Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Jeremiah, Chapters 37-39: And if I were the king of the world, I tell you what I'd do

Chapter 37

Jeremiah gets out of prison. Then the Egyptians invade and the Babylonians run scared. God tells Jeremiah to go and tell the king that he has only allowed this series of events to lull him into a false sense of security: he's totally still going to have the Chaldeans invade and enslave them. Then he goes of to the land of Benjamin to sulk.

In Benjamin, an army captain recognises him and accuses him of acting traitorously for the Babylonians. He denies it, but is re-imprisoned nonetheless. The king orders him sent back to Jerusalem where, like a psychic phone line addict he secretly asks what god is saying now. As if there was ever going to be a change. Jeremiah repeats himself and adds a question of his own: why has he been imprisoned? He begs not to be sent back there, but the king shuts him up. He does show some mercy, ordering that Jeremiah get some bread every day.

Chapter 38

Jeremiah is still carrying on and finally one of the princes snaps and begs the king to put the prophet to death, because he's bad for morale. The king, not wanting to give away his secret obsession, hands him right over. They lower Jeremiah into a 'cistern' which I'm going to interpret as a toilet, because it's been 38 chapters of doom and gloom and he deserves at this point. Jeremiah is sinking into the uh, contents, but unfortunately a passing Ethiopian eunuch takes mercy on him and drags him out so he can prattle on for another 14 boring chapters.

Zedekiah is secretly relieved and meets Jeremiah for another illicit rendez-vous in the temple. Jeremiah is wising up and won't agree to talk until the king agrees not to execute him or give him back to the princes. And it only took immersion in a shithole to do it. Jeremiah's advice is to surrender and in exchange he and his children will live and the city will not be burnt down. Which makes me wonder if he really is in league with the Babylonians.

The king expresses some doubt about the public ridicule he'd face, but Jeremiah points out that seeing his former wives and daughters given to other men and bearing foreign children will be even more humiliating. Yup, he's in cahoots with the enemy, all right. A biblical Benedict Arnold.

The king wants to keep this little chit-chats on the downlow, because it's more exciting that way, and orders Jeremiah to lie and tell the princes he was supplicating for his release, so he does.

Chapter 39

The Babylonians invade. Zedekiah, the king, tries to flee, but is captured. All his sons are killed in front of him. He's carried off in chains and his palace is burnt to the ground before the whole city is bulldozed. The poor people are left behind and rewarded with vineyards. Jeremiah is treated well and set free.

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