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assembled a great army, with the intention of con-
quering the district of the Lebanon as far as the
Euphrates, and of humiliating Assyria. He took
the fortified Philistine city of Gaza by storm, and
advancing along the slope on the coast of the Medi-
terranean Sea, he purposed reaching the Jordan by
the plain of Jezreel. Josiah, however, opposed his
advance through this territory, which had formerly
been in the possession of the Israelites. Hardly had
Necho and his army reached the middle of the
plain of Jezreel, than the army of Judah barred his
way at Megiddo. The Egyptian king, it is said,
assured Josiah that his campaign was not directed
against the land of Judah, but against more distant
territories. Notwithstanding this, Josiah compelled
him to do battle. The result was disastrous to the
king of Judah, for his army was beaten, and he him-
self was dangerously wounded (608). His attend-
ants hastily brought their beloved king to Jerusalem,
and on his arrival there he breathed his last. When
he was interred in the new mausoleum, men and
women wept bitterly, and exclaimed, " Oh, king ! oh,
glory!" From year to year, on the anniversary of
the day on which this last excellent king of the house
of David had sunk pierced by arrows, a lamentation
was sung, composed by Jeremiah for the occasion.
No king was more sincerely mourned than Josiah.
The unfortunate battle of Megiddo in the plain of
Jezreel was the turning point in the history of Judah.



ESects of Josiah's Foreign Policy Jehoahaz Jehoiakim Egyptian
Idolatry introduced The Prophets Uriah the Son of She-
maiah Jeremiah's renewed Labours Fall of Assyria -Nebu-
chadnezzar Baruch reads Jeremiah's Scroll Submission of
Jehoiakim His Rebellion and Death Jehoiachin Zedekiah
Siege of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar The Siege raised owing
to the Intervention of Egypt Defeat of the Egyptians Renewal
of the Siege Capture of Jerusalem Zedekiah in Babylon
Destruction of the Capital Jeremiah's Lamentations.

608586 "B. c. E.

JOSIAH had expected to secure the independence of
Judah, by calling a halt to the interference of Egypt
in the affairs of other lands, but this policy led to the
subjection of his own people to Egypt. In Jeru-
salem, where the king's death was bitterly mourned,
no further steps were taken till the election of a
new king had been decided on. Josiah had left
three sons; the first-born was Eliakim, and the
two younger sons, Shallum and Mattaniah. The
father appears to have named Shallum, the son of
his favourite wife, as his successor. In order to do
honour to their deeply-mourned king, the people
confirmed Josiah's choice, though Shallum was two
years younger than Eliakim. On his accession he,
according to custom, took a different name that of

Matters had, however, come to such a pass that the
will of the nation could no longer establish their king
firmly, nor could the holy oil render his person
sacred: the decisive word lay with another power.
The king of Egypt, to whom the country had become
subject by the victory at Megiddo, had decided other-
wise. Apparently, without troubling himself about


Judaea, Necho had reached the district of the Euph-
rates by forced marches; had obtained possession of
the territories of Aram or Syria, belonging to Assyria,
and had taken up his residence in Riblah. Jehoahaz
repaired thither to meet Necho, to have his election
confirmed by him, and at the same time to receive
the land of Judaea from him as a tributary state.
But the newly-elected king found no favour in the
eyes of the Egyptian sovereign, who caused him to
be put into chains and carried off to Egypt. He then
named Eliakim king of Judah. Jehoahaz had only
reigned three months.

Eliakim, or, as he was called after his accession,
Jehoiakim (607-596), had to perform an unpleasant
duty at the very commencement of his reign.
Necho had imposed on the land a heavy and humili-
ating tribute of 100 khikars of silver and one khikar
of gold, as a punishment to Josiah for having hin-
dered his march through the country. There was
no treasure at that time in the palace or the Temple.
Jehoiakim, therefore, taxed all the wealthy according
to their wealth, and caused these imposts to be
forcibly collected by his servants. Added to this
humiliation there arose another evil. The moral and
religious improvement brought about by Josiah was,
according to the predictions contained in the law
lately discovered, to bring happier times in its wake,
and now the people found themselves sorely disap-
pointed. The God-fearing king had fallen on the
battle-field, and had been brought back dying to the
capital ; the flower of the Israelitish army had been
cut down, a royal prince lay in fetters, and the country
had fallen into disgraceful bondage.

This change occasioned a turn in the tide of
opinion; a relapse set in. The nation, including the
more enlightened amongst them, began to doubt the
power of God, who had not fulfilled, or could not
fulfil, the promises He had made to them. They
cherished the delusion that by resuming the foreign


idolatrous practices which had existed during so long
a period under Manasseh, they would better their for-
tunes. They therefore returned to their evil ways,
erected altars and high places on every hill and under
every green tree. In J udah there were as many gods as
there were towns. They paid special homage to the
Egyptian goddess Ne'ith, the Queen of Heaven, who
was most zealously adored in Sais, the capital of
King Necho; for had not this goddess assisted the
Egyptian king in the victory he had obtained ? Images
of gold and silver, of wood and stone, were again
erected in the houses. The Temple itself was, as in
Manasseh's time, once more desecrated by hideous
idols. The most disgraceful feature of the change
was that the sacrifice of children again prevailed, as
in the days of Ahaz and Manasseh. In the beautiful
Valley of Hinnom an altar was again erected, and
moaning children were ruthlessly offered up to
Moloch, the first-born especially being selected for
the sacrifice.

These idolatrous and immoral practices were ac-
companied by the vices and crimes of debauchery,
adultery, oppression of strangers, widows and or-
phans, by corruption of justice, untruth, dishonesty,
usury and cruelty towards impecunious debtors, and
murder. There was certainly a class which upheld
the law, and which regretted the horrors of these
crimes. But amongst the masses who gave them-
selves up to the aberrations of idolatry and immorality,
it was difficult for those who desired better things to
give practical effect to their views. False prophets
advocated wrong-doing and crime. King Jehoiakim,
although he did not actually encourage the revival of
idolatry, permitted it, and either from weakness, or
from sympathy with them, did nothing to check
the moral decadence. The stern warnings of the
prophets were unheeded by the king, his monitors
being persecuted or slain.

CH. xvl. THE PROPHETS. 301

The prophets of God had a heavy task in this
time of degeneracy ; they had to be prepared for per-
secution and ill-treatment. But they paid little heed
to the dangers they incurred ; they felt impelled to
oppose fearlessly the moral and religious ruin which
was impending. At no period did there arise so many
prophets as in the last two decades before the
destruction of the Jewish kingdom. They addressed
the nation, the princes, and the king almost daily, at
every opportunity ; they warned, roused and threat-
ened them, and prophesied their destruction, if the
prevailing wickedness did not cease. The names of
only four of these prophets have been preserved:
Jeremiah, Uriah, Habakkuk, and Ezekiel. But the
prophecies of others, who fought the battle against
idolatry, have remained, though their names have not
been recorded.

Of Uriah, son of Shemaiah, from the Forest City
(Kirjath-Jearim), nothing is known, except his tragical
death. At the commencement of the reign of King
Jehoiakirn (between 607-604) he had prophesied the
destruction of Jerusalem and of the whole land,
if the people did not give up their evil ways.
When Jehoiakim was informed of this prophecy of
evil, he dispatched messengers to seize and kill its
author. Meanwhile Uriah, having been secretly
warned of his danger, fled to Egypt. Jehoiakim,
however, was so enraged against him, that he sent
one of his nobles to Egypt to demand his sur-
render. He was brought back to Jerusalem and
beheaded, his body being cast on the burial-place
of the common people. This murder of the
prophet, instead of intimidating Jeremiah, seems to
have confirmed him in his energetic action. With
the accession of Jehoiakim and the relapse of the
nation into its former state of sin, he began anew
his work as a prophet, which had been in abey-
ance during the reign of Josiah. Jeremiah now,
for the first time, comprehended the meaning of


the words which had been addressed to him as a
disciple in the first hours of his prophetic calling.
" I have made thee a fortified city, and an iron
pillar, and brazen walls against the whole land,
against the kings of Judah, against the princes
thereof, against the priests thereof, and against
the people of the land." He was to remain firm
and unmoved, and to meet fearlessly the impending
persecutions. Acting on this idea, he prepared
to announce the inevitable destruction, though his
tender heart bled, and he often had to seek fresh
courage in order that he might not grow faint in his task
of prophesying evil. Jeremiah, meanwhile, had grown
to man's estate; but he took no wife. He could not
devote himself to household joys whilst the shadow
of approaching troubles darkened his soul. He
went forth alone and in sadness. He could take no
part in convivial pleasures, because the sins of the
nation crushed in him all feelings of gladness.

