Old Testament Survey - Lesson 22

2 Kings 22-25

An overview of the revival under King Josiah, the fall of King Josiah, and the subsequent fall of Jerusalem to Babylon.

Douglas Stuart
Old Testament Survey
Lesson 22
Watching Now
2 Kings 22-25

The Last Days:  2 Kings 22-25


I.  The Babylonian Empire


II.  2 Kings 22-25

A.  Foundation Deposits

B.  Covenant Renewal

C.  Josiah's Big Mistake

D.  The Practice of Exile

E.  Jehoiachin at the King's Table

Class Resources
  • The purpose of this overview of the Old Testament is to focus on the content of each of the Old Testament books, the historical events that give context to the books, and specific questions that help draw out the overarching principles contained in the Old Testament. There is also an emphasis on identifying ways to use this material that can help people in their daily lives.

  • Genesis narrates ten stories that describe origins or beginnings. These include the origin of the “heavens and earth,” and the origin of specific families that are significant in God’s dealings with Israel and the nations.

  • Themes from selected passages in Genesis about which there are interpretations that differ greatly. These include Genesis 2 regarding creation of women and their roles, Genesis 6 about the "Sons of God," and Genesis 9 about the "curse of Ham." Other themes are the story of Abraham, and God as a punisher of evil.

  • The three major themes in Exodus are Israel's deliverance from Egypt, establishment of the Covenant and the Tabernacle. Other themes are how name repetition in a sentence is significant throughout Scripture, and how humility in the Jewish culture affects the actions and responses of many biblical characters. Exodus contains both apodictic and casuistic laws. There are also paradigmatic laws which are designed to give broad guidance for specific situations that arise. The first part of Exodus is mostly stories, and the second part is mostly a record of the laws which are the basis for how they interact with God and other people.

  • In this lesson, the concept of a covenant is defined as a legal binding agreement between two parties. In the ancient world there were many covenants. There were covenants between individuals, and even between nations. For example, a superior ruling king would make a covenant with a lesser vassal king. Covenants in the ancient near east contained the following six elements.

  • Does God punish the grandchildren for what the grandparents have done? Some people read these passages (Exodus 20:5, 34:7) and assume that they mean God punishes grandchildren based on their grandparents' sins. Unfortunately, they misinterpret these texts because they fail to understand the phenomena of numerical parallelisms. The Hebrew language favors parallelism, so that numbers which are close to other numbers will often be put in parallel to exhibit literary balance.
  • The historical books--Joshua, Judges, and Ruth--are essential reading for understanding how the bible views the progress of history. These books help us understand what the basic stages are in the progress of God’s relations with humanity. There is development, and progress in history we can refer to as epochs. This lecture provides an overview of redemptive history and a summary of the book of Joshua.

  • When discussing violence in the Old Testament it is important to discuss the concept of Holy War. This lesson does not suggest that Christians are soldiers first and nothing else since Christians are also called to be peacemakers. However, this lesson does put forward the idea that God is fighting a holy war. That is, God is seeking to promote blessing for all people by eliminating evil everywhere. The final enemy is death itself, and God is resolute on destroying evil and death. Holy war is a complex set of ideas that should be interpreted in light of the entire corpus of scripture.

  • In this lesson the extent of the conquest is discussed to frame the book of Judges. The orienting data for the book of Judges helps explain how the book recounts the decline of the people of Israel. Finally, the Dueteronomic cycle which recurs in the book is explained and helps frame Israel’s history up to the time of the exile.

  • After the division of the kingdom, 40 kings reigned during this period of the divided monarchy. Only three Kings reigned during the united monarchy—Saul, David, and Solomon. We might be able to assume the time period of the united monarch to be something like 120 years with each of the three kings reigning forty years. But the term “forty” in Hebrew means something like the English expression “several dozen.” That’s why we see the idiomatic expression “forty” so often in Hebrew literature.

  • David is a man after God’s own heart. How is this possible when he made so many moral mistakes? Being after God’s own heart does not mean David is morally upright, but that he has unwavering faith in the one true God of Israel. That is unique to David in these narratives. The narratives are clear that both Saul and Solomon conjoined belief in the God of Israel with the worship of other gods. David, however, is never portrayed as worshipping other gods or setting up altars to Idols.

  • In this lesson several key elements from the lives of Saul, David and Solomon are briefly reviewed. The rejection of Saul as King is explained. The rebellions against David are highlighted. And the disobedience of Solomon is described. Although these three kings are imperfect, God keeps the Kingdom of Israel unified throughout their successive reigns.

  • In this lesson, Dr. Stuart provides an overview of the ten types of Psalms found in Scripture, a few suggestions regarding preaching through the Psalms, and addresses how we are to interact with the hystoricizing statements within the Psalms.

  • This lesson provides an overview of the structure of Proverbs, which seems to be the most secular book of the bible. Proverbs is a book of wise memorable sayings collected by Solomon. These sayings are collected from various individuals in Israel and the Ancient Near East and serve to provide wisdom for how to live in the world.

  • There is a chiastic structure to the book of Job that begins with the prologue and ends with the epilogue. In a chiasm, the middle portion is a convenient hinge of the book, it is not necessarily the most important piece of textual material. The main question the book is asking is, where do you find wisdom? The answer is, wisdom is found in the LORD. Proverbs is monological wisdom, whereas Job is dialogical wisdom. People are debating back and forth throughout the book about the nature of wisdom.

  • This lesson briefly describes existentialism as a philosophical movement in order to frame Ecclesiastes as an ancient type of existentialist literature. Existentialism tends to argue that this life is all there is. Ecclesiastes entertains these various perspectives in the first six chapters, which serve as a literary foil, before ending with a surprise for the reader—life does have meaning because there is a God who will judge our actions.

    There is a storyline to the Song. A clue is found in the term Shulamite, which in Hebrew can be translated as Mrs. Solomon. So this is a story about Solomon marrying his wife. It conveys some of the challenges Solomon and his wife face in coming together in covenant marriage. The beginning of the book outlines their engagement. In the middle of the book they get married, and the end discusses their honeymoon. What we see in the Song is the biblical ideal of a monogamous marriage, which, ironically, Solomon failed to live up to.

  • While it is difficult to preach through the prophets it can be done well if some basic views are taken regarding the prophetic books in general.

  • This lesson provide an overview concerning three contemporaries Prophets during the period of the divided monarchy at the end of the 8 th Century BCE.

  • The passage discusses a period of time when great materials are produced, including the Book of Isaiah. The rise of the Assyrian Empire becomes a significant concern, as they expand their territory across various regions. Tiglath-Pileser III, also known as Pul, leads the Assyrians into the domain of Israel, Palestine, and Syria. The expansion is driven by economic considerations, as kings seek wealth for grand projects through tribute, tax, and tolls. The cycle of conquering and resistance repeats itself, impacting the Israelites. The passage also highlights the importance of 2 Kings, focusing on Elijah and Elisha, Jehu’s massacre of Baal worshippers, the kings of Judah, the destruction of the Northern Kingdom, and the fall of Jerusalem to the Babylonians.

  • Historical context is vital when one moves to reading the prophets. After Solomon’s death in 931 BCE, the kingdom of Israel undergoes an extended period of civil war as rivaling leaders take control of the northern and southern regions of the kingdom. Unfortunately, this split eventually becomes permanent. In the north the kings reigned for short periods and when compared with the southern kingdom of Judah this shows a tremendous amount of upheaval. This may have to do with the fact that the north is never ruled by a descendant of David. In addition, the north fails to worship at the Jerusalem temple, and decides instead to worship idols.

  • In this lesson an overview is provided for the prophetical books of Isaiah, Micah, and Nahum.

  • An overview of the revival under King Josiah, the fall of King Josiah, and the subsequent fall of Jerusalem to Babylon.

