William Blake 1805
Forum Class Ezekiel #2
Review: Ezekiel was 25 years of age when he was taken captive into Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar along with crown prince Jeconiah (Coniah) and about 10,000 of his fellow countrymen. The detention camp where they were located was on a canal, the River Chebar, southeast of Babylon also known as "the Grand Canal." Ezekiel was from the tribe of Levi and planned to begin his temple priestly service at age 30. He was married. On his 30th birthday [July 593 BC] God came to him in a great vision, separating Ezekiel from his own people and calling him to be a prophet and specifically a Watchman over the exiles. (These exiles, as we shall see, constitute the remnant of Israel). Ezekiel is told that he must not speak to the people except when God tells him to speak. Otherwise he is to remain silent--no round table discussions, no press interviews, no Q&A sessions outside of the privacy of his own home. God tells Ezekiel that the people are stubborn and hard hearted and will not listen nor heed what Ezekiel says to them. But in the long run they will know that a prophet has been among them. Ezekiel's main ministry spans about 25 years. Meanwhile Jeremiah stays behind in Jerusalem serving God faithfully for 40+ years until his own country men put him to death. Daniel and friends, perhaps about 16 years old at the time were taken to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar 8 years earlier in 605 BC.
Israel had, and still has, a covenant relationship with God. God is being utterly faithful to his half of the covenant though the people are failing utterly in their part. The United States as a nation has no similar covenant with God. However the church DOES have a covenant with God. God meets individuals and nations by entering into covenants with them. Most of these covenants are unconditional: the failure of one party does not annul these covenants. But there are consequences for failing to live up to the terms of the covenants.
Israel's failure to be a faithful wife to Yahweh, i.e., her spiritual adultery, began after the Exodus from Egypt, some 900 years before Ezekiel's day. One of the provisions of the covenant in the Pentateuch states that the right of the Jews to occupy their own land is conditional on their good behavior while in the land. (Deut. 29-30) Having failed miserably in that requirement, God is now exiling the Jews from their land for 70 years.
In Ezekiel Chapters 4 and 5 God tells the prophet to begin speaking to the people. His first two "messages" are acted out before the people with visual aids outside his house in the detention camp.
3:1 "You also, son of man, take a clay tablet and lay it before you, and portray on it a city, Jerusalem. 2 "Lay siege against it, build a siege wall against it, and heap up a mound against it; set camps against it also, and place battering rams against it all around. 3 "Moreover take for yourself an iron plate, and set it as an iron wall between you and the city. Set your face against it, and it shall be besieged, and you shall lay siege against it. This will be a sign to the house of Israel. 4 "Lie also on your left side, and lay the iniquity of the house of Israel [the ten Northern tribes] upon it. According to the number of the days that you lie on it, you shall bear their iniquity. 5 "For I have laid on you the years of their iniquity, according to the number of the days, three hundred and ninety days; so you shall bear the iniquity of the house of Israel. 6 "And when you have completed them, lie again on your right side; then you shall bear the iniquity of the house of Judah [the two Southern tribes] forty days. I have laid on you a day for each year. 7 "Therefore you shall set your face toward the siege of Jerusalem; your arm shall be uncovered, and you shall prophesy against it. 8 "And surely I will restrain you so that you cannot turn from one side to another till you have ended the days of your siege. [These were day time activities. At night Ezekiel most likely retired inside his house with his family].
9 "Also take for yourself wheat, barley, beans, lentils, millet, and spelt; put them into one vessel, and make bread of them for yourself. During the number of days that you lie on your side, three hundred and ninety days, you shall eat it. 10 "And your food which you eat shall be by weight, twenty shekels a day; [about 8 ounces] from time to time you shall eat it. 11 "You shall also drink water by measure, one-sixth of a hin; [about a quart] from time to time you shall drink. [July is the time of year by the way] 12 "And you shall eat it as barley cakes; and bake it using fuel of human waste in their sight." 13 Then the LORD said, "So shall the children of Israel eat their defiled bread among the Gentiles, where I will drive them." 14 So I said, "Ah, Lord GOD! Indeed I have never defiled myself from my youth till now; I have never eaten what died of itself or was torn by beasts, nor has abominable flesh ever come into my mouth." 15 Then He said to me, "See, I am giving you cow dung instead of human waste, and you shall prepare your bread over it." 16 Moreover He said to me, "Son of man, surely I will cut off the supply of bread in Jerusalem; they shall eat bread by weight and with anxiety, and shall drink water by measure and with dread, 17 "that they may lack bread and water, and be dismayed with one another, and waste away because of their iniquity. [These symbolic actions demonstrate that the siege of Jerusalem and its destruction a few years in 586 later will involve terrible hardship and suffering as we shall see].
4:1 "And you, son of man, take a sharp sword, take it as a barber's razor, and pass it over your head and your beard; then take scales to weigh and divide the hair. 2 "You shall burn with fire one-third in the midst of the city, when the days of the siege are finished; then you shall take one-third and strike around it with the sword, and one-third you shall scatter in the wind: I will draw out a sword after them. 3 "You shall also take a small number of them and bind them in the edge of your garment. 4 "Then take some of them again and throw them into the midst of the fire, and burn them in the fire. From there a fire will go out into all the house of Israel. [Shaving one's hair and beard were indications of lamentation and repentance. Ezekiel went around the camp shaving all his hair and beard and dividing the pile of hair into three piles. A few hairs were tucked away in his belt--representing the remnant, but some of these also would pass through the fire] 5 "Thus says the Lord GOD: 'This is Jerusalem; I have set her in the midst of the nations and the countries all around her. 6 'She has rebelled against My judgments by doing wickedness more than the nations, and against My statutes more than the countries that are all around her; for they have refused My judgments, and they have not walked in My statutes.' 7 "Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: 'Because you have multiplied disobedience more than the nations that are all around you, have not walked in My statutes nor kept My judgments, nor even done according to the judgments of the nations that are all around you'-- 8 "therefore thus says the Lord GOD: 'Indeed I, even I, am against you and will execute judgments in your midst in the sight of the nations. 9 'And I will do among you what I have never done, and the like of which I will never do again, because of all your abominations. 10 'Therefore fathers shall eat their sons in your midst, and sons shall eat their fathers; and I will execute judgments among you, and all of you who remain I will scatter to all the winds. 11 'Therefore, as I live,' says the Lord GOD, 'surely, because you have defiled My sanctuary with all your detestable things and with all your abominations, therefore I will also diminish you; My eye will not spare, nor will I have any pity. 12 'One-third of you shall die of the pestilence, and be consumed with famine in your midst; and one-third shall fall by the sword all around you; and I will scatter another third to all the winds, and I will draw out a sword after them. 13 'Thus shall My anger be spent, and I will cause My fury to rest upon them, and I will be avenged; and they shall know that I, the LORD, have spoken it in My zeal, when I have spent My fury upon them. 14 'Moreover I will make you a waste and a reproach among the nations that are all around you, in the sight of all who pass by. 15 'So it shall be a reproach, a taunt, a lesson, and an astonishment to the nations that are all around you, when I execute judgments among you in anger and in fury and in furious rebukes. I, the LORD, have spoken. 16 'When I send against them the terrible arrows of famine which shall be for destruction, which I will send to destroy you, I will increase the famine upon you and cut off your supply of bread. 17 'So I will send against you famine and wild beasts, and they will bereave you. Pestilence and blood shall pass through you, and I will bring the sword against you. I, the LORD, have spoken.'"
