Jeremiah

The greater part of human actions have their origin
not in logical reasoning but in sentiment.
-Vilfredo Pareto

Jeremiah follows Isaiah both chronologically and in the Bible. This is the second longest book in the Bible, after Psalms. The book is hard to follow because it lacks a chronological order.

We are most interested in his life and times and how his prophecies come into play. Jeremiah was an angry man. To many of his peers he was insufferable at every turn; he hammered his peers with words like: evil, sword, death, destruction, pestilence, famine and suffering. Because he believed that Judah deserved to be punished, his calls for support of the king of Babylon had others seeing him as a traitor. Jeremiah was flat wrong in explaining Judah's demise in terms of Yahweh. There are much better realistic explanations.  

Jeremiah's started his ministry on the thirteenth year of King Josiah of Judah, about 626 BCE. He spans over forty years through Josiah, Shallum, Jehoiakim, Jehoiachin, Jeconiah, Coniah and the last king Zedekiah, to shortly after the final fall of Jerusalem in 586 BCE when he went to Egypt to live out his remaining years.

1The words of Jeremiah, the son of Hilkiah, of the priests who were in Anathoth in the land of Benjamin,
2to whom the word of the LORD came in the days of Josiah the son of Amon, king of Judah, in the thirteenth year of his reign.
3It came also in the days of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah, and until the end of the eleventh year of Zedekiah, the son of Josiah, king of Judah, until the captivity of Jerusalem in the fifth month. (Jer. 1:1-3)

As Isaiah's ministry coincided with the rise of the Assyrians and the fall of Israel, Jeremiah's coincided with the fall of the Assyrians and the rise of the Chaldean Empire to the north. The words Chaldean and Babylonian are used interchangeably.

14Then the LORD said to me, "Out of the north evil shall break forth upon all the inhabitants of the land. (Jer. 1:14)

His calling

He claimed to have been appointed when he was in his mother's womb. He was young when he started his ministry. His claim to not know how to speak turned out to be an understatement.

5"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations."
6Then I said, "Ah, Lord GOD! Behold, I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth." (Jer. 1:5-6)

No need to worry. Yahweh will put words in his mouth.

9Then the LORD put forth his hand and touched my mouth; and the LORD said to me, "Behold, I have put my words in your mouth.
10
See, I have set you this day over nations and over kingdoms, to pluck up and to break down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant." (Jer. 1:9-10)

At first he found joy when Yahweh spoke to him; but later he found his isolation no cause to rejoice.

16Thy words were found, and I ate them, and thy words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart; for I am called by thy name, O LORD, God of hosts.
17
I did not sit in the company of merrymakers, nor did I rejoice; I sat alone, because thy hand was upon me, for thou hadst filled me with indignation. (Jer. 15:16-17)

He believed he talked for Yahweh, as his mouth.

19Therefore thus says the LORD: "If you return, I will restore you, and you shall stand before me. If you utter what is precious, and not what is worthless, you shall be as my mouth. They shall turn to you, but you shall not turn to them. (Jer. 15:19)

He claimed to speak for Yahweh when he warned the princes about amending their ways.

12Then Jeremiah spoke to all the princes and all the people, saying, "The LORD sent me to prophesy against this house and this city all the words you have heard.
13Now therefore amend your ways and your doings, and obey the voice of the LORD your God, and the LORD will repent of the evil which he has pronounced against you. (Jer. 26:12-13)

Yet he cursed his birth.

10Woe is me, my mother, that you bore me, a man of strife and contention to the whole land! I have not lent, nor have I borrowed, yet all of them curse me. (Jer. 15:10)

14Cursed be the day on which I was born! The day when my mother bore me, let it not be blessed!
15
Cursed be the man who brought the news to my father, "A son is born to you," making him very glad. (Jer. 20:14-15)

Character

Jeremiah vented his anger and frustration in the harshest possible terms, so much so that "jeremiad" became a name for a long lamentation of complaint. He had a compulsion to pound his subject with disastrous outcomes expressed in violent language, so much so that he was unpleasant to be around.

1. He knew he was making enemies who were willing to shut him up by force.

18Then they said, "Come, let us make plots against Jeremiah, for the law shall not perish from the priest, nor counsel from the wise, nor the word from the prophet. Come, let us smite him with the tongue, and let us not heed any of his words." (Jer. 18:18)

2. His reaction was to pray that Yahweh would take vengeance on his persecutors.

5O LORD, thou knowest; remember me and visit me, and take vengeance for me on my persecutors. In thy forbearance take me not away; know that for thy sake I bear reproach. (Jer. 15:5)

3. He writhes in pain for the walls of his heart beat wildly.

19My anguish, my anguish! I writhe in pain! Oh, the walls of my heart! My heart is beating wildly; I cannot keep silent; for I hear the sound of the trumpet, the alarm of war. (Jer. 4:19)

