Jeremiah (1998) TV

 

 

Director:  Harry Winer. 

Starring:  Mohamed Bensouda (Shepherd), Klaus Maria Brandauer (King Nebuchadnezzar), Stuart Bunce (Baruch), Silas Carson (Hananiah), Franco Castellano (Babylonian Minister), Omar Chenbod (Head Priest), Michael Cronin (Chelkia), Abderrahim Daris (Scribe), Patrick Dempsey (Jeremiah), Abdessamad Dinia (Isaac), Abderrahim El Aadili (Second Head Priest), Franco Fantasia (Old Man), Zaki Houari (Pashur), Hicham Ibrahimi (King Josiah), Simon Kunz (Gemariah), Omar Lahlou (1st Judith's Brother), Abdelkader Lofti (Judith's Uncle), Anna Maguire (Young Girl), Mohamed Majd (Eliakim), Roger May (Elshuma), Giovanni Micoli (Man in The Night), Damian Myerscough (Ephraim), Andrea Occhipinti (King Joiakim), Mohamen Mehdi Ouazanni (Michaiah), Chris Pavlo (Hanamel), Oliver Reed (General Safan), Vincent Regan (King Sedecia), Luke Sheppard (Child Jeremiah), Joylon Stephenson (Ebed Melech), Leonor Varela (Judith), Anita Zagaria (Jeremiah's mother).

Made for TV movie.

 

 

 

Spoiler Warning:  below is a summary of the entire film.

Good movie.  The movie opens with Hilkiah telling his son, Jeremiah, that today is a celebration of not only the restoration of King Solomon's Temple, but also the finding of the laws of Moses by King Josiah after their absence of some 100 years. Jeremiah's father has the honor of performing the sacrifice at the Temple.  Given this tradition Jeremiah is a descendant of Aaron, a Kohen, a priest, it is no wonder that he dreams that he will be a prophet one day.

It is now 16 years later and in the city of Babylon.  King Nebuchadnezzar has conquered Egypt and now it is time to take Jerusalem and the Kingdom of Judah. 

Back in Jerusalem a guest at Jeremiah's home complains that while King Joshua stood up to the Egyptians at Meggido, his son, Jehoiakim, lays down before them and he will do no better with the Babylonians. But Jeremiah's thoughts are elsewhere.  He is in love with Judith.  Jeremiah finds out that Judith's father, Eliakim, has become a debtor to Ezer.  Since the father cannot pay off the debt, the King orders Eliakim to forfeit all his property and that he and his family be forced to serve in slavery to Ezer for seven years.  Jeremiah helps Judith escape from this fate by going with her father's cousins to Bahurim.

But God has spoken to Jeremiah and told him that "It is time for you to speak."  Jeremiah smashes the idols for sale in the marketplace.  And God speaks to Jeremiah again saying that the people of his country are skilled in doing evil; paraphrasing somewhat "how to do good they know not. You will speak for me. They have grown fat and sleek.  They know no bounds in deeds of wickedness.  They do not defend the rights of the needy."  

Hilkiah is proud that he son will perform the sacrificial ceremony at the the yearly celebration.  But Jeremiah does not perform the ceremony.  Instead, he delivers the message from God.  This infuriates King Jehoiakim and he tells Hilkiah that his son is besides himself with emotion and that he may never return to perform the ceremony.  Hilkiah is infuriated and ashamed of his son.

At night men in hoods descend on the sleeping Jeremiah and give him a beating with clubs shouting "Blasphemer!"  Jeremiah then asks his father why he had not come to his aid, but the father just walks away.  The next day Jeremiah leaves to heat to Bahurim. 

But God is not through with Jeremiah.  He tells the reluctant prophet that he is have no family, but rather shall deliver God's message to the people of Jerusalem.  Jeremiah is afraid, but Baruch, a scribe at the Temple, comes to serve as a disciple. 

Back at court, Jeremiah tells the assembled that if they do not follow the word of God, He will destroy the country. And the King of Babylon will be God's instrument.    "Outrageous" the crowd protests.

