GOD’S WORD Translation
Jeremiah Is Thrown into a Muddy Cistern
38 Shephatiah (son of Mattan), Gedaliah (son of Pashhur), Jucal (son of Shelemiah), and Pashhur (son of Malchiah) heard that Jeremiah was speaking to all the people. 2 They heard Jeremiah say, “This is what the Lord says: Those who stay in this city will die in wars, famines, or plagues. But those who surrender to the Babylonians will live. They will escape with their lives.
3 “This is what the Lord says: This city will certainly be handed over to the army of the king of Babylon, and it will capture the city.”
4 Then the officials said to the king, “Have this man put to death. He discourages the soldiers who are left in this city and all the people by telling them such things. This man is not trying to help these people; he’s trying to hurt them.”
5 King Zedekiah answered, “He’s in your hands. I won’t do anything to stop you.”
6 So they took Jeremiah and threw him into the cistern of Malchiah, the king’s son. It was in the courtyard of the prison. They used ropes to lower Jeremiah into the cistern. There was no water in the cistern, only mud, and Jeremiah sank in the mud.
7 But an official in the royal palace, Ebed Melech from Sudan, heard that they had put Jeremiah in the cistern. The king happened to be sitting at Benjamin Gate. 8 Ebed Melech left the royal palace and spoke to the king at Benjamin Gate. 9 “Your Majesty, everything that these men have done to the prophet Jeremiah is wrong. They have thrown him into the cistern, where he’ll starve to death, because there’s no more bread in the city.”
10 Then the king gave Ebed Melech from Sudan this command: “Take 30 men from here, and lift the prophet Jeremiah out of the cistern before he dies.”
11 So Ebed Melech took the men with him and went to the royal palace, to a room under the treasury. He took rags and torn clothes from there and lowered them with ropes to Jeremiah in the cistern. 12 Ebed Melech from Sudan said to Jeremiah, “Put these rags and torn clothes under your arms to protect you from the ropes.” Jeremiah did. 13 They used the ropes to pull Jeremiah up and lift him out of the cistern. Then Jeremiah stayed in the courtyard of the prison.
14 King Zedekiah sent for the prophet Jeremiah and brought him to the third entrance in the Lord’s temple. “I’m going to ask you a question,” the king said to Jeremiah. “Don’t hide anything from me.”
15 Jeremiah answered Zedekiah, “If I answer you, you’ll kill me. If I give you advice, you won’t listen to me.”
16 So King Zedekiah secretly swore an oath to Jeremiah, “The Lord gave us life. As the Lord lives, I will not kill you or hand you over to these men who want to kill you.”
17 Jeremiah said to Zedekiah, “This is what the Lord God of Armies, the God of Israel, says: If you surrender to the officers of the king of Babylon, you will live, and this city will not be burned. You and your household will live. 18 But if you don’t surrender to the officers of the king of Babylon, this city will be handed over to the Babylonians. They will burn it down, and you will not escape from them.”
19 King Zedekiah answered Jeremiah, “I’m afraid of the Jews who have deserted to the Babylonians. The Babylonians may hand me over to them, and they will torture me.”
20 Jeremiah said, “You will not be handed over to them. Obey the Lord by doing what I’m telling you. Then everything will go well for you, and you will live. 21 But if you refuse to surrender, this is what the Lord has shown me. 22 All the women who are left in the palace of Judah’s king will be brought out to the officers of the king of Babylon. These women will say:
‘Your trusted friends have misled you and used you.
Your feet are stuck in the mud, and your friends have deserted you.’
23 “All your wives and children will be brought to the Babylonians. You will not escape from them. You will be captured by the king of Babylon, and this city will be burned down.”
Jeremiah and Zedekiah Make an Agreement
24 Zedekiah said to Jeremiah, “Don’t let anyone know about this conversation, or you will die. 25 The officials may find out that I’ve been talking with you. They may come to you and say, ‘Tell us what you said to the king and what the king said to you. Don’t hide anything from us, or we’ll kill you.’ 26 If they come to you, say to them, ‘I asked the king not to send me back to Jonathan’s house to die there.’”
27 All the officials came to Jeremiah and questioned him. He told them exactly what the king had told him to say. So they stopped questioning him, because they hadn’t heard his conversation with the king. 28 Jeremiah stayed in the courtyard of the prison until the day Jerusalem was captured.