Jeremiah 37-41 Common English Bible (CEB)
Jeremiah falsely accused and imprisoned
37 Babylon’s King Nebuchadnezzar appointed Zedekiah, Josiah’s son, to succeed Coniah, Jehoiakim’s son, as king of Judah. 2 Neither Zedekiah, his attendants, nor the people of the land listened to the Lord’s words spoken by the prophet Jeremiah.
3 Nevertheless, King Zedekiah sent Jehucal, Shelemiah’s son, and the priest Zephaniah, Maaseiah’s son, to Jeremiah the prophet with this plea: “Please pray for us to the Lord our God.” (4 Now Jeremiah hadn’t been imprisoned yet, so he was free to come and go among the people. 5 Pharaoh’s army had recently[a] set out from Egypt; when the Babylonians who were attacking Jerusalem learned of the Egyptian advance, they withdrew from Jerusalem.)
6 Then the Lord’s word came to Jeremiah the prophet: 7 The Lord, the God of Israel, proclaims: Tell the king of Judah who sent his emissaries to seek advice from me: “Pharaoh’s army that came to assist you is heading back to Egypt. 8 The Babylonians will return and attack this city. They will capture it and burn it down.”
9 The Lord proclaims: Don’t let yourself be deceived into thinking that the Babylonians will withdraw for good.[b] They won’t! 10 Even if you were to crush the entire Babylonian army that’s attacking you and only the wounded in their tents remained, they would rise up and burn this city down.
11 Now when the Babylonian army had withdrawn from Jerusalem due to Pharaoh’s advance, 12 Jeremiah set out for the land of Benjamin to secure his share of the family property.[c] 13 He got as far as the Benjamin Gate in Jerusalem when the guard there named Irijah, Shelemiah’s son and Hananiah’s grandson, arrested the prophet Jeremiah, saying, “You are deserting to the Babylonians.”
14 “That’s a lie,” Jeremiah replied. “I’m not deserting to the Babylonians.” But Irijah wouldn’t listen to him. He arrested Jeremiah and brought him to the officials, 15 who were furious with him. They beat him and threw him into the house of the scribe Jonathan, which had been turned into a prison. 16 So Jeremiah was put in a cistern, which was like a dungeon, where he remained a long time.
17 Later King Zedekiah sent for him and questioned Jeremiah secretly in the palace: “Is there a word from the Lord?”
“There is,” Jeremiah replied. “You are going to be handed over to the king of Babylon.” 18 Then Jeremiah asked King Zedekiah, “What have I done wrong to you or your attendants or this people that you should throw me into prison? 19 Where are your prophets now who prophesied that the king of Babylon wouldn’t attack you and this land? 20 Now, my master and king, I beg you, don’t send me back to the house of Jonathan the scribe, or I’ll die there.” 21 So King Zedekiah gave orders that Jeremiah be held in the prison quarters and that he receive a loaf of bread daily from the street vendors[d]—until all the bread in the city was gone. So Jeremiah remained in the prison quarters.
38 Shephatiah, Mattan’s son; Gedaliah, Pashhur’s son; Jucal, Shelemiah’s son; and Pashhur, Malchiah’s son heard what Jeremiah had been telling the people: 2 The Lord proclaims: Whoever stays in this city will die by the sword, famine, and disease. But whoever surrenders to the Babylonians will live; yes, their lives will be spared. 3 The Lord proclaims: This city will certainly be handed over to the army of Babylon’s king, who will capture it.
4 Then the officials said to the king: “This man must be put to death! By saying such things, he is discouraging the few remaining troops left in the city, as well as all the people. This man doesn’t seek their welfare but their ruin!”
5 “He’s in your hands,” King Zedekiah said, “for the king can do nothing to stop you.” 6 So they seized Jeremiah, threw him into the cistern of the royal prince Malchiah, within the prison quarters, and lowered him down by ropes. Now there wasn’t any water in the cistern, only mud, and Jeremiah began to sink into the mud.
