When Nebuchadnezzar conquered Jerusalem he appointed Zedekiah as his puppet-king and took King Jeconiah and his sons home with him.
For what reasons would the king of a large empire of antiquity, such as Nebuchadnezzar, keep the captive king and his sons alive? Was this common practice in that era?
Would it not make more sense strategically to execute them to prevent any legitimate successors from claiming the throne and seeking vengeance?
The direct motivation of Nebuchadnezzar in sparing King Jeconiah is not known. However, we can discern his motivation from subsequent events that suggest that keeping an heir of David alive, but under the thumb of the Babylonian king would make it easier to manage the large number of Jews in exile in Babylon.
In or about the year 597 BCE, Jeconiah, the young king of the defeated kingdom of Judah, joins the first wave of Jewish deportees to Babylonia. II Kings 25:12. There, he and his family were cared for by King Nebuchadnezzar. James B. Pritchard, ed., Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1969) 308. In Babylon, Jeconiah became the first exilarch (aka the Raish Galusa) (my transliterations follow ashkenaz practice; you will also find this term spelled Raish Galuta) -- a position of power over the Jewish people in exile that was held only by direct descendants of King David. Among the exilarchs were Judah the Prince, who was the editor of the Mishna and one of the greatest Torah scholars in Jewish history. The position of exilarch with Davidic geneology continued into the 11th century. One of the last exilarchs was Rav Sherira Gaon (ca 900-1000 CE), the author of the history of the Oral Law in Judaism, the Igerres Rav Sherira Gaon, and one of the last leaders of the ancient yeshiva in Pumpedisa, Babylon (believed to have been a neighborhood in what is now Baghdad).
Through the position of exilarch, and by granting wealth and privilege to the exilarch, the Babylonians maintained effective control of their Jewish population in exile. Igerres Rav Sherira Gaon, Ch. 9 (Rav Sherira, at p. 113, states that the underwriting of the office continued until the 8th or 9th Century CE). An argument could be made that the existence of the institution also inhibited the efforts of Ezra, Nehemiah and Zechariah to repopulate Israel when Babylon agreed to make that possible 70 years after the 1st Temple's destruction.
Would it not make more sense strategically to execute them to prevent any legitimate successors from claiming the throne and seeking vengeance ?
Perhaps… But it also makes psychological sense to brutally humiliate one's adversaries. Please note the various parallels between the following biblical passages:
Judges 1:6-7 Adonibezek fled; and they pursued after him, and caught him, and cut off his thumbs and his great toes. And Adonibezek said:
Threescore and ten kings, having their thumbs and their great toes cut off, gathered their meat under my table: as I have done, so God hath requited me.
And they brought him to Jerusalem, and there he died.
2 Kings 25:5-7 And the army of the Chaldees pursued after the king, and overtook him in the plains of Jericho: and all his army were scattered from him. So they took the king, and brought him up to the king of Babylon to Riblah; and they gave judgment upon him. And they slew the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes, and put out the eyes of Zedekiah, and bound him with fetters of brass, and carried him to Babylon.
Jeremiah 52:8-11 But the army of the Chaldeans pursued after the king, and overtook Zedekiah in the plains of Jericho; and all his army was scattered from him. Then they took the king, and carried him up unto the king of Babylon to Riblah in the land of Hamath; where he gave judgment upon him. And the king of Babylon slew the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes: he slew also all the princes of Judah in Riblah. Then he put out the eyes of Zedekiah; and the king of Babylon bound him in chains, and carried him to Babylon, and put him in prison till the day of his death.
2 Kings 25:27-30 And it came to pass in the seven and thirtieth year of the captivity of Jehoiachin king of Judah, in the twelfth month, on the seven and twentieth day of the month, that Evilmerodach king of Babylon in the year that he began to reign did lift up the head of Jehoiachin king of Judah out of prison; and he spake kindly to him, and set his throne above the throne of the kings that were with him in Babylon; and changed his prison garments: and he did eat bread continually before him all the days of his life. And his allowance was a continual allowance given him of the king, a daily rate for every day, all the days of his life.
Jeremiah 52:31-34 ¶And it came to pass in the seven and thirtieth year of the captivity of Jehoiachin king of Judah, in the twelfth month, in the five and twentieth day of the month, that Evilmerodach king of Babylon in the first year of his reign lifted up the head of Jehoiachin king of Judah, and brought him forth out of prison, and spake kindly unto him, and set his throne above the throne of the kings that were with him in Babylon, and changed his prison garments: and he did continually eat bread before him all the days of his life. And for his diet, there was a continual diet given him of the king of Babylon, every day a portion until the day of his death, all the days of his life.
When was Judah’s 70-year Babylonian captivity?
Jeremiah prophesied that Judah’s captivity in Babylon would last 70 years, and the scriptures testify that his prophecy was fulfilled. Many people have wondered just exactly how those years were to be counted because an oft-used method yields less than 60 years. A careful calculation, however, using Jewish reckoning from the taking of the first captives, does indeed show that it lasted 70 years.
Jehoiachin (also called Jeconiah), king of Judah, was captured by King Nebuchadnezzar and taken to Babylon, along with some 10,000 of Jerusalem’s principal citizens (see 2 Kgs. 24:12–16). After they arrived in Babylon, the prophet Jeremiah wrote them a letter telling them to build houses and plant gardens. He prophesied, “For thus saith the Lord, That after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place” (Jer. 29:10).
The exact day on which Jehoiachin was taken captive is given in the Babylonian Chronicles, which is a short synopsis on clay tablets of what occurred in each year of the Babylonian kings. Speaking of Nebuchadnezzar in his seventh year, 1 the chronicles state, “He encamped against the city of Judah and on the second day of the month Adar he captured the city (and) seized (its) king. A king of his own choice he appointed in the city (and) taking the vast tribute he brought it to Babylon.” 2 The king of his choice was Zedekiah (see 2 Kgs. 24:17). The date mentioned corresponds to Saturday, 10 March 597 B.C., on our calendar. 3 The years of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign are firmly established by Babylonian astronomical observations giving absolute anchor dates, which confirm the years already accepted from historical sources. In this case, the Bible is also a witness to the exact day because it records that he was taken as the year was changing (see 2 Chr. 36:10). On the Judean calendar, that same day would be called 1 Nisan, the first day of the year usually used for reckoning the reigns of kings. Thus, the witnesses of two calendars from two nations agree to the very day.
The Bible makes it clear that the 70 years were fulfilled when the Jews returned to Jerusalem in the first year of Cyrus of Persia (see 2 Chr. 36:22–23, Ezra 1:1–4). Cyrus conquered Babylon, and then, in the very first year of his reign, he decreed that the Jews could return to Jerusalem to rebuild their temple. This fulfilled not only Jeremiah’s prophecy, but also Isaiah’s: “Cyrus, He is my shepherd, and shall perform all my pleasure: even saying to Jerusalem, Thou shalt be built and to the temple, Thy foundation shall be laid” (Isa. 44:28). On page 640 of the LDS Bible Dictionary under “Chronology,” we find 537 B.C. listed for the year of the decree. This appears to be correct. 4 The problem arises when we notice that there are only 60, rather than the prophesied 70, years between 597 B.C., when Jehoiachin was taken, and 537 B.C. So how is this apparent discrepancy resolved?
The solution to the problem is given to us by Daniel. He tells us that he and others were taken captive some years before Jehoiachin. He states that Nebuchadnezzar besieged Jerusalem in the third year of Jehoiakim (father of Jehoiachin), and that he, Daniel, was taken captive at that time (Dan. 1:1–3, 6). This account means that Nebuchadnezzar had taken captives even before he was crowned king. Further, Daniel’s account is verified in the history of Nebuchadnezzar by Berossus of Babylon. This Babylonian history, no longer extant, is quoted by Josephus as stating that after Nebuchadnezzar defeated Egypt at Carchemish in Syria (in the spring of 605 B.C.), he immediately “settled the affairs of Egypt, and the other countries” and sent captives from the Jews, Phoenicians, Syrians, and Egyptians to Babylon before he returned there himself (in August) to be crowned king after his father’s death. 5
But the difference between 605 and 537 B.C. is only 68 years. Why, then, does the biblical account speak of 70? The answer lies in the calendar systems used and in the way ancient Israelites calculated their years.
The Israelites used two calendar systems, one beginning in the fall and one beginning in the spring. Their calendar originally began in the fall however, after the Lord took the children of Israel out of Egypt, a change was made in their reckoning of years so that the first month was in the spring (see Ex. 12:2, Ex. 13:3–4). The reigns of kings were usually calculated with years beginning in the spring, as in the case of Jehoiachin mentioned above. According to the spring reckoning,the battle of Carchemish occurred in the beginning of the fourth year of Jehoiakim (see Jer. 46:2).
The first key to discovering the answer to our question is this: in Daniel’s history, he uses the calendar system whose years start in the fall, not the spring. As Daniel implies, the battle of Carchemish was in the end of the third year of Jehoiakim according to the fall reckoning (see Dan. 1:1). Daniel’s procedure of starting the year’s count in the fall was the same procedure used in counting the sabbatical years for the land, a principle that was decreed in the law of Moses (see Lev. 25:3–4 see also Bible Dictionary, s.v. “calendar,” “sabbatical year”). As the scriptures declare, the 70-year period of captivity was related to sabbath-year counts (see 2 Chr. 36:21) it made up for sabbath years on the land that Israel had not observed. This being the case, we see why Daniel started to count the 70-year period from a fall reckoning. Daniel’s use of fall reckoning for years of captivity makes sense because sabbath years for the land were reckoned beginning in the fall.
The second key is to understand that in Jewish reckoning any part of a year can count as a full year. By this reckoning, then, the year beginning in the fall of the year we designate as 606 B.C. on our calendar system would be counted as the first year of the captivity—even though the Jews were captive only a short period of the year—because Daniel was taken before that year had ended on the Jewish calendar in September of 605 B.C.
In this light, the 70th, or ending year, began 69 years later in the fall of the year we now designate as 537 B.C., during the first year of the reign of Cyrus. The ending point for the 70 years seems to be at the Feast of Tabernacles (see Ezra 3:4), which was celebrated in Jerusalem in the fall only two weeks after the year had begun. That two-week period, however, was enough to extend the captivity into its 70th year, which would end for the Jews in the fall of the year we now designate as 536 B.C.
Counting a small part of the year as a year, then, is the way the Jews would have reckoned the captivity from 605 B.C. to 537 B.C. as 70 years.
Beginning of Jewish civil year (used in Daniel’s reckoning).
Jewish year 1 of captivity
Battle of Charchemish, May–June of 605 B.C. Daniel taken captive after this battle.
End of Jewish year that began in 606 B.C. By this time Daniel has been carried away to Babylon.
Cyrus decrees return of Jews to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple.
Beginning of Jewish civil year (used in reckoning length of captivity).
End of captivity celebrated at Feast of Tabernacles in Jerusalem.
Why did Nebuchadnezzar keep King Jeconiah alive? - History
His god — i.e., Bel-Merodach, who was originally an Accadian deity, the signification of the second part of the name being “he that measures the path of the sun.” The planet Jupiter was worshipped under this name. He was the tutelary god of Babylon, and to his honour Nebuchadnezzar dedicated a temple. For a further description of this deity see Bar 6:14-15.
With part of the vessels of the house of God - 2 Chronicles 36:7. Another portion of the vessels of the temple at Jerusalem was taken away by Nebuchadnezzar, in the time of Jehoiachin, the successor of Jehoiakim, 2 Chronicles 36:10. On the third invasion of Palestine, the same thing was repeated on a more extensive scale, 2 Kings 24:13. At the fourth and final invasion, under Zedekiah, when the temple was destroyed, all its treasures were carried away, 2 Kings 25:6-20. A part of these treasures were brought back under Cyrus, Ezra 1:7 the rest under Darius, Ezra 6:5. Why they were not "all" taken away at first does not appear, but perhaps Nebuchadnezzar did not then intend wholly to overthrow the Hebrew nation, but meant to keep them tributary to him as a people. The temple was not at that time destroyed, but probably he allowed the worship of Jehovah to be celebrated there still, and he would naturally leave such vessels as were absolutely necessary to keep up the services of public worship.
Which he carried into the land of Shinar - The region around Babylon. The exact limits of this country are unknown, but it probably embraced the region known as Mesopotamia - the country between the rivers Tigris and Euphrates. The derivation of the name "Shinar" is unknown. It occurs only in Genesis 10:10 Genesis 11:2 Genesis 14:1, Genesis 14:9 Joshua 7:21 Isaiah 11:11 Daniel 1:2 Zechariah 5:11.
To the house of his god - To the temple of Bel, at Babylon. This was a temple of great magnificence, and the worship of Bel was celebrated there with great splendor. For a description of this temple, and of the god which was worshipped there, see the notes at Isaiah 46:1. These vessels were subsequently brought out at the command of Belshazzar, at his celebrated feast, and employed in the conviviality and revelry of that occasion. See Daniel 5:3.
And he brought the vessels into the treasure-house of his god - It would seem rom this that the vessels had been taken to the temple of Bel, or Belus, in Babylon, not to be used in the worship of the idol, but to be laid up among the valuable treasures there. As the temples of the gods were sacred, and were regarded as inviolable, it would be natural to make them the repository of valuable spoils and treasures. Many of the spoils of the Romans were suspended around the walls of the temples of their gods, particularly in the temple of Victory. Compare Eschenberg, "Manual of Class." Literally, pt. iii. Sections 149, 150.
his god—Bel. His temple, as was often the case among the heathen, was made "treasure house" of the king.
