Saints Scripture

Holy Prophet Jeremiah

“Thus says the Lord…In those days and at that time I will cause to grow up to David. A Branch of righteousness: He shall execute judgment and righteousness in the earth. In those days Judah will be saved, and Jerusalem will dwell safely. And this is the name by which she will be called:


– Jeremiah 33:15-16

7th century Before Christ



The PROPHECY OF Jeremiah


“The book of Jeremiah covers the period of the seventh century before Christ and, like Isaiah, it prophesies the Lord’s wrath upon His sinful people. Jeremiah, a most reluctant prophet, suffered greatly at the hands of the [Judahites] and was constantly persecuted for his proclamation of the Word of the Lord. The book of Jeremiah is referred to many times in the New Testament. The messianic prophecies of salvation in Jeremiah are often read in the festal services of the Church. The books of Baruch and the Letter [Epistle] of Jeremiah from the apocrypha go together with this prophetic book in the Orthodox version of the Bible”.


The prophecies of Jeremiah reflect Orthodox Christian teachings on the nature of God, His justice, and His mercy. Jeremiah emphasized the need for the people to return to a genuine and heartfelt relationship with God, rather than merely relying on ritualistic practices. He called for true repentance, emphasizing that a change of heart and obedience to God’s commandments were necessary for restoration and salvation. According to the Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, the Church Fathers made some use of Jeremiah in their own teaching:

Among the apostolic fathers, Jeremiah was rarely cited, but several later authors give prominent attention to him, including Origen, Theodoret of Cyr, and Jerome, who wrote individual commentaries on Jeremiah, and Cyril of Alexandria and Ephrem the Syrian, who compiled catenae. Justin and Irenaeus made use of Jeremiah to define Christians over against Jews. Athanasius made use of him in trinitarian debates. Cyril of Jerusalem, Irenaeus, Basil the Great, and Clement of Alexandria all drew on Jeremiah for ethical exhortation.”

Jeremiah’s prophecies also foretold the destruction of Jerusalem and the Babylonian exile. He warned the people that their disobedience would result in the loss of their land, their temple, and their independence. However, amidst these messages of impending judgment, Jeremiah also conveyed messages of hope and restoration. He prophesied about a future covenant that God would establish with His people, promising a time of renewal and the coming of the Messiah.

Orthodox Christians interpret Jeremiah’s prophecies as pointing to Jesus Christ, the ultimate fulfillment of God’s promises. The Messiah, the Son of God, would establish a new covenant through His death and resurrection, bringing about forgiveness, reconciliation, and salvation for all humanity. This understanding highlights the redemptive nature of Jeremiah’s prophecies, as they ultimately point to the transformative work of Christ in the world.

Sorrow and Anguish

Jeremiah, known as the “Weeping Prophet,” and a “Poet of the Heart” because he felt dread for the people, he screamed, wept, moaned and felt terror in his soul for his people. Sorrow and anguish of the Lord, pain and disappointment ring throughout the book. “The heart of melancholy beats in God’s words: ‘My people have forgotten me, they have forsaken me’” (4:22) (Heschel). “A vein of sorrow and sadness runs throughout the book. Touch the work where you will, and it will weep” (EBC).

Jeremiah has also been called the “Prophet of Wrath”, appropriately because Jeremiah lived in an age of wrath. Jeremiah was tenderhearted, loving and sympathetic, not a fiery person as one might expect to be called as a prophet of impending doom to his own people, whom he loved. His people rejected his words, not surprisingly, and caused him to feel deep alienation with Judah – this was the root of his anguish – those whom he loved, he was also called to condemn (Heschel). “His was not a happy life, at least outwardly, for it was marked by constant sadness; his expressions of sorrow are classic…his life may be characterized as being one long martyrdom” (EBC).

