Bible Chronology Timeline

Chronologies of the Mysteries of God

Genesis 5:1
“This is the book of the generations of
Adam. In the day that God created man,
in the likeness of God made he him”
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XII. The Kingdom of Judah 931—609 B.C. and of Israel 931—722 B.C.

The Kings of Judah; Rehoboam (931-913 B.C.).—With Rehoboam, Solomon’s rash son, the united Hebrew kingdom came to a close, never to be revived. When Rehoboam went to Shechem for the coronation he learned of deep-seated grievances among his subjects over the excessive tax burdens and the forced labor his father had introduced. Rejecting the advice of experienced counselors to accede to the reasonable demands of the people, he threatened to increase their burdens and thereby provoked an open revolt of his northern and eastern subjects under the leadership of Jeroboam, who, on hearing of Solomon’s death, had returned from exile (1 Kings 12:1-20).

Although he heeded the counsel of the prophet Shemaiah, not to fight his brothers at the time of the separation of the ten tribes, Rehoboam apparently fought several bloody wars with Jeroboam at a later time (1 Kings 12:24; 14:30). Also, in his fifth year he experienced the historic attack of Sheshonk (Shishak) I of Egypt (1 Kings 14:25-28), concerning which Sheshonk’s victory relief on the temple wall at Karnak still bears witness. This attack may account for the fact that the king of Judah strengthened the fortifications of a number of towns which guarded the roads leading to Jerusalem (2 Chronicles 11:5-12).

Being, probably, the son of an Ammonite woman, Rehoboam followed his father in having a large harem and in promoting the worship of pagan gods, with all their abominable rites (1 Kings 14:22-24; 2 Chronicles 11:21).






Libyan Dynasties, 950-750 (Saul, 1050-1011; David, 1011-971; Solomon, 971-931)
Twenty–second Dynasty Rehoboam 931-913 Jeroboam I 931-910 Ashur–dan II 933-910
Abijam 913-911
Sheshonk I
Asa 911-869 Nadab 910-909 Adad–nirari II 910-889
Osorkon I Baasha 909-886 Tukulti–Ninurta 889-884
Takelot I Elah 886-885
Zimri 885
Osorkon II Twenty–third Dynasty Omri 885-874 Ashurrnasirpal II 884-859
Pedubast (Tibni 885-880)
Sheshonk II Sheshonk IV Jehoshaphatt 872-848* Ahab 874-853 Shalmaneser III 859-824
Takelot II Osorkon III Jehoram 854-841* Ahaziah 853-852
Sheshonk III Takelot III Ahaziah 841 Joram 852-841
Pami Amenrud Athaliah 841-835 Jehu 841-814 Shamshi–Adad V 824-810
Sheshonk V Osorkon IV Joash 835-796 Jehoahaz 814-798 Adad–nirari III 810-782
Amaziah 796-767 Jehoash 798-782 Semirammis (regent)
Azariah Jeroboam II 793-753* Shalmaneser IV 782-772
Twenty–fourth Dynasty (of Saïs) Twenth–fifty Dynasty (Ethioian) (Uzziah) 790-739* Zachariah 753-752 Ashur–dan III 772-754
Shallum 752 Ashur–nirari V 754-746
750-715 C. 715-663 Jotham 750-731* Menahem 752-742 Tiglath–pileser III 745-727
Tefnakht Piankhi Pekahiah 742-740
Bocchoris Shabaka Ahaz 735-715* Pekah 752-732*
Shabataka Hezekiah 729-686* Hoshea 732-722 Shalmaneser V 727-722
Taharka Sargon II 722-705
Tanutamon Sennachreib 705-681
Twenty–sixth Dynasty 663-525 Manasseh 697-642* Esarhaddon 681-669
Psamtik I 663-610 Amon 642-640 Ashurbanipal 669-627?
Josiah 640-609 Ashur–etil–ilani 627?-?
Necho II 610-595 Jehoahaz 609 Sin–shar–ishkun ?-612M
Jehoiakim 609-598 Ashur–uballit II 612-609
Jeohiachin 598-597
Psamtk II 595-589 Zedekiah 597-586 Babylon
Apries (Hophra) 589-570 Nabopolassar 626-605
Amasis 570-526 Nebuchadnezzar 605-562
Psamtik III 526-525

* Except for Pekah, the earlier years of these reigns that coincide with the closing years of the preceding reigns represent coregencies. Pekah’s years have been reckoned from 752 B.C. although he took over actual control of the kingdom only after murdering Menahem’s son Pekahiah.

Note—The dates of Assyrian kings are generally accepted today as fixed with reasonable certainty within a spring-to-spring year; Ashur-dan II, for example, began to reign at some time between the spring of 933 and the spring of 932; few are more exact than that. The dates for Nebuchadnezzar’s reign are astronomically fixed. Regnal dates for Egyptian kings of the Twenty-second to the Twenty-fifth Dynasty are unknown, and the dates here given for the various dynasties are only approximate. The first kings of the Twenty-third Dynasty were contemporary with those of the Twenty-second. Regnal years, even those well established, are not given in exact form (as 931/30, etc.); hence allow the B.C. year to vary plus or minus 1, unless the text gives specific accession dates.

Abijam and Asa (913-869 B.C.).—The next king, Abijam, reigned but briefly (913-911 B.C.), had a war with Jeroboam I, and followed his father in all his vices (1 Kings 15:1-8).

With Asa, Abijam’s son, a good king again came to the throne (911-869 B.C.). He removed from influence his grandmother, who had erected an image for Asherah, and banished the male prostitutes as well as idol worship (verses 10-13). After the first peaceful years of his reign, which he devoted to religious reforms, Asa was attacked by the Ethiopians under Zerah, probably Cushites from the eastern shore of the Red Sea (2 Chronicles 14:9-15). When Baasha of Israel occupied part of northern Judah, probably in the 36th year after the division of the kingdom (2 Chronicles 16:1), Asa did not dare to meet the northern army with his own inferior forces, but induced Benhadad of Syria to attack and weaken Israel. For this lack of faith in Jehovah’s help Asa was severely rebuked by Hanani the prophet (verses 1-10).

