“These are the words of Jeremiah, son of Hilkiah, one of the priests from the town of Anathoth in the land of Benjamin. The Lord first gave messages to Jeremiah during the thirteenth year of the reign of Josiah son of Amon, king of Judah. The Lord’s messages continued throughout the reign of King Jehoiakim, Josiah’s son, until the eleventh year of the reign of King Zedekiah, another of Josiah’s sons. In August of that eleventh year the people of Jerusalem were taken away as captives.” Jeremiah 1:1-3
The period in which Jeremiah lived and worked was one of the most critical in Hebrew history. His public ministry began during the reign of King Josiah (640–609 B.C.) and lasted until sometime after the fall of Jerusalem and the beginning of the Babylonian captivity. He encountered strong opposition from King Jehoiakim (609–598 B.C.) and King Zedekiah (597–586 B.C.), and on more than one occasion, his life was threatened. After the fall of Jerusalem, the Babylonians permitted him to remain in his homeland; many of his fellow countrymen were taken into captivity. Later, he was taken to Egypt against his will by a group of exiles who found it necessary to flee Jerusalem for their own safety. In Egypt, Jeremiah died after a long and troublesome career.
Despite his pessimism with reference to the immediate future of the Judean kingdom, Jeremiah never abandoned the hope that eventually the divine purpose would be realized by his own people, in their own land. Throughout the Book of Jeremiah, predictions of impending disasters are usually followed by the words “Nevertheless, I will not make a full end.” Jeremiah’s hope is symbolized in his buying a piece of land even though he was well aware that his personal captivity was close at hand.