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Posts Tagged ‘Ebed-melech’


Friday, September 10, 2021

heart life not dullJeremiah 39

Our Lives as Booty

Jerusalem is invaded and destroyed, the enemy chases down and captures the king, the princes are murdered before the father’s eyes, and the poor are left behind to tend the farms and vineyards.  Jeremiah is released from the guard house where he had been detained for his words. He conveys the words of the Lord’ assurance to his Egyptian rescuer, Ebed-melech: Behold, I am now fulfilling the words I spoke against this city, for evil and not for good; and this before your very eyes.  But on that day I will rescue you, says the Lord, you shall not be handed over to the men of whom you are afraid.  I will make certain that you escape and do not fall by the sword.  Your life shall be spared as booty, because you trusted in me, says the Lord.

From commentary: “Jeremiah’s behavior illustrates how to survive.  By submitting to Babylon, he has escaped with his life as the prize of war and returned home.  The Eded-melech sequel lends strength to this interpretation.  Although the fate of the city is sealed, Ebed-melech will escape with his life as a prize of war because he trusted in YHWH.  It is that confidence that most exiles emulate, and they too will gain a future.  The many themes of these narratives unite in this rhetorical effort to persuade the exiles to submit to Babylon as the only avenue forward”. (Barton, and Muddiman 520)

All of this sets us to thinking about God’s justice.

From the mini-reflection in today’s MAGNIFICAT Evening Prayer: The concept of God’s justice can seem frightening.  We are aware of our own sin and fear retribution.  However, God’s justice is not about him getting back at those who offended him.  God’s justice sets things aright . . . [so] we should not dread God’s justice.  Rather we should rejoice in right order returned to his creation.

And so we pray . . .

Just, yet merciful God who sees and knows all, we return our lives to you.  We, who are created by your hand, turn back to you all that we have managed to enact in our lives in your name.  We, who have known the protection of your power, fly home to live in you.  We, who have been saved by your love, gather all that we are as booty to be taken in by you.  In your mercy, guide us.  In your kindness, guard us.  And in your great love, give us the hope, the grace and the endurance we will need to live in joyful hope for you.  We ask this in Jesus’ name.  Amen. 


Barton, John, and John Muddiman. THE OXFORD BIBLE COMMENTARY. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2001. 520. Print.

Image from: http://christianmotivations.weebly.com/christian-motivations-blog/archives/08-2014/3

A Favorite from February 5, 2011.

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Thursday, September 9, 2021

up from the cisternJeremiah 38

The Miry Cistern: A Reprise

What do we do when we find ourselves in a situation that drags us down as though we were encased in mud up to our necks? How do we handle our fear when confronted with an unpredictable, cowardly or inconsistent leader? Why do we take on the world as if we alone have responsibility for all that takes place?

We reflected on these and other thoughts a number of months ago when we visited Jeremiah in the miry cistern. Today we return to this portion of his prophecy, but rather than focus on the king and prophet, we take a look at Ebed-melech, the Cushite courtier who intercedes on Jeremiah’s behalf.  (Verses 7:13)

What do we know about Ebed-melech? Resources tell us that he was an Ethiopian eunuch serving at Zedekiah’s court. Scripture tells us that he heard that [political leaders] had put Jeremiah into the cistern. Now the king was sitting in the Gate of Benjamin; and Ebed-melech went out from the king’s palace and spoke to the king, saying, “My lord the king, these men have acted wickedly in all that they have done to Jeremiah the prophet whom they have cast into the cistern; and he will die right where he is because of the famine, for there is no more bread in the city.”

We also know that the king ordered Ebed-melech to retrieve the prophet, and  we might notice a detail provided for us: So Ebed-melech took the men under his authority and went into the king’s palace to a place beneath the storeroom and took from there worn-out clothes and worn-out rags and let them down by ropes into the cistern to Jeremiah. Then Ebed-melech the Ethiopian said to Jeremiah, “Now put these worn-out clothes and rags under your armpits under the ropes”; and Jeremiah did so. So they pulled Jeremiah up with the ropes and lifted him out of the cistern, and Jeremiah stayed in the court of the guardhouse.

Today as we wonder how to extricate ourselves from difficult situations, let us remember the courage of Ebed-melech who acted when he encountered injustice.

When we wonder with what intensity we might react when confronted with dangerous circumstances, let us recall the tenderness of Ebed-melech who thought to provide Jeremiah with cushioning as he and his men eased the prophet from the muddy hole.

When we wonder who might save us when we find ourselves in the bottom of a pit with no means of escape, let us recall the Ebed-melechs in our lives who have risked their own safety to rescue us.

And let us thank God for the small, tender moments of surprise when we have been delivered from the bottom of our own miry cisterns.


For another reflection on this chapter, inter the words The Miry Cistern into the search bar on this blog and explore.

Image from: http://mygodmorning.weebly.com/devotionals/category/friendship

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