Good News Translation
Jeremiah in a Dry Well
38 Shephatiah son of Mattan, Gedaliah son of Pashhur, Jehucal son of Shelemiah, and Pashhur son of Malchiah heard that I was telling the people that 2 the Lord had said, “Whoever stays on in the city will die in war or of starvation or disease. But those who go out and surrender to the Babylonians will not be killed; they will at least escape with their life.” 3 I was also telling them that the Lord had said, “I am going to give the city to the Babylonian army, and they will capture it.”
4 Then the officials went to the king and said, “This man must be put to death. By talking like this he is making the soldiers in the city lose their courage, and he is doing the same thing to everyone else left in the city. He is not trying to help the people; he only wants to hurt them.”
5 King Zedekiah answered, “Very well, then, do what you want to with him; I can't stop you.” 6 So they took me and let me down by ropes into Prince Malchiah's well, which was in the palace courtyard. There was no water in the well, only mud, and I sank down in it.
7 However, Ebedmelech the Ethiopian,[a] a eunuch who worked in the royal palace, heard that they had put me in the well. At that time the king was holding court at the Benjamin Gate. 8 So Ebedmelech went there and said to the king, 9 “Your Majesty, what these men have done is wrong. They have put Jeremiah in the well, where he is sure to die of starvation, since there is no more food in the city.” 10 Then the king ordered Ebedmelech to take with him three men and to pull me out of the well before I died. 11 So Ebedmelech went with the men to the palace storeroom and got some worn-out clothing which he let down to me by ropes. 12 He told me to put the rags under my arms, so that the ropes wouldn't hurt me. I did this, 13 and they pulled me up out of the well. After that I was kept in the courtyard.
Zedekiah Asks Jeremiah's Advice
14 On another occasion King Zedekiah had me brought to him at the third entrance to the Temple, and he said, “I am going to ask you a question, and I want you to tell me the whole truth.”
15 I answered, “If I tell you the truth, you will put me to death, and if I give you advice, you won't pay any attention.”
16 So King Zedekiah promised me in secret, “I swear by the living God, the God who gave us life, that I will not put you to death or hand you over to the men who want to kill you.”
17 Then I told Zedekiah that the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, had said, “If you surrender to the king of Babylonia's officers, your life will be spared, and this city will not be burned down. Both you and your family will be spared. 18 But if you do not surrender, then this city will be handed over to the Babylonians, who will burn it down, and you will not escape from them.”
19 But the king answered, “I am afraid of our own people who have deserted to the Babylonians. I may be handed over to them and tortured.”
20 I said, “You will not be handed over to them. I beg you to obey the Lord's message; then all will go well with you, and your life will be spared. 21 But the Lord has shown me in a vision what will happen if you refuse to surrender. 22 In it I saw all the women left in Judah's royal palace being led out to the king of Babylonia's officers. Listen to what they were saying as they went:
‘The king's best friends misled him,
they overruled him.
And now that his feet have sunk in the mud,
his friends have left him.’”
23 Then I added, “All your women and children will be taken out to the Babylonians, and you yourself will not escape from them. You will be taken prisoner by the king of Babylonia, and this city will be burned to the ground.”
24 Zedekiah replied, “Don't let anyone know about this conversation, and your life will not be in danger. 25 If the officials hear that I have talked with you, they will come and ask you what we said. They will promise not to put you to death if you tell them everything. 26 Just tell them you were begging me not to send you back to prison to die there.” 27 Then all the officials came and questioned me, and I told them exactly what the king had told me to say. There was nothing else they could do, because no one had overheard the conversation. 28 (A)And I was kept in the palace courtyard until the day Jerusalem was captured.
- Jeremiah 38:7 Hebrew Cushite: Cush is the ancient name of the extensive territory south of the First Cataract of the Nile River. This region was called Ethiopia in Graeco-Roman times, and included within its borders most of modern Sudan and some of present-day Ethiopia (Abyssinia).
