Jeremiah 52 – Downfall of Jerusalem & Jehoiachin in Captivity and Evil-Merodach

This is the end of the Book of Jeremiah, the next is the Book of Lamentations.  What…

Jehoiakim, “he whom Jehovah has set up”, also sometimes spelled Jehoikim, c. 635-597 BC, was a king of Judah. He was the second son of king Josiah by Zebidah, the daughter of Pedaiah of Rumah. His birth name was Eliakim.

On Josiah’s death, Jehoiakim’s younger brother Jehoahaz (or Shallum) was proclaimed king, but after three months pharaoh Necho II deposed him and replaced him with the eldest son, Eliakim, who adopted the name Jehoiakim and became king at the age of twenty-five. Jehoahaz died in exile in Egypt.

Jehoiakim was twenty-five years old when he became king, and reigned for eleven years to 598 B.C. and was succeeded by his son Jeconiah, (also known as Jehoiachin), who reigned for only three months.

Jeremiah 52
Downfall of Jerusalem

1 Zedekiah was one and twenty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem. And his mother’s name was Hamutal the daughter of Jeremiah of Libnah.

52:1-27, 31-34 – paralleled almost verbatim in 2 Kgs 24:18-25:21, 27-30.  The writer(s) of Book of  Kings and the writer of the appendix to the Book of Jeremiah (perhaps Baruch) doubtless had access to the same sources. 

It’s unlikely that either of the two accounts copied from the other since each has peculiarities characteristic of the larger work that it concludes.  In a few passages, the Book of Jeremiah is fuller than the Book of 2 Kings .

“Jeremiah” – not the prophet.

2 And he did that which was evil in the eyes of the LORD, according to all that Jehoiakim had done.

3 For through the anger of the LORD it came to pass in Jerusalem and Judah, till he had cast them out from his presence that Zedekiah rebelled against the king of Babylon.

4 And it came to pass in the ninth year of his reign, in the tenth month, in the tenth day of the month, that Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came, he and all his army, against Jerusalem, and pitched against it, and built forts against it round about.

5 So the city was besieged unto the eleventh year of king Zedekiah.

6 And in the fourth month, in the ninth day of the month, the famine was sore in the city, so that there was no bread for the people of the land.

7 Then the city was broken up, and all the men of war fled, and went forth out of the city by night by the way of the gate between the two walls, which was by the king’s garden; (now the Chaldeans were by the city round about:) and they went by the way of the plain.

8 But the army of the Chaldeans pursued after the king, and overtook Zedekiah in the plains of Jericho; and all his army was scattered from him.

9 Then they took the king, and carried him up unto the king of Babylon to Riblah in the land of Hamath; where he gave judgment upon him.

Nekau I, who we know better as Necho, was either the 2nd or 3rd king of Egypt’s 26th Dynasty, depending on whether we allow the rule of a nominal king Nekau I at the beginning of the Dynasty.

Nekau was his Birth name, and Necho is actually his Greek name. His Throne name was Wah-em-ib-re, which means “Carrying out the Wish of Re Forever.”

10 And the king of Babylon slew the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes: he slew also all the princes of Judah in Riblah.

11 Then he put out the eyes of Zedekiah; and the king of Babylon bound him in chains, and carried him to Babylon, and put him in prison till the day of his death.

12 Now in the fifth month, in the tenth day of the month, which was the nineteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, came Nebuzar-adan, captain of the guard, which served the king of Babylon, into Jerusalem,

13 And burned the house of the LORD, and the king’s house; and all the houses of Jerusalem, and all the houses of the great men, burned he with fire:

14 And all the army of the Chaldeans, that were with the captain of the guard, brake down all the walls of Jerusalem round about.

15 Then Nebuzar-adan the captain of the guard carried away captive certain of the poor of the people, and the residue of the people that remained in the city, and those that fell away, that fell to the king of Babylon, and the rest of the multitude.

16 But Nebuzar-adan the captain of the guard left certain of the poor of the land for vinedressers and for husbandmen.

17 Also the pillars of brass that were in the house of the LORD, and the bases, and the brazen sea that was in the house of the LORD, the Chaldeans brake, and carried all the brass of them to Babylon.

