24 Oct. 2 Kings 25:1-21

24 Oct. Zedekiah rebels and Judah is led into exile

“Zedekiah turned against the king of Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon marched against Jerusalem with his whole army during Zedekiah’s ninth year as king, on the tenth day of the tenth month.”

“He made a camp around the city and piled earth against the city walls to attack it. The city was under attack until Zedekiah’s eleventh year as king. By the ninth day of the fourth month, the hunger was terrible in the city. There was no food for the people to eat.”

“Then the city was broken into, and the whole army ran away at night through the gate between the two walls by the king’s garden. While the Babylonians were still surrounding the city, Zedekiah and his men ran away towards the Jordan Valley.”

“But the Babylonian army chased King Zedekiah and caught up with him in the plains of Jericho. All of his army was scattered from him, so they captured Zedekiah and took him to the king of Babylon at Riblah.”

“There he passed sentence on Zedekiah. They killed Zedekiah’s sons as he watched. Then they put out his eyes and put bronze chains on him and took him to Babylon.”

“Nebuzaradan was the commander of the king’s special guards… Nebuzaradan set fire to the Temple of the LORD and the palace and all the houses of Jerusalem. Every important building was burned. The whole Babylonian army, led by the commander of the king’s special guards, broke down the walls around Jerusalem.”

“Nebuzaradan, the commander of the guards, captured the people left in Jerusalem, those who had surrendered to the king of Babylon and the rest of the people. But the commander left behind some of the poorest people of the land to take care of the vineyards and fields.”

“The Babylonians broke up the bronze pillars, the bronze stands and the large bronze bowl, which was called the Sea, in the Temple of the LORD. Then they carried the bronze to Babylon…”

“The commander of the guards took some prisoners – Seriah the chief priest, Zephaniah the priest next in rank, and the three doorkeepers… he took the officer in charge of the fighting men… He took the royal secretary… and 60 other men… and brought them to the king of Babylon at Riblah.”

“There at Riblah, in the land of Hamath, the king had them killed. So the people of Judah were led away from their country as captives.”

          (2 Kings 25:1-21)

 

 

Following Zedekiah’s rebellion in 598BC, Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon turned his wrath against Jerusalem, finally capturing the city in July 587BC after a long siege lasting a year and a half.

Zedekiah escaped by night and fled towards the River Jordan, but the Babylonians set out in pursuit and captured him near Jericho. Zedekiah was taken before Nebuchadnezzar at Riblah, near Hamath, blinded and led to Babylon in chains (see Jeremiah 39:1-7).

Over the next few months, the Temple and the royal palace in Jerusalem were destroyed by fire and the city walls were torn down by Nebuzaradan, the commander of the Babylonian imperial guard. All the silver censers and the bronze furnishings from the Temple were confiscated and sent to Babylon.

The huge bronze pillars and the bronze ceremonial washing bowl (the ‘Bronze Sea’) were removed and melted down to be re-used (see 2 Kings 25:8-21). The same fate probably met the valuable gold articles and treasures from the Temple that had already been taken to Babylon eleven years earlier (see 2 Kings 24:13).

The prophet Jeremiah - who had foretold the downfall of Jerusalem and had tried in vain to persuade Zedekiah to surrender - was rescued by Nebuzaradan from amongst the captives who were being marshalled for exile in the holding camp at Ramah, just north of Jerusalem. Jeremiah was offered the reward of luxurious living in Babylon, but he chose to stay behind at Mizpah under the protection of Gedeliah, the new Babylonian governor appointed by Nebuchadnezzar (see Jeremiah 40:1-6).

Meanwhile, the high priest and the royal advisors were arrested and executed, and the people of Judah were led into exile in Babylonia. Only a few of the poorest agricultural labourers were left behind to tend the vineyards and the surrounding fields.

Some of the Judaean officers and soldiers who had defected and gone into hiding surrendered to Gedeliah, the new governor, at Mizpah. As they had not fought against the Babylonians, they were given land to cultivate in the surrounding villages of Judah (see 2 Kings 25:22-27).

Seven months later, in 586BC, Ishmael (a descendant of the King of Judah) assassinated Gedeliah at Mizpah and then escaped to Egypt. The other Judaeans at Mizpah also decided to flee to Egypt, taking with them the prophet Jeremiah (see Jeremiah 40-44).

The photo (by Arlo Abrahamson) shows the ruins of ancient Babylon.

You can see photos of the reconstructed remains of the Ishtar Gate of Babylon @ https://www.thebiblejourney.org/biblejourney2/33-judah-after-the-fall-of-israel/jerusalem-falls-and-the-exile-in-babylon-begins/


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