Asa’s last years were marked by poor health (verse 12), and accordingly he appointed his son Jehoshaphat as co-ruler, as the chronological data indicate.

Jehoshaphat to Ahaziah (872-841 B.C.).—Jehoshaphat (872-848 B.C.) continued the religious reforms of his good father. Although he failed to remove all the high places, he is credited with having the Levites and priests travel through the country and preach the law (1 Kings 22:43; 2 Chronicles 17:7-9). He terminated the long feud between Judah and Israel by allying himself with the dynasty of Omri, and married crown prince Jehoram of Judah to Ahab’s daughter Athaliah (2 Kings 8:18, 26), a union that unfortunately opened the door to Baal worship in Judah. Jehoshaphat also assisted the northern kings in their military campaigns. With Ahab he went against Ramoth-gilead (2 Chronicles 18:28), and with Joram, (See NOTE) king of Israel, against Moab (Kings 3:4-27). He also fought a strong confederacy of Edomites, Moabites, and Ammonites (2 Chronicles 20:1-30). Some nations, however, such as the Philistines and Arabians, were so impressed with Jehoshaphat’s accomplishments that they sought his friendship. His attempt to revive Solomon’s Ophir expeditions failed when his ships were wrecked at Ezion-geber (verses 35-37).

NOTE: The names Jehoram and Joram are used interchangeably in the Bible. For the sake of convenience and clarity, however, Jehoram is used in this commentary to designate the son of Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, and Joram, to designate the son of Ahab, king of Israel (see 2 Kings 8:16).

Jehoram2 (854-841 B.C.), not to be confused with his contemporary, Joram of Israel, was associated on the throne with his father, Jehoshaphat. Nothing good is said of Jehoram. Influenced by his wicked and idolatrous wife, he encouraged Baal worship in Judah (2 Kings 8:18), fought unsuccessful wars with the Philistines and Arabians (2 Chronicles 21:16, 17; 22:1), and died of an incurable disease as Elijah had predicted (2 Chronicles 21:12-19).

Ahaziah (841 B.C.) followed the corrupt ways of his parents, joined his uncle Joram of Israel in an unsuccessful war against the Syrians (2 Kings 8:26-29), and was mortally wounded in Jehu’s plot against Joram of Israel. He died at Megiddo, where he had fled for recovery (2 Kings 9:14-28).

The Kings of Israel; Jeroboam I (931-910 B.C.).—Upon seceding from the dynasty of David, all the tribes except Judah, Benjamin, and Levi summoned Jeroboam, a political exile recently returned from Egypt, whither he had fled from Solomon (1 Kings 12:19, 20). Jeroboam was an Ephraimite chief who had served Solomon as foreman over a gang of workers engaged in building Millo. Resenting Solomon’s domestic policies, he had revolted. Encouraged by the prophet Ahijah of Shiloh, he apparently grew bold in his opposition, was probably denounced to Solomon, and consequently fled to Egypt to save his life (1 Kings 11:26-40).

Jeroboam I reigned over the northern kingdom as its first king for 22 years (931-910 B.C.). He made Shechem his first capital, but later transferred it to Tirzah. Tirzah has not as yet been definitely identified, but may have been at the present Tell el–Fâr‘ah, about 7 miles (11 km.) north east of Nablus. Excavations have recently been carried out at this mound, which is larger than that of Megiddo, but definite clues as to its identification have not yet been found.

Jeroboam had to fight continual wars with his dissatisfied southern neighbors, first against Rehoboam and then against Abijam (1 Kings 14:30; 15:7). His land seems also to have been devastated during Sheshonk’s campaign, although the Bible mentions only Judah and Jerusalem as the victims of attack. However, the evidence shows clearly that Sheshonk also invaded the northern kingdom as well, for he inscribed the names of many northern cities on his Karnak relief. Also a fragment of a victory stele of Sheshonk was discovered in the ruins of Jeroboam’s city of Megiddo. Jeroboam may not have kept his promises to Sheshonk and thus have invited this military action that was undertaken against him. Otherwise it is not clear why Sheshonk, who had given asylum to Jeroboam as a political refugee, so quickly turned against him once he had become king.

For political reasons Jeroboam introduced religious rites and practices that represented a departure from the pure worship of Jehovah. At Bethel and Dan he built temples and made young bulls to represent Jehovah in visible form (1 Kings 12:27-31). For two centuries the worship of these golden calves became known as the “sin of Jeroboam.” Of all but three of his successors on the throne of Israel, it is said that they followed him in this apostasy. An inscribed potsherd found at Samaria throws a curious light on this calf worship. It contains the personal name of a man called Egeljau, meaning “Jehovah is a calf,” showing that the Israelites worshiped Jehovah under the form of a young bull, just as the Canaanites thought their god El to be a bull.

Jeroboam also changed the principal festival month, the seventh of the Hebrew ecclesiastical calendar, to the eighth (verses 32, 33). From a study of Israelite chronology it would also seem that a civil calendar was introduced at this time, which began in the spring, in contrast to the one in use in the southern kingdom, where the civil year began in the autumn. Since the southern kings used the accession-year system in reckoning their regnal years, Jeroboam introduced the Egyptian nonaccession-year system, probably for no other reason than to be different.

Jeroboam, who began his reign as a rebel against Rehoboam, and also revolted against God and His ordained mode of worship, built his kingdom on the weakest possible foundation. This was true in a political as well as a spiritual sense. Neither his dynasty, which came to an end with the death of his son, nor any of the succeeding dynasties lasted for more than a few years. The kingdom of Israel had 10 dynasties and 20 kings in the 208 years of its existence. Moreover, the nation never escaped from the religious impasse into which Jeroboam had led it. Sinking deeper and deeper into the mire of idolatry and pagan immorality, it was chewed up piecemeal by its enemies, Syria and Assyria, and eventually vanished.

