King Zedekiah Asks Jeremiah To Pray
1 King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylonia had removed Jehoiachin son of Jehoiakim from being the king of Judah and had made Josiah's son Zedekiah king instead. 2 But Zedekiah, his officials, and everyone else in Judah ignored everything the Lord had told me.
3-5 Later, the Babylonian army attacked Jerusalem, but they left after learning that the Egyptian army was headed in this direction.
One day, Zedekiah sent Jehucal and the priest Zephaniah to talk with me. At that time, I was free to go wherever I wanted, because I had not yet been put in prison. Jehucal and Zephaniah said, “Jeremiah, please pray to the Lord our God for us.”
6-7 Then the Lord told me to send them back to Zedekiah with this message:
Zedekiah, you wanted Jeremiah to ask me, the Lord God of Israel, what is going to happen. So I will tell you. The king of Egypt and his army came to your rescue, but soon they will go back to Egypt. 8 Then the Babylonians will return and attack Jerusalem, and this time they will capture the city and set it on fire. 9 Don't fool yourselves into thinking that the Babylonians will leave as they did before. 10 Even if you could defeat their entire army, their wounded survivors would still be able to leave their tents and set Jerusalem on fire.
Jeremiah Is Put in Prison
11 The Babylonian army had left because the Egyptian army was on its way to help us. 12 So I decided to leave Jerusalem and go to the territory of the Benjamin tribe to claim my share of my family's land. 13 I was leaving Jerusalem through Benjamin Gate, when I was stopped by Irijah, the officer in charge of the soldiers at the gate. He said, “Jeremiah, you're under arrest for trying to join the Babylonians.”
14 “I'm not trying to join them!” I answered. But Irijah wouldn't listen, and he took me to the king's officials. 15-16 They were angry and ordered the soldiers to beat me. Then I was taken to the house that belonged to Jonathan, one of the king's officials. It had been turned into a prison, and I was kept in a basement room.
After I had spent a long time there, 17 King Zedekiah secretly had me brought to his palace, where he asked, “Is there any message for us from the Lord?”
“Yes, there is, Your Majesty,” I replied. “The Lord is going to let the king of Babylonia capture you.”
18 Then I continued, “Your Majesty, why have you put me in prison? Have I committed a crime against you or your officials or the nation? 19 Have you locked up the prophets who lied to you and said that the king of Babylonia would never attack Jerusalem? 20 Please, don't send me back to that prison at Jonathan's house. If you do, I will die there.”
21 King Zedekiah had me taken to the prison cells in the courtyard of the palace guards. He told the soldiers to give me a loaf of bread from one of the bakeries every day until the city ran out of grain.