Academic journal article Jewish Bible Quarterly

The Trial of Jeremiah and the Killing of Uriah the Prophet

Academic journal article Jewish Bible Quarterly

The Trial of Jeremiah and the Killing of Uriah the Prophet

Article excerpt


The editing and composition of the Book of Jeremiah have been a matter of debate among scholars. They agree, however, that Jeremiah 7 and 26 are two accounts of Jeremiah's Temple sermon. Chapter 7:1-5 details his sermon in the Temple and chapter 26 provides a summary of the sermon and the audience's response.

According to Jeremiah 26:1, the Temple sermon occurred At the beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim, son of Josiah. king of Judah. (1) Jehoiakim became king in succession to Jehoahaz, Josiah's second son, who was deported to Egypt after reigning in Jerusalem for three months. Jehoiakim was placed on the throne by Egypt's ruler, Pharaoh-Neco (II Kgs. 23:34; II Chron. 36:4).

In his sermon, Jeremiah declared that the people had violated the demands of the covenant by not living according to God's Torah (Jer. 26:4), by breaking several of the stipulations of the Decalogue (Jer. 7:9), and by believing that they were safe from the consequences of their actions (Jer. 7:10). As a result of their continual rejection of God's Torah and their belief that the Temple would guarantee their safety, Jeremiah announced that the Lord would destroy the Temple of Jerusalem in the same way he had allowed the sanctuary at Shiloh to be destroyed. Like the Temple in Jerusalem, Shiloh was God's house, the place where he chose to put His name and make His habitation (Jer. 7:12). However, because of the wickedness of the people, God allowed His house at Shiloh to be destroyed.

Jeremiah warned the people that they had failed to obey the injunctions of the Torah, and, for this reason, the Lord could no longer guarantee the safety of the city and deliver the people from the threat posed by the enemies of Judah. In the view of the religious authorities, however, Jeremiah's sermon was blasphemous and treasonable.

Chapter 26 mentions three prophets: Jeremiah, Micah, and Uriah (called Uriyyahu in the Hebrew text). One significant aspect of this chapter is the attempt to legitimate Jeremiah as a true prophet and validate his word as true prophecy. Jeremiah twice defended himself as a prophet by affirming that the Lord had sent him to proclaim his message to Judah. 'It was the Lord who sent me to prophesy against this House and this city', he declared (Jer. 26:12), and 'in truth the Lord has sent me to you, to speak all these words in your ears' (Jer. 26:15). By declaring that it was none other than God who sent him, Jeremiah set a seal of authenticity on his mission and message.

The confrontation between Jeremiah and the authorities of Judah occurred at a time when the nation was facing a political crisis precipitated by the death of Josiah. Among Jeremiah's opponents were the optimistic prophets, whom the Septuagint explicitly calls "false prophets." These seers were proclaiming a message about the threat faced by the nation, a threat brought about by the fall of the Assyrian empire and the rise of Babylon. They told the people that the Babylonian threat to Jerusalem would not materialize because the presence of the Lord in the Temple guaranteed Jerusalem's security. According to Jeremiah, these seers were proclaiming a deceitful message to the people: 'You shall not see the sword, nor shall famine come upon you, but I will give you unfailing security in this place' (Jer. 14:13).

Chapter 26 also shows that the proclamation of Jeremiah and Uriah contradicted the message of the optimistic prophets. The message conveyed by Jeremiah and Uriah offered a different perspective of the nation's current political and religious situation, one that did not suit those prophets who were trying to defend the status quo. Jeremiah proclaimed that the Temple was threatened with destruction and that the people were in danger of being cast out of the land unless they repented and returned to the Lord.


In his sermon preached in the court of the House of the Lord (Jer. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.