4. He is full of wrath of the lord and weary of holding it in.

11Therefore I am full of the wrath of the LORD; I am weary of holding it in. "Pour it out upon the children in the street, and upon the gatherings of young men, also; both husband and wife shall be taken, the old folk and the very aged. (Jer. 6:11)

5. Yahweh will feed the people to the birds and beasts.

33And the dead bodies of this people will be food for the birds of the air, and for the beasts of the earth; and none will frighten them away. (Jer. 7:33)

6. He wept day and night for the slain of the daughter of his people.

1O that my head were waters, and my eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people! (Jer. 9:1)

7. Yahweh will feed those who have forsaken his law with wormwood and give them poisonous water to drink.

13And the LORD says: "Because they have forsaken my law which I set before them, and have not obeyed my voice, or walked in accord with it,
14but have stubbornly followed their own hearts and have gone after the Baals, as their fathers taught them.
15Therefore thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Behold, I will feed this people with wormwood, and give them poisonous water to drink. (Jer. 9:13-15)

8. When Jeremiah followed Yahweh's instructions to wash a girdle and hide it under a rock, it was spoiled when he went to retrieve it.

1Thus says the LORD to me, "Go and buy a linen waistcloth, and put it on your loins, and do not dip it in water."
2So I bought a waistcloth according to the word of the LORD, and put it on my loins.
3And the word of the LORD came to me a second time,
4"Take the waistcloth which you have bought, which is upon your loins, and arise, go to the Euphrates, and hide it there in a cleft of the rock."
5So I went, and hid it by the Euphrates, as the LORD commanded me.
6And after many days the LORD said to me, "Arise, go to the Euphrates, and take from there the waistcloth which I commanded you to hide there."
7Then I went to the Euphrates, and dug, and I took the waistcloth from the place where I had hidden it. And behold, the waistcloth was spoiled; it was good for nothing. (Jer. 13:1-7)

The point of verses 1 to 7 was to demonstrate that following other gods was good for nothing.

10This evil people, who refuse to hear my words, who stubbornly follow their own heart and have gone after other gods to serve them and worship them, shall be like this waistcloth, which is good for nothing. (Jer. 13:10)

9. Whenever he speaks for Yahweh, he shouts "violence and destruction." It brings him reproach and derision all day long.

8For whenever I speak, I cry out, I shout, "Violence and destruction!" For the word of the LORD has become for me a reproach and derision all day long. (Jer. 20:8)

10. He wailed often.

8For this gird you with sackcloth, lament and wail; for the fierce anger of the LORD has not turned back from us." (Jer. 4:17)

10"Take up weeping and wailing for the mountains, and a lamentation for the pastures of the wilderness (Jer. 9:10)

. Men shall cry out, and every inhabitant of the land shall wail. (Jer. 47:2)

11. He had no wife or children.

1The word of the LORD came to me:
2"You shall not take a wife, nor shall you have sons or daughters in this place. (Jer. 16:1-2)

12. His family didn't like him.

6For even your brothers and the house of your father, even they have dealt treacherously with you; they are in full cry after you; believe them not, though they speak fair words to you." (Jer. 12:6)

13. He was disliked in his home town of Anathoth. They warned him not to prophecy or they would kill him. Not to be deterred, he told them they will die by the sword and their sons and daughters shall died by famine.

21Therefore thus says the LORD concerning the men of Anathoth, who seek your life, and say, "Do not prophesy in the name of the LORD, or you will die by our hand"-
22therefore thus says the LORD of hosts: "Behold, I will punish them; the young men shall die by the sword; their sons and their daughters shall die by famine;
23and none of them shall be left. For I will bring evil upon the men of Anathoth, the year of their punishment." (Jer. 11:21-23)

Historical Background

Josiah -626-609 bce

Josiah was a reform king who had followed the idolatrous reigns of Manasseh and his father Amon. (2 Kings 21:10-16 blames Manasseh for the fall of Jerusalem.) 2 Chronicles 34 tells us how in the eighth year of his reign, Josiah began purging Judah of anything idolatrous, including the priests.

Playing off of Israel's fall to the Assyrians, Jeremiah warned Jerusalem of what happened to Israel because of their apostasy.

2"Go and proclaim in the hearing of Jerusalem, Thus says the LORD, I remember the devotion of your youth, your love as a bride, how you followed me in the wilderness, in a land not sown.
3
Israel was holy to the LORD, the first fruits of his harvest. All who ate of it became guilty; evil came upon them, says the LORD."
8The priests did not say, 'Where is the LORD?' Those who handle the law did not know me; the rulers transgressed against me; the prophets prophesied by Baal, and went after things that do not profit. (Jer. 2:3, 8)

Faithless Israel is less guilty then false Judah. Return faithless Israel, a merciful Yahweh will not be angry.

11And the LORD said to me, "Faithless Israel has shown herself less guilty than false Judah.
12Go, and proclaim these words toward the north, and say, 'Return, faithless Israel, says the LORD. I will not look on you in anger, for I am merciful, says the LORD; (Jer. 3:11-12)

Return faithless sons, I will heal your faithlessness.

