Jeremiah chapter 38

Jeremiah is imprisoned in a cistern. Then he is rescued from the cistern. King Zedekiah summons Jeremiah.





VERSE 1. Shephatiah the son of Mattan, and Gedaliah the son of Pashhur, and Jucal the son of Shelemiah, and Pashhur the son of Malchijah, heard the words that Jeremiah spoke to all the people, saying,

Jeremiah spoke. Jeremiah was imprisoned in the courtyard of the guard in the royal palace. There, he had freedom to talk with people. And he did.

to all the people. Jeremiah spoke to ALL the people. His message was the same as before:

1. Those who remained in Jerusalem would die

2. Only those who deserted to the Babylonians would live

3. Jerusalem’s only hope was to surrender


VERSE 2. “The LORD says, ‘He who remains in this city will die by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence; but he who goes out to the Kasdim will live, and he will escape with his life, and he will live.’


VERSE 3. The LORD says, ‘This city will surely be given into the hand of the army of the king of Babylon, and he will take it.’ ”


VERSE 4. Then the princes said to the king, “Please let this man be put to death; because he weakens the hands of the men of war who remain in this city, and the hands of all the people, in speaking such words to them: for this man doesn’t seek the welfare of this people, but harm.”

let this man be put to death. Jeremiah spoke against the status quo. Therefore people said his remarks were treason.


VERSE 5. Zedekiah the king said, “Behold, he is in your hand; for the king can’t do anything to oppose you.”

he is in your hand. Cowardly king Zedekiah hands Jeremiah over to those who wanted to take his life.


VERSE 6. Then they took Jeremiah and threw him into the dungeon of Malchijah the king’s son, that was in the court of the guard. They let down Jeremiah with cords. In the dungeon there was no water, but mire; and Jeremiah sank in the mire.

threw him into the dungeon. In the previous chapter, Jeremiah was locked up in a prison. It was a vaulted cell in a dungeon. That dungeon was located in the house of Jonathan the scribe:

Jeremiah 37:15. The princes were angry with Jeremiah, and struck him, and put him in prison in the house of Jonathan the scribe; for they had made that the prison.

Now Jeremiah was thrown in an dungeon that is worse. Much worse.

Jeremiah sank in the mire. The word “mire” means “mud.”

This dungeon is a cistern. A cistern was a large pit cut into rock and covered with plaster. It was used to gather rainwater.

Sometimes you are walking with God and faithfully carrying out the ministry he called you to do. And yet you sink in the mud.




VERSE 7. Now when Ebedmelech the Ethiopian, a eunuch, who was in the king’s house, heard that they had put Jeremiah in the dungeon (the king was then sitting in Benjamin’s gate),


VERSE 8. Ebedmelech went out of the king’s house, and spoke to the king, saying,


VERSE 9. “My lord the king, these men have done evil in all that they have done to Jeremiah the prophet, whom they have cast into the dungeon. He is likely to die in the place where he is, because of the famine; for there is no more bread in the city.”


VERSE 10. Then the king commanded Ebedmelech the Ethiopian, saying, “Take from here thirty men with you, and take up Jeremiah the prophet out of the dungeon, before he dies.”


VERSE 11. So Ebedmelech took the men with him, and went into the house of the king under the treasury, and took from there rags and worn-out garments, and let them down by cords into the dungeon to Jeremiah.


VERSE 12. Ebedmelech the Ethiopian said to Jeremiah, “Now put these rags and worn-out garments under your armpits under the cords.” Jeremiah did so.


VERSE 13. So they drew up Jeremiah with the cords, and took him up out of the dungeon; and Jeremiah remained in the court of the guard.




VERSE 14. Then Zedekiah the king sent and took Jeremiah the prophet to himself into the third entry that is in the LORD’s house. Then the king said to Jeremiah, “I will ask you something. Hide nothing from me.”

Hide nothing from me. King Zedekiah is only interested in himself. He demands that Jeremiah speak truthfully, no matter what the consequences.


VERSE 15. Then Jeremiah said to Zedekiah, “If I declare it to you, will you not surely put me to death? If I give you counsel, you will not listen to me.”


VERSE 16. So Zedekiah the king swore secretly to Jeremiah, saying, “As the LORD lives, who made us this soul, I will not put you to death, neither will I give you into the hand of these men who seek your life.”


VERSE 17. Then Jeremiah said to Zedekiah, “The LORD, the God of Hosts, the God of Israel, says: ‘If you will go out to the king of Babylon’s princes, then your soul will live, and this city will not be burned with fire. You will live, along with your house.


VERSE 18. But if you will not go out to the king of Babylon’s princes, then this city will be given into the hand of the Kasdim, and they will burn it with fire, and you won’t escape out of their hand.’ ”

But if you will not. This is a great summary of the ministry of Jeremiah. The king asks a question. And Jeremiah replies with the TRUTH, no matter how unwanted it would be.


VERSE 19. Zedekiah the king said to Jeremiah, “I am afraid of the Jews who have defected to the Kasdim, lest they deliver me into their hand, and they mock me.”


VERSE 20. But Jeremiah said, “They won’t deliver you. Obey, I beg you, the LORD’s voice, in that which I speak to you; so it will be well with you, and your soul will live.


VERSE 21. But if you refuse to go out, this is the word that the LORD has shown me:


VERSE 22. ‘Behold, all the women who are left in the king of Judah’s house will be brought out to the king of Babylon’s princes, and those women will say, “Your familiar friends have turned on you, and have prevailed over you. Your feet are sunk in the mire, they have turned away from you.”


VERSE 23. They will bring out all your wives and your children to the Kasdim. You won’t escape out of their hand, but will be taken by the hand of the king of Babylon. You will cause this city to be burned with fire.’ ”


VERSE 24. Then Zedekiah said to Jeremiah, “Let no man know of these words, and you won’t die.

NAB translation. Let no one know about this conversation, or you will die.

or you will die. King Zedekiah threatens to kill Jeremiah.


VERSE 25. But if the princes hear that I have talked with you, and they come to you, and tell you, ‘Declare to us now what you have said to the king; don’t hide it from us, and we will not put you to death; also tell us what the king said to you;’


VERSE 26. then you shall tell them, ‘I presented my supplication before the king, that he would not cause me to return to Jonathan’s house, to die there.’ ”


VERSE 27. Then all the princes came to Jeremiah, and asked him; and he told them according to all these words that the king had commanded. So they stopped speaking with him; for the matter was not perceived.

he told them … the king had commanded. Jeremiah keeps secret the conversation he had with the king. Even though the king did not heed Jeremiah’s counsel, Jeremiah protected the king’s secrecy and good name.

To keep that secret, he probably needed to say something that was not quite true.

If you are exercising a Christian ministry, people will share with you their deepest secrets. Like the prophet Jeremiah, we are obliged to protect their secrecy. Sometimes that might mean what concealing what it was that they said to us. At other times, it might mean concealing that they ever even met us at all.


VERSE 28. So Jeremiah stayed in the court of the guard until the day that Jerusalem was taken.


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Unless otherwise noted, all Bible quotations on this page are from the World English Bible and the World Messianic Edition. These translations have no copyright restrictions. They are in the Public Domain.


Author: todd

At Explore the Faith, I share insights into the Bible and theological writings. If you like what I write, become my partner by donating. Help me reach the world for the Lord Jesus Christ.