Introduction: This chapter tells of Judah’s demise under its last three leaders, Jehoiakim, Jehoiachin, and Zedekiah. Like most of their predecessors, these leaders embraced evil. God then removed His hand of protection and allowed Nebuchadnezzar II to gain control of Judah and deport its people. The people suffered because of the sins of these leaders and the evil kings who preceded them. Even God’s prophets were deported because of the sins of these leaders. Jesus does not promise every believer a stress-free life. Like the Jews, you will frequently experience tribulation (Jo. 16:33). From the mistakes of Judah’s final leaders, God reveals seven lessons for surviving your trials. These include: (1) being Spirit-led, (2) depending upon God, (3) having faith and trust in God, (4) fearing God, (5) obedience, (6) repentance, and (7) hope.
First, after Josiah died battling the Egyptians, the elders faced a choice. Would they continue with Josiah’s reforms or return to their old lives of idolatry? Because their hearts were not devoted to God, they picked a son named Jehoahaz, who was not in line for succession. He was not walking with the Lord, and he quickly abandoned Josiah’s reforms and embraced evil. From these mistakes, God warns that you should always be led by the Spirit in both your own walk and in selecting your leaders. Failing to follow the Spirit can allow Satan to undue your reforms. Second, Josiah’s son Jehoiakim then also embraced evil. He returned to idolatry. He burned God’s Word, and he allowed Judah to live as a vassal state of Egypt. In short, he did not depend upon God. Instead, he depended upon his powerful neighbor for protection. From his mistakes, God wants you to depend upon Him alone and not worldly people or powers for your protection and deliverance. Third, King Jehoiakim faced an invasion from a far superior army under Nebuchadnezzar II from Babylonian. Initially, Jehoiakim submitted to Nebuchadnezzar II. Yet, he then put his trust in an alliance with Egypt to rebel against Babylon. This would lead to Judah’s destruction. God wants you to learn from this mistake and put your faith and trust in Him, not in the world. Fourth, Jehoiachin took power after Jehoiakim. Despite observing God judge Jehoiakim and hearing God’s warnings of judgement against Judah, Jehoiachin continued in his father’s sins. He did this because he did not fear God. The Bible defines “the fear of God” as hating evil. God wants you to learn from Jehoiachin’s mistakes by hating what He defines as evil. Fifth, the last leader, Zedekiah, also brought tragedy upon Judah because he refused to obey the prophet Jeremiah. Instead, he obeyed false prophets who encouraged him to form a new alliance with Egypt and again rebel against Babylon. Unlike Zedekiah, God wants you to obey His Word and not rely upon your own understanding. Sixth, God allowed Nebuchadnezzar II to strip Judah of all of its wealth. He left only poor people behind. God allowed this so that the Jews would return to Him and repent. God also wants you to take His warnings seriously and repent of your sins. Finally, God was faithful not to abandon His people in exile. After 70 years of captivity, He used a Persian king named Cyrus to free His people. God wants you to place your hope in Him. Even when you sin, He promises to never leave you nor forsake you.
The people select Jehoahaz to succeeds Josiah. After Josiah died in battle, the people appointed his second oldest son Jehoahaz as king. But he reigned for only three months before Pharaoh Neco captured him and imprisoned him: “1 Then the people of the land took Joahaz the son of Josiah, and made him king in place of his father in Jerusalem. 2 Joahaz was twenty-three years old when he became king, and he reigned three months in Jerusalem. 3 Then the king of Egypt deposed him at Jerusalem, and imposed on the land a fine of one hundred talents of silver and one talent of gold.” (2 Chr. 36:1-3). The book of Kings gives the reason for Jehoahaz’s quick demise. He rejected his father’s example and instead embraced evil: “32 He did evil in the sight of the Lord, according to all that his fathers had done. 33 Pharaoh Neco imprisoned him at Riblah in the land of Hamath, that he might not reign in Jerusalem; and he imposed on the land a fine of one hundred talents of silver and a talent of gold.” (2 Kgs. 23:32-33). Johanan was the firstborn son and should have succeeded Josiah: “The sons of Josiah were Johanan the firstborn, and the second was Jehoiakim, the third Zedekiah, the fourth Shallum.” (1 Chr. 3:15). Thus, Josiah most likely was not training Jehoahaz in God’s laws to be king. Jehoahaz’s name meant “Jehovah holds fast”. This was Josiah’s wish for Jehoahaz. Yet, it did not reflect his heart. He instead embraced evil. In 609 B.C., he became king. But he ruled for only three months before he became a captive of Pharaoh-nechoh II. He later died in Egyptian captivity (2 Chr. 36:4). God likely removed His hand of protection because Jehoahaz rejected his father’s reforms and instead embraced the idolatry and false gods of his great-grandfather Manasseh and his grandfather Amon. His embrace of evil shows how quickly reforms can be undone without Spirit-led leaders to guide you.
Let God guide any leadership succession process. We can infer that the people liked Jehoahaz more than God’s appointed successor. They might have been upset with Josiah’s reforms and wanted someone who was sympathetic to their views. It is not hard to imagine why they felt this way. If Josiah were alive today, he would be branded an extremist who failed to value Judah’s religious diversity after he destroyed the pagan idols (2 Chr. 34:3-7; 2 Kgs. 23:4-14). He would have also been branded as homophobic for shutting down the same sex centers (2 Kgs. 23:7). He also would have been branded as anti-choice by ending a parent’s right to kill a child (2 Kgs. 23:10). Although the people’s choice might have seemed wise at the time, it had disastrous consequences for the people of Judah. God removed His hand of protection, and the time of Judah’s exile drew nearer. In Matthew, Jehoahaz’s name is omitted from the line of people leading to Jesus. This suggests that God never recognized Jehoahaz as a rightful king. The lesson is that leaders should never select successors in hast without being led by the Spirit: “Do not lay hands upon anyone too hastily and thereby share responsibility for the sins of others; keep yourself free from sin.” (1 Tim. 5:22; Prov. 16:13). When you vote for leaders, do you study their faith and their walks with God and pray for God’s guidance?
