Tuesday, August 7 2012
Israel In History and Prophecy: Babylon and Persia
"This whole land shall be a desolation, and an astonishment; and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years"
After the division of the united kingdom of Israel at the end of the reign of King Solomon (see Israel In History and Prophecy: Solomon), "Israel" and "Judah" (see Israel In History and Prophecy: Israel and Judah) fell into corruption - primarily idolatry. After decades of ignoring warnings from the prophets that the LORD sent to them (see Israel In History and Prophecy: The Prophets), the people of Israel were conquered and taken away, to Assyria by 721 BC (see Israel In History and Prophecy: The Lost Ten Tribes). So too, after decades of ignoring warnings from the prophets that the LORD sent to them, the people of Judah were conquered and taken away, to Babylon by 586 BC (see Israel In History and Prophecy: Kingdom Of Judah and Israel In History and Prophecy: Back To Babylon).
The prophet Jeremiah was one of the foremost prophets to Judah during that time.
"25:8 Therefore thus saith the LORD [see Who Is The LORD?] of hosts; Because ye have not heard my words [see What Does Word of God Mean To You?], 25:9 Behold, I will send and take all the families of the north, saith the LORD, and Nebuchadrezzar the king of Babylon [see Israel In History and Prophecy: Back To Babylon], my servant, and will bring them against this land, and against the inhabitants thereof, and against all these nations round about, and will utterly destroy them, and make them an astonishment, and an hissing, and perpetual desolations. 25:10 Moreover I will take from them the voice of mirth, and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom, and the voice of the bride, the sound of the millstones, and the light of the candle. 25:11 And this whole land shall be a desolation, and an astonishment; and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years." (Jeremiah 25:8-11 KJV)
The LORD didn't merely allow Babylon to take Judah; the LORD made Babylon take Judah. But notice also, that the LORD would bring Babylon down, seventy years after Judah was taken away, at which time Judah (the kingdom; after seventy years, very few of the original exiles would have remained) would return home.
"25:12 And it shall come to pass, when seventy years are accomplished, that I will punish the king of Babylon [see also Nebuchadnezzar's Lesson], and that nation, saith the LORD, for their iniquity, and the land of the Chaldeans, and will make it perpetual desolations. 25:13 And I will bring upon that land all my words which I have pronounced against it, even all that is written in this book, which Jeremiah hath prophesied against all the nations. 25:14 For many nations and great kings shall serve themselves of them also: and I will recompense them according to their deeds, and according to the works of their own hands." (Jeremiah 25:12-14 KJV)
Exactly as the LORD said would happen, Judah fell and was taken away to Babylon.
"36:11 Zedekiah [see Zedekiah Of Judah] was one and twenty years old when he began to reign, and reigned eleven years in Jerusalem. 36:12 And he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD his God, and humbled not himself before Jeremiah the prophet speaking from the mouth of the LORD. 36:13 And he also rebelled against king Nebuchadnezzar, who had made him swear by God: but he stiffened his neck, and hardened his heart from turning unto the LORD God of Israel. 36:14 Moreover all the chief of the priests, and the people, transgressed very much after all the abominations of the heathen; and polluted the house of the LORD which he had hallowed in Jerusalem.
36:15 And the LORD God of their fathers sent to them by his messengers, rising up betimes, and sending; because he had compassion on his people, and on his dwelling place [see also The Holy Place In History And Prophecy]: 36:16 But they mocked the messengers of God, and despised his words, and misused his prophets, until the wrath of the LORD arose against his people, till there was no remedy. 36:17 Therefore he brought upon them the king of the Chaldees, who slew their young men with the sword in the house of their sanctuary, and had no compassion upon young man or maiden, old man, or him that stooped for age: he gave them all into his hand. 36:18 And all the vessels of the house of God [see The Temple Vessel Prophecies Today], great and small, and the treasures of the house of the LORD, and the treasures of the king, and of his princes; all these he brought to Babylon. 36:19 And they burnt the house of God, and brake down the wall of Jerusalem, and burnt all the palaces thereof with fire, and destroyed all the goodly vessels thereof.
