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



Chapter 9

The Desolating of Zion

JEREMIAH'S prophecy foretelling Babylon's fall was no reason for King Zedekiah to act rebelliously toward King Nebuchadnezzar. Why not? Because at the time of this prophecy Jeremiah was also telling those Jews already captive in Babylon that they would not be brought back to their homeland before a period of seventy years. He also urged Zedekiah to keep his neck under Babylon's yoke for his own and the people's good. — Jeremiah 29:1-10; 27:12-15.

At this time Jehovah raised up another prophet to foretell the destruction of Jerusalem by the king of Babylon and also the judgment work that this conqueror would execute on other nations, including Egypt, whom Zedekiah favored. This prophet was raised up from among the Jewish captives in Babylonia. He writes: "On the fifth day of the month [the fourth month], that is, in the fifth year of the exile of King Jehoiachin, the word of Jehovah occurred specifically to Ezekiel the son of Buzi the priest in the land of the Chaldeans by the river Chebar, and upon him in that place the hand of Jehovah came to be." — Ezekiel 1:1-3.

Thus, in 613 B.C., the thirty-year-old Ezekiel became, not a full-grown priest at Jehovah's temple, but one of his major prophets, there at Tel-abib by the river Chebar. This river was the fine canal that Nebuchadnezzar had dug to connect up the Euphrates with the Tigris River so as to advance the commercial and

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economic potential of Babylonia. Ezekiel continued to prophesy in Babylonia for twenty-two years, or till 591 B.C. — Ezekiel 3:15; 29:17,18.

The exiled priest Ezekiel did not directly see what was going on in Jehovah's temple at Jerusalem, but he had it revealed to him by inspired vision. That was in the second year of his prophesying, but in the sixth year of King Zedekiah's reign. (Ezekiel 8:1-4) He was transported in vision to the inner north gate of the temple. There he saw a detestable idol, "the symbol of jealousy," set up in violation of the exclusive devotion demanded by Jehovah God and contrary to the Second of the Ten Commandments. (Exodus 20:4-6) Then, in vision, Ezekiel bored through the temple wall and inside he saw carved on the wall "every representation of creeping things and loathsome beasts, and all the dungy idols of the house of Israel" all round about. Seventy elderly men of the house of Israel were actually offering incense to these idolatrous carvings. They thought that Jehovah did not see them doing so. — Ezekiel 8:3-12.

However, there were more detestable things to be shown being practiced at the temple where Jehovah had put his name. "So," says Ezekiel, "he brought me to the entrance of the gate of the house of Jehovah, which is toward the north, and, look! there the women were sitting, weeping over the god Tammuz." Here, in Ezekiel 8:13, 14, the Roman Catholic Douay Version calls this god "Adonis," for that is what the official Latin Vulgate version calls him. Who was he?


The name Adonis, by which this deity was known to the Greeks, is none other than the Phoenician Hebrew word, 'Adhon, which is the same in Hebrew. . . .
(1) The name of a Phoenician deity, the Adonis of the Greeks. He was originally a Sumerian or Babylonian sun-god, called Dumuzu, the husband of Ishtar, who corresponds to Aphrodite [Venus] of the Greeks. The worship of these deities was introduced into Syria in very early times under the designation of Tammuz and

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Astarte, and appears among the Greeks in the myth of Adonis and Aphrodite, who are identified with Osiris and Isis of the Egyptian pantheon, showing how widespread the cult became. The Babylonian myth represents Dumuzu, or Tammuz, as a beautiful shepherd slain by a wild boar, the symbol of winter. Ishtar long mourned for him and descended into the underworld to deliver him from the embrace of death. . . . This mourning for Tammuz was celebrated in Babylonia by women on the 2d day of the 4th month, which thus acquired the name of Tammuz. . . . The women of Gebal [Syria] used to repair to this temple in midsummer to celebrate the death of Adonis or Tammuz, and there arose in connection with this celebration those licentious rites which rendered the cult so infamous that it was suppressed by Constantine the Great. — ISBE, Volume 5, page 2908a.


According to The Encyclopedia Americana (Volume 26 of the 1929 edition, page 238), the name Dumuzu in Sumerian means "the sun of life." But The Two Babylons, by Hislop, page 245, says:


The name Tammuz, as applied to Nimrod or Osiris, was equivalent to Alorus, or the "god of fire," and seems to have been given to him as the great purifier by fire. Tammuz is derived from tam, "to make perfect," and muz, "fire," and signifies "Fire the perfecter," or "the perfecting fire." To this meaning of the name, as well as to the character of Nimrod as the Father of the gods, the Zoroastrian verse alludes when it says: "All things are the progeny of ONE FIRE. The FATHER perfected all things, and delivered them to the second mind, whom all nations of men call the first." . . . And hence, too, no doubt, the necessity of the fire of Purgatory to "perfect" men's souls at last, and to purge away all the sins that they have carried with them into the unseen world.


Further, on Tammuz, Hislop adds, on pages 21, 22:


In scripture he is referred to (Ezekiel 8:14) under the name of Tammuz, but he is commonly known among classical' writers under the name of Bacchus, that is, "The Lamented One." To the ordinary reader the name of Bacchus suggests nothing more than revelry and drunkenness, but it is now well known, that amid all

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Trimurti - Hindu triadthe abominations that attended his orgies, their grand design was professedly "the purification of souls," and that from the guilt and defilement of sin. This lamented one, exhibited and adored as a little child in his mother's arms, . . .


Swine, to which the wild boar belonged, were abominable to the Jews but "were the animals of the god Tammuz." The Babylonians ate no swine on the thirtieth day of their fifth month, because that day was dedicated to such animal. So says The Monuments and the Old Testament, by Price-Sellers-Carlson, page 200.