22"Return, O faithless sons, I will heal your faithlessness." "Behold, we come to thee; for thou art the LORD our God. (Jer. 3:22)

His best days ended with the death of the pious Josiah.

25Jeremiah also uttered a lament for Josiah; and all the singing men and singing women have spoken of Josiah in their laments to this day. They made these an ordinance in Israel; behold, they are written in the Laments. (2 Chron. 35:25)

Shallum (Jehoahaz II)

The reign of Josiah's son Jehoahaz lasted three months before he was carried off to Egypt.

1The people of the land took Jehoahaz the son of Josiah and made him king in his father's stead in Jerusalem.
2Jehoahaz was twenty-three years old when he began to reign; and he reigned three months in Jerusalem.
3Then the king of Egypt deposed him in Jerusalem and laid upon the land a tribute of a hundred talents of silver and a talent of gold.
4And the king of Egypt made Eliakim his brother king over Judah and Jerusalem, and changed his name to Jehoiakim; but Neco took Jehoahaz his brother and carried him to Egypt. (2 Chron. 36:1-4)

Jeremiah knew Shallum was taken captive to die.

10Weep not for him who is dead, nor bemoan him; but weep bitterly for him who goes away, for he shall return no more to see his native land.
11
For thus says the LORD concerning Shallum the son of Josiah, king of Judah, who reigned instead of Josiah his father, and who went away from this place: "He shall return here no more,
12but in the place where they have carried him captive, there shall he die, and he shall never see this land again." (Jer. 22:10-12)

Jehoiakim - 609-598 BCE

Egypt's power started to increase after it broke off from the declining Assyrian 664 BCE. Pharoah Neco replaced Jehoahaz with Jehoiakim. Jehoiakim would have owed his throne to Neco and probably brought with him some of Egypt's religious practices.

34And Pharaoh Neco made Eliakim the son of Josiah king in the place of Josiah his father, and changed his name to Jehoiakim. But he took Jehoahaz away; and he came to Egypt, and died there. (2 Kings 23:34)

He exacted the silver and gold from the people of Judah and gave it to Pharaoh.

35And Jehoiakim gave the silver and the gold to Pharaoh, but he taxed the land to give the money according to the command of Pharaoh. He exacted the silver and the gold of the people of the land, from every one according to his assessment, to give it to Pharaoh Neco. (2 Kings 23:35)

He had a love for luxury, made the people build royal buildings without paying them.

13"Woe to him who builds his house by unrighteousness, and his upper rooms by injustice; who makes his neighbor serve him for nothing, and does not give him his wages;
14
who says, 'I will build myself a great house with spacious upper rooms,' and cuts out windows for it, paneling it with cedar, and painting it with vermilion.
15
Do you think you are a king because you compete in cedar? Did not your father eat and drink and do justice and righteousness? Then it was well with him. (Jer. 22:13-15)

He was dishonest and oppressive.

16He judged the cause of the poor and needy; then it was well. Is not this to know me? says the LORD.
17
But you have eyes and heart only for your dishonest gain, for shedding innocent blood, and for practicing oppression and violence." (Jer. 22:16-17)

The Temple Controversy

Jeremiah stood in front of the temple and condemned the priests. This screed continues through chapter nine and includes 10:17-25 where he calls them stupid and jackals.

1The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD:
2"Stand in the gate of the LORD'S house, and proclaim there this word, and say, Hear the word of the LORD, all you men of Judah who enter these gates to worship the LORD.
3Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, Amend your ways and your doings, and I will let you dwell in this place.
4Do not trust in these deceptive words: 'This is the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD.' (Jer. 7:1-4)

When the priests, the prophets and all the people heard this, they wanted to see him dead.

7The priests and the prophets and all the people heard Jeremiah speaking these words in the house of the LORD.
8And when Jeremiah had finished speaking all that the LORD had commanded him to speak to all the people, then the priests and the prophets and all the people laid hold of him, saying, "You shall die!
9Why have you prophesied in the name of the LORD, saying, 'This house shall be like Shiloh, and this city shall be desolate, without inhabitant'?" And all the people gathered about Jeremiah in the house of the LORD. (Jer. 26:7-9)

Fortunately some influential elders saved him from that fate. Instead the chief priest had him jailed. When Jeremiah was released, all he could do was condemn the priest, telling him he will be taken into captivity where he will die.

