King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylonia made Zedekiah son of Josiah king of Judah in the place of Jehoiachin son of Jehoiakim. 2But neither Zedekiah nor his officials nor the people obeyed the message which the LORD had given me.
3King Zedekiah sent Jehucal son of Shelemiah and the priest Zephaniah son of Maaseiah to ask me to pray to the LORD our God on behalf of our nation. 4I had not yet been put in prison and was still moving about freely among the people. 5The Babylonian army had been besieging Jerusalem, but when they heard that the Egyptian army had crossed the Egyptian border, they retreated.
6Then the LORD, the God of Israel, told me 7to say to Zedekiah, “The Egyptian army is on its way to help you, but it will return home. 8Then the Babylonians will come back, attack the city, capture it, and burn it down. 9I, the LORD, warn you not to deceive yourselves into thinking that the Babylonians will not come back, because they will. 10Even if you defeat the whole Babylonian army, so that only wounded men are left, lying in their tents, those men would still get up and burn this city to the ground.”
11The Babylonian army retreated from Jerusalem because the Egyptian army was approaching. 12So I started to leave Jerusalem and go to the territory of Benjamin to take possession of my share of the family property. 13But when I reached the Benjamin Gate, the officer in charge of the soldiers on duty there, a man by the name of Irijah, the son of Shelemiah and grandson of Hananiah, stopped me and said, “You are deserting to the Babylonians!”
14I answered, “That's not so! I'm not deserting.” But Irijah would not listen to me. Instead, he arrested me and took me to the officials. 15They were furious with me and ordered me to be beaten and locked up in the house of Jonathan, the court secretary, whose house had been made into a prison. 16I was put in an underground cell and kept there a long time.
17Later on King Zedekiah sent for me, and there in the palace he asked me privately, “Is there any message from the LORD?”
“There is,” I answered, and added, “You will be handed over to the king of Babylonia.” 18Then I asked, “What crime have I committed against you or your officials or this people, to make you put me in prison? 19What happened to your prophets who told you that the king of Babylonia would not attack you or the country? 20And now, Your Majesty, I beg you to listen to me and do what I ask. Please do not send me back to the prison in Jonathan's house. If you do, I will surely die there.”
21So King Zedekiah ordered me to be locked up in the palace courtyard. I stayed there, and each day I was given a loaf of bread from the bakeries until all the bread in the city was gone.
381Shephatiah son of Mattan, Gedaliah son of Pashhur, Jehucal son of Shelemiah, and Pashhur son of Malchiah heard that I was telling the people that 2the LORD had said, “Whoever stays on in the city will die in war or of starvation or disease. But those who go out and surrender to the Babylonians will not be killed; they will at least escape with their lives.” 3I was also telling them that the LORD had said, “I am going to give the city to the Babylonian army, and they will capture it.”
4Then the officials went to the king and said, “This man must be put to death. By talking like this he is making the soldiers in the city lose their courage, and he is doing the same thing to everyone else left in the city. He is not trying to help the people; he only wants to hurt them.”
5King Zedekiah answered, “Very well, then, do what you wish with him; I can't stop you.” 6So they took me and let me down by ropes into Prince Malchiah's well, which was in the palace courtyard. There was no water in the well, only mud, and I sank down in it.
7However, Ebedmelech the Ethiopian38.7 Ethiopian: See Word List., a eunuch who worked in the royal palace, heard that they had put me in the well. At that time the king was holding court at the Benjamin Gate. 8So Ebedmelech went there and said to the king, 9“Your Majesty, what these men have done is wrong. They have put Jeremiah in the well, where he is sure to die of starvation, since there is no more food in the city.” 10Then the king ordered Ebedmelech to take with him three men and to pull me out of the well before I died. 11So Ebedmelech went with the men to the palace storeroom and got some worn-out clothing which he let down to me by ropes. 12He told me to put the rags under my arms, so that the ropes wouldn't hurt me. I did this, 13and they pulled me up out of the well. After that I was kept in the courtyard.
14On another occasion King Zedekiah had me brought to him at the third entrance to the Temple, and he said, “I am going to ask you a question, and I want you to tell me the whole truth.”