Among the Babylonians an upright cross was a sacred symbol. As in the Hebrew alphabet, such a cross was the original form of their letter T (or Taw), and so it was the initial letter of the name of their god Tammuz, or Bacchus. The cross was worshiped centuries before the so-called Christian era. That this worship spread from Babylon is noted in the book New Light on the Most Ancient East, by archaeologist V. Gordon Childe, pages 184, 185 (edition of 1953), in chapter IX entitled "Indian Civilization in the Third Millennium B.C." There you will read:


A 'seal' from Mohenjodaro depicts a horned deity with three faces sitting cross-legged in the attitude of ritual meditation between various wild animals; he is obviously the prototype of Siva, 'three-faced,' 'lord of beasts,' 'prince of yogis,' . . . Several clay tablets depict a male deity; one

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Tammuz (Bacchus)shows a river gushing out of a goddess's womb. In other cases tree-spirits are clearly indicated. In contrast to such themes, all familiar to Hindu iconography, are isolated motives suggestive of Babylonia — an antithetic group of 'a hero dompting tigers' and a half-human monster like the Sumerian Enkidu grappling with a bull or a tiger. The swastika and the cross, common on stamps and plaques, were religious or magical symbols as in Babylonia and Elam in the earliest prehistoric period, but preserve that character also in modern India as elsewhere.


Says The Two Babylons (Hislop), on pages 199, 204, 205, regarding the cross:


It was worshipped in Mexico for ages before the Roman Catholic missionaries set foot there, large stone crosses being erected, probably to the "god of rain." The cross thus widely worshipped, or regarded as a sacred emblem, was the unequivocal symbol of Bacchus, the Babylonian Messiah, for he was represented with a head-band covered with crosses... This symbol of the Babylonian god is reverenced at this day in all the wide wastes of Tartary I Asian and European location of Tatars], where Buddhism prevails, and the way In which it is represented among them forms a striking commentary on the language applied by Rome to the Cross. "The cross," says Colonel Wilford, in the Asiatic Researches, "though not an object of worship among the Baud'has or Buddhists, is a favourite emblem and device among

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them. ... [in Christendom] the Tau, the sign of the cross, the indisputable sign of Tammuz, the false Messiah, was everywhere substituted in its stead [in the stead of the Greek Letter Chi or X as in Christós], . . ."*


Tammuz' head with crossesDoubtless, the cross was sacred as a symbol among those apostate Jewish women whom Ezekiel saw polluting Jehovah's temple by sitting weeping there over the Babylonian Bacchus, the god Tammuz. These women were, in effect, bewailing the death of the mighty hunter Nimrod, the founder of Babylon who no doubt met a violent death because he was guilty of violence toward man and beasts. (Genesis 10:8-10: 9:6) Whereas those Jewish women were indirectly worshiping the sun-god in the same way that Babylonian women did, the prophet Ezekiel saw direct worship of the sun at Solomon's temple in Jerusalem. Telling what he saw, Ezekiel says:


* Under "Crosses and Crucifixes," Am1, Volume 8, page 238. says:
The cross as a symbol dates back to an unknown antiquity. It was recognized in all countries throughout the world at all times. Before the present era the Buddhists. Brahmans, and Druids utilized the device. Seymour tells us: "The Druids considered that the long arm of the cross symbolized the way of life, the short arms the three conditions of the spirit world, equivalent to heaven, purgatory and hell." With the ancient Egyptians the cross was a reverenced symbol. Their ankh (crux ansata or handled cross) represented life, and a perpendicular shaft with several arms at right angles (Nile cross) appears to have had some reference to fertility of crops. Five of their planet symbols . . . were represented by a cross attached to a circle or part of a circle. Prescott says that when the first Europeans arrived in Mexico, to their surprise, they found "the cross, the sacred emblem of their own faith, raised as an object of worship in the temples of Anahuac."
In Hebrew the word for the verb "to weep" is bakhah (Hebrew word), as in Ezekiel 8: 14. Compare Psalm 84: 6.
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"So he brought me to the inner courtyard of the house of Jehovah, and, look! at the entrance of the temple of Jehovah, between the porch and the altar, there were about twenty-five men with their backs to the temple of Jehovah and their faces to the east, and they were bowing down to the east, to the sun."  — Ezekiel 8:16.

Besides such detestable false worship in Jehovah's temple itself, the apostate Jews filled the land of Judah with violence. It comes as no surprise, therefore, that Ezekiel hears the call for Jehovah's executioners to come with their weapons for smashing and stand beside the altar in the inner courtyard of the temple. Jehovah then gives them orders to go through the midst of unfaithful Jerusalem and kill off everybody not marked as a worshiper of Jehovah: "Old man, young man and virgin and little child and women you should kill off —  to a ruination. But to any man upon whom there is the mark do not go near, and from my sanctuary you should start."

Ezekiel reports that Jehovah's executioners started by killing first those twenty-five sun-worshipers at the temple porch, although this defiled the temple courtyard with slain persons. The temple was also bloodied by their killing off those seventy elderly men inside who were worshiping idolatrous carvings on the walls and all those women who were sitting, weeping for the cross-marked god Tammuz. (Ezekiel 8:17 to 9:8) This vision of Ezekiel was but a preview of what was about to befall Jerusalem when Jehovah made her drink the cup of wine of his rage out of His hand by means of his executional servant, King Nebuchadnezzar, and his armies. — Jeremiah 25:9,15-18.

JERUSALEM NEARS DESTRUCTION

Three years after Ezekiel's prophetic vision, or in 609 B.C., which was also the ninth year of the reign

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of King Zedekiah, events took a sharp turn that directly led to the destruction of Jerusalem. That ninth year was a sabbath year in which the land of Judah was to lie uncultivated, unworked, and thus enjoy its sabbath of rest according to Jehovah's law stated in Leviticus 25: 1-7. * Since this sabbath year of the land began on the same day as the Jubilee year, namely, on the atonement day, which was on the tenth day of the seventh lunar month, this sabbath year extended to Tishri 9 in the ninth year of Zedekiah's reign. (Leviticus 25:8-10) But there is no record in the Bible that King Zedekiah and the priests caused that year-long sabbath of the land to be kept. It was Zedekiah's last opportunity to consider the need of the God-given land. By this time the land was crying out to Jehovah God for its legal rest, which he had commanded to be given to it. He heard the cry, and soon answered it, as he had said he would do. — Leviticus 26:2, 31-35.