The importance of selecting godly leaders in restraining sin. Satan’s goal has always been to break down authority through rebellion. His goal is to create chaos and misery by causing people to turn away from God. Satan first led a third of the angels in rebellion against God’s rule (Rev. 12:3-9). He then led Eve to rebel against God’s rules (Gen. 3:1-4). He then led Adam and Eve to rebel against each other (Gen 3:16). Satan tries to make us rebel against God’s institutions of authority. In quoting a prophesy, Jesus revealed what happens when we submit to Satan’s attempts to make us rebel: “I will strike down the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered.” (Mark 14:23). Without a godly shepherd, the sheep descended further into sin. Thus, godly leaders need brave citizens who are willing to reject public opinion to follow them. Will you be one?
Without Spirit-led leaders, the people will naturally drift into rebellion. Without godly leaders, “. .. every man did what was right in his own eyes.” (Jdgs. 17:6(b); 21:25.) Both then and now, God warns: “You shall not do at all what we are doing here today, every man doing whatever is right in his own eyes;” (Dt. 12:8.) Moses also warned that the people would return to rebellion and disobedience without guidance (Dt. 31:27-30). You also should not judge a leader based upon how popular they are. God’s warns: “‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,’ declares the LORD.” (Is. 55:8). He also warns: “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil . . .” (Is. 5:20(a)). The Church needs strong leaders to keep Jesus’ flock and the nation from being led astray. The road to Jesus is narrow. The path to destruction is broad (Matt. 7:13-14). Thus, the Church must ensure that God-fearing leaders are selected to guide the people.
Pharaoh Neco makes Eliakim king and takes control over him and changes his name. Pharaoh Neco used his control over Judah to appoint another son of Josiah as king that he felt he could control; Eliakim. To demonstrate his control, he then changed his name to Jehoiakim: “4 The king of Egypt made Eliakim his brother king over Judah and Jerusalem, and changed his name to Jehoiakim. But Neco took Joahaz his brother and brought him to Egypt.” (2 Chr. 36:4). From 609 to 597 B.C., Pharaoh-nechoh installed Jehoiakim (Eliakim), Jehoahaz’s half-older brother, as his new puppet king. The book of Kings adds that Jehoiakim made Judah a vasal state of Egypt for protection. He also embraced idolatry: “34 Pharaoh Neco made Eliakim the son of Josiah king in the place of Josiah his father, and changed his name to Jehoiakim. But he took Jehoahaz away and brought him to Egypt, and he died there. 35 So Jehoiakim gave the silver and gold to Pharaoh, but he taxed the land in order to give the money at the command of Pharaoh. He exacted the silver and gold from the people of the land, each according to his valuation, to give it to Pharaoh Neco. 36 Jehoiakim was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem; and his mother’s name was Zebidah the daughter of Pedaiah of Rumah. 37 He did evil in the sight of the Lord, according to all that his fathers had done.” (2 Kgs. 23:34-37). Jehoiakim forced the Jews to pay a heavy tribute to Egypt for its protection. Yet, being a vassal state of Egypt placed Judah at risk of a Babylonian attack because Egypt was its enemy (2 Chr. 36:5-8). Moreover, the heavy tribute weakened Judah’s ability to defend itself. Furthermore, Jehoiakim also misused the funds that he did have to build a large palace for himself (Jer. 22:13-19). On top of these sins, Jehoiakim did evil in God’s eyes by practicing idolatry (2 Kgs. 23:37; 2 Chr. 36:5, 8; Jer. 22:13-17; 25:1-7). He even murdered the prophet Urijah (Jer. 26:20-23). Johanan was God’s appointed successor who would have likely resisted Egypt and continued on with his father Josiah’s reforms. But the people did not want to continue with these reforms. Thus, they did not oppose Jehoiakim as their king.
Depend upon God and not powerful people for your deliverance and protection. God warned His people to trust in Him and not in human leaders for their deliverance. “Do not trust in princes, in mortal man, in whom there is no salvation.” (Ps. 146:3). “It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in princes.” (Ps. 118:9). “O give us help against the adversary, for deliverance by man is in vain.” (Ps. 60:11). Pharaoh Neco lacked the power to protect Judah. He only impoverished the Jews with his forced tribute. Moreover, he influenced the people to return to their idolatry.
Depend upon Jesus, the Rock of your salvation. The Jews wanted a powerful ally to protect them against the power of Babylon. But they did not need to look for Egypt for protection. They had “the Rock of Israel” to protect them: “My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold and my refuge; My savior, You save me from violence.” (2 Sam. 22:3; Ps. 18:2). “The LORD lives, and blessed be my rock; and exalted be the God of my salvation,” (Ps. 18:46). “The LORD is their strength, and He is a saving defense to His anointed.” (Ps. 28:8). Paul reveals that “the rock was Christ.” (1 Cor. 10:4). He is our Rock and the power or horn of our salvation: “And has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of David His servant—” (Lk. 1:69). Jesus wants you to call upon Him as your Rock of deliverance in times of trouble. He will give you the strength to persevere against any adversary or evil.
God uses Nebuchadnezzar II to judge Jehoiakim. As part of God’s judgment against Jehoiakim, He allowed the Babylonians to capture him and imprison him in Babylon: “5 Jehoiakim was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem; and he did evil in the sight of the Lord his God. 6 Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up against him and bound him with bronze chains to take him to Babylon. 7 Nebuchadnezzar also brought some of the articles of the house of the Lord to Babylon and put them in his temple at Babylon. 8 Now the rest of the acts of Jehoiakim and the abominations which he did, and what was found against him, behold, they are written in the Book of the Kings of Israel and Judah. And Jehoiachin his son became king in his place.” (2 Chr. 36:5-8). In 605 B.C., Nebuchadnezzar II, the then crown prince of Babylon, gained control over Judah after he defeated the Assyrians and the Egyptians at Carchemish in northern Syria. He then chased the Egyptians back to the Sinai Peninsula. He seized Judah and made it a vassal state because the Jews had become loyal to Babylon’s enemy in Egypt. Also in 605 B.C., Nebuchadnezzar II raced back to Babylon to succeed his father Nabopolassar to become King of Babylon. He reigned from 605 B.C. to 562 B.C. With him, he took the first wave of deportees to Babylon in 605 B.C. These included the prophet Daniel and his friends (Dan. 1:1-3). This was the first of three waves of deportations. As stated above, Pharaoh Neco previously appointed Josiah’s evil son Eliakim as King of Judah, and he renamed him Jehoiakim to demonstrate his control over him (2 Kgs. 23:24). Jehoiakim / Eliakim initially submitted to Nebuchadnezzar II (Jer. 25:1). Yet, after three years of Babylonian rule, Jehoiakim / Eliakim joined with Pharaoh Neco to rebel against Nebuchadnezzar II and Babylonian rule (2 Kgs. 24:1). The two powers assumed that Babylon was weak and distracted with the death of Nebuchadnezzar’s father. Jehoiakim / Eliakim formed this alliance and attacked against the warnings of the prophet Jeremiah (Jer. 27:9-11). In 597 and in 587 B.C., Nebuchadnezzar II invaded and deported the Jews two more times. Jehoiakim / Eliakim failed to trust in God. Instead, he placed his trust in Egypt.