Leviticus 26 predicted the situation the people of Israel would be in at the time Ezekiel spoke to them. Leviticus was written about 1500 BC, or about 900 years earlier!
The garden of Eden was East of the holy land--possibly in what is now Iraq.
Mesopotamia--now Iraq--was the cradle of civilization! Noah may have built the ark in Iraq.
Nimrod built the first post-Flood cities there: Babel, Erech, Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar. From that land he went to Assyria and built Nineveh, Rehoboth Ir, Calah, and Resen between Nineveh and Calah (that is the principal city). The Tower of Babel was in Iraq. The confusion of languages and dispersion of the families of man took place there.
Abraham was from Ur, which is in Southern Iraq. Isaac's wife
Rebekah is from Nahor which is in Iraq. Jacob met Rachel in Iraq.
Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon destroyed Jerusalem. Daniel was in the lion's den in Iraq. He lived there more than 70 years. The 3 Hebrew children were in the fire in Iraq. Belshazzar, the King of Babylon saw the "writing on the wall" in Iraq.
Ezekiel preached in Iraq and died there.
The wise men who visited the infant Jesus were from Iraq.
"Mystery Babylon the Great"-- described in Revelation 17-18--reflects the contamination of the entire world by the false religious and commercial values of ancient Babylon.
See Iraq and the Bible by Bryant Wood
Ezekiel goes to Babylon (597 BC): Jehoiachin [Coniah] was eighteen years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem three months. His mother's name was Nehushta the daughter of Elnathan of Jerusalem. 9 And he did evil in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his father had done. 10 At that time the servants of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up against Jerusalem, and the city was besieged. [605 BC] 11 And Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came against the city, as his servants were besieging it. 12 Then Jehoiachin king of Judah, his mother, his servants, his princes, and his officers went out to the king of Babylon; and the king of Babylon, in the eighth year of his reign, took him prisoner. 13 And he carried out from there all the treasures of the house of the LORD and the treasures of the king's house, and he cut in pieces all the articles of gold which Solomon king of Israel had made in the temple of the LORD, as the LORD had said. 14 Also he carried into captivity all Jerusalem: all the captains and all the mighty men of valor, ten thousand captives, and all the craftsmen and smiths. None remained except the poorest people of the land. 15 And he carried Jehoiachin captive to Babylon. The king's mother, the king's wives, his officers, and the mighty of the land he carried into captivity from Jerusalem to Babylon. 16 All the valiant men, seven thousand, and craftsmen and smiths, one thousand, all who were strong and fit for war, these the king of Babylon brought captive to Babylon. 17 Then the king of Babylon made Mattaniah, Jehoiachin's uncle, king in his place, and changed his name to Zedekiah. (2 Kings 24:8-18)
Daniel goes to Babylon (605 BC): In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, with some of the articles of the house of God, which he carried into the land of Shinar to the house of his god; and he brought the articles into the treasure house of his god. Then the king instructed Ashpenaz, the master of his eunuchs, to bring some of the children of Israel and some of the king's descendants and some of the nobles, young men in whom there was no blemish, but good-looking, gifted in all wisdom, possessing knowledge and quick to understand, who had ability to serve in the king's palace, and whom they might teach the language and literature of the Chaldeans. And the king appointed for them a daily provision of the king's delicacies and of the wine which he drank, and three years of training for them, so that at the end of that time they might serve before the king. Now from among those of the sons of Judah were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. To them the chief of the eunuchs gave names: he gave Daniel the name Belteshazzar; to Hananiah, Shadrach; to Mishael, Meshach; and to Azariah, Abed-Nego. (Daniel 1:1-7)
Jeremiah Historical Background. Jeremiah's ministry spanned the final five decades of Judah's history. His call to service came in 627 B.C. in the 13th year of King Josiah (cf. 1:2), Judah's last good king. Josiah's reign was the final ray of light before the darkness of idolatry and foreign intrigue settled over the Davidic throne. Josiah came to the throne when he was eight years old, and provided 31 years of relative stability for Judah.
Internally the nation of Judah was gripped by the idolatry that King Manasseh had promoted during his 55 year reign (2 Kings 21:1-9). In 622 B.C. Josiah's 18th year) Judah experienced her final spiritual renewal (2 Kings 22:3-23:25). Prompted by the rediscovery of a copy of the Mosaic Law in the temple, Josiah embarked on a diligent effort to rid the nation of idolatry. He succeeded in removing the outward forms, but his efforts did not reach into his subjects' hearts. After Josiah's untimely death, the people returned to their wicked ways.
Internationally the Assyrian Empire, which had dominated the ancient Near East for centuries, was on the brink of collapse. The capital city, Nineveh, had been destroyed in 612 B.C., and in 609 the retreating Assyrian army was defeated at Haran. The beleaguered remains of the once-great Assyrian Empire staggered to Carchemish just across the Euphrates River.
This collapse of Assyria was caused largely by the rise of another power--Babylon. In October 626 the Chaldean prince Nabopolassar had defeated the Assyrian army outside Babylon and claimed the throne in Babylon. The kingdom he founded came to be known as the Neo-Babylonian Empire. He consolidated his empire, and by 616 he was on the march to expand his territory. The combined army of the Babylonians and Medes destroyed Nineveh in 612.
Babylon's rise and Assyria's collapse created a realignment of power throughout the area. Judah, under Josiah, threw off the yoke of Assyrian dominion and Jeremiah enjoyed a brief period of national independence. This independence was shattered, however, by events in 609 B.C. Egypt sensed an opportunity for expansion in Assyria's collapse. If a weakened Assyria could be maintained as a buffer state to halt Babylon's westward advances, Egypt would be free to reclaim much of western Palestine (including Judah) which she had lost to Assyria earlier.
