Zedekiah son of Josiah reigned as king in the land of Judah in place of Jehoiachin son of Jehoiakim, for Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon made him king.
He and his officers and the people of the land did not obey the words of the LORD that He spoke through Jeremiah the prophet.
Nevertheless, King Zedekiah sent Jehucal son of Shelemiah and Zephaniah son of Maaseiah, the priest, to Jeremiah the prophet, requesting, "Please pray to the LORD our God for us!"
Jeremiah was going about his daily tasks among the people, for they had not [yet] put him into the prison.
Pharaoh's army had left Egypt, and when the Chaldeans, who were besieging Jerusalem, heard the report, they withdrew from Jerusalem.
The word of the LORD came to Jeremiah the prophet:
"This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: This is what you will say to Judah's king, who is sending you to inquire of Me: Watch: Pharaoh's army, which has come out to help you, is going to return to its own land of Egypt.
The Chaldeans will then return and fight against this city. They will capture it and burn it down.
This is what the LORD says: Don't deceive yourselves by saying: The Chaldeans will leave us for good, for they will not leave.
Indeed, if you were to strike down the entire Chaldean army that is fighting with you, and there remained among them only the badly wounded men, each in his tent, they would get up and burn this city down."
When the Chaldean army withdrew from Jerusalem because of Pharaoh's army,
Jeremiah [started to] leave Jerusalem to go to the land of Benjamin to claim his portion there among the people.
But when he was at the Benjamin Gate, an officer of the guard was there, whose name was Irijah son of Shelemiah, son of Hananiah, and he apprehended Jeremiah the prophet, saying, "You are deserting to the Chaldeans."
"[That's] a lie," Jeremiah replied. "I am not deserting to the Chaldeans!" Irijah would not listen to him but apprehended Jeremiah and took him to the officials.
The officials were angry at Jeremiah and beat him and placed him in jail in the house of Jonathan the scribe, for it had been made into a prison.
So Jeremiah went into a cell in the dungeon and stayed there many days.
King Zedekiah later sent [for him] and received him, and in his house privately asked him, "Is there a word from the LORD?" "There is," Jeremiah responded, and he continued, "You will be handed over to the king of Babylon."
Then Jeremiah said to King Zedekiah, "How have I sinned against you or your servants or these people that you have put me in prison?
Where are your prophets who prophesied to you, claiming, 'The king of Babylon will not come against you and this land'?
So now please listen, my lord the king. May my petition come before you. Don't send me back to the house of Jonathan the scribe, or I will die there."
So King Zedekiah gave orders, and Jeremiah was placed in the guard's courtyard. He was given a loaf of bread each day from the baker's street until all the bread was gone from the city. So Jeremiah remained in the guard's courtyard.
Now Shephatiah son of Mattan, Gedaliah son of Pashhur, Jucal son of Shelemiah, and Pashhur son of Malchijah heard the words Jeremiah was speaking to all the people:
"This is what the LORD says: 'Whoever stays in this city will die by the sword, famine, and plague, but whoever surrenders to the Chaldeans will live. He will keep his life like the spoils [of war] and will live.'
This is what the LORD says: 'This city will most certainly be handed over to the king of Babylon's army, and he will capture it.'"
The officials then said to the king, "This man ought to die, because he is weakening the morale of the warriors who remain in this city and of all the people by speaking to them in this way. This man is not seeking the well-being of this people, but disaster."
King Zedekiah said, "Here he is; he's in your hands since the king can't do anything against you."
So they took Jeremiah and dropped him into the cistern of Malchiah the king's son, which was in the guard's courtyard, lowering Jeremiah with ropes. There was no water in the cistern, only mud, and Jeremiah sank in the mud.
But Ebed-melech, a Cushite court official employed in the king's palace, heard Jeremiah had been put into the cistern. While the king was sitting at the Benjamin Gate,
Ebed-melech went from the king's palace and spoke to the king:
"My lord king, these men have been evil in all they have done to Jeremiah the prophet. They have dropped him into the cistern where he will die from hunger, because there is no more bread in the city."
So the king commanded Ebed-melech, the Cushite, "Take from here 30 men under your authority and pull Jeremiah the prophet up from the cistern before he dies."
So Ebed-melech took the men under his authority and went to the king's palace to a place below the storehouse. From there he took old rags and worn-out clothes and lowered them by ropes to Jeremiah in the cistern.
Ebed-melech the Cushite cried out to Jeremiah, "Place these old rags and clothes between your armpits and the ropes." Jeremiah did so,
and they pulled him up with the ropes and lifted him out of the cistern, but he continued to stay in the guard's courtyard.
