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by Wayne Blank
The Fall Of Jerusalem
The destruction of Jerusalem was near total:
"In the fifth month, on the seventh day of the month - which was the nineteenth year of King Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon - Nebuzaradan, the captain of the bodyguard, a servant of the king of Babylon, came to Jerusalem. And he burned the house of The Lord (see Temples), and the king's house and all the houses of Jerusalem; every great house he burned down. And all the army of the Chaldeans, who were with the captain of the guard, broke down the walls around Jerusalem. And the rest of the people who were left in the city and the deserters who had deserted to the king of Babylon, together with the rest of the multitude, Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard carried into exile. But the captain of the guard left some of the poorest of the land to be vinedressers and plowmen."
The prophet Jeremiah (see Prophets) witnessed the destruction of the city (his book of Lamentations was about the aftermath). While at first taken captive, Jeremiah was later released by Nebuzaradan, who, amazingly, although not a believer in "your God," knew that He was the author of the city's destruction - "The Lord your God pronounced this evil against this place; The Lord has brought it about, and has done as He said. Because you sinned against The Lord, and did not obey His voice, this thing has come upon you." (Jeremiah 40:2-3 RSV) (see Why Babylon?):
"The word that came to Jeremiah from The Lord after Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard had let him go from Ramah, when he took him bound in chains along with all the captives of Jerusalem and Judah who were being exiled to Babylon. The captain of the guard took Jeremiah and said to him, "The Lord your God pronounced this evil against this place; The Lord has brought it about, and has done as He said. Because you sinned against The Lord, and did not obey His voice, this thing has come upon you. Now, behold, I release you today from the chains on your hands. If it seems good to you to come with me to Babylon, come, and I will look after you well; but if it seems wrong to you to come with me to Babylon, do not come. See, the whole land is before you; go wherever you think it good and right to go." (Jeremiah 40:1-4 RSV)
Fact Finder: What major item of the Temple in Jerusalem went (and remains) missing when the city fell to the Babylonians?