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Jeremiah 37:1–41:18

Jeremiah in Prison

37 Zedekiahp son of Josiah was made kingq of Judah by Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon; he reigned in place of Jehoiachina r son of Jehoiakim. Neither he nor his attendants nor the people of the land paid any attentions to the words the Lord had spoken through Jeremiah the prophet.

King Zedekiah, however, sentt Jehukalu son of Shelemiah with the priest Zephaniahv son of Maaseiah to Jeremiah the prophet with this message: “Please prayw to the Lord our God for us.”

Now Jeremiah was free to come and go among the people, for he had not yet been put in prison.x Pharaoh’s army had marched out of Egypt,y and when the Babyloniansb who were besieging Jerusalem heard the report about them, they withdrewz from Jerusalem.a

Then the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah the prophet: “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: Tell the king of Judah, who sent you to inquireb of me, ‘Pharaoh’s army, which has marchedc out to support you, will go back to its own land, to Egypt.d Then the Babylonians will return and attack this city; they will capturee it and burnf it down.’

“This is what the Lord says: Do not deceiveg yourselves, thinking, ‘The Babylonians will surely leave us.’ They will not! 10 Even if you were to defeat the entire Babylonianc army that is attacking you and only wounded men were left in their tents, they would come out and burnh this city down.”

11 After the Babylonian army had withdrawni from Jerusalem because of Pharaoh’s army, 12 Jeremiah started to leave the city to go to the territory of Benjamin to get his share of the propertyj among the people there. 13 But when he reached the Benjamin Gate,k the captain of the guard, whose name was Irijah son of Shelemiah, the son of Hananiah, arrested him and said, “You are deserting to the Babylonians!”l

14 “That’s not true!” Jeremiah said. “I am not deserting to the Babylonians.” But Irijah would not listen to him; instead, he arrestedm Jeremiah and brought him to the officials. 15 They were angry with Jeremiah and had him beatenn and imprisonedo in the housep of Jonathan the secretary, which they had made into a prison.

16 Jeremiah was put into a vaulted cell in a dungeon, where he remained a long time. 17 Then King Zedekiah sentq for him and had him brought to the palace, where he askedr him privately,s “Is there any word from the Lord?”

“Yes,” Jeremiah replied, “you will be deliveredt into the hands of the king of Babylon.”

18 Then Jeremiah said to King Zedekiah, “What crimeu have I committed against you or your attendants or this people, that you have put me in prison? 19 Where are your prophetsv who prophesied to you, ‘The king of Babylon will not attack you or this land’? 20 But now, my lord the king, please listen. Let me bring my petition before you: Do not send me back to the house of Jonathan the secretary, or I will die there.”w

21 King Zedekiah then gave orders for Jeremiah to be placed in the courtyard of the guard and given a loaf of bread from the street of the bakers each day until all the breadx in the city was gone.y So Jeremiah remained in the courtyard of the guard.z

Jeremiah Thrown Into a Cistern

38 Shephatiah son of Mattan, Gedaliah son of Pashhura, Jehukala b son of Shelemiah, and Pashhur son of Malkijah heard what Jeremiah was telling all the people when he said, “This is what the Lord says: ‘Whoever stays in this city will die by the sword, famine or plague,c but whoever goes over to the Babyloniansb will live. They will escape with their lives; they will live.’d And this is what the Lord says: ‘This city will certainly be given into the hands of the army of the king of Babylon, who will capture it.’ ”e

Then the officialsf said to the king, “This man should be put to death.g He is discouragingh the soldiers who are left in this city, as well as all the people, by the things he is saying to them. This man is not seeking the good of these people but their ruin.”

“He is in your hands,”i King Zedekiah answered. “The king can do nothingj to oppose you.”

So they took Jeremiah and put him into the cistern of Malkijah, the king’s son, which was in the courtyard of the guard.k They lowered Jeremiah by ropesl into the cistern; it had no water in it,m only mud, and Jeremiah sank down into the mud.n

But Ebed-Melek,o a Cushite,c an officiald p in the royal palace, heard that they had put Jeremiah into the cistern. While the king was sitting in the Benjamin Gate,q Ebed-Melek went out of the palace and said to him, “My lord the king, these men have acted wickedly in all they have done to Jeremiah the prophet. They have thrown him into a cistern,r where he will starve to death when there is no longer any breads in the city.”

10 Then the king commanded Ebed-Melek the Cushite, “Take thirty men from here with you and lift Jeremiah the prophet out of the cistern before he dies.”

