1Some of the royal officials heard what Jeremiah was preaching. They were: Shephatiah son of Mattan, Gedaliah son of Pashhur, Jehucal son of Shelemiah, and Pashhur son of Malkijah. Jeremiah was telling all the people this message: 2“This is what the Lord says: 'Everyone that stays in Jerusalem will die by a sword, or hunger, or terrible sickness. But everyone that surrenders to the army of Babylon will live. Those people will escape with their lives.’ 3And this is what the Lord says: 'This city of Jerusalem will surely be given to the army of the king of Babylon. He will capture this city.’” 4Then those royal officials that heard the things Jeremiah was telling the people went to King Zedekiah. They said to the king, “Jeremiah must be put to death. He is making the soldiers that are still in the city become discouraged. Jeremiah is discouraging everyone by the things he is saying. Jeremiah does not want good to happen to us. He wants to ruin the people of Jerusalem.” 5So King Zedekiah said to those officials, “Jeremiah is in your control. I can’t do anything to stop you.” 6So those officials took Jeremiah and put him into Malkijah’s cistern. (Malkijah was the king’s son.) That cistern was in the temple yard where the king’s guard stayed. Those officials used ropes to lower Jeremiah into the cistern. The cistern didn’t have any water in it, but only mud. And Jeremiah sank down into the mud. 7But a man named Ebed Melech heard that those officials had put Jeremiah into the cistern. Ebed Melech was a man from Ethiopia, and he was a eunuch in the king’s house. King Zedekiah was sitting at the Benjamin Gate. So Ebed Melech left the king’s house and went to talk to the king at that gate. 8- 9Ebed Melech said, “My lord and king, those officials have acted in a wicked way. They have treated Jeremiah the prophet wickedly. They have thrown him into a cistern. They have left him there to die.” 10Then King Zedekiah gave a command to Ebed Melech, the Ethiopian. This was the command: “Ebed Melech, take three men from the king’s house with you. Go and lift Jeremiah out of the cistern before he dies.” 11So Ebed Melech took the men with him. But first he went to a room under the storeroom in the king’s house. He took some old rags and worn-out clothes from that room. Then he let those rags down with some ropes to Jeremiah in the cistern. 12Ebed Melech, the Ethiopian, said to Jeremiah, “Put these old rags and worn-out clothes under your arms. When we pull you out, these rags will pad your underarms. Then the ropes will not hurt you.” So Jeremiah did as Ebed Melech said. 13Those men pulled Jeremiah up with the ropes and lifted him out of the cistern. And Jeremiah stayed under guard in the temple yard. 14Then King Zedekiah sent someone to get Jeremiah the prophet. He had Jeremiah brought to the third entrance to the temple of the Lord. Then the king said, “Jeremiah, I am going to ask you something. Don’t hide anything from me, but tell me everything honestly.” 15Jeremiah said to Zedekiah, “If I give you an answer, you will probably kill me. And even if I did give you advice, you would not listen to me.” 16But King Zedekiah secretly swore an oath to Jeremiah. Zedekiah said, “The Lord gives us breath and life. As surely as the Lord lives I will not kill you, Jeremiah. And I promise not to give you to those officials that want to kill you.” 17Then Jeremiah said to King Zedekiah, “The Lord God All-Powerful is the God of Israel. The Lord says, 'If you surrender to the officials of the king of Babylon, your life will be saved and Jerusalem will not be burned down. And you and your family will live. 18But if you refuse to surrender then Jerusalem will be given to the Babylonian army. They will burn Jerusalem down, and you will not escape from them.’” 19But King Zedekiah said to Jeremiah, “But I am afraid of the men of Judah that have already gone over to the side of the Babylonian army. I am afraid that the soldiers will give me to those men of Judah and they will treat me badly and hurt me.” 20But Jeremiah answered, “The soldiers will not give you to those men of Judah. King Zedekiah, obey the Lord by doing what I tell you. Then things will go well for you, and your life will be saved. 21But if you refuse to surrender to the army of Babylon, the Lord has shown me what will happen. This is what the Lord has told me: 22All the women that are left in the house of the king of Judah will be brought out. They will be brought to the important officials of the king of Babylon. Your women will make fun of you with a song. This is what the women will say: 'Your good friends led you the wrong way and were stronger than you. Those were friends that you trusted. Your feet are stuck in the mud. Your friends have left you.’ 23All your wives and children will be brought out. They will be given to the Babylonian army. You yourself will not escape from the army of Babylon. You will be captured by the king of Babylon, and Jerusalem will be burned down.” 24Then Zedekiah said to Jeremiah, “Don’t tell any person that I have been talking to you. If you do, you might die. 25Those officials might find out that I talked to you. Then they will come to you and say, 'Jeremiah, tell us what you said to King Zedekiah. And tell us what King Zedekiah said to you. Be honest with us and tell us everything, or we will kill you.’ 26If they say this to you, then tell them, 'I was begging the king not to send me back to the cell in the dungeon under Jonathan’s house. If I were to go back there, I would die.’” 27It happened that those royal officials of the king did come to Jeremiah to question him. So Jeremiah told them everything the king had ordered him to say. Then those officials left Jeremiah alone. No person had heard what Jeremiah and the king had talked about. 28So Jeremiah stayed under guard in the temple yard until the day Jerusalem was captured.