O God, the heathen have come into thy inheritance;
they have defiled thy holy temple;
they have laid Jerusalem in ruins.
They have given the bodies of thy servants to the birds of the air for food,
the flesh of thy saints to the beasts of the earth.
They have poured out their blood like water round about Jerusalem,
and there was none to bury them.
We have become a taunt to our neighbors,
mocked and derided by those round about us.
How long, O LORD?
Wilt thou be angry for ever?
Will thy jealous wrath burn like fire?
Pour out thy anger on the nations that do not know thee,
and on the kingdoms that do not call on thy name!
For they have devoured Jacob,
and laid waste his habitation.
Do not remember against us the iniquities of our forefathers;
let thy compassion come speedily to meet us,
for we are brought very low.
Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of thy name;
deliver us, and forgive our sins, for thy name's sake!
Why should the nations say, "Where is their God?"
Let the avenging of the outpoured blood of thy servants be known
among the nations before our eyes!
Let the groans of the prisoners come before thee;
according to thy great power preserve those doomed to die!
Return sevenfold into the bosom of our neighbors the taunts
with which they have taunted thee, O Lord!
Then we thy people, the flock of thy pasture,
will give thanks to thee for ever;
from generation to generation we will recount thy praise.
(Psalm 79. A Psalm of Asaph)
A common charge leveled by critics of the Bible is that the Jewish Scriptures teaches a God of wrath and judgment and the Christian Writings teaches that God is love. Such claims are naive: God is Love, but He is also Holy and Just and can not act in a manner that is inconsistent with His character. At the time of the giving of the Law to Moses on Mt. Sinai the LORD passed before Moses:
...and proclaimed, "The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children's children, to the third and the fourth generation." (Exodus 34:6, 7)
The Psalmist declares,
For thy steadfast love is great above the heavens, thy faithfulness reaches to the clouds. Be exalted, O God, above the heavens! Let thy glory be over all the earth! (Psalm 108:4, 5)
Because judgment from God is delayed, often for very long periods
of time, some suppose that it will never happen. Yet individuals
who have experienced the judgment of God for the failure to correct
sinful failings in their lives will testify that when God does
judge sin He is both relentless and thorough.
Isaiah reveals God's reluctance to judge his people - his longsuffering and patience. But when He acts God is thorough in "his strange work" of judgment:
For the LORD will rise up as on Mount Perazim, he will be wroth as in the valley of Gibeon; to do his deed - strange is his deed! and to work his work - alien is his work! Now therefore do not scoff, lest your bonds be made strong; for I have heard a decree of destruction from the Lord GOD of hosts upon the whole land. Give ear, and hear my voice; hearken, and hear my speech. Does he who plows for sowing plow continually? does he continually open and harrow his ground? When he has leveled its surface, does he not scatter dill, sow cummin, and put in wheat in rows and barley in its proper place, and spelt as the border? For he is instructed aright; his God teaches him. Dill is not threshed with a threshing sledge, nor is a cart wheel rolled over cummin; but dill is beaten out with a stick, and cummin with a rod. Does one crush bread grain? No, he does not thresh it for ever; when he drives his cart wheel over it with his horses, he does not crush it. This also comes from the LORD of hosts; he is wonderful in counsel, and excellent in wisdom." (Isaiah 28:21-29)
The Lamentations of Jeremiah describes God's judgment as accompanied
by mercy and compassion,
But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is thy faithfulness. "The LORD is my portion," says my soul, "therefore I will hope in him." The LORD is good to those who wait for him, to the soul that seeks him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD. It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth. Let him sit alone in silence when he has laid it on him; let him put his mouth in the dust - there may yet be hope; let him give his cheek to the smiter, and be filled with insults.
For the Lord will not cast off for ever, but, though he cause grief, he will have compassion according to the abundance of his steadfast love; for he does not willingly afflict or grieve the sons of men.
To crush under foot all the prisoners of the earth, to turn aside the right of a man in the presence of the Most High, to subvert a man in his cause, the Lord does not approve.
