Jeremiah: Jeremiah Declares God’s Message to Judah

What the King of Babylon did to Zedekiah and to Jerusalem

An EasyEnglish Bible Version and Commentary (2800 word vocabulary) on Jeremiah

chapters 34 to 39

Hilda Bright

This commentary has been through Advanced Checking.

Words in boxes are from the Bible.

A word list at the end explains words with a *star by them.


Chapter 34

Jeremiah warns King Zedekiah 34:1-7

v1 Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, and all his armies were fighting against Jerusalem. Also they were fighting against all the towns that were round Jerusalem. All the nations that Nebuchadnezzar ruled were helping him. Then the *LORD gave this message to Jeremiah. v2 'This is what the *LORD, the God of Israel, says. "Go to Zedekiah, king of Judah and tell him this. This is what the *LORD says: I will hand over this city to the king of Babylon. He will burn it down. v3 You will not escape from his power. His soldiers will seize you. They will hand you over to him. You will see the king of Babylon yourself. He will meet you and speak to you. And you will go to Babylon.

v4 But listen to the *LORD's promise, Zedekiah king of Judah. This is what the *LORD says about you. You will not die in battle. v5 You will die peacefully. People made fires to give honour to previous kings. In the same way, they will make a fire to give honour to you. They will weep about you and say: My poor master! I myself make this promise, declares the *LORD.” ’

v6 Then Jeremiah the *prophet went to Jerusalem. And he told all this to Zedekiah, king of Judah. v7 This happened while the armies of the king of Babylon were fighting against Jerusalem. Also they were fighting against the other cities in Judah. Only Lachish and Azekah remained. These were the only cities left in Judah with strong walls round them.

Verses 1-3 Zedekiah was not loyal to Nebuchadnezzar, who had appointed him to rule Judah (2 Kings 24:17-20). So the king of Babylon had entered Judah with his armies. Other nations that Nebuchadnezzar ruled had to supply soldiers. They helped him to fight. He began to attack Jerusalem at the end of 589 *BC. At the same time, he attacked other cities in Judah.

Jeremiah's message warned Zedekiah not to oppose the *Babylonians. That would be of no use. The *LORD would allow the *Babylonians to destroy the city (Jeremiah 21:1-10). Zedekiah himself would not escape. He would have to see the king of Babylon and go into *exile.

Verses 4-5 Jeremiah gave Zedekiah some comfort about his future. Nebuchadnezzar would not kill him. Instead, Zedekiah would die peacefully. People would have a special ceremony for him. They would burn sweet substances on a fire to give him honour. Asa, king of Judah, had a fire like that to give him honour (2 Chronicles 16:14). People would be sad when Zedekiah died. Jeremiah advised him to accept defeat. Then the enemy would not destroy the city. And he and his family would remain alive (Jeremiah 38:17).

But Zedekiah did not have the courage to follow Jeremiah's advice. He was afraid of his own officials (Jeremiah 38:5). Some *Jews had left the city already. Zedekiah was afraid that the *Babylonians would hand him over to them. Later, the *Jews behaved badly towards him (Jeremiah 38:19). So he did not die in a peaceful way. The *Babylonians killed his sons. They made Zedekiah blind. Then they took him to prison in Babylon (Jeremiah 52:6-11).

Verses 6-7 The cities of Lachish and Azekah were south-west of Jerusalem. Recently, people discovered a number of ostraca in the broken old buildings at Lachish. Ostraca were broken pieces of pots on which the people wrote. Those old pots were made about 588 *BC. On one ostraca was a message from the chief officer in a place outside the city. He wrote to the military chief officer at Lachish. He said that he was waiting for signals. People made those signals with fire. But he could not see any from Azekah. Probably the *Babylonians destroyed Azekah soon after Jeremiah wrote the words in verse 7.

Freedom for slaves 34:8-22

v8 The *LORD gave this message to Jeremiah. The *LORD gave it after King Zedekiah made a *covenant with all the people in Jerusalem. King Zedekiah had told them to free their slaves. v9 All of them had to free their *Hebrew slaves, both male slaves and female slaves. Zedekiah did not allow anyone to keep another *Jew as a slave. v10 So all the officials and the people accepted this *covenant. They agreed to free their male and female slaves. They did not continue to keep them as slaves. So the officials freed the slaves. v11 But afterwards the officials and the people changed their decision. They took back the people that they had freed. They made them slaves again.

v12 Then the *LORD gave this message to Jeremiah. v13 'This is what the *LORD, the God of Israel says. "I made a *covenant with your *ancestors when I brought them out of Egypt. That was the country where they were slaves. v14 Every 7th year you must free any *Hebrew who has sold himself to you. After he has served you for 6 years, you must free him. But your *ancestors did not listen to me. They did not give any attention to me. v15 Recently you turned away from your *sins. You did what I say is right. Each of you freed your *Hebrew slaves. And you made a *covenant with me in the house where my name lives. v16 But now you have turned away. You do not continue to give honour to my name. Each of you has taken back your male and female slaves. You had freed them. They could go anywhere that they wanted. But now you have forced them to be your slaves again."

v17 So this is what the *LORD says. "You have not obeyed me. You have not freed people from your own country. So now I will announce freedom for you”, declares the *LORD. "I will free you to die in battles. I will free you to die because of disease and hunger. I will make all the *kingdoms in the world turn away from you in disgust.

v18 I will punish the people who have not obeyed my *covenant. They made a *covenant with me. But they have not carried out what they promised. When you made the *covenant, you cut the animal into two pieces. Then you walked between the two pieces. Now I will cut you into pieces. v19 This includes the officials in Judah and the officials in Jerusalem. And it includes the officials in the court, the priests and the people in the country. All these people walked between the two pieces of the animal. v20 So I will hand over these people to their enemies who are trying to kill them. Their dead bodies will be food for the birds and the wild animals. v21 I will hand over King Zedekiah and his officials to their enemies who want to kill them. I will give them to the army of the king of Babylon. The army has gone away from you. v22 But I will give an order”, declares the *LORD. "I will bring back the *Babylonians to this city. They will fight against it. They will take control of the city. Then they will burn it down. And I will destroy completely the towns in Judah. So nobody will be able to live there." '

Verses 8-11 Zedekiah persuaded the owners of the *Hebrew slaves to free them. He may have thought that the *LORD would appreciate that action. Perhaps the *LORD would stop the *Babylonians, who were waiting to get into the city. Supplies of food were becoming low. Perhaps the owners thought that they would have fewer people to feed. The slaves could take care of themselves. Maybe they would be more willing to help to defend the city. The slaves became free after their owners made a serious promise in the *Temple. Then news came that the *Babylonians had gone away. They went to meet an *Egyptian army that was coming to help the people in Jerusalem. So the owners thought that the danger was over. They did not do what they had promised. They took back their slaves again.

