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Jeremiah Is Thrown into a Muddy Cistern

38 Shephatiah (son of Mattan), Gedaliah (son of Pashhur), Jucal (son of Shelemiah), and Pashhur (son of Malchiah) heard that Jeremiah was speaking to all the people. They heard Jeremiah say, “This is what the Lord says: Those who stay in this city will die in wars, famines, or plagues. But those who surrender to the Babylonians will live. They will escape with their lives.

“This is what the Lord says: This city will certainly be handed over to the army of the king of Babylon, and it will capture the city.”

Then the officials said to the king, “Have this man put to death. He discourages the soldiers who are left in this city and all the people by telling them such things. This man is not trying to help these people; he’s trying to hurt them.”

King Zedekiah answered, “He’s in your hands. I won’t do anything to stop you.”

So they took Jeremiah and threw him into the cistern of Malchiah, the king’s son. It was in the courtyard of the prison. They used ropes to lower Jeremiah into the cistern. There was no water in the cistern, only mud, and Jeremiah sank in the mud.

But an official in the royal palace, Ebed Melech from Sudan, heard that they had put Jeremiah in the cistern. The king happened to be sitting at Benjamin Gate. Ebed Melech left the royal palace and spoke to the king at Benjamin Gate. “Your Majesty, everything that these men have done to the prophet Jeremiah is wrong. They have thrown him into the cistern, where he’ll starve to death, because there’s no more bread in the city.”

10 Then the king gave Ebed Melech from Sudan this command: “Take 30 men from here, and lift the prophet Jeremiah out of the cistern before he dies.”

11 So Ebed Melech took the men with him and went to the royal palace, to a room under the treasury. He took rags and torn clothes from there and lowered them with ropes to Jeremiah in the cistern. 12 Ebed Melech from Sudan said to Jeremiah, “Put these rags and torn clothes under your arms to protect you from the ropes.” Jeremiah did. 13 They used the ropes to pull Jeremiah up and lift him out of the cistern. Then Jeremiah stayed in the courtyard of the prison.

14 King Zedekiah sent for the prophet Jeremiah and brought him to the third entrance in the Lord’s temple. “I’m going to ask you a question,” the king said to Jeremiah. “Don’t hide anything from me.”

15 Jeremiah answered Zedekiah, “If I answer you, you’ll kill me. If I give you advice, you won’t listen to me.”

16 So King Zedekiah secretly swore an oath to Jeremiah, “The Lord gave us life. As the Lord lives, I will not kill you or hand you over to these men who want to kill you.”

17 Jeremiah said to Zedekiah, “This is what the Lord God of Armies, the God of Israel, says: If you surrender to the officers of the king of Babylon, you will live, and this city will not be burned. You and your household will live. 18 But if you don’t surrender to the officers of the king of Babylon, this city will be handed over to the Babylonians. They will burn it down, and you will not escape from them.”

19 King Zedekiah answered Jeremiah, “I’m afraid of the Jews who have deserted to the Babylonians. The Babylonians may hand me over to them, and they will torture me.”

20 Jeremiah said, “You will not be handed over to them. Obey the Lord by doing what I’m telling you. Then everything will go well for you, and you will live. 21 But if you refuse to surrender, this is what the Lord has shown me. 22 All the women who are left in the palace of Judah’s king will be brought out to the officers of the king of Babylon. These women will say:

‘Your trusted friends have misled you and used you.
Your feet are stuck in the mud, and your friends have deserted you.’

23 “All your wives and children will be brought to the Babylonians. You will not escape from them. You will be captured by the king of Babylon, and this city will be burned down.”

Jeremiah and Zedekiah Make an Agreement

24 Zedekiah said to Jeremiah, “Don’t let anyone know about this conversation, or you will die. 25 The officials may find out that I’ve been talking with you. They may come to you and say, ‘Tell us what you said to the king and what the king said to you. Don’t hide anything from us, or we’ll kill you.’ 26 If they come to you, say to them, ‘I asked the king not to send me back to Jonathan’s house to die there.’ ”

27 All the officials came to Jeremiah and questioned him. He told them exactly what the king had told him to say. So they stopped questioning him, because they hadn’t heard his conversation with the king. 28 Jeremiah stayed in the courtyard of the prison until the day Jerusalem was captured.

Jerusalem Is Captured(A)

39 In the tenth month of Zedekiah’s ninth year as king of Judah, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon attacked Jerusalem with his entire army and blockaded it. On the ninth day of the fourth month of Zedekiah’s eleventh year as king, they broke into the city.

Then all the officers of the king of Babylon came in and sat in Middle Gate: Nergal (the quartermaster), Samgar Nebo (the chief officer), Nergal (the quartermaster and the chief fortuneteller), and all the rest of the officers of the king of Babylon.

