Author: Ron Graham
Captivity in Babylon
—And Nebuchadnezzar’s mercy
Time ~ 7. Exile and Scattering
Span ~ 200 years
Books ~ Jer, Lam, Eze, Dan, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Obadiah, [Joel]
Figures ~ Jeremiah, Daniel
Begins with ~ Wars upon Israel and Judah
Ascendant empire ~ Babylon
We now come to the second captivity, that of Judah. The people were taken into exile in the land of the Chaldeans of which the chief city was Babylon.
1 Chaldeans Take Judah
The northern kingdom of Israel has already been taken into captivity by the Assyrians.
Now it is the southern kingdom of Judah's turn to be deported from their own land into exile in a foreign country.
God's instrument in this punishment is Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon.
The Babylonians/Chaldeans have by this time become a superpower.
The great prophets of this time are Jeremiah, Daniel, and Ezekiel.
Jeremiah predicted the fall and tribulation of Judah and what would take place thereafter.
Ezekiel inspires and gives hope to the exiles.
Daniel was one of the exiles who also saw beyond the captivity all the way to the time of Christ.
2 Mercy With Punishment
Judah's punishment was bad enough, but it could have been worse. God moderated the punishment in at least three ways...
- Firstly, he limited it to seventy years so that the people could have assurance that future generations would return to the homeland.
- Secondly, he allowed some of the exiles to have much influence over the authorities. Daniel in fact became ruler in Babylon, much like Joseph was in Egypt.
- Thirdly, God enabled the prophets to see into the distant future, and speak encouragingly of the coming of Christ and the kingdom of Heaven. When God disciplines those who belong to him, he always tempers it with mercy and love.
God’s way with Babylon’s King Nebuchadnezzar was, by the king's own account, similarly just and merciful, as terrible as the punishment was. God may let us be humbled, but always for our good (Romans 8:28).
3 Bible Summary (2Kings 23-25)
- Jehoahaz becomes king and does evil (23)
- Pharaoh Neco invades Judah (23)
- Jehoiakim becomes king and does evil (23)
- Nebuchadnezzar makes Jehoiakim his vassal but Jehoiakim rebels against him (24)
- Chaldeans, Syrians, Moabites, and Ammonites invade Judah (24)
- Jehoiachin (Coniah) becomes king and does evil (24)
- He surrenders to Nebuchadnezzar who puts his uncle Zedekiah on the throne (24)
- King Jehoiachin and others taken into Babylonian exile (24)
- Judah's repeated rebellion causes Nebuchadnezzar to besiege Jerusalem (25)
- King Zedekiah flees but is captured and killed (25)
- Jerusalem falls and Judah is led captive into Babylon (25)
- The few left in Judah flee (ironically) to Egypt (25)
- Jehoiachin is treated kindly in Babylon (25)
4 The Great Empires
At this point you should be aware of the succession of superpowers in the latter Times of Israel. These were the...
5 Book of Jeremiah
- Jeremiah prophesies and laments Judah's exile in Judah (1-27).
- These prophecies were made during the reigns of the last four kings of Judah: Josiah, Jehoiakim, Jehoiachin, Zedekiah.
- Note: Jehoiachin is also known as Jeconiah or Coniah.
- Hananiah falsely prophesies that the Babylonian yoke will be broken in only two years (28).
- Jeremiah informs the first exiles in Babylon that their captivity will last 70 years and denounces false prophets who say otherwise (29).
- The restoration of Israel and Judah is predicted (Jeremiah 30-31). This primarily has application to the coming of the Messiah
6 A Few Facts About Nebuchadnezzar
- The king of Babylon at the time of the exile of Judah, was the awesome Nebuchadnezzar.
- His name may also be spelled Nebuchadrezzar.
- We read about him in 2Kings 24-25, 2Chronicles 36, Jeremiah 21-52, Ezekiel 26, 29-30, Daniel 1-4. He is also mentioned in other Bible books.
- It is mainly in Daniel that we get a personal look at Nebuchadnezzar.
- God sent him predictive dreams but he could not understand them without Daniel's help.
- He erected a golden idol.
- This act, ironically, led him to acknowlede God to the whole world.
- Nebuchadnezzar was humbled by God, being struck by a rare mania which caused him to live and act like a beast of the field. He recovered, however, and exalted God (Daniel 4).