While Josiah publicly read God’s Word, Jehoiakim publicly burned it. Josiah publicly proclaimed God’s Word to protect the Jews. But Jehoiakim responded by publicly burning God’s prophetic word (Jer. 36:22-24). In response, God cut Jehoiakim from the throne the way that he had cut and burned His Word (Jer. 36:29-30). Those who disregard God’s Word do so at their own peril. God’s Word is sharper than a two-edged sword (Heb. 4:12). His Word can either bless or curse depending upon your actions.
God sends foreign oppressors against Judah because of its sins. Jehoiakim / Eliakim refused to trust God. Instead, he placed his trust in Egypt, a symbol for the world. To try to encourage the Jews to look to Him, God first allowed Judah to experience foreign invasions with bands of Chaldeans, Arameans, Moabites, and Ammonites (2 Kgs. 24:2-4). The prophets Jeremiah, Isaiah, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, and Micah had all preached warnings of God’s judgment and the need for the Jews to repent. But Jehoiakim / Eliakim ignored these warnings. God had also judged the Jews for their sins that they committed under both Manasseh and Amon. This included the adoption of all the detestable practices of the condemned Canaanites and the now extinct nation of Northern Israel (2 Kgs. 16:3; 21:2; Dt. 18:9-12). Following these practices expressly violated God’s law (Dt. 12:29-31). Yet, the Jews would not repent. Before Nebuchadnezzar II invaded again, God allowed these lesser nations to attack Judah from different directions and weaken it. The Jews, however, again would not repent. Jehoiakim / Eliakim even murdered the prophet Urijah. Thus, God fulfilled His prior judgment against Manasseh.
God tested the Jews with foreign invasions so that they would return to Him. Moses warned the Jews that God tested them to expose their sins (Ex. 20:20(b); Dt. 8:2). David also warned that even the righteous are not beyond God’s testing (Ps. 11:5; Jer. 17:10). God’s testing and discipline are done out of love (Heb. 12:6). When you are tested, you may find that your heart has hidden anger, lust, or covetousness. When God exposes wickedness, He expects you to repent of it (Jer. 17:9). David invited God’s testing to show his sins (Ps. 139:23). When God tests you and exposes your sins, do you repent?
Place your trust in God, not your own understanding. Jehoiakim / Eliakim should have placed his trust in God. Instead, he leaned upon his own understanding regarding what he should do by forming an alliance with Egypt: “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding.” (Prov. 3:5; 28:26). Jehoiakim / Eliakim’s failure to trust God’s Word led to his ruin. Even worse, it led to Judah’s destruction.
Jehoiachin reigns and does evil in God’s eyes. Following the death of Jehoiakim / Eliakim, his son Jehoiachin became King of Judah. Even after God took his hope of Egyptian protection away, Jehoiachin still did evil in God’s eyes: “9 Jehoiachin was eighteen years old when he became king, and he reigned three months and ten days in Jerusalem, and he did evil in the sight of the Lord.” (2 Chr. 36:9). The book of Kings repeats that his short reign was filled with evil: “8 Jehoiachin was eighteen years old when he became king, and he reigned three months in Jerusalem; and his mother’s name was Nehushta the daughter of Elnathan of Jerusalem. 9 He did evil in the sight of the Lord, according to all that his father had done.” (2 Kgs. 24:6-9). Jehoiachin is also known by the names Jechonias, Jechoniah, Jeconiah, and Coniah. He became king at age 18. Yet, because he pursued evil, God allowed him to reign for only three months.
Jehoiachin ignored God’s judgment upon Eliakim. At age 18, Jehoiachin observed God judge his father. The Babylonians captured him and bound him in chains to bring him to Babylon. According to the prophecy of Jeremiah, Eliakim’s died without a burial or any honor (Jer. 22:18). The Babylonians also captured some of the treasures in God’s Temple and carried them to Babylon (2 Chr. 36:7). If Jehoiachin were a God-fearing king, he would have repented. But he didn’t. Instead, he ignored God’s warning to him.
Jehoiachin also observed God’s judgment upon Judah’s only ally, Egypt. In 601 B.C., at the end of the reign of Jehoiakim / Eliakim, Nebuchadnezzar II defeated the Egyptians and drove them to back to their territory. The Egyptians’ army never again left its territory (2 Kgs. 24:7). This deprived Judah of its only ally and its worldly means of defeating Babylon. A God-fearing king would have repented and turned to God for help against the Babylonians. Yet, neither Jehoiakim / Eliakim nor Jehoiachin turned to God.
Jehoiachin observed Jehoiakim / Eliakim’s evil acts and copied them. Despite seeing God’s judgment and hearing from God’s prophets, Jehoiachin continued in his father’s evil acts before God. This most likely included idolatry (2 Kgs. 24:9; Jer. 22:24). Thus, God lifted His hand of protection, and Jehoiachin’s reign ended after only three months.
