Title (Hag 1:1-1:1)

“In the second year

Of King Darius,

In the sixth month,

On the first day

Of the month,

The word of Yahweh

Came by the prophet Haggai,

To Zerubbabel,

The son of Shealtiel,

Governor of Judah.

It also came

To Joshua,

The son of Jehozadak,

The high priest.”

There is a precise date to this prophetic happening, August, 520 BCE, the second year of the great King Darius of Persia (522-486 BCE).  During his reign, he ruled over nearly ½ of the known world, over 50,000,000 people.  The word of Yahweh came through the prophet Haggai, although there is no mention of his family.  Perhaps he was one of those returning from the exile in Babylon.  In the Book of Ezra, chapter 5, Haggai and Zechariah were explicitly mentioned as prophets.  There was also a eunuch servant Haggai in the Book of Esther, but there seems to be no connection to this Haggai.  This Haggai was to prophesize to Zerubbabel, the son of Shealtiel, who was the grandson of one of the last kings of Judah, King Jehoiachin (598 BCE).  Thus, he could be in the Davidic line.  He probably died sometime around 520 BCE, sometime around the events described here.  King Cyrus had appointed Zerubbabel to be the Governor of Judah in 538 BCE, when he was among the first exiles sent back to Jerusalem.  Joshua, the son of Jehozadak was the high priest in Jerusalem from 515-490 BCE.

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The time and place of Ezekiel’s first vision (Ezek 1:1-1:3)

“In the thirtieth year,

In the fourth month,

On the fifth day

Of the month,

As I was among the exiles

By the river Chebar,

The heavens

Were opened.

I saw visions

Of God.

This was the fifth day

Of the month

Of the fifth year

Of the exile

Of King Jehoiachin.

The word of Yahweh

Came to

The priest Ezekiel,

The son of Buzi,

In the land

Of the Chaldeans

By the river Chebar.

The hand

Of Yahweh

Was on me there.”

The dating is very precise here. This is the 30th year, probably from his birth around 623 BCE during the reign of King Josiah. Ezekiel writes in the first person singular. He said that he was among the exiles at the Chebar River, a small canal near Erech that ran into the Euphrates River in northern Babylon. On the 5th day of the 4th month the heavens opened to provide visions of God to him.  Once again, there is precise information about the date, as this was the 5th year of the exile of King Jehoiachin that had occurred in 598 BCE. Thus this year would have been 593 BCE. Ezekiel’s father was Buzi, a Jerusalem priest, so that he was from a family of priests. The word of Yahweh came to Ezekiel in the land of the Chaldeans by the river Chebar. Yahweh put his hand on him. Thus the opening scene is set with this 30 year old exiled Jerusalem priest by a river bank with the rest of the exiles, when a heavenly vision appeared to him.

The reading of the book (Bar 1:3-1:4)

“Baruch read

The words

Of this book

To King Jeconiah,

The son of King Jehoiakim,

King of Judah.

He read it

To all the people

Who came

To hear the book.

He read it

To the nobles,

To the princes,

To the elders,

To all the people,

Small and great,

All who lived

In Babylon

By the river Sud.”

Baruch was accustomed to reading aloud as he had done in Jeremiah, chapter 36. Here he is reading his book to King Jeconiah (598 BCE) in exile in 582 BCE, and not King Zedekiah (598-587 BCE). King Jeconiah was also known as King Coniah or King Jehoiachin, who ruled for less than a year after the death of his father King Jehoiakim (609-598 BCE). As in Jeremiah, Baruch read this book publically to anyone who wanted to hear it. He also read it to all the important people in Babylon that included the nobles, the princes, and the elders, those great and small. There was no mention of the Babylonian king here. As for the Sud River, no one seems to know where that was.

The release of King Jehoiachin (Jer 52:31-52:31)

“In the thirty-seventh year

Of the exile

Of King Jehoiachin

Of Judah,

In the twelfth month,

On the twenty-fifth day

Of the month,

King Evil-Merodach

Of Babylon,

In the year

That he began to reign,

Showed favor

To King Jehoiachin

Of Judah.

He brought him

Out of prison.”

This once again is similar to 2 Kings, chapter 25. However, the date is off by 2 days. Here it is the 25th and the not the 27th of the 12th month. The death of King Nebuchadnezzar about 562 BCE led to the reign of King Merodach who is also known as King Evil-Merodach or Merodach-Baladan. Merodach was also the name of a Babylonian god. This new king of Babylon freed King Jehoiachin of Judah, who was now 55 years old, from jail, after being in jail for 37 years.

The exact number of the third captivity (Jer 52:30-52:30)

“In the twenty-third year

Of King Nebuchadnezzar,

Nebuzaradan,

The captain of the guard,

Took into exile

Seven hundred forty-five persons.

Of the Judeans.

All the persons included were

Four thousand six hundred.”

This final captivity appears to be around 587 BCE, but it implies that this was 582 BCE. The mention of Nebuzaradan would seem to indicate that it might be 587 BCE. However, here the number was only 745 people. In fact, the total Judeans brought into captivity was only 4,600. This seems to contradict what was said in 2 Kings, chapter 24, where 10,000 were taken in the first deportation with the capture of King Jehoiachin in 598 BCE. There was no number given in 2 Kings, chapter 25, for the deportation in 587 BCE, but it seems to imply a large number. Here the numbers are relatively small, less than 5,000 people total who went into exile.

The exact number of the second captivity (Jer 52:29-52:29)

“In the eighteenth year

Of King Nebuchadnezzar

He took into exile

From Jerusalem                                                                         

Eight hundred thirty-two persons.”

This appears to be around 587 BCE, about the time that King Zedekiah revolted. However, this seems like a very small number of only 832 people. Maybe this was earlier under King Jehoiachin. However, despite all the talk about exiles, this number would indicate that very few people went into exile.

The initial captivity (Jer 52:27-52:28)

“So Judah

Went into exile

Out of its land.

This is the number

Of the people

Whom King Nebuchadnezzar

Took into exile.

In the seventh year.

There were

Three thousand twenty-three Judeans.”

There are specific details about the number of people being deported. In the first captivity, around the time of King Jehoiachin in 597 BCE, in the 7th year of the rule of King Nebuchadnezzar, about 3,023 Judeans went into captivity.