Nebuchadnezzar Besieges Jerusalem
1Now in the ninth year of Zedekiah’s reign, on the tenth day of the tenth month, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came, he with all his army, against Jerusalem, and camped against it and built siege works surrounding it. 2 The city came under siege [for nearly two years] until the eleventh year of King Zedekiah. 3 On the ninth day of the fourth month the famine [caused by the siege] was severe in the city; there was no food for the people of the land. 4 Then the city [wall] was broken into [and conquered]; all the men of war fled by night by way of the gate between the two walls by the king’s garden, though the [a]Chaldeans (Babylonians) were all around the city. And they went by way of the Arabah (the plain of the Jordan). 5 The army of the Chaldeans pursued the king and overtook him in the plains of Jericho. Then his entire army was dispersed from him. 6 So they seized the king (Zedekiah) and brought him to the king of Babylon at Riblah [on the Orontes River], and sentence was passed on him. 7 They slaughtered the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes, then put out the eyes of Zedekiah and bound him [hand and foot] with bronze fetters and brought him to Babylon.
Jerusalem Burned and Plundered
8 On the seventh day of the fifth month in the nineteenth year of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, Nebuzaradan, captain of the bodyguard, a servant of the king of Babylon, came to Jerusalem. 9 He burned the house (temple) of the Lord, the king’s house, and all the houses of Jerusalem; every great house he burned down. 10 All the army of the Chaldeans (Babylonians) who were with the captain of the bodyguard tore down the walls around Jerusalem. 11 Then Nebuzaradan the captain of the bodyguard deported [into exile] the rest of the people who were left in the city and the deserters who had joined the king of Babylon, and the rest of the multitude. 12 But the captain of the bodyguard left some of the unimportant and poorest people of the land to be vineyard workers and farmers.
13 Now the Chaldeans (Babylonians) smashed the bronze pillars which were in the house of the Lord and their bases and the bronze sea (large basin) which were in the house of the Lord, and carried the bronze to Babylon. 14 They took away the pots, the shovels, the snuffers, the spoons, and all the bronze articles which were used in the temple service, 15 the captain of the bodyguard also took away the firepans and basins, anything made of fine gold and anything made of fine silver. 16 The two pillars, the one sea (large basin), and the bases which Solomon had made for the house of the Lord, the bronze of all these articles was incalculable. 17 The height of the one pillar was eighteen cubits (27 ft.), and a capital of bronze was on top of it. The height of the capital was three cubits (4.5 ft.); a network (lattice work) and pomegranates around the capital were all of bronze. And the second pillar had the same as these, with a network.
18 The captain of the bodyguard took [captive] Seraiah the chief priest, Zephaniah the second priest, and the three doorkeepers [of the temple]. 19 And from the city [of Jerusalem] he took an officer who was in command of the men of war, and five men from the king’s personal advisors who were found in the city, and the scribe of the captain of the army who mustered the people of the land [for military service] and sixty men from the people of the land who were found in the city. 20 Nebuzaradan the captain of the bodyguard took them and brought them to the king of Babylon at Riblah. 21 Then the king of Babylon struck them down and killed them at Riblah in the land of Hamath [north of Damascus]. So Judah was taken into exile from its land.
Gedaliah Made Governor
22 Now over the people whom Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had left in the land of Judah, he appointed [as governor] Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, the son of Shaphan. 23 When all the captains of the forces, they and their men, heard that the king of Babylon had appointed Gedaliah governor, they came with their men to Gedaliah at Mizpah, namely, 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. 24 Gedaliah swore [an oath] to them and their men, and said to them, “Do not be afraid of the servants (officials) of the Chaldeans. Live in the land and serve the king of Babylon, and it will be well with you.”
25 But in the seventh month Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, the son of Elishama, of the royal family [who had a claim to be governor], came with ten men and struck and killed Gedaliah and the Jews and the Chaldeans who were with him at Mizpah. 26 Then all the people, both small and great, and the captains of the forces set out and went to Egypt; for they were afraid of the Chaldeans (Babylonians).
27 Now it came about in the thirty-seventh year of the exile of Jehoiachin king of Judah, on the twenty-seventh day of the twelfth month, that Evil-merodach king of Babylon, in the year that he became king, showed favor to Jehoiachin king of Judah and released him from prison; 28 and he spoke kindly to him and set his throne above the throne of the [other] kings [of captive peoples] who were with him in Babylon. 29 Jehoiachin changed his prison clothes [for palace garments] and he dined regularly in the king’s presence for the remainder of his life; 30 and his allowance, a continual one, was given to him by the king (Evil-meridach), a portion every day, for the rest of his life.
- 2 Kings 25:4 The Chaldeans were the dominant people in Babylonia. Originally from a small part of southern Babylonia near the head of the Persian Gulf, they were an aggressive tribe and completely controlled the country after 625 b.c. Babylon was their capital city and became the scholarly and scientific center of western Asia. The words “Chaldean” and “Babylonian” are used interchangeably.