Verses 12-16 Sometimes *Israelites sold themselves to other *Israelites. They may have become so poor that they could not pay their debts. Sometimes they became slaves because of the unfair behaviour of other people. Amos spoke about people who became slaves. Sometimes their debt was as small as the price of a pair of shoes (Amos 2:6). The *LORD had brought their *ancestors out of Egypt, where they were slaves. So he told their *ancestors that a *Hebrew owner had to free his slave after 6 years. In the 7th year, they had to allow the slave to go wherever he chose (Exodus 21:2).

But their *ancestors had not obeyed the *LORD’s law. The people in Jeremiah's time had realised their *ancestor’s wrong behaviour. So they had made a *covenant in the *Temple. They said that they would obey the *LORD. But they had changed their behaviour. They had freed their slaves. Then they forced the slaves to become slaves again. So the owners were not carrying out a serious promise that they had made in the *Temple. They spoke the *LORD’s name when they had made the promise. Also they were not obeying the third *commandment. People should be careful to do what they promise. They should not have asked the *LORD to be a witness to their promise (Exodus 20:7).

Verse 17 The people in Jeremiah's time had not freed their slaves. So the *LORD would give to those same people 'freedom'. They would be free to die in the war. And they would die because of disease and hunger. All the nations of the world would consider them with disgust.

Verses 18-20 The people 'cut a *covenant'. In Genesis 15:9-18 you can read how Abraham did that. First they killed an animal and cut it into two pieces. They placed those pieces opposite to each other. Then the people who were making the *covenant would walk between the two pieces. That was a way to sign the *covenant. It also warned a person. He would have the same fate as that of the animal if he did not obey the *covenant. All the leaders and people had performed that ceremony. Because they had not carried out their promise, they would die like the animal. Their enemies would kill them and leave their bodies. Nobody would bury them. They would become food for birds and wild animals that fed on dead bodies.

Verses 21-22 The *Babylonian army had gone for a while. But the *LORD would bring them back to fight against Jerusalem. The *Babylonian army would defeat the *Egyptian army. Then the *Babylonians would return to Jerusalem. They would take control of the city. Then they would burn it down. They would destroy the towns in Judah so that nobody could live in them. Some people dig up ancient places. They have shown that many towns in Judah became empty. That happened after 588 *BC.

Chapter 35

The Rechabite family 35:1-19

1. Jeremiah offers wine to the Rechabite people 35:1-11

v1 The *LORD gave this message to Jeremiah. He gave it during the time that Jehoiakim, Josiah's son, was king of Judah. v2 'Go to the members of the family who are*descendants of Rechab. Invite them to come to one of the side rooms in my house. Then give them wine to drink.’ v3 So I went to get Jaazaniah, Jeremiah's son. Jeremiah was Habazziniah's son. Also I went to get Jaazaniah's brothers and all his sons. This was the whole family called the Rechabites. v4 I brought them to the *Temple. I took them into the room that belonged to the sons of Hanan. Hanan, the son of Igdaliah, was the man of God. His room was next to the room of the officials. Their room was above the room of Maaseiah, the son of Shallum, who guarded the doors. v5 Then I got bowls full of wine and some cups. I put them down in front of the men from the family of Rechab. I said to them, 'Drink some wine'.

v6 But they replied, 'We do not drink wine. This is because our *ancestor Jonadab, the son of Rechab, gave us this command. "You and your *descendants must never drink wine. v7 Also you must never build houses. You must never sow seeds or plant *vineyards. You must never have any of these things. Instead, always you must live in tents. Then you will live a long time in the country where you are wandering round." v8 We have done everything that Jonadab, Rechab's son, ordered us to do. So we, our wives and our children have never drunk wine. v9 We have never built houses to live in. We have never had *vineyards, fields or crops. v10 We have always lived in tents. We have obeyed completely everything that our *ancestor Jonadab ordered us. v11 But Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, marched into this country. Then we said, "Come. We must go to Jerusalem. Then we can escape from the armies of Babylon and Aram." So we have remained in Jerusalem.’

Verses 1-11 That incident happened towards the end of Jehoiakim's rule as king. Nebuchadnezzar had sent into Judah armies of people whom he ruled. He wanted them to be a nuisance to Judah (2 Kings 24:1-2). The Rechabite family were part of the Kenite *tribe (1 Chronicles 2:55). Jonadab had helped Jehu to destroy Ahab's family. He had joined in when they killed the *Baal *worshippers (2 Kings 10:15-17; 23-25). Probably the Rechabite family moved into Judah from the northern *kingdom. That happened after Assyria defeated Israel in 722 *BC. Jonadab believed that the *Israelites had changed their behaviour. They had lived in tents. And they had wandered with their sheep in the *desert. When they entered the country called Canaan, they lived in houses. Then they copied the behaviour of the people in Canaan.

The people in Canaan believed that *Baal made their crops grow. They drank much wine when they *worshipped *Baal. So Jonadab ordered his family and his *descendants to live in tents. They had to wander as they looked after their sheep. They never drank wine. The Nazarites made a similar promise not to drink wine (Numbers 6:1-4).

Jeremiah arranged everything in a way that made the occasion important. That would tempt the Rechabite people not to obey their promise to their *ancestor Jonadab. Jeremiah brought the whole family into the *Temple. Jaanaziah was their leader. (His father, Jeremiah, was not the same as Jeremiah the *prophet.) Jeremiah took the Rechabite people into a room where people stored goods. The room belonged to the sons of Hanan, the son of Igdaliah. 'Man of God' is what they used to call the *prophets, like Elijah (1 Kings 17:24) and Elisha (2 Kings 4:9, 16-27).

Jeremiah provided a large quantity of wine. There were bowls and cups in which to pour the wine. Then he invited the Rechabite people to drink some wine. Probably they respected Jeremiah. But they remained loyal to their *ancestor’s command. Their *ancestor had made that command more than 200 years earlier. The Rechabite people refused to drink the wine. They explained that they had come into Jerusalem because of only one reason. They came because of the danger from Nebuchadnezzar's armies. Probably they could not live in tents inside the city of Jerusalem.

