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It seems odd that people in the "north lands" are specified in Jeremiah: Chapter 23; verse 8. Is this book written after the Babylonian captivity? If the book is written after the Babylonian captivity, is the reference to the people the "north lands" made just to maintain historicity? It may be relevant that in the previous verse, Jeremiah reminds the reader of the Exodus from Egypt, a land to the south of Israel.

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  • (+1) A fascinating question, thanks for contributing. It could be expanded slightly to include the verse in question and any 'digging' you've done already on the question.
    – Steve Taylor
    Dec 18 '20 at 12:51
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The OT uses the phrase "land of the north" to refer to Babylon. Jer 25:9, 11, 46:6, 10, 20, 24, 26, Eze 26:7, Zech 2:6, 7, 6:8-10, etc. Here is a brief sample:

  • Zech 2:6, 7 - “Get up! Get up! Flee from the land of the north,” declares the LORD, “for I have scattered you like the four winds of heaven,” declares the LORD. “Get up, O Zion! Escape, you who dwell with the Daughter of Babylon!”
  • Jer 25:9 - behold, I will summon all the families of the north, declares the LORD, and I will send for My servant Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, whom I will bring against this land, against its residents, and against all the surrounding nations. So I will devote them to destruction and make them an object of horror and contempt, an everlasting desolation.
  • Eze 26:7 - For this is what the Lord GOD says: ‘Behold, I will bring against Tyre from the north Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, king of kings, with horses and chariots, with cavalry and a great company of troops.

In Jer 23, we have a prophecy about when the Jews would be re-gathered from the lands to which they had been scattered:

V3 - Then I Myself will gather the remnant of My flock from all the lands to which I have banished them, and I will return them to their pasture, where they will be fruitful and multiply.

The Exodus from Egypt, the land of the south had become proverbial (and still is) among the Jews because it was the result of a series of divine miracles. Jer 23 says the same thing will occur for the regathering of the Jews from Babylon.

V7, 8 - So behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when they will no longer say, ‘As surely as the LORD lives, who brought the Israelites up out of the land of Egypt.’ Instead they will say, ‘As surely as the LORD lives, who brought and led the descendants of the house of Israel up out of the land of the north and all the other lands to which He had banished them.’ Then they will dwell once more in their own land.”

The "land of the north" here is direct allusion to the Babylonian captivity as recorded in 2 Kings 25, and 2 Chron 36:15-21, and Jer 39. [Jeremiah lived before and during the Babylonian captivity but died in Egypt as far as we know.]

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After the reigns of Kings David and Solomon, the original Kingdom of Israel was divided into two kingdoms:

  • Judah, with Jerusalem as its capital, inhabited mostly by Jews and Benjaminites, and carrying the royal line.
  • Israel to the north, inhabited by the other 10 tribes, and carrying the name "Israel".

From about 597 through 537 BCE, the southern Kingdom of Judah was taken into captivity in Babylon. This is the period when Jeremiah prophesied to the Jews. See Babylonian captivity - Wikipedia.

But before that, in 740 BCE, the northern Kingdom of Israel had been taken into captivity by the Assyrians. Unlike the Jews, the Israelites never returned. — Assyrian captivity - Wikipedia

Centuries later, at the time of Jesus, the historian Josephus recorded: "the ten tribes are beyond the Euphrates till now, and are an immense multitude and not to be estimated in numbers".

Behold, the days are coming,” says the LORD, “That I will raise to David a Branch of righteousness; A King shall reign and prosper, And execute judgment and righteousness in the earth.

In His days Judah will be saved, And Israel will dwell safely; Now this is His name by which He will be called: THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.

“Therefore, behold, the days are coming,” says the LORD, “that they shall no longer say, ‘As the LORD lives who brought up the children of Israel from the land of Egypt,’ but, ‘As the LORD lives who brought up and led the descendants of the house of Israel from the north country and from all the countries where I had driven them.’ And they shall dwell in their own land.”

— Jeremiah 23:5–8 (NKJV)

Jeremiah's prophecy is about the Messiah, who would be in the line of David. Notice that he distinguishes between Judah, which will produce the Messiah, and Israel, which will remain dispersed until the Messiah reunites them.

In the world to come, people will no longer talk about how God brought Israel out of Egypt into the promised land. They will talk about something far more important: how the Messiah returned the people of Israel to the promised land from Assyrian captivity and the diaspora.

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I cannot find anywhere in the Bible where is says Jeremiah died in Egypt. In fact, it seems that the Israelites were not allowed to go there. See this verse, Jeremiah 42:15-16 (AMPC): “Then hear the word of the Lord, O remnant of Judah. Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: If you are fully determined to go to Egypt and you do go to dwell there temporarily, then it shall be that the sword which you feared shall overtake you there in the land of Egypt; the famine of which you were afraid shall follow close after you there in Egypt; and there you shall die. So shall it be with all the men who set their faces to go to Egypt to dwell there. They shall die by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence. And none of them shall remain or escape from the disaster that I will bring upon them.’” ‭‭Jeremiah‬ ‭42:16-17‬ ‭NKJV‬‬ https://www.bible.com/114/jer.42.16-17.nkjv

Jeremiah 42:19 (AMPC) The Lord has said to you, O remnant of Judah, Do not go to Egypt. Know for a certainty that I [Jeremiah] have warned and testified to you this day. For you were hypocrites in your hearts when you sent me to the LORD your God, saying, ‘Pray for us to the LORD our God, and according to all that the LORD your God says, so declare to us and we will do it. ’ And I have this day declared it to you, but you have not obeyed the voice of the LORD your God, or anything which He has sent you by me. Now therefore, know certainly that you shall die by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence in the place where you desire to go to dwell.”” ‭‭Jeremiah‬ ‭42:20-22‬ ‭NKJV‬‬ https://www.bible.com/114/jer.42.20-22.nkjv

I also disagree with your statement that Isreal went into Babylonian captivity from 597 to 537 BC. The Bible says they were there for 70 years, not 60. In order to rest the land of Israel. “To fulfill the Lord's word by Jeremiah, till the land had enjoyed its sabbaths; for as long as it lay desolate it kept sabbath to fulfill seventy years.” 2 Chronicles 36:21 (AMPC)

2 Chronicles 36:21 (AMPC) To fulfill the Lord's word by Jeremiah, till the land had enjoyed its sabbaths; for as long as it lay desolate it kept sabbath to fulfill seventy years.

“And Daniel continued there even to the first year of King Cyrus [at the close of the seventy years' exile of Judah in Babylonia, which Jeremiah had foretold].” Daniel 1:21 (AMPC)

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    – agarza
    May 29 at 19:57
  • This is factually incorrect - Jer 43:4-8 says that all remaining people left Judah and went to Egypt, including Jeremiah who then received a vision for God there.
    – Dottard
    Jun 3 at 23:25

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