May 1, 2018

Synaxarion of the Holy Prophet Jeremiah

Holy Prophet Jeremiah (Feast Day - May 1)


Stony souls foreign to divine fear,
Took up stones against the divine Jeremiah.
On the first of May Jeremiah was killed by stones.

This wondrous Prophet of the Lord was sanctified from his mother's womb, as God says of Him: "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations" (Jer. 1:5). He was from Anathoth, and lived 620 years before Christ. When Jerusalem became enslaved by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, he went to Tahpanhes in Egypt, called Daphnae in Greek, where he prophesied, and was stoned by the people of Israel, who had fled to Egypt. Having died, he was buried in the area of the Pharaoh's palace. The Egyptians glorified and honored him, since he was a benefactor to them by his words. For by his prayers he put asps to death, which were utterly destroying the Egyptians. He also put to death the beasts that are found in the waters of Egypt, which the Egyptians call "nephoth", and the Greeks "crocodiles".

Therefore those Christians who are to be found in that place today, prayerfully take dirt from the grave of the Prophet, and they are healed from the bites of asps. It is said, that King Alexander went to the grave of Jeremiah, and having learned of him, he brought his relics to Alexandria, which he scattered around, and everywhere throughout the city. In this way all the asps were banished, and instead he released serpents called argolai, which he had brought from Argos, from whence they derive their name.*

Jeremiah had told the priests of Egypt: "A sign shall take place: the idols of Egypt will shake and be cast down to the ground by a child Savior, who will be born from a virgin in a manger." For this reason the Egyptians deified until now a virgin, and placing a child in a manger, they venerated it. So when King Ptolemy asked them why they did this, they responded that this mystery was passed on to them from their fathers, for it was delivered to their fathers by a venerable Prophet, which, in addition, they expected to come to pass by performing this mystery.

It is said of this Prophet, that before the Temple of Jerusalem was burnt by Nebuzaradan, the chief butcher of Nebuchadnezzar, he took the Ark of the Covenant and the holy things therein, and he put them under a rock, for he said to those who stood next to him: "The Lord has gone away from Sinai to Heaven, and He wants to return to Sinai with power, and He wants to show you who stand by Him a sign of His presence, when all the nations venerate wood." He also said: "This Ark and the tablets within, no one will remove from the earth, except Aaron, nor shall it be opened, not even by a Priest or a Prophet, except Moses the elect of God. In the common resurrection it will be the Ark which is first raised, and will be revealed to the earth. It will be placed at Sinai, and all the Saints will gather to it, those who will be waiting for the coming of the Lord, as many as had fled the enemy (the devil), who desired to put them to death." Now on the rock that received the Ark, Jeremiah wrote with his finger the awesome name of God, namely Jehovah. And these letters were formed as if they were engraved by a chisel and iron. Suddenly a luminous cloud covered this name, and no one knows the place, nor is able to read the name of God until that day comes.**

This rock is in the desert where the Ark was first made by Bezalel, between two mountains, where the relics of Moses and Aaron are located.*** At night a cloud appears at that place, according to the ancient order, when a cloud appeared at night before the Israelites, and illumined their way. The Prophet Jeremiah was an old man in years, physically small in stature, his beard was wide above and narrow below. His Synaxis is celebrated in the Temple of the Holy Apostle Peter, which is near the most holy Great Church.


* According to the Suda: "Alexander the Macedonian brought argolai from Pelasgian Argos to Alexandria, and he threw them into the river to kill the asps, when he transferred the bones of the Prophet Jeremiah from Egypt to Alexandria." Pelasgian Argos, according to Homer, was located in modern Thessaly.

** According to Saint Nikodemos the Hagiorite, though some say Nehemiah discovered the Ark, this has not been substantiated. And as to when Moses and Aaron will recover it, he says it appears that it will take place at the time of the end of the world and the common resurrection.

*** The area of Mount Nebo.

Apolytikion in the First Tone
From thy mother's womb thou wast sanctified by the Creator in His foreknowledge, and from thy swaddling bands thou wast filled with prophetic wisdom. O wise Jeremiah, thou didst lovingly lament the fall of Israel. Honouring thee as a Prophet and Athlete we cry out to thee: Glory to Him Who has glorified thee; glory to Him Who has crowned thee; glory to Him Who has given thee to us as a fervent intercessor.

Kontakion in the Third Tone
Thy pure heart was enlightened by the Spirit, O great Prophet and Martyr Jeremiah. Thou didst receive the gift of prophecy from on high, and cry aloud to the nations: This is our God and there is none other beside Him, Who has appeared incarnate on the earth.