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The Superscription

The following is a record of what Jeremiah son of Hilkiah prophesied.[a] He was one of the priests who lived at Anathoth in the territory of the tribe of Benjamin. The Lord’s[b] message came to him[c] in the thirteenth year that Josiah son of Amon ruled over Judah.

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  1. Jeremiah 1:1 tn Or “This is a record of what Jeremiah prophesied and did”; Heb “The words [or affairs] of Jeremiah.” The phrase could refer to either the messages of Jeremiah recorded in the book or to both his messages and the biographical (and autobiographical) narratives recorded about him in the book. Since the phrase is intended to serve as the title or superscription for the whole book and recurs again in 51:64 at the end of the book before the final appendix, it might refer to the latter. The expression “The words of [someone]” is a standard introductory formula (Deut 29:1 [28:69]; 2 Sam 23:1; Amos 1:1; Eccl 1:1; Neh 1:1).
  2. Jeremiah 1:2 sn The translation reflects the ancient Jewish tradition of substituting the word for “Lord” for the proper name for Israel’s God which is now generally agreed to have been Yahweh. Jewish scribes wrote the consonants YHWH but substituted the vowels for the word “Lord.” The practice of calling him “Lord” rather than using his proper name is also reflected in the Greek translation which is the oldest translation of the Hebrew Bible. The meaning of the name Yahweh occurs in Exod 3:13-14 where God identifies himself as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and tells Moses that his name is “I am” (אֶהְיֶה, ʾehyeh). However, he instructs the Israelites to refer to him as YHWH (“Yahweh” = “He is”); see further Exod 34:5-6.
  3. Jeremiah 1:2 tn Heb “that which was the Lord’s message to him,” also at 14:1: 46:1; 47:1; 49:34.