Words in italic type have been added for clarity. They are not found in the original Hebrew or Aramaic.
Jeremiah in the Dungeon
Jeremiah 38:1 Now Shephatiah the son of Mattan, Gedaliah the son of Pashhur, Jucal (Jehucal, Jer. 37:3) the son of Shelemiah, and Pashhur the son of Malchiah heard the words that Jeremiah had spoken to all the people, saying,
- See verse 28 for the seal of Gedaliah the son of Pashhur
Jeremiah 38:2 “Thus says the Lord (Yᵊhōvâ): ‘He who remains in this city shall die by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence; but he who goes over to the Chaldeans shall live; his life shall be as a prize to him, and he shall live.’
Jeremiah 38:3 Thus says the Lord (Yᵊhōvâ): ‘This city shall surely be given into the hand of the king of Babylon’s army, which shall take it.’ ”
Jeremiah 38:4 Therefore the princes said to the king, “Please, let this man be put to death, for thus he weakens the hands (Well-being; lit. peace) of the men of war who remain in this city, and the hands of all the people, by speaking such words to them. For this man does not seek the welfare (Is discouraging) of this people, but their harm.”
Jeremiah 38:5 Then Zedekiah the king said, “Look, he is in your hand. For the king can do nothing against you.”
Jeremiah 38:6 So they took Jeremiah and cast him into the dungeon of Malchiah the king’s son (Or son of Hammelech), which was in the court of the prison, and they let Jeremiah down with ropes. And in the dungeon there was no water, but mire. So Jeremiah sank in the mire.
- Literally mire has to do with calamity.
- Isa 57:20 But the wicked are like the troubled sea, When it cannot rest, Whose waters (of people) cast up mire and dirt.
Jeremiah 38:7 Now Ebed-Melech the Ethiopian, one of the eunuchs (Or officers), who was in the king’s house, heard that they had put Jeremiah in the dungeon. When the king was sitting at the Gate of Benjamin,
Jeremiah 38:8 Ebed-Melech went out of the king’s house and spoke to the king, saying:
Jeremiah 38:9 “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 from hunger in the place where he is. For there is no more bread in the city.”
Jeremiah 38:10 Then the king commanded Ebed-Melech the Ethiopian, saying, “Take from here thirty men with you, and lift Jeremiah the prophet out of the dungeon before he dies.”
Jeremiah 38:11 So Ebed-Melech took the men with him and went into the house of the king under the treasury, and took from there old clothes and old rags, and let them down by ropes into the dungeon to Jeremiah.
Jeremiah 38:12 Then Ebed-Melech the Ethiopian said to Jeremiah, “Please put these old clothes and rags under your armpits, under the ropes.” And Jeremiah did so.
Jeremiah 38:13 So they pulled Jeremiah up with ropes and lifted him out of the dungeon. And Jeremiah remained in the court of the prison.
Zedekiah’s Fears and Jeremiah’s Advice
Jeremiah 38:14 Then Zedekiah the king sent and had Jeremiah the prophet brought to him at the third entrance of the house of the Lord (Yᵊhōvâ). And the king said to Jeremiah, “I will ask you something. Hide nothing from me.”
Jeremiah 38:15 Jeremiah said to Zedekiah, “If I declare it to you, will you not surely put me to death? And if I give you advice, you will not listen to me.”
Jeremiah 38:16 So Zedekiah the king swore secretly to Jeremiah, saying, “As the Lord (Yᵊhōvâ) lives, who made our very souls, I will not put you to death, nor will I give you into the hand of these men who seek your life.”
- Zedekiah was the anointed King of Judah. Like Jesus, he was pressured by the Elders, priests, and leaders of the Jews to disobey God. Unlike Jesus, he capitulated to their pressure and to his own fear that Nebuchadnezzar would kill him.
Jeremiah 38:17 Then Jeremiah said to Zedekiah, “Thus says the Lord (Yᵊhōvâ), the God of hosts (‘ĕlōhîm ṣāḇā’), the God (‘ĕlōhîm) of Israel: ‘If you surely surrender (Lit. go out) to the king of Babylon’s princes, then your soul shall live; this city shall not be burned with fire, and you and your house shall live.
Jeremiah 38:18 But if you do not surrender (Lit. go out) to the king of Babylon’s princes, then this city shall be given into the hand of the Chaldeans; they shall burn it with fire, and you shall not escape from their hand.’ ”
Jeremiah 38:19 And Zedekiah the king said to Jeremiah, “I am afraid of the Jews who have defected to the Chaldeans, lest they deliver me into their hand, and they abuse me.”