  • Jeremiah begins his ministry in 627 BCE. This is five years before the great revival under Josiah in 622 BCE. So Jeremiah spans the time from the Assyrian domination to the invasion of Judah by Babylon. Unlike other prophets who predicted a short exile, Jeremiah preached a long, though not unending exile. Because of this Jeremiah was not popular with the government establishment of Jerusalem.

  • Dr. Stuart provides an overview of Joel, Obadiah, Habakkuk, and Zephaniah and how they each relate to end times and God’s eternal reign.

  • Lamentations is a massive, huge, compound, complex lament that seeks to help God’s people see God’s goodness in the midst of tragedy.

  • Dr. Stuart provides a brief overview of Ezekiel, his difficult message of impending judgment on Jerusalem and his uplifting message of the hope to come.

  • In this lesson, Dr. Stuart describes the characteristics of apocalyptic literature and gives an overview of the books of Daniel. Esther, and the latter half of Isaiah.

  • An overview of the background to the post-exilic books including the necessity of the temple and the role of the Persian empire in it’s rebuilding.

  • An overview of Haggai and Zechariah, the beginning of the rebuilding of the temple, the encouragement of God’s people to put the things of God first, God’s sovereignty, the need to be faithful, the nature of God’s covenant, and God’s promises being fulfilled.

  • A look at the latter days, the closing of the prophetic cannon, and the books of Malachi, Ezra, and Nehemiah.

Did you know that the Old Testament contains more than 2/3 of the text of the Bible? Did you realize that the Old Testament timeline covers thousands of years of history and tells us the stories of people whose lives still affect world events today? Are you familiar with the Old Testament prophets that describe in detail the characteristics of the Messiah and the events that happen when he comes, hundreds of years before they take place? Have you ever read the Old Testament books of poetry and wisdom literature that contain inspirational and instructional passages that we still use today to inspire, comfort and inform our lives during life events, and are ubiquitous in both classic and contemporary literary works?

In Dr. Stuart’s Old Testament Survey class, he guides you through each of the Old Testament books by giving you the historical background, major themes and insight into the stories, characters and teaching of the book. In the historical books, you will become familiar with Old Testament Names like Adam, Noah, Abraham, Joseph and David. In the Old Testament prophets, Dr. Stuart will introduce you to the lives and messages of Isaiah, Ezekiel, Jeremiah and others. When you study the Old Testament books of wisdom literature, Dr. Stuart will give you insights into the teachings, structure and creativity in Proverbs, Psalms and other books in the Writings.

From the description of Creation in Genesis, to the last book of the Old Testament, the book of Malachi, the Old Testament contains stories and teachings that can inform, inspire and transform your life. Dr. Stuart’s years of training and his skill in communicating, provides you with this opportunity to study and learn from one of the best. Now it’s up to you!

You may download a syllabus for the class including the Course Outline by clicking on the link in the Downloads section. We do not have access to the notes or the 130 exam questions that he mentions in the lectures. The Syllabus is from the SemLink class that was originally offered online through Gordon-Conwell Seminary so you can see the class outline and suggested readings. The links are not active. If you want to participate in the assignments and tests and earn credit, you may contact Gordon-Conwell Seminary to find out if they still offer this class.

Thank you to Charles Campbell and Fellowship Bible Church for writing out the lecture notes. Note that they do not cover every lecture.

Recommended Books

Old Testament Survey: Genesis-Malachi - Student Guide

Old Testament Survey: Genesis-Malachi - Student Guide

Did you know that the Old Testament contains more than 2/3 of the text of the Bible? Did you realize that the Old Testament timeline covers thousands of years of history and...

Old Testament Survey: Genesis-Malachi - Student Guide

Will you join me in prayer please? Father, we would appreciate Your presence; we know that You are kind enough to guarantee it if we ask, and we appreciate that. We thank You that You can make Your word which You inspired so long ago fresh, clear in our minds, and that You can make practical for guiding us and for guiding others. That is our desire and we pray for that through Christ. Amen.

