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jer-e-mi'-a (exaltation of the Lord, whom Jehovah has appointed)
Captivity, Chaldeans, Gedaliah, Josiah, Nebuzaradan, Prophet(s)
WORKS: Jeremiah, The Book of
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Easton's Bible Dictionary

raised up or appointed by Jehovah.

(1) One of the "greater prophets" of the Old Testament, son of Hilkiah (q.v.), a priest of Anathoth ( Jeremiah 1:1 ; 32:6 ). He was called to the prophetical office when still young ( Jeremiah 1:6 ), in the thirteenth year of Josiah (B.C. 628). He left his native place, and went to reside in Jerusalem, where he greatly assisted Josiah in his work of reformation ( 2 Kings 23:1 - 25 ). The death of this pious king was bewailed by the prophet as a national calamity ( 2 Chronicles 35:25 ). During the three years of the reign of Jehoahaz we find no reference to Jeremiah, but in the beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim the enmity of the people against him broke out in bitter persecution, and he was placed apparently under restraint ( Jeremiah 36:5 ). In the fourth year of Jehoiakim he was commanded to write the predictions given to him, and to read them to the people on the fast-day. This was done by Baruch his servant in his stead, and produced much public excitement. The roll was read to the king. In his recklessness he seized the roll, and cut it to pieces, and cast it into the fire, and ordered both Baruch and Jeremiah to be apprehended. Jeremiah procured another roll, and wrote in it the words of the roll the king had destroyed, and "many like words" besides ( Jeremiah 36:32 ).

He remained in Jerusalem, uttering from time to time his words of warning, but without effect. He was there when Nebuchadnezzar besieged the city ( Jeremiah 37:4 , 37:5 ), B.C. 589. The rumour of the approach of the Egyptians to aid the Jews in this crisis induced the Chaldeans to withdraw and return to their own land. This, however, was only for a time. The prophet, in answer to his prayer, received a message from God announcing that the Chaldeans would come again and take the city, and burn it with fire ( Jeremiah 37:7 , 37:8 ). The princes, in their anger at such a message by Jeremiah, cast him into prison ( Jeremiah 37:15 - 38:13 ). He was still in confinement when the city was taken (B.C. 588). The Chaldeans released him, and showed him great kindness, allowing him to choose the place of his residence. He accordingly went to Mizpah with Gedaliah, who had been made governor of Judea. Johanan succeeded Gedaliah, and refusing to listen to Jeremiah's counsels, went down into Egypt, taking Jeremiah and Baruch with him ( Jeremiah 43:6 ). There probably the prophet spent the remainder of his life, in vain seeking still to turn the people to the Lord, from whom they had so long revolted (Jeremiah 44). He lived till the reign of Evil-Merodach, son of Nebuchadnezzar, and must have been about ninety years of age at his death. We have no authentic record of his death. He may have died at Tahpanhes, or, according to a tradition, may have gone to Babylon with the army of Nebuchadnezzar; but of this there is nothing certain.

(2) A Gadite who joined David in the wilderness ( 1 Chronicles 12:10 ).

(3) A Gadite warrior ( 1 Chronicles 12:13 ).

(4) A Benjamite slinger who joined David at Ziklag ( 1 Chronicles 12:4 ).

(5) One of the chiefs of the tribe of Manasseh on the east of Jordan ( 1 Chronicles 5:24 ).

(6) The father of Hamutal ( 2 Kings 23:31 ), the wife of Josiah.


Hitchcock's Dictionary of Bible Names

exaltation of the Lord


Smith's Bible Dictionary

(whom Jehovah has appointed)

