Jeremi'ah (Heb. Yirmeyah', יַרמיָה, often in the paragogic form יַרמיָהוּ, Yirmeya'hu, especially in the book of Jeremiah; raised up [i.e. appointed] by Jehovah; Sept. and N.T. Ι᾿ερεμίας; "Jeremias," Mt 16:14; "Jeremy," Mt 2:17; Mt 27:9; but in this last passage it probably occurs only by error of copyists; see Zec 11:12-13), the name of eight or nine men.
1. The fifth in rank of the Gadite braves who joined David's troop in the wilderness (1Ch 12:10). B.C. 1061.
2. The tenth of the same band of adventurers (1Ch 12:13). B.C. 1061.
3. One of the Benjamite bowmen and slingers who repaired to David while at Ziklag (1Ch 12:4). B.C. 1053.
4. A chief of the tribe of Manasseh east, apparently about the time of the deportation by the Assyrians (1Ch 5:24). B.C. 782.
5. A native of Libnah, the father of Hamutal, wife of Josiah, and mother of Jehoahaz and Zedekiah (2 Kings 23; 31; 24:18). B.C. ante 632.
6. Son of Habaziniah, and father of Jaazaniah, which last was one of the Rechabites whom the prophet tested with the offer of wine (Jer 35:3). B.C. ante 606.
7. The second of the "greater prophets" of the O.T., a son of Hilkiah, a priest of Anathoth, in the tribe of Benjamin (Jer 1:1; comp. 32:6). The following brief account of the prophet's career, which is fully detailed in his own book, is chiefly from Kitto's Cyclopoedia.
I. Relatives of Jeremiah. — Many (among ancient writers, Clement. Alex., Jerome; among moderns, Eichhorn, Calovius, Maldonatus, Von Bohlen, etc.) have supposed that his father was the high priest of the same name (2Ki 22:8), who found the book of the law in the eighteenth year of Josiah (Umbreit, Praktischer Commentar über den Jeremia, p. 10). This, however, seems improbable on several grounds (see Carpzov, Introd. 3, 130; also Keil, Ewald, etc.): first, there is nothing in the writings of Jeremiah to lead us to think that his father was more than an ordinary priest ("Hilkiah [one] of the priests," Jer 1:1); again, the name Hilkiah was common among the Jews (see 2Ki 18:13; 1Ch 6:45; 1Ch 26:11; Ne 8:4; Jer 29:3); and, lastly, his residence at Anathoth is evidence that he belonged to the line of Abiathar (1Ki 2:26-35), who was deposed from the high priest's office by Solomon: after which time the office appears to have remained in the line of Zadok.
II. History. — Jeremiah was very young when the word of the Lord first came to him (Jer 1:6). This event took place in the thirteenth year of Josiah (B.C. 628), while the youthful prophet still lived at Anathoth. It would seem that he remained in his native city several years; but at length, in order to escape the persecution of his fellow townsmen (Jer 11:21), and even of his own family (Jer 12:6), as well as to have a wider field for his exertions, he left Anathoth and took up his residence at Jerusalem. The finding of the book of the Law, five years after the commencement of his predictions, must have produced a powerful influence on the mind of Jeremiah, and king Josiah no doubt found him an important ally in carrying into effect the reformation of religious worship (2Ki 23:1-25), B.C. 623. During the reign of this monarch, we may readily believe that Jeremiah would be in no way molested in his work; and that from the time of his quitting Anathoth to the eighteenth year of his ministry, he probably uttered his warnings without interruption, though with little success (see Jeremiah 11). Indeed, the reformation itself was nothing more than the forcible repression of idolatrous and heathen rites, and the reestablishment of the external service of God, by the command of the king. No sooner, therefore, was the influence of the court on behalf of the true religion withdrawn, than it was evident that no real improvement had taken place in the minds of the people. Jeremiah, who hitherto was at least protected by the influence of the pious king Josiah, soon became the object of attack, as he must doubtless have long been the object of dislike to those whose interests were identified with the corruptions of religion. The death of this prince was bewailed by the prophet as the precursor of the divine judgments for the national sins (2Ch 35:25). B.C. 609. SEE LAMENTATIONS.
