Exile Ends \ Week 27 summary posted

This week, we move to the end of Babylonian captivity, as Cyrus of Persia sends people home after conquering the empire  So, God’s people go home.  But home to what?  The Temple was destroyed, as was the wall that protected the city from invaders.  What will become of God’s people?  Let’s find out this week, starting with Ezra.

Perspective on the captivity…
Destruction of Jerusalem under the Babylonian ...

Destruction of Jerusalem under the Babylonian rule. Illustration from the Nuremberg Chronicle (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The warnings from God concerning their idolatry began much earlier than the Books of Kings.  God gives clear warning that it would happen in Leviticus 26:33-39, and again in Deuteronomy 4:27.  Despite his own guilt in idolatry, Solomon knew of it for certain, as the Lord told him after he built the Temple in 1 Kings 9:1-7.  In his prayer of dedication in the previous chapter (specifically 1 Kings 8:46-50), Solomon had asked that if they are carried away captive and repent, that God will hear their plea, and “maintain their cause.”  As for how God will maintain their cause, we read some last week – the promise of the Messiah.  This week, we will see what is in their immediate future.

Summing Up

Each weekend, I am now posting a small PDF of one week of chapter summaries (on the website’s “Summaries” page), current to the beginning of the previous week.  I have posted the summary for Week 27 (July Week 1) of the schedule I am following.  This short PDF document contains condensed comments about 2 Kings 23, 24, 25, and Daniel 1 and 2, with hyperlinks to the ESV version of each chapter for listening or reading, and joins the summaries for other weeks already posted there.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
image © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

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2 Kings 25 – Fall and Captivity of Judah

The events of this chapter are recounted in Jeremiah 52, as God’s judgment on Judah comes to pass.  Nebuchadnezzar and his army besieged Jerusalem for two years.  There was severe famine, and no food was left.  So Zedekiah and his men of war managed to escape through the exit in the wall that is probably referred to as the “Fountain gate” in Nehemiah 3:15.  But the Chaldeans overtook him in the plain s of Jericho.  They slaughtered his sons in front of him, put out his eyes, put him in chains, and took him to Babylon.

Two panels of Babylon gate relief by Nebuchadn...

Two panels of Babylon gate relief by Nebuchadnezzar II (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Then, a servant of the king of Babylon, Nebuzaradan (the captain of the bodyguard) came to Jerusalem.  He burned the house of the Lord, the Kings house, and all the great houses down (verse 9).  Verse 10: “And all the army of the Chaldeans, who were with the captain of the guard, broke down the walls around Jerusalem.” The rest of the people were carried into exile, leaving the poorest as vinedressers and plowmen.  They took the majestic pillars of bronze that Solomon had made; and many were slaughtered.  Nebuchadnezzar made Gedeliah his vassal governor over those left behind in Judah, but he was murdered.  A more complete account of Gedeliah and the circumstances connected with his murder can be found in Jeremiah 40-41.

We close out the Books of Kings with verses 27-30.  After 37 years, Nebuchadnezzar’s son (Evil-merodach) freed Jehoiachin.  He dined at the king’s table and was given a regular allowance.   Thereby, there was hope for the Davidic line and the promises of God to David in 2 Samuel 7:15-16.

Side note: Excavations of Babylon have yielded thousands of inscribed tablets with a wealth of information for scholars. Among many other things, they list the kings of other nations who were captured and living at the palace of the Babylonian king.  Four of those tablets list “Jehoiachin, king of Judah” and his family as receiving rations from the king.  An excellent article with photos, originally posted in the Summer 2007 issue of “Bible and Spade” can be found at this link.

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

2 Kings 24 – Jerusalem Captured

English: A hilltop view of the ancient city of...

English: A hilltop view of the ancient city of Babylon, where King Nebuchadnezzar II, whose life spanned 630-562 B.C., built his hanging gardens, one of the Seven Wonders of the World. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, had defeated and taken enough from Egypt, that its king “did not come again out of his land” any more.  So, in verse 1, we find that Jehoiakim has switched his allegiance from Egypt to Babylon – then he rebelled against that king.  So God sent bands against him from the Chaldeans, Moabites, Syrians and Ammonites to destroy Judah for the evils of Manasseh and the innocent blood he shed (verses 3-4).    Jehoiakim died and his son, Jehoiachin, became king in his place in 597 BC.  Nebuchadnezzar’s people besieged Jerusalem; and when Nebuchadnezzar himself came to the city, Jehoiachin surrendered to him and was taken captive.

They also carried off all the treasures from the house of the Lord and from the king’s house, just as Isaiah had told Hezekiah would happen in 2 Kings 20:16-18.  The king of Babylon took thousands captive back to Babylon; and made Mattaniah, Jehoiachin’s uncle, king, changing his name to Zedekiah.  He did evil in the sight of the Lord as well (verse 19), and then rebelled against Babylon, as the chapter closes.  But rebellion would be futile.

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

2 Kings 23 – Josiah’s Reforms

English: View of the Kidron Valley from the Ol...

English: View of the Kidron Valley from the Old City of Jerusalem. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As we read in 2 Kings 23 of more of Josiah’s reforms, we start to get a picture of how far the people had fallen.  Josiah broke idols into pieces, destroyed “high places” of worship to false gods from the Hinnon Valley to the Kidron Valley.  He broke down the houses of male cult prostitutes in the Temple, and used the Kidron Valley (a place of idol worship since the time of Solomon) as a place to remove and destroy the abominations, defiling their altars and the valley itself.  In verse 10, he defiled Topheth, a place where children were burned in sacrifice to Molech.  In verses 21-23, he commanded the people to keep the Passover, a practice that had been forgotten.

So with all this reform, why was God not appeased?  Why, in verses 26-27, did His anger still burn hot against Judah and determine that they suffer the same fate as Israel?  Notice that verse 21 says that Josiah commanded the people to keep the passover.  The other account of the these events that are written in 2 Chronicles 34  (particularly verse 32-33) tells us that Josiah had made the people turn from their idolatry and serve the Lord.  Their hearts had not changed.

In an attempt to prevent Egypt’s reinforcement of the Assyrians, Josiah was killed by Pharaoh Neco at Megiddo in 609 BC.   It was a battle that would be the last conflict with the Babylonians in which the Egyptians and Assyrians would unite.  The people of Judah made his son Jehoahaz king in his place, and verse 32 tells us that Jehoahaz turned back to the evil ways of his fathers.  His reign was short, as Pharaoh Neco of Egypt put him in bondage and made Josiah’s other son, Eliakim, the vassal king – changing his name to Jehoiakim.  Jehoiakim taxed the people in order to pay tribute to Egypt.

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

Captivity \ Week 25 summary posted

English: The Flight of the Prisoners, c. 1896-...

English: The Flight of the Prisoners, c. 1896-1902 , gouache on board, 8 15/16 x 11 5/8 in. (22.7 x 29.7 cm), Jewish Museum, New York, NY. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We’ve just about wrapped up the second book of Kings in our year-long quest to get the big picture of the whole Bible story; and as the prophets have warned, punishment is coming for Judah.  What will become of God’s people?

Summing Up

Each weekend, I am now posting a small PDF of one week of chapter summaries (on the website’s “Summaries” page), current to the beginning of the previous week.  I have posted the summary for Week 25 (June Week 3) of the schedule I am following.  This short PDF document contains condensed comments about 2 Kings 4, 5, 9, 10, 17, with hyperlinks to the ESV version of each chapter for listening or reading, and joins the summaries for other weeks already posted there.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
image © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

2 Kings 22 – Josiah Repairs the Temple

English: King Josiah by Julius Schnoor von Car...

English: King Josiah by Julius Schnoor von Carolsfeld (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Josiah began his reign as king at the age of 8, after his father Amon died.  He was a great king, and “walked in all the way of David his father.”  As he had the temple repaired, the “Book of the law” was found (that term is used in the Pentateuch to mean the Book of Deuteronomy).  Having been raised in a time when the king himself and the people of the land were at the depths of apostasy, Josiah may have not heard the commandments of the Lord; and the reference to them finding it could well mean that Manasseh had hidden it.  When it was read to him, he tore his clothes in grief.

Although Jeremiah and Zephaniah both prophesied during the time of Josiah’s reign (Jeremiah 1:1-2, Zephaniah:1), Josiah sent his people to a fairly unknown (to us, at least) prophetess named Huldah.  She confirmed the prophecy of disaster for Jerusalem that we read in 2 Kings 21:11-12.  But verses 18-20, the Lord declares that He will spare Josiah from seeing that disaster.

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

2 Kings 21 – Manasseh Reigns in Judah

Iron Age Judahite pillar-figurine of a popular...

Iron Age Judahite pillar-figurine of a popular fertility deity, possibly Asherah, associated in the Old Testament with Baal (e.g. 2 Kgs. 23:4-7) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Hezekiah’s son, Manasseh, begins his 55 year reign at the age of twelve (verse 1).  He has the dubious distinction of being known as the worst king Judah ever had.   He rebuilt the high places that his father, Hezekiah, had torn down.  He built altars for Baal, set a carved image of Asherah in the house of the Lord, and even sacrificed one of his own sons (verse 6).  Verses 9 and 11 say that Manasseh did more evil than the Amorites and all of the people God had brought Israel to the promised land to remove.  Manasseh’s despicable reign ends at his death in verse 18; and his son Amon walks right in his footsteps (verse 21) until his death in verse 26.

The disaster and captivity that had befallen Israel has been hinted at for the last few chapters, and is now declared a certainty by God in verses 10-14 (note especially verse 13).

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

2 Kings 20 – Hezekiah and the Babylonian Envoys

As is sometimes the case with the scriptures, part of chapter 20 occurs chronologically before chapter 19.  This chapter starts in verses 1-19 at about 713 BC – about twelve years before Sennacherib’s invasion 15 years before Hezekiah’s death (verse 6).  Hezekiah had become sick, and Isaiah has told him to set his house in order, as he was about to die.  Hezekiah’s tearful prayer in verses 2-3 is heard by the Lord, and He sends Isaiah back to let him know that he has been given 15 more years, and will be healed.   It is here also, that He promises to deliver Hezekiah and the city out of the hands of the Assyrians.  2 Kings 18:2 tells us that Hezekiah was 25 when he took the throne, and that he reigned 29 years – so we can deduce that he was only 39 at this time.  His beautiful, grateful psalm to the Lord is recorded in Isaiah 38.

Hezekiah's Tunnel נקבת השילוח

Hezekiah’s Tunnel נקבת השילוח (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The king of Babylon, Merodach-baladan, heard of Hezekiah’s sickness, and sent envoys with gifts (verse 12).  Verse 13 records Hezekiah’s pride at work, as he shows those envoys all the wealth in his house.  It is then that Isaiah informs him that Babylon will carry all of it away, and his sons will become eunuchs in their palace.  Hezekiah’s complacency at that news is both baffling and troubling, but a man who had just been miraculously healed would probably have a unique view about the will of God.

Side note:

Verse 20 refers to the tunnel that Hezekiah had cut, diverting water from the Gihon Spring to the Pool of Siloam, which laid within the city walls.  An inscription was cut into the conduit wall and is known as the Siloam Tunnel Inscription, commemorating that construction.  Ferrell Jenkins has several great photos and information about Hezekiah’s tunnel at this link to his Biblical Studies Info Page.

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

2 Kings 19 – Isaiah Prophesies Sennacherib’s Fall

Hezekiah sends Eliakim and Shebna to the prophet Isaiah, and he says to tell Hezekiah that the Lord will cause Sennacherib to hear a rumor and return to his own land.  He further says that the Lord will make him fall by the sword there (verse 7).    Sennacherib again sends messengers to Hezekiah – this time more blatantly mocking and blaspheming the Lord.  Hezekiah’s prayer in verses 14-19 are an appeal to God not to let this blasphemer defeat them.

English: Angel smites the Assyrians

English: Angel smites the Assyrians (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Isaiah’s next response in verse 20-34 in great detail predict the wrath of the Lord toward the prideful Sennacherib, declaring that he will neither come into the city, nor shoot a single arrow there.  Sennacherib and his army had been used as the “rod” of God for exacting His punishment on the people of Israel for their apostasy.  But the Assyrian king had compared himself to a god because of his vanity.  Verse 35 tells us that the angel of the Lord struck down 185,000 of the Assyrians in one night; and Sennacherib did in fact return to his land – where two of his sons, Adrammelech and Sharezer, killed him with a sword.  His other son, Esarhaddon then took the throne.

Assyrian records of Esarhaddon, who reigned from 680-669 BC, state that he had to fight his brothers for the throne after the murder of Sannacherib – after which they fled to another country.

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

2 Kings 18 – Hezekiah Reigns in Judah

Hezekiah removed the high places, tore down the pillars, and even destroyed the Bronze serpent that Moses had made in the wilderness (Numbers 21:4-9).  It had become an object of worship – an idol, probably because of the association of serpents with the “goddess” Asherah.  Verses 6-7 tells us that Hezekiah “held fast to the Lord” and that the Lord was with him.  He rebelled against the Assyrian king, and would not serve him.  Verse 8 declares his many victories in battle over the Philistines.  But verse 13 tells us that in the fourteenth year of his reign, Sennacherib took the fortified cities of Judah.

The Taylor Prism from the Neo-Assyrian empire ...

The Taylor Prism from the Neo-Assyrian empire tells the story of king Sennacherib’s third campaign and includes descriptions of his conquests in Judah, some of which are described from another point of view in the old testament of the Bible. This picture has been assembled from File:Taylor Prism-1.jpg and File:Taylor Prism-2.jpg. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Hezekiah’s initial response was to bargain with the Assyrian king (verses 14-15), which at first seems effective.  But Sennacherib tires of his further rebellion; and sends his Rabshakeh, or (chief cupbearer) to deliver his message.  Eliakim tries to get him to speak to them in Aramaic, so that the people will not understand.  But that is exactly what the Assyrian wants – they want the people to hear and be dismayed  and frightened for their plight, in order to quash rebellion.

In verses 31-35, the cup-bearer, speaking for Sennacherib, tells them not to listen to Hezekiah, and even tells them that their God has sent the Assyrians Himself.  Then he makes the mistake of comparing the Lord to the impotent “gods” of other lands, saying that he will not deliver Jerusalem out of Sennacherib’s hand.

Side notes:

Now residing in the private collection of Shlomo Moussaieff of London, a bulla (clay seal) was found bearing Hezekiah’s name. It reads, “Belonging to Hezekiah [son of Ahaz], king of Judah.”

Archaeologists at the site of Beersheba unearthed a horned altar from the late 8th century  B.C. made of hewn stones, with a serpent carved into one of the stones.  More information on the site can be found in this article at BiblePlaces.com.

This link to the British Museum about the Sennacherib Relief details the siege and capture of Lachish by the Assyrian king.  At the southwestern corner of Lachish, Sennacherib built a siege ramp and used archers, infantry, and siege machines. The Judeans constructed a counter-siege ramp. But it failed – Sennacherib conquered Lachish. Both of the actual ramps have been uncovered.  The victory was important enough to Sennacherib to devote an entire wall at his palace to it.  Had he been able to capture Jerusalem, that victory would undoubtedly have over-shadowed the one at Lachish.

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.