Jeremiah’s Arrest. 1 Zedekiah, the son of Josiah, was appointed by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon to be king in the land of Judah, succeeding Coniah, the son of Jehoiakim. 2 However, neither he nor his officials nor the people of the land paid any heed to the words of the Lord that he spoke through the prophet Jeremiah.
3 Even so, King Zedekiah sent Jehucal, the son of Shelamiah, and the priest Zephaniah, the son of Maaseiah, to the prophet Jeremiah with this message, “Please pray to the Lord, our God, for us.” 4 At that time Jeremiah had not been imprisoned, and he was still able to move freely among the people. 5 Meanwhile, Pharaoh’s army had set forth from Egypt, and when the Chaldeans who were besieging Jerusalem learned of this, they withdrew from there.
6 Then the word of the Lord came to the prophet Jeremiah: 7 Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: Give this reply to the king of Judah who sent you to consult me: Pharaoh’s army which has set out to help you will withdraw to its own country of Egypt, 8 and the Chaldeans will then resume their attack upon this city. They will capture it and burn it to the ground.
9 Thus says the Lord: Do not deceive yourselves with the belief that the Chaldeans will cease their attack on you, for they will not disappear. 10 Even if you managed to defeat the entire force of the Chaldeans who are fighting against you, and only those who were wounded were still left, they would rise up and burn this city to the ground.
11 When the Chaldean army had withdrawn from their attack on Jerusalem after they learned of the approach of Pharaoh’s army, 12 Jeremiah set out from Jerusalem for the territory of Benjamin to take possession of his share of a piece of property that he had inherited. 13 However, when he reached the Benjamin Gate, he encountered there the captain of the guard whose name was Irijah, the son of Shemaliah, the son of Hananiah. Irijah arrested the prophet Jeremiah, saying, “You are deserting to the Chaldeans.” 14 Jeremiah answered him, “That is a lie. I am not deserting to the Chaldeans.” But Irijah refused to listen to him, and he arrested Jeremiah and brought him to the officials.
15 The officials were enraged at Jeremiah. After having him beaten, they ordered him to be confined in the house of Jonathan the scribe, which had been converted into a jail. 16 Jeremiah was placed in a cell in the dungeon where he remained for a lengthy period of time.
17 Later, King Zedekiah had Jeremiah brought to him, and he questioned him privately in his palace, asking him, “Is there any word from the Lord?” “There is,” Jeremiah replied. “You will be handed over to the king of Babylon.” 18 Jeremiah then asked King Zedekiah, “In what way have I wronged you or your ministers or this people that caused you to order me to be thrown into prison? 19 Where are your prophets now who prophesied to you that the king of Babylon would not attack you or this land?
20 “Therefore, I beg you, my lord king, to grant my petition. Do not send me back to the house of Jonathan the scribe. If you do, I will die there.” 21 Therefore, King Zedekiah issued an order that Jeremiah was to be confined to the court of the guard, and that a loaf of bread was to be given to him each day from the Street of the Bakers until there was no more bread remaining in the city. And so Jeremiah remained in the court of the guard.
- Jeremiah 37:1 We leap ahead here to the dark years, 588–587 B.C., that would see Jerusalem besieged and sacked by the Babylonian army. Jeremiah did not cease his denunciation of the policy that led Judah to destruction. The nationalist party was enraged and sought to rid itself at any cost of this troublesome man, but neither prison nor blows silenced the prophet.