King Zedekiah sent for Jeremiah the prophet and received him at the third entrance of the LORD's temple. The king said to Jeremiah, "I am going to ask you something; don't hide anything from me."
Jeremiah replied to Zedekiah, "If I tell you, you will kill me, won't you? Besides, if I give you advice, you won't listen to me anyway."
King Zedekiah swore to Jeremiah in private, "As the LORD lives, who has given us this life, I will not kill you or hand you over to these men who want to take your life."
Jeremiah therefore said to Zedekiah, "This is what the LORD, the God of Hosts, the God of Israel, says: 'If indeed you surrender to the officials of the king of Babylon, then you will live, this city will not be burned down, and you and your household will survive.
But if you do not surrender to the officials of the king of Babylon, then this city will be handed over to the Chaldeans. They will burn it down, and you yourself will not escape from them.'"
But King Zedekiah said to Jeremiah, "I am worried about the Judeans who have deserted to the Chaldeans. They may hand me over to them to abuse me."
"They will not hand you over," Jeremiah replied. "Obey the voice of the LORD in what I am telling you, so it may go well for you and you can live.
But if you refuse to surrender, this is the verdict that the LORD has shown me:
'All the women who remain in the palace of Judah's king will be brought out to the officials of the king of Babylon and will say: Your trusted friends misled you and overcame you. Your feet sank into the mire, and they deserted you.
All your wives and sons will be brought out to the Chaldeans. You yourself will not escape from them, for you will be seized by the king of Babylon and this city will burn down.'"
Then Zedekiah warned Jeremiah, "Don't let anyone know about these things or you will die.
If the officials hear that I have spoken with you and come and demand of you, 'Tell us what you said to the king; don't hide anything from us and we won't kill you. Also, what did the king say to you?'
then you will tell them, 'I was bringing before the king my petition that he not return me to the house of Jonathan to die there.'"
When all the officials came to Jeremiah and questioned him, he reported the exact words to them the king had commanded, and they quit speaking with him because nothing had been heard.
Jeremiah remained in the guard's courtyard until the day Jerusalem was captured, and he was [there] when it happened.
In the ninth year of Zedekiah king of Judah, in the tenth month, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon advanced against Jerusalem with his entire army and laid siege to it.
In the fourth month of Zedekiah's eleventh year, on the ninth day of the month, the city was broken into.
All the officials of the king of Babylon entered and sat at the Middle Gate: Nergal-sharezer, Samgar-nebo, Sarsechim the Rab-saris, Nergal-sharezer the Rab-mag, and all the rest of the officials of Babylon's king.
When he saw them, Zedekiah king of Judah and all the soldiers fled. They left the city at night by way of the king's garden through the gate between the two walls. They left along the route to the Arabah.
However, the Chaldean army pursued them and overtook Zedekiah in the plains of Jericho, arrested him, and brought him to Nebuchadnezzar, Babylon's king, at Riblah in the land of Hamath. The king passed sentence on him [there].
At Riblah the king of Babylon slaughtered Zedekiah's sons before his eyes, and he [also] slaughtered all Judah's nobles.
Then he blinded Zedekiah and put him in bronze chains to take him to Babylon.
The Chaldeans next burned down the king's palace and the people's houses and tore down the walls of Jerusalem.
Nebuzaradan, the commander of the guards, deported to Babylon the rest of the people-- those who had remained in the city and those deserters who had defected to him along with the rest of the people who had remained.
[However,] Nebuzaradan, the commander of the guards, left in the land of Judah some of the poor people who owned nothing, and he gave them vineyards and fields at that time.
[Speaking] through Nebuzaradan, captain of the guard, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon gave orders concerning Jeremiah, saying:
"Take him, look after him, and don't let any harm come to him; do for him whatever he says."
Nebuzaradan, captain of the guard, Nebushazban the Rab-saris, Nergal-sharezer the Rab-mag, and all the captains of the king of Babylon
had Jeremiah brought from the guard's courtyard and turned him over to Gedaliah son of Ahikam, son of Shaphan, to take him home. So he settled among [his own] people.
Now the word of the LORD had come to Jeremiah when he was confined in the guard's courtyard:
"Go tell Ebed-melech the Cushite: This is what the LORD of Hosts, the God of Israel, says: I am about to fulfill My words for harm and not for good against this city. They will take place before your eyes on that day.
But I will rescue you on that day"-- [this is] the LORD's declaration-- "and you will not be handed over to the men you fear.
Indeed, I will certainly deliver you so that you do not fall by the sword. Because you have trusted in Me, you will keep your life like the spoils [of war]." [This is] the LORD's declaration.