7 Ebed-melech the Cushite, a court official in the royal palace, got word that they had thrown Jeremiah into the cistern. Since the king was sitting at the Benjamin Gate, 8 Ebed-melech left the palace and said to the king: 9 “My master the king, these men have made a terrible mistake in treating the prophet Jeremiah the way they have; they have thrown him into the cistern where he will die of starvation, for there’s no bread left in the city.”
10 Then the king commanded Ebed-melech the Cushite, “Take thirty men from here and take Jeremiah the prophet out of the cistern before he dies.” 11 So Ebed-melech took the men and returned to the palace, to an underground supply room, where he found some old rags and scraps of clothing.
Ebed-melech lowered them down the cistern by the ropes 12 and called to Jeremiah, “Put these old rags and scraps of clothing under your arms and hold on to the ropes.” When Jeremiah did this, 13 they pulled him up by the ropes and got him out of the cistern. After that Jeremiah remained in the prison quarters.
14 King Zedekiah ordered that the prophet Jeremiah be brought to him at the third entrance of the Lord’s temple, where the king said to Jeremiah, “I want to ask you something, and don’t hide anything from me.”
15 Jeremiah replied, “If I do, you’ll kill me! And if I tell you what to do, you won’t listen to me!”
16 So King Zedekiah swore to Jeremiah behind closed doors, “As the Lord lives, who has given us this life, I won’t put you to death and I won’t hand you over to those who seek to kill you.”
17 So Jeremiah said to Zedekiah: “The Lord of heavenly forces, the God of Israel, proclaims: If you surrender to the officers of the king of Babylon, you and your family will live, and this city will not be burned down. 18 If you don’t surrender to the officers of the king of Babylon, the city will be handed over to the Babylonians, who will burn it down, and you won’t escape from them.”
19 King Zedekiah said to Jeremiah, “I’m afraid that I will fall into the hands of the Judeans who have defected to the Babylonians, and they will torture me.”
20 “That won’t happen,” Jeremiah replied, “if you obey the Lord, whose message I bring. You will survive, and all will go well for you. 21 But if you refuse to surrender, this is what the Lord has shown me: 22 All the women left in the palace of the king of Judah will be led out to the officers of the king of Babylon. And they will say:
‘Your trusted friends have betrayed you;
23 “All your wives and children will be led out to the Babylonians, and you yourself won’t escape from them. The king of Babylon will capture you, and this city will be burned down.”
24 Zedekiah said to Jeremiah, “No one is to know about these matters or else you will die. 25 If the officials find out that we met, and they come and say to you, ‘Tell us what you said to the king. Don’t hide anything from us; otherwise, we’ll kill you. So what did the king say to you?’ 26 you should say to them, ‘I was begging the king not to send me back to the house of Jonathan to die there.’”
27 Then all the officials approached Jeremiah to question him. And he responded exactly as the king had instructed him. So they stopped interrogating him because the conversation between the king and Jeremiah[e] hadn’t been overheard. 28 Jeremiah remained in the prison quarters until Jerusalem was captured.
Fall of Jerusalem
39 In the ninth year and the tenth month of Judah’s King Zedekiah, Babylon’s King Nebuchadnezzar and his entire army came against Jerusalem and surrounded it. 2 In the eleventh year of Zedekiah, on the ninth day of the fourth month, they broke through the city walls. 3 Then all the commanding officers of the king of Babylon—Nergal-sharezer, Samgar-nebo,[f] Sarsechim the chief officer, Nergal-sharezer the field commander—entered it and took their places at the middle gate with the rest of the officials of the king of Babylon.