36:20 And them that had escaped from the sword carried he away to Babylon; where they were servants to him and his sons until the reign of the kingdom of Persia: 36:21 To fulfil the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed her sabbaths: for as long as she lay desolate she kept sabbath, to fulfil threescore and ten years." (2 Chronicles 36:11-21 KJV)
So too, exactly as prophesied by the LORD, Persia rose, while Babylon fell.
"36:22 Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the LORD spoken by the mouth of Jeremiah might be accomplished, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing, saying,
36:23 Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, All the kingdoms of the earth hath the LORD God of heaven given me; and he hath charged me to build him an house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Who is there among you of all his people? The LORD his God be with him, and let him go up." (2 Chronicles 36:11-23 KJV)
Jeremiah's Letter To The Exiles In Babylon
The LORD had informed the people of Judah that they would be exiled. The LORD also made known to them that they would return, as a nation, seventy years later. That knowledge was also delivered through the prophet Jeremiah, by a letter "that Jeremiah the prophet sent from Jerusalem unto the residue of the elders which were carried away captives, and to the priests, and to the prophets, and to all the people whom Nebuchadnezzar had carried away captive from Jerusalem to Babylon." As it was described, the people of Judah did not have a difficult life in Babylon - they prospered there, just as the people of Israel had done to the north, in Assyria (it's understandable how, because the people of Israel didn't return, they lost themselves, and eventually their identity, as they assimilated into Assyrians - and then into Babylonians; see also What And Where Is Babylon Today?).
"29:1 Now these are the words of the letter that Jeremiah the prophet sent from Jerusalem unto the residue of the elders which were carried away captives, and to the priests, and to the prophets, and to all the people whom Nebuchadnezzar had carried away captive from Jerusalem to Babylon; 29:2 (After that Jeconiah the king, and the queen, and the eunuchs, the princes of Judah and Jerusalem, and the carpenters, and the smiths, were departed from Jerusalem;) 29:3 By the hand of Elasah the son of Shaphan, and Gemariah the son of Hilkiah, (whom Zedekiah king of Judah sent unto Babylon to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon) saying,
29:4 Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, unto all that are carried away captives, whom I have caused to be carried away from Jerusalem unto Babylon; 29:5 Build ye houses, and dwell in them; and plant gardens, and eat the fruit of them; 29:6 Take ye wives, and beget sons and daughters; and take wives for your sons, and give your daughters to husbands, that they may bear sons and daughters; that ye may be increased there, and not diminished. 29:7 And seek the peace of the city whither I have caused you to be carried away captives, and pray unto the LORD for it: for in the peace thereof shall ye have peace. 29:8 For thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Let not your prophets and your diviners, that be in the midst of you, deceive you, neither hearken to your dreams which ye cause to be dreamed. 29:9 For they prophesy falsely unto you in my name: I have not sent them, saith the LORD.
29:10 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. 29:11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. 29:12 Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. 29:13 And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart. 29:14 And I will be found of you, saith the LORD: and I will turn away your captivity, and I will gather you from all the nations, and from all the places whither I have driven you, saith the LORD; and I will bring you again into the place whence I caused you to be carried away captive.
29:15 Because ye have said, The LORD hath raised us up prophets in Babylon; 29:16 Know that thus saith the LORD of the king that sitteth upon the throne of David, and of all the people that dwelleth in this city, and of your brethren that are not gone forth with you into captivity; 29:17 Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Behold, I will send upon them the sword, the famine, and the pestilence, and will make them like vile figs, that cannot be eaten, they are so evil. 29:18 And I will persecute them with the sword, with the famine, and with the pestilence, and will deliver them to be removed to all the kingdoms of the earth, to be a curse, and an astonishment, and an hissing, and a reproach, among all the nations whither I have driven them: 29:19 Because they have not hearkened to my words, saith the LORD, which I sent unto them by my servants the prophets, rising up early and sending them; but ye would not hear, saith the LORD.
29:20 Hear ye therefore the word of the LORD, all ye of the captivity, whom I have sent from Jerusalem to Babylon: 29:21 Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, of Ahab the son of Kolaiah, and of Zedekiah the son of Maaseiah, which prophesy a lie unto you in my name; Behold, I will deliver them into the hand of Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon; and he shall slay them before your eyes; 29:22 And of them shall be taken up a curse by all the captivity of Judah which are in Babylon, saying, The LORD make thee like Zedekiah and like Ahab, whom the king of Babylon roasted in the fire; 29:23 Because they have committed villany in Israel, and have committed adultery with their neighbours' wives, and have spoken lying words in my name, which I have not commanded them; even I know, and am a witness, saith the LORD." (Jeremiah 29:1-23 KJV)
The Writing On The Wall
The fall of Babylon to Persia is recorded in the book of Daniel with the famous "handwriting on the wall" (or "a hand writing on the wall") incident with Belshazzar, who was then the imperial ruler of Jerusalem.
"5:1 Belshazzar the king made a great feast to a thousand of his lords, and drank wine before the thousand.
5:2 Belshazzar, whiles he tasted the wine, commanded to bring the golden and silver vessels which his father Nebuchadnezzar had taken out of the temple which was in Jerusalem [see Israel In History and Prophecy: The Temple and The Temple Vessel Prophecies Today]; that the king, and his princes, his wives, and his concubines, might drink therein. 5:3 Then they brought the golden vessels that were taken out of the temple of the house of God which was at Jerusalem; and the king, and his princes, his wives, and his concubines, drank in them. 5:4 They drank wine, and praised the gods of gold, and of silver, of brass, of iron, of wood, and of stone.
5:5 In the same hour came forth fingers of a man's hand, and wrote over against the candlestick upon the plaster of the wall of the king's palace: and the king saw the part of the hand that wrote. 5:6 Then the king's countenance was changed, and his thoughts troubled him, so that the joints of his loins were loosed, and his knees smote one against another.
5:7 The king cried aloud to bring in the astrologers, the Chaldeans, and the soothsayers. And the king spake, and said to the wise men of Babylon, Whosoever shall read this writing, and show me the interpretation thereof, shall be clothed with scarlet, and have a chain of gold about his neck, and shall be the third ruler in the kingdom.
5:8 Then came in all the king's wise men: but they could not read the writing, nor make known to the king the interpretation thereof. 5:9 Then was king Belshazzar greatly troubled, and his countenance was changed in him, and his lords were astonied.
5:10 Now the queen by reason of the words of the king and his lords came into the banquet house: and the queen spake and said, O king, live for ever: let not thy thoughts trouble thee, nor let thy countenance be changed:
5:11 There is a man in thy kingdom, in whom is the spirit of the holy gods; and in the days of thy father light and understanding and wisdom, like the wisdom of the gods, was found in him; whom the king Nebuchadnezzar thy father, the king, I say, thy father, made master of the magicians, astrologers, Chaldeans, and soothsayers; 5:12 Forasmuch as an excellent spirit, and knowledge, and understanding, interpreting of dreams, and showing of hard sentences, and dissolving of doubts, were found in the same Daniel, whom the king named Belteshazzar: now let Daniel be called, and he will show the interpretation.
5:13 Then was Daniel brought in before the king. And the king spake and said unto Daniel, Art thou that Daniel, which art of the children of the captivity of Judah, whom the king my father brought out of Jewry?
5:14 I have even heard of thee, that the spirit of the gods is in thee, and that light and understanding and excellent wisdom is found in thee. 5:15 And now the wise men, the astrologers, have been brought in before me, that they should read this writing, and make known unto me the interpretation thereof: but they could not show the interpretation of the thing: 5:16 And I have heard of thee, that thou canst make interpretations, and dissolve doubts: now if thou canst read the writing, and make known to me the interpretation thereof, thou shalt be clothed with scarlet, and have a chain of gold about thy neck, and shalt be the third ruler in the kingdom.