Who has commanded and it came to pass, unless the Lord has ordained it? Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that good and evil come?
Why should a living man complain, a man, about the punishment of his sins? (Lamentations 3:21-39)
A little reflection will show that God must intervene in human affairs as Judge of all the earth:
"All through the Bible we see God's love is manifest to men and women everywhere in urging them to escape this judgment. God in love pleads with people, 'Do not go on to this end!' But ultimately he must judge those who refuse his offer of grace. He says, in effect, 'I love you and I can provide all you need. Therefore love me, and you will find the fulfillment your heart is looking for.' But many men and women say, 'No, I do not want that. I will take your gifts, I will take all the good things you provide, but I do not want you! Let me run my own life. Let me serve my own ends. Let me have my own kingdom.' To such, God ultimately says, 'All right, have it your way!'
"God has three choices: first, he can let rebellion go on forever and never judge it. In that case the terrible things that are happening on earth, all these distressing injustices, the cruelty, the anger, the hate, the malice, the sorrow, the hurt, the pain, the death that now prevails, must go on forever. God does not want that, and neither does man. Second, God can force men to obey him and control them as robots. But he will never do that because that means they cannot truly love him. Love cannot be forced. Therefore, third, the only choice God really has is that he must withdraw ultimately from those who refuse his love. He must let them have their own way forever. That results in the terrible torment of godlessness. If God is necessary to us, then to take him out of our lives is to plunge us into the most terrible sense of loneliness and abandonment that mankind can know. We have all experienced it to some small degree when we get what we want and then discover we do not want what we got! For that sense of bored emptiness to go on forever, is unspeakable torment." (Ref. 1)
What is more difficult for us to accept is that God also judges
His own covenant peoples, not just His enemies. These temporal
judgments are disciplinary and corrective rather than punitive.
In fact before God judges the unbelieving world He first judges
His own people:
For the time has come for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God? And "If the righteous man is scarcely saved, where will the impious and sinner appear?" (1 Peter 4:17, 18)
It is not as though the Lord had never warned His people Israel.
The blessings and curses of Deuteronomy 27-28 Moses gave to the
people as they were preparing to enter the land under Joshua were
later to be read from Mt. Gerazim and Mt. Ebal at Shechem. The
list is clear, and it is black and white.
Sadly, all manner of persons who know God, not just His special people the Jews, show a propensity for ignoring God, for not taking Him seriously, and for running off to follow their own ways and the ways of the world. Israel is a model nation, put on public display as "Exhibit A" to show us what any people is like when they ignore or rebel against their Creator--the One true God, Holy One of Israel.
The Hebrew Bible is a sad record of the gradual downhill course of Israel and Judah after the death of Solomon. Occasional good kings in Jerusalem brought about temporary reforms and revivals but these were soon forgotten after the death of the reformer. Repentance on the part of God's people delays judgment, so the destruction of Jerusalem and the First Temple occurred almost a century and a half after the fall of Samaria and the captivity of the ten northern tribes.
Prophets from God were sent both to Israel and to Judah, beginning with Elijah (about 875-850 B.C.) and extending to well after the return from exile (ie., to Malachi, 500-450 B.C.). The prophets revealed God's great displeasure at the course of events and they warned of impending judgment. This judgment on Israel was to eventually come, the prophets announced, by foreign invasion. Ruthless gentile kings and great armies were to sweep into Israel in waves of destruction in order to awaken the people - and to save a remnant. (Ref. 2)
In the days of Elijah only a small fraction of the nation was faithful to the Lord. But in answer to Elijah's complaint - he thought he was the only one left who was faithful - the Lord told him,
...I will leave seven thousand in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him. (1 Kings 19:18)
Typically what the prophets had to say regarding impending
judgments soon came to pass in accurate detail (the test of a
true prophet is that his predictions must come true - 100% - otherwise
he is a false prophet and under sentence of death). Many of the
prophecies of the Bible have both an immediate and also a long
term fulfillment. Sometimes there were more than two fulfillments
In fact, many Old Testament prophecies have their greatest fulfillments in the future - which stretches out immediately before us in our own time. What these great men of God of old had to say is highly relevant for our understanding of the events that must unfold in the Middle East as the kingdom of God comes down upon us. There is good reason to believe that the human race is now being plunge into a time of history about which the Bible has more to say that any other period of history.