We hear nothing of the prophet during the three months which constituted the short reign of Jehoahaz; but "in the beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim" (B.C. 607) the prophet was interrupted in his ministry by "the priests and the prophets," who, with the populace, brought him before the civil authorities, urging that capital punishment should be inflicted on him for his threatenings of evil on the city unless the people amended their ways (Jeremiah 26). The princes seem to have been in some degree aware of the results which the general corruption was bringing on the state, and if they did not themselves yield to the exhortations of the prophet, they acknowledged that he spoke in the name of the Lord, and were quite averse from so openly renouncing his authority as to put his messenger to death. It appears, however, that it was rather owing to the personal influence of one or two, especially Ahikam, than to any general feeling favorable to Jeremiah, that his life was preserved; and it would seem that he was then either placed under restraint, or else was in so much danger from the animosity of his adversaries as to make it prudent for him not to appear in public. In the fourth year of Jehoiakim (B.C. 605) he was commanded to write the predictions which had been given through him, and to read them to the people. From the cause, probably, which we have intimated above, he was, as he says, "shut up," and could not himself go into the house of the Lord (Jer 36:5). He therefore deputed Baruch to write the predictions after him, and to read them publicly on the fast day. These threatenings being thus anew made public, Baruch was summoned before the princes to give an account of the manner in which the roll containing them had come into his possession. The princes, who, without strength of principle to oppose the wickedness of the king, had sufficient respect for religion, as well as sagacity enough to discern the importance of listening to the voice of God's prophet, advised both Baruch and Jeremiah to conceal themselves, while they endeavored to influence the mind of the king by reading the roll to him. The result showed that their precautions were not needless. In his bold self will and reckless daring the monarch refused to listen to any advice, even though coming with the professed sanction of the Most High. Having read three or four leaves, "he cut the roll with the penknife and cast it into the fire that was on the hearth, until all the roll was consumed," and gave immediate orders for the apprehension of Jeremiah and Baruch, who, however, were both preserved from the vindictive monarch. At the command of God the prophet procured another roll, in which he wrote all that was in the roll destroyed by the king, "and added besides unto them many like words" (Jer 36:32). SEE BARUCH.
Near the close of the reign of Jehoiakim (B.C. 599), and during the short reign of his successor Jehoiachin or Jeconiah (B.C. 598), we find him still uttering his voice of warning (see Jer 13:18; comp. 2Ki 24:12, and Jer 22:24-30), though without effect; and, after witnessing the downfall of the monarchs which he had himself predicted, he sent a letter of condolence and hope to those who shared the captivity of the royal family (Jeremiah 29-31). It was not till the latter part of the reign of Zedekiah that he was put in confinement, as we find that "they had not put him into prison" when the army of Nebuchadnezzar commenced the siege of Jerusalem (Jer 37:4-5) (B.C. 589). On the investment of the city, the prophet had sent a message to the king declaring what would be the fatal issue, but this had so little effect that the slaves who had been liberated were again reduced to bondage by their fellow citizens (Jeremiah 34). Jeremiah himself was incarcerated in the court of the prison adjoining the palace, where he predicted the certain return from the impending captivity (Jer 32:33). The Chaldaeans drew off their army for a time on the report of help coming from Egypt to the besieged city, and now, feeling the danger to be imminent, and yet a ray of hope brightening their prospects, the king entreated Jeremiah to pray to the Lord for them. The hopes of the king were not responded to in the message which Jeremiah received from God. He was assured that the Egyptian army would return to their own land, that the Chaldaeans would come again, and that they would take the city and burn it with fire (Jer 37:7-8). The princes, apparently irritated by a message so contrary to their wishes, made the departure of Jeremiah from the city (for he appears to have been at this time released from confinement), during the short respite, the pretext for accusing him of deserting to the Chaldaeans, and he was forthwith cast into prison, where he might have perished but for the humanity of one of the royal eunuchs (Jer 37:12-38:13). The king seems to have been throughout inclined to favor the prophet, and sought to know from him the word of the Lord; but he was wholly under the influence of the princes, and dared not communicate with him except in secret (Jer 38:14-28), much less could he follow advice so obnoxious to their views as that which the prophet gave. Jeremiah, therefore, more from the hostility of the princes than the inclination of the king, was still in confinement when the city was taken, B.C. 588. Nebuchadnezzar formed a more just estimate of his character and of the value of his counsels and gave a special charge to his captain, Nebuzar- adan, not only to provide for him, but to follow his advice (Jer 39:12). He was accordingly taken from the prison and allowed free choice either to go to Babylon, where doubtless he would have been held in honor in the royal court, or to remain with his own people (B.C. 587). With characteristic patriotism he went to Mizpah with Gedaliah, whom the Babylonian monarch had appointed governor of Judea, and, after his murder, sought to persuade Johanan, who was then the recognized leader of the people, to remain in the land, assuring him and the people, by a message from God in answer to their inquiries, that, if they did so, the Lord would build them up, but if they went to Egypt, the evils which they sought to escape should come upon them there (Jeremiah 42). The people refused to attend to the divine message, and, under the command of Johanan, went into Egypt. taking Jeremiah and Baruch along with them (Jer 43:6). In Egypt the prophet still sought to turn the people to the Lord, from whom they had so long and so deeply revolted (Jeremiah 44), but his writings give us no subsequent information respecting his personal history. Ancient traditions assert that he spent the remainder of his life in Egypt. According to the pseudo-Epiphanius, he was stoned by the people at Taphnae (ἐν Τάφναις), the same as Tahpanhes, where the Jews were settled (De Vitis Prophet. 2, 239, quoted by Fabricius, Codex Pseudepigraphus V.T. 1, 1110). It is said that his bones were removed by Alexander the Great to Alexandria (Carpzov, Introd. pt. 3, p. 138, where other traditions respecting him may be found).