. 13
Jeremiah might indeed have expressed himself in
this way (cf. Jer. xiii. 13, xiv. 13 sqq., xxiii. 15
but if another had composed a lament over these
events he could scarcely have forgotten the prophet
who had won the highest reverence from the whole
people through his sufferings. It was the general
opinion that only Jeremiah's personal sufferings
were described in chap. iii., and this seems most
probable according to verse 8
(cf. Jer. vii. 16, xi. 14, xiv. 11
would then refer to those
prophecies of misfortune with which he was reproached.
, 1888, pp. 62-63) and
many others suppose that in chap. iii. the poet
speaks in the name of the community; in that case
the very beginning, "I am the man," is exceedingly
harsh and without analogy in this manner. The
family of Shaphan (Gedaliah) has been especially
considered in this connection (Löhr, ZATW
p. 55). As there is no mention of the rebuilding of
Jerusalem and of the temple, and as dependence
upon the second Isaiah can not be proved by a few
lexical similarities, the exilic origin of Lamentations
seems most reasonable. Whether these songs
originated in Palestine, in Egypt, or in Babylonia
is indeterminable, but it seems most probable that
Jeremiah had a share in their production. This
does not mean that they came from his hand in
their present poetical form; the artificiality of form
suggests the work of a school or of a group of disciples
who, collecting and completing such threnodies,
wove them together into the form in which
they now appear.
On the life and times of Jeremiah consult:
T. K. Cheyne Jeremiah, His Life and Times, London,
1888; C. H. Cornill. Jeremia und seine Zeit, Heidelberg,
1880; K. Marti, Der Prophet Jeremia, Basel, 1889; M.
Lazarus, Der Prophet Jeremia, Breslau, 1894; W. Erbt,
Jeremia und seine Zeit, Göttingen, 1902; F. B. Meyer,
Jeremiah, Priest and Prophet, London, 1902; J. R. Gillies, Jeremiah, the Man and his Message, ib. 1907; J. F.
McCurdy, History, Prophecy, and the Monuments, vol. iii.,
New York, 1901.
Questions of criticism concerning the prophecies of
Jeremiah are discussed in: G. C. Workman The Text of
Jeremiah, or a Critical Examination of the Greek and the
Hebrew with the Variations in the LXX, Edinburgh, 1889;
E. Kühl, Das Verhältniss der Massora zur Septuagint im
Jeremia, Halle, 1882; E. Bruston, De l'importance du
livre de Jérémie dans la critique de l' A. T., Montauban,
1893; A. von Bulmerincq, Das Zukunftsbild des Propheten
Jeremia, Riga, 1894; C. H. Cornill, in SBOT, 1895; idem,
Die metrischen Stücke des Buches Jeremia, Leipsic, 1902;
A. W. Streane, The Double Text of Jeremiah, London,
Commentaries which cover both the prophecies and
Lamentations are by: B. Blayney, London, 1836; E.
Henderson, Andover, 1868; H. Cowles, New York, 1869;
C. W. E. Nägelsbach, in Lange's Commentary, New York,
1871; R. P. Smith, in Bible Commentary, London, 1875;
A. W. Streane, in Cambridge Bible, Cambridge, 1881;
T. K. Cheyne and others in the Pulpit Commentary, 2
vols., London, 1885-98.
Commentaries on the Prophecies are: S. R. Driver,
London, 1896; W. Lowth, London, 1718; J. G. Dahler,
2 vols., Strasburg, 1825; W. Neumann, 2 vols., Leipsic,
1856-58; C. H. Graf, ib. 1862; F. Hitzig, ib. 1866; H.
Ewald, Göttingen, 1868, Eng. transl., London, 1876;
C. F. Keil, 2 vols., Edinburgh, 1873-74; 3. Scholz, Würzburg,
1880; L. A. Schneedorfer, Prague. 1881; C. von
Orelli, 2d ed., Munich, 1905, Eng, transl., Edinburgh, 1889;
C. F. Ball, in Expositor's Bible, London, 1890; F. Giesebrecht, Göttingen, 1894; W. H. Bennett, London, 1895; B.
Duhm, Tübingen, 1901; G. Douglas, London, 1903; A.
Ramsay, ib. 1905; A. Maclaren, ib. 1906.
Commentaries on Lamentations are: W. Engelhardt,
Leipsic, 1867; E. Gerlach, Berlin, 1868; C. F. Keil, Leipsic,
1872; L. A. Schneedorfer, Prague, 1876; J. M Schonfelder,
Munich, 1887; S. Oettli, Nördlingen, 1889; M.
Löhr, Göttingen, 1891, 1907; P. Mayriel, Montauban,
1894; C. Budde, Freiburg, 1898; J. P. Wiles, Half-Hours
with the Minor Prophets and Lamentations (London, 1909).
Consult also: DB, ii. 569-578; EB, ii. 2366-95; JE,
96-107; and the works on O.-T., Theology, on Introduction
to the O. T., on Prophecy in general, and on Messianic