As the time of Judah's captivity and the destruction of the
First Temple drew near Daniel, Ezekiel and Jeremiah were particularly
Nebuchadnezzar ascended to the throne of Babylon on the death of his father Nabopolassor in September 605 after defeating the Egyptian armies under Pharaoh Neco at the famous battle of Carchemish in May and June of that year. (Mighty Egypt was permanently weakened at that battle and Babylon moved into ascendancy as the greatest gentile power in the ancient world). Daniel, and others were taken captive by Nebuchadnezzar in the same year (2 Kings 24:1). King Jehoiakim was made a vassal at that time, but soon proved rebellious.
And the LORD sent against him bands of the Chaldeans, and bands of the Syrians, and bands of the Moabites, and bands of the Ammonites, and sent them against Judah to destroy it, according to the word of the LORD which he spoke by his servants the prophets. Surely this came upon Judah at the command of the LORD, to remove them out of his sight, for the sins of Manasseh, according to all that he had done, and also for the innocent blood that he had shed; for he filled Jerusalem with innocent blood, and the LORD would not pardon. (2 Kings 24:2-4)
The second invasion of Nebuchadnezzar came in 597. Jerusalem was captured, King Jehoichin was deported to Babylon, and Zedekiah was placed on the throne. (2 Kings 24:17) The final end is described in 2 Kings:
Zedekiah was twenty-one years old when he became king, and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem. His mother's name was Hamutal the daughter of Jeremiah of Libnah. And he did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, according to all that Jehoiakim had done. For because of the anger of the LORD it came to the point in Jerusalem and Judah that he cast them out from his presence. And Zedekiah rebelled against the king of Babylon.
And in the ninth year of his reign, in the tenth month, on the tenth day of the month, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came with all his army against Jerusalem, and laid siege to it; and they built siegeworks against it round about. So the city was besieged till the eleventh year of King Zedekiah. On the ninth day of the fourth month the famine was so severe in the city that there was no food for the people of the land. Then a breach was made in the city; the king with all the men of war fled by night by the way of the gate between the two walls, by the king's garden, though the Chaldeans were around the city. And they went in the direction of the Arabah. But the army of the Chaldeans pursued the king, and overtook him in the plains of Jericho; and all his army was scattered from him. Then they captured the king, and brought him up to the king of Babylon at Riblah, who passed sentence upon him. They slew the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes, and put out the eyes of Zedekiah, and bound him in fetters, and took him to Babylon.
In the fifth month, on the seventh day of the month - which was the nineteenth year of King Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon - Nebuzaradan, the captain of the bodyguard, a servant of the king of Babylon, came to Jerusalem. And he burned the house of the LORD, and the king's house and all the houses of Jerusalem; every great house he burned down. And all the army of the Chaldeans, who were with the captain of the guard, broke down the walls around Jerusalem. And the rest of the people who were left in the city and the deserters who had deserted to the king of Babylon, together with the rest of the multitude, Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard carried into exile.
But the captain of the guard left some of the poorest of the land to be vinedressers and plowmen. And the pillars of bronze that were in the house of the LORD, and the stands and the bronze sea that were in the house of the LORD, the Chaldeans broke in pieces, and carried the bronze to Babylon. And they took away the pots, and the shovels, and the snuffers, and the dishes for incense and all the vessels of bronze used in the temple service, the firepans also, and the bowls. What was of gold the captain of the guard took away as gold, and what was of silver, as silver. As for the two pillars, the one sea, and the stands, which Solomon had made for the house of the LORD, the bronze of all these vessels was beyond weight. The height of the one pillar was eighteen cubits, and upon it was a capital of bronze; the height of the capital was three cubits; a network and pomegranates, all of bronze, were upon the capital round about. And the second pillar had the like, with the network.
And the captain of the guard took Seraiah the chief priest, and Zephaniah the second priest, and the three keepers of the threshold; and from the city he took an officer who had been in command of the men of war, and five men of the king's council who were found in the city; and the secretary of the commander of the army who mustered the people of the land; and sixty men of the people of the land who were found in the city. And Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard took them, and brought them to the king of Babylon at Riblah. And the king of Babylon smote them, and put them to death at Riblah in the land of Hamath. So Judah was taken into exile out of its land. (2 Kings 24: -25:21)
Second Chronicles, which emphasizes issues closer to the temple and God's point of view, gives this account:
Zedekiah was twenty-one years old when he began to reign, and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem. He did what was evil in the sight of the LORD his God. He did not humble himself before Jeremiah the prophet, who spoke from the mouth of the LORD. He also rebelled against King Nebuchadnezzar, who had made him swear by God; he stiffened his neck and hardened his heart against turning to the LORD, the God of Israel. All the leading priests and the people likewise were exceedingly unfaithful, following all the abominations of the nations; and they polluted the house of the LORD which he had hallowed in Jerusalem.
The LORD, the God of their fathers, sent persistently to them by his messengers, because he had compassion on his people and on his dwelling place; but they kept mocking the messengers of God, despising his words, and scoffing at his prophets, till the wrath of the LORD rose against his people, till there was no remedy. Therefore he brought up against them the king of the Chaldeans, who slew their young men with the sword in the house of their sanctuary, and had no compassion on young man or virgin, old man or aged; he gave them all into his hand.
And all the vessels of the house of God, great and small, and the treasures of the house of the LORD, and the treasures of the king and of his princes, all these he brought to Babylon. And they burned the house of God, and broke down the wall of Jerusalem, and burned all its palaces with fire, and destroyed all its precious vessels. He took into exile in Babylon those who had escaped from the sword, and they became servants to him and to his sons until the establishment of the kingdom of Persia, to fulfil the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed its Sabbaths. All the days that it lay desolate it kept sabbath, to fulfil seventy years. (2 Chronicles 36:11-21)
The famous account of the destruction of Jerusalem written
by the Jewish historian Josephus (who lived much later - during
the Roman Period) is given in Ref. 3.
Ezekiel was a young married man who intended to enter the Temple priesthood when he reached the age of 30. He was taken captive in 597 B.C.E and appointed to care for the exiles in his company. The Book of Ezekiel opens with an awesome vision of God's chariot throne and mighty angels accompanying the remnant of His people into exile. In September 592, Ezekiel was taken to Jerusalem "in visions of God." The terrible idolatrous state of the temple was unfolded to him by The Angel of the Lord. A detailed account of this vision and the subsequent destruction of the city as outlined by the Angel are given in separate essays.
Ezekiel also witnessed the departure of the Shekinah, the divine presence, in stages from the temple, the temple courts, and finally from above the Eastern gate, (Ezek. 10-11) In 587 Ezekiel's young wife died as a sign from God that Jerusalem was about to fall, (Ezek. 24:16-18). The prophet was not allowed to mourn her passing. Daniel's' great vision of the Millennial Temple was given to him about 572 B.C.