Jehoiachin heard God’s warnings of judgment and ignored them. Through His prophets, God warned Judah before sending its people into exile: “Yet the LORD warned Israel and Judah through all His prophets and every seer, saying, ‘Turn from your evil ways and keep My commandments, My statutes according to all the law which I commanded your fathers, and which I sent to you through My servants the prophets.”’ (2 Kgs. 17:13). Dating back to Solomon, God warned that open disobedience would bring His judgment upon His peoples (1 Kgs. 9:6-9). The people, however, would not listen to God’s prophets because they were stiff necked and unwilling to listen: “So now then, speak to the men of Judah and against the inhabitants of Jerusalem saying, ‘Thus says the LORD, ‘Behold, I am fashioning calamity against you and devising a plan against you. Oh turn back, each of you from his evil way, and reform your ways and your deeds.’’ But they will say, ‘It’s hopeless! For we are going to follow our own plans, and each of us will act according to the stubbornness of his evil heart.’” (Jer. 18:11; Is. 66:4; Neh. 9:16, 29). Because God is just, He gives many warnings to sinners before He is forced to judge unrepentant sin. The modern world should also take these warnings seriously as well. Are you praying for your nation to repent?
Fear God by hating evil. Jehoiachin did not respond to God’s many warnings because he failed to fear God. “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.” (Prov. 1:7). Many assume that a just and loving God will never judge sin. Yet, because God is just, He must judge sin. Even when Jesus takes your judgment, there are still consequences for sin. To keep yourself from sinning, you must fear God. This is defined in the Bible as hating evil: “The fear of the LORD is to hate evil; . . .” (Prov. 8:13; Ps. 97:10). “Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good.” (Ro. 12:9(b)). If you are tolerating evil in your life, you may also return to your sins.
Nebuchadnezzar II defeated and took Jehoiachin as prisoner. After the Jews ignored these warnings, God removed His hand of protection. In 597 B.C., Nebuchadnezzar II then fulfilled God’s warnings of judgment by capturing Jerusalem and taking Jehoiachin as his prisoner (2 Kgs. 24:10-12). That same year, he also took a second wave of Jewish captives into exile. The prophet Ezekiel was part of the second wave of captives that went into exile (Ezek. 1:1). But the Jews again refused to repent and change their ways.
Nebuchadnezzar makes Mattaniah / Zedekiah king, who also does evil in God’s eyes. Nebuchadnezzar II picked Mattaniah as a puppet king. He also renamed him “Zedekiah” to demonstrate his control over him: “10 At the turn of the year King Nebuchadnezzar sent and brought him to Babylon with the valuable articles of the house of the Lord, and he made his kinsman Zedekiah king over Judah and Jerusalem. 11 Zedekiah was twenty-one years old when he became king, and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem. 12 He did evil in the sight of the Lord his God; he did not humble himself before Jeremiah the prophet who spoke for the Lord. 13 He also rebelled against King Nebuchadnezzar who had made him swear allegiance by God. But he stiffened his neck and hardened his heart against turning to the Lord God of Israel. 14 Furthermore, all the officials of the priests and the people were very unfaithful following all the abominations of the nations; and they defiled the house of the Lord which He had sanctified in Jerusalem.” (2 Chr. 36:10-14; 2 Kgs. 24:17-20). Mattaniah was Jehoiachin’s uncle and a descendent through Josiah (2 Kgs. 24:17-18; 1 Chr. 3:15; Jer. 1:3). The name Mattaniah meant “gift of the Lord”. His new name Zedekiah meant “righteousness of the Lord.” Yet, he was neither of these things. Despite seeing the horrors that rebellion had brought upon Judah, he also refused to submit to God’s authority in his life. For 11 years, from 597-586 B.C., Mattaniah / Zedekiah ruled as a Babylonian puppet king. The Babylonians further weakened Judah by reducing the size of its territory (Jer. 13:18-19). Mattaniah / Zedekiah continued the idol worship, and he refused to lead his country in repentance. Without God to support him, his rebellion against Babylon led to his demise. Some believe that he formed an alliance with pharaoh Apries / Hophra in 588 B.C. to revolt against the Babylonians (Ezek. 17:15-18). Like the kings who preceded him, he could not expect to rely upon Egypt for his salvation. The Egyptians never came to support Judah. Zedekiah should have trusted in God alone. Without God, he had no chance against the Babylonians.
Zedekiah refused to listen to God’s Word. While Zedekiah was willing to take directions from first his Babylonian master and then his Egyptian ally, he refused to humble himself and listen to God’s prophet Jeremiah. He also broke his oath, and he would not abandon the evil ways of the world (2 Chr. 36:11-16). Jeremiah told Zedekiah that his rebellion against Nebuchadnezzar II would not succeed (Jer. 32:1-5). Yet, Zedekiah instead listened to the false prophets who told him what he wanted to hear. Zedekiah then compounded his evil acts by arresting and imprisoning Jeremiah.
Nebuchadnezzar besieged Jerusalem and causes a great famine. As God’s instrument of judgment, Nebuchadnezzar caused a famine in Jerusalem after encircling it. Many died because of King Zedekiah’s foolish revolt (2 Kgs. 25:1-3). After Egyptian Pharaoh Apries took the throne, he encouraged Zedekiah to lead a rebellion against the Babylonians. Yet, because God did not sanction this rebellion, it failed (2 Kgs. 24:20). In 588 B.C., during the ninth year of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign, he sent his army to punish the Jews. They encircled the city and cut off the city’s supplies. Hezekiah previously built a tunnel that allowed the city to continue to receive water (2 Kgs. 20:20). Yet, without a supply of food for two and a half years, the Babylonians brought about a famine within the city (Jer. 38:2-3). A third of the city died from this famine. The suffering also weakened the will of the people to fight. During Jerusalem’s two-year siege (2 Kgs. 24:2; Jer. 39:1), Nebuchadnezzar also taunted the Jews within the city by taking control over all of Judah (Jer. 21:3-7; 34:7).
Nebuchadnezzar was the instrument of God’s judgment. In case any Jews felt that God was remiss in failing to stop Nebuchadnezzar, the prophet Jeremiah warned the people in advance that God planned to send Nebuchadnezzar as His instrument of judgment: ‘“behold, I will send and take all the families of the north,’ declares the LORD, ‘and I will send to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, My servant, and will bring them against this land and against its inhabitants and against all these nations round about; and I will utterly destroy them and make them a horror and a hissing, and an everlasting desolation.”’ (Jer. 25:9) “and say to them, ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, ‘Behold, I am going to send and get Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, My servant, and I am going to set his throne right over these stones that I have hidden; and he will spread his canopy over them.”’’ (Jer. 43:10). Yet, the Jews ignored these warnings.