Jeconiah, meaning “God will fortify (his people)”, also known as Coniah and as Jehoiachin, was a king of Judah who was dethroned by the King of Babylon in the 6th century B.C. and was taken into captivity.

Most of what is known about Jeconiah is found in the Hebrew Bible. Records of Jeconiah’s existence have been found in Iraq, such as the Jehoiachin’s Rations Tablets.

These tablets were excavated near the Ishtar Gate in Babylon and have been dated to c. 592 B.C. Written in cuneiform, they mention Jeconiah and his five sons as recipients of food rations in Babylon. Comparing Babylonian records with date references found in Hebrew biblical texts, the length of Jeconiah’s captivity can accurately be determined.

18 The caldrons also, and the shovels, and the snuffers, and the bowls, and the spoons, and all the vessels of brass wherewith they ministered, took they away.

19 And the brazons, and the fire pans, and the bowls, and the caldrons, and the candlesticks, and the spoons, and the cups; that which was of gold in gold, and that which was of silver in silver, took the captain of the guard away.

20 The two pillars, one sea, and twelve brazen bulls that were under the bases, which king Solomon had made in the house of the LORD: the brass of all these vessels was without weight.

21 And concerning the pillars, the height of one pillar was eighteen cubits; and a fillet of twelve cubits did compass it; and the thickness thereof was four fingers: it was hollow.

22 And a chapiter of brass was upon it; and the height of one chapiter was five cubits, with network and pomegranates upon the chapiters round about, all of brass. The second pillar also and the pomegranates were like unto these.

“Five cubits” – about 7½ feet.  The parallel in 2 Kgs 25:17 reads “three cubits” (about 4½ feet), probably a copyist’s error.

23 And there were ninety and six pomegranates on a side; and all the pomegranates upon the network were an hundred round about.

24 And the captain of the guard took Seraiah the chief priest, and Zephaniah the second priest, and the three keepers of the door:

25 He took also out of the city an eunuch, which had the charge of the men of war; and seven men of them that were near the king’s person, which were found in the city; and the principal scribe of the host, who mustered the people of the land; and threescore men of the people of the land, that were found in the midst of the city.

“Seven” – the parallel in 2 Kgs 25:19 reads “five.”

Zedekiah, “My righteousness is Yahweh”, also written Tzidkiyahu, was a biblical character, said to be the last king of Judah before the destruction of the kingdom by Babylon.

He was installed as king of Judah by Nebuchadnezzar II, king of Babylon, after a siege of Jerusalem, to succeed his nephew, Jeconiah, who was overthrown as king after a reign of only three months and ten days.

Rulers of Judah Saul David Solomon Rehoboam Abijah Asa Jehoshaphat Jehoram Ahaziah Athaliah J(eh)oash Amaziah Uzziah/Azariah Jotham Ahaz Hezekiah Manasseh Amon Josiah Jehoahaz Jehoiakim Jeconiah/Jehoiachin Zedekiah.
William F. Albright dates the reign of Zedekiah to 606 – 586 B.C., while E. R. Thiele to 597 – 586 .BC. On that reckoning, he was born c. 618 B.C., being twenty-one on becoming king.

The prophet Jeremiah was his counselor, yet “he did evil in the sight of the Lord” (2 Kgs 24:19-20; Jer 52:2-3).

26 So Nebuzar-adan the captain of the guard took them, and brought them to the king of Babylon to Riblah.

27 And the king of Babylon smote them, and put them to death in Riblah in the land of Hamath. Thus Judah was carried away captive out of his own land.

28 This is the people whom Nebuchadnezzar carried away captive: in the seventh year three thousand Jews and three and twenty:

“Three thousand Jews and three and twenty” – probably includes only adult males since the corresponding figure(s) in 2 Kgs 24:14, 16 are significantly higher.

29 In the eighteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar he carried away captive from Jerusalem eight hundred thirty and two persons:

“Eighteenth year” – 586 B.C.  in v. 12 the same year is called the “nineteenth year”; the difference is due to alternate ways of computing years.

30 In the three and twentieth year of Nebuchadnezzar Nebuzar-adan the captain of the guard carried away captive of the Jews seven hundred forty and five persons: all the persons were four thousand and six hundred.