Nadab to Zimri (910-885 B.C.).—The wicked reign of Nadab, Jeroboam’s son (910-909 B.C.), was cut short when he was murdered by Baasha in the Philistine town of Gibbethon. Thus ended the first dynasty (1 Kings 15:25-29). This fearful precedent was repeated again and again, until ten different dynasties had reigned over Israel. Baasha (909-886 B.C.) continued to harass Judah, but lost the territory he acquired when he was attacked by Benhadad of Damascus, upon receipt of a bribe from Asa, king of Judah (1 Kings 15:16 to 16:7). Baasha’s dynasty ended like the preceding one. His son Elah (886-885 B.C.) was murdered by Zimri, one of his generals, in his capital Tirzah after a reign of less than two years (1 Kings 16:8-10). Zimri made use of his short reign of only seven days by killing all the relatives and friends of Baasha. Then Omri, another general of Elah who was proclaimed king by the Israelite army then engaged in a campaign against the Philistines, marched against Tirzah and took the city. Realizing that resistance was futile, Zimri refused to surrender to Omri, but set fire to the palace and perished in its flames (verses 11-18).

Omri (885-874 B.C.).—Omri became the founder of a dynasty, four kings of which occupied the throne over a period of 44 years (885-841 B.C.). At first Omri had to fight another contender for the throne, Tibni, who had a considerable following among the people. It was only after four years of internal strife that Omri was able to exterminate Tibni and his followers (verses 21-23). This is apparent from the chronological statements in verses 15, 23, which assign the 7 days of Zimri’s reign to Asa’s 27th year, and Omri’s accession to the throne—as sole ruler—in Asa’s 31st year.

Omri’s reign of 12 years was politically more important than the Bible records indicate. By selecting a strategic site for his capital, Samaria, he did for Israel what David had done in the selection of Jerusalem. This hill, 400 ft. high, was situated in a cuplike plain and could easily be defended. It was apparently never taken by force of arms, and surrendered only for lack of water or food. Excavation has verified the fact intimated in the Biblical records that the site had been uninhabited before the time of Omri. Transferring his capital to this site, he began building extensive defenses that were completed by his son Ahab.

Whether Omri personally had encounters with the Assyrians is unknown, but for the next 100 years the Assyrian records refer to Israel as “the land of the house of Omri,” even long after Omri’s dynasty had vanished. His personality, political success, or business enterprises must have made him famous in the eyes of contemporaries and later generations.

Omri established cordial relations with his Phoenician neighbors, and married his son Ahab to Jezebel, daughter of the king of Tyre. This alliance introduced the worship of Baal and Asherah into Israel to an extent previously unknown (1 Kings 16:25). He also granted economic concessions to Damascus and allowed Syrian traders to have shops in Samaria’s bazaars (1 Kings 20:34). Since Israel received similar privileges in Damascus only after a military victory over the Syrians, it seems that Omri was defeated by the Syrians and ceded them certain territory and the economic concessions referred to.

Omri was, however, successful in subduing Moab, as the lengthy inscription on the famous Moabite Stone admits, where Mesha, king of Moab, says, “Omri king of Israel, he afflicted Moab many days, because Chemosh was angry with his land”. How valuable the possession of Moab was for Israel can be seen from the tribute paid by Moab to Omri’s son Ahab. It is said to have amounted—probably annually—to “an hundred thousand lambs, and an hundred thousand rams, with the wool” (2 Kings 3:4).

Ahab (874-853 B.C.).—With Ahab, the next king, a weak ruler came to the throne of Israel. He had no strength to resist his strong-willed Phoenician wife, who was determined to make her own religion supreme. By bringing from her homeland to the royal table hundreds of priests and prophets of Baal and Astarte, by introducing the immoral rites of the Canaanite cult system, and by persecuting and killing the worshipers of the true God, Jezebel caused a religious crisis of the first magnitude (1 Kings 18:4, 19). Because of this crisis and because of the fact that some of the greatest spiritual leaders of Old Testament times, Elijah and Elisha, lived and worked in Israel at that time, the Bible devotes much space to Ahab.

Elijah was called of God to fight for the survival of true religion. A long drought of three and a half years, predicted by the prophet as a judgment of Jehovah, saw Ahab’s land brought close to economic ruin. The drought came to an end with Elijah’s victory over the Baal priests at Mt. Carmel, where a contest between the power of Jehovah and that of Baal was held (verses 17-40). But so long as Ahab ruled, the pagan cult of Baal flourished. It is remarkable that Ahab did not dare give Baal names to his children—all their known names, Ahaziah, Joram, and Athaliah, contain the abbreviated form of Jehovah. His subjects, however, had few scruples in this matter. Numerous personal names of that and subsequent periods were connected with Baal—Abibaal, Baala, Baalzamar, Baalzakar, and others—as the inscribed potsherds found during the excavation of Samaria show.

Ahab became famous for the “ivory house” he built (1 Kings 22:39; Amos 3:15). Numerous beautifully carved ivory plaques found in the excavation of Samaria reveal that the interior of his palace was probably decorated with ivory. The designs are similar to those found in ivory decorations of Syria and Assyria.

As a warrior Ahab was moderately successful. Twice he defeated the Syrians. Loot from these two victorious wars enriched him tremendously, and won for him economic concessions in Damascus (1 Kings 20:21, 34). Hence, for a time, he became one of the most powerful rulers west of Assyria. When Shalmaneser III advanced into Syria, Ahab joined his former enemies to make common cause against the Assyrians, and mustered the greatest number of chariots of any of the allies. This fact is revealed in Shalmaneser’s list of his opponents in the battle at Qarqar, which is preserved on a historic rock inscription on the upper Tigris. The inscription states that of the 3,940 chariots fighting against the Assyrians 2,000 belonged to Ahab, whereas the other allies had mustered altogether only 1,940. Of the 52,900 foot soldiers Ahab furnished 10,000. When the battle at Qarqar had checked Shalmaneser’s advance, Ahab, conscious of his strength, immediately turned against Damascus to regain possession of the Transjordan city of Ramoth-gilead, but lost his life in that battle (1 Kings 22).