About the Text

One meaning of Jeremiah is “God’s exalts”. More biographical information is known about Jeremiah than any of the other Old Testament prophets. The book of Jeremiah is one of the longest in the Old Testament. It appears to have been compiled by a single editor, likely Baruch. Jeremiah is thought to have been influenced by Hosea (also stricken with sorrow and grief for God’s people) and was in contact with the prophet Ezekiel. Jeremiah was well-known, a national and international figure (EBC). The book does not appear to be chronological, but primarily topical with some chronological content therein. Over fifty allusions to the book of Jeremiah are made in the New Testament, and half of these are found in the book of Revelation (EBC). The language style in Jeremiah is more simplistic and direct than the elegance of Isaiah. Repetition, even triplicity and illustrations from nature are observed throughout both prose and poetry (EBC). The book has unique insight into the inner life of the prophet Jeremiah and is a “handbook” for learning the art of fellowship with God, unlike other prophetic books. “Jeremiah lived, worked and wept in an atmosphere of prayer and openness before the Lord…The holy prophet Jeremiah is one of the greatest spiritual giants of all time” (EBC).

He was first a priest from Anathoth, but predestined to be a prophet while still in his mother’s womb. It is divided into 52 chapters and covers a period of more than four decades, during which Jeremiah delivers messages of warning and condemnation to the people of Judah, calling them to repentance and warning them of the impending judgment of God. Jeremiah’s word is equivalent to the Lord’s word because it was given to him by God and acted as Torah at this time since the Temple was soon to be destroyed. Likewise Jeremiah’s person also replaced Jerusalem temporarily, as God’s dwelling place, since the holy city would soon be sacked by Babylon (Tarazi).

Call to Prophesy and Accompanying Visions

The book begins with Jeremiah’s call to prophesy (625 BC) and his initial messages to the people of Judah who forfeited God’s protection; the focus of his words are on their idolatry, social injustice, and spiritual apostasy. In response to God’s call, Jeremiah said “I am only a youth and do not speak well” [similar to Moses’ hesitation to his own call, also citing his lack of eloquence in speech], but God gave him the visions and verbal assurance that the words were not Jeremiah’s, but God’s. These visions of Jeremiah were not mere symbols but conveyed specific messages from God about His plans, judgments, and promises. They served as powerful tools to communicate God’s will to Jeremiah and the people, calling them to repentance, warning them of the consequences of their actions, and offering hope for restoration amidst the impending judgment. A summary of the visions follows:

The Almond Branch (Jeremiah 1:11-12):
The word of the Lord came to me: ‘What do you see, Jeremiah?’ ‘I see the branch of an almond tree,’ I replied. The Lord said to me, ‘You have seen correctly, for I am watching to see that my word is fulfilled.‘”

In this vision, God showed Jeremiah an almond branch, which is known for being the first tree to blossom in the spring. It symbolized God’s vigilance and His readiness to bring about the fulfillment of His word. This vision emphasized that God was intimately involved in Jeremiah’s calling as a prophet and that His promises would come to pass.

The Boiling Pot (Jeremiah 1:13-16):
The word of the Lord came to me again: ‘What do you see?’ ‘I see a pot that is boiling,’ I answered. ‘It is tilting toward us from the north.’ The Lord said to me, ‘From the north disaster will be poured out on all who live in the land.’

In this vision, Jeremiah saw a boiling pot, tilted from the north, symbolizing the imminent invasion and destruction that would come upon Judah from the Babylonians. This vision served as a warning of the impending judgment that would befall the nation due to their disobedience.

The Baskets of Figs (Jeremiah 24:1-10):
After Jehoiachin… was taken into exile… the Lord showed me two baskets of figs… One basket had very good figs… and the other basket had very bad figs… The good figs represent the exiles I sent away from here to the land of the Babylonians… I will watch over them for their good… The bad figs represent Zedekiah… whom I will send out of this place into exile.

In this vision, Jeremiah saw two baskets of figs, symbolizing the people of Judah. The good figs represented those who were exiled to Babylon, whom God promised to watch over and bring back to the land. The bad figs represented the wicked king Zedekiah and his followers, who would be sent into exile as a result of their rebellion.

