News of King Jehoiakim’s surrender to Nebuchadnezzar’s army penetrates Jerusalem with the speed of gossip, filling every heart with the nausea of terror. By the thousands they stampede into Hezekiah’s tunnel, climbing down half-empty cisterns, crawling into subterranean caves below their homes—any place that offers a refuge from the lustful eyes and bloodthirsty swords of the Babylonians.
Soon the cobblestone avenues fill with hostages, for the enemy knows all the likely places where people will hide. And soon dozens of Jews are led to the city square inside the East Gate in preparation for their march to Babylon.
The prophet Jeremiah watches from atop the northeast corner of the Temple walls, overlooking the gathering area. He knows that many of these captives are the most promising young men of the city, who will now languish in a Babylonian dungeon or slave away their lives in some sweatshop. He spots his beloved friend Daniel, the prince—his unusual intelligence, his striking good looks, and his fearless devotion to his Creator would have been such a blessing to Judah! Such an injustice!
Within hours the enemy and the hostages march out of sight toward the north. The prophet covers his face and weeps.
Book 3 of 5