Zedekiah's Rebellion

Zedekiah was twenty-one when he ascended the toppling throne of Judea. The admonitions of Jeremiah and the other Divine prophets went unheeded. There was no sign of a general repentance and return to G‑d, and the fate of Judea was sealed. Zedekiah had sworn allegiance to the king of Babylon, but he broke his vow, and secretly joined Egypt in the attempt to throw off the yoke of Nebuchadnezzar. Turning a deaf ear to Jeremiah's entreaties and warnings, Zedekiah entered into an alliance with Egypt. In the ninth year of his reign, Zedekiah openly declared his revolt against the Chaldeans. Again Nebuchadnezzar led a vast army to quell the revolt. Remaining at Riblah, he sent his troops southward under the leadership of Nebuzaradan, his chief general. On the Tenth Day of Tevet, in the year 3336, Jerusalem came under siege.

Jeremiah's Advice Ignored

Now Zedekiah sent word to Jeremiah asking him to pray to G‑d for help. Jeremiah replied that the fate of Jerusalem was sealed, and that Zedekiah, his sons, servants, and all those who remained in the city would be mercilessly slain. Only those who submitted to the Babylonians would be spared. Zedekiah did not listen to Jeremiah's advice, and he refused to surrender.

Jeremiah Thrown Into Prison

Meanwhile Nebuchadnezzar was forced to abandon the siege of Jerusalem temporarily, because the king of Egypt had led a large army against him. Jeremiah predicted, however, that the Chaldeans would return and again attack and destroy the city. Jeremiah, who had been tolerated thus far, was now accused of being in league with the enemy, and was consequently thrown into prison. The desperate king, however, recalled him from the dungeon and asked him for a message from G‑d. But once again Jeremiah could reiterate only what he had told him before. The king's fate, like that of the city, was sealed; nothing could prevent their falling into the vengeful hands of the enemy. Then Jeremiah asked for a better prison than the dungeon in which he had been held. The king granted his request, and every day he was given a loaf of bread, until the time when the supply of bread in Jerusalem gave out.

Jeremiah Thrown Into Mudpit

Jeremiah's repeated predictions of the fall of the city and his pleas for surrender roused the anger of the defenders of the city. The prophet was seized by his enemies and thrown into a pit where he almost drowned in mud. A servant of the name of Ebed Melech of Kush heard of this and reported it to the king Zedekiah. The king ordered the servant to pull Jeremiah out of the pit. The man did so and saved the prophet's life in the nick of time. Again Zedekiah had Jeremiah brought before him and asked for the Divine message. Jeremiah asked whether he could talk freely, without fear of being killed. The king swore that no harm would befall him, regardless of what he would say, and added that he himself would protect Jeremiah from his enemies. Then Jeremiah told the king that if he would leave the city and surrender to the enemy, he would live and the city would be spared. But the king was afraid of the people's wrath and did not dare to act upon the prophet's advice. After that Jeremiah was put safely behind prison bars and remained there until after the capture of Jerusalem.

Capture of Jerusalem

In the eleventh year of Zedekiah's reign, in the month of Tammuz, after a long siege, during which hunger and epidemics of disease raged all over the city, the walls of Jerusalem were breached by the enemy. The king fled through a subterranean passage, but he was captured in the plains of Jericho and brought before Nebuchadnezzar in Riblah. There the king's sons and many other Jewish princes were slain before his eyes; then his own eyes were put out, and he was led in chains to Babylon.