Jeremiah 38

Jeremiah Thrown into the Cistern

1 Now Shephatiah the son of Mattan, and Gedaliah the son of Pashhur, and Jucal the 1son of Shelemiah, and 2Pashhur the son of Malchijah heard the words that Jeremiah was speaking to all the people, saying,
2 "Thus says the LORD, 'He who 3stays in this city will die by the 4sword and by famine and by pestilence, but he who goes out to the Chaldeans will live and have his own 5life as booty and stay alive.'
3 "Thus says the LORD, 'This city will certainly be 6given into the hand of the army of the king of Babylon and he will capture it.' "
4 Then the 7officials said to the king, "Now let this man be put to death, inasmuch * * as he is 8discouraging * the men of war who are left in this city and all the people, by speaking such words to them; for this man 9is not seeking the well-being of this people but rather * their harm."
5 So King Zedekiah said, "Behold, he is in your hands; for the king 10can do nothing * against you."
6 Then they took Jeremiah and cast him into the 11cistern of Malchijah the king's son, which was in the court of the guardhouse; and they let Jeremiah down with ropes. Now in the cistern there was no water but only 12mud, and Jeremiah sank into the mud.
7 But 13Ebed-melech the Ethiopian, a 14eunuch, while he was in the king's palace, heard that they had put Jeremiah into the cistern. Now the king was sitting in the 15Gate of Benjamin;
8 and Ebed-melech went out from the king's palace and spoke to the king, saying,
9 "My lord the king, these men have acted wickedly in all that they have done to Jeremiah the prophet whom they have cast into the cistern; and he will die right where he is because * of the famine, for there is 16no more bread in the city."
10 Then the king commanded Ebed-melech the Ethiopian, saying, "Take thirty men from here under your authority and bring up Jeremiah the prophet from the cistern before he dies."
11 So Ebed-melech took the men under his authority and went into the king's palace to a place beneath the storeroom and took from there worn-out clothes and worn-out rags and let them down by ropes into the cistern to Jeremiah.
12 Then Ebed-melech the Ethiopian said to Jeremiah, "Now put these worn-out clothes and rags under your armpits * under the ropes "; and Jeremiah did so.
13 So they pulled Jeremiah up with the ropes and lifted him out of the cistern, and Jeremiah stayed in the 17court of the guardhouse.
14 Then King Zedekiah 18sent and had Jeremiah the prophet brought to him at the third entrance that is in the house of the LORD; and the king said to Jeremiah, "I am going to 19ask you something; do not hide anything from me."
15 Then Jeremiah said to Zedekiah, "20If I tell you, will you not certainly put me to death? Besides, if I give you advice, you will not listen to me."
16 But King Zedekiah swore to Jeremiah in 21secret saying, "As the LORD lives, who made this 22life for us, surely I will not put you to death nor will I give you over to the hand of 23these men who are seeking your life."

Interview with Zedekiah

17 Then Jeremiah said to Zedekiah, "Thus says the LORD 24God of hosts, the 25God of Israel, 'If you will indeed 26go out to the officers of the king of Babylon, then you will live, this city will not be burned with fire, and you and your household will survive.
18 'But if you will 27not go out to the officers of the king of Babylon, then this city 28will be given over to the hand of the Chaldeans; and they will burn it with fire, and 29you yourself will not escape from their hand.' "
19 Then King Zedekiah said to Jeremiah, "I 30dread the Jews who have 31gone over to the Chaldeans, for they may give me over into their hand and they will 32abuse me."
20 But Jeremiah said, "They will not give you over. Please 33obey * the LORD in what I am saying to you, that it may go 34well with you and 35you may live.
21 "But if you keep refusing to go out, this is the word which the LORD has shown me:
22 'Then behold, all of the 36women who have been left in the palace of the king of Judah are going to be brought out to the officers of the king of Babylon; and those women will say, "Your close friends * Have misled and overpowered you; While your feet were sunk in the mire, They turned back."
23 'They will also bring out all your wives and your 37sons to the Chaldeans, and 38you yourself will not escape from their hand, but will be seized by the hand of the king of Babylon, and 39this city will be burned with fire.' "
24 Then Zedekiah said to Jeremiah, "Let no man know about these words and you will not die.
25 "But if the 40officials hear that I have talked with you and come to you and say to you, 'Tell us now what you said to the king and what the king said to you; do not hide it from us and we will not put you to death,'
26 then you are to say to them, 'I was 41presenting my petition before the king, not to make me return to the house of Jonathan to die there.' "
27 Then all the officials came to Jeremiah and questioned him. So he reported to them in accordance with all these words which the king had commanded; and they ceased speaking with him, since the conversation had not been overheard.
28 So Jeremiah 42stayed in the court of the guardhouse until the day 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.