New Revised Standard Version
Jeremiah in the Cistern
38 Now Shephatiah son of Mattan, Gedaliah son of Pashhur, Jucal son of Shelemiah, and Pashhur son of Malchiah heard the words that Jeremiah was saying to all the people, 2 Thus says the Lord, Those who stay in this city shall die by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence; but those who go out to the Chaldeans shall live; they shall have their lives as a prize of war, and live. 3 Thus says the Lord, This city shall surely be handed over to the army of the king of Babylon and be taken. 4 Then the officials said to the king, “This man ought to be put to death, because he is discouraging the soldiers who are left in this city, and all the people, by speaking such words to them. For this man is not seeking the welfare of this people, but their harm.” 5 King Zedekiah said, “Here he is; he is in your hands; for the king is powerless against you.” 6 So they took Jeremiah and threw him into the cistern of Malchiah, the king’s son, which was in the court of the guard, letting Jeremiah down by ropes. Now there was no water in the cistern, but only mud, and Jeremiah sank in the mud.
Jeremiah Is Rescued by Ebed-melech
7 Ebed-melech the Ethiopian,[a] a eunuch in the king’s house, heard that they had put Jeremiah into the cistern. The king happened to be sitting at the Benjamin Gate, 8 So Ebed-melech left the king’s house and spoke to the king, 9 “My lord king, these men have acted wickedly in all they did to the prophet Jeremiah by throwing him into the cistern to die there of hunger, for there is no bread left in the city.” 10 Then the king commanded Ebed-melech the Ethiopian,[b] “Take three men with you from here, and pull the prophet Jeremiah up from the cistern before he dies.” 11 So Ebed-melech took the men with him and went to the house of the king, to a wardrobe of[c] the storehouse, and took from there old rags and worn-out clothes, which he let down to Jeremiah in the cistern by ropes. 12 Then Ebed-melech the Ethiopian[d] said to Jeremiah, “Just put the rags and clothes between your armpits and the ropes.” Jeremiah did so. 13 Then they drew Jeremiah up by the ropes and pulled him out of the cistern. And Jeremiah remained in the court of the guard.
Zedekiah Consults Jeremiah Again
14 King Zedekiah sent for the prophet Jeremiah and received him at the third entrance of the temple of the Lord. The king said to Jeremiah, “I have something to ask you; do not hide anything from me.” 15 Jeremiah said to Zedekiah, “If I tell you, you will put me to death, will you not? And if I give you advice, you will not listen to me.” 16 So King Zedekiah swore an oath in secret to Jeremiah, “As the Lord lives, who gave us our lives, I will not put you to death or hand you over to these men who seek your life.”
17 Then Jeremiah said to Zedekiah, “Thus says the Lord, the God of hosts, the God of Israel, If you will only surrender to the officials of the king of Babylon, then your life shall be spared, and this city shall not be burned with fire, and you and your house shall live. 18 But if you do not surrender to the officials of the king of Babylon, then this city shall be handed over to the Chaldeans, and they shall burn it with fire, and you yourself shall not escape from their hand.” 19 King Zedekiah said to Jeremiah, “I am afraid of the Judeans who have deserted to the Chaldeans, for I might be handed over to them and they would abuse me.” 20 Jeremiah said, “That will not happen. Just obey the voice of the Lord in what I say to you, and it shall go well with you, and your life shall be spared. 21 But if you are determined not to surrender, this is what the Lord has shown me— 22 a vision of all the women remaining in the house of the king of Judah being led out to the officials of the king of Babylon and saying,
‘Your trusted friends have seduced you
and have overcome you;
Now that your feet are stuck in the mud,
they desert you.’
23 All your wives and your children shall be led out to the Chaldeans, and you yourself shall not escape from their hand, but shall be seized by the king of Babylon; and this city shall be burned with fire.”
24 Then Zedekiah said to Jeremiah, “Do not let anyone else know of this conversation, or you will die. 25 If the officials should hear that I have spoken with you, and they should come and say to you, ‘Just tell us what you said to the king; do not conceal it from us, or we will put you to death. What did the king say to you?’ 26 then you shall say to them, ‘I was presenting my plea to the king not to send me back to the house of Jonathan to die there.’” 27 All the officials did come to Jeremiah and questioned him; and he answered them in the very words the king had commanded. So they stopped questioning him, for the conversation had not been overheard. 28 And Jeremiah remained in the court of the guard until the day that Jerusalem was taken.