And it comes to pass that the King of Babylon does descend on Jerusalem.  King Jeohiakim is ill and on his death bed.  Royal Advisor General Shapan proposes to the King's brother, Mattiniah, that he should surrender the King's son and family to Babylon and make himself king.  And this comes to pass.  Nebuchadnezzar proclaims Mattiniah King Zedekiah.  The city is spared, but the Kingdom of Judah must pay a heavy tribute in gold and agree to forcing most of the royal administration into exile.

When talk in Judah turns to rebellion against Babylonia, Jeremiah tells the court that they must concede to the yoke of Babylonian slavery.  The offended multitude responds with the cry of "false prophet".  Jeremiah sticks to his guns: "God has turned his face against this city and He shall destroy it with fire unless you repent!"  He adds that the King of Judah will become a slave in Babylon. 

Jeremiah is imprisoned for his audacity.  He says to Baruch "Our pleas fall on deaf ears and hardened hearts."

This is about the lowest point that Jeremiah reaches and it is appropriate now to ask will the King of Judah ever listen to God?  Or will Jeremiah be killed as a traitor by the patriotic Judeans with hardened hearts?  And will the King of Judah become a slave in Babylonia? 

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.

 

I liked this movie a lot because I have written about prophets and prophecy in relation to the prophet the Rev. Vernon Johns, the father of the American civil rights movement.  I think that in this age of frequent wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Lebanon and possible wars elsewhere, the movie has special meaning.  The righteous believe that the evil-doers eventually do get punished.  I personally believe that most of the time the evil doers are punished in this world:  by death, by loss of their positions or loss of their families.  One does not have to believe that God does this directly.  But by failing to follow in the path of righteousness, one creates great animosity and enemies among others, and those harmed strike back either in an aggressive or a passive aggressive form to the detriment of the transgressor.

In our present day, President Bush II has waged war on other nations (even when there was no real justification for it).  And he has declared that we are at war with radical Islam.  But the born-again Christian could take a lesson from Islam.  The Koran says that God does not like the starters of wars.  And now America is paying a huge price for its aggression: the death and maiming of many thousands of Muslim people, the death and maiming of American soldiers, and the loss of much of its prestige in the world.  And let me play prophet now:  Bush will be remembered as President Lyndon Baines Johnson has been, as a man who chose war as his path and stubbornly would not change policy despite the great number of deaths.  (Bush, however, will be thought of as even worse than Johnson, because at least Johnson knew that he had to walk away from war and declared he would not run for re-election.)  

Now I am sure I have just insulted many readers.  So let's hear the catcalls of traitor!  false prophet! blasphemer!  But consider this possibility: maybe it's you who are false to God.  And I do not mean the primitive understanding of God promoted by the born-again Christians, but rather God in a higher sense of truth and justice, beyond the false gods of nationalism, materialism, racism, and sexism.   Man worships himself and calls himself God, even when he is devoted to committing terrible crimes. 

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D. 

 


Historical Background:

 

650 BC  -- Jeremiah was probably born after this date.

627 BC  --  Jeremiah began to prophesize.  (He would later accurately predict the destruction of Judah by Babylonia.)  

605-562 -- Nebuchadnezzar II ruled Babylonia for 43 years and made Babylon the center of the civilized world. He is famous for his Hanging Gardens of Babylon, which he had made of his homesick wife.

588 BC  -- Nebuchadnezzar besieged Jerusalem, as Jeremiah had prophesied.

586 BC  --  Jeremiah was still in confinement when Jerusalem was taken.  The Babylonians freed him.  Jeremiah went to Mizpah.  When the governor of Judah was assassinated a group of Jews took Jeremiah to Egypt for his own protection. 

581 BC  --  Nebuchanezzar II burns Jerusalem.

570 BC  -- death of Jeremiah

576 or 590 - 529 B.C. -- Cyrus the Great ruled Persia.

567 B.C. -- Nebuchadnezzar II invaded Egypt.

556-539 -- Nabonidus ruled Babylonia.

539 B.C. -- Cyrus the Great defeated Nabonidus at Opis and occupied Babylon. Babylon had lost its independence.

 

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