1Now Pashhur the priest, the son of Immer, who was chief officer in the house of the LORD, heard Jeremiah prophesying these things.
2Then Pashhur beat Jeremiah the prophet, and put him in the stocks that were in the upper Benjamin Gate of the house of the LORD.
3On the morrow, when Pashhur released Jeremiah from the stocks, Jeremiah said to him, "The LORD does not call your name Pashhur, but Terror on every side.
4For thus says the LORD: Behold, I will make you a terror to yourself and to all your friends. They shall fall by the sword of their enemies while you look on. And I will give all Judah into the hand of the king of Babylon; he shall carry them captive to Babylon, and shall slay them with the sword.
5Moreover, I will give all the wealth of the city, all its gains, all its prized belongings, and all the treasures of the kings of Judah into the hand of their enemies, who shall plunder them, and seize them, and carry them to Babylon.
6And you, Pashhur, and all who dwell in your house, shall go into captivity; to Babylon you shall go; and there you shall die, and there you shall be buried, you and all your friends, to whom you have prophesied falsely." (Jer. 20:1-6)

Jeremiah dictates his prophecies

Jeremiah told his scribe Baruch to write down what he dictated. He wanted to warn the people of Judah what Yahweh intended to do to them if they didn't turn from their evil ways.

1In the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah, this word came to Jeremiah from the LORD:
2"Take a scroll and write on it all the words that I have spoken to you against Israel and Judah and all the nations, from the day I spoke to you, from the days of Josiah until today.
3It may be that the house of Judah will hear all the evil which I intend to do to them, so that every one may turn from his evil way, and that I may forgive their iniquity and their sin."
4Then Jeremiah called Baruch the son of Neriah, and Baruch wrote upon a scroll at the dictation of Jeremiah all the words of the LORD which he had spoken to him. (Jer. 36:1-4)

He was barred from the temple, so he told Baruch to go there and read his dictation.

5And Jeremiah ordered Baruch, saying, "I am debarred from going to the house of the LORD;
6so you are to go, and on a fast day in the hearing of all the people in the LORD'S house you shall read the words of the LORD from the scroll which you have written at my dictation. You shall read them also in the hearing of all the men of Judah who come out of their cities. (Jer. 36:5-6)

When the scrolls fell into the hands of Jehoiakim, he burned them and ordered for Baruch and Jeremiah to be seized; but they got away.

22It was the ninth month, and the king was sitting in the winter house and there was a fire burning in the brazier before him.
23As Jehudi read three or four columns, the king would cut them off with a penknife and throw them into the fire in the brazier, until the entire scroll was consumed in the fire that was in the brazier.
24Yet neither the king, nor any of his servants who heard all these words, was afraid, nor did they rend their garments.
25Even when Elnathan and Delaiah and Gemariah urged the king not to burn the scroll, he would not listen to them.
26And the king commanded Jerahmeel the king's son and Seraiah the son of Azri-el and Shelemiah the son of Abdeel to seize Baruch the secretary and Jeremiah the prophet, but the LORD hid them. (Jer. 36:22-26)

Jeremiah told Jehoiakim that none of his bloodline would replace him on the throne.

30Therefore thus says the LORD concerning Jehoiakim king of Judah, He shall have none to sit upon the throne of David, and his dead body shall be cast out to the heat by day and the frost by night. (Jer. 36:30)

Contrary to Jeremiah's prophecy, Jehoiakim was succeeded by his son, Jehoiachin.

6So Jehoiakim slept with his fathers, and Jehoiachin his son reigned in his stead. (2 Kings 24:6)

Rebelling against Nebuchadnezzar brought Jehoiakim to the end of his reign.

1In his days Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up, and Jehoiakim became his servant three years; then he turned and rebelled against him.
2And the LORD sent against him bands of the Chaldeans, and bands of the Syrians, and bands of the Moabites, and bands of the Ammonites, and sent them against Judah to destroy it, according to the word of the LORD which he spoke by his servants the prophets. (2 Kings 24:1-2)

Uriah the prophet

In another incident, Uriah prophesied like Jeremiah. Jehoiakim wanted him killed. Uriah fled to Egypt, but Jehoiakim had him brought back and executed.

20There was another man who prophesied in the name of the LORD, Uriah the son of Shemaiah from Kiriath-jearim. He prophesied against this city and against this land in words like those of Jeremiah.
21And when King Jehoiakim, with all his warriors and all the princes, heard his words, the king sought to put him to death; but when Uriah heard of it, he was afraid and fled and escaped to Egypt.
22Then King Jehoiakim sent to Egypt certain men, Elnathan the son of Achbor and others with him,
23and they fetched Uriah from Egypt and brought him to King Jehoiakim, who slew him with the sword and cast his dead body into the burial place of the common people. (Jer. 26:20-23)

By this time, Babylon rose to power over Egypt. When Jehoiakim rebelled against the Chaldeans, Nebuchadnezzar sent bands to destroy Judah. Jehoiakim is not heard from again.

1In his days Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up, and Jehoiakim became his servant three years; then he turned and rebelled against him.
2And the LORD sent against him bands of the Chaldeans, and bands of the Syrians, and bands of the Moabites, and bands of the Ammonites, and sent them against Judah to destroy it, according to the word of the LORD which he spoke by his servants the prophets. (2 Kings 24:1-2)

King Coniah (Jehoiachin)

Jehoiakim's son, Coniah reigned three months before Nebuchadrezzar besieged the city and carried him, his family and his servants off to Babylon, not to mention the temple treasures (2 Kings 24:7-16).

