The Exile to BabyloniaBy Rabbi Jack Abramowitz
Tzidkiyahu became king of Judah when he was 21 years old. He did acts of evil like his predecessor Yehoyakim had done. G-d inspired him to rebel against Nebuchadnezzar, who had placed him on the throne, which led to Tzidkiyahu’s exile. In the ninth year of Tzidkiyahu’s reign, on the tenth day of the month of Teves, Nebuchadnezzar’s army started the siege of Jerusalem. The siege lasted two years, until the famine was so severe that there was no food left. The city was breached and the soldiers fled from the Chaldeans.
The Chaldeans pursued and overtook Tzidkiyahu in Jericho. They brought him to Nebuchadnezzar, to account for his rebellion. Nebuchadnezzar slaughtered Tzidkiyahu’s sons in his presence, then blinded him. He had Tzidkiyahu bound in chains and brought to Babylonia, where he was thrown in prison. On the Ninth of Av, Nebuchadnezzar’s deputy, Nebuzaradan, burned the Temple and the king’s palace in Jerusalem.
Nebuzaradan exiled some of the poor people who remained in Jerusalem, those who had already defected, and the people remaining in the other cities of Judah. But Nebuzaradan left some of the poor people behind to work the land.
The Chaldeans broke the copper pillars of the Temple, the stands and the copper “sea,” and the Temple utensils and instruments, carrying off the copper to Babylonia. They also took the silver and gold utensils. Nebuzaradan took Seraya and Tzefanya, the High Priest and the Deputy High Priest, into custody, along with their officers. From the city, Nebuzaradan took a variety of officers of the court and the army. He brought them to Nebuchadnezzar, who executed them.
In the initial wave of Babylonia’s attack, in the reign of Yehoyachin, 3,023 people were exiled from Judah; in the second wave, at the time of Tzidkiyahu, an additional 832 people were exiled from Jerusalem. Nebuzaradan exiled an additional 745 more people.
When Nebuchadnezzar died, his successor, Evil-Merodach, released Yehoyachin from prison. He placed Yehoyachin over other captive kings who were in Babylonia. Yehoyachin resumed wearing regular clothes instead of his prison uniform and started eating his meals with Evil-Merodach; Yehoyachin recieved his meals from the king of Babylonia for the rest of his life.