An oppressive government is more to be feared than a tiger. — Confucius

Story of the Bible Told for Young and Old - Jesse Hurlbut




The Last Four Kings of Judah, and The Weeping Prophet


When the good King Josiah fell in battle the people of the land made his son Jehoahaz king. At that time all the kingdoms around Judah were in confusion. The great empire of Assyria had been the ruler of nearly all that part of the world; but now it had been broken up, Nineveh, its chief city, had been destroyed, and Egypt, Babylonia, and other lands were at war, each striving to take the place of Assyria as the ruler of the nations.

Pharaoh-nechoh, the king of Egypt, whose warriors had slain King Josiah, became for a time the master of the lands between Egypt and the Euphrates river. He felt that he could not trust the young King Jehoahaz, and he took his crown from him, and carried him a captive down to Egypt, so that Jehoahaz, the seventeenth king, reigned only three months. The prophet Jeremiah, who arose during Josiah's reign, spoke thus of the young king who so soon was taken away a prisoner, "Weep not for the dead King Josiah, nor sorrow over him, but weep for him that goeth away, the King Jehoahaz, for he shall return no more, nor shall he again see his own land. In the place where they have led him captive, there shall he die, and he shall look upon this land no more."

The man whom Pharaoh-nechoh set up as king over Judah in place of Jehoahaz was his brother Jehoiakim, another son of Josiah. But he was not like his father, for he lived most wickedly, and led his people back to the idols which Josiah had tried to destroy. Jeremiah, the prophet, spoke to him the words of the Lord, and warned him that the evil way in which he was going would surely end in ruin to the king and the people. This made King Jehoiakim very angry. He tried to kill the prophet, and to save his life Jeremiah was hidden by his friends.

Jeremiah could no longer go out among the people nor stand in the Temple to speak the word of the Lord. So he wrote upon a roll God's message, and gave it to his friend Baruch to read before the people. While Baruch was reading it some officers of the king came and took the roll away, and brought it to the king. King Jehoiakim was sitting in his palace, with the princes around him, and a fire was burning before him, for it was the winter time. The officer began to read the roll before the king and the princes, but when he had read a few pages the king took up a knife and began cutting the leaves and throwing them into the fire. Even the princes were shocked at this, for they knew that the writing on the roll was God's word to the king and the people. They begged the king not to destroy the roll, but he would not heed them. He went on cutting up the roll and throwing it in the fire until it was all burned.

The king told his officers to take Jeremiah the prophet and Baruch, who read his words; and he would have killed them if he had found them. But they were hidden, and he could not find them, for the Lord kept them in safety.

Jehoiakim reigned a few years as the servant of the king of Egypt. But soon the Egyptians lost all the lands that they had gained outside of their own country; and the Babylonians, under Nebuchadnezzar, rose to power over the nations, and took the place of empire that had been held by the Assyrians. Nebuchadnezzar was the son of the king of Babylon, and at first was the general of his army. He came against Judah and Jerusalem, but Jehoiakim did not dare to fight with him. He promised to serve Nebuchadnezzar, and on that condition was allowed to remain king; but no sooner had the Babylonian army gone away than he broke his promise, and rose against Babylon, and tried to make himself free.

But in this King Jehoiakim did not succeed. Instead, he lost his kingdom and his life, for either by the Babylonians or by his own people he was slain, and his dead body, like that of a beast, was thrown outside the gate of the city. He had reigned in wickedness eleven years, and he died in disgrace.

Jehoiakim's young son Jehoiachin, who was also called Coniah or Jeconiah, was then made king by the people. But he reigned only three months, for Nebuchadnezzar, who was now the king of Babylon, and was conquering all the lands, came with his army and took the city of Jerusalem. He carried the young king a captive to Babylon, as Nechoh had carried Jehoahaz a captive to Egypt eleven years before. With King Jehoiachim were taken away many of the nobles and rulers, and the best people of the land. Most of these were worshippers of the Lord, who carried with them to the land of Babylonia a love for the Lord, and who served him there, for their trouble only drew them the closer to their God. After these captives had been taken away the Lord showed to Jeremiah in the temple a vision of what should come to pass. Jeremiah saw two baskets of figs. One basket was full of fresh, ripe figs, the best that could be found. The other basket was full of poor, decayed figs, not fit to be eaten. The Lord said, "Jeremiah, what do you see?"

