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I. Life. The materials for a biography of Jeremiah Shaphan, the great supporter of Hilkiah the high are supplied in his collected writings with unusual priest and Huldah in their work (2 Chron. xxxir. 20), fulness. We know more of his personal history than was also throughout the protector of the prophet (Jer. we do of that of Isaiah or Ezekiel, much more than of xxvi. 24). The strange Rabbinic tradition that eight that of the minor prophets, who have left for the most of the persons most conspicuous in the history of this part only a few chapters as the record of their work. period (Jeremiah, Baruch, Seraiah, Maaseiah, Hilkiah, With the help of inferences from acknowledged facts, Hananeel, Huldah, Shallum) were all descended from and of a few fairly authenticated traditions, we are able the harlot Rahab (Carpzov, Introd. in lib. V.T. Jerem.) to enter into the circumstances in the midst of which may possibly have been a distortion of the fact that the he worked, and into the joys and sorrows, the hopes persons so named were united together, as by community and fears, of which they were the occasion. Of him it of feeling, so also by affinity or friendship. With may be said, more than of any other of the goodly regard to two others of the number, we know that fellowship of the prophets, that his whole life lies before both Baruch and Seraiah, who appear as disciples of us as in an open scroll.
the prophet (chap. xxxvi. 4, li. 59), were sons of Neriah, It will be convenient to arrange the main facts of the son of Maaseiah, and that Maaseiah (2 Chron. the history thus laid open to us under the reigns of the xxxiv. 8) was governor of Jerusalem, acting with several kings with whom he was a contemporary. Hilkiah, Huldah, and Shaphan in the reforms of
Josiah. 1. UNDER JOSIAH (B.C. 638–608).- In the thirteenth With these facts we can picture to ourselves some of year of this king the prophet speaks of himself as still the influences which entered into Jeremiah's education, * a child.” That word is, however, somewhat vague in and prepared the way for his prophetic mission. The its significance, extending from infancy, as in Exod. ii. name given to him by his father, with its significance 6; 1 Sam. iv. 21, to adult manhood, as in 1 Sam. xxx. Jehovah exalts, or “is exalted," or Jehovah 17; 1 Kings iii. 7. All that it can be held to imply is throws down” (the latter meaning resting on the more that the prophet felt himself to be relatively young for accurate etymology), may fairly be looked on as emthe work to which he had been called, that he had not bodying what was contemplated and prayed for as the attained the average age of a prophet; and this, it may ideal of his life. It may be noted that the name was be inferred, was not far distant from that at which the common at that time, e.g., in the case of the father Levites entered on their work, which varied, at different of the wife of Josiah (2 Kings xxiii. 31), and of one of the periods, from twenty to thirty (Num. iv. 3, viii. 24; Rechabites (chap. xxxv. 3). That name may be thought i Chron. xxiii. 3, 24). We may reasonably infer, of, accordingly, as not without its influence on the prothen, from the way in which the prophet speaks of phet's early years. As he grew to boyhood he would hear himself, that he was, at the time when he felt himself of the cruelties and the apostasy of Manasseh and of called to his high and perilous work, somewhere be- Amon. For him, as for Isaiah, there would be a traintween twenty and twenty-five, i.e., that the first seven, ing in the law and literature of Israel, in whatever or, it may be, the first twelve years of his life, were form then existed, in Job, and Proverbs, and such of passed in the reigns of Manasseh and his son Amon. the Psalms and the writings of the earlier prophets as
He is described, further, as“ being the son of Hilkiah, were then extant. The so-called Alphabetic Psalms (ix., of the priests that were in Anathoth” (Jer. i. 1). That XXV., xxxiv., xxxvii.,cxi., cxii., cxix.,cxlv.) may have helped name, it will be remembered, was borne by the high to form the taste and style which afterwards displayed priest who played so prominent a part in Josiah's themselves in the alphabetic structure of the Lamentareformation. (2 Kings xxii. 8.) There are, however, no tions. The writings of the greatest of his predecessors, sufficient grounds for identifying that Hilkiah with the Isaiah, at least, as far as chaps. i.-xxxix. are concerned, father of the prophet. The manner in which the latter could scarcely have been otherwise than familiar to is named, without any mention of special dignity, is him. His early manhood must have coincided with the against it. The priests of Anathoth were of the line earlier reforms of Josiah, whose life would seem to have of Ithamar (1 Kings ii. 26; 1 Chron. xxiv. 3), while the run parallel with his own, each being apparently about high priests, from Zadok downwards, were of the line the same age when the prophet received his call, of Eleazar. The identity of name may, however, be re- Josiah having ascended the throne at the age of eight garded as probably indicating some close connection of (2 Kings xxii. 1). The reverence with which he looks affinity or friendship. Other coincidences point in the on the Rechabites, the fact that one of those Rechabites same direction. The uncle of Jeremiah, Shallum (Jer. bears the same name (chap. xxxv. 3), the probability xxxii. 7), bore the same name as the husband of Huldah that one trained in the household of a devout priest the prophetess (2 Kings xxii. 14). Ahikam, the son of would not be unmindful of the teaching of Isaiah