וַיִּשְׁמַע שְׁפַטְיָה בֶן־מַתָּן וּגְדַלְיָהוּ בֶּן־פַּשְׁחוּר וְיוּכַל בֶּן־שֶׁלֶמְיָהוּ וּפַשְׁחוּר בֶּן־מַלְכִּיָּה אֶת־הַדְּבָרִים 38:1 אֲשֶׁר יִרְמְיָהוּ מְדַבֵּר אֶל־כָּל־הָעָם לֵאמֹר׃
Jere. 38:1 And Shephatiah son of Mattan heard, with Gedaliah son of Pashhur and Jucal son of Shelemiah and Pashhur son of Malchiah, the words that Jeremiah was speaking to all the people saying,
כֹּה אָמַר יְהוָה הַיֹּשֵׁב בָּעִיר הַזֹּאת יָמוּת בַּחֶרֶב בָּרָעָב וּבַדָּבֶר וְהַיֹּצֵא אֶל־הַכַּשְׂדִּים יִחְיֶה 38:2 וְחָיָה וְהָיְתָה־לֹּו נַפְשֹׁו לְשָׁלָל וָחָי׃
Jere. 38:2 “Thus says the Lord: ‘Whoever remains in this city shall die by the sword, by famine, or by the pestilence, but whoever goes out to the Chaldeans shall live; his soul shall yet be for a spoil to him that he shall live.’”
We will learn below that the events of this chapter probably happened just before the fall of Jerusalem.
כֹּה אָמַר יְהוָה הִנָּתֹן תִּנָּתֵן הָעִיר הַזֹּאת בְּיַד חֵיל מֶלֶךְ־בָּבֶל וּלְכָדָהּ׃ 38:3
Jere. 38:3 “Thus says the Lord: ‘Surely this city shall be given into the hand of the army of the king of Babylon and he shall take it.’”
וַיֹּאמְרוּ הַשָּׂרִים אֶל־הַמֶּלֶךְ יוּמַת נָא אֶת־הָאִישׁ הַזֶּה כִּי־עַל־כֵּן הוּא־מְרַפֵּא אֶת־יְדֵי אַנְשֵׁי הַמִּלְחָמָה 38:4 הַנִּשְׁאָרִים בָּעִיר הַזֹּאת וְאֵת יְדֵי כָל־הָעָם לְדַבֵּר אֲלֵיהֶם כַּדְּבָרִים הָאֵלֶּה כִּי הָאִישׁ הַזֶּה אֵינֶנּוּ דֹרֵש ׁ לְשָׁלֹום לָעָם הַזֶּה כִּי אִם־לְרָעָה׃
Jere. 38:4 Then the princes said to the king, “Let this man be put to death now, for the reason that he is weakening the hands of the men of war remaining in this city, and the hands of all the people, by speaking to them such words as these, for this man, he is not looking out for this people’s welfare, but instead, for evil.”
וַיֹּאמֶר הַמֶּלֶךְ צִדְקִיָּהוּ הִנֵּה־הוּא בְּיֶדְכֶם כִּי־אֵין הַמֶּלֶךְ יוּכַל אֶתְכֶם דָּבָר׃ 38:5
Jere. 38:5 And the king, Zedekiah, said, “Behold, he is in your hand, for there is nothing the king can accomplish with you.”
What could be the meaning of the king’s statement? Is he admitting a lack of control over his princes, or is he expressing disdain for his unruly courtesans? We will see later that he may have been pretty ineffectual in the face of his belligerent servants. But see v. 38:26 below for another possibility.
וַיִּקְחוּ אֶת־יִרְמְיָהוּ וַיַּשְׁלִכוּ אֹתֹו אֶל־הַבֹּור מַלְכִּיָּהוּ בֶן־הַמֶּלֶךְ אֲשֶׁר בַּחֲצַר הַמַּטָּרָה וַיְשַׁלְּחו 38:6 אֶת־יִרְמְיָהוּ בַּחֲבָלִים וּבַבֹּור אֵין־מַיִם כִּי אִם־טִיט וַיִּטְבַּע יִרְמְיָהוּ בַּטִּיט׃
Jere. 38:6 So they took Jeremiah and cast him into the pit of Malchiah, the son of the king, that was in the enclosure of the guard, and let Jeremiah down with ropes. And in the pit there was no water, but only mud, and Jeremiah sank into the mud.