The siege of Jerusalem fulfilled a prophesy. To warn the people and to give them an opportunity to repent, the prophet Jeremiah also warned that the Babylonians would soon lay siege to Jerusalem: “Thus says the LORD God of Israel, ‘Behold, I am about to turn back the weapons of war which are in your hands, with which you are warring against the king of Babylon and the Chaldeans who are besieging you outside the wall; and I will gather them into the center of this city.”’ (Jer. 21:4). Yet, the Jews ignored this warning.
The starvation of Jerusalem fulfilled a prophesy. To also warn the people and to give them an opportunity to repent, the prophet Jeremiah warned that the people would suffer starvation: “He who dwells in this city will die by the sword and by famine and by pestilence; but he who goes out and falls away to the Chaldeans who are besieging you will live, and he will have his own life as booty.” (Jer. 21:9). “Thus says the LORD, ‘He who stays in this city will die by the sword and by famine and by pestilence, but he who goes out to the Chaldeans will live and have his own life as booty and stay alive.’ (Jer. 38:2). The prophet Ezekiel also warned that a third of the people would die through starvation, a third would die in combat, and a third would be sent into exile: “One third of you will die by plague or be consumed by famine among you, one third will fall by the sword around you, and one third I will scatter to every wind, and I will unsheathe a sword behind them.” (Ezek. 5:12). The Jews, however, also ignored these warnings.
The famine with parents eating their children also fulfilled a prophesy. The famine was so horrific that some parents ate their children. This also fulfilled many prophesies, including some dating back to Moses (Dt. 28:53; Lev. 26:29). Jeremiah repeated this prophesy: “I will make them eat the flesh of their sons and the flesh of their daughters, and they will eat one another’s flesh in the siege and in the distress with which their enemies and those who seek their life will distress them.” (Jer. 19:9). Ezekiel also repeated it (Ezek. 5:10). But the Jews ignored God’s Word. The lesson from the Jews’ mistakes is clear. When you rebel against God’s Word, you will bring about suffering in both your life and to your family. It may take different forms. But it will be real.
Nebuchadnezzar killed Zedekiah’s sons and blinded Zedekiah. Also as part of God’s judgment, Nebuchadnezzar captured Zedekiah, killed his sons, and blinded him (2 Kgs. 25:4-7). To breach the defenses of the walled city, the Babylonians built a siege wall made of wood towers. In 586 B.C., during the eleventh year of Zedekiah’s reign, the Babylonians breached the city’s defenses. During a diversion at night, Zedekiah and his men escaped. They fled 20 miles until they were caught in the Jericho plains. The Babylonians then took Zedekiah captive, killed his sons, and blinded him. By killing the royal heirs, Nebuchadnezzar sought to prevent a rebellion from a future king. There was also symbolism in the place of their defeat. The Jewish nation entered the Promised Land on the plains of Jericho (Josh. 4:13). On the same plains of Jericho, the Jewish nation came to an end (Jer. 39:5). This demonstrates that God was in control. He gives, and He takes away. Thus, you should never take His gifts or His mercy and grace for granted.
Nebuchadnezzar’s capture of Zedekiah also fulfilled a prophesy. Zedekiah most likely believed that he had escaped judgment when he reached the plains of Jericho. Yet, three times, Jeremiah warned that he could not escape God’s judgment against him. ‘“Then afterwards,’ declares the LORD, ‘I will give over Zedekiah king of Judah and his servants and the people, even those who survive in this city from the pestilence, the sword and the famine, into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and into the hand of their foes and into the hand of those who seek their lives; and he will strike them down with the edge of the sword. He will not spare them nor have pity nor compassion.”’ (Jer. 21:7; 32:2-5; 34:3) But Zedekiah ignored these multiple specific warnings.
Nebuchadnezzar’s exile of Zedekiah fulfilled a prophesy. Jeremiah also prophesized that Zedekiah would not succeed in his revolt against the Chaldeans from Babylon. It would instead result in him being taken as a prisoner to Babylon: ‘“and he will take Zedekiah to Babylon, and he will be there until I visit him,’ declares the LORD. ‘If you fight against the Chaldeans, you will not succeed’?” (Jer. 32:5). Zedekiah also ignored this warning.
Nebuchadnezzar’s blinding of Zedekiah also fulfilled a prophesy. The prophet Ezekiel also prophesied that Zedekiah would be carried off to Babylon without ever seeing it: “I will also spread My net over him, and he will be caught in My snare. And I will bring him to Babylon in the land of the Chaldeans; yet he will not see it, though he will die there.” (Ezek. 12:13). The blinding of Zedekiah fulfilled this prophesy. He would be sent to spend the rest of his life as a prisoner in a foreign land without ever seeing it.
Zedekiah was spiritually blind to God’s Word. Zedekiah died as a blind prisoner in Babylon (Jer. 52:11). This was a fulfillment of God’s Word. Zedekiah’s physical blindness was the outward manifestation of the spiritual blindness within him (Dt. 28:27-29; Ex. 10:21; Is. 59:10(a); Job 5:14; 12:25; 38:15; Lam. 4:14(a). “The way of the wicked is like darkness; they do not know over what they stumble.” (Prov. 4:19).
Nebuchadnezzar II also fulfilled a prophesy of judgment against his mother. The Bible tells us that Nebuchadnezzar II also led away both Jehoiachin and his mother Nehushta (2 Kgs. 24:8) after stripping them of their valued belongings. This fulfilled a separate prophesy of judgment that Jeremiah gave while referring to Jehoiachin by his alternative name Coniah (Jer. 22:24-27). These verses show that God’s Word always comes true.
