2 Kings 25
From Bad To Worse
King Nebuchadnezzar would not endure any more rebellions by Judah, and so he came to Jerusalem and laid siege to it. Jerusalem was a fortified city, and the people were able to hold out for some time, but they would not escape this Babylonian assault. The famine in the city was severe, and when a breach was made in the Jerusalem, the men of war fled during the night. King Zedekiah and his men hoped to escape under cover of night, but they were discovered by the Chaldeans who immediately pursued. The army of the Chaldeans overtook King Zedekiah and his men in the plains of Jericho, and when they did, the King's men deserted him, leaving defenseless. King Zedekiah was captured and brought to King Nebuchadnezzar at Riblah for sentencing. King Zedekiah's treachery would leave him in a condition worse than death. He watched helplessly as his sons were slaughtered before him and to increase the torture; the Babylonians put out his eyes so that the slaughter of his sons was the last thing he would see with his eyes. Zedekiah was put in chains, exiled to Babylon, and imprisoned until his death. Sin always brings death.
The Temple Destroyed
King Nebuchadnezzar was not finished with Jerusalem yet. He gave orders to the captain of the bodyguard to return to Jerusalem and destroy it completely. The city was burned, and the walls were dismantled. The temple was burned, the palace was burned, and the houses were burned. The people could do nothing but watch as their home was left in ruins. Anyone found in the city or the vicinity was exiled to Babylon. The Babylonians were angry, but they were not foolish. They left the poorest of the land there to work and provide tribute for Babylon. The temple was plundered of anything of value. The gold had been taken earlier, but now the bronze would be taken as well. All sacred items and any vessels were taken away as the House of God was demolished.
The captain of the guard took key leaders to Riblah for execution. Religious leaders including the high priest and the second priest along with Levitical leaders were taken as well as a military commander, five from the king's council, and sixty leaders. These men were struck down for the rebellion at Riblah. King Nebuchadnezzar made Judah a province of the Babylonian empire and installed Gedaliah as the governor for those left behind. Gedaliah set up Mizpah as his base of operations, and he tried to unite those who remained in the land. Leaders from different factions came to Gedaliah who encouraged them not to be afraid, but to serve the Nebuchadnezzar with the assurance that all would be well if they complied with this directive. Gedaliah did not realize that a conspiracy was hatched from someone in the royal family. Ismael brought ten men, and they assassinated Gedaliah while putting to death the Jews and Chaldeans who were with him in Mizpah. The remnant that was left fled, fearing retaliation from Babylon, and they went to Egypt. King Jehoiachin was freed and restored after the reign of Nebuchadnezzar. He was given a seat of influence above the other kings in captivity there in Babylon. Jehoiachin was given new clothes, and he dined at the king's table daily. Jehoiachin enjoyed this dignity until the day of his death.
Things To Consider:
- How is God working through the siege to accomplish his purpose?
- What does the destruction of the temple mean for the people?
- How do you think the people felt when the temple burned?
- What do you think they thought God had done to them?
- What do you think it was like for the poor when they were given land and responsibilities?
- Does this teach us anything about refugees?
- Do you think the people discussed the irony of going to Egypt for salvation?