The Capture of Jerusalem. When Jerusalem was taken, 1in the ninth year of Zedekiah,a king of Judah, in the tenth month,* Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, and all his army marched against Jerusalem and placed it under siege. 2In the eleventh year of Zedekiah, on the ninth day of the fourth month,* the city wall was breached. 3All the princes of the king of Babylon came and took their seats at the middle gate: Nergal-sharezer of Simmagir, a chief officer; Nebushazban, a high dignitary; and all the rest of the princes of the king of Babylon.* 4When Zedekiah, king of Judah, and all his warriors saw this, they fled, leaving the city at night by way of the king’s garden,* through a gate between the two walls. He went in the direction of the Arabah,b 5but the Chaldean army pursued them; they caught up with Zedekiah in the wilderness near Jericho and took him prisoner. They brought him to Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, in Riblah,* in the land of Hamath, and he pronounced sentence upon him.c 6The king of Babylon executed the sons of Zedekiah at Riblah before his very eyes; the king of Babylon also executed all the nobles of Judah.d 7He then blinded Zedekiah and bound him in chains to bring him to Babylon.e
8The Chaldeans set fire to the king’s house and the houses of the people and tore down the walls of Jerusalem.f 9Nebuzaradan, captain of the bodyguard, deported to Babylon the rest of the people left in the city, those who had deserted to him, and the rest of the workers.g 10But Nebuzaradan, captain of the bodyguard, left in the land of Judah some of the poor who had nothing and at the same time gave them vineyards and farms.h
Jeremiah Released to Gedaliah’s Custody. 11Concerning Jeremiah, Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, gave these orders through Nebuzaradan, captain of the bodyguard: 12“Take him and look after him; do not let anything happen to him. Whatever he may ask, you must do for him.”i 13Thereupon Nebuzaradan, captain of the bodyguard, and Nebushazban, a high dignitary, and Nergal-sharezer, a chief officer, and all the nobles of the king of Babylon, 14had Jeremiah taken out of the courtyard of the guard and entrusted to Gedaliah, son of Ahikam, son of Shaphan, to bring him home. And so he remained among the people.j
A Word of Comfort for Ebed-melech. 15While Jeremiah was still imprisoned in the court of the guard, the word of the LORD came to him: 16Go, tell this to Ebed-melech the Ethiopian: Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: See, I am now carrying out my words against this city, for evil and not for good; this will happen in your presence on that day.k 17But on that day I will deliver you—oracle of the LORD; you shall not be handed over to the men you dread. 18I will make certain that you escape and do not fall by the sword. Your life will be your spoils of war because you trusted in me—oracle of the LORD.l
* [39:1] In the ninth year…in the tenth month: the month Tebet (mid-December to mid-January) of the year 589/588 B.C., according to the Babylonian calendar, whose New Year began in March/April.
* [39:2] In the eleventh year…the ninth day of the fourth month: in July, 587 B.C.
* [39:3] The Babylonian officers act as a military tribunal or government, headed by Nergal-sharezer, Nebuchadnezzar’s son and successor.
* [39:4] By way of the king’s garden: along the southeast side of the city; the royal garden was in the Kidron Valley. A gate between the two walls: the southernmost city gate, at the end of the Tyropoeon Valley. The Arabah: the southern Jordan Valley. Zedekiah was perhaps trying to escape across the Jordan when he was captured near Jericho.
* [39:5] Riblah: Nebuchadnezzar’s headquarters north of Damascus; Pharaoh Neco had once used the town as a military post (2 Kgs 23:33).
a. [39:1–2] Jer 52:4–16; 2 Kgs 25:1–12; Ez 24:1.
e. [39:7] Jer 32:4–5; Ez 12:13.
f. [39:8] Jer 21:10; 34:2; 52:13.
g. [39:9] 2 Kgs 25:11.
h. [39:10] 2 Kgs 25:12, 22.
k. [39:16] Jer 21:10; Dn 9:12.