As a Christian with a deep passion for reading the Bible, I consider the story of Jeremiah to have
been one full of trials and perils. The Scripture implies that the prophet was called to serve at a
very tender age. This makes me wonder, how old was Jeremiah when God called him to be a
In this article, I aim to explore scholarly opinions on the call of Jeremiah and discuss the likely
age he would have been when God called him. Join me as we look at what the Bible reveals
about Jeremiah’s age when God called him. Read on to find out more!
Jeremiah 1:6, “Alas, Sovereign Lord,” I said, “I do not know how to speak; I am too young.”
When God called Jeremiah to be a prophet, he mentioned that he was too young to speak well. The Scripture implies that ‘The word of the Lord came to him in the thirteenth year of the reign of Josiah son of Amon king of Judah, and through the reign of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah, down to the fifth month of the eleventh year of Zedekiah son of Josiah king of Judah, when the people of Jerusalem went into exile.’ Jeremiah 1:2-3.
According to the Epistle of Jeremiah, the prophet was called in 626 BC (the 13th year of Josiah’s reign). The Bible does not reveal much about his age but says he was very young. God, however, rejected his protests by saying, “Do not say, ‘I am too young.’ You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the Lord. Jeremiah 1:7-8.
God’s response seemed like he understood Jeremiah was young but told him not to worry or be afraid as he would walk with him and guide him.
Christians believe that Prophet Jeremiah had a difficult time throughout his ministry. From the first chapter, the Bible implies that he was very young. As explained in the Bible, God’s response also implies further that Jeremiah was not old enough. He was advised not to be afraid of the people he would be sent to, for God was with him.
This propels Christians to agree that Jeremiah must have been young. It is not a shock that God gave people authority at a tender age. Josiah became king at age 8 after his father’s assassination, yet 2 Kings 22:8 says, ‘He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord and followed completely the ways of his father David, not turning aside to the right or the left.’ In the same way, Christians estimate that Jeremiah could have been in his mid-teens or early twenties when God called him.
More proof of Jeremiah’s young age is seen when God puts words in his mouth. Jeremiah 1:9-10, Then the Lord reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, “I have put my words in your mouth. See, today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant.” The Bible implies that God had to put words into his mouth. This would not have been necessary if he was a grown-up man who could speak up for himself. Jeremiah had already declared that he was a child who could not communicate with people.
Furthermore, the Hebrew word used in Jeremiah 1:6 is na’ar. Theologists imply that this word describes a male child, ranging from a baby boy or child to a young man. The word has different meanings and has been used in various stories in the Old Testament.
- Exodus 3:11: The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend. Then Moses would return to the camp, but his young aide Joshua, son of Nun, did not leave the tent.
- Exodus 2:6: She opened it and saw the baby. He was crying, and she felt sorry for him. “This is one of the Hebrew babies,” she said.
- 2 Samuel 12:16: David pleaded with God for the child. He fasted and spent the nights lying in sackcloth on the ground.
- 2 Kings 2:23: From there, Elisha went up to Bethel. As he was walking along the road, some boys came out of the town and jeered at him. “Get out of here, baldy!” they said. “Get out of here, baldy!”
- 2 Samuel 14:21: The king said to Joab, “Very well, I will do it. Go, bring back the young man Absalom.”
This evidence in the Bible and by various theologists helps Christians estimate that Jeremiah could have probably been in his mid-teens when he was called. Some scholars suggest that he was between 10-13 years old. It is also possible that he could have been in his early 20s. Remember, this prophet served through the reign of five kings, and when God called him, he understood who God was when God came to him, meaning he could not be a toddler.
Religious scholars have a lot to say about the age of Jeremiah when God called him. His age is not straightforward in the Bible, so speculations and estimations made by theologists are numerous. Below are bible commentaries suggesting that Jeremiah could have been in his early twenties.
|Gleason Archer commentary
|Jeremiah began his ministry at about twenty years of age in the thirteenth year of Josiah, 626 BC. For the more significant part of his life, he lived in his hometown of Anathoth (for he was of a priestly family) and appeared in Jerusalem at the annual feast days of the Jewish religious year.
|Jeremiah was probably about twenty, though naʿar (‘child,’ 1:6-7) is difficult to define chronologically because this Hebrew noun only conveys the concept of relative age.
|Dr. Thomas L. Constable
|Jeremiah’s call to the prophetic office came in 627 B.C. (1:2; 25:3) when he would have been about 20 years old.
|TOW Bible Commentary
|Jeremiah received God’s call to be a prophet in his early twenties. The year was 626 B.C., the 13th year of King Josiah’s reign.
As a devout Christian, I have always been passionate about the Christian faith. This inspired me to pursue a degree in Religious studies and a Masters in Theology in college. I have also been privileged to teach 4 Christian courses in a college and university. Since I am dedicated to spreading the word of God, I am actively involved in the Church. Additionally, I share his word online and cover diverse topics on the Christian faith through my platform. You can read more about me on the about us page.