after the 17th of Tammuz
Usually for Parshat Pinchas we read the haftarah from Kings I ch 16: 46 –19: 21. It is about Eliahu (Elijah) and his confrontation with Queen Jezebel and King Ahab. They were wicked rulers, who endeavored to kill all the Jewish prophets in their kingdom of Israel. G-d speaks to Eliahu and instructs him to confront Jezebel and Ahab. It’s a very exciting haftarah, but not the one we will be reading this week.
The Prophet Jeremiah by Michaelangelo
This Shabbat is one of the three Shabbatot preceding Tisha B’Av. This period is called “The Three (Weeks) of Admonition (Tlat DePuranuta)”. We read the first of three haftarot dealing with G‑d’s disappointment with Israel’s lack of faith and the punishments they will receive if they don’t behave righteously.
This haftarah reading is from the beginning of the Book of Jeremiah and is usually read on Shabbat Mattot. The first sentences tell us that Jeremiah prophesied from the time of King Josiah in Judah until the time of Jerusalem’s exile at the hands of Nebuchadnezzar.
We are introduced to the prophet , being told that G-d spoke to him even before Jeremiah was born, and that at that early point Jeremiah felt inadequate to speak for HaShem. In this narrative G-d shows Jeremiah first a budding almond branch, and then a steaming pot “tipped away from the north.” The budding almond branch is a symbol of G-d’s swiftness in attending to His people- just as the almond is the first tree to flower, HaShem is first to attend to us. The steaming pot tipped from the north represents the disaster that will befall B’nei Yisrael coming from the north.
The last few lines are comforting, stating that we will be attacked but not overcome. G-d will always be present to save us.
The painting of Jeremiah is inspired by the style of the 13th C North French Miscellany.
The steaming pot and the budding branch are to the left and right of Jeremiah.