Through one of his first addresses in Jehoiakim's
reign he drew on himself the hatred of all zealous
idolaters, and especially of the priests and false
prophets. When the populace, at one of the fes-
tivals, had assembled to offer up sacrifices, he called
to them,

" Thus saith the Lord God of Hosts : Amend your ways and your
doings, and I will cause you to dwell in this place. ... Is this
house, which is called by my name, to be a den of robbers ? Behold
even I have seen it, saith the Lord. . . . And now, because ye
have done all these works, saith the Lord, and I spake unto you.
rising- up early and speaking, but ye heard not, and I called you and
ye answered not, therefore will I do unto this house, which is called
by my name, wherein ye trust, and unto the place which I gave to you
and your fathers, as I have done unto Shiloh." (JEREM. ch. vii.)

Hardly had Jeremiah finished these words when
the priests and false prophets seized him, and said,
" Thou shalt die as thou hast prophesied that this
Temple will become as that of Shiloh." A tumult
arose in the courts of the Temple, and some of the
bystanders supported Jeremiah. This tumult induced


some of the princes to repair from the palace to the
Temple amongst these was Ahikam, son of Sha-
phan and others who belonged to the prophet's
party. The princes immediately formed a court of
justice at one of the gates of the Temple, and heard the
accusation and the defence. The priests and the false
prophets said, " This man deserves death, for he has
prophesied destruction to the city and the Temple."
A few of the elders spoke in favour of Jeremiah.
Then the princes said to the angry priests and the false
prophets, " This man does not deserve death, for he
has spoken to us in the name of our God." Through
the exertions of his friends, and especially of Ahikam,
Jeremiah was set free for the time. But the hatred
of the priests and the false prophets towards him
raged the more fiercely, and they watched for an
opportunity to attack him.

Meanwhile the doom of the Assyrian empire had
been fulfilled. It fell ignominiously, through the
united exertions of Cyaxares of Media and Nabo-
polassar of Babylon. Nineveh, the giant city, fell
after a long siege (605). The last king of Assyria,
Sardanapalus, burnt himself in his citadel. In con-
sequence of the downfall of Assyria, important
changes occurred on the central scene of passing
events. Media became the chief heir of the Assyrian
possessions Cyaxares took the lion's share, and
gave to his ally, Nabopolassar, Babylonia, Elymais,
and the privilege of conquering the countries on the
western side of the Euphrates. King Nabopolassar
did not long survive his victory. He was succeeded
by Nebuchadnezzar a great warrior (604 561), and
a wise, far-seeing statesman. He was by no means
cruel, and only punished his enemies as severely as
was necessary to render them harmless. Neb-
uchadnezzar strengthened his now enlarged king-
dom internally, erected gigantic buildings, and estab-
lished a system of navigation by means of canals.
He then undertook a more extensive expedition of


conquest. Aramaean Assyria, or Syria, which was
split up into small districts, was subdued without
much opposition. Next Phoenicia fell, and its king,
Ithobal (Ethbaal) II., also became Nebuchadnezzar's

The mighty conqueror then offered Jehoiakim the
alternative to pay him allegiance or to be crushed.
On the other hand, the king of Egypt counselled
him to resist firmly, and promised that he would send
help. Judah fell into a condition similar to that
in the days of Hezekiah, and became the battle-
field for the contest between two great powers. A
policy had to be resolved on, but whilst awaiting
aid from Egypt, or a miracle, Jehoiakim and his
counsellors delayed coming to a decision from day

to day.

Amidst the general alarm a fast was proclaimed ;
in the ninth month, in the winter of 600, the whole
nation was summoned to Jerusalem, and there it en-
treated the Lord to avert the impending evil from
the land. The nation, in great excitement and fear
as to what the future might bring on it, crowded
to the Temple as though it would find security
there. Jeremiah meanwhile commanded his faithful
disciple, Baruch, to write down the prophetic exhor-
tation which he had uttered some years before, and in
which he had predicted that Judah herself,as well as all
the nations around her, would be reduced to subjec-
tion to the young Chaldsean empire. After Baruch had
inscribed this address on a roll, Jeremiah commanded
him to read it in front of the Temple, in the presence
of all the inhabitants of the capital and the entire
country. The prophet himself was from some cause
prevented from being present, and therefore Baruch
was to represent him. Baruch, though not without
hesitation, undertook this task. In an open hall, in
the upper court of the Temple, he read the contents
of the scroll to the whole nation. The address
made a deep impression on the people, confronted


as they were with the impending danger of an
attack from Nebuchadnezzar's army, which now
lay but a short distance from Jerusalem. A young
man, Michaiah, son of Gemariah, hastened to the
princes who had assembled in one of the halls of the
palace, and there, agitated as he was, he communi-
cated to them what he had heard. The alarmed
princes invited Baruch to read again, in their presence,
Jeremiah's scroll. Each word fell heavily on their
hearts, and they were seized with terror. They, there-
fore, determined to inform the king of what they had
heard, hoping that he, too, would be moved and
convinced that he must give up all opposition to
Nebuchadnezzar. For a moment they hoped for the
best, when Jehoiakim commanded that ths scroll
be brought and read to him. But as each leaf was
read, it was, by the king's order, handed to him, and
he threw it into the fire. The princes witnessed
this act of defiance with dismay, and entreated the
king not to draw down destruction on them. He,
however, paid no heed to them, and continued to
throw the pages into the fire until the whole scroll
was consumed. Jehoiakim then issued an order
that the prophet of evil and his disciple be sought,
in order that they might be killed as Uriah had been.
Happily, the anxious princes had previously made
arrangements to save Jeremiah and Baruch by hiding
them in a secure place.

It was, doubtless, a day of intense excitement for
Jerusalem. The entire nation that had assembled for
the fast departed without having gained its end.
The reading of the scroll had, however, one effect: it
brought about a division in the council of the princes.
Those who were convinced by Jeremiah's prophecies,
and had been instrumental in saving him, were de-
termined to submit to Nebuchadnezzar. Amongst
them was the Keeper of the Lists (Sopher), Elishama,
who directed the war arrangements. He and
other men of note being opposed to war, Jehoi-


akim could not undertake war, or his throne might
be endangered. He therefore made peace with
Nebuchadnezzar, paid the tribute imposed, promised
him military aid, and assumed all the duties which
in those days were imposed on a vassal. This was
the commencement of the Chaldaean vassalage of
Judah (600). Jeremiah, it appears, could now leave
his hiding-place. Incensed as the king was against
him, he dared not touch a hair of his head, for the
princes who had saved him continued to protect him.
Jehoiakim, however, bore the Chaldaean yoke
with great reluctance; he could no longer give reins
to his passion. The king of Egypt, no doubt, con-
tinued to urge Jehoiakim to rebel against Nebuchad-
nezzar. When, therefore, Ethbaal II. of Phoenicia
withdrew his allegiance (598), Jehoiakim, with in-
comprehensible blindness, likewise refused to pay
tribute, and allied himself with Egypt, and probably
also with Phoenicia. Nebuchadnezzar, consequently,
had to collect all his forces against Phoenicia. He


commenced the siege of Tyre, which lasted thirteen
years. He was, therefore, for the time being,
prevented from chastising the rebellious king of
Judah, and the latter might flatter himself with the
belief that he had lastingly secured his indepen-
dence. But though Nebuchadnezzar could not send
a great army out against him, he nevertheless dis-
tressed the country by predatory inroads. Idumsean,
Moabitish and Ammonitish hordes also overran the
land and devastated it. At this critical period, Jehoia-
kim died (697). His successor was his young son Jehoi-
achin (Jeconiah, shortened into Coniah), or rather
the reins of government were taken in hand by his
mother, Nehushta. Jehoiachin also cherished the
idea that he could oppose Nebuchadnezzar, and,
therefore, did not pay him homage. He also con-
tinued to practise the horrors of idolatry and im-
morality as his father had done. But this blindness
of Jehoiachin and his mother lasted only a short time.


Nebuchadnezzar at length was enabled to withdraw,
from the siege of Tyre, a great portion of his army,
with which he proceeded against Egypt. This Chal-
daean army easily subdued the entire country south
of Phoenicia as far as the Egyptian river (Rhino-
kolura). The whole of Judah was also taken, with
the exception of a few fortified towns in the south.
Those who fell into the hands of the enemy were
made prisoners. Notwithstanding this, Jehoiachin
continued his opposition, thinking himself safe behind
the thick walls of Jerusalem, relying besides on the
support of Egypt in the event of a siege.

