Due to various electronic necessities, insignificant formatting, punctuation, capitalization, etc. and other minor editing has taken place. Spelling has been addressed especially where scanning has caused errors.

Links to the various sections can be found at the bottom of the page.


"Babylon The Great Has Fallen!"
God's Kingdom Rules!



Chapter 8

Zion Clashes with Babylon

JEHOVAH God, by his prophets, had foretold that he would execute his judgment upon Assyria, the Second World Power. He permitted Zion to witness the execution of this judgment. Thus Zion or Jerusalem had further reason to know that Jehovah the God of prophecy is true and is the Universal Sovereign. His prophet Nahum prophesied possibly near the end of the fifty-five-year-long reign of King Hezekiah's son and successor, Manasseh, and specialized on the coming destruction of Nineveh, the capital of the Assyrian Empire.

Nahum's prophecy was entitled "The pronouncement against Nineveh," and he went on to say: "Woe to the city of bloodshed. . . . 'Look! I am against you,' is the utterance of Jehovah of armies, '. . . And it must occur that everyone seeing you will flee away from you and will certainly say, "Nineveh has been despoiled!" ' " Hence to Zion, the capital of the kingdom of Judah, Nahum could say: "Look! Upon the mountains the feet of one bringing good news, one publishing peace. O Judah, celebrate your festivals. Pay your vows; because no more will any good-for-nothing person [Assyrian] pass again through you. In his entirety he will certainly be cut off." — Nahum 1:1; 3:1, 5, 7; 1:15.

Long previously the prophet Jonah had been disgorged from the belly of a great fish to go and preach to Nineveh. The Ninevites repented at Jonah's preach-

118

ing, but this merely served to postpone the final destruction of bloodstained Nineveh. — Jonah 1:1 to 4:11.

Before Nineveh was destroyed, King Manasseh the son of Hezekiah felt the heavy hand of Assyria, but this as a chastisement from Jehovah God. (2 Samuel 7:14, 15) Manasseh did not follow the godly example of his father but turned to Babylonian religion, such as astrology, magic, omens, sorcery, divination, along with professional foretellers of events. He mingled this with the horrible worship of the Canaanite god Baal, even performing human sacrifice with his own royal sons. More than that, he set up altars for the worship of the sun, moon and stars in the two courtyards of Jehovah's own temple in Jerusalem, and also set up a forbidden idol, "the carved image that he had made," in this holy temple. What Manasseh did not appreciate was that he was working to have the Jews deported from their God-given land. How so? Because God had said to King David and to his son Solomon the temple builder:

"In this house and in Jerusalem, which I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel, I shall put my name to time indefinite. And I shall not remove the foot of Israel again from off the ground that I assigned to their forefathers, provided [ah, yes, provided] only that they take care to do all that I have commanded them concerning all the law and the regulations and the judicial decisions by the hand of Moses." — 2 Chronicles 33:1-8.

Stubbornly King Manasseh kept ignoring the words of Jehovah's prophets. He got his subjects to acting more wickedly than the original heathen inhabitants of the land. Finally God expressed, in so many words, his determination to empty the land of these apostate Jews: "This is what Jehovah the God of Israel has said, 'Here I am bringing a calamity upon Jerusalem and Judah, of which if anyone hears both his ears will tingle. And I shall certainly stretch upon Jerusalem the measuring line applied to Samaria and also the leveling

119

instrument applied to the house of Ahab; and I shall simply wipe Jerusalem clean just as one wipes the handleless bowl clean, wiping it clean and turning it upside down. And I shall indeed forsake the remnant of my inheritance and give them into the hand of their enemies, and they will simply become plunder and pillage to all their enemies, for the reason that they did what was bad in my eyes and were continually offending me from the day that their forefathers came out from Egypt down to this day.' " — 2 Kings 21:10-15.

The literature of the Jewish rabbis says that King Manasseh had the prophet Isaiah sawed apart. If he did, this was only part of the "innocent blood that Manasseh shed in very great quantity, until he had filled Jerusalem from end to end, besides his sin with which he caused Judah to sin by doing what was bad in the eyes of Jehovah." (2 Kings 21:16) However it was that Isaiah died, he foretold something like Jehovah's message above, of turning the land of Judah upside down as if it were a bowl full of people and thus emptying the land of its bad inhabitants. Isaiah prophesied:

"Look! Jehovah is emptying the land and laying it waste, and he has twisted the face of it and scattered its inhabitants. And it must come to be the same for the people as for the priest; the same for the servant as for the master; the same for the maidservant as for her mistress; the same for the buyer as for the seller; the same for the lender as for the borrower; the same for the interest taker as for the one paying the Interest. Without fail the land will be emptied, and without fail it will be plundered, for Jehovah himself has spoken this word. The land has gone to mourning, has faded away. The productive land has withered, has faded away. The high ones of the people of the land have withered. And the very land has been polluted under its inhabitants, for they have bypassed the laws, changed the regulation, broken the indefi-

120

nitely lasting covenant [based on the Ten Commandments]. That is why the curse itself has eaten up the land, and those inhabiting it are held guilty. . . . The land absolutely moves unsteadily like a drunken man, and it has swayed to and fro like a lookout hut. And its transgression has become heavy upon it, and it must fall, so that it will not rise up again." — Isaiah 24:1-20.

