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Prophecies: Jeremiah 25 Part 1: Judah's Captivity



The starting year for this prophecy is 609 BC and the year in which it was fulfilled is 539 BC. God issued this prophecy through Prophet Jeremiah and bible reference for this prophecy is Jeremiah 25. Read on and be very blessed...

70 Year Captivity of Judah


Introduction: Summary of Prophecy

Jeremiah 25 Prophecy is a prophecy of God's wrath against Judah and Jerusalem, against Babylon, and against many of the surrounding nations in this region.

The entire Jeremiah 25 Prophecy covers the reigns of many kings and spans events occurring across various Kingdoms. Each of these Kingdoms and their Kings over several decades took independent decisions according to their whims and fancies.

But Jeremiah 25 is a great testimony of God's foreknowledge about people and their ways. People may think they control their destiny, but Jeremiah 25 says otherwise; that all times and events are foreknown to God. The entire Jeremiah 25 prophecy was issued in 605 BC, during the 4th year of the rule of King Jehoiakim of Judah (Jeremiah 25:1).

The first part of Jeremiah 25 concerns the 70-year Captivity Period Prophecised for Judah's Exiles. The prophecy issued in 605 BC, states that the captivity which started as a result of God's anger and punishment (in 609BC) would last for a full term of 70 years (thus ending in 539 BC). 

What is remarkable is that this is a nested prophecy. This is because, within this main prophecy period, there are so many other prophecies that are issued and at work. Let us learn about the 70-year Captivity prophecy in the sections ahead.

Section 1: Bible Prophecy in Jeremiah 25:1-14

Bible prophecy in Jeremiah 25:1-14 is as follows:
 

The word came to Jeremiah concerning all the people of Judah in the fourth year of Jehoiakim son of Josiah king of Judah, which was the first year of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon. 2 So Jeremiah the prophet said to all the people of Judah and to all those living in Jerusalem: 3 For twenty-three years—from the thirteenth year of Josiah son of Amon king of Judah until this very day—the word of the Lord has come to me and I have spoken to you again and again, but you have not listened.

4 And though the Lord has sent all his servants the prophets to you again and again, you have not listened or paid any attention. 5 They said, “Turn now, each of you, from your evil ways and your evil practices, and you can stay in the land the Lord gave to you and your ancestors for ever and ever. 6 Do not follow other gods to serve and worship them; do not arouse my anger with what your hands have made. Then I will not harm you.”

7 “But you did not listen to me,” declares the Lord, “and you have aroused my anger with what your hands have made, and you have brought harm to yourselves.”

8 Therefore the Lord Almighty says this: “Because you have not listened to my words, 9 I will summon all the peoples of the north and my servant Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon,” declares the Lord, “and I will bring them against this land and its inhabitants and against all the surrounding nations. I will completely destroy them and make them an object of horror and scorn, and an everlasting ruin. 10 I will banish from them the sounds of joy and gladness, the voices of bride and bridegroom, the sound of millstones and the light of the lamp. 11 This whole country will become a desolate wasteland, and these nations will serve the king of Babylon seventy years.

12 “But when the seventy years are fulfilled, I will punish the king of Babylon and his nation, the land of the Babylonians, for their guilt,” declares the Lord, “and will make it desolate forever. 13 I will bring on that land all the things I have spoken against it, all that are written in this book and prophesied by Jeremiah against all the nations. 14 They themselves will be enslaved by many nations and great kings; I will repay them according to their deeds and the work of their hands.”

Section 2: Book of Law Found during King Josiah's Reign

God was extremely upset with the many evil rulers of Judah and the people who had turned away from God during their reigns. King Josiah of Judah, was therefore a welcome relief as he was a King who did good in the eyes of God all his life.

King Josiah was born in 648 BC and became King in 640 BC when he was just 8 years old. The full account of his life can be found in 2 Chronicles Chapters 34 and 35.

In 622 BC, which was the 18th year of King Josiah's reign, repairs were carried out on the temple of God built by King Solomon. 2 Chronicles 34:14 says that Hilkiah the priest found the Book of Law in the Temple at this time.

2 Chronicles 34:18 ,19 says that the scroll of the Book of Law was read in the hearing of King Josiah, and King Josiah tore his clothes in despair. He was in despair because the people of Judah and the Kings of Judah had lived sinfully. God gave King Josiah the understanding to understand that Lord's great anger has been poured out on the people of God, for not having obeyed God as required by the Book of Law (2 Chronicles 34:21).

The King then appointed Hilkiah (the priest), Ahikam, Acbor, Shapan (the court secretary), Asaiah (the King's adviser) to go to the temple and to inquire of God regarding the words of punishment written in the scroll of the Book of Law (2 Chronicles 34:19).  

Section 3: Prophetess Huldah Foretells Disaster for Judah

A man named Shallum was the keeper of the temple wardrobe during 622 BC. His wife's name was Huldah and she was a prophetess. Hilkiah and the other men went to the New Quarter of Jerusalem to Prophetess Huldah and inquired of the Lord.

The Lord confirmed through Prophetess Huldah that the punishments for not obeying God would indeed come upon the people of Judah and Jerusalem. God said that since King Josiah had repented for the sins of his ancestors and his people, and since he had wept and cried out to God, God would not allow these punishments to come upon Judah during the lifetime of King Josiah. God said that the punishments would start after King Josiah's death and after he has been buried in peace. These facts are recorded in 2 Chronicles 34:22-28.

As King Josiah died and was buried in 609 BC, after ruling Judah for 31 years, God's punishments upon Judah would start as per Prophetess Huldah's prophecy.

In fulfillment of Prophetess Huldah's prophecy, the captivity of Judah started in 609 BC, which is the same year as the year of death of King Josiah. This is the starting year of the 70 year Captivity period, as we will come to understand from the sections ahead.

