Jeremiah 38; Jeremiah 39; Jeremiah 40; Jeremiah 41 (New International Reader's Version)

Jeremiah Is Thrown Into an Empty Well

1 Shephatiah, Gedaliah, Jehucal and Pashhur heard what I was telling all of the people. Shephatiah was the son of Mattan. Gedaliah was the son of Pashhur. Jehucal was the son of Shelemiah. And Pashhur was the son of Malkijah. Those four men heard me say, 2 "The LORD says, 'Those who stay in this city will die of war, hunger or plague. But those who go over to the side of the Babylonians will live. They will escape with their lives. They will remain alive.' 3 The LORD also says, 'This city will certainly be handed over to the armies of the king of Babylonia. They will capture it.' " 4 Then those officials said to the king, "That man should be put to death. What he says is making the soldiers who are left in this city lose hope. It's making all of the people lose hope too. He isn't interested in what is best for the people. In fact, he's trying to destroy them." 5 "He's in your hands," King Zedekiah answered. "I can't do anything to oppose you." 6 So they took me and put me into an empty well. It belonged to Malkijah. He was a member of the royal court. His well was in the courtyard of the guard. Zedekiah's men lowered me by ropes into the well. It didn't have any water in it. All it had was mud. And I sank down into the mud. 7 Ebed-Melech was an official in the royal palace. He was from the land of Cush. He heard that I had been put into the well. The king was sitting by the Benjamin Gate at that time. 8 Ebed-Melech went out of the palace. He said to the king, 9 "My king and master, everything those men have done to the prophet Jeremiah is evil. They have thrown him into an empty well. Soon there won't be any more bread in the city. Then he'll starve to death." 10 So the king gave an order to Ebed-Melech from Cush. He said, "Take 30 men from here with you. Lift the prophet Jeremiah out of the well before he dies." 11 Then Ebed-Melech took the men with him. He went to a room under the place in the palace where the treasures were stored. He got some old rags and worn-out clothes from there. Then he let them down with ropes to me in the well. 12 Ebed-Melech from Cush told me what to do. He said, "Put these old rags and worn-out clothes under your arms. They'll pad the ropes." So I did. 13 Then the men pulled me up with the ropes. They lifted me out of the well. And I remained in the courtyard of the guard.

Zedekiah Questions Jeremiah Again

14 Then King Zedekiah sent for me. He had me brought to the third entrance to the LORD's temple. "I want to ask you something," the king said to me. "Don't hide anything from me." 15 I said to Zedekiah, "Suppose I give you an answer. You will kill me, won't you? Suppose I give you good advice. You won't listen to me, will you?" 16 But King Zedekiah took an oath. He promised me secretly, "I won't kill you. And I won't hand you over to those who want to take your life. That's just as sure as the LORD is alive. He's the one who has given us breath." 17 So I said to Zedekiah, "The LORD God who rules over all is the God of Israel. He says, 'Give yourself up to the officers of the king of Babylonia. Then your life will be spared. And this city will not be burned down. You and your family will remain alive. 18 " 'But what if you do not give yourself up to them? Then this city will be handed over to the Babylonians. They will burn it down. And you yourself will not escape from their powerful hands.' " 19 King Zedekiah said to me, "I'm afraid of some of the Jews. They are the ones who have gone over to the side of the Babylonians. The Babylonians might hand me over to them. And those Jews will treat me badly." 20 "They won't hand you over to them," I replied. "Obey the Lord. Do what I tell you to do. Then things will go well with you. Your life will be spared. 21 "Don't refuse to give yourself up. The LORD has shown me what will happen if you do. 22 All of the women who are left in your palace will be brought out. They'll be given to the officials of the king of Babylonia. Those women will say to you, " 'Your trusted friends have tricked you. They have gotten the best of you. Your feet are sunk down in the mud. Your friends have deserted you.' 23 "All of your wives and children will be brought out to the Babylonians. You yourself won't escape from their powerful hands. You will be captured by the king of Babylonia. And this city will be burned down." 24 Then Zedekiah said to me, "Don't let anyone know about the talk we've had. If you do, you might die. 25 Suppose the officials find out that I've talked with you. And suppose they come to you and say, 'Tell us what you said to the king. Tell us what the king said to you. Don't hide it from us. If you do, we'll kill you.' 26 Then tell them, 'I was begging the king not to send me back to Jonathan's house. I don't want to die there.' " 27 All of the officials came to me. And they questioned me. I told them everything the king had ordered me to say. None of them had heard what I told the king. So they didn't say anything else to me. 28 I remained in the courtyard of the guard. I stayed there until the day Jerusalem was captured.