In Jeremiah 20:9 – the prophet cannot help but speak in God’s name, he has a “fire in his stomach”. Fire signifies both destruction resulting from God’s wrath and at the same time it is symbolic of the zeal and righteous anger in the heart of the holy prophet Jeremiah. Israel’s desertion did not just affect people, it affected God’s relationship with people threatening His displacement among them, hence the weight of their rebellion (Heschel).

Historical Background

Jeremiah lived during a crucial period in the history of ancient Israel, witnessing the decline and fall of the Southern Kingdom of Judah. “A prophet knows the times and how God is acting in time” (Heschel). To Jeremiah, this was a time of emergency, one instant away from a cataclysmic event. Jeremiah does not see the world from a political point of view, but from God’s perspective (Heschel). His prophecies were primarily focused on calling the people of Judah to repentance and warning them about the consequences of their disobedience to God’s covenant. Several kings reigned in Judah during the time of Jeremiah’s prophecy:

  • Isaiah influenced King Hezekiah in the last years of his reign
    • Introduces godly reforms
  • Manasseh began a long reign (687 BC)
    • Reforms of Hezekiah were abolished – meaning idolatry was restored.
  • Josiah (640-609 BC)
    • Godly king, came to throne as a child, age 8
    • Broke from Manasseh and abhorred the idolatry
    • Freed Israel from political dependence on Assyria
    • Call of Jeremiah (626)
    • Hegemony of Assyria ended with the death of Ashurbanipal (626)
    • Fall of Nineveh (612)
  • Jehoahaz (609 BC reigned for three months)
    • Pro-Babylon policies caused Egypt to promptly replace him with Jehoiakim (aka Eliakim son of Josiah)
    • Death of Josiah at Meggido (609)
  • Jehoiakim (609-598)
    • Wicked king and sought to expand his palace
    • Burned Jeremiah’s scroll and had another prophet put to death.
    • Baruch and Jeremiah advised to hide.
    • Caused greatest trial and oppression for the prophet Jeremiah
    • Favored Egypt, while Jeremiah counseled submission to Babylon – because he saw Nebuchadnezzar as an agent of God’s punishment on Judah.
    • Battle of Carchemish and the Fall of the Assyrian Empire (605)
    • Marked permanent transfer of world power from Egypt to Middle East
    • First siege of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel exiled to Babylon) (605)
    • King Nebuchadnezzar begins reign in Babylon (605)
    • Jehoiakim died a violent death in Jerusalem in 598
  • Jehoiachin (598-597)
    • Also named Jeconiah and Coniah
    • Teenage king, wicked monarch
    • Three month reign
    • Strongly renounced by Jeremiah
    • Exiled to Babylon with upper class of his time
    • Second siege of Jerusalem
  • Zedekiah (597-587)
    • Weak, vacillating and deficient in personality (EBC)
    • Close to Jeremiah, but powerless to protect him
    • Conspired with Egypt against Babylon but this failed resulting in destruction of Jerusalem
    • Jeremiah counseled Zedekiah to submit to Babylon yet again – because he saw Nebuchadnezzar as an agent of God’s punishment on Judah.
    • Tortured and exiled
    • Final siege of Jerusalem, beginning of Babylon captivity
  • Fall of Jerusalem (587)
    • Gedaliah appointed by Babylon as governor of Judah
    • Assassination of Gedaliah (586)

About Gedaliah

In 586 BC, following the Babylonian conquest of Jerusalem, Gedaliah was appointed by the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar II as the governor of Judah. His role was to oversee the remaining Jewish population in the land and maintain order under Babylonian rule.

Gedaliah’s appointment was seen as a gesture of goodwill by the Babylonians, as he was a Jewish official trusted to govern on their behalf. However, his tenure was short-lived. Some Jewish factions who had fled to neighboring countries, fearing Babylonian retribution, saw Gedaliah as a collaborator with the Babylonians. One of these factions, led by Ishmael, assassinated Gedaliah shortly after his appointment.

