1 It was in January* during the ninth year of King Zedekiah's reign that King Nebuchadnezzar* and his army returned to besiege Jerusalem.1
2 Two and a half years later, on July 18,* the Babylonians broke through the wall, and the city fell.2
3 All the officers of the Babylonian army came in and sat in triumph at the Middle Gate: Nergal-sharezer of Samgar, and Nebo-sarsekim,* a chief officer, and Nergal-sharezer, the king's adviser, and many others.3
4 King Zedekiah and his royal guard saw the Babylonians in the city gate, so they fled when the darkness of night arrived. They went out through a gate between the two walls behind the king's garden and headed toward the Jordan Valley.*4
5 But the Babylonians* chased the king and caught him on the plains of Jericho. They took him to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, who was at Riblah in the land of Hamath. There the king of Babylon pronounced judgment upon Zedekiah.5
6 He made Zedekiah watch as they killed his sons and all the nobles of Judah.
7 Then he gouged out Zedekiah's eyes, bound him in chains, and sent him away to exile in Babylon.
8 Meanwhile, the Babylonians burned Jerusalem, including the palace, and tore down the walls of the city.
9 Then Nebuzaradan, the captain of the guard, sent to Babylon the remnant of the population as well as those who had defected to him.
10 But Nebuzaradan left a few of the poorest people in Judah, and he assigned them fields and vineyards to care for.
11 King Nebuchadnezzar had told Nebuzaradan to find Jeremiah.
12 "See that he isn't hurt," he had said. "Look after him well, and give him anything he wants."
13 So Nebuzaradan, the captain of the guard, and Nebushazban, a chief officer, and Nergal-sharezer, the king's adviser, and the other officers of Babylon's king
14 sent messengers to bring Jeremiah out of the prison. They put him under the care of Gedaliah son of Ahikam and grandson of Shaphan, who was to take him back to his home. So Jeremiah stayed in Judah among his own people.
15 The LORD had given the following message to Jeremiah while he was still in prison:
16 "Say to Ebed-melech the Ethiopian,* `The LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: I will do to this city everything I have threatened. I will send disaster, not prosperity. You will see its destruction,6
17 but I will rescue you from those you fear so much.
18 Because you trusted me, I will preserve your life and keep you safe. I, the LORD, have spoken!' "
Read Jeremiah 40