The Journey Proper Begins

The “Journey of Discovery through Time” itself begins with this fourth article. We are able to start our “Journey of Discovery” using the signposts and environment information we have gleaned from the summaries of Bible Chapters from articles (2) and (3) in this series and the Key Discoveries made in examining the “Questions for Reflection” section in article (3).

To ensure that the journey is easy to follow, the scriptures analysed and discussed will usually be quoted in full for easy reference, enabling repeated re-reading and referencing of the context and text to be possible. Of course, the reader is strongly encouraged to read these passages in the Bible directly if possible, at least once.

In this article we will examine and discover:

  • When did the Exile begin?
    • Ezekiel, various chapters
    • Esther 2
    • Jeremiah 29 & 52
    • Matthew 1
  • Earlier Prophecies Fulfilled by the events of the Jewish Exile and return
    • Leviticus 26
    • Deuteronomy 4
    • 1 Kings 8
  • Individual passages of Key Scriptures
    • Jeremiah 27 – 70 years of servitude foretold for Judah and the nations
    • Jeremiah 25 – Babylon would be called to account, ending the 70 years

Key Discoveries

1.      When did the Exile begin?

A very important question for consideration is: When did the Exile begin?

It is often assumed that the Jewish Exile began with the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar in the 11th year of Zedekiah and ended with the return of Jews to Judah and Jerusalem with the decree of Cyrus in his 1st year.

However, what do the scriptures say about this?

Ezekiel

Ezekiel clearly refers to the Exile as beginning with the deportation of Jehoiachin, which took place 11 years before the final destruction of Jerusalem, and removal of Zedekiah as King.

  • Ezekiel 1:2 “in the fifth year of the exile of King Jehoiachin[i]
  • Ezekiel 8:1 “in the sixth year” [ii]
  • Ezekiel 20:1 “in the seventh year”
  • Ezekiel 24:1 “in the ninth year 10th month 10th day” siege starts against Jerusalem. (9th year Zedekiah)
  • Ezekiel 29:1 “in the tenth year”
  • Ezekiel 26:1 “And it came about in the eleventh year” many nations to come against Tyre. Verse 7, Jehovah will bring Nebuchadnezzar against Tyre.
  • Ezekiel 30:20; 31:1 “in the eleventh year”
  • Ezekiel 32:1, 17 “in the twelfth year … of our exile”
  • Ezekiel 33:21 “it occurred in the 12th year in the 10th month on the 5th day that there came to me the escaped one from Jerusalem saying ‘The city has been struck down’.”
  • Ezekiel 40:1 “in the twenty-fifth year of our exile, in the start of the year, on the 10th day of the month in the 14th year after the city had been struck down”
  • Ezekiel 29:17 “in the twenty-seventh year”

Esther

Esther 2:5, 6 speaks of “Mordecai … son of Kish who had been taken into exile from Jerusalem with the deported people who were taken into exile with Jeconiah (Jehoiachin) the king of Judah whom Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon took into exile.

Jeremiah 29

Jeremiah 29:1, 2, 4, 14, 16, 20, 22, 30. This chapter was written in the 4th Year of Zedekiah. These verses contain multiple references to exiles, clearly referring to those already in Babylon at the time of writing. These exiles were ones who had gone into exile with Jehoiachin 4 years earlier.

Jeremiah 52

Jeremiah 52:28-30 “took into exile: in the seventh year, 3,023 Jews; in the 18th [iii] year Nebuchadnezzar, … 832; in the 23rd year of Nebuchadnezzar, 745 souls”. Note: The largest amount of exiles was in the 7th (regnal) year of Nebuchadnezzar (the exile of Jehoiachin and Ezekiel). (These verses appear to be add-on verses to complete the story and contain information not to hand when Jeremiah wrote his account. Jeremiah would have had no access to the figures of exiles, whereas Daniel or Ezra would have had access to Babylonian records documenting these figures. The book of Jeremiah appears to use Egyptian dating for Nebuchadnezzar’s reign and hence Nebuchadnezzar’s years mentioned there are consistently 1 year later in than dated cuneiform clay tablets for the same event(s).)[iv]  These years mentioned appear to be additional amounts taken into exile perhaps at the start of the siege in Nebuchadnezzar’s 7th year with the main deportation of Jehoiachin taking place a month or two later in the early part of Nebuchadnezzar’s 8th year. Likewise, the 18th year were likely those taken into exile from outlying cities taken in the run up to the final siege of Jerusalem which lasted into the 19th year of Nebuchadnezzar. The 23rd year exile may be referring to those taken into exile who fled to Egypt when Egypt was attacked again a few years later.

Matthew

Matthew 1:11, 12 “Josiah became father to Jeconiah (Jehoiachin) and to his brothers at the time of the deportation to[v] Babylon. After the deportation to Babylon, Jeconiah became father to Shealtiel.”

Note: While the deportation mentioned is not specifically named as being that at the time of Jeconiah (Jehoiachin), as he is the main object of focus of this passage, it is therefore logical to understand that the deportation referred to is that which occurred when he himself was deported. It is not logical to conclude that the deportation referred to would occur at some later time, such as in Zedekiah’s 11th year, especially in the context of Jeremiah 52:28 mentioned above.

Main Discovery Number 1: “The exile” refers to the exile of Jehoiachin. This took place 11 years before the destruction of Jerusalem and Judah. See in particular Ezekiel 40:1, where Ezekiel states that Jerusalem fell 14 years earlier from the 25th year of exile, giving a date of 11th year of Exile for the destruction of Jerusalem and Ezekiel 33:21 where he receives news of Jerusalem’s destruction in the 12th year and 10th month nearly a year later.

A smaller exile occurred at the end of Zedekiah’s reign with the destruction of Jerusalem and another minor exile some 5 years later, likely from Egypt.[vi]

2.      Earlier Prophecies Fulfilled by the events of the Jewish Exile and return

Leviticus 26:27, 34, 40-42 – Repentance the main requirement for restoration from exile – not time

27‘If, however, with this YOU will not listen to me and YOU just must walk in opposition to me, 28 I shall then have to walk in heated opposition to YOU, and I, yes, I, shall have to chastise YOU seven times for YOUR sins.’,’‘34And I for my part, will lay the land desolate, and your enemies who are dwelling in it will simply stare in amazement over it. And you I shall scatter among the nations… and your land must become a desolation, and your cities will become a desolate ruin. At that time the land will pay off its Sabbaths all the days of its lying desolated, while you are in the land of your enemies. At that time the land will keep Sabbath, as it must repay its Sabbaths. All the days of its lying desolated it will keep Sabbath, for the reason that it did not keep Sabbath during your Sabbaths when you were dwelling upon it.’ “40And they will certainly confess their own error and the error of their fathers in their unfaithfulness when they behaved unfaithfully toward me …41…Perhaps at that time their uncircumcised heart will be humbled, and at that time they will pay off their error. 42And I shall indeed remember my covenant with Jacob.”

Main Discovery Number 2: It was foretold around 900 years previously that because of refusing to obey Jehovah, the Jews would be scattered. This took place with

  • (1a) Israel scattered over Assyria and then later
  • (1b) Judah over Assyria and Babylon
  • (2) It was also warned that the land would be desolated, which it was, and that while it was desolated
  • (3) it would pay off the missed Sabbath years.

No time period was specified, and all these 3 separate events (scattering, desolation, repaying Sabbaths) took place.

Deuteronomy 4:25-31 – Repentance the main requirement for restoration from exile – not time

“In case you become father to sons and grandsons and YOU have resided a long time in the land and do act ruinously and do make a carved image, a form of anything, and do commit evil in the eyes of Jehovah your God so as to offend him, 26 I do take as witnesses against YOU today the heavens and the earth, that YOU will positively perish in a hurry from off the land to which YOU are crossing the Jordan to take possession of it. YOU will not lengthen YOUR days on it, because YOU will positively be annihilated. 27 And Jehovah will certainly scatter YOU among the peoples, and YOU will indeed be let remain few in number among the nations to which Jehovah will drive YOU away. 28 And there YOU will have to serve gods, the product of the hands of man, wood and stone, which cannot see or hear or eat or smell. 29 “If YOU do look for Jehovah your God from there, you will also certainly find him, because you will inquire for him with all your heart and with all your soul. 30 When you are in sore straits and all these words have found you out at the close of the days, then you will have to return to Jehovah your God and to listen to his voice. 31 For Jehovah your God is a merciful God. He will not desert you or bring you to ruin or forget the covenant of your forefathers that he swore to them.”

Main Discovery Number 2 (cont.): A similar message is conveyed in this scripture to that found in Leviticus. The Israelites would be scattered, and many would be killed. In addition, they would have to repent before Jehovah would show mercy to them. Once again, a time period is not mentioned. However, the scripture does state that the end of the scattering would be dependent on their repentance.

1 Kings 8:46-52 – Repentance the main requirement for restoration from exile – not time

 46 “In case they sin against you (for there is no man that does not sin), and you have to be incensed at them and abandon them to the enemy, and their captors actually carry them off captive to the land of the enemy distant or nearby; 47 and they indeed come to their senses in the land where they have been carried off captive, and they actually return and make request to you for favour in the land of their captors, saying, ‘We have sinned and erred, we have acted wickedly’; 48 and they indeed return to you with all their heart and with all their soul in the land of their enemies who carried them off captive, and they indeed pray to you in the direction of their land that you gave to their forefathers, the city that you have chosen and the house that I have built to your name; 49 you must also hear from the heavens, your established place of dwelling, their prayer and their request for favour, and you must execute judgment for them, 50 and you must forgive your people who had sinned against you and all their transgressions with which they transgressed against you; and you must make them objects of pity before their captors and they must pity them 51 (for they are your people and your inheritance, whom you brought out from Egypt, from inside the iron furnace), 52 that your eyes may prove to be opened to the request for favour of your servant and to the request for favour of your people Israel, by listening to them in all for which they call to you.

Main Discovery Number 2 confirmation:  This passage of scripture contains a similar message to both Leviticus and Deuteronomy. It was foretold that the Israelites would sin against Jehovah.

  • Therefore, he would scatter them and exile them.
  • In addition, they would have to repent before Jehovah would listen and restore them.
  • The concluding of the exile was dependent on repentance, not a period of time.

Analysis of Key Scriptures

3.      Jeremiah 27:1, 5-7: 70 Years of Servitude foretold

Time written: approximately 22 years before Jerusalem’s Destruction by Nebuchadnezzar

Scripture: “1In the beginning of the kingdom of Je·hoiʹa·kim the son of Jo·siʹah, the king of Judah, this word occurred to Jeremiah from Jehovah, saying:’, ‘5 ‘I myself have made the earth, mankind and the beasts that are upon the surface of the earth by my great power and by my stretched-out arm; and I have given it to whom it has proved right in my eyes. 6 And now I myself have given all these lands into the hand of Neb·u·chad·nezʹzar the king of Babylon, my servant; and even the wild beasts of the field I have given him to serve him. 7 And all the nations must serve even him and his son and his grandson until the time even of his own land comes, and many nations and great kings must exploit him as a servant.’

8 “‘“‘And it must occur that the nation and the kingdom that will not serve him, even Neb·u·chad·nezʹzar the king of Babylon; and the one that will not put its neck under the yoke of the king of Babylon, with the sword and with the famine and with the pestilence I shall turn my attention upon that nation,’ is the utterance of Jehovah, ‘until I shall have finished them off by his hand.’’

By the early part of the reign of Jehoiakim, (v1 states “In the beginning of the kingdom of Jehoiakim”), the scriptures in verse 6, state that all lands Judah, Edom, etc., had been given into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar by Jehovah. Even the wild beasts of the field (contrast with Daniel 4:12, 24-26, 30-32, 37 and Daniel 5:18-23) were given

  • to serve him,
  • his son (Evil-Merodach, also known as Amel-Marduk, King of Babylon) and
  • his grandson[vii] (Belshazzar, son of Nabonidus[viii] King of Babylon, was effective King of Babylon at its destruction)
  • until the time of his own land [Babylon] would come.
  • The Hebrew word “reshith” means “beginning” as in “the start of” or , “first” rather than “early”.

Verse 6 states “And now I myself {Jehovah] have given all these lands into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar” indicating the action of giving has already taken place, otherwise the wording would be future “I will give”. See also confirmation given at 2 Kings 24:7 where the record states that at the latest, by the time of the death of Jehoiakim, the King of Egypt would not come out of his land, and all the land from the Torrent Valley of Egypt to the Euphrates was brought under the control of Nebuchadnezzar.

(If it was Year 1 of Jehoiakim, Nebuchadnezzar would have been crown prince and chief general of the Babylonian army (crown princes were often viewed as kings, especially as they were the appointed successor), as he became king in the 3rd Year of Jehoiakim).

