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 capture and killing of the Judean leaders (Jer 52:25-52:27)

“From the city,

Nebuzaradan

Took an officer,

Who had been in command

Of the soldiers.

He took

Seven men

Of the king’s council

Who were found in the city.

He took the secretary,

Of the commander of the army,

Who mustered the people

Of the land.

He also took sixty men

Of the people

Of the land

Who were found

Inside the city.

Then Nebuzaradan,

The captain of the guard,

Brought them

To the king of Babylon

At Riblah.

The king of Babylon

Struck them down.

He put them

To death

At Riblah

In the land of Hamath.”

This section is practically word for word from 2 Kings, chapter 25. Nebuzaradan, the Babylonian captain of the guard, took the commander of the army, the men of the king’s council, the secretary of the army, and anyone still left in Jerusalem. Here it is 7 men, while in 2 Kings, it was only 5 men. He brought them to Riblah, a city in Syria, in the land of Hamath, that was on the border with Palestine on the main route from Syria. There the king of Babylon killed them.

The captain takes the high priests captive (Jer 52:24-52:24)

“The captain of the guard

Took the chief priest,

Seraiah,

With the second priest,

Zephaniah,

With the three guardians

Of the threshold.”

This is exactly like 2 Kings, chapter 25. Nebuzaradan, the Babylonian captain of the guard, rounded up the priests from the Temple, the high priest Seraiah, as well as the lower priests, including Zephaniah, the second in command. He also took the 3 guardians of the Temple door also.

The captives and the poor (Jer 52:15-52:16)

Nebuzaradan,

The captain of the guard,

Carried into exile

Some of the poorest

Of the people.

He took into exile

The rest of the people

Who were left in the city,

He took into exile

The deserters

Who had defected

To the king of Babylon,

Together with the rest

Of the artisans.

But Nebuzaradan,

The captain of the guard,

Left some of the poorest people

Of the land,

To be vinedressers

Or tillers of the soil.”

Once again, this is very close to 2 Kings, chapter 25. The king of Babylon did not come himself, but he sent the captain of his bodyguard, Nebuzaradan, to take all the people as captives. This included those who had deserted to the Chaldeans as well as those left in the city. However, he gave some poor people the vineyards and fields to work. This might be a problem when the exiles return. However, here, unlike the 2 Kings narrative and the earlier Jeremiah story of chapter 39, he also took the some of the poor people. This seems odd, since the next sentence talks about leaving the poor people to take care of the vineyards and till the soil. There was no mention of them getting fields and vineyards as in the earlier Jeremiah story. Also here there is a mention of artisans that was lacking in the other presentations.

The destruction of Jerusalem (Jer 52:13-52:14)

“Nebuzaradan burned

The house of Yahweh

As well as the king’s house.

He also burned

All the houses of Jerusalem.

He burned down

Every great house.

All the army

Of the Chaldeans,

Who were with

The captain of the guard,

Broke down

All the walls

Around Jerusalem.”

This is exactly word for word like 2 Kings, chapter 25, but slightly different than the earlier chapter 39 description of Jeremiah. There was no mention about the burning of the Temple in the earlier Jeremiah description. Nebuzaradan, the captain of the guard of the Babylonian king, had his Chaldean fighters burn the Temple of Yahweh and the palace of the king, as well as all the great houses of Jerusalem. They also broke down all the walls around Jerusalem.

The Babylonians enter Jerusalem (Jer 52:12-52:12)

“In the fifth month,

On the tenth day

Of the month,

The nineteenth year

Of King Nebuchadnezzar,

King of Babylon,

Nebuzaradan,

The captain of the bodyguard,

A servant of the king of Babylon,

Entered Jerusalem.”

This is almost word for word from 2 Kings, chapter 25, but not found in the earlier Jeremiah, chapter 39. Once again we have an exact date, during the 19th year of the rule of King Nebuchadnezzar, or 587 BCE. Thus the Judah kingdom lasted 134 years after the fall of Samaria. The king of Babylon did not come himself, but he sent the captain of his bodyguard, his servant Nebuzaradan, to be in charge of Jerusalem.

They all go to Egypt (Jer 43:4-43:7)

“So Johanan,

The son of Kareah,

With all the commanders

Of the forces,

With all the people,

Did not obey

The voice of Yahweh,

To stay in the land of Judah.

But Johanan,

The son of Kareah,

With all the commanders

Of the forces,

Took all the remnant of Judah,

Who had returned

To settle in the land of Judah

From all the nations

To which they had been driven.

This included

The men,

The women,

The children,

The princesses,

As well as everyone

Whom Nebuzaradan,

The captain of the guard,

Had left with Gedaliah,

The son of Ahikam,

The son of Shaphan.

This also included

The prophet Jeremiah

With Baruch,

The son of Neriah.

They came into the land of Egypt.

They did not obey

The voice of Yahweh.

They arrived at Tahpanhes.”

Jeremiah recounts that Johanan with all his commanders did not obey the voice of Yahweh to stay in Judah. They then took all the remnant of those people who had returned to Judah from the other countries to be with the former governor of Judah, Gedaliah. Thus they took the men, women, children, with the royal princesses and all those that the Babylonian captain Nebuzaradan had handed over to Gedaliah to take care of. This group also included Jeremiah and his secretary Baruch. They all ended up at the Egyptian border town of Tahpanhes. Interesting enough, Jeremiah, who loved Babylon, went to Egypt instead. It did not take 40 years to go from Israel to Egypt in this reverse Exodus.