Jerusalem Is Destroyed

1 Here is how Jerusalem was captured. Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylonia, marched out against it. He came with all of his armies and attacked it. It was in the ninth year that Zedekiah was king of Judah. It was in the tenth month. 2 The city wall was broken through. It happened on the ninth day of the fourth month. It was in the 11th year of Zedekiah's rule. 3 All of the officials of the king of Babylonia came. They took seats near the Middle Gate. Nergal-Sharezer from Samgar was there. Nebo-Sarsekim, a chief officer, was also there. So was Nergal-Sharezer, a high official. And all of the other officials of the king of Babylonia were there too. 4 King Zedekiah and all of the soldiers saw them. Then they ran away. They left the city at night. They went by way of the king's garden. They went out through the gate between the two walls. And they headed toward the Arabah Valley. 5 But the armies of Babylonia chased them. They caught up with Zedekiah in the flatlands near Jericho. They captured him there. And they took him to Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylonia. He was at Riblah in the land of Hamath. That's where Nebuchadnezzar decided how he would be punished. 6 The king of Babylonia killed the sons of Zedekiah at Riblah. He forced Zedekiah to watch it with his own eyes. He also killed all of the nobles of Judah. 7 Then he poked out Zedekiah's eyes. He put him in bronze chains. And he took him to Babylon. 8 The Babylonians set the royal palace on fire. They also set fire to the houses of the people. And they broke down the walls of Jerusalem. 9 Nebuzaradan was commander of the royal guard. Some people still remained in the city. But he took them away to Babylon as prisoners. He also took along those who had gone over to his side. And he took the rest of the people. 10 Nebuzaradan, the commander of the guard, left some of the poor people of Judah behind. They didn't own anything. So at that time he gave them vineyards and fields. 11 Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylonia, had given orders about me. He had given them to Nebuzaradan, the commander of the royal guard. Nebuchadnezzar had said, 12 "Take him. Look after him. Don't harm him. Do for him anything he asks." 13 So that's what Nebuzaradan, the commander of the guard, did. Nebushazban and Nergal-Sharezer were with him. So were all of the other officers of the king of Babylonia. Nebushazban was a chief officer. Nergal-Sharezer was a high official. All of those men 14 sent for me. They had me taken out of the courtyard of the guard. They turned me over to Gedaliah. They told him to take me back to my home. So I remained among my own people. Gedaliah was the son of Ahikam, the son of Shaphan. 15 A message came to me from the Lord. It came while I was being kept in the courtyard of the guard. He said, 16 "Go. Speak to Ebed-Melech from Cush. Tell him, 'The LORD who rules over all is the God of Israel. He says, "I am about to make the words I spoke against this city come true. I will not give success to it. Instead, I will bring horrible trouble on it. At that time my words will come true. You will see it with your own eyes. 17 " ' "But I will save you on that day," announces the Lord. "You will not be handed over to those you are afraid of. 18 I will save you. You will not be killed with a sword. Instead, you will escape with your life. That is because you trust in me," announces the Lord.' "

Jeremiah Is Set Free From His Chains

1 A message came to me from the Lord. It came after Nebuzaradan, the commander of the royal guard, had set me free at Ramah. I was being held by chains when he found me. I was among all of the prisoners from Jerusalem and Judah. We were being taken to Babylon. 2 But the commander of the guard found me. He said to me, "The LORD your God ordered that this place be destroyed. 3 And now he has brought it about. He has done exactly what he said he would do. All of these things have happened because you people sinned against the Lord. You didn't obey him. 4 But today I'm setting you free from the chains that are on your wrists. Come with me to Babylon if you want to. I'll take good care of you there. But if you don't want to come, then don't. The whole country lies in front of you. Go anywhere you want to." 5 But before I turned to go, Nebuzaradan continued, "Go back to Gedaliah, the son of Ahikam. The king of Babylonia has appointed Gedaliah to be over the towns of Judah. Go and live with him among your people. Or go anywhere else you want to." Ahikam was the son of Shaphan. The commander gave me food and water. He also gave me a gift. Then he let me go. 6 So I went to Mizpah to see Gedaliah, the son of Ahikam. I stayed with him. I lived among the people who were left behind in the land.