What occurred during the reign of King Manasseh made it certain that now there would be no change in God's will to have Jerusalem and the land of Judah emptied, desolated for a period of time. But first God gave King Manasseh a foretaste of what the whole nation was going to suffer. As to how he did this we read:

"Jehovah kept speaking to Manasseh and his people, but they paid no attention. Finally Jehovah brought against them the chiefs of the army that belonged to the king of Assyria [possibly Esar-haddon* the son of Sennacherib; or Assurbanipal, son of Esar-haddon], and so they captured Manasseh in the hollows and bound him with two fetters of copper and took him to Babylon [which the king of Assyria had made one of his residences]. And as soon as it caused him distress, he softened the face of Jehovah his God and kept humbling himself greatly because of the God of his forefathers. And he kept praying to Him, so that He let himself be entreated by him and He heard his request for favor and restored him to Jerusalem to his kingship; and Manasseh came to know that Jehovah is the true God." — 2 Chronicles 33:10-13.

The repentant, restored Manasseh tried to undo the damage that he had done to Jehovah's temple and his worship. Taking the lead himself, he "went on to say to Judah to serve Jehovah the God of Israel. Nevertheless, the people were still sacrificing upon the high places [outside Jehovah's temple on Mount Moriah]; only it


* In Esar-haddon's list of twenty-two tribute-paying kings of the Westland we find "Manasseh of Judah." — Am1, Volume 2, page 440b.
Manasseh appears also in a list of kings tributary to Assurbanipal.
121

was to Jehovah their God." (2 Chronicles 33: 14-17) This, however, did not alter Jehovah's purpose to have Jerusalem and the land of Judah emptied, desolated of both man and domestic animal.

Judah's next king, Amon, did not follow the repentant course of his father but turned to pagan idolatry. He was murdered by conspirators, but the people loyally put his eight-year-old son, Josiah of the house of David, upon the throne. — 2 Chronicles 33:18-25.

When fifteen years old, King Josiah "started to search for the God of David his forefather." He followed the wise advice of King Solomon: "Remember, now, your grand Creator in the days of your young manhood, before the calamitous days [of old age] proceed to come, or the years have arrived when you will say: 'I have no delight in them.'" (Ecclesiastes 12:1) When nineteen years of age, Josiah began to cleanse the whole kingdom of false worship. Years after purging the land, in the twenty-seventh year of his reign or in 633 B.C., Assyria fell as the Second World Power. In that year the woes that Jehovah's prophet Nahum had foretold came upon Nineveh, the Assyrian capital, and it was destroyed. The kingdom of Media, east of Assyria, had become powerful, and it together with the mountaineers to the north and northeast of Nineveh overwhelmed the city with destruction. 2 Chronicles 34:1-7.

Another one present at Nineveh's fall must not be overlooked. Previously, at the time that Assyria's great king Assurbanipal died, a former general of his named Nabopolassar took over the kingship of Babylon. Nabopolassar was a Chaldean by descent, and hence was a Semite, just the same as the Assyrians were Semites. He established in Babylon a dynasty or line of kings that ended with King Belshazzar. When Nineveh fell, aged King Nabopolassar lent his active support. His own son Nebuchadnezzar was there with the Medes and the Scythians and was serving as the young

122

commander-in-chief of the Chaldean armies, Babylonians who were splendid spearmen. After Nineveh fell, Nebuchadnezzar was associated with his father in the kingship of Babylon.* We hear more of him later on.

JEREMIAH BECOMES PROPHET

Nineveh had not yet fallen and Babylon was yet to take the ascendancy in world affairs when King Josiah completed his work of cleansing the land of Judah and the temple of Jehovah at Jerusalem from false worship. This was when Josiah was but twenty-five years old, or in the eighteenth year of his reign. Doubtless the prophet Jeremiah, one of the priests of the town of Anathoth, was encouraging Josiah in this work of restoring Jehovah's pure worship. Just a year after King Josiah began his religious reformation, or in the thirteenth year of Josiah's reign, 647 B.C., priest Jeremiah was raised up to be a prophet of Jehovah. He continued prophesying until the last of Josiah's successors. He had much to say about Babylon. — Jeremiah 25:1-3.

It was after the cleansing work had been completed by King Josiah and while he was having Jehovah's temple repaired, that the High Priest Hilkiah found the "book of Jehovah's law by the hand of Moses." He reported the matter to Shaphan the secretary, saying: "The very book of the law I have found in the house of Jehovah." (2 Chronicles 34: 8-15) This was doubtless the original book of the law written by Moses, which fact was what caused the sensation.

This find ought to be made known to the king. So High Priest Hilkiah sent it to the king by the hand of Secretary Shaphan. At the king's request, Shaphan read the book to him. The book included the curses that Jehovah God threatened to pour out upon the Israelites, reaching a climax with these words: "And it must occur that just as Jehovah exulted over you to do


* See pages 4, 5, 300 of Nebuchadnezzar, of 1931 edition, by G. R. Tabouis. However, Tabouis gives the date of Nineveh's fall as 612 B.C., which is not in agreement with our date of 633 B.C.
123

you good and to multiply you, so Jehovah will exult over you to destroy you and to annihilate you; and you will simply be torn away from off the soil to which you are going to take possession of it. And Jehovah will certainly scatter you among all the peoples from the one end of the earth to the other end of the earth, and there you will have to serve other gods whom you have not known, neither you nor your forefathers, wood and stone. And among those nations you will have no ease." (Deuteronomy 28:63-65) Little wonder why conscientious Josiah was terrified!