Gedaliah’s assassination led to further destabilization and a worsening of the situation for the Jewish people in Judah. This event recorded in the book of Jeremiah is considered a significant turning point in the history of the Kingdom of Judah and its exile under Babylonian rule.

The Mysterious and Mystical Depth of God’s Covenant Love

Like Hosea and Ezekiel, Jeremiah used the analogy of intimacy and married love between God and Israel (3:1-2, 20; 31:32) (Heschel). A divine inner tension is revealed because:

  • On account of their sins, Jerusalem would be subjected to devastation
  • Because of God’s love for His people, the judgment is painful to the Supreme Judge (see 5:7-9, 28-29, 9:8-9) (Heschel)

Jeremiah advised Israel to surrender to Nebuchadnezzar to begin 70 years of foreign reign, because he saw Nebuchadnezzar as an agent used by God to inflict punishment on Judah, therefore it was futile and foolish to resist God’s punishment. As a result, Jeremiah is rejected and persecuted by many of his fellow citizens and is eventually cast into a pit and an empty cistern, saved from starvation by Ethiopian eunuch Ebed-melech (see chapters 37-38) and later imprisoned. “Because of the Word of the Lord, Jeremiah is in poor physical condition (23:9)… Jeremiah loved God and his fellow people, but hated his prophetic mission… To a soul full of love, it was horrible to be a prophet of castigation and wrath and doom, even if it later included lasting hope… His rewards were not found in this life” (see 20:7-8) (Heschel). Heschel writes that although he loved Israel, Jeremiah was primarily moved by what God felt for Israel. Jeremiah was torn between the people and God.

  • He pleaded for God among the people.
  • He pleaded for the people before God.

Instead of seeking inward contrition and repentance before God, the people of Judah blamed Jeremiah for the doom of Judah. Jeremiah prays and pleads before God not to spurn His people, but rather to remember his covenant. To be punished by God is far better than to be abandoned by God. Jeremiah’s call was to cast down with doom before he could lift up with hope and joy – to “pluck up and break down”, to “build and to plant” (see chapter 1). Jeremiah was gentle and compassionate by nature, and the call that he took up was extreme to him. Jeremiah was charged by the people as a traitor in favor of the Chaldeans and was threatened with death. Chapter 11:19-20 has some Messianic overtones but not as explicit as those found in Isaiah.

Jeremiah had to be reminded that God was interested in disciplining His people, not destroying them. Jeremiah delivered the clear message of hope to Israel from God, “…if you return, I will restore you”. A prophet can give man a new word, but only God can give man a new heart. What prophecy fails to bring, is accomplished in the new covenant – a complete transformation of every individual (31:31-34) (Heschel).

In the middle section of the book, Jeremiah delivers a series of oracles against the nations, including Babylon, Egypt, and the Philistines. These oracles warn of the coming judgment of God on these nations and also expresses hope that God will one day restore his people.

The final section of the book contains a series of prophecies about the coming destruction of Jerusalem and the exile of the people of Judah to Babylon. Despite the impending judgment, again Jeremiah offers a message of hope, promising that God will one day restore his people and establish a new covenant with them. He reminds them of God’s ultimate love for Israel, as did Hosea and Isaiah in their prophecies (31:2-3). Jeremiah saw the greatest extent of God’s wrath, but he also experienced deep certainty of God’s attachment and covenant love which surpasses the same wrath (Heschel).

When the hour of doom came, Jeremiah turned to instill hope, comfort and consolation (30:7-11). Tarazi says chapters 30-33 are known as the “Book of Consolation”.

  • God says He will “write His law on their hearts”
  • I will be their God and they shall be my people
  • Covenant becomes relationship.