Nebuchadnezzar, therefore, sent some of his gen-
erals to besiege Jerusalem. Jehoiachin had no time
to think of repentance, for the besiegers were gain-
ing on him, and the distress in the city was great.
He therefore commenced to arrange conditions of
surrender with the generals, when Nebuchadnezzar
came to the camp, and was entreated by the king,
the queen-mother and her court, to be merciful.
The victor, however, showed no mercy, but imposed
hard conditions. Jehoiachin had to relinquish his
throne, and go, together with his mother, his wives,
his kindred, and eunuchs, into exile in Babylonia. He
had occupied the throne of David for only one hun-
dred days. It was surprising that Nebuchadnezzar
spared his life, and indeed, that he refrained altogether
from bloodshed. He only banished ten thousand of
the warriors and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, taken
indiscriminately from the various families that lived
in the capital, and transplanted them to Babylonia.
Among them he also carried off a thousand me-
chanics who were skilled in forging arms and build-
ing fortifications. Of the Judaeans who lived in
the country he also took three thousand and twenty-
three to Babylon as prisoners. That Nebuchad-
nezzar took possession of the treasures of the
palace and the Temple was not an act of especial
violence, but was justified by the military laws of


those days. But he left the commonwealth intact,
spared the city and its walls, and left the Temple
uninjured. The first foreign conqueror Jerusalem
had had after an existence of five hundred years
showed greater mercy than many of the conquerors
of later ages.

Nebuchadnezzar likewise refrained from disestab-
lishing David's throne, and placed on it the youngest
son of Josiah, Mattaniah, who called himself Zedekiah.
He was of a gentle, unwarlike and pliable character.
The Babylonian conqueror thought that these quali-
ties would be guarantees of peace and submission.
In order, however, to make sure of Zedekiah's loy-
alty, Nebuchadnezzar entered into a solemn treaty
with him, and bound him by an oath of fealty. The
land of Judah was of extreme importance to him as
a bulwark against Egypt, in the subjection of which
he was continually engaged. For this reason he had
sent into banishment the noble families and the
princes of Judah, thus removing the daring and fool-
hardy men who might urge the king to ambitious
schemes and rebellion. His object was to render
Judah a weak, insignificant and dependent state,
deriving its strength from him.

Judah might, in fact, have continued to exist as a
modest appendage of Babylon. It would soon have
recovered from the severe blows inflicted on it.
Though the banishment of so many noble families,
the flower of the army and of the nation, was a severe
blow ; and though the capital and the country were
filled with sorrow in consequence of their subjection,
the remnant of the people nevertheless recovered
themselves with wonderful rapidity, and again at-
tained to a prosperous condition.

The nobles, however, were not satisfied with their
modest condition ; they wished for wider spheres of
activity. It was the curse of the country during the
last century that the nobles of the capital not only
governed the people, but also the court. The kings


were but of little account, for, in imitation of the custom
of kings like Sardanapalus, they lived in the harem of
their palaces, and occupied their time with trifles.
These nobles could now the more easily assert them-
selves, as their king, Zedekiah, was swayed by a most
unkinglike weakness and indolence, and had not the
courage to withstand them. He was, however, per-
sonally well-disposed. He does not seem to have par-
ticularly favoured idolatry, but rather to have lamented
the national evils when they were brought under
his notice, and to have given ear to the prophets.
But he did not possess the power to oppose the
nobles and their actions. Zedekiah may have in-
tended to remain faithful to the oath of fealty which
he had taken to his liege lord Nebuchadnezzar ; but
he had not the strength of will to adhere to his reso-
lution. Rebellious schemes were secretly formed,
which he, in the seclusion of his palace, did not find
out, or, if cognisant of them, was incapable of oppos-
ing. This weakness on the part of the king, and
foolhardiness on the part of the nobles, led to the fall
of Judah. The nobles appear to have been seized with
madness. Suggestions were made, in various quar-
ters, of rebelling against Nebuchadnezzar. Egypt, ever
false and deceitful, was continually gpading the Jud-
seans on by making brilliant promises of alliance which
it seldom kept. On the other side, King Ethbaal of
Tyre urged upon Judah and the neighbouring

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