1 In the 9th year of Zedekiah king of Judah, in the 10th month, came Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon and all his army against Jerusalem, and they besieged it.

Jerusalem was so strong, that the inhabitants firmly believed the enemy could never enter it, consequently by turning away from Yahweh and relying in their own 'strength in sin,' they provoked Yahweh to withdraw His protection, so Jerusalem became as weak as other cities (vv. 1-10; cp. 2Chr. 26:15-16).

Fleeing for his life, Zedekiah was ultimately caught and had his eyes put out, so he was condemned to darkness because he had chosen darkness rather than the clear light of Yahweh's Word. All of those who will not believe Yahweh's words, will never be convinced by this or any other event.

"Having eyes, see ye not? and having ears, hear ye not? and do ye not remember?" (Mark 8:18).

14 Even they sent, and took Jeremiah out of the court of the prison, and committed him unto Gedaliah the son of Ahikam the son of Shaphan, that he should carry him home: so he dwelt among the people.

Jeremiah is given his choice of going to Babylon to join Ezekiel and Daniel and the more favoured captives there, or of staying in the empty and desolated land with the few poorest of people. This time he chose to remain. It would seem that he had come to clearly realize that his work lay here as a witness to this miserable remnant until death released him from his thankless task.

The Babylonians set up Gedaliah in charge of what was left in the land. He was a good man, and the Jews who had scattered into the countries nearby gradually began to assemble, and build again.

But peace and tranquillity were not to be. God had ordained trouble and distress. Gedaliah and many with him were murdered by Ishmael, an evil prince of the royal family of David. It is another strange detail of the intricate divine pattern that in these dark closing days of the kingdom another Ishmael, even of David's own seed, rises up to trouble Israel, and ruthlessly stamp out the few embers of hope that remained.

In the extremity of their fear and misery, those that remained assembled to Jeremiah to ask him to pray to God for them. Jeremiah has now been proclaiming God's Word to the Jews for just 40 years, from the happy days of Josiah down to this sad time when only a handful are left in the ruined land. They come to him and say (ch. 42)-

"Pray for us unto the Lord for we are but a few of many, that He may show us the way wherein we may walk . . . we will obey the Lord our God."

And God told him to tell them-

"Abide in this land, and I will build you, and I will show mercy unto you."

But He well knew their hearts, and the shallowness of their "sincerity." It was their last chance. All the rest of the nation were gone. The floods of judgment which had been rolling over the land for 22 years had swept everything else away.

But now God was willing to hold His hand for the last small remnant, if only they would accept Him. Surely, after all that had happened (exactly as Jeremiah had said) the few that were left would hearken when God appealed directly to them once more!

Jeremiah was told to warn them that if they would stay, God would protect them; but if they went to Egypt as they proposed, the sword, famine and pestilence would pursue them to the end, and not one of them should escape from the evil determined.

Bro Growcott - BYT 4.17.

17 But I will deliver thee in that day, saith Yahweh: and thou shalt not be given into the hand of the men of whom thou art afraid.

Amidst the public calamities, on account of his duty and conduct, and his humanity to the prophet, a message is given to assure Ebed-melech of a recompense for his great kindness to Jeremiah.