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The design of those prophecies which refer to the captivity, was not merely to give information of events which would happen, but to operate as a warning to the people, that they might forsake their sins: and hence the Prophets were as watchmen, (Ezek. iii. 17.) that by giving the people notice of their danger on account of their wickedness, their blood might be on their own heads. God is unwilling to punish ; and therefore he sent his servants, as Isaiah and Jeremiah, to inform the Jews of all those evils which he would bring upon them, unless they turned to the living and true God.
But they regarded not his warnings, and, therefore, ( Dan, i. 1. 2. ) " in the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, came Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon unto Jerusalem and besieged it. And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, with part of the vessels of the house of God; which he carried into the land of Shinar to the house of his God ; and he brought the vessels into the treasure house of his God.”
This captivity of the Jews had been predicted above one hundred years before the Event by Isaiah ; ( Isa. xxxix. 6. 7.) for after Hezekiah had ostentatiously shewn his treasures to the Ambassadors of Merodach-baladan a king of Babylon, Isaiah went to him, and gave him this information from the Lord : “ Behold, the days come, that all that is in thine house, and that which thy Fathers have laid up in store until this day shall be carried to Babylon. Nothing shall be left, saith the Lord And of thy sons that shall issue from thee, which thou shall beget, shall they take away; and they shall be Eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon."
a Prid, an. 713.
When the time for the accomplishment of this prediction drew near, the prediction itself was renewed in terms still more explicit; for Jeremiah ( xxv. 11.) told the Jews, before Nebuchadnezzar had taken Jerusalem : “ This whole land shall be a desolation and an astonishment; and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years."
Now only compare these predictions of Isaiah and Jeremiah with the first six verses of the first of Daniel, and it must be evident that they were exactly fulfilled. The prophecy says ; "That which thy fathers have laid
upin store until this day shall be carried to Babylon:” the history informs us; That Nebuchadnezzar took Jerusalem; rifled the treasury; and made captive the chief people, the princes of the land, and took the spoil to the "treasure house of his God.” The prophecy says; “These nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years ;” and sacred history informs us ( Ezra, i. 1, 2, 3, 4. ) “that in the firstę year of Cyrus king of Persia”—which was exactly seventy years from the time in which this captivity took place" that the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, that he made a proclamation"--for the restoration of the Jews; and not only so, but also restored to them the vessels of Gold and of Silver which Nebuchadnezzar had taken away. (Ezra, i. 7-11. )
There is one thing to be particularly observed with regard to the history of the captivities of the Jews; that though there is a precise time, from which they are to be dated, and at which they end; yet the entire removing of them from, or resettling them in their own country, occupies á cotišiderable portion of time, which must be reckoned in the years of the captivity, or not reckoned, as the reason of the case requires. Accordingly we find, that though the seventy year's' captivity is to be dated from the fourth of Jehoiakim, (B. c. 606.) yet the people were not all taken away at that time, nor all the treasures removed from the house of God.
Prid. an. 606.
Of the Jews, therefore, there were three great instances of their being taken captive; all which are to be included in the seventy years. The first occurred in the fourth of Jehoiakim, of which we have already spoken; the second (B. C. 598) in the short reign of Jehoiachin son of Jehoiakim; and the third ( B. c. 588 ) in the eleventh year of the reign of Zedekiah. There was also a fourth (B. C. 584,) but this was a very small one compared with the others; for before the fourth took place, the land of Judah was almost destitute of inhabitants.
The first instance being already explained, it will be unnecessary to repeat what has been said: but it will not be improper to attend a little to the others; as, in doing this, we shall find some remarkable prophecies fulfilled,
When Jehoiakim, in the fourth year of his reign, found himself conquered by Nebuchadnezzar, he humbled himself, and submitted to become his servant or tributary ( 2 Kings, xxiv. 1. ); but after three years he rebelled against him, and formed an alliance with Pharaoh Necho. But this rebellion ended in his death; for not being able to withstand the forces which attacked him on every side, he was shut up in Jerusalem, taken prisoner, slain, and his dead body cast into the high way, like the carcase of an Ass.d Now compare
d Prid. an. 599. Josephus, L. 10. C. 8. There seems some differ. ence between the account here given of Jehoiakim's death, and that given 2 Chron. xxxvi. 6. which says, “ Against him-Jehoiakim came up Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and bound lim in fetters to carry him to Babylon.” This difficulty may be easily solved: for the passage just quoted, does not say, that he carried him to Babylon, but bound him to carry him; i. e. according to Montanus, ad ire faciendum
this with Jeremiah ( xxii. 19. ) and the agreement is wonderful: "He,- Jehoiakim,-shall be buried with the burial of an Ass, drawn and cast forth beyond the gates of Jerusalem.” Let it also be remembered that Jeremiah delivered this prediction six years before its fulfilment, thereby proving himself a true prophet of the Lord, and that all things are known unto God.
After the death of Jehoiakim, his son Jehoiachin who had been united with him in the goverment ascended the throne: but his reign was short; for Nebuchadnezzar came to the siege of Jerusalem in person, took the king and his mother, and all the princes and chief people captive, and left none, “save the poorest sort of the people of the land." ( 2 Kings, xxiv. 1417.) He also took away great quantities of treasure which had been left when he first took the city ; and left Mattaniah, (whose name he changed into Zedekiah, and who was the uncle of Jehoiachin, ) king of Judah ( 2 Kings, xxiv. 10–20. ) The circumstances of this second taking away
of the Jews, were clearly foretold by Jeremiah ( xxii. where he says, “I will give thee, Jehoiachin, into the hand of them that seek thy life-into the hand of Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon.-- And I will
25.) cast thee out, and thy Mother that barethee, into another country, where ye were not born, and there shall ye die." And there we find ( Jer. lii. 31-34.) Jehoiachin did die.
in order to make him go, or, for the purpose of carrying him. This passage in Chronicles refers to the fourth year of Jehoiakim's reign, when he became prisoner to Nebuchadnezzar, and in consequence of humbling himself was restored to his crown
; but does not refer to the eleventh year of his reign, when he was slain, and his burial, the burial of an Ass.
But though Nebuchadnezzar raised Zedekiah to the throne, yet he rebelled against him, in the eight year of his reign; and hence arose the third instance of the Jews being taken away captive. Of this third instance there are some remarkable predictions both by Ezekiel and Jeremiah, which we will compare with history.
Four years before the events took place, Ezekiel predicted (Chap. xii.) the taking of Jerusalem by the Chaldeans; Zedekiah's flight by night; and his imprisonment and death at Babylon. But Jeremiah is still more express in his language ( Chap. 34. ), where he foretold, a year before the events, that Jerusalem should be burnt by the king of Babylon ;—that Zedekiah should see Nebuchadnezzar, though Ezekiel had predicted his eyes should be put out, both of which circumstances we shall find were accurately fulfilled; and that he should die in peace, and not by the sword.
Now attend to the history, which gives an account of the accomplishment of these predictions. • They ( the forces of Nebuchadnezzar, ) burnt the house of God, and brake down the wall of Jerusalem, and burnt all the palaces thereof with fire.” (2 Chron. xxxvi. 19.).
They took the king, Zedekiah, and brought him up to the king of Babylon to Riblah," where he saw Nebuchadnezzar. And after Judgment was past upon him, “they slew the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes, and put out the eyes of Zedekiah.” (2 Kings xxv. 6, 7, ). How exactly, therefore, were those seemingly discordant
e Prid, an. 592,