Think Of The Homeless

There are over 30 million Americans who live on the streets of our nation. Can you consider giving something to a shelter near you? Your fellow human beings need socks because they walk everywhere. Food and shelter are great too, if they will take them. So please give.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Though this section is devoted to the Babylonians, the Assyrians 
deported thousands of captives after their defeat of the Judeans 
in 700B.C. Here a group of men, women and children are leaving 
Lachish after it was sacked and burned by Sennacherib's army. 
Some road in ox drawn carts, but others were forced to walk hundreds 
of miles to Assyria. A sudden plague stopped them at Jerusalem, 
but in this campaign Assyria captured 46 towns


Anguished Prophet of Disaster 

Part 3


The First Exiles to Babylonia

When the Babylonian forces first marched on Judah in 604 B.C., King Jehoiakim gave up without so much as a struggle and paid heavy tribute to Nebuchadnezzar. In 601, the Egyptians won a major battle against Babylon and forced them to retreat back to their homeland. Jehoiakim made a foul error in rebelling against the Babylonian overlords at that time. The Babylonian king, still rebuilding his army, sent several vassal states against Judah before finally sending his own army to finish the job.

Before any action could be taken against the imminent attack, Jehoiakim died without warning. His son, the 18 year old Jehoiachin, was thrust into the role of King just in time to face the legions that were surrounding the capital. After three months of siege the city surrendered on March 15, 597.

Many treasures from the temple were carted away by the invaders, though the capital was hardly effected. Jehoiachin and all his peoples; the nobles, the soldiers and influential citizens, skilled craftsmen and “celebrities”, were all taken away as prisoners to Babylon. Zedekiah, the Kings uncle, was installed as the ruler pro-temp. He was a weak leader, one who was constantly being influenced by those who wanted a return to independence from Babylon.

Jeremiah, watching these things unfold, demanded that the nation accept its fate in payment for violating the Lord’s covenant. He then, as is obvious, became even more unpopular to the citizenry at large. He was regarded as turncoat by many. To dramatize the need to submit to God’s judgement of Judah, he wore a yoke around his neck for months in the streets and in the temple precincts.
Babylon's Ishtar Gate guarded the northern entrance to the city.
It lead to the Processional way, a road that passed in front
of Nebuchadnezzar's palace.  Brick was the standard building
 material in a land almost without ANY stone. 

Zedekiah and his compliment were one day plotting a revolt when Jeremiah sent them all a message. His message from God went like this: “If any nation will not serve the King of Babylon, I will punish that nation with the sword, with famine and with pestilence.”

“Bring your necks under the yoke of Babylon, and serve the King and his people.” Whatever may have been the case for Zedekiah’s next action, cannot be fully said, however, Zedekiah did indeed abandon the conspiracy.

Jeremiah then sent word to the Judean exiles in Babylon telling them to submit to the rule of the Babylonians, for it was God’s will that they remain for seventy years after which they would be restored to Judah with all their fortunes and peoples from all the nations. This did, of course mean, in terms of generations, that only the children would return to Judah and those taken away had been exiled for good.

Back in Judah, nationalist factions continued to press for independence. Nine years went by, and Zedekiah finally gave in to them. Ignoring Jeremiah’s warnings, he declared independence. Nebuchadnezzar, now at full strength, bulldozed through Judah. Azekah, Lachish and Jerusalem were the only cities left at one point, and put  up a mighty resistance, but to no avail. In December of 589, Babylonian soldiers hammered at the walls of Jerusalem.

Jewish exiles wept for their lost city by the waters of Babylon. No doubt they felt strongly that they had betrayed their ancestry and destroyed the legacy their forefather's had suffered and died for. In this painting derived from excavations, the Euphrates river runs past Babylon's western wall. A temple of Marduk and a huge ziggurat, (South America?) dominated the city's enclosure. Already 1000 years old when Nebuchadnezzar was king, this 300 foot tower could have been the Tower of Babel  
One does have to wonder though, how a people can expect to reach heaven 
with a base that isn't the breadth of a mountain like Mount Everest. 

Zedekiah sent a delegation to Jeremiah to ask for counsel from on high. Jeremiah’s response was, for all intents and purposes, a snubbing of the King and his wishes. He was told that only those who surrender will live. All those who resist are destined for death. The King of Babylon will purify the land with fire, he told the King, and his own anguish at the news sent Jeremiah weeping once again.

Surprisingly, an Egyptian army invaded Judah and the Babylonians withdrew from Jerusalem to deal with the new threat. Undaunted, Jeremiah continued to press for surrender from the people. When he tried to leave the city to visit his homeland, he was arrested as a traitor and brought before the ruling council, who had him beaten and thrown in a dungeon. He was there for three days before King Zedekiah sent for him. There in his home, the two secretly spoke.