Gedaliah Is Murdered

7 Some of Judah's army officers and their men were still in the open country. They heard that the king of Babylonia had appointed Gedaliah, the son of Ahikam, as governor over Judah. He had put him in charge of the men, women and children who were still there. They were the poorest people in the land. They hadn't been taken to Babylon. 8 When the army officers and their men heard those things, they came to Gedaliah at Mizpah. Ishmael, the son of Nethaniah, came. So did Johanan and Jonathan, the sons of Kareah. Seraiah, the son of Tanhumeth, also came. The sons of Ephai from Netophah came too. And so did Jaazaniah, the son of the Maacathite. All of their men came with them. 9 Gedaliah son of Ahikam, the son of Shaphan, took an oath to give hope to all of those men. He spoke in a kind way to them. He said, "Don't be afraid to serve the Babylonians. Settle down in the land of Judah. Serve the king of Babylonia. Then things will go well with you. 10 I myself will stay at Mizpah. I'll speak for you to the officials of Babylonia who come to us. But you must harvest the wine, summer fruit and olive oil. Put them in your jars. Store them up. And live in the towns you have taken over." 11 All of the Jews in Moab, Ammon and Edom heard what had happened. So did the Jews in all of the other countries. They heard that the king of Babylonia had left some people behind in Judah. They also heard that he had appointed Gedaliah, the son of Ahikam, as governor over them. Ahikam was the son of Shaphan. 12 When they heard those things, all of them came back to the land of Judah. They went to Gedaliah at Mizpah. They came from all of the countries where they had been scattered. And they harvested a large amount of wine and summer fruit. 13 Johanan and all of the other army officers who were still in the open country came to Gedaliah at Mizpah. Johanan was the son of Kareah. 14 The officers said to Gedaliah, "Don't you know that Baalis, the king of Ammon, has sent someone to take your life? It's Ishmael, the son of Nethaniah." But Gedaliah, the son of Ahikam, didn't believe them. 15 Then Johanan, the son of Kareah, spoke in private to Gedaliah in Mizpah. He said, "Let me go and kill Ishmael, the son of Nethaniah. No one will know about it. Why should he take your life? Why should he cause all of the Jews who are gathered around you to be scattered? Why should he cause the people who remain in Judah to die?" 16 But Gedaliah, the son of Ahikam, spoke to Johanan, the son of Kareah. He said, "Don't do an awful thing like that! What you are saying about Ishmael isn't true." 1 In the seventh month Ishmael, the son of Nethaniah, came with ten men to Gedaliah, the son of Ahikam, at Mizpah. Nethaniah was the son of Elishama. Ishmael was a member of the royal family. He had been one of the king's officers. Ishmael and his ten men were eating together at Mizpah. 2 They got up and struck down Gedaliah, the son of Ahikam, with their swords. They killed him even though the king of Babylonia had appointed him as governor over Judah. Ahikam was the son of Shaphan. 3 Ishmael also killed all of the Jews who were with Gedaliah at Mizpah. And he killed the Babylonian soldiers who were there. 4 On the next day, people still hadn't found out that Gedaliah had been murdered. 5 On that day 80 men came from Shechem, Shiloh and Samaria. They had shaved off their beards. They had torn their clothes. And they had cut themselves. They brought grain offerings and incense with them. They took them to the LORD's house. 6 Ishmael, the son of Nethaniah, went out from Mizpah to meet them. He was sobbing as he went. When he met them, he said, "Come to Gedaliah, the son of Ahikam." 7 They went with him into the city. Then Ishmael, the son of Nethaniah, and the men who were with him killed them. And they threw them into an empty well. 8 But ten of the men had spoken to Ishmael. They had said, "Don't kill us! We have some wheat and barley. We also have olive oil and honey. We've hidden all of it in a field." So he let them alone. He didn't kill them along with the others. 9 But he had thrown all of the bodies of the men he had killed into the empty well. That included Gedaliah's body. The well was the one King Asa had made. He had made it when he strengthened Mizpah against attack by Baasha, the king of Israel. Ishmael, the son of Nethaniah, filled it with the bodies of those he had killed. 10 Ishmael made prisoners of all the rest of the people who were in Mizpah. That included women who were members of the royal court. It also included all of the others who were left there. Nebuzaradan had appointed Gedaliah, the son of Ahikam, over them. Ishmael, the son of Nethaniah, took them as prisoners. Then he started out to go across the Jordan River to the land of Ammon. Nebuzaradan was the commander of the royal guard. 11 Johanan, the son of Kareah, and all of the other army officers who were with him were told what had happened. They heard about all of the crimes Ishmael, the son of Nethaniah, had committed. 12 So they brought all of their men together. Then they went to fight against Ishmael, the son of Nethaniah. They caught up with him near the large pool in Gibeon. 13 Ishmael had many people with him. They saw Johanan, the son of Kareah. And they saw the other army officers who were with him. So the people who had been forced to go with Ishmael were glad. 14 All those whom Ishmael had taken as prisoners at Mizpah turned and went over to the side of Johanan, the son of Kareah. 15 But Ishmael, the son of Nethaniah, and eight of his men escaped from Johanan. They ran away to the land of Ammon.

Some Jews Take Jeremiah to Egypt

16 Then Johanan, the son of Kareah, led away all of the people from Mizpah who were still alive. All of the other army officers who were with Johanan helped him do it. He had taken them away from Ishmael, the son of Nethaniah. That happened after Ishmael had murdered Gedaliah, the son of Ahikam. The people Johanan had taken away included the soldiers, women, children and court officials he had brought from Gibeon. 17 They went on their way. They stopped at Geruth Kimham near Bethlehem. They were going to Egypt. 18 They wanted to get away from the Babylonians. They were afraid of them because Ishmael, the son of Nethaniah, had killed Gedaliah, the son of Ahikam. The king of Babylonia had appointed Gedaliah as governor over Judah.
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