The Word Made Fresh
1Zedekiah was twenty-one years old when he began his eleven-year reign in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Hamutal. She was the daughter of Jeremiah of Libnah. 2Zedekiah did what was evil in the LORD’s eyes just as Jehoiakim had done. 3In fact, Jerusalem and Judah had so angered the LORD that they were expelled from the land and from the presence of God.
Zedekiah rebelled against the king of Babylon, 4and on the tenth day of the tenth month of the ninth year of his reign, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon brought his army to attack Jerusalem. They laid siege to it, building siegeworks all around it. 5The city was under attack until Zedekiah’s eleventh year. 6On the ninth day of the fourth month the food shortage in the city was so severe that the people were starving. 7Then a gap was made in the city wall and the soldiers fled from the city by night by the king’s garden through the gap, even though the Chaldean army was all around the city. They fled toward the Arabah. 8But the Chaldeans pursued them and caught up with King Zedekiah in the Jericho plains, and his army scattered and deserted him. 9So, they captured the king and brought him to the king of Babylon at Riblah in Hamath, who sentenced him. 10The king of Babylon had Zedekiah’s sons executed in his sight, along with all the officials of Judah. 11Then he put out Zedekiah’s eyes and tied him up and took him to Babylon, and there he was imprisoned until the day of his death.
12On the tenth day of the fifth month in the nineteenth year of King Nebuchadnezzar’s reign in Babylon, the captain of his bodyguard, Nebuzaradan, entered Jerusalem. 13He burned down the temple of the LORD, the king’s palace, and all the larger houses in Jerusalem. 14The army with him broke down the walls all around Jerusalem. 15Then he took into exile some of the poorest of the people, including the skilled workers and the deserters who had defected to the king of Babylon, and the rest of the people left in the city. 16But he left some of the poorest people of the land to be vinedressers and farmers.
17The Chaldeans broke into pieces the bronze pillars in the LORD’s house, and all the stands as well as the bronze sea. They carried it all off to Babylon. 18They removed the pots, shovels, snuffers, basins, ladles and other bronze items used in the temple services. 19The captain of the guard also took away the small bowls, firepans, basins, pots, lampstands, ladles and bowls for washing, including all the items of gold and silver. 20The bronze of the two pillars, the large sea, the twelve bronze bulls that held the sea and the stands King Solomon had made for the LORD’s house were beyond weighing. 21Each of the pillars were eighteen cubits tall and twelve cubits in circumference. They were hollow, and four fingers thick. 22A capital of bronze crowned each pillar. The capital upon each one was five cubits, and the tops were encircled by latticework and pomegranates of bronze. 23There were ninety-six pomegranates on the sides, and one hundred pomegranates encircling the latticework.
24The captain of the guard took the chief priest Seriah, the second priest Zephaniah and the three threshold guards. 25He also took from the city an officer who had been in command of the soldiers, and seven men of the king’s council who were in the city; the secretary of the army commander who mustered the people of the land; and sixty men of the land who were found in the city. 26Then the captain of the guard, Nebuzaradan, brought them all to the king of Babylon at Riblah. 27The king of Babylon had them put to death at Riblah in the land of Hamath. So, Judah was taken out of its land and went into exile.
28King Nebuchadnezzar took into exile three thousand twenty-three Judeans in his seventh year, 29eight hundred thirty-two Judeans in the eighteenth year of his reign, and 30Nebuzaradan, the captain of the guard, took another seven hundred forty-five people in the twenty-third year of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign. The total number was four thousand six hundred.
31On the twenty-fifth day of the twelfth month, in the thirty-seventh year of King Jehoiachin of Judah’s exile, King Evil-Merodach of Babylon, in the year he began to reign, released King Jehoiachin of Judah from prison, 32spoke kindly to him and gave him a seat above the other kings with him in Babylon. 33So, Jehoiachin put aside his prison clothes, and every day for the rest of his life he dined regularly at the king’s table. A daily allowance was given to him by the king of Babylon as long as he lived.
1-11: These verses repeat 2 Kings 24:18 — 25:7. In verse 10 Jeremiah adds that Nebuchadnezzar also killed “all the officials of Judah” at Riblah, and in verse 11 he adds that Zedekiah stayed in prison in Babylon “until the day of his death.”
12-16: Repeats 2 Kings 25:8-12, except that Jeremiah says that Nebuzaradan entered the city on the 10th day of the month while 2nd Kings says it was on the 7th.
17-23: Repeats 2 Kings 25:13-17, but with more detail about the items taken out of the temple.
24-27: Repeats 2 Kings 25:18-21, with some insignificant differences.
28-30: At this point the two accounts diverge. In 2 Kings we have a report of the appointment of Gedaliah as governor of Judah and his subsequent assassination by Ishmael (about which we read in Jeremiah chapter 40). Jeremiah at this point inserts information regarding the number of people taken into exile on three different occasions. The first exile of 3023 Judeans was in 598 B.C. and the second exile of 832 people was in 587 B.C. But he adds a third exile of 745 people in 582 B.C., which deportation is unrecorded elsewhere. These numbers don’t represent the massive movement of people we would have expected from the sheer drama of the Biblical accounts of the Exile to Babylon. Remember, though, that the Babylonians didn’t bother to deport the poor people, assuming they would pose no threat, and in that culture the poor people likely represented a large segment of the total population.
31-34: Repeats the account in 2 Kings 25:27-30. And so, the book of Jeremiah ends with the prophet’s voice unheeded, and the people of God defeated, their nation destroyed, and their prominent citizens in exile. The whole point of Jeremiah’s prophesy was that disaster would come unless the king, the city, and the nation repented (52:2-3). They did not.
Aren’t there lessons here for our modern world?