"Go," said Josiah to a delegation headed by High Priest Hilkiah, "inquire of Jehovah in my own behalf and in behalf of what is left in Israel and in Judah concerning the words of the book that has been found, for great is Jehovah's rage that must be poured out against us because of the fact that our forefathers did not keep the word of Jehovah by doing according to all that is written in this book." The delegation went to the prophetess Huldah, then dwelling in Jerusalem, and brought back this word to Josiah: "This is what Jehovah has said, 'Here I am bringing calamity upon this place and its inhabitants, all the curses that are written in the book that they read before the king of Judah, due to the fact that they have left me and gone making sacrificial smoke to other gods, in order to offend me with all the doings of their hands and that my rage may pour forth upon this place and not be extinguished.'"

As for King Josiah personally, Jehovah's message was a considerate one: "Here I am gathering you to your forefathers, and you will certainly be gathered to your graveyard in peace [not during Judah's distress], and your eyes will not look upon all the calamity that I am bringing upon this place and its inhabitants."

To show himself appreciative and worthy of all this divine mercy King Josiah held a meeting of all the people, "the great as well as the small," at Jehovah's temple in Jerusalem and read to them "all the words

124

of the book of the covenant, which had been found at the house of Jehovah." Then, after they had heard read the obligations of their covenant with the God of their forefathers, Josiah led the people in concluding a covenant of faithfulness to Jehovah according to his written law. So, as was to be expected, Bible history says: "All his days they did not turn aside from following Jehovah the God of their forefathers."  — 2 Chronicles 34:21-33.

"Nevertheless," says the record in 2 Kings 23:26, 27, "Jehovah did not turn back from the great burning of his anger, with which his anger burned against Judah over all the offensive things with which Manasseh had made them offend. But Jehovah said: 'Judah, too, I shall remove from my sight, just as I have removed Israel; and I shall certainly reject this city that I have chosen, even Jerusalem, and the house of which I have said, "My name will continue there."' " So the total desolation of the land of Judah was bound to come. In due time Zion or Jerusalem had to drink the cup of Jehovah's rage.

Josiah's death in 628 B.C., even after reigning thirty-one years in Jerusalem, seemed premature. This came as a result of his opposing Egypt, the one-time First World Power. By this time Nineveh had been destroyed and Assyria had been overthrown as the Second World Power. Southern Assyria and also the title to Egypt, Palestine and Syria had fallen to Babylonia under King Nabopolassar, the father of Nebuchadnezzar, for Egypt had been conquered by the Assyrian king, Esar-haddon, and, after a revolt, had been reconquered by his son, King Assurbanipal. Now, toward the close of the reign of Josiah at Jerusalem, a man named Nechoh was Pharaoh or king of Egypt. He asserted himself against domination by the new world power, Babylon, the successor to Assyria. So he led his armies northward to have a fight at the Euphrates River, at Carchemish, about fifty miles west of Haran, where Abraham's father Terah died long before.

125

For a reason not stated in the Bible, King Josiah led his armies out, evidently to block the passage of the armies of Nechoh of Egypt through the famous pass at Megiddo, about fifty-three miles northwest of Jerusalem. Josiah's move, of course, favored Babylon.

The two armies met at Megiddo. Pharaoh Nechoh sent word that he was not fighting against the kingdom of Judah. He warned: "Refrain for your own sake because of God, who is with me, and do not let him bring you to ruin." What did Josiah do? The record tells us: "Josiah did not turn his face away from him, but to fight against him he disguised himself and did not listen to the words of Necho from the mouth of God. So he came to fight in the valley plain of Megiddo." Josiah's disguise did not shield him, for an Egyptian arrow found him and he died. His body was conveyed south to Jerusalem, where he was buried in the graveyard of his forefathers.

The death of this good king caused great grief. "All Judah and Jerusalem were mourning over Josiah. And Jeremiah began to chant over Josiah; and all the male singers and female singers keep talking about Josiah in their dirges down till today; and they have them set as a regulation over Israel, and there they are written among the dirges." — 2 Chronicles 35:20-25; 2 Kings 23:29, 30.

For some reason the people of Judah took the second or younger son of Josiah, the twenty-three-year-old Jehoahaz, and anointed him as king of Judah. Unlike his father, he proved to be a bad king and reigned for Just three months. Then Pharaoh Nechoh took him captive to keep him from reigning in Jerusalem and laid a heavy fine upon the kingdom of Judah. Also, Pharaoh Nechoh took Jehoahaz's older brother, the twenty-five-year-old Eliakim, who was born when his father King Josiah was only fourteen years old, and he made him king over Judah. He changed the new king's name to Jehoiakim. For eleven years Jehoiakim reigned at

126

Jerusalem, and he pleased Pharaoh of Egypt by being against Babylon. (2 Chronicles 36:1-5; 2 Kings 23:30-37) Like his brother Jehoahaz he was a bad king.

