Amos R. Wells
10Then the king commanded Ebed-melech the Ethiopian, saying, “Take thirty men from here under your authority and bring up Jeremiah the prophet from the cistern before he dies.” 11So 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. 12Then 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.
Jeremiah 38:10-12 nasb
Hail to thoughtful Ebed-melech,
Ebed-melech, bold and kind —
Slave, well worthy to be freeman,
Royal heart and ready mind!
Where a cowardly king was feeble,
He was quick to dare and do,
Pitiful to Jeremiah,
Strong to put his purpose through.
In the pit, the prophet sinking,
Half enveloped in the mire,
Near to perishing of hunger,
Victim of the prince’s ire,
Would have died in helpless anguish,
Fainting in the fetid grave;
But this splendid Ethiopian
Found a way to seek and save.
Here are cords to lift the prophet,
Sturdy cords—but what are these?
Rags and worn-out garments brought there,
Sharp and cutting cords to ease.
“Wrap the cords” called Ebed-melech,
“Pack them thick beneath the arms,”
Lest the cords cut Jeremiah,
And the prophet come to harm.
So they lifted Jeremiah
From that awful prison well,
And they gave the future ages
This inspiring tale to tell,
That the helpers of the future,
Wise to ponder as they read,
Might perceive a gentle lesson —
How to do a kindly deed.
For there’s many a sinking brother,
Prisoned in a poison pit,
And there’s many a cord flung at him
With no tact or thought or wit;
And the flesh is torn and bleeding
As they drag the brother out.
Ah, the world needs Ebed-melechs
Just to wrap the cords about!
[Special thanks to Tricia N.,
who introduced me to this poem in the late 1970s.]