Good morning! Today’s passage (Jerusalem 52) is a lighter one, but only in terms of length. This epilogue of sorts connects the description of Jerusalem’s destruction (which we’ve heard detailed before) with a snippet of life in Babylon.
We don’t need to go deeply into the carnage of Jerusalem’s fall again, but it might help to just remember the historical progression of things here. Babylonian King Nebuchadrezzar (called “Nebuchadnezzar” in other sources) went up against Jerusalem several times. As verses 28-30 point out, the first attack seven years into his reign brought Jerusalem under Babylonian control. The aristocracy and elites (including then-king Jehoiachin) were exiled to Babylon, but the city was not destroyed. Puppet kings Jehoiakim and then Zedekiah were put in place. When Zedekiah led the revolt that unsuccessfully sought help from Egypt, Nebuchadrezzar besieged the people within Jerusalem’s walls for nearly two years. This ended in devastation for the city and its people.
Zedekiah paid a brutal personal price for his decisions. But what strikes me on reading this today are the consequences of this leader’s decision on all those who followed him. The residents of Jerusalem were forced to choose between either staying with a doomed king or defecting (and some chose the latter). But when Babylon broke through the wall at last, all the city’s residents bore the pain of war. Every home and holy place in Jerusalem was burned to the ground, mass executions sought to make an example of Jerusalem for all who would hear of it, and hundreds more were forcibly marched back to Babylon. Along with them went the remaining treasures and utensils of the temple, anything of value that could be melted down and carried off from what once stood as the ritual heart of Jewish religion. A king the people had not elected made the choice to rebel, and for generations the people bore the suffering incited by his bad behavior. While democracy today has countless flaws, at least there are broad-based measures for choosing (and rejecting) leaders for ourselves.
Jeremiah 52’s closing note mentions Jehoiachin, the king who preceded both Zedekiah and Jehoiakim, who was originally defeated and carried into exile. We read that decades into exile, a later Babylonian king shows kindness to the exiled Jehoiachin. It leads to the question of what Babylon was like for the exiles, and that’s where we go tomorrow. Happy reading!
Please join discussion of this passage at the Daily Bible Facebook group, or comment below. The passage for tomorrow is Lamentations 1-2. Thanks for reading!