Thesis Title

The Political Activities of Jeremiah and the Pro-Babylonian Party

Date of Graduation

Spring 1975


Master of Arts in History



Committee Chair

James Moyer


The ancient Israelite prophet is an intriguing character whose presence in the Old Testament is impossible to overlook. Prophetic literature alone comprises nearly one-third of the Old Testament, while many of the other books include in their contents accounts of various prophets and their activities. This is clearly indicative of the relative importance of the prophet in the Israelite society. Any study of the prophets is therefore a key to understanding the history of ancient Israel. The society of ancient Israel found the basis for its existence in a national theology; subsequently religion was intricately interwoven into the fabric of society. This is best exemplified by the fact that the leading elements in the society were the kings, princes, priests and prophets. Although the prophet did not officially wield political power, he is consistently mentioned among the leaders of the people. The power that the prophet possessed was derived from the same base upon which the society of Israel was built, religion. The basic intent of this study was to explore the political ramification in the activities of the prophets of ancient Israel. Due to the limitation of space, this study focused only on Jeremiah. This prophet proved to be admirably suitable for such an undertaking, for he lived in such turbulent times that he was forced to exercise fully the prerogatives of his prophetic office and assume a flagrantly political role. It is apparent that the prophet in fulfilling his prophetic duties often stepped across the bounds of religion into other spheres, such as politics. Thus any attempt to evaluate the political activity of the prophet must be done with the larger realm of religion always in mind. Jeremiah worked with the pro-Babylonian party in opposition to the pro-Egyptian party, which represented apostasy and resistance to Babylon--God's divine instrument of punishment. It is hoped that this study will partially illuminate the broad spectrum of prophetic political activism, and point out the need for a partial reappraisal in Biblical scholarship. Contents: Chapter one: Historical and political background -- Assyrian domination and decline; the rise of Babylon; Egypt during the Assyrian empire; Judah and the Assyrian conquest; independence and reform during the reign of Josiah; relapse of the reform and the last days of Judah -- Chapter two: Jeremiah, his call and his message -- Jeremiah's early life; Jeremiah's call; Jeremiah's message -- Chapter three: The pro-Egyptian party in Judah -- Foundation of the pro-Egyptian party; Judean-Egyptian relations under Jehoiakim; rebellion against Babylon; the reign of Jehoiachin; Zedekiah under Babylon; Judah's final rebellion -- Chapter four: The activities of Jeremiah and the pro-Babylonian party -- Origins of the pro-Babylonian party; motives of the party and Jeremiah; religious reform; attitude towards Egypt; party's attitude towards Babylon; Jeremiah curses Jerusalem; the affair of the scroll; counseling the exiles; Jeremiah arrested for treason; acts of sedition; the fate of the pro-Babylonian party after the fall; Jeremiah under the Babylonians; the murder of Gedaliah.

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© Christopher A Torrisi