I. The Babylonian Empire

2 Kings 22-25 is set in the huge Babylonian empire, near the vast Median Empire. From the point of view of the Israelites, that is very far away. It would hardly have occurred to any Israelite that eventually that empire would change hands. The Persians would dominate it and it would become the Medial/Persian Empire, really what most of us just call the Persian Empire because the Persians dominate it.

The time period we are looking at is the time period of the Babylonian Empire which is vast. This is a huge amount of territory way up into what we call modern day Turkey, way down into modern day Ethiopia, and covering virtually all of Egypt and some of modern day Libya. It was a very big empire, and it certainly covered all of what we find in the material that we deal with today in 2 Kings 22-25.

II. 2 Kings 22-25

The story begins with a wonderful revival. It is the last great, good story; 2 Kings 22 and 23. In some ways it is what 2 Kings is heading for if viewed positively. 1 and 2 Kings is a tragic story; it has an unhappy ending, but there are ways in which the lessons out of that tragedy are still very positive for us. One of the lessons is that those people who fully give themselves to God and keep His covenant have the assurance of His blessing, care, protection, acceptance and so on. These are wonderful truths. Josiah is a young king, only eight-years-old, when he comes to reign; so he is a boy king.

A. Foundation Deposits

It is the eighteenth year of his reign, and that year happens to be 622 BC, and a discovery is made during temple renovations. The temple in Jerusalem was built like most ancient buildings in the ancient world; it was built with, what are called foundation deposits. These foundation deposits were the kinds of things that we might put in a time capsule, that is an expression used by Americans. It is something that you put valuables into when you build a building in order to open later. It would have all kinds of documents that tell you about the building and its purposes, the people who once occupied the building and so on. They did this kind of thing routinely in the ancient world and would place documents related to the purpose of the building in a building. Solomon had apparently done that.

Solomon built the temple around 970 BC or so, 980 or 970, and therefore you have a period of three and a half centuries before 622 BC, when renovations discover a copy of The Law, either the Book of Deuteronomy or the whole Pentateuch, hard to tell which for sure. What happens then is this is brought to the king with great excitement. Since it is three and a half centuries old, it is very interesting. It is not as if no one had ever seen a Bible before, but they did have great interest in saying, “What does this old, old, old, old copy of the law contain?” None of them had a copy that old. They were all excited and interested. “What will we find in this? Will it be the same as what we are reading?”

Of course, it was, in fact, the same as what they had already had the chance to read. However, the king, like most people, probably never had a chance to listen to the Word of God straight through over a long period of time. Lots of people have heard a sermon here and a sermon there. If you get them reading the Bible in large chunks, it makes a profound difference. We are doing this in our church, reading the Bible through in a year, and all kinds of people who have been Christians for decades are saying, “This is eye opening, I love this, it is amazing the stuff I’m finding.” They are just so tickled about it because the Bible is not written primarily to be digested six or eight verses at a time every Sunday morning. That is just one way to support knowledge of the Bible. The Bible is written as a wonderful, big book of great material so that it may be beneficially read in large chunks. He says, “Read it through for me,” and they read it through.

Here is a young, 26-year-old king who is hearing minute after minute, really hour after hour the Word of God. Whether it was the whole Pentateuch or only Deuteronomy, Deuteronomy is at the end. What does he hear at the end? He hears all the blessings for obeying the covenant and all those curses if you do not. By the time it is over, he has heard what Israel should have been doing and he realizes, “We’re in horrible trouble.” So he tears his garments and sends for a prophet named Huldah. She says, “Yes, absolutely O king.” She must have been someone he felt he could trust. She probably spoke the truth reliably, never with minced words. She says, “Yes, these curses will come upon the people of Israel because they have been doing all these kinds of things. They have been worshipping various gods and goddesses; right down the line, basically breaking all of the Ten Commandments, and God will exile His people. However, you O king, because you’re interested in this word, because you’ve repented, because you are sorry, shocked, and ashamed, you are going to be able to continue on and die in peace. You won’t see the horrible agonies that will come upon your people soon enough.”

