We will begin this lesson in Jeremiah 38:1 "Then Shephatiah the
son of Mattan, and Gedaliah the son of Pashur, and Jucal the son of
Shelemiah, and Pashur the son of Malchiah, heard the words that
Jeremiah had spoken unto all the people, saying,"

     These were some of the princes. "Had spoken" could be continued
to speak. They did not like what Jeremiah had to say. They did not
even like Zedekiah taking Jeremiah out of the dungeon, and giving him
an opportunity to speak.

     Jeremiah 38:2 "Thus saith the LORD, He that remaineth in this
city shall die by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence: but
he that goeth forth to the Chaldeans shall live; for he shall have his
life for a prey, and shall live."

     They did not like this message from God that Jeremiah was
speaking. They still had an opportunity to save their lives, if they
would voluntarily surrender to the Chaldeans. If they did not
surrender, God would let them die by the sword, famine, and by
pestilence. Jeremiah might be imprisoned, but his message was the

     Jeremiah 38:3 "Thus saith the LORD, This city shall surely be
given into the hand of the king of Babylon's army, which shall take

     The king of Babylon whose army would take the city, was

     Jeremiah 38:4 "Therefore the princes said unto the king, We
beseech thee, let this man be put to death: for thus he weakeneth the
hands of the men of war that remain in this city, and the hands of all
the people, in speaking such words unto them: for this man seeketh not
the welfare of this people, but the hurt."

     The princes marked Jeremiah a traitor, because he told them to
surrender to Babylon. They did not believe him to be a prophet. They
wanted him killed for telling them the truth. They still wanted to
fight for the city, and they believed some who heard him might not be
willing to fight. Some might believe, this message might be from God.

     Jeremiah 38:5 "Then Zedekiah the king said, Behold, he [is] in
your hand: for the king [is] not [he that] can do [any] thing against

     It appears, the princes had begun to take over the reins of
tending the government. Zedekiah said, "you handle this, it is out of
my hands".

     Jeremiah 38:6 "Then took they Jeremiah, and cast him into the
dungeon of Malchiah the son of Hammelech, that [was] in the court of
the prison: and they let down Jeremiah with cords. And in the dungeon
[there was] no water, but mire: so Jeremiah sunk in the mire."

     Dungeon, here, means cistern. All of the houses had cisterns, so
they would not run out of water in time of war. We remember, there was
a drougth in the land at this time, so there would not be any water.
There would be just mud at the bottom.  This was a deep cistern and
Jeremiah had to be let down with ropes. When he got to the bottom, he
sunk in the mud.

     Jeremiah 38:7  "Now when Ebed-melech the Ethiopian, one of the
eunuchs which was in the king's house, heard that they had put
Jeremiah in the dungeon; the king then sitting in the gate of

     "Ebed-melech" means servant of a king. He was a black man
{Ethiopian}. It appears, he had been working in the king's house, and
heard about them putting Jeremiah in this cistern.

     Jeremiah 38:8 "Ebed-melech went forth out of the king's house,
and spake to the king, saying,"

     This is very unusual for a slave to speak to a king without being

     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 like to die for hunger in the place where he
is: for [there is] no more bread in the city."

     It appears, the famine was widespread by this time. People had to
eat whatever they could find. No one would go and put bread into the
dungeon for Jeremiah, when they did not have enough for themselves.
This black slave has interceded with the king for Jeremiah's life. He
was a brave slave, to say that the princes were evil for doing this to
Jeremiah. Notice, he calls Jeremaih a prophet.

     Jeremiah 38:10 "Then the king commanded Ebed-melech the
Ethiopian, saying, Take from hence thirty men with thee, and take up
Jeremiah the prophet out of the dungeon, before he die."

     It would be quite a task to pull a mud-soaked man out of that
cistern. He would be heavy, and it would take many men for the task.
Zedekiah sends 30 men to pull Jeremiah out. He would probably be weak
from his stay in the cistern. It would be like dead weight they would
have to pull straight up.

