Monday, June 2, 2008

Jeremiah, In Prision, Refuses to Change His Message

Jeremiah Is Thrown into a Well

Jeremiah 38

1Shephatiah son of Mattan, Gedaliah son of Pashhur, Jehucal son of
Shelemiah, and Pashhur son of Malkijah heard what Jeremiah was telling all the
people. He said: 2“This is what the LORD says: ‘Everyone who stays in
Jerusalem will die from war, or hunger, or terrible diseases. But everyone who
surrenders to the Babylonian army will live; they will escape with their lives and
live.’ 3And this is what the LORD says: ‘This city of Jerusalem will surely be
handed over to the army of the king of Babylon. He will capture this city!’”

4Then the officers said to the king, “Jeremiah must be put to death! He is
discouraging the soldiers who are still in the city, and all the people, by what he
is saying to them. He does not want good to happen to us; he wants to ruin us.”

5King Zedekiah said to them, “Jeremiah is in your control. I cannot do
anything to stop you.”

6So the officers took Jeremiah and put him into the well of Malkijah, the
king’s son, which was in the courtyard of the guards. The officers used ropes to
lower Jeremiah into the well, which did not have any water in it, only mud. And
Jeremiah sank down into the mud.

7But Ebed-Melech, a Cushite and a servant in the palace, heard that the
officers had put Jeremiah into the well. As King Zedekiah was sitting at the
Benjamin Gate, 8Ebed-Melech left the palace and went to the king. Ebed-Melech
said to him, 9“My master and king, these rulers have acted in an evil way. They
have treated Jeremiah the prophet badly. They have thrown him into a well and
left him there to die! When there is no more bread in the city, he will starve to

10Then King Zedekiah commanded Ebed-Melech the Cushite, “Take thirty
men from the palace and lift Jeremiah the prophet out of the well before he dies.”

11So Ebed-Melech took the men with him and went to a room under the
storeroom in the palace. He took some old rags and worn-out clothes from that
room. Then he let those rags down with some ropes to Jeremiah in the well.
12Ebed-Melech the Cushite said to Jeremiah, “Put these old rags and worn-out
clothes under your arms to be pads for the ropes.” So Jeremiah did as Ebed-
Melech said. 13The men pulled Jeremiah up with the ropes and lifted him out of
the well. And Jeremiah stayed under guard in the courtyard of the guard.

Zedekiah Questions Jeremiah

14Then King Zedekiah sent someone to get Jeremiah the prophet and bring
him to the third entrance to the Temple of the LORD. The king said to Jeremiah,
“I am going to ask you something. Do not hide anything from me, but tell me
everything honestly.”

15Jeremiah said to Zedekiah, “If I give you an answer, you will surely kill me.
And even if I give you advice, you will not listen to me.”

16But King Zedekiah made a secret promise to Jeremiah, “As surely as the
LORD lives who has given us breath and life, I will not kill you. And I promise
not to hand you over to the officers who want to kill you.”

17Then Jeremiah said to Zedekiah, “This is what the LORD God All-
Powerful, the God of Israel, says: ‘If you surrender to the officers of the king of
Babylon, your life will be saved. Jerusalem will not be burned down, and you
and your family will live. 18But if you refuse to surrender to the officers of the
king of Babylon, Jerusalem will be handed over to the Babylonian army, and
they will burn it down. And you yourself will not escape from them.’”

19Then King Zedekiah said to Jeremiah, “I’m afraid of some Jews who have
already gone over to the side of the Babylonian army. If the Babylonians hand
me over to them, they will treat me badly.”

20But Jeremiah answered, “The Babylonians will not hand you over to the
Jews. Obey the LORD by doing what I tell you. Then things will go well for you,
and your life will be saved. 21But if you refuse to surrender to the Babylonians,
the LORD has shown me what will happen. 22All the women left in the palace of
the king of Judah will be brought out and taken to the important officers of the
king of Babylon. Your women will make fun of you with this song:

‘Your good friends misled you

and were stronger than you.

While your feet were stuck in the mud,

they left you.’

23“All your wives and children will be brought out and given to the
Babylonian army. You yourself will not even escape from them. You will be
taken prisoner by the king of Babylon, and Jerusalem will be burned down.”

24Then Zedekiah said to Jeremiah, “Do not tell anyone that I have been
talking to you, or you will die. 25If the officers find out I talked to you, they will
come to you and say, ‘Tell us what you said to King Zedekiah and what he said
to you. Don’t keep any secrets from us. If you don’t tell us everything, we will
kill you.’ 26If they ask you, tell them, ‘I was begging the king not to send me
back to Jonathan’s house to die.’”

27All the officers did come to question Jeremiah. So he told them everything
the king had ordered him to say. Then the officers said no more to Jeremiah,
because no one had heard what Jeremiah and the king had discussed.

28So Jeremiah stayed under guard in the courtyard of the guard until the day
Jerusalem was captured.

