Jeremiah 38

Men put Jeremiah into a large hole where they had stored water.

1 Some men heard the things that Jeremiah was telling all the people. They were Pashhur's son Shephatiah, Shelemiah's son Jehucal and Malchijah's son Pashhur. 2 Jeremiah had told the people that the LORD had said, ‘Any people who stay in this city will die. Soldiers or illness will kill them, or they will not have any food to eat. But those people who join the soldiers from Babylon will not die. They will live. 3 And the LORD says, “I will give this city to the soldiers from Babylon. Their king's army will get power over it.” ’

4 Then the officers spoke to the king. ‘You should kill this man’, they said. ‘He is making the soldiers who remain in the city afraid. And the people are becoming afraid because of the things that he is saying to them. This man does not want to help these people. He wants to destroy them.’

5 ‘You can do what you want to do’, King Zedekiah said. ‘I cannot stop you.’

6 So they took Jeremiah. And they put him in a big hole in the yard where the soldiers were. Malchijah, the king's son had made the hole to store water. They tied a long piece of rope round Jeremiah and they held the end of it. Then they slowly dropped him into the deep hole. There was no water in the hole, but only wet ground. The ground pulled Jeremiah down.

7 Ebed-Melech was an officer in the king's house. He came from the country called Ethiopia. People told him that other people had put Jeremiah into the hole in the yard. 8 He went out of the king's house and he spoke to the king. The king was sitting in the Benjamin gate of the city. 9 ‘My master, the king’, he said. ‘these men have done very bad things to Jeremiah the prophet. They have put him in a deep hole. He will die there when there is no food in the city.’

10 Then the king told Ebed-Melech what he should do. ‘Take 30 men with you’, he said. ‘And lift Jeremiah the prophet out of the hole before he dies.’

11 So Ebed-Melech took the men with him. He went to a room under the king's house and he found some old clothes and some pieces of cloth. He tied them to ropes. And he let them drop down into the hole where Jeremiah was. 12 ‘Put these clothes under your arms’, he said. ‘Then tie the ropes over them so that they will not hurt you.’ Jeremiah did as Ebed-Melech had said. 13 Then they pulled Jeremiah out of the hole. And he stayed in the yard with the soldiers.

Zedekiah asks Jeremiah more questions.

14 Then King Zedekiah sent messengers to bring Jeremiah the prophet to see him. They brought him to the third gate of the LORD's temple. ‘I will ask you something’, the king said to Jeremiah. ‘Do not hide anything from me.’

15 ‘If I give an answer to you, you may kill me’, Jeremiah said to the king. ‘I might tell you the things that you should do. But you would not listen to me.’

16 But King Zedekiah made a secret promise to Jeremiah. ‘I believe that the LORD lives. So I will not kill you. And I will not give you to the men who are trying to kill you.’

17 Then Jeremiah spoke to Zedekiah. ‘The great and powerful LORD, the God of Israel says this: “If you let the officers of the king of Babylon get power over your kingdom, you will not die. And they will not burn down this city. You and your family will live. 18 But you must let those officers get power over your kingdom. If you do not do that, I will cause much trouble for you. I will give this city to the soldiers from Babylon and they will burn it down. And they will make you their prisoner.” ’

19 ‘I am afraid of the Jews who have left to join the king of Babylon’, King Zedekiah said to Jeremiah. ‘Perhaps the soldiers from Babylon will give me to them, and they may hurt me.’

20 ‘They will not give you to those Jews’, Jeremiah replied. ‘Do as I tell you. That is how you can obey the LORD. Then your life will be good and you will not lose it. 21 But if you do not give power over your kingdom to the officers from Babylon, these things will happen: The LORD has shown them to me. 22 Your enemies will bring out all the women in the king of Judah's house. They will give them to the officers of the king of Babylon. Those women will say this to you:

“You have believed the words of your friends. But they have said to you things that are not true.

Your feet are stuck in the ground and your friends have left you alone.”

23 The officers from Babylon will give all your wives and children to the soldiers from Babylon. You yourself will not get away. The king of Babylon will make you his prisoner and his soldiers will burn down this city.’

24 ‘Do not tell anyone what we have talked about’, Zedekiah said to Jeremiah. ‘If you do tell them, you might die. 25 My officers may come. And they may ask you what we talked about. They may want to kill you if you do not tell them. 26 So say, “I was asking the king not to send me back to Jonathan's house where I might die.” ’

27 All the officers did come to Jeremiah to ask about his meeting with the king. And he said everything that the king had told him to say. Nobody had heard what Jeremiah and the king had really said. So the officers did not ask him again.

28 And Jeremiah stayed in the yard where the soldiers were. He stayed there until the day when the soldiers from Babylon got power over Jerusalem.