Section 4: Neo Assyrian Empire Loses Power

The Neo Assyrian Empire was the dominant power in the region when King Josiah of Judah became King in 640 BC. Bible speaks about how the rule of various Assyrian Kings affected the Kingdoms of Judah and Israel:

  • King Tiglath Pilessar III of Assyria (745BC-727BC): King Josiah's predecessor King Ahaz had become vassal of King Tiglath Pilessar III (2 Kings 16:7)
     
  • King Shalmaneser V (727BC - 722BC): He succeeded King Tiglath Pilessar III. During the time of King Josiah's ancestor Hezekiah, King Salmanessar V attacked Israel and besieged its capital Samaria (2 Kings 18:9)
     
  • King Sargon II of Assyria (722BC to 705BC): He claimed to be the son of King Tiglath Pilessar III. His attack against Ashdod is recorded in book of Isaiah 20:1. God had warned Nineveh through Jonah in 712 BC, 100 years before Nineveh's later fall and destruction in 612 BC. 
     
  • King Sennacherib of Assyria (705 BC to 681 BC): He was the son of Sargon II. During the reign of King Hezekiah, the ancestor of King Josiah, he attacked Judah (2 Kings 18:13). In answer to Hezekiah's prayer and Isaiah's prophecy, King Sennacherib's forces were destroyed by God's angel overnight and King Sennacherib returned defeated to Assyria, where his sons killed him.
     
  • King Esarhaddon of Assyria (681 BC to 669 BC): He was the son of King Sennacherib. (2 Kings 19:37) and continued deportation of Israelites and settlement of foreigners in Israel (Ezra 4:2).
     
  • King Ashurbanipal of Assyria (669 BC - 631 BC): He was the son of Esarhaddon, and continued deportation of Israelites and settlement of foreigners in Israel (Ezra 4:10).
     
  • King Ashur-etil-ilani (631-627 BC): He was the son of King Ashurbanipal. His name is not recorded in the bible, and there are very few external sources for his reign, but he was a weak ruler and the erosion of the Neo Assyrian Empire continued. He was deposed by his brother Sinsharishkun in a coup.
  • King Sinsharishkun (627 BC -612 BC): He was the brother of King Ashur-etil-ilani and the son of King Ashurbanipal. As soon as he came to power probably through a coup against his brother, King Ashur-etil-ilani, King Sinsharishkun was faced with rebellion from one of his brother's generals, namely, Sin-shumu-lishir. Although this was quickly subdued, the political situation of Assyria was unstable.

    Taking advantage of this, a Chaldean named Nabopolassar linked to a powerful political family in Uruk seized the control of Babylon and proclaimed himself King of Babylon on 22/23 November 626 BC. Until then the Assyrian Kings considered themselves to be kings of both Assyria and Babylon. But King Nabopolassar wrenched Babylon out of Assyria's control and developed an important alliance with the newly formed empire of the Medes. King Cyaxares of the Medes joined forces with King Nabopolassar, and in 614 BC they captured the city of Assur which was the religious heart of Assyria. They then pressed on and attacked the great city of Nineveh in 612 BC. Nineveh was the capital of Assyria, and Jonah had preached here 100 years earlier in 712 BC. Nineveh fell under the attack of Babylonian and Mede forces, and King Sinsharishkun was killed. The book of Nahum in the bible was written just before Nineveh's fall in 612 BC proclaiming this disaster on them. The Assyrian forces fled and set up the capital in the city of Harran to administer the Assyrian empire.

     
  • King Ashur-Uballit II (612 BC - 609 BC): He was the last King of the Assyrian empire and commanded the forces that had escaped from the destruction of Nineveh in 612 BC. He set up a new Assyrian capital at the city of Harran, but Harran was also captured by Babylonian and Mede forces allied under King Nabopolassar of Babylon in 610 BC. Necho II rushed to Assyrian help (after being delayed in a battle with King Josiah of Judah at Megiddo in  609 BC) and laid siege to Harran in 609 BC. This siege failed and King Ashur Uballit II was killed. King Necho II had to retreat to Egypt as explained in the next section.

Section 5: King Josiah of Judah dies in Battle (609 BC)

King Necho II's father, Pharaoh Psamtik I of Egypt had freed Egypt from Assyrian control when he came to power early in his reign. As Assyria began crumbling under the attack of Nabopolassar and Mede forces, Pharaoh Psamtik I considered it important in the interests of Egypt to support Assyrians, so that the rise of Babylonians and Medes could be kept in check.

Therefore Pharaoh Psalmtik I extended support to Assyria from 616 BC, during the reign of the earlier Assyrian King Sinsharishkun. Paslmtik I's help could not stop the destruction of Nineveh in 612 BC. And Pharaoh Psalmtik I died in 610 BC. He was succeeded by his son King Necho II who ascended the throne of Egypt in 610 BC. Necho II continued his father's policy of supporting Assyrians under King Ashur-Uballit II, as we read in the previous section.

During late 610 BC, King Nabopolassar and the Medes attacked the new capital of Assyria of Harran and captured it. The Assyrian forces had to withdraw and take refuge in Egyptian controlled city of Carchemish that lies on the banks of the Euphrates river.

So Necho II rushed to help Assyria recapture Harran. As he advanced his forces, his path was blocked by King Josiah who engaged him in battle at Megiddo. Necho II won the battle of Megiddo in 609 BC and fatally injured King Josiah of Judah. The Bible details the battle at Megiddo as follows in 2 Chronicles 35:20-25 which says that,

20 After all this, when Josiah had set the temple in order, Necho king of Egypt went up to fight at Carchemish on the Euphrates, and Josiah marched out to meet him in battle. 21 But Necho sent messengers to him, saying, “What quarrel is there, king of Judah, between you and me? It is not you I am attacking at this time, but the house with which I am at war. God has told me to hurry; so stop opposing God, who is with me, or he will destroy you.”

22 Josiah, however, would not turn away from him, but disguised himself to engage him in battle. He would not listen to what Necho had said at God’s command but went to fight him on the plain of Megiddo.

