After getting stomped on by Egypt and having a puppet king installed, now the Babylonians arrive in Judah and Jehoiakim becomes the vassal king of Nebuchadnezzar. He serves Nebby for three years and then rebels against him.
And he’s faced with raiders from Babylon, Aram, Moab, and Ammon, because, according to the author, God is just now getting around to punishing the nation for the sins of Manasseh who’s been dead for decades.
But then Jehoiakim up and dies leaving his son, Jehoiachin, to face the very annoyed Nebuchadnezzar, who has finished crushing the Egyptians.
Jehoiachin was also a putz, and the text says he reigned for three months, but later on, it references that Nebuchadnezzar shows up and besieges the city and takes it in the eighth year of his reign. Nebby loots all the treasure in the Temple (isn’t he like the eighth or ninth guy to do that?) And he takes captive all the craftsmen, the officers, the nobles of Jerusalem and leaves the city’s poor behind.
He also takes away Jehoiachin and his court to Babylon as his prisoners.
So Nebuchadnezzar installs Jehoiachin’s uncle Zedekiah in his place as king over Judah and then heads home to Babylon.
But Zedekiah is a dick too and he rebels. Which, come on, man… I understand the desire to be free and be your own man, but you were made king by a guy whose army just kicked your butt and sacked your stronghold. This isn’t going to end well.
And it doesn’t end well.
Nebuchadnezzar comes back and he’s pissed. He besieges Jerusalem again, and when the people run out of food, he breaches the city walls. Zedekiah and his army flee the city, but Zedekiah is captured and brought before Nebuchadnezzar. Nebuchadnezzar has Zed’s family killed in front of him, and then puts out his eyes and binds him and takes him back to a Babylonian prison.
Nebuchadnezzar’s general, Nebuzaradan leads the assault on Jerusalem and conquers it. The Babylonians loot whatever is of value that still remains in the city and the Temple and burn the city to the ground.
He takes the city elders and chief priests and has them brought to Nebuchadnezzar who executes them.
And everyone except the poorest of the poor is taken to Babylon. Those guys are left behind to till the land and be farmers for the king of Babylon. The king then appoints a man named Gedaliah to be the governor of Judea and leaves for Babylon again.
And some of the army returns to Judah and Gedaliah tells them that all will be well if they just serve the king of Babylon and stop being dicks.
But they just can’t help themselves apparently, so a few months later, Gedaliah is assassinated along with all of the men with him, and the remaining Jews flee to Egypt for sanctuary.
And that’s the end of the narrative. There’s an addendum at the end of the book saying how many years later, after Nebuchadnezzar is dead and his son or grandson Evil-merodach is king of Babylon, Evil finds Jehoiachin in prison and apparently they hit it off, so Evil orders him released and makes him a trusted advisor who eats at king’s table, so I guess things end happily for Jehoiachin, if not for pretty much anyone else.
Alright, in case you weren’t bored out of mind by the books of Kings, we get to do it all over again in Chronicles.
Which, I’m just saying… but if this is really a book written and compiled by the infinitely wise God of the Universe, I find it difficult to explain why He (or She, I suppose) felt the need to write the same two books twice and include them both in His manuscript.
Oh well, tomorrow we’ll cover a lot of ground because the first nine chapters of Chronicles are literally just nine chapters of “this guy beget this jackass and died…”