Lesson 23
Part II: Conclusion of Oracles Against the Nations
(The Tenth Object Lesson)
Part III: Historical Appendix
(The Last Days of Jerusalem and the Fate of Jehoiachin)
Chapters 51:59-52:34

Lord of Justice and Mercy,

It is always our prayer that we receive Your mercy over Your judgment. St. James assures us we will receive Your mercy if we humble ourselves before You (Jam 4:10). Heal us of our arrogance and self-sufficiency, Lord, so we can receive Your loving disciplines and respond by turning away from the sins that entice us to return to fellowship and communion with You. Jeremiah, Baruch, and Seraiah served You with courage and fidelity, despite their fears of the consequences. Give us the same courage and fidelity, Lord, in our mission as disciples of Jesus Christ, to share the Gospel of salvation to move forward Your Divine Plan for the salvation of humanity. Send us Your Holy Spirit, Father, to guide us as we study the last chapters of the book of Your servant, Jeremiah. We pray in the name of God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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The Babylonians Capture Jerusalem by Francesco Hayes

Francesco Hayez.jpg

The forgetting of the Law and the infidelity to the covenant end in death: it is the Exile, apparently the failure of the promises which is in fact the mysterious fidelity of the Savior God and the beginning of a promised restoration, but according to the Spirit. The People of God had to suffer this purification. In God's plan, the Exile already stands in the shadow of the Cross, and the Remnant of the poor that returns from the Exile is one of the most transparent prefigurations of the Church.
Catechism of the Catholic Church, 710

In the Greek Septuagint translation, the Oracles against the Nations are immediately after Jeremiah's introduction to the Oracles against the Nations and his vision of God's "cup of wrath" in chapter 25. Other translations place these chapters after the prophecy of comfort to Baruch son of Neriah. In the Septuagint, the Oracles against the Nations that begin with the oracles against Egypt and Babylon are then followed by Jeremiah's command to Seraiah to perform a prophetic act while on a mission to Babylon with the king (chapter 28 in the Septuagint). The oracles against the nations then continue with the oracle against the Philistines and other nations, followed by Jeremiah's arrest and imprisonment, the sufferings of Jeremiah, the fall of Jerusalem, and the last great exile of Judaeans. See the Appendix at the end of the lesson for a list of the order of chapters in the Septuagint as opposed to the Jewish Tanakh and our modern translation.

Our lesson concerns the final chapters of the Book of Jeremiah and includes Jeremiah's instructions to Seraiah son of Neriah, to perform a prophetic ot (the tenth object lesson) when he accompanies King Zechariah to Babylon. This mission took place before the king rebelled against the Babylonians. The prophetic ot prefigures the destruction of the Babylonian Empire, ending with the words "Thus far the words of Jeremiah" that was probably the original ending of the book.

The final chapter in the Septuagint and other translations is a summary of the fall of Jerusalem and the death of Zedekiah that repeats 2 Kings 24:18-25:30 and Jeremiah 39:1-10. This last section of the book was probably added by Seraiah in Babylon since it records the fate of the last living Judaean king, King Jehoiachin, who was a prisoner in Babylon.

Chapter 51:59-64

Jeremiah 51:59-64 ~ Jeremiah's Instructions to Seraiah Son of Neriah: The Tenth Object Lesson
59 This is the order that the prophet Jeremiah gave to Seraiah son of Neriah, son of Mahseiah when Seraiah left for Babylon with Zedekiah king of Judah, in the fourth year of his reign. Seraiah was lord chamberlain [prince of the resting-place]. 60 Now, on one sheet, Jeremiah had written down the entire disaster that was to befall Babylon, that is, all these words recorded here against Babylon. 61 Jeremiah then said to Seraiah, "When you reach Babylon, see to it that you read all these words aloud. 62 Then say, You, Yahweh, have promised to destroy this place, so that on one will live here ever again, neither human nor animal, and it will be desolate forever.' 63 Then, when you have finished reading this sheet, tie a stone to it and throw it into the middle of the Euphrates, 64 with the words, So shall Babylon sink, never to rise again from the disaster which I am going to bring on her.'" Thus far the words of Jeremiah. [...] = Lundbom, vol. III, page 507 (Strong's H8269).

