Faithful readers of this blog (thank you, thank you, thank you!!!) know that I have a thing for non-Israelites in the Old Testament who receive favourable reports. Rahab you know, and Ruth you know, but who is Ebed-Melech?
The second thing we’re told about him—after his name—is that he’s Ethiopian (or Cushite, depending on your translation). The third thing we learn about him is that he’s a eunuch (or official, again depending on your translation) in the royal court of Zedekiah, the last king of Judah (Jeremiah 38:7).
Ebed-Melech heard that the prophet Jeremiah had been thrown into a waterless, muddy cistern. He reported this to the king (who had kind of sanctioned the deed) and got permission to get Jeremiah out.
Jeremiah’s fellow countrymen were trying to bump him off, and it fell to a foreigner to save his life. People who claimed to believe in Jeremiah’s God flagrantly violated His commands, and it fell to a man who wasn’t born into the covenant community to keep those same laws. I like how Ebed-Melech took along old rags and worn-out clothes for Jeremiah to pad the ropes with (38:11-12)—he clearly wasn’t doing this out of cold compulsion.
Best of all, however, was Ebed-melech’s reward: he got his very own prophetic oracle with his name attached (Jeremiah 39:15-18)! The Lord of Hosts, the God of Israel declared that because he trusted in Him, he wouldn’t be killed in battle when the Babylonians attacked.
Incidentally, Ebed-Melech means ‘servant of the king’. Not just to Zedekiah, but to the ultimate King!