The book of Jeremiah includes dates which show us that the text is not in chronological order, as is discussed in the article “Why is Jeremiah out of order?”. While writing the series “Terror on Every Side!” I found it necessary to decide what the chronological order was, as far as possible. Although we can’t have much confidence in the conclusions for some parts, others we can be very sure of. The table below shows a possible chronological order for the book. In a while I hope to make the Book of Jeremiah available in this order – using the text of the World English Bible (or see the article on Wikipedia) which is available in the public domain.
Text in bold describes passages where the time of the events recorded is specified.
|Josiah’s 13th year||Jer 1:1, 25:3||Jeremiah started prophesying as a young man (Josiah was 21).|
|Josiah’s 13th year||Jer 1:4-10||The word of the Lord came to Jeremiah followed by conversation. God touched his mouth.|
|Josiah’s 13th year||Jer 1:11-12||The word of the Lord came to Jeremiah. He saw an almond rod. Confirmation that what he saw was right.|
|Josiah’s 13th year||Jer 1:13-19||The word of the Lord came to Jeremiah a second time. He saw a pot. Explanation of the meaning.|
|Josiah’s 13th year||Jer 2:1-3:5||The word of the Lord came to Jeremiah. “Just now called to me” may refer to Josiah’s reformation, started in the 12th year of his reign, or maybe some earlier reformation.|
|In the days of Josiah
Assume 13th year?
|Jer 3:6-10||The Lord said to Jeremiah.
Israel apostate and sent away for defiling the land.
|Josiah’s 13th year?||Jer 3:11-4:2||The Lord said to me. Message to Israel (the north) with a brief closing message to Judah. Delivered in cities of Israel? Closing message to Judah. May have been delivered when Josiah was travelling through Israel cleansing the land after his 12th year and before his 18th year.|
|Josiah’s 16th year||Jer 4:3-4||The Lord says to Judah and Jerusalem. Change or else.|
|Josiah’s 18th year?||Jer 7:1-8:3||The Lord said to Jeremiah.
Amend ways and Judah can stay. Do not pray for this people – I will not listen. They will not listen to Jeremiah’s message, either. Topheth. Bones. Scribes have practiced deceit. Punishment.
Allows for repentance and Judah staying in the land (Jer 7:5-7).
|Josiah’s 18th year?||Jer 8:4-9:26||You shall say to them. Probably not a separate section from Jer 7:1-8:3. Perpetual apostasy. Discussion with God.|
|Josiah’s 18th year during celebrations of Passover or soon after?||Jer 16:1-13;
|The word of the Lord came to me. Don’t marry. Don’t join in mourning, or rejoicing with them. They will ask: What have we done wrong? God will send them to other lands and be famous for recalling them from those lands. Their sin is written on their hearts.|
|Josiah’s 18th-20th year – up to 2 years after book of law found?||Jer 11:1-17||The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord to be delivered in the cities of Judah (Jer 11:6). Hear the words of the covenant (Jer 11:2, 6). Judah must keep the covenant made with God.
1 Kings 23 and 2 Chronicles 35 speak of the “Book of the Covenant”
Jer 11:9-10 “A plot” “they have turned back to the iniquities of their fathers”.
