2 “Thus said Hashem: Whoever remains in this city shall die by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence; but whoever surrenders to the Chaldeans shall live; he shall at least gain his life and shall live.
ב כֹּה אָמַר יְהֹוָה הַיֹּשֵׁב בָּעִיר הַזֹּאת יָמוּת בַּחֶרֶב בָּרָעָב וּבַדָּבֶר וְהַיֹּצֵא אֶל־הַכַּשְׂדִּים יחיה [וְחָיָה] וְהָיְתָה־לּוֹ נַפְשׁוֹ לְשָׁלָל וָחָי׃
3 Thus said Hashem: This city shall be delivered into the hands of the king of Babylon’s army, and he shall capture it.”
ג כֹּה אָמַר יְהֹוָה הִנָּתֹן תִּנָּתֵן הָעִיר הַזֹּאת בְּיַד חֵיל מֶלֶךְ־בָּבֶל וּלְכָדָהּ׃
4 Then the officials said to the king, “Let that man be put to death, for he disheartens the soldiers, and all the people who are left in this city, by speaking such things to them. That man is not seeking the welfare of this people, but their harm!”
ד וַיֹּאמְרוּ הַשָּׂרִים אֶל־הַמֶּלֶךְ יוּמַת נָא אֶת־הָאִישׁ הַזֶּה כִּי־עַל־כֵּן הוּא־מְרַפֵּא אֶת־יְדֵי אַנְשֵׁי הַמִּלְחָמָה הַנִּשְׁאָרִים בָּעִיר הַזֹּאת וְאֵת יְדֵי כָל־הָעָם לְדַבֵּר אֲלֵיהֶם כַּדְּבָרִים הָאֵלֶּה כִּי הָאִישׁ הַזֶּה אֵינֶנּוּ דֹרֵשׁ לְשָׁלוֹם לָעָם הַזֶּה כִּי אִם־לְרָעָה׃
5 King Tzidkiyahu replied, “He is in your hands; the king cannot oppose you in anything!”
va-YO-mer ha-ME-lekh tzid-ki-YA-hu hi-nay HU b’-yed-KHEM kee AYN ha-ME-lekh yu-KHAL et-KHEM da-VAR
ה וַיֹּאמֶר הַמֶּלֶךְ צִדְקִיָּהוּ הִנֵּה־הוּא בְּיֶדְכֶם כִּי־אֵין הַמֶּלֶךְ יוּכַל אֶתְכֶם דָּבָר׃
38:5 The king cannot oppose you in anything
Among the tragedies of Israel’s downfall is the reign of the final king of David’s dynasty, Tzidkiyahu. Unlike his predecessors who were genuinely wicked, Tzidkiyahu is good at heart, as suggested by his name Tzidkiyahu, which comes from the word tzedek (צדק), ‘righteousness.’ He secretly tries to support Yirmiyahu (see Jeremiah 37:21) and repeatedly inquires of the word of Hashem (21:2; 37:17; 38:14). However, Tzidkiyahu does not heed Yirmiyahu’s plea to submit to Babylonia, as he is weak and unable to oppose his officers. They desire to kill Yirmiyahu for preaching against Israel, and argue that his words weaken the resolve of the people to keep fighting. By listening to his officers instead of the prophet, his fate and that of the people are sealed. Had Tzidkiyahu repented and led the people to follow God’s word, they would have been able to avert the disaster and remain in Israel, God’s Land.1 comment
6 So they took Yirmiyahu and put him down in the pit of Malchiah, the king’s son, which was in the prison compound; they let Yirmiyahu down by ropes. There was no water in the pit, only mud, and Yirmiyahu sank into the mud.
8 so Eved Melech left the king’s palace, and spoke to the king:
ח וַיֵּצֵא עֶבֶד־מֶלֶךְ מִבֵּית הַמֶּלֶךְ וַיְדַבֵּר אֶל־הַמֶּלֶךְ לֵאמֹר׃
ט אֲדֹנִי הַמֶּלֶךְ הֵרֵעוּ הָאֲנָשִׁים הָאֵלֶּה אֵת כָּל־אֲשֶׁר עָשׂוּ לְיִרְמְיָהוּ הַנָּבִיא אֵת אֲשֶׁר־הִשְׁלִיכוּ אֶל־הַבּוֹר וַיָּמָת תַּחְתָּיו מִפְּנֵי הָרָעָב כִּי אֵין הַלֶּחֶם עוֹד בָּעִיר׃
14 King Tzidkiyahu sent for the Navi Yirmiyahu, and had him brought to him at the third entrance of the House of Hashem. And the king said to Yirmiyahu, “I want to ask you something; don’t conceal anything from me.”
