All religions are equally sublime to the ignorant, useful to the politician, and ridiculous to the philosopher. — Lucretius

Heroes of Israel - Lawton Evans




The Destruction of Jerusalem

Nebuchadnezzar carried Jehoiachin and his mother and his wives and all the rulers of the land of Babylon, and made captives of them. He took all the strong and brave men and all the workers of all sorts, so that there was none left in Jerusalem that could make war. Then he made Zedekiah, the brother of Jehoiachin, to be king over what was left in Judah.

Jeremiah, the prophet, wrote a letter to the captives in Babylon, telling them to be content with their lot, and to plant vineyards and raise crops, for they were to be captives seventy years. After that the Lord would deliver them from the hands of their enemies, because they would repent of their sins, and then they would come back to their old land and Jerusalem would be restored to them.

Zedekiah was no better than the other kings of Judah before him, for he did evil in the sight of the Lord and at last, after nine years of service, he rebelled against Nebuchadnezzar. Of course, the king of Babylon came with another great army of Chaldeans and surrounded Jerusalem. He built forts around the city and cut off all the supplies of food so that there was nothing for the people to eat and there was a great famine.

Now, Jeremiah was also in Jerusalem, even as the rest of the people. Zedekiah sent word to him: "Pray now unto the Lord for us, that he may drive our enemies away." But Jeremiah replied to the messengers: "Tell the king that the Chaldeans shall fight against this city, and take it, and burn it with fire." When the princes heard this answer of the prophet they smote him and put him in prison, and accused him of conspiring with the Chaldeans who were besieging the city.

The king sent secretly for Jeremiah and took him out of the prison and had him brought to the palace. "Is there any word from the Lord?" he asked of the prophet. "Yes, there is; the Lord says you shall be delivered into the hands of the king of Babylon," replied Jeremiah.

The prophet furthermore told the princes and the people that those who surrendered to the Chaldeans should be saved alive, but those who stayed in the city should die by the sword, by famine and by pestilence. All this so angered the princes that they cast the prophet into a dungeon, and let him down with cords. There was mire at the bottom of the dungeon, so that the poor old prophet sank down into the mire. One of the officers told Zedekiah what had been done by the princes and that Jeremiah was likely to die if he were allowed to remain in the mud at the bottom of the dungeon.

"Take thirty men and draw Jeremiah out of the dungeon before he die," were the king's orders. So the men took some pieces of old cloth and some rags and made a kind of rope of them, and let it down into the dungeon. Then they called out: "Put these old cloths and old rags under your armholes and we will pull you out of the dungeon." So Jeremiah di as the men told him and they drew him out of the dungeon. They did not let him go free, but they kept him in another part of the prison.

The Chaldeans still besieged Jerusalem. Eighteen months passed and all the food was gone and the people had nothing to eat. When Zedekiah saw that it was useless to fight any longer, he fled by night out of the city, with all his soldiers. But the Chaldeans pursued him and overtook him and his men, and brought the king before Nebuchadnezzar for judgment.

The king of Babylon thereupon slew the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes, and all the nobles of Judah that were with him. Then he put out the eyes of Zedekiah, and bound him with chains and sent him captive to Babylon. There he was kept in prison until the day of his death.

Then Nebuchadnezzar and the army of the Chaldeans broke down the walls of Jerusalem and burnt the temple, and the palace of the king, and destroyed the city itself. The treasures of the temple, the pillars of brass which Solomon had made, and the sea of brass that stood on the backs of the twelve oxen in the court of the temple, and all the gold and silver vessels of the temple were carried away.

Many of the people were slain, but those who were not, were carried away captives to Babylon. Only the very poor were left to care for the fields and vineyards, and over these Nebuchadnezzar appointed a governor. The kingdom of Judah had lasted nearly four hundred years.

There had been twenty rulers in all, fifteen of whom did wickedly in the sight of the Lord, and five of whom served Him. The people had worshiped idols and disobeyed the word of God and rejected His prophets, and at last the punishment for their sins had come upon them. They were now captives in the city of Babylon and the land of the Chaldeans where they were to serve for seventy years.

As for the prophet, Jeremiah, he was released from his prison and was allowed to remain in the land of Judah among the poor people who had not been carried away.



Contents

Front Matter
Review

The Garden of Eden
The First Great Crime
The Flood
The Tower of Babel
Abraham Moves into Canaan
Sodom and Gomorrah
The Trial of Abraham's Faith
Searching for a Wife for Isaac
Isaac and Rebekah
Esau Sells his Birthright
Jacob Serves for Rachel
Jacob Returns to Canaan
Joseph is Sold into Egypt
Pharaoh's Dream
Joseph's Brethren Buy Corn
Jacob Moves into Egypt
The Early Life of Moses
Egyptians Smitten with Plagues
Egyptians Drowned in Red Sea
The Lord Provides for Israel
Plan to Build the Tabernacle
The Golden Calf
Wanderings of the Israelites
Spying Out the Land of Canaan
Punishing the Israelites
Balaam is Made to Prophesy
Border of the Promised Land
Last Days of Moses
Rahab Saves the Spies
The Destruction of Jericho
The Capture of Ai
Joshua Conquers Canaan
Gideon is Given a Sign
Gideon Overcomes Midianites
The Punishment of Abimelech
Jephthah's Daughter
The Young Samson
Samson and the Philistines
The Death of Samson
Naomi and Ruth
Ruth and Boaz
The Young Samuel
Philistines Capture the Ark
Philistines Return the Ark
Saul in Anointed King
Jonathan and the Philistines
The Disobedience of Saul
Samuel Anoints David
David and Goliath
Saul is Jealous of David
David and Jonathan
The Madness of Saul
David Spares the Life of Saul
The Last Days of King Saul
David Becomes King
The Rebellion of Absalom
The Death of Absalom
Solomon Becomes King
The Wisdom of Solomon
Solomon Builds the Temple
Queen of Sheba Visits Solomon
Revolt of the Ten Tribes
The Wickedness of Jeroboam
Elijah Begins His Ministry
Elijah Destroys the Prophets
Elisha is Made a Prophet
Death of Ahab
Sickness of Ahaziah
Last Days of Elijah
Miracles of Elisha
Naaman is Cured of Leprosy
Flight of the Syrians
Jehu is Appointed King
The Story of Joash
Last days of Elisha
Destruction of Sennacherib
Judah Led into Captivity
Destruction of Jerusalem
Daniel Interprets the Dream
The Fiery Furnace
Madness of Nebuchadnezzer
Handwriting on the Wall
Daniel in the Lion's Den
Jonah Swallowed by a Fish
Jonah Warns Nineveh
Esther Becomes Queen
The Vengeance of Haman
Esther Saves Her People
The Return from Captivity
Nehemiah Rebuilds Jerusalem