The Meaning of Jeremiah 1:5 Explained

Jeremiah 1:5

KJV: Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.

YLT: 'Before I form thee in the belly, I have known thee; and before thou comest forth from the womb I have separated thee, a prophet to nations I have made thee.'

Darby: Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I hallowed thee, I appointed thee a prophet unto the nations.

ASV: Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee, and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee; I have appointed thee a prophet unto the nations.

What does Jeremiah 1:5 Mean?

Verse Meaning

Yahweh knew (Heb. yada", committed Himself to) Jeremiah before He had formed him in his mother"s womb (cf. Genesis 4:1; Psalm 1:6; Hosea 4:1; Amos 3:2). Jeremiah existed as a human being during his gestation period (cf. Psalm 139:13). God had set him aside (Heb. hiqdish) from all other uses for prophetic ministry even before his birth (cf. Isaiah 6; Ezekiel 1-3; Amos 7:10-17). His prophetic ministry would involve many nations (chs46-51), not just Judah (chs2-45).
"The thought that his very existence was a conscious part of divine purpose and not an incidental biological occurrence must have given him a special sense of destiny. This in turn doubtless contributed to his determination to fulfil his prophetic mission regardless of personal considerations." [1]
"God identified Himself to be sovereign over Jeremiah in that He (1) foreknew Jeremiah before he was born, (2) had caused him to be born, and (3) had separated him for a holy service. On this basis, He also had the sovereign prerogative to appoint Jeremiah to be a prophet." [2]

Context Summary

Jeremiah 1:1-19 - Courage Promised To A Fearful Messenger
God has a distinct purpose for each life, and our one aim should be to discover and work out His plan. See Psalms 139:16; Galatians 1:15. The sanctification here referred to applies to office rather than to character, and means set apart. See John 17:19. Jeremiah was very young, and shrank from the responsibility of the great mission entrusted to him. Thus it has been with the noblest, Exodus 4:10. But that is godly fear indeed which casts us back on God. He never gives a commission without assuming the responsibility of its execution in, and with, or through, us. Powers of utterance are specially His gift, Isaiah 6:7; Acts 6:10; 1 Corinthians 1:5. The almond tree in Hebrew is the wakeful tree. It awakes from the winter sleep earlier than others, flowering in January and fruiting in March. It indicated the swiftness of God's movement. The boiling pot is the symbol of war. The promises of Jeremiah 1:18-19 are very precious to all who are called to stand in the breach and charge men with their sins. [source]

Chapter Summary: Jeremiah 1

1  The time
4  And the calling of Jeremiah
11  His prophetical visions of an almond rod and a seething pot
15  His heavy message against Judah
17  God encourages him with his promise of assistance

What do the individual words in Jeremiah 1:5 mean?

Before - I formed you in the womb I knew you and Before you were born I sanctified you a prophet to the nations I ordained you
בְּטֶ֨רֶם [אצורך] (אֶצָּרְךָ֤) בַבֶּ֙טֶן֙ יְדַעְתִּ֔יךָ וּבְטֶ֛רֶם תֵּצֵ֥א מֵרֶ֖חֶם הִקְדַּשְׁתִּ֑יךָ נָבִ֥יא לַגּוֹיִ֖ם נְתַתִּֽיךָ

בְּטֶ֨רֶם  Before 
Parse: Preposition-b, Adverb
Root: טֶרֶם  
Sense: before, not yet, before that.
[אצורך]  - 
Parse: Verb, Qal, Imperfect, first person common singular, second person masculine singular
(אֶצָּרְךָ֤)  I  formed  you 
Parse: Verb, Qal, Imperfect, first person common singular, second person masculine singular
Root: יׄוצֵר 
Sense: to form, fashion, frame.
בַבֶּ֙טֶן֙  in  the  womb 
Parse: Preposition-b, Article, Noun, feminine singular
Root: בֶּטֶן  
Sense: belly, womb, body.
יְדַעְתִּ֔יךָ  I  knew  you 
Parse: Verb, Qal, Perfect, first person common singular, second person masculine singular
Root: דָּעָה 
Sense: to know.
וּבְטֶ֛רֶם  and  Before 
Parse: Conjunctive waw, Preposition-b, Adverb
Root: טֶרֶם  
Sense: before, not yet, before that.
מֵרֶ֖חֶם  were  born 
Parse: Preposition-m, Noun, masculine singular
Root: רֶחֶם  
Sense: womb.
הִקְדַּשְׁתִּ֑יךָ  I  sanctified  you 
Parse: Verb, Hifil, Perfect, first person common singular, second person masculine singular
Root: קָדַשׁ  
Sense: to consecrate, sanctify, prepare, dedicate, be hallowed, be holy, be sanctified, be separate.
נָבִ֥יא  a  prophet 
Parse: Noun, masculine singular
Root: נָבִיא  
Sense: spokesman, speaker, prophet.
לַגּוֹיִ֖ם  to  the  nations 
Parse: Preposition-l, Article, Noun, masculine plural
Root: גֹּוי 
Sense: nation, people.
נְתַתִּֽיךָ  I  ordained  you 
Parse: Verb, Qal, Perfect, first person common singular, second person masculine singular
Root: יָתַן 
Sense: to give, put, set.