2. What this test means 35:12-17

v12 Then the *LORD gave this message to Jeremiah. v13 'This is what the *LORD, the most powerful God of Israel says. "Go and say this to the people in Judah and the people in Jerusalem: You should learn a lesson. You should obey my message, declares the *LORD. v14 Jonadab, the son of Rechab, ordered his children not to drink wine. And they have obeyed his order. To this very day they do not drink wine, because they obey their *ancestor Jonadab's command. But I have spoken to you many times. And still you have not obeyed me. v15 Many times I sent my servants, the *prophets, to you. They said that you must change your evil ways. You must not *worship false gods. You must not serve them. Then you will live in the country that I gave to you and to your *ancestors. But you have not given any attention. You have not listened to me. v16 The *descendants of Jonadab, the son of Rechab, have obeyed the command that their *ancestor gave to them. But these people in Judah have not obeyed me. v17 So this is what the *LORD, the most powerful God of Israel says: Listen! I will bring terrible trouble upon Judah and upon everyone who lives in Jerusalem. I will bring every trouble that I said. I spoke to them but they would not listen. I called to them but they did not answer.” ’

Verses 12-17 Jeremiah tried to give wine to the Rechabites. That was a lesson to Judah. Jonadab's *descendants had obeyed his order not to drink wine. They had obeyed for more than 200 years. But the people in Judah had not obeyed the *LORD. He had spoken to them many times. His *prophets had warned them not to *worship false gods. The *prophets had told the people in Judah to change their behaviour. Then they would remain in the country that the *LORD had given to them. But the people in Judah refused to listen to the *prophets. They would not obey the *LORD. So they had to expect great trouble to come to Judah. They would die because the enemy would kill them. And they would die because of hunger and disease. The *Babylonians would destroy their city.

3. The promise to the Rechabite family 35:18-19

v18 Then Jeremiah spoke to the family of the Rechabites. 'This is what the most powerful *LORD, the God of Israel, says. "You have obeyed what your *ancestor, Jonadab, ordered. You have followed all his instructions. You have done everything that he ordered. v19 So this is what the most powerful *LORD, the God of Israel, says: Always there will be a man from the family of Jonadab, the son of Rechab, who will serve me.” ’

Verses 18-19 The Rechabite family had been loyal to their *ancestor's order. So the *LORD promised a future for them. The *Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem in 587 *BC. But we do not know what happened to the Rechabites. However, Nehemiah records that Malchijah, son of Rechab, repaired the Dung Gate in Jerusalem. He is called a ruler of the district of Beth-Lakkerem, which means 'the house of the *vineyard’. So he may have had to change the way that he behaved (Nehemiah 3:14).

In the 19th century in England, some people were very worried that people drank too much wine. It caused many social problems. So the people began a Society. It encouraged people not to drink wine. The people in the Society called themselves ‘Rechabites’.

Chapter 36

This chapter describes how Jeremiah wrote down his *prophecies. The rulers listened to his record. But when King Jehoiakim heard it, he destroyed the record. Later Jeremiah made a new record of his *prophecies. And he included extra messages from the *LORD.

The writing of the *scroll 36:1-4

v1 The *LORD gave this message to Jeremiah. The *LORD gave it in the 4th year that Jehoiakim, Josiah's son, was king of Judah. v2 'Take a *scroll. Write on it everything that I have spoken to you. Write down what I have said about Israel, Judah and all the other nations. Write my words to you from the time when Josiah was king until now. v3 The people in Judah will hear about all the trouble that I plan to bring on them. Perhaps all of them will turn from their wicked ways. Then I will forgive their *sins. And I will forgive the wicked things that they have done.’ v4 So Jeremiah sent for Baruch, the son of Neriah. Jeremiah told him to write down all the words that the *LORD had spoken to him. So Baruch wrote them down on a *scroll.

Verses 1-4 About the year 605 *BC, Jeremiah dictated his messages. That was the year when the *Babylonians defeated the *Egyptians at the battle called Carchemish. The *Babylonians were the 'enemy from the north' about whom Jeremiah had spoken. So Jeremiah thought that it was urgent to record the *LORD’s messages. Soon it might become too dangerous to announce them. Jeremiah spoke about what would happen to the people. He hoped that they would take notice. Then they would change their ways, and the *LORD would forgive them.

A *scroll was a long piece of paper that the writer could roll up. Then a person would read the words as he unrolled the *scroll slowly. The *prophecies were those that Jeremiah made between 626 *BC and 605 *BC. They were about Israel and Judah. Jeremiah was a *prophet 'to the nations' (Jeremiah 1:5). So the *scroll may have included the messages that we read in Jeremiah chapters 46-51.

Baruch reads the *scroll 36:5-10

v5 Then Jeremiah told Baruch, 'I cannot go into the *LORD's *Temple. v6 So you go to the *LORD's house on a day when they are refusing to eat food. Read to the people the *LORD's message from the *scroll. You wrote it as I dictated. Read the message to all the people in Judah who come in from their towns. v7 They will hear what the *LORD will do. The *LORD is very angry with these people. Then perhaps they will pray to the *LORD. And perhaps all of them will turn away from their wicked behaviour.'

v8 Baruch, the son of Neriah, did everything that the *prophet Jeremiah told him to do. He went to the *LORD's *Temple. There he read the messages from the *LORD on the *scroll. v9 This happened in the 9th month of the 5th year that Jehoiakim, Josiah's son, was king of Judah. The people decided not to eat any food. All the people in Jerusalem made this decision. So did those people who came from the towns in Judah too. They wanted to please the *LORD. v10 Baruch was in the room of Gemariah, the son of Shaphan, the secretary. The room was in the upper yard. This was next to the entrance of the New Gate of the *Temple. Baruch read Jeremiah's words from the *scroll. He read them to all the people in the *LORD's *Temple.

Verses 5-7 We do not know why Jeremiah could not go to the *Temple himself. Pashhur had put him in prison for a night. That happened after his message when he broke the jar (Jeremiah 19:1-15; 20:1-2). Perhaps the priests would not allow him to go in the *Temple because of all his *prophecies. They wanted to kill Jeremiah but he had escaped death. He had used the *LORD’s name when he spoke his *prophecies. The officials and the people had accepted that they were the *LORD’s words (Jeremiah 26:7-16). In times of national crisis, people ate no food for a day. When Baruch read the *scroll, there would be many people in the *Temple. They would listen to the *prophecies. Jeremiah still hoped that the people would pray to the *LORD. He wanted them to turn from their wicked behaviour. Then perhaps the *LORD’s punishment might not happen

Verses 8-10 The 9th month of Jehoiakim's 5th year as king was December 604 *BC. The people ate no food probably because of the *Babylonians. Recently they had attacked and destroyed the city called Ashkelon. Baruch read the *scroll in the room that belonged to Gemariah. His father, Shaphan, had been secretary when Josiah was the king. That was when the priest found the *scroll of the Law in the *Temple (2 Kings 22:3, 8-10). There is no record about the public reaction to the message that Baruch read out to them.