In this part sabbatical year, the ninth year of his reign, Zedekiah broke his oath that he had made to the king of Babylon in Jehovah's name. He went contrary to the name that King Nebuchadnezzar had given him, namely, Zedekiah, which means "Righteousness of Jehovah." He rebelled. "For on account of the anger of Jehovah it occurred in Jerusalem and Judah, until he had cast them out from before his face, that Zedekiah proceeded to rebel against the king of Babylon." (Jeremiah 52:3) Jehovah God informed his prophet Ezekiel of this in faraway Babylonia and said: "He [Zedekiah] finally rebelled against him in sending his messengers to Egypt, for it to give him horses and a multitudinous people. Will he have success? Will he escape, he who is doing these things, and who has broken a covenant?


* See page 85, ¶l-3.
See Josephus' Antiquities of the Jews, Book 10, chapter 7, paragraph 3.
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And will he actually escape?" To this, God's answer was:

" 'As I am alive,' is the utterance of the Lord Jehovah, 'in the place of the king who put in as king the one that despised his oath and that broke his covenant, with him in the midst of Babylon he will die. And by a great military force and by a multitudinous congregation Pharaoh [of Egypt] will not make him effective in the war, by throwing up a siege rampart and by building a siege wall, in order to cut off many souls. And he has despised an oath in breaking a covenant, and, look! he had given his hand and has done even all these things. He will not make his escape.' "

"Therefore this is what the Lord Jehovah has said: 'As I am alive, surely my oath that he has despised and my covenant that he has broken — I will even bring it upon his head. And I will spread over him my net, and he will certainly be caught in my hunting net; and I will bring him to Babylon and put myself on judgment with him there respecting his unfaithfulness with which he acted against me. And as regards all the fugitives of his in all his bands, by the sword they will fall, and the ones left remaining will be spread abroad oven to every wind. And you people will have to know that I myself, Jehovah, have spoken it.' " — Ezekiel 17:15-21.

In the ninth year of Zedekiah's reign King Nebuchadnezzar marched his armies southward toward the rebellious land. He came to a fork in the road. One branch of the road led toward the city of Rabbah of the Ammonites and the other toward the rebel city of Jerusalem. Superstitiously he halted to determine which branch of the road fork to take. Should he go directly on to Jerusalem or turn aside to Rabbah? He felt he must let superhuman powers direct him. He resorted to Babylonian divination. "He has shaken the arrows. He has asked by means of the teraphim; he has

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looked into the liver [of an animal victim]. In his right hand the divination proved to be for Jerusalem." The divination proceedings resulted in favor of the right hand. So Nebuchadnezzar passed by the road leading left or eastward and took the road leading right, to Jerusalem. Almighty God Jehovah did not let the Babylonian divining process go contrary to his own supreme will. The judgment sword of war must be directed against the defiled, unfaithful city and its oath-breaking king. Jerusalem must be the first to drink the cup of wine of God's rage at the hand of her God whom she had rejected. — Ezekiel 21:14-24.

By inspiration Jehovah described this to his prophet Ezekiel in Babylonia and then directed these words to Zedekiah: "And as for you, O deadly wounded, wicked chieftain of Israel, whose day has come in the time of the error of the end, this is what the Lord Jehovah has said, 'Remove the turban, and lift off the crown. This will not be the same. Put on high even what is low, and bring low even the high one. A ruin, a ruin, a ruin I shall make it. As for this also, it will certainly become no one's until he comes who has the legal right, and I must give it to him.' " — Ezekiel 21:25-27.

With those words of judgment Jehovah declared that Zedekiah would lose his seat on "Jehovah's throne" at Jerusalem. The active royal rule of the house of David would cease at that city. Up to that time the kingdom of Judah had been high as the miniature representation of God's kingdom on earth. It had been like a roadblock to the Gentile rulers in their march to world domination. Now the kingdom of Judah was to be brought low. The Gentile powers that had been treated as low and beneath God's typical kingdom were to be put on high. There must come times of Gentile domination over all the earth, with no interference on the part of any miniature kingdom of Jehovah God. This would not mean, however, that the scepter was to turn aside from the tribe of Judah, or that Jehovah was canceling

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his covenant with King David for an everlasting kingdom.

To assure us of this, Jehovah said that the covenant with David would remain in force, though the Davidic kingdom in action at Jerusalem would be ruined. For a time the right to the kingdom would not be exercised, but the right would remain within the tribe of Judah, within the royal family of David, awaiting the arrival of the one with the legal right to it, who would prove worthy of exercising it. Then Jehovah would unfailingly give it to him. This one would be the promised Shiloh, which name means "The One Whose It Is," and to him the obedience of the God-fearing people would belong. When he took up the Kingdom right and exercised it, this would spell the end of those Gentile times of world domination. — Genesis 49:10.

Better than by international radiocasting or television of today, the prophet Ezekiel in Babylonia was kept informed of King Nebuchadnezzar's movements as Jehovah's executional officer. On the very day that Nebuchadnezzar reached the city of Jerusalem and began operations there, Ezekiel was notified: "And the word of Jehovah continued to occur to me in the ninth year, in the tenth month, on the tenth day of the month, saying: 'Son of man, write down for yourself the name of the day, this selfsame day. The king of Babylon has thrown himself against Jerusalem on this selfsame day. And compose a proverbial saying concerning the rebellious house, and you must say concerning them, "' This is what the Lord Jehovah has said: . . . "Woe to the city of deeds of bloodshed!" ' " ' " — Ezekiel 24:1-6.

In besieged Jerusalem the king and his princes became quite serious as they ended the ninth year of Zedekiah's reign, on which the sabbath year had overlapped. They thought it advisable to do something to conform to Jehovah's law and gain his favor. It was not the Jubilee year of freedom, but they concluded a cove-

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nant with the people over a sacrificial victim and proclaimed liberty to them and let their Hebrew servants go free. This was done according to the rule of manumitting or setting Hebrew servants free on the seventh year, after six years of servitude. (Deuteronomy 15: 12-18) But this generosity on the ruler's part was not long-lived.