(1) was "the son of Hilkiah of the priests that were in Anathoth." ( Jeremiah 1:1 )
History. --
He was called very young (B.C. 626) to the prophetic office, and prophesied forty-two years; but we have hardly any mention of him during the eighteen years between his call and Josiahs death, or during the short reign of Jehoahaz. During the reigns of Jehoiakim and Jehoiachin, B.C. 607-598, he opposed the Egyptian party, then dominant in Jerusalem, and maintained that they only way of safety lay in accepting the supremacy of the Chaldeans. He was accordingly accused of treachery, and men claiming to be prophets had the "word of Jehovah" to set against his. ( Jeremiah 14:13 ; 23:7 ) As the danger from the Chaldeans became more threatening, the persecution against Jeremiah grew hotter. ch. 18. The people sought his life; then follows the scene in ( Jeremiah 19:10 - 13 ) he was set, however, "as a fenced brazen wall," ch. ( Jeremiah 15:20 ) and went on with his work, reproving king and nobles and people. The danger which Jeremiah had so long foretold at last came near. First Jehoiakim, and afterwards his successor Jehoiachin, were carried into exile, 2 Kings 24; but Zedekiah, B.C. 597-586, who was appointed by Nebuchadnezzar, was more friendly to the prophet, though powerless to help him. The approach of an Egyptian army, and the consequent departure of the Chaldeans, made the position of Jeremiah full of danger, and he sought to effect his escape from the city; but he was seized and finally thrown into a prison-pit to die, but was rescued. On the return of the Chaldean army he showed his faith in Gods promises, and sought to encourage the people by purchasing the field at Anathoth which his kinsman Hanameel wished to get rid of. ( Jeremiah 32:6 - 9 ) At last the blow came. The city was taken, the temple burnt. The king and his princes shared the fate of Jehoiachin. The prophet gave utterance to his sorrow in the Lamentations. After the capture of Jerusalem, B.C. 586, by the Chaldeans, we find Jeremiah receiving better treatment; but after the death of Gedaliah, the people, disregarding his warnings, took refuge in Egypt, carrying the prophet with them. In captivity his words were sharper and stronger than ever. He did not shrink, even there, from speaking of the Chaldean king once more as "the servant of Jehovah." ( Jeremiah 43:10 ) After this all is uncertain, but he probably died in Egypt.

Character. --
Canon Cook says of Jeremiah, "His character is most interesting. We find him sensitive to a most painful degree, timid, shy, hopeless, desponding, constantly complaining and dissatisfied with the course of events, but never flinching from duty...Timid in resolve, he was unflinching in execution; as fearless when he had to face the whole world as he was dispirited and prone to murmuring when alone with God. Judged by his own estimate of himself, he was feeble, and his mission a failure; really, in the hour of action and when duty called him, he was in very truth a defenced city, and an iron pillar, and brazen walls against the whole land. ch. ( Jeremiah 1:18 ) he was a noble example of the triumph of the moral over the physical nature." (It is not strange that he was desponding when we consider his circumstances. He saw the nation going straight to irremediable ruin, and turning a deaf ear to all warnings. "A reign of terror had commenced (in the preceding reign), during which not only the prophets but all who were distinguished for religion and virtue were cruelly murdered." "The nation tried to extirpate the religion of Jehovah;" "Idolatry was openly established," "and such was the universal dishonesty that no man trusted another, and society was utterly disorganized." How could one who saw the nation about to reap the awful harvest they had been sowing, and yet had a vision of what they might have been and might yet be, help indulging in "Lamentations"? --ED.)

Seven other persons bearing the same name as the prophet are mentioned in the Old Testament:--

(2) Jeremiah of Libnah, father of Hamutal wife of Josiah. ( 2 Kings 23:31 ) (B.C. before 632.)

(3 - 5) Three warriors --two of the tribe of Gad-- in Davids army. ( 1 Chronicles 12:4 , 12:10 , 12:13 ) (B.C. 1061-53.)

(6) One of the "mighty men of valor" of the transjordanic half-tribe of Manasseh. ( 1 Chronicles 5:24 ) (B.C. 782.)

(7) A priest of high rank, head of the second or third of the twenty-one courses which are apparently enumerated in ( Nehemiah 10:2 - 8 ; 12:1 , 12:12 ) (B.C. 446-410).

(8) The father of Jazaniah the Rechabite. ( Jeremiah 35:3 ) (B.C. before 606.)


