Timeline of the prophet Jeremiah’s life

By Mark Morgan | Jeremiah

Dec 12
Jeremiah timeline and family trees: Jeremiah in the cistern

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 the prophet Jeremiah’s life.

This sounds  easy, but so many things about Jeremiah we don’t know – 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 Hebrew word translated “youth” is used for a wide age range, from childhood to adolescence, but the task God gave Jeremiah fits more with what could be expected of a young man rather than a young boy. Anyway, God told him that being young didn’t matter because God would be with him.

Timeline of the prophet Jeremiah’s life

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 of the prophet Jeremiah’s life shown below.

We know when quite a few of the events of Jeremiah’s life fit into history.   However, we have to guess how old he was when God first spoke to him, and work from there.

Timeline of the prophet Jeremiah's life

I have not included any Bible references in the timeline of the prophet Jeremiah’s life above because there is too little room, but I will include many more details below (including references).

Jeremiah prophesied for 18 years during the reign of King Josiah.  God spoke to Jeremiah for the first time in Josiah’s 13th year, but we only know of one other occasion when God spoke to him during Josiah’s reign (Jeremiah 3:6) – and we’re not told when in the 18 years it occurred.

God appointed Jeremiah a “prophet to the nations”, so he may have spent a lot of time outside Judah.

In the reign of Jehoiakim

Quite a few events took place in the 4th year of Jehoiakim, the son of Josiah, after Jeremiah had been prophesying for 23 years.[1] 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:[2]

  • Jeremiah told the people that there would be 70 years of captivity.[3]
  • At Jeremiah’s dictation, Baruch wrote a scroll of all the prophecies made through Jeremiah up that time.[4]
  • God told Baruch not to seek fame, but also gave him a guarantee of safety despite the impending disaster.[5]
  • God spoke to Jeremiah about the defeat of Pharaoh Neco’s army by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon at the Battle of Carchemish.[6]

In the reign of Zedekiah

Zedekiah was the last king of Judah, and we’re told of several incidents in the 4th year of his reign.  This was just seven years before Nebuchadnezzar destroyed the kingdom of Judah and in that year:

  • Jeremiah sent a scroll to Babylon with Seraiah, Baruch’s brother, instructing him to read it out, then tie a stone to it and throw it into the Euphrates River.[7]
  • In the fifth month, a false prophet called Hananiah claimed that the captivity would end in two years, after which the power of Babylon would be broken.[8]
  • Some time later (but not very long), God told Jeremiah that the claim was false and that Hananiah would die for his rebellion.[9]
  • In the seventh month, Hananiah, the false prophet, died as God had said.[10]

The final siege and afterwards

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:

  • The siege began on the 10th day of the 10th month of Zedekiah’s 9th year.[11]
  • In the 10th year, during the siege, Jeremiah was locked up in the court of the guard.  While he was there, God told him to buy some land in Anathoth from his cousin, Hanamel. It seemed a strange thing to do, but Jeremiah obeyed.[12]
  • Also in the 10th year, Nebuchadnezzar took 832 Jews into captivity.[13]
  • Jerusalem’s walls were breached and the city was captured on the 9th day of the 4th month of the 11th year of Zedekiah.[14]
  • Zedekiah and his men tried to escape on the same day, but were caught by Nebuchadnezzar’s army.[15]
  • On the 7th-10th days of the 5th month, the temple, every important building and the walls of Jerusalem were all destroyed.[16]
  • Nebuchadnezzar appointed Gedaliah as governor over the people who were to be left in the land and then departed, taking many captives away with him.[17]
  • Ishmael, a member of the royal family, killed Gedaliah and all the Chaldean soldiers who had been left behind.[18]
  • After a skirmish with some of the former leaders of Judah’s army, Ishmael had to flee. The leaders then rejected God’s commands and took most of the surviving Jews to Egypt – including Jeremiah.[19]

Jeremiah in Egypt

We know of some events that happened to Jeremiah after he was taken to Egypt, although we don’t know how long he lived there. As a result, most of the following timeline is less certain than the one above.

Timeline of the prophet Jeremiah's life in Egypt (3000x2250)

Events in Egypt

The events in Jeremiah’s life that we know took place in Egypt are:

  • The refugees from Judah went to live in Tahpanhes.[20].
  • While in Tahpanhes, Jeremiah was told to bury large stones in the mortar of the pavement of Pharaoh’s palace there.  He was told to do this in the sight of the men of Judah and warn them that Nebuchadnezzar would come with fire and destruction and place his throne over the buried stones.[21]
  • Jeremiah was later instructed to speak to all the people of Judah who lived in Egypt who lived in Migdol, Tahpanhes, Memphis and in the land of Pathros.[22]

Note also that some events happen within 12 months of each other, and since we do not know Jeremiah’s birth date we cannot be sure what age he would be.  The timeline above has separated such events for presentation purposes.  The events treated in this way when Jeremiah was 57/58 years old

  • 3rd/4th deportation (and destruction of Jerusalem)
  • Jeremiah taken to Egypt by force


In the Bible, the large volume of historical detail presented is mostly incidental to the main purpose of presenting God to the world, but at least it is reliable.  Once we look outside the Bible, however, there are many uncertainties in ancient history.  Many accepted historical ‘facts’ were reported hundreds of years after the events by historians from geographically different locations.  Furthermore, when there are contradictions between historians (which are very common), distinguishing between fact and error is even harder.

This timeline is constructed from a combination of sources: first and foremost, the Bible, but writings from other historians have also been consulted.  Herodotus, Josephus and several unknown chroniclers who wrote on clay tablets which survived the rigours of time – some in better and some in worse condition.

See also

A few articles on Wikipedia may be of interest:

Some previous articles about Jeremiah in Egypt are available elsewhere on the Bible Tales website:


Terror on Every Side!

This article is one of a series of articles on Jeremiah published as back-up material for the Bible-based fiction series Terror on Every Side!
[ More information | Purchase ]

Terror on Every Side! Volumes 1-6 Cover

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1 Jeremiah 25:1-3
2 Jeremiah 25:1
3 Jeremiah 25:8-14
4 Jeremiah 36:1-4
5 Jeremiah 45:1-5
6 Jeremiah 46:1-12
7 Jeremiah 51:59-64
8 Jeremiah 28:1-11
9 Jeremiah 28:12-16
10 Jeremiah 28:17
11 2 Kings 25:1-2; Jeremiah 39:1; 52:4-5
12 Jeremiah 32:1, 6-15
13 Jeremiah 52:29 (see Jeremiah 32:1 for date synchronisation)
14 2 Kings 25:2-4; Jeremiah 39:2; 52:5-7
15 2 Kings 25:4-6; Jeremiah 39:4-5; 52:7-9
16 2 Kings 25:8-10; Jeremiah 39:8; 52:12-14
17 Jeremiah 40:1, 4-6; 39:7
18 2 Kings 25:25; Jeremiah 41:1-3
19 Jeremiah 41:11-43:7
20 Jeremiah 43:7
21 Jeremiah 43:8-13
22 Jeremiah 44:1-30