This passage shifts from the poetry of the previous verses to prose in verses 59-64. It is placed in Chapter 28 in the Septuagint, just after the oracles against Egypt and Babylon (the first two oracles against the nations in the Septuagint) and just before the oracle against the Philistines. Just as Jeremiah "commanded" Baruch to read aloud a newly written scroll in the Temple (36:5, 8), and "commanded" Baruch to keep safe the deeds for the property Jeremiah purchased (32:13), he now "commands" Seraiah to read aloud a message and to perform a prophetic act for the exiles in Babylon.

Question: Who was Seraiah son of Neriah son of Mahseiah? See Jer 32:12.
Answer: Seraiah was the brother of Baruch and a member of an important scribal family serving King Zedekiah.

Seraiah was a high-ranking official in Zedekiah's government. It is a fact confirmed by a late 7th century BC seal impression with the inscription "Belonging to Seraiah (ben) Neriah" without the title "scribe," perhaps suggesting that, although a trained scribe, he served the king in another capacity (see 51:59).

At Yahweh's command, Jeremiah performed nine object lessons, but the tenth and final object lesson became the mission of Seraiah son of Neriah, Baruch's brother. The passage does not say that Jeremiah copied the oracle from the scroll of the Book of Jeremiah, but it can be assumed since this passage is part of the complete book. The "one sheet," perhaps written on the front and the back, probably contained part or all of the prophecies of destruction against Babylon in 51:31-58, but the exact content cannot be known (the prophecies against Babylon also precede this passage in the Septuagint).

Seraiah took Jeremiah's scroll with him when he accompanied King Zedekiah on a diplomatic mission to Babylon in the fourth year of Zedekiah's reign in about the year 595 BC (counting as the Judaeans counted with the first year of his reign in 598 counting as year 1, or perhaps 593 BC as the Babylonians would have counted the fourth year beginning in the first full year of his reign in 597 BC). Seraiah attended the king on the mission as a royal chamberlain or literally "prince of the resting place." The title suggests that he was the royal official in charge of the caravan and responsible for providing the king and the troops with clothing, food, and transportation. The visit was probably the payment of Judah's annual tribute and for Zedekiah to reaffirm his loyalty to his Babylonian overlord, Nebuchadnezzar. This would have been Zedekiah's last tribute payment since it was after this visit to Babylon in 595 BC, according to the Babylonian Chronicles, that Zedekiah decided to rebel against the Babylonians. He committed himself to a rebellion when he invited his neighbor nations to a conference in Jerusalem to discuss forming an alliance against the Babylonians and seeking the protection of the Egyptians.

Seraiah obediently took the copy of Jeremiah's oracle to Babylon. Upon his arrival in Babylon, Jeremiah commanded him to perform a prophetic act in four parts:

  1. He must read the scroll aloud.
  2. He must also address Yahweh, confirming that it is Israel's God who will punish Babylon.
  3. After reading the scroll, he must perform a prophetic act by tying a stone around the scroll and casting it into the Euphrates River.
  4. Finally, he is to speak a curse on Babylon, using the divine "I," meaning the curse is in Yahweh's name.

Question: With Jeremiah's oracles against the nations that included Babylon in about 594 BC, what is the meaning of Seraiah's prophetic act in throwing the oracle concerning Babylon's destruction into the Euphrates?
Answer: Babylon had a great rise as a world power, but she will sink in defeat like the written oracle thrown into the river.

Perhaps Nebuchadnezzar and his ministers did not take Seraiah's oracle seriously because they already knew Jeremiah prophesied seventy years of captivity for the exiles from Judah.

Thus far the words of Jeremiah. With the words "Thus far the words of Jeremiah," Seraiah ties the end of the Book of Jeremiah to the beginning in a repeat of Jeremiah 1:1a. Many Biblical scholars suggest that the book should end with Seraiah's summary statement in 51:54.