Judah, Edom, Moab, Ammon, Tyre and Sidon were therefore already under the domination of Nebuchadnezzar serving him at this time.

Verse 7 emphasises this when it states “And all the nations must serve even him” again indicating the nations would have to continue serving, otherwise the verse would state (in future tense) “and all the nations will have to serve him”. To “serve him, his son, and his son’s son (grandson)” implies a long period of time, which would only end when “the time even of his own land comes, and many nations and great kings must exploit him’”. Therefore, the end of the servitude of the nations including Judah, would be at Babylon’s fall, which took place in 539 BCE, not at some unspecified time afterward (e.g. 537 BCE). Servitude to Cyrus and Medo-Persia was not included in this prophecy.

The whole emphasis of this section was on servitude to Babylon, which had already started, and which would end with Babylon itself going under servitude. This occurred with domination by Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome before completely fading into obscurity and abandonment.

Fig 4.3 Start and duration of Servitude to Babylon

Main Discovery Number 3: 70 years of servitude to Babylon foretold, starting early in Jehoiakim’s reign.

 

4.      Jeremiah 25:9-13  – 70 Years servitude completed; Babylon called to account.

Time Written: 18 years before Jerusalem’s Destruction by Nebuchadnezzar

Scripture: 1The word that occurred to Jeremiah concerning all the people of Judah in the fourth year of Je·hoiʹa·kim the son of Jo·siʹah, the king of Judah, that is, the first year of Neb·u·chad·rezʹzar the king of Babylon;’

 “Therefore this is what Jehovah of armies has said, ‘“For the reason that YOU did not obey my words, 9 here I am sending and I will take all the families of the north,” is the utterance of Jehovah, “even [sending] to Neb·u·chad·rezʹzar the king of Babylon, my servant, and I will bring them against this land and against its inhabitants and against all these nations round about; and I will devote them to destruction and make them an object of astonishment and something to whistle at and places devastated to time indefinite. 10 And I will destroy out of them the sound of exultation and the sound of rejoicing, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, the sound of the hand mill and the light of the lamp. 11 And all this land must become a devastated place, an object of astonishment, and these nations will have to serve the king of Babylon seventy years.”’

12 “‘And it must occur that when seventy years have been fulfilled I shall call to account against the king of Babylon and against that nation,’ is the utterance of Jehovah, ‘their error, even against the land of the Chal·deʹans, and I will make it desolate wastes to time indefinite. 13 And I will bring in upon that land all my words that I have spoken against it, even all that is written in this book that Jeremiah has prophesied against all the nations. 14 For even they themselves, many nations and great kings, have exploited them as servants; and I will repay them according to their activity and according to the work of their hands.’

In the 4th year of Jehoiakim, Jeremiah prophesied that Babylon would be called to account for its actions at the completion of 70 years. He prophesied “and all this land will be reduced to ruins and will become an object of horror; and these nations will have to serve the king of Babylon for 70 years. (13) But when 70 years have been fulfilled (completed), I will call to account the king of Babylon and that nation for their error, declares Jehovah, and I will make the land of the Chaldeans a desolate wasteland for all time”.

These nations will have to serve the King of Babylon for 70 years”

What were “these nations” that would have to serve the King of Babylon for 70 years? Verse 9 stated it was “this land .. and against all these nations around about.” Verse 19-25 goes on to list the nations round about: “Pharaoh the King of Egypt … all the kings of the land of Uz … the kings of the land of the Philistines, … Edom and Moab and the sons of Ammon; and all the kings of Tyre and … Sidon … and Dedan and Tema and Buz… and all the kings of the Arabs … and all the kings of Zimri … Elam and … Medes.

Why was Jeremiah instructed to prophesy that Babylon would called to account after the completion of 70 years? Jeremiah says, “for their error”. It was because of Babylon’s pride and presumptuous actions in attacking God’s people, even though Jehovah was allowing them to bring punishment on Judah and the surrounding nations.

The phrases “will have to serve” and “shall” are in the perfect tense indicating these nations (listed in following verses) would have to complete the action of serving the 70 years. Therefore, Judah and the other nations were already under the Babylonian domination, serving them and would have to continue doing so until completion of this period of 70 years in progress. It was not a future period of time not yet started. This is confirmed by v12 talking about when the 70-year period was completed.