According to Jeremiah, Yahweh was responsible for the catastrophe.

24"As I live, says the LORD, though Coniah the son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, were the signet ring on my right hand, yet I would tear you off
25and give you into the hand of those who seek your life, into the hand of those of whom you are afraid, even into the hand of Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon and into the hand of the Chaldeans. (Jer. 22:24-25)

1After Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon had taken into exile from Jerusalem Jeconiah the son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, together with the princes of Judah, the craftsmen, and the smiths, and had brought them to Babylon, the LORD showed me this vision: Behold, two baskets of figs placed before the temple of the LORD. (Jer. 24:1)

Jeremiah was correct in prophesizing that Coniah would have no descendants on the throne of David. Considering the circumstances, it didn't take divine insight.

28Is this man Coniah a despised, broken pot, a vessel no one cares for? Why are he and his children hurled and cast into a land which they do not know?
29
O land, land, land, hear the word of the LORD!
30
Thus says the LORD: "Write this man down as childless, a man who shall not succeed in his days; for none of his offspring shall succeed in sitting on the throne of David, and ruling again in Judah." (Jer. 22:28-30)

Additionally, there is a question about whether Jehoiachin was eighteen years old or eight years old.

8Jehoiachin was eighteen years old when he became king, and he reigned three months in Jerusalem. His mother's name was Nehushta the daughter of Elnathan of Jerusalem.
9And he did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his father had done. (2 Kings 24:8-9)

9Jehoiachin was eight years old when he began to reign, and he reigned three months and ten days in Jerusalem. He did what was evil in the sight of the LORD.
10In the spring of the year King Nebuchadnezzar sent and brought him to Babylon, with the precious vessels of the house of the LORD, and made his brother Zedekiah king over Judah and Jerusalem. (2 Chron. 36:8)

Either way, he was allowed out of prison and well treated, even allowed to eat with the king of Babylon for as long as he lived.

27And in the thirty-seventh year of the exile of Jehoiachin king of Judah, in the twelfth month, on the twenty-seventh day of the month, Evil-merodach king of Babylon, in the year that he began to reign, graciously freed Jehoiachin king of Judah from prison;
28and he spoke kindly to him, and gave him a seat above the seats of the kings who were with him in Babylon.
29So Jehoiachin put off his prison garments. And every day of his life he dined regularly at the king's table;
30and for his allowance, a regular allowance was given him by the king, every day a portion, as long as he lived. (2 Kings 25:27-30)

As to the remnant who remained in Judah, Jeremiah compared them to bad figs, too bad to be eaten, worthy of sword, famine and pestilence until they are destroyed.

8"But thus says the LORD: Like the bad figs which are so bad they cannot be eaten, so will I treat Zedekiah the king of Judah, his princes, the remnant of Jerusalem who remain in this land, and those who dwell in the land of Egypt.
9I will make them a horror to all the kingdoms of the earth, to be a reproach, a byword, a taunt, and a curse in all the places where I shall drive them.
10And I will send sword, famine, and pestilence upon them, until they shall be utterly destroyed from the land which I gave to them and their fathers." (Jer. 24:8-10)

Zedekiah - 597-586 BCE

After removing Coniah, Nebuchadrezzar (or Nebuchadnezzar) king of Babylon installed Zedekiah, a son of Josiah.

17And the king of Babylon made Mattaniah, Jehoiachin's uncle, king in his stead, and changed his name to Zedekiah. (2 Kings. 24:17)

As told in 2 Kings 24:17-25:30, Zedekiah's reign lasted eleven years until he rebelled against his Babylonian sponsor. Nebuchadrezzar laid siege to Jerusalem, cutting off their food supplies. After four months, when the city ran out of food, the Babylonians broke down the city walls and chased the king out of the city. Zedekiah was caught and sentenced to death, but not before he saw his sons hacked down and had his eyes taken out. Every building was burnt down, including the temple. All but the poorest were taken away to Babylon while priests and high officials were killed by the king personally.

Jeremiah believed Yahweh was giving Judah to Nebuchadrezzar and predicted Zedekiah would die in peace.

1The word which came to Jeremiah from the LORD, when Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon and all his army and all the kingdoms of the earth under his dominion and all the peoples were fighting against Jerusalem and all of its cities:
2"Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel: Go and speak to Zedekiah king of Judah and say to him, 'Thus says the LORD: Behold, I am giving this city into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall burn it with fire.
3You shall not escape from his hand, but shall surely be captured and delivered into his hand; you shall see the king of Babylon eye to eye and speak with him face to face; and you shall go to Babylon.'
4Yet hear the word of the LORD, O Zedekiah king of Judah! Thus says the LORD concerning you: 'You shall not die by the sword.
5You shall die in peace. And as spices were burned for your fathers, the former kings who were before you, so men shall burn spices for you and lament for you, saying, "Alas, lord!"' For I have spoken the word, says the LORD." (Jer. 34:1-5)

Jeremiah missed that call. Zedekiah died a rather unmerciful death. His sons were slain in front of him before he had his eyes taken out, and then he was kept in prison to the day he died.