5:17 Then Daniel answered and said before the king, Let thy gifts be to thyself, and give thy rewards to another; yet I will read the writing unto the king, and make known to him the interpretation.
5:18 O thou king, the most high God gave Nebuchadnezzar thy father a kingdom, and majesty, and glory, and honour: 5:19 And for the majesty that he gave him, all people, nations, and languages, trembled and feared before him: whom he would he slew; and whom he would he kept alive; and whom he would he set up; and whom he would he put down. 5:20 But when his heart was lifted up, and his mind hardened in pride, he was deposed from his kingly throne, and they took his glory from him: 5:21 And he was driven from the sons of men; and his heart was made like the beasts, and his dwelling was with the wild asses: they fed him with grass like oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven; till he knew that the most high God ruled in the kingdom of men, and that he appointeth over it whomsoever he will.
5:22 And thou his son, O Belshazzar, hast not humbled thine heart, though thou knewest all this;
5:23 But hast lifted up thyself against the Lord of heaven; and they have brought the vessels of his house before thee, and thou, and thy lords, thy wives, and thy concubines, have drunk wine in them; and thou hast praised the gods of silver, and gold, of brass, iron, wood, and stone, which see not, nor hear, nor know: and the God in whose hand thy breath is, and whose are all thy ways, hast thou not glorified: 5:24 Then was the part of the hand sent from him; and this writing was written.
5:25 And this is the writing that was written, MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN.
5:26 This is the interpretation of the thing: MENE; God hath numbered thy kingdom, and finished it.
5:27 TEKEL; Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting.
5:28 PERES; Thy kingdom is divided, and given to the Medes and Persians.
5:29 Then commanded Belshazzar, and they clothed Daniel with scarlet, and put a chain of gold about his neck, and made a proclamation concerning him, that he should be the third ruler in the kingdom.
5:30 In that night was Belshazzar the king of the Chaldeans slain. 5:31 And Darius the Median took the kingdom, being about threescore and two years old." (Daniel 5:1-31 KJV)
Daniel's Prayer About Jeremiah's Prophecy
Daniel was one of the most famous and gifted prophets of Bible history. The Book of Daniel spans both the Babylonian and Persian experience of the exiles of Judah. Daniel was also well aware of the letter sent by Jeremiah. Daniel knew that the prophecies that were given to him were long range, while those given to Jeremiah in his letter involved Daniel's own lifetime (although Daniel himself would not have been among those who returned because his own lifetime traversed the entire exile period of seventy years).
"9:1 In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of the seed of the Medes, which was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans; 9:2 In the first year of his reign I Daniel understood by books the number of the years, whereof the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah the prophet, that he would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem. 9:3 And I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes:
9:4 And I prayed unto the LORD my God, and made my confession, and said,
O Lord, the great and dreadful God, keeping the covenant and mercy to them that love him, and to them that keep his commandments; 9:5 We have sinned, and have committed iniquity, and have done wickedly, and have rebelled, even by departing from thy precepts and from thy judgments: 9:6 Neither have we hearkened unto thy servants the prophets, which spake in thy name to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, and to all the people of the land.
9:7 O Lord, righteousness belongeth unto thee, but unto us confusion of faces, as at this day; to the men of Judah, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and unto all Israel, that are near, and that are far off, through all the countries whither thou hast driven them, because of their trespass that they have trespassed against thee.
9:8 O Lord, to us belongeth confusion of face, to our kings, to our princes, and to our fathers, because we have sinned against thee. 9:9 To the Lord our God belong mercies and forgivenesses, though we have rebelled against him; 9:10 Neither have we obeyed the voice of the LORD our God, to walk in his laws, which he set before us by his servants the prophets. 9:11 Yea, all Israel have transgressed thy law, even by departing, that they might not obey thy voice; therefore the curse is poured upon us, and the oath that is written in the law of Moses the servant of God, because we have sinned against him.
9:12 And he hath confirmed his words, which he spake against us, and against our judges that judged us, by bringing upon us a great evil: for under the whole heaven hath not been done as hath been done upon Jerusalem.