B. Covenant Renewal

The king does not settle for that. He says, “We’ve got to change, we’ve got to change.” 2 Kings 23 describes his renewal of the covenant. He gathers people together and he makes them listen. He has the law read to them, insists that they pay attention, and gives his own speech about the importance of keeping the covenant and so on. In other words, what he does is conduct a covenant renewal of which we have quite a number of samples in the Old Testament. There are are nine or ten that are pretty significant covenant renewals:

1. The first covenant, of course, is the one you already know about

2. A renewal for a new generation that grew up in the wilderness in Deuteronomy

3. Joshua 24 has a wonderful covenant renewal speech

4. Samuel’s covenant renewal speech in 1 Samuel 12

5. Solomon’s renewal prayer in 1 Kings 8

>6. 2 Kings 23, the passage we are currently looking at

7. King Asa’s very fine covenant renewal in 2 Chronicles 15

8. Ezra has one

9. Nehemiah has one that he enlists Ezra’s help with so the two of them together are involved in that one

These covenant renewals have the purpose to bring people back to obedience to the Word of God. The same kind of preaching and teaching that you and I always do in churches; we try to bring people back to the Word of God, not give them something new. We do not say, “Well, that was fine for them but here’s the latest.” No, we are trying to tell them that God has known all along what our behavior and thinking ought to be; therefore, let’s get back to what He revealed long ago and conform ourselves to that truth and let it have its effect on our lives so that we may be beneficiaries of it. Covenant renewal is always looking backwards in the best sense, conforming self or group to the covenant that already exists and has already been revealed and you renew.

What Josiah did is really enlightening to us because when you read about the things that he eliminated, you realize how bad things were. I am just reading quickly a portion of chapter 23 starting with verse 4, “The king ordered Hilkiah the high priest, the priests next in rank, and the doorkeepers to remove form the temple of the Lord all the articles made for Baal and Asherah and all the starry hosts.” Right in the Jerusalem temple was any number of alters, rooms, eating places, and so on, associated with these various idols. “He burned them outside Jerusalem in the fields of the Kidron Valley and took the ashes to Bethel.” Why to Bethel? Bethel was an old, corrupt center of heterodox worship starting with the days of Jeroboam the first, Solomon’s successor in the north, and Josiah wanted that stuff to be done away with. “He did away with the pagan priests appointed by the kings of Judah to burn incense on the high places of the towns of Judah and on those around Jerusalem—those who burned incense to Baal, to the sun and moon, to the constellations and to all the starry hosts. He took the Asherah pole from the temple of the Lord to the Kidron Valley outside Jerusalem and burned it there. He ground it to powder and scattered the dust over the graves of the common people.” That was done because the idea was that that which is dead is defiled, and if you take this and scatter it over graves there is no way it can ever be undefiled. It is kind of an extreme measure, but he is serious. He wants to clean up the nations act. “He also tore down the quarters of the male shrine prostitutes, which were in the temple of the Lord and where women did weaving for Asherah.” The Asherah pole would be where the sign effectively saying “Asherah” on it would be, it was almost like a big sign saying Exxon or something, and it is a place where people would come to engage in occult sex. Also, if you were a homosexual, you could come and engage in homosexual occult sex. That was the kind of thing going on right in the temple.

It goes on and talks about all the other kinds of things that he did. There were child sacrifice locations as verse 10 describes; he got rid of that. In verse 11 there were the horses right at the entrance to the temple that symbolized pulling the chariot for the sun and the moon; he got rid of those. If you read it all, you realize that Yahweh was practically obscured by all these other worship methods and idols and so on. The nation had really become ultra-corrupt. He had a lot of cleaning up to do, it really was a significant thing, but it is an encouraging story.

