New Catholic Dictionary – Jeremiah the Prophet

woodcut of 'The Prophet Jeremiah' by Julius Schnoor von Carolsfeld; from 'Das Buch der Bücher in Bilden'Derivation

  • Hebrew: possibly, whom Jehovah appoints


Old Testament Prophet. He was the son of Helcias (Jeremiah 1), of a priestly race of Anathoth, a little village of the tribe of Benjamin. He was raised In love and respect for Jewish traditions, and studied with care the utterances of previous prophets, in particular the oracles of Isaias and Micheas. By temperament sensitive and timid, Jeremias became otherwise when there was question of carrying God’s message to men; menaces, insults, and torments meant nothing; he became “a fortified city and a pillar of iron, and a wall of brass.”

It was in the 13th year of the reign of Josias, that the word of God came to Jeremias. Under this king, the activity of Jeremias was moderate, because the piety of Josias held in check the hatred of the enemies of the prophet. Yet the persecutions of his compatriots (II, 21), and of his relatives (12,6), menaced his life, and he fixed his definite abode at Jerusalem. Unfortunately, Josias was followed by three unworthy sons, weakling rulers on the throne of David. During the three months reign of Joachaz, Jeremias reproved the luxury of the royal house (22). King Joakim forgot the God of his fathers and plunged into all sorts of impieties and disorders. It was in such circumstances that Jeremias, yielding to the inspiration of God, placed himself in the court of the Temple, and announced its destruction (26). These words produced a tumult. The priests and false prophets seized him, crying, “Let him be put to death.” Happily, Jeremias was saved through the intervention of Ahicam. With the invasion of Nabuchodonosor, Jeremias pronounced the famous prophecy of the 70 years of captivity (25). Then he received the order to write all that God had revealed to him, since the time of Josias, in a volume, and to have it read on the solemn day by his disciple Baruch. But Joakim, enraged, threw the volume into a fire, and imprisoned Jeremias and Baruch (36). Under Sedecias, Jeremias suffered continual persecutions (38). He tried to return to his native land but was seized, accused of treason, and again imprisoned. With the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple, Nabuchodonosor gave Jeremias the choice of going to Babylon, or remaining at Jerusalem. Jeremias preferred to live in the midst of the Holy City. There, over its ruins, he chanted his immortal Lamentations; but the remnant of the Jews fled to Egypt, dragging Jeremias with them. At Daphne, pious tradition says, he was stoned to death for the prediction of God’s wrath. It was a fit ending to a life of self-sacrifice. His whole life was a living prophecy of the sufferings of Christ. Like Christ, Jeremias continued to intercede for the Jews; truly, “this is he that prayeth much for the people, and for all the holy city, Jeremias the prophet of God” (2 Machebees 15). The prophecy or Book of Jeremias, was probably put together by Baruch. There are 52 chapters. The Lamentations or Songs, five in number, after the manner of the Psalms or Proverbs, bewail the sorrows of the Holy City. Some portions of them are sung at the Tenebrae in Holy Week, as they express the sorrows of the Church over Christ’s Passion, the enormity of sin, and the need of penance.

MLA Citation

  • “Jeremiah the Prophet”. New Catholic Dictionary. CatholicSaints.Info. 11 July 2016. Web. 24 September 2020. <>