Monday, October 12, 2015

The Destruction of Jerusalem

Jeremiah 52:1-34

“Zedekiah was one and twenty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem. And his mother's name was Hamutal the daughter of Jeremiah of Libnah.  And he did that which was evil in the eyes of the LORD, according to all that Jehoiakim had done.  For through the anger of the LORD it came to pass in Jerusalem and Judah, till he had cast them out from his presence, that Zedekiah rebelled against the king of Babylon.” (Jeremiah 52:1-3)

The Babylonians had originally conquered Judah in Jehoiakim’s day.  Because he rebelled they had carried Jehoiakim captive and made his eight year old son Jehoiachin king.  The Jewish leaders continued to rebel, and three months later the Babylonians removed Jehoiachin and made his uncle Mattaniah king, changing his name to Zephaniah.  Zephaniah was just like his brother Jehoiakim, ignoring the warnings from god and going along with the Jewish leaders and continuing to antagonize the Lord.  He reigned a little over eleven years. 

“And it came to pass in the ninth year of his reign, in the tenth month, in the tenth day of the month, that Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon came, he and all his army, against Jerusalem, and pitched against it, and built forts against it round about.  So the city was besieged unto the eleventh year of king Zedekiah.  And in the fourth month, in the ninth day of the month, the famine was sore in the city, so that there was no bread for the people of the land.  Then the city was broken up, and all the men of war fled, and went forth out of the city by night by the way of the gate between the two walls, which was by the king's garden; (now the Chaldeans were by the city round about:) and they went by the way of the plain. ” (Jeremiah 52:4-7)

Nine years and ten months after they made him king, because of the constant rebellion of the Jews, the Babylonians were forced to invade Judah and besiege Jerusalem again.  A year and a half later, the Jews ran out of food and were forced to surrender.  The Jewish army escaped by a secret gate at night even though the Chaldean army surrounded the city. 

“But the army of the Chaldeans pursued after the king, and overtook Zedekiah in the plains of Jericho; and all his army was scattered from him.  Then they took the king, and carried him up unto the king of Babylon to Riblah in the land of Hamath; where he gave judgment upon him.  And the king of Babylon slew the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes: he slew also all the princes of Judah in Riblah.  Then he put out the eyes of Zedekiah; and the king of Babylon bound him in chains, and carried him to Babylon, and put him in prison till the day of his death.” (Jeremiah 52:8-11)

The Chaldean army gave pursuit and captured Zedekiah near Jericho, before he could cross the Jordan, and the army scattered.  He was taken to Nebuchadnezzar’s field offices in Riblah, where his sons were executed while he watched, then his eyes were put out so that would be the last thing he saw.   When Nebuchadnezzar returned to Babylon, Zedekiah was taken to Babylon as a prisoner, where he would remain until his death. 

“Now in the fifth month, in the tenth day of the month, which was the nineteenth year of Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon, came Nebuzaradan, captain of the guard, which served the king of Babylon, into Jerusalem,  And burned the house of the LORD, and the king's house; and all the houses of Jerusalem, and all the houses of the great men, burned he with fire:  And all the army of the Chaldeans, that were with the captain of the guard, brake down all the walls of Jerusalem round about.

Then Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard carried away captive certain of the poor of the people, and the residue of the people that remained in the city, and those that fell away, that fell to the king of Babylon, and the rest of the multitude.  But Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard left certain of the poor of the land for vinedressers and for husbandmen.” (Jeremiah 52:12-16)

A month after they seized Jerusalem, the Babylonians razed the city, burning the temple.the government offices and the homes, and tore down the city walls.  The poor people and the wealthy who had not escaped were hauled off as captives, except for a few of the poor who were left to manage the orchards and vineyards and care for the farms. 

