2 Kings 24


In the last chapter, regardless of all the reforms that Josiah had done, we saw that God was going to send the Southern Kingdom of Judah into Babylonian captivity because of the sins of Manasseh, 2 Kings 23:26-27.

In this chapter, we read about how God fulfilled His will in sending them to Babylon. This is the beginning of the seventy years of captivity for God’s children, just as Jeremiah had prophesied, Jeremiah 25:11.

The Stages Of The Exile

The Exile of Judah took place in three specific stages.

The First Stage

The first stage took place in 605 B.C. On his way back from victory in Egypt, Nebuchadnezzar, general of the armies of Babylon, laid siege to Jerusalem and took some of the leading nobles, and young men from the city of Jerusalem as hostages and carried them back to Babylon.

It is at this point that Daniel and his three friends are carried off, Daniel 1:1-7. Most of the citizens are still in the land of Judah but are certainly subservient to Babylon. It is possible that it was at this point that Jeremiah prophesied the 70-year captivity, Jeremiah 25:11-12.

Nebuchadnezzar had just vanquished the Egyptians at the Battle of Carchemish, thus establishing Babylon as the new rulers of the eastern Mediterranean world. Nebuchadnezzar was establishing Babylonian dominance over all that area and had come to Jerusalem and laid siege to the city.

Hearing of his father’s death, he took several young men from the royal family as hostages and trainees for his court, including Daniel and his three friends according to Daniel 1:1-7. He also made King Jehoiakim a vassal, 2 Chronicles 36:6, and then hastened back to Babylon to establish himself on the throne. Nebuchadnezzar and a small military force took the short route across the desert, sending the captives with his greater army along the Fertile Crescent.

At this point, though most of her citizens were yet in the land of Judah, the nation was subservient to Babylon. It is at this point that Jeremiah prophesied that Judah would be carried off to Babylon for 70 years. Therefore, most scholars believe that the 70-year captivity began with this event.

This would coincide well with the decree for the first return around 538 B.C., which would be followed by that return and the beginning of the temple rebuilding process around 537/536 B.C.

The Second Stage

The second stage took place in 597 B.C. Jehoiakim rebels against Nebuchadnezzar, about 602 B.C., who finally comes and attacks Jerusalem, on March 10th 597 B.C., carrying off 10,000 captives to Babylon.

After rebelling against Nebuchadnezzar, King Jehoiakim died on December 10th 598 B.C., so by the time Nebuchadnezzar arrived to punish Jerusalem for its rebellion, his son Jehoiachin, had been on the throne for three months and ten days.

In other words, Jehoiachin was in the wrong place at the wrong time and would essentially pay for the rebellion of his father against Babylon. Jehoiachin was taken captive to Babylon and remained a prisoner there until the death of Nebuchadnezzar in 561 B.C. 2 Kings 25:27-30.

Nebuchadnezzar also carried off the wealthy elite from Jerusalem; included in these was Ezekiel, the prophet. Although, Ezekiel wasn’t actually called to the prophetic ministry until after he had been carried off to Babylon, probably about 593 BC.

The Third Stage

The third stage took place in 586 B.C. King Zedekiah ignores the warnings of Jeremiah, Jeremiah 27-28, and plots against Babylon once again, so that Nebuchadnezzar returns, lays siege against Jerusalem, January 15th 588 B.C. to July 18th 586 B.C., and captures it. One month after the city fell, the captain of Nebuchadnezzar’s army burned the city and the temple.

It is interesting that the temple was destroyed in 586 B.C. and would not be completely rebuilt until February/March of 516 B.C., 70 years after its destruction. So, not only were the Jews in captivity for a minimum of 70 years, but the temple would not exist for 70 years as well.

A tiny remnant of Jews, including Jeremiah, was left in Judah under Gedeliah, who was appointed governor. When Gedeliah was murdered, those Jews feared reprisal and fled to Egypt, taking Jeremiah there against his wishes, Jeremiah 40:13-16.

