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Bible verses about Babylonian Captivity
(From Forerunner Commentary)

1 Kings 12:24

This event took place during the reign of Rehoboam, son of Solomon, approximately two hundred years before Isaiah lived. To finance his massive building projects, Solomon had taxed the people heavily during his reign. Following his death, the ten northern tribes appealed for relief from the heavy tax burden, but Rehoboam refused. The Israelites returned home in rebellious anger. Rehoboam sent the head of that day's Internal Revenue Service to either collect some overdue revenues or negotiate. The Israelites assassinated him. Fearing the northern ten tribes' secession, the Jews raised an army and prepared to go to war against their northern brethren. At that point, God directly intervened by sending a prophet to deliver the message contained in verse 24.

God says He was personally maneuvering events to bring about His will. He wanted to divide Israel and Judah into two separate kingdoms with two separate histories—a situation that exists to this day. Israel was later scattered in captivity by Assyria. Judah followed Israel into captivity over one hundred years later but at the hands of Babylon. If God scattered Israel, why can He not scatter the church if somewhat similar conditions to Israel and Judah's appear in the church (Leviticus 26:33)? Should we presumptuously assume that the church is exempt from God's chastening? Moreover, why could He not scatter it for any number of other purposes He might have in mind?

John W. Ritenbaugh
God's Sovereignty and the Church's Condition (Part One)


 

2 Kings 17:5-8

God was thorough. He just wiped them all out of the land of Canaan and sent them into the cities of the Medes and into Assyria—exiled. And in a way, they are still in exile. God has led them to the lands that He was holding for them.

The descendants of Israel who went into exile do not know that their homeland is back in Canaan. They have never gone back. That is a detail of how thorough God's exile of Israel was—they forgot everything. Just as He prophesied in Deuteronomy 28, the Israelites went into other lands and took gods of wood and stone and completely forgot their past.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
How to Survive Exile


 

2 Kings 17:6

Israel was defeated by Assyria even before Babylonian Empire arose to full strength, and it was taken captive to Assyria. But not long thereafter, they migrated, along with the Assyrians, settling eventually in central and northwest Europe. They began arriving and settling there long before Rome continued the Babylonish system. Another migration began when the Jews were defeated by Babylon and taken in captivity into Babylon.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Where Is the Beast? (Part 2)


 

Nehemiah 8:13-18

Nehemiah 8 records a significant festival period in Judah's history. This occasion begins on the Feast of Trumpets during the rebuilding of Jerusalem's wall following the reestablishment of those Jews who chose to return from their Babylonian captivity. They had good cause for their emotional response to keeping this Feast of Trumpets in this particular location and time under the stresses they had already endured, all the while knowing that those stresses were not yet over. This was in all likelihood the first Feast of Trumpets observed in seventy years, and who knows how long the Jews had not observed it before they went into captivity?

Their joy continued, as verses 13-18 relate the first keeping of the Feast of Tabernacles in the land in a long time.

"Not since the days of Joshua the son of Nun had the children of Israel done so" probably means the Feast of Tabernacles had not been kept with the combination of all the elements in their right proportion to constitute a great Feast. They were obedient, in the right place, in the right attitude, with the right emphasis. The books of Kings and Chronicles provide records of the feasts being kept by Israelites during the period between Joshua and Ezra, but they did not always keep them consistently or correctly, especially in attitude and purpose.

However, we can see that Ezra understood the Feast of Tabernacles to be a spiritual bonanza whose fruit was rejoicing.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Amos 5 and the Feast of Tabernacles


 

Nehemiah 9:13-14

Nehemiah had returned to where the people who had been liberated from the captivity in Babylon were. He is now giving them a run-down of their history and what occurred to send them into captivity in the first place. He is reminding them that God showed them one way to live.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Where Is the Beast? (Part 7)


 