While Daniel spent a long and productive life as a major statesmen in the successive governments of Babylon, accompanied by some 10,000 of his countrymen, and while Ezekiel accompanied another large group of later exiles to Babylon, the prophet Jeremiah was chosen to remain in Jerusalem during the final siege and destruction. Jeremiah, "the weeping prophet" took the judgments falling on Judah as if they were God's personal judgments upon himself. He was not, however, allowed by God to pray for the people (Jer. 8:16):
I am the man who has seen affliction under the rod of his wrath; he has driven and brought me into darkness without any light; surely against me he turns his hand again and again the whole day long. He has made my flesh and my skin waste away, and broken my bones; he has besieged and enveloped me with bitterness and tribulation; he has made me dwell in darkness like the dead of long ago. He has walled me about so that I cannot escape; he has put heavy chains on me; though I call and cry for help, he shuts out my prayer; he has blocked my ways with hewn stones, he has made my paths crooked. He is to me like a bear lying in wait, like a lion in hiding; he led me off my way and tore me to pieces; he has made me desolate; he bent his bow and set me as a mark for his arrow. He drove into my heart the arrows of his quiver; I have become the laughingstock of all peoples, the burden of their songs all day long. He has filled me with bitterness, he has sated me with wormwood. He has made my teeth grind on gravel, and made me cower in ashes; my soul is bereft of peace, I have forgotten what happiness is; so I say, "Gone is my glory, and my expectation from the LORD." (Lamentations 3:1-18)
For forty years Jeremiah continued to preach and warn the people,
all without any reward or sense of accomplishment. He was told
to prophesy about the coming judgment on Israel's judgment as
other prophets also did, and he was given promises of the future
restoration and blessing of Israel.
Jeremiah specifically predicted the destruction of the Jerusalem and a seventy year captivity of the people. He also pronounced judgment on those who destroyed her, Babylon:
And the whole land shall be a desolation and an astonishment, and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years. Then it will come to pass, when seventy years are completed, that I will punish the king of Babylon and that nation, the land of the Chaldeans, for their iniquity,' says the Lord; 'and I will make it a perpetual desolation. (Jeremiah 25:12,13).
For thus says the LORD: "When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfil to you my promise and bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me; when you seek me with all your heart, will be found by you, says the LORD, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, says the LORD, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile." (Jer. 29:10-14)
Babylon was of course subsequently judged and leveled as predicted.
In 553 B.C.E. Babylon fell to the Medes and the Persians (Daniel
5). So significant were the prophecies of Jeremiah (50-51) against
Babylon that major portions of his predictions await fulfillment
in our own day. Tradition has it that Jeremiah was martyred about
584 after being taken captive to Egypt by his fellow countrymen
who tried to flee Nebuchadnezzar.
The Lamentations of Jeremiah are read every year, to this day, by devout Jews gathering at the Western Wall of the Temple Mount on the 9th day of the month of Av. It was on the 9th of Av, 586 B.C.E. that the magnificent temple of Solomon was destroyed. It was on the 9th of Av in the year 70 C.E. that the Second Temple was destroyed by the Romans.
After the First Temple was destroyed small numbers of Jews still came - when they were able - to Jerusalem to offer sacrifices:
Certain men came from Shechem, from Shiloh, and from Samaria, eighty men with beards shaved and their clothes torn, having cut themselves, with offerings and incense in their hand, to bring them to the house of the Lord (Jeremiah 41:5).
O God, why dost thou cast us off for ever? Why does thy anger smoke against the sheep of thy pasture? Remember thy congregation, which thou hast gotten of old, which thou hast redeemed to be the tribe of thy heritage! Remember Mount Zion, where thou hast dwelt. Direct thy steps to the perpetual ruins; the enemy has destroyed everything in the sanctuary! Thy foes have roared in the midst of thy holy place; they set up their own signs for signs. At the upper entrance they hacked the wooden trellis with axes. And then all its carved wood they broke down with hatchets and hammers. They set thy sanctuary on fire; to the ground they desecrated the dwelling place of thy name. They said to themselves, "We will utterly subdue them"; they burned all the meeting places of God in the land. We do not see our signs; there is no longer any prophet, and there is none among us who knows how long. How long, O God, is the foe to scoff? Is the enemy to revile thy name for ever? Why dost thou hold back thy hand, why dost thou keep thy right hand in thy bosom?