4 When Judah’s King Zedekiah and his troops saw them, they tried to escape at night through the royal gardens and the gate between the two walls, toward the desert plain. 5 But the Babylonian[g] army chased them down and caught Zedekiah in the plains of Jericho. They arrested him and brought him before Babylon’s King Nebuchadnezzar at Riblah in the land of Hamath. There the king put him on trial. 6 The king of Babylon slaughtered Zedekiah’s children at Riblah before his very own eyes, and the king of Babylon slaughtered all the officials of Judah. 7 Then he gouged out Zedekiah’s eyes, bound him in chains, and dragged him off to Babylon.
8 The Babylonians burned down the royal palace and the houses of the people, and they destroyed the Jerusalem walls. 9 Nebuzaradan the captain of the special guard rounded up the rest of the people who were left in the city, including those who had defected to the Babylonians, and deported them to Babylon. 10 But Nebuzaradan the captain of the special guard left some of the poorest people in the land of Judah. He gave them vineyards and fields at that time.
11 Babylon’s King Nebuchadnezzar gave orders concerning Jeremiah to Nebuzaradan the captain of the special guard: 12 “Find Jeremiah and look after him; don’t harm him but do whatever he asks from you.” 13 So Nebuzaradan the captain of the special guard, Nebushazban the chief officer, Nergal-sharezer the field commander, and all the commanders of the king of Babylon 14 sent orders[h] to release Jeremiah from the prison quarters. They entrusted him to Gedaliah, Ahikam’s son and Shaphan’s grandson, so that Jeremiah could move about freely[i] among the people.
15 The Lord’s word came to Jeremiah when he was still confined to the prison quarters: 16 Go and say to Ebed-melech the Cushite that the Lord of heavenly forces, the God of Israel, proclaims: I’m about to fulfill my words concerning this city, for harm and not for good. You will witness it for yourself on that day. 17 But on that day, declares the Lord:
I will rescue you;
40 Jeremiah received the Lord’s word after Nebuzaradan the captain of the special guard had released him from Ramah. He had been bound in chains there along with all the other detainees from Jerusalem and Judah who were being sent off to Babylon. 2 The captain of the special guard located Jeremiah and said to him, “The Lord your God declared that a great disaster would overtake this place. 3 Now the Lord has made it happen. He has done just as he warned because all of you have sinned against the Lord and haven’t obeyed him. That’s why this has happened to you. 4 But I’m setting you free from the chains on your hands. If you would like, come with me to Babylon, and I’ll take care of you. If you would rather not come with me, that’s fine too. Now, the whole land lies before you; go wherever you want. 5 If you decide to remain here,[j] stay with Gedaliah, Ahikam’s son and Shaphan’s grandson—the Babylonian appointee in charge of the cities of Judah. Stay with him and the people he rules or go wherever you want.” Then the captain of the special guard gave him ample provisions and let him go. 6 Jeremiah went to Gedaliah, Ahikam’s son at Mizpah, and he stayed with him and the people who remained in the land.
Gedaliah’s provisional government
7 Some of the army officers and their troops were still hiding out in the countryside when they heard that the king of Babylon had appointed Gedaliah, Ahikam’s son, over the region, responsible for the men, women, and children who were the poorest in the land and who hadn’t been deported to Babylon. 8 So they went out to meet Gedaliah at Mizpah: Ishmael, Nethaniah’s son; Johanan and Jonathan, Kareah’s sons; Seraiah son of Tanhumeth; the sons of Ephai the Netophathite; Jezaniah son of the Maacathite; and their troops. 9 Gedaliah, Ahikam’s son and Shaphan’s grandson, firmly assured them all: “Don’t be afraid of serving the Babylonians. Remain in the land, serve the king of Babylon, and all will go well for you. 10 But me? I will stay at Mizpah so I can speak on your behalf when the Babylonians arrive. But you? Settle down in the towns you have taken; harvest the grapes, the summer fruits and figs, and then store them in your containers.”
11 In the same way, all the Judeans living in Moab, Ammon, Edom, and in other countries heard that the king of Babylon had left a few people in the land and that he had put Gedaliah, Ahikam’s son and Shaphan’s grandson, in charge of them. 12 So they left the places where they had been scattered and returned to the land, to Gedaliah at Mizpah. There they gathered large amounts of grapes and summer fruits.
