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Learn a Lesson from the Rechabites

35 When Jehoiakim[a] was king of Judah, the Lord told me, “Go to the Rechabite clan and invite them to meet you in one of the side rooms[b] of the temple. When they arrive, offer them a drink of wine.”

So I went to Jaazaniah,[c] the leader of the clan, and I invited him and all the men of his clan. I brought them into the temple courtyard and took them upstairs to a room belonging to the prophets who were followers of Hanan son of Igdaliah. It was next to a room belonging to some of the officials, and that room was over the one belonging to Maaseiah, a priest who was one of the high officials in the temple.[d]

I set out some large bowls full of wine together with some cups, and then I said to the Rechabites, “Have some wine!”

But they answered:

No! The ancestor of our clan, Jonadab son of Rechab,[e] made a rule that we must obey. He said, “Don’t ever drink wine or build houses or plant crops and vineyards. Instead, you must always live in tents and move from place to place. If you obey this command, you will live a long time.”

8-10 Our clan has always obeyed Jonadab’s command. To this very day, we and our wives and sons and daughters don’t drink wine or build houses or plant vineyards or crops. And we have lived in tents, 11 except now we have to live inside Jerusalem because Nebuchadnezzar[f] has taken over the countryside with his army from Babylonia and Syria.

12-13 Then the Lord told me to say to the people of Judah and Jerusalem:

I, the Lord All-Powerful, the God of Israel, want you to learn a lesson 14 from the Rechabite clan. Their ancestor Jonadab told his descendants never to drink wine, and to this very day they have obeyed him. But I have spoken to you over and over, and you haven’t obeyed me! 15 You refused to listen to my prophets, who kept telling you, “Stop doing evil and worshiping other gods! Start obeying the Lord, and he will let you live in this land he gave your ancestors.”

16 The Rechabites have obeyed the command of their ancestor Jonadab, but you have not obeyed me, 17 your God. I am the Lord All-Powerful, and I warned you about the terrible things that would happen to you if you did not listen to me. You have ignored me, so now disaster will strike you. I, the Lord, have spoken.

The Lord Makes a Promise to the Rechabites

18 Then the Lord told me to say to the Rechabite clan:

I am the Lord All-Powerful, the God of Israel. You have obeyed your ancestor Jonadab, 19 so I promise that your clan will be my servants and will never die out.

King Jehoiakim Burns Jeremiah’s First Scroll

36 During the fourth year that Jehoiakim[g] son of Josiah[h] was king of Judah, the Lord said to me, “Jeremiah, since the time Josiah was king, I have been speaking to you about Israel, Judah, and the other nations. Now, get a scroll[i] and write down everything I have told you, then read it to the people of Judah. Maybe they will stop sinning when they hear what terrible things I plan for them. And if they turn to me, I will forgive them.”

I sent for Baruch son of Neriah and asked him to help me. I repeated everything the Lord had told me, and Baruch wrote it all down on a scroll. Then I said,

Baruch, the officials refuse to let me go into the Lord’s temple, so you must go instead. Wait for the next holy day when the people of Judah come to the temple to pray and to go without eating.[j] Then take this scroll to the temple and read it aloud. The Lord is furious, and if the people hear how he is going to punish them, maybe they will ask to be forgiven.

8-10 In the ninth month[k] of the fifth year that Jehoiakim was king, the leaders set a day when everyone who lived in Jerusalem or who was visiting here had to pray and go without eating. So Baruch took the scroll to the upper courtyard of the temple. He went over to the side of the courtyard and stood in a covered area near New Gate, where he read the scroll aloud.

This covered area belonged to Gemariah,[l] one of the king’s highest officials. 11 Gemariah’s son Micaiah was there and heard Baruch read what the Lord had said. 12 When Baruch finished reading, Micaiah went down to the palace. His father Gemariah was in the officials' room, meeting with the rest of the king’s officials, including Elishama, Delaiah, Elnathan, and Zedekiah.[m] 13 Micaiah told them what he had heard Baruch reading to the people. 14 Then the officials sent Jehudi and Shelemiah[n] to tell Baruch, “Bring us that scroll.”

When Baruch arrived with the scroll, 15 the officials said, “Please sit down and read it to us,” which he did. 16 After they heard what was written on the scroll, they were worried and said to each other, “The king needs to hear this!” Turning to Baruch, they asked, 17 “Did someone tell you what to write on this scroll?”

18 “Yes, Jeremiah did,” Baruch replied. “I wrote down just what he told me.”

19 The officials said, “You and Jeremiah must go into hiding, and don’t tell anyone where you are.”

20-22 The officials put the scroll in Elishama’s room and went to see the king, who was in one of the rooms where he lived and worked during the winter. It was the ninth month[o] of the year, so there was a fire burning in the fireplace,[p] and the king was sitting nearby. After the officials told the king about the scroll, he sent Jehudi to get it. Then Jehudi started reading the scroll to the king and his officials. 23-25 But every time Jehudi finished reading three or four columns, the king would tell him to cut them off with his penknife and throw them in the fire. Elnathan, Delaiah, and Gemariah begged the king not to burn the scroll, but he ignored them, and soon there was nothing left of it.

The king and his servants listened to what was written on the scroll, but they were not afraid, and they did not tear their clothes in sorrow.[q]

26 The king told his son Jerahmeel to take Seraiah and Shelemiah[r] and to go arrest Baruch and me.[s] But the Lord kept them from finding us.

Jeremiah’s Second Scroll

27 I had told Baruch what to write on that first scroll,[t] but King Jehoiakim[u] had burned it. So the Lord told me 28 to get another scroll and write down everything that had been on the first one. 29 Then he told me to say to King Jehoiakim:

Not only did you burn Jeremiah’s scroll, you had the nerve to ask why he had written that the king of Babylonia would attack and ruin the land, killing all the people and even the animals. 30 So I, the Lord, promise that you will be killed and your body thrown out on the ground. The sun will beat down on it during the day, and the frost will settle on it at night. And none of your descendants will ever be king of Judah. 31 You, your children, and your servants are evil, and I will punish all of you. I warned you and the people of Judah and Jerusalem that I would bring disaster, but none of you have listened. So now you are doomed!

32 After the Lord finished speaking to me, I got another scroll and gave it to Baruch. Then I told him what to write, so this second scroll would contain even more than was on the scroll Jehoiakim had burned.

King Zedekiah Asks Jeremiah To Pray

37 King Nebuchadnezzar[v] of Babylonia had removed Jehoiachin[w] son of Jehoiakim[x] from being the king of Judah and had made Josiah’s[y] son Zedekiah[z] king instead.[aa] But Zedekiah, his officials, and everyone else in Judah ignored everything the Lord had told me.

3-5 Later, the Babylonian army attacked Jerusalem, but they left after learning that the Egyptian army[ab] was headed in this direction.

One day, Zedekiah sent Jehucal and the priest Zephaniah[ac] to talk with me. At that time, I was free to go wherever I wanted, because I had not yet been put in prison. Jehucal and Zephaniah said, “Jeremiah, please pray to the Lord our God for us.”

6-7 Then the Lord told me to send them back to Zedekiah with this message:

Zedekiah, you wanted Jeremiah to ask me, the Lord)God of Israel, what is going to happen. So I will tell you. The king of Egypt and his army came to your rescue, but soon they will go back to Egypt. Then the Babylonians will return and attack Jerusalem, and this time they will capture the city and set it on fire. Don’t fool yourselves into thinking that the Babylonians will leave as they did before. 10 Even if you could defeat their entire army, their wounded survivors would still be able to leave their tents and set Jerusalem on fire.

Jeremiah Is Put in Prison

11 The Babylonian army had left because the Egyptian army was on its way to help us. 12 So I decided to leave Jerusalem and go to the territory of the Benjamin tribe to claim my share of my family’s land. 13 I was leaving Jerusalem through Benjamin Gate, when I was stopped by Irijah,[ad] the officer in charge of the soldiers at the gate. He said, “Jeremiah, you’re under arrest for trying to join the Babylonians.”

14 “I’m not trying to join them!” I answered. But Irijah wouldn’t listen, and he took me to the king’s officials. 15-16 They were angry and ordered the soldiers to beat me. Then I was taken to the house that belonged to Jonathan, one of the king’s officials. It had been turned into a prison, and I was kept in a basement room.