At the beginning of King Jehoiakim's rule the prophet Jeremiah stood in the courtyard of Jehovah's temple and predicted that Jehovah would make that magnificent house like the tabernacle set up in the city of Shiloh, forever bereft of the sacred ark of God's covenant. The priests, prophets and people considered this treason and laid hold of Jeremiah, saying: "You will positively die. Why is it that you have prophesied in the name of Jehovah, saying, 'Like that in Shiloh is how this house will become, and this very city will be devastated so as to be without an inhabitant'?" Before the princes of Judah Jeremiah made his defense, but they found no basis for putting him to death. "It was the hand of Ahikam the son of Shaphan that proved to be with Jeremiah, in order not to give him into the hand of the people to have him put to death." So Jeremiah went free, for the time being. — Jeremiah 26:1-24; 7:1-34.

THE SYMBOLIC "CUP OF THE WINE OF RAGE"

In the fourth year of the reign of King Jehoiakim of Judah, or in 625 B.C., Nebuchadnezzar became king of Babylon, to become the greatest king of this the Third World Power. In that same year Nebuchadnezzar defeated Pharaoh Nechoh the king of Egypt in battle at Carchemish by the Euphrates River. (Jeremiah 46: 1, 2) After that he pushed Pharaoh Nechoh all the way into Egypt, for we read: "And never again did the king of Egypt come out from his land, for the king of Babylon had taken all that happened to belong to the king of Egypt from the torrent valley of Egypt up to the river Euphrates." (2 Kings 24:7) In the year of this event, also, Jeremiah gave his prophecy concerning the executional work that Nebuchadnezzar would do as the "servant" or instrument of Jehovah, whose time

127

had come for executing judgment upon evildoers.  — Jeremiah 25:8, 9.

Jeremiah foretold a seventy-year-long desolation of Jerusalem and the land of Judah. He said: "Therefore this is what Jehovah of armies has said, ' "For the reason that you did not obey my words, here I am sending and I will take all the families of the north," is the utterance of Jehovah, "even sending to Nebuchadrezzar the king of Babylon, my servant, and I will bring them against this land and against its inhabitants and against all these nations round about; and I will devote them to destruction and make them an object of astonishment and something to whistle at and places devastated to time indefinite. And I will destroy out of them the sound of exultation and the sound of rejoicing, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, the sound of the hand mill and the light of the lamp. And all this land must become a devastated place, an object of astonishment, and these nations will have to serve the king of Babylon seventy years." ' " ( Jeremiah 25:1-11) Thus, while the land of Judah lay uninhabited seventy years, the whole nation was to serve the kings of Babylon.

Jehovah then likened King Nebuchadnezzar to a drinking cup. He likened his own rage against the condemned nations to wine, which he would make them drink by means of the symbolic cup, Nebuchadnezzar. Jeremiah goes on to say: "This is what Jehovah the God of Israel said to me: 'Take this cup of the wine of rage out of my hand, and you must make all the nations to whom I am sending you drink it. And they must drink and shake back and forth and act like crazed men because of the sword [of Nebuchadnezzar] that I am sending among them.' "

In a symbolic way, that is, by prophesying, Jeremiah passed the cup to the nations, making them drink the prophetic message before drinking its fulfillment: "I proceeded to take the cup out of the hand of Jehovah

128

and to make all the nations drink to whom Jehovah had sent me: namely, Jerusalem and the cities of Judah and her kings, her princes, to make them a devastated place, an object of astonishment, something to whistle at and a malediction, just as at this day." After putting Jerusalem first in the order of being served with the cup of wine of divine rage, Jeremiah mentions in rapid order the countries of Egypt, Uz, Philistia, Edom, Moab, Ammon, Tyre, Sidon, Dedan, Tema, Buz, Arabia, Zimri, Elam, Media. Yes, "and all the kings of the north who are near and far away, one after the other, and all the other kingdoms of the earth that are on the surface of the ground." — Jeremiah 25:15-26.

Finally Jeremiah climaxes the serving of the cup from Jehovah's hand by adding: "And the king of Sheshach himself will drink after them." (Jeremiah 25:26) Jewish tradition has it that this name Sheshach is a cipher for the Hebrew name Babel (or Babylon), on the system by which the last letter of the Hebrew alphabet (taw) is substituted for the first letter of the alphabet (aleph), and the next to the last letter (shin) is substituted for the second letter of the alphabet (beth), the third last letter (resh) for the third (gimel), and so on.* Besides, the name Sheshach has the thought of humiliation, which was due for Babylon. Another suggestion is that Sheshach means "copper-gated," which description was true of Babylon. This prophecy would mean, then, that the king of Babylon would cease to be the symbolic cup in Jehovah's hand, but would, in turn, have the symbolic cup of wine, in the form of another king, put to his own lips. In that case it would be exclaimed: "O how Sheshach has been captured, and how the Praise of the whole earth gets to be seized! How Babylon has become a mere object of astonishment among the nations!" — Jeremiah 51: 41.