International Standard Bible Encyclopedia


(a) yirmeyahu, or

(b) shorter form, yirmeyah, both differently explained as "Yah establishes (so Giesebrecht), whom Yahweh casts," i.e. possibly, as Gesenius suggests, "appoints" (A. B. Davidson in HDB, II, 569a), and "Yahweh looseneth" (the womb); see BDB:

The form (b) is used of Jeremiah the prophet only in Jeremiah 27:1 ; 28:5 , 6 , 10 , 11 , 12 b, 15 ; 29:1 ; Ezra 1:1; Daniel 9:2, while the other is found 116 times in Jeremiah alone. In 1 Esdras 1:28 , 32 , 47 , 57 ; 2 Esdras 2:18, English Versions of the Bible has "Jeremy," so the King James Version in 2 Macc 2:1 , 5 , 7 ; Matthew 2:17 ; 27:9 ; in Matthew 16:14, the King James Version has "Jeremias," but the Revised Version (British and American) in 2 Maccabees and Matthew has "Jeremiah."

(1) The prophet. See special article. Of the following, (2), (3) and (4) have form (a) above; the others the form (b).

1. Name and Person:

The name of one of the greatest prophets of Israel. The Hebrew yirmeyahu, abbreviated to yirmeyah, signifies either "Yahweh hurls" or "Yahweh founds." Septuagint reads Iermias, and the Vulgate (Jerome's Latin Bible, 390-405 A.D.) Jeremias. As this name also occurs not infrequently, the prophet is called "the son of Hilkiah" (Jeremiah 1:1), who is, however, not the high priest mentioned in 2 Kings 22 and 23, as it is merely stated that he was "of the priests that were in Anathoth" in the land of Benjamin In Anathoth, now Anata, a small village 3 miles Northeast of Jerusalem, lived a class of priests who belonged to a side line, not to the line of Zadok (compare 1 Kings 2:26).

2. Life of Jeremiah:

Jeremiah was called by the Lord to the office of a prophet while still a youth (Jeremiah 1:6) about 20 years of age, in the 13th year of King Josiah (Jeremiah 1:2 ; 25:3), in the year 627 BC, and was active in this capacity from this time on to the destruction of Jerusalem, 586 BC, under kings Josiah, Jehoahaz, Jehoiakim, Jehoiachin, and Zedekiah. Even after the fall of the capital city he prophesied in Egypt at least for several years, so that his work extended over a period of about 50 years in all. At first he probably lived in Anathoth, and put in his appearance publicly in Jerusalem only on the occasion of the great festivals; later he lived in Jerusalem, and was there during the terrible times of the siege and the destruction of the city.

Although King Josiah was God-fearing and willing to serve Yahweh, and soon inaugurated his reformation according to the law of Yahweh (in the 18th year of his reign), yet Jeremiah, at the time when he was called to the prophetic office, was not left in doubt of the fact that the catastrophe of the judgment of God over the city would soon come (Jeremiah 1:11); and when, after a few years, the Book of the Law was found in the temple (2 Kings 22 and 23), Jeremiah preached "the words of this covenant" to the people in the town and throughout the land (Jeremiah 11:1 - 8 ; 17:19 - 27), and exhorted to obedience to the Divine command; but in doing this then and afterward he became the object of much hostility, especially in his native city, Anathoth. Even his own brethren or near relatives entered into a conspiracy against him by declaring that he was a dangerous fanatic (Jeremiah 12:6). However, the condition of Jeremiah under this pious king was the most happy in his career, and he lamented the latter's untimely death in sad lyrics, which the author of Chronicles was able to use (2 Chronicles 35:25), but which have not come down to our times.

Much more unfavorable was the prophet's condition after the death of Josiah. Jehoahaz-Shallum, who ruled only 3 months, received the announcement of his sentence from Jeremiah (Jeremiah 22:10). Jehoiakim (609-598 BC) in turn favored the heathen worship, and oppressed the people through his love of luxury and by the erection of grand structures (Jeremiah 22:13). In addition, his politics were treacherous. He conspired with Egypt against his superior, Nebuchadnezzar. Epoch- making was the 4th year of Jehoiakim , in which, in the battle of Carchemish, the Chaldeans gained the upper hand in Hither Asia, as Jeremiah had predicted (Jermeiah 46:1 - 12). Under Jehoiakim Jeremiah delivered his great temple discourse (Jeremiah 7-9; 10:17 - 25). The priests for this reason determined to have the prophet put to death (Jeremiah 26). However, influential elders interceded for him, and the princes yet showed some justice. He was, however, abused by the authorities at the appeal of the priests (Jeremiah 20). According to 36:1, he was no longer permitted to enter the place of the temple. For this reason the Lord commanded him to collect his prophecies in a bookroll, and to have them read to the people by his faithful pupil Baruch (Jeremiah 36; compare Jeremiah 45). The book fell into the hands of the king, who burned it. However, Jeremiah dictated the book a second time to Baruch, together with new additions.