וַיִּשְׁמַע עֶבֶד־מֶלֶךְ הַכּוּשִׁי אִישׁ סָרִיס וְהוּא בְּבֵית הַמֶּלֶךְ כִּי־נָתְנוּ אֶת־יִרְמְיָהוּ אֶל־הַבֹּור וְהַמֶּלֶךְ 38:7 יֹושֵׁב בְּשַׁעַר בִּנְיָמִן׃
Jere. 38:7 Now Ebed-Melech, the Ethiopian, an official, heard when he was in the house of the king, that they had put Jeremiah into the pit, and the king was sitting by the gate of Benjamin,
וַיֵּצֵא עֶבֶד־מֶלֶךְ מִבֵּית הַמֶּלֶךְ וַיְדַבֵּר אֶל־הַמֶּלֶךְ לֵאמֹר׃ 38:8
Jere. 38:8 and Ebed-Melech went forth from the house of the king and spoke to the king saying,
אֲדֹנִי הַמֶּלֶךְ הֵרֵעוּ הָאֲנָשִׁים הָאֵלֶּה אֵת כָּל־אֲשֶׁר עָשׂוּ לְיִרְמְיָהוּ הַנָּבִיא אֵת אֲשֶׁר־הִשְׁלִיכוּ 38:9 וַיָּמָת תַּחְתָּיו מִפְּנֵי הָרָעָב כִּי אֵין הַלֶּחֶם עֹוד בָּעִיר׃
Jere. 38:9 “My lord, the king, have these men done evil, with all that they did to Jeremiah, the prophet, whom they cast into the pit? Then he could die in his place because of the famine, for there is no more of the bread in the city.”
וַיְצַוֶּה הַמֶּלֶךְ אֵת עֶבֶד־מֶלֶךְ הַכּוּשִׁי לֵאמֹר קַח בְּיָדְךָ מִזֶּה שְׁלֹשִׁים אֲנָשִׁים וְהַעֲלִיתָ אֶת־יִרְמְיָהוּ 38:10 הַנָּבִיא מִן־הַבֹּור בְּטֶרֶם יָמוּת׃
Jere. 38:10 Then the king commanded Ebed-Melech, the Ethiopian, saying, “Take thirty men into your hand from here and raise up Jeremiah, the prophet, from the pit before he would die.”
וַיִּקַּח עֶבֶד־מֶלֶךְ אֶת־הָאֲנָשִׁים בְּיָדֹו וַיָּבֹא בֵית־הַמֶּלֶךְ אֶל־תַּחַת הָאֹוצָר וַיִּקַּח מִשָּׁם בְּלֹויֵ 38:11 הַסְּחָבֹות) [סְחָבֹות] וּבְלֹויֵ מְלָחִים וַיְשַׁלְּחֵם אֶל־יִרְמְיָהוּ אֶל־הַבֹּור בַּחֲבָלִים׃
Jere. 38:11 So Ebed-Melech took the men in his hand and entered the house of the king, into the under part of the treasury, and took worn things of clouts and worn things of rags, from there and let them down to Jeremiah into the pit with ropes.
The word before the left parenthesis in the second Hebrew line should not have a heh prefix. The corrected word appears in the brackets without it. Again, please forgive the missing right parenthesis at the beginning of that line.
וַיֹּאמֶר עֶבֶד־מֶלֶךְ הַכּוּשִׁי אֶל־יִרְמְיָהוּ שִׂים נָא בְּלֹואֵי הַסְּחָבֹות וְהַמְּלָחִים תַּחַת אַצִּלֹות יָדֶיךָ 38:12
מִתַּחַת לַחֲבָלִים וַיַּעַשׂ יִרְמְיָהוּ כֵּן׃
Jere. 38:12 And Ebed-Melech, the Ethiopian, said to Jeremiah, “Put now the worn things of clouts and of rags from the bottom to the ropes under the joints of your wrists.” And Jeremiah did so.
וַיִּמְשְׁכוּ אֶת־יִרְמְיָהוּ בַּחֲבָלִים וַיַּעֲלוּ אֹתֹו מִן־הַבֹּור וַיֵּשֶׁב יִרְמְיָהוּ בַּחֲצַר הַמַּטָּרָה 38:13
Jere. 38:13 Then they drew up Jeremiah with the ropes and brought him up from the pit. And Jeremiah remained in the enclosure of the guard.
Fascinating! Once more a stranger has come to the rescue, saving a Jew, a prophet at that, from a pitiful end. By the way, the name Ebed-melech means servant [or slave] of the king.
