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Jeremiah 38

Jer 38, Je 38, Jr 38

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,

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.

3 Thus saith the LORD, This city shall surely be given into the hand of the king of Babylon's army, which shall take it.

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.

5 Then Zedekiah the king said, Behold, he is in your hand: for the king is not he that can do any thing against you.

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.

7 Now when Ebedmelech 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 Benjamin;

8 Ebedmelech went forth out of the king's house, and spake to the king saying,

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.

10 Then the king commanded Ebedmelech the Ethiopian, saying, Take from hence thirty men with thee, and take up Jeremiah the prophet out of the dungeon, before he die.

11 So Ebedmelech 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.

12 And Ebedmelech the Ethiopian said unto Jeremiah, Put now these old cast clouts and rotten rags under thine armholes under the cords. And Jeremiah did so.

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

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.

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?

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.

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:

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.

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.

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.

21 But if thou refuse to go forth, this is the word that the LORD hath shewed me:

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.

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.

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

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:

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.

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.

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.

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Summary and the meaning of Chapter 38 of the Book of Jeremiah in the KJV Holy Bible

Chapter 38 of the Book of Jeremiah in the King James Version (KJV) of the Holy Bible is a vivid narrative of Jeremiah's ordeal at the hands of the princes of Judah, his subsequent rescue, and his private discourse with King Zedekiah. The chapter serves as a stark reminder of the harsh realities faced by prophets in their bid to carry out their God-given assignments. It underscores the themes of faith, courage, divine intervention, and the cost of disobedience.

The chapter opens with Jeremiah delivering God's message to the people of Judah, a message that has been consistent throughout the book: surrender to the Babylonians to live, or resist and perish (Jeremiah 38:2). The princes of Judah, however, view Jeremiah's prophecy as demoralizing to the soldiers and the people, and thus, they accuse him of treason and demand his death (Jeremiah 38:4). Jeremiah is subsequently cast into a miry dungeon where he sinks in the mud, left to die a slow and agonizing death (Jeremiah 38:6).

Jeremiah's Rescue and the Role of Ebed-melech

The narrative then introduces Ebed-melech, a unique character who is an Ethiopian eunuch and a servant in the king's house. Ebed-melech is deeply distressed by Jeremiah's plight and approaches King Zedekiah to intervene on the prophet's behalf (Jeremiah 38:7-9). The king, in his characteristic indecisiveness and weakness, grants Ebed-melech permission to rescue Jeremiah (Jeremiah 38:10). With the help of thirty men, Ebed-melech pulls Jeremiah out of the dungeon, demonstrating a remarkable act of faith and courage.

Ebed-melech's intervention is significant for several reasons. This act of compassion and bravery by a foreigner and a servant contrasts sharply with the conduct of the princes and the king, who are of higher social status and are native Judahites. Ebed-melech's actions underscore the biblical theme that God often uses the most unlikely individuals to accomplish His purposes, emphasizing that divine favor and courage are not exclusive to one's social status, race or nationality.

Jeremiah's Private Discourse with King Zedekiah

Following his rescue, Jeremiah is summoned by King Zedekiah for a private conversation. The king, torn between his fear of the princes and the invading Babylonians, inquires about the word of the Lord from Jeremiah (Jeremiah 38:14-16). Jeremiah repeats his earlier prophecy: surrender to the Babylonians and live, or resist and die (Jeremiah 38:17-18). This discourse between Jeremiah and Zedekiah is a stark illustration of the tragic consequences of disobedience and lack of faith.

Zedekiah's fear of falling into the hands of the Jews who have defected to the Chaldeans is indicative of his lack of faith in God's word through Jeremiah. Despite his acknowledgment of Jeremiah's authenticity as a prophet, Zedekiah chooses to follow his fear rather than faith, leading to his eventual downfall and the destruction of Jerusalem (Jeremiah 38:19-23). This narrative reiterates the biblical theme that disobedience and lack of faith in God's word often lead to dire consequences.

The Chapter's Relevance and Lessons for Today

Jeremiah 38, like the rest of the book, is a historical narrative with contemporary relevance. It serves as a metaphor for the spiritual struggle between faith and fear, obedience and disobedience. Today, many believers, like Zedekiah, may find themselves torn between faith in God's word and the fear of the consequences of obedience. This chapter offers a sobering reminder of the cost of disobedience and the blessings that come with faith and obedience.

The chapter also offers lessons on courage and divine intervention. Ebed-melech, though a servant and a foreigner, demonstrates great courage and faith in his successful effort to save Jeremiah. His actions serve as a reminder that God often uses the most unlikely individuals to carry out His purposes. This narrative encourages believers to trust in God's ability to deliver, even in the most dire circumstances.

In conclusion, Jeremiah 38 is a profound chapter that encapsulates the struggles and triumphs of the prophet Jeremiah. It underscores the themes of faith, courage, divine intervention, and the cost of disobedience. It serves as a stark reminder of the consequences of disregarding God's word and the blessings that come with obedience. The chapter's narratives and characters offer valuable lessons for believers today, encouraging faith, courage, and obedience to God's word, even in the face of adversity.

This article is informed by the King James Version of the Holy Bible, the authors' personal knowledge, considerations and experience, and additional materials and resources available in internet.

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