King Zedekiah son of Josiah, a puppet king set on the throne by Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon in the land of Judah, was now king in place of Jehoiachin son of Jehoiakim.
But neither he nor his officials nor the people themselves paid a bit of attention to the Message God gave by Jeremiah the prophet.
However, King Zedekiah sent Jehucal son of Shelemiah, and Zephaniah the priest, son of Maaseiah, to Jeremiah the prophet, saying, "Pray for us - pray hard! - to the Master, our God."
Jeremiah was still moving about freely among the people in those days. This was before he had been put in jail.
Pharaoh's army was marching up from Egypt. The Chaldeans fighting against Jerusalem heard that the Egyptians were coming and pulled back.
Then Jeremiah the prophet received this Message from God:
"I, the God of Israel, want you to give this Message to the king of Judah, who has just sent you to me to find out what he should do. Tell him, 'Get this: Pharaoh's army, which is on its way to help you, isn't going to stick it out. No sooner will they get here than they'll leave and go home to Egypt.
And then the Babylonians will come back and resume their attack, capture this city and burn it to the ground.
I, God, am telling you: Don't kid yourselves, reassuring one another, "The Babylonians will leave in a few days." I tell you, they aren't leaving.
Why, even if you defeated the entire attacking Chaldean army and all that was left were a few wounded soldiers in their tents, the wounded would still do the job and burn this city to the ground.'"
When the Chaldean army pulled back from Jerusalem,
Jeremiah left Jerusalem to go over to the territory of Benjamin to take care of some personal business.
When he got to the Benjamin Gate, the officer on guard there, Irijah son of Shelemiah, son of Hananiah, grabbed Jeremiah the prophet, accusing him, "You're deserting to the Chaldeans!"
"That's a lie," protested Jeremiah. "I wouldn't think of deserting to the Chaldeans."
The police were furious with Jeremiah. They beat him up and threw him into jail in the house of Jonathan the secretary of state. (They were using the house for a prison cell.)
So Jeremiah entered an underground cell in a cistern turned into a dungeon. He stayed there a long time.
Later King Zedekiah had Jeremiah brought to him. The king questioned him privately, "Is there a Message from God?" "There certainly is," said Jeremiah. "You're going to be turned over to the king of Babylon."
Jeremiah continued speaking to King Zedekiah: "Can you tell me why you threw me into prison? What crime did I commit against you or your officials or this people?
And tell me, whatever has become of your prophets who preached all those sermons saying that the king of Babylon would never attack you or this land?
Listen to me, please, my master - my king! Please don't send me back to that dungeon in the house of Jonathan the secretary. I'll die there!"
So King Zedekiah ordered that Jeremiah be assigned to the courtyard of the palace guards. He was given a loaf of bread from Bakers' Alley every day until all the bread in the city was gone. And that's where Jeremiah remained - in the courtyard of the palace guards.