Excavation of the city of Babylon

Zedekiah pleaded with him for a word from the Lord. Jeremiah flatly informed him that he would be turned over to the King of Babylon. Zedekiah reduced Jeremiah’s sentence to a mere house arrest despite his disappointment at the bad news Jeremiah always seemed to have.

The respite lasted almost two years before Babylon picked up where they left off before leaving to deal with the Egyptians. Jeremiah’s renewed  insistence on surrender resulted in the people calling for his execution as a seditionist, and the King agreed, placing him in a deep cistern filled with mud to await his demise.

An Ethiopian named Ebed-melech, pleaded for Jeremiah’s life and the King, ever wavering, had Jeremiah lifted from the cistern. A few days later he once again inquired of Jeremiah if indeed there was any hope for the city. Jeremiah would no longer cooperate under the usual terms and refused to answer unless his life was sworn to be safe from the King and his peoples. With that promise made, Jeremiah told him once more, “Surrender and your life will be spared. The city will not be burned and the people will live.”

Zedekiah simply could not bring himself to come under the direction of Jeremiah’s prophetic warnings and the siege continued. In the city, food supplies dwindled, water became scarce and suffering increased in leaps and bounds. Jeremiah, still imprisoned, was given a loaf of bread each day until all the bread was gone. The summer heat was now an added enemy of Jerusalem as the smell of rotted corpses filled the air. Babylonian soldiers made ready outside the gates with giant battering rams, ready to knock down the walls of the slowly dying city. The next step, as one can imagine, was the people of the city turning to cannibalism.

In July of 587, the walls were breached and Babylonian warriors flooded into the city. Zedekiah ran from the city with some of his people but was soon re-captured near Jericho. In Riblah, north of Damascus, he was forced to watch his sons executed. He was then blinded and taken in chains to Babylon where he died in prison.

As was true to the word of Jeremiah, Nebuchadnezzar had the city razed and looted. The buildings and walls were flattened and the people were slaughtered and left to decompose on the open ground. To our day and time, the ninth day of Ab, the Jewish people have remembered this day as a day of mourning.

Jeremiah was now about 60 years old and spared by the King of Babylon for his insistence on surrender. Brought to Ramah, about 2 miles north of Jerusalem, a Babylonian official told him that he had free reign to do as he pleased, to go where he desired. His choice was to remain in his homeland. The government of Judah was now relocated to Mizpah, about 8 miles north of Jerusalem. Gedaliah, a former prime minister, was now appointed leader of the government. To Mizpah Jeremiah went, to his home, but with a broken heart over the fate of Judah.

Things went well under Gedaliah for quite a few years until a "rabble rouser" named Ishmael began making noise of a resistance with the King of Ammon. IN 582, during a banquet, Ishmael’s group turned on Gedaliah and his people and slaughtered them. The next day they moved forward and made many citizens their prisoners, including Jeremiah.

A Captain Johanan and his group of loyalists, crushed the rebel forces but allowed Ishmael and his people to escape. Babylonian retaliation was now a very real fear. “What to do now?” Everyone wondered. Flight to Egypt seemed the best recourse. Jeremiah prayed for ten days for guidance and then advised them all to remain in Judah. Once again, however, no one listened to him. Johanan’s group fled to Egypt dragging Jeremiah along with them. (One would have to wonder just how many things have to come to pass for a prophet before anyone pays him any

With the murder of the Babylonian officials  by the rebels yet un-avenged, Babylon returned to  carry away still more of the citizens who yet remained. A Samarian governor was placed in charge and settlers from Edom, Ammon and Moab moved in to merge with the remaining Judeans. Thus the Israelite social order and religious identity were all but swallowed up.

Jeremiah never saw his beloved land again. He strove to keep the Israelite identity alive among the people who now lived in Egypt and may or may not have died in that country. Some say  it was Jeremiah who sailed a boat to the eastern shores of what is now known as Ireland with the young red headed princess of the King of Israel known as “Tea Tephi”, in the line of King David and that is where one of the lost ten tribes has now spread forth throughout northern Europe, but that is perhaps a story for another time... another day.

Tea Tephi?

Jeremiah’s prophecies gave renewed hope to those carried away in exile and those dispersed throughout the world.

“Surely the little ones of their flock shall be dragged away. Surely their fold shall be appalled at their fate. At the sound of the capture of Babylon the earth shall tremble, and Babylon’s cry shall be heard among the nations.”

“Israel and Judah have not been forsaken by their God, the Lord of hosts... Babylon must fall for the slain of Israel. As for Babylon have fallen the slain of all the Earth.”                     

No comments:

Post a Comment

Escape The Hezbollah