Jeremiah, the second of the great Hebrew prophets, son of Hilkiah, one of the priests of Anathoth, prophesied under the reigns of Josiah, Jehoahaz, Jehoiakim, Jehoiachin, and Zedekiah, and after the conquest of Jerusalem by the Babylonians, from about 627 to 575 B. C. He was but a youth when he began his prophetic career in his native city. The persecutions of his townsmen drove him to Jerusalem, where, in spite of opposition and imprisonment, he remained true to his mission, keeping firmly in view the religious and political rectitude of the state. After the death of Josiah he was assailed by priests and prophets, and was cast into prison, where he wrote some of his predictions, which were read to the people by Baruch, but burned by King Jehoiakim. After the capture of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar he was spared by the conqueror, in consideration of his having advocated submission to Babylon, and he went first to Mizpah, and afterward to Egypt. There are various traditions concerning his last years and his death.
A grotto is still pointed out at Jerusalem where he is said to have composed his Lamentations, and his grave is shown at Cairo. His extant writings embrace the book containing his prophecies, and, according to general belief, the metrical book of Lamentations. "While the canonicity of the book of Jeremiah in general is not doubted by any, the genuineness of some portions have of late been disputed by Movers, Ewald, Hitzig, and others. An elegy on the death of King Josiah, ascribed to him, is lost. Among the more recent commentators on Jeremiah are Hitzig (Leipsic, 1841), Umbreit (Heidelberg, 1843), Neumann (Leipsic, 1856), Graf (1862), and Cowles (New York, 1869). There are English translations and commentaries by Blayney (Oxford, 1784; new ed., Edinburgh, 1810), by Noyes (Boston, 1837), and by Henderson (London, 1851; revised, 1868).