The news broke around Jerusalem that an Egyptian army was on the way to push back the Babylonians and relieve the besieged city. So, for the time being, Nebuchadnezzar raised the siege of Jerusalem and marched off to meet the oncoming Egyptian threat. Thus relief came to Jerusalem. The rulers felt it. Thinking that the Babylonians would be defeated and put out of action and be too crippled to come back and renew the siege, Jerusalem's rulers became confident. Greed seized them again, and they changed their attitude toward God and those manumitted Hebrew servants. They broke the covenant granting servants due liberty and brought them back into servitude again.* This made Jehovah God indignant. By Jeremiah he said:

" 'You yourselves have not obeyed me in keeping on proclaiming liberty each one to his brother and each one to his companion. Here I am proclaiming to you a liberty,' is the utterance of Jehovah, 'to the sword, to the pestilence and to the famine, and I shall certainly give you for a quaking to all the kingdoms of the earth. And I will give the men side-stepping my covenant, in that they did not carry out the words of the covenant that they concluded before me with the calf that they cut in two that they might pass between its pieces; namely, the princes of Judah and the princes of Jerusalem, the court officials and the priests and all the people of the land who went passing between the pieces of the calf — yes, I will give them into the hand of their enemies and into the hand of those seeking for their


* Compare with pages 132-140 of Nebuchadnezzar, by G. R. Tabouis.
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soul; and their dead bodies must become food for the flying creatures of the heavens and for the beasts of the earth. And Zedekiah the king of Judah and his princes I shall give into the hand of their enemies and into the hand of those seeking for their soul and into the hand of the military forces of the king of Babylon who are withdrawing from against you men.' " How would this be? Jehovah explained how:

" ' Here I am commanding,' is the utterance of Jehovah, 'and I shall certainly bring them back to this city, and they must fight against it and capture it and burn it with fire; and the cities of Judah I shall make a desolate waste without an inhabitant. ' " — Jeremiah 34:8-22.

JEREMIAH ARRESTED

For a while longer the prophet Jeremiah enjoyed his freedom to go in and out among the people. King Zedekiah even sent a couple of representatives to him to ask him to pray to Jehovah to reverse His announced purpose. Jehovah's answer to this came during the time that the Babylonian armies were occupied with turning back the Egyptian relief armies. We read: "And there was a military force of Pharaoh [Apries, or Hophra] that came out of Egypt; and the Chaldeans that were laying siege to Jerusalem got to hear the report about them. So they withdrew from against Jerusalem. Then the word of Jehovah occurred to Jeremiah." The unchanging message dashed King Zedekiah's hopes:

"This is what you men [from Zedekiah] should say to the king of Judah, the one sending you to me to inquire of me: 'Look! The military force of Pharaoh that is coming forth to you people for the purpose of assistance will have to go back to their land, Egypt. And the Chaldeans will certainly come back and fight against this city and capture it and burn it with fire.' This is what Jehovah has said: 'Do not deceive your

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souls, saying, "The Chaldeans will without fail go away from against us," because they will not go away. For if you men had struck down all the military force of the Chaldeans who are fighting you and there remained over among them men pierced through, they would each one in his tent rise up and actually burn this city with fire.' " — Jeremiah 37: 3-10; 44:30.

Taking advantage of the raising of the siege of Jerusalem by the withdrawal of the Babylonian forces, Jeremiah wanted to leave the capital and go to his home territory in Benjamin, likely his native town of Anathoth about five miles northeast of Jerusalem.

"It is to the Chaldeans that you are falling away!" said the officer in charge of the northern city gate as he grabbed Jeremiah in the gate of Benjamin. Jeremiah denied: "It is false! I am not falling away to the Chaldeans." Thinking that Jeremiah was trying to follow his own advice to the people in Jerusalem, the princes struck him, fettered him and put him in a house of detention inside Jerusalem. "When Jeremiah came into the house of the cistern and into the vaulted rooms, then Jeremiah continued dwelling there many days."

During those days the Babylonian forces met the Egyptian forces and dealt with them in such a way that they returned to Egypt. The Babylonians did not pursue them and invade Egypt, for the time had not yet come for Egypt to drink the cup of the wine of rage that Jeremiah had prophetically held to the lips of the Pharaoh of Egypt. Jerusalem must drink first, and so the Babylonians came back and resumed the siege of Jerusalem. — Ezekiel 30:20, 21.

In reply to an inquiry by King Zedekiah, Jeremiah said that Jehovah's word was still unchanged: "Into the hand of the king of Babylon you will be given!" After he asked what sin he had committed for him to be put in the house of detention, Jeremiah said: "Where, now, are your prophets who prophesied to you,

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saying, The king of Babylon will not come against you men and against this land'?" Then, on Jeremiah's request, King Zedekiah had the prophet transferred to the Courtyard of the Guard. "And there was a giving of a round loaf of bread to him daily from the street of the bakers, until all the bread was exhausted from the city. And Jeremiah continued dwelling in the Courtyard of the Guard." — Jeremiah 37:11-21.

Evidently here under custody Jeremiah had the opportunity to talk to the people, telling them that the city would surely fall and that to save their lives they should go out in self-surrender to the Chaldeans. So the princes complained against Jeremiah as breaking down the morale of the besieged people. Then King Zedekiah weakly surrendered him into their hands. "And they proceeded to take Jeremiah and throw him into the cistern of Melchijah the son of the king, which was in the Courtyard of the Guard. So they let Jeremiah down by means of ropes. Now in the cistern there was no water, but mire; and Jeremiah began to sink down into the mire." He could not preach down there, the princes thought!

How many hours Jeremiah was in this deathhole he did not know, but he looked up and there peering over the wall of the cistern was a face. It was that of Ebed-melech the Ethiopian, one of the king's eunuchs. On hearing of Jeremiah's plight he had gone to the king and said: "O my lord the king, these men have done bad in all that they have done to Jeremiah the prophet, whom they have thrown into the cistern, so that he will die where he is because of the famine. For there is no bread any more in the city." At the king's orders Ebed-melech took thirty men and got the things necessary to get Jeremiah out. By means of ropes they let down worn-out rags and worn-out pieces of cloth. Ebed-melech told Jeremiah: "Put, please, the worn-out rags and the pieces of cloth under your armpits beneath the ropes." Jeremiah did so, and they hoisted him out.