Though Egypt had always feared a powerful Assyria, she now feared the prospect of a powerful Babylon even more. So Egypt entered the conflict between Assyria and Babylon on Assyria's side. In 609 Pharaoh Neco II marched with a large Egyptian army toward Haran to support the remaining Assyrian forces in a last attempt to retake their lost territory.
King Josiah knew what the consequences would be for Judah if Egypt were successful. He did not want Egypt to replace Assyria as Judah's taskmaster. So Josiah mobilized his army to stop the Egyptian advance. A battle took place on the plain of Megiddo and Judah lost. Josiah was killed in battle and the Egyptian army continued on toward Haran (2 Chron. 35:20-24).
Whether Josiah's attack had an effect on the battle's outcome is not known, but possibly he delayed the Egyptian army from arriving in time to provide the assistance Assyria needed. Assyria failed in its bid to recapture the land, and it ceased to be a major force in history. The city of Carchemish then became the line of demarcation, and the powers facing each other were Egypt and Babylon. After the defeat of Judah, Egypt assumed control of Palestine. Judah had appointed Jehoahaz king in place of his father Josiah; but after a reign of only three months he was deposed by Neco and taken to Egypt. Neco then plundered the treasuries of Judah and appointed Jehoiakim, another son of Josiah, as his vassal king (2 Kings 23:34-35).
In 605 B.C. another major shift occurred in the balance of power. For four years the Egyptians and Babylonians had faced each other at Carchemish with neither side able to gain the upper hand. Then in 605 crown prince Nebuchadnezzar led the Babylonian forces to a decisive victory. The army of Babylonia smashed through the Egyptian defenses at Carchemish and pursued the forces to Egypt.
Two other events in 605 B.C. influenced Judah's history. First, King Jehoiakim switched allegiance to Babylon after the Battle of Carchemish and agreed to serve as a vassal king for Nebuchadnezzar (2 Kings 24:1). Second, on August 15, 605 Nabopolassar, the king of Babylon, died. Nebuchadnezzar returned to Babylon to claim the throne.
Nebuchadnezzar solidified his rule over this territory by appointing kings and taking "hostages" to assure continued loyalty. During this campaign he took Daniel captive (Dan. 1:1-6).
Judah remained a vassal state until late in 601 B.C. At that time Nebuchadnezzar made another advance through Palestine. His objective was Egypt, but his goal was not achieved. The army of Babylon suffered a major defeat and was forced to retreat.
Jehoiakim was a political chameleon. He had switched allegiance from Egypt to Babylon in 605 when Nebuchadnezzar had defeated Egypt. After Babylon's defeat in 601, however, he again changed sides and supported Egypt (2 Kings 24:1). This was a fatal mistake.
By December 598 Nebuchadnezzar's army was prepared for an attack. His chief objective was to take Jerusalem to teach it (and no doubt other vassal nations too) the awful consequences of rebelling against Babylon. Jehoiakim died during the time of Babylon's attack, and was followed to the throne by his son, Jehoiachin. Jehoiachin saw the folly in opposing Babylon, and Jerusalem surrendered in March 597.
Nebuchadnezzar replaced the new king, looted the city, and removed the chief individuals. Jehoiachin, after a three-month reign, was deported to Babylon, and his uncle, Zedekiah, was installed as Judah's vassal king.
Along with Jehoiachin, Nebuchadnezzar also deported 10,000 of the leaders, skilled laborers, and soldiers of Jerusalem (2 Kings 24:12-16). This was when Ezekiel was taken to Babylon.
Five years later he [Ezekiel] began his prophetic ministry in Babylon. Because Judah's new king, Zedekiah, was weak and vacillating, Judah eventually collapsed. His 11-year reign was marred by spiritual decline and political instability. Rather than learning from the mistakes of the past, Zedekiah repeated them.
With the enthronement of another Pharaoh (Hophra) in Egypt in 58B, Judah was once again enticed to revolt from Babylon (2 Kings 24:20-25:1; Jer. 52:3-4). A coalition of vassal states (Judah, Tyre, and Ammon) refused to remain under Babylon's control. Nebuchadnezzar's response was swift and harsh. The army of Babylon surrounded Jerusalem and began a long siege. In July-August 586 the city fell and was destroyed.
The Last Kings of Judah: Josiah's good reign (2 Kings 22:1-23:30)
I. JOSIAH'S GOODNESS (22:1.2) 22:1. Josiah was one of Judah's best kings. Peace, prosperity, and reform characterized his reign. Josiah was only a lad of eight. . . when he was crowned king, and reigned over Judah 31 years (640-609 B.C.). During his reign world power passed from Assyrian to Babylonian leadership. Nineveh, the capital o( Assyria, was destroyed in 612 B.C., and the Assyrian Empire fell in 609.
22:2. Like Asa and Hezekiah before him Josiah did what was right in the sight of the LORD and followed the good ways of his ancestor David. He did not deviate from this course at any time during his reign. The chronicler added that Josiah began to seek after the Lord when he was 16 and he began his religious reforms when he was 20 (2 Chron. 34:3.7).
2. JOSIAH'S REFORMATION (22:3-23:25) Josiah was the fourth and final reformer among Judah's kings, following 2 Kings 21:1S-22:13 Asa, Jehoshaphat, and Hezekiah. But Josiah's reforms were more extensive than those of any o( his predecessors.
a. Josiah's repairs (22:3-7) The temple had fallen into disrepair and had been desecrated by Manasseh who had built pagan altars and images in it (cf. 21:4-5, 7, 21). In Josiah's 18th year as king, at age 26. he began to repair the temple and restore it to its former condition. He sent the secretary, Shaphan (perhaps like a secretary of state) along with other high government officials (cf. 2 Chron. 34:8) to begin the temple renovations. For some time money had been collected (or this purpose. Now enough was in hand to begin the work. The procedure was similar to that followed by Joash (cf. 2 Kings 12:10). As then, the supervisors proved trustworthy. (See 2 Chron. 34:8-13 for more details of this aspect of Josiah's reform.)
b. Hilkiah's discovery (22:8-13) In the process of renovating the temple a copy of the Book of the Law (either the Book of Deut. or, more likely, the entire Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible) was found. Evidently Manasseh or Amon had destroyed other copies so that the discovery of this one constituted an important find. Hilkiah the high priest shared his discovery with Shaphan who also read it. After reporting progress on the restoration to Josiah, Shaphan informed the king o( this important discovery and read from it to him.