In this expedition Nebuchadnezzar carried away some of the vessels of the temple, and some captives, among whom was Daniel and his friends. These vessels he carried into the house of his god which god was Baal or Bel, and Nebo, Isaiah 46:1 which words they put into the names of their kings and favourites, of which more afterward. These vessels as spoils he put in the house of his god, for his honour, because he thought he had gotten his victory by the help of his idol god, 1 Samuel 31:9,10 , as the Philistines did, Judges 16:23,24 whereas the text saith the Lord gave all into his hand, Daniel 1:2 . The executioners of God’s wrath upon God’s sinful people have other thoughts than God hath about that, Isaiah 10:5-16 .
and the Lord delivered it into his hands, and Jehoiakim, &c.: this was from the Lord, because of his sins, and the sins of his ancestors, and of his people or otherwise the king of Babylon could not have taken the city, nor him, because of the great power of the Jews, as Jacchiades observes:
with part of the vessels of the house of God not all of them for some, as Saadliah says, were hid by Josiah and Jeremiah, which is not to be depended on however, certain it is that all were not carried away, because we read of some of the vessels of the temple being carried away afterwards, in Jeconiah's time, 2 Kings 24:13, and still there were some left, as the pillars, sea, bases, and other vessels, which were to be carried away, and were carried away by the king of Babylon, in Zedekiah's time, Jeremiah 27:19,
which he carried into the land of Shinar, to the house of his god which Jarchi understands both of the men that were carried captive, and the vessels that were taken out of the temple but the latter seem only to be intended, since of men Jehoiakim is only spoken of before and it does not appear he was ever carried into Babylon but it is certain the vessels of the temple were carried thither which is meant by the land of Shinar, where Babylon stood, and where the tower of Babel was built, Genesis 10:2, the same, as Grotius thinks, with the Singara of Pliny (s) and Ptolemy (t). So the Targum of Onkelos, on Genesis 10:10, interprets the land of Shinar the land of Babylon likewise the Jerusalem Targum on Genesis 10:10, and the Targum of Jonathan on Genesis 11:2, Zechariah 5:11, only on Genesis 10:10, he paraphrases it the land of Pontus. So Hestiaeus (u) an ancient Phoenician writer, calls Shinar Sennaar of Babylonia. It seems to have its name from which signifies to "shake out" because from hence the men of the flood, as Saadiah says, or the builders of Babel, were shook out by the Lord, and were scattered over the face of the earth. And as the tower of Babel itself, very probably, was built for idolatrous worship, for which reason the Lord was so displeased with the builders of it so in this same place, or near it, now stood an idol's temple, where the king of Babylon, and the inhabitants thereof, worshipped, here called "the house of his gods" (w), as it may be rendered for the Babylonians worshipped more gods than one there were Rach, Shach and Nego, from whom Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, are supposed to have their names given them by the Chaldeans, Daniel 1:7. Rach is thought to be the sun, whose priests were called Rachiophantae, observers of the sun Shach, to which Sheshach is referred by some, Jeremiah 51:41, for which a feast was kept once a year for five days, when servants had the rule and government of their masters and Nego either was worshipped for the sun, or some star, so called from its brightness. Venus was also had in veneration with the Babylonians, whom they called Mylitta in whose temple many acts of uncleanness and filthiness were committed, as Herodotus (x) relates. And, besides these, there were Merodach, Nebo, and Bel of which see Isaiah 46:1, the latter seems to have been their chief deity, and who was called Jupiter Belus and with whom were the goddesses Juno and Rhea. And in the city of Babylon stood the temple of Bel, or Jupiter Belus, which was extant in the times of Herodotus, and of which he gives an account (y), and is this:
"the temple of Jupiter Belus had gates of brass it was four hundred and forty yards on every side, and was foursquare. In the midst of the temple was a solid tower, two hundred and twenty yards in length and breadth upon which another temple was placed, and so on to eight. The going up them was without, in a winding about each tower as you went up, in the middle, there was a room, and seats to rest on. In the last tower was a large temple, in which was a large bed splendidly furnished, and a table of gold set by it but there was no statue there nor did any man lie there in the night only one woman, a native of the place, whom the god chose from among them all, as the Chaldean priests of this deity say.''
Diodorus Siculus says (z) it was of an extraordinary height, where the Chaldeans made observations on the stars, and could take an exact view of the rise and setting of them it was all made of brick and bitumen, at great cost and expense. Here the vessels of the sanctuary were brought by Nebuchadnezzar, to the praise and glory of his idols, as Jarchi and Jacchiades observe to whom he imputed the victory he had obtained over the Jews. Even these
he brought into the treasure house of his god very probably this was the chapel Herodotus (a) speaks of, where was a large golden statue of Jupiter sitting, and a large golden table by it, and a golden throne and steps, reckoned by the Chaldeans at eight hundred talents of gold. And Diodorus Siculus (b) relates that there were three golden statues, of Jupiter, Juno, and Rhea. That of Jupiter was as one standing on his feet, and, as it were, walking, was forty feet in length, and weighed a thousand Babylonian talents (computed three millions and a half of our money). That of Rhea was of the same weight, sitting upon a throne of gold, and two lions standing at her knees and near to them serpents of a prodigious size, made of silver, which weighed thirty talents. That of Juno was a standing statue, weighing eight hundred talents in her right hand she held the head of a serpent, and in her left a sceptre set with precious stones and there was a golden table, common to them all, forty feet long, fifteen broad, and of the weight of fifty talents. Moreover, there were two bowls of thirty talents, and as many censers of three hundred talents, and three cups of gold that which was dedicated to Jupiter weighed a thousand two hundred Babylonian talents, and the other six hundred. Here all the rich things dedicated to their god were laid up, and here the king of Babylon brought the treasures and rich vessels he took out of the temple of Jerusalem and to this agrees the testimony of Berosus (c), who says, that with the spoils of war Nebuchadnezzar took from the Jews and neighbouring nations, he adorned the temple of Belus. The riches of this temple, according to historians, are supposed to be above one and twenty millions sterling (d), even of those only which Diodorus Siculus gives an account of, as above.
(s) Nat. Hist. l. 5. c. 24. (t) Geograph. l. 5. c. 18. (u) Apud Joseph. Antiqu. l. 1. c. 4. sect. 3.((w) "domum deorum suorum", Cocceius, Michaelis. (x) Clio, sive l. 1. c. 199. (y) Ibid. c. 181. (z) Biblioth. 1. 2. p. 98. Ed. Rhodoman. (a) Clio, sive l. 1. c. 183. (b) Biblioth. I. 2. p. 98. (c) Apud Joseph. Antiqu. l. 10. c. 11. sect. 1.((d) Vid. Rollin's Ancient History, vol. 2. p. 70. and Universal History, vol. 4. p. 409.
(b) Which was a plain by Babylon, where the temple of their great god was, and is here taken for Babylon.
2 . gave into his hand Jehoiakim , king of Judah , and part , &c.] To ‘give into the hand’ as Jdg 3:10 Jeremiah 20:4 Jeremiah 21:7 Jeremiah 22:25, and frequently. The expression is a strong one, and seems to imply that the writer had in view a defeat, and not merely a timely submission.
the house of God ] A frequent expression in late writers for the Temple (e.g. 2 Chronicles 3:3 2 Chronicles 4:19 2 Chronicles 5:1 2 Chronicles 5:14 2 Chronicles 7:5): earlier writers say nearly always ‘the house of Jehovah ’ (e.g. 1 Kings 7:40 1 Kings 7:45 1 Kings 7:48 1 Kings 7:51).
which he carried ] and he brought them . The pron. (as the text stands: see below, p. 4) refers to the vessels.
Shinar ] properly Shin‘ar , a Hebrew name for Babylonia (Genesis 10:10 Genesis 11:2 Genesis 14:1 Genesis 14:7 Joshua 7:21 Isaiah 11:11 Zechariah 5:11), here, no doubt, an old expression revived. The explanation of the name is uncertain, as nothing directly parallel has been found hitherto in the Inscriptions. According to some Assyriologists there are grounds for supposing it to be a dialectic variation of Shumer , the name given in the Inscriptions to South Babylonia but this explanation is not accepted by all scholars.
 As in the common title of the Assyrian kings, ‘King of Shumer and Akkad’ (Akkad being North Babylonia): so Delitzsch, Paradies (1881), p. 198, Assyr. Gramm. (1889), § 49 a , Rem. Schrader, KAT. 2 p. 118 f. Prince, p. 58.
 Cf. Dillmann on Genesis 10:10. Sayce, Patriarchal Palestine , p. 67 f., connects the name with Sangar, a district a little W. of Nineveh.
to the house (i.e. temple) of his god ] If any stress is to be laid upon the particular deity intended, it would be Marduk (the Merodach of Jeremiah 50:2), the patron-god of Babylon. According to 2 Chronicles 36:7, the vessels which Nebuchadnezzar brought to Babylon in the reign of Jehoiakim were placed by him in his palace. But see the next note.
 See, however, Ezra 1:7 Ezra 5:14, though the gold and silver vessels mentioned here may be those carried away by Nebuchadnezzar with Jehoiachin (Jeremiah 27:16 [see Daniel 1:20 , and cf. 2 Kings 24:13], Jeremiah 28:3), or Zedekiah (2 Kings 25:14-15).
and the vessels he brought , &c.] In the Heb. ‘the vessels’ is emphatic by its position, and would naturally imply that something different had been mentioned before. As the verse stands, the clause is almost tautologous with the preceding one: at all events, if the ‘treasure house of his god’ be really a place distinct from the ‘house of his god,’ the correction is attached very awkwardly. Ewald supposed that some words had fallen out, and proposed to read ‘Jehoiakim, king of Judah, with the noblest of the land , and part,’ &c. Certainly the transportation of captives is presupposed in Daniel 1:3 but the insertion of these words does not relieve the awkwardness of Daniel 1:2 . It is better, with Marti, to reject the preceding words, ‘(in) the house of his god,’ as a gloss, intended originally to define the position of the ‘treasure house’ of clause b , which has found its way into the text in a wrong place. Still, the author’s Hebrew is often far from elegant, and the anomalous wording of the verse is possibly original.
 The words were not, it seems, in the original LXX. (see Swete, footnote).
9. God Humbles Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 4)
Main Point: We will have peace when we understand that God is in control of everything.
At the end of that time I, Nebuchadnezzar, looked up toward heaven. My mind became clear again. - Daniel 4:34a
Props: A modern-day letter, signed at the bottom.
Say: Everyone open your Bibles to the book of Daniel. (You may want to say: It’s about 2/3 from the front of your Bible.) Keep your Bibles open there.
For the last several weeks, we have studied the Israelites as they were kidnapped and taken to Babylon. The Babylonians did not worship the one true God. They worshipped many false gods and idols. Their King, Nebuchadnezzar (Neh-byoo-kuhd-NEHZ-er), was a very powerful man who also worshipped false gods and idols. However, God had a plan to reveal Himself to King Nebuchadnezzar. God saw to it that Nebuchadnezzar’s path crossed with some of His few faithful followers, Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego (Jeremiah 25:11, Daniel 1:2). By watching the relationship that these men had with the living God, King Nebuchadnezzar learned more and more about their God.
In Daniel 1, Daniel and his friends decided ahead of time not to disobey God by eating the King’s food. Because they obeyed God and depended on Him, God gave them great wisdom. King Nebuchadnezzar found that these Israelites were ten times wiser than all of the His other wise men. So King Nebuchadnezzar honored God’s men.
Then, in Daniel 2, the Lord gave Nebuchadnezzar a dream that only Daniel could interpret. Daniel made it very clear that the dream and the interpretation had come for the one true God. Through this dream, King Nebuchadnezzar learned that only God’s Kingdom will last forever. The King learned that God is wise and He reveals truth. So King Nebuchadnezzar admitted that Daniel’s God was the best of all the “gods.”
Finally, last week we studied Daniel 3. In the fiery furnace, King Nebuchadnezzar saw that the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego was faithful He could do what none of his “gods” could do - God could rescue His people. Nebuchadnezzar saw that the Lord would step into a blazing furnace to be with those who trust in Him. So King Nebuchadnezzar made a law that no one could speak against the God of Israel.
All of these were steps toward knowing God, but Nebuchadnezzar did not yet understand that God was the ONLY God and that He was in control of EVERYTHING. Nebuchadnezzar thought that he, himself, was almost like a god. He had one more very important lesson to learn.
Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream (Daniel 4:1-18)
Say: Everyone turn to Daniel 4. This chapter is actually a letter. When we write a letter, we sign it at the bottom. Teacher: Show your modern-day letter, and where it is signed. Back in Bible times, they did something interesting when they signed their letters. They signed them at the beginning of the letter. This actually makes a lot of sense. This way, when a person received a letter, he or she knew right away who sent it. So, look at the first couple words in Daniel 4. Ask: Who was this letter from? King Nebuchadnezzar. Say: And right after the letter writer’s name, he tells us who the letter is written to. Ask: Who would like to read verse 1 aloud so we can see whom this letter is written to? Choose a volunteer to read. Say: This letter is written to everyone in the whole world! Wow. This must contain some really cool stuff. Let’s see what this mighty King thought was so important that he should write a letter to the entire world. He begins:
I am pleased to tell you what has happened. The Most High God has done miraculous signs and wonders for me. His miraculous signs are great. His wonders are mighty. His kingdom will last forever. His rule will never end. - Daniel 4:2-3
Say: Now this is much higher praise than Nebuchadnezzar had ever spoken about God. Something big has happened in the King’s life and he wants to tell everyone about it.
