Melachim 2/Kings 2-Chapter 25: The destruction of the Temple

1.      The siege on Jerusalem:

  • In the ninth year of his [i.e. Tzidkiyahu’s[1]] reign, in the tenth month [i.e. Teves], on the tenth of the month [10th of Teves], Nevuchadnetzar the king of Babylonia came up against Jerusalem with his entire army, and encamped around it, and put the city under siege.
  • The length of the siege: The city was under siege until the eleventh year of reign of King Tzidkiyahu.
  • The famine in the city: On the ninth of the month [of Tamuz[2]], the famine became severe in the city, and the people of the land had no food.
  • The walls of Jerusalem are breached, and the people flee: The walls of the city were broken into, and Tzidkiyahu and all the men of war fled at night through [a tunnel that was under] the gate between the two walls that was near the king’s garden [and stretched all the way until the plains of Yericho[3]]. At that time, the Casdeans were surrounding the city [and saw a deer on the roof of the cave and gave it chase[4]].
  • Tzidkiyahu is captured: The army of the Casdeans pursued Tzidkiyahu the king, and they captured him on the plains of Yericho [where the deer had led them to[5]]. The army of Tzidkiyahu had deserted him by this time. They seized Tzidkiyahu the king and brought him up to the king of Babylon, to the city of Rivlah, and he was judged there [for breaking his oath to be loyal to Nevuchadnetzar[6]].
  • The sons of Tzidkiyahu are killed and Tzidkiyahu is blinded: Nevuchadnetzar killed the sons of Tzidkiyahu’s in front of him, and they blinded Tzidkiyahu [by gouging out his eyes], and Nevuchadnetzar bound Tzidkiyahu with copper chains and brought him to Babylon.

2.      Jerusalem and the Temple are destroyed:

  • Nevuzaraden arrives to Jerusalem: In the fifth month [i.e. Menachem Av], on the seventh of the month, by the nineteenth year of reign of Nevuchadnetzar the king of Babylon, Nevuzaraden, the chief executioner and servant of the king of Babylonia, arrived to Jerusalem.
  • The Temple is destroyed: Nevuzaraden burnt the Temple and the king’s palace in fire. Likewise, he burnt in fire all the houses in Jerusalem and all the Shul’s and Batei Midrash.
  • The walls of Jerusalem are destroyed: The walls of Jerusalem were destroyed by the army of the Casdeans that were with Nevuzaraden.
  • The remaining people are exiled: Nevuzaraden the chief executioner exiled all the people who remained in the city, including all of the defectors who defected to the king of Babylon, and the rest of the populace. However, Nevuzaraden did allow some of the poorest of the land to remain as farmers and agricultural workers.
  • The Temple is ransacked by the Casdeans: The Casdeans broke the copper pillars and the copper sea that were in the Temple, and they carried it off to Babylon. They took the pots and the shovels, the musical instruments, the spoons, and all the copper vessels with which they served in the Temple. Nevuzaraden the chief executioner took the gold and silver vessels. They took the two pillars, that were built by Shlomo. There was so much copper taken that it could not be weighed. The height of one pillar was eighteen cubits and there was a crown of copper on it which was the height of three cubits.
  • The people who were captured and brought to Babylon: Nevuzaraden, the chief executioner captured Serayah the Kohen Gadol, and Tzefaniah, the Segan Kohen Gadol, and the three guards of the Temple vessels. From the city he captured the general who was appointed over the soldiers, and five men who were always in the presence of the king, and the census taker who was in charge of recruitment of soldiers, and sixty men of the land who were found in the city. Nevuzaraden the chief executioner brought all these people back with him to Nevudchanetzar, the king of Babylonia, to the city of Rivlah [where he was staying during the destruction of Jerusalem]. Nevudchanetzar, the king of Babylon, killed all these men in Rivlah in the land of Chamas, and Yehuda went into exile.

3.      The ruling and assassination of Gedaliah the son of Achikam:

  • Gedaliah the son of Achikam appointed as governor: Nevuchadnetzar the king of Babylon allowed some of the people to remain in the land of Yehuda and he appointed Gedaliah the son of Achikam the son of Shafan to be their governor.
  • The leaders of the land go out of hiding and join Gedaliah: All the military leaders of the armies [who went into hiding[7]] heard that the king of Babylon had appointed Gedaliah as the governor, and they came to Gedaliah to Mitzpah. The following people arrived: Yishmael the son of Nesaniyah, and Yochanan the son of Koreiach and Serayah the son of Tanchumes the Netophathite, and Yaazanaiyhu the son of the Maachasiy, together with their men. Gedaliah reassured them that they have no need to fear the Casdeans, and that they can dwell in the land and serve the king of Babylon and live in peace.
  • Gedaliah is assassinated: In the seventh month of reign of Gedaliah, Yishmael the son of Nesaniyah the son of Elishama who was of royal descent, came with ten and assassinated Gedaliah and he died. He also killed the Jewish people and the Casdeans who were with him at Mitzpah.
  • The people run away to Egypt: All the people, young and old, and the officers of the armies, fled to Egypt as they feared retribution from the Casdeans.

4.      Yehoyachin is reappointed to his position of royalty in Babylon:

  • Evil-Merodach reigns after Nevudchanetzar: Evil-Merodach became the king of Babylon after the death of Nevuchadnetzar.
  • Yehoyachin is released from prison: Yehoyachin the king of Yehuda was released from prison by Evil-Merodach in the thirty-seventh year of exile, in the twelfth month [i.e. Adar], on the twenty-seventh day.
  • Yehoyachin is raised to the throne: Evil-Merodach spoke kindly with Yehoyachin and placed his throne above the throne of all the other kings who were with him in Babylon. Evil-Merodach had Yehoyachin’s clothing changed, and he had him eat meals before him regularly throughout his life.

[1] Rashi 25:1

[2] Radak 25:3

[3] Rashi 25:4

[4] Rashi 25:4

[5] Rashi 25:4

[6] Rashi 25:6

[7] Rashi 25:23

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