     Jeremiah 38:11 "So Ebed-melech took the men with him, and went
into the house of the king under the treasury, and took thence old
cast clouts and old rotten rags, and let them down by cords into the
dungeon to Jeremiah."

     "Clouts" is the same thing as rags. The rags seem to be the only
things that Ebed-melech had access to, so he made ropes out of the old
thrown-away rags.

     Jeremiah 38:12 "And Ebed-melech the Ethiopian said unto Jeremiah,
Put now [these] old cast clouts and rotten rags under thine armholes
under the cords. And Jeremiah did so."

     It seems as though, they were tied and there were knots every
little ways. These tied places would help give a hold for Jeremiah. He
was to put this home-made rope under his arm pits, because he had
little strength to hold on to it.

     Jeremiah 38:13 "So they drew up Jeremiah with cords, and took him
up out of the dungeon: and Jeremiah remained in the court of the

     They were successful in getting him out of the cistern, but they
still did not release him. He was in minimum security, but still
locked up. The court of the prison was near the king's house.

     Jeremiah 38:14  "Then Zedekiah the king sent, and took Jeremiah
the prophet unto him into the third entry that [is] in the house of
the LORD: and the king said unto Jeremiah, I will ask thee a thing;
hide nothing from me."

     Even though Zedekiah publicly denied believing in the prophecy of
Jeremiah, it appears he did believe privately. This was a place where
Zedekiah would not be seen talking to Jeremiah.

     Jeremiah 38:15 "Then Jeremiah said unto Zedekiah, If I declare
[it] unto thee, wilt thou not surely put me to death? and if I give
thee counsel, wilt thou not hearken unto me?"

     Jeremiah feels he has nothing to gain by telling the king of his
fate. The king might kill him. The king had not listened to his
prophecy before, so why would he take heed now?

     Jeremiah 38:16 "So Zedekiah the king sware secretly unto
Jeremiah, saying, [As] the LORD liveth, that made us this soul, I will
not put thee to death, neither will I give thee into the hand of these
men that seek thy life."

     Zedekiah promised Jeremiah he would protect him, if he would tell
him the prophecy. We remember, that Zedekiah had turned most of the
administration of his office over to the princes, so this had to be a
private agreement.

     Jeremiah 38:17 "Then said Jeremiah unto Zedekiah, Thus saith the
LORD, the God of hosts, the God of Israel; If thou wilt assuredly go
forth unto the king of Babylon's princes, then thy soul shall live,
and this city shall not be burned with fire; and thou shalt live, and
thine house:"

     Jeremiah tells him, one more time, that the only way to live and
save the city, is to surrender to the princes of Babylon. We must
remember, that this is a punishment from God for their unfaithfulness.
If they do not surrender, they are rebelling against the punishment of
God for their sin.

     Jeremiah 38:18 "But if thou wilt not go forth to the king of
Babylon's princes, then shall this city be given into the hand of the
Chaldeans, and they shall burn it with fire, and thou shalt not escape
out of their hand."

     One more time, he tells Zedekiah the consequences of not
surrendering to Babylon.

     Jeremiah 38:19 "And Zedekiah the king said unto Jeremiah, I am
afraid of the Jews that are fallen to the Chaldeans, lest they deliver
me into their hand, and they mock me."

     We see now, the reason that Zedekiah did not want to surrender to
the Chaldeans. He was not as afraid of the Babylonians as he was of
the Jews. He had, possibly, been severe with some of them and feared

     Jeremiah 38:20 "But Jeremiah said, They shall not deliver [thee].
Obey, I beseech thee, the voice of the LORD, which I speak unto thee:
so it shall be well unto thee, and thy soul shall live."

     Jeremiah appreciated Zedekiah saving his life, and he wanted
Zedekiah to surrender, so his life would be spared, as well. He gives
Zedekiah a promise that he will not be turned over to the Jews, if he

     Jeremiah 38:21 "But if thou refuse to go forth, this [is] the
word that the LORD hath shewed me:" Jeremiah 38:22 "And, behold, all
the women that 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, Thy friends have set thee on, and have prevailed against
thee: thy feet are sunk in the mire, [and] they are turned away back."

