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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).
In Egypt and Babylon (25:22-30)
Gedaliah was appointed governor of those who remained in Judah, and with Jeremiah’s support he followed a pro-Babylon policy. He took no action against Judah’s anti-Babylon military leaders who had escaped the Babylonians. Rather he encouraged them, along with others who had fled the country, to return and settle around Mizpah, north of Jerusalem (22-24; Jeremiah 40:7-12).
Within a few months Gedaliah was murdered by the leaders of the anti-Babylon group. Fearing a revenge attack by Nebuchadnezzar, the remaining Judeans in the resettlement area fled for safety to Egypt, taking the protesting Jeremiah with them (25-26; Jeremiah 40:13-7). It is believed that Jeremiah was stoned to death in Egypt by his fellow Judeans. The Babylonians, meanwhile, made their punishing raid on Judah as expected, and took captive any that they found (582 BC; Jeremiah 52:30).
After all the centuries of God’s dealings with his people, most of them were now back in Chaldea (Babylon) from where Abraham had been called, and others were back in Egypt where their ancestors had been slaves. Yet God had not cast off his people. They received a sign of hope for the future when the Babylonians released Jehoiachin from prison and promoted him to a place of honour in the Babylonian palace (in 568 BC). God was still in charge of his people’s affairs, and one day a remnant would return to the homeland and rebuild the nation (27-30; cf. Jeremiah 29:10-14).
Obadiah’s accusations against Edom
When Babylon attacked and destroyed Jerusalem in 587 BC, Edom joined in, welcoming the opportunity to enrich itself and to help wipe out what remained of the Israelite nation (Psalms 137:7). The prophet Obadiah, apparently one of those left behind in Judah, announced God’s judgment on Edom for its hostility, particularly since Edom and Israel were brother nations (being descended from Esau and Jacob respectively) (Obadiah 1:10-14).
Ezekiel in Babylon
Among the important citizens of Jerusalem taken captive to Babylon in 597 BC (see 24:10-17) was the young priest Ezekiel. If he had hoped to return to Jerusalem to serve God in the temple, he was soon to be disappointed. Jeremiah wrote to the exiles to tell them plainly that they would probably spend the remainder of their lives in Babylon (Jeremiah 29:1-14). Ezekiel’s work for God was to be as a prophet in Babylon, not as a priest in Jerusalem. He began his prophetic ministry five years after his arrival in Babylon, and continued it for at least twenty-two years (Ezekiel 1:2; Ezekiel 29:17).
In the early days of his preaching, Ezekiel repeatedly condemned the sins of the citizens of Jerusalem. He made it clear that the suffering of the people, both those in Jerusalem and those in Babylon, was a fitting judgment from God. He warned that for those left in Jerusalem worse was yet to come. The city would be destroyed and the temple burnt when the Babylonians invaded the city for the third and final time (Ezekiel 6:1-7; Ezekiel 7:20-27; Ezekiel 11:9-10; Ezekiel 21:21-22).
At first the exiles rejected Ezekiel’s message (Ezekiel 12:27-28). A few years later, when news reached them that Jerusalem had fallen as Ezekiel had predicted, they realized that Ezekiel was a true prophet who knew God’s mind. They began to listen to his messages again, though few genuinely changed their ways (Ezekiel 33:21,Ezekiel 33:30-33).
Nevertheless, Ezekiel was encouraged to move ahead with the next and most important part of his ministry, which was to prepare God’s people for the new era that lay ahead. He looked for the day when God’s people would be cleansed from their sins and worship him in spirit and in truth.
The long career of Daniel
Daniel was among the first citizens of Jerusalem to be taken captive to Babylon. (This was in 605 BC; see 24:1a; Daniel 1:1-6.) He was probably only a teenager when he entered the Babylonian court to be trained as an administrator. During his long career he held some of the most important positions in Babylon’s government. He outlasted the Babylonian Empire, and was still alive in the third year of the Persian king Cyrus, who had conquered Babylon in 539 BC (Daniel 10:1). He therefore lived to see the first of the Jews return to Jerusalem to rebuild the nation (2 Chronicles 36:22-23).
The first half of the book of Daniel records stories of Daniel and his friends that illustrate the overruling control of God in the lives of his people. The second half shows, through a series of unusual visions, how God would continue this government in the affairs of his people: first, during the confusion and conflict that would follow the period of Persian rule; second, during the events of Christ’s ministry and death; and third, during the final great events connected with the return of the Messiah and the end of the world’s history.
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Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on 2 Kings 25". "Fleming's Bridgeway Bible Commentary". https://studylight.org/
the Fourth Week after Epiphany