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"And Jeremiah continued to dwell in the Courtyard of the Guard." — Jeremiah 38:1-13.

A word of blessing for the rescuer Ebed-melech came to Jeremiah from Jehovah: "Here I am bringing true my words upon this city for calamity and not for good, and they will certainly happen before you in that day. 'And I will deliver you in that day,' is the utterance of Jehovah, 'and you will not be given into the hand of the men of whom you yourself are scared.' 'For I shall without fail furnish you an escape, and by the sword you will not fall; and you will certainly come to have your soul as a spoil, because you have trusted in me,' is the utterance of Jehovah." (Jeremiah 39:15-18) O how this word through Jeremiah comforted Ebed-melech!

There was still an opportunity for King Zedekiah to go out in self-surrender to the Babylonians and thus save the lives of his household and keep Jerusalem from being burned down. Despite all the assurances to this effect that Jeremiah gave the king in a secret session with him in the third entryway of Jehovah's temple, King Zedekiah did not overcome his fears of reprisal by those who disagreed with such an action. He chose to face what Jeremiah warned would follow a failure to take such action. In further display of his fear the king told Jeremiah not to let the suspicious princes know of the real subject of their secret talk together. So the king's fear of man led him into a deadly snare! — Jeremiah 38:14-28.

FIRST DESTRUCTION OF JERUSALEM

Far away in Babylonia the prophet Ezekiel was waiting for the news of the destruction of Jerusalem and its sanctuary, the temple. (Ezekiel 24: 15-27) The prophet Jeremiah waited for this calamity inside Jerusalem, in the Courtyard of the Guard to which King Zedekiah had sent him back. What an opportunity the king let slip from his hand! "He did not humble himself on account of Jeremiah the prophet at the order of

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Jehovah. And even against King Nebuchadnezzar he rebelled, who had made him swear by God; and he kept stiffening his neck and hardening his heart so as not to return to Jehovah the God of Israel. Even all the chiefs of the priests and the people themselves committed unfaithfulness on a large scale, according to all the detestable things of the nations, so that they defiled the house of Jehovah which he had sanctified."  — 2 Chronicles 36: 11-14.

The siege of Jerusalem had now kept up for more than 520 days, more than seventeen lunar months, from the ninth year of Zedekiah's reign, the tenth month, the tenth day, and it went into the fourth month of the eleventh year of his reign. The famine in the city had become severe; there was no bread for the people. (2 Kings 25:1-3) Mothers were eating their own babies. (Lamentations 2; 19, 20) How was the prophet Jeremiah faring as a prisoner?

Came the ninth day of this fourth month (Tammuz). Ah, at last success! A breach was made in Jerusalem's resistant wall! "And all the princes of the king of Babylon proceeded to come in and sit down in the Middle Gate." No self-surrender now for King Zedekiah! By nightfall he and his men of war got out of Jerusalem by the way of the king's garden, by the gate between the double wall, and they fled northeastward toward Jericho near the Jordan River. But in vain! "A military force of the Chaldeans went chasing after them, and they got to overtake Zedekiah in the desert plains of Jericho. Then they took him and brought him up to Nebuchadrezzar the king of Babylon at Riblah in the land of Hamath that he might pronounce upon him judicial decisions. And the king of Babylon proceeded to slaughter the sons of Zedekiah in Riblah before his eyes, and all the nobles of Judah the king of Babylon slaughtered. And the eyes of Zedekiah he blinded, after which he bound him with copper fetters, in order to bring him to Babylon." — Jeremiah 39:2-7.

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Zedekiah was carried captive to Babylon and died there, but he never saw Babylon, just as Ezekiel had foretold. — Ezekiel 12: 12,13.

As for Jeremiah, the fall of Jerusalem served for his liberation. His preaching was not unknown to the Babylonians. So the chief of the Babylonian bodyguard, named Nebuzar-adan, and his fellow officers "proceeded to send and take Jeremiah out of the Courtyard of the Guard and give him over to Gedaliah the son of Ahikam the son of Shaphan, in order to bring him forth to his house, that he might dwell in the midst of the people." — Jeremiah:39:13, 14.

However, Jeremiah was not at once turned over to Gedaliah, the newly appointed governor over the poor and lowly people that the Babylonians left in the land. Jeremiah got mixed in with the Jews who were being carried captive to Babylon; he even submitted to being handcuffed like those exiles. At Ramah, about six miles north of Jerusalem, the chief of the bodyguard released Jeremiah and said to him: "Jehovah your God himself spoke this calamity against this place, that Jehovah might bring it true and do just as he has spoken, because you people have sinned against Jehovah and have not obeyed his voice. And this thing has happened to you. And now, look! I have let you loose today from the handcuffs that were upon your hands. If it is good in your eyes to come with me to Babylon, come, and I shall keep my eye upon you. But if it is bad in your eyes to come with me to Babylon, refrain. See! The entire land is before you. To wherever it is good and right in your eyes to go, go there." — Jeremiah 40:1-4.

Jeremiah, though, seemed to want to share with his people in their punishment for sinning against Jehovah God. While the prophet was undecided, the chief of the bodyguard told him to go back and live under Gedaliah, whom the king of Babylon had commissioned

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over the cities of Judah, living wherever he wanted to. Then he gave Jeremiah a food allowance and a gift and let him go. Accordingly Jeremiah went to Gedaliah at nearby Mizpah, eight miles due north of Jerusalem, and there he took up living. — Jeremiah 40:5, 6.

What, though, about Jerusalem itself? "In the fifth month [Ab], on the tenth day of the month, that is, in the nineteenth year of King Nebuchadrezzar, the king of Babylon, Nebuzar-adan the chief of the bodyguard, who was standing before the king of Babylon, came into Jerusalem. And he proceeded to burn the house of Jehovah and the house of the king and all the houses of Jerusalem; and every great house he burned with fire. And all the walls of Jerusalem, round about, all the military forces of the Chaldeans that were with the chief of the bodyguard pulled down." First, however, they looted these buildings, including the temple. There were the altar and the immense copper pillars at the temple porch. In the courtyard there was that water basin resting on twelve copper bulls, the sea, as it was called for its immensity. These were broken up, providing so much scrap copper that they took no weight of it.