Zedekiah could have survived and spared his people if he had repented. God did not want to inflict suffering on either Zedekiah or God’s people. Thus, God had the prophet Jeremiah tell Zedekiah how he could be spared (Jer. 38:17-18). Yet, Zedekiah refused to obey God’s Word “But Jeremiah said, ‘They will not give you over. Please obey the LORD in what I am saying to you, that it may go well with you and you may live.” (Jer. 38:20). But Zedekiah again refused to obey God’s Word. Even worse, he prohibited Jeremiah from repeating God’s Word: “24 Then Zedekiah said to Jeremiah, ‘Let no man know about these words and you will not die.”’ (Jer. 38:24). The lesson here is clear. Rebellion against God and His Word leads to spiritual blindness and suffering. The modern world and the Church ignore these warnings at their peril.
Obey God and He will also protect you when you do His will. God promised to protect the Jews when they acted in faith-led obedience (Dt. 28:1-14). As led by the Holy Spirit, David also promised Solomon that obedience would ensure that their descendants continued to rule on the throne (1 Kgs. 2:4). When the Jews walked with Him, God also promised to cause their enemies to fear them (Ex. 23:27; Dt. 2:25). You also never need to fear your enemies when you act in Spirit-led obedience. If you are serving God, do you trust Him to protect you? If not, you may act foolishly like Zedekiah.
The Jews ignored God’s repeated warnings before He judged them. Because God is filled with mercy and grace, He sent many prophets to warn the Jews. But the Jews mocked God’s prophets and refused to repent. Thus, God was forced to fulfill His Word: “15 The Lord, the God of their fathers, sent word to them again and again by His messengers, because He had compassion on His people and on His dwelling place; 16 but they continually mocked the messengers of God, despised His words and scoffed at His prophets, until the wrath of the Lord arose against His people, until there was no remedy. 17 Therefore He brought up against them the king of the Chaldeans who slew their young men with the sword in the house of their sanctuary, and had no compassion on young man or virgin, old man or infirm; He gave them all into his hand. 18 All the articles of the house of God, great and small, and the treasures of the house of the Lord, and the treasures of the king and of his officers, he brought them all to Babylon. 19 Then they burned the house of God and broke down the wall of Jerusalem, and burned all its fortified buildings with fire and destroyed all its valuable articles. 20 Those who had escaped from the sword he carried away to Babylon; and they were servants to him and to his sons until the rule of the kingdom of Persia, 21 to fulfill the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed its sabbaths. All the days of its desolation it kept sabbath until seventy years were complete.” (2 Chr. 36:15-21). In 586 B.C., Nebuchadnezzar II invaded Judah for the third time and sent a third wave of Jews into Babylonian captivity. Also as part of God’s judgment upon the people of Judah, He allowed Nebuchadnezzar II to burn Jerusalem, including God’s Temple (2 Kgs. 25:8-12; 2 Chr. 36:17-19; Jer. 39:1-10; 52:1-23). This purified the Temple from the false worship that had gone on within it. It also fulfilled a prophesy that His house would be burned (1 Kgs. 9:7-8). In addition to seizing the leaders of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar II also looted whatever treasures he could find (2 Kgs. 24:13-14). Nebuchadnezzar II then tore down the city’s walls. He left behind only poor, unskilled laborers. They would be unable to launch a new revolt. God had freed His people from Egyptian bondage and gave them the Promised Land as their inheritance. Yet, they squandered their inheritance.
God judged the Jews because of their pride and refusal to change their sinful ways. Nebuchadnezzar II humbled the Jews as he led the proud away into captivity (2 Kgs. 24:13-16). The Babylonians forced King Jehoiachin and every other royal member to walk in chains 680 miles to Babylon. The wealthy Jews had everything of value taken from them. Jehoiachin then lived in squalor as a prisoner for 37 years (2 Kgs. 25:27). Through Jeremiah, God repeatedly warned the proud Jews that God judged them because they would not repent and change their ways: “Then Jeremiah came from Topheth, where the LORD had sent him to prophesy; and he stood in the court of the LORD’S house and said to all the people: ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, ‘Behold, I am about to bring on this city and all its towns the entire calamity that I have declared against it, because they have stiffened their necks so as not to heed My words.’” (Jer.19:14-15).
The exile of the Jews from Judah also fulfilled a prophesy. The Jews’ exile fulfilled multiple prophesies that Moses gave to the Jews before they ever entered the Promised Land: “64 Moreover, the Lord will scatter you among all peoples, from one end of the earth to the other end of the earth; and there you shall serve other gods, wood and stone, which you or your fathers have not known.” (Dt. 28:64; 4:27-28; 29:28; 32:26). ‘“You, however, I will scatter among the nations . . .” (Lev. 26:33(a)). To warn the people and to give them an another opportunity to repent, the prophet Jeremiah also warned that the Babylonians would soon send the people of Judah into exile: ‘“[Y]ou will serve strangers in a land that is not yours.”’ (Jer. 5:19(b)). “And you will, even of yourself, let go of your inheritance that I gave you; and I will make you serve your enemies in the land which you do not know; for you have kindled a fire in My anger which will burn forever.” (Jer. 17:4; 13:19(b); 20:4; 42:18). “Israel is a scattered flock, the lions have driven them away. The first one who devoured him was the king of Assyria, and this last one who has broken his bones is Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon.” (Jer. 50:17). “Remember the word which You commanded Your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful I will scatter you among the peoples;”’ (Neh. 1:8). “Therefore, son of man, prepare for yourself baggage for exile and go into exile by day in their sight; even go into exile from your place to another place in their sight.” (Ezek. 12:3(a); 22:15). These sad events prove that God’s warnings of judgement against sinful nations will come true.
God humbled the wealthy and the powerful to fulfill a prophesy. God carried off the rich and powerful. He only spared the poor (2 Kgs. 24:14; Jer. 39:10). The Jews became poor in spirit because what they cared about most was now taken from them. Jeremiah’s warnings to the Jews also included a specific warning that the Babylonians would cart off all of the Jews’ wealth if the Jews did not repent: “‘I will also give over all the wealth of this city, all its produce and all its costly things; even all the treasures of the kings of Judah I will give over to the hand of their enemies, and they will plunder them, take them away and bring them to Babylon.”’ (Jer. 20:5). God had also used His prophets to give similar prophesies in the past (Dt. 28:30(b)-31, 33(a); Lev. 26:16(c); Jer. 5:17(a)(c); Neh. 9:37; Ezek. 25:4). The looting of Jerusalem and Judah was a fulfillment of these prophesies. Every precious metal or stone that Solomon used for the Temple was now gone (1 Kgs. 7:15-49). This even included the pots and pans from the Temple (Jer. 52:19). God repeatedly promised to save the humble and cast down the proud: “When you are cast down, you will speak with confidence, and the humble person He will save.” (Job 22:29; Prov. 16:18; 29:23). “Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.” (Matt. 23:12). “But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, ‘God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’” (Jam. 4:6). When you rebel against God, you will also feel empty and poor in spirit.