23 Archers shot King Josiah, and he told his officers, “Take me away; I am badly wounded.” 24 So they took him out of his chariot, put him in his other chariot and brought him to Jerusalem, where he died. He was buried in the tombs of his ancestors, and all Judah and Jerusalem mourned for him.

25 Jeremiah composed laments for Josiah, and to this day all the male and female singers commemorate Josiah in the laments. These became a tradition in Israel and are written in the Laments.


After this King Necho II hurried and marched ahead to join the Assyrians forces. Together they laid siege (during early 609 BC) to Harran, and this occurred about 3 months after it was captured by King Nabopolassar. Necho II had lost time due to his battle with King Josiah. The siege of Harran lasted about 2 months and ended with disastrous consequences for the Assyrian and Egyptian forces. Assyrians lost their last King Ashur Uballit II at Harran, and King Necho II was forced to retreat back to Egypt. Necho II allowed the last remaining Assyrian factions to make base at Egyptian controlled city of Carchemish. While retreating, Necho II stopped at Judah on his return journey. This is discussed in the next section.

Section 6: The Captivity of Judah Starts - 609 BC

As discussed in Sections 4 and 5, in 609 BC King Necho II of Egypt defeated King Josiah. He then marched on to join forces with the last King of Assyria to attack and lay siege on Harran, so that they could recapture it and prevent the collapse of the Assyrian empire. That siege ended disastrously for Necho II and the Assyrians forces with him. So they had to retreat from Harran after the unsuccessful siege.

While retreating, King Necho II arrived back at Judah. This occurred three months after Necho II had defeated King Josiah at Megiddo. After King Josiah had died, the people of Judah made Jehoahaz, son of Josiah, king of Judah. When Necho II found King Jehoahaz ruling in place of his father, he dethroned Jehoahaz and carried him off to Egypt. King Jehoahaz had ruled just three months and was taken captive to Egypt. The calculation of the 70-year Captivity prophecy in Jeremiah 25 starts with this event of King Necho II taking King Jehoahaz of Judah captive to Egypt.

Bible says in 2 Kings 23:31-33 that:

31 Jehoahaz was twenty-three years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem three months. His mother’s name was Hamutal daughter of Jeremiah; she was from Libnah. 32 He did evil in the eyes of the Lord, just as his predecessors had done. 33 Pharaoh Necho put him in chains at Riblah in the land of Hamath so that he might not reign in Jerusalem, and he imposed on Judah a levy of a hundred talents of silver and a talent of gold.

Another prophecy in Jeremiah 22:10-12 concerns the kind of death that King Jehoahaz would suffer. The bible says in Jeremiah 22:10-12 that:

10 Do not weep for the dead king or mourn his loss.
    Instead, weep for the captive king being led away!
    For he will never return to see his native land again.

11 For this is what the Lord says about Jehoahaz, who succeeded his father, King Josiah, and was taken away as a captive: “He will never return. 12 He will die in a distant land and will never again see his own country.”

The bible records that Jehoahaz died in captivity in Egypt, just as prophesied by Jeremiah 22:10-12. After dethroning King Jehoahaz, Necho II installed Eliakim (brother of Jehoahaz) on the throne of Judah in 609 BC as a vassal King. Necho II then went back to Egypt. The book of 2 Kings 23:34-35 says:

34 Pharaoh Necho made Eliakim son of Josiah king in place of his father Josiah and changed Eliakim’s name to Jehoiakim. But he took Jehoahaz and carried him off to Egypt, and there he died. 35 Jehoiakim paid Pharaoh Necho the silver and gold he demanded. In order to do so, he taxed the land and exacted the silver and gold from the people of the land according to their assessments.  

Section 7: Battle of the Empires

When Nineveh fell in 612 BC, Assyrians shifted their capital to the city of Harran. King Nabopolassar of Babylon, in alliance with King Cyaxares of Media, attacked Assyria, their common enemy, at Harran in 610 BC. They succeeded in capturing Harran from the Assyrians in early 609 BC.

Upon hearing of this, King Necho II rushed to help of Assyrian forces. Together they laid siege to the city of Harran, three months after it was captured by King Nabopolassar. This siege which lasted just 2 months failed miserably in 609 BC, and Necho II was forced to retreat. The Assyrians lost their last king at Harran, and the remaining Assyrian factions took shelter in the Egyptian-controlled city of Carchemish.

King Nabopolassar then made the strategic move of capturing the region of Kumukh in 609 BC. This was very important, as the capture of Kumukh cut off Egyptian access to Carchemish. Egyptian support and provisions were thus effectively cut off from the Egyptian and Assyrian forces stationed at Carchemish.

During 608 BC, King Necho II attacked Nabopolassar's forces and succeeded in recapturing Kumukh from the Babylonians. King Necho II was thus able to restore access to Carchemish. It is to be noted that dwellers of Kumukh were Arabs.

Deteriorating health weakened King Nabopolassar's further campaigns, and Necho II enjoyed control over the region extending all the way up to the Euphrates river.

Section 8: First Attack and Siege of Jerusalem in 606 BC

In section 3, we had read about the prophecy of Prophetess Huldah which stated that disaster would come upon Judah and Jerusalem. God intended it as a punishment when Necho II took King Jehoahaz captive to Egypt. God hoped as we see in Jeremiah 26, that the people would repent and return to Him, and that God could be merciful to them as promised to his servant, King David.

After Dethroning Jehoahaz and taking him captive, Necho II had installed King Jehoiakim on the throne of Judah in 609 BC. King Jehoiakim lived a life of sin and did detestable things in the eyes of God. He was 25 years old when he became king, and he ruled in Judah for 11 years. His father was King Josiah and his mother was Zebidah.