Jehoiachin or Coniah (Jeremiah 22:24), the son of Jehoiakim, after a reign of 3 months, was taken into captivity to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar, together with a large number of his nobles and the best part of the people (Jeremiah 24:1 ; 29:2), as the prophet had predicted (Jeremiah 22:20 - 30). But conditions did not improve under Zedekiah (597-586 BC). This king was indeed not as hostile to Jeremiah as Jehoiakim had been; but all the more hostile were the princes and the generals, who were now in command after the better class of these had been deported to Babylon. They continually planned rebellion against Babylon, while Jeremiah was compelled to oppose and put to naught every patriotic agitation of this kind. Finally, the Babylonian army came in order to punish the faithles s vassal who had again entered into an alliance with Egypt. Jeremiah earnestly advised submission, but the king was too weak and too cowardly as against his nobles. A long siege resulted, which caused the direst sufferings in the life of Jeremiah. The commanders threw him into a vile prison, charging him with being a traitor (Jeremiah 37:11). The king, who consulted him secretly, released him from prison, and put him into the "court of the guard" (Jeremiah37:17), where he could move around freely, and could agai n prophesy. Now that the judgment had come, he could again speak of the hopeful future (Jeremiah 32 ; 33). Also Jeremiah 30 and 31, probably, were spoken about this time. But as he continued to preach submission to the people, those in authority cast him into a slimy cistern, from which the pity of a courtier, Ebed-melech, delivered him (Jeremiah 39:15 - 18). He again returned to the court of the guard, where he remained until Jerusalem was taken.

After the capture of the city, Jeremiah was treated with great consideration by the Babylonians, who knew that he had spoken in favor of their government (Jeremiah 39:11 ; 40:1). They gave him the choice of going to Babylon or of remaining in his native land. He decided for the latter, and went to the governor Gedaliah, at Mizpah, a man worthy of all confidence. But when this man, after a short time, was murdered by conscienceless opponents, the Jews who had been left in Palestine, becoming alarmed and fearing the vengeance of the Chaldeans, determined to emigrate to Egypt. Jeremiah advised against this most earnestly, and threatened the vengeance of Yahweh, if the people should insist upon their undertaking (Jeremiah 42:1). But they insisted and even compelled the aged prophet to go with them (Jeremiah 43:1). Their first goal was Tahpanhes (Daphne), a town in Lower Egypt. At this place he still continued to preach the word of God to his fellow-Israelites; compare the latest of his preserved discourses in Jeremiah 43:8 - 13, as also the sermon in Jeremiah 44, delivered at a somewhat later time but yet before 570 BC. At that time Jeremiah must have been from 70 to 80 years old. He probably died soon after this in Egypt. The church Fathers report that he was stoned to death at Daphne by the Jews (Jerome, Adv. Jovin, ii, 37; Tertullian, Contra Gnost., viii; Pseudepiphan. De Proph., chapter viii; Dorotheus, 146; Isidorus, Ort. et Obit. Patr., chapter xxxviii). However, this report is not well founded. The same is the case with the rabbinical tradition, according to which he, in company with Baruch, was taken from Egypt to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar, and died there (Cedher 'Olam Rabba' 26).

3. The Personal Character of Jeremiah:

The Book of Jeremiah gives us not only a fuller account of the life and career of its author than do the books of the other prophets, but we also learn more about his own inner and personal life and feelings than we do of Isaiah or any other prophet. From this source we learn that he was, by nature, gentle and tender in his feelings, and sympathetic. A decided contrast to this is found in the hard and unmerciful judgment which it was his mission to announce. God made him strong and firm and immovable like iron for his mission (Jeremiah 1:18 ; 15:20). This contrast between his naturally warm personal feelings and his strict Divine mission not rarely appears in the heart-utterances found in his prophecies. At first he rejoiced when God spoke to him (Jeremiah 15:16); but soon these words of God were to his heart a source of pain and of suffering (Jeremiah 15:17). He would have preferred not to utter them; and then they burned in his breast as a fire (Jeremiah 20:7 ; 23:9). He personally stood in need of love, and yet was not permitted to marry (Jeremiah 16:1 f). He was compelled to forego the pleasures of youth (Jeremiah 15:17). He loved his people as nobody else, and yet was always compelled to prophesy evil for it, and seemed to be the enemy of his nation. This often caused him to despair. The enmity to which he fell a victim, on account of his declaration of nothing but the truth, he deeply felt; see his complaints (Jeremiah 9:1 ; 12:5 ; 15:10 ; 17:14 - 18 ; 18:23, and often). In this sad antagonism between his heart and the commands of the Lord, he would perhaps wish that God had not spoken to him; he even cursed the day of his birth (Jeremiah 15:10 ; 20:14 - 18; compare Job 3:1). Such complaints are to be carefully distinguished from that which the Lord through His Spirit communicated to the prophet. God rebukes him for these complaints, and demands of him to repent and to trust and obey Him (Jeremiah 15:19). This discipline makes him all the more unconquerable. Even his bitter denunciations of his enemies (Jeremiah 11:20 ; 15:15 ; 17:18 ; 18:21 - 23) originated in part in his passionate and deep nature, and show how great is the difference between him and that perfect Sufferer, who prayed even for His deadly enemies. But Jeremiah was nevertheless a type of that Suffering Saviour, more than any of the Old Testament saints. He, as a priest, prayed for his people, until God forbade him to do so (Jeremiah 7:16 ; 11:14 ; 14:11 ; 18:20). He was compelled more than all the others to suffer through the anger of God, which was to afflict his people. The people themselves also felt that he meant well to them. A proof of this is seen in the fact that the rebellious people, who always did the contrary of what he had commanded them, forced him, the unwelcome prophet of God, to go along with them, to Egypt, because they felt that he was their good genius.

4. The Prophecies of Jeremiah:

What Jeremiah was to preach was the judgment upon Judah. As the reason for this judgment Jeremiah everywhere mentioned the apostasy from Yahweh, the idolatry, which was practiced on bamoth, or the "high places" by Judah, as this had been done by Israel. Many heathenish abuses had found their way into the life of the people. Outspoken heathenism had been introduced by such men as King Manasseh, even the sacrifice of children to the honor of Baal-Molech in the valley of Hinnom (Jeremiah 7:31 ; 19:5 ; 32:35), and the worship of "the queen of heaven" (Jeremiah 7:18 ; 44:19). It is true that the reformation of Josiah swept away the worst of these abominations. But an inner return to Yahweh did not result from this reformation. For the reason that the improvement had been more on the surface and outward, and was done to please the king, Jeremiah charges up to his people all their previous sins, and the guilt of the present generation was yet added to this (Jeremiah 16:11 f). Together with religious insincerity went the moral corruption of the people, such as dishonesty, injustice, oppression of the helpless, slander, and the like. Compare the accusations found in Jeremiah 5:1 , 7 , 26 ; 6:7 , 13 ; 7:5 , 9 ; 9:2 , 6 , 8 ; 17:9 ; 21:12 ; 22:13 ; 23:10 ; 29:23 , etc. Especially to the spiritual leaders, the priests and prophets, are these things charged up.