Complete Jewish Bible
38 But Sh’fatyah the son of Mattan, G’dalyahu the son of Pash’chur, Yukhal the son of Shelemyahu and Pash’chur the son of Malkiyah heard these words which Yirmeyahu had said to all the people, 2 “Here is what Adonai says: whoever remains in this city will die by sword, famine and plague; but whoever leaves and surrenders to the Kasdim will stay alive; his own life will be his only ‘spoils of war,’ but he will stay alive. 3 Adonai says that this city will certainly be handed over to the army of the king of Bavel, and he will capture it.” 4 The leaders said to the king, “Please let this man be put to death; because by speaking such words to the soldiers left in this city and to all the people, he is demoralizing them. This man is seeking not to benefit this people, but to harm them.” 5 Tzidkiyahu the king said, “All right, he is in your hands; for the king can’t prevent you from doing as you please.”
6 Then they took Yirmeyahu and threw him into the cistern of Malkiyahu the king’s son, which was in the guards’ quarters; they let down Yirmeyahu into it with ropes. In the pit there was no water, but there was mud; and Yirmeyahu sank into the mud. 7 ‘Eved-Melekh the Ethiopian, an officer in the king’s house, heard that they had put Yirmeyahu in the cistern. When the king was sitting at the gate leading toward Binyamin, 8 ‘Eved-Melekh left the palace and said to the king, 9 “My lord, king! What these men have done to Yirmeyahu the prophet is evil. They have thrown him into the cistern; and he is likely to die there where he is, because of the famine; for there is no more food in the city.” 10 Then the king ordered ‘Eved-Melekh the Ethiopian, “Take thirty men with you from here, and bring Yirmeyahu the prophet up out of the cistern before he dies.” 11 So ‘Eved-Melekh took the men with him and entered a storeroom under the treasury in the king’s palace, from which he took some old clothes and rags. These he let down with ropes to Yirmeyahu in the cistern. 12 ‘Eved-Melekh the Ethiopian then said to Yirmeyahu, “Use these old clothes and rags as padding between your armpits and the ropes.” After Yirmeyahu had done this, 13 they pulled Yirmeyahu up with the ropes and took him out of the cistern. Yirmeyahu remained in the guards’ quarters.
14 Tzidkiyahu summoned and had Yirmeyahu brought to him through the third entry in the house of Adonai. Then the king said to Yirmeyahu, “I want to ask you something; don’t hide anything from me.” 15 Yirmeyahu said to Tzidkiyahu, “If I do say it to you, won’t you have me put to death? And if I give you counsel, you won’t listen to me.” 16 So Tzidkiyahu swore secretly to Yirmeyahu, “As Adonai lives, who gave us our lives, I will not put you to death; nor will I hand you over to these men who want you put to death.”
17 Then Yirmeyahu said to Tzidkiyahu, “Here is what Adonai-Tzva’ot, the God of Isra’el, says: ‘If you will go out and surrender to the king of Bavel’s officers, then you will stay alive — this city will not be burned down; and you and your family will live. 18 But if you will not go out to the king of Bavel’s officers, then this city will be handed over to the Kasdim; they will burn it to the ground; and you will not escape from them.’” 19 Tzidkiyahu the king said to Yirmeyahu, “I am afraid of the Judeans who deserted to the Kasdim. The Kasdim might hand me over to them, and they would mistreat me.” 20 Yirmeyahu answered, “They won’t hand you over. I beg you, listen to the voice of Adonai concerning what I’m telling you about; then it will go well with you, and you will live. 21 But if you refuse to surrender, then this is the word Adonai has shown me: 22 all the women remaining in the king of Y’hudah’s palace will be brought out to the king of Bavel’s officers, and those women will taunt you:
‘Your own close friends misled you
and took advantage of you.
Now that your feet are stuck in the mud,
they have abandoned you.’
23 They will bring all your women and children out to the Kasdim, and you will not escape from them. Rather, you will be captured by the king of Bavel, and you will cause this city to be burned to the ground.”
24 Tzidkiyahu said to Yirmeyahu, “Don’t tell anyone what you just said, or you will die. 25 If the officials hear that I have talked with you, and they come to you and say, ‘Tell us now what you said to the king; don’t hide it from us, or we will put you to death, and also what the king said to you,’ 26 then tell them, ‘I presented my request to the king that he would not make me return to Y’honatan’s house, to die there.’” 27 All the officials did come to Yirmeyahu and asked him, and he told them everything the king had ordered him to say. So they stopped speaking with him, since the matter had not been reported.
28 Yirmeyahu remained in the guards’ quarters until the day Yerushalayim was captured; he was there when Yerushalayim was captured.
