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Jeremiah is Thrown into the Pit of Malchiah

38 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,[a] “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.’ 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.’”

Then the officials said to the king, “Please, this man must be killed, because[b] he is making slack the hands of the soldiers[c] 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[d] to this people, but only[e] for harm.” And Zedekiah the king said, “Look, he is in your hand, for the king is not able to do a thing against you.” So they took Jeremiah and threw him into the pit[f] 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[g] there was no water,[h] but only[i] mud, and Jeremiah sank in the mud.

When Ebed-melech the Cushite, a eunuch[j] who was in the house of the king, heard that they had put Jeremiah into the pit[k]—now the king was sitting at the Gate of Benjamin— Ebed-melech went out from the house of the king and spoke to the king, saying,[l] “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,[m] and he will die there[n] because of[o] starvation, for there is no longer any bread in the city.” 10 Then the king commanded Ebed-melech the Cushite, saying,[p] “Take with you[q] these thirty men and pull Jeremiah the prophet up from the pit[r] before[s] he dies.”

11 So Ebed-melech took the men with him[t] and went to the palace of the king, to a place beneath the storehouse, and he took from there rags[u] and worn-out clothes.[v] And he let them down into the pit[w] by ropes to Jeremiah. 12 Then Ebed-melech the Cushite said to Jeremiah, “Please put the rags[x] and worn-out clothes[y] 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.[z] 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[aa] of Yahweh. And the king said to Jeremiah, “I am asking you something,[ab] you must not hide anything[ac] from me.” 15 And Jeremiah said to Zedekiah, “If I tell you, will you not surely kill me? Besides,[ad] if I advise you, you will not listen to me. 16 So Zedekiah the king swore to Jeremiah in secret, saying,[ae]As Yahweh lives,[af] 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[ag] 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[ah] 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[ai] 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[aj] 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[ak] 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.[al]


  1. Jeremiah 38:1 Literally “to say”
  2. Jeremiah 38:4 Literally “unto thus”
  3. Jeremiah 38:4 Literally “the men of the war”
  4. Jeremiah 38:4 Or “peace”
  5. Jeremiah 38:4 Literally “but if”
  6. Jeremiah 38:6 Or “cistern”
  7. Jeremiah 38:6 Or “cistern”
  8. Jeremiah 38:6 Hebrew “waters”
  9. Jeremiah 38:6 Literally “but if”
  10. Jeremiah 38:7 Literally “a man of a eunuch”
  11. Jeremiah 38:7 Or “cistern”
  12. Jeremiah 38:8 Literally “to say”
  13. Jeremiah 38:9 Or “cistern”
  14. Jeremiah 38:9 Literally “in it”
  15. Jeremiah 38:9 Literally “from the face of”
  16. Jeremiah 38:10 Literally “to say”
  17. Jeremiah 38:10 Literally “in your hand”
  18. Jeremiah 38:10 Or “cistern”
  19. Jeremiah 38:10 Literally “at not yet”
  20. Jeremiah 38:11 Literally “in his hand”
  21. Jeremiah 38:11 Literally “the rags of rags”
  22. Jeremiah 38:11 Literally “rags of ragged clothes”
  23. Jeremiah 38:11 Or “cistern”
  24. Jeremiah 38:12 Literally “rags of the rags”
  25. Jeremiah 38:12 Literally “ragged clothes”
  26. Jeremiah 38:13 Or “cistern”
  27. Jeremiah 38:14 Literally “house”
  28. Jeremiah 38:14 Literally “a thing”
  29. Jeremiah 38:14 Literally “a thing”
  30. Jeremiah 38:15 Literally “And”
  31. Jeremiah 38:16 Literally “to say”
  32. Jeremiah 38:16 Literally “Life of Yahweh”
  33. Jeremiah 38:17 Literally “your life” or “your soul”
  34. Jeremiah 38:20 Literally “your life” or “your soul”
  35. Jeremiah 38:22 Literally “The men of your peace”
  36. Jeremiah 38:26 Literally “to the face of”
  37. Jeremiah 38:27 Literally “word”
  38. Jeremiah 38:28 Jeremiah 38:28b in the Hebrew Bible is 39:1a in the English Bible