The Holy Bible, New Century Version

JEREMIAH (Jehr ih mi' uh) Personal name meaning, “may Yahweh lift up,”
“throw,” or “found.”

1. The head of a clan of the tribe of Manasseh in East Jordan (1 Chron. 5:24).
2. Three soldiers of David’s army at Ziklag (1 Chron. 12:4, 10, 13). 3. The father-
in-law of King Josiah of Judah (640-609 B.C.) and grandfather of the Kings
Jehoahaz [609 B.C.] (2 Kings 23:31) and Zedekiah (597-586 B.C.) (2 Kings
24:18; Jer. 52:1). 4. A representative of the sect of the Rechabites (Jer. 35:3). 5.
Three priests or heads of priestly families in the times of Zerubbabel about 537
B.C. (Neh. 12:1, 12) and Nehemiah about 455 B.C. (Neh. 10:2; 12:34).

Other persons by the name of Jeremiah are referred to in Hebrew inscriptions
from Lachish and Arad about 700 B.C. and in a number of ancient Jewish seals.
The Bible has a short form of the name seventeen times and a long form 121
times. Both forms are applied to the prophet. Inscriptions use the longer form.

6. Jeremiah, the prophet The Bible tells us more about personal experiences
of Jeremiah than of any other prophet. We read that his father’s name was
Hilkiah, a priest from Anathoth (Jer. 1:1). He was called to be a prophet in the
thirteenth year of King Josiah (627/6 B.C.) (Jer. 1:2). He was active under the
Kings Jehoahaz-Shallum (609 B.C.) (22:11), Jehoiakim (609-587 B.C.) (Jer. 1:3;
22:18; 26:1; 35:1; 36:1, 9), Jehoiachin/Jeconiah/Coniah (597 B.C.) (22:24; 24:1;
27:20; 28:3; 29:2; 37:1), and Zedekiah (597-586 B.C.) (1:3; 21:1; 27:1-12; 28:1;
32:1; 34:2; 37-38; 39:4; 52:7). When Jerusalem was destroyed by the
Babylonians in 587 B.C., Jeremiah moved to Mizpah, the capital of Gedaliah, the
newly appointed Jewish governor of the Babylonian province of Judah (40:5).
When Gedaliah was assassinated (41:1), Jeremiah was deported to Egypt against
his will by Jewish officers who had survived the catastrophes (42:1-43:7). In
Egypt he continued to preach oracles against the Egyptians (43:8-13) and against
his compatriots (44:1-30).

Jeremiah is depicted as living in constant friction with the authorities of his
people, religious (priests 20:1-6; prophets 28:1; or both 26:1), political (Kings ch.
21-22; 36-38), or all of them together (1:18-19; 2:26; 8:1), including Jewish
leaders after the Babylonian invasion (42:1-43:13). Still his preaching
emphasized a high respect for prophets whose warning words could have saved
the people if they had listened (7:25; 26:4; 29:17-19; 35:13). He trusted in the
promise of ideal future kings (23:5; 33:14-17). He recommended national
surrender to the rule of the Babylonian Empire and called Nebuchadnezzar,
Babylon’s emperor and Judah’s most hated enemy, the “servant of the Lord”
(25:9; 27:6). He even incited his compatriots to desert to the enemy (21:8). He
was accused of treason and convicted (37:11; 38:1-6), and yet the most
aggressive oracles against Babylon are attributed to him (50-51). Enemies
challenged his prophetic honesty and the inspiration of his message (43:1-3;
28:1; 29:24), and yet kings and nobles sought his advice (21:1; 37:3; 38:14;

He constantly proclaimed God’s judgment upon Judah and Jerusalem, and yet
he was also a prophet of hope, proclaiming oracles of salvation, conditioned
(3:22-4:2) or unconditioned (30-31; 32:36; 33:6; 34:4). God forbade him to
intercede for his people (7:16; 11:14; 14:11; compare 15:1); yet he interceded
(14:7-9, 19-22). God ordered him to live without marriage and family (16:2). He
had to stay away from the company of merrymakers (15:17) and from houses of
feasting (16:8). He complained to and argued with God (12:1-17), complaining
about the misery of his office (20:7-18). At the same time he sang hymns of
praise to his God (20:13).

Jeremiah’s call came in the thirteenth year of King Josiah, about 627/6 B.C.
(1:2; 25:3; compare 36:2). Josiah remains however, the only Jewish king
contemporary with Jeremiah to and about whom no word is spoken in the whole
book. No concrete reference appears to any of the dramatic changes of national
liberation and religious reformation within the last eighteen years of Josiah’s
reign (2 Kings 22:1-23:30). The words of the call narrative: “Before I formed you
in the womb I knew you ... I appointed you as a prophet to the nations” (1:5
NIV), may suggest that the date of Jeremiah’s call and birth is one and the same.
In this case his prophetic activity must have begun many years later, but again
with uncertain date.

No comments: