Remembering the first captivity (Jer 27:19-27:20)

“Thus says Yahweh of hosts

Concerning the pillars,

The sea,

The stands,

With the rest of the vessels

That are left in this city,

That King Nebuchadnezzar

Of Babylon

Did not take away,

When he took into exile

From Jerusalem

To Babylon

King Jeconiah,

The son of King Jehoiakim,

Of Judah,

With all the nobles

Of Judah

As well as Jerusalem.”

Yahweh talked about the other holy vessels still in Jerusalem, including the Temple pillars, the sea structure outside the Temple, the various lamp stands in the Temple, as well as the other sacred vessels in the Temple. These were all left behind when the first captivity took place in 598 BCE, when King Zedekiah or King Mattaniah (598-587 BCE) was put on the throne by King Nebuchadnezzar. King Jeconiah or King Coniah or King Jehoiachin (598 BCE) was only on the throne for a few months before he was taken into exile. His father, King Jehoiakim or King Eliakim (609-598 BCE) had been favored by the Egyptians. King Zedekiah was the brother of King Jehoiakim and the uncle of King Jeconiah. In other words, there was a dispute between Egypt and Babylon and the kings of Judah changed on who was in charge, Egypt or Babylon. Clearly Jeremiah and Yahweh favored Babylon.

King Zedekiah (Jer 27:1-27:1)

“In the beginning

Of the reign

Of King Zedekiah,

The son of King Josiah,

Of Judah,

This word came

To Jeremiah

From Yahweh.”

Once again we have an exact time frame for this oracle of Yahweh to Jeremiah. This oracle took place at the beginning of the reign of King Zedekiah or King Mattaniah (598-587 BCE). He was the son of King Josiah (640-609 BCE), but he was installed by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon (605-562 BCE) at the age of 21. His nephew King Jehoiachin or King Coniah (598 BCE) had preceded him for a couple of months. Thus this oracle took place around 598 BCE. Like the preceding chapter, this is a different numbered chapter in the Greek translation of the Septuagint, chapter 34, not 27.

The first exile of Judah (Jer 24:1-24:1)

“King Nebuchadnezzar

Of Babylon

Had taken into exile

From Jerusalem

King Jeconiah,

The son of Jehoiakim,

Of Judah,

Together with

The officials of Judah,

The artisans

With the smiths.

He had brought them

To Babylon.”

This is the exile of King Coniah, King Jeconiah, or King Jehoiachin, as he was called. King Jehoiakim or King Eliakim was killed in 598 BCE. Thus his son, King Coniah, King Jeconiah, or King Jehoiachin, who was 18 years old, took over for 3 months as king, before he was taken away into the Babylonian captivity by King Nebuchadnezzar (605-562 BCE), where he lived for over 25 years there. His uncle, King Zedekiah or King Mattaniah (598-587 BCE) took over for him. At that time, they took some of the officials of Judah with some artisans or craftsmen as well as the blacksmiths and other skilled workers. They were all brought to Babylon. However, the final exile was not to happen until 11 years later, since King Jeconiah’s uncle King Zedekiah or King Mattaniah ruled in Jerusalem from 598-587 BCE as a vassal of King Nebuchadnezzar.

The curse on King Coniah (Jer 22:28-22:30)

“Is this man

King Coniah

A despised,

Broken pot?

Is he a vessel

That no one wants?

Why is he

With his children hurled out?

Why are they cast away

In a land that they do not know?

O land!

O land!

O land!

Hear the word of Yahweh!

Thus says Yahweh.

‘Record this man as childless!

He is a man

Who shall not succeed in his days.

None of his offspring

Shall succeed

In sitting on the throne of David,

Ruling again in Judah.’”

Yahweh was very opposed to King Coniah or King Jehoiachin or King Jeconiah (598 BCE), as he was called. King Coniah was the son of King Jehoiakim or King Eliakim (609-598 BCE). Why was he a despised broken pot? Why were he and his family thrown out of Judah? They were sent to a land that they did not know. Yahweh cried out to the land. King Coniah should be recorded as having no children, although he actually had children. He was not successful. None of his offspring would ever rule or sit on the throne of David, a pretty strong promise or curse. Thus this seems like the end of Davidic rule in Judah. He had favored the Egyptians, but now was sent to Babylon as a captive during the first captivity of 598 BCE.

The repulsion towards King Coniah (Jer 22:24-22:27)

“As I live,

Says Yahweh.

‘Even if King Coniah,

The son of King Jehoiakim

Of Judah,

Were the signet ring

On my right hand,

I would tear you off.

I would give you

Into the hands of those

Who seek your life,

Into the hands of those

Of whom you are afraid,

Even into the hands

Of King Nebuchadnezzar

Of Babylon,

Into the hands of the Chaldeans.

I will hurl you

With the mother who bore you

Into another country,

Where you were not born.

There you shall die.

But they shall not return

To the land

To which they long to return.”

Apparently in 598 BCE, King Jehoiakim or King Eliakim was killed. Thus his son King Coniah or King Jehoiachin, who was 18 years old, took over for 3 months before he was taken away into the Babylonian captivity by King Nebuchadnezzar. His uncle, King Zedekiah or King Mattaniah (598-587 BCE) took over for him. King Coniah lived out his life in captivity in Babylon for at least 25 more years. Here Yahweh does not speak highly of him. Yahweh was willing to turn him over to his future captives, the Chaldeans and the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar, even if he would have been king of Judah as the ring on his finger. Yahweh was going to throw him and his mother into captivity. There they would die in a country that they were not born in. Despite their desires, they would never return to Israel.

Menace to the king and his mother (Jer 13:18-13:19)

“Say to the king!

Say to the queen mother!

‘Take a lowly seat!

Your beautiful crown

Has come down

From your head.’

The cities of the Negeb are shut up.

There is no one to open them.

Judah is taken into exile.

They are wholly taken into exile.”

The good and just King Josiah (640-609 BCE) had died in 609 BCE. His wife lived after him and thus his 3 so-called evil sons ruled until the Exile, King Jehoahaz or Shallum, (609-609 BCE), King Jehoiakim or Eliakim (609-598 BCE), King Jehoiachin (598-598 BCE), son of Jehoiakim, and finally King Zedekiah or Mattanyahu (598-587 BCE), the 3rd son of King Josiah. This last king was only 21 when he took over from his nephew. His mother would have been Hamutal. It is not clear which of these kings and his mother are implied here. However, it could be King Zedekiah since he was the last king before the exile. Their crowns would be taken from their heads. Already the southern cities of the Negeb, close to Edom were shut down. Judah was on its way to captivity.

Title (Jer 1:1-1:3)

“These are the words of Jeremiah,

Son of Hilkiah,

Of the priests

Who were in Anathoth

In the land of Benjamin.

The word of Yahweh

Came in the days of King Josiah

Son of Amon of Judah,

In the thirteenth year of his reign.

It came also in the days of King Jehoiakim,

Son of Josiah of Judah,

Until the end of the eleventh year of King Zedekiah,

Son of Josiah of Judah,

Until the captivity of Jerusalem

In the fifth month.”

Jeremiah probably was a prophet in Judah from 627-587 BCE, about 40 years, much like the 40 years of Moses in the desert. He was the son of Hilkiah, who was mentioned in 2 Kings, chapter 26. Although this priest Hilkiah served under King Josiah (641-609 BCE) of Judah, it is not clear that he is the same person as the father of Jeremiah. This Hilkiah, the father of Jeremiah, was among a number of priests who lived at Anathoth, in the Benjamin territory, about 2 miles outside of Jerusalem. If this is the 13th year of King Josiah, who had succeeded his killed father, King Amon (642-641 BCE), the call of Jeremiah to be a prophet took place around 627 BCE. These are the words about Jeremiah during the reigns of King Josiah, and under his sons, King Jehoiakim (609-598 BCE) and King Zedekiah (598-587 BCE). There is no mention of the other two sons of King Josiah, who only were kings for 1 year each, King Jehoahaz in 609 BCE, and King Jehoiachin in 598 BCE. King Zedekiah was the king at the time when the Babylonian captivity of Jerusalem took place in 587 BCE.

Zerubbabel (Sir 49:11-49:11)

“How shall

We magnify Zerubbabel?

He was

Like a signet ring        

On the right hand.”

Zerubbabel was the governor of Judah appointed by the Persian King Darius I, thus ending the Babylonian captivity, sometime between 538-520 BCE. He was the grandson of one of the last kings of Judah, King Jehoiachin. In this new role, he was actually an official governor in the Persian state for the area of Judah, but he was born and raised in Babylon. He along with Jeshua began to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem. There is some confusion with the name of Sheshbazzar, who either was his uncle or another name for him. Some hold that Sheshbazzar was appointed by King Cyrus as the governor of Judah in 538 BCE. Then King Darius I named Zerubbabel. Both are mentioned in the Book of Ezra, chapter 2. Zerubbabel was also mentioned by the Minor Prophets, Haggai and Zechariah. Finally, there is the idea of the signet ring. Does it apply to temporal power or the restored power of Yahweh? Interesting enough, Sirach does not mention Ezra at all among his famous men.

The first deportation to Babylon (2 Kings 24:13-24:16)

“King Nebuchadnezzar carried off all the treasures of the house of Yahweh and the treasures of the king’s house. He cut in pieces all the vessels of gold in the temple of Yahweh, which King Solomon of Israel had made. All this happened as Yahweh had foretold. He carried away all Jerusalem, all the officers, all the warriors, ten thousand captives. He took all the craftsmen and the smiths. No one remained, except the poorest people of the land. He carried away King Jehoiachin to Babylon. He took into captivity from Jerusalem to Babylon the king’s mother, the king’s wives, his officials, and the elite of the land. The king of Babylon brought captive to Babylon all the men of valor, seven thousand, and the artisans and the smiths, one thousand, all of them strong and fit for war.”

King Nebuchadnezzar took all the treasures from the house of Yahweh and the king’s palace. He destroyed all the golden vessels in the temple from the time of King Solomon. Then he took the people to Babylon. He took the important people and left the poor people to stay in Jerusalem. All of this was to fulfill the promise of Yahweh through the prophet Isaiah in chapter 20. He took 10,000 officers and warriors. He took the craftsmen, the artisans, and smiths, about 1,000 of them. He then took another 7,000 men of valor, plus of course, the king and his royal family. All together it was around 18,000 people or so.

The siege of Jerusalem (598 BCE) (2 Kings 24:10-24:12)

“At that time, the servants of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon came up to Jerusalem. The city was besieged. King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon came to the city, while his servants were besieging it. King Jehoiachin of Judah gave himself up to the king of Babylon, himself, his mother, his servants, his princes, and his palace officials. The king of Babylon took him prisoner in the eighth year of his reign.”

The first successful siege of Jerusalem took place during the 8th year of the reign of King Nebuchadnezzar in 598 BCE. While the siege was going on, King Jehoiachin of Judah surrendered himself, his family, his servants, and all the palace officials. They all became the prisoners of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon.