Now Shephatiah son of Mattan, Gedaliah son of Pashhur, Jucala son of Shelemiah, and Pashhur son of Malchijah heard the words Jeremiah was speaking to all the people:
"This is what the Lord says: 'Whoever stays in this city will die by the sword, famine, and plague, but whoever surrenders to the Chaldeans will live. He will keep his life like the spoils [of war] and will live.'b3
This is what the Lord says: 'This city will most certainly be handed over to the king of Babylon's army, and he will capture it.' "
The officials then said to the king, "This man ought to die, because he is weakening the morale of the warriors who remain in this city and of all the people by speaking to them in this way. This man is not seeking the well-being of this people, but disaster."c5
King Zedekiah said, "Here he is; he's in your hands since the king can't do anything against you."
So they took Jeremiah and dropped him into the cistern of Malchiah the king's son, which was in the guard's courtyard, lowering Jeremiah with ropes. There was no water in the cistern, only mud, and Jeremiah sank in the mud.d7
But Ebed-melech, a Cushite court official employed in the king's palace, heard Jeremiah had been put into the cistern. While the king was sitting at the Benjamin Gate,e8
Ebed-melech went from the king's palace and spoke to the king:
"My lord king, these men have been evil in all they have done to Jeremiah the prophet. They have dropped him into the cistern where he will die from hunger, because there is no more bread in the city."
So the king commanded Ebed-melech, the Cushite, "Take from here 30 men under your authority and pull Jeremiah the prophet up from the cistern before he dies."
So Ebed-melech took the men under his authority and went to the king's palace to a place below the storehouse.f From there he took old rags and worn-out clothes and lowered them by ropes to Jeremiah in the cistern.
Ebed-melech the Cushite cried out to Jeremiah, "Place these old rags and clothes between your armpits and the ropes." Jeremiah did so,
and they pulled him up with the ropes and lifted him out of the cistern, but he continued to stay in the guard's courtyard.