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RHAPSODY

OR

PROPHETIC DRAMA

JEREMIAH'S RHAPSODY OF THE DROUGHT

Judah mourneth, and the gates thereof languish; they sit in black upon the ground; and the cry of Jerusalem is gone up.

And their nobles send their little ones to the waters: they come to the pits, and find no water; they return with their vessels empty: they are ashamed and confounded, and cover their heads.

Because of the ground which is chapt, for that no rain hath been in the land, the plowmen are ashamed, they cover their heads.

Yea, the hind also in the field calveth, and forsaketh her young, because there is no grass. And the wild asses stand on the bare heights, they pant for air like jackals; their eyes fail, because there is no herbage.

REPENTENT ISRAEL

Though our iniquities testify against us, work thou for thy name's sake, O LORD: for our backslidings are many; we have sinned against thee. O thou hope of Israel, the saviour thereof in the time of trouble, why shouldest thou be as a sojourner in the land, and as a wayfaring man that turneth aside to tarry for a night? Why shouldest thou be as a man astonied, as a mighty man that cannot save? yet thou, O LORD, art in the midst of us, and we are called by thy name: leave us not.

THE PROPHET

Thus saith the LORD unto this people, Even so have they loved to wander; they have not refrained their feet: therefore the LORD doth not accept them; now will he remember their iniquity, and visit their sins.

THE LORD (to the Prophet)

Pray not for this people for their good. When they fast, I will not hear their cry; and when they offer burnt offering and oblation, I will not accept them: but I will consume them by the sword, and by the famine, and by the pestilence.

THE PROPHET

Ah, Lord GOD! behold, the prophets say unto them, Ye shall not see the sword, neither shall ye have famine; but I will give you assured peace in this place.

THE LORD

The prophets prophesy lies in my name: I sent them not, neither have I commanded them, neither spake I unto them; they prophesy unto you a lying vision, and divination, and a thing of nought, and the deceit of their own heart. Therefore thus saith the LORD concerning the prophets that prophesy in my name, and I sent them not, yet they say, Sword and famine shall not be in this land: By sword and famine shall those prophets be consumed. And the people to whom they prophesy shall be cast out in the streets of Jerusalem because of the famine and the sword; and they shall have none to bury them, them, their wives, nor their sons, nor their daughters: for I will pour their wickedness upon them. And thou shalt say this word unto them, 'Let mine eyes run down with tears night and day, and let them not cease; for the virgin daughter of my people is broken with a great breach, with a very grievous wound. If I go forth into the field, then behold the slain with the sword! and if I enter into the city, then behold them that are sick with famine! for both the prophet and the priest go about in the land and have no knowledge.'

REPENTENT ISRAEL

Hast thou utterly rejected Judah? hath thy soul loathed Zion? why hast thou smitten us, and there is no healing for us? We looked for peace, but no good came; and for a time of healing, and behold dismay! We acknowledge, O LORD, our wickedness, and the iniquity of our fathers: for we have sinned against thee. Do not abhor us, for thy name's sake; do not disgrace the throne of thy glory: remember, break not thy covenant with us. Are there any among the vanities of the heathen that can cause rain? or can the heavens give showers? art not thou he, O LORD our God? therefore we will wait upon thee; for thou hast made all these things.

THE LORD (to the Prophet)

Though Moses and Samuel stood before me, yet my mind could not be toward this people: cast them out of my sight, and let them go forth. And it shall come to pass, when they say unto thee, Whither shall we go forth? then thou shalt tell them, Thus saith the LORD: Such as are for death, to death; and such as are for the sword, to the sword; and such as are for the famine, to the famine; and such as are for captivity, to captivity. And I will appoint over them four kinds, saith the Lord: the sword to slay, and the dogs to tear, and the fowls of the heaven, and the beasts of the earth, to devour and to destroy. And I will cause them to be tossed to and fro among all the kingdoms of the earth, because of Manasseh the son of Hezekiah king of Judah, for that which he did in Jerusalem. For who shall have pity upon thee, O Jerusalem? or who shall bemoan thee? or who shall turn aside to ask of thy welfare? Thou hast rejected me, saith the LORD, thou art gone backward: therefore have I stretched out my hand against thee, and destroyed thee; I am weary with repenting. And I have fanned them with a fan in the gates of the land; I have bereaved them of children, I have destroyed my people; they have not returned from their ways. Their widows are increased to me above the sand of the seas: I have brought upon them against the mother of the young men a spoiler at noonday: I have caused anguish and terrors to fall upon her suddenly. She that hath borne seven languisheth; she hath given up the ghost; her sun is gone down while it was yet day; she hath been ashamed and confounded: and the residue of them will I deliver to the sword before their enemies, saith the LORD.

THE PROPHET

Woe is me, my mother, that thou hast borne me a man of strife and a man of contention to the whole earth! I have not lent on usury, neither have men lent to me on usury; yet every one of them doth curse me.

THE LORD (to the Prophet)

Verily I will strengthen thee for good; verily I will cause the enemy to make supplication unto thee in the time of evil and in the time of affliction.

THE LORD (to the People)

Can one break iron, even iron from the north, and brass? Thy substance and thy treasures will I give for a spoil without price, and that for all thy sins, even in all thy borders. And I will make thee to serve thine enemies in a land which thou knowest not: for a fire is kindled in mine anger, which shall burn upon you.

REPENTENT ISRAEL

O LORD, thou knowest: remember me, and visit me, and avenge me of my persecutors: take me not away in thy longsuffering: know that for thy sake I have suffered reproach. Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy words were unto me a joy and the rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O LORD God of hosts. I sat not in the assembly of them that make merry, nor rejoiced: I sat alone because of thy hand; for thou hast filled me with indignation. Why is my pain perpetual, and my wound incurable, which refuseth to be healed? wilt thou indeed be unto me as a deceitful brook, as waters that fail?

THE LORD

Therefore thus saith the LORD: If thou return, then will I bring thee again, that thou mayest stand before me; and if thou take forth the precious from the vile, thou shalt be as my mouth: they shall return unto thee, but thou shalt not return unto them.

EPILOGUE (to the Prophet)

And I will make thee unto this people a fenced brasen wall; and they shall fight against thee, but they shall not prevail against thee: for I am with thee to save thee and to deliver thee, saith the LORD. And I will deliver thee out of the hand of the wicked, and I will redeem thee out of the hand of the terrible.

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