As recorded in Jeremiah 26:20-24, Prophet Uriah had warned King Jehoiakim during the first year of his reign in 609/608 BC. King Jehoiakim and his officials heard his warning, and they sought to kill Prophet Uriah. When Uriah heard this, he fled to Egypt. But King Jehoiakim used his influence with Necho II and sent an officer named Elnathan to bring back Prophet Uriah from Egypt. King Jehoiakim himself slew Prophet Uriah and had his body thrown into the burial place for common people.

Then in 607 BC, Jeremiah rendered the warning prophecy recorded in Jeremiah 26:1-6, asking Judah to repent. But instead of repenting, the priests and prophets sought to kill him. Jeremiah was saved by the intervention of some of the elders and officials, but the people and King Jehoiakim did not repent. The first siege of Jerusalem in 606 BC happened because no heed was paid to the warning God had given through his prophets. 

During the year 606 BC, Nebuchadnezzar was still prince/co-regent while his father Nabopolassar continued as King. But due to the deteriorating health of Nabopolassar, Nebuchadnezzar was leading the Babylonian campaigns. It is in the year 606 BC (the third year of King Jehoiakim) that Nebuchadnezzar attacked Jerusalem for the first time and besieged it. The bible says in Daniel 1:1-2 that:

During the third year of King Jehoiakim’s reign in Judah, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. The Lord gave him victory over King Jehoiakim of Judah and permitted him to take some of the sacred objects from the Temple of God. So Nebuchadnezzar took them back to the land of Babylonia and placed them in the treasure-house of his god.

The bible also says in 2 Kings 24:1,

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. 

Daniel and his friends were taken captive during this attack and siege on Jerusalem, and Nebuchadnezzar became King in 605 BC after the death of King Nabopolassar in 605 BC.

King Jehoiakim thus became a vassal of Babylon, and Egyptian control over Judah ended. He paid tribute to Babylon for 3 years, namely, 605 BC, 604BC, and 603 BC. 

Section 9: Jeremiah 25 Prophecy issued in 605 BC

Prophetess Huldah had prophesied disaster for Judah as starting from the death of Josiah. Accordingly, captivity started in 609 BC when Necho II of Egypt to King Josiah's son Jehoahaz captive to Egypt. Necho II made King Jehoiakim his vassal. But Jehoiakim ignored warnings given by Prophet Uriah in 608/609 BC and also by Jeremiah in 607 BC. As a result, Jerusalem was attacked by Babylonian crown prince Nebuchadnezzar in 606 BC, who made Jehoiakim a vassal king of Babylon. But even this did not change the people of Judah or King Jehoiakim. 

It is in this situation that Jeremiah 25 prophecy issued in 605 BC, which is the fourth year of King Jehoiakim's reign. The bible says in Jeremiah 25:1-2 that,

This message for all the people of Judah came to Jeremiah from the Lord during the fourth year of Jehoiakim’s reign over Judah. This was the year when King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon began his reign.

Jeremiah the prophet said to all the people in Judah and Jerusalem, “For the past twenty-three years—from the thirteenth year of the reign of Josiah son of Amon, king of Judah, until now—the Lord has been giving me his messages. I have faithfully passed them on to you, but you have not listened.

“Again and again the Lord has sent you his servants, the prophets, but you have not listened or even paid attention. Each time the message was this: ‘Turn from the evil road you are traveling and from the evil things you are doing. Only then will I let you live in this land that the Lord gave to you and your ancestors forever. Do not provoke my anger by worshiping idols you made with your own hands. Then I will not harm you.’

“But you would not listen to me,” says the Lord. “You made me furious by worshiping idols you made with your own hands, bringing on yourselves all the disasters you now suffer. And now the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: Because you have not listened to me, I will gather together all the armies of the north under King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, whom I have appointed as my deputy. I will bring them all against this land and its people and against the surrounding nations. I will completely destroy you and make you an object of horror and contempt and a ruin forever. 10 I will take away your happy singing and laughter. The joyful voices of bridegrooms and brides will no longer be heard. Your millstones will fall silent, and the lights in your homes will go out. 11 This entire land will become a desolate wasteland. Israel and her neighboring lands will serve the king of Babylon for seventy years.

The Captivity which started in 609 BC, could have ended if people repented as warned by the prophets. But when Judah did not repent, in 605 BC the prophecy of Jeremiah 25 was issued setting a time period of 70 years for the end of captivity. So as per the prophecy, the captivity of Judah which started in 609 BC would last till 539 BC.

Section 10: Battle of Carchemish in 605 BC

As explained in section 7, the last remaining factions of Assyria had taken refuge in Egyptian controlled city of Carchemish that is situated on the banks of the Euphrates river. This happened in 609 BC when the combined Egyptian and Assyrian efforts to recapture Harran failed and the Assyrians lost their last king. The Assyrian factions were there at Carchemish because King Necho II of Egypt decided to maintain them there, along with Egyptian forces, to keep a check on the rise of Babylon under King Nabopolassar. 

Nabopolassar became increasingly sick between 608 BC and 605 BC. To crush the Assyrian empire, the Babylonian and Mede forces under the command of Nebuchadnezzar II fought against the combined Assyrian and Egyptian armies at the battle of Carchemish in 605 BC. The Assyrian forces were totally destroyed and Necho II's forces had to retreat to Egypt. The great Assyrian Empire thus met its end.

The battle of Carchemish in 605 BC also effectively ended Egyptian influence in the regions up to the Euphrates, and Necho-II restricted himself to safeguarding Egypt itself from the Babylonians. When King Nabopolassar died in 605 BC, his son Nebuchadnezzar II ascended the throne as King of Babylon.

Section 11: Warning Scroll Burned by King Jehoiakim(604 BC)

In the year 605 BC, the Lord gave another message of warning against Israel, Judah, and all the other nations (Jeremiah 36:1-3) in the hope that the people of Judah may repent of their sins and that God might be able to forgive them when they do so. Jeremiah states in 36:5 that as he was like a prisoner and he could not enter the temple to deliver the message.