In distress Josiah tore his robes and wept on hearing what God required of His people as he compared that with how far they had departed from His will. He then sent five of his top officials to inquire of the LORD what should be done. Josiah (fared the anger of the Lord and wanted to turn it away from all the people of Judah, not just himself. The shock expressed by the king at the contents of the Law reveals that Judah had not consulted the Law for a long time.
c. Huldah's prophecy (22:14-20) The fact that the king's five officers sought out the Prophetess Huldah suggests that she was highly regarded for her prophetic gift. Other prophets also lived in and around Jerusalem at this time including Jeremiah (Jer. 1:2), and Zephaniah (Zeph. 1:1), and perhaps Nahum and Habakkuk. But the five consulted Huldah for reasons unexplained. This woman was the wife of Shallum who was responsible for the royal or priestly wardrobe. She lived in the Second District of Jerusalem which was the part of the city lower in elevation than the rest.
After consulting the LORD Huldah sent His message back to the king. God would surely send disaster on Jerusalem and the people of Judah as He had warned in the Law of Moses. This judgment would come because they had forsaken Him and made idols and burned incense to them. God's anger burned against His people basically because they had forsaken His appointed way whereby they could experience blessing, enjoy life, and demonstrate to all other peoples how glorious it was to live under the Lord's leadership.
Josiah would experience God's mercy personally, however, because he had responded to God's Word and had humbled himself before the Lord when he heard the Law of Moses. God said that the king would die and be buried before judgment would descend on Judah. His death in 609 was four years before Nebuchadnezzar's first attack on Jerusalem in 605.
d. The reading of the Law (23:1-3) The king did not wait for the temple renovation to be completed before he called the assembly described here; this convocation took place soon after the Law was discovered. To this important temple ceremony he summoned all the elders, the priests, and prophets (no doubt including Jeremiah and Zephaniah) and all the people from the least to the greatest. The king read all the words of the Book. Perhaps this was the whole Pentateuch but more likely it was the sections promising blessing for obedience and discipline for disobedience (Deut. 27:15-28:68).
Standing by the pillar in the temple courtyard the king led the people in a rededication of themselves to the LORD and His Word. He first pledged himself to follow the Lord faithfully and to carry out the words written in the Law of Moses. Then all the people promised to do the same.
e. Josiah's reforms (23:4-14) Josiah then removed everything connected with the worship of false gods that his ancestors had set up in Judah and Jerusalem. The doorkeepers were Levites responsible for controlling who entered the temple. This house of worship was cleansed of all the paraphernalia that had been brought inside to be used in the worship of Baal, Asherah, and the astrological deities. Josiah had these burned in the Kidron Valley just east of Jerusalem, To desecrate the very center of pagan worship he took the ashes of these relics to Bethel. He also drove away the pagan priests who had led the people in various forms of idolatry. The Hebrew word rendered "pagan priests" is k'marim, used elsewhere only in Hosea 10:5 and Zephaniah 1:4. It refers to idol-priests, priests who prostrated themselves before idols. The king then removed the Asherah pole from the temple, burned it in the Kidron Valley, and scattered its ashes over the graves of the idolatrous common people. Male shrine prostitutes, who served as part of the pagan worship, had set up tents in the temple courtyard. These Josiah tore down as he did the shelters that had been erected there where female idolaters wove materials used in some way in the worship of Asherah.
23:8-9. Josiah reassembled all the Levitical priests and proceeded to desecrate the high places (cf. comments on 1 Kings 22:43) where the Lord had been worshiped contrary to the Law of Moses (Deut. 12:2-7, 13-14). Hezekiah had demolished them also (2 Kings 18:4), but Manasseh rebuilt them (21:3). Josiah destroyed those pagan places of worship from Geba on Judah's northern frontier to Beersheba on its southern border. He also destroyed the shrines (high places) located at the gates near the residency of Joshua, the governor of Jerusalem. and at the other gates of the city. These altars had been placed to the left of the gate as people entered the city. The Levitical priests who had offered sacrifices on the high places were not allowed to serve at the rededicated altar in the temple, but Josiah did permit them to eat the unleavened bread brought to the temple (Lev. 6:9-10, 16).
23:10-11. Topheth was the place where worshipers of Molech, the god of Ammon, burned their children as sacrifices. This was in the Valley of Ben Hinnom at the south side of Mount Zion. Josiah desecrated this site so that no idolater would worship there again. He also removed the sacred horses that were used in formal processions honoring the sun. These animals had been dedicated by the kings of Judah (probably Ahaz, Manasseh, and Amon) and were stabled in the temple courtyard. Josiah also burned up the ceremonial chariots used in these idolatrous processions. 23:12-14. Ahaz had evidently built an upper room on one of the buildings at the gate of the temple. On the roof near that structure Ahaz had built altars, probably to the stars and planets. Hezekiah undoubtedly destroyed these altars but apparently Manasseh or Amon had rebuilt them.
Manasseh also had built altars in the temple courtyards (2 Kings 21:5). All these Josiah destroyed and tossed into the Kidron Valley (d. 23:6). He also desecrated the altars that had been erected on the southern hill of the Mount of Olives which became known as the Hill of Corruption. These altars dated back to Solomon's reign (1 Kings 11:5, 7). Josiah removed all the pagan sacred stones and Asherah poles at that site also. Human bones rendered those sites unclean and unsuitable as places of worship thereafter.
f. Jeroboam's altar (23:15-20) The ancient altar that Jeroboam I had erected (1 Kings 12:28-29) at Bethel (ca. 931 B.C.) also toppled in Josiah's purge. To desecrate the site forever Josiah removed the bones of the people who had been buried in the tombs cut out of a hillside nearby and burned them on the altar (obviously before the altar was demolished). These bones probably belonged to the priests (1 Kings 12:31-32) who out of reverence for the altar had been buried near it. This act by the king fulfilled the prophecy of the man of God from Judah who had predicted it in the days of Jeroboam, even calling Josiah by name (1 Kings 13:2-3).
23:17-18. Learning that a certain tombstone marked the grave of the man of God from Judah who had predicted Josiah's action, the king ordered that his grave not be disturbed out of respect for him. The bones of the old prophet from Bethel (in Samaria, the Northern Kingdom. not the city of Samaria which had not yet been built) who had been buried next to the younger prophet (1 Kings 13:31-32) were left undisturbed too.