Isaiah 44:28

Ezra 1:1-2 states that Cyrus issued a decree to free the Jews in the first year of his reign over Babylon. Since Cyrus conquered Babylon on October 12, 539 BC, the first year of this reign was 539-538 BC. God through Isaiah, then, named him at least 143 years earlier. What God did through Cyrus also fulfills a prophecy made through Jeremiah (Jeremiah 25:11-14) sometime during the century following Isaiah's death. Ezra distinctly says that God stirred up the spirit of Cyrus to perform this and that Cyrus claimed that God commanded him. Ezra 1:5 states that God also stirred the spirit of the Jews, Levites, and Benjamites to return to Jerusalem to build the Temple, confirming His sovereignty over the whole affair.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Sovereignty of God: Part Five


 

Jeremiah 3:12-13

Jeremiah, pleading for Israel to repent, to "acknowledge your iniquity" (verse 13), asks that his words be proclaimed "toward the north." Jeremiah, remember, lived at the time of Judah's fall to the Babylonians, some 130 years after the Kingdom of Israel had been forcibly moved out of its homeland. So, he was not writing to Israelites domiciled within a hundred miles north of Jerusalem—residing in and around Samaria. No, he is addressing a people living somewhere else further north.

Charles Whitaker
Searching for Israel (Part Eight): The Scattering of Ten-Tribed Israel


 

Jeremiah 27:1-11

God told Jeremiah to make a number of wooden yokes for himself and for various neighboring kings. The yokes symbolized servitude to Nebuchadnezzar, and poor Jeremiah spent many days wearing a wooden yoke as an example. Through this visual aid, God was instructing Judah, and the other kingdoms, to submit to Babylonian rule. Even though doing so would be very humbling for Judah, it would be better for them than to resist Nebuchadnezzar, and thus God's will. He had already sent numerous prophets, with scores of warnings to repent and turn back to Him, and now the time of reckoning had arrived.

David C. Grabbe
Hananiah's Error


 

Jeremiah 28:1-4

Previously, God told Jeremiah to make a number of wooden yokes for himself and for various neighboring kings (Jeremiah 27:1-11), which symbolized servitude to Nebuchadnezzar. Through this, God was instructing to submit to Babylonian rule. Even though doing so would be humbling for Judah, it would be better for them than to resist Nebuchadnezzar, and thus God's will.

But not everyone in Judah was ready to accept this reality. Even though God specifically warned against false prophets who spoke against submitting to Nebuchadnezzar (Jeremiah 27:9-10), this is exactly what happened in the case of an obscure prophet named Hananiah.

Jeremiah had previously prophesied that Judah would be in exile in Babylon for a full seventy years (Jeremiah 25:11-12). He also foretold that Jeconiah (Coniah) would die in a foreign land (Jeremiah 22:24-26) and that the vessels of the Temple would remain there until the day that God brought them back (Jeremiah 27:19-22). Now, though, Hananiah came with a message that directly contradicted Jeremiah's prophecies. In Hananiah's vision of the future, Judah's restoration was just around the corner; everything would be back to normal within two years.

David C. Grabbe
Hananiah's Error


 

Jeremiah 30:1-3

God refers to both kingdoms here—the descendants of the northern kingdom of Israel as well as the southern kingdom of Judah. The return of Israel will be the larger migration because, aside from the 70-year captivity in Babylon, some of the descendants of Judah have always resided in the Promised Land. Today, the State of Israel is predominately made up of the descendants of Judah.

However, neither Israel nor Judah has truly possessed the land since the time of their respective captivities. Despite some of Judah having returned to the land, ever since the Babylonian captivity, she has only rarely and intermittently held sovereignty over it.

After Judah was taken into captivity, Babylon ruled the Promised Land under Nebuchadnezzar. Babylon later fell to the Medo-Persian Empire, which then became sovereign over Jerusalem and the Promised Land. Because of their vassal status, the Jewish captives that returned from Babylon had to ask permission from Cyrus and Darius, the Persian kings, to rebuild the wall and the Temple. The Jews enjoyed a measure of peace, but their freedom depended on the favor of the ruling Persian emperor.

