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Ebed-Melech is a figure from the Hebrew Bible in the Book of Jeremiah ( Jer 38-39  EU ).


The Hebrew personal name עֶבֶד־מֶלֶךְ 'ævæd mælækh is a genitive combination consisting of a basic word and a determiner. The basic word is the noun עֶבֶד 'ævæd "slave / servant / servant", the defining word is the noun מֶלֶךְ mælækh "king". The name therefore means "servant of the king". “King” could initially mean the respective earthly ruler. And so the title עֶבֶד הַמֶּלֶךְ 'ævæd hammælækh “servant of the king” mentioned in 2 Sam 18.29  EU is almost the same, with the difference that the connection is determined by the specific article -הַ ha- , whereas the name is also without the article can be determined. If, however, the birth of a child is taken into account as the context of the naming, then only the “divine king” can be meant in the name. In this name, מֶלֶךְ mælækh is consequently theophoric element , although it remains unclear whether it refers to YHWH , who is addressed as “king”, or another deity.

The name is also attested extra-Biblical, so cuneiform Ab-di-mil-ku and Ab-di-mil-ki , Ugaritic 'BDMLK and Phoenician and Punic עבדמלך ' BDMLK , Old South Arabian 'BDMLK and Nabataean ' BDMLKW

Personal names meaning "servant of [...]" are common. Further examples are Abdeël (עַבְדְּאֵל 'vdə'el ), Abdiël (עַבְדִּיאֵל ' vdî'el , both "servant of God"), Ebed (עֶבֶד 'ævæd ), Abda (עַבְדָּא ' avdā ' ), Abdi (עַבְדִּי ' vdî ), Abdon (עַבְדֹּון 'avdôn , all " servants (of God)").

The Septuagint gives the name as Αβδεμελεχ Abdemelech (but due to the different structure of the Book of Jeremiah in the Septuagint in different places: 45.7 LXX .10 LXX .11 LXX ; 46.16 LXX ). The Vulgate gives the name as Abdemelech (in the same places as the Hebrew Bible).

Biblical narration

Ebed-Melech served as a chamberlain at the court of the Judean king Zidkija . Zidkiah, however, had Jeremiah thrown into a cistern because he had foreseen the fall of Jerusalem by the Babylonians . It was a prophecy that Zidkija could not accept. Ebed-Melech believed Jeremiah's words and asked the king to free the prophet from the cistern. Zidkija granted it to him. With "torn old rags" that Ebed-Melech tied into a rope, he pulled Jeremiah out of the well.

Just before the Babylonians captured Jerusalem, God granted Jeremiah to warn his savior Ebed-Melech and assure him that the Babylonians would not harm him. The Bible does not say a word about the further fate of Ebed-Melech.


In the 1998 film adaptation of the Bible, " The Bible - Jeremiah ", the Briton Jolyon Stephenson embodies the figure of Ebed-Melech.