‘During Jehoiakim’s reign, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon invaded the land, and Jehoiakim became his vassal for three years. But then he turned against Nebuchadnezzar and rebelled. The LORD sent Babylonian, Aramean, Moabite and Ammonite raiders against him to destroy Judah, in accordance with the word of the LORD proclaimed by his servants the prophets. Surely these things happened to Judah according to the LORD’s command, in order to remove them from his presence because of the sins of Manasseh and all he had done, including the shedding of innocent blood. For he had filled Jerusalem with innocent blood, and the LORD was not willing to forgive. As for the other events of Jehoiakim’s reign, and all he did, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Judah? Jehoiakim rested with his ancestors. And Jehoiachin his son succeeded him as king. The king of Egypt did not march out from his own country again, because the king of Babylon had taken all his territory, from the Wadi of Egypt to the Euphrates River.’ 2 Kings 24:1-7

Jehoiakim reigned in 597 B.C., 2 Kings 23:36, and he was the victim of God’s judgment that was now coming upon Judah, 2 Chronicles 36:9-10. He had no choice but to surrender to the Babylonian king, Nebuchadnezzar. This invasion took place in the fourth year of Jehoiakim’s reign, and the first year of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign, Jeremiah 25:1 / Jeremiah 46:2.

Nebuchadnezzar’s march against Syria and Palestine took Jerusalem and carried the king, Jehoiachin and captives away to Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar appointed a new king of Judah, which was probably a reference to Zedekiah.

Manasseh had ‘filled Jerusalem with innocent blood’. Just as Ahab and Jezebel abused their positions of power to take Naboth’s vineyard, 1 Kings 21:1-21, Manasseh had abused his position of power. The Lord would not forgive them, Jeremiah 15:1, because of the measure of their sin and injustice.

Notice that ‘Jehoiakim rested with his ancestors’, this isn’t a contradiction to Jeremiah’s prophecy in Jeremiah 22:19, where he tells us that Jehoiakim ‘He will have the burial of a donkey—dragged away and thrown outside the gates of Jerusalem.’

Jehoiakim had revolted again and 2 Chronicles 36:6 tells us that ‘Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon attacked him and bound him with bronze shackles to take him to Babylon’.

Nebuchadnezzar was now the supreme power during this time, he ruled from the border of Egypt to the Euphrates, and for seventy years Judah would be slaves to the Babylonians in captivity. This was the end of the Southern Kingdom of Judah, Amos 9:8.

Jehoiachin King Of Judah

‘Jehoiachin was eighteen years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem three months. His mother’s name was Nehushta daughter of Elnathan; she was from Jerusalem. He did evil in the eyes of the LORD, just as his father had done. At that time the officers of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon advanced on Jerusalem and laid siege to it, and Nebuchadnezzar himself came up to the city while his officers were besieging it. Jehoiachin king of Judah, his mother, his attendants, his nobles and his officials all surrendered to him. In the eighth year of the reign of the king of Babylon, he took Jehoiachin prisoner. As the LORD had declared, Nebuchadnezzar removed the treasures from the temple of the LORD and from the royal palace and cut up the gold articles that Solomon king of Israel had made for the temple of the LORD. He carried all Jerusalem into exile: all the officers and fighting men, and all the skilled workers and artisans—a total of ten thousand. Only the poorest people of the land were left. Nebuchadnezzar took Jehoiachin captive to Babylon. He also took from Jerusalem to Babylon the king’s mother, his wives, his officials and the prominent people of the land. The king of Babylon also deported to Babylon the entire force of seven thousand fighting men, strong and fit for war, and a thousand skilled workers and artisans. He made Mattaniah, Jehoiachin’s uncle, king in his place and changed his name to Zedekiah.’ 2 Kings 24:8-17

Jehoiachin was now king of Judah, he became king at the age of eighteen. He is also known as Jeconiah, Matthew 1:11 / Jeremiah 22:24. He was just as evil as his father, Jehoiakim, which is surprising considering he only reigned for three months, 2 Chronicles 36:9-10. But in those three months, he murdered men and ravished their wives, Ezekiel 19:5-7.