I was at home in my palace. I was content and very successful. But I had a dream that made me afraid. I was lying on my bed. Then dreams and visions passed through my mind. They terrified me. - Daniel 4:4-5
Say: Uh-oh. Another dream. Once again, King Nebuchadnezzar called on all of his wise men to explain the dream to him. And, of course, none of them could. Finally, he called on Daniel. Nebuchadnezzar called Daniel by a Babylonian name, Belteshazzar (bel-te-SHAZ-er). He told Daniel his dream:
“Here are the visions I saw while I was lying on my bed. I looked up and saw a tree standing in the middle of the land. It was very tall. It had grown to be large and strong. Its top touched the sky. It could be seen anywhere on earth. Its leaves were beautiful. It had a lot of fruit on it. It provided enough food for people and animals. Under the tree, the wild animals found shade. The birds of the air lived in its branches. Every creature was fed from that tree.
“While I was still lying on my bed, I looked up. In my visions, I saw a holy messenger. He was coming down from heaven. He called out in a loud voice. He said, ‘Cut the tree down. Break off its branches. Strip its leaves off. Scatter its fruit. Let the animals that are under it run away. Let the birds that are in its branches fly off. But leave the stump with its roots in the ground. Let it stay in the field. Put a band of iron and bronze around it.
“ ‘Let King Nebuchadnezzar become wet with the dew of heaven. Let him live like the animals among the plants of the earth. Let him no longer have the mind of a man. Instead, let him be given the mind of an animal. Let him stay that way until seven periods of time pass by.
“ ‘The decision is announced by holy messengers. So all who are alive will know that the Most High God is King. He rules over all of the kingdoms of men. He gives them to anyone He wants. Sometimes He puts the least important men in charge of them.’ “- Daniel 4:10-17
Daniel Explains The Dream (Daniel 4:1-18)
Say: Daniel knew that this dream was all about King Nebuchadnezzar, and it was not all good news. He told Nebuchadnezzar that he wished the dream were about the King’s enemies instead of the King. He explained:
“My King, you are that tree! You have become great and strong. Your greatness has grown until it reaches the sky. Your rule has spread to all parts of the earth.” - Daniel 4:22
That was the good news. But there was plenty of bad news too:
“My King and master, here is what your dream means. The Most High God has given an order against you. You will be driven away from people. You will live like the wild animals. You will eat grass just as cattle do. You will become wet with the dew of heaven. Seven periods of time will pass by for you. Then you will recognize that the Most High God rules over all of the kingdoms of men. He gives them to anyone he wants.
“But he gave a command to leave the stump of the tree along with its roots. That means your kingdom will be given back to you. It will happen when you recognize that the God of heaven rules.
“So, my king, I hope you will accept my advice. Stop being sinful. Do what is right. Give up your evil practices. Show kindness to those who are being treated badly. Then perhaps things will continue to go well with you.” - Daniel 4:24-27
God sent a clear warning to Nebuchadnezzar. Through Daniel, the Lord encouraged Nebuchadnezzar to repent of his sin before it was too late. However, the King did not take this warning to heart.
Note to Teacher: Nebuchadnezzar’s sins were very much like those of Pharaoh in Egypt and the Pharisees in Jesus’ day. All of these men were puffed up with pride, and they mistreated the lowly (Exodus 1:11, 5:2 Matthew 23). Pride was the very sin of Satan (Ezekiel 28:15-17). C.S. Lewis writes, “The essential vice, the utmost evil, is pride. Unchastity, anger, greed, drunkenness, and all that, are mere fleabites in comparison: it was through Pride that the devil became the devil: Pride leads to every other vice: it is the complete anti-God state of mind.” It is no wonder that God detests pride and opposes the proud (James 4:6, Proverbs 6:16-17). It is pride that leads men to believe we can live without Him.
Application: God wants us to stay close to Him and far from sin. When we are in sin, or close to things that tempt us, God gives us correction in several ways. He instructs us in His word (2 Timothy 3:16), through Bible teaching, and preaching (Matthew 12:41). He speaks to us through prayer (Daniel 9:20-22). Often, He also uses those close to us - our parents, teachers, and friends - to let us know when we are making wrong decisions (Proverbs 13:1, 2 Samuel 12:9). It is so important for us to pay attention to God’s correction. God is patient, but when we choose to ignore His loving warnings, we will face the consequences of our sin (Proverbs 1:24-33).
The Dream Comes True (Daniel 4:28-33)
Say: Patiently, God gave Nebuchadnezzar an entire year in which to turn from his evil ways. Remember, this is the King’s own letter we are reading. He said:
All of that happened to me. It took place twelve months later. I was walking on the roof of my palace in Babylon. I said, “Isn’t this the great Babylon I have built as a place for my royal palace? I used my mighty power to build it. It shows how glorious my majesty is.” - Daniel 4:28-30
Say: Let’s take a closer look at Nebuchadnezzar’s attitude as he looked out over the kingdom.
I said, “Isn’t this the great Babylon I have built as a place for my royal palace? I used my mighty power to build it. It shows how glorious my majesty is.”
Say: There is a word that comes to mind. It is P-R-I-D-E. Pride is thinking too highly of oneself. Nebuchadnezzar thought that he had built the kingdom. In truth, God was the one who handed all of his prisoners over to him (Daniel 1:2). When Daniel interpreted his first dream, he said, “The God of heaven has given you authority and power. He has given you might and glory.” (Daniel 2:37) Pride makes us think that we do not need God. Pride separates us from God. Nebuchadnezzar did not give credit to his Creator, and His Creator had had enough. Listen to what happened next (in Nebuchadnezzar’s own words).
I was still speaking when a voice was heard from heaven. It said, “King Nebuchadnezzar, here is what has been ordered concerning you. Your royal authority has been taken from you. You will be driven away from people. You will live like the wild animals. You will eat grass just as cattle do. Seven periods of time will pass by for you. Then you will recognize that the Most High God rules over all of the kingdoms of men. He gives them to anyone He wants.”
What had been said about me came true at once. I was driven away from people. I ate grass just as cattle do. My body became wet with the dew of heaven. I stayed that way until my hair grew like the feathers of an eagle. My nails became like the claws of a bird. - Daniel 4:31-33
Say: God had warned Nebuchadnezzar and had been very patient with him. But finally, the prediction came true. All of the things that he was so proud of were taken away. Remember the fine food at the King’s table that we read about in Daniel 1? That was taken from Nebuchadnezzar he had to eat grass just like the goats and cows! He was used to living in a grand palace, but now he had no shelter over his head. For 7 years, the great King Nebuchadnezzar lived out in the wilderness like an animal. He lost his mind he became crazy (Daniel 4:34). Without God, he was helpless.
Application: God’s word tells us that God stands against those who are proud (James 4:6). If we are proud of our own talents or abilities, looks or possessions, God may take those things away so we will see what is true - God is the One who gives every good thing that we have (James 1:17). Without God we are helpless. We should never brag about what we have accomplished (1 Corinthians 5:6). The only thing we should ever brag about is that we know the Lord! (Jeremiah 9:24)
Note to Teacher: King Nebuchadnezzar reigned from 605 BC–562 BC. There is a notable absence of any record of acts or decrees by King Nebuchadnezzar during 582 to 575 BC. - Gleason L. Archer, Vol 7 Expositor’s Bible Commentary.
Nebuchadnezzar Is Restored (Daniel 4:34-37)
Say: Our story has a very happy ending though. Remember at the beginning of his letter, Nebuchadnezzar was bragging about the goodness of God. Here is why:
At the end of that time I, Nebuchadnezzar, looked up toward heaven. My mind became clear again. Then I praised the Most High God. I gave honor and glory to the One who lives forever. His rule will last forever. His kingdom will never end. He considers all of the nations on earth to be nothing. He does as He pleases with the powers of heaven. He does what He wants with the nations of the earth. No one can hold His hand back. No one can say to Him, “What have you done?”
My honor and glory were returned to me when my mind became clear again. The glory of my kingdom was given back to me. My advisers and nobles came to me. And I was put back on my throne. I became even greater than I had been before.
Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, give praise and honor and glory to the King of heaven. Everything he does is right. All of his ways are fair. He is able to bring down those who live proudly. - Daniel 4:34-37
Say: After seven years of living like an animal, Nebuchadnezzar finally looked to God. Nebuchadnezzar changed his focus from himself to the one true God who deserved to be worshipped and praised. He turned from his pride and became humble. Right away, his mind was made right. God forgave Nebuchadnezzar and returned all that he had lost, plus a lot more.
Proud people want to hide their mistakes so other people won’t know that they have faults. Humble people admit when they make mistakes. Nebuchadnezzar showed that he became humble when he admitted his sin of pride in this letter that he wrote for the entire world to read. He also used the letter to praise God and declare that God was in control of everything.
We should notice that God brought Nebuchadnezzar low for his GOOD, not for his destruction. It was far more important for Nebuchadnezzar to know the one true God, and enter into God’s eternal Kingdom, than for him to live a carefree life on earth and die without knowing God.
Application: Today, we can struggle with pride just as much as Nebuchadnezzar did. Our pride makes us focus on ourselves instead of on God. Notice that “I” is in the center of PRIDE. If you are focused on yourself, and you think that you can control the things in your life, your mind will be filled with fear and worry - just like Nebuchadnezzar in the wilderness. But when you understand the truth that God is in control of everything, your mind will be healthy and clear, and you will feel God’s peace (Galatians 5:22).
At times you will face difficult people or difficult situations in your life. When this happens, ask yourself this question: “Is God in control?” Of course, the answer is always YES! Knowing that God is in control, and that He always wants what’s best for you, will give you true peace.
Note to Teacher: “Our sanity is directly linked to God’s sovereignty.” (Pastor Buddy Hoffman, Grace Fellowship Church) Legally speaking, insanity is when a person cannot distinguish reality from fantasy. In other words, a person who is insane cannot tell what is true and what is not true. It is not until a person recognizes that God is sovereign (supreme or highest in power or authority controlling preeminent indisputable being above all others in character, importance, excellence greatest, utmost, paramount) that the person recognizes the ultimate truth. Without this knowledge, a person’s thoughts are consumed with fear, worry, and stress. With this knowledge, a person’s mind is transformed and at peace.
At the end of that time I, Nebuchadnezzar, looked up toward heaven. My mind became clear again. - Daniel 4:34a
Main Point: We will have peace when we understand that God is in control of everything.
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Unless otherwise noted the Scriptures taken from: Holy Bible, New International Reader’s Version, (NIrV®)
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Why did Nebuchadnezzar keep King Jeconiah alive? - History
The Rest of the Story
by Ed Costanza
Esther, the beautiful Jewish wife of the Persian king Ahasuerus and her cousin Mordecai persuade the king to retract an order for the general annihilation of Jews throughout the empire. The massacre had been plotted by the king's chief minister, Haman, and the date decided by casting lots. 8
But the work of God goes much deeper and farther than the book of Esther records. The book of Esther is just the beginning of the history of God's chosen nation. It begins with the prophecy of Isaiah (41:1-2 44:24-28 45:1-13) to send his people back to Israel to restore the temple and settle the land after the 70 years of captivity for the punishment of Israel's sins and to give the land her rest (seven year land rest). Hidden in the books of the bible and revealed through the various prophets God reveals the means He used to raise up Cyrus.
Cyrus is the grandson of King Ahasuerus and Queen Esther. Cambyses, Cyrus' father dies when he is 12 years old. His grandparents ( King Ahasuerus and Queen Esther) summon him and his mother (Mandane) to come live with them at the palace. Cyrus is taught by Esther and the King about the laws of God and the prophecies written 150 years before by God through the prophets about him (Cyrus). When the time comes Cyrus king of Persia issues the edict for the Jews to return to Israel: "Isa 44:28 That saith of Cyrus, He is my shepherd, and shall perform all my pleasure: even saying to Jerusalem, Thou shalt be built and to the temple, Thy foundation shall be laid." Below is the Genealogy of Cyrus the Great, king of Persia and Darius King of the Medes complete with notes and references.
Genealogy of Cyrus the Great and Darius King of the Medes
Jeremiah: The True Story of the &ldquoWeeping Prophet&rdquo
“B elonging to Gedaliah, son of Pashur,” read the tiny inscription embossed on the ancient clay seal. As the archaeologists turned it over, they could clearly make out the preserved fingerprints on the seal, surely made by this very man 2,600 years ago as he steadied the clay bulla to stamp on it his seal impression. The fine grain of the papyrus document that the clay seal was attached to had been etched into its back, along with the crisscrossing of thread that bound the important document together. At a size of only 13mm, the clay seal, blackened and hardened by an ancient fire, had nearly been missed by the archaeologists. Nonetheless in 2008 it was carefully delivered from the ground, stunningly bringing to life a real individual that had to that point only been known from pages of the Bible. This individual has left but a short record for us: a clay seal, three fingerprints, and a grim record as archenemy to the prophet Jeremiah.
But this wasn’t the only one of Jeremiah’s enemies to surface from the dust of history. A similar clay seal had been found three years before, belonging to a fellow prince of Gedaliah’s and fierce opponent of the prophet: Jehucal, son of Shelemiah. Truth be told, Jeremiah was a widely hated man of his day. His predictions of the fall of Jerusalem and pleas for peaceful surrender to Babylon caused Judah’s ruling classes to loathe him. Yet the test of time has vindicated the “Weeping Prophet” and condemned his enemies. Today, Jeremiah is revered as one of the greatest men of the Bible, while his enemies are virtually forgotten.
With the advent of modern archaeology, we now not only have the biblical record of Jeremiah’s life—new discoveries are continuing to shine light on the real people he interacted with, and the places that he travelled. Thus far, at least 16 different biblical figures who lived contemporaneously with Jeremiah have been validated by archaeology. Not to mention Jeremiah’s accurate regional assessments and diplomatic descriptions that also match the historical record. The book of Jeremiah isn’t a fringe pseudo-history with an odd name that happens to correspond to actual events.
Science is uncovering not only mere snippets of the Bible, but entire stories. As with our last article on King Hezekiah, we now examine in-depth the true story of the Prophet Jeremiah.
According to the biblical record, Jeremiah must have been born around 645 b.c.e. He was a young man when he was called by God to begin prophesying.
Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you Before you were born I sanctified you I ordained you a prophet to the nations.” Then said I: “Ah, Lord God! Behold, I cannot speak, for I am a youth.” But the Lord said to me: “Do not say, ‘I am a youth,’ for you shall go to all to whom I send you, and whatever I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of their faces, for I am with you to deliver you,” says the Lord. (Jeremiah 1:4-8, NKJV)
Judah, at that time, was in the middle of King Josiah’s reign. Actually, Josiah was a righteous king, who had accomplished a great deal in rooting out idolatry from the land of Israel. Of this king, God had said, “And like him was there no king before him, that turned to the Lord with all his heart, and with all his soul …” (2 Kings 23:25). During Josiah’s reign, the Book of the Law was rediscovered by the High Priest Hilkiah (a man confirmed archaeologically, whose name has been found on the seal of his son, Azariah). Josiah strictly began to enforce observance of this book (probably Deuteronomy, if not the entire Torah), in order to postpone Judah’s coming punishment. So why, then, did Jeremiah begin prophesying against Judah during the reign of this righteous man? Truth be told, Judah had been doomed by the actions of those who came before Josiah.
Notwithstanding the Lord turned not from the fierceness of His great wrath, wherewith his anger was kindled against Judah, because of all the provocations that Manasseh had provoked him withal. (verse 26)
Manasseh, Josiah’s grandfather, was about the most evil of Judah’s kings. He had a record of idolatry, child sacrifice, sorcery and communion with demons. He “filled Jerusalem from one end to another” with innocent blood. And so while righteous king Josiah would be spared witnessing the downfall of his nation, it was nevertheless inevitable. Hence Jeremiah’s unpopular preaching.
Jeremiah thus began delivering his message in the streets of Jerusalem. If he didn’t get much support from the people, at least he would have had it from King Josiah. But King Josiah wouldn’t be around much longer.
Josiah Dies, Judah’s Fall Begins
The geopolitical scene at the end of the 7 th century B.C. was a rocky one. The Assyrian Empire was losing power. The emerging Babylonian Empire was rapidly growing in might, and had forced the Assyrians back from their capital city to Harran. Under the command of Nabopolassar, the Babylonians were about to deliver another blow to the Assyrians. It was down to the Egyptians to arrive and save Assyria from a dangerously expansive Babylonian Empire. In order to join the battle, Pharaoh Necho had to take his troops through the Kingdom of Judah and what was now the defeated and evicted wasteland of the northern Kingdom of Israel. King Josiah, though, would have none of it. He gathered his troops at Megiddo, and prepared to mount a stand against Necho. The pharaoh pleaded for Josiah’s sake to simply let him through otherwise, Judah’s armies would face certain destruction. Yet Josiah stubbornly took his men to the vital passage route of the Valley of Megiddo, and battle ensued. King Josiah actually went to this battle disguised, so as to not be pinpointed by the attackers as king (2 Chronicles 35:22). Yet there Josiah met his end.
In his days Pharaohnechoh king of Egypt went up [to] the king of Assyria to the river Euphrates: and king Josiah went against him and he slew him at Megiddo, when he had seen him. (2 Kings 23:29)
Pharaoh Necho (as his name is spelled in 2 Chronicles) is not just a biblical character. He has been well attested to in inscriptions. Precisely known as Necho II, he is well known for directing this Egyptian army up towards Harran to join with the Assyrians in attempting to ward off the Babylonian forces. The Pharaoh would be defeated by the Babylonians, though. Returning back through the Kingdom of Judah with his tail between his legs, he would console himself by exerting a powerful influence on the Kingdom of Judah. Pharaoh Necho discovered that Josiah’s son, Jehoahaz, had been made king in place of his father. Necho immediately uprooted him, levied a massive tax on Jerusalem, installed Josiah’s other son Eliakim as king, renamed him Jehoiakim, and took the captive Jehoahaz back to Egypt (2 Chronicles 36:1-4).
Josiah’s defeat and death had been a tragic moment for Judah and, specifically, the prophet Jeremiah. In fact, the book of Lamentations was written as a result of his death (e.g. 2 Chronicles 35:25). Josiah was the last righteous king of Judah. Jeremiah realized that with this upright leader gone, the horrifying prophecies of Judah’s downfall would be postponed no longer. The fury of this returning, defeated Pharaoh Necho was only the very outer edge of the coming storm.
Jeremiah vs. Jehoiakim
The prophet Jeremiah continued prophesying the unpopular message of the sins and downfall of his nation. He admonished the people to look at Shiloh—the place of Israel’s tabernacle of old—to see how it was utterly destroyed for the wickedness of the people (Jeremiah 7, 26). Archaeological excavations at Tel Shiloh have confirmed that Shiloh was a wasteland during Jeremiah’s time. The city had been savaged by the Philistines 450 years earlier, leaving a one meter destruction layer for excavators to uncover. The city was resettled again somewhat during the 8 th century B.C. again, this resettlement was wiped out during the Assyrian conquests at the end of that century. Shiloh would have been a powerful indicator of what was coming.
Jeremiah’s sore predictions of Jerusalem turning into another “Shiloh” riled Jehoiakim’s princes. King Jehoiakim had only just begun his reign, after being instated by Necho. The princes clearly didn’t want any dissent, especially not this early on. They brought together a special counsel to consider killing Jeremiah. A man named Ahikam came to Jeremiah’s defence, and saved him (Jeremiah 26:9-24).
The same could not be said, though, for another prophet. Urijah prophesied against Judah, just as Jeremiah was doing. He, however, was a false prophet—he had not been commissioned by God, and did not have the same protection. Jehoiakim sent men to kill Urijah, who upon hearing of the threat, fled into Egypt. Jehoiakim was not to be stopped, and sent a team into Egypt that arrested Urijah and brought him all the way back before Jehoiakim, where he was slain.
Jeremiah was now shut away from publicly proclaiming the downfall of Jerusalem. That didn’t stop him, however. He dictated further prophecies to his scribe Baruch, who wrote them down on a scroll. Jeremiah then sent Baruch to read the scroll in the Temple. He took it specifically into the chamber of Gemariah, the son of Shaphan (Jeremiah 36:10).
The scribe Gemariah has actually been confirmed through archaeology. A royal clay seal was found during the 1982 excavations at the palace area of the City of David, The seal reads: “Belonging to Gemariah, son of Shaphan.” This man actually proved helpful to Jeremiah’s cause. He, along with other princes present, heard the words of the scroll, and immediately saw its significance. They motioned for Baruch to hide himself, and then they carried the message to King Jehoiakim. The king, of course, was furious. He snatched up the scroll as it was being read out to him, and despite the pleas of Gemariah and his fellows (verse 25), slashed the scroll and dropped it into his fireplace. Jeremiah immediately dictated a replacement scroll, proclaiming that Jehoiakim’s children would not continue on the throne of David. He further prophesied the ignominious death of the king.
Around this time Egypt, whose forces had been in the region of Syria, attempted to make a last stand with the Assyrians against the Babylonians at Carchemish. But this time, they would face a new Babylonian king: Nebuchadnezzar II.
As the Bible records, the Egyptians were smashed at Carchemish (Jeremiah 46:2). And this isn’t only a battle mentioned briefly in the Bible. It is well known in secular history as being one of the truly great and decisive ancient battles. The Nebuchadnezzar Chronicle is a noteworthy inscription describing this crushing defeat that occurred in 605 B.C. The way was now clear for the Babylonians, under Nebuchadnezzar, to set their sights on Judah.
Babylonian Oppression Begins
King Nebuchadnezzar came up against Judah fairly early on, in order to subject Jehoiakim to Babylon. Initially, there doesn’t seem to have been any great invasion. This first Babylonian incursion must have been to ensure Judah’s submission to Babylon, instead of Egypt. This must have been deeply embarrassing for Jehoiakim, however—for he was now being forced to accept that Jeremiah’s prophecies of Babylonian incursion were coming true.
Jehoiakim’s subservience to Babylon lasted only three years, before he rebelled. Armies of Chaldeans, Syrians, Moabites and Ammonites set about plundering Judah. Nebuchadnezzar had Jehoiakim brought in chains to Babylon, along with various temple treasures and captives (2 Chronicles 36:5-8). It was at this same time that Daniel and his three friends were also captured (Daniel 1:1).
In place of Jehoiakim, Jeconiah his son reigned (also known as Coniah and Jehoiachin). This man had one of the shortest lengths of reign in Judah—just over three months. Even in this short period of time, he managed to establish a reputation as an “evil” king. Jeremiah prophesied that this man would fall into the hands of Nebuchadnezzar and that none of his seed would rule on the throne of Judah (Jeremiah 22). Subsequently, Nebuchanezzar besieged Jerusalem a second time. Jeconiah, his servants and his mother emerged and gave themselves up to the king of Babylon. More treasures were looted from the temple and were carried back by the Babylonians, along with 10,000 captives. Among this captivity was the forefather of Mordecai and Esther (Esther 2:5-6). “None remained, save the poorest sort of the people of the land” (2 Kings 24:14). Jeconiah, while taken captive, was kept alive in Babylon. There has been some very interesting archaeological corroboration of what happened to this king.
In place of Jeconiah, Nebuchadnezzar made his uncle, Mattaniah, king—thus fulfilling Jeremiah’s prophecies that the families of Jehoiakim and Jeconiah would not continue on the throne. King Mattaniah is better remembered by another name given to him by the Babylonian king—Zedekiah. This king would have much interaction with Jeremiah over the course of his 11 year reign—and almost all of it bad.
Zedekiah and Jeremiah
Zedekiah was an evil and ineffective king. While afraid to personally deal with Jeremiah, he allowed his princes freedom to do with the prophet as they pleased. As such, Jeremiah was abused and imprisoned several times. The strain of prophesying such an unpopular message was taking its toll on Jeremiah, as revealed by an interesting insert after he had cursed a chief governor who had beaten him and put him in the stocks:
O Lord, thou hast deceived me, and I was deceived: thou art stronger than I, and hast prevailed: I am in derision daily, every one mocketh me. For since I spake, I cried out, I cried violence and spoil because the word of the Lord was made a reproach unto me, and a derision, daily. Then I said, I will not make mention of him, nor speak any more in his name. But his word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay. (Jeremiah 20:7-9)
Jeremiah was on the verge of giving up—yet God’s word was in him like a raging fire. He bravely continued to warn the Jews of their ways. A Babylonian invasion was inevitable. Especially so, because King Zedekiah had now rebelled against them.
King Zedekiah had the gall, even in his weak position, to defy King Nebuchadnezzar. The Babylonian king must have been incredulous. Again, he amassed forces to descend on Jerusalem. And again, Jeremiah continued to warn the population and ruling classes to repent and surrender to the Babylonians. If only they surrendered, their lives would be spared.
Babylon Conquers Judean Cities
The Babylonians now swept into Judah. We often think about this time period in terms of Jerusalem’s suffering and destruction—but it also included the destruction of the broader regional cities of Judah. Two other significant cities, named in the Book of Jeremiah, were set upon by the Babylonians.
[T]he king of Babylon’s army fought against Jerusalem, and against all the cities of Judah that were left, against Lachish, and against Azekah: for these defenced cities remained of the cities of Judah. (Jeremiah 34:7)
These cities, Lachish and Azekah, were in the process of falling, as an interesting artifact illustrates. The major cities of Judah communicated through massive fire signals. A fire signal meant that all was well. But now, as the “Lachish Letters” reveal, all was not well.
These “letters” are actually pottery fragments (or ostraca) written on by an officer located in a city outside Lachish to an officer inside Lachish. One of the letters, dating to the time of Babylonia’s incursion, reads:
And may (my lord) be apprised that we are watching for the fire signals of Lachish according to all the signs which my lord has given, because we cannot see Azekah.
The fact that the major city Azekah had failed to deliver a fire signal was a fearful sign that the city had already fallen to the Babylonians—and thus this outer city officer was worriedly watching to see if Lachish would deliver a fire signal. This text provides a remarkable, tense snapshot in time as the Babylonians steamrolled through Judah, destroying city after city.