Among the things of gold and silver that they took, we have no record of their having found and taken the golden ark of Jehovah's covenant containing the two stone tablets inscribed with the Ten Commandments. (Jeremiah 52:12-14, 17-23) What temple utensils they found, and the scrap metal, they transported to Babylon.

The unfaithful priesthood of the defiled temple did not escape the cruel treatment of Jehovah's executioner, just as Ezekiel's vision (9:6-8) had indicated. "The chief of the bodyguard took Seraiah the chief priest and Zephaniah the second priest and the three doorkeepers, and from the city he took one court official that happened to be commissioner over the men of war, and seven men of those having access to the

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king, who were found in the city, and the secretary of the chief of the army, the one mustering the people of the land, and sixty men of the people of the land, who were found in the midst of the city. So these Nebuzar-adan the chief of the bodyguard took and conducted them to the king of Babylon at Riblah. And these the king of Babylon proceeded to strike down and to put them to death in Riblah in the land of Hamath. Thus Judah went into exile from off its soil." Judah had not done this nineteen years before this during King Jehoiakim's reign. —  Jeremiah 52:24-28; 2 Kings 24:1.

Some Jewish princes were hanged up by just their hand. The women were raped right in Zion itself. (Lamentations 4:2; 5:1l, 12) How shocking this was! But when the king himself was captured and deported, even though for his sin, it was like stifling those who had respect for the royal line of David: "The very breath of our nostrils, the anointed one [LXX, christos] of Jehovah, has been captured in their large pit, the one of whom we have said: 'In his shade we shall live among the nations.' " (Lamentations 4: 20) This was especially so, since the king sat on Jehovah's throne at Jerusalem.

Providentially, although all of Zedekiah's sons were slaughtered before his eyes, leaving him without a male heir, he had a nephew in captivity, the former king, Jehoiachin, through whom the royal line could be continued. In fact, Jehoiachin had sons at Babylon, Shealtiel, Malchiram, Pedaiah, Shenazzar, Jekamiah, Hoshama and Nedabiah. Of these sons Shealtiel was reckoned as the father of Zerubbabel, who became governor of Judah under Persia and who rebuilt the temple at restored Jerusalem. — 1 Chronicles 3:15-19; Ezra 3:2, 8: Matthew 1:12; Luke 3:27.

Similarly when Nebuchadnezzar struck down the Jewish high priest Seraiah in death. (2 Kings 25:18-21) This high priest had a son named Jehozadak, who

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was not killed but who "went away when Jehovah took Judah and Jerusalem into exile by the hand of Nebuchadnezzar." (1 Chronicles 6:14. 15) Jehozadak could not officiate as high priest while an exile in Babylon. He had a son named Jeshua (or, Joshua; LXX, Jesus). This is the Joshua the high priest who cooperated with Governor Zerubbabel in rebuilding the temple at the restored Jerusalem. So the Aaronic line of high priests was not broken off but continued down to the days of Jesus Christ and his apostles. — Ezra 3:2; Nehemiah 12:26; Haggai 1:1; Zechariah 3:1; Luke 3:1, 2.

COMPLETE DESOLATION OF THE LAND OF JUDAH

Thus, in 607 B.C., Jerusalem was completely depopulated and it and its defiled temple were burned down, all the walls too being torn down, by Nebuchadnezzar's troops under his chief of the bodyguard. But 2 Kings 25:12, 22 reports: "Some of the lowly people of the land the chief of the bodyguard let remain as vinedressers and compulsory laborers. As for the people left behind in the land of Judah, whom Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon had left behind, he now appointed over them Gedaliah the son of Ahikam the son of Shaphan." But Jehovah's word was that he would "make Jerusalem piles of stones, the lair of jackals; and the cities of Judah I shall make a desolate waste, without an inhabitant." (Jeremiah 9:11; 4:7; 6:8; 26:9; 32:43; 33:10, 12; Zechariah 7:5, 14) Would this he fulfilled?

Events moved quickly in the land of Judah to prove that Jehovah is true. This arrangement for the lowly ones of the land was made in the fifth lunar month, Ab (or, July-August). Because the prophet Jeremiah went to the newly appointed governor, Gedaliah, at Mizpah, to dwell there, he was caught in the swirl of events. He keenly watched how they would work out. So he gives us the details of them. A brief report, evidently by Jeremiah, in 2 Kings 25:23-26 reads:

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"When all the chiefs of the military forces [of the former King Zedekiah], they and their men, heard that the king of Babylon had appointed Gedaliah, they immediately came to Gedaliah at Mizpah, that is, Ishmael the son of Nethaniah and Johanan the son of Kareah and Seraiah the son of Tanhumeth the Netophathite and Jaazaniah the son of the Maacathite, they and their men. Then Gedaliah swore to them and their men and said to them: 'Do not be afraid of being servants to the Chaldeans. Dwell in the land and serve the king of Babylon, and it will go well with you.'

"And it came about in the seventh month [Tishri] that Ishmael the son of Nethaniah the son of Elishama of the royal offspring came, and also ten men with him, and they got to strike down Gedaliah, so that he died, and also the Jews and the Chaldeans that happened to be with him in Mizpah. After that all the people, from small to great, and the chiefs of the military forces rose up and came into Egypt; for they had become afraid because of the Chaldeans."

However, first the assassins of Governor Gedaliah found it necessary to abandon the people and flee to the land of Ammon east of the Jordan River. The leaders of the people that remained asked Jeremiah to pray for Jehovah's counsel on what they should do. Ten days after the assassins fled, Jehovah's word came to Jeremiah, counseling the inquiring people to remain in the land of Judah as servants of King Nebuchadnezzar. The leaders of the people did not like this counsel and called it false and insisted on leaving the land and going south to Egypt not yet subdued by Babylon.