After I had spent a long time there, 17 King Zedekiah secretly had me brought to his palace, where he asked, “Is there any message for us from the Lord?”

“Yes, there is, Your Majesty,” I replied. “The Lord is going to let the king of Babylonia capture you.”

18 Then I continued, “Your Majesty, why have you put me in prison? Have I committed a crime against you or your officials or the nation? 19 Have you locked up the prophets who lied to you and said that the king of Babylonia would never attack Jerusalem? 20 Please, don’t send me back to that prison at Jonathan’s house. If you do, I will die.”

21 King Zedekiah had me taken to the prison cells in the courtyard of the palace guards. He told the soldiers to give me a loaf of bread[ae] from one of the bakeries every day until the city ran out of grain.

Footnotes

  1. 35.1 Jehoiakim: See the note at 1.3.
  2. 35.2 side rooms: Probably a room with walls on three sides, and open to the courtyard on the fourth side.
  3. 35.3 Jaazaniah: The Hebrew text has “Jaazaniah son of Jeremiah son of Habazziniah”; this is a different Jeremiah than the author of the book.
  4. 35.4 Maaseiah. . . temple: Hebrew “Maaseiah son of Shallum, the keeper of the temple door.”
  5. 35.6 Jonadab son of Rechab: See 2 Kings 10.15-23. In the Hebrew of this chapter, “Jonadab” is sometimes spelled “Jehonadab.”
  6. 35.11 Nebuchadnezzar: See the note at 21.2.
  7. 36.1 Jehoiakim: See the note at 1.3.
  8. 36.1 Josiah: See the note at 3.6.
  9. 36.2 scroll: See the note at 30.1,2.
  10. 36.6 to go without eating: As a way of asking for God’s help.
  11. 36.8-10 ninth month: Chislev, the ninth month of the Hebrew calendar, from about mid-November to mid-December.
  12. 36.8-10 Gemariah: Hebrew “Gemariah son of Shaphan”; Gemariah’s brother Ahikam had earlier protected Jeremiah (see 26.20-24).
  13. 36.12 Delaiah, Elnathan, and Zedekiah: Hebrew “Delaiah son of Shemaiah, Elnathan son of Achbor, and Zedekiah son of Hananiah.”
  14. 36.14 Jehudi and Shelemiah: Hebrew “Jehudi son of Nethaniah and Shelemiah son of Cushi.”
  15. 36.20-22 ninth month: See the note at 36.8-10.
  16. 36.20-22 fireplace: Probably a large metal or clay pot on a movable stand, with the fire burning inside.
  17. 36.23-25 they did not tear their clothes in sorrow: Such actions would have shown that they were sorry for disobeying the Lord and were turning back to him.
  18. 36.26 Seraiah and Shelemiah: Hebrew “Seraiah son of Azriel and Shelemiah son of Abdeel.”
  19. 36.26 me: Jeremiah.
  20. 36.27 scroll: See the note at 30.1,2.
  21. 36.27 Jehoiakim: See the note at 1.3.
  22. 37.1 Nebuchadnezzar: See the note at 21.2.
  23. 37.1 Jehoiachin: Hebrew “Coniah” (see the note at 22.24).
  24. 37.1 Jehoiakim: See the note at 1.3.
  25. 37.1 Josiah’s: Josiah was the father of both Jehoiakim and Zedekiah. Josiah ruled 640-609 B.C.
  26. 37.1 Zedekiah: See the note at 1.3.
  27. 37.1 King Nebuchadnezzar. . . instead: See 2 Kings 24.10-17.
  28. 37.3-5 Egyptian army: Led by King Apries, also known as Hophra.
  29. 37.3-5 Jehucal and the priest Zephaniah: Hebrew “Jehucal son of Shelemiah, and the priest Zephaniah son of Maaseiah.”
  30. 37.13 Irijah: Hebrew “Irijah son of Shelemiah and grandson of Hananiah.”
  31. 37.21 a loaf of bread: Bread was the main food of the Israelites. During this time of emergency in Jerusalem, everyone probably received the same amount each day.

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