And Jeremiah said, "Figs; the good figs very good; and the bad figs very bad, figs so bad that they cannot be eaten."

Then the Lord said to Jeremiah, "Like these good figs are the captives who have been taken away to the land of Babylon. I will care for them, and keep them, and will bring them again to this land. I will give them a heart to know me; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And the bad figs are like those who are left in this land, the king who shall reign over them, and his princes, and his people. They shall suffer, and shall die by the sword, and by famine, and by plague, until they are destroyed."

God showed Jeremiah in this way that the captives in Babylon were the hope of the nation. And afterward Jeremiah sent a letter to these captives, saying, "Thus saith the Lord to those who have been carried away captive, 'Build houses and live in them; and plant gardens, and eat the fruit of them; and have sons and daughters, and let your children be married in that land when they grow up. And pray the Lord to give peace to the city and the land where you are living, for you and your children shall stay there seventy years, and after seventy years they shall come again to their own land in peace. For my thoughts, saith the Lord, are thoughts of peace and kindness toward you. You shall call upon me, and I will hear you. You shall seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.'"

Jeremiah
JEREMIAH WARNS THE PEOPLE OF JUDAH


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 him 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."

Jeremiah
JEREMIAH TELLS THE KING HE SHALL BE TAKEN CAPTIVE


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 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 chose 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.