Princes and Prison
In Jerusalem, meanwhile, King Zedekiah vacillated between asking Jeremiah to pray for the welfare of Judah, and throwing Jeremiah into prison. On one occasion, he sent Jehucal son of Shelemiah, along with Zephaniah, to ask Jeremiah to pray. Of course, this is what Jeremiah had constantly been doing. At this stage, it wasn’t him that was the one who needed to pray. And with the arrival of the Babylonians, it was certainly “convenient” that Zedekiah would now start asking favors from God.
This prince sent by Zedekiah, named Jehucal, has himself been attested to by archaeology (as briefly mentioned at the top of this article). A royal seal bearing the words “Belonging to Jehucal, son of Shelemiah” was found in excavations in 2005, around the royal palace at Jerusalem. While at this point Jehucal requested that Jeremiah pray for the city, he would again feature later on in an attempt to kill Jeremiah.
At this time the Babylonians, who had settled into a siege against Jerusalem, were interrupted by the Egyptians. Led by Pharaoh Apries (called Hophra by Jeremiah), this army attempted to come to Judah’s aid. The Babylonians uprooted themselves from Jerusalem and launched an attack on the Egyptians. Jeremiah told Jehucal and Zephaniah that the Egyptian army would return to Egypt, and the Babylonians would return to resume the siege against Jerusalem. He warned them not to be deceived by the fact that the Babylonians had temporarily departed.
While the Babylonian army had lifted the siege, Jeremiah took opportunity to go to the land of Benjamin, to visit his plot of land (most likely the same land that God commanded he buy while in prison, as a sign of the return of the Jews after captivity Jeremiah 32). Jeremiah, however, was stopped upon his departure by Irijah, was accused of defecting to the Babylonians, and was beaten and thrown in prison by the princes. Perhaps this Irijah, who was a son of Shelemiah, was brother to the same Jehucal described above.
Judah’s princes, though, would have none of it. Jehucal, along with Gedaliah son of Pashur (described at the top of this article, his royal seal also having been found) and other princes pleaded that Jeremiah be put to death for weakening the resolve of the Jewish defenders (Jeremiah 38). Zedekiah turned the prophet over to their hands. Jehucal, Gedaliah, and their fellow princes marched to the court of the prison, forcibly took Jeremiah, and dragged him to the dungeon of Malchiah. This dungeon was filled up with a filthy mire, within which Jeremiah began to sink.
Ebed-melech, an Ethiopian eunuch, heard of what had been done to Jeremiah and rushed to the king requesting his release. Ebed-melech’s request was granted, and he went with thirty men to pull Jeremiah out of the miry dungeon. King Zedekiah again requested Jeremiah’s presence and counsel. Jeremiah advised surrender. Zedekiah, though, was worried—he feared that the Jews would mock him for turning the city over to the Babylonians. Jeremiah assured him they would not, and pleaded with the king:
Obey, I beg you, the voice of the Lord, in that which I speak to you: so it shall be well with you, and your soul shall live. (Jeremiah 38:20, HNV)
Despite Jeremiah’s pleas, Zedekiah would not relent. Finally, after one and a half years of siege, the Babylonians finally broke through into the city. Starvation had taken a heavy toll on the inhabitants. Zedekiah and the royal family attempted an escape through a secret passage under the cover of night—only to be caught by the Babylonians and carted off to King Nebuchadnezzar. There, the last thing Zedekiah witnessed was the slaughtering of his sons, before his own eyes were burned out—an ignominious end for a pathetic king.
There is archaeological attestation to a number of the biblical Babylonian princes present at this defeat of Jerusalem. One of these princes was named Nergalsharezer (Jeremiah 39:13). Archaeology has since revealed evidence of this prince as the son-in-law of King Nebuchadnezzar. He is known in the Akkadian language as Nergal-sar-usur (more commonly as Neriglissar). Another figure is Nebo-sarsekim, the Rabsaris (poorly translated into English in Jeremiah 39:3 as two separate names: “Sarsechim, Rabsaris”). Another is Nebuzaradan, the captain of the guard (verse 9). He is mentioned on Nebuchadnezzar II’s prism as “Nabu-zer-iddin.”
The Babylonians treated Jeremiah favorably. King Nebuchadnezzar II himself had heard of this man, and personally gave orders for the above-mentioned captain Nebuzaradan to treat him well. As such, Jeremiah was set free with a reward. The king of Babylon established Gedaliah as governor over the cities of Judah, within which only the destitute were allowed to stay. Judah was thoroughly crushed.
But this would not be the last the remaining Jews would see of the Babylonians.
Travels to Egypt, and Future Prophecies
A rogue Jew named Ishmael, who had some royal genealogy, gathered 10 men of dubious character and killed the Babylonian-appointed governor Gedaliah along with dozens of other Jews. Ishmael and his men then rounded up hordes of Jews and began herding them toward the land of the Ammonites, with whom Ishmael had allegiance. Ishmael and his men fled, however, when the captain Johanan and his forces arrived to free the captive Jews.
Johanan began to govern the beleaguered people. Fearing retribution from Babylon for the death of Gedaliah, the Jews began an “exodus” back into Egypt—against God’s warnings. Jeremiah prophesied that the Jews who would flee to Egypt would again face death at the hands of a Babylonian invasion. If they remained in Judah, they would be spared. Nonetheless, the Jews spitefully rejected God’s instructions (again!), and forcibly took Jeremiah with them to Egypt. At the city of Tahpanhes, Jeremiah repeated his proclamation that the Jews would suffer within Egypt at the hands of the Babylonians. True to form, archaeology has revealed a Babylonian invasion into Egypt that occurred around 568-567 B.C.—18 years after the fall of Judah.
It is in Egypt that the biblical description of Jeremiah ends. Yet his various prophecies continued to come to pass, such as the prophesied return of the Jews to Judah after 70 years (Jeremiah 29: this was a letter he wrote to the Jewish captives as encouragement. The prophet Daniel took great hope from this message—Daniel 9). King Cyrus’s proclamation for a Jewish return allowed the fulfillment of this prophecy (Ezra 1:1-3). A similarly-worded proclamation from Cyrus to the defeated Babylonians, known as the Cyrus Cylinder, has been found, attesting to this unusual precedent of mercy given by King Cyrus to captive populations.
Many of Jeremiah’s prophecies also refer to the end-time—and have not yet been fulfilled. Such as that of a future archaeological discovery: that of the Tombs of the Kings. Jeremiah 8 describes that these tombs will be desecrated—ergo, they must first be found. Jeremiah 3 also shows that the Ark of the Covenant will be found and “visited.” Further end-time prophecies describe a catastrophic time of trouble for Israel, just before the coming of the Messiah (e.g. Jeremiah 30). Jeremiah also prophesies the resurrection of king David to rule alongside the Messiah (Jeremiah 30:9).
But what of Jeremiah himself? There is no mention of his death anywhere in the Bible. Many conclude that he simply died in Egypt. What happened to him?
Jeremiah’s Continuing Story
Most people lose sight of the prophet Jeremiah after this point, because they fail to fully understand his commission from God. He was not just a “prophet of doom.” Right at the very beginning of his calling, God gave Jeremiah a two-part commission:
See, I have this day set thee over the nations and over the kingdoms, to [Number 1] root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down, [Number 2] to build, and to plant. (Jeremiah 1:10)
Jeremiah’s job of “rooting out” and “destroying” was now over. Now, it was time for the vital second part of Jeremiah’s commission—building and planting.
God had promised to His servant David that he would always have a descendant to rule upon his throne, right up until the coming of the Messiah (2 Samuel 7, Jeremiah 33:14-22). God prophesied through Jeremiah that this promise was as sure as the sun in the daytime and the moon at night. Many people, however, believe that this promise was broken after King Zedekiah was taken into captivity and all his sons slaughtered. Is that true? Could God have lied? Where did the Jewish throne disappear to, after it had been rooted out during the time of Jeremiah? The throne must be somewhere!
The answer has everything to do with the second part of Jeremiah’s commission. There was a surviving heir to the throne. Now, Jeremiah would be used to build and plant that throne safely in a faraway location. This incredible story, pieced together through various biblical verses and national histories, is far too lengthy to cover in this article. You can read online or request a free hard copy of our book The United States and Britain in Prophecy to prove for yourself the incredible history of what really happened to Jeremiah and the Jewish throne.
Today, dear friends, we want to consider the gospel tidings from King Jehoiachin’s amazing ending! How striking that both at the end of II Kings and at the end of the book of Jeremiah, when concluding with the destruction of Judah and Jerusalem and the exile into Babylon, you have this little note or postscript about what happened to captive King Jehoiachin in Babylon. Both these books end with a true glimmer of hope in a setting of so much gloom and doom. Can you think of a time when you faced a really dark situation when yet in the middle of it there was something that gave you a little hope, something to give you some comfort in the midst of so many tears?
Jumping forward to the New Testament age, how dark and hopeless everything seemed when Jesus had died. For Jesus’ followers, all their happy anticipation of real joy and change for good was completely dashed and crushed when Jesus was crucified and died on the cross and His lifeless corpse laid in that tomb of Joseph of Arimathea. But then the third day Jesus arose from the dead, as He said, and all became light and joy and hope and peace inexpressible and unending, that is, for all who trusted and believed on Him. Truly, as preacher Jonathan Edwards said, The resurrection of Christ is the most joyful event that ever came to pass .
But now, our text brings us back about 500 years before Jesus came to this earth. Five centuries before the Saviour in the fullness of time was sent of God the Father and conceived by God the Holy Spirit in Mary and born of her being yet a virgin , and Jesus served as the Christ, we have this end story about former King Jehoiachin. Notice with me how it is like an Old Testament foreshadowing of Easter hope.
Who actually was King Jehoiachin? He was the second last king of Judah, the one who came after Jehoiakim, and who came just before Zedekiah. King Joehoiakim was the wicked king who brazenly burned section after section of the word of God from the prophet Jeremiah as told in Jeremiah 36. King Zedekiah was the last king of Judah and he was also a wicked king. The Bible tells about the awful end and horrific death Zedekiah met with at the hands of King Nebuchadnezzar as just punishment for all his evil unrepentant sins.
This King Jehoiachin was between these two last kings. According to II Kings 24:6 he was a son of the wicked Jehoiakim and, sadly, did evil in the sight of the Lord also. He was only 18 years of age when he began to reign, and ruled only for a very short time, just over three months. What happened to him then? The Bible tells us he was taken captive to Babylon in the year 597 B.C. You can read this all in II Kings 24 and it is mentioned in the book of Jeremiah 24:1 and Ezekiel 17:12 too. King Nebuchadnezzar then made Zedekiah to serve as king over Judah in Jehoiachin’s place when he was put in prison in Babylon. Yet in all his time in Babylon, Jehoiachin continued to be viewed as part of the royalty of Jerusalem, now another captive trophy, as it were, of Nebuchadnezzar’s many captives from the nations he conquered.
Jehoiachin remained for years a royal hostage in prison in Babylon. Something to take note of when you try to recover from Scripture all you can know about Jehoiachin is that sometimes he is also called Coniah, as in Jeremiah 22:8, or elsewhere Jeconiah [I Chronicles 3:17] and later in Matthew 1 as well. Interestingly, in that passage of I Chronicles 3 seven sons of King Jehoiachin are mentioned, though not one would succeed him on the throne as foretold in Jeremiah 22:30. This was a further judgment from God, surely, for the wicked and idolatrous ways of the people and their leaders before the LORD and their neighbor. Just a point of interest to note here yet too is that there has been archeological discoveries of reference to this King Jehoiachin and his sons held hostage in Babylon.
But now let us come to our text further. What happened as told there long after Judah had been overtaken and the temple destroyed and the city of Jerusalem demolished? What are we told in both II Kings 25 and Jeremiah 52 that in the 37 th year of the exile and captivity in Babylon? The new king of Babylon, Evil-merodach, also called Amel-Marduk, started to deal very kindly with this former King Jehoiachin. We are given the year and the month and the day when this former King Jehoiachin is released from prison. He is not then only granted his freedom, but the text also says he was given a new wardrobe of clothes and he was granted to sit and eat with the king of Babylon. He became, we are told, a recipient of the king’s bounty, given a kingly allowance till the day of his death all the days of his life.
In other words, there came this major turn-around for him, from prison to palace, a little like what happened to Joseph in Egypt long before. It is not that Jehoiachin was given a position of authority or rule, but it is clear he was treated with the respect due to a king. He went from royal robes in Jerusalem to prison clothes in Babylon and now to royal clothes again in Babylon. We know nothing of how severe Jehoiachin’s years in a Babylonian prison cell would have been but the fact was now he was released from it, and on top of that he gets treated most royally. In fact, according to II Kings 25:28 he even gets a seat above the seats of the kings that were with him in Babylon. As one put it, A sharper contrast is hardly imaginable.
We don’t know for certain what motivated this sudden change on the part of the Babylonians. It is noteworthy that it happened at the beginning rule of a new king for Babylon, and there are Jewish records stating that this king may himself have been in prison for a while for some wrongdoing and that there he met with imprisoned Jehoiachin and became friends with him. But since Scripture tells us nothing of this, we must conclude this was simply an act of God’s divine providence, and with a significant message of hope too. The fact that it is twice mentioned in Scripture where it is, at the end of the very sad story of the destruction of Judah, should help us see God is wanting to convey good news here in the midst of so much evil and tragedy. As one commentary put it, this last section in both II Kings and Jeremiah is given by divine inspiration, no doubt as a whisper of hope.