After Alexander the Great conquered Medo-Persia, the Greeks became the new overseers of the Land of Promise. Jews under the Maccabees gained a measure of independence until Rome took control of the area. Thus, during the time of Christ, Jews lived in the land and even worshipped in the Second Temple, but they did not really possess the land because it was under Roman jurisdiction. Since the collapse of the Roman Empire, notwithstanding some temporary Crusader holdings, the Promised Land has been under the sway of various Arab and Muslim nations—notably the Ottoman Empire—down to modern times.

Even now, the state of Israel does not control all of the land. Jerusalem is a divided city, and the Israelis have not dared claim all of the Temple Mount for themselves, because they know that it would result in an all-out war with the Muslims. Even though the Jews regained a considerable amount of land when it declared statehood in 1948, gaining even more during the Six Day War, the ownership is endlessly argued. Judah is not truly sovereign yet. It does not yet "possess" the land in the fullest sense of the word.

David C. Grabbe
The Second Exodus (Part One)


 

Jeremiah 37:4-5

Jerusalem enjoys a brief respite from siege while the Babylonians engage an Egyptian army hired by Judah. Jeremiah may have sought to use this occasion to escape, for verse 12 tells us that he "went out of Jerusalem to go into the land of Benjamin to claim his property there among the people." He could hide in anonymity among the general populace.

God, however, acts to keep him in Jerusalem, the center of the action. The authorities arrest him as he leaves the city, accusing him of "defecting to the Chaldeans" (verse 13). Since the Babylonians have already left the area, the accusation of defection is clearly a ruse, an excuse to imprison him (verse 15). After "many days" in a dungeon (verse 16), Zedekiah, solicitous of one empowered to tell the future, orders him transferred to the "court of the prison" (verse 21)—a real upgrade.

Charles Whitaker
Servant of God, Act One: Going Around, Coming Around


 

Ezekiel 2:3

The book of Ezekiel is addressed to the house of Israel, with Judah included within greater Israel. But the context of the book as a whole is primarily addressed to Israel, which was already in captivity when Ezekiel was written. Israel and Judah went into captivity at separate times; Judah went into captivity one hundred and twenty years after Israel did. However, the message in Ezekiel was written while the cause of their captivity was continuing in Judah. Ezekiel 20 exposes what caused them to go into captivity: idolatry and Sabbath breaking. What caused Israel and Judah to go into captivity at separate times was still going on!

Since Judah went into captivity a hundred and twenty years after Israel, and Ezekiel was a Jew in Babylonian captivity, Ezekiel's message never reached the house of Israel! The main body of Israelites had already begun their lengthy migration toward the northwest. Therefore, what we see in the book of Ezekiel is an account by God, through the prophet of 1) past history; 2) events occuring even as Ezekiel wrote; and 3) what is prophesied to happen, things being fulfilled today.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Sabbathkeeping (Part 2)


 

Daniel 9:1-4

When Daniel prayed this, Judah had been scattered for about 70 years, and they were just about ready to go back to the Promised Land. God was just about ready to release them. Daniel was concerned due to what he saw in Babylon; it discomforted him. He likely saw some of the same conditions existing in Babylon that had caused the Jews to go into captivity in the first place almost 70 years before. His fears were justified because, when Ezra and Nehemiah went back to rebuild the Temple and then the wall around Jerusalem, very few Jews went back. In fact, it was such a small number by Ezra's count that he called a fast about it. He wanted to make sure that the people would be hidden on the way so that nobody would see them making the trip back to Judea and consider them "easy pickings."

When the church was finally begun in AD 31, Peter went to preach in Babylon because there was still such a large colony of Jews there. Indeed, they stayed in the world—in Babylon—and continued to multiply.

We can read between the lines of Daniel's prayer and understand that he was anxious over their return. Quite a number of commentators feel that this cannot be all Daniel prayed. Really, all that we have here is an outline of what he said, the high points. After praying it, Daniel went back to his office or to his home and jotted these things down so that they would be remembered. God undoubtedly inspired that. So we are actually seeing only the essence of what he said. He certainly went into a great deal more detail with God.