23:19.20. Josiah even extended his purge into the territory of the old Northern Kingdom. His ability to do so reflects the weakness of the Assyrian Empire which controlled Israel at this time. Some of the Israelites who remained in their land after the fall of Samaria still worshiped at the high places that Josiah now destroyed. The priests whom Josiah executed in Israel were probably not Levites but idolatrous priests like those Jeroboam had appointed (1 Kings 12:31).
g. Josiah's Passover (23:21-23) Josiah did more than simply eliminate idolatry. He also re-established the divinely ordained Passover feast. This important feast commemorated God's redemption of His people from their bondage in Egypt. It was also Israel's oldest feast. This observance by Josiah was conducted with more careful attention to the Law than any Passover since the days of the Judges. It also was unusual because people from both the kingdom of Judah and the old kingdom of Israel participated together (2 Chron. 35:18). The observance of this feast is described in detail in 2 Chronicles 35:1.19. It took place in Josiah's 18th year of reign. Apparently all the reforms just described (2 Kings 22:3-23:20) took place that same year.
h. Josiah's greatness (23:24-25) Josiah's purge weeded out even the informal practitioners (mediums and spiritists) of rites God had condemned (Lev. 20:27; Deut. 18:9-12). Household gods were worshiped as sources of prosperity and as oracles. These were destroyed as well as all other idols throughout Judah and Jerusalem. Josiah did all this in direct obedience to the Mosaic Law. There was not a king before or after him who so conscientiously observed the Word of the LORD (Deut. 6:5; Jer. 22:15-16).
3. JUDAH'S JUDGMENT (23:26-27) Even Josiah's reformation, as great as it was, could not dispel the accumulated wrath of God against Judah for her years of rebellion, especially under Manasseh's leadership. The Lord's words in 23:27 may be a direct quotation of a prophecy given through an unnamed prophet at that time, or a free quotation taken from God's previous words of warning. God would reject His people, their city, and His temple in the sense of handing them over to their enemies for discipline. To be removed from His presence meant being removed from the land.
4. JOSIAH'S DEATH (23:28-30) Other events of Josiah's reign were recorded in the source noted by the writer. Josiah's death is explained more fully in 2 Chronicles 35:20-27. Josiah seems to have been motivated to fight Pharaoh Neco II (610-595 B.C.) of Egypt in the desire to frustrate any hope Assyria or Egypt might have had of regaining strength and attacking Judah. Egypt and Assyria were allies and were trying to stop Babylonia from becoming the new world leader. Josiah evidently regarded Babylonia as a lesser threat than Assyria or Egypt. As Pharaoh Neco marched his troops up the Mediterranean coastline in 609 B.C., Josiah headed northwest with his army, determined to stop Neco at Megiddo, a well-fortified stronghold in old Israel. Unfortunately for Judah, Josiah died in the ensuing battle. His body was returned to Jerusalem where it was given a royal burial. The officials of Judah placed his son Jehoahaz on the throne. Josiah was a strong influence for righteousness in his day and also a most capable ruler. The success of his sweeping reforms indicates that he had the ability to overcome strong popular opinion which undoubtedly opposed his convictions. His influence even extended into the territory of the fallen Northern Kingdom. Tragically his reign ended prematurely.
E. Jehoahaz's evil reign (23:31-35) Josiah had four sons, three of whom ruled over Judah after their father's death. Jehoahaz was the middle son age-wise and was chosen by the people to succeed Josiah. He was 23 years old when he acceded, but he reigned only three months (in 609 B.C.). His grandfather Jeremiah was not the prophet of the same name since that prophet was not permitted by God to marry (Jer. 16:2). In the brief time Jehoahaz ruled he determined to revert to the ways of his idolatrous ancestors rather than follow his father's good example.
23:33. When Pharaoh Neco defeated Josiah at Megiddo Judah fell under Egyptian control. Neco summoned the newly appointed king of Judah to Riblah on the Orontes River about 65 miles north of Damascus. The Egyptian king later continued marching northward toward his encounter with Nabopolassar the Babylonian at Haran even farther north. Evidently Neco judged Jehoahaz to be an uncooperative vassal so he imprisoned him and sent him to Egypt where Jehoahaz eventually died (Jer. 22:10-12). Neco also imposed a heavy tax on Judah of 100 talents (3.75 tons) of silver and a talent (75 pounds) of gold.
23:34-35. Neco then placed Jehoahaz's older brother Eliakim on the throne of Judah and changed his name to Jehoiakim (from "God has established" to "Yahweh has established"). The naming of a person was regarded in the ancient Near East as a sovereign prerogative: by doing this Neco was demonstrating that he controlled Judah. Jehoiakim submitted to Neco's lordship and provided the tribute of silver and gold the Egyptian king required by taxing the people of Judah.
F. Jehoiakim's evil reign (23:36-24:7) 1. JEHOIAKIM'S WICKEDNESS (23:36-37)
Jehoiakim was two years older than his brother Jehoahaz (compare Jehoiakim's age of 25 with Jehoahaz's age of 23, in 609 B.C.). Jehoiakim reigned 11 years (609-598 B.C.) as a puppet king. His mother's hometown Rumah was near Shechem (Jud. 9:41). Jehoiakim too failed to follow his father's good example but chose the path of idolatry and self-reliance. Jehoiakim was a weak ruler. This can be deduced by the fact that even though he was the eldest son of Josiah he was not chosen by the people of Judah to succeed his father. Also Neco sensed that Jehoiakim would be easier to control than his brother Jehoahaz.
2. JUDAH'S ENEMIES (24:1-7) Nebuchadnezzar had succeeded his father Nabopolassar as king of Babylon in 605 B.C. Earlier that year Nebuchadnezzar had led his father's army against the Egyptians under Pharaoh Neco and had defeated them at Carchemish on the Euphrates River in northern Aramea. This battle established Babylonia as the strongest nation in the Near East. Egypt and its vassals, including Judah, passed under Babylonian control with this victory.
Nebuchadnezzar invaded the land of Judah later the same year (605 B.C.) in order to bring Judah securely under his rule. At that time he took some captives to Babylon including Daniel and others (Dan. 1:1-3). Jehoiakim submitted to Nebuchadnezzar for three years, but then Jehoiakim revolted and unsuccessfully appealed to Egypt for help. He was eventually taken prisoner to Babylon (2 Chron. 36:6), but apparently was released or escaped because he died in Jerusalem (Jer. 22:19; d. comments on 2 Kings 24:10-11). Judah was plagued by raiding bands from Babylonia, Aramea, Moab, and Ammon, who took advantage of Judah's weakened condition later in Jehoiakim's reign. God sent these enemies against Judah to punish her for her sins according to the words of the Prophets Isaiah, Micah, Jeremiah, Habakkuk, and others. God was removing the people from His presence because of the sins of Manasseh.
