A Chronological Outline of Jeremiah

This book is confusing to study front-to-end because it is out of chronological order. This suggested chronological order includes parallels to other books. The order is based on evidence in the book, correlated to 2 Kings and 2 Chronicles. Chronological constructions differ among authors. Because of this, the only dates given here are those for the fall of Jerusalem, which is generally agreed upon.

In reading this book, ask yourself how Jeremiah views the covenant with God. Is it absolute or conditional, and if so, upon what? Does God therefore react differently to what the people might do—in some ways or all? Does Jeremiah's message then change over his career, either in the core point(s) or in the specific actions he recommends at a particular time?

What does Jeremiah think of his job? Is he a success? How do we define success: faithfulness, a feeling of a job well done, attracting followers, public acclaim?

1.1-3: Introduction to the collection which tells us who Jeremiah is. He comes from a priestly city, but one that is also hostile to Jerusalem (1 Kings 2.26-27).
1.4-10: Jeremiah's call; the purpose of the book, his "parish is the nations (not only Judah); he will challenge the powerful, and feels inadequate, but God is with him; the message is one of doom, but long-term good will come of it.
King Josiah: see 2 Kings 22.1-23.30, 2 Chronicles 34-35.

Four oracles
1.11-19: the foreboding of doom and the opposition Jeremiah will face.
2.1-4.4: a charge of faithlessness against Judah, despite Yahweh's faithfulness to them, specifically going to Egypt and Assyria for aid, and a plea for the nation to return.
4.5-5.19: destruction to come, and the prophet's anguish
5.20-6.30: a warning of the horrors of war; there is no defense before Yahweh.
22.1-12: King Jehoahaz, see 2 Kings 23.31-33, 2 Chronicles 36.1-3; King Jehoiakim: see 2 Kings 23.34-24.6, 2 Chronicles 36.4-8

The Temple Sermon
7.1-7.15: the sermon
26.1-24: the results of the sermon
7.16-11.17: Yahweh's response, Jeremiah mourns (on the Balm of Gilead, see Genesis 37.25 and 43.11, Ezekiel 27.17, Jeremiah 46.11 and 51.8); the covenant has been broken and exile is forthcoming.

The fourth and fifth year of Jehoiakim's reign
36.1-8: a message written and read in the Temple
45.1-5: Baruch will be spared
25.1-38: the coming exile to Babylon
36.9-32: the message read in the palace
35.1-19: the Rechabites an example
22.13-23: an undated oracle

Jeremiah's Confessions: a spiritual crisis
11.18-23: the first confession, compare to Isaiah 53.
12.1-15.9: the second confession
15.10-21: the third confession
17.12-18.17: the fourth confession
18.18-20.6: the fifth confession, Jeremiah imprisoned
20.7-18: the sixth confession, how does God react to our doubt?

Oracles against foreign nations
46.1-51.58: these seem to be related to the coming exile, but are difficult to place with certainty. Compare Jeremiah 48.29-36 to Isaiah 16.6-12; Jeremiah 49.9-10 and 49.14-16 to Obadiah 1-6; Jeremiah 51.15-19 and 10.12-16.

King Jehoiachin and Zedekiah
: see 2 Kings 24.7-17 and 25.27-30, 2 Chronicles 36.9-10; 2 Kings 24.18-25.26, 2 Chronicles 36.11-20. Zedekiah was installed king in 597 when Nebuchadrezzar sacked the city and took the elite to Babylon. He rebelled in 589, and Babylon responded with a siege. In 587, the Babylonians broke into the city and burned it.
21.1-14, 24.1-10, 27.1-22: warnings of the coming disaster
28.1-17, 29.1-32: warnings about false prophets
30.1-31.40: the promise of restoration
32.1-44: action on the promise
34.1-22, 37.1-21: continued warnings
38.1-28: Jeremiah in prison
51.59-64: Jeremiah's words recorded
39.1-18, 52.1-30: Fall of Jerusalem
40.1-17: Gedaliah the governor
42.1-22, 23.1-40, 33.1-26: Jeremiah says to stay in Jerusalem
43.1-44.30: Jeremiah taken to Egypt


1 November 2009