Suspense in Judah

 

Would the King do it?

Judah’s king Zedekiah was firmly on the horns of a dilemma. Politically ambitious princes, sons of prominent men of Judah, were applying all kinds of pressure on King Zedekiah to kill the prophet Jeremiah. On the other hand, the king knew that Jeremiah was a spiritual man whose messages were from Jehovah God. The infuriating words of the prophet simply said that the Chaldean ruler who had besieged Jerusalem in 599 B.C. would prevail, and the king and his fellow Jews should surrender peacefully! The princes were full of anger, patriotism and national pride, and would not give up. They were not spiritual and did not realize that God was going to punish Israel with exile for 70 years.

After hearing Jeremiah’s sermon of surrender, the princes urged Zedekiah to kill the preacher! In Jeremiah, chapter 38:4-6, he publicly admitted his powerlessness against the young princes. He told them that Jeremiah was in their hands; they could do as they pleased. So they dropped him into a miry pit. An Ethiopian, Ebed-melech, heard about it and with the king’s permission took 30 men who lifted him up from certain death.

“It was an epic decision. For years Judah’s king had been caught in the middle of a bitter struggle between a brave, faith-filled prophet and cabal of ambitious princes. Now the Babylonian army was closing in. Judah’s princes did not want to surrender. But the prophet Jeremiah defied them. The king had to choose. Should he heed the prophet’s counsel, surrender Jerusalem and save his people? Or should he capitulate to his princes and kill the prophet? Judah’s fate rested on his verdict (Biblical Archaeology, January/February 2012).”

The story from the archaeology article states that a startling discovery was made in the City of David by Dr. Eilat Mazar when one of her colleagues found a small piece of clay lying in the dust. Further investigation revealed the Paleo-Hebrew words “Belonging to Yehucal, son of Shelemiyahu, son of Shovi.” This was the seal of Jehucal! Another dig found “le Gedalyahu ben Pashur”-“belonging to Gedaliah, son of Pashur.” (Jeremiah 38:1)

“Rarely do science and the Bible converge as dramatically as with the Jehucal and Gedaliah bullae. Unearthed near the palace of Judah’s king and scientifically dated to the time of Jeremiah, these artifacts resurrect the life and commission of one of the great prophets of scripture (Ibid).”

The suspense is over; the king did not kill the prophet!

We are pleased that secular scholars found a reason to accept scripture. We do not need seals and artifacts because we gladly follow the Bible and its Almighty author. Nevertheless, we love the Bible’s great suspense stories!

Rev. Raymond Parnell is Pastor Emeritus of Christ Memorial Temple in Lafayette, Indiana.
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