Sometimes we despair over our sinfulness and turn the Lord for mercy (Psalm 130). But other times, we do the right thing and are punished for it. That’s the situation we find in Jeremiah 38:1-13. Jeremiah has spoken the message that the Lord asked him to speak and others are seeking to kill him for it.
Jeremiah began his ministry as the dominant world power, the Assyrians, descended into civil war. As the Assyrians began to lose their power, Babylon and Egypt sought to occupy the power vacuum that the Assyrians would leave. In the midst of this political turmoil the Lord calls Jeremiah. His job is to predict and warn of the coming Babylonian invasion and the restoration that would follow the exile.
Date of this Event
- While the exact date for this events in this chapter are not given, the details suggest that this incident happened about 588 BC.
- In the spring/summer of 588 BC the Egyptian army moved into Palestine and Babylon abandoned the siege of to deal with the Egyptian threat (Jeremiah 37:4-5).
- When the siege lifts, Jeremiah attempts to leave the city is arrested (Jeremiah 37:11-15)).
2 arrests or 1?
Was Jeremiah arrested twice (once in the event recorded in chapter 37 and a second time as recorded in chapter 38)? OR was Jeremiah arrested once, meaning Jeremiah 38 retells the same event as Jeremiah 37. There is evidence on both sides.
- In both chapters Jeremiah is charged with treason and placed in a pit.
- In both chapters, Jeremiah is handed over state officials in both (37:14-15; 38:1-4). In chapter 37:14-15 we are told that the officials beat him and put him in jail. In 38:1-4 the officials quote his preaching as traitorous, throw him in jail and ask the king for the death penalty.
- Both chapters tell of Jeremiah’s release and then having a private meeting with the King (37:17; 38:14). The conversation in this meeting is substantially the same in both chapters.
- In both accounts after his release, Jeremiah is kept in the court of the guard (37:21; 38:28)
- 37:16 calls the place he was held a dungeon and 38:6 calls the place he was held a cistern. However, both those terms could refer to the same place, as the empty cistern could have been converted to a dungeon.
- 37:15-16 tells us the cistern house is located in the home of Jonathan the secretary. In 38:6 it is called the cistern of Prince Malchijah and is located in the court of the guard. However, both these houses make be located in the same place.
- Pashur is named as the son of Malchijah (38:1) and Malchijah is the king’s son (38:6), making Pashur the king’s grandson and potentially an heir to the throne. Given that pedigree, it’s quite likely that these 4 are part of the ruling authority in Jerusalem.
- As God’s anointed King, Zedekiah should protect God’s anointed prophet. But he doesn’t.
12Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. 14If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. 15But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. 16Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. – 1 Peter 4:12-16
“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” – Matthew 5:11-2
Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.- James 1:12
- Ebed-Melech is an ordinary servant. He’s a foreigner serving in the king’s court.
- “Ebed-Melech” is a title for “servant of the king” so he’s not really given a name.
- He is one of many unnamed heroes in Scripture who quietly save the day.
- The details suggest extraordinary tender care in the rescue.
- God often acts in unexpected ways to bring about our rescue.
- We should expect that good deeds will sometimes be punished.
- Yet suffering is not the end of the story.
- God has a plan that involves suffering and trials and which leads to redemption and salvation.
- Our job is to hope, wait and trust.
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Part of the series: Questions Jeremiah Answered
Study Resources: Jeremiah Resources
Scripture quotes are from the New American Standard Version of the Bible.
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