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Jewry: Fake and truth in the Old Testament (OT) according to documents and excavations

New identity by new Jewish history by help of chronology and archaeological research

36. Since 609 B.C.: Nebuchadnezzar devastating Judah - Zedekiah's upheaval ending in ruin of Jerusalem - Babylonian captivities - province Yehud

by Michael Palomino (2006 / 2010)



from: Israel Finkelstein / Neil A. Silberman: The Bible unearthed. Archeology's New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of Its Sacred Texts; The Free Press, a division of Simon & Schuster, Inc., 2001; German edition has got the title "No trombones before Jericho" (orig. German: "Keine Posaunen vor Jericho"): edition C.H.Beck oHG, Munich 2002;

Here in this analysis is used the German version "Keine Posaunen vor Jericho" of DTV, Munich 2004, second edition of 2005. All page indications refer to the German version. I hope the page numbers are not very different.

The mini kingdom of "Judah" is going down
Since the death of Josiah four more kings are following accompanying the decline of the mini kingdom of Judah (p.313).

Egypt's expansion in the Mid East
In the time after Josiah's death Egypt has it's last heyday with severe wars against the Mesopotamian Reichs and with territorial expansions up to far in the Mid East. The Pharaohs mean that their dreams would be fulfilled (p.313).

[The borderline of Euphrates river always plays an important role here as always in the Mid East].

608 B.C.
Mini Reich of Judah under king Jehoahaz
King Jehoahaz seems to be against Egypt (p.313).

OT claims:
-- king Jehoahaz is said having permitted the "sinful" religious pluralism again
-- Pharaoh Neho II is said having degraded king Jehoahaz after 3 months already and having him banned (p.313).

608-598 B.C.
Mini kingdom of Judah under king Jehoiakim

OT claims:
-- king Jehoiakim is said having gone on with the "sinful" religious pluralism
-- king Jehoiakim is said having used taxes of the own population for tribute payments for Pharaoh Necho II (p.313).

since 608 B.C. appr.
Prophet Jeremiah going on with propaganda against "foreign gods"

Jeremiah is said having deplored that the number of the gods adhered in Judah corresponds allegedly to the numbers of towns in Judah, and in Jerusalem would be allegedly that many altars of Baal as is the number of alleys (Jeremiah 11,13) (p.263).

605 B.C.
Babylon's rise under Nebuchadnezzar - Egypt has to retread to the Nile river

The army of Babylon is winning a battle in the town of Carchemish in Syria under the prince royal which is known as Nebuchadnezzar later. The army of Egypt has to retreat back to the Nile river (p.313).

[Again a big Empire is going down by an overextension of it's borderlines, and also the Empire of Nebuchadnezzar will collapse by another overextension of borderlines...]

Now follow destructive military campaigns under Nebuchadnezzar in the Middle East

The victory in Carchemish is spelling the doom for Assyria which is without help of Egypt now. Nebuchadnezzar becomes the king of Babylonia and is heading for a breakthrough to the Mediterranean [as other Empires did before him]. Now destructive military campaigns are following one after the other with the destruction of the Philistine towns (p.314).

In Judah there is a great panic with the discussion on which side one should stay. The government under king Jehoiakim is calling Pharaoh Necho II for help, and this action is taken by Babylonia as a pretext to devastate Judah (p.314).

December 598 - March 597
Death of king Jehoiakim - king Jeconiah follows
The Babylonian armies are at the border. OT claims that Jerusalem had been sieged (p.314).

597 B.C.
The mini kingdom of Judah is said having been devastated - and first "Babylonian captivity" follows

OT claims:
-- Jerusalem had been conquered and devastated by the Babylonian armies
-- the upper and middle class is said having been deported
-- the royal court with king Jeconiah is said having been deported to Babel, from the nobles 7,000, from the craftsmen 1,000 persons (2d book of Kings 24,10-16) (p.314)
-- all in all it is said that 10,000 people had been banned (2d book of Kings 24,14) or 8,000 (2d book of Kings 24,16) (p.327).

The documents speak
In this case Babylonian chronicle confirms the OT. Add to this Nebuchadnezzar installs in Judah an own king, the uncle of Jeconiah, Zedekiah (p.315).

The "1 god movement" with it's priests is deported [and their influence seems to be banned at the moment]. In Judah itself the population keeps split (p.315).

596-586 B.C.
Kingdom of Judah: king Zedekiah is trying a conspiracy against Babylonia
with other local kings (p.315).

Nebuchadnezzar is not dependent on the mini Reich of Judah. That's why this conspiracy of king Zedekiah is a statal suicide from the first moment on. The reasons are in the dark for that. Perhaps Zedekiah's government meant that God will bring another "miracle". Speculations may go on...]

Karte des
                        Nebukadnezar-Reichs um 590 v.Chr.
Map of Babylonia under Nebuchadnezzar II at about 590 B.C. reaching from Persian Golf to the Mediterranean Sea: The breakthrough has succeeded, Babylonia is governing over the whole "Fertile Crescent". But Nebuchadnezzar wants more...

And now punitive expeditions are following:

Punitive expedition: Edom is coming first - and also Edom gets a Babylonian captivity

-- in 6th century B.C. the kingdom of Edom is destroyed by the troops of Nebuchadnezzar and is depopulated (p.81)
-- only in the central Greek epoch this region is populated again settling people (p.82).

587 B.C.

Punitive expeditions and destruction of Jerusalem under Nebuchadnezzar with the elimination of the town wall
According to Finkelstein / Silberman this military campaign is "the beginning of the end" (p.315). The mini kingdom of Judah - already minimized - has about 75,000 inhabitants according to the investigations and excavations, of these are 15,000 in Jerusalem and another 15,000 around Jerusalem (p.328).

Nebuchadnezzar / Nebukadnezar, Statue
vergrössern Nebuchadnezzar, statue

Invasion unter Nebukadnezar gegen Juda.
vergrössernInvasion under Nebuchadnezzar against Judah
Karte Babylonisches Reich Nebukadnezar
Map of the Empire of Nebuchadnezzar

Archeology can prove for this time that almost all Judean towns in all regions of the kingdom have got a layer of destruction which can be allocated to this destructive military campaign. Osaka (clay tablets) in the fortification of Arad for example describes the military orders in an absolute danger and the transport of food stocks etc. In Lachish there are messages on osakas how one town after the other around Lachish is burnt down and how the signals are extinguished, for example of the town of Aseka (p.315).

According to Jeremiah 34,7 Lachish and Aseka are performing the longest resistance. At the end only stays Jerusalem that is sieged up to the destruction (p.315).

Nebuchadnezzar has also the surrounding kingdoms besieged. The siege of Tyre for example is said having lasted for 10 years [web01].

OT claims:

-- in Jerusalem is said that hunger has broken out, and the troops of Nebuchadnezzar are said having invaded (p.316)
-- king Zedekiah is said having fled, having seized and having blinded in Babel (2d book of Kings 25,3-7) (p.316)
-- one month later - under the leadership of Nebusaradan, the supreme commander of the body guards of Nebuchadnezzars, now as a military captain for whole Jerusalem - is said having burnt down whole Jerusalem, having torn down the whole town wall, and having deported the rest of the population (2d book of Kings 25,8-11) (p.316). There is no precise indication in the OT (p.327).

Second Babylonian captivity - numbers of the deported

Jeremiah is indicating 4,600 deportees for the deportations to Babylonia (p.327).

According to Finkelstein / Silberman the numbers of deportees are not precise because in the time of ancient Greece the number of deportees means the numbers of family leaders (p.327). By this - according to Finkelstein / Silberman - it's possible that the maximum is not only 4,600, but about 20,000 deportees are possible (p.328). When there are admitted 75,000 inhabitants in whole mini kingdom of Judah, from these 15,000 in Jerusalem and another 15,000 around Jerusalem so there remain 45,000 in the new province of Yehud (p.328).

Towns of the exile were Babylon, Tel Abib, Susa, Ecbatana, Persepolis, and Pasargadae [web02].

Map with the towns of the Babylonian captivites:
                Babylon, Tel Abib, Susa, Ecbatana, Persepolis, and
Map with the towns of the Babylonian captivites: Babylon, Tel Abib, Susa, Ecbatana, Persepolis, and Pasargadae

586 B.C. appr.
The town of Mizpah can survive by peaceful handover - the flight of the prophet Jeremiah to Mizpah

OT claims:
The territory of the northern region of Jerusalem with the town of Mizpah is said having been handed over without any violence (Jeremiah 37,12-13; 38,19) (p.328-329).

Archeology can confirm the handover of the territory of Mizpah without violence. Excavations of the ruins of Mizpah at the Tell en-Nasbe near Ramallah [?] under the archaeologist Oded Lipshits from Tel Aviv university give the result that Mizpah was not destroyed by the Babylonian military campaign because a correspondent layer of destruction is missing (p.329).

According to OT the town of Mizpah under governor Gedaliah - the son of Ahikam - has become a refuge for other Judeans, e.g. for the prophet Jeremiah, an enemy of the rebellion (p.318).

OT claims a theory of punishment by God against Judah

The Old Testament claims that God had organized the self destruction of the temple which was dedicated to him punishing the population of Israel for its disloyalty. God is said having served himself with the enemies of Judah and is said having been stronger than all other gods (p.21).

Nos Israel is organizing itself as a religious community and not as a state any more (p.21).

Archeology confirms the destruction of Jerusalem

Archeology can confirm the last moments of violence in Jerusalem, with arrowheads in the burnt-out ruins (p.316):
-- the mini kingdom of Judah is destroyed and ruined (p.316)
-- the total destruction of Jerusalem by a fire storm can be proved for this time (p.328).

Now Judah becomes "Yehud"

The new Babylonian province is called "Yehud" now and the inhabitants are called Yehudim, this is the first time the population is called "Jews" (p.318).

The sons of the last kings of Zedekiah are all killed (p.316).

[Addition: It seems that the far relatives are not killed, because the line of David is emerging later again].

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[web01] http://www.worldhistoryplus.com/t/tyre.html
[web02] http://www.bible-history.com/map_babylonian_captivity/index.html

Photo sources

-- map with the Reich of Nebuchadnezzar at 590 B.C. appr.: http://historia.ziemann-online.net/FrueheHochkulturen/Kulturen/Frames/Babylonier.htm

-- Nebuchadnezzar, statue: http://www.bible-codes.org/Saddam-10-reasons-Nebachadnezzar-Uday-Qusay.htm

-- map with the invasion under Nebuchadnezzar against Judah:

-- map of the Babylonian Empire under Nebuchadnezzar: http://www.keyway.ca/htm2000/20000214.htm
-- map of the first Babylonian captivity: http://www.bible-history.com/map_babylonian_captivity/index.html