Yet God my King is from of old, working salvation in the midst of the earth. Thou didst divide the sea by thy might; thou didst break the heads of the dragons on the waters. Thou didst crush the heads of Leviathan, thou didst give him as food for the creatures of the wilderness. Thou didst cleave open springs and brooks; thou didst dry up ever-flowing streams. Thine is the day, thine also the night; thou hast established the luminaries and the sun. Thou hast fixed all the bounds of the earth; thou hast made summer and winter. Remember this, O LORD, how the enemy scoffs, and an impious people reviles thy name. Do not deliver the soul of thy dove to the wild beasts; do not forget the life of thy poor for ever. Have regard for thy covenant; for the dark places of the land are full of the habitations of violence. Let not the downtrodden be put to shame; let the poor and needy praise thy name. Arise, O God, plead thy cause; remember how the impious scoff at thee all the day! Do not forget the clamor of thy foes, the uproar of thy adversaries which goes up continually! (Psalm 74. A Maskil of Asaph.)
1. Ray C. Stedman, The
Time of Harvest, Commentary on the Book of the Revelation.
2. The lives of the kings of Israel and Judah tell us much about ourselves. In a sense every man is king over the kingdom of his life. The extent that we subject ourselves to the inner rule of the King of kings, we shall prosper spiritually. But our waywardness will bring with it the same consequences as those ancient kings suffered. For this reason the books of Samuel, Kings and Chronicles should be read by believers with more than history in mind.
3. The Destruction of Jerusalem and Solomon's Temple:
The Account of Josephus:
Now the king of Babylon was very intent and earnest upon the siege of Jerusalem; and he erected towers upon great banks of earth and from them repelled those that stood upon the walls: he also made a great number of such banks round about the whole city, the height of which was equal to those walls. However, those that were within bore the siege with courage and alacrity, for they were not discouraged, either by the famine or by the pestilential distemper, but were of cheerful minds in the prosecution of the war, although those miseries within oppressed them also; and they did not suffer themselves to be terrified, either by the contrivances of the enemy, or by their engines of war, but contrived still different engines to oppose all the other withal, till indeed there seemed to be an entire struggle between the Babylonians and the people of Jerusalem, who had the greater sagacity and skill; the former party supposing they should be thereby too hard for the other, for the destruction of the city; the latter placing their hopes of deliverance in nothing else but in persevering in such inventions, in opposition to the other, as might demonstrate the enemy's engines were useless to them; and this siege they endured for eighteen months, until they were destroyed by the famine and the darts which the enemy threw at them from the towers.
Now the city was taken on the ninth day of the fourth month, in the eleventh year of the reign of Zedekiah. They were indeed only generals of the king of Babylon, to whom Nebuchadnezzar committed the care of the siege, for he abode himself in the city of Riblah. The names of these generals who ravaged and subdued Jerusalem, if any one desire to know them, were these: Nergal Sharezer, Sangar Nebo, Rabsaris, Sarsechim, and Rabmag; and when the city was taken about midnight, and the enemy's generals were entered into the temple, and when Zedekiah was sensible of it, he took his wives and his children, and his captains and friends, and with them fled out of the city, through the fortified ditch, and through the desert; and when certain of the deserters had informed the Babylonians of this, at break of day, they made haste to pursue after Zedekiah, and overtook him not far from Jericho, and encompassed him about. But for those friends and captains of Zedekiah who and fled out of the city with him, when they saw their enemies near them, they left him and dispersed themselves, some one way and some another, and every one resolved to save himself, so the enemy took Zedekiah alive, when he was deserted by all but a few, with his children and his wives, and brought him to the king. When he was come, Nebuchadnezzar began to call him a wicked wretch, and a covenant breaker, and one that had forgotten his former words, when he promised to keep the country for him. He also reproached him for his ingratitude, that when he had received the kingdom from him, who had taken it from Jehoiachin, and given it him, he had made use of the power he gave him against him that gave it: "but," said he, " God is great, who hateth that conduct of thine, and hath brought thee under us." And when he had used these words to Zedekiah, he commanded his sons and his friends to be slain, while Zedekiah and the rest of the captains looked on; after which he put out the eyes and bound him, and carried him to Babylon. And these things happened as Jeremiah and Ezekiel had foretold to him, that he should be caught and brought before the king of Babylon, and should speak to him face to face, and should see his eyes with his own eyes; and this far did Jeremiah prophesy. But he was also made blind, and brought to Babylon but did not see is according to the prediction of Ezekiel.