Jeremiah 38:20 But Jeremiah said, “They shall not deliver you. Please, obey the voice of the Lord (Yᵊhōvâ) which I speak to you. So it shall be well with you, and your soul shall live.
Jeremiah 38:21 But if you refuse to surrender (Lit. go out), this is the word that the Lord (Yᵊhōvâ) has shown me:
Jeremiah 38:22 ‘Now behold, all the women who are left in the king of Judah’s house shall be surrendered to the king of Babylon’s princes, and those women shall say:
“Your close friends have set upon (Or misled) you
And prevailed against you;
Your feet have sunk in the mire,
And they have turned away (Deserted you) again.”
Jeremiah 38:23 ‘So they shall surrender all your wives and children to the Chaldeans. You shall not escape from 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.’ ”
Jeremiah 38:24 Then Zedekiah said to Jeremiah, “Let no one know of these words, and you shall not die.
Jeremiah 38:25 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, and also what the king said to you; do not hide it from us, and we will not put you to death,’
Jeremiah 38:26 then you shall say to them, ‘I presented my request before the king, that he would not make me return to Jonathan’s house to die there.’ ”
Jeremiah 38:27 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 stopped speaking with him, for the conversation had not been heard.
Jeremiah 38:28 Now Jeremiah remained in the court of the prison until the day that Jerusalem was taken. And he was there when Jerusalem was taken.
- Archeological Evidence
By Jay Bushinksy THE WASHINGTON TIMES
- It is the most remarkable find since excavations in the heart of this 3,000-year-old capital of ancient Israel began 140 years ago: a tiny clay seal impression also known as a bulla or stamp, discovered near the ruins of what has been identified as King David’s palace and bearing the name of an influential courtier mentioned in the Hebrew Bible.
“It is not very often that archaeologists have surprises that bring them so close to the reality of the biblical text,” said Eilat Mazar, whose pinpoint dig in a relatively small site this summer led her to a clay bulla whose ancient Hebrew script identifies its owner as Gedalyahu ben Pashhur.
Speaking to an enthusiastic audience of 1,500 Israelis who converged on the Palestinian-Arab Silwan quarter, known as Kfar Hashiloah, or Siloam in the Bible, Mrs. Mazar said, “One could not have asked anything more than this.”
Ben Pashhur’s name is cited in the Book of Jeremiah 38:1 together with that of Yehuchal ben Shelemayahu, whose bulla was discovered at the same site two years ago.
Jeremiah 38:1 “Now Shephatiah the son of Mattan, Gedaliah the son of Pashhur, Jucal the son of Shelemiah, and Pashhur the son of Malchiah heard the words that Jeremiah had spoken to all the people…”
The two were ministers in the court of King Zedekiah, the last king from the Davidic dynasty to reign in Jerusalem. His reign, from 597 to 586 B.C., ended with the Babylonians’ destruction of the First Temple on nearby Mount Moriah.
Because both bullae were perfectly intact and their inscriptions easily legible by anyone familiar with the ancient Hebrew script, Gabriel Barkay, one of Mrs. Mazar’s veteran colleagues, surmised they were attached to documents that were burned, possibly during the Babylonian siege, but that they survived because they were made of clay.”They were baked and thereby preserved in mud and silt, which could be dissolved in water,” he said. The two bullae resemble each other except for the names they bear.
Mrs. Mazar said the two courtiers opposed the prophet Jeremiah’s pleas to Zedekiah that Judea surrender to the Babylonians.
“They wanted him executed,” she said, “but the king refused.” Jeremiah was imprisoned twice and confined to a pit. Ultimately, they asked him to pray for the kingdom.
It is the first time in the annals of Israeli archaeology that two 2,600-year-old clay bullae with two biblical names that appear in the same biblical verse have been unearthed in the same location, she said.
The first one was discovered two years ago above the ruins of King David’s palace, which Mrs. Mazar uncovered during an earlier phase of her work at the City of David.
Mrs. Mazar’s latest find occurred in what are thought to be the remains of a tower that was part of the city wall dating back to the 50th century B.C. days of Nehemiah, the governor of Judea appointed by the Persians after they defeated the Babylonians in 538 B.C., when they allowed the Jewish exiles to return from Babylon.
Excavations at the City of David, a hillside site just outside the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem’s Dung Gate, were resumed in 1978 under the direction of Yigal Shiloh, a pioneer archaeologist who found 50 similar seal impressions at the site.
“In Jerusalem, you don’t look for anything you may want,” said Mr. Barkay. You just find whatever you find.”
See also Jeremiah 20, Jeremiah 36