     The friends, that Zedekiah had believed, convinced him not to
surrender to Babylon. He had listened to them, instead of Jeremiah.
The women were concubines and women slaves in Zedekiah's house.

     Jeremiah 38:23 "So they shall bring out all thy wives and thy
children to the Chaldeans: and thou shalt not escape out of their
hand, but shalt be taken by the hand of the king of Babylon: and thou
shalt cause this city to be burned with fire."

     The wives and children are different from the women in verse 22.
Zedekiah had married several women and had children, as well. There is
an indication of the fact that he would be blinded, because of the
statement. "taken by the hand of the king of Babylon". The cause of
the fire would be Zedekiah's stubbornness not to surrender. He would
not actually set the fire, but it would be his fault.

     Jeremiah 38:24  "Then said Zedekiah unto Jeremiah, Let no man
know of these words, and thou shalt not die."

     Zedekiah did not want the princes to know he had inquired of
Jeremiah. Jeremiah's silence about their meetings would cause Zedekiah
to protect Jeremiah from death.

     Jeremiah 38:25 "But if the princes hear that I have talked with
thee, and they come unto thee, and say unto thee, Declare unto us now
what thou hast said unto the king, hide it not from us, and we will
not put thee to death; also what the king said unto thee:"

     Zedekiah was afraid of the princes. He did not want them to feel
that he had any weakness. He was asking Jeremiah to promise he would
not tell them the details of the meeting. If they came, Zedekiah
wanted Jeremiah to cover up the facts for him.

     Jeremiah 38:26 "Then thou shalt say unto them, I presented my
supplication before the king, that he would not cause me to return to
Jonathan's house, to die there."

     Zedekiah has an answer ready, that he thinks will stop the
princes inquiry. They were aware that Jeremiah did not want to go back
into the dungeon of Jonathan's house. Zedekiah felt this would suffice

     Jeremiah 38:27 "Then came all the princes unto 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."

     It appears from this, that Jeremiah did exactly as the king had
asked him to. The answer was accepted by the princes.

     Jeremiah 38:28 "So Jeremiah abode in the court of the prison
until the day that Jerusalem was taken: and he was [there] when
Jerusalem was taken."

     God had promised Jeremiah that he would see the fall of
Jerusalem. He did just that. He was in minimum security, when the city
fell to the Babylonians. Jeremiah lived to see his prophecy fulfilled.

                         Jeremiah 41 Questions

1.  Who were the people mentioned in verse 1?
2.  How did they feel about Zedekiah taking Jeremiah out of the
    dungeon, and letting him speak?
3.  What did Jeremiah prophesy would happen to those who remained in
    the city?
4.  How could they have saved their lives?
5.  What will happen to this city?
6.  Who was the king of Babylon at this time?
7.  What did the princes want to happen to Jeremiah?
8.  What excuse did they give for wanting Jeremiah punished this way?
9.  Why did Zedekiah turn Jeremiah over to the princes?
10. What did they do to Jeremiah?
11. What does dungeon, in verse 6, mean?
12. How did they get him in the cistern?
13. Who came to the king's house to speak in Jeremiah's behalf?
14. What nationality was he?
15. What does "Ebed-melech" mean?
16. What report did he give the king?
17. What did the king command him to do?
18. How much help did he give him to do this?
19. What did they use for ropes?
20. Why did Zedekiah meet privately with Jeremiah?
21. What did Jeremiah make Zedekiah promise, before he prophesied to
    him here?
22. What did Jeremiah tell Zedekiah?
23. Who was Zedekiah afraid of?
24. How could Zedekiah live?
25. Who had deceived Zedekiah into believing a lie?
26. Who were the women in verse 22?
27. What indicates the blinding of Zedekiah in verse 23?
28. What must Jeremiah promise, for Zedekiah to keep him from death?
29. What was Jeremiah to say to the princes?
30. Where did Jeremiah live, until Jerusalem was taken?