It was now over 10 years since the death of the godly Josiah and despite all of his reforms, the ungodly practices had yet again returned big time. Prophets might as well have been banging their heads against brick walls. Jeremiah went as far as proclaiming the sacred Temple as something now cursed by God because of the sins of the people. This put him on trial for blasphemy, but he got off on a technicality – how could someone proven as God’s spokesman be speaking blasohemy.
While all this was happening, the Babylonians came, saw and conquered. Daniel the prophet is quite matter-of-fact about what happened in 605 BC. ‘In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. And the Lord delivered Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, along with some of the articles from the temple of God. These he carried off to the temple of his god in Babylonia and put in the treasure-house of his god.‘ Daniel was one of a group of noblemen carted off to Babylon at that time.
This wasn’t the main event and Jeremiah proclaimed it quite bluntly. “So Jeremiah the prophet said to all the people of Judah and to all those living in Jerusalem: For twenty-three years – from the thirteenth year of Josiah son of Amon king of Judah until this very day – the word of the LORD has come to me and I have spoken to you again and again, but you have not listened. And though the LORD has sent all His servants the prophets to you again and again, you have not listened or paid any attention. They said, ‘Turn now, each of you, from your evil ways and your evil practices, and you can stay in the land the LORD gave to you and your fathers for ever and ever. Do not follow other gods to serve and worship them; do not provoke Me to anger with what your hands have made. Then I will not harm you.’ ‘But you did not listen to Me,’ declares the LORD, ‘and you have provoked Me with what your hands have made, and you have brought harm to yourselves. Therefore the LORD Almighty says this: ‘Because you have not listened to My words, I will summon all the peoples of the north and My servant Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon,’ declares the LORD, ‘and I will bring them against this land and its inhabitants and against all the surrounding nations. I will completely destroy them and make them an object of horror and scorn, and an everlasting ruin. I will banish from them the sounds of joy and gladness, the voices of bride and bridegroom, the sound of millstones and the light of the lamp. This whole country will become a desolate wasteland, and these nations will serve the king of Babylon for seventy years'”. (Jeremiah 25:2-11)
So it happened. The Temple and most of Jerusalem was burned down and the people of the city, and indeed the cream of the rest of Judah – priests, craftsmen, the wealthy etc. – were led into exile, mostly to Babylon itself. The other, mostly poorer folk, were left behind to work the vineyards and the fields. Jeremiah, for his pains, was slung into prison.
Exile had arrived.
The difference between this exile of Judah and the earlier exile of Israel is important. Israel was dispersed to a variety of places and, for all intents and purposes, left the story. Judah was largely deported, as a whole, to one place, Babylon. They kept their identity, as Judeans, or Jews and this is demonstrated very ably in the Book of Daniel, which was written totally in a Babylonian context.
(This is an abridged extract from Steve’s book Outcast Nation)
You may also find the following interesting
Watch the above video by Steve Maltz – “Hebrew Roots – Bondage or freedom?”.
Watch the above video by Steve Maltz – “Jesus from a Hebraic Perspective”.