Jeremiah Chapter 39 to 41 : Easy-to-Read Version  | SearchSearch | Next Version | Previous Page | Next Page |

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The Fall of Jerusalem

39 This is how Jerusalem was captured: During the tenth month of the ninth year that Zedekiah was king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon marched against Jerusalem with his whole army. He surrounded the city to defeat it. 2And on the ninth day of the fourth month in Zedekiah’s eleventh year, the wall of Jerusalem was broken through. 3Then all the royal officials of the king of Babylon came into the city of Jerusalem. They came in and sat down at the Middle Gate. These are the names of those officials: Nergal- Sharezer, the governor of the district of Samgar, a very high official; Nebo Sarsekim, another very high official; and various other important officials were there also. 4Zedekiah king of Judah saw those officials from Babylon, so he and the soldiers with him ran away. They left Jerusalem at night. They went out through the king’s garden and out through the gate that was between the two walls. Then they went toward the desert. 5The Babylonian army chased Zedekiah and the soldiers with him. Those soldiers caught up with Zedekiah in the plains of Jericho. They captured Zedekiah and took him to Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar was at the town of Riblah, in the land of Hamath. At that place, Nebuchadnezzar decided what to do to Zedekiah. 6There at the town of Riblah, the king of Babylon killed Zedekiah’s sons, while Zedekiah watched. And Nebuchadnezzar killed all the royal officials of Judah while Zedekiah watched. 7Then Nebuchadnezzar tore out Zedekiah’s eyes. He put bronze chains on Zedekiah and took him to Babylon. 8The army of Babylon set fire to the king’s house and the houses of the people of Jerusalem. And they broke down the walls of Jerusalem. 9A man named Nebuzaradan was the commander of the king of Babylon’s special guards. He took the people that were left in Jerusalem and made them captives. He carried them away to Babylon. Nebuzaradan also made those people of Jerusalem captives that had surrendered to him earlier. He made all the others of the people of Jerusalem captives and carried them away to Babylon. 10But Nebuzaradan, the commander of the special guards, left some of the poor people of Judah behind. Those were the people that owned nothing. So on that day, Nebuzaradan gave those poor people of Judah vineyards and fields. 11But Nebuchadnezzar gave some orders to Nebuzaradan about Jeremiah. Nebuzaradan was the commander of Nebuchadnezzar’s special guards. These were the orders: 12“Find Jeremiah and take care of him. Don’t hurt him. Give him whatever he asks for.” 13So Nebuzaradan, the commander of the king’s special guards, Nebushazban, a chief officer in the army of Babylon, Nergal-Sharezer, a high official, and all the other officers of the army of Babylon sent for Jeremiah. 14Those men had Jeremiah taken out of the temple yard where he had been under the guard of the king of Judah. Those officers of the army of Babylon turned Jeremiah over to Gedaliah.* Gedaliah was the son of Ahikam. Ahikam was the son of Shaphan. Gedaliah had orders to take Jeremiah back home. So Jeremiah was taken home, and he stayed among his own people. A Message from the Lord to Ebed-Melech 15While the guards were watching Jeremiah in the temple yard, a message from the Lord came to him. This was the message: 16“Jeremiah, go and tell Ebed-Melech,* the man from Ethiopia, this message: ‘This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of the people of Israel, says: Very soon I will make my messages about this city of Jerusalem come true. My messages will come true through disaster and not good things. You will see everything come true with your own eyes. 17But I will save you on that day, Ebed- Melech.’ This is the message of the Lord. ‘You won’t be given to the people you are afraid of. 18I will save you, Ebed-Melech. You won’t die from a sword, but you will escape and live. That will happen because you have trusted in me.’” This message is from the Lord.

Gedaliah Gedaliah was the man that Nebuchadnezzar appointed as his governor for the land of Judah. Ebed-Melech See Jeremiah 38:7–13.

