Jeremiah Is Thrown into a Well
38 Shephatiah son of Mattan, Gedaliah son of Pashhur, Jehucal son of Shelemiah, and Pashhur son of Malkijah heard what Jeremiah was telling all the people. He said: 2 “This is what the Lord says: ‘Everyone who stays in Jerusalem will die from war, or hunger, or terrible diseases. But everyone who surrenders to the Babylonian army will live; they will escape with their lives and live.’ 3 And this is what the Lord says: ‘This city of Jerusalem will surely be handed over to the army of the king of Babylon. He will capture this city!’”
4 Then the officers said to the king, “Jeremiah must be put to death! He is discouraging the soldiers who are still in the city, and all the people, by what he is saying to them. He does not want good to happen to us; he wants to ruin us.”
5 King Zedekiah said to them, “Jeremiah is in your control. I cannot do anything to stop you.”
6 So the officers took Jeremiah and put him into the well of Malkijah, the king’s son, which was in the courtyard of the guards. The officers used ropes to lower Jeremiah into the well, which did not have any water in it, only mud. And Jeremiah sank down into the mud.
7 But Ebed-Melech, a Cushite and a servant in the palace, heard that the officers had put Jeremiah into the well. As King Zedekiah was sitting at the Benjamin Gate, 8 Ebed-Melech left the palace and went to the king. Ebed-Melech said to him, 9 “My master and king, these rulers have acted in an evil way. They have treated Jeremiah the prophet badly. They have thrown him into a well and left him there to die! When there is no more bread in the city, he will starve to death.”
10 Then King Zedekiah commanded Ebed-Melech the Cushite, “Take thirty men from the palace and lift Jeremiah the prophet out of the well before he dies.”
11 So Ebed-Melech took the men with him and went to a room under the storeroom in the palace. He took some old rags and worn-out clothes from that room. Then he let those rags down with some ropes to Jeremiah in the well. 12 Ebed-Melech the Cushite said to Jeremiah, “Put these old rags and worn-out clothes under your arms to be pads for the ropes.” So Jeremiah did as Ebed-Melech said. 13 The men pulled Jeremiah up with the ropes and lifted him out of the well. And Jeremiah stayed under guard in the courtyard of the guard.
Zedekiah Questions Jeremiah
14 Then King Zedekiah sent someone to get Jeremiah the prophet and bring him to the third entrance to the Temple of the Lord. The king said to Jeremiah, “I am going to ask you something. Do not hide anything from me, but tell me everything honestly.”
15 Jeremiah said to Zedekiah, “If I give you an answer, you will surely kill me. And even if I give you advice, you will not listen to me.”
16 But King Zedekiah made a secret promise to Jeremiah, “As surely as the Lord lives who has given us breath and life, I will not kill you. And I promise not to hand you over to the officers who want to kill you.”
17 Then Jeremiah said to Zedekiah, “This is what the Lord God All-Powerful, the God of Israel, says: ‘If you surrender to the officers of the king of Babylon, your life will be saved. Jerusalem will not be burned down, and you and your family will live. 18 But if you refuse to surrender to the officers of the king of Babylon, Jerusalem will be handed over to the Babylonian army, and they will burn it down. And you yourself will not escape from them.’”
19 Then King Zedekiah said to Jeremiah, “I’m afraid of some Jews who have already gone over to the side of the Babylonian army. If the Babylonians hand me over to them, they will treat me badly.”
20 But Jeremiah answered, “The Babylonians will not hand you over to the Jews. Obey the Lord by doing what I tell you. Then things will go well for you, and your life will be saved. 21 But if you refuse to surrender to the Babylonians, the Lord has shown me what will happen. 22 All the women left in the palace of the king of Judah will be brought out and taken to the important officers of the king of Babylon. Your women will make fun of you with this song:
‘Your good friends misled you
and were stronger than you.
While your feet were stuck in the mud,
they left you.’
23 “All your wives and children will be brought out and given to the Babylonian army. You yourself will not even escape from them. You will be taken prisoner by the king of Babylon, and Jerusalem will be burned down.”
24 Then Zedekiah said to Jeremiah, “Do not tell anyone that I have been talking to you, or you will die. 25 If the officers find out I talked to you, they will come to you and say, ‘Tell us what you said to King Zedekiah and what he said to you. Don’t keep any secrets from us. If you don’t tell us everything, we will kill you.’ 26 If they ask you, tell them, ‘I was begging the king not to send me back to Jonathan’s house to die.’”
27 All the officers did come to question Jeremiah. So he told them everything the king had ordered him to say. Then the officers said no more to Jeremiah, because no one had heard what Jeremiah and the king had discussed.
28 So Jeremiah stayed under guard in the courtyard of the guard until the day Jerusalem was captured.