Through the Bible Day by Day
And it came to pass in the ninth year of his reign, in the tenth month, in the tenth day of the month, that Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came, he, and all his host, against Jerusalem, and pitched against it; and they built forts against it round about.
THE CAPTIVITY MADE COMPLETE
As the final catastrophe approaches, the historian becomes more minute in his dates, marking the month and the day. From Eze_24:1 we gather that on the very day when the foe made his appearance before Jerusalem, the fact was revealed to Ezekiel in Babylon, and the fate of the city made clear. Jeremiah besought Zedekiah to submit, but to no purpose, Jer_38:17. The siege lasted eighteen months, and its calamities may be gathered from Lam_2:20-21; Lam_4:3-20. Finally famine triumphed, Lam_4:8; Lam_4:10; Eze_5:10. A third of the population perished of hunger and plague, Eze_5:12.
Such is the divine judgment upon sin. God pleads long with man, but if man will not turn, then God whets His sword, and becomes terrible in His retribution. Amid all this catastrophe, however, we recall the tears of the book of Lamentations, like those of Jesus afterward. There is that in God which sorrows as He chastises, and causes Him to say, “How shall I make thee as Admah, and set thee as Zeboim?” Deu_29:23; Hos_11:8. Notice how, in putting out the eyes of Zedekiah, two prophecies which appeared to be contradictory were reconciled and fulfilled, Jer_32:5; Jer_34:3; and Eze_12:13.
And the pillars of brass that were in the house of the LORD, and the bases, and the brasen sea that was in the house of the LORD, did the Chaldees break in pieces, and carried the brass of them to Babylon.
THE TEMPLE DESPOILED
The Temple, after 420 years of varying fortune, was burned to the ground, and the remainder of its treasures carried off. A few years after, Nebuchadnezzar set up an image of gold on the plains of Dura, Dan_3:1. It has been suggested that this image was probably made from the metal removed from the Holy City; and this may have been an additional reason for the refusal of the Jews to worship as the king demanded.
We have no information respecting the disposition of the Ark. It may have been hidden by Jeremiah or by some other pious priest, who took the precaution of conveying it and the sacred documents it contained to a place of safety. How wonderful it would be if, in the restoration of the Jews to their ancient city-an event that may be near at hand-remains of the Ark of the Covenant should yet be discovered in connection with the vast subterranean vaults beneath the Temple site!
These tragic events are a powerful commentary upon the ancient text that sin is a reproach to any people, Pro_14:34. Let modern cities and civilizations beware; for if God spared not the natural branches, neither will He spare those which have been grafted in among them. See Rom_11:18-25.
And as for the people that remained in the land of Judah, whom Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had left, even over them he made Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, the son of Shaphan, ruler.
THE REMNANT FLEE TO EGYPT
Thus at last the city, which had been full of people, sat solitary, bewailed by Jeremiah in exquisite elegies. The poorest only were left, under Gedaliah, the constant friend to Jeremiah. See Jer_40:6. His brief rule brought a gleam of light, a transient relief from the long monotony of disaster and despair. But the dastardly murder of this noble man by Ishmael, who was jealous of him, added the last bitter ingredient to the already bitter cup of the harried remnant, Jer_40:1-16; Jer_41:1-18. Notwithstanding Jeremiah’s earnest protestations, they finally deserted their own land, and settled in Egypt, Jer_44:1.
Thus ended the kingdom of Judah, and thereafter the Jews became a scattered people. Though the return under Ezra seemed likely to renew their kingdom, this also was a transient dream which ended in their final overthrow in a.d. 70. Note how pathetically, in his last paragraph, the chronicler snatches at the one small crumb of comfort left, in the pity providentially shown to Jehoiachin by the Babylonian king. God had not forgotten the sure mercies of David!
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