Jeremiah Thrown into the Cistern

38 Now Shephatiah the son of Mattan, and Gedaliah the son of Pashhur, and Jucal the (A)son of Shelemiah, and (B)Pashhur the son of Malchijah heard the words that Jeremiah was speaking to all the people, saying, “Thus says the Lord, ‘He who (C)stays in this city will die by the (D)sword and by famine and by pestilence, but he who goes out to the Chaldeans will live and have his own (E)life as booty and stay alive.’ Thus says the Lord, ‘This city will certainly be (F)given into the hand of the army of the king of Babylon and he will capture it.’” Then the (G)officials said to the king, “Now let this man be put to death, inasmuch as he is [a](H)discouraging the men of war who are left in this city and [b]all the people, by speaking such words to them; for this man (I)is not seeking the well-being of this people but rather their harm.” So King Zedekiah said, “Behold, he is in your [c]hands; for the king (J)can do nothing against you.” Then they took Jeremiah and cast him into the (K)cistern 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 (L)mud, and Jeremiah sank into the mud. But (M)Ebed-melech the Ethiopian, [d]a (N)eunuch, while he was in the king’s palace, heard that they had put Jeremiah into the cistern. Now the king was sitting in the (O)Gate of Benjamin; and Ebed-melech went out from the king’s palace and spoke to the king, saying, “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 [e]will die right where he is because of the famine, for there is (P)no more bread in the city.” 10 Then the king commanded Ebed-melech the Ethiopian, saying, “Take thirty men from here [f]under your authority and bring up Jeremiah the prophet from the cistern before he dies.” 11 So Ebed-melech took the men under his [g]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 (Q)court of the guardhouse.

14 Then King Zedekiah (R)sent and [h]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 (S)ask you something; do not hide anything from me.” 15 Then Jeremiah said to Zedekiah, “(T)If 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 (U)secret saying, “As the Lord lives, who made this [i](V)life for us, surely I will not put you to death nor will I give you over to the hand of (W)these men who are seeking your [j]life.”

Interview with Zedekiah

17 Then Jeremiah said to Zedekiah, “Thus says the Lord (X)God of hosts, the (Y)God of Israel, ‘If you will indeed (Z)go out to the officers of the king of Babylon, then [k]you will live, this city will not be burned with fire, and you and your household will [l]survive. 18 But if you will (AA)not go out to the officers of the king of Babylon, then this city (AB)will be given over to the hand of the Chaldeans; and they will burn it with fire, and (AC)you yourself will not escape from their hand.’” 19 Then King Zedekiah said to Jeremiah, “I (AD)dread the Jews who have [m](AE)gone over to the Chaldeans, for they may give me over into their hand and they will (AF)abuse me.” 20 But Jeremiah said, “They will not give you over. Please [n](AG)obey the Lord in what I am saying to you, that it may go (AH)well with you and [o](AI)you 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 (AJ)women who have been left in the palace of the king of Judah are going to be brought out to the [p]officers of the king of Babylon; and those women will say,

[q]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 (AK)sons to the Chaldeans, and (AL)you yourself will not escape from their hand, but will be seized by the hand of the king of Babylon, and (AM)this 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 (AN)officials 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 (AO)presenting 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 [r]conversation had not been overheard. 28 So Jeremiah (AP)stayed in the court of the guardhouse until the day that Jerusalem was captured.


  1. Jeremiah 38:4 Lit weakening the hands of
  2. Jeremiah 38:4 Lit the hands of all
  3. Jeremiah 38:5 Lit hand
  4. Jeremiah 38:7 Or an official
  5. Jeremiah 38:9 M.T. reads has died
  6. Jeremiah 38:10 Lit in your hand
  7. Jeremiah 38:11 Lit hand
  8. Jeremiah 38:14 Lit took Jeremiah the prophet to him
  9. Jeremiah 38:16 Lit soul
  10. Jeremiah 38:16 Lit soul
  11. Jeremiah 38:17 Lit your soul
  12. Jeremiah 38:17 Lit live
  13. Jeremiah 38:19 Lit fallen
  14. Jeremiah 38:20 Lit listen to the voice of
  15. Jeremiah 38:20 Lit your soul
  16. Jeremiah 38:22 Or princes
  17. Jeremiah 38:22 Lit The men of your peace
  18. Jeremiah 38:27 Lit word