Jeremiah in Prison
1Nebuchadnezzar was king of Babylon. He appointed Zedekiah son of Josiah as king of Judah. Zedekiah took the place of Jehoiachin son of Jehoiakim. 2But Zedekiah, his servants and the people of Judah did not listen to the words of the Lord. The Lord had spoken his words through Jeremiah the prophet.
3Now King Zedekiah sent Jehucal and Zephaniah with a message to Jeremiah the prophet. Jehucal was the son of Shelemiah. And Zephaniah the priest was the son of Maaseiah. This was the message: “Jeremiah, pray to the Lord our God for us.”
4At that time Jeremiah had not yet been put into prison. So he was free to go anywhere he wanted. 5The army of the king of Egypt had marched from Egypt toward Judah. Now the Babylonian army had surrounded the city of Jerusalem so they could attack it. Then they had heard about the Egyptian army marching toward them. So the Babylonian army left Jerusalem to fight the Egyptian army.
6The Lord spoke his word to Jeremiah the prophet: 7“This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: Jehucal and Zephaniah, I know Zedekiah king of Judah sent you to ask me questions. Tell this to King Zedekiah: ‘The army of the king of Egypt marched out of Egypt. They came here to help you against the Babylonian army. But that army will go back to Egypt. 8After that, the Babylonian army will come back here. And they will attack Jerusalem. Then the Babylonian army will take and burn Jerusalem.’
9“This is what the Lord says: People of Jerusalem, do not fool yourselves. Do not say to yourselves: ‘The Babylonian army will surely leave us alone.’ They will not! 10You might defeat all of the Babylonian army that is attacking you. But there would still be a few injured men left in their tents. Even those injured men would come from their tents and burn down Jerusalem!”
11So the Babylonian army left Jerusalem. They left to fight the army of the king of Egypt. 12Now Jeremiah wanted to travel from Jerusalem to his home in the land of Benjamin. He was going there to get his share of the property that belonged to his family. 13Jeremiah got to the Benjamin Gate of Jerusalem. But then the captain in charge of the guards arrested him. The captain’s name was Irijah son of Shelemiah son of Hananiah. So Irijah the captain arrested Jeremiah. Irijah said, “You are leaving us to join the Babylonian side!”
14Jeremiah said to Irijah, “That’s not true! I am not leaving to join the Babylonians.” But Irijah refused to listen to Jeremiah. So he arrested Jeremiah and took him to the officers of Jerusalem. 15Those rulers were very angry with Jeremiah. They gave an order for him to be beaten. Then they put him in prison in the house of Jonathan the royal assistant. Jonathan’s house had been made into a prison. 16So those people put Jeremiah into a cell in a dungeon. And Jeremiah was there for a long time.
17Then King Zedekiah sent for Jeremiah and had him brought to the palace. Zedekiah talked to Jeremiah in private. He asked Jeremiah, “Is there any message from the Lord?”
Jeremiah answered, “Yes, there is a message from the Lord. Zedekiah, you will be handed over to the king of Babylon.” 18Then Jeremiah said to King Zedekiah, “What crime have I done against you? What crime have I done to your officers or the people of Jerusalem? Why have you thrown me into prison? 19Where are your prophets now? Those prophets prophesied this message to you: ‘The king of Babylon will not attack you or this land of Judah.’ 20But now, my master, king of Judah, please listen to me. And please do what I ask of you. Do not send me back to the house of Jonathan the royal assistant. If you do, I will die there!”
21So King Zedekiah gave orders for Jeremiah to be put under guard in the courtyard. And he ordered that Jeremiah be given bread from the street of the bakers. Jeremiah was to be given bread until there was no more bread in the city. So he stayed under guard in the courtyard.