Chapter 52

In the twelfth year of our captivity, on the fifth day of the tenth month, a fugitive arrived from Jerusalem and said to me, "The city has been taken." Now the hand of the Lord had been on me the evening before the fugitive arrived; he had opened my mouth before the fugitive came to me the next morning; my mouth had been opened and I was dumb no longer.
Ezekiel 33:21-22
(Ezekiel was God's prophet in exile. God deprived him of speech until he received a message of the fall of Jerusalem; see Ez 24:25-27)

The timeline for the Babylonian siege of Jerusalem:
Biblical Source Jewish/Modern Date Events
2 Kgs 25:1; Ez 24:1-2 10 Tebeth =
27 January 589 BC
The beginning of the first siege of Jerusalem.
Jer 34:8-10 1 Tishri =
29 September 588 BC
The release of Hebrew slaves commanded by King Zedekiah and the beginning of what should have been a Jubilee Year.
Jer 34:11-22; 37:5-16 Between Tishri 588 &
Nisan 587 BC = October 588 to April 587 BC
The approach of Egyptian army causes the Babylonians to temporarily lift the siege. The slaves are taken back by their owners. Jeremiah is arrested when he attempts to go to Anathoth.
Jer 34:22; Ez 30:20-21 7 Nisan =
29 April 587 BC
The Babylonians force Egyptians to withdraw, and the siege of Jerusalem resumes.
22 Kgs 25:2-4;
Jer 39:2, 52:7;
Ez 33:21, 40:1
9 Tammuz =
29 July 587
The Babylonians breach the walls of Jerusalem. The Babylonians capture the Judaeans and take them to Ramah. King Zedekiah is captured fleeing with his family.
22 Kgs 25:8 7 Ab/Av =
25 August 587 BC
General Nebuzaradan arrives at Jerusalem from Riblah in Hamath (Syria). He consults with commanders in the field regarding the pillaging of the city. He searches for Jeremiah. Finding Jeremiah at Ramah, he releases him.
22 Kgs 25:9-19;
2 Chr 36:18-19;
Jer 52:12-25
9 Ab/Av =
28 August 587
The Babylonian army enters Jerusalem to pillage, destroy, and to burn the city, including the palace built by King Solomon and the Temple. The Jewish captives at Ramah are deported to Babylon.
Michal E. Hunt Copyright © 2017

Dates according to the Jewish calendar and their corresponding modern dates in the chart are from the book, From Abraham to Paul: A Biblical Chronology, by Andrew E. Steinnman, Concordia Publishing, 2011. See a chart on Israel's civil and liturgical calendar. For information on the Jewish national feast of mourning on the 9th of Ab see footnote 1.

Jeremiah 52:1-3 ~ A Summary of King Zedekiah's Reign
1 Zedekiah was twenty-one years old when he came to the throne, and he reigned for eleven years in Jerusalem. His mother's name was Hamital* daughter of Jeremiah of Libnah. 3 He did what is displeasing to Yahweh, just as Jehoiakim had done. 3 That this should happen to Jerusalem and Judah was due to Yahweh's anger, resulting in his casting them away from his presence.
* her name is also spelled Hamutal in 2 Kings 24:18.

Most Biblical scholars assume that Seraiah wrote the historical appendix to the Book of Jeremiah while he was in Babylon after the fall of Jerusalem with the other Judaean captives.
Question: What was Zedekiah's relationship to deposed Judaean king Jehoahaz? See 2 Kng 23:29-34.
Answer: They were brothers; the sons of King Josiah by the same mother.

3 He did what is displeasing to Yahweh, just as Jehoiakim had done. 3 That this should happen to Jerusalem and Judah was due to Yahweh's anger, resulting in his casting them away from his presence.
That he did what was "evil in the eyes of Yahweh" (literal Hebrew) is a standard formula for denouncing Israel's kings who failed to keep Yahweh's covenant (i.e., 1 Kng 11:6; 14:22; 15:26, 34; 16:25). 2 Chronicles 36:12 records his failure to listen to Jeremiah who spoke "from the mouth of Yahweh" (literal translation). Zedekiah's reign is compared to his half-brother Jehoiakim who did evil and invoked the wrath of Yahweh (see 2 Kng 23:37). The point is that the evil practices of Judah's kings and people built up Yahweh's anger until Yahweh had to cast the nation out from His presence.

Question: What comparison could be made to the first casting out of the people of God from His presence?
Answer: In the same way, the sin of Adam and Eve caused them to be cast out of the holy land of Eden.

Jeremiah 52:4-11 ~ The Final Days of Jerusalem
4 Zedekiah rebelled against the king of Babylon. In the ninth year of his reign, in the tenth month, on the tenth day of the month, Nebuchadnezzar [Nebuchadrezzar] king of Babylon advanced on Jerusalem with his entire army; he pitched camp in front of the city and threw up earthworks round it. 5 The city lay under siege till the eleventh year of King Zedekiah. 6 In the fourth month, on the ninth day of the month, when famine was raging in the city and there was no food for the populace, 7 a breach was made in the city wall. The king and all the fighting men then fled, leaving the city under the cover of dark, by way of the gate between the two walls, which is near the king's garden (the Chaldaeans had surrounded the city) and made his way towards the Arabah. 8 The Chaldaean troops pursued the king and caught up with Zedekiah in the plains of Jericho, where all his troops deserted. 9 But the Chaldaeans captured the king and took him to the king of Babylon at Riblah in the territory of Hamath, where he passed sentence on him. 10 He had Zedekiah's sons slaughtered before his eyes; he also had all the chief men of Judah put to death at Riblah. 11 He then put out Zedekiah's eyes and, loading him with chains, the king of Babylon carried him off to Babylon where he kept him prisoner until his dying day.

This passage is, for the most part, a repetition of 2 Kings 24:18-25:30 and Jeremiah 39:1-10. A summary of Nebuchadnezzar's capture of Jerusalem and burning of the Temple is also in 2 Chronicles 36:11-21, in Josephus's Antiquities of the Jews, 10.108-50, and in the Dead Sea Scrolls document from Qumran entitled Apocrypha of Jeremiah, 4Q385b, I,4-6.

4 Zedekiah rebelled against the king of Babylon.
"Rebelled" means Zedekiah broke the loyalty oath sworn to Nebuchadnezzar in the name of Yahweh to serve the king of Babylon as his loyal vassal. Zedekiah sent envoys to Egypt to ask the Egyptians to aid him in his revolt, and the prophet Ezekiel asked "Will a man who had done this go unpunished? Can he break a treaty and go unpunished?" and Yahweh even refers to the broken treaty with Babylon as "my treaty which he has broken" because the treaty was sworn in God's Divine Name (see Ez 17:11-21; 2 Chr 36:13).

In the ninth year of his reign, in the tenth month, on the tenth day of the month, Nebuchadnezzar [Nebuchadrezzar] king of Babylon advanced on Jerusalem with his entire army; he pitched camp in front of the city and threw up earthworks round it. 5 The city lay under siege till the eleventh year of King Zedekiah.
The Babylonian siege of Jerusalem began at the end of December of 589-88 BC. There was a break in the siege when the Babylonians withdrew to confront the Egyptians, but in total, the siege lasted over two years. The tenth day of the month is the 10th of Tevet, which the Book of Zechariah says is observed as a fast day to mark the beginning of the siege (Zech 8:19). The Babylonians immediately built "earthworks" around the city which Jewish historian, Flavius Josephus, recorded were equal in height to the walls: "Now the king of Babylon was very intent and earnest upon the siege of Jerusalem; and he erected towers upon great banks of earth and from them repelled those that stood upon the walls; he also made a great number of such banks round about the whole city, the height of which was equal to those walls" (Antiquities of the Jews, 10.131).

6 In the fourth month, on the ninth day of the month, when famine was raging in the city and there was no food for the populace...
The 9th day of the fourth month is the 9th of Tamuz (June/July 587 BC). Jeremiah frequently gave prophecies of the famine (5:12; 8:20; 14:11-18; and 15:2). In 37:21, we read that when he was confined in the Court of the Guard that Jeremiah received bread until there was no longer any bread left in the city of Jerusalem. The fact that the Babylonian army was in Judah for more than two harvest seasons probably intensified the. The Babylonian soldiers were not only eating up all the crops and hindering replanting, but they were also preventing produce from entering the city.

7 a breach was made in the city wall. The king and all the fighting men then fled, leaving the city under the cover of dark, by way of the gate between the two walls, which is near the king's garden (the Chaldaeans had surrounded the city) and made his way towards the Arabah.
The king and his men knew a secret way out of the city. They escaped and made their way towards the Jordan River Valley, intending to ford the river across from Jericho, a common crossing point.