To see this more with me, think again of the dark context of this story. We read in both II Kings 25 and Jeremiah 52 not just of the fall of Jerusalem but the dismal discouraging news also of the people left behind there. There was disorder and murder and chaos and poverty left behind in Jerusalem. What a mess and misery and state of ruins the once royal city of David was now. Plus then you had the Babylonian captivity with so many of the most promising Jews captive in that foreign pagan land. How hopeless everything looked! Can you imagine as the years went by in captivity how dismal and discouraging everything must have seemed for whoever was a true child of God in Babylon? But now right in the middle of the 70 years captivity, as God had foretold it would be, there comes this sudden dramatic turn-around of one who was still looked upon as a king of Judah. How the news must have spread about the good treatment, the kind and honorable treatment being shown yet to Jehoiachin and his family. It was certainly all so undeserved and unexpected.
But it happened, we may believe, by God’s gracious design and in His covenant faithfulness to His people and to His gospel promise of sending the Messiah King one day. Listen to how one commentator described the same, stating that this joyful termination of [Jehoiachin’s] imprisonment lay [ultimately] in the gracious decree of God, that the seed of David, though severely chastised for its apostasy from the Lord, should not be utterly rejected [2 Samuel 7:14-15]. At the same time, this event was also intended as a comforting sign to the whole of the captive people, that the Lord would one day put an end to their banishment, if they would acknowledge that it was a well-merited punishment for their sins that they had been driven away from before His face, and would turn again to the Lord their God with all their heart.
Here it is very interesting and special to take note too of what Matthew does in his gospel account in chapter 1 when giving the genealogy of Jesus from Abraham onwards. Most strikingly this Jehoiachin gets mentioned twice in that family tree, once in vs.11 and then again in vs.12, in both cases called Jechonias. That tells us we should take special note of him. And then we read too of one of his grandsons named Zorobabel [New Testament spelling of Zerubbabel], and you know what is so precious about that? Do you know the Zerubbabel person and history in the Old Testament? This Zorobabel, (same person-different spelling) though never sitting on the throne of David, yet he was the leader of the Jews who returned from captivity in the days of Ezra. You can read of him in that book and in other Old Testament books as well. For instance we read in Zechariah 4:9 that it was “by the hands of Zerubbabel” as leader of the returning Jews that the new foundation for the restored temple in Jerusalem was built. How wonderful this all is truly!
The gospel point here is that God in wrath remembered mercy and in Jehoiachin’s family line there was a godly seed and a leader even when the people returned from Babylon back to Jerusalem after the 70 years in captivity. It may be even that Jehoiachin became a truly converted man, but we don’t know that. We do know God worked mightily through his family, giving faithful believers among them. In this way then, you see, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit guiding the writers of Scripture, just the ending of II Kings and Jeremiah telling of the sudden change and exaltation of Jehoiachin, there is the hint or suggestion of so much gospel hope, indeed!
Do you see this with me? The whisper of hope becomes greater and greater when you see it in the context of the whole of God’s word and in view ultimately of the gospel of Jesus Christ as crucified and risen Redeemer. Why did God in wrath remember mercy to the captive people in Babylon? We know finally it was because God in the fullness of time would send His own Son to serve as the great Son of David and as the Messiah King who Himself would bear the full and eternal wrath of God for sin in the sinner’s place. God in sparing Jehoiachin and his family in Babylon was preparing further for the fulfillment of all His gospel promises in spite of the people and their sinful and wayward ways. God’s righteous fury for the sins of His people would ultimately fall on His own beloved Son as Sinbearer and Saviour of sinners. So we see precisely also in this time, when all seemed utterly hopeless, right in the middle of the 70 year captivity when, as one put it, the covenant people were trampled, beaten down, and teetering between faith and compromise, that the Sun of righteousness began to blaze, and to rise with healing in his wings, as prophet Malachi tells about. Salvation is the work of the Lord because of His undying faithfulness in spite of all our sin and unfaithfulness.
This is the gracious and glorious gospel news, isn’t it? And because Jesus also would and did make a complete payment for sin and give a perfect righteous sacrifice to God on behalf of sinners, so He also triumphantly arose from the dead. He arose as He promised He would, to show and share His purchase of salvation for all His elect people, even for as many who repent of sin and trust and follow Him. Think in this regard of our prison rags living in this fallen world, in captivity and bondage to evil and Satan, how through Christ Jesus, by grace through faith in Him, you and I may find full and free deliverance and be supplied with robes of righteousness. We may be given the bounty of the King of king’s supplies in all our needs and made heirs of the heavenly kingdom and granted to sit at the King’s table ever to feed and enjoy His salvation benefits to us.
As unexpected and surprising and marvelous as was the turn-around in Jehoiachin’s life in Babylon, so much more is the turn-around for God’s people in and through Christ as the crucified and risen Saviour for all His own. Thinking of our text as a whisper of hope in Scripture, is not the good news of Jesus and Him risen again like an unending river and ocean of hope for us and for this sinful perishing world still? This Babylonian king was, as far as we know, just another heathen king, though interestingly there are some nonbiblical historical records which suggest he was much taught and influenced by Daniel in Babylon. But regardless, this Evil-merodach in no way compares to the King of kings who is only always perfect and just, gracious and merciful, holy and righteous in all His ways and doings. And behold what God Triune would and did accomplish for us in and through His only begotten Son come to this earth, Jesus Christ the Saviour! In the destruction of Israel and Judah as told in the Bible we have a glimpse of how utterly hopeless and dismal all of life is in this fallen world left to ourselves. Even for the most religious of people, apart from God in Christ Jesus and true faith in Him, all is hopeless and dark and dismal and doom and gloom, without a glimmer of light or a whisper of hope.
But in the gospel word as given to us by God in the holy Bible, including these two passages about Jehoiachin, there is not only a whisper of hope given to us, but a whirlwind of hope that becomes indeed, an endless fountain of everlasting hope to all who believe God’s word and trust and follow it and the Saviour therein revealed to us. Won’t confessing Christians find in the amazing ending of former King Jehoiachin marvelous good tidings indeed, telling of God’s faithfulness to His promises regardless of our sins and disobedience? How precious is the gospel of Jesus Christ as given to us in the whole Bible! How we need this gospel word too, isn’t it true? I mean, what dark and dismal times we live in today! Not only is our world so steeped in wickedness and evil, but in the visible Christian churches, how much apostasy and falsehood in doctrine and conduct is not only found but actually applauded and approved even. What hope is there for God’s faithful people and for the increase of His church today and in the generations following, living in the perilous times we do?
Listen, dear friends, there, is so much hope and reason for hopefulness looking ahead, seeing Jesus, the Saviour of sinners, has risen from the dead and reigns on the throne above as King of kings and Lord of lords. As one preacher recently put it, His [Jesus’] resurrection has made it utterly safe for God’s people to face anything in this world, for the resurrection is God’s declaration that even death cannot defeat His own . How true that is! Don’t we have to say, in fact, there is absolutely no hopeless situation for God’s people when trusting Christ Jesus as crucified and risen Saviour of sinners?
The call of the gospel also today is that we each and all be sure to be turning from sin and evil and wholeheartedly trusting and following Jesus Christ as only Saviour and Lord. Is that what you are doing? The sad reality was and remains today is that all too many can’t be bothered really to hear the gospel and refuse to take it seriously. How many in captivity in Babylon became like Babylonians in the long run, turning away from the one true God and going their own sinful ways. As I said, we have no record that Jehoiachin himself ever truly turned from his sinful ways. Whether he did or not is not important as such either, for God knows.
But the question that is important right now is whether you are truly converted and genuinely repent of sin and follow after Christ Jesus. Also now, God knows where your mind and heart is before Him and His church. Are you born again, converted, living, loving members of Christ’s church or are you living sinfully and stubbornly resistant to the gospel call, serving sinful self and this rebellious and ungodly world instead? You don’t even have a whisper of hope if you live and die without Christ Jesus as your only Saviour and Lord. John 3:36 states so emphatically thus, “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life, but he that believeth not the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth [remains] on him.” We have to say how much worse will be your punishment and eternal judgment when rejecting Christ, the crucified and risen Saviour of sinners, than even in the Old Testament times when people turned from the LORD and His word. For we live in the full gospel age and as stated in Hebrews 2:3, “How shall we escape, if we neglect [that is discount and reject] so great salvation” as made known to us in the New Testament times and Christian church today? Will you hear the gospel call today and come to the Saviour? Come while He yet calls for your pardon and peace today in and through His saving work, also for a guilty depraved sinner like yourself. Won’t you be persuaded by the compelling power of God’s word and the risen Saviour calling to you through His Spirit and word?
On the other hand, perhaps there is a child of God hearing this message who is just so down and discouraged in life, or confused and troubled by this and that from yourself or from others. Maybe you are so distressed you just can’t even begin to hope for better times and you more or less have given up hope for a new day and good future in your life. It could be that you look at your sinful past and your sinful tendencies still all too often and you conclude it is simply more hopeless with you than hopeful. Well, think here again of this Jehoiachin. It was in his 37 th year of captivity in Babylon that his circumstances were suddenly and dramatically changed. Thirty-seven years is a long time in a prison cell, wouldn’t you agree? Yet there came a new day by God’s mercy also for him.
How true in this regard what Matthew Henry wrote about our Scripture text. To have honor and liberty [at last] after he [Jehoiachin] had been so long in confinement and disgrace was like the return of the morning star after a very dark and tedious night. Let none say that they shall never see good again because they have long seen little but evil No, for the most miserable know not what blessed turn [God’s] Providence may yet give to their affairs….When therefore we are perplexed and distressed and depressed, let us not be in despair. Indeed, dear struggling people of God, think here again of this Zerubbabel, grandson of Jehoiachin. Just consider the rubbles and ruins and obstacles and, humanly speaking, hopeless situation Zerubbabel with the other returning Jews would have encountered there, coming back to the destroyed broken down city of Jerusalem. Yet we read in Zechariah 4:7 these gloriously encouraging gospel words, “Who art thou, O great mountain [mountain of difficulties]? before Zerubbabel thou shalt become a plain: and he shall bring forth the headstone thereof [speaking of the new temple to be built], with shoutings, crying, Grace, grace unto it.”
The glorious Christian gospel promise is as given and assured to us not just by what happened to this King Jehoiachin but far better, as given to us in and through Christ Jesus, the crucified and now risen Saviour. The good news is, there is everlasting hope for all who trust and follow after the Lord Jesus Christ and there is no situation or need or sin or temptation in which He can’t and won’t come to our rescue even as you and I ever look to Him. Don’t let your troubles and struggles, your sins and temptations, and your sorrows and hurts keep you away from the crucified and risen Saviour God, but come to Him and tell and confess all to Him every day again. So also Psalm 50:15 exhorts in God’s name, “And call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me.”
Those are not empty words considering also Jehoiachin’s empty prison cell, and far more, considering Jesus’ empty tomb! And can you imagine, how in and through Him, by grace through faith, death itself is conquered and transformed so that it brings God’s people to eternal glory in heaven? There the final and most wonderful surprise will be given to us, receiving then robes of righteousness having been washed in Jesus’ blood, and forevermore putting off and away our prison clothes from here below still in this sinful world with our sinful selves. Then too we will receive from all the eternal supplies of King Jesus for soul and body forevermore, and it will be wonderful and beautiful and peaceful and joyful, and perfect love and blessing in every way possible, more than we can imagine by far. And it will never end, but only get better and better, forever and ever! You don’t want to miss being among that redeemed company all saved by grace alone through Christ alone, the crucified and risen Saviour. I say that because the only alternative is living in a hellhole where all will be endlessly horrible and dreadful and sorrowful and tearful and hateful, forever and ever.
The aim today has been to have us glory in Christ, the crucified and risen Saviour. And to have us do so now considering Jehoiachin’s amazing earthly ending! The impact of Jehoiachin’s sudden move from prison to palace can give us a little hope regarding God and His gospel promises. The impact of Jesus’ supernatural resurrection from death to life can give us great hope for soul and body and in life and death. You and I, and whoever has ears to hear, shall not be put to shame when believing in Christ and repenting of sin, ever following after Jesus Christ as only Saviour and Lord. May God Triune so bless His word now then, even about obscure King Jehoiachin’s amazing ending. Amen.
The Gospel According to Nebuchadnezzar
Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon from 604-561 B.C., is one of the most infamous rulers recorded in Scripture. Along with the pharaoh of Egypt (who tried to keep the children of Israel in bondage), he is one of the most notorious pagan monarchs mentioned in the Bible and did much to harm God&rsquos people. Nebuchadnezzar acquired his infamy by overthrowing the nation of Judah, destroying the temple and carrying thousands of Jews captive to Babylon.
But there is a strange footnote in history when it comes to Nebuchadnezzar. While he was an enemy of the descendants of Abraham, Nebuchadnezzar accomplished something truly amazing. He is directly responsible for the contents of an entire chapter of the Bible! An edict Nebuchadnezzar issued makes up the entire fourth chapter of Daniel, making him the only heathen monarch to be so extensively quoted in the Bible.