|Josiah’s 21st year?||Jer 17:5-18||Thus says the Lord: Cursed is he who trusts in man. Heart is deceitful. Conversation with God which suggests current persecution of Jeremiah. Jeremiah asks God to bring the day of evil on them.|
|Somewhere between 18th and 28th years of Josiah, with a preference for later times?||Jer 17:19-27||Thus said the Lord: Go and stand in all the gates of Jerusalem and give them a message about keeping the Sabbath. Repentance is still possible (Jer 17:24-26), else destruction. Does not seem to follow on directly from Jer 17:5-18, but it may do so. Mentions “kings”, so maybe subsequent kings were there to listen also. That would make a later date more likely.|
|Before Pharaoh struck Gaza (i.e. from south): guess to be in Josiah’s 27th year||Jer 47:1-7||The word of the Lord came to Jeremiah. Destruction coming from north to punish Philistines. (NB: “north”, so this did not refer to Pharaoh’s destruction of Gaza). Pharaoh did not leave Egypt again after return from Carchemish (2 Kings 24:7-8).|
|Before 4th year of Jehoiakim (Jeremiah 25:9, 13)||Jer 48:1-47||The word of the Lord of hosts. Punishment coming to Moab, but God will restore them.|
|Before 4th year of Jehoiakim (Jeremiah 25:9, 13)||Jer 49:1-6||So says the Lord. Punishment to Ammonites, but God will restore them.|
|Before 4th year of Jehoiakim (Jeremiah 25:9, 13)||Jer 49:7-22||So says the Lord of hosts. Permanent destruction of Edom.|
|Before 4th year of Jehoiakim (Jeremiah 25:9, 13)||Jer 49:23-27||Destruction of Damascus/Syria.|
|Before 4th year of Jehoiakim (Jeremiah 25:9, 13)||Jer 49:28-33||Concerning Kedar and Hazor that Nebuchadnezzar destroyed (KJV “shall smite” ie. future). This comment was probably added afterwards because later it says that Nebuchadnezzar has made a plan (future) to destroy. So says the Lord about the destruction of kingdoms of Kedar and Hazor. Jer 49:29 “Terror on every side!” Could be at the same time as others around it or any time up to when the destruction occurred. We don’t know when that was.|
|Before 4th year of Jehoiakim (Jeremiah 25:9, 13)||Jer 49:34-39||The word of the Lord to Jeremiah. Punishment of Elam, but God will restore.|
|Jehoiakim (at start of reign)||Jer 22:1-12||So says the Lord. Go to the king’s house and speak to him. Do justice and righteousness and forgiveness is still possible (Jer 22:3-4). (King was a son of Josiah (Jer 22:15), and Jehoiakim is referred to (Jer 22:18).) Shallum (Jehoahaz) had been taken away and would die in captivity.|
|Jehoiakim’s 1st year?||Jer 11:18-23||No introduction. Plot to kill Jeremiah.|
|Jehoiakim’s 1st year?||Jer 26:20-23||Reporting of earlier killing by Jehoiakim of the prophet Uriah son of Shemaiah from Kiriath-jearim after he fled to Egypt and was brought back in the “beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim”.|
|Jehoiakim’s 1st year||Jer 18:1-23||The word of the Lord to Jeremiah. Go to potter’s house and watch. Potter reshaped pot. God can do the same. Speak to people of Judah and Jerusalem. Starts with option of reversing promised punishment, which would be appropriate for the start of Jehoiakim’s reign. Plot against Jeremiah followed. (May just follow on from chapter 17. See also Ezekiel 17/18 with very similar wording – but that would be in the time of Zedekiah.)|
|Beginning of reign of Jehoiakim||Jer 26:1-24||The word of the Lord given to Jeremiah. Jeremiah gave God’s message in the temple. Priests, prophets and people tried to have him killed, but he did not back down and was released.|
|Jehoiakim’s 3rd year when they knew Babylonians were coming?||Jer 5:1-6:30||No introduction.
Jeremiah having conversation with God? Possibly chapter 6 is a separate section at much the same time, but if so, it also has no introduction. Jer 6:25 “terror is on every side”
(Probably not Jehoahaz’ time because Jeremiah 1:3 does not mention God speaking to Jeremiah in Jehoahaz’ reign at all.)
|Jehoiakim’s 3rd year (before invasion by Nebuchadnezzar)||Jer 19:1-20:18||So says the Lord. Buy a potter’s earthen jar. Get elders. Break jar before them. God will break the city and its people in the same way. Jeremiah followed instructions, then went to the court of the house of the Lord and said God would bring evil on the city. Pashhur son of Immer, chief officer in temple, struck Jeremiah and put him in the stocks. Freed him the next day. Jeremiah prophesies terror on every side for him. Jeremiah complains to God. Jer 20:3, 10 “Terror [is] on every side!”|
|Beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim (majority of Hebrew manuscripts): assume 3rd year of Jehoiakim||Jer 27:1-11||The word of the Lord came to Jeremiah. Make yoke and wear it. Messages for foreign kings who had come for a meeting (with Zedekiah in Hebrew text) about the threat of Nebuchadnezzar. NB: LXX does not include Jer 27:1 and most Hebrew manuscripts say “Jehoiakim” although some say “Zedekiah”. LXX omits Zedekiah in Jer 27:3. Jer 27:12 may just refer to the message being repeated to Zedekiah.|
|Jehoiakim’s 4th year||Jer 25:1-3; 4-38||The word of the Lord to Jeremiah warning of 70 years’ banishment followed by the punishment of Babylon. God’s cup of wrath. 23 years of prophecies have been ignored. All nations around will be judged. Cup of wrath for Egypt, Uz, Philistines, Edom, Moab, Ammon, Tyre, Sidon, etc., then Babylon.|
|Jehoiakim’s 4th year||Jer 46:1-12||The word of the Lord came to Jeremiah. Message to Pharaoh Neco after battle of Carchemish. Jer 46:5 “terror on every side!”|
|Jehoiakim’s 4th year||Jer 36:1-8||Jeremiah dictated all the words God had said and Baruch wrote them on a scroll.|
|Jehoiakim’s 4th year||Jer 45:1-5||After/while Baruch wrote all of Jeremiah’s words from God on a scroll. Baruch told he would escape the destruction of Judah with his life.|
|Jehoiakim’s 4th year just before invasion by Nebuchadnezzar?||Jer 4:5-31||Declare in Judah. May be linked with Jer 4:3-4.