When we pray for repentance, we go into detail about things that we personally know about—especially those things that happen in our lives and perhaps those things that happen within God's work, of which we were aware. We do nothing about them then, but we certainly can ask God to forgive them.

Daniel begins by establishing between him and God that he, Daniel, understood that God is faithful. He keeps His covenant. He stands by Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28. When something goes out of God's mouth, it does not come back to Him empty (Isaiah 55:11). There are no "hollow threats" with God! Do we understand that? His faithfulness is one of the things that makes Him God. He can always be depended upon. He is Jesus Christ—the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8). "For I am the Lord, I do not change" (Malachi 3:6).

John W. Ritenbaugh
Avoiding Superficiality


 

Daniel 9:2

The prophet Daniel was by this time an old man. He had been taken as a captive to Babylon when he was a young teenager, probably made a eunuch, and trained to serve in Nebuchadnezzar's court. Now, with the defeat of the Babylonians by the Medo-Persians, Daniel was in service to a new king and a new empire, Darius the Mede of the Persian Empire. If the prophet was removed from Jerusalem in 604 BC, the year of Nebuchadnezzer's first invasion, and assuming he was, say, 12 years old at the time, he was now approaching 80 years old (Darius' first year would be c. 537 BC).

And the 70 years of the prophecy were just about up—in fact, they would expire in the next year or so. The prophecy, which Daniel found in "the books" (more correctly, "letters"), had been penned many years before by Jeremiah the prophet. It is found in Jeremiah 29:10: "For thus says the LORD: After seventy years are completed at Babylon, I will visit you and perform My good word toward you, and cause you to return to this place."

Daniel 9:2 can be read as if Daniel was just coming to the understanding of the seventy years, but that may not be the case. He had probably had access to the letter from Jeremiah for several decades, and he had probably understood that the Jews' exile in Babylon would be only seventy years. However, he may not have known when to commence the count of years, since the Babylonian invasions had been successive and had not finished until about 586 BC. Should he count from 604 BC, from 586 BC, or one of the other incursions?

It is likely that, with his access to the halls of power, Daniel had come to know that Cyrus planned to announce that the Jews could return to the land of their fathers in the next year or two. A little simple math told him that the 604 BC date was the one to begin with. The seventy years was almost complete.

But that brought him up short. He realized that the Jews in Babylon were little better for their captivity than when they left Judah in chains. They were still full of sin. They had not repented of their idolatrous ways. So he falls on his knees to utter his great prayer of confession, of which Daniel 9:10-11 is a sample:

We have not obeyed the voice of the LORD our God, to walk in His laws, which He set before us by His servants the prophets. Yes, all Israel has transgressed Your law, and has departed so as not to obey Your voice; therefore the curse and the oath written in the Law of Moses the servant of God have been poured out on us, because we have sinned against Him.

He ends with the well-known supplication: "O LORD, hear! O LORD, forgive! O LORD, listen and act! Do not delay for Your own sake, my God, for Your city and Your people are called by Your name" (Daniel 9:19).

The obvious lesson for us is that we know that the return of Jesus Christ is not far off. Do we have a similar repentant attitude as Daniel had?

Richard T. Ritenbaugh


 

Daniel 9:7

About 540 BC, the prophet Daniel testified, in a prayer recorded in Daniel 9:7, that the house of Israel had not returned to its homeland. As of that date, they were still "far off." The phrase "those near" refers to the captives of the Kingdom of Judah—of whom Daniel was one—who were interned in and around Babylon. "[T]hose far off in all the countries to which You have driven them" probably refers to the exiles of the Kingdom of Israel. Daniel says Israel still had not returned, as of about 178 years after their deportation in 718 BC. Daniel would not agree that God's punishment of Israel was to last only seven years.

Charles Whitaker
Searching for Israel (Part Seven): Seven Years' Punishment


 

Hosea 4:1-3

History is repeating itself. Our nations rush pell-mell toward a worse captivity than those suffered by ancient Israel and Judah in Assyria and Babylon, and our foul language is partly to blame!

Staff
Swear Not at All!


 

 




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