Prophetic Historiography: The Continuation of the Prophet’s Message in Jeremiah 52

Due to Jer 52’s similarities to the conclusion of the Deuteronomic history (2 Kgs 24:18—25:30) and the editorial conclusion offered in 51:64 that concludes the prophetic voice, Jer 52 is almost unanimously (e.g., John Bright, J.A. Thompson, Jack Lundbom, Marvin Sweeney) entitled a “historical appendix.” Such a title betrays an understanding of the final chapter as an added validation of the prophet’s message: history unfolds in accordance with the prophetic word of Jeremiah. Other scholars, namely Henk de Waard and Adam Harger, have successfully challenged this chapter’s classification as an appendix and proposed new ways forward. What I propose is, in some ways, a continuation of de Waard and Harger, though I extend beyond their descriptions.

I argue for two crucial points regarding Jer 52. First, Jer 52 presents a Jeremianic account of Jerusalem’s fall and exile informed by the prophet’s earlier words. Though it mirrors 2 Kgs 25, Jer 52 is distinct and is anchored in the prophet’s message (esp. 21:1–14; 27:1–22). These connections contribute to viewing the close association between prophecy and historiography maintained in ancient Israel. This view is evidenced in the Chronicler’s portrayal of Jerusalem’s destruction and exile, which seems to be shaped by the words of Jeremiah rather than the exclusive use of Kings.

Second, the juxtaposition of Zedekiah and Jehoiachin in the concluding chapter continues Jeremiah’s use of theological patterning and embodied examples. As proclaimed in earlier passages (21:1–14), the audience has two possible responses to the prophetic word: resist and die or surrender and live. The repetition of “until the day of his death” in 52:11, 34 suggests that Zedekiah embodies the first of these two options, while Jehoiachin embodies the second. This pattern reflects what is seen elsewhere in the book, primarily with the call to consider the actions and outcomes of other entities, such as the exodus generation (2:1–37) and the northern kingdom of Israel (3:6—4:4).

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