Baruch reads the *scroll to the officials 36:11-19

v11 Micaiah, son of Gemariah, the son of Shaphan, heard all the words of the *LORD from the *scroll. v12 Then Micaiah went down to the secretary's room in the royal palace. All the officials were sitting there. They included Elishama, the secretary, and Delaiah, the son of Shemaiah. Elnathan, son of Achbor, was there. So was Gemariah, the son of Shaphan. Zedekiah, son of Hananiah, was there too. And so were all the other officials. v13 Micaiah told them everything that Baruch had read to the people from the *scroll. v14 Then all the officials sent Jehudi, son of Nethaniah, the son of Shelemiah, the son of Cushi, to Baruch. Jehudi said this to Baruch. 'Come. Bring the *scroll from which you read to the people.’ So Baruch, son of Neriah, went to them with the *scroll in his hand. v15 The officials said to him, 'Please sit down. Read the *scroll to us.’ So Baruch read it to them.

v16 When they heard all these words, they looked at each. And they were afraid. They said to Baruch, 'We must report all these words to the king.’ v17 Then they asked Baruch, 'Please tell us. How did you write all this? Did Jeremiah dictate it?' v18 ‘Yes’, Baruch replied. 'He dictated all these words to me. And I wrote them with ink on the *scroll.’

v19 Then the officials spoke to Baruch. 'You and Jeremiah must go and hide. Do not let anyone know where you are.’

Verses 11-13 Micaiah reported to the officials what he had heard. They were meeting in the secretary's room in the palace. Elishama, the secretary, came from a royal family (Jeremiah 41:1). The names of the officials suggest that Baruch recorded them himself.

Verse 14 We know nothing more about Jehudi, whom they sent to fetch Baruch. But the list mentions three of his *ancestors. That means that he was an important person.

Verse 15-19 When Baruch arrived with the *scroll, the officials were friendly and polite. They invited him to sit down and to read the *scroll to them. They listened to what Jeremiah said. And they were afraid. They realised that they had to report the contents of the *scroll to the king. First they made sure that the *scroll was genuine. Baruch agreed that Jeremiah had dictated to him all the words on the *scroll. They were Jeremiah's words. They were not Baruch’s words. The officials remembered how the king had killed Uriah. Elnathan, son of Achbor, had brought Uriah back from Egypt when the king ordered him to do so (Jeremiah 26:20-23). So they told Jeremiah and Baruch to go and to hide.

The king destroys the *scroll 36:20-26

v20 The officials put the *scroll in the room of Elishama, the secretary. Then the officials went to the king in the yard. They reported everything to him. v21 The king sent Jehudi to get the *scroll. Jehudi brought it from the room of Elishama, the secretary. Then Jehudi read it to the king and to all the officials who were standing beside the king. v22 It was the 9th month in the year. The king was sitting in the winter part of the palace. A fire was burning in a pot in front of him. v23 Jehudi read three or four columns from the *scroll. Whenever he had done this, the king cut them off with a secretary's knife. He threw the pieces into the fire. He did this until he had burnt the whole *scroll in the fire. v24 The king and his servants who heard all these words, were not afraid. And they did not tear their clothes. v25 However, Elnathan, Delaiah and Gemariah urged the king not to burn the *scroll. But he would not listen to them. v26 Instead, the king ordered three men to arrest Baruch, the secretary, and Jeremiah, the *prophet. The three men were Jerahmeel, a son of the king, Seraiah, son of Azriel, and Shelemiah, son of Abdeel. But the *LORD had hidden Baruch and Jeremiah.

Verses 20-22 The officials kept the *scroll in the secretary's room while they reported the matter to the king. Jehoiakim sent Jehudi to bring the *scroll to him. It was December. So the king was in a room that was warm. A fire was burning in a pot and that heated the room.

Verses 23-26 As Jehudi read a section from the *scroll, Jehoiakim cut it off. Then he threw it on the fire. Jehoiakim repeated that action one piece at a time until he had burnt the whole *scroll. He used the secretary's knife. Usually, the secretary used that knife to make the ends of pens sharp. And he used the knife to cut the edges of his parchment. Parchment was material on which people wrote. It was like very strong paper. Elnathan, Delaiah and Gemariah protested. But Jehoiakim took no notice of them. He and his servants did not regret their actions at all. If they had, they would have torn their clothes. (People tore their clothes to show that they were very unhappy.) Jehoiakim was angry. But his action was probably because he was afraid as well. His order to arrest Baruch and Jeremiah was not successful. The *LORD protected them, wherever they were hiding.

The whole incident contrasted with his father, Josiah. When Josiah was king, Hilkiah, the priest, found a *scroll in the *Temple. When Josiah heard the message on the *scroll, he tore his clothes. He was very unhappy that he and his nation had not obeyed the *LORD (2 Kings 22:11-13).

A new *scroll and the fate of Jehoiakim 36:27-32

v27 The king had burned the *scroll on which Baruch had recorded Jeremiah's words. Then the *LORD gave a message to Jeremiah. v28 'Take another *scroll. Write on it all the words that were on the first *scroll. Jehoiakim, king of Judah, burned that *scroll. v29 Also tell Jehoiakim, the king of Judah, that the *LORD says this. “You burned that *scroll. You said to Baruch: Why did you write on it that certainly the king of Babylon would come? Why did you say that he would kill men and animals? Why did you say that he would destroy this country?” v30 This is what the *LORD says about Jehoiakim, king of Judah. “Nobody from his family will sit on the throne of David. The enemy will throw out his body. It will be outside during the heat in the day and in the cold at night. v31 I will punish him, his children and his servants. I will punish them because of their wicked behaviour. I will bring onto them all the trouble that I said. I will bring this trouble onto all the people who live in Jerusalem. I will bring this trouble onto all the people in Judah. They have not listened to me.” ’ v32 So Jeremiah got another *scroll and gave it to the secretary, Baruch, son of Neriah. Jeremiah told him what to write. Baruch wrote down all the words from the *scroll that Jehoiakim had burned. And he added many more similar words.

Verses 27-32. Jehoiakim destroyed the *scroll but Baruch would write it again. Jeremiah *prophesied that nobody would bury Jehoiakim in the proper way (see also Jeremiah 22:18-19). People may try very hard to destroy the *LORD’s words even today, but they will never succeed.

Chapters 37-39

The *Babylonians took control of Jerusalem in 587 *BC. These chapters record the events that led up to that event. They describe Jeremiah’s difficulties when he was in prison. And they describe how Zedekiah met with Jeremiah.

Chapter 37

Zedekiah's message and Jeremiah's answer 37:1-10

v1 Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, made Zedekiah, son of Josiah, the king of Judah. He ruled in place of Jehoiachin, son of Jehoiakim. v2 Zedekiah, his servants, and the people in the country gave no attention to the *LORD's message. Jeremiah the *prophet gave that message. v3 King Zedekiah, however, sent Jehucal, son of Shelemaiah, and the priest Zephaniah, son of Maaseiah, to Jeremiah with this message. 'Please pray to the *LORD our God for us.’

v4 Jeremiah was free to go wherever he wanted. The king had not put him in prison yet. v5 *Pharaoh's army had marched out of Egypt. The *Babylonians were waiting outside Jerusalem. But they moved away from the city when they heard about *Pharaoh’s army.

v6 Then the *LORD gave a message to Jeremiah, the *prophet. v7 'This is what the *LORD, the God of Israel says. “The king of Judah has sent you to ask me what will happen. Tell him that *Pharaoh's army has marched out to help you. But it will go back to its own country, to Egypt. v8 Then the *Babylonians will return. They will attack this city. They will take control of it and burn it."

v9 This is what the *LORD says. "Do not think in a foolish way. You think that the *Babylonians will go away. But they will not go away. v10 The *Babylonian army is attacking you. But suppose that you destroy all the army. Suppose that you leave only men with bad injuries in their tents. Still they would come and burn this city.” ’

Verse 1 Jehoiachin, the son of Jehoiakim, ruled for only three months. Then Nebuchadnezzar made him a prisoner and took him to Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar appointed Zedekiah, a son of Josiah, to rule under his authority.