10The king of Babylon slew the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes, and also slew all the princes of Judah at Riblah.
11He put out the eyes of Zedekiah, and bound him in fetters, and the king of Babylon took him to Babylon, and put him in prison till the day of his death. (Jer. 52:10-11)

Nebuchadnezzar supported

Because Jeremiah believed that the people of Judah deserved divine punishment, he was consistent in believing Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon was sent by Yahweh. He even told Zedekiah at the beginning of his eleven year reign to tell other kings to submit to Nebuchadnezzar.

1In the beginning of the reign of Zedekiah the son of Josiah, king of Judah, this word came to Jeremiah from the LORD.
2Thus the LORD said to me: "Make yourself thongs and yoke-bars, and put them on your neck.
3Send word to the king of Edom, the king of Moab, the king of the sons of Ammon, the king of Tyre, and the king of Sidon by the hand of the envoys who have come to Jerusalem to Zedekiah king of Judah.
4Give them this charge for their masters: 'Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: This is what you shall say to your masters:
5"It is I who by my great power and my outstretched arm have made the earth, with the men and animals that are on the earth, and I give it to whomever it seems right to me.
6Now I have given all these lands into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, my servant, and I have given him also the beasts of the field to serve him.
7All the nations shall serve him and his son and his grandson, until the time of his own land comes; then many nations and great kings shall make him their slave. (Jer. 27:1-7)

This also put Jeremiah at odds with other prophets who advised Zedekiah to resist the king of Babylon.

8"'"But if any nation or kingdom will not serve this Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and put its neck under the yoke of the king of Babylon, I will punish that nation with the sword, with famine, and with pestilence, says the LORD, until I have consumed it by his hand.
9So do not listen to your prophets, your diviners, your dreamers, your soothsayers, or your sorcerers, who are saying to you, 'You shall not serve the king of Babylon.'
10For it is a lie which they are prophesying to you, with the result that you will be removed far from your land, and I will drive you out, and you will perish.
11But any nation which will bring its neck under the yoke of the king of Babylon and serve him, I will leave on its own land, to till it and dwell there, says the LORD."'" (Jer. 27:8-11)

Jailed by chief priest

A place near Jerusalem called Topheth, was known for child sacrifice to the god Baal. Jeremiah went there to threaten them with impending doom.

4Because the people have forsaken me, and have profaned this place by burning incense in it to other gods whom neither they nor their fathers nor the kings of Judah have known; and because they have filled this place with the blood of innocents,
5and have built the high places of Baal to burn their sons in the fire as burnt offerings to Baal, which I did not command or decree, nor did it come into my mind;
6therefore, behold, days are coming, says the LORD, when this place shall no more be called Topheth, or the valley of the son of Hinnom, but the valley of Slaughter. (Jer. 19:4-7)

When Pushhur the chief priest of the Jerusalem heard this, he had Jeremiah jailed for a day. When released, Jeremiah hurled a barrage of bad predictions about him being carried off to Babylon and slain.

1Now Pashhur the priest, the son of Immer, who was chief officer in the house of the LORD, heard Jeremiah prophesying these things.
2Then Pashhur beat Jeremiah the prophet, and put him in the stocks that were in the upper Benjamin Gate of the house of the LORD.
3On the morrow, when Pashhur released Jeremiah from the stocks, Jeremiah said to him, "The LORD does not call your name Pashhur, but Terror on every side.
4For thus says the LORD: Behold, I will make you a terror to yourself and to all your friends. They shall fall by the sword of their enemies while you look on. And I will give all Judah into the hand of the king of Babylon; he shall carry them captive to Babylon, and shall slay them with the sword.
5Moreover, I will give all the wealth of the city, all its gains, all its prized belongings, and all the treasures of the kings of Judah into the hand of their enemies, who shall plunder them, and seize them, and carry them to Babylon.
6And you, Pashhur, and all who dwell in your house, shall go into captivity; to Babylon you shall go; and there you shall die, and there you shall be buried, you and all your friends, to whom you have prophesied falsely." (Jer. 20:1-6)

Prophet rivalry

Chapter 28 tells of a rivalry between Jeremiah and the prophet Hananiah. Jeremiah had prophesized that the king of Babylon would finish the destruction of Jerusalem, while the prophet Hananiah declared a loss for Babylon. It ends with Jeremiah declaring Hananiah a false prophet and a liar, telling him Yahweh will kill him for rebelling. He died the same year.

15And Jeremiah the prophet said to the prophet Hananiah, "Listen, Hananiah, the LORD has not sent you, and you have made this people trust in a lie.
16Therefore thus says the LORD: 'Behold, I will remove you from the face of the earth. This very year you shall die, because you have uttered rebellion against the LORD.'"
17
In that same year, in the seventh month, the prophet Hananiah died (Jer. 28:15-17)

In Chapter 29, Jeremiah sent a letter to the exiles urging them not to be deceived by the prophets because the exile would be long. By cooperating with the Babylonians, Yahweh would eventually return to them.

