In the ninth year and tenth month of Zedekiah king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came with his entire army and laid siege to Jerusalem.
In the eleventh year and fourth month, on the ninth day of Zedekiah's reign, they broke through into the city.
All the officers of the king of Babylon came and set themselves up as a ruling council from the Middle Gate: Nergal-sharezer of Simmagar, Nebushazban the Rabsaris, Nergal-sharezer the Rabmag, along with all the other officials of the king of Babylon.
When Zedekiah king of Judah and his remaining soldiers saw this, they ran for their lives. They slipped out at night on a path in the king's garden through the gate between two walls and headed for the wilderness, toward the Jordan Valley.
The Babylonian army chased them and caught Zedekiah in the wilderness of Jericho. They seized him and took him to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon at Riblah in the country of Hamath. Nebuchadnezzar decided his fate.
The king of Babylon killed all the sons of Zedekiah in Riblah right before his eyes and then killed all the nobles of Judah.
After Zedekiah had seen the slaughter, Nebuchadnezzar blinded him, chained him up, and then took him off to Babylon.
Meanwhile, the Babylonians burned down the royal palace, the Temple, and all the homes of the people. They leveled the walls of Jerusalem.
Nebuzaradan, commander of the king's bodyguard, rounded up everyone left in the city, along with those who had surrendered to him, and herded them off to exile in Babylon.
He didn't bother taking the few poor people who had nothing. He left them in the land of Judah to eke out a living as best they could in the vineyards and fields.
Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon gave Nebuzaradan captain of the king's bodyguard special orders regarding Jeremiah:
"Look out for him. Make sure nothing bad happens to him. Give him anything he wants."
So Nebuzaradan, chief of the king's bodyguard, along with Nebushazban the Rabsaris, Nergal-sharezer the Rabmag, and all the chief officers of the king of Babylon,
sent for Jeremiah, taking him from the courtyard of the royal guards and putting him under the care of Gedaliah son of Ahikam, the son of Shaphan, to be taken home. And so he was able to live with the people.
Earlier, while Jeremiah was still in custody in the courtyard of the royal guards, God's Message came to him:
"Go and speak with Ebed-melek the Ethiopian. Tell him, God-of-the-Angel-Armies, the God of Israel, says, Listen carefully: I will do exactly what I said I would do to this city - bad news, not good news. When it happens, you will be there to see it.
But I'll deliver you on that doomsday. You won't be handed over to those men whom you have good reason to fear.
Yes, I'll most certainly save you. You won't be killed. You'll walk out of there safe and sound because you trusted me.'" God's Decree.
Published by permission. Originally published by NavPress in English as THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language copyright 2002 by Eugene Peterson. All rights reserved. (The Message Bible Online)