Explaining the Book

Bible Study Guide

Jeremiah

Who Was Jeremiah’s Father?

Jeremiah’s Father, In Brief

There’s a short answer to this question. The father of the prophet Jeremiah was a man named Hilkiah (Jeremiah 1:1).

But there’s a more involved answer to the question, “Who was Jeremiah’s father?”

Jeremiah’s Father: a Priest

Since Jeremiah was a priest who lived in Anathoth in the territory of Benjamin (Jeremiah 1:1), we can be sure that his father was a priest.

Jeremiah’s Father: From Benjamin, But Not a Benjamite

But we know for sure that his father wasn’t a Benjamite. How do we know? Because the priests in Israel didn’t come from Benjamin. They came from another son of Jacob — Levi.

Jeremiah’s Father Ministered Right Before His Son’s Time

So, Jeremiah’s father was a priest. Do we know of any priests in the Bible named Hilkiah around the time when Jeremiah was ministering?

Remember, Jeremiah served the Lord and his people during the reigns of…

  1. King Josiah
  2. King Shallum/Jehoahaz
  3. King Jehoiakim/Eliakim
  4. King Jehoiachin/Jeconiah/Coniah
  5. King Zedekiah/Mattaniah
  6. Governor Gedaliah (and the other few who tried to lead the people who remained of Judah after the Babylonian exile)

So, was there a priest named Hilkiah who lived and ministered somewhere around the beginning of Josiah’s reign?

There was a Hilkiah spoken of in Josiah’s day!

Hilkiah: A (High) Priest

This Hilkiah was a priest — a high priest, that is (2 Kings 22:4,8).

Hilkiah Found the Book of the Law

And he was actually the one who found the book of the Law in the Temple (2 Kings 22:8; 2 Chronicles 34:15).

Hilkiah Had a Zeal for the Lord

This man also was at Josiah’s right hand as the king made all of his righteous reforms in Judah (2 Kings 23:4; 2 Chronicles 35:8). He was at the center of the action of the religious reforms that Josiah made — the reforms that God’s word of judgement led to!

So, is this Hilkiah the high priest Jeremiah’s father? It’s possible — even likely!

Hilkiah Would Have Influenced His Children

But it makes sense. Can you imagine Jeremiah growing up in the house of a man who had found God’s word after it had been missing for so long? Can you imagine the zeal for the Law that this father must have had? Can you imagine that some of that zeal would rub off on his sons?

Jeremiah’s Father, in Summary

So, the final word is that we can’t absolutely prove that Hilkiah the high priest of Josiah’s day is the father of Jeremiah. But we can’t disprove it either. And it makes for a really intriguing backstory to the book of the prophecies of Jeremiah.

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Comments

  1. If Jeremiah was of the priesthood living in Anathoth, he would have been of the lineage of Ithamar, one of Aaron’s sons.

    The Ithamar priesthood only produced five high priests before Solomon exiled them to Anathoth. These priests were: Eli, Ahitub, Ahiab, Ahimeiech and Abiathar.

    So, the Hilkiah, of King Josiah’s day was more than likely a descendant of Eleazar and not Jeremiah’s father.

    You can find the lineage of Hilkiah in 1 Chronicles 6: 1 – 15.

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