Jeremiah, detail from a fresco by Michelangelo in the Sistine Chapel, Rome, c. 1512—Alinari/Art Resource, New York
(born probably after 650, Anathoth, Judahdied c. 570 BC, Egypt) Hebrew prophet and reformer, author of the book of Jeremiah. Born into a priestly family in a village near Jerusalem, he began to preach c. 627 BC, charging his fellow citizens with injustice and false worship and calling on them to reform. He accurately predicted the destruction of Judah by Babylonia. After Jerusalem fell in 586 and much of its population was carried into exile, he remained behind under the protection of its new governor. When the governor was assassinated, Jeremiah was taken to Egypt by Jews who feared reprisals, and he remained there until he died. His most significant prophecy looked to a time when God would make a new covenant with Israel.