24:5-7. Jeremiah the prophet despised Jehoiakim for his wickedness (Jer. 22:18-19; 26:20-23: 36). When Jehoiakim died in 598 B.C. in Jerusalem his son Jehoiachin succeeded him on the throne of Judah. Jehoiakim did not receive a royal burial (Jer. 22:19). Pharaoh Neco did not again assert himself to regain the territory he had lost to Nebuchadnezzar between the Wadi of Egypt (Wadi el-Arish) in the south to the Euphrates River in the north which included all of Palestine. This too was part of God's sovereign plan to discipline His people and illustrates the strength of Babylonia at this time.
G. Jehoiachin's evil reign (24:8-17) 1 JEHOIACHIN'S WICKEDNESS (24:8.9) Jehoiachin began reigning when his father Jehoiakim died. He ruled Judah only three months while he was 18 years old and, like Jehoiakim, he did evil in the sight of the Lord.
2. THE SECOND DEPORTATION (24:10.17) Nebuchadnezzar had sent troops against Jerusalem late in Jehoiakim's reign because the Judean king continued to resist Babylonian control and to look to Egypt for help in throwing off the Babylonian yoke. Jehoiakim may have died in the siege of Jerusalem, or he may have been killed by raiders from some other country that harassed Judah. Nebuchadnezzar himself decided to go up against Jerusalem but by the time he arrived (in 597 B.C.) Jehoiakim had died and Jehoiachin had replaced him as king. Jehoiachin surrendered to Nebuchadnezzar along with the queen mother and all his attendants nobles, and officials. Nebuchadnezzar then took the king prisoner to Babylon.
24:13-16. Nebuchadnezzar also took all the treasures of the temple and palace including the gold articles that remained from Solomon's days. This invasion took place in fulfillment of God's Word (1 Kings 9:6-9). Nebuchadnezzar also took captive virtually all the officers and 7,000 soldiers (2 Kings 24:16) as well as 1,000 craftsmen and artisans. In all, 10,000 people were taken captive including the Prophet Ezekiel (Ezek. 1:1-3). Only the most poor people remained in Judah. This was the second time Judahites had been deported to Babylon; the first deportation followed Nebuchadnezzar's victory in 605.
24:17. None of Jehoiachin's sons sat on Judah's throne, as Jeremiah had predicted (Jer. 22:30). The Babylonian king set up Jehoiachin's uncle Mattaniah as king. This man was the third son of Josiah to rule Judah; he was the younger brother of Jehoahaz and Jehoiakim. Nebuchadnezzar exercised his sovereign prerogative and changed Mattaniah's name to Zedekiah.
H. Zedekiah's evil reign (24:18-25:7) Though Zedekiah was king of the Southern Kingdom the people of Judah apparently did not recognize him as such at the time. This may have been due in part to his being placed on the throne by a foreign king (2 Chron. 36:10-13). This explains why inscriptions from the time refer to Jehoiachin as Judah's last king.
1 ZEDEKIAH'S WICKEDNESS (24:18.20) Zedekiah was 21 years old when he began his rule, and he reigned 11 years (597-586 B.C.). He did evil as his brother Jehoiakim had done. Jehoiakim is mentioned probably because he reigned 11 years whereas Zedekiah's immediate predecessor Jehoiachin reigned only three months. Again the reason for Judah's troubles is said to be the LORD'S anger with His people for their apostasy. Therefore He cast them from His presence (i.e., out of the land). For several years Zedekiah submitted obediently to his master in Babylon. But finally under continuing pressure from nationalists at home (d. Jer. 37-38) the king foolishly rebelled. He made an alliance with Pharaoh Hophra (589-570 B.C.) who was anti-Babylonian and aggressive.
2. JERUSALEM'S FINAL SIEGE (25:I-7) In January 588 B.C. (in the 10th month of Zedekiah's ninth year) Nebuchadnezzar again marched against and besieged Jerusalem. The siege was lifted briefly when Egypt attacked Nebuchadnezzar (Jer. 37:5) but the Babylonians defeated Judah's ally easily and resumed the siege. The Jerusalemites suffered the consequences of this extended siege: famine and fear.
25:4-7. Finally the Babylonians broke through the wall of Jerusalem. This was on July 16, 586 B.C., the fourth month of Zedekiah's 11th year. The few remaining soldiers fled by night through a gate in a section of the wall where it was double. They headed east toward the Arabah (the Jordan Valley) but were overtaken and captured near Jericho. Zedekiah fled the city with the soldiers (Jer. 39:4) and was also captured. He was taken to Nebuchadnezzar's field headquarters at Riblah on the Orontes River north of Damascus. (Nebuchadnezzar was also conducting campaigns against Tyre and other Judean cities according to the Lachish Letters There Nebuchadnezzar killed Zedekiah's sons (to cut off the heirs to the throne) before his eyes, blinded Zedekiah (to make further rebellion virtually impossible; Ezek. 12:3), placed him in shackles, and transported him to Babylon (Jer. 32:4; 34:1-3; 39).
I. Judah under Babylonian government (25:8-30) 1. JERUSALEM'S BURNING (25:8.12) About four weeks after the breakthrough into the city Nebuchadnezzar sent Nebuzaradan, commander of his imperial guard, to burn Jerusalem. This was on the 7th day of the fifth month of Nebuchadnezzar's 19th year (August 14, 586 B.C.). However, Jeremiah 52:12 reads "the 10th day". This officer led his troops in burning down every important building in Jerusalem including the temple and the royal palace which had stood for almost four centuries. Then the whole army proceeded to break down vast sections of the city wall so that the remaining inhabitants could not defend themselves against their Babylonian conquerors. Nebuzaradan also removed all but the poorest people, carrying the majority off to Babylon. Some of these captives had surrendered to the Babylonians but others had not. The remaining farmers were intended by Nebuchadnezzar to keep the land from growing completely wild.
2. THE TEMPLE'S DESTRUCTION (25:13.17) The Babylonians broke the large bronze pillars and pieces of furniture in the temple area to make the bronze easier to transport. The smaller furnishings of bronze gold, and silver were simply packed up and carted off to Babylon. The two pillars on the temple porch were so huge that the amount of bronze in them could not be weighed .
3. THE LEADER'S EXECUTION (25:18-21) Seraiah, an ancestor of Ezra (Ezra 7:1), and other priests were taken captive to preclude their leading another revolt. For the same reason the chief officer and advisers were arrested. Nebuchadnezzar executed all 72 of these leaders at Riblah, his field headquarters.