We have said thus much because it was sufficient to show the nature of God to such as are ignorant of it that it is various, and acts many different ways, and that all even happen after a regular manner, in their proper season, and that it foretells what must come to pass. It is also sufficient to show the ignorance and incredulity of men, whereby they are not permitted to foresee any thing that is future, and are, without any guard, exposed to calamities, so that it is impossible for them to avoid the experience of those calamities.
And after this manner have the kings of David's race ended their lives, being in number twenty-one, until, the last king, who all together reigned five hundred and fourteen years, and six months, and ten days: of whom Saul, who was their first king, retained the government twenty years, though he was not of the same tribe with the rest.
And now it was that the king of Babylon sent Nebuzaradan, the general of his army, to Jerusalem, to pillage the temple; who had it also in command to burn it and the royal palace, and to lay the city even with the ground, and to transplant the people into Babylon. Accordingly he came to Jerusalem, in the eleventh year of king Zedekiah, and pillaged the temple, and carried out the vessels of God, both gold and silver, and particularly that large laver which Solomon dedicated, as also the pillars of brass, and their chapters, with the golden tablets and the candlesticks: and when he had carried these off, he set fire to the temple in the fifth month, the first day of the month, in the eleventh year of the reign of Zedekiah, and in the eighteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar; he also burnt the palace, and overthrew the city. Now the temple was burnt four hundred and seventy years, six months, and two days, after it was built it was then one thousand and sixty-two years, six months, and ten days, from the departure out of Egypt; and from the Deluge to the destruction of the temple, the whole interval was one thousand nine hundred and fifty-seven years, six months, and ten days; but from the generation of Adam, until this befell the temple, there were three thousand five hundred and thirteen years, six months. and ten days; so great was the number of years hereto belonging; and what actions were done during these years, we have particularly related. But the general of the Babylonian king now overthrew the city to the very foundations, and removed all the people, and took for prisoners the high-priest Seraiah, and Zephaniah, the priest that was next to him, and the rulers that guarded the temple, who were three in number, and he eunuch who was over the armed men, and seven friends of Zedekiah, and his scribe and sixty other rulers; all whom, together with the vessels they had pillaged, he carried to the king of Babylon to Riblah, a city of Syria So the king commanded the heads of the high-priest and of the rulers, to be cut off there; but he himself led all the captives and Zedekiah to Babylon. He also led Josedek the high-priest, away bound. He was the son of Seraiah, the high-priest, whom the king of Babylon had slain in Riblah, a city of Syria, as we just now related.
And now, because we have enumerated the succession of the kings, and who they were, and how long they reigned, I think it necessary to set down the names of the high priests, and who they were that succeeded one another in the high-priesthood under the kings. The first high-priest then at the temple which Solomon built was Zadok; after him his son Achimas received that dignity; after Achimas u as Azarias; his son was Joram, and Joram's son was Isus; after him was Axioramus; his son was Phideas, and Phideas's Soll was Sudeas, and Sudeas's son was Juelus, and Juelus's son was Jotham, and Jotham's son was Urias, and Urias's son was Nerias, and Nerias's son was Odeas, and his son w as Sallumus, and Sallumus's son was Elcias, and his son [was Azarias, and his son] was Sareas, and his son was Josedec, who was carried captive to Babylon. All these received the high-priesthood by succession, the sons from their father.
When the king was come to Babylon, he kept Zedekiah in prison until he died, and buried him magnificently, and dedicated the vessels he had pillaged out of the temple of Jerusalem to his own gods, and planted the people in the country of Babylon, but freed the high-priest from his bonds. (Antiquities of the Jews, Chapter VIII.)
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