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by Wayne Blank
The fall of the kingdom of Judah came gradually, over a period of years, in which the Babylonians killed or exiled leading members of society, while leaving behind others who they thought that they could more easily control, in what became a subordinate kingdom. After King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon removed King Jehoiachin of Judah, he chose 21 year old Mattaniah, who he renamed Zedekiah, as Judah's vassal king:
"And he carried away Jehoiachin to Babylon; the king's mother, the king's wives, his officials, and the chief men of the land, he took into captivity from Jerusalem to Babylon. And the king of Babylon brought captive to Babylon all the men of valor, seven thousand, and the craftsmen and the smiths, one thousand, all of them strong and fit for war. And the king of Babylon made Mattaniah, Jehoiachin's uncle, king in his stead, and changed his name to Zedekiah. Zedekiah was twenty-one years old when he became king, and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem. His mother's name was Hamutal the daughter of Jeremiah of Libnah." (2 Kings 24:15-18 RSV)
Although the prophet Jeremiah (see Prophets) served as Zedekiah's advisor, Zedekiah "did what was evil in the sight of The Lord, according to all that Jehoiakim had done. For because of the anger of The Lord it came to the point in Jerusalem and Judah that he cast them out from His presence. And Zedekiah rebelled against the king of Babylon." (2 Kings 24:19-20 RSV). It was the final straw, for both the Babylonians, and God, Who then allowed the complete devastation of the kingdom of Judah and the capital city of Jerusalem:
"And in the ninth year of his reign, in the tenth month, on the tenth day of the month, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came with all his army against Jerusalem, and laid siege to it; and they built siegeworks against it round about. So the city was besieged till the eleventh year of King Zedekiah."
Fact Finder: How many royal dynasties did Israel and Judah each have?