וַיִּשְׁלַח הַמֶּלֶךְ צִדְקִיָּהוּ וַיִּקַּח אֶת־יִרְמְיָהוּ הַנָּבִיא אֵלָיו אֶל־מָבֹוא הַשְּׁלִישִׁי אֲשֶׁר בְּבֵית יְהוָה וַיֹּאמֶר 38:14 הַמֶּלֶךְ אֶל־יִרְמְיָהוּ שֹׁאֵל אֲנִי אֹתְךָ דָּבָר אַל־תְּכַחֵד מִמֶּנִּי דָּבָר׃
Jere. 38:14 Now the king, Zedekiah, sent and took Jeremiah, the prophet, to him to the third entrance that was in the house of the Lord, and the king said to Jeremiah, “I am asking you something; do not hold back a word from me.”
וַיֹּאמֶר יִרְמְיָהוּ אֶל־צִדְקִיָּהוּ כִּי אַגִּיד לְךָ הֲלֹוא הָמֵת תְּמִיתֵנִי וְכִי אִיעָצְךָ לֹא תִשְׁמַע אֵלָי׃ 38:15
Jere. 38:15 And Jeremiah said to Zedekiah, “When I announce to you, will you not surely put me to death? Yet if I give you counsel, you will not listen to me.”
וַיִּשָּׁבַע הַמֶּלֶךְ צִדְקִיָּהוּ אֶל־יִרְמְיָהוּ בַּסֵּתֶר לֵאמֹר חַי־יְהוָה (את) [ ] אֲשֶׁר עָשָׂה־לָנוּ 38:16 אֶת־הַנֶּפֶשׁ הַזֹּאת אִם־אֲמִיתֶךָ וְאִם־אֶתֶּנְךָ בְּיַד הָאֲנָשִׁים הָאֵלֶּה אֲשֶׁר מְבַקְשִׁים אֶת־נַפְשֶׁךָ׃
Jere. 38:16 Then the king, Zedekiah, secretly swore to Jeremiah saying, “As the Lord lives, Who made this soul for us, I will not put you to death and I will not give you into the hand of these men who are seeking your life.”
The error in the parentheses is rather strange and unusual. The word does not belong there. In the brackets, there’s only a blank space to signify that there should be no word in that position. [Return to Jere. 39:12]
וַיֹּאמֶר יִרְמְיָהוּ אֶל־צִדְקִיָּהוּ כֹּה־אָמַר יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵי צְבָאֹות אֱלֹהֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל אִם־יָצֹא תֵצֵא אֶל־שָׂרֵי 38:17 מֶלֶךְ־בָּבֶל וְחָיְתָה נַפְשֶׁךָ וְהָעִיר הַזֹּאת לֹא תִשָּׂרֵף בָּאֵשׁ וְחָיִתָה אַתָּה וּבֵיתֶךָ׃
Jere. 38:17 So Jeremiah said to Zedekiah, “Thus says the Lord, God of hosts, God of Israel: ‘If you indeed go forth to the princes of the king of Babylon, then your soul shall live, and this city will not be burned with fire, and you and your house will live.’
וְאִם לֹא־תֵצֵא אֶל־שָׂרֵי מֶלֶךְ בָּבֶל וְנִתְּנָה הָעִיר הַזֹּאת בְּיַד הַכַּשְׂדִּים וּשְׂרָפוּהָ בָּאֵשׁ וְאַתָּה 38:18 לֹא־תִמָּלֵט מִיָּדָם׃
Jere. 38:18 ‘But if you will not go forth to the princes of the king of Babylon, then this city shall be given into the hand of the Chaldeans and they will burn it with fire, and you will not escape from their hand.’”
וַיֹּאמֶר הַמֶּלֶךְ צִדְקִיָּהוּ אֶל־יִרְמְיָהוּ אֲנִי דֹאֵג אֶת־הַיְּהוּדִים אֲשֶׁר נָפְלוּ אֶל־הַכַּשְׂדִּים פֶּן־יִתְּנוּ אֹתִי 38:19 בְּיָדָם וְהִתְעַלְּלוּ־בִי׃
Jere. 38:19 Then the king, Zedekiah, said to Jeremiah, “I fear the Jews who have given up to the Chaldeans lest they deliver me into their hand, and they deal ruthlessly with me.”
וַיֹּאמֶר יִרְמְיָהוּ לֹא יִתֵּנוּ שְׁמַע־נָא בְּקֹול יְהוָה לַאֲשֶׁר אֲנִי דֹּבֵר אֵלֶיךָ וְיִיטַב לְךָ וּתְחִי נַפְשֶׁךָ׃ 38:20
Jere. 38:20 But Jeremiah said, “They will not deliver. I beg you, listen to the voice of the Lord, to what I am speaking to you; then it will be good for you, and your soul will live.”
