One of the most popular posts on the Bible Tales website is “Joseph: Timeline and family tree”, which presents a timeline of Joseph’s life, prepared as part of my research for the novel “Joseph, Rachel’s son”. Since it has been so popular, I decided to create a similar timeline of Jeremiah’s life.
This sounds like an easy thing to do, but there are so many things that are not known about Jeremiah – at least, not exactly.
For starters, we know that he began to prophesy in the 13th year of King Josiah’s reign, but we don’t know what age he was then. In Jeremiah 1:6, he complains that he doesn’t know how to speak because he is only a youth. The word translated “youth” is used for a wide age range, from childhood to adolescence, but the task God gave him seems to fit better with what could be expected of a young man rather than a young boy. Anyway, God tells him that that doesn’t matter because he would be with him.
The series “Terror on Every Side!” assumes that he was 17 years old when this happened. I also use this assumption as the basis for the timeline shown below.
We know when quite a few of the events of Jeremiah’s life fit into history, but I have had to use that first assumption to guess what age he was when God first spoke to him, and extrapolate from there.
I have not included any Bible references in the timeline above because there is too little room, but I will include many more details below (including references).
Jeremiah prophesied for 18 years in the reign of King Josiah, yet after the first message from God in the 13th year, we know of only one other occasion when God spoke to Jeremiah during that time (Jeremiah 3:6) and we are not told when in that 18 years it occurred.
Jeremiah may well have spent much of his time outside Judah anyway, since he was appointed a “prophet to the nations”.
Quite a few events took place in the 4th year of Jehoiakim, the son of Josiah, after Jeremiah had been prophesying for 23 years. If Jeremiah started prophesying when he was 17, he would have been 39 or 40 years old at that time.
The following events happened in that year, which was also the first year of Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon:
The next year in which a few events are anchored is the 4th year of Zedekiah, the last king of Judah – just seven years before the destruction of the kingdom of Judah and the city of Jerusalem. In that year:
Towards the end of the reign of Zedekiah, the king and his men forced Jeremiah to stay in Jerusalem. While he was there, King Nebuchadnezzar besieged Jerusalem. We know of the following events during that siege and shortly afterwards:
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