THE WEEPING PROPHET
Jeremiah 29: 1-29
AFTER Jehoiachin and the captives had been taken away, Nebuchadnezzar set up as king in Judah Zedekiah, the uncle of Jehoiachin and another son of Josiah.
He was the twentieth and last king of the kingdom of Judah. He began by promising to be true and faithful to his over-lord, Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, who had made him king. But very soon he was led by
the nobles who stood around his throne to break his promise and to throw off the rule of Babylon; also he left the worship of the Lord, as did his people, and began to pray to the idols of wood and stone that could
give him no help.
Jeremiah the prophet told King Zedekiah that he was doing wickedly in breaking his promises and in turning from the Lord to idols. He told Zedekiah that
he would fail, and would bring his kingdom to ruin. He said, "It is better to obey the king of Babylon than to fight against him, for God will not bless you and your people in breaking your word. The king of Babylon
will come and will destroy this city. You shall see him face to face, and he will take you away a captive to his own land, and this city shall be destroyed.
This made the princes and nobles very angry against
Jeremiah. They said, "This man Jeremiah is an enemy of his land and a friend to the king of Babylon. He is a traitor, and should be put to death." Zedekiah said to his
nobles, "Jeremiah is in your hands; you can do with him what you choose. The king cannot help him against you." Then these men seized Jeremiah, and took him to the prison, and threw him into a dungeon, down below
the floor, and filled with mud and filth, into which the prophet sank; and there they left him to die. But in the court of the king there was one kind man, a negro named Ebedmelech. He found Jeremiah in the dungeon,
and let down to him a rope and drew him up, and brought him to a safe and dry place, though still in the prison.
By this time Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, and his army were again before the city of Jerusalem, laying siege to it. No one could go out or come in; no food could be found for the people, and many of them starved to death. The soldiers of Nebuchadnezzar built forts, and threw darts and stones, and broke down the gates, and made great openings in the walls of the city.
When King Zedekiah saw that the city must fall before its enemies he tried to escape. But the men of Babylon followed him and took him prisoner, and with him all his family, his wives and his sons. They were all brought before King Nebuchadnezzar, so that it came to pass as the prophet had said, Zedekiah saw the king of Babylon.
But he saw what was more terrible; he saw all his sons slain before him. Then Zedekiah's eyes were put out, and, a blinded captive, he was dragged away to Babylon. The Babylonian soldiers killed all the leaders of the people who had led Zedekiah to rebel against Nebuchadnezzar; and the rest of the people, except the very poorest in the land, they took away to the land of Babylon.
The king of Babylon was friendly to Jeremiah, the prophet, because of the advice that he had given to Zedekiah and his people. The ruler whom Nebuchadnezzar set over the city opened the door of Jeremiah's prison, and allowed him to choose between going to Babylon with the captives or staying with the poor people in the land. Jeremiah choose to stay; but not long after he was taken down to Egypt by enemies to the king of Babylon. And there in Egypt Jeremiah died; some think that he was slain. His life had been sad, for he had seen nothing but evil come upon his land ; and his message from the Lord had been a message of woe and wrath. Because of his sorrow, Jeremiah has been called "the weeping prophet.
Nebuchadnezzar carried away all that was left of the valuable things in the Temple, and then he burned the buildings. He tore down the walls of Jerusalem and set the city on fire. So all that was left of the city of David and the Temple of Solomon was a heap of ashes and blackened stones. And thus the kingdom of Judah ended, nearly four hundred years after Rehoboam became its first king.