Today on May 1st, we honor the prophet Jeremiah or Jeremias as we say in Greek.
The great Prophet of God, Jeremias, who loved his brethren and lamented for them greatly, who prayed much for the people and the Holy City, was the son of Helkias of the tribe of Levi, from the city of Anathoth in the land of Benjamin. It’s inhabitants were called Anathothites.
While Anathoth is omitted from the list in Joshua xviii it was included later on as a “suburb” 1 Chronicles vi.60 and in Roman times it was listed as 3 Roman miles north of Jerusalem or 26 Stadia. In the Talmud (the 5 main books of the Jewish canon) it is called just Anath which was also the name of a warrior goddess worshipped by various tribes. Anath or Anat is prominent in Ugarit texts where she is referred to as the sister and consort of Ba’al. How it works with the Egyptian god Thoth I cannot say.
Jeremias was sanctified from his mother’s womb, as the Lord Himself said concerning him: “Before I formed thee in the belly, I knew thee; and before thou camest forth from the womb, I sanctified thee; I appointed thee a prophet to the nations” (Jer. 1:5). This is supposed to be according to one site I looked at, one of the most quoted verses in the whole Bible. I was surprised.
Jeremias prophesied for thirty years, from 613 to 583 B.C. during the last captivity of the people in the reign of Sedekias, when only a few were left behind to cultivate the land, and he remained with them by the permission of Nabuzardan, the captain of the guard under Nabuchodonosor and responsible for the deportation of the Jews. Nabuzardan is also infamous for setting fire to the city and then levelling which caused the Prophet to weep and lament inconsolably. On a good note, Nabuzardan was praised in Lamentations for forbading his soldiers to touch or consort with the married women captives.
While so Jews remains behind, even they in the end transgressed again, and fearing the vengeance of the Chaldeans, fled in to Egypt, forcibly taking with them Jeremias and Baruch his disciple and scribe. It was there in Egypt that Jeremias prophesied about Egypt and other nations, but was stoned to death in Taphnas by his own people about the year 583 B.C., since they would not endure to hear the truth of his words.
His book of prophecy is divided into fifty-one chapters, and his book of lamentation into five; he is ranked second among the greater Prophets. His name means “Yah is exalted.”
Apolytikion in the Second Tone
As we celebrate the memory of Thy Prophet Jeremias, O Lord, through him we beseech Thee to save our souls.