Ahaziah and Joram (853-841 B.C.).—During the short reign of Ahab’s son Ahaziah (853-852 B.C.), who was fully as corrupt as his father before him, nothing important happened except perhaps the abortive expedition to Ophir made in cooperation with Jehoshaphat of Judah (2 Chronicles 20:35-37). Since he left no son, Ahaziah was succeeded on the throne by his brother Jehoram (852-841 B.C.). In his time Mesha of Moab revolted. Although a military expedition was undertaken in cooperation with Jehoshaphat of Judah, with disastrous results for Moab, Israel was nevertheless not able to re-establish control of that country, as the Bible record hints (2 Kings 3:4-27) and the inscription of the Moabite Stone claims.

Joram fought several wars against the Syrians. Through the intervention of the prophet Elisha near disasters were twice averted (2 Kings 6 and 7), but Joram’s attempt to regain Ramoth-gilead from the Syrians was as much a failure as that experienced by his father, Ahab. Wounded by Hazael of Syria, he went to well-watered Jezreel to recuperate, where he was murdered by his army commander Jehu. The latter proceeded to wipe out the whole family of Omri, including Jezebel, and then usurped the throne himself (2 Kings 8:28, 29; 9:24 to 10:17).

The Dynasty of Jehu (841-752 B.C.).—Jehu (841-814 B.C.), who had been anointed by a messenger of Elisha at Ramoth-gilead, not only put an end to the idolatrous dynasty of Omri but eradicated Baal worship as thoroughly as possible. For his righteous zeal in this respect he was commended by the prophet, and a promise was made that his descendants would sit on Israel’s throne to the fourth generation (2 Kings 10:30). Accordingly, his dynasty reigned over the country for about 90 years, nearly half the time of the nation’s existence. However, Jehu did not break with Jeroboam’s calf worship, and his reform was, as a result, incomplete.

Breaking with the policies of his predecessors, Jehu voluntarily became a vassal of Shalmaneser III and paid tribute immediately upon coming to the throne. This event is depicted on the four sides of Shalmaneser’s Black Obelisk, now in the British Museum. The Hebrew king—the first of whom a contemporary representation exists—is shown kneeling before Shalmaneser, while his attendants carry as tribute “silver, gold, a golden saplu-bowl, a golden vase with pointed bottom, golden tumblers, golden buckets, tin, a staff for a king, [and] wooden puruhtu.” (The meaning of the words in italics is still unknown.) Probably Israel reversed its policy toward Assyria in order to secure Assyrian help against Israel’s chief enemy, Hazael of Syria.

The 17 years of Jehoahaz’ reign (814-798 B.C.) were marked by continual wars against the Syrians, who oppressed Israel first under Hazael and later under his son Benhadad III (2 Kings 13:1-3). The result was that Israel lost much of its territory and its army, so that there remained only 10 chariots, 50 horsemen, and 10,000 foot soldiers (verse 7). A comparison of the 10 chariots of Jehoahaz with the 2,000 of Ahab reveals the great loss of power the kingdom had suffered in 50 years. It is not known who rescued Israel from its sad plight, because the “saviour” of verse 5 is not identified. Either his son Jehoash (see verse 25), or a king of Assyria, or some other person is meant (see on verse 5).

The next king of Israel, Jehoash (798-782 B.C.), was more successful in his wars against the Syrians than his father had been, and in defeating them three times recovered all the territory lost by Jehoahaz (verse 25). Challenged by Amaziah of Judah, he was forced against his will to fight the southern kingdom—the first war in 100 years between the two brother nations. He worsted Judah’s army at the battle of Beth-shemesh, captured the king, and victoriously entered Jerusalem. He broke down part of the city’s defenses, and carried vessels from the Temple, royal treasures, and some hostages to Samaria (2 Kings 14:8-14).

The chronological data require a co regency between Jehoash and his son, Jeroboam II, for about 12 years, the only co regency in Israel for which there is evidence. Political prudence on the part of Jehoash may have led to this measure. Knowing the danger a state experiences when a sudden vacancy on the throne occurs, he probably appointed his son Jeroboam as co-ruler and successor when he began his wars of liberation against Syria. In this way continuity of the dynasty was assured even if the king should lose his life during one of his campaigns.

Jeroboam’s recorded reign of 41 years (793-753 B.C.) includes 12 years of co regency with his father, Jehoash. Unfortunately, little is known of his apparently successful reign. The Bible devotes only seven verses to his life (verses 23-29), but they indicate that he regained so much lost territory that his kingdom almost equaled the empire of David and Solomon in extent. With the exception of the territory held by the kingdom of Judah, the extent of his rule was practically the same as that of those great kings. He restored Israelite rule over the coastal and inland regions of Syria, conquered Damascus and Hamath, and occupied Transjordan south to the Dead Sea, which probably means that he made Ammon and Moab tributary to Israel. These tremendous gains were possible only because Assyria was suffering a period of political weakness and was unable to interfere.

Jeroboam II was apparently a strong ruler, but lacked the prudence and foresight of his father. Hence, he made no provision to guarantee continuity of rule, and his kingdom broke up almost immediately after his death. His son, Zachariah, reigned for only six months (753-752 B.C.), and fell victim to the murderous plot of Shallum (2 Kings 15:8-12). Thus ended Jehu’s dynasty, and thereupon the kingdom returned quickly to the political impotence that had characterized it during most of its short history.

The Kingdom of Judah From 841 to 750 B.C., Athaliah to Azariah (Uzziah).—The period under discussion covers the history of Judah during the time of the Jehu dynasty in Israel. The end of Azariah’s (Uzziah’s) reign did not come in 750 B.C., but this date marks the approximate beginning of the new Assyrian Empire, when Israel and Judah became fatally involved in the expanding Assyrian conquests. Since Jotham, Azariah’s son, was appointed co-ruler with his father in 750 B.C., this date is a convenient boundary for this survey of the history of the kingdom of Judah.

When Ahaziah of Judah was slain by Jehu, in 841 B.C., Ahaziah’s mother, Athaliah, seized the throne for six years (841-835 B.C.). A daughter of the cruel and unscrupulous Ahab of Israel, she had “all the seed royal” exterminated in order that her own rule might be assured. However, her henchmen missed the young prince Joash, who was rescued by the high priest Jehoiada and his wife Jehosheba, a sister of the late king (2 Kings 11:1-3).

Joash (835-796 B.C.), having been educated in the home of Jehoiada, was placed on the throne at the age of seven, and Athaliah’s government was overthrown and the wicked queen killed (2 Kings 11:4-21). As long as the young king allowed Jehoiada to guide his affairs he acted prudently and piously, removing Baal worship and promoting extensive Temple repairs (2 Kings 12:1-16; 2 Chronicles 24:1-14). After Jehoiada’s death, however, he waxed indifferent, and even had his benefactor’s son Zechariah stoned to death for reproving him because of his evil deeds (2 Chronicles 24:15-22). When Hazael of Damascus marched against him, he bought himself and his country off with some of the Temple treasures. This act of cowardliness, together with his murder of Zechariah and domestic and religious grievances, apparently resulted in deep-seated opposition to him. He was assassinated by his own servants and buried in the city of David, not in the royal sepulchers (2 Kings 12:17-21; 2 Chronicles 24:25).

His son, Amaziah (796-767 B.C.), first of all disposed of the murderers of his father and consolidated his own position. Planning the reconquest of Edom, which had formerly belonged to Judah, he hired 100,000 mercenaries, but later discharged them at the direction of a man of God. With his own Judean forces he gained a victory over the Edomites and conquered the Edomite capital, Sela, probably Petra. Meanwhile the discharged mercenaries plundered the cities of northern Judah. As a result of his victory over the Edomites, Amaziah became overbearing and challenged Jehoash of Israel to fight against him. This unwise move had disastrous results, for Judah practically became a vassal of Israel. Having also turned away from the true God, he lost the confidence of his people. He was assassinated at Lachish (2 Chronicles 25:1-28).

Amaziah was succeeded on the throne by his son, Azariah, whose second name—probably a throne name—was Uzziah (790-739 B.C.). His reign is described as upright, successful, and prosperous. He promoted the economic development of the country (2 Chronicles 26:10) and raised a large and well-equipped army (2 Chronicles 26:11-15). This enabled him to campaign against the Philistines and Arabians (verse 7), and to recover Elath (probably a tell in modern Aqaba) on the Gulf of Aqabah (2 Kings 14:22), as well, probably, as Edomite territory lying between Judah and the gulf. The Ammonites deemed it wise to buy themselves off with gifts (2 Chronicles 26:8). During his reign a severe earthquake must have occurred, one that was remembered for centuries as an outstanding event (Amos 1:1; Zechariah 14:5).

The political weakness of Egypt and Assyria, which had assisted Jeroboam II in making Israel once more a prosperous and powerful nation, had likewise favored Uzziah, with the result that the two kingdoms, combined, possessed approximately the same area in 750 B.C. as that over which David and Solomon had ruled. This was the last period of Hebrew prosperity. The accession of Tiglath-pileser in 745 B.C. and the consequent rebirth of the Assyrian Empire marked the beginning of a rapid decline in power for both Israel and Judah.

The Last Years of the Kingdom of Israel (752-722 B.C.), Shallum to Hoshea.—After the assassination of Zachariah of Israel, last king of the powerful and long-lived dynasty of Jehu, a 30-year period of anarchy and political decline followed, bringing the rapid breakup and eventual extinction of the kingdom. Shallum, the murderer of Zachariah, followed his predecessor in death after a reign of only one month (752 B.C.). He was in turn assassinated by Menahem (2 Kings 15:8-15). Menahem (752-742 B.C.) was a cruel ruler who put down all opposition to his rule by extremely severe measures (verse 16). That the enormous Syrian territories that Jeroboam II once controlled had by this time been definitely lost is certain, although the fact is not mentioned in the Bible. Recognizing the power of Assyria as something he would not be able to resist, Menahem followed the wisest procedure possible under the circumstances, voluntarily paying enormous sums of tribute in order that he might be left in peace by Tiglath-pileser III. The latter was at that time restoring Assyrian rule to large sections of Syrian territory. Menahem’s tribute, levied from the population by a special tax, is mentioned both in the Bible (verses 19, 20) and in Assyrian records.

Pekahiah, Menahem’s son, was able to hold the throne for only two years (742-740 B.C.), when he was assassinated, like so many of Israel’s kings before him. His murderer, Pekah, who counted his regnal years from the time of Menahem’s accession to the throne, as the chronological data indicate, may have been related either to Jehu’s dynasty or to King Shallum, and therefore ignored the two last rulers by including their 12 years of reign as part of his own. Another possible explanation of the problems posed by Pekah’s chronological data may be that he ruled over an insignificant part of the country and did not recognize Menahem and Pekahiah as legitimate rulers. Whatever his reasons for usurping their regnal years may have been, it is quite certain that he enjoyed a sole reign of only about eight years (740-732 B.C.).

Pekah discontinued the pro-Assyrian policy of his predecessors and concluded an anti-Assyrian alliance with Rezin II of Damascus and other Syrian rulers. He next moved against Judah to enforce its participation in the anti-Assyrian league. This campaign is known as the Syro-Ephraimite war. Although the confederates did great damage to Judah and annexed some of its territory, they failed to reach their aim. Ahaz of Judah asked and received the assistance of Tiglath-pileser of Assyria, who moved into Pekah’s kingdom, occupied the greater part of Galilee and Gilead, and deported the inhabitants of these regions to the east (2 Kings 16:5-9; 15:27-29). He also took the seacoast as far as Philistia. The Assyrian invasion broke the unnatural alliance between Israel and Syria. Tiglath-pileser attacked Syria, conquered Damascus, and captured King Rezin II (732 B.C.). Syria and the conquered parts of Israel were made Assyrian provinces and henceforth were administered by Assyrian governors.

Hoshea (732-722 B.C.).—Pekah’s unhappy reign ended in disaster at the hand of an assassin, Hoshea, who ascended Israel’s throne as its 20th and last king (732-722 B.C.). Tiglath-pileser III claims to have set Hoshea on the throne, and indicates that Pekah’s rule was overthrown by his subjects as a result of his disastrous policies. Hoshea paid heavy tribute to Tiglath-pileser in exchange for the right of being tolerated as a vassal king of Assyria. The amount of annual tribute must have been an almost unbearable burden for the little state, which now consisted of but an insignificant portion of the former kingdom, and for this reason Israel revolted. Desperation may have been Hoshea’s chief motive in forming a hopeless alliance against Assyria with So, a weak king of the Twenty-fourth Dynasty of Egypt who ruled over part of that land at the time. Shalmaneser V, who had in the meantime succeeded his father, Tiglath-pileser III, on the throne of Assyria, laid siege to Samaria and took that strongly fortified city after three years (2 Kings 18:10). The fall of the city probably occurred in the last year of Shalmaneser V (723-722 B.C.). Sargon II, who claims in much later inscriptions to have captured Samaria during the first year of his reign, probably had no right to this claim, at least as king. He was apparently Shalmaneser’s army commander and may have actually carried out the conquest of the city and the deportation of the 27,290 Israelite captives.

The fall of Samaria marked the end of the northern kingdom of Israel after a tragic history of little more than two centuries. Conceived and born in the spirit of rebellion, it had no chance of survival. Twenty kings with an average rule of 10 1/2 years had sat upon the throne, 7 of them as murderers of their predecessors. The first king had introduced a corrupted worship, setting up idolatrous representations of Jehovah, and all succeeding rulers followed him in this “sin,” some adding to it the worship of Baal and Astarte. Had it not been for the tireless ministry of such reformers as Elijah, Elisha, and other prophets, the kingdom of Israel might not have endured as long as it did.

The Kingdom of Judah From 750-731 B.C., Azariah (Uzziah) to Jotham.—After a long and successful reign Uzziah contracted leprosy, which came to him as a punishment for having entered the Temple to offer incense (2 Chronicles 26:16-20). His son, Jotham, was then appointed coregent (2 Kings 15:5), a wise move to guarantee the continuity of the dynasty. The policy of appointing the crown prince as coregent was followed for more than a century, from Amaziah to Manasseh.

The record of Uzziah’s leprosy shows that quarantine was imposed on a victim who contracted that disease, and that even a king was required to submit to enforced isolation during life and was given a separate burial when he died. In 1931 a tablet was found in the collection of the Russian Archeological Museum on the Mount of Olives at Jerusalem, which contains the following inscription in Aramaic, “Hither were brought the bones of Uzziah, king of Judah—do not disturb” The form of the script shows that the tablet was cut about the time of Christ or a little earlier, probably at a time when Uzziah’s bones, for some unknown reason, had been moved to a new resting place.

Jotham (750-731 B.C.), after having ruled for his leprous father for 12 years, in his 16th year appointed his son Ahaz as ruler. Jotham lived but four years longer (see 2 Kings 15:33 cf. verse 30). Like his father, Jotham was a comparatively upright ruler. The three contemporary Hebrew prophets, Isaiah, Hosea, and Micah, probably exerted a good influence upon him. He witnessed the abortive invasion by Rezin of Syria and Pekah of Israel (verse 37), which was probably his reason for appointing Ahaz as coregent, but the major threat to Judah’s existence came after this time.

Ahaz (735—715 B.C.).—Jotham’s son Ahaz remained impassive to the influence of the prophets and worshiped idols. He caused “his son to pass through the fire. … And he sacrificed and burnt incense in the high places, and on the hills, and under every green tree” (2 Kings 16:3, 4). Distrusting and rejecting divine help in the Syro-Ephraimite war (Isaiah 7:3-13), he turned to Tiglath-pileser III and bought his aid with treasures taken from the Temple and the palace (2 Kings 16:7, 8). When Tiglath-pileser conquered Damascus, Ahaz appeared in his entourage. In Damascus he became acquainted with the Assyrian mode of worship and proceeded immediately to introduce it into his own kingdom. Hence, he sent from Damascus instructions to Jerusalem to have an Assyrian altar made, like one he had seen there. This new altar replaced the one Solomon had set up for burnt offerings, and was kept in use for some time (verses 10-16).

Ahaz, like his predecessors, seems to have appointed his son Hezekiah (729-686 B.C.) as coregent when he saw that the kingdom of Judah would probably become involved in trouble with Assyria. For Hezekiah’s reign considerable information is available both in the Bible and from secular sources. The events described in 2 Kings 18 to 20 are paralleled in Isaiah 36 to 39 and 2 Chronicles 29 to 32. Other information is given in Jeremiah 26:17-19 concerning messages of the prophet Micah in Hezekiah’s time, and the inscriptions of Sargon II and Sennacherib serve as extra-Biblical source material for the two Assyrian campaigns of that period.

Hezekiah (729-686 B.C.).—Hezekiah was a good ruler and initiated a series of religious reforms, probably after the death of his wicked father in 715 B.C. For these he was highly commended by the Bible writer (2 Kings 18:3, 4). He also established control over areas of Philistia, strengthened the national defense system, and encouraged trade and agriculture by building warehouses and sheepfolds (2 Kings 18:8; 2 Chronicles 32:28, 29). A remarkable technical accomplishment of his reign was the boring of a 1,749-ft. (6,533 metres) tunnel from the well of Gihon in the Kidron Valley to a lower pool inside the city of Jerusalem (2 Chronicles 32:4, 30; 2 Kings 20:20). In this way he assured Jerusalem of a continuous supply of water. Even now, after more than 2,500 years, the waters of Gihon still flow through this tunnel into the Pool of Siloam.

In 1880 boys wading through the tunnel accidentally discovered a Hebrew inscription, now in the Archeological Museum at Istanbul, which had been cut into the rock after the completion of the tunnel. It reads as follows:

“[The tunnel] was bored. And this was the manner in which it was cut. While [the workmen were] still [lifting up] axes, each toward his neighbor, and while three cubits remained to be cut through, [there was heard] the voice one calling the other, since there was a crevice in the rock on the right side [and on the left]. And when the tunnel was bored, the stonecutters struck, each to meet his fellow, axe against axe; and the water flowed from the spring to the pool for 1,200 cubits, and the height of the rock above the heads of the stonecutters was 100 cubits.”

Hezekiah, however, is best known for his faith in Jehovah at the time of one of Sennacherib’s invasions of Judah, which resulted in the miraculous destruction of a vast Assyrian army. Hezekiah had inherited the Assyrian vassalship from his father, but while the Assyrian kings were busily engaged in Mesopotamia, Hezekiah strengthened his defenses in the hope of shaking off the Assyrian yoke, with the help of the Ethiopian kings of the Twenty-fifth Egyptian Dynasty. The prophet Isaiah was vehemently opposed to such a policy (Isaiah 18:1-5; 30:1-5; 31:1-3), but proved unable to change Hezekiah’s mind. The king was determined to break with Assyria whatever the results might be, and accordingly severed his connections with the empire. As a result he experienced several Assyrian invasions.

The first invasion of Palestine, by Sargon II, was not accompanied by serious results, however. Judah lost nothing more than its coastal region. Isaiah in the meantime walked the streets of Jerusalem and solemnly but unsuccessfully proclaimed his prophecies against Egypt and all her allies (Isaiah 20). The first great blow came in 701 B.C., when Sennacherib invaded Palestine. His army went through the land like a steam roller, leaving in its path only destruction and ruin. Too late, Hezekiah reversed his policy and sent tribute to Sennacherib at Lachish. Sennacherib, however, demanded the unconditional surrender of Jerusalem. That he did not take the city is attested by his own words, which claim no more than that he laid siege to it. Events elsewhere in his vast domain apparently became more pressing, with the result that he lifted the siege and returned to Assyria.

The sickness of Hezekiah, described in 2 Kings 20, must have occurred about the same time as the Assyrian invasion of his 14th year, 15 years before his death (2 Kings 18:13; 20:6; 18:2). That Isaiah, when promising Hezekiah healing, assured him also that the city would not be taken (2 Kings 20:6) implies that the sickness came shortly before Sennacherib’s campaign. This explains also why Hezekiah was so friendly to the messengers of Merodach-baladan (Marduk-apal-iddina), the exiled king of Babylon, who, as a sworn enemy of Assyria, Hezekiah probably considered a welcome potential ally in his struggle for independence. Isaiah, however, who had warned against an alliance with Egypt, was as much opposed to one with Babylon’s king in exile.

About ten years later, when Taharka of Egypt had come to the throne, Sennacherib returned to Palestine to force a showdown with the defiant Hezekiah. Sennacherib first dispatched a letter calling upon Hezekiah to surrender. The king of Judah, encouraged by Isaiah, refused this demand and saw his faith in Isaiah’s sure promise of divine intervention rewarded. The great Assyrian army met with dreadful disaster before the gates of Jerusalem (2 Kings 18 and 2 Kings 19).

Manasseh to Josiah (697—609 B.C.).—The last 15 years of Hezekiah’s life were probably occupied in rebuilding his devastated country. Some 10 years before his death he made his son Manasseh coregent as the chronological data indicate. Manasseh’s long reign of 55 years (697-642 B.C.) was filled with wickedness. He rebuilt the altars to Baal, served Astarte, used witchcraft, sacrificed little children, and “worshipped all the host of heaven” (2 Chronicles 33:1-10). The Assyrian kings Esarhaddon and Ashurbanipal mention Manasseh as their vassal. At some time during his reign he must have rebelled, for one of these two Assyrian kings “bound him with fetters, and carried him to Babylon” (verse 11). Although it seems somewhat strange that he was taken to Babylon instead of to Nineveh, it should be remembered that the Assyrian kings of this time considered Babylon their second capital. Manasseh’s offense cannot have been very serious, for he was pardoned and restored to his former position (verses 12, 13). Assyrian officials had in the meantime administered the country and probably looted it thoroughly. That Manasseh, upon his return from Babylon to Judah, found an extremely impoverished country, is apparent from a document of that time wherein it is noted that the country of Ammon paid a tribute of 2 minas of gold, Moab, 1 mina of gold, while poor Judah paid only 10 minas of silver. The troubles Manasseh experienced at least had the advantage of bringing him to the point of conversion (verses 12-20).

His son Amon (642-640 B.C.) was fully as wicked as Manasseh had been before his conversion, with the result that his servants killed him after a brief reign of two years (2 Kings 21:19-26; 2 Chronicles 33:21-25).

Amon’s young son, Josiah (640-609 B.C.), ascended the throne upon the assassination of his father. Being religiously inclined, he introduced a number of reforms, beginning at the young age of 15 or 16 years to abolish high places, sacred pagan pillars, and Baal altars (2 Chronicles 34:3). During repair work on the Temple in Josiah’s 18th regnal year (623-622 B.C.) the “book of the law” was found. Becoming familiar with its precepts, he inaugurated a thorough purge of paganism and idolatry throughout the kingdom of Judah and in adjacent areas of the former kingdom of Israel (2 Kings 22 and 23; 2 Chronicles 34:6, 7). This indicates that he had established some kind of political control over territory that had, since 722 B.C., been an Assyrian province. Through the impotence of Assyria after Ashurbanipal’s death in 627 (?) B.C., and the rapid disintegration of the Assyrian Empire, the former territory of the ten tribes seems to have fallen into Josiah’s lap like an overripe apple. He applied his power and influence to secure religious reforms throughout Palestine, and might have succeeded except for his untimely death. In view of the fact that the last years of Josiah’s life coincided with the emergence of the Neo-Babylonian Empire, they will be sketched in Section XV of this article.

