Condemned to death
1Now Shephati'ah the son of Mattan, Gedali'ah the son of Pashhur, Jucal the son of Shelemi'ah, and Pashhur the son of Malchi'ah heard the words that Jeremiah was saying to all the people, 2“Thus says the LORD, He who stays in this city shall die by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence; but he who goes out to the Chalde'ans shall live; he shall have his life as a prize of war, and live. 3Thus says the LORD, This city shall surely be given into the hand of the army of the king of Babylon and be taken.” 4Then the princes said to the king, “Let this man be put to death, for he is weakening the hands of the soldiers who are left in this city, and the hands of all the people, by speaking such words to them. For this man is not seeking the welfare of this people, but their harm.” 5King Zedeki'ah said, “Behold, he is in your hands; for the king can do nothing against you.” 6So they took Jeremiah and cast him into the cistern of Malchi'ah, the king's son, which was in the court of the guard, letting Jeremiah down by ropes. And there was no water in the cistern, but only mire, and Jeremiah sank in the mire.
Rescued by an Ethiopian
7When E'bed-mel'ech the Ethiopian, a eunuch, who was in the king's house, heard that they had put Jeremiah into the cistern — the king was sitting in the Benjamin Gate — 8E'bed-mel'ech went from the king's house and said to the king, 9“My lord the king, these men have done evil in all that they did to Jeremiah the prophet by casting him into the cistern; and he will die there of hunger, for there is no bread left in the city.” 10Then the king commanded E'bed-mel'ech, the Ethiopian, “Take three men with you from here, and lift Jeremiah the prophet out of the cistern before he dies.” 11So E'bed-mel'ech took the men with him and went to the house of the king, to a wardrobe of38.11 Cn: Heb to under the storehouse, and took from there old rags and worn-out clothes, which he let down to Jeremiah in the cistern by ropes. 12Then E'bed-mel'ech the Ethiopian said to Jeremiah, “Put the rags and clothes between your armpits and the ropes.” Jeremiah did so. 13Then they drew Jeremiah up with ropes and lifted him out of the cistern. And Jeremiah remained in the court of the guard.
A secret interview
14King Zedeki'ah sent for Jeremiah the prophet and received him at the third entrance of the temple of the LORD. The king said to Jeremiah, “I will ask you a question; hide nothing from me.” 15Jeremiah said to Zedeki'ah, “If I tell you, will you not be sure to put me to death? And if I give you counsel, you will not listen to me.” 16Then King Zedeki'ah swore secretly to Jeremiah, “As the LORD lives, who made our souls, I will not put you to death or deliver you into the hand of these men who seek your life.”
17Then Jeremiah said to Zedeki'ah, “Thus says the LORD, the God of hosts, the God of Israel, If you will surrender to the princes of the king of Babylon, then your life shall be spared, and this city shall not be burned with fire, and you and your house shall live. 18But if you do not surrender to the princes of the king of Babylon, then this city shall be given into the hand of the Chalde'ans, and they shall burn it with fire, and you shall not escape from their hand.” 19King Zedeki'ah said to Jeremiah, “I am afraid of the Jews who have deserted to the Chalde'ans, lest I be handed over to them and they abuse me.” 20Jeremiah said, “You shall not be given to them. Obey now the voice of the LORD in what I say to you, and it shall be well with you, and your life shall be spared. 21But if you refuse to surrender, this is the vision which the LORD has shown to me: 22Behold, all the women left in the house of the king of Judah were being led out to the princes of the king of Babylon and were saying,
‘Your trusted friends have deceived you
and prevailed against you;
now that your feet are sunk in the mire,
they turn away from you.’
23All your wives and your sons shall be led out to the Chalde'ans, and you yourself shall not escape from their hand, but shall be seized by the king of Babylon; and this city shall be burned with fire.”
24Then Zedeki'ah said to Jeremiah, “Let no one know of these words and you shall not die. 25If the princes hear that I have spoken with you and come to you and say to you, ‘Tell us what you said to the king and what the king said to you; hide nothing from us and we will not put you to death,’ 26then you shall say to them, ‘I made a humble plea to the king that he would not send me back to the house of Jonathan to die there.’ ” 27Then all the princes came to Jeremiah and asked him, and he answered them as the king had instructed him. So they left off speaking with him, for the conversation had not been overheard. 28And Jeremiah remained in the court of the guard until the day that Jerusalem was taken.
Scripture quotations are from the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright © 1946, 1952, 1957 and 1971 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.