Was Jeremiah a Prophet or a Priest?

Jeremiah 1:1

The answer to the question “was Jeremiah a prophet or a priest” is yes! Jeremiah was both a prophet and a priest.

Jeremiah was a Prophet

We tend to think of Jeremiah more for his prophecies – and we should.

We know of Jeremiah primarily through his book of prophecies in the Old Testament.

But even outside of the book which bears his name, Jeremiah is known throughout the Old Testament as a prophet who delivered God’s message to his people (2 Chronicles 35:25; 36:12,21,22; Ezra 1:1; Daniel 9:2).

And even in the New Testament, Jeremiah is known as Jeremiah the prophet (Matthew 2:17; 16:14; 27:9).

So, nobody’s doubting Jeremiah’s credentials as a prophet. It’s his identity as a priest that might surprise some.

Jeremiah was a Priest

Jeremiah 1:1 states that Jeremiah was a priest from Anathoth. We discussed that city before, but basically Anathoth was a city in Benjamin which had been given to the Levitical priests. So, Jeremiah comes from a city of priests.

Going along with that, Jeremiah’s father was named Hilkiah. And while it’s not certain that this is the Hilkiah who was the high priest in Josiah’s day (2 Kings 22:8) he certainly could be that same Hilkiah. And if Jeremiah’s father is a priest, he would be a priest, too.

So, Jeremiah is from the priestly city of Anathoth. His father is possibly the famous high priest of Josiah’s day. Jeremiah 1:1 states that Jeremiah is a priest. So, yes, Jeremiah is a priest!

So, he’s a prophet and priest, but is he a king too?

Jeremiah Was Not a King

Now, I don’t want to go too far afield, but Jeremiah did not hold the office of king in addition to that of prophet and priest.

In the Old Testament there were at least a few prophets who were priests and vice versa. There were even kings who prophesied (King Saul’s unusual circumstance comes to mind).

But never until Jesus Christ has there been a prophet who is a priest who is a king.

Summary

So, in conclusion, Jeremiah the Prophet is also a priest. But not a king.

Where Was Jeremiah Born?

Jeremiah' Birth

As Jeremiah 1:1 and Jeremiah 29:27 state, Jeremiah was born in the city of Anathoth.

But how much do you know about that place? Let’s consider a few facts about Anathoth that might just surprise you.

Anathoth’s Location

Anathoth was a city in the territory of Benjamin.

Anathoth’s Ownership

Anathoth was a city originally given over to the Levites by Joshua as is recorded in the book bearing his name (Joshua 21:17-18). The record of that transaction is also attested to in 1 Chronicles 6:60.

The Origin of Anathoth’s Name

Like many cities in Israel, this one was named after a person. Anathoth was actually the son of a man named Becher (1 Chronicles 7:6,8). And Becher was the son of Benjamin.

So the family tree goes…

  1. Benjamin
  2. Becher
  3. Anathoth

Anathoth’s Notable Residents

Abiathar

Abiathar the priest in King David’s time also lived in Anathoth (1 Kings 2:26).

Abiezer

Abiezer the Anathothite was one of David’s thirty mighty men (2 Samuel 23:27 and 1 Chronicles 11:28). He was not a priest, but was a Benjamite commander of the army under David (1 Chronicles 27:1,12).

Jehu

Jehu, who was from Anathoth, joined David’s army in Ziklag when David was being pursued by Saul (1 Chronicles 12:3).

Anathoth in the Book of Jeremiah

God promises judgement on the men of this city in Jeremiah’s time because they were threatening Jeremiah’s life (Jeremiah 11:21,23).

God later commanded Jeremiah to buy a field in Anathoth about one year before he exiled Judah by means of the nation of Babylon (Jeremiah 32:7-9). By this act of purchasing a field there, the Lord was indicating that he would restore Judah to their land in the future (Jeremiah 32:15).

Anathoth’s Restoration

After the seventy years of Judah’s exile in Babylon, 128 men from Judah returned to Anathoth (Ezra 2:23; Nehemiah 7:27; Nehemiah 11:31-32).

A Summary of Jeremiah 30 – 35

Jeremiah 30-35

Jeremiah 30–34:7 | Book of Encouragement

And at this point — having summarized Jeremiah 1-6, 7-20, 21-26, and 27-29 — you need to admit that things are looking pretty bleak. Sin has brought God’s punishment and no one is getting out of this unscathed.

But this is exactly where God nuances his tone a bit. In Jeremiah 30-34:7 God still does recognize his need of judging the sinful rebels in Judah. But he looks beyond that immediate judgement to a time of restoration. And it’s for this reason that these 4-plus chapters are often called in the academic literature on Jeremiah the Book of Consolation or the Book of Encouragement. And within this larger Book of Encouragement there are a few sub-sections.

Jeremiah 30:1-3 | Introduction

Jeremiah 30:1-3 serve as a short introduction to this Book of Encouragement.

Jeremiah 30:4-31 | Concerning Israel & Judah

Following that to the end of chapter 31 we have Encouragements Concerning Israel and Judah. God gives prophecies of future restoration and a new covenant with Israel and Judah in the midst of his current punishment for their sin.

Jeremiah 32 | Jeremiah Redeems a Field

Then in Jeremiah 32 we have a story about Jeremiah Redeeming a Field.

As a continuation of the book of consolation, Jeremiah is told by God to buy a field in Anathoth from his relative – though Jeremiah himself is in prison. God is signifying by this that in the future God will restore Judah to its land and that people will buy fields once again.

This is all in the context of the last year before Jerusalem was taken by Babylon.

Jeremiah 33 | David, Levi, & Jacob Will Never End

Next in Jeremiah 33 God promises that David, Levi, & Jacob Will Never End.

Jeremiah – still imprisoned like he was in the last chapter – receives word from the Lord that God will restore Judah. In particular, he will restore the cities of Judah and preserve sons of David and sons of the Levites to minister to himself.

Also promised – just like in chapter 23 – is the coming of the Righteous Branch of David.

Jeremiah 34:1-7 | Zedekiah Will Not Die

And the last part of this Book of Encouragement is in Jeremiah 34:1-7 where God says that Zedekiah Will Not Die.

In the midst of the great siege of Babylon against Jerusalem, God sends Jeremiah to King Zedekiah to relay a message. The message is that God will not allow Zedekiah to die. Zedekiah will lose to Nebuchadnezzar, but he will live and even have a decent burial.

And that ends the Book of Encouragement.

Jeremiah 34–35 | Promise Keeping

Then in the rest of Jeremiah 34 and to the end of 35 we’re taught The Importance of Keeping Promises. And this breaks into two sub-sections.

Jeremiah 34:8-22 | Jubilee Covenant Violated

First in Jeremiah 34:8-22 we see The Jubilee Covenant Violated.

King Zedekiah and the officials in Jerusalem apparently released their Hebrew servants in keeping with the law of Jubilee. But it seems that when Nebuchadnezzar left briefly they took their servants back by force.

God was not pleased that they broke the covenant they made with their former servants in keeping with Jubilee. So God promises to destroy them.

Jeremiah 35 | Rechabites

And then the second section that teaches the importance of keeping promises – Jeremiah 35 where we see the Rechabites’ Obedience.

In contrast to the broken covenant of Zedekiah’s day just previously related, the Rechabites obeyed a relatively obscure command of their ancestor to not drink wine. They serve as an example to Judah of how to obey.

And yet Judah has not obeyed God like the Rechabites obeyed their ancestor. So God needs to punish Judah. But the Rechabites will always have someone to stand before God as a result of their obedience.