4. GEDALIAH'S MURDER (25:22.26) Gedaliah was a descendant of Shaphan, Josiah's secretary of state who had implemented that king's reforms (22:3). Gedaliah was a friend of Jeremiah (Jer. 39:14) who followed that prophet's counsel to cooperate with the Babylonians. Since Gedaliah assumed a pro-Babylonian stance Nebuchadnezzar appointed him governor of Judah. Gedaliah set up his headquarters at Mizpah (about eight miles north of Jerusalem) since Jerusalem lay in ruins. In Mizpah a party of pro-Egyptian leaders and their followers who had escaped execution by the Babylonians called on him. The governor tried to convince these men to remain in the land and serve Nebuchadnezzar for their own good. 25:25-26, Some time later, however. Ishmael who was of royal descent and apparently wanted to govern Judah, conspired against Gedaliah and slew him (d. Jer. 41:2). Gedaliah had been warned of this possibility but had refused to take it seriously (Jer. 40:13-16). Gedaliah's associates were also slain. Fearing reprisals from Nebuchadnezzar, all the Judahites including the army officers who had failed to prevent this assassination fled to Egypt for safety, forcing Jeremiah to go with them (Jer. 41:1-43:7).
S. JEHOIACHIN'S BLESSING (25:27-30) The 12th month of the 37th year of Jehoiachin's captivity in Babylon was March 560 B.C. (he was taken captive in 597). Earlier, in 562, a new king, Evil-Merodach, had become ruler of Babylon. (Evil-Merodach's rule was 587 from 562 to 560.) He changed the former policy of treating the Judean king like a criminal and gave him privileges because he was a king. Jehoiachin was treated with greater respect than the other conquered kings who were also prisoners in Babylon. This treatment may have been a result of Jehoiachin's repentance before the Lord, though such a change of heart is not mentioned in the text. For the rest of his life Jehoiachin lived in minimum security prison conditions and ate regularly the food Evil-Merodach provided for him (Jer. 52:31-34).
The positive note on which 2 Kings ends reveals again the Lord's mercy, which stands out repeatedly in 1 and 2 Kings. This notation also points to the continuation of the Davidic dynasty which God had promised would lead His people forever (2 Sam. 7:16). (From Bible Knowledge Commentary by Walvoord and Zuck)
Notes and audio tapes: http://ldolphin.org/ezekiel/
Ray Stedman: Summary of Ezekiel: http://pbc.org/dp/stedman/adventure/ (also summaries of the related books of the Bible)
Ray Stedman: Sermons on Daniel: http://pbc.org/dp/stedman/daniel/
Ray Stedman: Commentary on Jeremiah: The Death of a Nation, http://pbc.org/dp/stedman/jeremiah/
Ariel Ministries, Arnold Fruchtenbaum
Maps of Iraq and Background, by Bryant Wood
Helpful Books on Ezekiel:
Ralph Alexander, Ezekiel, Moody Press
Derek Thomas, God Strengthens, Evangelical Press (UK), 1993
Jeremiah Writes to the Captives in Babylon
1 Now these are the words of the letter that Jeremiah the prophet sent from Jerusalem to the remainder of the elders who were carried away captive--to the priests, the prophets, and all the people whom Nebuchadnezzar had carried away captive from Jerusalem to Babylon. 2 (This happened after Jeconiah the king, the queen mother, the eunuchs, the princes of Judah and Jerusalem, the craftsmen, and the smiths had departed from Jerusalem.) 3 The letter was sent by the hand of Elasah the son of Shaphan, and Gemariah the son of Hilkiah, whom Zedekiah king of Judah sent to Babylon, to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, saying,
4 Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, to all who were carried away captive, whom I have caused to be carried away from Jerusalem to Babylon: 5 Build houses and dwell in them; plant gardens and eat their fruit. 6 Take wives and beget sons and daughters; and take wives for your sons and give your daughters to husbands, so that they may bear sons and daughters--that you may be increased there, and not diminished. 7 And seek the peace of the city where I have caused you to be carried away captive, and pray to the LORD for it; for in its peace you will have peace. 8 For thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Do not let your prophets and your diviners who are in your midst deceive you, nor listen to your dreams which you cause to be dreamed. 9 For they prophesy falsely to you in My name; I have not sent them, says the LORD.
10 For thus says the LORD: After seventy years are completed at Babylon, I will visit you and perform My good word toward you, and cause you to return to this place. 11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. 12 Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. 13 And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you, says the LORD, and I will bring you back from your captivity; I will gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you, says the LORD, and I will bring you to the place from which I cause you to be carried away captive.
False Prophets: 15 Because you have said, 'The LORD has raised up [our own] prophets for us in Babylon,' 16 therefore thus says the LORD concerning the king who sits on the throne of David, concerning all the people who dwell in this city, and concerning your brethren who have not gone out with you into captivity-- 17 thus says the LORD of hosts: Behold, I will send on them the sword, the famine, and the pestilence, and will make them like rotten figs that cannot be eaten, they are so bad. 18 And I will pursue them with the sword, with famine, and with pestilence; and I will deliver them to trouble among all the kingdoms of the earth--to be a curse, an astonishment, a hissing, and a reproach among all the nations where I have driven them, 19 because they have not heeded My words, says the LORD, which I sent to them by My servants the prophets, rising up early and sending them; neither would you heed, says the LORD. 20 Therefore hear the word of the LORD, all you of the captivity, whom I have sent from Jerusalem to Babylon.
21 Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, concerning Ahab the son of Kolaiah, and Zedekiah the son of Maaseiah, [the two false prophets] who prophesy a lie to you in My name: Behold, I will deliver them into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and he shall slay them before your eyes. 22 And because of them a curse shall be taken up by all the captivity of Judah who are in Babylon, saying, 'The LORD make you like Zedekiah and Ahab, whom the king of Babylon roasted in the fire'; 23 because they have done disgraceful things in Israel, have committed adultery with their neighbors' wives, and have spoken lying words in My name, which I have not commanded them. Indeed I know, and am a witness, says the LORD.
[A false prophet named Shemaiah] 24 You shall also speak to Shemaiah the Nehelamite, saying, 25 Thus speaks the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, saying: You have sent letters in your name to all the people who are at Jerusalem, to Zephaniah the son of Maaseiah the priest, and to all the priests, saying, 26 'The LORD has made you priest instead of Jehoiada the priest, so that there should be officers in the house of the LORD over every man who is demented and considers himself a prophet, that you should put him in prison and in the stocks. 27 Now therefore, why have you not reproved Jeremiah of Anathoth who makes himself a prophet to you? 28 For he has sent to us in Babylon, saying, "This captivity is long; build houses and dwell in them, and plant gardens and eat their fruit." 29 Now Zephaniah the priest read this letter in the hearing of Jeremiah the prophet. 30 Then the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah, saying: 31 Send to all those in captivity, saying, Thus says the LORD concerning Shemaiah the Nehelamite: Because Shemaiah has prophesied to you, and I have not sent him, and he has caused you to trust in a lie-- 32 therefore thus says the LORD: Behold, I will punish Shemaiah the Nehelamite and his family: he shall not have anyone to dwell among this people, nor shall he see the good that I will do for My people, says the LORD, because he has taught rebellion against the LORD. (Jeremiah Chapter 29)
by Chuck Missler
The Prophet Ezekiel was called upon to undertake a number of strange performances, one of which was to lie on his side for a total of 430 days. 1 Each day was expressly to represent a year of judgment against the nation.
