DISCOVERY for STUDENTS: 2 Kings, Nahum, Zephaniah, Jeremiah, Lamentations

2 Kings

Final Days of Judah

source for questions

2 Kings 23:31 through 25:30

key verse for memorization

“Surely at the commandment of the Lord came this upon Judah, to remove them out of his sight, for the sins of Manasseh, according to all that he did; and also for the innocent blood that he shed: for he filled Jerusalem with innocent blood; which the Lord would not pardon.” (2 Kings 24:3-4) 

background

These chapters review the events during the reigns of the final four kings of Judah and its last, chaotic years as an independent nation. The text begins with Jehoahaz’s ascent to the throne of Judah, following the death of his father, righteous King Josiah, who was killed in battle. In spite of having a godly father, Jehoahaz immediately reverted to the evil practices of Manasseh, Amon, and other wicked kings of Judah. After just three months, he was forcibly removed from the throne by Pharaoh-necho of Egypt, who had gained control of Judah when he defeated King Josiah. 

Pharaoh-necho replaced Jehoahaz with another son of King Josiah, Eliakim, who Pharaoh-necho renamed Jehoiakim. Jehoiakim reigned in Judah for eleven years, and was also ungodly. During his reign, Babylon became the new world power after overthrowing Assyria in 612 B.C. and Egypt in 605 B.C. 

Today’s lesson describes the captivity of Judah, which took place in three stages. The first invasion (2 Kings 24:1) took place in 605 B.C. Many people were taken captive to Babylon at this time, including Daniel and the three Hebrew children.

Three years later, King Jehoiakim rebelled against Nebuchadnezzar and Babylonian control. Judah was left vulnerable to bands of soldiers from the Chaldees, Syrians, Moabites, and Ammonites, who attacked the weakened nation as a judgment from God for the sins of Manasseh. Jehoiakim died, and was succeeded by his son Jehoiachin.

In just three months, Nebuchadnezzar again laid siege to Jerusalem. Jehoiachin, being young and inexperienced, responded to the Babylonian assault by surrendering. This second invasion of Judah (2 Kings 24:10) took place in 597 B.C. At this time thousands of people, including the prophet Ezekiel, craftsmen and artisans, strong men of war, and royal personnel were taken captive. Many of the Temple treasures were also confiscated and taken to Babylon, and King Jehoiachin was bound and taken to Babylon as well. 

Nebuchadnezzar established Mattaniah, an uncle of Jehoiachin, as king of Judah, and changed his name to Zedekiah. This final king of Judah reigned for eleven years, and continued the evil of his direct predecessors. During his ninth year, the third invasion of Judah took place (2 Kings 25:1-3). Beginning in 588 B.C., the city of Jerusalem was under siege for eighteen months and a severe famine devastated the land. One third of the people died from hunger and plague, and one third died by the sword. In 586 B.C., the city was invaded and all but the very poor were taken captive. King Zedekiah was captured, and he witnessed the slaying of his sons before his eyes were gouged out and he was taken to Babylon in chains. Jerusalem and the Temple were broken down and burned. “The anger of the Lord” (2 Kings 24:20), evoked by the terrible sins of the people, was poured out upon the people of Judah. Their continued refusal to humble themselves before God resulted in their ultimate destruction as a nation.

questions
  1. God sent enemy troops to defeat Judah because He wanted the inhabitants of Judah removed from His sight. According to our key verse, why was the Lord so angry with Judah? 2 Kings 24:3-4
     
  2. For many years the people of Judah had been warned to turn from their sinful ways. Prophets such as Isaiah and Jeremiah had pled with them, warning them of impending destruction. Yet the people ignored the warnings and continued to live as they pleased. What spiritual warnings are people ignoring today? 
     
  3. What common phrase is used to describe each of the four kings in our lesson text? What spiritual truth can we derive from this phrase? 2 Kings 23:32, 37; 24:9, 19
     
  4. King Jehoiachin was treated well at the end of his life. Evil-merodach, Nebuchadnezzar’s son, liberated him from prison and was kind to him, giving him clothing, food to eat, and a daily allowance. On the other hand, King Zedekiah was made to witness the slaughter of his sons before he lost his eyes, and then was taken to Babylon in chains. There was a difference in the way each of these kings reacted to the takeover of the Babylonians, which may account for why they were treated differently. How did they respond to the Babylonian assaults? 2 Kings 24:12, 20
     
  5. What happened to Jerusalem when the Babylonian forces entered it for the third and final invasion of Judah? 2 Kings 25:8-13 
     
  6. After Jerusalem’s fall, Nebuchadnezzar appointed Gedaliah to govern Judah. Gedaliah was from a prominent and seemingly God-fearing family. His father had influenced Jehoiachin to save Jeremiah from death (Jeremiah 26:24), and his grandfather Shaphan had been secretary to King Josiah and participated in the king’s efforts to turn Judah back to God (2 Kings 22). Gedaliah was the one who returned Jeremiah back to his home after the fall of Jerusalem (Jeremiah 39:14). What message did Gedaliah give to the remnant left in Jerusalem? 2 Kings 25:24
     
  7. What lessons can we learn from the final years of the nation of Judah?
conclusion

God’s great desire was for the people of Judah to return to Him, but they persisted in their idolatry and rebellion against Him. Because of that, God’s judgment was ultimately poured out and they were overthrown as a nation.