OU TORAHDedicated by the Jacobs and Chill Families in Memory of Harold and Pearl Jacobs
Dora Bas Rivka Silver O'H
During the reign of Yehoyakim, Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylonia, invaded Judah. Yehoyakim served him for three years, then rebelled. The armies of Kasdim, Aram, Moav, and Ammon all mobilized against Judah. This was orchestrated by G-d, as He had said through the prophets.
Yehoyakim reigned for 11 years. When he died, he was succeeded by his son Yehoyachin. Egypt was no longer the military threat, since the Babylonians had moved in.
Like Yehoachaz, Yehoyachin reigned for a mere three months. Another evil king, he was captured in battle by the forces of Nebuchadnezzar. Nebuchadnezzar also carried off some of Yehoyachin's family, his officers, and all the treasures of the Temple and his palace, as had been foretold by Isaiah to Chizkiyahu. 10,000 people were exiled from Jerusalem, leaving only the weakest and poorest, who would pose no threat.
Nebuchadnezzar crowned Yehoyachin's uncle Matanya king of Judah and changed his name to Tzidkiyahu. Tzidkiyahu would be the last king of Judah.
Tzidkiyahu was one of the bad kings and he reigned for 11 years. Perhaps unwisely, he rebelled against the powerful Nebudchadnezzar, who had appointed him.
A short Insight into II Kings, Chapter 24As the siege of Yerushalayim by Nevuchadnezar's army continued, we learn that King Yehoyachin was taken captive along with his mother, his servants, his ministers and his officers.
The Mei'am Lo'eiz brings a more detailed depiction of the events surrounding King Yehoyachin's surrender from the Talmud Yerushalmi (Shekalim 6,2).
When Nevuchadnetzar came to Yerushalayim and joined up with his army, he did not enter the city right away. Rather, he camped near the city. The Sanhedrin came out to inquire of Nevuchadnetzar if the time of the destruction of the Temple had arrived. Nevuchadnetzar responded that the time had not yet come for the destruction. However, he requested that Yehoyachin, the King, should be handed over to him to be taken to Babylonia. At that time, Nevuchadnetzar assured them that he would remove his army and end the war.
The Sanhedrin went to Yehoyachin and relayed the message from Nevuchadnetzar. When Yehoyachin heard the message, he took the keys to the Temple and went up to its roof. He turned his face to the heavens and cried out, “Master of the Worlds, up to this point we were faithful guardians and the keys of Your Temple were handed over to us. Now, our enemy has gained strength over us. He wants to take the king and the Temple will be handed over to him. Therefore, I return the keys of the Temple. Do with them as You desire.”
When Yehoyachin finished his prayers he threw the keys towards the heavens and they did not fall back to earth. Chazal teach us that an angel came and brought the keys into the heavens.
The officers of Yehuda were watching to see what would happen to Yehoyachin. When they saw the keys taken to heaven they knew that the Divine Presence had departed from the Temple. Subsequently, they threw themselves off of the roof and died.
Afterward, Yehoyachin went out to Nevuchadnetzar with his whole household, including his officers and servants and handed over all of the treasures, gold and silver utensils and all of the king's wealth. Nevuchadnetzar took all of the Sanhedrin and all of the great Sages. Verse fourteen says, “There was no one left except for the poorest of the common people.”
Chazal teach us that the exile of Yehoyachin and the sages at this time was a chesed that Hashem performed. They were able to set up a Torah infrastructure in Babylonia in preparation for the exile of the rest of the Jews eleven years later.