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Pre Exilic History

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  • Pre Exilic History

    Last of the Davidic Kings to Reign Independent from Paying Tribute to a Foreign Nation

    Background for King Josiah of Judah
    (Western History Dates)

    Just the reading of the historical and prophetic books of the Bible often lacks the overview of the history. This short summary might be useful.

    King Josiah 641-609 B.C.
    When Josiah became king of Judah the regional situation was in flux. The Assyrian Empire was beginning to disintegrate, the Neo-Babylonian Empire had not yet risen to replace it, and Egypt to the west was still recovering from Assyrian rule. In this power vacuum, Jerusalem was able to govern itself for the time being without foreign intervention.
    In the spring of 609 B.C., Pharaoh Necho II led a sizable army up to the Euphrates River to aid the Assyrians against the Babylonians. The Egyptian army traveled the ancient coastal trade route which connected Egypt to Damascus, Syria. The army consisted mainly of mercenaries, and supported by his Mediterranean fleet along the shore, Necho passed the low tracts (costal plains) of Philistia and Sharon. However, the passage over the ridge of hills which shuts in on the south of the great Jezreel Valley was blocked by the Judean army led by Josiah, who may have considered that the Assyrians and Egyptians were weakened by the death of the pharaoh Psamtik I only a year earlier (610 B.C.), who had been appointed and confirmed by Assyrian kings Esarhaddon and Ashurbanipal.Josiah attempted to block the advance at Megiddo, where a fierce battle was fought and Josiah was killed. Necho then joined forces with the Assyrian Ashur-uballit II and together they crossed the Euphrates and lay siege to Harran. The combined forces failed to capture the city, and Necho retreated to northern Syria.
    But before his death King Josiah prepared our way. If not for King Josiah God would have used a different instrument. What did King Josiah do that was so important to us?

    Josiah became king of Judah at the age of eight, after the assassination of his father, King Amon, and reigned for thirty-one years. King Josiah instituted major religious reforms in Judah. Josiah is credited by most biblical scholars with having established or compiled important Hebrew Scriptures during the "Deuteronomic reform" which occurred during his rule. At this period of time in history the preservation of the Hebrew texts of the Old Testament may be largely due to King Josiah.

    King Josiah the King Foretold in Prophecy
    According to 1 Kings 13:1–3 an unnamed "man of God" (sometimes identified as Iddo) had prophesied to King Jeroboam of the northern Kingdom of Israel (Samaria), approximately three hundred years earlier, that "a son named Josiah will be born to the house of David" and that he would destroy the altar at Bethel.1 And the only exception to this destruction was for the grave of an unnamed prophet he found in Bethel (2 Kings 23:15–19), who had foretold that these religious sites Jeroboam erected would one day be destroyed (see 1 Kings 13). King Josiah ordered the double grave of the "man of God" and of the Bethel prophet to be let alone as these prophecies had come true.
    Josiah's reforms are described in two biblical accounts, 2 Kings 22–23, and 2 Chronicles 34–35. They began with the ending of ancient Israelite religious practices, and the astral cults that had become popular in the 8th Century, and led to centralization of worship in Jerusalem, and the destruction of the temple at Bethel.
    According to the later account in 2 Chronicles, Josiah destroyed altars and images of pagan deities in cities of the tribes of Manasseh, Ephraim, "and Simeon, as far as Naphtali" (2 Chronicles 34:6–7), which were outside of his kingdom, Judah, and returned the Ark of the Covenant to the Temple (2 Chronicles 35:1-4).
    1. Altar at Bethel was constructed by King Jeroboam of Israel (Northern Kingdom) in Samaria. This altar was a substitute for the northern tribe’s isolation from the temple in Jerusalem. However, sacrifices at the altar of Bethel were pagan in nature.
    Bethel means “House of God.”
    Babylonian Exile: Background
    (Western History Dates)

    Just the reading of the historical and prophetic books of the Bible often lacks the overview of the history. This short summary might be useful.

    Four (4) Times Hostages Were Exiled to Babylon

    King Jehoiakim reigned for eleven years, from 608 B.C. until 598 B.C.

    King Josiah of Judah was defeated and killed in battle at Haran by the Egyptian army led by Pharaoh Necho II in 608 B.C. Jehoahaz (also known as Shallum) assumed the throne of his father, but when Pharaoh Necho returned through Jerusalem after three months he deposed King Jehoahaz and placed Jehoiakim, the younger son of Josiah on the throne (also known as Eliakim).

    The First Period of King Jehoiakim reign from 608- 601 B.C.

    King Jehoiakim ruled originally as a vassal of the Egyptians, paying a heavy tribute. To raise the money he "taxed the land and exacted the silver and gold from the people of the land according to their assessments. However, after the Egyptians were defeated by the Babylonians at the battle of Carchemish on the Euphrates River in 605 B.C., Nebuchadnezzar II besieged Jerusalem, and Jehoiakim changed allegiances to avoid the destruction of Jerusalem. He paid tribute from the treasury in Jerusalem, some temple artifacts, and handed over some of the royal family and nobility as hostages.

