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Archive for December 10th, 2018


Jeremiah 16The Source of Life

Monday, December 10, 2018

Michaelangelo: The Prophet Jeremiah – The Sistine Chapel

Here we have the explanation for Jeremiah’s celibacy: this state has divine origin, and it announces Israel’s fate that life as they have known it has ended.  With no family, Jeremiah’s social isolation is complete; there is no future.  “The world has become utterly silent.  There will be no mourning rituals, no feasting . . . Jeremiah’s celibacy signifies the total obliteration of daily domestic life.  Vv. 10-13 ask the questions that lie at the heart of the book and belong to the experience of exile: why has God done this to us?  What is our sin?” They have abandoned God, worshiped other gods and have broken the law.  They may think that compromise and bartering will win them a reprieve but in the end there is nothing without God.  (Barton and Muddiman 503)

All is bleak . . . until we come to the end of the chapter with a liturgical song of conversion in verses 19 to 21 that serves as a model for repentance and a roadmap back to safety for the faithful who remain.  Through Jeremiah’s suffering, a remnant of the people may be saved.  Seen in this light, the chapter defends Yahweh from charges of injustice.  Seen in this way, celibacy is seen as a source of life.   Scripture is full of irony . . . what is lost is gained, what is empty is full, what is childless bears fruit.

Bernard Potthast: Woman and Children beside a Window

Genesis 11:30: Now Sarai was barren; she had no children . . .

Psalm 113:9: He settles the barren woman in her home as a happy mother of children . . .

Isaiah 54:1: Sing, O barren woman,you who never bore a child; burst into song, shout for joy,you who were never in labor;because more are the children of the desolate woman than of her who has a husband,” says the Lord.

When we find ourselves cut off from our dreams, when we feel as though there are few options open to us, when we believe that we have nowhere to turn . . . we may want to consider our offering of suffering.  It may be the source of life for others . . . and thereby the source of life for ourselves.


A re-post from November 7, 2011.

Images from: http://inskirtsandwellies.wordpress.com/category/biblical-verses/ and http://www.artbible.info/art/large/74.html

Barton, John, and John Muddiman. THE OXFORD BIBLE COMMENTARY. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2001. 503. Print.

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