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Conquest by Babylon and captivity (24:1-17)
In 605 BC the armies of Babylon under Nebuchadnezzar conquered Egypt in the famous Battle of Carchemish (Jeremiah 46:2). This meant that Judah now came under the control of, and paid tribute to, Babylon. When the conquerors returned to Babylon, they took with them captives from the conquered countries, including some of the most capable and well educated young men they could find among the leading families of Jerusalem. One of these was the youth Daniel (Daniel 1:1-6).
After three years Jehoiakim stopped paying tribute, thinking that Nebuchadnezzar was too busy with wars elsewhere to deal with Judah. Jehoiakim depended on Egypt to support his rebellion, a policy that Jeremiah consistently opposed (Jeremiah 2:18,Jeremiah 2:36). Nebuchadnezzar did not immediately return and attack Jerusalem, but he weakened its power by allowing other countries within his Empire to raid across Judah’s borders (24:1-4).
When he had put down rebellions elsewhere, Nebuchadnezzar sent his army to besiege Jerusalem. Jehoiakim the king was taken prisoner and chained ready to be sent to Babylon, but he died before the journey began. No one mourned his death, and his body was thrown on the garbage dump outside Jerusalem as if it were the carcass of an unclean animal (5-7; 2 Chronicles 36:6; Jeremiah 22:18-19; Jeremiah 36:30).
The eighteen year old Jehoiachin (also known as Jeconiah, or Coniah) then became king. After three months he saw that further resistance was useless and surrendered (597 BC). Most of the nation’s treasures, along with the king, the royal family, the palace officials and all Judah’s best people, were carried off to Babylon. Among these captives was the young man Ezekiel. Only those of no use to Babylon were left in Jerusalem. Babylon then appointed Jehoiachin’s uncle, Zedekiah, as king (8-17; see Ezekiel 1:1-3).
The destruction of Jerusalem (24:18-25:21)
All Judah’s most capable administrators had been taken captive to Babylon. The few advisers who were left to Zedekiah had no true understanding of the situation, either political or religious, and persuaded the weak king to seek Egypt’s help in rebelling against Babylon. This was a policy that Jeremiah clearly saw was disastrous, for it would lead only to the horrors of siege and destruction. His advice was that Judah accept its fate as God’s will and submit to Babylon (18-20; 2 Chronicles 36:11-14; Jeremiah 21:1-10; Jeremiah 27:12-15; Jeremiah 37:6-10).
Zedekiah, however, followed the advice of the pro-Egypt party and rebelled against Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar decided to crush the rebellious city once and for all. When Egypt came to Jerusalem’s aid, the siege was temporarily lifted, but Jeremiah warned that this would only make Babylon more determined to crush Judah, and Egypt with it. The pro-Egypt party accused Jeremiah of being a traitor and had him imprisoned (Jeremiah 37:1-28).
The Babylonians returned and soon Jeremiah’s prophecy came true. The horrors of the siege are vividly described in the book of Lamentations (Lamentations 2:10-12,Lamentations 2:19-21; Lamentations 4:4-5,Lamentations 4:7-10). When, after a year and six months, the Babylonians finally made a break in the wall, Zedekiah and some of his men tried to escape, but were captured (25:1-7).
Babylonian soldiers then poured into the city, seizing anything of value that could be taken back to Babylon, and burning or smashing what remained. This was the end of Jerusalem (587 BC). The leaders of the rebellion were killed, and the most useful citizens taken captive (8-17).
In the course of arresting the chief officials of Jerusalem, the Babylonians released Jeremiah from jail and gave him full freedom to decide where he would like to live, Babylon or Judah. Jeremiah chose to stay in Judah with a small number of farmers and other poorer people who were of no use to Babylon (18-21; Jeremiah 39:11-6).
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Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on 2 Kings 24". "Fleming's Bridgeway Bible Commentary". https://studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany