The last days of Jerusalem (Jeremiah 6)

Image result for the golden gate of jerusalem

Illustration: The Golden Gate of Jerusalem

Jerusalem, after a 30-month siege, fell to the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar on July 18, 586 B.C. Contemporary writings of Jeremiah, Ezekiel, the Babylonian Chronicle, the Lachish Letters and Egyptian records all provide details of this period..

The Judeans hoped for the restoration of king Jehoiachin, exiled in Babylon along with 10,000 Judean soldiers and artisans since 597 B.C. Babylonian ration tablets report distributions to Jehoiachim from 595 until 570 B.C. A weakened Judah, ruled by Zedekiah, struggled against pressures from two sides: the ambitions of pharaoh Apries (also known as Hophra) to gain control over the Levant (Syria-Palestine) and Babylonian interest in maintaining control of the same territory.

Zedekiah was summoned to Babylon, perhaps to proclaim his loyalty, but was soon involved in an anti-Babylonian coalition with Edom, Moab, Ammon, Tyre and Sidon. When he withheld annual tribute, Nebuchadnezzar responded, laying siege against Jerusalem on January 15, 588 B.C. A year later Zedekiah proclaimed the release of Hebrew slaves in the city, probably to add them to the meager ranks of the city’s defenders. The Babylonians laid siege to Lachish ans Azekah, prompting an unsuccessful Egyptian intervention at Lachish. Nebuchadnezzar broke off the siege of Jerusalem for a month to deal with the Egyptians, prompting Zedekiah to rescind his order for the release of the Hebrew slaves. Some Judeans used the occasion to flee or to surrender to the Babylonians, following Jeremiah’s advice.

The siege quickly resumed, and Jerusalem’s wall was breached on July 18, 586 B.C. Owing to famine within the city, resistance was feeble. Zedekiah fled but was captured and blinded shortly after having been forced to witness his own sons being put to death. Jerusalem was ransacked, the temple burned and many exiled to Babylon. Others fled to Egypt after assassinating Gedaliah, the Babylonian governor.


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