Invaders have set off and are coming. Vision of destruction.
Since invaders have set off (assuming this to be literal), this must have been near the battle of Carchemish, as Neco went to help Assyria against Babylon in 605BC.
|Jehoiakim: after 3rd/4th year (i.e. 1st year of Nebuchadnezzar)||Jer 35:1-19||The word of the Lord came to Jeremiah. Rechabites refuse to drink wine. Only staying in Jerusalem because of the threat of Nebuchadnezzar (which came in 3rd/4th year of Jehoiakim (Daniel 1:1)).|
|Jehoiakim’s 3rd/4th year?||Jer 14:1-22||The word of the Lord to Jeremiah about the drought. Assume a drought and famine when or immediately after Nebuchadnezzar invaded, since Jehoiakim resisted despite Jeremiah’s instructions (see Jer 27:8).
(Jer 14:17 virgin daughter broken with a great blow. Jer 14:18 go out into the field and see those pierced by the sword.)
|Jehoiakim’s 5th year, 9th month||Jer 36:9-26||All the people of Jerusalem and all the people who came in from the cities of Judah proclaimed a fast before the Lord. Baruch read Jeremiah’s scroll first to the people, then to some rulers who were concerned by its contents, and then to the king who cut it up and burned it.|
|Jehoiakim’s 5th year, 9th month||Jer 36:27-32||The Lord told Jeremiah to write the scroll again and give a message to Jehoiakim that he would have no one to continue to reign in Jerusalem and that his corpse would be thrown out. The scroll was written again and much more added to it.|
|Jehoiakim’s 9th year?||Jer 13:1-5||Thus says the Lord to me.
Hide a loincloth near Euphrates.
|Jehoiakim (near end of reign)||Jer 22:13-23||No introduction.
Jehoiakim will have the burial of a donkey, dragged out of the gates of Jerusalem and thrown out.
|Jehoiachin?||Jer 13:6-27||The Lord said to me.
Collects ruined loincloth.
Say to king and queen mother (Jer 13:18) (see Jer 22:26 and Jer 29:2).
|Jehoiachin||Jer 22:24-30||As the Lord lives, Coniah will be given into the hands of those seeking his life: Nebuchadnezzar. Childless: will not prosper, none of his seed will sit on throne of David and rule any more in Judah.|
|Jehoiachin?||Jer 23:1-40||No introduction, so it probably follows on from Jer 22:30. Regathering, good shepherd, David. Prophets, priests evil. God will forsake them.|
|Jehoiachin’s 3rd month||Jer 52:28||3,023 Jews into captivity (probably including Ezekiel).
Note that 2 Kings 24:14-16 refers to 10,000. The 3,023 may have been men taken from outside the city and sent to Babylon separately.
|Zedekiah’s 1st year||Jer 52:1-3||21 when he became king.|
|Zedekiah: start of reign||Jer 24:1-10||The Lord made me see good figs (those in captivity); bad figs (Zedekiah and those remaining).|
|After Jeconiah taken away||Jer 29:1-32||Jeremiah sent a letter (with Gemariah and Elasah the son of Shaphan) to the exiles saying there would be 70 years of exile, then people would be brought back. Includes “Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel.” Messages to false prophets and bad priest/prophet. Mentions “vile figs” (Jer 29:17) but uses a different word from “bad figs” in Jer 24:8.|
|Continuing after Jeconiah was taken away?||Jer 30:1-31:40||The word of the Lord came to Jeremiah. Write all the words I have spoken to you in a book. God will punish and revive. Regather. New covenant. City will be built. Refers to yoke being broken.|
|Zedekiah’s 4th year||Jer 51:59-64||The word which Jeremiah commanded Seraiah the son of Neriah the son of Maaseiah when he went with Zedekiah to Babylon. Jeremiah sends letter/scroll to Babylon.|
|Zedekiah’s 4th year?||Jer 52:3||Zedekiah rebelled against Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon.|
|Beginning of reign of Zedekiah – 4th year before 5th month||Jer 27:12-22||Same year as Jer 28:12. Spoke same message (as Jer 27:1-11) to Zedekiah. Submit to king of Babylon’s yoke. Ignore false prophets. Vessels of the temple will go to Babylon until God calls for them.|
|Zedekiah’s 4th year, 5th month (spoken of as the beginning of the reign of Zedekiah – same year as 27:12)||Jer 28:1-16||False prophet Hananiah prophesied in the name of the Lord that Babylon would be broken in 2 years. God said he would die that year.|
|Zedekiah’s 4th year, 7th month||Jer 28:17||False prophet Hananiah dies in 7th month.|
|Zedekiah’s 6th year, 6th month or later||Jer 12:1-17||No introduction. Starts with the words of Jeremiah.
