The Word Made Fresh
1During Jehoiakim’s reign, king Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon invaded Judah, and Jehoiakim was his subject for three years, but then he rebelled. 2The LORD sent raiding bands of Arameans, Moabites, and Ammonites to topple Jehoiakim, according to the word of the LORD through the prophets. 3This was the fate the LORD sent upon Judah to remove them from the LORD’s favor because of Manasseh’s utter disregard for the Law, 4and because he had murdered so many innocent people, filling the streets of Jerusalem with their blood until the LORD was unwilling to forgive. 5The rest of Jehoiakim’s reign and all his deeds are written in the Book of the Acts of the Kings of Judah. 6He died and was buried with his ancestors. His son Jehoiachin was king after him.
7The king of Egypt stayed pinned up in his own land because the king of Babylon had conquered all the land that had been in the hands of the king of Egypt, from the valley of Egypt to the Euphrates River.
8Jehoiachin was eighteen years old when he became king of Judah, and he reigned in Jerusalem for three months. His mother’s name was Nehushta daughter of Elnathan of Jerusalem. 9To the LORD, he was just as evil as his father had been.
10In those days the army of king Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon laid siege to Jerusalem, 11and Nebuchadnezzar himself arrived during the siege. 12King Jehoiachin of Judah surrendered and turned himself over to him along with his mother, his attendants, and his military and royal palace staff. He had ruled for eight years when Judah fell to Babylon.
13Nebuchadnezzar confiscated all the valuables kept in the temple of the LORD and the king’s palace. He broke in pieces all the gold articles king Solomon had placed in the temple. The LORD had foretold this. 14He carried into exile all the people of Jerusalem; the officials, the soldiers, ten thousand citizens, all the craftsmen and metal workers. Only the poorest people of the land remained.
15He carried Jehoiachin in captivity to Babylon along with the king’s mother and his wives, his officers and attendants, and the wealthiest citizens. 16He captured seven thousand elite soldiers along with a thousand of the ablest craftsmen. 17He made Mattaniah, Jehoiachin’s uncle, king of Judah in Jehoiachin’s place and changed his name to Zedekiah.
18Zedekiah was twenty-one years old when his reign began. He ruled in Jerusalem for eleven years. His mother was Hamutal daughter of Jeremiah of Libnah. 19He was a wicked ruler in the LORD’s judgment, just like Jehoiakim, and the LORD was so angry that Jerusalem and Judah were removed from the presence of the LORD.
Then Zedekiah decided to rebel against the king of Babylon.
1-7: In spite of Josiah’s extensive reforms, Judah is so damaged by the excesses of earlier rulers (especially Menasseh) that the reforms are too late to save them. Babylon has replaced Assyria as the dominant power in the region and is now ruled by Nebuchadnezzar. Jehoiakim is made a servant: that is to say, Babylon annexes Judah and Jehoiakim decides not to contest it for the first three years, and then changes his mind when Nebuchadnezzar is occupied elsewhere. But the Babylonian absence simply leaves a vacuum in which other enemies – Aram, Moab, and Ammon – can operate and Judah finds itself overrun first by one group, then another. When Jehoiakim dies his son Jehoaiachin is elevated to the throne, but it isn’t much of a throne anymore.
8-12: Nebuchadnezzar is already on the march when Jehoiachin becomes king of Judah, and the poor fellow only lasts 3 months as king. His reign is so brief our historian doesn’t even have time to say he was an evil king. He surrenders to Nebuchadnezzar and he and his wives and his mother and all the other officials of Jerusalem are taken prisoner.
13-17: Nebuchadnezzar plunders the temple and the palace and carries off all the wealth of the country. He also carries off most of the population of Jerusalem into exile to Babylon. Only the poorest of the people remain behind to pick up the pieces and survive as best they can. Jehoiachin’s uncle Mattaniah, whose name is changed to Zedekiah, is appointed by Nebuchadnezzar to govern what is left of Judah.
18-20: Zedekiah is actually five years younger than his nephew Jehoiachin. He manages to hang onto the throne for 11 years. What he did that was so displeasing to God is not described, but our historian makes it clear that God is completely fed up with Jerusalem and Judah.
It seems that God will put up with our foolishness for only so long.