11 So Ebed-Melek took the men with him and went to a room under the treasury in the palace. He took some old rags and worn-out clothes from there and let them down with ropest to Jeremiah in the cistern. 12 Ebed-Melek the Cushite said to Jeremiah, “Put these old rags and worn-out clothes under your arms to pad the ropes.” Jeremiah did so, 13 and they pulled him up with the ropes and lifted him out of the cistern. And Jeremiah remained in the courtyard of the guard.u

Zedekiah Questions Jeremiah Again

14 Then King Zedekiah sentv for Jeremiah the prophet and had him brought to the third entrance to the temple of the Lord. “I am going to ask you something,” the king said to Jeremiah. “Do not hidew anything from me.”

15 Jeremiah said to Zedekiah, “If I give you an answer, will you not kill me? Even if I did give you counsel, you would not listen to me.”

16 But King Zedekiah swore this oath secretlyx to Jeremiah: “As surely as the Lord lives, who has given us breath,y I will neither kill you nor hand you over to those who want to kill you.”z

17 Then Jeremiah said to Zedekiah, “This is what the Lord God Almighty, the God of Israel, says: ‘If you surrendera to the officers of the king of Babylon, your life will be spared and this city will not be burned down; you and your family will live.b 18 But if you will not surrender to the officers of the king of Babylon, this city will be given into the handsc of the Babylonians and they will burnd it down; you yourself will not escapee from them.’ ”

19 King Zedekiah said to Jeremiah, “I am afraidf of the Jews who have gone overg to the Babylonians, for the Babylonians may hand me over to them and they will mistreat me.”

20 “They will not hand you over,” Jeremiah replied. “Obeyh the Lord by doing what I tell you. Then it will go welli with you, and your lifej will be spared. 21 But if you refuse to surrender, this is what the Lord has revealed to me: 22 All the womenk left in the palace of the king of Judah will be brought out to the officials of the king of Babylon. Those women will say to you:

“ ‘They misled you and overcame you—

those trusted friendsl of yours.

Your feet are sunk in the mud;m

your friends have deserted you.’

23 “All your wives and childrenn will be brought out to the Babylonians. You yourself will not escapeo from their hands but will be capturedp by the king of Babylon; and this city wille be burned down.”q

24 Then Zedekiah said to Jeremiah, “Do not let anyone knowr about this conversation, or you may die. 25 If the officials hear that I talked with you, and they come to you and say, ‘Tell us what you said to the king and what the king said to you; do not hide it from us or we will kill you,’ 26 then tells them, ‘I was pleading with the king not to send me back to Jonathan’s houset to die there.’ ”

27 All the officials did come to Jeremiah and question him, and he told them everything the king had ordered him to say. So they said no more to him, for no one had heard his conversation with the king.

28 And Jeremiah remained in the courtyard of the guardu until the day Jerusalem was captured.

The Fall of Jerusalem

39:1–10pp—2Ki 25:1–12; Jer 52:4–16

This is how Jerusalemv was taken:

39 In the ninth year of Zedekiahw king of Judah, in the tenth month, Nebuchadnezzarx king of Babylon marched against Jerusalem with his whole army and laid siegey to it. And on the ninth day of the fourthz month of Zedekiah’s eleventh year, the city walla was broken through.b Then all the officialsc of the king of Babylon came and took seats in the Middle Gate: Nergal-Sharezer of Samgar, Nebo-Sarsekim a chief officer, Nergal-Sharezer a high official and all the other officials of the king of Babylon. When Zedekiah king of Judah and all the soldiers saw them, they fled; they left the city at night by way of the king’s garden, through the gate between the two walls,d and headed toward the Arabah.a e

But the Babylonianb army pursued them and overtook Zedekiahf in the plains of Jericho. They capturedg him and took him to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon at Riblahh in the land of Hamath, where he pronounced sentence on him. There at Riblah the king of Babylon slaughtered the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes and also killed all the noblesi of Judah. Then he put out Zedekiah’s eyesj and bound him with bronze shackles to take him to Babylon.k

The Babyloniansc set firel to the royal palace and the houses of the people and broke down the wallsm of Jerusalem. Nebuzaradan commander of the imperial guard carried into exile to Babylon the people who remained in the city, along with those who had gone over to him,n and the rest of the people.o 10 But Nebuzaradan the commander of the guard left behind in the land of Judah some of the poor people, who owned nothing; and at that time he gave them vineyards and fields.

11 Now Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had given these orders about Jeremiah through Nebuzaradan commander of the imperial guard: 12 “Take him and look after him; don’t harmp him but do for him whatever he asks.” 13 So Nebuzaradan the commander of the guard, Nebushazban a chief officer, …

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Hebrew Koniah, a variant of Jehoiachin

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Or Chaldeans; also in verses 8, 9, 13 and 14

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Or Chaldean; also in verse 11

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Hebrew Jukal, a variant of Jehukal

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Or Chaldeans; also in verses 18, 19 and 23

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Probably from the upper Nile region

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Or a eunuch

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Or and you will cause this city to

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Or the Jordan Valley

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Or Chaldean

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Or Chaldeans

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