Jeremiah & Lamentations – Timeline & SettingJeremiah & Lamentations
Jeremiah & Lamentations – Timeline & Setting
Source: NKJV Study Bible, Thomas Nelson Publishers
Israel is conquered by the Assyrians.
Josiah becomes king in Judah.
Jeremiah is called to prophesy.
Assyria falls to the Babylonians and Medes.
Jehoahaz becomes king in Judah.
Jehoiakim becomes king in Judah.
Nebuchadnezzar becomes king in Babylon.
Jehoiachin becomes king in Judah.
Zedekiah becomes Judah’s last king.
Jerusalem falls to the Babylonians.
Jeremiah is taken to Egypt.
Author and Date Jeremiah was born in Anathoth, just three miles northeast of Jerusalem in the hill country of Benjamin. His father was Hilkiah. Jeremiah’s ministry extended from 626 to 586 BC, making him a contemporary of Zephaniah, Ezekiel, and Habakkuk. The prophet’s writing ministry began in the fourth year of Jehoiakim’s reign in 605 BC (see 36:1, 2), though portions of the book may have been written earlier. The book was completed sometime after the fall of Jerusalem in 586 BC.
Historical Setting Jeremiah’s ministry covered a very critical time in the history of the ancient Middle East. When Josiah king of Judah died at the hands of the Egyptian army, Judah became subject to Egypt and its ruler Pharaoh Necho. The people of Judah chose Jehoahaz to succeed Josiah. However, three months later Necho appointed Jehoiakim (Eliakim) to rule as his vassal on the throne in Jerusalem. Having lost their freedom, the people of Judah turned not to God but to the idols they had worshiped in the days of Manasseh and Amon. This idolatry was the reason for Jeremiah’s proclamations of God’s judgment.
In 605 BC Nebuchadnezzar defeated Pharaoh Necho at Carchemish, and Jehoiakim immediately submitted to the Babylonian king, who permitted him to remain on the throne as a vassal. Three years later, Jehoiakim rebelled against Nebuchadnezzar and was deposed (see 2 Kin. 24:1, 2). Jehoiachin replaced Jehoiakim on the throne for a short time, but he was then exiled to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar. Thousands of political and religious leaders were carried to Babylon with Jehoiachin in 597 BC (see 2 Kin. 24:14–16).
Nebuchadnezzar made Jehoiakim’s brother Zedekiah the new ruler of Judah. In 589 BC, Zedekiah led a rebellion against Babylon, and Nebuchadnezzar’s reprisal was swift. His army entered Judah and destroyed all resisting fortified settlements. Nebuchadnezzar’s army turned aside from besieging Jerusalem when the Egyptian army appeared in southwest Palestine in the summer of 588 BC. But the Egyptians soon withdrew, and Nebuchadnezzar resumed his siege. Several times during the siege of Jerusalem, Zedekiah came to Jeremiah for counsel from the Lord. The prophet advised him to surrender, but Zedekiah would not listen.
Jerusalem’s walls were breached in the fourth month of 586 BC. One month later, the temple was burned, along with the palaces, houses, and other administrative buildings. An additional 4,600 Jerusalemites were deported to Babylon. Gedaliah was appointed governor of Judah at Riblah. Jeremiah, who had been imprisoned by Zedekiah, was released and sent to serve under Gedaliah. Gedaliah was assassinated and his supporters fled to Egypt, fearful of Nebuchadnezzar’s revenge. Jeremiah went with them to Egypt against his will, and there he continued to confront the Jews for their idolatry and unfaithfulness.
Written by Cory Collins
Cory Collins is a Bible teacher and a minister of the gospel. He serves with Keller church of Christ in Keller, Texas. He and his wife, Tanya, have been married since 1977. They have two children and two grandchildren.