At this time, when every man was needed to repulse the Babylonians, Jeremiah was apparently no long under guard. An oracle from God told him to take the tent of the ancient desert Sanctuary and the Ark of the Covenant to safety. He managed to secure some friends still within the city to help him take the Ark of the Covenant, the Altar of Incense, and the desert Sanctuary tent from the Temple: ... he set out for the mountain which Moses had climbed to survey God's heritage. On his arrival, Jeremiah found a cave-dwelling, into which he put the tent, the Ark and the altar of incense, afterwards blocking up the entrance. Some of his companions went back to mark out the path but were unable to find it. When Jeremiah learned of this, he reproached them, "The place is to remain unknown," he said, "until God gathers his people together again and shows them his mercy" (2 Mac 2:4-8). Jeremiah then returned to the city where the Babylonians captured him and sent him to Ramah with the other captives. It was at Ramah where General Nebuzaradan found him and freed him.

The fate of King Zedekiah in verses 8-11 is recounted in 2 Kings 25:4-7. Ezekiel 12:13 records the same fate for Zedekiah in an oracle Ezekiel received from Yahweh: I shall throw my net over him and catch him in my mesh; I shall take him to Babylon, to the land of the Chaldaeans, though he will not see it; and there he will die. Zedekiah "will not see" Babylon because King Nebuchadnezzar had him blinded before the journey (52:11; 2 Kng 25:7).

11 He then put out Zedekiah's eyes and, loading him with chains, the king of Babylon carried him off to Babylon where he kept him prisoner until his dying day.
The Hebrew Interlineal translation has "prison in a house;" that it was a "house of detention" or a prison is understood (IBHE, vol. IV, page 1884). However, the Septuagint has another term, "in the millhouse" which suggests not only confinement but forced labor.

Question: What hero in the Book of Judges was blinded and forced to work in a millhouse, turning the grinding wheel like an animal? How is Zedekiah like this hero from the Judges and how is he different? See Judg 16:20-21.
Answer: Like Zedekiah who was led astray by his ministers, Samson was deceived by a woman. He was also blinded and humiliated by his enemies who forced him to work the grinding wheel in a millhouse. However, Samson lived to bring disaster on his enemies but not Zedekiah who will die a shameful death.

Jeremiah 52:12-16 ~ The Babylonians Destroy Jerusalem
12 In the fifth month, on the tenth day of the month, it was in the nineteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar [Nebuchadrezzar] king of Babylon, Nebuzaradan commander of the guard, a member of the king of Babylon's staff, entered Jerusalem. 13 He burnt down the Temple of Yahweh, the royal palace and all the houses in Jerusalem. 14 The Chaldaean troops who accompanied the commander of the guard demolished all the walls surrounding Jerusalem. 15 Nebuzaradan commander of the guard deported some of the poor people and the remainder of the population left in the city, the deserters who had gone over to the king of Babylon, and the rest of the artisans. 16 But Nebuzaradan commander of the guard left some of the poor country-people behind as vineyard workers and ploughmen.

Nebuzaradan's name means, "[the god] Nabu has given off-spring." His title is the Rab-tabehim, meaning the "chief butler," but the title points to his high position. His functions mentioned in 2 Kings and Jeremiah indicates that he was a ranking military official. A clay prism found at excavations of the royal palace at Babylon lists Nebuchadnezzar's court officials. Among those name is Nebuzaradan with the title "chancellor." The prism is dated to circa 570 BC and suggests a political appointment for Nebuzaradan following his successful military career.

13 He burnt down the Temple of Yahweh, the royal palace and all the houses in Jerusalem.
There is a four times repetition of the word "house" in the Hebrew text: He burned the House of Yahweh and the king's house. And he burnt all the houses of Jerusalem with fire, and all the houses of the great ones (IBHE, vol. IV, page 1884).

The Book of Baruch 1:2 puts the burning of Jerusalem on "the seventh day of the month." Some scholars reconcile the discrepancy by suggesting that the fire was set on the 7th and burned until the 9th. Archaeological excavations in Jerusalem verify a 587 BC date for the destruction of Jerusalem by a great fire.

