Zedekiah son of Josiah and the last king of Judah, ruled 11 years, from 597 B.C. to 586 B.C. Zedekiah’s two older brother’s, Jehoahaz and Jehoiakim, and his nephew Jehoiachin ruled before him. When Jehoiachin was exiled to Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar made 21-year old Mattaniah the king, changing his name to Zedekiah.
Verse 1 – In the ninth year of Zedekiah king of Judah, in the tenth month, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and all his army came against Jerusalem, and besieged it.
Verse 2 – In the eleventh year of Zedekiah in the fourth month, on the ninth day of the month, the city was penetrated.
This siege had lasted 18 months. A breach in the wall was made and the Chaldeans entered.
Verse 3 – Then all the princes of the king of Babylon came in and sat in the middle of the Gate: Nergal-Sharezer, Samgar-Nebo, Sarsechim, Rabsaris, Nergal-Sarezer, Rabmag, with the rest of the princes of the king of Babylon.
These princes came in and sat up their government at the Gate. This middle Gate was probably where Zion was separated from the lower town.
Verse 4 – So it was, when Zedekiah the king of Judah and all the men of war saw them, that they fled and went out of the city by night, by way of the king’s garden, by the gate between the two walls. And he went out by way of the plain.
Verse 5 – But the Chaldean army pursued them and overtook Zedekiah in the plains of Jericho. And when they captured him, they brought him up to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, to Riblah in the land of Hamath, where he pronounced judgement on him.
Verse 6 – Then the king of Babylon killed the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes in Riblah; the king of Babylon also killed all the nobles of Judah.
Verse 7 – Moreover he put out Zedekiah’s eyes, and bound him with bronze fetters to carry him off to Babylon.
Verse 8 – And the Chaldeans burned the king’s house and the houses of the people with fire, and broke down the walls of Jerusalem.
This event was so tragic, that it is mentioned in scripture 4 times. I imagine as Zedekiah stood there and watched his son’s being killed, that Jeremiah’s prediction came flooding back to him. Jeremiah had told him that God said for them to surrender to the king of Babylon and all of this could have been avoided. and furthermore, they all could have avoided, Jerusalem being overtaken, at all, if they had only repented.
Verse 9 – Then Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard carried away captive to Babylon the remnant of the people who remained in the city and those who defected to him, with the rest of the people who remained.
Verse 10 – But Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard left in the land of Judah the poor people, who had nothing, and gave them vineyards and fields at the same time.
Only the poor who owned nothing were left to govern themselves, but the land and the vineyards were given to them. They would be so grateful that they wouldn’t revolt against the Babylonians.
Jeremiah Is Released
Verse 11 – Now Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon gave charge concerning Jeremiah to Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard, saying,
Verse 12 – “Take him and look after him, and do him no harm; but do to him just as he says to you.”
The Babylonians were very superstitious, so they treated Jeremiah as a seer. Because he had been imprisoned by his own people, they assumed he was a traitor to them and was on their side. They knew Jeremiah had predicted a victory for the Babylonians, so they protected him.
Verse 13 – So Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard sent Nebushasban, Rabsaris, Nergal-Sharezer, Rabmag, and all the king of Babylon’s chief officers;
Verse 14 – then they sent someone to take Jeremiah from the court of the prison, and committed him to Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, the son of Shaphan, that he should take him home. So he dwelt among the people.
Jeremiah was treated better by his captors than his own people. Gedaliah had just been appointed governor of Judah, which lived in a palace near by and Jeremiah went home with him. How’s that for being faithful?
Verse 15 – Now the word of the Lord had come to Jeremiah while he was shut up in the court of the prison, saying,
Verse 16 – “Go and speak to Ebed-Melech the Ethiopian, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: “Behold, I will bring My words upon this city for adversity and not for good, and they shall be performed in that day before you.
Verse 17 – “But I will deliver you in that day,” says the Lord, “and you shall not be given into the hand of the men of whom you are afraid.
Verse 18 – “For I will surely deliver you, and you shall not fall by the sword; but your life shall be a prize to you, because you have put your trust in Me.” says the Lord.’ ”
Remember Ebed-Melech, he was the one who rescued Jeremiah from the muddy cistern? He was one of the few who had believed Jeremiah’s message. Just as Ebed-Melech had risked his life to go before the king and tell him about Jeremiah’s dilemma, God would shelter him from the Babylonians when they invaded Jerusalem. God knows how to reward his faithful people.