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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Winter (11/14/05)

TITLE: The Winter Of Discontent: A Scribe's Lament
By Dan Louise Mann


Baruch fumed. It was the only thing keeping him warm on this dark winter day. As he massaged cramped and stiff fingers, he reviewed events of the past year, but especially of the last couple days.

Baruch, the scribe, was Jeremiah’s long-time friend, and he firmly believed Jeremiah to be a true prophet of the Lord. He had put this belief into action when he agreed to do a transcribing job for Jeremiah. Jeremiah would dictate the words from the Lord, Baruch would write them down. Couple of weeks’ work…a month at most, he had thought. How was he to know it would become a labor of love and take 12 long months!

When they finally finished the book, Jeremiah was eager to get the message out to the people. But since he was under house arrest, he couldn’t do it, so Baruch reluctantly agreed to be his spokesman. Scribes were used to being in the background, and that’s the way he liked it. But he knew it was vitally important to make known the Lord’s displeasure. If the king and the people didn’t heed the warnings, the consequences were dire.

Nervously looking over the large crowd in the Temple courtyard, Baruch cleared his throat and announced, somewhat tentatively at first, his intention to read the words of Jeremiah from the Lord. A hush rippled through the crowd. His voice gathered strength as he began reading the words over which he had labored for the past year. Occasionally he paused to lift his eyes from the book and scan the faces peering up at him. It looked as though the people understood the gravity of the message, he thought with satisfaction.

The next day a messenger from the king’s princes came to Jeremiah requesting another reading. Jeremiah and Baruch were elated. The word was getting out! Maybe the Lord’s anger would be turned away from the land of Judah after all! Baruch hurried off to read the message for the second time in as many days.

Baruch was gratified with the princes’ reaction, for they quickly agreed the king must hear the message as well. But, they warned Baruch, we’re uncertain what the king’s reaction will be, so probably best if you and Jeremiah hide out for a while. But leave the book with us for safekeeping, they added. Baruch agonized over that. He really didn’t want to let a year’s worth of work out of his sight, but the princes insisted. Reluctantly he left the book with them and went into what he hoped was only temporary hiding. He was certainly NOT prepared for what happened next.

Court rumor had it that King Jehoiakim had been depressed and in a sour mood for the last year, ever since Judah and Jerusalem had been subjugated by Babylon and Jehoiakim had been reduced to king in name only. Those closest to the king noted the forced winter inactivity seemed to make the king’s depression even worse. So, with some trepidation in this uncertain mental climate, the princes approached the king with Jeremiah’s message. And, as they expected, the king was greatly displeased by what he heard. The more he heard, the more infuriated he became. Then he did something nobody predicted---he began methodically cutting up the book and throwing it in the fire! By the time all the words were read, only a pile of ashes remained.

One of the princes who witnessed the king’s fury with his own eyes, Gemariah, broke the news to Baruch. When the scribe heard that a year’s worth of his toil had gone up in smoke, he began to sob and rage. The king was crazy, he spluttered to Gemariah, and he was dooming them all!

While Baruch continued to rant, Jeremiah quietly approached and grasped his shoulder, gaining his attention. Baruch looked deep into the compassionate but determined eyes of his friend. Then, very matter-of-factly, Jeremiah said that the Lord had already revealed to him what had happened, and what was done was done. But, he continued, the Lord wanted to give the king another chance to repent. The instructions from the Lord were clear, Jeremiah told him with just the hint of a smile---they were to write it all down again. The scribe stared at Jeremiah in disbelief. A deep groan escaped his lips as the realization sunk in---here we go again!

(Inspired by Jeremiah 36)

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Member Comments
Member Date
dub W11/23/05
Pretty good narrative examination, however, to make this move and more attractive, change the abundant descriptions into dialog. The story will be much more realistic.
Julianne Jones11/25/05
You have a great idea here and a good understanding of the time and setting. I agree with Dub though - include some dialogue to make this piece really sing! Good work.
Nina Phillips11/26/05
I agree. I enjoyed reading your story, but I believe it can use some dialogue (I would like to see more story too.) Nice post. God bless ya, littlelight
c clemons11/27/05
I thought this was very good, good imagination too or who knows it could have happen that way.
Annie Glasel08/11/06
I hope these are used in some Sunday school classroom!