38 Now Shephatiah son of Mattan, Gedaliah son of Pashhur, Jehucal[a] son of Shelemiah, and Pashhur son of Malkijah heard what Jeremiah had been telling the people. He had been saying,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[b] will live. Their reward will be life. They will live!’3 The Lord also says: ‘The city of Jerusalem will certainly be handed over to the army of the king of Babylon, who will capture it.’”
4 So these officials went to the king and said, “Sir, this man must die! That kind of talk will undermine the morale of the few fighting men we have left, as well as that of all the people. This man is a traitor!”
5 King Zedekiah agreed. “All right,” he said. “Do as you like. I can’t stop you.”
6 So the officials took Jeremiah from his cell and lowered him by ropes into an empty cistern in the prison yard. It belonged to Malkijah, a member of the royal family. There was no water in the cistern, but there was a thick layer of mud at the bottom, and Jeremiah sank down into it.
7 But Ebed-melech the Ethiopian,[c] an important court official, heard that Jeremiah was in the cistern. At that time the king was holding court at the Benjamin Gate,8 so Ebed-melech rushed from the palace to speak with him.9 “My lord the king,” he said, “these men have done a very evil thing in putting Jeremiah the prophet into the cistern. He will soon die of hunger, for almost all the bread in the city is gone.”
10 So the king told Ebed-melech, “Take thirty of my men with you, and pull Jeremiah out of the cistern before he dies.”
11 So Ebed-melech took the men with him and went to a room in the palace beneath the treasury, where he found some old rags and discarded clothing. He carried these to the cistern and lowered them to Jeremiah on a rope.12 Ebed-melech called down to Jeremiah, “Put these rags under your armpits to protect you from the ropes.” Then when Jeremiah was ready,13 they pulled him out. So Jeremiah was returned to the courtyard of the guard—the palace prison—where he remained.
38:1Hebrew Jucal, a variant spelling of Jehucal; see 37:3.
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