The Fall of Jerusalem (Dan 1:1-1:2)

“In the third year

Of the reign

Of King Jehoiakim

In Judah,

King Nebuchadnezzar

Of Babylon

Came to Jerusalem.

He besieged it.

The Lord let

King Jehoiakim

Of Judah

Fall into his power,

As well as some of the vessels

Of the house of God.

Then he brought them

To the land of Shinar,

He placed

The vessels

In the treasury

Of his gods.”

This Book of Daniel starts out on a dire note, the capture of Jerusalem. However, unlike the Book of Ezekiel, there is only a vague date for the siege of Jerusalem, the 3rd year of King Jehoiakim, which would have been 606 BCE.   However, there is no other indication of a siege at that time. Perhaps, this meant 598 BCE when King Jehoiakim was deposed. It is not clear who the author of this work was. However, the Judaean king fell under the power of King Nebuchadnezzar, because the Lord let it happen. Yahweh is not the term used for God in this post-exilic work. Rather the Greek Kyrios was used. The Babylonian king took some of the Temple vessels and treasures with him to Babylon, or Shinar as it is called here. He brought them to the treasury of his gods, which would have been Marduk and Nebo.

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Judgment on the cities of Moab (Jer 48:21-48:25)

“‘Judgment has come

Upon the tableland,

Upon

Holon,

Jahzah,

Mephaath,

Dibon,

Nebo,

Beth-diblathaim,

Kiriathaim,

Beth-gamul,

Beth-meon,

Kerioth,

Bozrah,

And all the towns

Of the land

Of Moab,

Far and near.

The horn of Moab

Is cut off.

His arm is broken.’

Says Yahweh.”

Now Yahweh, via Jeremiah, issues his judgment against the Moab cities and towns. Interesting enough, the only other time two of these cities are named was in the book of Joshua, chapter 21,when they were assigned to the Levites living in the Reuben territory. Out of the four Levite towns mentioned there, two are mentioned here, Jahaz and Mephaath. In chapter 13 of Joshua, other cities were mentioned, Dibon, the capital city, Kiriathaim, and Beth-meon. Nebo was a Babylonian god, but could also be a place in Moab. Bozrah was in the southern part of Moab, while Beth-gamul was in eastern Moab. It is difficult to pin point the exact locations of Holon, Beth-diblathaim, and Kerioth. Actually this oracle proclaims that all the towns of Moab have been destroyed, since the horn of Moab and his arm have been broken and cut off. The towns are named explicitly here.

The failure of the Babylonian gods (Isa 46:1-46:2)

“Bel bows down.

Nebo stoops.

Their idols are on beasts.

Their idols are on cattle.

These things you carry

Are loaded

Like burdens on weary animals.

They stoop.

They bow down together.

They cannot save the burden.

But they themselves

Go into captivity.”

Second Isaiah talks about the failure of the Babylonian gods. Bel or Bel-Marduk was the chief god of the Babylonians. He was like the lord god. Nebo or Nabu was the son of Marduk, a Babylonian god that was a scribe or wise person. Both of them failed. They had to bow down and stoop before others. These gods had to be carried away on the backs of beasts and animals, since they were incapable of helping themselves as they went into captivity.

The list of men by towns returning (Neh 7:25-7:38)

“The men of Gibeon were ninety-five. The men of Bethlehem and Netophah were one hundred eighty-eight. The men of Anathoth were one hundred twenty-eight. The men of Beth-Azmaveth were forty-two. The men of Kiriath-jearim, Chephirah, and Beeroth were seven hundred forty-three. The men of Ramah and Geba were six hundred twenty-one. The men of Michmas were one hundred twenty-two. The men of Bethel and Ai were one hundred twenty-three. The men of the other Nebo were fifty-two. The descendents of the other Elam were one thousand two hundred fifty-four. The descendents of Harim were three hundred twenty. The men of Jericho were three hundred forty-five. The men of Lod, Hadid, and Ono were seven hundred twenty-one. The men of Senaah were three thousand nine hundred thirty.”

Once again, we have a very close similarity with Ezra, chapter 2, almost word for word. This list refers to the towns that they had come from in Judah, but also a lot from the Benjamin territory. These were the leaders there that had been taken into captivity. Gibbar or the town of Gibeon had a mere 95 people, the same as Ezra. Bethlehem had 188 not 123 people. Here it is combined with Netophah, a small town near Bethlehem that only had 56 people, so that the net change is only 9 more people here. Anathoth, another small town in Benjamin, had exactly the same amount of 128 people. Beth-Azmaveth or just Azmaveth, a town near Jerusalem, had 42 people, the smallest amount, but exactly the same as in Ezra. There was a group of 3 towns near Jerusalem in the Benjamin territory of Kiriath-jearim, Chephirah, and Beeroth with exactly the same amount of 743 people. Ramah and Geba were northern towns in Benjamin with exactly the same amount of 621 people. Michmas was another Benjamin town with exactly the same amount of 122 people. Bethel and Ai were 2 northern Benjaminite towns with 123 instead of 223 people as in Ezra. This Nebo was a small town near Bethel and Ai with exactly the same amount of 52 people. There was no mention here of Magbish, a small town in Benjamin with 156 people as there was in Ezra. This other Elam had 1,254 people, but that is the exact amount as mentioned in the previous paragraph and in Ezra. Harim with 320 people was exactly the same as in Ezra. Lod, Hadid, and Ono were 3 Benjaminite towns with 721 instead of 725 people. Jericho had exactly the same amount of 345 people. Senaah, a town in northern Benjamin had the largest group with 3,930 instead of 3,630 people as in Ezra. Thus there were only minor discrepancies between this account and the one in Ezra.

The list of the guilty Israelites by family (Ezra 10:25-10:44)

“The descendents of Parosh were Ramiah, Izziah, Malchijah, Mijamin, Eleazar, Hashabiah, and Benaiah. The descendents of Elam were Mattaniah, Zechariah, Jehiel, Abdi, Jeremoth, and Elijah. The descendents of Zattu were Elioenai, Eliashib, Mattaniah, Jeremoth, Zabad, and Aziza. The descendents of Bebai were Jehohanan, Hananiah, Zabbai, and Athlai. The descendents of Bani were Meshullam, Malluch, Adaiah, Jashub, Sheal, and Jeremoth. The descendents of Pahath-moab were Adna, Chelal, Benaiah, Maaseiah, Mattaniah, Bezalel, Binnui, and Manasseh. The descendents of Harim were Eliezer, Isshijah, Malchijah, Shemaiah, Shimeon, Benjamin, Malluch, and Shemariah. The descendents of Hashum were Mattenai, Mattattah, Zabad, Eliphelet, Jeremai, Manasseh, and Shimei. The descendents of Bani were Maadai, Amram, Uel, Benaiah, Bedeiah, Cheluhi, Vaniah, Meremoth, Eliashib, Mattaniah, Mattenai, and Jaasu. The descendents of Binnui were Shimei, Shelemiah, Nathan, Adaiah, Machnadebai, Shashai, Sharai, Azarel, Shelemiah, Shemariah, Shallum, Amariah, and Joseph. The descendents of Nebo were Jeiel, Mattithiah, Zabad, Zebina, Jaddai, Joel, and Benaiah. All these had married foreign women. They sent them away with their children.”

This list reads like the list of people who came with Ezra with the heads of the families. There were 11 different families with 83 people sending their wives away. 7 of these families came with Ezra from Babylon. Only 4 families did not come with him, Harim, Hashum, Binnui, and Nebo. The Bani family is listed twice. Some of these names more than once, while other names only appear here and nowhere else in biblical literature. This means that 109 people were listed as haven given up their foreign wives. In fact, it does not seem like a lot of people if this list includes everyone. This list is interesting in that these people will become known as sinners. The assumption is that they were dead at the time of this writing. Why should we remember their names? They sacrificed their families for Yahweh by divorcing their wives and sending away their children.

The list of the men returning by towns (Ezra 2:20-2:35)

“There were the descendents of Gibbar, ninety-five. There were the descendents of Bethlehem, one hundred twenty-three. There were the descendents of Netophah, fifty-six. There were the descendents of Anathoth, one hundred twenty-eight. There were the descendents of Azmaveth, forty-two. There were the descendents of Kiriatharim, Chephirah, and Beeroth, seven hundred forty-three. There were the descendents of Ramah and Geba, six hundred twenty-one. There were the descendents of Michmas, one hundred twenty-two. There were the descendents of Bethel and Ai, two hundred twenty-three. There were the descendents of Nebo, fifty-two. There were the descendents of Magbish, one hundred fifty-six. There were the descendents of the other Elam, one thousand two hundred fifty-four. There were the descendents of Harim, three hundred twenty. There were the descendents of Lod, Hadid, and Ono, seven hundred twenty-five. There were the descendents of Jericho, three hundred forty-five. There were the descendents of Senaah, three thousand six hundred thirty.”

The second part of this list refers to the towns that they came from in Judah, but also in Benjamin. Thus these were the leaders there that had been taken into captivity. Gibbar or the town of Gibeon had a mere 95 people. Bethlehem had 123 people. Netophah was another small town near Bethlehem that only had 56 people, while Anathoth, another small town in Benjamin, had 128 people. Azmaveth, a town near Jerusalem, had 42 people, the smallest amount. There was a group of 3 towns near Jerusalem in the Benjamin territory of Kiriatharim, Chephirah, and Beeroth with 743 people. Ramah and Geba were northern towns in Benjamin with 621 people. Michmas was another Benjamin town with 122 people. Bethel and Ai were 2 northern Benjaminite towns with about 223 people. Although there are many places with the name of Nebo, this Nebo was a small town near Bethel and Ai with 52 people. Magbish was a small town in Benjamin with 156 people. From the other Elam there were 1,254 people. Harim had 320 people. Lod, Hadid, and Ono were 3 Benjaminite towns with 725 people. Jericho had 345 people. Senaah, a town in northern Benjamin had the largest group of 3,630 people.