"And Johanan the son of Kareah and all the chiefs of the military forces and all the people did not obey the voice of Jehovah, to keep on dwelling in the land of Judah. So Johanan the son of Kareah and all the chiefs of the military forces took all the remnant of Judah that had returned from all the nations to which they had been dispersed, in order to reside for a while

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in the land of Judah, even the able-bodied men and the wives and the little children and the daughters of the king [Zedekiah] and every soul that Nebuzar-adan the chief of the bodyguard had let stay with Gedaliah the son of Ahikam the son of Shaphan, and Jeremiah the prophet and Baruch the son of Neriah [Jeremiah's secretary]. And they finally came into the land of Egypt, for they did not obey the voice of Jehovah; and they came gradually as far as Tahpanhes."

Other places in Egypt where they took up dwelling were Migdol and Noph [Memphis] and the land of Pathros. (Jeremiah 41:1 to 44:1) But Jeremiah told these fugitives that even there they would not be beyond King Nebuchadnezzar's reach. Finally he said to them:

"Here I am giving Pharaoh Hophra, the king of Egypt, into the hand of his enemies and into the hand of those seeking for his soul, just as I have given Zedekiah the king of Judah into the hand of Nebuchadrezzar the king of Babylon, his enemy and the one seeking for his soul." — Jeremiah 44:2-30: compare Ezekiel 29:17-20; 30:22-26.

By the flight of the faithless, disobedient Jews down to Egypt the land of Judah was left desolate, without human inhabitant and domestic animals. This proved Jehovah's prophecy by Jeremiah true. It occurred toward the middle of the seventh month, Tishri or Ethanim (September-October), which would be near October 1, 607 B.C.

It is significant that this seventh month was the one in which, on its tenth day or the day of atonement, the trumpet was blown in a Jubilee year to "proclaim liberty in the land to all its inhabitants." Like the forty-ninth year of the cycle of sabbaths, the Jubilee year was to be a sabbath year for the God-given land, and so a Jubilee sabbath of the land began in the seventh month, Tishri. (Leviticus 25:8-22) During that month, as the fearful Jews needlessly fled down to

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Egypt and left the land of Judah utterly desolate and without human inhabitant, a place to be shunned by passersby, the land must have heaved a sigh of relief, as it were. Now it began to enjoy an uninterrupted run of sabbath years in compensation for all the sabbath years that the disobedient Israelites had failed to keep. How many years of sabbath rest was the land to enjoy? Figuratively, a perfect number of years — seventy. We read:

"So he brought up against them the king of the Chaldeans, . . . And he proceeded to burn the house of the true God and pull down the wall of Jerusalem; and all its dwelling towers they burned with fire and also all its desirable articles, so as to cause ruin. Furthermore, he carried off those remaining from the sword captive to Babylon, and they came to be servants to him and his sons until the royalty of Persia began to reign; to fulfill Jehovah's word by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had paid off its sabbaths. All the days of lying desolated it kept sabbath, to fulfill seventy years. And in the first year of Cyrus the king of Persia, that Jehovah's word by the mouth of Jeremiah might be accomplished, Jehovah roused the spirit of Cyrus the king of Persia, so that he caused a cry to pass through all his kingdom, and also in writing, saying: 'This is what Cyrus the king of Persia has said, "All the kingdoms of the earth Jehovah the God of the heavens has given me, and he himself has commissioned me to build him a house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Whoever there is among you of all his people, Jehovah his God be with him. So let him go up." ' " — 2 Chronicles 36:17-23: compare also Daniel 9:1, 2.

Flavius Josephus, the Jewish historian of the first century of our Common Era, is in harmony with the Holy Bible when he writes the following about the length of Jerusalem's desolation:


He [the Chaldean historian Berosus in the third century B.C.] gives us a catalogue of the posterity of Noah,

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who adds the years of their chronology, from Noah himself to Nabulassar king of the Babylonians and Chaldeans, with an account of this king's exploits. He tells us that he sent his son Nabuchodonosor with a mighty army into Egypt and Judea where, upon his being informed of a revolt, he reduced the people to subjection, set fire to our temple at Jerusalem, and carried off our whole nation in captivity to Babylon. After this our city lay desolate during an interval of seventy years, till the days of Cyrus, King of Persia.  — Book 1, section 36, of To Epaphroditus on the Antiquities of the Jews in Answer to Apion.

And such was the end of the nation of the Hebrews; it having twice gone beyond Euphrates. For the people of the ten tribes were carried out of Samaria by the Assyrians, in the days of King Hoshea. After which the people of the two tribes, that remained after Jerusalem was taken, were carried away by Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon and Chaldea. Now as to Shalmaneser, he removed the Israelites out of their country, and placed therein the nation of Cutheans who had formerly belonged to the interior of Persia and Media; but were then called Samaritans; by taking the name of the country to which they were removed. But the King of Babylon, who brought out the two tribes, placed no other nation in their country. By which means all Judea, and Jerusalem, and the temple, continued to be a desert for seventy years. — Book 10, chapter 9, last paragraph, of Antiquities of the Jews, edition by Whiston.


Thus the seventy years that Jeremiah foretold was a period occupied completely by the desolation of Jerusalem and the land of Judah. They did not include a period of captivity of part of the Jewish nation in Babylonia. Even captivity of some Jews in Babylonia did not begin in the third year of King Jehoiakim, or in 626 B.C. Jehoiakim reigned eleven years, or into the eighth year of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, which year ran from Nisan 1, 618 B.C., to Adar 29, 617 B.C. Shortly before this eighth year of Nebuchadnezzar ended on Adar 29, 617 B.C., Jehoiakim's son and successor, Jehoiachin, went out from Jerusalem in self-

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surrender to Nebuchadnezzar who was besieging the city.