Cross References 42

  • 1. Jeremiah 37:3
  • 2. Jeremiah 21:1
  • 3. Jeremiah 21:9
  • 4. Jeremiah 34:17; Jeremiah 42:17
  • 5. Jeremiah 21:9; Jeremiah 39:18; Jeremiah 45:5
  • 6. Jeremiah 21:10; Jeremiah 32:3-5
  • 7. Jeremiah 18:23; Jeremiah 26:11, 21; Jeremiah 36:12
  • 8. Exodus 5:4; 1 Kings 18:17, 18; 1 Kings 21:20; Nehemiah 6:9; Amos 7:10; Acts 16:20
  • 9. Jeremiah 29:7
  • 10. 2 Samuel 3:39
  • 11. Jeremiah 37:16, 21; Acts 16:24
  • 12. Psalms 40:2; Psalms 69:2, 14, 15; Jeremiah 38:22; Zechariah 9:11
  • 13. Jeremiah 39:16
  • 14. Jeremiah 29:2; Acts 8:27
  • 15. Deuteronomy 21:19; Job 29:7; Jeremiah 37:13; Amos 5:10
  • 16. Jeremiah 37:21; Jeremiah 52:6
  • 17. Nehemiah 3:25; Jeremiah 32:2; Jeremiah 37:21; Jeremiah 38:6; Jeremiah 39:14, 15; Acts 23:35; Acts 24:27; Acts 28:16, 30
  • 18. Jeremiah 21:1, 2; Jeremiah 37:17
  • 19. 1 Samuel 3:17, 18; 1 Kings 22:16; Jeremiah 15:11; Jeremiah 42:2-5, 20
  • 20. Luke 22:67, 68
  • 21. Jeremiah 37:17; John 3:2
  • 22. Numbers 16:22; Numbers 27:16; Isaiah 42:5; Isaiah 57:16; Zechariah 12:1; Acts 17:25, 28
  • 23. Jeremiah 34:20; Jeremiah 38:4-6
  • 24. Psalms 80:7, 14; Amos 5:27
  • 25. 1 Chronicles 17:24; Ezekiel 8:4
  • 26. 2 Kings 24:12; 2 Kings 25:27-30; Jeremiah 21:8-10; Jeremiah 27:12, 17; Jeremiah 38:2; Jeremiah 39:3
  • 27. Jeremiah 27:8
  • 28. 2 Kings 25:4-10; Jeremiah 24:8-10; Jeremiah 32:3-5; Jeremiah 37:8; Jeremiah 38:3
  • 29. Jeremiah 32:4; Jeremiah 34:3
  • 30. Isaiah 51:12, 13; Isaiah 57:11; John 12:42; John 19:12, 13
  • 31. Jeremiah 39:9
  • 32. 2 Chronicles 30:10; Nehemiah 4:1; Jeremiah 38:22
  • 33. 2 Chronicles 20:20; Jeremiah 11:4, 8; Jeremiah 26:13; Daniel 4:27; Acts 26:29
  • 34. Jeremiah 7:23
  • 35. Genesis 19:20; Isaiah 55:3
  • 36. Jeremiah 6:12; Jeremiah 8:10; Jeremiah 43:6
  • 37. 2 Kings 25:7; Jeremiah 39:6; Jeremiah 41:10
  • 38. Jeremiah 38:18
  • 39. Jeremiah 38:18
  • 40. Jer 38:4-6, 27
  • 41. Jeremiah 37:20
  • 42. Psalms 23:4; Jeremiah 15:20, 21; Jeremiah 37:20, 21; Jeremiah 38:13; Jeremiah 39:13, 14

Footnotes 18

Chapter Summary


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

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