* See footnote on Jeremiah 25:26, page 269, of Volume 4, of the New World Translation of the Hebrew Scriptures, 1958 edition. Also, Lexicon for the Old Testament Books, by Koehler and Baumgartner, Volume 2, page 1014a, edition of 1953.
129

In harmony with this, Jeremiah, just before going into his prophecy on the cup and mentioning Sheshach, said: " 'And it must occur that when seventy years have been fulfilled [on Jerusalem and the land of Judah] I shall call to account against the king of Babylon and against that nation,' is the utterance of Jehovah, 'their error, even against the land of the Chaldeans, and I will make it desolate wastes to time indefinite. And I will bring in upon that land all my words that I have spoken against it, even all that is written in this book that Jeremiah has prophesied against all the nations. For even they themselves, many nations and great kings, have exploited them [Jehovah's people] as servants; and I will repay them according to their activity and according to the work of their hands.' " — Jeremiah 25:12-14.

The cupful of the wine of Jehovah's rage is not symbolic of a quantity of religious doctrines but is symbolic of Jehovah's rage to be poured out in execution of his judgment and vengeance. The effect of drinking it is next described in his words to Jeremiah:

"You must say to them, 'This is what Jehovah of armies, the God of Israel, has said: "Drink and get drunk and puke and fall so that you cannot get up because of the sword that I am sending among you." ' And it must occur that in case they refuse to take the cup out of your hand to drink, you must also say to them, 'This is what Jehovah of armies has said: "You will drink without fail. For, look! it is upon the city upon which my name is called that I am starting off in bringing calamity, and should you [nations] yourselves in any way go free of punishment?"' 'You will not go free of punishment, for there is a sword that I am calling against all the inhabitants of the earth,' is the utterance of Jehovah of armies."

It was distasteful to the nations for Jeremiah merely to prophesy these things against such nations. To them It was like having a foretaste of the symbolic cupful of wine. — Jeremiah 25:27-29.

130

In a symbolic way Jeremiah had to make Jerusalem and the land of Judah and their rulers drink the cup. Hence he had to serve this prophetic message of divine rage on the rulers and the people. This occurred specially in the fifth year of the reign of Jehoiakim. We read: "Now it came about in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, the king of Judah, that this word occurred to Jeremiah from Jehovah, saying: Take for yourself a roll of a book, and you must write in it all the words that I have spoken to you against Israel and against Judah and against all the nations, since the day that I spoke to you, since the days of Josiah, clear down to this day. Perhaps those of the house of Judah will listen to all the calamity that I am thinking of doing to them, to the end that they may return, each one from his bad way, and that I may actually forgive their error and their sin.' " — Jeremiah 36:1-3.

Jeremiah promptly called his secretary, Baruch the son of Neriah, and dictated to him Jehovah's message. Because of his own inability, Jeremiah told Baruch to take the written message and go to the temple in Jerusalem and read it aloud to all those there on the fast day. This fast day was called nine or more months after Jeremiah began to dictate and produce the scroll. So the fast day was observed "in the fifth year of Jehoiakim," or, 624 B.C., in the wintry ninth lunar month, Kislev (falling partially in November and partially in December). This was the second year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar as king of Babylon. Courageously, on the fast day, Baruch took his position in the temple's upper courtyard, at the entrance of the new gate of the temple, and read aloud what he had written at Jeremiah's dictation. Among the people hearing Baruch's reading was Micaiah the son of Prince Gemariah. He immediately went to the room of the king's secretary, where a meeting of all the princes

131

was being held. He reported what he had heard Baruch read.

BOOK-BURNING

The princes had Baruch brought before them, to read the roll of prophecy to them. They felt obliged to tell King Jehoiakim what Baruch had read. They took the prophetic roll from Baruch and considerately told him and his master Jeremiah to conceal themselves where they could not be found. Meantime they put the book in a room of the king's secretary. When they told the king about it, he sent for the prophetic roll. Then, as all the princes stood about, King Jehoiakim had Jehudi, who had got the roll, to read it. "And the king was sitting in the winter house, in the ninth month, with a brazier burning before him. Then it came about that as soon as Jehudi had read three or four page-columns, he proceeded to tear it apart with the secretary's knife, pitching it also into the fire that was in the brazier." After three or four more page-columns were read, that section was also cut off and pitched into the fire.

Three of the princes pleaded with the king not to burn Jeremiah's roll, but he paid no attention, and thus the whole roll was burned. Though that was bad in itself, none of the princes acted as King Josiah had done when the book of the law of Moses, found during the temple cleansing, was read to him. They did not rip their garments apart. The hardhearted king sent to arrest Baruch and Jeremiah, but in vain. "Jehovah kept them concealed." (Jeremiah 36:4-26) Nevertheless, due notice had been served on King Jehoiakim.

