Inductive Bible Studies,

[Copyright by W. R. HARPER, 1887.]

PREPARED BY PROFESSORS W. R. HARPER (Yale University), W. G. BALLANTINE (Oberlin Theol. Sem.), WILLIS J. BEECHER (Auburn Theol. Sem.), and G. S. BURROUGHS (Amherst College).


Thirty-Eighth and Thirty-Ninth Study (In One).—Jeremiah.

[The material of this "study" is furnished by Professor Harper.]



1. There is much uncertainty concerning the order of Jeremiah's prophecies. The book contains undoubted evidence of having been edited by some one living after the time of the prophet. And in this book, as in others, the principle of arrangement, whether of the original writer or of the editor was not the chronological principle.

2. In view of this fact and also of the length of the book, the effort in these " studies " will be to lead the student only to a very general conception of the material, and thus to prepare the way for more detailed work, should there be a desire on his part to pursue it further.

3. The following works will be found most helpful: Geikie, Hours with the Bible, vol. 5, chs. vii-xx; Smith, Bible Dictionary, articles Jeremiah, Josiah, Jehoiakim, etc.; Streane, Jeremiah and Lamentations; Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges; Cheyne, Pulpit Commentary on Jeremiah; also, article on Jeremiah in Encyc. Britannica; Keil, Jeremiah, two volumes.

4. The length of these " studies" should not be determined from their external form. A study of their contents will show that a large amount of work is called for.


1. Read ch. 1:1-3 and ascertain

(1) the parentage,

(2) descent,

(3) dwelling-place, and

(4) duration of the work of Jeremiah.

2. Read ch. 1:4-10 and study the call of Jeremiah

(1) in the light of the political condition of foreign nations at this time,

(2) the social condition of Judah,

(3) as compared with the call of Isaiah (Isa. 6),

(4) as compared with that of Ezekiel (Ezek. 1).

3. Read chs. 1:11-20:16, containing prophecies uttered, for the most part, from the time of the call (13th year of Josiah) to the battle of Carchemish (4th year of Jehoiakim), and arrange the material in a general way under the following heads:

(1) References to Jeremiah's personal history, his attitude toward foreign powers, his relations with the kings of Judah, his treatment, etc., etc.

(2) References to the captivity of Israel, as a punishment for her sins.

(3) References to the immorality and corruption existing in Judah at the time of the prophet.

(4) References to the punishment which God wil bring upon Judah in return for this wickedness.

(5) Descriptions of the approach of foreign armies.

(6) The analysis of Jeremiah's address at the gate of the temple (chs. 7-10).

(7) References to idolatry.

(8) Symbolic actions.

(9) References to the law.

4. Read chs. 21:1-25:14, miscellaneous prophecies directed at different times against kings and prophets, analyze the material, and consider especially

(1) The various charges made against the kings.

(2) The various charges made against the prophets.

(3) The promise of the Messiah (23:5-8).

(4) The vision of the two baskets of figs.

5. Read ch. 25:15-38, and compare it later with chs. 46-51.

6. Read chs. 26-29, containing Jeremiah's words of warning (26:1-6), his impeachment and defence (26:7-15), result of the trial, comparison of other cases (26:16-24); Jeremiah's warning to the neighboring nations (27:1-11), to Zedekiah, the priests and people (27:12-22), to the false prophets (28:1-17) that Babylon shall hold long sway over Judah; his letter to the exiles that there shall come release, but not till after seventy years (29:1-14); the rebuke of false prophets in Babylon (15-32).

7. Read chs. 30,31, containing prophecies of comfort and hope, and classify the different representations which they contain of deliverance, prosperity, peace.

8. Read chs. 32-44, containing a history of the events of the two years before the capture of Jerusalem, and of Jeremiah's labors during that and the following periods (chs. 35 and 36 not chronologically arranged). Classify the material under the following heads:

(1) Jeremiah's transactions.

(2) Jeremiah's words of warning.

(3) Jeremiah's treatment at the hand of the Jews.

(4) The details of the capture and destruction of Jerusalem.

(5) The events following the destruction of the city.

9. Read ch. 45, a supplementary notice of Baruch concerning an important episode in his life.

10. Read chs. 46-51, the prophecies against foreign nations, viz., Egypt, Philistia, Moab, Ammon, Edom, Damascus, Kedar and Hazor, Elam, Babylon; compare with similar prophecies of

(1) Isaiah 13-23;

(2) Ezek. 25-32;

(3) Amos 1:3-2:3.

11. Read ch. 52, an historical appendix, describing

(1) the capture of the city (1-11) and the severities following upon the capture (12-27),

(2) enumeration of captives (28-30), and

(3) a last word concerning Jehoiachin (31-34).


From the material thus gathered, aided by such books as may be within reach, consider the following topics:

1. Jeremiah's Life

(1) under Josiah;

(2) under Jehoahaz (Shallum);

(3) under Jehoiakim;

(4) under Jehoiachin;

(5) under Zedekiah;

(6) after the capture of Jerusalem.

2. Jeremiah's Persecutions.

(1) Forms of persecutions;

(2) occasion;

(3) spirit in which it was suffered;

(4) Ps. 22, as depicting his sorrowful condition.

3. Jeremiah's Character.

(1) His work as contrasted with that of Samuel or Isaiah,

(2) the peculiar situation in which he was placed,

(3) the elements of character needed for and developed by such a position,

(4) the elements of character actually seen in his work;

(5) comparison of Jeremiah with the Trojan Cassandra, the Athenian Phocion, Jesus Christ.

4. Jeremiah's Style.1

(1) Lacking in ornament;

(2) characterized by frequent repetitions;

(3) full of expressions similar to those of earlier prophets and particularly to the language of Deuteronomy;

(4) numerous figures, often left half-finished.

5. The Arrangement of Materials.

(1) Indications of an absence of chronological order;

(2) the light thrown by ch. 36 on the origin and order of the prophecies;

(3) the existence for a while of several groups distinct from each other;

(4) the lack of order due in part to the troublous times in which the prophecies were delivered;

(5) the connection of Baruch (ch. 45:5);

(6) the great amount of variation between the text of the Hebrew and that of the Septuagint (the latter omitting one-eighth part);

(7) the position of chs. 46-51 in the Sept., viz., between 25:13 and 25:14;

(8) the relative authority, under these circumstances, of the Hebrew and Septuagint.



1) See especially Streane, Jeremiah, Introduction, pp. 28-30