Jeremiah 38:2-9

2 “This is what the LORD says: ‘Whoever stays in this city will die by the sword, famine or plague, but whoever goes over to the Babylonians[a] will live. They will escape with their lives; they will live.’
3 And this is what the LORD says: ‘This city will certainly be given into the hands of the army of the king of Babylon, who will capture it.’ ”
4 Then the officials said to the king, “This man should be put to death. He is discouraging the soldiers who are left in this city, as well as all the people, by the things he is saying to them. This man is not seeking the good of these people but their ruin.”
5 “He is in your hands,” King Zedekiah answered. “The king can do nothing to oppose you.”
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.
7 But Ebed-Melek, a Cushite,[b] an official[c] in the royal palace, heard that they had put Jeremiah into the cistern. While the king was sitting in the Benjamin Gate,
8 Ebed-Melek went out of the palace and said to him,
9 “My lord the king, these men have acted wickedly in all they have done to Jeremiah the prophet. They have thrown him into a cistern, where he will starve to death when there is no longer any bread in the city.”

Jeremiah 38:2 in Other Translations

KJV
2 Thus saith the LORD, He that remaineth in this city shall die by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence: but he that goeth forth to the Chaldeans shall live; for he shall have his life for a prey, and shall live.
ESV
2 "Thus says the LORD: He who stays in this city shall die by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence, but he who goes out to the Chaldeans shall live. He shall have his life as a prize of war, and live.
NLT
2 “This is what the LORD says: ‘Everyone who stays in Jerusalem will die from war, famine, or disease, but those who surrender to the Babylonians will live. Their reward will be life. They will live!’
MSG
2 "This is God's Message: 'Whoever stays in this town will die - will be killed or starve to death or get sick and die. But those who go over to the Babylonians will save their necks and live.'
CSB
2 "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.'

Jeremiah 38:2-9 Meaning and Commentary

INTRODUCTION TO JEREMIAH 38

This chapter is taken up in giving an account of Jeremiah's being cast into a dungeon; his deliverance from it; and private conversation with King Zedekiah. The occasion of the prophet's being cast into a dungeon was his discourse to the people, which four of the princes represented to the king as seditious, and moved to have him put to death; and, being delivered into their hands, was put into a miry dungeon, Jer 38:1-6. Ebedmelech, the Ethiopian, hearing of his miserable case, represented it to the king, and interceded for his release; which being granted, with the help of thirty men, and by means of old clouts and rotten rags, let down by cords, drew him up, and placed him in the court of the prison, Jer 38:7-13. King Zedekiah sends for Jeremiah, and has a private conference with him about the state of affairs; when the prophet faithfully told him how things would issue, and gave him his best advice, Jer 38:14-23; upon parting, the king desires the conference might be kept a secret from the princes, which was accordingly done, Jer 38:24-27; and Jeremiah remained in the court of the prison till the taking of Jerusalem, Jer 38:28.

Jeremiah 38:2-9 In-Context

1 Shephatiah son of Mattan, Gedaliah son of Pashhur, Jehukal son of Shelemiah, and Pashhur son of Malkijah heard what Jeremiah was telling all the people when he said,
2 “This is what the LORD says: ‘Whoever stays in this city will die by the sword, famine or plague, but whoever goes over to the Babylonians will live. They will escape with their lives; they will live.’
3 And this is what the LORD says: ‘This city will certainly be given into the hands of the army of the king of Babylon, who will capture it.’ ”
4 Then the officials said to the king, “This man should be put to death. He is discouraging the soldiers who are left in this city, as well as all the people, by the things he is saying to them. This man is not seeking the good of these people but their ruin.”
5 “He is in your hands,” King Zedekiah answered. “The king can do nothing to oppose you.”
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.
7 But Ebed-Melek, a Cushite, an official in the royal palace, heard that they had put Jeremiah into the cistern. While the king was sitting in the Benjamin Gate,
8 Ebed-Melek went out of the palace and said to him,
9 “My lord the king, these men have acted wickedly in all they have done to Jeremiah the prophet. They have thrown him into a cistern, where he will starve to death when there is no longer any bread in the city.”
10 Then the king commanded Ebed-Melek the Cushite, “Take thirty men from here with you and lift Jeremiah the prophet out of the cistern before he dies.”
11 So Ebed-Melek took the men with him and went to a room under the treasury in the palace. He took some old rags and worn-out clothes from there and let them down with ropes to Jeremiah in the cistern.
12 Ebed-Melek the Cushite said to Jeremiah, “Put these old rags and worn-out clothes under your arms to pad the ropes.” Jeremiah did so,

Cross References 17

  • 1. Jeremiah 34:17
  • 2. ver 17; S Jeremiah 21:9; Jeremiah 39:18; Jeremiah 45:5
  • 3. S Jeremiah 21:4,10; Jeremiah 32:3
  • 4. S Jeremiah 36:12
  • 5. S Jeremiah 11:21; Jeremiah 26:11
  • 6. S 1 Samuel 17:32
  • 7. S Jeremiah 26:14
  • 8. 1 Samuel 15:24
  • 9. S Jeremiah 37:21
  • 10. S Joshua 2:15
  • 11. S Genesis 37:24
  • 12. S Job 30:19; Lamentations 3:53
  • 13. Jeremiah 39:16
  • 14. "fn" Isaiah 56:3-5; Acts 8:27
  • 15. S Job 29:7
  • 16. S Genesis 37:20
  • 17. S Jeremiah 37:21

Footnotes 3

  • [a]. Or "Chaldeans" ; also in verses 18, 19 and 23
  • [b]. Probably from the upper Nile region
  • [c]. Or "a eunuch"
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