A Commentary on Jeremiah: Exile and Homecoming

By Walter Brueggemann | Go to book overview

Judgment and Hope
Jeremiah 21:1–25:38

We group these several chapters together largely as a matter of convenience, because it is difficult to detect an intentional ordering. These chapters do cohere, however, around two themes: judgment and hope. The assertion of judgment is heavy, consistent, and non-negotiable. Beyond the judgment, these texts offer important hints of hope. Chapter 21 is a general statement of judgment; chs. 22:1–23:8 more specifically indict the kings, and 23:9–40 is a specific judgment against the prophets. The materials on kings and prophets are not in the first instant related to the general indictment of ch. 21, but the theme is common enough to make sense out of the placement of the materials. Chapter 24 issues a powerful, if surprising offer of promise, and ch. 25, in language that is extreme in the Jeremiah tradition, sounds both judgment and hope. These five chapters together assert that God is doing something radical concerning Judah and Jerusalem which is marked by an awesome and frightening discontinuity.


The Fire Next Time (21:1–14)

This passage, like much of the text, is set in the midst of the Babylonian threat. The first invasion by Babylon in 598 B.C.E. has left Jerusalem crippled and fearful, with the uncertain Zedekiah on the throne. The yet-to-come disaster of 587 is only vaguely anticipated, but not so vaguely as to avoid profound anxiety. The king is troubled. The chapter is arranged

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