Question: What was the extent of the destruction Nebuzaradan inflicted on Jerusalem and the people?
Answer: He was responsible for:

  1. the destruction of the Temple
  2. the destruction of the royal Davidic palace
  3. the destruction of the prominent houses of Jerusalem
  4. the destruction of the city walls
  5. deporting all the captives to Babylon

He was also responsible for finding Jeremiah, making arrangements for his welfare (2 Kng 25:11-21; Jer 39:10-14; 41:10; 43:6). King Solomon built the royal palace and the Temple in the 10th century BC; read about the magnificence of these buildings in 1 Kings Chapters 6-7

Jeremiah 52:17-23 ~ The Destruction
17 The Chaldaeans broke up the bronze pillars from the Temple of Yahweh, the wheeled stands and the bronze Sea, which were in the Temple of Yahweh, and took all the bronze away to Babylon. 18 They also took the ash containers, the scoops, the knives, the sprinkling bowls, the incense bowls, and all the bronze furnishings used in worship. 19 The commander of the guard also took the bowls, the censers, the sprinkling bowls the ash containers, the lamp-stands, the goblets and the saucers: everything that was made of gold and everything made of silver. As regards the two pillars, the one Sea, the twelve bronze oxen supporting the Sea, and the wheeled stands, which King Solomon had made for the Temple of Yahweh, there was no reckoning the weight of bronze in all these objects. As regards the pillars, the height of one pillar was eighteen cubits, its circumference was twelve cubits, it was four fingers thick, and hollow inside; on it stood a capital of bronze, the eight of the capital being five cubits; round the capital were filigree and pomegranates, all in bronze. So also for the second pillar. There were ninety-six pomegranates, all in bronze. So also for the second pillar. There were ninety-six pomegranates round the sides, making a hundred pomegranates round the filigree in all.

Also see 2 Kings 25:11-17 and 2 Chronicles 36:18-19 for a similar description. According to Ezra 1:7-11, King Nebuchadnezzar embellished his temple in Babylon with what he took from Solomon's Temple. The items he took remained in Babylon until King Cyrus restored them in 539/8 BC.

The 1st century AD Jewish priest/historian, Flavius Josephus, gave his account of the fall of Jerusalem: "...the city was taken about midnight, and the enemy's generals entered into the Temple, and when Zedekiah was made aware of it, he took his wives and his children and his captains and friends, and with them fled out of the city, through the fortified ditch, and through the desert ... And now it was that the king of Babylon sent Nebuzaradan, the general of his army, to Jerusalem, to pillage the Temple; who had it also in command to burn it and the royal palace, and to lay the city even with the ground, and to transplant the people into Babylon. Accordingly he came to Jerusalem, in the eleventh year of king Zedekiah, and pillaged the Temple, and carried out the vessels of God, both gold and silver, and particularly that large laver which Solomon dedicated, as also the pillars of brass, and their chapiters, with the golden tables and the candlesticks: and when he had carried these off, he set fire to the Temple in the fifth month, the first day of the month, in the eleventh year of the reign of Zedekiah, and in the eighteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar; he also burnt the palace, and overthrew the city" (10.8.136, 144-46 ).

Question: What sacred items from the Temple did the Babylonians take? Most everything used in the altar court was of bronze except the golden chalices used in the blood ritual. Everything in the Holy Place of the Sanctuary was gold and silver. There were two different set of censers, sprinkling bowls, and ash containers; one set for the sacrificial altar in the courtyard and another for the Holy Place and the Altar of Incense.

All the bronze furnishings used in worship

  1. two bronze pillars
  2. wheeled stands
  3. the bronze Sea
  4. ash containers
  5. scoops
  6. knives
  7. sprinkling bowls
  8. incense bowls
    All the gold and silver furnishings
  9. bowls
  10. censers
  11. sprinkling bowls
  12. ash containers
  13. lamp-stands
  14. goblets/chalices
  15. saucers

Question: What very important sacred items from the Temple are missing from the list?
Answer: There is no mention of the golden Altar of Incense or the Ark of the Covenant.

The golden table of the Bread of the Presence and the solid gold Menorah (lampstand) made for the desert Sanctuary are also not named, but they might be listed among the gold items that were confiscated. Since the Ark of the Covenant was the most sacred shrine of the Judaeans, it would have been a prized find. The absence of its mention supports the account of Jeremiah hiding the Ark and the gold Altar of Incense before the city fell (2 Mac 2:4-5).

