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Jeremiah was persecuted, and all but killed by his countrymen, the Israelites. But when they were conquered by the Babylonians, he was rescued and treated well by the conquerors.1

Why is that? Was it because he predicted a Babylonian victory, so the Israelites saw him as a traitor and the Babylonians saw him as a "fellow traveler"? Or was it because the Babylonians saw "eye-to-eye" with him on matters of "righteousness," while the Israelites did not?


  1. See the Wikipedia article on Jeremiah
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Agreeing on righteousness was not the reason; see Habakkuk (e.g., 1:11b: "guilty men, whose own strength is their god."[NIV]). A third option is "respect" for a soothsayer/prophet. –  Paul A. Clayton May 26 '13 at 23:42
    
@PaulA.Clayton: Interesting point. But the fact that the Bablylonians had "respect for a prophet" may make them more righteous than the Israelis. I have explored this further in a followup question. –  Tom Au May 27 '13 at 17:30

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I would suggest Jeremiah 1:7-8 and 1:18-19 as an answer. There we find that it is God who protects him wherever he goes. It wasn't the Babylonians' pity that stayed their hands; God Himself protected Jeremiah from them and the Israelites.

Jer 1:7 But the LORD said unto me, Say not, I am a child: for thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak. Jer 1:8 Be not afraid of their faces: for I am with thee to deliver thee, saith the LORD.

Jer 1:18 For, behold, I have made thee this day a defenced city, and an iron pillar, and brasen walls against the whole land, against the kings of Judah, against the princes thereof, against the priests thereof, and against the people of the land. Jer 1:19 And they shall fight against thee; but they shall not prevail against thee; for I am with thee, saith the LORD, to deliver thee.

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Not a bad answer. Upvoted. I plan to explore some of these issues further in a followup question. –  Tom Au May 27 '13 at 16:31

Jeremiah preached doom and destruction for forty long years, to such an extent that his name has entered our vocabulary, for someone whose very utterances foreshadow doom. Throughout most of his career, Jeremiah condemned the nation for paying tribute to the great powers who controlled the region, as only the help of God was needed. However, when Babylonian victory seemed assured, he counselled that Jerusalem’s only choice was to surrender, insisting that God wanted Judah to do the will of his servant, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. In fact, he cursed any nation that tried to do otherwise.

In Jeremiah 37:12-13, the prophet was accused of attempting to leave Jerusalem in order to go over to the enemy. He insists that he was merely trying to visit a family property outside the city, but we find in Jeremiah 38:1-3 that he was preaching that everyone should go over to the Babylonians (Chaldeans), predicting a victory for the Babylonians:

Then ... heard the words that Jeremiah had spoken unto all the people, saying, "Thus saith the LORD, He that remaineth in this city shall die by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence: but he that goeth forth to the Chaldeans shall live; for he shall have his life for a prey, and shall live. Thus saith the LORD, This city shall surely be given into the hand of the king of Babylon's army, which shall take it."

Fortunately for Jeremiah, he had powerful friends who protected him, but it is understandable that he was seen as a traitor and almost killed. The Babylonians were no doubt aware of where his sympathies lay, so when they exiled most of the elite citizens of Jerusalem, they allowed Jeremiah to remain, even providing for him to be treated well.

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