What was so important about Nebuchadnezzar&rsquos decree that God had it included in the Bible? We need to keep in mind that all Scripture, including this passage in the book of Daniel, was inspired by God and is &ldquoprofitable&rdquo for us to read (2 Timothy 3:16). So there must be something about Nebuchadnezzar&rsquos message that God wants us to hear and heed.
Before we consider this ancient king&rsquos words, let&rsquos look at some of the background to his decree.
Written in Aramaic
While most of the Old Testament of the Bible was written in Hebrew and most of the New Testament in Greek, small portions of both the Old and New Testaments were written in Aramaic. The most extensive use of Aramaic in the Bible is found in the book of Daniel, including King Nebuchadnezzar&rsquos edict in chapter 4.
The use of the Aramaic language in the book of Daniel is not surprising, given the fact that the setting for this book is during the Jews&rsquo captivity in Babylon. Aramaic, also called Chaldean or the language of the Chaldeans, was the language of ancient Babylon, and Daniel and his fellow captives were taught it as part of their training to serve the king (Daniel 1:4 2:4). And as subjects in the Babylonian Empire, all Jews began learning and using this language.
According to The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Aramaic eventually &ldquodisplaced Hebrew as the spoken language of the Jews in Palestine&rdquo (&ldquoAramaic Language&rdquo). So including Hebrew and Aramaic in the book of Daniel was partly a reflection of the Jews being bilingual&mdashspeaking both languages.
Since Babylon was the major empire of that time, its language, Aramaic, was &ldquothe language of international protocol&rdquo (ESV Study Bible, comment on Isaiah 36:11). So in addressing his decree &ldquoto all peoples, nations, and languages that dwell in all the earth,&rdquo it made sense for Nebuchadnezzar to issue his decree in Aramaic (Daniel 4:1).
(For additional information about the use of this language in the Bible, see our Life, Hope & Truth article &ldquoBiblical Aramaic.&rdquo)
A story of humiliation
Most heathen kings delighted in erecting large monuments to tout their power and military successes. King Nebuchadnezzar was no exception he had lots of these. But his decree in Daniel 4 didn&rsquot follow the normal pattern for kings. Instead, his decree includes not only an account of a dream that he had affirming his kingdom&rsquos prestige but also the story of his personal humiliation.
Most people, especially kings, don&rsquot like to speak of their shortcomings. Yet for some reason&mdashapparently because he came to an understanding that he thought all people should know&mdashthis ruler admitted to everyone a grave personal fault and the punishment he received because of it.
What happened to King Nebuchadnezzar was this: he went insane. His dementia was so severe that he completely lost his mind and lived like an animal for &ldquoseven times&rdquo&mdashapparently seven years (Daniel 4:32-33).
And what brought on this punishment? Pride. God forewarned Nebuchadnezzar of his impending demise through the dream He gave him. Daniel, who interpreted the dream for the king, advised him to &ldquobreak off your sins by being righteous, and your iniquities by showing mercy to the poor. Perhaps there may be a lengthening of your prosperity&rdquo (verse 27).
But King Nebuchadnezzar couldn&rsquot contain himself. A year later, as he was walking about his royal palace, &ldquothe king spoke, saying, &lsquoIs not this great Babylon, that I have built for a royal dwelling by my mighty power and for the honor of my majesty?&rsquo&rdquo (verse 30).
God&rsquos response was swift. &ldquoWhile the word was still in the king&rsquos mouth, a voice fell from heaven: &lsquoKing Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is spoken: the kingdom has departed from you!&rsquo&rdquo (verse 31).
So the king suffered a great humiliation&mdasha horrific mental illness for seven years.
The king&rsquos edict
King Nebuchadnezzar began his decree by stating that it was directed &ldquoto all peoples, nations, and languages that dwell in all the earth&rdquo (Daniel 4:1). In short, it was for everyone in the entire world.
Then, after the usual oriental custom of wishing peace for everyone (verse 1), the king states his purpose for sending his message: &ldquoI thought it good to declare the signs and wonders that the Most High God has worked for me. How great are His signs, and how mighty His wonders! His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and His dominion is from generation to generation&rdquo (verses 2-3).
Instead of beginning his message speaking of his own greatness and majesty, he focused on God and how God had worked with him. While the king had already learned of God&rsquos existence and had shown respect for His power by his interactions with Daniel and Daniel&rsquos three Jewish friends, he now seems to have come to a deeper understanding of God&rsquos supremacy. Instead of beginning his message speaking of his own greatness and majesty, he focused on God and how God had worked with him.
Nebuchadnezzar then recounted how he had received a dream, which was interpreted by Daniel, warning him of his impending period of insanity so he would learn &ldquothat the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomever He chooses&rdquo (verse 25). In short, he needed to &ldquocome to know that Heaven rules&rdquo (verse 26).
The king then stated that his predicted insanity did indeed occur (verse 33).
After this humbling experience and after his mental abilities had returned, Nebuchadnezzar wrote: &ldquoI blessed the Most High and praised and honored Him who lives forever: For His dominion is an everlasting dominion, and His kingdom is from generation to generation. All the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing He does according to His will. &hellip No one can restrain His hand or say to Him, &lsquoWhat have You done?&rsquo &hellip And those who walk in pride He is able to put down&rdquo (verses 34-35, 37).
How will you respond?
Scholars debate whether King Nebuchadnezzar really made a deep, heart-changing commitment to God or not. He certainly came to acknowledge God&rsquos supremacy, but there is no record of him forsaking his pagan gods and worshipping the true God alone.
God, who &ldquoknows the secrets of the heart&rdquo (Psalm 44:21 compare Acts 15:8), will be King Nebuchadnezzar&rsquos judge. Yet regardless of the king&rsquos ultimate fate, his warning message to all people alive during his reign and preserved for us today remains valid. We need to acknowledge that God is supreme, that He is working out a plan here on earth, and that we will be judged by Him for our actions.
But the key question is this: How will you respond? Of course, the key elements of Nebuchadnezzar&rsquos message permeate the entire Bible. This king of Babylon was not the only person to emphasize these instructions from God. He just happened to be in a unique position to further emphasize this message to all peoples.
Years later, Paul spoke of these same principles. He wrote to Church members in Corinth: &ldquoFor we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad&rdquo (2 Corinthians 5:10). To those in Rome, he wrote: &ldquoFor we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ&rdquo (Romans 14:10).
Although King Nebuchadnezzar&rsquos understanding was limited, his message continues to ring true today. The core of what he expressed is at the heart of the gospel of the good news of the Kingdom of God. That is, God is indeed supreme He is working out a plan of salvation for mankind that will surely come to pass His judgment will come upon all and we should humbly repent and believe what God says. (Read more about the Kingdom of God in our article &ldquoDaniel 2: Nebuchadnezzar&rsquos Dream.&rdquo)
By studying the rest of the Bible, we can understand much more about the gospel&mdashsomething we strive to continually convey in the pages of Discern and in articles on our website, LifeHopeandTruth.com. But the key question is this: How will you respond? How many times and in how many ways will you need to hear these truths before you act upon them?
Heed Nebuchadnezzar&rsquos edict. Heed this message from the God of the universe who loves you and wants you to be part of His eternal family!
David Treybig is a husband, father and grandfather. He and his wife, Teddi, have two grown children and seven grandchildren. He currently pastors the Austin, Texas, congregation of the Church of God, a Worldwide Association. He has served in the pastoral ministry for over 40 years, pastoring congregations across six states.
Jehoiakim, Jehoiachin & Nebuchadnezzar
The deportations of the Hebrews to Babylon affected many thousands of lives, including well-known Bible characters such as Daniel, Ezekiel and Esther. Yet these deportations hinged almost entirely upon the actions and attitudes of three men Jehoiakim, Jehoiachin and Nebuchadnezzar.
Jehoiakim was the second son of Josiah king of Judah, his mother was Zebudah, the daughter of Pedaiah of Rumah.. He was born around 635BC under the name of Eliakim (Resurrection of God)  . Although we are told little of his early life we do know that when his father died it was his younger brother Shallum that was the peoples choice for king.  He came to the throne in his 25 th year (610BC) after Shallum, who was sympathetic towards the Babylonians  , had been deposed by Pharaoh-Necho. As part of this manoeuvre Pharaoh changed Eliakim's name to Jehoiakim (avenging, establishing or resurrection of the Lord)  and established that Judah should pay tribute to Egypt. Jehoiakim raised this tribute by laying a tax burden upon the people.
In the third year of Jehoiakim's reign Nebuchadnezzar invaded and carried him away although he was later re-instated as a vassal king of Babylon.
History shows that Jehoiakim's ultimate downfall came because he chose to rebel against Babylon. It had seemed like a smart move, Nebuchadnezzar had suffered at the hands of Pharaoh-Neco and had returned home to Babylon, Jehoiakim seized the chance to throw off the Babylonian yoke and avoid paying the tribute. Indeed as events proved, the Babylonians were distracted, and rather than sending a main force straight away Nebuchadnezzar was forced to work through Chaldees, Syrians, Moabites and the Ammonites  . Whilst this group didn't actually manage to take Judah during Jehoiakim's life they were able to devastate it.
The Bible doesn't actually tell us the final fate of Jehoiakim but some of the prophecies of Jeremiah (22:18-19, 36:30) are suggestive. Jehoiakim was to be unlamented, cast beyond the gates, left day and night, dragged and given the burial of an ass. One could imagine a siege in process, the attackers promise the besieged some reward if they depose their king, and he is taken, killed and thrown over the walls. The body is then almost ceremonially mistreated.
Of course, whilst we can view Jehoiakim in the light of history, to find out what really happened we have to view history in the light of God. As always this is most illuminating. 2 Ki 24:3 shows that whilst Nebuchadnezzar must have thought he was acting on his own initiative it was actually God moving, against the kings of Israel. 
Regrettably Jehoiakim is proof that a Godly father does not necessarily result in a Godly son. The Bible woefully summarizes the situation with he did that which is evil in the sight of the Lord (2 Ki 23:37). Jeremiah gives some more detail in chapter 22 there he suggests that Jehoiakim lived in luxury but that he obtained his riches by unfairly treating the poor. Jeremiah also shows the root of Jehoiakim's problem it wasn't that he didn't know the ways of God it is that he didn't want to. That is the only real explanation of Jeremiah 36 where Jehoiakim burnt the words that God had sent to him. This is even more amazing when you think this is only a year or two after his capture and re-instatement by Nebuchadnezzar!
Jehoiachin (otherwise known as Coniah and Jeconiah  ) was the son of Jehoiakim and Nehushta, the daughter of Elnathan of Jerusalem. He reigned after the death of his father for a period of three months. It is possible that he was co-regent with his father for a decade before that, this would explain the discrepancy between 2 Ch 36:9 and 2 Ki 24:8 where he is cited as being 8 & 18 respectively when he began to reign.
He again did evil in the sight of the Lord and was forced to surrender to the Babylonians  . This he did and spent the rest of his life in exile in Babylon. The first 37 he spent in imprisonment before being liberated by Evil-merodach who gave Jehoiachin eating privileges at his table.
Jehoiachin was the last direct heir of the Jewish crown and Jeremiah predicted that he would have no seed upon the throne  . In one sense this happened, in another God showed his sovereignty. Jehoiachin means 'appointed of God' he wasn't just the last in a long line of seeming mistakes. He was God's chosen vessel, even if he didn't obey God! Thus, lo and behold, in Matthew 1:11 Jehoiachin appears again in the ancestry of the Lord himself. 
The final player in the drama of deportation was Nebuchadnezzar. Nebuchadnezzar came to the Babylonian throne in 604BC upon the death of his father Nabopolassar. He was an able military commander having already won a decisive victory over Pharaoh in Carchemish  Like his father he was an empire builder, and was willing to leave kingdoms with a degree of sovereignty provided they would become a subservient part of his kingdom. His name means, 'Nebo protect the crown', although he self-styled himself as "Nebo's favourite". His reign finally ended in its 43 rd year, his 84 th year of age.
There is much that history says about the strategic importance of Babylon during Nebuchadnezzar's reign  and Nebuchadnezzar has the distinction of being the most powerful gentile king that ever lived -- at least from a biblical perspective  . Yet when looked at from heaven's viewpoint he was really just a pawn, or more accurately a servant! 
The God of Heaven had a chosen people he had chosen a line of kings to rule those people. From a human perspective Jehoiakim had made a strategic political move and got unlucky in facing the most successful king of the era. From a human perspective Jehoiachin was unlucky enough to get thrown into an impossible situation and did pretty well to get out alive. From a biblical perspective they both made the same mistake, they forgot God, or rather they chose to ignore him.
There is little we can learn from these examples of direct practical benefit, we are not kings and are unlikely to have to withstand, or provoke a siege. Indirectly the lesson is simple: ignore God, ignore his warnings and eventually something will come against you far bigger than anything you can handle. It may look like bad luck, it isn't.