וְאִם־מָאֵן אַתָּה לָצֵאת זֶה הַדָּבָר אֲשֶׁר הִרְאַנִי יְהוָה׃ 38:21
Jere. 38:21 “But if you refuse to go forth, this is the word that the Lord has shown me:
וְהִנֵּה כָל־הַנָּשִׁים אֲשֶׁר נִשְׁאֲרוּ בְּבֵית מֶלֶךְ־יְהוּדָה מוּצָאֹות אֶל־שָׂרֵי מֶלֶךְ בָּבֶל וְהֵנָּה אֹמְרֹות 38:22 הִסִּיתוּךָ וְיָכְלוּ לְךָ אַנְשֵׁי שְׁלֹמֶךָ הָטְבְּעוּ בַבֹּץ רַגְלֶךָ נָסֹגוּ אָחֹור׃
Jere. 38:22 ‘Now behold, all the women who remain in the house of the king of Judah will be brought out to the princes of the king of Babylon, and they will be saying,
‘Your peaceful men have lured you
and must have prevailed over you;
your feet are sunk in mud;
they are twisted back.’”
וְאֶת־כָּל־נָשֶׁיךָ וְאֶת־בָּנֶיךָ מֹוצִאִים אֶל־הַכַּשְׂדִּים וְאַתָּה לֹא־תִמָּלֵט מִיָּדָם כִּי בְיַד מֶלֶךְ־בָּבֶל 38:23 תִּתָּפֵשׂ וְאֶת־הָעִיר הַזֹּאת תִּשְׂרֹף בָּאֵשׁ׃
Jere. 38:23 “And they will be bringing all your wives and your children out to the Chaldeans, and you will not escape from their hand, but you will be taken into the hand of the king of Babylon, and you will cause this city to be burned with fire.”
וַיֹּאמֶר צִדְקִיָּהוּ אֶל־יִרְמְיָהוּ אִישׁ אַל־יֵדַע בַּדְּבָרִים־הָאֵלֶּה וְלֹא תָמוּת׃ 38:24
Jere. 38:24 Then Zedekiah said to Jeremiah, “Let no one know about these words and you will not die.”
וְכִי־יִשְׁמְעוּ הַשָּׂרִים כִּי־דִבַּרְתִּי אִתָּךְ וּבָאוּ אֵלֶיךָ וְאָמְרוּ אֵלֶיכָ הַגִּידָה־נָּא לָנוּ מַה־דִּבַּרְת 38:25 אֶל־הַמֶּלֶךְ אַל־תְּכַחֵד מִמֶּנּוּ וְלֹא נְמִיתֶךָ וּמַה־דִּבֶּר אֵלֶיךָ הַמֶּלֶךְ׃
Jere. 38:25 “But if the princes hear that I talked with you and they come to you and say to you, ‘Relate now to us what you spoke to the king -- do not hide from us and we will not put you to death -- and what the king told to you,’
וְאָמַרְתָּ אֲלֵיהֶם מַפִּיל־אֲנִי תְחִנָּתִי לִפְנֵי הַמֶּלֶךְ לְבִלְתִּי הֲשִׁיבֵנִי בֵּית יְהֹונָתָן לָמוּת שָׁם׃ 38:26
Jere. 38:26 then you must say to them, ‘I was offering my supplication before the king that he would not make me return to the house of Jonathan to die there.’”
From this verse and the previous two, should we conclude that Zedekiah was afraid of his princes? He certainly was not interested in their learning what he and Jeremiah had spoken about. However, I must admit that there is one other interpretation that could be justified: Perhaps Zedekiah was expressing fear for Jeremiah’s safety, not his own.
וַיָּבֹאוּ כָל־הַשָּׂרִים אֶל־יִרְמְיָהוּ וַיִּשְׁאֲלוּ אֹתֹו וַיַּגֵּד לָהֶם כְּכָל־הַדְּבָרִים הָאֵלֶּה אֲשֶׁר צִוָּה הַמֶּלֶךְ 38:27 וַיַּחֲרִשׁוּ מִמֶּנּוּ כִּי לֹא־נִשְׁמַע הַדָּבָר׃
Jere. 38:27 Now all the princes came to Jeremiah and asked him, and he related to them according to all those words that the king had commanded, and they left silently from him, for the speaking was not heard.
וַיֵּשֶׁב יִרְמְיָהוּ בַּחֲצַר הַמַּטָּרָה עַד־יֹום אֲשֶׁר־נִלְכְּדָה יְרוּשָׁלִָם ס וְהָיָה כַּאֲשֶׁר נִלְכְּדָה יְרוּשָׁלִָם׃ 38:28
Jere. 38:28 So Jeremiah stayed in the enclosure of the guard until the day that Jerusalem was captured. Now it was, as Jerusalem was being captured ...
This verse continues with the first verse of the next chapter.
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