2 Chronicles 36
The grand tradition of Israel has such a disappointing ending. Certainly God reveals to Josiah that exile is inevitable, but no one can predict the barrage of incompetent kings who usher in that foreign exile.
36 The Israelites chose Josiah’s son Joahaz, also named Jehoahaz,[a] as his father’s successor in Jerusalem. 2 He was 23 years old when he ascended to the throne, but his reign in Jerusalem only lasted 3 months. 3-5 Neco conquered Israel, deposed Joahaz as the king, exiled him to Egypt, and made Israel a vassal state required to pay 3,750 pounds of silver and 75 pounds of gold annually to Egypt.
The Egyptian king appointed 25-year-old Eliakim, Joahaz’s brother, as acting king of Judah and Jerusalem, changing his name to Jehoiakim. He reigned 11 years in Jerusalem, and he was evil before the Eternal God. 6 Then Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, attacked Israel, carried Jehoiakim bound in bronze chains into exile in Babylon, 7 plundered the Eternal’s temple, and put the temple possessions in his own Babylonian temple. 8-9 The rest of Jehoiakim’s rebellions are recorded in the book of the kings of Israel and Judah.
Jehoiachin was only 8 years old when he succeeded his father as king in Jerusalem. He, too, did what the Eternal considered as evil and reigned only 3 months and 10 days. 10 Just after the new year, King Nebuchadnezzar had Jehoiachin exiled to Babylon as well. He also took more valuables from the Eternal’s temple.
Nebuchadnezzar then appointed Zedekiah the Babylonian as acting king of Judah and Jerusalem 11 when he was only 21 years old. He reigned 11 years from Jerusalem 12 and he also did what the Eternal One saw as evil. He refused to listen to the guidance of Jeremiah, who advised the king to humble himself before the Eternal. 13 Furthermore, he rebelled against King Nebuchadnezzar, to whom he had sworn allegiance in the name of God, 14 then led the rest of the nation to abandon the Eternal One, God of Israel. All the leaders and priests mimicked the other nations, following pagan gods and desecrating the Eternal’s house, which He had sanctified in Jerusalem. 15 Again and again, the Eternal God of their ancestors, because of His compassion for His people and His temple, sent messengers to His people, convicting them of the wrong doings and telling them to return to His ways, 16 but the people mocked the True God’s messengers, hated His messages, and laughed at His prophets. Their actions further infuriated the Eternal, until there was no way to contain His anger.
17 The Eternal empowered the king of the Chaldeans (who were part of the Babylonian Empire) to attack Israel. This army was merciless, sacrificing Israel’s children in their temples and slaughtering everyone else without regard to gender, age, or health. 18-19 They plundered every treasure in the Eternal God’s temple and burned God’s temple to the ground. They stole the king’s and the officers’ possessions, tore down the wall of Jerusalem, burned the fortified buildings, and destroyed anything of value in Jerusalem. 20 Anyone who managed to survive the invasion was exiled to Babylon, where they remained servants of the Babylonian court until it was conquered by the Persian Empire. 21 This exile fulfilled the Eternal’s message through Jeremiah that Israel would lie quietly at rest and be desolate for 70 years to make up for the generations where they did not observe Sabbath.
In spite of the generations of sin and hatred, God does not exile His people permanently. He leaves them with the hope of return to their homeland when He gives Jeremiah that prophecy. And their return is not too far away. In less than two generations, the Jews (as the Israelites become known during the exile) return to the land and rebuild His temple.
22 As soon as Cyrus, the king of Persia, took over the former Babylonian Empire, the Eternal fulfilled His own words (which were relayed by Jeremiah) by compelling Cyrus to send a written proclamation throughout his empire.
Cyrus’ Proclamation: 23 The Eternal, the God of heaven, has decided to give me all the kingdoms of the world to rule as my own. In return for this, He has told me to build Him a new house in Jerusalem of Judah. Any of His people living in my empire may return to Jerusalem of Judah with the help of the Eternal One and True God.