Thursday, June 30, 2011

Jeremiah, Chapter 1: The talking fetus

Apparently, Jeremiah is the origin of the word 'jeremiad.' For the vocabulary-challenged, according to Merriam-Webster a jeremiad is: a prolonged lamentation or complaint; also : a cautionary or angry harangue. So that's what we have to look forward to for the next 52 chapters.

Jeremiah kicks off by telling us that god knew him in the womb, which is apparently often cited by Christians to justify anti-abortion sentiment. Never mind the verses in Hosea, Exodus, Numbers, Leviticus and Samuel that seem to imply that children under one year don't count for much. And what did god talk to Jeremiah about in the womb? Well, he told him he would be a prophet. When Jeremiah tried to argue that fetuses can't talk, god told him not to worry about it because he'll put the words in his mouth. I did not know that expression was biblical. He's also supposed to destroy and build things as the lord instructs.

Then, since Jeremiah is just a baby, god starts playing 'I Spy' with him. First, Jeremiah sees an almond branch. According to whatever commentary you like better, this branch is either something god is going to use to beat the Babylonian king, or means that Jeremiah is going on a long hike. Second, Jeremiah spots a seething pot; and the face thereof is toward the north. (v. 13) God explains that he's going to judge everyone in Israel starting in the north, and then the northern clans will attack, but god will hold firm. Isn't this going to traumatise the poor kid?

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