This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord during the reign of Jehoiakim son of Josiah king of Judah: ‘Go to the Rekabite family and invite them to come to one of the side rooms of the house of the Lord and give them wine to drink.’
So I went to get Jaazaniah son of Jeremiah, the son of Habazziniah, and his brothers and all his sons – the whole family of the Rekabites. I brought them into the house of the Lord, into the room of the sons of Hanan son of Igdaliah the man of God. It was next to the room of the officials, which was over that of Maaseiah son of Shallum the doorkeeper. Then I set bowls full of wine and some cups before the Rekabites and said to them, ‘Drink some wine.’
But they replied, ‘We do not drink wine, because our forefather Jehonadab[a] son of Rekab gave us this command: “Neither you nor your descendants must ever drink wine. Also you must never build houses, sow seed or plant vineyards; you must never have any of these things, but must always live in tents. Then you will live a long time in the land where you are nomads.” We have obeyed everything our forefather Jehonadab son of Rekab commanded us. Neither we nor our wives nor our sons and daughters have ever drunk wine or built houses to live in or had vineyards, fields or crops. We have lived in tents and have fully obeyed everything our forefather Jehonadab commanded us. But when Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon invaded this land, we said, “Come, we must go to Jerusalem to escape the Babylonian[b] and Aramean armies.” So we have remained in Jerusalem.’
Then the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah, saying: ‘This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: go and tell the people of Judah and those living in Jerusalem, “Will you not learn a lesson and obey my words?” declares the Lord. “Jehonadab son of Rekab ordered his descendants not to drink wine and this command has been kept. To this day they do not drink wine, because they obey their forefather’s command. But I have spoken to you again and again, yet you have not obeyed me. Again and again I sent all my servants the prophets to you. They said, ‘Each of you must turn from your wicked ways and reform your actions; do not follow other gods to serve them. Then you shall live in the land I have given to you and your ancestors.’ But you have not paid attention or listened to me. The descendants of Jehonadab son of Rekab have carried out the command their forefather gave them, but these people have not obeyed me.”
‘Therefore this is what the Lord God Almighty, the God of Israel, says: “Listen! I am going to bring on Judah and on everyone living in Jerusalem every disaster I pronounced against them. I spoke to them, but they did not listen; I called to them, but they did not answer.”’
Then Jeremiah said to the family of the Rekabites, ‘This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: “You have obeyed the command of your forefather Jehonadab and have followed all his instructions and have done everything he ordered.” Therefore this is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: “Jehonadab son of Rekab shall never fail to have a descendant to serve me.”’
- Jeremiah 35:6 Hebrew Jonadab, a variant of Jehonadab; here and often in this chapter
- Jeremiah 35:11 Or Chaldean
Jehoiakim burns Jeremiah’s scroll
In the fourth year of Jehoiakim son of Josiah king of Judah, this word came to Jeremiah from the Lord: ‘Take a scroll and write on it all the words I have spoken to you concerning Israel, Judah and all the other nations from the time I began speaking to you in the reign of Josiah till now. Perhaps when the people of Judah hear about every disaster I plan to inflict on them, they will each turn from their wicked ways; then I will forgive their wickedness and their sin.’
So Jeremiah called Baruch son of Neriah, and while Jeremiah dictated all the words the Lord had spoken to him, Baruch wrote them on the scroll. Then Jeremiah told Baruch, ‘I am restricted; I am not allowed to go to the Lord’s temple. So you go to the house of the Lord on a day of fasting and read to the people from the scroll the words of the Lord that you wrote as I dictated. Read them to all the people of Judah who come in from their towns. Perhaps they will bring their petition before the Lord and will each turn from their wicked ways, for the anger and wrath pronounced against this people by the Lord are great.’
Baruch son of Neriah did everything Jeremiah the prophet told him to do; at the Lord’s temple he read the words of the Lord from the scroll. In the ninth month of the fifth year of Jehoiakim son of Josiah king of Judah, a time of fasting before the Lord was proclaimed for all the people in Jerusalem and those who had come from the towns of Judah. From the room of Gemariah son of Shaphan the secretary, which was in the upper courtyard at the entrance of the New Gate of the temple, Baruch read to all the people at the Lord’s temple the words of Jeremiah from the scroll.
When Micaiah son of Gemariah, the son of Shaphan, heard all the words of the Lord from the scroll, he went down to the secretary’s room in the royal palace, where all the officials were sitting: Elishama the secretary, Delaiah son of Shemaiah, Elnathan son of Akbor, Gemariah son of Shaphan, Zedekiah son of Hananiah, and all the other officials. After Micaiah told them everything he had heard Baruch read to the people from the scroll, all the officials sent Jehudi son of Nethaniah, the son of Shelemiah, the son of Cushi, to say to Baruch, ‘Bring the scroll from which you have read to the people and come.’ So Baruch son of Neriah went to them with the scroll in his hand. They said to him, ‘Sit down, please, and read it to us.’
So Baruch read it to them. When they heard all these words, they looked at each other in fear and said to Baruch, ‘We must report all these words to the king.’ Then they asked Baruch, ‘Tell us, how did you come to write all this? Did Jeremiah dictate it?’
