Fall of Israel and Judah

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Fall of Israel and Judah

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The tribes of Judah and Benjamin in the south (with many from Levi)—as the kingdom of Judah—continued under the throne of David, beginning with Solomon’s son Rehoboam.

The northern 10 tribes, however—as the kingdom of Israel—went through a number of different dynasties. And because of the northern kingdom’s continual idolatry, God finally had its people taken into captivity around 733 and 722 B.C. by the Assyrians, who resettled the 10 tribes in what is now northern Iraq and Iran (2 Kings 15, 17). Subsequently, as centuries passed, the 10 tribes were seemingly lost.

Around 20 years after Israel’s final fall, the nation of Judah, following repeated cycles of idolatry and reformation, was invaded by Assyria as well, reducing Judah "to a shadow of its former self, at least two thirds of the population perishing or being carried away captive" ("Judah," The Illustrated Bible Dictionary, 1980, Vol. 2, p. 825). Thus, a great number of Jews, Benjamites and Levites were also taken away to join the Israelite captivity.

God gave the remnant of Judah another century to prove its loyalty and devotion to Him. Yet sadly, despite witnessing Israel’s captivity and experiencing its own bitter taste of it, Judah lapsed into idolatrous rebellion again (see Jeremiah 3:10-11). So God sent the rest of the nation of Judah into captivity as well—this time by the hands of the Babylonians under Nebuchadnezzar II (ca. 604 to 586 B.C.).

The Davidic line had continued all the way to this point, with Zedekiah now reigning over Judah. But according to Jeremiah, the Babylonian forces took the Jewish king to Nebuchadnezzar, who—after killing Zedekiah’s sons in front of his face and slaying "all the nobles of Judah" to ensure that no heir to the throne remained—put out Zedekiah’s eyes and threw him in a dungeon in Babylon, where he eventually died (Jeremiah 39:1-7; Jeremiah 52:1-11).

There was, it should be noted, a former king of the Solomonic line still alive in the dungeons of Babylon. In fact this man, Jeconiah—also called Coniah or Jehoiachin—was restored to honor 37 years into the Jewish captivity (2 Kings 25:27-30). He was even given the title "king" along with numerous other captive, vassal rulers. When the Persian conquerors of Babylon later permitted a contingent of Jews to return to their homeland, Jeconiah’s grandson Zerubbabel was made governor—but not king—of Judea.

To dispel any notion that this line could have been the means whereby God preserved the Davidic dynasty, it must be pointed out that God had earlier decreed that no descendant of Jeconiah would ever sit on the throne of David, ruling over Judah (Jeremiah 22:24; Jeremiah 22:30). And none ever did. In fact, while a minority of the Jewish captives did return to the Holy Land following the Babylonian captivity, the Jewish throne was never reestablished there at all.

What, then, of God’s promises that David’s dynasty would never end?