Jeremiah as yhwh’s Stronghold (Jer 1:18)

in Vetus Testamentum
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In the book of Jeremiah, the prophet proclaims that Jerusalem will be destroyed by a foreign nation. According to the call narrative, however, Jeremiah himself is transformed into “a fortified city, an iron pillar, and a bronze wall” (Jer 1:18). While these architectural metaphors have often been explained with regard to Egyptian royal ideology, the article further explores their meaning and function within their literary context. Comparing characterizations of both the prophet and personified Jerusalem, the essay argues that Jer 1:18 offers a late comment to the book: Jeremiah functions as a stand-in for yhwh’s favorite city. A text-critical investigation of Jer 1:18 demonstrates—in contrast to former studies—that the mt pluses deliberately elaborate the prophet’s role by rendering him a substitute for the temple.

Jeremiah as yhwh’s Stronghold (Jer 1:18)

in Vetus Testamentum




See e.g. H.-W. Jüngling“‘Ich mache Dich zu einer ehernen Mauer’ (Jer 1:18-19 und 15:20-22)”Bib 54 (1973) pp. 1-24; G. Fischer “‘Ich mache dich . . . zur eisernen Säule’ (Jer 1.18): Der Prophet als besserer Ersatz für den untergegangenen Tempel” ZKTh 116 (1994) pp. 447-450; P. Riede Ich mache dich zur festen Stadt: Zum Prophetenbild von Jeremia 118f und 1520 (FzB 121; Würzburg 2009). I will discuss these studies in the course of my argumentation.


Herrmann“Die Herkunft der ‘ehernen Mauer’” p. 348.


Cf. Görg“Die ‘ehernen Säulen’” pp. 143-145.


Cf. Görg“Die ‘ehernen Säulen’” p. 145.


See RiedeIch mache dich zur festen Stadt pp. 28-33 58-64 74-80; cf. Maier Mother Zion pp. 64-69.


RiedeIch mache dich zur festen Stadt pp. 51-54 84-85. His redaction-critical argument neglects the differences between the mt and the og.


So RudolphJeremia p. 91; Lundbom Jeremiah 1-20 p. 737; McKane Jeremiah I p. 384; Wanke Jeremia 1 p. 153.


Jüngling“Ich mache Dich zu einer ehernen Mauer” p. 20 sees in v. 19 “einen strengen Verweis”. According to N. Ittmann Die Konfessionen Jeremias: Ihre Bedeutung für die Verkündigung des Propheten (wmant 54; Neukirchen-Vluyn 1981) pp. 73 151 the prophet is prohibited to join the community.


FischerJeremia 1-25 pp. 512-513.


WankeJeremia 1 p. 155 acknowledges the notion of doubt but tries to generalize it with regard to any praying person. Ittmann Konfessionen p. 179 tries to refute the idea by arguing that God does not allow Jeremiah to turn away from him.


See C. M. Maier“Die Klage der Tochter Zion: Ein Beitrag zur Weiblichkeitsmetaphorik im Jeremiabuch”BThZ 15 (1998) pp. 176-189; M. C. Korpel “Who Is Speaking in Jeremiah 4:19-22? The Contribution of Unit Delimitation to an Old Problem” vt 59 (2009) pp. 88-98.


So RudolphJeremia p. 55; Schreiner Jeremia p. 66; McKane Jeremiah I p. 193; Wanke Jeremia 1 p. 101.


So CarrollJeremiah 1 pp. 235-236.


Similarly RudolphJeremia p. 54; Wanke Jeremia 1 p. 103. Holladay Jeremiah 1 p. 293 sees v. 19b as a divine response to the former two questions and thus as an original part of the passage that has a rhetorical effect in transforming the lament into a dialogue.


Fischer“Ich mache dich . . . zur eisernen Säule” pp. 447-450.


Cf. FischerDer Stand der theologischen Diskussion pp. 50-51.


See C. Dworkin“Textual Prostheses”Comparative Literature 57 (2005) pp. 1-24. I thank Joel Baden for alerting me to this feature.

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