I am sure that many of you who start ministry, whether it is youth ministry or pastoral ministry, Christian education ministry, missions, or whatever, are going to go into your first assignment into some church or situation that is not going to be very healthy and you are going to find all kinds of weakness. You will find people who have long ago given up, you find that there may not be much knowledge or orthodoxy at all, that the leadership in the past may not have preached or taught the Gospel, and that it is easy to get discouraged and say, “This is hopeless. How in the world am I going to handle this?” Be encouraged by the kind of revival that a king like Josiah could bring about with proper resolve and by immediately getting control of the nominating committee which I certainly recommend in any church. You can begin to operate and make some changes. It is a challenge; it is not easy, and you will shed a lot of tears, you will pray a huge amount, but you will find allies, you will lead people to Christ, you will begin to build a momentum, and you can turn a church around. It is wonderful to see it.

You can take a youth group where it is entertainment-based and gradually but steadily make it discipleship-based, and what a change you will see. You will see kids thrilled to go to prayer meetings in a church. You will see them thrilled to go to Bible study and say this counts for something, whereas if you just take them on one more roller coaster ride it will be just another roller coaster ride. You cannot out-entertain the world but you can certainly out-disciple it. There is a lot of wonderful things that can take place.

Nevertheless, this is against the backdrop of the fact that the Babylonian Empire is coming. In Josiah’s time reigning, about 640 to 609 BC, the Assyrian Empire, the one that we have been talking about before are the big oppressors.

C. Josiah's Big Mistake

Josiah at the end of chapter 23 makes a big mistake. He had the idea that so often prevails in international relations, “The enemy of my enemy must be my friend.” He knew toward the end of his reign that the Babylonians were trying to take over the Assyrian Empire. The Babylonians did not like paying tax, toll, and tribute any more than anybody else did, so they had organized themselves and had rebelled against the Assyrians. They were gaining strength, getting allies, grouping, fighting, and beginning to capture more and more territory from the Assyrians who were very actively fighting the Babylonians. From about 611 BC to 605, for that long period of time, it was a very lengthy war, the Babylonians gained more and more ground and the Assyrians lost more and more. So, the Assyrians appealed in 609 BC to the Egyptians. They said, “we will pay you very well if you will send troops.” Every government is always looking for more money. That was one thing that was done in ancient times; governments would accept money and use that for the payment of troops and supply troops to other governments as allies. The Egyptians, under Pharaoh Neco, were marching north through Israel to go link up with the Assyrians to form a coalition to try to fight against the Babylonians and Josiah made a mistake. A lot of great people in Scripture makes huge mistakes. Their hearts are good, their desires are right but they forget that they are supposed to depend entirely on the Lord and not try to work it all out themselves. Usually we have it all figured out. We know what has to happen instead of saying, “God knows what has to happen. He’ll figure out how to do it and I will simply respond and try to carry out His will.”

Josiah thought, “if the Egyptians are cut off so that they cannot link up with the Assyrians, that will give the Babylonians a chance to win. After all, who could be worse than the Assyrians?” The answer was, of course, the Babylonians, but he did not know that. He just thought, “Nobody could be worse than these Assyrians. It’s been oppressive, it’s been horrible, we hate it. They are the worst, the meanest.” If you have ever read the Book of Nahum, you know they were pretty bad. Of course he wanted relief.

Therefore, he got his Judean troops into battle against Egypt. He could not succeed, he did not win, and he himself was mortally wounded and died in 609 BC. The Egyptians did link up with the Assyrians but it did not work; the Babylonians were by that time all too powerful and conquered and became the possessors of what had previously been the entire Assyrian Empire. Then, from the end of chapter 23 into chapter 25 you read about a succession of kings who were the kings of the last days of Judah and who were the experiencers of the decline and eventual capture by Babylon.