Verse 2 Zedekiah had promised to be Nebuchadnezzar's servant. But Zedekiah did not do what he had promised. Neither he nor his servants nor his people listened to Jeremiah's message.

Verses 3-5 In the early summer of 588 *BC, *Pharaoh Hophra marched from Egypt into Judah. He supported Zedekiah against Babylon (Ezekiel 17:11-21). The *Babylonians heard that the *Egyptian army was approaching. So the *Babylonians left Jerusalem. The people in Jerusalem hoped that the *Babylonians would never return. Then they would not attack the city. It was during that time that the owners of slaves failed to carry out their promise. They forced their former slaves to become slaves again (Jeremiah 34:15-16). Zedekiah had sent a message to Jeremiah earlier, when the *Babylonians were waiting to attack Jerusalem. He had asked whether the *LORD would rescue Jerusalem from Nebuchadnezzar. Jeremiah *prophesied that the *Babylonians would destroy the city. He advised people to give themselves up to the *Babylonians (Jeremiah 21:1-10). Now that the *Babylonians had gone away, Zedekiah sent two messengers to Jeremiah. He asked Jeremiah to pray to the *LORD. Zedekiah wanted the *Babylonians to stay away permanently.

Verses 6-10 Jeremiah answered that the *Egyptian army would return to Egypt. Then the *Babylonians would return to Jerusalem. They would defeat the city and they would burn it. Zedekiah and his people thought that the *Babylonian army would go away. But that was a foolish thought. In verse 10 Jeremiah described a situation that could not happen. But he spoke in that way to make Zedekiah aware of the terrible truth. It was certain that the *Babylonians would get into the city. Nothing could stop them. The *Egyptian army went back home and they did not fight the *Babylonians. The *Babylonians returned to Jerusalem. They defeated the city, and destroyed it in 587 *BC.

The arrest of Jeremiah 37:11-16

v11 The *Babylonian army had gone away from Jerusalem because of *Pharaoh's army. v12 So Jeremiah began to leave the city. He intended to go to the region called Benjamin. He wanted to get his share of the property among the people there. v13 He got as far as the Benjamin Gate. But the captain of the guard arrested him. He said, 'You are going to join the *Babylonians.’ The captain's name was Irijah, son of Shelemiah, the son of Hananiah.

v14 'That is not true!' Jeremiah said. 'I am not going to join the *Babylonians.’ But Irijah would not listen to him. Instead, he arrested Jeremiah and brought him to the officials. v15 They were angry with Jeremiah. So they made men beat him. And they put Jeremiah in prison in the house of Jonathan, the secretary. They had made the house into a prison. v16 They put Jeremiah in a tiny room that was below the ground. He stayed there for a long time.

Verses 11-12 The Benjamin Gate was on the north side of Jerusalem. It led to the region called Benjamin where Anathoth, Jeremiah's home town, was. Jeremiah was able to leave Jerusalem because the *Babylonians had gone away for a time. Perhaps he was going to discuss what was going to happen to the family property. Later, when he was in prison, his cousin, Hanamel, came to see him. That was when Jeremiah bought the field. It was the evidence of his hope for the future (Jeremiah 32:1-15).

Verses 13-14 It was natural for Irijah to suspect Jeremiah. Jeremiah had told the people to go out of the city. And he had told them to join the *Babylonians. So Irijah arrested Jeremiah and took him to the officials. Those officials were very different from the officials who had supported Jeremiah. Previously, when the priests wanted to kill him, the officials believed Jeremiah. They said that he had spoken the *LORD’s message (Jeremiah 26:16). Some officials told Jeremiah to hide from King Jehoiakim (Jeremiah 36:14-10). Now the officials opposed Jeremiah. They behaved badly towards him.

Verses 15-16 To beat somebody was a punishment. Jonathan's house had become a prison. Perhaps the other prisons were full. Or perhaps the secretary's house was a place from which Jeremiah could not escape. Jeremiah's room was below the level of the ground. It would have been dark. He probably had little room to move. He was there alone. If they left him there, he could have died there.

Zedekiah's meeting with Jeremiah 37:17-21

v17 King Zedekiah sent for Jeremiah. Jeremiah had to go to the palace. There Zedekiah spoke to Jeremiah in private. He asked Jeremiah, 'Has the *LORD given you any message?' 'Yes', Jeremiah replied. 'God will hand you over to the king of Babylon.’

v18 Then Jeremiah said to King Zedekiah, 'Why have you put me in prison? What crime have I done against you? What wrong deeds have I done to your officials or to these people? v19 Where are your *prophets who said this? "The king of Babylon will not attack you or this country." v20 But now, my master, the king, please listen. Let me appeal to you. Do not send me back to the house of Jonathan the secretary. If you do, I shall die there.’

v21 Then Zedekiah ordered his men to put Jeremiah in the yard of the guard. They had to give to him bread that came from the street of the bakers. He received it every day until all the bread in the city had gone. So Jeremiah remained in the yard of the guard.

Verse 17 Zedekiah was afraid of his own officials. So he arranged a secret interview with Jeremiah. He was hoping for a different message about the fate of himself and of the city. But Jeremiah's answer to his question was brief. There was a message. Zedekiah would become a prisoner of the *Babylonians. Jeremiah showed courage. He refused to change his message, even in his dangerous situation.

Verses 18-20 Jeremiah said that he had not been guilty of any crime. His *prophecies had happened. Many *prophets had said that Nebuchadnezzar would not attack the country. But their *prophecies had been false. Then Jeremiah appealed to the king. He did not want the king to send him back to his underground prison. Jeremiah was sure that he would die there.

Verse 21 Zedekiah granted Jeremiah’s request. Jeremiah moved to the yard of the guard, which was next to the palace. There he had greater freedom. Zedekiah also ordered daily bread for Jeremiah. That came from the baker's street. In the city, there was a street for each trade. The supply of bread lasted until the *Babylonians defeated Jerusalem (Jeremiah 52:6). Then, lack of food was so serious that many people starved (Lamentations 2:11-13; 4:9-10).