9:13 As it is written in the law of Moses, all this evil is come upon us: yet made we not our prayer before the LORD our God, that we might turn from our iniquities, and understand thy truth. 9:14 Therefore hath the LORD watched upon the evil, and brought it upon us: for the LORD our God is righteous in all his works which he doeth: for we obeyed not his voice.
9:15 And now, O Lord our God, that hast brought thy people forth out of the land of Egypt with a mighty hand, and hast gotten thee renown, as at this day; we have sinned, we have done wickedly. 9:16 O Lord, according to all thy righteousness, I beseech thee, let thine anger and thy fury be turned away from thy city Jerusalem, thy holy mountain: because for our sins, and for the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and thy people are become a reproach to all that are about us.
9:17 Now therefore, O our God, hear the prayer of thy servant, and his supplications, and cause thy face to shine upon thy sanctuary that is desolate, for the LORD's sake. 9:18 O my God, incline thine ear, and hear; open thine eyes, and behold our desolations, and the city which is called by thy name: for we do not present our supplications before thee for our righteousnesses, but for thy great mercies. 9:19 O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive; O Lord, hearken and do; defer not, for thine own sake, O my God: for thy city and thy people are called by thy name." (Daniel 9:1-19 KJV)
Fact Finder: The Book of Esther is recorded from the Persian era of Judah's exile. What observance, specific to the people of Judah, originated in Persia during the time of Esther?
See The Lots Of Purim
This Day In History, August 7
322 BC: The Battle of Crannon between Macedon and Athens (see A History Of Jerusalem: Greeks, Ptolemies, Seleucids).
117: The accession of Hadrian, the 14th Roman emperor, reigned 117-138 (see A History Of Jerusalem: Pompey And The Caesars).
355: Claudius Silvanus proclaimed himself Roman Emperor against Emperor Constantius II.
461: Roman Emperor Majorian was beheaded after his arrest by the magister militum Ricimer.
936: The Coronation of King Otto I of Germany (see The Holy Roman Empire).
991: The Danes under Olaf Tryggvason defeated the Saxons at Maldon.
1712: The Treaty of Aargau was signed which ended the Swiss War and guaranteed Protestant superiority over Catholic Cantons.
1718: The English fleet under Admiral George Byng destroyed or captured 15 out of 22 Spanish ships at the Battle of Cape Passaro off Sicily.
1786: Francis Light established the British colony of Penang, Malaysia.
1794: U.S. President George Washington invoked the Militia Law to suppress a rebellion by colonists in western Pennsylvania.
1804: Francis II became the first Emperor of Austria.
1858: The Eiger of the Bernese Alps was climbed for the first time.
1863: Cambodia became a French protectorate.
1906: In France, Eugene Lauste received the first patent for a "talking film."
1908: Britain's King Edward VII met with Germany's Kaiser (Kaiser is the German form of Caesar) Wilhelm II to protest the growth of the German navy.
1919: After the First World War, the constitution of the Weimar Republic was adopted in Germany.
1930: The last confirmed racist lynching in the northern U.S. occurred, in Marion, Indiana. Two black men, Thomas Shipp and Abram Smith, were murdered.
1933: "The Assyrian Incident" - a massacre of Assyrian villagers (315 men, 4 women, 6 children) by Iraqi government forces.
1942: A German submarine sank the British Navy's HMS Eagle, one of the world's first aircraft carriers.
1952: King Hussein of Jordan succeeded to the throne after his father, King Ala, was deposed. He reigned for 47 years, until his death in 1999.
1972: The last U.S. military forces withdrew from Vietnam. Soon thereafter, North Vietnam over-ran South Vietnam, ending the Vietnam civil war between north and south, thereby creating a single country free of foreign interference for the first time since colonial France divided Vietnam into North and South in the 1950s.
1990: West German Foreign Minister Hans Dietrich Genscher's Free Democrats (FDP) merged with their liberal East German allies to become the first revived all-Germany political party.
1999: The Chechnya-based Islamic International Brigade invaded the bordering Russian Republic of Dagestan.