A number of commentators acknowledge a difficulty which appears when one attempts to apply this specifically to Israel's history. Seventy of the years would seem to be accounted for in the Babylonian Captivity, but that leaves 360 years (430 minus 70) unaccounted for. 2 The 360 years do not seem to fit any period of their history.
It has been suggested by some that there might be a clue in Leviticus 26, where God indicates that:
...if ye will not yet for all this hearken unto me, then I will punish you seven times more for your sins. -Leviticus 26:18
(In fact, this commitment is reiterated four times in that chapter for emphasis.3 )
It has been suggested that multiplying the "problem" 360 years by seven yields 2520 years, which is "approximately" the duration of time from the exile through the Diaspora.
This seemed rather contrived. Furthermore, it had bothered me since I never like to use the term "approximately" and "God" in the same sentence! I felt that if it was meant to fit, it would fit precisely.
Sir Robert Anderson, in his classic work The Coming Prince, 4 noted that the Bible uses 360-day years in both Genesis and Revelation.5 However, I noticed that no one seemed to try to apply this insight to the 2520 years potentially suggested in Ezekiel Chapter 4.
In attempting to reconcile the 2520 360-day years to our Roman calendar, one is faced with the discrepancies between the sidereal year and the solar year. (The Julian year is 11 minutes and 10.46 seconds longer than the mean solar year.)
In 1572, it was recognized that errors had accumulated to 11 days too many, and adjustments were required. In the Gregorian Reform, September 4th was declared September 14th, and the formula for leap years was changed to exclude centuries unless divisible by four (and millennia by 400). Thus, 2520 360-day years contain 907,200 days, which are accounted for on our current calendar as 2483 years, 9 months and 21 days:
2483 x 365
= 906,295 days
9 months x 30
21 days 21
Leap Years - 2483/4
2520 x 360
= 907,200 days
Great. But what do we do with this? Where do we begin to apply it?
Terminus Ad Quem
Another problem occurs when we examine more closely the "Babylonian Captivity." There are two different periods that are candidates: "the Servitude of the Nation," and the "Desolations of Jerusalem." Each of these was prophesied to be seventy years in duration and many assume they are synonymous of each other; however, they are not.
There were actually three sieges of Nebuchadnezzar upon Jerusalem. The first siege began the "Servitude of the Nation" and was prophesied to last 70 years. (And it did, to the very day.8 When Cyrus conquered Babylon he encountered the amazing letter written to him by Isaiah a century and a half earlier, which addressed him by name, highlighted his meteoric career, and predicted that he would free the captives. His astonishment resulted in his releasing the Hebrew captives to return to Judea to rebuild their temple.)
The vassal king that Nebuchadnezzar left later rebelled; a second siege resulted in his uncle, Zedekiah, being appointed to the throne. The prophets Jeremiah and Ezekiel both went on to warn that if they persisted in rebelling against Nebuchadnezzar the city of Jerusalem would be destroyed. Yet Zedekiah ultimately yielded to the false prophets and rebelled.
A third siege resulted in the destruction and desolation of the city of Jerusalem. The "Desolations of Jerusalem" also lasted 70 years, until Nehemiah ultimately succeeded in getting the authority to rebuild the city of Jerusalem. This, too, was precisely 70 years. To which of these two periods should we apply the 2520 years?
The "Servitude of the Nation"?
The 70 years of servitude, to be consistent, should be reckoned as 25,200 days, or two days short of 69 years on our Roman calendar. The first siege of Nebuchadnezzar, in 606 B.C., began the "Servitude of the Nation," which lasted until the summer of 537 B.C. If July 23, 537 B.C. was the time of their release:
-537y 7m 23d
+1 (no year "0")
2483y 9m 21d
1948 5 14
On May 14, 1948, the nation Israel was reestablished on the world scene. A remarkable coincidence. Isaiah appears to have highlighted this very restoration:
And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea. And he shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth. -Isaiah 11:11, 12
Yet, there is another alternative application of the 2520 years:
The "Desolations of Jerusalem"?
The third siege of Nebuchad-nezzar, in 587 B.C., began the "Desolations of Jerusalem," which lasted until 518 B.C. If August 16, 518 B.C. was the completion of the walls of Jerusalem, then:
-518y 8m 16d
+1 (no year "0")
2483y 9m 21d
1967 6 7
On June 7, 1967, as a result of the Six Day War, the Biblical city of Old Jerusalem was restored to the nation. Another remarkable coincidence!
It should be borne in mind that the "starting" dates are not known precisely to the day. More research needs to be done. But this certainly seems provocative enough to ponder.
Zechariah predicted that the day would come when the entire world would be against Jerusalem, and that it would prove intractable to resolution. 9 Even as this goes to press, a climax is in the making.
Yassir Arafat has announced that Jerusalem will be the declared capital of a Palestinian State on September 13th of this year. Ehud Barak has indicated that he would annex the "West Bank." President Clinton has called for a meeting at Camp David in the hopes of bringing this to a "permanent resolution."
Many are optimistic that some kind of permanent peace can be arranged. Most of us know, from a Biblical perspective, that no real peace will occur until the Prince of Peace intervenes. In fact, the enforcement of a seven-year covenant, by a coming world leader, is the very definition of the "Seventieth Week" of Daniel.10
The current "piece (sic) process" is virtually a guarantee of war because it is built on a false premise: it's based on the assumption that the Muslim interests can be appeased by reducing the borders of Israel.
The Muslims, however, have made it very clear - before, during, and subsequent to the Oslo Accords - that they will be satisfied with nothing less than the extermination of Israel. They are insisting on what Israel cannot give. All we can do is watch the unfolding drama.
Let us remember that:
Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep. -Psalm 121:4
Perhaps an ostensible peace treaty will emerge on the international scene; we'll be watching with intense interest. It certainly does seem that we are moving along the classic Biblical scenario. What a critical time to prioritize your Bible study time and do your homework!
* * *
This article was originally published in the
August 2000 Personal Update News Journal.
January 22, 2004.