Notice what Nebuchadnezzar does, he takes all the skilled workers away from Jerusalem, but he leaves behind all those who didn’t have any skill. This was his way of removing anyone who may rebel against him and of course, this would mean that the skilled workers would work for him in building up his empire. Nebuchadnezzar took Jehoiachin to Babylon.

This was the first conquest of Jerusalem which occurred in 597 B.C. but because Jehoiachin surrendered, there was very little destruction to the city.

A second conquest of the city occurred in 586 B.C. to stop the rebellion of Mattaniah, that is Jehoiachin’s uncle, whose name was changed to Zedekiah 1 Chronicles 3:15. It was during this conquest that Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Jerusalem and the temple, 2 Kings 25:1-7.

The third and final assault on Jerusalem took place in 582 B.C. Jeremiah 52:29-30.

Coffman says the following concerning the plundering of Solomon’s temple. ‘Nebuchadnezzar spoiled Solomon’s temple three times.

1. He took some of the treasures away when Jehoiakim was king, placing the golden vessels in the temple of his god in Babylon, Daniel 1:2. These were the vessels profaned by Belshazzar, Daniel 5:2.

2. He continued the destruction by taking many other treasures, breaking and cutting them into pieces when he came up against Jeconiah, as in this chapter.

3. He thoroughly looted and destroyed the temple, even cutting up the brass and all other metal objects of value when the city fell a third time at the end of the reign of Zedekiah, 2 Kings 25:13-16.’

Zedekiah King Of Judah

‘Zedekiah was twenty-one years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem eleven years. His mother’s name was Hamutal daughter of Jeremiah; she was from Libnah. He did evil in the eyes of the LORD, just as Jehoiakim had done. It was because of the LORD’s anger that all this happened to Jerusalem and Judah, and in the end he thrust them from his presence. Now Zedekiah rebelled against the king of Babylon.’ 2 Kings 24:16-20

Zedekiah is now king of Judah and he begin his reign when he was twenty-one years old and reigned for eleven years, 2 Chronicles 36:11-16 / Jeremiah 52:1-3. He too did evil in God’s eyes, because it was Nebuchadnezzar who placed him on the throne, 2 Kings 24:17, we can be sure that he was totally in submission to the Babylonian king.

He probably would have had to swear an oath to Nebuchadnezzar, which would have involved invoking the Name of the Lord. The change of his name to Zedekiah was an essential element in the whole procedure, 2 Kings 24:17. Jeremiah tells us his rebellion against Babylon was also a rebellion against God, Jeremiah 31:1-40 / Ezekiel 17:13.

He should have never rebelled in the first place because it was totally against everything God had said to His prophet Ezekiel, Ezekiel 8:1-18, and against everything God had said to His prophet Jeremiah, Jeremiah 25:11-12 / Jeremiah 28:1-4 / Jeremiah 34:8.

Notice that God ‘thrusts them from his presence’. The sin of people had become so bad, that God couldn’t even bring Himself to look at them any longer, Isaiah 6:9-10. This is one of the saddest descriptions of God looking at His people in the Scriptures.

The Northern Kingdom of Israel was taken into Assyrian captivity because their sins were too great, 2 Kings 17:5-6, and here we read that the Southern Kingdom of Judah were just as bad, and they too are taken into Babylonian captivity for sent years.

Zedekiah broke his oath of allegiance to Nebuchadnezzar, and when Nebuchadnezzar came up once more to destroy Jerusalem, Zedekiah asked Jeremiah to pray for the city, but God, declared that He would fight against Zedekiah and the city and destroy them, Jeremiah 37:1-21.

Jehoiachin was the last king of Judah and was so recognised by the Jews, because Zedekiah was merely a hand puppet of Nebuchadnezzar and because of his foolish rebellion, Jerusalem fell a third time. We will read about that sad event in the next chapter.

Go To 2 Kings 25


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