Ezra 1:5, 2:1-70


Verses 1-3

Siege - The Babylonians along with the help of the Chaldeans surrounded Jerusalem to ensure that nothing including food went into or out of Jerusalem. It was a way to destroy the economy and food supply of an enemy all while preventing them from going for military aid from another nation. This was a way to literally starve your enemies into surrender, which would make them even easier to conquer. The invading Babylonians knew from experience that they would have to be patient, but the wait was wort it for them because their goal was to put an end to the nation of Judah.
Now there was an opportunity for those who wanted to defect and flee the city, but they would be immediately taken captive by the Babylonians. As we will see there were some who chose to do that in order to try and save their lives. In fact God spoke through the prophet Jeremiah to the nation of Judah that if they would surrender to the captivity they would live.
Jeremiah 38:2–6 ESV
2 “Thus says the Lord: He who stays in this city shall die by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence, but he who goes out to the Chaldeans shall live. He shall have his life as a prize of war, and live. 3 Thus says the Lord: This city shall surely be given into the hand of the army of the king of Babylon and be taken.” 4 Then the officials said to the king, “Let this man be put to death, for he is weakening the hands of the soldiers who are left in this city, and the hands of all the people, by speaking such words to them. For this man is not seeking the welfare of this people, but their harm.” 5 King Zedekiah said, “Behold, he is in your hands, for the king can do nothing against you.” 6 So they took Jeremiah and cast him into the cistern of Malchiah, the king’s son, which was in the court of the guard, letting Jeremiah down by ropes. And there was no water in the cistern, but only mud, and Jeremiah sank in the mud.
Notice in verse 3 that this event is no longer dated by the reign of a king of Judah, but now for the first time we see an event that is dated according to a foreign king.

Verses 4-7

It looks like the army went one way and the king went another in an effort to protect Zedekiah from capture, but that failed and Zedekiah was captured.
King Zedekiah did get a few miles away from Jerusalem before being caught, but he was caught nevertheless because that was the will of God. Remember that Jeremiah and other prophets had already given warning, and Zedekiah and as well as Jehoiachin, Jehoiakim and Jehoahaz all rejected the warnings of God through His prophets.
Did you notice where Zedekiah is captured? Jericho
You may remember that Jericho was the first place the Israelites came to when they entered the promised land. So the place it all began in the land of promise is now the place it is all ending for the Children of Israel.
They started out following God by faith, and ended being a people who had no faith in God. They came humble and weak, reliant upon the Lord, and will leave humbled and weakened because they refused the Lord their God who brought them out of the land of Egypt.
Then they slaughtered the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes and put out his eyes - This would make it so that the last thing Zedekiah would see before everything went dark for him was his sons being violently killed.
Took him to Babylon This would fulfill the prophesy of Ezekiel...
Ezekiel 12:13 ESV
13 And I will spread my net over him, and he shall be taken in my snare. And I will bring him to Babylon, the land of the Chaldeans, yet he shall not see it, and he shall die there.
Again, Zedekiah was warned by Jeremiah about all of this...
Jeremiah 38:14–23 ESV
14 King Zedekiah sent for Jeremiah the prophet and received him at the third entrance of the temple of the Lord. The king said to Jeremiah, “I will ask you a question; hide nothing from me.” 15 Jeremiah said to Zedekiah, “If I tell you, will you not surely put me to death? And if I give you counsel, you will not listen to me.” 16 Then King Zedekiah swore secretly to Jeremiah, “As the Lord lives, who made our souls, I will not put you to death or deliver you into the hand of these men who seek your life.” 17 Then Jeremiah said to Zedekiah, “Thus says the Lord, the God of hosts, the God of Israel: If you will surrender to the officials of the king of Babylon, then your life shall be spared, and this city shall not be burned with fire, and you and your house shall live. 18 But if you do not surrender to the officials of the king of Babylon, then this city shall be given into the hand of the Chaldeans, and they shall burn it with fire, and you shall not escape from their hand.” 19 King Zedekiah said to Jeremiah, “I am afraid of the Judeans who have deserted to the Chaldeans, lest I be handed over to them and they deal cruelly with me.” 20 Jeremiah said, “You shall not be given to them. Obey now the voice of the Lord in what I say to you, and it shall be well with you, and your life shall be spared. 21 But if you refuse to surrender, this is the vision which the Lord has shown to me: 22 Behold, all the women left in the house of the king of Judah were being led out to the officials of the king of Babylon and were saying, “ ‘Your trusted friends have deceived you and prevailed against you; now that your feet are sunk in the mud, they turn away from you.’ 23 All your wives and your sons shall be led out to the Chaldeans, and you yourself shall not escape from their hand, but shall be seized by the king of Babylon, and this city shall be burned with fire.”
King Zedekiah would die in Babylon never again to return to Jerusalem.
The saddest thing about all of this is to realize that this is the end result of sin against God. The people of God provoked the Lord to anger with their constant rebellion and sin against Him, and brought all of this upon themselves. They earned this...
Romans 6:23 ESV
23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Verses 8-10