Solomon's Temple complex had several outer courtyards and one inner court called the Court of the Priests. The Court of the Priests was the location of sacrificial altar, the movable water basins, and also the great bronze Sea, a huge ritual purification basin that rested on a base of twelve bronze oxen representing the tribes of Israel. The Sea was over seven feet high and fifteen feet in diameter with a capacity of about 11,500 gallons of water used for priestly ritual washings before approaching the altar of sacrifice or entering the Holy Place. The chief priests used the water just as Catholic priests purify themselves by washing their hands before taking up the Host (see 2 Kng 7:23-26, 39; 2 Chr 4:6). The ten wheeled stands held basins of water for the priests to cleanse their hands after offering the sacrifice of an animal (2 Kng 7:27-39)..(2)

The main Sanctuary had a porch or portico that was the entrance to two divided sacred spaces: the Holy Place (Hekal) and the Holy of Holies (Debir). The two bronze pillars, named Jachin and Boaz, stood at the entrance to the Holy of Holies (1 Kng 7:15-22, 41-42; 2 Kng 25:13, 17; 2 Chr 3:15-17; 4:12-13). The Holy Place contained gold and silver tables and gold and silver lampstands (2 Chr 28:15-16), and the gold Altar of Incense that stood in front of the curtain that separated the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies. The Holy of Holies was the Temple's most sacred space that held the Ark of the Covenant and the two fifteen foot tall gold covered cherubim that stood over the Ark (1 Kng 6:23-30; 8:6-7). All these wonderful items, with the exception of the Ark and Altar of Incense, the Babylonians looted from the Temple.

Jeremiah 52:24-27 ~ The Fate of the High Priest and Royal Officials
24 The commander of the guard took prisoner Seraiah the chief priest, Zephaniah the priest next in rank, and the three guardians of the threshold. 25 In the city he took prisoner an official who was in command of the fighting men, seven of the king's personal friends who were discovered in the city, the secretary to the army commander responsible for military conscription, and sixty men of distinction discovered in the city. 26 Nebuzaradan commander of the guard took these men and brought them to the king of Babylon at Riblah, 27 and at Riblah, in the territory of Hamath, the king of Babylon had them put to death. Thus Judah was deported from its country.

Seraiah the chief or high priest is not the same man as Seraiah the brother of Baruch, and Zephaniah the priest is not the same man as Zephaniah the prophet. These were common names in this period. "Friends of the king" refers to the ministers of the king's cabinet. All the ministers who encouraged Zedekiah to revolt and all the ministers and chief priests who conspired to kill God's holy prophet Jeremiah were themselves killed by the Babylonians.

Jeremiah 52:28-30 ~ The Number of Exiled Judaeans in Three Deportations
28 The number of people deported by Nebuchadnezzar [Nebuchadrezzar] was as follows. In the seventh year: three thousand and twenty-three Judaeans; 29 in the eighteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar [Nebuchadrezzar], eight hundred and thirty-two persons were deported from Jerusalem; 30 in the twenty-third year of Nebuchadnezzar [Nebuchadrezzar], Nebuzaradan commander of the guard deported seven hundred and forty-five Judaeans. In all: four thousand six hundred persons.

The list appears to be from the Babylonian Chronicles. All the years are reckoned according to the years of Nebuchadnezzar's reign from 605-561 BC. The Babylonian Chronicles and Jeremiah give the seventh year, but 2 Kings 24:12 records that Jehoiachin was deposed and taken prisoner in the eighth year of Nebuchadnezzar's reign. The Babylonians counted the reignal years differently, not reckoning the part year of an ascension year, but it could also mean the deportation didn't begin until the turn of the year. The record of deportations seems low and perhaps records only the male adults who survived the journey:

598/7 BC:  3,023 (when Jehoiachin was deposed; 2 Kings 24:14 records ten thousand exiles)
587/6 BC:     832 (the deportation after Jerusalem fell)
582 BC:        745 (when the Babylonians returned after the murder of Gedaliah)

for a total of 4,600 people

Jeremiah 52:31-34 ~ Postscript
31 But in the thirty-seventh year of the exile of Jehoiachin king of Judah, in the twelfth month, on the twenty-fifth day of the month, Evil-Merodach king of Babylon, in the year he came to the throne, pardoned Jehoiachin king of Judah and released him from prison. 32 He treated him kindly and allotted him a seat above those of other kings who were with him in Babylon. 33 So Jehoiachin laid aside his prisoner's garb and for the rest of his life always ate at the king's table. 34 And his upkeep was permanently ensured by the king, day after day, for the rest of his life until the day he died.

