The Word of the Lord to Jeremiah

Chapter 38

Jeremiah, by a false suggestion, is put into the dungeon of Malchiah, 1-6. Ebed-melech, by appeal, gets him some enlargement, 7-13. Upon secret conference, he counsels the king by yielding to save his life, 14-23. By the king's instructions he conceals the conference from the princes, 24-28.

1 Then Shephatiah the son of Mattan, Gedaliah the son of Pashur, Jucal the son of Shelemiah, and Pashur the son of Malchiah heard the words that Jeremiah had spoken to all the people, saying, 2 "Thus says the LORD: 'He who remains in this city shall die by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence, but he who goes forth to the Chaldeans shall live, for he shall have his life for plunder and shall live.' 3 Thus says the LORD: 'This city shall surely be given into the hand of the king of Babylon's army, which shall take it.'" 4 Therefore, the princes said to the king, "We implore you, let this man be put to death, for thus 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 does not seek the welfare of this people, but the hurt." 5 Then Zedekiah the king said, "Behold, he is in your hand, for the king is not he who can do anything against you." 6 Then they took Jeremiah and cast him into the dungeon of Malchiah the son of Hammelech that was in the court of the prison. And they let Jeremiah down with cords. And in the dungeon there was no water, but mire. So Jeremiah sunk in the mire. 7 Now when Ebed-melech the Cushite, one of the eunuchs who was in the king's house, heard that they had put Jeremiah in the dungeon (the king was sitting in the gate of Benjamin), 8 Ebed-melech went out of the king's house and spoke to the king, saying, 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. And he is likely to die by hunger in the place where he is, for there is no more bread in the city." 10 Then the king commanded Ebed-melech the Cushite, saying, "Take from here thirty men with you and take up Jeremiah the prophet out of the dungeon before he dies." 11 So Ebed-melech took the men with him and went into the house of the king under the treasury, took from there old cast cloths and old decayed rags, and let them down by cords into the dungeon to Jeremiah. 12 And Ebed-melech the Cushite said to Jeremiah, "Now put these old cast cloths and decayed rags under your armpits under the cords." And Jeremiah did so. 13 So they drew Jeremiah up with cords and took him out of the dungeon. And Jeremiah remained in the court of the prison.

14 Then Zedekiah the king sent and took Jeremiah the prophet to him into the third entry that is in the house of the LORD. And the king said to Jeremiah, "I will ask you a thing. Hide nothing from me." 15 Then Jeremiah said to Zedekiah, "If I declare it to you, will you not surely put me to death? And if I give you counsel, you will not listen to me." 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."

17 Then Jeremiah said to Zedekiah, "Thus says the LORD, the God of hosts, the God of Israel: 'If you will assuredly go forth to the king of Babylon's princes, then your soul shall live and this city shall not be burned with fire, and you shall live, along with your house. 18 But if you will not go forth to the king of Babylon's princes, then this city shall be given into the hand of the Chaldeans, and they shall burn it with fire, and you shall not escape from their hand.'" 19 And Zedekiah the king said to Jeremiah, "I am afraid of the Jews who have fallen to the Chaldeans, lest they deliver me into their hand and they mock me." 20 But Jeremiah said, "They shall not deliver you. Obey, I implore you, the voice of the LORD, which I speak to you, so it shall be well to you and your soul shall live. 21 But if you refuse to go forth, this is the word that the LORD has revealed to me: 22 'And behold, all the women who are left in the king of Judah's house shall be brought forth to the king of Babylon's princes, and those women shall say,

"Your friends have enticed you/
and have prevailed against you./
Your feet are sunk in the mire,/
and they are turned away back."

23 'So they shall bring out all your wives and your children to the Chaldeans. And you shall not escape out of their hand, but shall be taken by the hand of the king of Babylon, and you shall cause this city to be burned with fire.'"

24 Then Zedekiah said to Jeremiah, "Let no man know of these words, and you shall not die. 25 But if the princes hear that I have talked with you, and they come to you and say to you, 'Declare to us now what you have said to the king, do not hide it from us and we will not put you to death, and also what the king said to you,' 26 Then you shall say to them, 'I presented my supplication before the king, that he would not cause me to return to Jonathan's house to die there.'" 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 left off speaking with him, for the matter was not perceived. 28 So Jeremiah stayed in the court of the prison until the day that Jerusalem was taken, and he was there when Jerusalem was taken.


Matthew Henry Commentary - Jeremiah, Chapter 38[➚]


[v.12] - "arm-holes" - This is referring to the area under the arms (i.e., the arm-pits).