The Jews’ slavery while in captivity fulfilled a prophesy. The Jews’ slavery in service to the Babylonians while in captivity fulfilled a prophesy that Moses gave the Jews (Dt. 28:47(a)). Jeremiah then repeated this prophesy: “And you will, even of yourself, let go of your inheritance that I gave you; and I will make you serve your enemies in the land which you do not know; for you have kindled a fire in My anger which will burn forever.” (Jer. 17:4). “But they will become his slaves so that they may learn the difference between My service and the service of the kingdoms of the countries.” (2 Chr. 12:8).
The Jews’ suffering also fulfilled a prophesy. The suffering that the Jews experienced in captivity also fulfilled a prophesy that Moses had given the Jews (Dt. 28:47(b)). Jeremiah then repeated this prophesy: “Go and speak to Hananiah, saying, ‘Thus says the LORD, ‘You have broken the yokes of wood, but you have made instead of them yokes of iron.’” (Jer. 28:13; Lam. 1:14; Prov. 5:22; Ps. 116:3; 40:12). In captivity, they felt deep despair from God’s punishment as they understood what life was like without Him.
The Jews’ population collapse fulfilled a prophesy. The collapse of the Jewish population also fulfilled a prophesy that Moses had given the Jews (Dt. 28:62-63). This was the reverse of God’s prior fertility blessing that allowed the Jews to become a vast multitude of people and a great nation (Dt. 7:12-13).
The Jews’ despair fulfilled a prophesy. The Jews’ feelings of despair while being beaten as slaves and killed also fulfilled a prophesy that Moses gave the Jews (Dt. 28:65-68). Jeremiah also repeated this prophesy (Jer. 15:2). Other prophets also gave this warning (Is. 50:11(b); 51:19). If a nation rejects God’s efforts to bring them back, He may also allow them to feel the despair and hopelessness until they cry out for His deliverance.
God’s Word (including His law) will keep you from returning to the bondage of sin. By placing Judah under both physical and spiritual captivity, God reversed the freedom that He previously gave to His people (Ex. 13:14(b)). Jesus also came to free mankind from the bondage to sin and human oppression that humans have imposed upon themselves. On the first day of His public ministry, He entered the synagogue and read from Isaiah 61:1-2. After reading the passage, “He has come to proclaim release to the captives . . . to set free those who are oppressed,” Jesus proclaimed: “Today, this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” (Lk. 4:14-21). “‘So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.”’ (Jo. 8:36). “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” (2 Cor. 3:17). “It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.” (Gal. 5:1). Jesus gave you His Word (which includes His law) to protect you from slavery to sin. By placing Judah under Nebuchadnezzar II’s physical captivity, God made manifest the spiritual captivity that already existed in the Jews’ hearts. When you ignore His Word, you also risk placing yourself into bondage, just as the Jews did under Jehoiachin.
God desires your dependence and faith over your comfort. God’s willingness to judge His people and allow their treasures to be looted might appear troubling to some. Some falsely believe that the God of the Old Testament is different than the God of the New Testament. Yet, He never changes (Heb. 13:8). He also never changes His mind (Nu. 23:19). God wanted the Jews to depend upon Him and not their wealth. He also desires that you depend upon Him and not in your wealth (Matt. 6:19-20; Ja. 6:1-3). Are the things that you value most in heaven? If so, no thief or calamity can take them.
God judges those who reject His mercy and grace. God’s judgment upon the Jews shows that He must ultimately judge those who reject His mercy and grace. Judgement will begin with His people. It will then reach all nonbelievers as well (1 Pet. 4:17; 2 Thess. 1:6-8). The prospect of judgement should cause all believers to warn non-believers. This includes both prayer and evangelism. You can pray for non-believers. You can share God’s Word. You can also support God’s missionaries. You can also live as an example of God’s light. How are you fulfilling Jesus’ Great Commission? (Matt. 28:16-20).
God desires a contrite and repentant heart. God wanted the Jews to recognize and repent of their sins. “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart, o God, You will not despise.” (Ps. 51:17). Jesus also began His ministry by preaching repentance: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matt. 3:2). When God exposes your sins, repent of them so that He can forgive you (1 Jo. 1:9). Do you have any unconfessed sin your life?
Cyrus permits the Jews to return. Out of mercy and grace and to fulfill His promises, God did not forsake His people. He later used the Persians to free the Jews from bondage: “22 Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia—in order to fulfill the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah—the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he sent a proclamation throughout his kingdom, and also put it in writing, saying, 23 “Thus says Cyrus king of Persia, ‘The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth, and He has appointed me to build Him a house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Whoever there is among you of all His people, may the Lord his God be with him, and let him go up!’” (2 Chr. 36:22-23). The 70-year exile was based upon the exact number of Sabbaths (once every seven years) that the Jews failed to observe in the Promised Land (Ex. 23:10-11; Lev. 26:34-35; Jer. 25:11-13; 29:10). God used the time of exile to heal the Promised Land and remold His people.
Never lose hope because God is in control of history. To give hope to God’s people, God’s prophet Isaiah foretold of King Cyrus’ victory over Babylon before he was even born! “Thus says the LORD to Cyrus His anointed, whom I have taken by the right hand, to subdue nations before him and to loose the loins of kings; to open doors before him so that gates will not be shut” (Is. 45:1). The prophet Jeremiah also foretold of Babylon’s future demise before it even defeated Judah (Jer. 51:57-58). In 559 B.C., King Cyrus became king of Persia. Nine years later, he conquered the Medes, and created a unified kingdom. In 539 B.C., to fulfill these prophesies, God empowered the Persian army to capture Babylon. In 538 B.C., the Holy Spirit moved in King Cyrus’ heart, and he made a decree that gave Ezra and the other captives the right to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the Temple (Ezra 1:1-4; 5:13-17). King Cyrus further understood God’s divine providence in giving him his kingdom and his obligation to rebuild the Temple (Is. 44:28-45:4). Thus, God concluded the book of Chronicles with the hope that God still had a plan for His people. You also can place your hope in Jesus and His plan for you. He is in control of history, and He has already won the battle against the evil one.