‘Yes,’ Baruch replied, ‘he dictated all these words to me, and I wrote them in ink on the scroll.’
Then the officials said to Baruch, ‘You and Jeremiah, go and hide. Don’t let anyone know where you are.’
After they put the scroll in the room of Elishama the secretary, they went to the king in the courtyard and reported everything to him. The king sent Jehudi to get the scroll, and Jehudi brought it from the room of Elishama the secretary and read it to the king and all the officials standing beside him. It was the ninth month and the king was sitting in the winter apartment, with a fire burning in the brazier in front of him. Whenever Jehudi had read three or four columns of the scroll, the king cut them off with a scribe’s knife and threw them into the brazier, until the entire scroll was burned in the fire. The king and all his attendants who heard all these words showed no fear, nor did they tear their clothes. Even though Elnathan, Delaiah and Gemariah urged the king not to burn the scroll, he would not listen to them. Instead, the king commanded Jerahmeel, a son of the king, Seraiah son of Azriel and Shelemiah son of Abdeel to arrest Baruch the scribe and Jeremiah the prophet. But the Lord had hidden them.
After the king burned the scroll containing the words that Baruch had written at Jeremiah’s dictation, the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah: ‘Take another scroll and write on it all the words that were on the first scroll, which Jehoiakim king of Judah burned up. Also tell Jehoiakim king of Judah, “This is what the Lord says: you burned that scroll and said, ‘Why did you write on it that the king of Babylon would certainly come and destroy this land and wipe from it both man and beast?’ Therefore this is what the Lord says about Jehoiakim king of Judah: he will have no one to sit on the throne of David; his body will be thrown out and exposed to the heat by day and the frost by night. I will punish him and his children and his attendants for their wickedness; I will bring on them and those living in Jerusalem and the people of Judah every disaster I pronounced against them, because they have not listened.”’
So Jeremiah took another scroll and gave it to the scribe Baruch son of Neriah, and as Jeremiah dictated, Baruch wrote on it all the words of the scroll that Jehoiakim king of Judah had burned in the fire. And many similar words were added to them.
Jeremiah in prison
Zedekiah son of Josiah was made king of Judah by Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon; he reigned in place of Jehoiachin[a] son of Jehoiakim. Neither he nor his attendants nor the people of the land paid any attention to the words the Lord had spoken through Jeremiah the prophet.
King Zedekiah, however, sent Jehukal son of Shelemiah with the priest Zephaniah son of Maaseiah to Jeremiah the prophet with this message: ‘Please pray to the Lord our God for us.’
Now Jeremiah was free to come and go among the people, for he had not yet been put in prison. Pharaoh’s army had marched out of Egypt, and when the Babylonians[b] who were besieging Jerusalem heard the report about them, they withdrew from Jerusalem.
Then the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah the prophet: ‘This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: tell the king of Judah, who sent you to enquire of me, “Pharaoh’s army, which has marched out to support you, will go back to its own land, to Egypt. Then the Babylonians will return and attack this city; they will capture it and burn it down.”
‘This is what the Lord says: do not deceive yourselves, thinking, “The Babylonians will surely leave us.” They will not! Even if you were to defeat the entire Babylonian[c] army that is attacking you and only wounded men were left in their tents, they would come out and burn this city down.’
After the Babylonian army had withdrawn from Jerusalem because of Pharaoh’s army, Jeremiah started to leave the city to go to the territory of Benjamin to get his share of the property among the people there. But when he reached the Benjamin Gate, the captain of the guard, whose name was Irijah son of Shelemiah, the son of Hananiah, arrested him and said, ‘You are deserting to the Babylonians!’
‘That’s not true!’ Jeremiah said. ‘I am not deserting to the Babylonians.’ But Irijah would not listen to him; instead, he arrested Jeremiah and brought him to the officials. They were angry with Jeremiah and had him beaten and imprisoned in the house of Jonathan the secretary, which they had made into a prison.
Jeremiah was put into a vaulted cell in a dungeon, where he remained a long time. Then King Zedekiah sent for him and had him brought to the palace, where he asked him privately, ‘Is there any word from the Lord?’
‘Yes,’ Jeremiah replied, ‘you will be delivered into the hands of the king of Babylon.’
Then Jeremiah said to King Zedekiah, ‘What crime have I committed against you or your attendants or this people, that you have put me in prison? Where are your prophets who prophesied to you, “The king of Babylon will not attack you or this land”? But now, my lord the king, please listen. Let me bring my petition before you: do not send me back to the house of Jonathan the secretary, or I shall die there.’
King Zedekiah then gave orders for Jeremiah to be placed in the courtyard of the guard and given a loaf of bread from the street of the bakers each day until all the bread in the city was gone. So Jeremiah remained in the courtyard of the guard.
- Jeremiah 37:1 Hebrew Koniah, a variant of Jehoiachin
- Jeremiah 37:5 Or Chaldeans; also in verses 8, 9, 13 and 14
- Jeremiah 37:10 Or Chaldean; also in verse 11