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Jeremiah 37:1-38:13 New International Version - UK (NIVUK)

Jeremiah in prison

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

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

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 enquire of me, “Pharaoh’s army, which has marched out to support you, will go back to its own land, to Egypt. Then the Babylonians will return and attack this city; they will capture it and burn it down.”

‘This is what the Lord says: do not deceive 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 this city down.’

11 After the Babylonian army had withdrawn from Jerusalem because of Pharaoh’s army, 12 Jeremiah started to leave the city to go to the territory of Benjamin to get his share of the property among the people there. 13 But when he reached the Benjamin Gate, 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!’

14 ‘That’s not true!’ Jeremiah said. ‘I am not deserting to the Babylonians.’ But Irijah would not listen to him; instead, he arrested Jeremiah and brought him to the officials. 15 They were angry with Jeremiah and had him beaten and imprisoned in the house 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 for him and had him brought to the palace, where he asked him privately, ‘Is there any word from the Lord?’

‘Yes,’ Jeremiah replied, ‘you will be delivered into the hands of the king of Babylon.’

18 Then Jeremiah said to King Zedekiah, ‘What crime have I committed against you or your attendants or this people, that you have put me in prison? 19 Where are your prophets 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 shall die there.’

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 in the city was gone. So Jeremiah remained in the courtyard of the guard.

Jeremiah thrown into a cistern

38 Shephatiah son of Mattan, Gedaliah son of Pashhur, Jehukal[d] son of Shelemiah, and Pashhur son of Malkijah heard what Jeremiah was telling all the people when he said, ‘This is what the Lord says: “Whoever stays in this city will die by the sword, famine or plague, but whoever goes over to the Babylonians[e] will live. They will escape with their lives; they will live.” And this is what the Lord says: “This city will certainly be given into the hands of the army of the king of Babylon, who will capture it.”’

Then the officials said to the king, ‘This man should be put to death. He is discouraging the soldiers who are left in this city, as well as all the people, by the things he is saying to them. This man is not seeking the good of these people but their ruin.’

‘He is in your hands,’ King Zedekiah answered. ‘The king can do nothing to oppose you.’

So they took Jeremiah and put him into the cistern of Malkijah, the king’s son, which was in the courtyard of the guard. They lowered Jeremiah by ropes into the cistern; it had no water in it, only mud, and Jeremiah sank down into the mud.

But Ebed-Melek, a Cushite,[f] an official[g] in the royal palace, heard that they had put Jeremiah into the cistern. While the king was sitting in the Benjamin Gate, Ebed-Melek went out of the palace and said to him, ‘My lord the king, these men have acted wickedly in all they have done to Jeremiah the prophet. They have thrown him into a cistern, where he will starve to death when there is no longer any bread in the city.’

10 Then the king commanded Ebed-Melek the Cushite, ‘Take thirty men from here with you and lift Jeremiah the prophet out of the cistern before he dies.’

11 So Ebed-Melek took the men with him and went to a room under the treasury in the palace. He took some old rags and worn-out clothes from there and let them down with ropes to Jeremiah in the cistern. 12 Ebed-Melek the Cushite said to Jeremiah, ‘Put these old rags and worn-out clothes under your arms to pad the ropes.’ Jeremiah did so, 13 and they pulled him up with the ropes and lifted him out of the cistern. And Jeremiah remained in the courtyard of the guard.

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
  4. Jeremiah 38:1 Hebrew Jukal, a variant of Jehukal
  5. Jeremiah 38:2 Or Chaldeans; also in verses 18, 19 and 23
  6. Jeremiah 38:7 Probably from the upper Nile region
  7. Jeremiah 38:7 Or a eunuch
New International Version - UK (NIVUK)

Holy Bible, New International Version® Anglicized, NIV® Copyright © 1979, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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