God preserved Jehoiachin to preserve the line of David. While in captivity, God also influenced King Evil-merodach of Babylon (562-560 B.C.) to release King Jehoiachin from prison and to allow him to live (2 Kgs. 25:27-30). Nebuchadnezzar took Jehoiachin captive after he rebelled against Babylonian rule (2 Kgs. 24:10-12) Jehoiachin had been a prisoner for 36 years at the time he was released. This act preserved the line of David for the Messiah to come. It also foreshadowed the Jews’ future release from captivity. Babylonian records further confirm that these events are historically accurate.
God was faithful to preserve His everlasting covenant leading to Jesus. God promised David an everlasting covenant: “13 He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.” (2 Sam. 7:13). In their time of darkness, the prophet Jeremiah encouraged the people that God could not break His promises: “Thus says the LORD, ‘If you can break My covenant for the day and My covenant for the night, so that day and night will not be at their appointed time, then My covenant may also be broken with David My servant so that he will not have a son to reign on his throne, and with the Levitical priests, My ministers.”’ (Jer. 33:20-21; 2 Chr. 21:7). By preserving Jehoiachin, God showed that He was faithful to keep His covenant. Jesus is the eternal King of Kings who came through David’s line to fulfill God’s “everlasting covenant” (2 Sam. 23:5) “He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.” (Lk. 1:32-33; Is. 9:7). “These will wage war against the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, because He is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those who are with Him are the called and chosen and faithful.” (Rev. 17:14). Thus, God is faithful to keep His promises.
God was faithful to preserve a remnant of His people. Whenever God allowed calamity to fall upon His people to correct or discipline them, He always promised to preserve a “remnant” that He would use to restore His people “For out of Jerusalem will go forth a remnant and out of Mount Zion survivors. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.”’ (Is. 37:32; Micah 2:12-13; Zeph. 3:8-20). Through Paul, God repeated this promise: “In the same way then, there has also come to be at the present time a remnant according to God’s gracious choice.” (Ro. 11:5). Thus, even when evil abounds, you should never give up hope in Jesus. He will preserve a remnant to keep His promises.
God was faithful to heal His people and return them to the Promised Land. God was faithful to send a remnant back to the Promised Land. “For we are slaves; yet in our bondage our God has not forsaken us, but has extended lovingkindness to us in the sight of the kings of Persia, to give us reviving to raise up the house of our God, to restore its ruins and to give us a wall in Judah and Jerusalem.” (Ezra 9:9; Ps. 106:46). He promises to restore His people if they repent of their sins (2 Chr. 7:14). If our nation will repent and return back to God, God promises to heal it.
God was faithful not to forsake the Jews. Through Moses, God promised that He will never forget His Covenant with His people: “For the LORD your God is a compassionate God; He will not fail you nor destroy you nor forget the covenant with your fathers which He swore to them.” (Dt. 4:31). He also would not forsake the Jews when He disciplined them: “Yet in spite of this, when they are in the land of their enemies, I will not reject them, nor will I so abhor them as to destroy them, breaking My covenant with them; for I am the LORD their God. But I will remember for them the covenant with their ancestors, whom I brought out of the land of Egypt in the sight of the nations, that I might be their God. I am the LORD.” (Lev. 26:44-45). “Be strong and courageous, . . . He will not fail you or forsake you.” (Dt. 31:6). God will also never leave or forsake you (Heb. 13:5).
God’s Word is true and is always fulfilled. Throughout the Bible, God reveals that His Word is true and always comes to pass: “Not one of the good promises which the LORD had made to the house of Israel failed; all came to pass.” (Josh. 21:45). “Blessed be the LORD, who has given rest to His people Israel, according to all that He promised; not one word has failed of all His good promise, which He promised through Moses His servant.” (1 Kgs. 8:56). “I declared the former things long ago and they went forth from My mouth, and I proclaimed them. Suddenly I acted, and they came to pass.” (Is. 48:3; 42:9). No other holy book can make similar claims of fulfilled prophesy as the Bible does. When a nation rejects God’s Word and rebels, He will be forced to discipline it.
You also can trust in His promises to you. The accuracy of God’s promises in the book of Chronicles show how you can also trust His promises for you as well. “Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass” (1 Thess. 5:24). “Know therefore that the LORD your God, He is God, the faithful God, who keeps His covenant and His lovingkindness to a thousandth generation with those who love Him and keep His commandments;” (Dt. 7:9; 1 Cor. 1:9). He is faithful even when you are not (2 Tim. 2:13). Have you given thanks that you can trust in His faithfulness in your life?
Let God use your trials to build up your faith. The Jews’ exile was one of their darkest times in history. To many, all hope would seem to have been lost. Yet, God tested the Jews with these and other trials so that they would learn to place their faith in Him. Your trials should produce perseverance and endurance (Ro. 5:3; Jam. 1:2-3; 2 Cor. 1:8-10). Are you turning to Jesus to build up your faith and deliver you during your trials?
Give thanks for Jesus’ mercy and grace. The Jews’ rebellions and suffering showed their need for God’s mercy and grace. Like the Jews, all have sinned against God (Ro. 3:23). Like the Jews, all are in need of divine mercy and grace that only Jesus can provide. How are you thanking Jesus for His mercy and grace in your life?
God’s Faithfulness in Delivering the Jews from Babylonian Captivity
562- 560 BC
Evil Merodach King of B
The 70 years of Exile 605 – 535 BC
Cyrus II (Persian)
Xerxes (Ahasuerus of Esther 1.1)
528 Belshazzar a minor king
Cambyses II (Artaxerxes)
Darius the Great (Mede)
(one of Artaxerxes’ generals)
Artaxerxes Capital is Susa