Why did Nebuchadnezzar keep King Jeconiah alive? - History
2. But now, after the death of Nebuchadnezzar, Evil-Merodach his son succeeded in the kingdom, who immediately set Jeconiah at liberty, and esteemed him among his most intimate friends. He also gave him many presents, and made him honorable above the rest of the kings that were in Babylon for his father had not kept his faith with Jeconiah, when he voluntarily delivered up himself to him, with his wives and children, and his whole kindred, for the sake of his country, that it might not be taken by siege, and utterly destroyed, as we said before. When Evil-Mcrodach was dead, after a reign of eighteen years, Niglissar his son took the government, and retained it forty years, and then ended his life and after him the succession in the kingdom came to his son Labosordacus, who continued in it in all but nine months and when he was dead, it came to Baltasar,  who by the Babylonians was called Naboandelus against him did Cyrus, the king of Persia, and Darius, the king of Media, make war and when he was besieged in Babylon, there happened a wonderful and prodigious vision. He was sat down at supper in a large room, and there were a great many vessels of silver, such as were made for royal entertainments, and he had with him his concubines and his friends whereupon he came to a resolution, and commanded that those vessels of God which Nebuchadnezzar had plundered out of Jerusalem, and had not made use of, but had put them into his own temple, should be brought out of that temple. He also grew so haughty as to proceed to use them in the midst of his cups, drinking out of them, and blaspheming against God. In the mean time, he saw a hand proceed out of the wall, and writing upon the wall certain syllables at which sight, being disturbed, he called the magicians and Chaldeans together, and all that sort of men that are among these barbarians, and were able to interpret signs and dreams, that they might explain the writing to him. But when the magicians said they could discover nothing, nor did understand it, the king was in great disorder of mind, and under great trouble at this surprising accident so he caused it to be proclaimed through all the country, and promised, that to him who could explain the writing, and give the signification couched therein, he would give him a golden chain for his neck, and leave to wear a purple garment, as did the kings of Chaldea, and would bestow on him the third part of his own dominions. When this proclamation was made, the magicians ran together more earnestly, and were very ambitious to find out the importance of the writing, but still hesitated about it as much as before. Now when the king's grandmother saw him cast down at this accident,  she began to encourage him, and to say, that there was a certain captive who came from Judea, a Jew by birth, but brought away thence by Nebuchadnezzar when he had destroyed Jerusalem, whose name was Daniel, a wise man, and one of great sagacity in finding out what was impossible for others to discover, and what was known to God alone, who brought to light and answered such questions to Nebuchadnezzar as no one else was able to answer when they were consulted. She therefore desired that he would send for him, and inquire of him concerning the writing, and to condemn the unskilfulness of those that could not find their meaning, and this, although what God signified thereby should be of a melancholy nature.
3. When Baltasar heard this, he called for Daniel and when he had discoursed to him what he had learned concerning him and his wisdom, and how a Divine Spirit was with him, and that he alone was fully capable of finding out what others would never have thought of, he desired him to declare to him what this writing meant that if he did so, he would give him leave to wear purple, and to put a chain of gold about his neck, and would bestow on him the third part of his dominion, as an honorary reward for his wisdom, that thereby he might become illustrious to those who saw him, and who inquired upon what occasion he obtained such honors. But Daniel desired that he would keep his gifts to himself for what is the effect of wisdom and of Divine revelation admits of no gifts, and bestows its advantages on petitioners freely but that still he would explain the writing to him which denoted that he should soon die, and this because he had not learnt to honor God, and not to admit things above human nature, by what punishments his progenitor had undergone for the injuries he had offered to God and because he had quite forgotten how Nebuchadnezzar was removed to feed among wild beasts for his impieties, and did not recover his former life among men and his kingdom, but upon God's mercy to him, after many supplications and prayers who did thereupon praise God all the days of his life, as one of almighty power, and who takes care of mankind. [He also put him in mind] how he had greatly blasphemed against God, and had made use of his vessels amongst his concubines that therefore God saw this, and was angry with him, and declared by this writing beforehand what a sad conclusion of his life he should come to. And he explained the writing thus: "MANEH. This, if it be expounded in the Greek language, may signify a Number, because God hath numbered so long a time for thy life, and for thy government, and that there remains but a small portion. THEKEL This signifies a weight, and means that God hath weighed thy kingdom in a balance, and finds it going down already. -- PHARES. This also, in the Greek tongue, denotes a fragment. God will therefore break thy kingdom in pieces, and divide it among the Medes and Persians."
4. When Daniel had told the king that the writing upon the wall signified these events, Baltasar was in great sorrow and affliction, as was to be expected, when the interpretation was so heavy upon him. However, he did not refuse what he had promised Daniel, although he were become a foreteller of misfortunes to him, but bestowed it all upon him as reasoning thus, that what he was to reward was peculiar to himself, and to fate, and did not belong to the prophet, but that it was the part of a good and a just man to give what he had promised, although the events were of a melancholy nature. Accordingly, the king determined so to do. Now, after a little while, both himself and the city were taken by Cyrus, the king of Persia, who fought against him for it was Baltasar, under whom Babylon was taken, when he had reigned seventeen years. And this is the end of the posterity of king Nebuchadnezzar, as history informs us but when Babylon was taken by Darius, and when he, with his kinsman Cyrus, had put an end to the dominion of the Babylonians, he was sixty-two years old. He was the son of Astyages, and had another name among the Greeks. Moreover, he took Daniel the prophet, and carried him with him into Media, and honored him very greatly, and kept him with him for he was one of the three presidents whom he set over his three hundred and sixty provinces, for into so many did Darius part them.
5. However, while Daniel was in so great dignity, and in so great favor with Darius, and was alone intrusted with every thing by him, a having somewhat divine in him, he was envied by the rest for those that see others in greater honor than themselves with kings envy them and when those that were grieved at the great favor Daniel was in with Darius sought for an occasion against him, he afforded them no occasion at all, for he was above all the temptations of money, and despised bribery, and esteemed it a very base thing to take any thing by way of reward, even when it might be justly given him he afforded those that envied him not the least handle for an accusation. So when they could find nothing for which they might calumniate him to the king, nothing that was shameful or reproachful, and thereby deprive him of the honor he was in with him, they sought for some other method whereby they might destroy him. When therefore they saw that Daniel prayed to God three times a day, they thought they had gotten an occasion by which they might ruin him so they came to Darius and told him that the princes and governors had thought proper to allow the multitude a relaxation for thirty days, that no one might offer a petition or prayer either to himself or to the gods, but that, "he who shall transgress this decree shall be east into the den of lions, and there perish."
6. Whereupon the king, not being acquainted with their wicked design, nor suspecting that it was a contrivance of theirs against Daniel, said he was pleased with this decree of theirs, and he promised to confirm what they desired he also published an edict to promulgate to the people that decree which the princes had made. Accordingly, all the rest took care not to transgress those injunctions, and rested in quiet but Daniel had no regard to them, but, as he was wont, he stood and prayed to God in the sight of them all but the princes having met with the occasion they so earnestly sought to find against Daniel, came presently to the king, and accused him, that Daniel was the only person that transgressed the decree, while not one of the rest durst pray to their gods. This discovery they made, not because of his impiety, but because they had watched him, and observed him out of envy for supposing that Darius did thus out of a greater kindness to him than they expected, and that he was ready to grant him pardon for this contempt of his injunctions, and envying this very pardon to Daniel, they did not become more honorable to him, but desired he might be cast into the den of lions according to the law. So Darius, hoping that God would deliver him, and that he would undergo nothing that was terrible by the wild beasts, bid him bear this accident cheerfully. And when he was cast into the den, he put his seal to the stone that lay upon the mouth of the den, and went his way, but he passed all the night without food and without sleep, being in great distress for Daniel but when it was day, he got up, and came to the den, and found the seal entire, which he had left the stone sealed withal he also opened the seal, and cried out, and called to Daniel, and asked him if he were alive. And as soon as he heard the king's voice, and said that he had suffered no harm, the king gave order that he should be drawn up out of the den. Now when his enemies saw that Daniel had suffered nothing which was terrible, they would not own that he was preserved by God, and by his providence but they said that the lions had been filled full with food, and on that account it was, as they supposed, that the lions would not touch Daniel, nor come to him and this they alleged to the king. But the king, out of an abhorrence of their wickedness, gave order that they should throw in a great deal of flesh to the lions and when they had filled themselves, he gave further order that Daniel's enemies should be cast into the den, that he might learn whether the lions, now they were full, would touch them or not. And it appeared plain to Darius, after the princes had been cast to the wild beasts, that it was God who preserved Daniel  for the lions spared none of them, but tore them all to pieces, as if they had been very hungry, and wanted food. I suppose therefore it was not their hunger, which had been a little before satisfied with abundance of flesh, but the wickedness of these men, that provoked them [to destroy the princes] for if it so please God, that wickedness might, by even those irrational creatures, be esteemed a plain foundation for their punishment.
7. When therefore those that had intended thus to destroy Daniel by treachery were themselves destroyed, king Darius sent [letters] over all the country, and praised that God whom Daniel worshipped, and said that he was the only true God, and had all power. He had also Daniel in very great esteem, and made him the principal of his friends. Now when Daniel was become so illustrious and famous, on account of the opinion men had that he was beloved of God, he built a tower at Ecbatana, in Media: it was a most elegant building, and wonderfully made, and it is still remaining, and preserved to this day and to such as see it, it appears to have been lately built, and to have been no older than that very day when any one looks upon it, it is so fresh  flourishing, and beautiful, and no way grown old in so long time for buildings suffer the same as men do, they grow old as well as they, and by numbers of years their strength is dissolved, and their beauty withered. Now they bury the kings of Media, of Persia, and Parthia in this tower to this day, and he who was entrusted with the care of it was a Jewish priest which thing is also observed to this day. But it is fit to give an account of what this man did, which is most admirable to hear, for he was so happy as to have strange revelations made to him, and those as to one of the greatest of the prophets, insomuch, that while he was alive he had the esteem and applause both of the kings and of the multitude and now he is dead, he retains a remembrance that will never fail, for the several books that he wrote and left behind him are still read by us till this time and from them we believe that Daniel conversed with God for he did not only prophesy of future events, as did the other prophets, but he also determined the time of their accomplishment. And while prophets used to foretell misfortunes, and on that account were disagreeable both to the kings and to the multitude, Daniel was to them a prophet of good things, and this to such a degree, that by the agreeable nature of his predictions, he procured the goodwill of all men and by the accomplishment of them, he procured the belief of their truth, and the opinion of [a sort of] divinity for himself, among the multitude. He also wrote and left behind him what made manifest the accuracy and undeniable veracity of his predictions for he saith, that when he was in Susa, the metropolis of Persia, and went out into the field with his companions, there was, on the sudden, a motion and concussion of the earth, and that he was left alone by himself, his friends fleeing away from him, and that he was disturbed, and fell on his face, and on his two hands, and that a certain person touched him, and, at the same time, bid him rise, and see what would befall his countrymen after many generations. He also related, that when he stood up, he was shown a great rain, with many horns growing out of his head, and that the last was higher than the rest: that after this he looked to the west, and saw a he-goat carried through the air from that quarter that he rushed upon the ram with violence, and smote him twice with his horns, and overthrew him to the ground, and trampled upon him: that afterward he saw a very great horn growing out of the head of the he-goat, and that when it was broken off, four horns grew up that were exposed to each of the four winds, and he wrote that out of them arose another lesser horn, which, as he said, waxed great and that God showed to him that it should fight against his nation, and take their city by force, and bring the temple worship to confusion, and forbid the sacrifices to be offered for one thousand two hundred and ninety-six days. Daniel wrote that he saw these visions in the Plain of Susa and he hath informed us that God interpreted the appearance of this vision after the following manner: He said that the ram signified the kingdoms of the Medes and Persians, and the horns those kings that were to reign in them and that the last horn signified the last king, and that he should exceed all the kings in riches and glory: that the he-goat signified that one should come and reign from the Greeks, who should twice fight with the Persian, and overcome him in battle, and should receive his entire dominion: that by the great horn which sprang out of the forehead of the he-goat was meant the first king and that the springing up of four horns upon its falling off, and the conversion of every one of them to the four quarters of the earth, signified the successors that should arise after the death of the first king, and the partition of the kingdom among them, and that they should be neither his children, nor of his kindred, that should reign over the habitable earth for many years and that from among them there should arise a certain king that should overcome our nation and their laws, and should take away their political government, and should spoil the temple, and forbid the sacrifices to be offered for three years' time. And indeed it so came to pass, that our nation suffered these things under Antiochus Epiphanes, according to Daniel's vision, and what he wrote many years before they came to pass. In the very same manner Daniel also wrote concerning the Roman government, and that our country should be made desolate by them. All these things did this man leave in writing, as God had showed them to him, insomuch that such as read his prophecies, and see how they have been fulfilled, would wonder at the honor wherewith God honored Daniel and may thence discover how the Epicureans are in an error, who cast Providence out of human life, and do not believe that God takes care of the affairs of the world, nor that the universe is governed and continued in being by that blessed and immortal nature, but say that the world is carried along of its own accord, without a ruler and a curator which, were it destitute of a guide to conduct it, as they imagine, it would be like ships without pilots, which we see drowned by the winds, or like chariots without drivers, which are overturned so would the world be dashed to pieces by its being carried without a Providence, and so perish, and come to nought. So that, by the forementioned predictions of Daniel, those men seem to me very much to err from the truth, who determine that God exercises no providence over human affairs for if that were the case, that the world went on by mechanical necessity, we should not see that all things would come to pass according to his prophecy. Now as to myself, I have so described these matters as I have found them and read them but if any one is inclined to another opinion about them, let him enjoy his different sentiments without any blame from me.