Jerusalem falls and the exile in Babylon begins

2 Kings 25:1-21  King Zedekiah of Judah rebels in 589BC and Jerusalem is besieged for over a year and a half by King Nebuchadnezzar. For several months, the new king of Egypt, Pharoah Hophra, comes to the aid of Israel (see Jeremiah 37:6-8 & 44:30); but eventually the walls are breached in July 587BC, Zedekiah is captured, and is taken to Babylon (see 10 on Map 60).


Jerusalem and the southern kingdom of Judah fall in 587BC.


Ishtar Gate  - detail of a reconstruction of the Babylonian gate in Berlin's Pergamon Museum (Bontenbal)

Lions on the Ishtar Gate of Babylon at the Pergamon Museum, Berlin (Bontenbal)


The Fall of Jerusalem

Following Zedekiah’s rebellion in 598BC, Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon turned his wrath against Jerusalem, finally capturing the city in July 587BC after a long siege lasting a year and a half. Zedekiah escaped by night and fled towards the River Jordan, but the Babylonians set out in pursuit and captured him near Jericho. Zedekiah was taken before Nebuchadnezzar at Riblah, near Hamath, blinded and led to Babylon in chains (see Jeremiah 39:1-7).

Over the next few months, the Temple and the royal palace in Jerusalem were destroyed by fire and the city walls were torn down by Nebuzaradan, the commander of the Babylonian imperial guard. All the silver censers and the bronze furnishings from the Temple were confiscated and sent to Babylon. The huge bronze pillars and the bronze ceremonial washing bowl (the ‘Bronze Sea’) were removed and melted down to be re-used (see 2 Kings 25:8-21). The same fate probably met the valuable gold articles and treasures from the Temple that had already been taken to Babylon eleven years earlier (see 2 Kings 24:13).

The prophet Jeremiah - who had foretold the downfall of Jerusalem and had tried in vain to persuade Zedekiah to surrender - was rescued by Nebuzaradan from amongst the captives who were being marshalled for exile in the holding camp at Ramah, just north of Jerusalem. Jeremiah was offered the reward of luxurious living in Babylon, but he chose to stay behind at Mizpah under the protection of Gedeliah, the new Babylonian governor (see Jeremiah 40:1-6).

Meanwhile, the high priest and the royal advisors were arrested and executed, and the people of Judah were led into exile in Babylonia. Only a few of the poorest agricultural labourers were left behind to tend the vineyards and the surrounding fields.


Ishtar Gate of Babylon  - reconstruction in the Pergamon Museum, Berlin (Hahaha)

The Ishtar Gate of Babylon reconstructed in the Pergamon Museum, Berlin (Hahaha)


2 Kings 25:22-27  Gedeliah is appointed Governor of Judah by Nebuchadnezzar in 587BC. Some of the Judaean officers and soldiers who have defected and gone into hiding surrender to Gedeliah at Mizpah. As they have not fought against the Babylonians, they are given land to cultivate in the surrounding villages of Judah.

Seven months later, in 586BC, Ishmael (a descendant of the King of Judah) assassinates Gedeliah at Mizpah and then escapes to Egypt (see Map 60). The other Judaeans at Mizpah also decide to flee to Egypt, taking with them the prophet Jeremiah (See Jeremiah 40-44).


The Book of Lamentations is a collection of five poems lamenting the destruction of Jerusalem in 587BC.

Obadiah decries Edom after it takes advantage of Jerusalem's fall in 587BC.

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