By the rivers of Babylon there we sat and wept as we remembered Zion. (Psalms 137:1)
In the year 586 B.C.E., the Babylonian tyrant Nebuchadnezzar conquered the city of Jerusalem, destroyed its Temple, and carried off its people into exile. Among the handful of those who remained was the prophet Jeremiah of Anatoth. In this portrait, he is mourning the destruction of Jerusalem, alone with a few remaining holy vessels from the Temple, as the people of the city have been taken into exile by their Babylonian conquerors. Behind him, the ruined Temple smolders. The prophet sits desolate and lost in thought, leaving the viewer to wonder what he is contemplating.