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II Kings - Chapter 25

The End

In the ninth year of Tzidkiyahu's reign, on the 10th day of the 10th month (Teves), Nebuchadnezzar started his siege against Jerusalem. In the eleventh and last year of Tzidkiyahu's reign, on the 9th day of the 4th month (Tammuz), the city wall was breached. (In the days of the second Temple, this was done on 17 Tammuz rather than 9 Tammuz; the Sages declined to make fasts on both days.) The army of Judah fled. Tzidkiyahu was captured by the army of Kasdim and brought to Babylonia.They killed his sons in front of him, then blinded him and kept him in chains.

On the 7th day of the 5th month (Av), Nebuzaradan came and looted Jerusalem. He burned the Temple (on the 9th of Av), as well as all the synagogues and yeshivos. Nebuzaradan exiled the remainder of the people, leaving behind only enough to work the fields.

The Babylonians demolished all the copper objects in the Temple and took the metal back to Babylonia. The fine craftsmanship of the pillars, utensils and the "sea" didn't matter to them against the value of the copper itself.

Nebuzaradan took prominent Kohanim (priests) and royal advisors and had them executed, just so people would get the message. The kingdom of Judah was officially in exile.

Nebuchadnezzar appointed Gedaliah, son of Achikam, as governor over the small number of Jews remaining in the land. The soldiers who had run away returned and Gedaliah encouraged them to be faithful servants to Babylonia. In the seventh month (Tishrei), Gedaliah was assassinated by a party led by Yishmael ben Nesanya. This extinguished the last remnant of hope for the Jews in Judah, as they had to flee to Egypt to avoid repercussions for killing the king of Babylonia's appointed representative.

Remember that Tzidkiyahu's predecessor, his brother Yehoyachin, reigned three months and was captured. In the 27th year of Yehoyachin's captivity, Nebuchadnezzar's successor, Eivil Merodach, released him from prison. Eivil Merodach honored Yehoyachin over the other conquered kings. Yehoyachin changed out of his prison garb and ate at the king's table for the rest of his life.

Author: Rabbi Jack Abramowitz