The judgment which is to come in the near future, as a punishment for the sins of the people, is from the outset declared to be the conquest of the country through an enemy from abroad. In this way the heated caldron with the face from the North, in the vision containing the call of the prophet (Jeremiah 1:13), is to be understood. This power in the North is not named until the 4th year of Jehoiakim (Jeremiah 25), where Nebuchadnezzar is definitely designated as the conqueror. It is often thought, that, in the earlier years of his career, Jeremiah had in mind the Scythians when he spoke of the enemies from the North, especially in Jeremiah 4 - 6. The Scythians (according to Herodotus i.103) had, probably a few years before Jeremiah's call to the prophetic office, taken possession of Media, then marched through Asia Minor, and even forced their way as far as Egypt. They crossed through Canaan, passing by on their march from East to West, near Beth-shean (Scythopolis). The ravages of this fierce people probably influenced the language used by Jeremiah in his prophecies (compare Jeremiah 4:11 ; 5:15 ; 6:3 , 22). But it is unthinkable that Jeremiah expected nothing more than a plundering and a booty-seeking expedition of the Scythian nomad hordes. Chariots, such as are described in Jeremiah 4:13, the Scythians did not possess. Moreover, it must not be forgotten that Jeremiah from the outset speaks of a deportation of his people to this foreign land (Jeremiah 3:18 ; 5:19), while an exile of Israel in the country of the Scythians was out of the question. At all events from the 4th year of Jehoiakim, Jeremiah regards the Chaldeans as the enemy who, according to his former announcement, would come from the North It is possible that it was only in the course of time that he reached a clear conviction as to what nation was meant by the revelation from God. But, upon further reflection, he must have felt almost certain on this subject, especially as Isaiah (Isaiah 39:6), Micah (Micah 4:10), and, soon after these, Habakkuk had named Babylon as the power that was to carry out the judgment upon Israel. Other prophets, too, regard the Babylonians as belonging to the northern group of nations (compare Zechariah 6:8), because they always came from the North, and because they were the legal successors of the Assyrians.

In contrast to optimistic prophets, who had hoped to remedy matters in Israel (Jeremiah 6:14), Jeremiah from the beginning predicted the destruction of the city and of the sanctuary, as also the end of the Jewish nation and the exile of the people through these enemies from abroad. According to Jeremiah 25:11 ; 29:10 , the Babylonian supremacy (not exactly the exile) was to continue for 70 years; and after this, deliverance should come. Promises to this effect are found only now and then in the earlier years of the prophet (Jeremiah 3:14 ; 12:14 ; 16:14 f). However, during the time of the siege and afterward, such predictions are more frequent (compare Jeremiah 23:1 ; 24:6 ; 47:2 - 7; and in the "Book of Comfort," chapters Jeremiah 30 - 33).

What characterizes this prophet is the spiritual inwardness of his religion; the external theocracy he delivers up to destruction, because its forms were not animated by God-fearing sentiments. External circumcision is of no value without inner purity of heart. The external temple will be destroyed, because it has become the hiding-place of sinners. External sacrifices have no value, because those who offer them are lacking in spirituality, and this is displeasing to God. The law is abused and misinterpreted (Jeremiah 8:8); the words of the prophets as a rule do not come from God. Even the Ark of the Covenant is eventually to make way for a glorious presence of the Lord. The law is to be written in the hearts of men (Jeremiah 31:31). The glories of the Messianic times the prophet does not describe in detail but their spiritual character he repeatedly describes in the words "Yahweh our righteousness" (Jeremiah 23:6 ; 33:16). However, we must not over-estimate the idealism of Jeremiah. He believed in a realistic restoration of theocracy to a form, just as the other prophets (compare Jeremiah 31 - 32 , 38 - 40).

As far as the form of his prophetic utterances is concerned, Jeremiah is of a poetical nature; but he was not only a poet. He often speaks in the meter of an elegy; but he is not bound by this, and readily passes over into other forms of rhythms and also at times into prosaic speech, when the contents of his discourses require it. The somewhat monotonous and elegiac tone, which is in harmony with his sad message to the people, gives way to more lively and varied forms of expression, when the prophet speaks of other and foreign nations. In doing this he often makes use of the utterances of earlier prophets.


(2) Father of Hamutal (Hamital), the mother of King Jehoahaz and King Jehoiakim (2 Kings 23:31 ; 24:18 parallel Jeremiah 52:1).

(3) A Rechabite (Jeremiah 35:3).

(4) In 1 Chronicles 12:13 (Hebrew 14), a Gadite.

(5) In 1 Chronicles 12:10 (Hebrew 11), a Gadite.

(6) In 1 Chronicles 12:4 (Hebrew 5), a Benjamite(?) or Judean. (4), (5) and (6) all joined David at Ziklag.

(7) Head of a Manassite family (1 Chronicles 5:24).

(8) A priest who sealed the covenant with Nehemiah (Nehemiah 10:2), probably the same as he of Nehemiah 12:34 who took part in the procession at the dedication of the walls of Jerusalem.

(9) A priest who went to Jerusalem with Zerubbabel from exile and became head of a priestly family of that name (Nehemiah 12:1).



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