Day 191: The Babylonian Exile

2 Kings 25:1-21 Zedekiah foolishly rebelled against Babylon and Nebuchadnezzar laid siege once again to Jerusalem, causing a severe famine in the city. The Babylonians finally entered the city as Zedekiah and his men fled in the other direction, only to be caught by the Chaldean army. The Babylonians and Chaldeans razed the entire city, including the Temple; they took away more of its valuables and left only a few families to work in the fields. The destruction of the Temple, which was symbolic of God’s presence among his people, was a powerful sign of God’s punishment because of Israel’s infidelity to the covenant. 

Ch 25:22-29 Gedaliah was made Governor of Judah but was soon assassinated. In Babylon a new king, Merodach, issued a pardon to the imprisoned Jehoiachin of Judah and installed him as a member of his court. Nevertheless, he never lost sight of the fact that he was the rightful King of Judah, whose survival continued the Davidic dynasty, lending hope to the dispersed people of Israel and giving them a sign that God intended to keep his promises to David. 

2 Chronicles 36:1-23 The last three kings were placed on the throne not by God but by Judah’s conquerors, first by the Egyptian Neco and the next two by the Babylonian Nebuchadnezzar. When the Babylonians exiled all but the poorest people of Judah, they pillaged the cities and razed the Temple. 

Ch 36:21 In his love for us, the Lord indicates what is best for us. God established the Sabbath reset because he “rested” on the seventh day of creation. Work is an essential good as a means to earn a modest living for oneself and one’s family-and as a way of contributing to the common good-but neither work itself nor the disordered love of money should be permitted to interfere with our need for rest, the enjoyment of family life, and spiritual renewal. (CCC 2172)

Proverbs 9:1-6 These verses liken wisdom to a banquet that gives joy and happiness. Wisdom invites the reader to a metaphorical banquet in which those who receive her wisdom consume and assimilate it. The seven pillars probably refer to the seven sets of proverbs identified in this book, and at the same time the number seven symbolizes perfection. The analogy of the bread and the wine that represent the food of wisdom prefigure the Eucharist, the Body and Blood of Christ, who is the incarnate Wisdom of God. (CCC 1391, 1402)

(*The Didache Bible RSV-CE Ignatius Edition, 2006)

Key Event 47: Judah Falls to Babylon (2 Kings 25:1-30)

Babylon invades the Southern Kingdom of Judah and carries the people off into exile in three successive waves: some of the leading people in 605 and 597 BC and then a much larger group in 587 BC.  The exile brings the Davidic monarchy to an end.

Key Event 48: First Temple Destroyed (2 Kings 25:8-17)

When the Babylonians defeat Judah once and for all, they destroy the capital city of Jerusalem and burn the Temple to the ground.  In exile, the people need to persevere in fidelity to God without a Temple or a functioning priesthood.

Prayer by Fr. Mike: “Father in Heaven we give you praise and as we come to a conclusion of this portion of the story, we know that, gosh Lord, when all things seem dark, especially in our lives, we recognize that they are truly dark, they can be real dark, there is real death, there is real suffering, there is real destruction, and yet we keep walking. Lord God, you have given us the ability to continue to move and act in this world, to continue to move and act in this world, to continue to cry out to you, to call out to you with our broken hearts, to cry out to you with our broken lives. Even in the midst of darkness, you give us the power to walk. Help us, Lord God. Help us to walk with hope, knowing that darkness is not dark for you, the end is not the end for you. Even the grave is not the end for you, because we know that you have conquered sin. You have conquered suffering. You have conquered death, by your Death and your Resurrection. So Lord God, like you will bring resurrection to the people of Israel, although it will take so long, bring resurrection to our lives. Bring healing to our lives. Restore us. Restore us to our home. Restore us to your heart. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.”