Jeremiah sat in a well contemplating life. It was not life in the vast, vague, why-am-I-on-this-planet sense, but more his own life in particular; why-am-I-in-this-well would be closer to the mark. If he were to be honest, it was not a well at all that he was trapped in, but rather a dry cistern, though not nearly so dry as he might have liked. He was waist-deep in the muck that had been left after the water had dried up. Most likely, he would die down there anyway, so what difference did it really make?
'Fine,' he directed his thoughts towards the men who had forced him down. 'If that's the way they like it… Let's see how they feel about throwing me down here when the Babylonians led by good old King Nebuchadnezzar show up on their doorstep.' He huddled back against the wall of the cistern, attempting to keep warm; the sun was setting from the land of Judah, and lately the nights had been bitterly cold. The mire in which he sat was disgusting and cold, driving him to woeful self-pity. "Of all the wells, it had to be Prince Malchiah's. How fitting." He'd never thought much of King Zedekiah's sons, not to mention Zedekiah himself. After all, if the fool had listened to him instead of Shephatiah, Gedaliah, Pashhur and that annoying Jucal, he wouldn't be dying in a well.
"How humiliating," he sighed. "A prophet of the God of Israel wasting away in a well. A well." He slapped some of the gooey mud that surrounded him. "After all I've done for them, the immoral lot. What do they expect?"
Earlier that day, the Princes of Judah had come to fetch him. It hadn't been a friendly, "Hey Jeremiah, what's the big guy been telling you lately? Any news?" sort of thing.
No. They'd heard enough earlier on when Jeremiah had been going on about how the Lord wanted them to surrender to the Chaldeans. To which they'd oh-so-typically responded, "Uh-uh, no sir, no way. Now stop demoralizing the army, you fool." To be fair, Jeremiah had said some not so nice things about their stubbornness and pride, but in his opinion they were missing the direness of the situation and were taking everything the wrong way.
He hadn't been surprised when they'd shown up, not surprised at all. He had been surprised, though, that the upper echelons of Judah felt the need to behave like low-born thugs, making enough racket so as to be heard all the way over in Egypt. "All right!" he'd exclaimed. "I'm coming out. Control yourselves!" At the time, he'd thought it was something harmless; perhaps a thief or a leper. Not so. "Ah, Pashhur. Princes. Councillors. Is there anything I can do to assist you?"
"Why, Jeremiah, yes, in fact there is," Pashhur grinned confidently. "You can come with us. We have a little… talking… to do. If you know what I mean."
"I can assure you, I don't, but if you insist…"
"Oh, we do. We really, really do." Two of the princes took hold of Jeremiah's arms, and the group began a leisurely walk, Pashhur doing all of the talking. "Jeremiah, we have a bit of a problem."
"Yes, we do," Jeremiah stated wryly. "This nation isn't obeying the God who brought us out of Egypt. And now he's decided to get our attention, and no one is listening."
"Really, Jeremiah," Pashhur sighed. "What do you think we are, idiots?" He stopped, sullenly glaring into the prophet's eyes. "Do you think Zedekiah is an idiot?" Motioning to the others, he continued walking. "Why would the God of Judah want us to leave the land he's given us to go live under Nebuchadnezzar's rule? Doesn't make sense. You're a spy, Jeremiah, reporting to the Chaldeans. There's no other explanation for the lies you've been feeding the army. Why, I've never seen morale so low in all my life."
"Makes sense considering the bunch of you have been worshiping Ba'al the last few... oh, decades. Since when are you so faithful?"
"Stop changing the subject! Admit it, you're a spy, trying to make us all believe that letting Nebuchadnezzar take Jerusalem will save our lives. I'll tell you what, the only thing that's going to save our lives is that army you're scaring. It's got to stop. Today it does."
"You're not making the Lord very happy, Pashhur." He paused. "Just where are we going, anyway?"
"The court of the guard," Pashhur replied tersely. "Look, there's the gate now," he pointed. "Come on, let's go. The king says we can do with you what we like."
"Figures. You know, you're all going to die. You and all of Jerusalem… all of Judah… if only you'd listen. If you—"
"Surrender to the Chaldeans we'll live. Yeah, yeah… we've all heard your little speech, Jeremiah. You see that cistern there?"
Jeremiah looked into the court. "Um…"
"That's my father's cistern. You should stay nice and quiet in there, giving the army a chance to recover from your anti-war propaganda."
Jeremiah's shoulders slumped. He should have expected something as ludicrous as this from the Princes. The idiots. Why couldn't they just throw him in jail or execute him or *something*? But no. They had to leave him in a royal cistern. 'My Lord,' he prayed silently. 'The fools you set against me. Why won't they just obey for once?'
Pashhur grabbed some ropes and tossed them at Jeremiah. "Here, hold these if you don't want to hurt yourself. We're ready to let you down."
"Do I have a choice?"
"And if I refuse?"
"We pick you up and toss you in. Your choice."
Jeremiah took the ropes and approached the edge of the cistern, knitting his brow as he looked down. "It's full of mire."
"Not our problem. Now get." And so Jeremiah sighed, and let them lower him into the well.
Six hours later, he couldn't help thinking that he should have at least tried to resist a little more. After all, he was going to starve down there. It really puzzled him. Usually, things in his life happened for a reason, for some point to be proven. Oh, there had been strange methods of proving points in the past, such as the time the Lord had made him buy a pair of shorts and bury them under a rock for a while. But even then he'd known that something was going on. Here, he had none of those assurances. "Let's face it," he snapped at himself. "There is no ulterior point to my being in this well, or cistern, or whatever. I'm going to die here, those nearsighted idiots are going to get everyone else killed along with them with their ridiculous stubbornness, and no one will ever know what happened or why it did. Life really, really sucks."
Above ground, he heard movement. He was startled to see the face of Ebedmelech, the Ethiopian official staying in the king's house, peering down at him. "Ebedmelech?" he asked, stunned. "What are you doing here?"
"Hello, Jeremiah." Ebedmelech grinned. "I heard you were in a bit of trouble and wondered if I could be of some assistance." On each side of him, other amused faces appeared. Jeremiah saw something in Ebedmelech's hands, and after peering at it realized it was a rope. He grinned.
"Hello Ebedmelech. What took you so long?"