The love-hate relationship between Jeremiah and King Zed continues. The king’s advisers toss Jeremiah into a cistern, but one of the king’s staff rescues him. Interesting that the KJV refers to this staff member as a eunuch. The Hebrew version says no such thing, so the KJV translators must have made an assumption that the officers would have been eunuchs. Modern translations use the word ‘officer’ or ‘official’. Anyway, King Zed again asks Jeremiah for advice, and as usual, Jeremiah’s advice is to surrender to Babylon to avoid a worse fate. Both Jeremiah and the king keep quiet about their conversation, and Jeremiah remains in jail until Jerusalem is captured.
Jerusalem is sacked by the Babylonians. King Zed’s family is killed and then his eyes are gouged out and he is led away in chains to Babylon, just as we were told in 2 Kings 25. (So much for Jeremiah’s vision in chapter 34.) But what of Jeremiah’s fate? He is treated like a VIP. The Babylonians obviously thought he was on their side. Seems to me that the Jews were right – he was a traitor to his people.
One of King Nebuchadnezzar’s officials releases Jeremiah from prison and gives him the choice either to live in Babylon, or to remain where he is under the rule of Gedaliah, who has been appointed Governor of Judah by King Neb. Jeremiah decides to stay. It goes well for a while, but then word comes of a plot to assassinate Gedaliah. Some of the leaders in the area try to warn him, but Gedaliah doesn’t take them seriously.
Too bad Gedaliah didn’t pay attention – Ishmael and his buddies assassinate him, massacre a bunch more people and then take captives – read the gory details yourself. But a guy named Johanan comes to the rescue. Ishmael and his buddies escape to Ammon. But then Johanan rounds up all of Ishmael’s former captives and takes them to a village called Bethlehem – first mention of Bethlehem in the bible, I think – where they prepare to flee to Egypt to escape further violence. Sort of a parallel here with the Jesus story – in Matthew 2:13, Mary and Joseph will flee from Bethlehem to Egypt to escape Herod. (Or just maybe – more likely – Matthew deliberately created his Jesus story to mirror this.)