Evidently Jehoiachin was not taken away as captive from the land of Judah immediately, but before he and the other Jewish captives were taken away the eighth year of Nebuchadnezzar's rule ran out and the ninth year of his rule began on Nisan 1, 617 B.C. (2 Chronicles 36:9, 10) It was on that date, Nisan 1, 617 B.C., that the first regnal year began for Zedekiah, Jehoiachin's uncle, whom Nebuchadnezzar made king of Jerusalem in place of Jehoiachin. (2 Kings 24:12-18) So in 617 B.C. only some thousands of the Jews went into Babylonian captivity, not the whole Jewish nation.*

Certainly, when King Jehoiakim was in open revolt against vassalage to Nebuchadnezzar and held out against him in the final three years of his reign in Jerusalem, the Jewish nation could not be considered as captive to Babylon. Neither could the nation be considered captive when its last king, Zedekiah, broke his oath and revolted against Nebuchadnezzar and held out against him for parts of three years. Thus there could not be said to be any seventy years of unbroken captivity to Babylon from the reign of King Jehoiakim down till the captive Jews were released by Cyrus the Persian in 537 B.C. First when Jerusalem was destroyed and the land of Judah was completely desolated, first then the Jews as a nation went into exile at Babylon, without a king at Jerusalem. This exile was for an uninterrupted period of seventy years. — Daniel 9:1, 2.

The lowly people that King Nebuchadnezzar left behind in the land of Judah had a governor appointed by him over them, namely, Gedaliah. However, he was killed in the seventh month (Tishri), and then the remaining Jews fled down to Egypt out of fear of Babylon, but only to have the hand of the king of Babylon reach them down there later on. In this way the land


* See footnote (*) on page 137 of this book.
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was left desolate in the seventh month, without man or beast, as Jeremiah had foretold.

Five years after Jerusalem was destroyed the king of Babylon is reported as deporting Jews to Babylonia. Jeremiah 52:30 says: "In the twenty-third year of Nebuchadrezzar, Nebuzar-adan the chief of the bodyguard took Jews into exile, seven hundred and forty-five souls." These, however, were not taken off the land of Judah but were captured when Nebuchadnezzar, as Jehovah's symbolic cup, made nations that bordered on the desolated land of Judah drink the bitter potion of being violently conquered. — Jeremiah 25: 17-29.

In 537 B.C., when King Cyrus released a Jewish remnant and they left Babylon and began to repopulate the land of Judah and break its desolation, the foretold seventy-year period ended. Since the period ended in that year, it must have begun in 607 B.C., when Jerusalem was destroyed and the land of Judah was completely depopulated. If, then, after the deporting of the Jews to Babylon, Jehovah God had let King Nebuchadnezzar import people from Gentile lands and settle them on the land of Judah, what? In that case, the land would not have enjoyed its seventy years of keeping sabbath or resting, as Jehovah had decreed. The land of Judah would have become like the land of Samaria, which the king of Assyria settled with peoples imported from heathen lands. However, by a miracle, Almighty God kept the land of Judah a complete desolation, that it might rest seventy years. — 2 Chronicles 36: 21-23.

Jerusalem fell in the eleventh year of the prophet Ezekiel's exile in Babylonia. Some months later, evidently before Nebuchadnezzar's victorious troops got hack from Jerusalem, Ezekiel heard about it from a Jewish fugitive. He says: "At length it occurred in the twelfth year [by a certain calculation], in the tenth month, on the fifth day of the month of our exile, that

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there came to me the escaped one from Jerusalem, saying: The city has been struck down!'" (Ezekiel 33: 21) From then on, Ezekiel could prophesy about the coming restoration of the Jews and the repeopling of Judah at the end of the seventy years of desolation.  — Ezekiel 36:1 to 37:28.

The prophet Jeremiah personally witnessed the destruction of the once holy city of Jerusalem. Although his prophecies were vindicated as true by this sad event, he felt no exultation. Jehovah felt no joy at it either. He inspired Jeremiah to write the Bible book called Lamentations, describing the sad state of Jerusalem:

"O how she has come to sit solitary, the city that was abundant with people! How she has become like a widow, she that was populous among the nations! How she that was a princess among the jurisdictional districts has come to be for forced labor! . . . Judah has gone into exile because of the affliction and because of the abundance of servitude. She herself has had to dwell among the nations. No resting place has she found. All those who were persecuting her have overtaken her among distressing circumstances. The ways of Zion are mourning, because there are none coming to the festival. All her gates are laid desolate; her priests are sighing. Her virgins are grief-stricken, and she herself has bitterness. Her adversaries have become the head. Those who are her enemies are unconcerned. Because Jehovah himself has brought grief to her on account of the abundance of her transgressions, her own children have walked captive before the adversary. And from the daughter [city] of Zion there goes out all her splendor. . . .

"Zion has spread out her hands. No comforter does she have. Jehovah has given a command concerning Jacob [Israel] to all who are around him as his adversaries. Jerusalem has become an abhorrent thing in among them." "Of what shall I use you as a witness? What shall I liken to you, O daughter of Jerusalem?

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What shall I make equal to you, that I may comfort you, O virgin daughter of Zion? For your breakdown is just as great as the sea. Who can bring healing to you?" "The crown of our head has fallen. Woe, now, to us, because we have sinned! On this account our heart has become ill. On account of these things our eyes have grown dim, on account of Zion's mountain that is desolated; foxes themselves have walked on it. . . . Bring us back, O Jehovah, to yourself, and we shall readily come back. Bring new days for us as in the long ago. However, you have positively rejected us. You have been indignant toward us very much." — Lamentations 1:1-6, 17; 2:13; 5:16-22.

In 607 B.C. the adversaries of Zion, indeed, became "the head." In Zion "Jehovah's throne" had been overturned. The typical or miniature kingdom of God had passed away. No longer did the Gentile or non-Jewish nations have a typical kingdom of God on earth blocking their path to full world domination. They now had the complete world domination, by God's permission. At the complete desolation of Zion's territory after the Jewish governor, Gedaliah, appointed by the king of Babylon, was murdered, the "times of the Gentiles," or, "the appointed times of the nations," set in, in the seventh lunar month of 607 B.C. How long would those times last?

Only till Shiloh, the One who has the legal right to the overturned kingdom of God, should come and God should give to him the crown, the royal turban, and the scepter, to rule in the midst of the Gentiles, the worldly nations who are his enemies. But when would that enthronement of the royal Son of David be? The heavenly King of Eternity had set the time. So he foretold the time and had it recorded in his inspired word. — Genesis 49:10; Luke 21:24; Ezekiel 21:25-27; Psalm 110:1-6.



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