Art Resource, New York, NY

Jeremiah by Donatello (1386[?]–1466). This dour and world-weary portrayal of the normally fiery prophet seems to breathe an air of spiritual resignation, representative, perhaps, of Jeremiah’s long—40years—ministry to an unrepentant Judah.

Tragically, the people of Judah ignored Jeremiah’s repeated calls for moral and religious reform and his warnings of God’s impending punishment for their apostasy. In 586 B.C., the Babylonian armies under Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Jerusalem. bringing the kingdom of Judah to an end.

Jeremiah’s laments—passionate outbursts denouncing the corruption and spiritual weakness of a faltering Judah—are remembered in the English word Jeremiad.