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Chapter LIV.

Meanwhile Sedechias, the king of the useless multitude, although without power, being of an unfaithful disposition and neglectful of God, and not understanding that captivity had been brought upon them on account of the sins of the nation, becoming at length ripe for suffering the last evils he could endure, offended the mind of the king. Accordingly, after a period of nine years, Nabuchodonosor made war against him, and having forced him to flee within the walls, besieged him for three years. At this time, he consulted Jeremia the prophet, who had already often proclaimed that captivity impended over the city, to discover if perhaps there might still be some hope. But he, not ignorant of the anger of heaven, having frequently had the same question put to him, at length gave an answer, denouncing special punishment upon the king. Then Sedechias, roused to resentment, ordered the prophet to be thrust into prison. Ere long, however, he regretted this cruel act, but, as the chief men of the Jews (whose practice it had been even from the beginning to afflict the righteous) opposed him, he did not venture to release the innocent man. Under coercion from the same persons, the prophet was let down into a pit329329    “Lacum,” as once before. of great depth, and which was disgusting from its filth and squalor, while a deadly stench issued from it. This was done that he might not simply die by a common death. But the king, impious though he was, yet showed himself somewhat more merciful than the priests, and ordered the prophet to be taken out of the pit, and restored to the safekeeping of the prison. In the meantime the force of the enemy and want began to press the besieged hard, and everything being consumed that could be eaten, famine took a firm hold of them. Thus, its defenders being worn out with want of food, the town was taken and burnt. The king, as the prophet had declared, had his eyes put out, and was carried away to Babylon, while Jeremia, through the mercy of the enemy, was taken out of his prison. When Nabuzardan, one of the royal princes, was leading him away captive with the rest, the choice was granted by him to the prophet, either to remain in his deserted and desolated native country, or to go along with him in the possession of the highest honors; and Jeremia preferred to abide in his native land. Nabuchodonosor, having carried away the people, appointed as governor over those left behind by the conquerors (either from the circumstances attending the war, or from an absolute weariness of accumulating spoil) Godolia, who belonged to the same nation. He gave 97him, however, no royal ensign, or even the name of governor, because there was really no honor in ruling over these few wretched persons.


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