Jeremiah: Timeline

By Admin | Jeremiah

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

Timeline of Jeremiah’s life

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.

Timeline of Jeremiah's life

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.[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]

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:

  • 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]

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, but God told him to buy some land in Anathoth from his cousin. 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]

 


Notes

[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 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

 

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 1-5 Cover

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