So in 604 BC (the fifth year of King Jehoiakim's reign), Jeremiah called his scribe Baruch and asked him to write down everything and to read it in the temple of God in Jerusalem on a day of fasting in the hearing of all who came to worship. Baruch read the message at the temple in the hearing of all during the year 604 BC (Jeremiah 36:9). When the King's officials heard it, they questioned Baruch and came to know that the message was from Jeremiah. They then took the scroll and asked Baruch to leave. The scroll was taken to King Jehoiakim, and they read it in his hearing (Jeremiah 36:21).

But King Jehoiakim was so defiant and rebellious that he responded with contempt towards God's warning. Every time 3-4 columns were read out, he would cut it out and burn it. He did this till the entire scroll was burned. He also sought to arrest Baruch and Jeremiah, but couldn't as God had hidden them (Jeremiah 36:26).

Jeremiah then rewrote the scroll, with much more punishments added (Jeremiah 36:32). King Jehoiakim gets cursed as in Jeremiah 36:28-31 which says that: 

He said, 28 “Get another scroll, and write everything again just as you did on the scroll King Jehoiakim burned. 29 Then say to the king, ‘This is what the Lord says: You burned the scroll because it said the king of Babylon would destroy this land and empty it of people and animals. 30 Now this is what the Lord says about King Jehoiakim of Judah: He will have no heirs to sit on the throne of David. His dead body will be thrown out to lie unburied—exposed to the heat of the day and the frost of the night. 31 I will punish him and his family and his attendants for their sins. I will pour out on them and on all the people of Jerusalem and Judah all the disasters I promised, for they would not listen to my warnings.’”

Section 12: Fate of King Jehoiakim of Judah foretold

The fate of Judah's wicked and defiant King Jehoiakim is foretold by the Lord in Jeremiah 22:13-23, which says that:

13 And the Lord says, “What sorrow awaits Jehoiakim,
    who builds his palace with forced labor.
He builds injustice into its walls,
    for he makes his neighbors work for nothing.
    He does not pay them for their labor.
14 He says, ‘I will build a magnificent palace
    with huge rooms and many windows.
I will panel it throughout with fragrant cedar
    and paint it a lovely red.’
15 But a beautiful cedar palace does not make a great king!
    Your father, Josiah, also had plenty to eat and drink.
But he was just and right in all his dealings.
    That is why God blessed him.
16 He gave justice and help to the poor and needy,
    and everything went well for him.
Isn’t that what it means to know me?”
    says the Lord.
17 “But you! You have eyes only for greed and dishonesty!
    You murder the innocent,
    oppress the poor, and reign ruthlessly.”

18 Therefore, this is what the Lord says about Jehoiakim, son of King Josiah:

“The people will not mourn for him, crying to one another,
    ‘Alas, my brother! Alas, my sister!’
His subjects will not mourn for him, crying,
    ‘Alas, our master is dead! Alas, his splendor is gone!’
19 He will be buried like a dead donkey—
    dragged out of Jerusalem and dumped outside the gates!
20 Weep for your allies in Lebanon.
    Shout for them in Bashan.
Search for them in the regions east of the river.
    See, they are all destroyed.
    Not one is left to help you.
21 I warned you when you were prosperous,
    but you replied, ‘Don’t bother me.’
You have been that way since childhood—
    you simply will not obey me!
22 And now the wind will blow away your allies.
    All your friends will be taken away as captives.
    Surely then you will see your wickedness and be ashamed.
23 It may be nice to live in a beautiful palace
    paneled with wood from the cedars of Lebanon,
but soon you will groan with pangs of anguish—
    anguish like that of a woman in labor.

Section 13: King Jehoiakim of Judah Rebels Against Babylon

As per the bible, King Jehoiakim paid tribute to Babylon only for 3 years (605 BC, 604 BC, and 603 BC). 2 King 24:1 says that afterv that he rebelled against Babylon.

What gave him the courage to rebel? During the year 602 BC, King Nebuchadnezzar II's brother Nabu-shum-lishir led a revolt against King Nebuchadnezzar II. This revolt failed. Further in 601 BC, King Nebuchadnezaar II attacked Egypt to take control of Egypt itself. But King Necho II managed to repel the attack, and this defeat made King Nebuchadnezzar II appear very weak.

So instead of trusting in God, King Jehoiakim became hopeful that his old ally King Necho II might come to his aid and assist in repealing any similar attacks from Nebuchadnezzar II. He trusted in his allies, and not in God. Bible says that God foretold that King Jehioakim would trust in his allies, rather than in God, and that King Jehoiakim's allies would not come to his help (Jeremiah 22: 20-22). The bible says in Jeremiah 22:20-22 that,

20 Weep for your allies in Lebanon.
    Shout for them in Bashan.
    Search for them in the regions east of the river.
    See, they are all destroyed.
    Not one is left to help you.

21 I warned you when you were prosperous,
    but you replied, ‘Don’t bother me.’
    You have been that way since childhood—
    you simply will not obey me!

22 And now the wind will blow away your allies.
    All your friends will be taken away as captives.
    Surely then you will see your wickedness and be ashamed.

This is exactly what happened, as you will read in the next section 14.

Section 14: Second Attack on Jerusalem - 598 BC

Jehoiakim stopped paying tributes to King Nebuchadnezzar II from 602 BC and relied on King Necho II of Egypt to ward of any threat from Babylon. King Jehoiakim's reign came to an end in 598 BC, when King Nebuchadnezzar II launched the second attack on Jerusalem. Bible says that King Nebuchadnezzar had him chained to lead him away to Babylon. Bible records this as follows in 2nd Chronicles Chapter 36:6,7 that,

Then King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon came to Jerusalem and captured it, and he bound Jehoiakim in bronze chains and led him away to Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar also took some of the treasures from the Temple of the Lord, and he placed them in his palace in Babylon.

