The Holy Bible – Knox Translation
The Prophecy of Jeremias
Still Jeremias would speak out before all the people; and among those who lis-tened to him were Saphatias son of Mathan, Gedelias son of Phassur, Juchal son of Selemias, and Phassur son of Melchias.
This message they heard him proclaim from the Lord: To remain in this city means death by sword, famine and pestilence; go over to the Chaldaeans, you shall have your lives for guerdon, and be spared.
And this: Past doubt, the city will fall into the hands of the king of Babylon, by right of capture.
And they urged the king, these notables, to make an end of him; He goes about, said they, to weaken the resolve of the garrison, and of the people at large, by talking in this fashion; there is malice here, not good will.
He is at your disposal, king Sedecias answered; not for a king to withstand you!
So they had their way with Jeremias; he should be left helpless in the cistern of Melchias the son of Amelech,✻ there in the court where the prisoners were kept. Into the cistern they lowered him with ropes; there was no water in it now, only mire, and into the mire he sank.
But there was an Ethiopian chamberlain at the court, named Abdemelech, that heard how Jeremias had been let down into the cistern; and as the king was sitting at the Benjamin Gate,
this Abdemelech came out from the palace and remonstrated with him.
My lord king, he said, here is foul wrong done to the prophet Jeremias; they have let him down into a cistern, where he will die of hunger, such lack of bread there is in the city.
Why then, said the king to Abdemelech the Ethiopian, take thirty✻ men with thee, and rescue Jeremias from the cistern while there is yet life in him.
So Abdemelech took the men with him, made his way into the palace, beneath the store-chamber, took old rags and clouts that lay mouldering there, and let them down by ropes to Jeremias in the cistern.
Here be torn things and mouldering, the Ethiopian said to Jeremias, but thou mayst put these under thy arm-pits, and the ropes under these again. Jeremias obeyed,
and they pulled him up by the ropes till he was clear of the cistern; but the courtyard was his prison still.
Then king Sedecias would have the prophet come to him by the third door of the palace, the one that leads to the temple. I have a question to ask thee, he said to Jeremias; hide nothing from me.
Why, Jeremias answered, if I tell thee what I know, thou wilt but kill me, and if I give thee advice, thou wilt not heed it.
But king Sedecias took a secret oath, As the Lord is a living God, the Lord who gave us this breath we breathe, slay thee I will not, nor hand thee over to thy mortal enemies.
Thereupon Jeremias told him a message from the Lord, the God of hosts: Go out and give thyself up to Nabuchodonosor’s chieftains, and thy life shall be safe, nor shall there be any burning of the city; thou and thine shall be spared.
If thou dost not give thyself up to them, then the Chaldaeans shall gain mastery of the city and burn it to the ground, and for thyself there is no escaping them.
Yet my heart misgives me, Sedecias told him, over the Jews that have already made their submission; what if I should be handed over to these, and they wreak their spite on me?
That shall not be, Jeremias answered. Give heed, only give heed, to this message from the Lord I bear thee; so thou shalt speed well, and life be granted thee.
Refuse to yield, and here is the doom he has made known to me.
Never a woman that is left in the palace of the kings of Juda but shall be spoil for the chieftains of the king of Babylon! And as they are led away, this shall be their lament: False friend fooled thee, and had the better of thee; feet fast in the treacherous morass has left thee!
Wife of thine and son of thine led away into the enemy’s camp, and thou thyself powerless to escape; thyself the king of Babylon shall take prisoner, and burn thy city to the ground.
On peril of thy life, king Sedecias warned him, let none hear what has passed between us.
If it reach the ears of the nobles that we have had speech together, and they bid thee repeat what thou saidst, or what said the king, hiding nothing as thou holdest thy life dear, then be this thy answer,
Why, I pleaded my suit with the king’s grace that he would not have me sent back to Jonathan’s house, to die there.✻
Come and ask him they did, and he answered as the king bade him; so with that they let him be; nothing had been overheard.
This imprisonment of Jeremias in the courtyard lasted until the taking of Jerusalem; for, sure enough, Jerusalem was taken.
The Holy Bible