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One of the three Major Prophets. He lived during the seventh and sixth centuries before Christ and witnessed the capture and destruction of Jerusalem. He survived six kings of Judaea, Amon, Josiah, Jehoahaz, Jehoiakim, Jehoiachin, and Zedekiah. It was a time of intrigue and turmoil, with Assyria, Babylon, and Egypt struggling for supremacy. Tiny Judaea was caught in the middle and tried desperately to maintain its independence. Jeremiah was a reforming prophet from childhood, according to his own testimony. When he protested to Yahweh, the latter replied, "Do not say 'I am a child.' Go now to those to whom I send you and say whatever I command you" (Jeremiah 1:7). He repeatedly conveyed the anger and resentment of Yahweh to his people, deploring their apostasy and the immorality of their lives and the insincerity and superficiality of their leaders. Even his own townspeople of Anathoth were embittered by Jeremiah's denunciations and threatened him with death (Jeremiah 11:21). When he delivered Yahweh's condemnation of the pagan practices in Topheth, Pashur, who was in charge of the Temple police, had him beaten and put in the stocks at the Gate of Benjamin (Jeremiah 20:2). After he dictated a scroll to his secretary, Baruch, deploring the offenses of King Jehoiakim, the latter destroyed the scroll, unmoved by Jeremiah's reproaches. The tenacious prophet promptly dictated the entire scroll over again, even adding to his accusation (Jeremiah 36:32). During the reign of King Zedekiah, Jeremiah, acting on Yahweh's orders, advised the king to surrender to the Chaldeans, assuring him that he would be well treated. Zedekiah ignored the advice. When the Chaldeans invaded Jerusalem, as Jeremiah had prophesied, the palace was destroyed, the walls leveled, and the king's family killed (Jeremiah 39). Now, in the last year of his life, Jeremiah continued to be the voice of Yahweh until he died c. 587 B.C., probably in Egypt.
All items in this dictionary are from Fr. John Hardon's Modern Catholic Dictionary, © Eternal Life. Used with permission.