D. The Practice of Exile

The Babylonians did the following—they practiced exile just as the Assyrians had done and all kinds of people before them. The idea was that you could keep a conquered territory relatively suppressed by deporting to a distant location nearly all of the leadership including the royal family, people in government service, people well-educated and so on. Take them all, anybody who might lead a rebellion against you, deport them to a distance, replace them if you need to with other people, and that will minimize the likelihood of their rebelling against you and you having to spend lots of money to bring your troops back in, suppress them once again, increase the tax, toll, and tribute and so on. The idea was to get the tax, toll, and tribute money as conveniently and comfortably as you possibly can year after year. Get rid of the problem people and have everybody else contribute to your wealth.

1. Therefore, in 605 BC the Babylonians exiled a number of Israelites. Daniel went in that exile.

2. In 598 BC they were back again and this time they exiled a king named Jehoiachin. His name is important because of the way that 2 Kings ends. With Jehoiachin went thousands of people. It was a fairly substantial exile.

3. After him the Babylonians put on the throne what we call a “puppet king,” a king of their choosing. And they had that king, whose name was Zedekiah, do their will, but even Zedekiah eventually got a big head. He decided he might be able to rebel against the Babylonians, because after a few years you hate that tax, toll, and tribute and you are thinking of rebellion constantly. He organized a rebellion, fortified Jerusalem, and put in all kinds of stores for a long siege because he knew there would be one. He then thumbed is nose at the Babylonians in 588 BC. They came immediately and began the siege of Jerusalem which broke after two years and the Babylonians occupied the city Zedekiah had. Zedekiah was blinded after seeing his children put to death. They put his children to death and then blinded him so the last thing he would have seen on this earth would be his children being killed in front of him. That was the style of the Babylonians. Then they took tens of thousands of Israelites into exile; massive, massive exile. That is really the exile; that is the big one; that is the beginning of the period of curse.

E. Jehoiachin at the King's Table

We read this at the very end of 2 Kings. We read starting with verse 27, “In the thirty-seventh year of the exile of Jehoiachin king of Judah,” that is all the way down from 598 to about sometime around 551 or so, “in the year of a Evil-Merodach,” sounds really bad, but it really just means man of the god Marduc, “became king of Babylon, he released Jehoiachin from prison on the twenty-seventh day of the twelfth month.” This was someone who knew Jehoiachin and released him from prison. He “spoke kindly to him, gave him a seat of honor higher than the other kings who were with him in Babylon.” Lots of kings had been exiled to Babylon; the Judean king was not the only one. “So Jehoiachin put aside his prison clothes for the rest of his life and ate regularly at the king’s table. Day by day the king gave Jehoiachin a regular allowance as long as he lived,” for centuries.

Skeptical scholars said, “This is pure fiction; just a fabrication, just pious Jews of a later time adding a positive note on a tragedy to try to give some hope. Why would any Babylonian king, especially after thirty-seven years, release an obscure Israelite king like Jehoiachin who had reigned less than a year? He only reigned a few months before he was taken into exile. There is no motive. It is just silly the idea that they would give him a seat of honor higher than all other kings. There were kings of great nations, powerful lands; you are not going to have the Judean king singled out. All obvious fabrication, obviously fictional, obviously people looking from a self-interested point of view at this history and making up a minor happy ending. That was the prevailing view until a young researcher named Donald Weizman, teaching at the University of London, found among the tens of thousands of tablets in the British museum a tablet describing Evil Merodach’s food distribution for captured kings. That tablet is published; you can read it in Ancient Near Eastern Text by Pritchard in the library, there are several copies of it. It talks about various kings and lists their names.

This is actually prevision now, eating at the king’s table, the king providing for them. Low and behold you come to a king named Jehoiachin; there it is, it is Jehoiachin written in Babylonian characters. It says he gets such and such. You look at it and you compare it to all other kings on the list and he has got about three times as much. There it is. It just happens that God preserved a tablet from twenty-five hundred years ago that would demonstrate the historicity absolutely perfectly of this passage. Now, of course, skepticals always say, “Oh yes, of course, that is historical, anybody knows that,” but not the rest.