13 Johanan, Kareah’s son, and all the army officers in the countryside approached Gedaliah at Mizpah 14 and said to him, “Are you aware that King Baalis of Ammon has sent Ishmael, Nethaniah’s son, to kill you?” But Gedaliah, Ahikam’s son, wouldn’t believe them. 15 Still Johanan, Kareah’s son, met with Gedaliah secretly at Mizpah and said to him, “Let me go and kill Ishmael, Nethaniah’s son; no one needs to knows about this matter. Otherwise, he’ll kill you, and all the Judeans who have gathered around you will be scattered, and the few who are left will perish.”
16 But Gedaliah son of Ahikam told Johanan, Kareah’s son, “Don’t do such a thing, for what you are saying about Ishmael is wrong.”
Mutiny and murder
41 In the seventh month,[k] Ishmael, Nethaniah’s son and Elishama’s grandson, who was from a royal family and who was one of the chief officers of the king, came with ten men to Gedaliah, Ahikam’s son, at Mizpah. While they were eating a meal together, 2 Ishmael, Nethaniah’s son, and the ten men got up and struck down Gedaliah, Ahikam’s son and Shaphan’s grandson, with the sword. They murdered him because he had been appointed over the region by the king of Babylon. 3 Ishmael also murdered all the Judeans who had rallied around Gedaliah at Mizpah as well as the Babylonian soldiers who were posted there.
4 The day after Gedaliah was killed, before anyone knew of it, 5 eighty men with shaved beards, torn clothes, and gashed bodies arrived from Shechem, Shiloh, and Samaria. They were bringing grain offerings and incense to present at the Lord’s temple. 6 Ishmael, Nethaniah’s son, left Mizpah to meet them, weeping as he went. When he reached them, he said, “Come to Gedaliah, Ahikam’s son!” 7 When they arrived in the middle of the town, Ishmael, Nethaniah’s son, and the men with him slaughtered them and threw their bodies[l] into a cistern.
8 But there were ten men among them who begged Ishmael, “Don’t kill us; we have wheat, barley, oil, and honey hidden in a field.” So he stopped and didn’t kill them along with the rest.
(9 Now the cistern that Ishmael used to discard the bodies of the men he had killed because of their association with Gedaliah[m] was the one that King Asa had made to defend against Israel’s King Baasha. Ishmael, Nethaniah’s son, filled it with the dead.)
10 Ishmael captured the rest of the people who were at Mizpah, including the daughters of the king and all those assigned to Gedaliah, Ahikam’s son, at Mizpah by Nebuzaradan the captain of the special guard. Then Ishmael, Nethaniah’s son, set out to cross over to the Ammonites with the hostages.
11 Johanan, Kareah’s son, and all the army officers at his side heard of the terrible acts committed by Ishmael, Nethaniah’s son. 12 So they mustered all their forces and went to fight him. They found Ishmael, Nethaniah’s son, at the great pool in Gibeon. 13 When all those taken by Ishmael at Mizpah saw Johanan, Kareah’s son, and all his army officers with him, they were delighted. 14 They rallied around Johanan, Kareah’s son, and returned home with him. 15 But Ishmael, Nethaniah’s son, and eight of his men eluded Johanan and went to the Ammonites.
16 Then Johanan, Kareah’s son, and all the army officers with him took the small group they had rescued in Gibeon, including the soldiers, women, children, and commanding officers that Ishmael, Nethaniah’s son, had captured at Mizpah after killing Gedaliah, Ahikam’s son. 17 They set out for Egypt, stopping on the way at Geruth Chimham near Bethlehem, 18 because they were afraid of what the Babylonians would do when they found out that Ishmael, Nethaniah’s son, had killed Gedaliah, Ahikam’s son, whom the king of Babylon had appointed over the region.