15I answered, “If I tell you the truth, you will put me to death, and if I give you advice, you won't pay any attention.”
16So King Zedekiah promised me in secret, “I swear by the living God, the God who gave us life, that I will not put you to death or hand you over to the men who want to kill you.”
17Then I told Zedekiah that the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, had said, “If you surrender to the king of Babylonia's officers, your life will be spared, and this city will not be burnt down. Both you and your family will be spared. 18But if you do not surrender, then this city will be handed over to the Babylonians, who will burn it down, and you will not escape from them.”
19But the king answered, “I am afraid of our countrymen who have deserted to the Babylonians. I may be handed over to them and tortured.”
20I said, “You will not be handed over to them. I beg you to obey the LORD's message; then all will go well with you, and your life will be spared. 21But the LORD has shown me in a vision what will happen if you refuse to surrender. 22In it I saw all the women left in Judah's royal palace being led out to the king of Babylonia's officers. Listen to what they were saying as they went:
‘The king's best friends misled him,
they overruled him.
And now that his feet have sunk in the mud,
his friends have left him.’ ”
23Then I added, “All your women and children will be taken out to the Babylonians, and you yourself will not escape from them. You will be taken prisoner by the king of Babylonia, and this city will be burnt to the ground.”
24Zedekiah replied, “Don't let anyone know about this conversation, and your life will not be in danger. 25If the officials hear that I have talked with you, they will come and ask you what we said. They will promise not to put you to death if you tell them everything. 26Just tell them you were begging me not to send you back to prison to die there.” 27Then all the officials came and questioned me, and I told them exactly what the king had told me to say. There was nothing else they could do, because no one had overheard the conversation. 28
And I was kept in the palace courtyard until the day Jerusalem was captured.
391In the tenth month of the ninth year that Zedekiah was king of Judah, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylonia came with his whole army and attacked Jerusalem. 2On the ninth day of the fourth month of Zedekiah's eleventh year as king, the city walls were broken through.
3(When Jerusalem was captured,39.3 When Jerusalem was captured; these words are moved here from the end of chapter 38. all the high officials of the king of Babylonia came and took their places at the Middle Gate, including Nergal Sarezer, Samgar Nebo, Sarsechim, and another Nergal Sarezer.)39.3 The names and titles of these men are unclear.
4When King Zedekiah and all his soldiers saw what was happening, they tried to escape from the city during the night. They left by way of the royal garden, went through the gateway connecting the two walls, and escaped in the direction of the Jordan Valley. 5But the Babylonian army pursued them and captured Zedekiah in the plains near Jericho. Then they took him to King Nebuchadnezzar, who was in the city of Riblah in the territory of Hamath, and there Nebuchadnezzar passed sentence on him. 6At Riblah he put Zedekiah's sons to death while Zedekiah was looking on, and he also executed the officials of Judah. 7After that, he had Zedekiah's eyes put out and had him placed in chains to be taken to Babylonia. 8Meanwhile, the Babylonians burnt down the royal palace and the houses of the people and tore down the walls of Jerusalem. 9Finally Nebuzaradan, the commanding officer, took away as prisoners to Babylonia the people who were left in the city, together with those who had deserted to him. 10He left in the land of Judah some of the poorest people, who owned no property, and he gave them vineyards and fields.
11But King Nebuchadnezzar commanded Nebuzaradan, the commanding officer, to give the following order: 12“Go and find Jeremiah and take good care of him. Do not harm him, but do for him whatever he wants.” 13So Nebuzaradan, together with the high officials Nebushazban and Nergal Sarezer and all the other officers of the king of Babylonia, 14brought me from the palace courtyard. They put me under the care of Gedaliah, the son of Ahikam and grandson of Shaphan, who was to see that I got home safely. And so I stayed there among the people.
15While I was still imprisoned in the palace courtyard, the LORD told me 16to tell Ebedmelech the Ethiopian39.16 Ethiopian: See Word List. that the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, had said, “Just as I said I would, I am going to bring upon this city destruction and not prosperity. And when this happens, you will be there to see it. 17But I, the LORD, will protect you, and you will not be handed over to those you fear. 18I will keep you safe, and you will not be put to death. You will escape with your life because you have put your trust in me. I, the LORD, have spoken.”