38:6 So the officials 1 took Jeremiah and put him in the cistern 2 of Malkijah, one of the royal princes, 3 that was in the courtyard of the guardhouse. There was no water in the cistern, only mud. So when they lowered Jeremiah into the cistern with ropes he sank in the mud. 4
38:10 Then the king gave Ebed Melech the Ethiopian the following order: “Take thirty 5 men with you from here and go pull the prophet Jeremiah out of the cistern before he dies.” 38:11 So Ebed Melech took the men with him and went to a room under the treasure room in the palace. 6 He got some worn-out clothes and old rags 7 from there and let them down by ropes to Jeremiah in the cistern. 38:12 Ebed Melech 8 called down to Jeremiah, “Put these rags and worn-out clothes under your armpits to pad the ropes. 9 Jeremiah did as Ebed Melech instructed. 10 38:13 So they pulled Jeremiah up from the cistern with ropes. Jeremiah, however, still remained confined 11 to the courtyard of the guardhouse.
1 tn Heb “they.”
2 sn A cistern was a pear-shaped pit with a narrow opening. Cisterns were cut or dug in the limestone rock and lined with plaster to prevent seepage. They were used to collect and store rain water or water carried up from a spring.
4 tn Heb “And they let Jeremiah down with ropes and in the cistern there was no water, only mud, and Jeremiah sank in the mud.” The clauses have been reordered and restructured to create a more natural and smoother order in English.
5 tc Some modern English versions (e.g., NRSV, REB, TEV) and commentaries read “three” on the basis that thirty men would not be necessary for the task (cf. J. Bright, Jeremiah [AB], 231). Though the difference in “three” and “thirty” involves minimal emendation (שְׁלֹשָׁה [shÿlosha] for שְׁלֹשִׁים [shÿloshim]) there is no textual or versional evidence for it except for one Hebrew
6 tn Heb “went into the palace in under the treasury.” Several of the commentaries (e.g., J. Bright, Jeremiah [AB], 227; J. A. Thompson, Jeremiah [NICOT], 639, n. 6) emend the prepositional phrase “in under” (אֶל־תַּחַת, ’el-takhat) to the noun “wardrobe” plus the preposition “to” (אֶל־מֶלְתַחַת, ’el-meltakhat). This is a plausible emendation which would involve dropping out מֶל (mel) due to its similarity with the אֶל (’el) which precedes it. However, there is no textual or versional evidence for such a reading and the compound preposition is not in itself objectionable (cf. BDB 1066 s.v. תַּחַת III.1.a). The Greek version reads “the part underground” (representing a Hebrew Vorlage of אֶל תַּחַת הָאָרֶץ, ’el takhat ha’arets) in place of אֶל תַּחַת הָאוֹצָר (’el takhat ha’otsar). The translation follows the Hebrew text but adds the word “room” for the sake of English style.
7 tn Heb “worn-out clothes and worn-out rags.”
9 tn Heb “under the joints of your arms under the ropes.” The two uses of “under” have different orientations and are best reflected by “between your armpits and the ropes” or “under your armpits to pad the ropes.”
10 tn Or “Jeremiah did so.” The alternate translation is what the text reads literally.
11 tn Heb “Jeremiah remained/stayed in the courtyard of the guardhouse.” The translation is meant to better reflect the situation; i.e., Jeremiah was released from the cistern but still had to stay in the courtyard of the guardhouse.