Jeremiah Is Set Free

40 The message from the Lord came to Jeremiah after he was set free at the city of Ramah. Nebuzaradan, the commander of the king of Babylon’s special guards, found Jeremiah in Ramah. Jeremiah was bound with chains. He was with all the captives from Jerusalem and Judah. Those captives were being taken away in captivity to Babylon. 2When commander Nebuzaradan found Jeremiah, he spoke to him. He said, “Jeremiah, the Lord, your God, announced that this disaster would come to this place. 3And now the Lord has done everything just as he said he would do. This disaster happened because you people of Judah sinned against the Lord. You people didn’t obey the Lord. 4But now, Jeremiah, I will set you free. I am taking the chains off your wrists. If you want to, come with me to Babylon, and I will take good care of you. But if you don’t want to come with me, then don’t come. Look, the whole country is open to you. Go anywhere you want. 5Or go back to Gedaliah* son of Ahikam, the son of Shaphan. The king of Babylon has chosen Gedaliah to be governor over the towns of Judah. Go and live with Gedaliah among the people. Or you can go anywhere you want.” Then Nebuzaradan gave Jeremiah some food and a present and let him go. 6So Jeremiah went to Gedaliah son of Ahikam at Mizpah. Jeremiah stayed with Gedaliah among the people that were left behind in the land of Judah. The Short Rule of Gedaliah 7There were some soldiers from the army of Judah, officers and their men, still out in the open country when Jerusalem was destroyed. Those soldiers heard that the king of Babylon had put Gedaliah son of Ahikam in charge of the people that were left in the land. The people that were left were men, women, and children that were very poor and were not carried off to Babylon as captives. 8So those soldiers came to Gedaliah at Mizpah. Those soldiers were: Ishmael son of Nethaniah, Johanan, and his brother Jonathan, sons of Kareah, Seraiah son of Tanhumeth, sons of Ephai from Netophah, and Jaazaniah son of the Maacathite, and the men that were with them. 9Gedaliah son of Ahikam, son of Shaphan, made an oath to make those soldiers and their men feel more secure. This is what Gedaliah said: “You soldiers, don’t be afraid to serve the Babylonian people. Settle down in the land and serve the king of Babylon. If you do this, things will go well for you. 10I, myself, will live in Mizpah. I will speak for you before the Chaldean people that come here. You people leave that work to me. You should harvest the wine, the summer fruit, and the oil. Put what you harvest in your storage jars. Live in the towns that you have taken control of.” 11All the people of Judah that were in the countries of Moab, Ammon, Edom, and all the other countries heard that the king of Babylon had left some people of Judah in the land. And they heard that the king of Babylon had chosen Gedaliah son of Ahikam, son of Shaphan, to be governor over them. 12When those people of Judah heard that news, they came back to the land of Judah. They came back to Gedaliah at Mizpah from all the countries where they had been scattered. So they came back and gathered a large harvest of wine and summer fruit. 13Johanan son of Kareah and all the officers of the army of Judah that were still in the open country came to Gedaliah. Gedaliah was at the town of Mizpah. 14Johanan and those officers with him said to Gedaliah, “Do you know that Baalis, the king of the Ammonite people, wants to kill you? He has sent Ishmael son of Nethaniah to kill you.” But Gedaliah son of Ahikam didn’t believe them. 15Then Johanan son of Kareah spoke to Gedaliah in private at Mizpah. Johanan said to Gedaliah, “Let me go and kill Ishmael son of Nethaniah. No person will know anything about it. We should not let Ishmael kill you. That would cause all the people of Judah that are gathered around you to be scattered to different countries again. And that would mean that the few survivors of Judah would be lost.” 16But Gedaliah son of Ahikam said to Johanan son of Kareah, “Don’t kill Ishmael. The things you are saying about Ishmael are not true.”

Or … Gedaliah Or, “Before Gedaliah goes back, return to him …”

41 In the seventh month, Ishmael son of Nethaniah (the son of Elishama) came to Gedaliah son of Ahikam. Ishmael came with ten of his men. Those men came to the town of Mizpah. Ishmael was a member of the king’s family. He had been one of the officers of the king of Judah. Ishmael and his men ate a meal with Gedaliah. 2While they were eating together, Ishmael and his ten men got up and killed Gedaliah son of Ahikam with a sword. Gedaliah was the man that the king of Babylon had chosen to be governor of Judah. 3Ishmael also killed all the men of Judah that were with Gedaliah at the town of Mizpah. Ishmael also killed the Babylonian soldiers that were there with Gedaliah. 4–5The day after Gedaliah was murdered, 80 men came to Mizpah. They were bringing grain offerings and incense* to the Lord’s temple.* Those 80 men had shaved off their beards, torn their clothes, and cut themselves.* They came from Shechem, Shiloh, and Samaria. None of these men knew that Gedaliah had been murdered. 6Ishmael left Mizpah and went to meet those 80 men. He cried* while he walked out to meet them. Ishmael met those 80 men and said, “Come with me to meet with Gedaliah son of Ahikam.” 7–8As soon as they were in the city, Ishmael and the men with him began to kill the 80 men and throw them into a deep cistern!* But ten of the men said to Ishmael, “Don’t kill us! We have hidden some things in a field. We have wheat and barley, and oil and honey. {We will give those things to you!}” So Ishmael stopped and didn’t kill them with the others. 9(Ishmael threw the dead bodies into the cistern until it was full—and that cistern was very big! It had been built by a king of Judah named Asa. King Asa had made the cistern so that during war there would be water in the city.* Asa did this to protect his city from Baasha, the king of Israel.) 10Ishmael captured all the other people in the town of Mizpah and started to cross over to the country of the Ammonite people. (Those people included the king’s daughters, and all the other people that were left there. Nebuzaradan, the commander of the king of Babylon’s special guards, had chosen Gedaliah to watch over those people.) 11Johanan son of Kareah and all the army officers that were with him, heard about all the evil things Ishmael had done. 12So Johanan and the army officers with him took their men and went to fight Ishmael son of Nethaniah. They caught Ishmael near the big pool of water that is at the town of Gibeon. 13The captives* that Ishmael had taken captive saw Johanan and the army officers. Those people became very happy. 14Then all those people that Ishmael had taken captive at the town of Mizpah ran to Johanan son of Kareah. 15But Ishmael and eight of his men escaped from Johanan. They ran away to the Ammonite people. 16So Johanan son of Kareah and all his army officers rescued the captives.* Ishmael had murdered Gedaliah and then he had taken those people from Mizpah. Among the survivors* were soldiers, women, children, and court officials. Johanan brought them back from the town of Gibeon. The Escape to Egypt 17–18Johanan and the other army officers were afraid of the Chaldeans.* The king of Babylon had chosen Gedaliah to be governor of Judah. But Ishmael murdered Gedaliah, and Johanan was afraid that the Chaldeans would be angry. So they decided to run away to Egypt. On the way to Egypt, they stayed at Geruth Kimham. Geruth Kimham is near the town of Bethlehem.

incense Special dried tree sap. Burned to make a sweetsmelling smoke, it was offered as a gift to God. temple The special building in Jerusalem for Jewish worship. shaved … cut themselves The men did this to show that they were sad about the destruction of the Lord’s temple in Jerusalem. He cried Ishmael was acting like he was sad about the destruction of the temple. cistern A deep hole in the ground used to store water. King Asa … city King Asa lived about 300 years before the time of Gedaliah. See 1 Kings 15:22 for the story about Asa building defenses for Mizpah.  captives People that were taken away like prisoners. survivors People that escaped some disaster. Chaldeans The Chaldeans were the family group to which King Nebuchadnezzar belonged. They were the group that controlled the land of Babylon at this time.

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