    Interesting to know:
    These hostages probably included Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah (Daniel 1:3-7). These hostages are the first to be exiled to Babylon but not included in the three exiles recorded in Jeremiah.

    The Exiles Recorded in Jeremiah

    Three more times during the following 6th century B.C., the Jews of the ancient Kingdom of Judah were exiled to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar. These three separate occasions are mentioned.

    Jeremiah 52:28–30) ISV
    28 These are the people Nebuchadnezzar took into exile: in the seventh year, 3,023 Judeans; 29 in Nebuchadnezzar’s eighteenth year, 832 people from Jerusalem; 30 in Nebuchadnezzar’s twenty-third year, Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard took 745 people from Judah into exile. All the people taken into exile numbered 4,600.

    The Second Period of King Jehoiakim reign from 601- 597 B.C.
    In 601 B.C. King Jehoiakim’s invasion of Egypt failed. This war undermined Babylonian control of Judah and King Jehoiakim switched allegiance back to the Egyptians. In late 598 B.C., the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar invaded Judah and again laid siege to Jerusalem, which lasted three months.1
    According to the Babylonian Chronicles, Jerusalem fell on 2 Adar (16 March) 597 B.C.2 The Chronicles state:
    The seventh year (of Nebuchadnezzar – 598 BC.) in the month Chislev (Nov/Dec) the king of Babylon assembled his army, and after he had invaded the land of Hatti (Syria/Palestine) he laid siege to the city of Judah. On the second day of the month of Adar (16 March) he conquered the city and took the king prisoner.
    The Exile After King Jeconiah three months as King of Judah in 597 B.C.
    King Jehoiakim was succeeded by his son Jeconiah (also known as Jehoiachin). After three months, Nebuchadnezzar deposed Jeconiah (fearing that he would revenge his father's death by revolting, according to Josephus) and installed the younger brother of the former King Jehoiakim, Zedekiah, as king in his place of Jeconiah. Disposed King Jeconiah, his household, and much of Judah's population were exiled to Babylon 597 B.C.) These hostages are the second to be exiled to Babylon and the first recorded in Jeremiah 52:28-30. (3,023 hostages)

    This first 6th century exile was at the end of King Jehoiakim (Jehoiachin) three month reign in 597 BC, when, in retaliation for a refusal to pay tribute, the temple of Jerusalem was despoiled and the household of King Jehoiakim and many were exiled to Babylon.

    Interesting to know:
    Mordecai was one of the captives (Esther 2:5-6). Another captive was Ezekiel (Ezekiel 1:2; 40:1)

    The Last King of Judah King Zedekiah 596-586 B.C.
    Nebuchadnezzar installed in place of King Jeconiah, Zedekiah of his own choice, and after he had received rich tribute, he sent hostages forth to Babylon.
    After eleven years, in the tenth year of the reign of Zedekiah (2 Kings 24:18) —who had been enthroned by Nebuchadnezzar, a fresh revolt of the Judaeans took place, perhaps encouraged by the close proximity of the Egyptian army. The city was razed to the ground, and a further deportation ensued. This is the second of the exiles recorded by Jeremiah. (832 hostages)
    Finally, five years later in 581 B.C., Jeremiah records a third exile. (745 hostages)

    The Return from Exile Approved 537 B.C.

    After the overthrow of Babylonia by the Persians, Cyrus gave the Jews permission to return to their native land (537 BC), and more than forty thousand are said to have availed themselves of the privilege. (See The book of Ezra and Nehemiah.)
    However, most of the Jewish population remained in what was now Persia.

    1. The Book of Chronicles recorded that Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon bound King Jehoiakim in fetters, to carry him to Babylon. Historian Josephus wrote that Nebuchadnezzar slew Jehoiakim along with high-ranking officers and then commanded Jehoiakim's body "to be thrown before the walls, without any burial (Jeremiah 22:18–19).
    Rabbinical literature describes King Jehoiakim as a godless tyrant who committed atrocious sins and crimes. He is portrayed as living in incestuous relations with his mother, daughter-in-law, and stepmother, and was in the habit of murdering men, whose wives he then violated and whose property he seized. He also had tattooed his body.

    2. The calendar date 9th of Av is monumental for Judaism. On this date three major events occurred.
    The fall of Jerusalem to the Babylonians precedes the destruction of the temple where resistance continued until the 9th of Av when the temple was destroyed.
    The second temple was destroyed on the same calendar date in A.D. 70.
    Also it is the day that YHWH decreed that the generation of the Exodus shall die out in the desert, after they refused to proceed to the Holy Land in wake of the Spies' demoralizing report.

  • #2
    The 9th of Av or Tish b'av is a dreadful day for the Jewish people and to this day most whom are aware of it still fear it.