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Chapter 37

Jeremiah in the Dungeon. Zedekiah, son of Josiah, became king, succeeding Coniah, son of Jehoiakim; Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, appointed him king over the land of Judah.(A) Neither he, nor his officials, nor the people of the land would listen to the words which the Lord spoke through Jeremiah the prophet. Yet King Zedekiah sent Jehucal, son of Shelemiah, and Zephaniah, son of Maaseiah the priest, to Jeremiah the prophet with this request: “Please appeal to the Lord, our God, for us.”(B) At this time Jeremiah still came and went freely among the people; he had not yet been put into prison.[a] Meanwhile, Pharaoh’s army[b] had set out from Egypt, and when the Chaldeans who were besieging Jerusalem heard this report, they withdrew from the city.(C)

Then the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah the prophet: Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: Thus you must say to the king of Judah who sent you to consult me: Listen! Pharaoh’s army, which has set out to help you, will return to Egypt, its own land.(D) The Chaldeans shall return and attack this city; they shall capture it and destroy it by fire.(E)

Thus says the Lord: Do not deceive yourselves, saying: “The Chaldeans are surely leaving us forever.” They are not! 10 Even if you could defeat the whole Chaldean army that is now attacking you, and only the wounded remained, each in his tent, these would rise up and destroy the city with fire.(F)

11 Now when the Chaldean army withdrew from Jerusalem because of the army of Pharaoh,(G) 12 Jeremiah set out from Jerusalem to go to the territory of Benjamin, to receive his share of property among the people. 13 But at the Gate of Benjamin, the captain of the guard, by the name of Irijah, son of Shelemiah, son of Hananiah, arrested Jeremiah the prophet, saying, “You are deserting to the Chaldeans!” 14 “That is a lie!” Jeremiah answered, “I am not deserting to the Chaldeans.” Without listening to him, Irijah kept Jeremiah in custody and brought him to the princes.

15 The princes were enraged at Jeremiah and had Jeremiah beaten and imprisoned in the house of Jonathan the scribe, for they were using it as a jail.(H) 16 And so Jeremiah went into a room in the dungeon, where he remained many days.

17 Then King Zedekiah had him brought to his palace, and he asked him secretly, “Is there any word from the Lord?” “There is!” Jeremiah answered: “You shall be handed over to the king of Babylon.”(I) 18 Jeremiah then asked King Zedekiah: “How have I wronged you or your officials or this people, that you should put me in prison?(J) 19 Where are your own prophets who prophesied for you, saying: ‘The King of Babylon will not attack you or this land’? 20 Please hear me, my lord king! Grant my petition: do not send me back into the house of Jonathan the scribe, or I shall die there.”

21 So King Zedekiah ordered that Jeremiah be confined in the court of the guard and given a ration of bread every day from the bakers’ street until all the bread in the city was eaten up. Thus Jeremiah remained in the court of the guard.(K)

Footnotes

  1. 37:4 Put into prison: as described in 32:1–3. Chronologically, the present episode follows 34:1–7.
  2. 37:5 Pharaoh’s army: the force sent by Pharaoh Hophra; when they arrived, the Chaldeans temporarily lifted the siege against Jerusalem (cf. 34:21).

Jeremiah in Prison

37 Zedekiah(A) son of Josiah was made king(B) of Judah by Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon; he reigned in place of Jehoiachin[a](C) son of Jehoiakim. Neither he nor his attendants nor the people of the land paid any attention(D) to the words the Lord had spoken through Jeremiah the prophet.

King Zedekiah, however, sent(E) Jehukal(F) son of Shelemiah with the priest Zephaniah(G) son of Maaseiah to Jeremiah the prophet with this message: “Please pray(H) 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.(I) Pharaoh’s army had marched out of Egypt,(J) and when the Babylonians[b] who were besieging Jerusalem heard the report about them, they withdrew(K) from Jerusalem.(L)

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 inquire(M) of me, ‘Pharaoh’s army, which has marched(N) out to support you, will go back to its own land, to Egypt.(O) Then the Babylonians will return and attack this city; they will capture(P) it and burn(Q) it down.’

“This is what the Lord says: Do not deceive(R) yourselves, thinking, ‘The Babylonians will surely leave us.’ They will not! 10 Even if you were to defeat the entire Babylonian[c] army that is attacking you and only wounded men were left in their tents, they would come out and burn(S) this city down.”

11 After the Babylonian army had withdrawn(T) 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 property(U) among the people there. 13 But when he reached the Benjamin Gate,(V) 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!”(W)

14 “That’s not true!” Jeremiah said. “I am not deserting to the Babylonians.” But Irijah would not listen to him; instead, he arrested(X) Jeremiah and brought him to the officials. 15 They were angry with Jeremiah and had him beaten(Y) and imprisoned(Z) in the house(AA) 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 sent(AB) for him and had him brought to the palace, where he asked(AC) him privately,(AD) “Is there any word from the Lord?”

“Yes,” Jeremiah replied, “you will be delivered(AE) into the hands of the king of Babylon.”

18 Then Jeremiah said to King Zedekiah, “What crime(AF) have I committed against you or your attendants or this people, that you have put me in prison? 19 Where are your prophets(AG) 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.”(AH)

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 bread(AI) in the city was gone.(AJ) So Jeremiah remained in the courtyard of the guard.(AK)

Footnotes

  1. Jeremiah 37:1 Hebrew Koniah, a variant of Jehoiachin
  2. Jeremiah 37:5 Or Chaldeans; also in verses 8, 9, 13 and 14
  3. Jeremiah 37:10 Or Chaldean; also in verse 11

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