The Last Chapter in the BibleBy Rabbi Jack Abramowitz
Yehoachaz, son of Josiah, was installed in his father’s place. He reigned for three months when the Pharaoh deposed him and brought him to Egypt. He replaced Yehoachaz with his brother Elyakim (whom the Pharaoh renamed Yehoyakim).
Yehoyakim reigned 11 years, but he displeased G-d. When Nebuchadnezzar came, he threw Yehoyakim in chains and brought him to Babylonia, along with many of the vessels of the Temple. He was replaced by his son Yehoyachin.
Yehoyachin reigned for three months when Nebuchadnezzar had him brought to Babylonia, along with more of the Temple’s precious utensils. Yehoyachin appointed his uncle Tzidkiyahu to succeed him.
Tzidkiyahu ruled for 11 years and was also evil, refusing to listen to G-d’s words, which He sent via the prophet Jeremiah. He also violated an oath and rebelled against Nebuchadnezzar. At that time, the kohanim were likewise corrupt. G-d sent prophets, but they wouldn’t listen. Ultimately, G-d brought the Kasdim (Chaldeans), who had no compassion on young men, girls or the elderly. They carried off the rest of the Temple treasures to Babylonia (except for those that had been hidden away by Josiah – refer again to Yoma 52b). They burned the Temple and broke the wall of Jerusalem. The people were exiled, to become slaves in Babylonia, until that empire was superseded by the Persians.
The land was empty for 70 years to make up for 70 missed Sabbaticals, as per the prophecy of Jeremiah. G-d caused Cyrus, king of Persia, to be favorably disposed towards the Jews; he permitted them to return to Jerusalem and to rebuild the Temple.
The Book of Chronicles – indeed, the entire Tanach – ends here, though this is clearly not the end of the story. We know from the Book of Ezra/Nehemiah how Cyrus suspended the Temple construction, only to have the king Darius later allow it to be completed. Just as Chronicles does not fully reflect the scope of Jewish history as related in Tanach, it does not detail subsequent events. There are many Biblical prophecies that we have seen unfold quite clearly in the 2,400 or so years since the Biblical canon has closed. There are also many events unfolding today, obvious precursors to the Messianic era – may we see it speedily and return to serve G-d enthusiastically in the third (and final) Temple!