Contents

Front Matter
Review

The Story of a Beautiful Garden
The First Baby in the World and His Brother
The Great Ship That Saved Eight People
The Tower That Was Never Finished
The Story of a Long Journey
How Abram's Choice Brought Blessing
The Angel by the Well
The Rain of Fire That Fell on a City
The Boy Who Became an Archer
How an Angel's Voice Saved a Boy's Life
The Story of a Journey after a Wife
How Jacob Stole His Brother's Blessing
Jacob's Wonderful Dream
A Midnight Wrestling Match
The Rich Man's Son Who Was Sold as a Slave
From the Prison to the Palace
How Joseph's Dream Came True
A Lost Brother Found
From the Land of Famine to the Land of Plenty
The Beautiful Baby Who Was Found in a River
The Voice from the Burning Bush
The River That Ran Blood
The Night When a Nation Was Born
How the Sea Became Dry Land and the Sky Rained Bre
The Mountain That Smoked and Words That Were Spoke
How Aaron Made a Golden Calf and What Became of It
The Tent Where God Lived Among His People
How They Worshipped God in the Tabernacle
What Strong Drink Brought to Aaron's Sons
The Scapegoat in the Wilderness
The Cluster of Grapes from the Land of Canaan
How the Long Journey of the Israelites Came to an
What a Wise Man Learned from an Ass
How Moses Looked upon the Promised Land
The Story of Job
The Story of a Scarlet Cord
How the River Jordan Became Dry
The Story of a Wedge of Gold
How Joshua Conquered the Land of Canaan
The Old Man Who Fought Against the Giants
The Avenger of Blook and the Cities of Refuge
The Story of an Altar Beside the River
The Presnt That Ehud Brought to King Eglon
How a Woman Won a Great Victory
Gideon and His Brave Three Hundred
Jephthah's Rash Promise and What Came from It
The Strong Man: How He Lived and How He Died
The Idol Temple at Dan and Its Priest
How Ruth Gleaned in the Field of Boaz
The Little Boy with a Linen Coat
How the Idol Fell Down Before the Ark
The Last of the Judges
The Tall Man Who Was Chosen King
How Saul Saved the Eyes of the Men of Jabesh
The Brave Young Prince
Saul's Great Sin and His Great Loss
The Shepherd Boy of Bethlehem
The Shepherd Boy's Fight with the Giant
The Little Boy Looking for the Arrows
Where David Found the Giant's Sword
How David Spared Saul's Life
The Last Days of King Saul
The Shepherd Boy Becomes a King
The Sound in the Treetops
The Cripple at the King's Table
The Prophet's Story of the Little Lamb
David's Handsome Son and How He Stole the Kingdom
Absalom in the Wood; David on the Throne
The Angel with the Drawn Sword on Mount Moriah
Solomon on This Father's Throne
The Wise Young King
The House of God on Mount Moriah
The Last Days of Solomon's Reign
The Breaking Up of a Great Kingdom
The King Who Led Israel to Sin
The Prophet Who Raised a Boy to Life
The Prayer That Was Answered in Fire
The Voice That Spoke to Elijah in the Mount
The Wounded Prophet and His Story
What Ahab Paid for His Vineyard
The Arrow That Killed a King
Elijah's Chariot of Fire
A Spring Sweetened by Salt
The Pot of Oil and the Pot of Poison
The Little Boy at Shunem
How a Little Girl Helped to Cure a Leper
The Chariots of Fire around Elisha
What the Lepers Found in the Camp
Jehu, the Furious Driver of His Chariot
Elisha and the Bow; Jonah and Nineveh
How the Ten Tribes Were Lost
The First Four Kings of Judah
The Little Boy Who Was Crowned King
Three Kings and a Great Prophet
The Good King Hezekiah
The Lost Book Found in the Temple
The Last Four Kings of Judah and the Weeping Proph
What Ezekiel Saw in the Valley
The Jewish Captives in the Court of the King
The Golden Image and the Fiery Furnace
The Tree That Was Cut Down and Grew Again
The Writing upon the Wall
Daniel in the Den of Lions
The Story of a Joyous Journey
The New Temple on Mount Moriah
The Beautiful Queen of Persia
The Scribe Who Wrote the Old Testament
The Nobleman Who Built the Wall of Jerusalem
Ezra's Great Bible Class in Jerusalem
The Angel by the Altar
The Manger of Bethlehem
The Star and the Wise Men
The Boy in his Father's House
The Prophet in the Wilderness
Jesus in the Desert, and beside the River
The Water Jars at the Wedding Feast
The Stranger at the Well
The Story of a Boy in Capernaum and a Riot
A Net Full of Fishes
The Leper and the Man Let Down through the Roof
The Cripple at the Pool and the Withered Hand
The Twelve Disciples and the Sermon on the Mount
The Captain's Servant, the Widow's Son, and a Sinn
Some Stories Jesus Told by the Sea
"Peace, Be Still"
The Little Girl Who Was Raised to Life
A Dancing Girl and What Was Given Her
The Feast beside the Sea and What Followed It
The Answer to a Mother's Prayer
The Glory of Jesus on the Mountain
The Little Child in the Arms of Jesus
At the Feast of Tabernacles
The Man with Clay on His Face
The Good Shepherd and the Good Samaritan
Lazarus Raised to Life
Some Parables in Perea
The Poor Rich Man and the Rich Poor Man
Jesus at Jericho
Palm Sunday
The Last Vistis of Jesus to the Temple
The Parables on the Mount of Olives
The Last Supper
The Olive Orchard and the High Priests Hall
The Crown of Thorns
The Darkest Day of All the World
The Brightest Day of All the World
The Stranger on the Shore
The Church of the First Days
The Man at the Beautiful Gate
The Right Way to Give, and the Wrong Way
Stephen with the Shining Face
The Man Reading in the Chariot
The Voice That Spoke to Saul
What Peter Saw by the Sea
How the Iron Gate Was Opened
The Earliest Missionaries
The Song in the Prison
Paul's Speech on the Hill
Paul at Corinth
Paul at Ephesus
Paul's Last Journey to Jerusalem
The Speech on the Stairs
Two Years in Prison
The Story That Paul Told to the King
Paul in the Storm
How Paul Came to Rome and How He Lived There
The Throne of God
The City of God