Evil-Merodach was the son of Nebuchadnezzar who succeeded his father as king of Babylon in 561 BC. He released Jehoiachin in 561 BC after 37 years in prison. 2 Kings 25:27-30 narrates the same account of Jehoiachin's release from prison by Evil-Merodach.
Question: Who was Jehoiachin? See 2 Kng 23:34; 24:5-12; 2 Chr 36:9-10; he is called Jechoniah in Mt 1:11-16.
Answer: He was the grandson of King Josiah and the son of King Jehoiakim. King Nebuchadnezzar deposed him when he was eighteen years old, only three months after the death of his father, and took him as a captive to Babylon. Joseph, the husband of Mary and foster father of Jesus, is his descendant.

From Jehoahaz to Zedekiah there was a succession of unworthy Davidic kings. In this final passage, Zedekiah's captivity and death in prison are contrasted with Jehoiachin's release from prison to captive living. The release of King Jehoiachin signals the forward movement of God's plan for the release of the Judaeans from captivity and the edict issued for their eventual return from exile in 539 BC. In the meantime: Until the country has paid off its Sabbath, it will lie fallow for all the days of its desolation; until the seventy ears are complete (2 Chr 36:21).

Lament of the Captives in Babylon By the rivers of Babylon
we sat and wept
at the memory of Zion.
On the poplars there
we had hung up our harps.
For there our gaolers had asked us
to sing them a song,
our captors to make merry,
"Sing us one of the songs of Zion."
How could we sing a song of Yahweh
on alien soil?
If I forget you, Jerusalem.
May my right hand wither!
May my tongue remain stuck to my palate
if I do not keep you in mind,
if I do not count Jerusalem
the greatest of my joys.
Psalm 137:1-6

1. The national (not God-ordained) Jewish feast of the Ninth of Ab/Av is an annual fast day in Judaism that commemorates the anniversary of a number of disasters in Jewish history. However, it primarily remembers the destruction of both the First Temple (Solomon's Temple) by the Babylonians (587 BC) and the Second Temple by the Romans (70 AD). Tisha B'Av (ninth of Av) falls in July/August in the Western calendar and the Jews regard it as the saddest day in the Jewish calendar. It is thus believed to be a day which is destined for tragedy. The observance of the day includes five prohibitions, including a 25-hour fast. The Book of Lamentations mourns the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians in 587 BC and the Jews read the book in the synagogue on that day. Following the reading of Lamentations, is the recitation of kinnot, liturgical dirges that lament the loss of the Temples and Jerusalem in both 587 BC and the rebuilt Temple destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD. The day has also become associated with remembrance of other major calamities suffered by the Jewish people. Some kinnot also recall events such as the murder of the Ten Martyrs by the Romans, the massacres carried out in pogroms in many medieval Jewish communities during the Crusades and the German Holocaust during WWII.

2. King Ahaz removed the small basins from their stands and the huge stand of the twelve oxen statues that was the base for the huge Sea, perhaps to make a gift of the bronze to his Assyrian overlord. However, both the wheeled stands and the oxen stand were evidently replaced by a righteous king like Hezekiah or Josiah (2 Kng 16:17; Jer 52:17, 20).

Michal Hunt, Copyright © 2017 Agape Bible Study. Permissions All Rights Reserved.

Appendix: A comparison of the chapter order in the Septuagint and other translations in chapters 25-52:

Hebrew, Vulgate, English Chapters Septuagint Chapters Hebrew, Vulgate, English Chapters Septuagint Chapters
25:1-14 25:1-14 39:3-14 missing
24:14-38 32 40 47
33 41 48
34 42 49
27:19-22 missing 43 50
26 35 44
(29-30 sign of Hophra)
(sign of Hophra)
27:1-19 36 45 51:31-end
30 37 46 26
31 38 47 29:1-7
32 39 48:1-45 31
33:1-14 40 48:45-47 missing
33:14-26 missing 49:1-5 30:1-5
34 41 49:7-23 29:7-end
35 42 49:23-28 30: last 5 verses
36 43 49:28-34 30 six verses following vs. 5
37 44 49 from vs 34-39 25 from vs 13-end
38 45:1-5 (prophecy for Baruch) 52:1-5 (prophecy for Baruch) 27
39 (first 3 verses and last 5) 46 51 (51:59-64 prophetic action of Seraiah) 28 (28:59-64 prophetic action of Seraiah)
39 last 5 46 52 (end of Jerusalem and release of Jehoiakim) 52 (end of Jerusalem and release of Jehoiakim)
Michal E. Hunt Copyright © 2017