Myths of Babylonia and Assyria
Page: 255Bands of Chaldaeans, Syrians, Moabites, and Ammonites were harassing the frontiers of Judah, and it seemed to the king as if the Babylonian power had collapsed. Nebuchadrezzar hastened westward and scattered the raiders before him. Jehoiakim died, and his son Jehoiachan, a youth of eighteen years, succeeded him. Nebuchadrezzar laid siege to Jerusalem, and the young king submitted to him and was carried off to Babylon, with "all the princes, and all the mighty men of valour, even ten thousand captives, and all the craftsmen and smiths: none remained save the poorest sort of the people of the land". Nebuchadrezzar had need of warriors and workmen.
Zedekiah was placed on the throne of Judah as an Assyrian vassal. He remained faithful for a few years, but at length began to conspire with Tyre and Sidon, Moab, Edom, and Ammon in favour of Egyptian suzerainty. Pharaoh Hophra (Apries), the fourth king of the Twenty-sixth Dynasty, took active steps to assist the conspirators, and "Zedekiah rebelled against the king of Babylon".
Nebuchadrezzar led a strong army through Mesopotamia, and divided it at Riblah, on the Orontes River. One part of it descended upon Judah and captured Lachish and Azekah. Jerusalem was able to hold out for about eighteen months. Then "the famine was sore in the city, so that there was no bread for the people of the land. Then the city was broken up, and all the men of war fled, and went forth out of the city by night by way of the gate between the two walls, which was by the king's garden." Zedekiah attempted to escape, but was captured and carried before Nebuchadrezzar, who was at Riblah, in the land of Hamath.
And the king of Babylon slew the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes.... Then he put out the eyes of Zedekiah; and the king of Babylon bound him in chains and carried him to Babylon and put him in prison till the day of his death.
The majority of the Jews were deported to Babylonia, where they were employed as farm labourers. Some rose to occupy important official positions. A remnant escaped to Egypt with Jeremiah.
Jerusalem was plundered and desolated. The Assyrians "burned the house of the Lord and the king's house, and all the houses of Jerusalem", and "brake down all the walls of Jerusalem round about". Jeremiah lamented:
How doth the city sit solitary, that was full of people! how is she become as a widow! she that was great among the nations, and princess among the provinces, how is she become tributary! She weepeth sore in the night, and her tears are on her cheeks: among all her lovers she hath none to comfort her: all her friends have dealt treacherously with her, they are become her enemies. Judah is gone into captivity because of affliction, and because of great servitude: she dwelleth among the heathen, she findeth no rest: all her persecutors overtook her between the straits.... Jerusalem remembered in the days of her affliction and of her miseries all her pleasant things that she had in the days of old....