Here a lesson was given to show that Jehovah's Word stands forever and cannot be destroyed by wicked men. Jehovah told Jeremiah: "Take again for yourself a roll, another one, and write on it all the first words that proved to be on the first roll, which Jehoiakim the king of Judah burned up. And against Jehoiakim the king of Judah you should say, 'This is what Jeho-

132

vah has said: "You yourself have burned up this roll, saying, 'Why is it that you have written on it, saying: "The king of Babylon will come without fail and will certainly bring this land to ruin and cause man and beast to cease from it"?' Therefore this is what Jehovah has said against Jehoiakim the king of Judah, 'He will come to have no one sitting upon the throne of David, and his own dead body will become something thrown out to the heat by day and to the frost by night. And I will call to account against him and against his offspring and against his servants their error, and I will bring upon them and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem and upon the men of Judah all the calamity that I have spoken against them, and they did not listen.' " ' "

Jeremiah obeyed. As he dictated, his secretary Baruch wrote upon the new roll "all the words of the book that Jehoiakim the king of Judah had burned in the fire; and there were added to them many more words like those." — Jeremiah 36:27-32; 45:1-5.

We should take note that this occurred toward the end of the fifth year of the reign of King Jehoiakim, or in 624 B.C., and that King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon had not yet come against Jerusalem. King Jehoiakim objected to Jeremiah's prophesying in the roll that the king of Babylon would without fail come and bring the land to ruin. (Jeremiah 36:9. 29) At this time Daniel, who was to become Jehovah's great prophet in Babylon, was but a boy, likely not yet in his teens, and he was not yet deported to Babylon. When, therefore, did the new king of Babylon come against King Jehoiakim at Jerusalem and make him a tributary king, a vassal king?

As we look for the answer, we must keep in mind the above information when we read the following historic record:

"In his days Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon came up, and so Jehoiakim became his servant for three years. However, he turned back and rebelled

133

against him. And Jehovah began to send against him marauder bands of Chaldeans and marauder bands of Syrians and marauder bands of Moabites and marauder bands of the sons of Ammon, and he kept sending them against Judah to destroy it, according to Jehovah's word that he had spoken by means of his servants the prophets. It was only by the order of Jehovah that it took place against Judah, to remove it from his sight for the sins of Manasseh, according to all that he had done; and also for the innocent blood that he had shed, so that he filled Jerusalem with innocent blood, and Jehovah did not consent to grant forgiveness. As for the rest of the affairs of Jehoiakim and all that he did, are they not written in the book of the affairs of the days of the kings of Judah? Finally Jehoiakim lay down with his forefathers, and Jehoiachin his son began to reign in place of him." — 2 Kings 24:1-6.

Those words in 2 Kings 24: 1-6 must not be misread. They do not say that Nebuchadnezzar came up against King Jehoiakim at Jerusalem in the first year of Jehoiakim's reign (628 B.C.) and made him tributary to Babylon. They do not say that Jehoiakim continued as a vassal to Babylon for the first three years of his reign and then rebelled against the king of Babylon in the fourth year of his reign and kept up this rebellion for eight years, till the eleventh and final year of his reign. This could not be the case, for in the ninth month of the fifth year of Jehoiakim's reign Jeremiah 36:9, 29 speaks of Babylon's king as yet to come into the land of Judah to ruin it. So, if King Jehoiakim was "servant for three years" to the king of Babylon and then rebelled, these must have been the last three years of King Jehoiakim's reign of eleven years.

In view of this, it must have been toward the end of the eighth year of Jehoiakim's reign at Jerusalem that Nebuchadnezzar came to Jerusalem for the first time and made King Jehoiakim his vassal. Hence the ninth year of Jehoiakim's reign at Jerusalem, or 620 B.C.,

134

was the first year of his vassalage to Babylon. In the third year after that, the third year of Jehoiakim's vassalage, he rebelled and stopped paying tribute to Babylon. For this reason Nebuchadnezzar came against Jerusalem the second time, to punish the rebel king. That was in 618 B.C. — See Harper's Bible Dictionary, by M. S. and J. L. Miller, edition of 1952, page 306, under "Jehoiakim."

However, Nebuchadnezzar never did take King Jehoiakim alive. Jehoiakim did not make peace with Nebuchadnezzar or surrender to him but died inside Jerusalem. How, the Bible does not disclose. He was not given an honorable burial, to fulfill Jehovah's prediction: "With the burial of a he-ass he will be buried, with a dragging about and a throwing away, out beyond the gates of Jerusalem." Lying unattended out there, his corpse became exposed to the sun's heat by day and to the frost by night. — Jeremiah 22:18, 19; 36:30.

It had been the intention of Nebuchadnezzar to take King Jehoiakim alive and in fetters to Babylon as a captive. To this effect 2 Chronicles 36:5-8 reads: "For eleven years he reigned in Jerusalem; and he continued to do what was bad in the eyes of Jehovah his God. Against him Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon came up that he might bind him with two fetters of copper to carry him off to Babylon. And some of the utensils of the house of Jehovah Nebuchadnezzar brought to Babylon and then put them in his palace in Babylon. As for the rest of the affairs of Jehoiakim and his detestable things that he did and what was to be found against him, there they are written in the Book of the Kings of Israel and Judah; and Jehoiachin his son began to reign in place of him."