In summary, the prophecies of Jeremiah serve as a reminder of the importance of repentance, obedience to God’s commandments, and the need for a genuine relationship with Him. They also point to the hope of restoration and the ultimate fulfillment of God’s promises through the coming of the Messiah – Jesus Christ. The rule of Babylon has long since passed, but God’s covenant with His people is active and remains forever. The climax of Jeremiah’s prophecy is complete forgiveness of sin and the transformation of Israel which now includes Gentiles in the “Bride of Christ”, the Christian Church.

The LAMENTATIONS of Jeremiah


The Lamentations of Jeremiah, also known as the Book of Lamentations, is a collection of poetic dirges that mourn the destruction of Jerusalem, the Temple and the resulting Israelite Exile to Babylon. It is a poetic and deeply mournful text found in the Hebrew Bible, specifically in the Ketuvim, or Writings. It is traditionally attributed to the Prophet Jeremiah. The book is composed of five individual poems, each functioning as a separate chapter. 

The Orthodox Church traditionally recites the Lamentations on Good Friday, as part of the liturgical services known as the “Matins of Great and Holy Saturday”. This service aims to immerse the faithful in the profound sadness and loss associated with the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, emphasizing the connection between the suffering of the people of Israel and the suffering of Christ. The service consists of readings from the Lamentations of Jeremiah, as well as hymns and prayers that reflect on the suffering of Christ and the hope of His resurrection.

The relationship between the Lamentations of Jeremiah book of from the Old Testament and the Holy Week Lamentations service is that both are expressions of suffering, grief and hope. The Lamentations of Jeremiah express the grief of the Israelites at the destruction of their city (Jerusalem and the Temple) and the loss of their homeland. The Lamentations service expresses the grief of the Orthodox Christian Church at the crucifixion of Christ, the Son of God, the Savior of the world. However, both also express hope. The Lamentations of Jeremiah end with a hope for restoration according to God’s mercy, and the Lamentations service ends with a hope for the resurrection of Christ according to God’s grace.

The Lamentations of Jeremiah and the Lamentations service are both important parts of the Orthodox Christian tradition. They help the faithful to understand the depth of their own grief and to find hope in the midst of suffering. Most importantly, they both help the faithful to remember the Passion and resurrection of Christ, which are the foundation of the Orthodox Christian faith and the hope of the world.

The Epistle of Jeremiah


The Epistle of Jeremiah is a book in the Old Testament that is considered canonical by Orthodox Christians. It is also known as the Letter of Jeremiah and is believed to have been written by the prophet Jeremiah or by someone closely associated with him.

The Epistle of Jeremiah is a short but significant text that contains a powerful message for the people of God. In this epistle, the author addresses the Israelites who were exiled to Babylon, urging them to turn away from idolatry and false gods. It is a scathing letter that emphasizes the futility and foolishness of worshiping man-made idols, which are lifeless and powerless.

From an Orthodox Christian perspective, the Epistle of Jeremiah serves as a reminder of the importance of true worship and devotion to the one true God. It affirms the belief in monotheism, acknowledging God as the Creator and Sustainer of all things. The epistle highlights the need for repentance and the restoration of the covenant relationship between God and His people.

Certain Church Fathers used the Epistle of Jeremiah to combat pagan practices and idolatry in their day. Orthodox Christians see in the Epistle of Jeremiah a call to reject worldly influences and to remain faithful to God’s commandments. It speaks to the contemporary struggles of believers, encouraging them to resist the temptations of the surrounding culture and to live in holiness and righteousness.


Troparion — Tone 2

Celebrating the memory / of Your Prophet Jeremiah, O Lord, / for his sake, we entreat You to save our souls.

Kontakion — Tone 3

Cleansing your radiant heart through the Spirit, / O great Prophet and Martyr, / glorious Jeremiah, / you received from on high the gift of prophecy. / You cried out with a great voice to the nations: / This is our God, and there is none other beside Him / Who became incarnate and appeared on earth.

Feast Day(s)

May 1st – Feast

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