7But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.
8For thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Do not let your prophets and your diviners who are among you deceive you, and do not listen to the dreams which they dream,
9for it is a lie which they are prophesying to you in my name; I did not send them, says the LORD.
10
"For thus says the LORD: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place.
11For I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.
12Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. (Jer. 29:7-12)

Jeremiah's Exile in Egypt

Given Jeremiah's urgings of cooperation with the Babylonians, the king ordered that he should not be harmed and be treated with consideration.

11Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon gave command concerning Jeremiah through Nebuzaradan, the captain of the guard, saying,
12"Take him, look after him well and do him no harm, but deal with him as he tells you." (Jer. 39:11-12)

Jeremiah was allowed to move to the Babylonian province of Mizpeh under the rule of the newly appointed governor Gedaliah (40:1-6). It wasn't long when Gedialiah and the Jews with him were assassinated.

2Ishmael the son of Nethaniah and the ten men with him rose up and struck down Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, son of Shaphan, with the sword, and killed him, whom the king of Babylon had appointed governor in the land.
3Ishmael also slew all the Jews who were with Gedaliah at Mizpah, and the Chaldean soldiers who happened to be there. (Jer. 41:2-3)

This disaster had the remaining Jews living in Judah fearing the Chaldeans would take revenge on them, so they decided it would be safer to go to Egypt.

16Then Johanan the son of Kareah and all the leaders of the forces with him took all the rest of the people whom Ishmael the son of Nethaniah had carried away captive from Mizpah after he had slain Gedaliah the son of Ahikam-soldiers, women, children, and eunuchs, whom Johanan brought back from Gibeon.
17And they went and stayed at Geruth Chimham near Bethlehem, intending to go to Egypt
18because of the Chaldeans; for they were afraid of them, because Ishmael the son of Nethaniah had slain Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, whom the king of Babylon had made governor over the land. (Jer. 41:16-18)

The turned to Jeremiah asking that he pray to Yahweh for counsel. Curiously, they describe Yahweh as his God, not their God.

1Then all the commanders of the forces, and Johanan the son of Kareah and Azariah the son of Hoshaiah, and all the people from the least to the greatest, came near
2and said to Jeremiah the prophet, "Let our supplication come before you, and pray to the LORD your God for us, for all this remnant (for we are left but a few of many, as your eyes see us),
3that the LORD your God may show us the way we should go, and the thing that we should do." (Jer. 42:1-3)

Jeremiah wanted them to remain in the land and trust that the Babylonians wouldn't harm them.

10If you will remain in this land, then I will build you up and not pull you down; I will plant you, and not pluck you up; for I repent of the evil which I did to you.
11Do not fear the king of Babylon, of whom you are afraid; do not fear him, says the LORD, for I am with you, to save you and to deliver you from his hand.
12I will grant you mercy, that he may have mercy on you and let you remain in your own land. (Jer. 42:10-12)

To those who wanted to go to Egypt, Jeremiah warned of certain destruction if they went.

13But if you say, 'We will not remain in this land,' disobeying the voice of the LORD your God
14and saying, 'No, we will go to the land of Egypt, where we shall not see war, or hear the sound of the trumpet, or be hungry for bread, and we will dwell there,'
15then hear the word of the LORD, O remnant of Judah. Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: If you set your faces to enter Egypt and go to live there,
16then the sword which you fear shall overtake you there in the land of Egypt; and the famine of which you are afraid shall follow hard after you to Egypt; and there you shall die.
17All the men who set their faces to go to Egypt to live there shall die by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence; they shall have no remnant or survivor from the evil which I will bring upon them. (Jer. 42:13-17)

The officers were convinced Jeremiah was a traitor, that he was leading them into a trap

1When Jeremiah finished speaking to all the people all these words of the LORD their God, with which the LORD their God had sent him to them,
2Azariah the son of Hoshaiah and Johanan the son of Kareah and all the insolent men said to Jeremiah, "You are telling a lie. The LORD our God did not send you to say, 'Do not go to Egypt to live there';
3but Baruch the son of Neriah has set you against us, to deliver us into the hand of the Chaldeans, that they may kill us or take us into exile in Babylon." (Jer. 43:1-3)

So they ignored Jeremiah's prophecy and forced him to come to Egypt with them.

4So Johanan the son of Kareah and all the commanders of the forces and all the people did not obey the voice of the LORD, to remain in the land of Judah.
5But Johanan the son of Kareah and all the commanders of the forces took all the remnant of Judah who had returned to live in the land of Judah from all the nations to which they had been driven-
6the men, the women, the children, the princesses, and every person whom Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard had left with Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, son of Shaphan; also Jeremiah the prophet and Baruch the son of Neriah.
7And they came into the land of Egypt, for they did not obey the voice of the LORD. And they arrived at Tahpanhes. (Jer. 43:4-7)

Undoubtedly Jeremiah was angry and frustrated. So he prophesized the direst consequence would fall upon the Egyptians.