Chapter 38

Jeremiah in a well 38-1-6

v1 Shephatiah, son of Mattan, Gedaliah, son of Pashhur, Jehucal, son of Shelemiah, and Pashhur, son of Malkijah heard Jeremiah. They heard what he was telling all the people. They heard him say this. v2 'This is what the *LORD says. "Those people who stay in the city will die in the war. Or they will die because of hunger and disease. But those people who join the *Babylonians will live. They will stay alive. They will live." v3 And this is what the *LORD says. "Certainly God will hand over this city to the army of the king of Babylon. He will capture it." ’

v4 Then these officials said to the king, ‘We should kill this man. He talks to the soldiers who remain in this city. He says things that make them afraid. Soon they will not want to fight. He is making all the people lose hope too. Jeremiah does not want good things for these people. He is trying to destroy them.’

v5 'He is in your control’, Zedekiah answered. ‘The king can do nothing to oppose you.’

v6 So they took Jeremiah. They let him down into the well that belonged to Malkijah, the king's son. The well was in the yard of the guard. They tied thick strings round Jeremiah. Then they let him down into the well. It had no water in it. It only had mud. And Jeremiah sank down into the mud.

Verses 1-4 The officials knew Jeremiah's *prophecy. He said that the people should leave the city. He told them to join the *Babylonians. If they stayed in Jerusalem, they would die. But those people who left the city would remain alive (Jeremiah 21:8-10). So the officials said that Jeremiah was guilty. The soldiers who remained in the city would be less willing to fight. Jeremiah was making the people lose hope. So he deserved to die.

Verse 5 The officials were more powerful than the king. Perhaps they did not consider that Zedekiah was a true king. He was only the person whom Nebuchadnezzar had made ruler. They may have realised that he had a weak character. Zedekiah had a lack of courage. He was like Pontius Pilate in the *New Testament. Zedekiah handed over Jeremiah to his enemies. Pilate allowed other people to decide what happened to Jesus. Both Jeremiah and Jesus were innocent. Both Zedekiah and Pilate were in situations where their moral courage failed.

Verse 6 Most houses had a well. That was a place in which to store water. A well had the shape of a bell. This well had no water in it. But there was sticky mud at the bottom. The well was deep so the officials had to let down Jeremiah into the well. He sank into the mud. They did not want him to escape. They intended that he should die there. They persuaded themselves that actually they would not have killed him. He would die there from natural causes.

Ebed-Melech rescues Jeremiah 38:7-13

v7 Ebed-Melech was an official in the royal palace. He came from the country called Cush. He heard that they had put Jeremiah in the well. At that time, the king was sitting near to the Benjamin Gate. v8 Ebed-Melech went out of the palace and he spoke to the king. v9 'My master the king, everything that the men have done to Jeremiah the *prophet is wicked. They have thrown him into a well. He will die there because of hunger when there is no more bread in the city.’

v10 Then the king gave an order to Ebed-Melech, who came from the country called Cush. 'Take 30 men from here with you. Lift the *prophet Jeremiah out of the well before he dies.’ v11 So Ebed-Melech took the men with him. He went into a room in the palace. It was under the place where they kept the stores. He took some old bits of cloth and old clothes from there. He let them down with thick strings to Jeremiah, who was in the well. v12 Ebed-Melech, who came from Cush, said this to Jeremiah. 'Put these old bits of cloth and old clothes under your arms and under the thick strings.’ Jeremiah did that. v13 Then the men pulled up Jeremiah with the thick strings. And they lifted him out from the well. And Jeremiah remained in the yard of the guard.

Verses 7-9 Ebed-Melech came from Cush. Today, the countries called Ethiopia and the Sudan are in this area. Often the place for a court was by the gate of a city (Ruth 4:1). Probably Zedekiah was acting as a judge at the Benjamin Gate. So Ebed-Melech was able to go with his problem to the king. Ebed-Melech said that Jeremiah would die in the well. He would starve when there was no food left in the city. Ebed-Melech wanted the king to rescue Jeremiah.

Verses 10-13 Zedekiah ordered Ebed-Melech to take 30 men with him. The large number may have been to protect Ebed-Melech. Probably the officials were not happy that somebody was rescuing Jeremiah. Ebed-Melech's help was practical and thoughtful. He obtained pieces of cloth and old clothes from the palace. They would act like a cushion. The thick strings would not be able to cut into Jeremiah's arms when they pulled him out from the well. Ebed-Melech trusted the *LORD when he rescued Jeremiah. So Ebed-Melech received a promise from the *LORD. He would remain alive when the *Babylonians defeated the city (Jeremiah 39:15-18).

Zedekiah asks Jeremiah for his advice again 38:14-23

v14 Then King Zedekiah sent for Jeremiah the *prophet again. Someone brought Jeremiah to the third entrance of the *LORD's *Temple. 'I will ask you something’, the king said to Jeremiah. 'Do not hide anything from me.’

v15 Jeremiah said to Zedekiah. 'Suppose that I give an answer to you. I am sure that you will kill me. Even if I give advice to you, you will not listen to me.’ v16 But Zedekiah made a serious promise in secret. 'I am sure that the *LORD is alive. And he has given breath to us. So I will not kill you. Also, I will not give you to these officials. They want to kill you.’

v17 Then Jeremiah said to Zedekiah, 'The *LORD, the most powerful God, is the God of Israel. This is what he says. "You must give yourself up to the officers of the king of Babylon. They will not kill you. They will not burn down this city. You and your family will live. v18 But suppose that you will not give yourself up to the officers of the king of Babylon. Then I will hand over this city to the *Babylonians. They will burn it. And you yourself will not escape from them." ’

v19 King Zedekiah answered Jeremiah, 'I am afraid of the *Jews who have gone to the *Babylonians already. The *Babylonians may hand me over to them. And these *Jews will behave badly towards me.’ v20 'They will not hand you over’, Jeremiah replied. 'Obey the *LORD. Do what I tell you to do. Then your life will be good. The *Babylonians will not kill you. v21 Do not refuse to give yourself up. The *LORD has shown me the results if you do refuse. v22 The soldiers will bring out all the women who remain in your palace. They will bring them out to the officials of the king of Babylon. Those women will say this to you.

          "Those friends, whom you trust, have led you in the wrong way.

          They have ruled over you.

          Your feet have sunk down in the mud.

          Your friends have left you."

v23 The soldiers will bring out your wives and children to the *Babylonians. You yourself will not escape from them. But the king of Babylon will seize you. They will burn down this city.’

Verse 14 The 'third entrance' may have been the royal entrance to the *Temple. That was the king's private way from the palace. It would be a suitable place for a secret interview.

Verses 15-16 Jeremiah knew how Zedekiah had listened to his officials. And he had put Jeremiah in prison. Now Jeremiah was afraid that either Zedekiah or his officials would kill him. Zedekiah promised not to do that. He used these words. 'I am sure that the *LORD is alive. And he has given breath to us.’ That means that Zedekiah’s promise was serious. The *LORD would end Zedekiah’s life if he failed to carry out that serious promise. So Jeremiah accepted his promise. However, Zedekiah had not carried out his promise to Nebuchadnezzar (Ezekiel 17:13-16).

Verses 17-18 Jeremiah gave Zedekiah a choice and he described the results of Zedekiah’s decision. If he gave in to the *Babylonians, he and his family would not die. The *Babylonians would not burn down the city. But if he refused to give in, the *Babylonians would destroy the city. Zedekiah would not escape either.

Verses 19-20 Zedekiah was afraid to go to the *Babylonians. Some *Jews had given in already to the *Babylonians. Zedekiah said that the *Jews would behave badly towards him. Perhaps they would blame Zedekiah for the *Babylonian attack. Also they might blame him because he did not make peace. So he had put the city in danger.

Verses 21-23 Jeremiah told Zedekiah that he need not be afraid of the *Jews. He should obey the *LORD. Zedekiah should give in to the *Babylonians. They would not kill him. But the *LORD had shown Jeremiah what could happen. If the king refused to give in, the women and children from his family would have troubles. Soldiers would make them prisoners and hand them over to the *Babylonian officials. The officials might behave badly towards them. The women would sing a sad song about friends who gave bad advice. And they were friends who did not remain loyal.

Probably Zedekiah thought about what some of the officials had done. They had encouraged him to go against his promise to the king of Babylon. They had persuaded him to ask Egypt for help. Jeremiah's enemies had put him down into the mud of the well. That describes how Zedekiah also had sunk into a bad situation. He could not help himself. The writer of Psalm 69:14 used the same kind of language. 'Rescue me from the mud. Free me from those people who hate me.’ Ebed-Melech rescued Jeremiah. But nobody would rescue Zedekiah. The king of Babylon would seize him. The *Babylonians would destroy the city.

The subject of the interview must remain a secret 38:24-28

v24 Then Zedekiah said to Jeremiah, 'Do not let anyone know about this conversation. If you do, you might die. v25 The officials might find out that I have talked with you. They might come to you and say this. "Tell us what you said to the king. And tell us what the king said to you. Do not hide it from us, or we will kill you." v26 Then tell them this. "I was asking the king urgently not to send me back to Jonathan's house. I would die there." ’

v27 All the officials did come to Jeremiah. They asked him questions. He told them everything that the king had ordered him to say. None of them had heard Jeremiah's conversation with the king. So they said no more to Jeremiah.

v28 Jeremiah remained in the yard of the guard. He was there until the day that the *Babylonians defeated Jerusalem.

Verses 24-28 Zedekiah did not want the officials to know what he had talked about with Jeremiah. Jeremiah might die if the officials heard about the conversation in the secret meeting. Jeremiah had advised Zedekiah to give in to the *Babylonians. Zedekiah was afraid of the reaction of the officials. Zedekiah did not have the courage to follow Jeremiah's advice. Jeremiah obeyed Zedekiah's order. He told the officials that he had been speaking to the king. He had asked the king urgently not to send him back to the prison in Jonathan's house. His answer satisfied the officials. Jeremiah remained in the same place until the *Babylonians defeated Jerusalem.

Chapter 39

How the *Babylonians controlled Jerusalem 39:1-18

The *Babylonians defeat the city 39:1-3

v1 This is how the enemy defeated Jerusalem. Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, marched with his army against Jerusalem. He came with his whole army and they attacked the city. The *Babylonians came in the 9th year that Zedekiah was king of Judah. They arrived in the 10th month of that year. v2 The *Babylonians broke through the city wall in the 11th year that Zedekiah was king. They broke through that year on the 9th day of the 4th month. v3 Then all the officials of the *Babylonians came. They sat down in the Middle Gate. Nergal-Sharezer from Samgar was there. Nebo-Sarsekim, a chief officer, and Nergal-Sharezer, an important official, were there. And all the other officials of the king of Babylon were there too.

Verses 1-2 These two verses are a shorter account of Jeremiah 52:4-6. The *Hebrew year began in March to April. So Nebuchadnezzar began his attack on Jerusalem in January 588 *BC. In Jeremiah 52:4, it adds that it was on the 10th day. The *Babylonian attack continued until July 587 *BC, apart from a brief period when they left. The *Babylonians forced their way through the city walls. That happened just when there was no food left in the city (Jeremiah 52:6).

Verse 3 One of the *Babylonian officials was called Nergal-Sharezer. He may have been Neriglissar, who later became king of Babylon. There is another reference to him in verse 13.

The fate of Zedekiah 39:4-7

v4 When Zedekiah and all the soldiers saw them, they ran away. They left the city at night. They went into the king's garden. Then they went out through the gate between the two walls. They went towards the Arabah. v5 But the *Babylonian army chased them. The soldiers caught up with Zedekiah in the valley of Jericho. They seized him and took him to Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon. He was at Riblah in the region called Hamath. There, the king decided how to punish Zedekiah. v6 There at Riblah the king of Babylon killed Zedekiah's sons. Zedekiah had to watch this. He had to watch king Nebuchadnezzar as he killed all the important people from Judah. v7 Then Nebuchadnezzar pulled out Zedekiah's eyes. Nebuchadnezzar bound Zedekiah with metal chains and took him to Babylon.

Verses 4-7 Zedekiah saw 'them' coming. That may refer to the officers who were at the gate. Or it may refer to the *Babylonian soldiers as they were arriving. Zedekiah escaped through the king's garden. That was near to the pool called Siloam (Nehemiah 3:15). The gate between the two walls was probably the Fountain Gate (Nehemiah 2:14). The Arabah was the Jordan valley to the north of the Dead Sea. Zedekiah may have wondered whether to go further south. Or he could have crossed to the east side of the river Jordan. But the *Babylonian soldiers caught him near to Jericho. Nebuchadnezzar had his main camp at Riblah. It was a town in Syria near to the river Orontes. Nebuchadnezzar decided what cruel punishment he was going to give to Zedekiah. First Zedekiah had to watch the soldiers as they killed his sons. Then the soldiers made him blind. That was an ancient punishment. The *Philistines made Samson blind (Judges 16:21). Then Zedekiah went to Babylon with metal chains round him. They put chains round prisoners to make sure that they did not escape. Zedekiah probably died in Babylon.

The fate of the people in Jerusalem 39:8-10

v8 The *Babylonians burned the royal palace and the people's houses. They pulled down the walls round Jerusalem. v9 Nebuzaradan was the chief officer in the royal guard. He took the people who remained in the city into *exile in Babylon. Also he took the people who had joined the *Babylonians. And he took the rest of the people. v10 But Nebuzaradan, the chief officer in the guard, left behind some of the poor people in the country of Judah. They did not own anything. So at that time he gave them *vineyards and fields.

Verses 8-10 Nebuzaradan arrived in August, one month after the *Babylonians defeated the city (Jeremiah 52:12). He took command of the arrangements to destroy the city. Also he destroyed the *Temple. The text here does not mention that, but 2 Kings 25:9 and Jeremiah 52:13 describe it. Nebuzaradan arranged to take away everyone from the city and take them into Babylon. Also he took away everyone who had joined the *Babylonians. Many of the skilful workers went into *exile with Jehoiachin in 597 *B.C (2 Kings 24:12-14). The 'rest of the people' were the skilful workers who had remained in Jerusalem. Nebuzaradan left behind only the poorest people. He gave them *vineyards and fields in which to work (Jeremiah 52:16).

Freedom for Jeremiah 39:11-14

v11 Nebuchadnezzar had given orders about Jeremiah. He had given the orders to Nebuzaradan, captain of the royal guard. v12 Nebuchadnezzar said, 'Take Jeremiah. Look after him. Do not hurt him. But do for him anything that he asks.’ v13 So this is what Nebuzaradan, the chief officer of the guard, did. Nehushazban was a chief officer and Nergal-Sharezer was an important official. They were with Nebuzaradan. So were all the other officers of the king of Babylon. v14 They sent for Jeremiah. Someone took him out of the yard of the guard. They handed him over to Gedaliah, son of Ahikam, who was the son of Shaphan. They told Gedaliah to take Jeremiah back to his home. So Jeremiah stayed among his own people.

Verses 11-14 Nebuzaradan obeyed the orders of Nebuchadnezzar to free Jeremiah. This is just a brief record. There is more detail in Jeremiah 40:1-6. That may have been the first of two occasions when Nebuzaradan freed Jeremiah. The *Babylonians respected Jeremiah. Probably they had heard about his advice from the people who had joined the Babylons. Gedaliah came from an important family in Judah. His grandfather, Shaphan, had been Josiah's secretary. He took to Josiah the *scroll that the priest had found in the *Temple (2 Kings 22:10). Shaphan's son, Ahikam, protected Jeremiah after the *Temple *prophecy. That happened when Jeremiah was in great danger (Jeremiah 26:24). Another son of Shaphan was called Gemariah. He tried to stop King Jehoiakim so that he did not burn Jeremiah's *scroll (Jeremiah 36:25). Gemariah and another son of Shaphan, called Elasah, took Jeremiah's letter to the *exiles in Babylon (Jeremiah 29:3).

Nebuchadnezzar appointed Gedaliah to govern Judah (Jeremiah 40:5). The home, to which Gedaliah took Jeremiah, was the official house of the ruler. At Lachish, people found the mark of a 6th century stamp. People used it to sign records. It has these words. 'Belongs to Gedaliah who is over the house.’ The word 'over the house' was the official way to describe the king's chief minister.

The promise to Ebed-Melech 39:15-18

v15 While Jeremiah was a prisoner in the yard of the guard, the *LORD spoke to him. v16 'Go to Ebed-Melech from Cush. Tell him that the most powerful *LORD, the God of Israel says this. “Very soon, the words that I spoke against this city will happen. I will bring terrible trouble upon it, not success. At that time, you will see that my words will happen. v17 But I will rescue you on that day”, declares the *LORD. “Nobody will hand you over to those people of whom you are afraid. v18 Certainly I will save you. Nobody will kill you with a sword. But you will escape alive. That is because you trust in me”, declares the *LORD.’

Verses 15-18 This promise follows Ebed-Melech's action because he rescued Jeremiah from the well (Jeremiah 38:7-13). Ebed-Melech was probably afraid of the officials. He had appealed to the king against their action. He had shown that their action was wicked. But the *LORD would reward him. Ebed-Melech would be safe when the *Babylonians defeated Jerusalem


AD ~ refers to the years after Christ was born.

ancestors ~ members of your family who lived in the past.

Baal ~ a local false god. People thought that these false gods made crops grow.

Babylonian ~ people who live in, or come from, the country called Babylon; anything connected with Babylon.

BC ~ refers to the years before Christ was born.

commandments ~ the 10 important commands or rules that God gave to Moses on *Mount Sinai.

covenant ~ the special promise that the *LORD made to his people, the *Israelites. The *LORD’s covenant with the *Israelites established a special relationship between him and them. But they had to obey him.

descendants ~ members of your family who live after you live.

desert ~ a wild place where there are small bushes and not much water. It has poor soil and people cannot grow crops there.

Egyptian ~ a person who comes from the country called Egypt; something that has a connection with Egypt.

exile ~ absence from the country where usually you live. Usually somebody forces a person to go into exile.

Hebrew ~ the language in which the authors wrote the *Old Testament. The language that the *Israelites spoke. Another name for a *Jew or an *Israelite.

Israelites ~ people from the nation called Israel; another name for the *Jews.

Jew ~ a *descendant of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

kingdom ~ a country where a king rules.

LORD ~ a special name for God. In the *Hebrew Bible it translates the word YHWH. Probably YHWH (Yahweh) means ‘he is always alive’.            

New Testament ~ the last part of the Bible that the writers wrote after the life of Jesus.

Old Testament ~ the first part of the Bible that the writers wrote before the life of Jesus.

Pharaoh ~ a name for the king or the ruler in Egypt.

Philistines ~ a nation that fought against the people in Israel and in Judah.

prophecy/prophecies ~ the words that a *prophet speaks or writes.

prophesy ~ to speak or write about things that will happen in the future; to speak on behalf of God or on behalf of a false god.

prophet ~ a person who declares God's message.

scroll ~ a long piece of paper or the skin of an animal on which people wrote.

sin ~ when a person does or says bad things against God or against other people; the bad things that a person does or says when they do not obey God.

temple ~ a building where people *worship a false god.

Temple ~ the most important building in Jerusalem where the *Jews *worshipped God.

tribe ~ group of people that have the same *ancestor.

vineyard ~ the place where *vines grow.

worship ~ to show honour to God or to a false god. People may sing or pray when they worship. Or they may kneel or give a gift to God.


R.K. Harrison ~ Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries: Jeremiah and Lamentations ~ Tyndale Press 1973

Derek Kidner ~ The Bible Speaks Today: The Message of Jeremiah ~ IVP 2003 reprint

Alan Millard ~ Discoveries from Bible Times ~ Lion Publishing 1997

J A Thompson ~ New International Commentary on the *Old Testament: The Book of Jeremiah ~ Eerdmans 1980


New International Version ~1st published 1979

New International Readers Version ~ 1998

New International Version Study Bible ~ 1987

New English Bible ~ 1970

Jerusalem Bible ~ 1974

Today's English Version ~ 1976


Concise Oxford Chambers 21st Century

Thesaurus ~ Geddes and Grosset ~ 1999


© 2014, Wycliffe Associates (UK)

This publication is in EasyEnglish Level B (2800 words).

February 2015

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