King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon appointed Zedekiah, son of Josiah, to be king of Judah. Zedekiah succeeded Jehoiakin, son of Jehoiakim.
But Zedekiah, his administrators, and the common people didn't listen to what the LORD had spoken through the prophet Jeremiah.
King Zedekiah sent Jehucal (son of Shelemiah) and the priest Zephaniah (son of Maaseiah) to the prophet Jeremiah. They asked him, "Please pray to the LORD our God for us."
Jeremiah was still free to come and go among the people. The people of Jerusalem hadn't put him in prison yet.
Pharaoh's army had come from Egypt, and when the Babylonians who were blockading Jerusalem heard this news, they retreated from Jerusalem.
The LORD spoke his word to the prophet Jeremiah. He said,
"This is what the LORD God of Israel says: Say this to the king of Judah, who sent you to get advice from me: 'Pharaoh's army has come out to help you. But it will go back to Egypt, its own land.
Then the Babylonians will return. They will attack the city, capture it, and burn it down.
" 'This is what the LORD says: Don't deceive yourselves by thinking that the Babylonians will leave you. They will not leave you.
Even if you would defeat the entire Babylonian army so that they had only a few badly wounded men left in their tents, they would get up and burn down this city.'"
The Babylonian army had retreated from Jerusalem because Pharaoh's army was coming.
So Jeremiah wanted to leave Jerusalem and go to the territory of Benjamin to take possession of his property there among the people.
But when he came to Benjamin Gate, the captain of the guard there, whose name was Irijah, son of Shelemiah and grandson of Hananiah, arrested the prophet Jeremiah. He said, "You're deserting to the Babylonians!"
Jeremiah answered, "That's a lie! I'm not deserting to the Babylonians." But Irijah wouldn't listen to him. Irijah arrested Jeremiah and took him to the officials.
The officials were so angry with Jeremiah that they beat him and put him in prison in the scribe Jonathan's house, which had been turned into a prison.
Jeremiah went into a prison cell, and he stayed there a long time.
Then King Zedekiah sent for Jeremiah, and the king asked him privately in the palace, "Is there any message from the LORD?" Jeremiah answered, "Yes! There is a message from the LORD. You will be handed over to the king of Babylon."
Then Jeremiah asked King Zedekiah, "What crime have I committed against you, your administrators, or these people? Why have you put me in prison?
Where are the prophets who told you that the king of Babylon wouldn't attack you and this land?
But now, Your Majesty, please listen, and accept my plea for mercy. Don't return me to the scribe Jonathan's house, or I will die there."
King Zedekiah gave the command to have Jeremiah put in the courtyard of the prison. He gave him a loaf of bread every day from the bakers' street until all the bread in the city was gone. So Jeremiah stayed in the courtyard of the prison.