Since Jehoiachin came to the throne of his father Jehoiakim, how does this harmonize with Jehovah's declaration that Jehoiakim would have no one sitting on the throne of David at Jerusalem? (Jeremiah 36:

135

30) It does not contradict Jehovah's declaration, because, in fact, Jehoiachin reigned just three months and ten days, and this short period is hardly to be taken into account. (2 Chronicles 36:9, 10) In harmony with what the prophet Jeremiah had been advising the people, Jehoiachin surrendered quickly to Nebuchadnezzar. For this reason it did not go too hard with him. We read:

"Eighteen years old was Jehoiachin when he began to reign, and for three months he reigned in Jerusalem. And his mother's name was Nehushta the daughter of Elnathan of Jerusalem. And he continued to do what was bad in Jehovah's eyes, according to all that his father had done. During that time the servants of Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon came up to Jerusalem, so that the city came under siege. And Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon proceeded to come against the city, while his servants were laying siege against it. At length Jehoiachin the king of Judah went out to the king of Babylon, he with his mother and his servants and his princes and his court officials; and the king of Babylon got to take him in the eighth year of his being king." The eighth year of Nebuchadnezzar's reign was from Nisan 1, 618 B.C., to Adar 29, 617 B.C., or March 19, 617 B.C.

On this occasion Nebuchadnezzar took much treasure from Jehovah's temple and from the king's house. He also took back with him into exile in Babylon all the principal men of Jerusalem and the skilled workmen and the military men and builders. "No one had been left behind except the lowly class of the people of the land. Thus he took Jehoiachin into exile to Babylon; and the king's mother and the king's wives and his court officials and the foremost men of the land he led away as exiled people from Jerusalem to Babylon. . . . Further, the king of Babylon made Mattaniah his uncle king in place of him. Then he changed his name to Zedekiah." — 2 Kings 24:8-17.

136

It was at that time that the young Daniel and three special companions were taken exile to Babylon. In Daniel 1:1 he writes about it: "In the third year of the kingship of Jehoiakim the king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and proceeded to lay siege to it." This was after King Jehoiakim had rebelled against the king of Babylon, after being a vassal for about three years.

Hence the expression "in the third year of the kingship of Jehoiakim the king of Judah" means in the third year of Jehoiakim as a vassal king paying tribute to Babylon. Since his vassalage began after he reigned eight years in Jerusalem, this third year of his reign as Babylon's vassal would be the eleventh year of his entire reign at Jerusalem and would be due to end by the Jewish lunar calendar on Adar 29, 617 B.C., or March 19, 617 B.C. Jehoiakim's unexplained death evidently did not permit him to live to the end of this eleventh year at that date.*

Plainly, then, Daniel and his three companions did not go into exile at Babylon in the third year of Jehoi-


* In agreement with this, Josephus' Antiquities of the Jews, Book 10, chapter 6, says. in part: "In the fourth year of Jehoiakim, one whose name was Nebuchadnezzar took the government over the Babylonians, who at the same time went up with a great army to the city Carchemish, which was at Euphrates; upon a resolution that he had taken to fight with Necho king of Egypt, under whom all Syria then was. . . . But when Nebuchadnezzar had already reigned four years, which was the eighth of Jehoiakim's government over the Hebrews, the king of Babylon made an expedition with mighty forces against the Jews, and required tribute of Jehoiakim; threatening upon his refusal to make war against him. He was affrighted at this threatening, and bought his peace with money; and brought the tribute he was ordered to bring for three years.
"But on the third year, upon hearing that the king of Babylon made an expedition against the Egyptians, he did not pay tribute; yet was he disappointed of his hope, for the Egyptians durst not fight at this time. . . .
"A little time afterward, the king of Babylon made an expedition against Jehoiakim; . . . and made his son Jehoiachin king of the country, and of the city: he also took the principal persons in dignity for captives, three thousand in number, and led them away to Babylon. Among whom was the prophet Ezekiel, who was then but young. And this was the end of king Jehoiakim, when he had lived thirty-six years and reigned eleven. But he was succeeded in the kingdom by Jehoiachin, . . ."
137

akim's reign at Jerusalem independent of Babylon, which third year of independent rule was from Nisan 1, 626 B.C., to Adar 29, 625 B.C (March 17, 625 B.C.) It was after King Jehoiakim had died in disgrace in the eleventh year of his entire reign some time prior to March 19, 617 B.C., that Daniel was taken into exile to Babylon. It was evidently when Jehoiakim's son Jehoiachin, after reigning at Jerusalem for three months and ten days, was taken into exile in 617 B.C. that Daniel was taken along as an exile from Jerusalem.

So, then, as regards the captivity of Jews at Babylon, the exile and captivity of even part of the Jews at Babylon did not begin in 625 B.C. at the end of the third independent year of rule of King Jehoiakim at Jerusalem. Likewise, the seventy-year period that was foretold by the prophet Jeremiah did not begin in that year of 625 B.C. Certainly the land of Judah was not then turned upside down like a vessel and emptied of all its inhabitants. Even eight years later, in 617 B.C., when young King Jehoiachin was taken exile to Babylon, only a small portion of the people were taken along with him. The vast majority of the people remained, and Jerusalem and the other Judean cities remained populated, and the land was by no means left an uninhabited desolation. Not all the people of Judah were then doing service at Babylon to the king of Babylon.*


* In Jeremiah 52: 28 we read: "These are the people whom Nebuchadrezzar took into exile: in the seventh year, three thousand and twenty-three Jews." This "seventh year" may mean the seventh year after the year of his victory over Pharaoh Nechoh at Carchemish in 625 B.C., for after his victory at that place Nebuchadnezzar had all Palestine at his mercy. Telling what followed this, 2 Kings 24: 7 says: "Never again did the king of Egypt come out from his land, for the king of Babylon had taken all that happened to belong to the king of Egypt from the torrent valley of Egypt up to the river Euphrates."
Hence, with a special threat to Jerusalem and Judah, the reign of Nebuchadnezzar as king of Babylon might be counted as starting in 624 B.C., or the year after his victory over Pharaoh Nechoh at Carchemish. From this standpoint the "seventh year" mentioned in Jeremiah 52:28 would be 618-617 B.C., which was also the eleventh year of Jerusalem's king Jehoiakim. But, from when Nebuchadnezzar actually began to reign in Babylon, 618-617 B.C. [continued on next page]
138

It is because of making the mistake of dating the beginning of the seventy-year period for the desolation of Jerusalem and the land of Judah after King Jehoiakim reigned at Jerusalem but three years that the chronologers in Christendom throw their time schedule of history at least nineteen years out of order, shortening up the stream of time by that many years. They do this because of trying to harmonize the Bible records with the astronomical Canon of Claudius Ptolemy, an Alexandrian or Egyptian astronomer of the second century after Christ, but whose system of astronomy has long since been exploded. In this we do not go along with such chronologers.

After King Jehoiachin, his princes and young Daniel and the priest named Ezekiel the son of Buzi were deported to Babylon, the beginning of the seventy years of Judah's desolation had yet eleven years to wait. (Ezekiel 1:1-3) They began after the last king, Zedekiah the uncle of Jehoiachin, was dethroned and when the land of Judah was left desolate. When, in 617 B.C., Nebuchadnezzar placed Zedekiah on the throne of Jerusalem as a vassal king, he "made him swear by God." Hence Jehovah God considered Zedekiah's oath of faithful submission to Nebuchadnezzar as an oath made to him. (2 Chronicles 36:13) On this matter Ezekiel 17:12-14 has this to say:

"Look! The king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and proceeded to take its king [Jehoiachin] and its princes and bring them to himself at Babylon. Furthermore, he took one of the royal seed [Mattaniah, or Zedekiah] and concluded a covenant with him and brought him


[continued from page 137] would be the "eighth year" of his reign. (2 Kings 24:12) So, then, it was actually in the eighth year of his reign in Babylon that he took into exile the above-mentioned 3,023 Jews, evidently not counting in their wives and families, numbering thousands.  — 2 Kings 24: 14-16.
Parallel with the above, the "eighteenth year" of Nebuchadnezzar spoken of in Jeremiah 52:29 would be the "eighteenth year" of his domination over Palestine, but the "nineteenth year" of his entire reign in Babylon, as mentioned in 2 Kings 25: 8.
139

into an oath; and the foremost men of the land he took away, in order that the kingdom might become low, unable to lift itself up, that by keeping his covenant it might stand."

In the fourth year of King Zedekiah, or in 614 B.C., the priest Jeremiah wrote a prophecy setting out in detail the coming fall of Babylon. This was in contrast with the prediction that the false prophet Hananiah the son of Azzur had made against Babylon that same year, to the effect that Jehovah God would break the Babylonian yoke off the neck of the kingdom of Judah and would soon bring the captives and the temple utensils back from Babylon. (Jeremiah 28:1-4) In that same year King Zedekiah made a visit to Babylon for political reasons, doubtless to reassure the king of Babylon by personally bringing the tribute due to Nebuchadnezzar. At this time it appears that the governor of the city of Babylon was one Nabonidus, whom King Nebuchadnezzar was thinking of marrying to his favorite daughter Nitocris, who was named after her mother, the Egyptian Nitocris.* So King Zedekiah may have appeared before this Governor Nabonidus as well as King Nebuchadnezzar. On this official visit Zedekiah took along his quartermaster or grand chamberlain Seraiah.

The prophet Jeremiah took advantage of this to have this Seraiah the son of Neriah take along the roll containing the prophecy on Babylon's fall and to read it aloud at Babylon. He tells us:

"The word that Jeremiah the prophet commanded Seraiah the son of Neriah the son of Mahseiah when he went with Zedekiah the king of Judah to Babylon in the fourth year of his being king; and Seraiah was


* See the book by G. R. Tabouis entitled "Nebuchadnezzar," and chapter four entitled "The Embassy of Zedekiah," particularly pages 96-99.
140

the quartermaster. And Jeremiah proceeded to write in one book all the calamity that would come upon Babylon, even all these words written against Babylon. Furthermore, Jeremiah said to Seraiah: 'As soon as you come to Babylon and actually see her, you must also read aloud all these words. And you must say, "O Jehovah, you yourself have spoken against this place, in order to cut it off so that there may come to be in it no inhabitant, either man or even domestic animal, but that she may become mere desolate wastes to time indefinite." And it must occur that when you will have completed reading this book, you will tie to it a stone, and you must pitch it into the midst of the Euphrates. And you must say, "This is how Babylon will sink down and never rise up because of the calamity that I am bringing in upon her; and they will certainly tire themselves out." ' " — Jeremiah 51:59-64.



Valid CSS! Valid XHTML 1.0!