“Also the pillars of brass that were in the house of the LORD, and the bases, and the brazen sea that was in the house of the LORD, the Chaldeans brake, and carried all the brass of them to Babylon.  The caldrons also, and the shovels, and the snuffers, and the bowls, and the spoons, and all the vessels of brass wherewith they ministered, took they away.  And the basins, and the firepans, and the bowls, and the caldrons, and the candlesticks, and the spoons, and the cups; that which was of gold in gold, and that which was of silver in silver, took the captain of the guard away.  The two pillars, one sea, and twelve brazen bulls that were under the bases, which king Solomon had made in the house of the LORD: the brass of all these vessels was without weight.

And concerning the pillars, the height of one pillar was eighteen cubits; and a fillet of twelve cubits did compass it; and the thickness thereof was four fingers: it was hollow.  And a chapiter of brass was upon it; and the height of one chapiter was five cubits, with network and pomegranates upon the chapiters round about, all of brass. The second pillar also and the pomegranates were like unto these.  And there were ninety and six pomegranates on a side; and all the pomegranates upon the network were an hundred round about.” (Jeremiah 52:17-23)

The huge brass castings Solomon had made for the temple were broken up and transported to Babylon.  The brazen sea was a cast tank or bowl some six feet deep and twelve feet across cast from brass about four inches thick, that sat on twelve brass castings resembling oxen.  The main pillars were twenty seven feet long and about six feet in diameter in the form of a hollow brass tube with three inch walls.  They had additional decorative tops and bases.    All of the serving utensils and tool from the temple were carried away as well,

“And the captain of the guard took Seraiah the chief priest, and Zephaniah the second priest, and the three keepers of the door: He took also out of the city an eunuch, which had the charge of the men of war; and seven men of them that were near the king's person, which were found in the city; and the principal scribe of the host, who mustered the people of the land; and threescore men of the people of the land, that were found in the midst of the city.  So Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard took them, and brought them to the king of Babylon to Riblah.  And the king of Babylon smote them, and put them to death in Riblah in the land of Hamath. Thus Judah was carried away captive out of his own land.” (Jeremiah 52:24-27)

In the process of destroying the city, seventy three officials were discovered hiding in the city and were carried to Nebuchadnezzar’s field office where they were tried and executed for their part in the rebellion against Babylon. 

“This is the people whom Nebuchadrezzar carried away captive: in the seventh year three thousand Jews and three and twenty: In the eighteenth year of Nebuchadrezzar he carried away captive from Jerusalem eight hundred thirty and two persons: In the three and twentieth year of Nebuchadrezzar Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard carried away captive of the Jews seven hundred forty and five persons: all the persons were four thousand and six hundred.” (Jeremiah 52:28-30)

When Nebuchadnezzar, first conquered Judah, he didn’t take any captives, just signing an agreement with Jehoiakim.  After Jehoiakim’s rebellion, in Nebuchadnezzar’s seventh year, he took three thousand twenty three of the Jews as captives, including Daniel and his friends.  A great many of the Jews escaped to Telabib on the river chebar, where they were ministered to by Ezekiel.   A little over eleven years later, when he defeated Zedekiah, he took another eight hundred thirty two captives, and five years after that, when they rebelled against his governor, another seven hundred forty five were taken to Babylon. 

“And it came to pass in the seven and thirtieth year of the captivity of Jehoiachin king of Judah, in the twelfth month, in the five and twentieth day of the month, that Evilmerodach king of Babylon in the first year of his reign lifted up the head of Jehoiachin king of Judah, and brought him forth out of prison, And spake kindly unto him, and set his throne above the throne of the kings that were with him in Babylon, And changed his prison garments: and he did continually eat bread before him all the days of his life.  And for his diet, there was a continual diet given him of the king of Babylon, every day a portion until the day of his death, all the days of his life.” (Jeremiah 52:31-34)

Thirty seven years after Zedekiah was captured, Nebuchadneszzar’s successor, Evilmerodach, or Awil Marduk freed him, and again designated him as the Jewish leader, providing for him until his death.  This would have been twelve or fifteen years before the Medo-Persian Empire seized control from Belshazzar, in Daniel 5.   

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