6 So they took Jeremiah and put him into the cistern of Malkijah, the king’s son, which was in the courtyard of the guard. They lowered Jeremiah by ropes into the cistern; it had no water in it, only mud, and Jeremiah sank down into the mud.
ESV - 4 Then the officials said to the king, "Let this man be put to death, for he is weakening the hands of the soldiers who are left in this city, and the hands of all the people, by speaking such words to them. For this man is not seeking the welfare of this people, but their harm.
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I would say that the cistern was used as a prison for Jeremiah both as a means of shaming or humiliating him (due to the cistern's use and its contents), and also of making it impossible for him to escape from it due to its depth, and to the nature of those contents, into which Jeremiah would sink, thus further ensuring that he would not be able to get out.
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