They burned everything including the temple of the lord that Solomon built more than 400 years earlier. Adam Clarke says that it was 424 years, 3 months and 8 days after Solomon first laid the foundation stones for the Temple.
In fact the Temple would stay burned down and torn down in a heap of ruin until the days of Ezra just over 70 years later. In Ezra’s day Cyrus the king of Persia would make a decry to rebuild the Temple. In fact that is how the book of Ezra begins
Ezra 1:1–3 ESV
1 In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom and also put it in writing: 2 “Thus says Cyrus king of Persia: The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth, and he has charged me to build him a house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. 3 Whoever is among you of all his people, may his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and rebuild the house of the Lord, the God of Israel—he is the God who is in Jerusalem.
Now it was going to take 70 years because that is what the Lord spoke through His prophet Jeremiah in Jeremiah 25...
Jeremiah 25:8–14 ESV
8 “Therefore thus says the Lord of hosts: Because you have not obeyed my words, 9 behold, I will send for all the tribes of the north, declares the Lord, and for Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, my servant, and I will bring them against this land and its inhabitants, and against all these surrounding nations. I will devote them to destruction, and make them a horror, a hissing, and an everlasting desolation. 10 Moreover, I will banish from them the voice of mirth and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, the grinding of the millstones and the light of the lamp. 11 This whole land shall become a ruin and a waste, and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years. 12 Then after seventy years are completed, I will punish the king of Babylon and that nation, the land of the Chaldeans, for their iniquity, declares the Lord, making the land an everlasting waste. 13 I will bring upon that land all the words that I have uttered against it, everything written in this book, which Jeremiah prophesied against all the nations. 14 For many nations and great kings shall make slaves even of them, and I will recompense them according to their deeds and the work of their hands.”
You see God was using the Babylon to chasten His people, but God would also punish Babylon for their wickedness against Him.
Also notice that they tore down the walls. Those walls would be torn down until Ezra’s contemporary Nehemiah requests from King Artaxerxes in the 20 year of his reign to go and rebuild the wall around Jerusalem. As you know by now the King grants the request and 173,880 days after that request is made we find Jesus riding into Jerusalem on a donkey fulfilling the prophecies of Daniel and Zechariah among others on the day we call palm Sunday which we just so happen to be looking at in Mark 11 this Sunday.
Why do I show all of these references to prophecy? To remind us that God is in control and nothing happens outside of His knowledge and providence. Also to remind us that God does have a plan and that plan is a plan of redemption for sinful fallen mankind. He loves us greatly and is faithful to His word.

Verses 11-17

This is now the 3rd captivity. At this point the Babylonians have taken all but the poorest in the land captive to Babylon with the exception of Jeremiah the prophet and Gedaliah who is appointed governor over the land.
All of the events of this chapter are covered in detail in Jeremiah chapter 39, while the list of items taken by the Babylonians are covered in detail in Jeremiah 52.
The Babylonians have now carried off everything of value from the Temple along with the people to Babylon.
I just want to point out the 2 pillars which Solomon setup were taken...
1 Kings 7:21 ESV
21 He set up the pillars at the vestibule of the temple. He set up the pillar on the south and called its name Jachin, and he set up the pillar on the north and called its name Boaz.
Jachin - He will establish
Boaz - In Strength or by strength
It was God who established the nation of Israel in His strength, and it was the men and women of Israel and Judah that brought it to an end by their sin.

Verses 18-21

Captain of the guard = chief executioner
Now every last person of influence besides Jeremiah and Gedaliah have either been killed or taken captive. The nation has fallen, and this is merely the facts of the matter. So factual is this account that it seems almost devoid of emotion. To find the emotional response in all of this you need to read Lamentations.

Verses 22-24

Josephus records for us that Gedaliah was a good and generous man and a friend to Jeremiah.
Do not be afraid…serve the king of Babylon...
This may have sounded unpatriotic or even like Gedaliah was a sellout, but remember that God spoke through Jeremiah that this was what He wanted the people to do because God was using the Babylonians to bring about chastening upon His people because of their unrepentant sin against Him.

Verses 25-26

It was better to suffer the wrath of the Egyptians than the wrath of the Babylonians since it was the Babylonians who put Gedaliah in his position as governor.

Verses 27-30

Remember Jehoiachin the son of Jehoiakin and nephew of Zedekiah?
He has been Babylon for 37 years at this point.
Evil-merodach - man of Merodach - the son and successor to King Nebuchadnezzar.
It may seem like an odd ending or one that doesn’t really wrapped things up upon first read. However if you consider that perhaps God is showing a picture of His grace in the midst of horrible circumstances, you may just be encouraged by it.
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