When King Zedekiah 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, and they took the road to the plain ⌞of Jericho⌟. The Babylonian army pursued them and caught up with Zedekiah in the plain of Jericho. They arrested him and brought him to Babylon’s King Nebuchadnezzar at Riblah in the territory of Hamath. The king of Babylon passed sentence on him. The king of Babylon slaughtered Zedekiah’s sons as Zedekiah watched at Riblah. He also slaughtered all the leaders of Judah. Then he blinded Zedekiah, put him in bronze shackles, and took him to Babylon.

The Babylonians burned down the royal palace and the people’s homes, and they tore down the walls of Jerusalem. Nebuzaradan, Babylon’s captain of the guard, captured the few people left in the city, those who surrendered to him, and the rest of the people. 10 But Nebuzaradan, the captain of the guard, left some poor people who had nothing in the land of Judah. At that time he gave them vineyards and farms.

11 King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon gave Nebuzaradan an order concerning Jeremiah. He said, 12 “Take him, and look after him. Don’t harm him in any way, but do for him whatever he asks.” 13 Nebuzaradan (the captain of the guard), Nebushazban (the chief official), Nergal (the quartermaster and the chief fortuneteller), and all the other leaders of the king of Babylon sent for Jeremiah. 14 They took Jeremiah out of the courtyard of the prison and handed him over to Gedaliah, son of Ahikam and grandson of Shaphan, to take him home. So he lived among the people.

15 While Jeremiah was still confined in the courtyard of the prison, the Lord spoke his word to him. The Lord said, 16 “Say to Ebed Melech from Sudan, ‘This is what the Lord of Armies, the God of Israel, says: I’m going to carry out my threat against this city by bringing disaster on it instead of prosperity. At that time these things will happen as you watch. 17 But at that time I will rescue you, declares the Lord. You will not be handed over to those you fear. 18 I will certainly rescue you. You will not die in war. You will escape with your life because you trusted me, declares the Lord.’ ”

Jeremiah Is Freed(B)

40 The Lord spoke his word to Jeremiah after Nebuzaradan, the captain of the guard, let him go at Ramah. Nebuzaradan found Jeremiah in chains along with the captives of Jerusalem and Judah who were being taken to Babylon. The captain of the guard took Jeremiah aside and said to him, “The Lord your God threatened to bring this disaster on this place. He has carried out his threat. The Lord did as he promised because you Israelites have sinned against him and refused to obey him. That is why this has happened to you. Today I’m removing the chains from your hands. If you would like to come with me to Babylon, come, and I’ll look after you. But if you don’t want to come with me to Babylon, don’t come. The whole land is yours. Go wherever you want.

“If you wish to remain, then go back to Gedaliah, son of Ahikam and grandson of Shaphan, whom the king of Babylon appointed to govern the cities of Judah. Live among the people with him, or go anywhere you want.” The captain of the guard gave Jeremiah some food and a present and let him go. Jeremiah went to Gedaliah, son of Ahikam, at Mizpah and lived with him among the people who were left in the land.

All the army commanders and their men who were in the field heard that the king of Babylon had appointed Gedaliah, son of Ahikam, to govern the country and some of the country’s poorest men, women, and children who had not been taken away to Babylon. These are the commanders who went with their men to Gedaliah at Mizpah: Ishmael (son of Nethaniah), Johanan and Jonathan (sons of Kareah), Seraiah (son of Tanhumeth), the sons of Ephai from Netophah, and Jezaniah, who was the son of a man from Maacah. Gedaliah, son of Ahikam and grandson of Shaphan, swore an oath to them and their men. He said, “Don’t be afraid to serve the Babylonians. Live in this country, serve the king of Babylon, and you will prosper. 10 I’m going to live in Mizpah and represent you when the Babylonians come to us. Gather grapes, summer fruit, and olive oil, and put them in storage jars. Live in the cities you have taken over.”

11 Now, all the Jews who were in Moab, Ammon, Edom, and in all the other countries heard that the king of Babylon had left a few survivors in Judah and had appointed Gedaliah, son of Ahikam and grandson of Shaphan, to govern them. 12 So all the Jews returned from all the places where they had been scattered. They came to Judah and to Gedaliah at Mizpah. They gathered a large harvest of grapes and summer fruit.

13 Kareah’s son Johanan and all the army commanders who were still in the country came to Gedaliah at Mizpah. 14 They asked him, “Do you know that King Baalis of the Ammonites has sent Ishmael, Nethaniah’s son, to kill you?” However, Gedaliah, son of Ahikam, didn’t believe them.

15 Then Johanan, Kareah’s son, secretly asked Gedaliah at Mizpah, “Let me kill Ishmael, Nethaniah’s son. No one will know about it. Why should he kill you? All the Jews who have gathered around you would scatter. What is left of Judah would disappear.”

16 Gedaliah, son of Ahikam, told Johanan, Kareah’s son, “Don’t do that! What you are saying about Ishmael is a lie.”

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