However, in a change of mind, Nebuchadnezzar decided otherwise and slew him. Historian Josephus wrote that Nebuchadnezzar slew Jehoiakim along with other high-ranking officers and commanded that Jehoiakim's body "to be thrown before the walls, without any burial." This occurred in fulfillment of Jeremiah 22:18-19 wherein it says that,

18 Therefore, this is what the Lord says about Jehoiakim, son of King Josiah:

“The people will not mourn for him, crying to one another,
    ‘Alas, my brother! Alas, my sister!’
His subjects will not mourn for him, crying,
    ‘Alas, our master is dead! Alas, his splendor is gone!’
19 He will be buried like a dead donkey—
    dragged out of Jerusalem and dumped outside the gates!

While rewriting the scroll that King Jehoiakim had burned 6 years before his death, Jeremiah further prophecized in Jeremiah 36:30 that,

30 Now this is what the Lord says about King Jehoiakim of Judah: He will have no heirs to sit on the throne of David. His dead body will be thrown out to lie unburied—exposed to the heat of the day and the frost of the night.

Section 15: Third Attack and Siege of Jerusalem in 598 BC

King Jeconiah (Jehoiachin) was the grandson of King Josiah. His father was King Jehoiakim and his mother was Nehushta. Bible says of King Nebuchadnezzar's second attack on Jerusalem in 2 Chronicles 36:6,7 that,

"Then King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon came to Jerusalem and captured it, and he bound Jehoiakim in bronze chains and led him away to Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar also took some of the treasures from the Temple of the Lord, and he placed them in his palace in Babylon."

After putting King Jehoiakim in chains with plans to take him captive to Babylon, King Nebuchadnezzar appears to have decided against this. Historian Josephus wrote that King Nebuchadnezzar II slew King Jehoiakim, and had him thrown outside the walls of Jerusalem. Following this, Jeconiah (son of King Jehoiakim) ascended the throne on 6 December 598 BC. 

After a brief reign of 3 months and 10 days, King Jehoiachin was dethroned by King Nebuchadnezzar II during the third attack & siege that ended on 16 of March 597 BC. The book of 2 Kings 24:12 says that this occurred in the 8th year of Nebuchadnezzar II's reign. King Nebuchadnezzar personally came to Jerusalem at this time.

King Nebuchadnezzar then installed King Zedekiah, as a vassal king, in place of King Jeconiah (Jehoiachin) in 597 BC.King Zedekiah's real name was Mattaniah & he was renamed as Zedekiah by King Nebuchadnezzar II. At that time, King Nebuchadnezzar II took Jeconiah/Jehoiachin back with him as a captive to Babylon along with his entire household and 3000 Jews. King Zedekiah was only 21 years on becoming King. All these events are recorded in 2 Kings 24:13-17 which says:

"13 As the Lord had said beforehand, Nebuchadnezzar carried away all the treasures from the Lord’s Temple and the royal palace. He stripped away all the gold objects that King Solomon of Israel had placed in the Temple. 14 King Nebuchadnezzar took all of Jerusalem captive, including all the commanders and the best of the soldiers, craftsmen, and artisans—10,000 in all. Only the poorest people were left in the land.

15 Nebuchadnezzar led King Jehoiachin away as a captive to Babylon, along with the queen-mother, his wives and officials, and all Jerusalem’s elite. 16 He also exiled 7,000 of the best troops and 1,000 craftsmen and artisans, all of whom were strong and fit for war. 17 Then the king of Babylon installed Mattaniah, Jehoiachin’s uncle, as the next king, and he changed Mattaniah’s name to Zedekiah."

All that would occur to King Jehoiachin was prophecied in Jeremiah 22:24-30 which says that,

24 “As surely as I live,” says the Lord, “I will abandon you, Jehoiachin son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah. Even if you were the signet ring on my right hand, I would pull you off. 25 I will hand you over to those who seek to kill you, those you so desperately fear—to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon and the mighty Babylonian army. 26 I will expel you and your mother from this land, and you will die in a foreign country, not in your native land. 27 You will never again return to the land you yearn for.

28 “Why is this man Jehoiachin like a discarded, broken jar?
    Why are he and his children to be exiled to a foreign land?
29 O earth, earth, earth!
    Listen to this message from the Lord!
30 This is what the Lord says:
‘Let the record show that this man Jehoiachin was childless.
    He is a failure,
for none of his children will succeed him on the throne of David
    to rule over Judah.’

Soon after the exile of Jeconiah, the craftsmen and artisans to Babylon, Jeremiah is given the vision of the good figs and bad figs in Jeremiah 24. God says those who were taken away in exile are the good figs. Whereas the newly installed King Zedekiah, his officials, and the people who remain in Jerusalem are called bad figs in Jeremiah 24:8-10.

Section 16: Start of 4th Attack & Siege of Jerusalem (588 BC)

In the 9th year of the reign of King Zedekiah (also the 9th year of Captivity of King Jehoiachin in Babylon), King Zedekiah dishonored the oath he swore in God's name to faithfully serve the King of Babylon and rebelled against King Nebuchadnezzar II.

So King Nebuchadnezzar II attacked launched the 4th attack and set up a siege against the city of Jerusalem. This occurred on the 10th day of the 10th month of the ancient Hebrew lunar calendar, which corresponds to January 15 of our modern Julian calendar. The year is 588 BC. So the siege against Jerusalem was started on January 15, 588 BC. This is recorded in Jeremiah 39:2 and in Jeremiah 52:4.

Prophecy Issued & FulfilledWhen King Nebuchadnezzar II was in Jerusalem, Prophet Ezekiel was in Babylon (in exile) which was 2700 kilometers away. There were no modern means of communication over such large distances that could get a message across on the same day.

But God calls Ezekiel and asks him to write down what he has to say (Book of Ezekiel Chapter 24). In Ezekiel 24:1, God says that on the very day of January 15, 588 BC (as calculated above), King Nebuchadnezzar II will lay siege to Jerusalem. This is exactly what happened. God told prophet Ezekiel what was happening 2700 Kilometers away in Jerusalem.

