The name Jeremiah has two meanings: (1) "The Lord will raise up", (2) "Yahweh will throw or cast away". The prophet Jeremiah lived in around 600 BC, during the reign of kings Josiah and Jehoiakim in the Kingdom of Judah. He grew up in Anathoth, just 3 miles northeast of Jerusalem. Jeremiah never married.
Josiah and Jeremiah were instrumental in bringing about a reformation of the Jews. Josiah commissioned a renovation of the temple. In this process, the High Priest Hilkiah found a lost book containing a copy of the Old Testament. Josiah "tore his robes" in grief upon having the scriptures read to him, and learning how the people had fallen into apostacy.
Josiah started a campaign to rid the nation of idolatry, using this lost book as his guide. Upon the king's death, Jeremiah wrote a lamentation, which is known as Tisha B'av. Josiah died in a battle. Egypt and Assyria combined to fight against Judah and Babylon.
Kings during Jeremiah's life
Jehoahaz succeeded Josiah as king, but his reign was just 3 months. Jehoahaz disregarded his father Josiah's reforms, and was taken captive by the Egyptians. His brother Jehoiakim was placed on the throne by Necho II of Egypt.
Jehoiakim and Jeremiah had a very rocky relationship. Jeremiah warned the king that "God would roll him up, and throw him out of Judah." Jehoiakim responded by putting Jeremiah in prison. Jeremiah then dictated a prophecy to Baruch, his scribe. Baruch read the prophecy in the temple, and others told Jehoiakim about this scroll. Jehoiakim responded by burning the book that Baruch had written.
Jehoiachin, son of Jehoiakim, succeeded his father. Zedekiah, son of Jehoiachin, was next on the throne. Zedekiah actually sent for Jeremiah to ask his advice. Zedekiah did not listen, but still asked Jeremiah to pray for the people. Eventually Jeremiah was imprisoned again, this time on a false charge that he was collaborating with the Babylonians. (This is also the time that Lehi left Jerusalem.)
Eventually, all of Judah is thrown out of Judah, and taken captive by the Babylonians. Jeremiah is taken to Egypt, where he died.
Jeremiah is the author of the book by his name, as well as the book of Lamentations. One of the most difficult things that Jeremiah dealt with was the belief that Jerusalem would never fall. The prophet Isaiah prophecied that if the people repented, the city would be safe from attack. His prophecy was fulfilled. The difference with Jeremiah was that the people didn't repent, but still believed that the city would be protected as Isaiah had said.