Jer 12:6 “even your brothers and the house of your father” More than one brother and father dead? Assume Hilkiah died in 20th year of Josiah (620BC).
I have forsaken my house. Ezekiel 8-11 (Zedekiah, 6th year, 6th month).
The whole land is a desolation (Jer 12:11).
Neighbours attacking (Jer 12:14).
|Zedekiah’s 8th/9th year?||Jer 34:1-10||The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord. Nebuchadnezzar attacking. Rich people make a covenant to free Hebrew slaves.|
|Zedekiah’s 8th or early 9th year: some time before 10th month of 9th year||Jer 37:1-16||The word of the Lord told Jeremiah to tell Zedekiah that Pharaoh’s army which had come to help would return to Egypt. Jeremiah then tried to leave Jerusalem to receive inheritance. Arrested, beaten, imprisoned.|
|Zedekiah’s 9th year?||Jer 34:11-22||The word of the Lord came to Jeremiah. People had gone back on their covenant and God condemns them for this.|
|Zedekiah 9th year, 10th month
|Nebuchadnezzar returns and lays siege to Jerusalem.|
|Zedekiah 9th year, 10th month
|Jer 52:4||Nebuchadnezzar lays siege to Jerusalem.|
|Zedekiah’s 9th or 10th year||Jer 37:17-21||Zedekiah sends for Jeremiah and asks if there is any message from the Lord. Jeremiah gives him God’s message that he will be handed over to the king of Babylon. Jeremiah pleads not to be sent back to the house of Jonathan and King Zedekiah commits him to the court of the guard. Fed a loaf of bread daily until all of the bread in the city was gone.|
|Zedekiah’s 9th or 10th year||Jer 21:1-14||The word of the Lord to Jeremiah when Pashhur son of Malchiah (Jer 38:1) and Zephaniah the priest were sent to Jeremiah by Zedekiah to ask about the results of Nebuchadnezzar’s siege of Jerusalem. God’s answer is that he is against them and that punishment and death are coming.|
|Zedekiah’s 10th year
(Nebuchadnezzar’s 18th year)
|Jer 32:1-44||The word of the Lord that came to Jeremiah. Nebuchadnezzar besieging Jerusalem. Jeremiah in the court of the guard (Jer 32:2). Jeremiah bought land in Anathoth from Hanamel, son of Shallum. He then asks God to explain why. Final answer is that buying and selling will again take place.|
|Zedekiah’s 10th year
(Nebuchadnezzar’s 18th year)
|Jer 52:29||832 more Jews taken into captivity.|
|Zedekiah’s 10th year?||Jer 10:1-25||Hear the word of the Lord.
Idols are useless.
You who live under siege (Jer 10:17).