This is an instance of a prophecy issued and also fulfilled on the same day, which is January 15, 588 BC.

Section 17: Destruction of Jerusalem in 586 BC

The fourth attack and siege of Jerusalem which started on 15 January 588 BC finally ended on July 18, 586 BC with the destruction of Jerusalem and God's temple constructed by King Solomon, as per God's prophecies through Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel. Refer to 2nd Chronicles 36:17-21, Jeremiah 39, and Jeremiah 52 for the full details of this event. Bible says in Jeremiah 39:2-10, "

2Two and a half years later, on July 18 in the eleventh year of Zedekiah’s reign, a section of the city wall was broken down. All the officers of the Babylonian army came in and sat in triumph at the Middle Gate: Nergal-sharezer of Samgar, and Nebo-sarsekim, a chief officer, and Nergal-sharezer, the king’s adviser, and all the other officers of the king of Babylon.

When King Zedekiah of Judah and all the soldiers saw that the Babylonians had broken into the city, they fled. They waited for nightfall and then slipped through the gate between the two walls behind the king’s garden and headed toward the Jordan Valley.

But the Babylonian troops chased them and overtook Zedekiah on the plains of Jericho. They captured him and took him to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, who was at Riblah in the land of Hamath. There the king of Babylon pronounced judgment upon Zedekiah. The king of Babylon made Zedekiah watch as he slaughtered his sons at Riblah. The king of Babylon also slaughtered all the nobles of Judah. Then he gouged out Zedekiah’s eyes and bound him in bronze chains to lead him away to Babylon.

Meanwhile, the Babylonians burned Jerusalem, including the royal palace and the houses of the people, and they tore down the walls of the city. Then Nebuzaradan, the captain of the guard, took as exiles to Babylon the rest of the people who remained in the city, those who had defected to him, and everyone else who remained. 10 But Nebuzaradan allowed some of the poorest people to stay behind in the land of Judah, and he assigned them to care for the vineyards and fields.

After this, they embarked on the destruction of the Temple of God built by Solomon by taking away all articles of value and demolishing costly parts of the temple that could be salvaged, and finally burning the temple of God. The ark of God stored in the temple by King Josiah (2 Chronicles 35:3) also must have been destroyed in this fire. For full details please refer to Jeremiah 52.

Section 18: The Era of Neo-Babylonian Kings

Why is it important to study the succession of Babylonian kings of the prophecy period? It is because the 70-year captivity prophecy is itself linked to the end of the rule of these Babylonian Kings. God says that when the time of captivity is over, the Babylonian rulers will be punished. Jeremiah 25:12-14 says that,

12 “Then, after the seventy years of captivity are over, I will punish the king of Babylon and his people for their sins,” says the Lord. “I will make the country of the Babylonians a wasteland forever. 13 I will bring upon them all the terrors I have promised in this book—all the penalties announced by Jeremiah against the nations. 14 Many nations and great kings will enslave the Babylonians, just as they enslaved my people. I will punish them in proportion to the suffering they cause my people.”

So the rule of the Babylonian Kings of the period had to come to an end for the 70-year prophecy to be fulfilled. There were several dynasties of Babylonian Kings. But we are mainly concerned with the 10th Dynasty of Babylonian rulers who were Chaldeans. When Nabopolassar revolted against Ashurbanipal of Assyria on 22/23 November 622 BC, he started the tenth dynasty of Babylonian Kings. King Nabopolassar was the first King of this empire that is known today as the Neo-Babylonian Empire. The reigns and lines of succession of the Neo-Babylonian Kings (Chaldean Kings) to whom Jeremiah 25 is referring to are as follows:

  1. King Nabopolassar (626 BC to 605 BC): King Nabopolassar led a revolt against Assyrian King Sinsharishkun and wrestled the control of Babylon out of the hand of the Assyrian empire. Nabopolassar became the King of the Babylonians on 22/23 November 626 BC. He made an alliance with King Cyaxares, King of the Medes, to take on the might of the Assyrian empire. Together they attacked Nineveh (according to prophecy in the book of Nahum) and destroyed it in 612 BC. The Assyrians lost their capital and so they set up a new capital at Harran. Nabopolassar led the Babylonians and the Medes in an attack on Haran in 610 BC and captured it in early 609 BC. King Necho II who had allied himself with Assyrians rushed to join Assyrian forces and lay siege to Harran. The siege was laid about 3 months after the city was taken by Babylonians (because King Josiah delayed King Necho II in battle at Megiddo). The siege of Haran which lasted 2 months ended disastrously for the Assyrians and for King Necho II's forces, and they had to retreat. The Assyrians lost their King here, and surviving forces were given refuge at Egyptian controlled city of Carchemish on the banks of the Euphrates river. All this occurred in 609 BC

    King Nabopolassar captured the region of Kumukh in 609 BC which cut off links between Egypt and Carchemish. King Necho led an attack in 608 BC and was successful in recapturing Kumukh. Soon after this Nabopolassar became ill and withdrew to Babylon. Nabopolassar's son, Crown Prince nebuchadnezzar II, attacked Judah in 606 Bc and captured it. This was Nebuchadnezzar's first attack on Jerusalem, and Daniel and his friends were exiled to Babylon at this time. In 605 BC, King Nabopolassar died of his illness.

     
  2. King Nebuchadnezzar II (605 BC - 562 BC): He became King in 605 BC and is the King we know of from the bible in Daniel Chapters 1,2,3, and 4. He faced a revolt from his brother Nabu-shum-lishir in 602 BC and overcame it successfully. In 602 BC, he marched against Egypt to take control of Egypt. But King Necho II managed to block the attack and Nebuchadnezzar II's forces had to withdraw. Judah's King Jehoiakim also rebelled, and King Nebuchadnezzar II captured King Jehioakim during the second attack on Jerusalem in 598 BC. Shortly thereafter, he led a third attack and siege on Jerusalem in 597 BC to remove King Jehoiachin from the throne of Judah. He led a fourth attack and started the siege of Jerusalem on January 15, 588 BC as prophecized in Ezekiel 24:1. That siege lasted a long time and finally ended on July 18, 586 BC leading to the destruction of Jerusalem and the burning of the Temple of God. 