From the Dungeon to the Palace
38 Shaphatiah son of Mattan, Gedaliah son of Pashur, Jehucal son of Shelemiah, and Pashur son of Malkijah heard what Jeremiah was telling the people, namely:
2 “This is God’s Message: ‘Whoever stays in this town will die—will be killed or starve to death or get sick and die. But those who go over to the Babylonians will save their necks and live.’
3 “And, God’s sure Word: ‘This city is destined to fall to the army of the king of Babylon. He’s going to take it over.’”
4 These officials told the king, “Please, kill this man. He’s got to go! He’s ruining the resolve of the soldiers who are still left in the city, as well as the people themselves, by spreading these words. This man isn’t looking after the good of this people. He’s trying to ruin us!”
5 King Zedekiah caved in: “If you say so. Go ahead, handle it your way. You’re too much for me.”
6 So they took Jeremiah and threw him into the cistern of Malkijah the king’s son that was in the courtyard of the palace guard. They lowered him down with ropes. There wasn’t any water in the cistern, only mud. Jeremiah sank into the mud.
7-9 Ebed-melek the Ethiopian, a court official assigned to the royal palace, heard that they had thrown Jeremiah into the cistern. While the king was holding court in the Benjamin Gate, Ebed-melek went immediately from the palace to the king and said, “My master, O king—these men are committing a great crime in what they’re doing, throwing Jeremiah the prophet into the cistern and leaving him there to starve. He’s as good as dead. There isn’t a scrap of bread left in the city.”
10 So the king ordered Ebed-melek the Ethiopian, “Get three men and pull Jeremiah the prophet out of the cistern before he dies.”
11-12 Ebed-melek got three men and went to the palace wardrobe and got some scraps of old clothing, which they tied together and lowered down with ropes to Jeremiah in the cistern. Ebed-melek the Ethiopian called down to Jeremiah, “Put these scraps of old clothing under your armpits and around the ropes.”
Jeremiah did what he said.
13 And so they pulled Jeremiah up out of the cistern by the ropes. But he was still confined in the courtyard of the palace guard.
14 Later, King Zedekiah sent for Jeremiah the prophet and had him brought to the third entrance of the Temple of God. The king said to Jeremiah, “I’m going to ask you something. Don’t hold anything back from me.”
15 Jeremiah said, “If I told you the whole truth, you’d kill me. And no matter what I said, you wouldn’t pay any attention anyway.”
16 Zedekiah swore to Jeremiah right there, but in secret, “As sure as God lives, who gives us life, I won’t kill you, nor will I turn you over to the men who are trying to kill you.”
17-18 So Jeremiah told Zedekiah, “This is the Message from God, God-of-the-Angel-Armies, the God of Israel: ‘If you will turn yourself over to the generals of the king of Babylon, you will live, this city won’t be burned down, and your family will live. But if you don’t turn yourself over to the generals of the king of Babylon, this city will go into the hands of the Chaldeans and they’ll burn it down. And don’t for a minute think there’s any escape for you.’”
19 King Zedekiah said to Jeremiah, “But I’m afraid of the Judeans who have already deserted to the Chaldeans. If they get hold of me, they’ll rough me up good.”
20-22 Jeremiah assured him, “They won’t get hold of you. Listen, please. Listen to God’s voice. I’m telling you this for your own good so that you’ll live. But if you refuse to turn yourself over, this is what God has shown me will happen: Picture this in your mind—all the women still left in the palace of the king of Judah, led out to the officers of the king of Babylon, and as they’re led out they are saying:
“‘They lied to you and did you in,
those so-called friends of yours;
And now you’re stuck, about knee-deep in mud,
and your “friends,” where are they now?’
23 “They’ll take all your wives and children and give them to the Chaldeans. And you, don’t think you’ll get out of this—the king of Babylon will seize you and then burn this city to the ground.”
24-26 Zedekiah said to Jeremiah, “Don’t let anyone know of this conversation, if you know what’s good for you. If the government officials get wind that I’ve been talking with you, they may come and say, ‘Tell us what went on between you and the king, what you said and what he said. Hold nothing back and we won’t kill you.’ If this happens, tell them, ‘I presented my case to the king so that he wouldn’t send me back to the dungeon of Jonathan to die there.’”
27 And sure enough, all the officials came to Jeremiah and asked him. He responded as the king had instructed. So they quit asking. No one had overheard the conversation.
28 Jeremiah lived in the courtyard of the palace guards until the day that Jerusalem was captured.