Zedekiah releases then ‘unreleases’ slaves; Babylon withdraws temporarily when Egypt appears; Jeremiah tries to leave Jerusalem, but is imprisoned as a traitor by court officials who later throw him into a cistern for his unfavourable prophecies. Zedekiah allows his rescue and keeps him in ‘protective custody’: Jeremiah 34:1–7; 37:1–10; 34:8–22; 37:11–21; 38
Despite Zedekiah fearing people more than God, he still had a choice:
Jeremiah 38:17-18 If you surrender to the Babylonian officers, you and your family will live, and the city will not be burned down. But if you refuse to surrender, you will not escape! This city will be handed over to the Babylonians, and they will burn it to the ground.
Had he surrendered, Zedekiah’s end would have been in exile, but he would have been remembered well:
Jeremiah 34:4-5 You will not be killed in war but will die peacefully. People will burn incense in your memory, just as they did for your ancestors, the kings who preceded you. They will mourn for you, crying, ‘Alas, our master is dead!’
If he held out, in a vain attempt to avoid Jerusalem’s (or his own) fall:
Jeremiah 38:22-23 All the women left in your palace will be brought out and given to the officers of the Babylonian army. Then the women will taunt you, saying,
‘What fine friends you have! They have betrayed and misled you. When your feet sank in the mud, they left you to your fate!’ All your wives and children will be led out to the Babylonians, and you will not escape. You will be seized by the king of Babylon, and this city will be burned down.