    King Nebuchadnezzar II reigned 43 years and died of illness in 562 BC. He was the greatest ruler of the Neo Babylonian Empire.

     
  3. Amel Marduk (562 BC - 560 BC): In the bible, this King is referred to as Evil Merodach. Refer to 2 Kings 25:27 which says, "In the thirty-seventh year of the exile of King Jehoiachin of Judah, Evil-merodach ascended to the Babylonian throne. He was kind to Jehoiachin and released him from prison on April 2 of that year."

    Although he was selected by King Nebuchadnezzar II to succeed after him, Amel Marduk had tried to usurp the throne and King Nebuchadnezzar II imprisoned him for this. It is in prison that Amel Marduk befriended King Jehoiachin, and he released Jehoiachin from prison in the 37th year of his exile. Bible further says in Jeremiah 52:32 that, 'He spoke kindly to Jehoiachin and gave him a higher place than all the other exiled kings in Babylon'.

    Amel Marduk was assassinated by Nebuchadnezzar II's son-in-law, Neriglissar who then usurped power.

     
  4. King Neriglissar (560 BC to 556 BC): He was married to King Nebuchadnezzar's daughter Kashshaya and reigned briefly for about 3 years 8 months. He died of illness.
     
  5. King Labshi Marduk (556 BC): He was the son of Neriglissar and reigned briefly for less than 3 months before he was assassinated in a coup by Belshazzar, son of Nabonidus.
     
  6. King Nabonidus (556 - 539 BC): He was the last King of the Neo Babylonian empire and was probably another son-in-law of Nebuchadnezzar II. he came to power in a coup executed by his own son, Belshazzar. Unlike other Chaldean rulers who worshiped idol Marduk, Nabonidus was a worshipper of the moon deity Sin. In 552 BC, he went to Temya in Arabia (between Medina and Al Jawf) probably on pilgrimage but remained there for a very long time to 443/442 BC. This did not go well with the Babylonians who could not celebrate New Year Festivals in honor of Marduk for over a decade, because as per Babylonian customs the king's presence was mandatory and could not be replaced. 

    Belshazzar, son of King Nabonidus, was second in power throughout the rule of King Nabonidus. That is why in daniel 5:16, he promises to make daniel the third most important person in the Kingdom in return for interpreting the writing on the palace wall. The wrath of God was poured out on Belshazzar when he took the holy articles of God's temple for parting with his guests and as per the writing on the wall, he was killed that same night as per Daniel 5:30. The Persians marched into Babylon unopposed because the people of Babylon did not resist, and the reign of Nabonidus came to an end.

    The Babylonian empire thus collapsed and Cyrus the Great came to power. Although Babylonian King Nabonidus surrendered to Persians on 12 October 539 BC, Cyrus himself entered Babylon only by 29 October 539 BC.  The First Persian Empire or the Achaemenid Empire was thus firmly established on the ruins of the Babylonian empire. 

    From the start of captivity in 609 BC to 639 BC, exactly 70 years had passed as prophecized in Jeremiah 25. God fulfilled the prophecy in Jeremiah 25:12-14 which says that '12 Then, after the seventy years of captivity are over, I will punish the king of Babylon and his people for their sins,” says the Lord. “I will make the country of the Babylonians a wasteland forever. 13 I will bring upon them all the terrors I have promised in this book—all the penalties announced by Jeremiah against the nations. 14 Many nations and great kings will enslave the Babylonians, just as they enslaved my people. I will punish them in proportion to the suffering they cause my people.”

Section 19: Jeremiah 25 Prophecy Fulfilled

Cyrus the Great, who captured Babylon in 539 BC was God's chosen instrument to fulfill the 70-year prophecy of Captivity. Prophet Isaiah prophesied about Cyrus in the bible as follows:

  1. When I say of Cyrus, ‘He is my shepherd,’ he will certainly do as I say. He will command, ‘Rebuild Jerusalem’; he will say, ‘Restore the Temple.’” (Isaiah 44:28)
     
  2. This is what the Lord says to Cyrus, his anointed one, whose right hand he will empower. Before him, mighty kings will be paralyzed with fear. Their fortress gates will be opened, never to shut again. This is what the Lord says: “I will go before you, Cyrus, and level the mountains. I will smash down gates of bronze and cut through bars of iron (Isaiah 45:1,2)

  3.  

    I will raise up Cyrus to fulfill my righteous purpose, and I will guide his actions. He will restore my city and free my captive people— without seeking a reward! I, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, have spoken!” (Isaiah 45:13)

  4. 14 Have any of your idols ever told you this? Come, all of you, and listen:
    The Lord has chosen Cyrus as his ally. He will use him to put an end to the empire of Babylon and to destroy the Babylonian armies. 15 “I have said it: I am calling Cyrus! I will send him on this errand and will help him succeed" (Isaiah 48:14,15).

 

According to the word of God, Cyrus freed the Captives of Judah and returned the temple articles, besides providing for the reconstruction works. According to Ezra 1: 1-3,

In the first year of King Cyrus of Persia, the Lord fulfilled the prophecy he had given through Jeremiah. He stirred the heart of Cyrus to put this proclamation in writing and to send it throughout his kingdom: “This is what King Cyrus of Persia says: “The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth. He has appointed me to build him a Temple at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Any of you who are his people may go to Jerusalem in Judah to rebuild this Temple of the Lord, the God of Israel, who lives in Jerusalem. And may your God be with you!

Amen. God Bless.