Jeremiah 38

Jeremiah is Thrown into the Pit of Malchiah

1 Now Shephatiah the son of Mattan, and Gedaliah the son of Pashhur, and Jehucal the son of Shelemiah, and Pashhur the son of Malchiah heard the words that Jeremiah [was] saying to all the people, {saying},
2 "Thus says Yahweh, 'The [one who] stays in this city will die by the sword, by the famine, and by the plague. But the [one who] goes out to the Chaldeans will live. And his life will be for him as booty, and he will live.'
3 Thus says Yahweh, 'Surely this city will be given into the hand of the army of the king of Babylon, and he will capture it.'"
4 Then the officials said to the king, "Please, this man must be killed, {because} he [is] making slack the hands of {the soldiers} who are left in this city, and the hands of all the people, by speaking to them words like these, for this man [is] not seeking for welfare to this people, {but only} for harm."
5 And Zedekiah the king said, "Look, he [is] in your hand, for the king is not able [to do] a thing against you."
6 So they took Jeremiah and threw him into the pit [of] Malchiah, the son of the king, which [was] in the courtyard of the guard. And they let Jeremiah down by ropes. Now in the pit there was no water, {but only} mud, and Jeremiah sank in the mud.
7 When Ebed-melech the Cushite, {a eunuch} who [was] in the house of the king, heard that they had put Jeremiah into the pit--now the king [was] sitting at the Gate of Benjamin--
8 Ebed-melech went out from the house of the king and spoke to the king, {saying},
9 "My lord the king, these men have done evil [in] all that they have done to Jeremiah the prophet, [in] that they have thrown [him] into the pit, and he will die {there} {because of} starvation, for there is no longer any bread in the city."
10 Then the king commanded Ebed-melech the Cushite, {saying}, "Take {with you} these thirty men and pull Jeremiah the prophet up from the pit {before} he dies."
11 So Ebed-melech took the men {with him} and went [to] the palace of the king, to [a place] beneath the storehouse, and he took from there {rags} and {worn-out clothes}. And he let them down into the pit by ropes to Jeremiah.
12 Then Ebed-melech the Cushite said to Jeremiah, "Please put {the rags} and {worn-out clothes} under the joints of your arms under the ropes," and Jeremiah did so.
13 And they pulled Jeremiah by the ropes and brought him up from the pit. And Jeremiah stayed in the courtyard of the guard.
14 And Zedekiah the king sent and made someone bring Jeremiah the prophet to him, to [the] third entrance that [was] at the {temple} of Yahweh. And the king said to Jeremiah, "I [am] asking you {something}, you must not hide {anything} from me."
15 And Jeremiah said to Zedekiah, "If I tell you, will you not surely kill me? {Besides}, if I advise you, you will not listen to me.
16 So Zedekiah the king swore to Jeremiah in secret, {saying}, "{As Yahweh lives}, who has made for us this life, I will not kill you and I will not give you into the hand of these men who are seeking your life."
17 Then Jeremiah said to Zedekiah, "Thus says Yahweh, the God of hosts, the God of Israel, 'If only you will go surrender to the officials of the king of Babylon, then {you} will live, and this city will not be burned with fire, and you will live, you and your house.
18 But if you [do] not go surrender to the officials of the king of Babylon, then this city will be given into the hand of the Chaldeans, and they will burn it with fire, and you will not escape from their hand.'"
19 And Zedekiah the king said to Jeremiah, "I [am] afraid of the Judeans who have deserted to the Chaldeans, lest they give me into their hand and they abuse me."
20 And Jeremiah said, "They will not give [you over]. Please obey the voice of Yahweh with regard to what I [am] saying to you, and it will go well with you, and {you} will live.
21 But if you [are] refusing to surrender, this [is] the thing that Yahweh has shown me.
22 Now look, all the women who remain in the house of the king of Judah [are] being led out to the officials of the king of Babylon. And look, [they are] saying, '{Your trusted friends} have misled you, and they have prevailed against you. Your feet are stuck in the mud, [so] they turned backward.'
23 And all your wives and your children [will be] led out to the Chaldeans, and you will not escape from their hand, but by the hand of the king of Babylon you will be seized, and this city will burn with fire."
24 And Zedekiah said to Jeremiah, "No man must know about these words so that you will not die.
25 And if the officials hear that I have spoken with you, and they come to you and say to you, 'Please tell us what you said to the king. You must not conceal [it] from us so that we will not kill you. And what did the king say to you?'
26 Then you shall say to them, 'I [was] presenting my plea {before} the king, to not cause me to return [to] the house of Jonathan to die there.'"
27 And all the officials came to Jeremiah and questioned him, and he informed them like all these words that the king commanded. So they fell silent, for the {conversation} was not heard.
28 And Jeremiah stayed in the courtyard of the guard until [the] day that Jerusalem was captured. And it happened that Jerusalem was captured.

Jeremiah 38 Commentary

Chapter 38

Jeremiah is cast into a dungeon, from whence he is delivered by an Ethiopian. (1-13) He advises the king to surrender to the Chaldeans. (14-28)

Verses 1-13 Jeremiah went on in his plain preaching. The princes went on in their malice. It is common for wicked people to look upon God's faithful ministers as enemies, because they show what enemies the wicked are to themselves while impenitent. Jeremiah was put into a dungeon. Many of God's faithful witnesses have been privately made away in prisons. Ebed-melech was an Ethiopian; yet he spoke to the king faithfully, These men have done ill in all they have done to Jeremiah. See how God can raise up friends for his people in distress. Orders were given for the prophet's release, and Ebed-melech saw him drawn up. Let this encourage us to appear boldly for God. Special notice is taken of his tenderness for Jeremiah. What do we behold in the different characters then, but the same we behold in the different characters now, that the Lord's children are conformed to his example, and the children of Satan to their master?

Verses 14-28 Jeremiah was not forward to repeat the warnings, which seemed only to endanger his own life, and to add to the king's guilt, but asked whether he feared to do the will of God. The less men fear God, the more they fear men; often they dare not act according to their own judgments and consciences.

Footnotes 37

Chapter Summary

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 Commentaries