Jeremiah 28 records how in the 4th year of Zedekiah that Hananiah, a prophet, gave a false prophecy that Jehovah would break the yoke of the King of Babylon within two years. Jeremiah 28:11 also shows that the yoke was on “the neck of all the nations”, not just Judah already at that time.

The seventy years would also end, having been completed, fulfilled.

When would this occur? Verse 13 states it would be when Babylon was called to account, not before and not after.

When was Babylon called to Account?

Daniel 5:26-28 records the events of the night of the fall of Babylon: “I have number the days of your kingdom and finished it, … you have been weighed in the balances and found deficient, … your kingdom has been divided and given to the Medes and Persians.” Using the generally accepted date of mid-October 539 BCE[ix] for the fall of Babylon we add 70 years which takes us back to 609 BCE. The devastations and destruction were foretold because the Judeans did not obey Jehovah’s command to serve Babylon (see Jeremiah 25:8[x]) and Jeremiah 27:7[xi] stated they would “serve Babylon until their (Babylon’s) time comes”.

Taking October 539 BCE and adding back 70 years, we get to 609 BCE. Did anything significant happen in 609 BCE / 608 BCE? [xii] Yes, it seems that the shift of the World Power from the Bible’s point of view, from Assyria to Babylon, took place when Nabopalassar and his Crown Prince son, Nebuchadnezzar took Harran, the last remaining city of Assyria and broke its power. Assyria’s last King, Ashur-uballit III was killed within little over a year in 608 BCE and Assyria ceased to exist as a separate nation.

Fig 4.4 – 70 Years Servitude to Babylon, Babylon called to account

 Main Discovery Number 4: Babylon would be called to account at the end of 70 years servitude. This occurred in the date we know as October 539 BC according to Daniel 5 meaning the servitude had to have started in October 609 BC.

The fifth part of our series will continue with our “Journey of Discovery through Time”, considering important verses in Jeremiah 25, 28, 29, 38, 42 and Ezekiel 29. Be prepared as the discoveries come thick and fast.

 

 

[i] The 5th year of the exile of Jehoiachin equates to the 5th Year of Zedekiah.

[ii] Note: As these chapters were / are to be read as part of one book (scroll), it would not be necessary for Ezekiel to keep repeating the phrase “of the exile of Jehoiachin”. This would be implied instead.

[iii] Jeremiah 52:28-30 likely refers to exiles taken from other towns of Judah before the sieges of Jerusalem as they are all only months before the main exiles recorded in the Book of Kings and Chronicles and elsewhere in Jeremiah.

[iv] Please see article 1 of this series for a discussion of calendars and regnal years.

[v] Greek Phrase here is correctly “of Babylon” i.e. by Babylon not “to Babylon”, see Kingdom Interlinear Translation of the Greek Scriptures (1969)

[vi] See Jeremiah 52

[vii] It is unclear whether this phrase was meant to be a literal grandson or offspring, or the generations of a line of kings from Nebuchadnezzar. Neriglissar succeeded Nebuchadnezzar’s son Evil (Amil)-Marduk and was also a son-in-law to Nebuchadnezzar. Neriglissar’s son Labashi-Marduk rule only about 9 months before being succeeded by Nabonidus. Either explanation fits the facts and hence fufills the prophecy. See 2 Chronicles 36:20 “servants to him and his sons”.

[viii] Nabonidus was probably a son-in-law of Nebuchadnezzar as it is believed he also married a daughter of Nebuchadnezzar.

[ix] According to the Nabonidus Chronicle (a cuneiform clay tablet) the Fall of Babylon was on the 16th day of Tasritu (Babylonian), (Hebrew – Tishri) equivalent to 13th October.

[x] Jeremiah 25:8 Therefore this is what Jehovah of armies has said, ‘“For the reason that YOU did not obey my words,”

[xi] Jeremiah 27:7 And all the nations must serve even him and his son and his grandson until the time even of his own land comes, and many nations and great kings must exploit him as a servant.”

[xii] When quoting secular chronology dates at this time period in history we need to be careful in stating dates categorically as there is rarely a full consensus on a particular event occurring in a particular year. In this document I have used popular secular chronology for non-biblical events unless otherwise stated.

Tadua

Articles by Tadua.