During the fourth year that Jehoiakim son of Josiah was king in Judah, the Lord gave this message to Jeremiah: “Get a scroll, and write down all my messages against Israel, Judah, and the other nations. Begin with the first message back in the days of Josiah, and write down every message, right up to the present time. Perhaps the people of Judah will repent when they hear again all the terrible things I have planned for them. Then I will be able to forgive their sins and wrongdoings.”
So Jeremiah sent for Baruch son of Neriah, and as Jeremiah dictated all the prophecies that the Lord had given him, Baruch wrote them on a scroll. Then Jeremiah said to Baruch, “I am a prisoner here and unable to go to the Temple. So you go to the Temple on the next day of fasting, and read the messages from the Lord that I have had you write on this scroll. Read them so the people who are there from all over Judah will hear them. Perhaps even yet they will turn from their evil ways and ask the Lord’s forgiveness before it is too late. For the Lord has threatened them with his terrible anger.”
Baruch did as Jeremiah told him and read these messages from the Lord to the people at the Temple. He did this on a day of sacred fasting held in late autumn, during the fifth year of the reign of Jehoiakim son of Josiah. People from all over Judah had come to Jerusalem to attend the services at the Temple on that day. Baruch read Jeremiah’s words on the scroll to all the people. He stood in front of the Temple room of Gemariah, son of Shaphan the secretary. This room was just off the upper courtyard of the Temple, near the New Gate entrance.
When Micaiah son of Gemariah and grandson of Shaphan heard the messages from the Lord, he went down to the secretary’s room in the palace where the administrative officials were meeting. Elishama the secretary was there, along with Delaiah son of Shemaiah, Elnathan son of Acbor, Gemariah son of Shaphan, Zedekiah son of Hananiah, and all the other officials. When Micaiah told them about the messages Baruch was reading to the people, the officials sent Jehudi son of Nethaniah, grandson of Shelemiah and great-grandson of Cushi, to ask Baruch to come and read the messages to them, too. So Baruch took the scroll and went to them. “Sit down and read the scroll to us,” the officials said, and Baruch did as they requested.
When they heard all the messages, they looked at one another in alarm. “We must tell the king what we have heard,” they said to Baruch. “But first, tell us how you got these messages. Did they come directly from Jeremiah?”
So Baruch explained, “Jeremiah dictated them, and I wrote them down in ink, word for word, on this scroll.”
“You and Jeremiah should both hide,” the officials told Baruch. “Don’t tell anyone where you are!” Then the officials left the scroll for safekeeping in the room of Elishama the secretary and went to tell the king what had happened.
The king sent Jehudi to get the scroll. Jehudi brought it from Elishama’s room and read it to the king as all his officials stood by. It was late autumn, and the king was in a winterized part of the palace, sitting in front of a fire to keep warm. Each time Jehudi finished reading three or four columns, the king took a knife and cut off that section of the scroll. He then threw it into the fire, section by section, until the whole scroll was burned up. Neither the king nor his attendants showed any signs of fear or repentance at what they heard. Even when Elnathan, Delaiah, and Gemariah begged the king not to burn the scroll, he wouldn’t listen.
Then the king commanded his son Jerahmeel, Seraiah son of Azriel, and Shelemiah son of Abdeel to arrest Baruch and Jeremiah. But the Lord had hidden them.
After the king had burned the scroll on which Baruch had written Jeremiah’s words, the Lord gave Jeremiah another message. He said, “Get another scroll, and write everything again just as you did on the scroll King Jehoiakim burned. Then say to the king, ‘This is what the Lord says: You burned the scroll because it said the king of Babylon would destroy this land and empty it of people and animals. Now this is what the Lord says about King Jehoiakim of Judah: He will have no heirs to sit on the throne of David. His dead body will be thrown out to lie unburied—exposed to the heat of the day and the frost of the night. I will punish him and his family and his attendants for their sins. I will pour out on them and on all the people of Jerusalem and Judah all the disasters I promised, for they would not listen to my warnings.’”
So Jeremiah took another scroll and dictated again to his secretary, Baruch. He wrote everything that had been on the scroll King Jehoiakim had burned in the fire. Only this time he added much more!
37Zedekiah son of Josiah succeeded Jehoiachin son of Jehoiakim as the king of Judah. He was appointed by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. But neither King Zedekiah nor his attendants nor the people who were left in the land listened to what the Lord said through Jeremiah.
Nevertheless, King Zedekiah sent Jehucal son of Shelemiah, and Zephaniah the priest, son of Maaseiah, to ask Jeremiah, “Please pray to the Lord our God for us.” Jeremiah had not yet been imprisoned, so he could come and go among the people as he pleased.
At this time the army of Pharaoh Hophra of Egypt appeared at the southern border of Judah. When the Babylonian army heard about it, they withdrew from their siege of Jerusalem.
Then the Lord gave this message to Jeremiah: “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: The king of Judah sent you to ask me what is going to happen. Tell him, ‘Pharaoh’s army is about to return to Egypt, though he came here to help you. Then the Babylonians will come back and capture this city and burn it to the ground.’
“This is what the Lord says: Do not fool yourselves into thinking that the Babylonians are gone for good. They aren’t! Even if you were to destroy the entire Babylonian army, leaving only a handful of wounded survivors, they would still stagger from their tents and burn this city to the ground!”
When the Babylonian army left Jerusalem because of Pharaoh’s approaching army, Jeremiah started to leave the city on his way to the territory of Benjamin, to claim his share of the property among his relatives there. But as he was walking through the Benjamin Gate, a sentry arrested him and said, “You are defecting to the Babylonians!” The sentry making the arrest was Irijah son of Shelemiah, grandson of Hananiah.
“That’s not true!” Jeremiah protested. “I had no intention of doing any such thing.” But Irijah wouldn’t listen, and he took Jeremiah before the officials. They were furious with Jeremiah and had him flogged and imprisoned in the house of Jonathan the secretary. Jonathan’s house had been converted into a prison. Jeremiah was put into a dungeon cell, where he remained for many days.
Later King Zedekiah secretly requested that Jeremiah come to the palace, where the king asked him, “Do you have any messages from the Lord?”
“Yes, I do!” said Jeremiah. “You will be defeated by the king of Babylon.”
Then Jeremiah asked the king, “What crime have I committed? What have I done against you, your attendants, or the people that I should be imprisoned like this? Where are your prophets now who told you the king of Babylon would not attack you or this land? Listen, my lord the king, I beg you. Don’t send me back to the dungeon in the house of Jonathan the secretary, for I will die there.”
So King Zedekiah commanded that Jeremiah not be returned to the dungeon. Instead, he was imprisoned in the courtyard of the guard in the royal palace. The king also commanded that Jeremiah be given a loaf of fresh bread every day as long as there was any left in the city. So Jeremiah was put in the palace prison.