15 Yirmiyahu answered the king, “If I tell you, you’ll surely kill me; and if I give you advice, you won’t listen to me.”
16 Thereupon King Tzidkiyahu secretly promised Yirmiyahu on oath: “As Hashem lives who has given us this life, I will not put you to death or leave you in the hands of those men who seek your life.”
17 Then Yirmiyahu said to Tzidkiyahu, “Thus said Hashem, the the lord of Hosts, the God of Yisrael: If you surrender to the officers of the king of Babylon, your life will be spared and this city will not be burned down. You and your household will live.
18 But if you do not surrender to the officers of the king of Babylon, this city will be delivered into the hands of the Chaldeans, who will burn it down; and you will not escape from them.”
יח וְאִם לֹא־תֵצֵא אֶל־שָׂרֵי מֶלֶךְ בָּבֶל וְנִתְּנָה הָעִיר הַזֹּאת בְּיַד הַכַּשְׂדִּים וּשְׂרָפוּהָ בָּאֵשׁ וְאַתָּה לֹא־תִמָּלֵט מִיָּדָם׃
19 King Tzidkiyahu said to Yirmiyahu, “I am worried about the Judeans who have defected to the Chaldeans; that they [the Chaldeans] might hand me over to them to abuse me.”
20 “They will not hand you over,” Yirmiyahu replied. “Listen to the voice of Hashem, to what I tell you, that it may go well with you and your life be spared.
21 For this is what Hashem has shown me if you refuse to surrender:
כא וְאִם־מָאֵן אַתָּה לָצֵאת זֶה הַדָּבָר אֲשֶׁר הִרְאַנִי יְהֹוָה׃
22 All the women who are left in the palace of the king of Yehuda shall be brought out to the officers of the king of Babylon; and they shall say: The men who were your friends Have seduced you and vanquished you. Now that your feet are sunk in the mire, They have turned their backs [on you].
23 They will bring out all your wives and children to the Chaldeans, and you yourself will not escape from them. You will be captured by the king of Babylon, and this city shall be burned down.”
כג וְאֶת־כָּל־נָשֶׁיךָ וְאֶת־בָּנֶיךָ מוֹצִאִים אֶל־הַכַּשְׂדִּים וְאַתָּה לֹא־תִמָּלֵט מִיָּדָם כִּי בְיַד מֶלֶךְ־בָּבֶל תִּתָּפֵשׂ וְאֶת־הָעִיר הַזֹּאת תִּשְׂרֹף בָּאֵשׁ׃
24 Tzidkiyahu said to Yirmiyahu, “Don’t let anyone know about this conversation, or you will die.
25 If the officials should hear that I have spoken with you, and they should come and say to you, ‘Tell us what you said to the king; hide nothing from us, or we’ll kill you. And what did the king say to you?’
כה וְכִי־יִשְׁמְעוּ הַשָּׂרִים כִּי־דִבַּרְתִּי אִתָּךְ וּבָאוּ אֵלֶיךָ וְאָמְרוּ אֵלֶיךָ הַגִּידָה־נָּא לָנוּ מַה־דִּבַּרְתָּ אֶל־הַמֶּלֶךְ אַל־תְּכַחֵד מִמֶּנּוּ וְלֹא נְמִיתֶךָ וּמַה־דִּבֶּר אֵלֶיךָ הַמֶּלֶךְ׃
26 say to them, ‘I was presenting my petition to the king not to send me back to the house of Yehonatan to die there.’”
כו וְאָמַרְתָּ אֲלֵיהֶם מַפִּיל־אֲנִי תְחִנָּתִי לִפְנֵי הַמֶּלֶךְ לְבִלְתִּי הֲשִׁיבֵנִי בֵּית יְהוֹנָתָן לָמוּת שָׁם׃
27 All the officials did come to Yirmiyahu to question him; and he replied to them just as the king had instructed him. So they stopped questioning him, for the conversation had not been overheard.