Jeremiah 37:1-21

Jeremiah in the prison

1 Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon would not let Jeconiah, son of Jehoiakim continue to be king of Judah. He chose Josiah's son Zedekiah to be the king of Judah instead. 2 Zedekiah did not listen to the words of the Lord that Jeremiah had told him about. And neither the king's servants nor the people of the country listened to the Lord's words.

3 But King Zedekiah sent a message to Jeremiah the prophet. He sent Jehucal, son of Shelemiah, with the priest Zephaniah, son of Maaseiah, to deliver this message. ‘Please pray to the Lord our God for us.’

4 Jeremiah was a free man at this time. They had not yet put him into the prison. He could walk among the people. 5 The army of Pharaoh, king of Egypt, had marched out of Egypt. People told the soldiers from Babylon who were round Jerusalem about that. So they went away.

6 Then the Lord said to Jeremiah the prophet, 7 ‘Speak to the king of Judah, who sent you to ask for my help,’ he said. ‘Say to him, “Pharaoh's army, which marched out to help you, will turn back. They will return to Egypt, their own country. 8 Then the soldiers from Babylon will return and they will attack this city. They will get power over it and they will burn it completely.”

9 The Lord says, “Do not make a mistake. Do not think that the soldiers from Babylon will go away. They will not go away! 10 You might win the fight against the whole army that is attacking you. There might be only sick men in their tents after you had beaten them. But those sick men would still come and they would burn down this city.” ’

11 The army from Babylon had left Jerusalem because of Pharaoh's army. 12 So Jeremiah started to leave the city to go to the land of Benjamin. He wanted to visit his part of the country that was among his people. 13 When he came to the Benjamin gate of the city, Irijah, Shelemiah's son, stopped him. He was the captain of the soldiers at the gate. And he put Jeremiah into the prison. ‘You are going to join the soldiers from Babylon!’ he said. 14 Jeremiah said, ‘That is not true! I am not going to join the soldiers from Babylon.’ But Irijah would not listen to him. So he took Jeremiah, his prisoner, to the king's officers. 15 The officers were angry with Jeremiah. They hit him with a stick and they put him in the house of Jonathan the secretary. They had made Jonathan's house into a prison.

16 They put Jeremiah in a small room with a high ceiling. It was deep under the house. He stayed there for a long time. 17 Then King Zedekiah sent for him and he brought him to his house. When they were alone, the king asked him, ‘Is there any message from the Lord?’

‘Yes,’ Jeremiah replied, ‘they will deliver you to the hands of the king of Babylon.’

18 Then Jeremiah spoke to King Zedekiah. ‘I do not know what bad things I have done to you or to your officers. I do not know why you have put me into the prison. 19 Your prophets told you things that were not true. They said that the king of Babylon would not attack you or your country. 20 I want you to help me. Do not send me back to the house of Jonathan the secretary. If you do, I will die there.’

21 Then King Zedekiah told his officers to put Jeremiah into the yard of his house with his soldiers. He told them to give bread from the bakers to him until there was no more bread in the city. So Jeremiah stayed in the yard with the soldiers.