10and say to them, 'Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Behold, I will send and take Nebuchadrezzar the king of Babylon, my servant, and he will set his throne above these stones which I have hid, and he will spread his royal canopy over them.
11He shall come and smite the land of Egypt, giving to the pestilence those who are doomed to the pestilence, to captivity those who are doomed to captivity, and to the sword those who are doomed to the sword.
12He shall kindle a fire in the temples of the gods of Egypt; and he shall burn them and carry them away captive; and he shall clean the land of Egypt, as a shepherd cleans his cloak of vermin; and he shall go away from there in peace.
13He shall break the obelisks of Heliopolis which is in the land of Egypt; and the temples of the gods of Egypt he shall burn with fire.'" (Jer. 43:10-13)

Chapter 44 is filled with threats of vengeance towards his compatriots. This is a sample.

27Behold, I am watching over them for evil and not for good; all the men of Judah who are in the land of Egypt shall be consumed by the sword and by famine, until there is an end of them.
28And those who escape the sword shall return from the land of Egypt to the land of Judah, few in number; and all the remnant of Judah, who came to the land of Egypt to live, shall know whose word will stand, mine or theirs.
29This shall be the sign to you, says the LORD, that I will punish you in this place, in order that you may know that my words will surely stand against you for evil: (Jer. 44:27-29)

Jeremiah lived his remaining years in Egypt. We are not told when or how his life ended or whether he and his compatriots died by sword, famine or pestilence. He would have been 70 to 80 years old by that time, so he probably didn't live much longer. History does not record any such disasters coming to Egypt. Egyptian obelisks can be found standing Egypt though I know of one transported to the Vatican and one in New York City.

Analyses

Jeremiah was certainly correct about the Chaldeans seizing Judah, destroying Jerusalem and exiling its prominent residents. Given that the Chaldeans' reputation preceded them, it didn't take divine revelation to anticipate what would happen to the defenseless Hebrews. On that note, he was realistic.

He was flat wrong in crediting Yahweh for appointing Nebuchadnezzar as an agent of destruction. The early history of the region is pocked by imperialist wars among rival kingdoms, from the Egyptians and the Sumerians to the Greeks and the Romans. These nations were just as conceited about the power of their gods. If there was a correlation, Yahweh was the weakest of the bunch. In just this short biography, he made enough errors to prove that by framing his opinions as though speaking for Yahweh didn't improve his foresight.

Arguably geography plays the most significant role in the history of Israel and Judah. The land is at the crossroads of every major power to dominate the region. Armies are expensive. The land has relatively little natural resources for trade; the Hebrews had no industry and commerce to speak of and the land was as rocky as it gets. The Dead Sea was useless and it doesn't rain for the five warmest months. There is a certain irony in that the land of Milk and Honey promised to Abraham and Moses amounts to the some of the poorest land in the region.

2He digged it and cleared it of stones, and planted it with choice vines; he built a watchtower in the midst of it, and hewed out a wine vat in it; and he looked for it to yield grapes, but it yielded wild grapes. (Isa. 5:2)

From what we see here, Jeremiah's prophetic record was no better then that of a modern economist. Perhaps that explains why so many didn't take him seriously. Jeremiah lives up to his reputation as a scold. He brings to mind a second reason why the Hebrews were too poor to afford military power. Their oppressive monotheistic theocracy constrained them from mingling with neighbors, thereby preventing them from accumulating surplus wealth from trade.

The passage below captures the essence of Jeremiah's conception of God. If there was such a God, he would have to be incredibly vain, vindictive, sadistic and stupid. Manasseh reigned from 696-642 BCE, before Jeremiah became prophet. Yahweh is said to hold a grudge for seventy years against people who had nothing to do with Manasseh. To vindicate himself, he empowered an alien kingdom that didn't recognize him. This is a god so powerful that he can bring the heathen Chaldeans to riches and power, yet he couldn't do that for his own people. He kept his people poor and oppressed, yet couldn't figure out why they turned to other gods. In the end, he blamed his failures on his people and took his frustration out on them.

1Then the LORD said to me, "Though Moses and Samuel stood before me, yet my heart would not turn toward this people. Send them out of my sight, and let them go!
2And when they ask you, 'Where shall we go?' you shall say to them, 'Thus says the LORD: "Those who are for pestilence, to pestilence, and those who are for the sword, to the sword; those who are for famine, to famine, and those who are for captivity, to captivity."
3
"I will appoint over them four kinds of destroyers, says the LORD: the sword to slay, the dogs to tear, and the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth to devour and destroy.
4And I will make them a horror to all the kingdoms of the earth because of what Manasseh the son of Hezekiah, king of Judah, did in Jerusalem. (Jer. 15:1-4)

References

All Prophets Were False!

Skeptics Annotated Bible

The Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible

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