|Zedekiah’s 10th/11th year||Jer 33:1-26||The word of the Lord came to Jeremiah a second time while he was still shut up in the court of the guard (Jer 33:1).|
|Zedekiah’s 11th year?||Jer 38:1-28||Jeremiah thrown into the mire by Shephatiah the son of Mattan, Gedaliah the son of Pashhur, Jucal the son of Shelemiah (see Jehucal in Jer 37:3) and Pashhur the son of Malchijah (Jer 21:1). Taken out of the mire by Ebed-melech. Speaks to Zedekiah. No more bread in the city (Jer 38:9). Stayed in court of the guard until the city was taken (Jer 38:28).|
|Zedekiah’s 11th year||Jer 39:15-18||The word of the Lord came to Jeremiah in court of the guard. Message to Ebed-melech.|
|Zedekiah’s 11th year, 4th month,
|Jer 39:2-14||Zedekiah captured, Jerusalem defeated. Jeremiah taken out of the court of the guard.|
|Zedekiah’s 11th year, 4th month,
|Jer 52:5-11||Jerusalem defeated, Zedekiah captured and his sons were killed before he was blinded and taken to Babylon.|
|After end of Zedekiah’s reign||Jer 39:14||Jeremiah handed over to Gedaliah. Free to go in and out.|
|Zedekiah’s 11th year, 5th month,
|Jer 52:12-27||Temple and every important building in Jerusalem destroyed. Temple equipment, furnishing and decorations taken away. All rulers, chief priests (Seraiah and Zephaniah), other leaders killed (as prophesied).|
|After end of Zedekiah’s reign||Jer 40:1-5||Jeremiah was taken in chains to Ramah among the exiles being taken to Babylon, but was then freed by Nebuzaradan, given food and a reward, and allowed to choose where he wanted to go.|
|After end of Zedekiah’s reign||Jer 40:1||The word of the Lord came to Jeremiah (probably the content of Jeremiah 15, since there is no message in Jeremiah 40:1-5).|
|After capture of Jerusalem (see 40:5-6) or maybe just before?||Jer 15:1-21||The Lord said to me.
Where shall we go? To death, sword, famine, captivity.
Jer 15:7 God had sifted with a fork in the gates of land (Riblah)
Jer 15:8 widows numerous
Jer 15:11 Jeremiah freed for good (by Babylonians)
Jer 15:14 fire is kindled (“is” like Jer 17:4 not “will be” as in Jer 17:27; 21:14; 43:12; 49:27; 50:32)
Jer 15:19-20 Jeremiah to be restored as a prophet
|After end of Zedekiah’s reign||Jer 40:6-16||Gedaliah sets up government in Mizpah. Army leaders warn Gedaliah about Ishmael the son of Nethaniah. He does not believe them.|
|Zedekiah’s 11th year, 7th month||Jer 41:1-18||Gedaliah and Chaldean soldiers and various others killed. Ishmael runs to Ammonites. People want to go to Egypt for fear of the Babylonians, but wait at the inn of Chimham (Jer 41:17) near Bethlehem.|
|After destruction of Jerusalem||Jer 50:1-51:58||The word that the Lord spoke. Destruction to Babylon. Speaks of the destruction of Judah as having happened already (Jer 50:7, 11).|
|After 7th month, Take it as 1st month of next year because it suits me that way for Jeremiah’s birthday.||Jer 42:1-43:13||Leaders ask for direction from God, but then ignore it. They go to Egypt and take Jeremiah and others with them.|
|After end of Zedekiah’s reign||Jer 44:1-30||The word of the Lord that came to Jeremiah. Messages to the Israelites in Egypt.|
|After end of Zedekiah’s reign||Jer 46:13-26||The word of the Lord came to Jeremiah. Nebuchadnezzar will come to Egypt. Then Egypt will be inhabited as in the past.|
|After end of Zedekiah’s reign||Jer 46:27-28||Judah/Israel will return but not unpunished.|
|Nebuchadnezzar’s 23rd year
(5 years after Jerusalem destroyed)
|Jer 52:30||745 more Jews taken into captivity.|
|Jehoiachin’s exile, 37th year
(26 years after Jerusalem destroyed)
|Jer 52:31-34||Jehoiachin freed from prison.|
|18 June 2020||First published.|
|19 June 2020||Minor corrections.|
|21 June 2020||A few changes to make the text more readable.|
|22 June 2020||More minor corrections and readability changes.|
|23 June 2020||A few corrections to the order of events around the fall of Jerusalem and more readability changes.|
|24 June 2020||Changed Jer 52:1 to Jer 52:1-3 at the start of Zedekiah’s reign and added a new entry for the last part of Jer 52:3 in the 4th year of his reign. Change 12:1-15 to 12:1-17.|
|2 July 2020||Added Jer 37:17-21 in the 9th or 10th year of Zedekiah’s reign.|
The Chronology of Jeremiah: http://nabataea.net/jeremiah.html
The Structure of the Book of Jeremiah: https://transformedblog.westernseminary.edu/2013/10/08/the-structure-of-the-book-of-jeremiah/
The Book of Jeremiah: https://www.biblicaltraining.org/library/book-jeremiah
The Marvellous Book of Jeremiah: https://www.christiancourier.com/articles/747-marvelous-book-of-jeremiah-the
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