“Three and twentieth year – 581 B.C.

“Nebuchadnezzar…carried away captive” – either (1) to quell further rebellion or (2) in belated reprisal for Gedaliah’s  assassination.

31 And it came to pass in the seven and thirtieth year of the captivity of Jehoiachin king of Judah, in the twelfth month, in the five and twentieth day of the month, that Evil-Merodach king of Babylon in the first year of his reign lifted up the head of Jehoiachin king of Judah, and brought him forth out of prison,

This ceramic brick is inscribed in cuneiform with the name of Nebuchadnezzar II, who is mentioned some 90 times in the Bible (e.g. Ezra 1:7).

Ancient kings often used inscribed bricks in their building projects. This one was originally made in c. 604-562 B.C. and was found in the ruins of ancient Babylon during excavations in 1927.

It reads, “Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, Guardian of the temples of Esagila and Ezida, Firstborn son of Nabopolasser, king of Babylon.”

52:31-34 – paralleled almost verbatim in 2 Kgs 25:27-30.  The Book of Jeremiah and the Book of Kings 2 conclude with the same happy ending.

“Five and twentieth” – the parallel in 2 Kgs 25:27 reads “seven and twentieth.”

32 And spake kindly unto him, and set his throne above the throne of the kings that were with him in Babylon,

33 And changed his prison garments: and he did continually eat bread before him all the days of his life.

34 And for his diet, there was a continual diet given him of the king of Babylon, every day a portion until the day of his death, all the days of his life.

“Until the day of his death” – since the phrase does not appear in the parallel verses in 2 Kings in either case, it’s intention is probably to highlight the contrast between Zedekiah, who remained in prison till the day he died, and Jehoiachin, who was released from prison and treated well by the Babylonian kings till the day he died.

Jehoiachin in Captivity and Evil-Merodach

Jehoiachin ruled Judah for only three months and then, at age eighteen, was taken captive to Babylon in 597 B.C. 

It is interesting that we have a biblical record mentioning Evil-merodach’s treatment of Jehoiachin (about 560 B.C.), and we have archaeological evidence of similar treatment at an earlier period.

Four tablets mentioning Jehoiachin and his sons date to the period 595–570 B.C.These tablets record rations that were given to the exiled king, his sons, and eight men of Judah.

During excavation in Babylon approximately 300 day tablets containing administrative records were uncovered in a building adjacent to Nebuchadnezzar’s palace.  Four of them were found to be highly significant for Old Testament studies, as they mention Jehoiachin.

Dating from 595 to 570 B.C., all four are receipts  for rations of oil issued to Jehoiachin and his entourage.  Jehoiachin is referred to as “Jehoiachin king of the land of Judah.”  Three of the tablets list oil for Jehoiachin’s five sons and oil was also given to five named and eight unnamed Judeans.

Evil-Merodach (his Babylonian name was “Amil-Marduk” or “Avel-Marduk”= “man,” or “servant, of Marduk”)  succeeded Nebuchadnezzar on the throne and ruled unjustly and lewdly but it lasted only for a year, from 561-56- B.C. 

He released Jehoiachin from confinement, clothed him, treated him well, and even allowed him to eat at the king’s table, but there is no record explaining why.  Inscriptions found in Babylon show that Evil-Merodach continued his father’s building projects.

The tablet mentioning Nebo-Sarsekim was found in Sippar, an ancient Babylonian city 20 mi (32 km) southwest of modern Baghdad and 35 mi (57 km) north of Babylon. In the late 19th century, tens of thousands of cuneiform tablets were recovered from the site.

He was deposed and perhaps murdered by his brother-in-law Nergal-Sharezer, a former military officer.

Evil-Merodach is spoken of in the Book of Daniel.

That’s a funny name, Evil-Merodach, especially since he was so nice to Jehoiachin.  Yet, Jehoiachin, king of Judah,  was evil too so like they say, birds of a feather flock together.

They were really ruthless back then, Negal-Sharezer killing Evil, Nebuchadnezzar forcing King Zedekiah to watch him kill his kids and then poked his eyes out.

…is the book of Lamentations about and who wrote it?