This short survey of Judah’s history during the time of the new Assyrian Empire, from Azariah’s last years to Josiah, reveals a sad picture. Although Judah was spared the tragic fate that befell the northern kingdom, the country was bled white of all its resources by Assyria’s heavy demands for tribute. In Hezekiah’s time a glorious and miraculous deliverance was experienced, but even then a terrible price was paid for previous political blunders, and Judah found itself devastated from one end to the other. Only Jerusalem had escaped destruction. The writers of the Bible, who viewed the political history of their nation in the light of faithfulness or disobedience to God, show how the many misfortunes that came to Judah were the result of apostasy. Since half the number of kings reigning during this period were unfaithful to God, it is not surprising that the nation did not fare well.

XIII. Egypt in the Saïte Period, Twenty-sixth Dynasty (663-525 B.C.)

This period deals with a political revival of Egypt that continued for nearly one and a half centuries. In contrast to the previous period, when it was ruled by foreigners from the south, Egypt found itself once more independent, governed by Egyptians from the north. Since this dynasty originated in Saïs, it is usually called the Saïte Dynasty.

The history of this period is based to a great extent on Herodotus’ account, and therefore lacks exactness in many details. For example, the battle of Carchemish, in which Necho II was severely defeated by Nebuchadnezzar—attested in the Bible and by archeology—is not even mentioned. The reasons for the defects in Herodotus’ history lie in the fact that he based his work, not on written records, but on oral information secured during a visit to Egypt about 445 B.C., when the events described lay 80 or more years in the past. Nevertheless, much correct information may be gained from a careful study of Herodotus’ reports, which, when sifted and compared with more nearly contemporary sources and with information given in the Bible, permit an approximately reliable reconstruction of the history of the period.

Necho I, a city prince of Saïs, perhaps a descendent of Tefnakht of the Twenty-fourth Dynasty, had been given the title of king by Esarhaddon for taking part in a rebellion against the Assyrians during Taharka’s time he was sent to Assyria as a prisoner, but succeeded in regaining the confidence of Ashurbanipal and was restored to his office and throne at Saïs.

Psamtik I (663—610 B.C.).—After Necho I had been killed by Tanutamon, his energetic son Psamtik I turned to the Assyrians for help. When the Ethiopian Dynasty was expelled from Egypt by the Assyrians, Psamtik received the kingship of Memphis as a reward for valuable services rendered during the campaign, and other parts of the country were put under the rulership of various local princes. However, when Ashurbanipal was busily engaged in settling the Babylonian revolt led by his own brother, Psamtik managed through clever moves and without great difficulty to rid himself of Assyrian control. With the help of Gyges of Lydia he took Thebes in 655 B.C., and in 14 years all Egypt was in his hands.

Psamtik established and maintained his rule with the help of mercenary forces. Greeks from the Ionian Islands, Jews from Palestine, Carians from Asia Minor, and others served in his army and manned his fortresses. He favored Greek colonists, and received an income tax of 20 per cent from the population, but left priests and soldiers tax exempt in order to retain the loyalty of these two most important classes, whose good will an Egyptian king needed. The culture of the time represented an imitation or revival of the classical period. Pyramids of the old kingdom were repaired, ancient titularies were revived, mortuary inscriptions of the pyramids were again copied and carved into tomb walls, and statues and reliefs were executed in the ancient style.

After reuniting Egypt and re-establishing its political independence, Psamtik seems to have played with the plan of rebuilding the Egyptian Asiatic empire of the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Dynasties. In 640 B.C. he marched into Palestine, where he besieged the Philistine city of Ashdod for years; but the Scythian invasion of that time put an end to his dreams of empire. He was able to buy himself off by a heavy tribute and thereby avoided an invasion of Egypt. Having already overextended their lines of communication, the Scythians seem also to have welcomed Psamtik’s conciliatory advances, and were apparently happy to call off the intended invasion without losing face. From Babylonian records it is evident that Egypt assisted Assyria for several years during its last struggle against the Medes and Babylonians. Psamtik apparently wanted to keep Assyria alive as a buffer state against the new powers of the east.

Necho II (610—595 B.C.).—When Necho II, Psamtik’s son, came to the throne, he pursued his father’s policies. He marched north in the spring or summer of 609 B.C. to aid the weak Assyrian forces of Ashur-uballit against the Medes and Babylonians. King Josiah of Judah, apparently an ally of the Babylonians, withstood him near Megiddo and died of wounds received there in battle. Necho’s march to the north failed to stave off the end of the Assyrian kingdom, as is implied by the Babylonian Chronicle. However, Necho’s army apparently did not suffer a defeat, because three months after the battle of Megiddo he was able from his temporary headquarters at Riblah in Syria to impose a heavy tribute on Judah and to remove Josiah’s anti-Egyptian son, Jehoahaz, who was replaced by Jehoiakim, his more pro-Egyptian brother (2 Chronicles 35:20-24; 36:1-4). A stele of Necho found at Sidon is also proof that he exercised some degree of control over Phoenicia during those years, while the Babylonian Chronicle records two Egyptian victories over Babylonian garrisons in the year 606/5 B.C.

Having successfully eliminated Assyria, the Babylonians felt they must curtail Egyptian power. The aged and ailing Nabopolassar therefore sent Nebuchadnezzar, the crown prince, against the Egyptian army at Carchemish. In the ensuing battle, fought in the spring or early summer of 605 B.C., the Egyptians were twice beaten, first at Carchemish, and a little later near Hamath. In August, 605 B.C., when Nebuchadnezzar was the unchallenged master of all Syria and perhaps also of Palestine, he was ready to invade Egypt. At that time he received the report of his father’s death, and immediately returned to Babylonia. This saved Necho and Egypt. Although the Egyptian army, after the defeat at Carchemish, probably never saw the Euphrates again, it remained strong enough to inflict heavy losses on Nebuchadnezzar’s army once more in 601 B.C.

Necho is credited with having begun a canal between the Nile and the Red Sea, in which project 120,000 men are said to have perished. He abandoned the work before completion, however, when his engineers convinced him that the Red Sea level was higher than the Mediterranean Sea, and that Lower Egypt would be flooded as soon as the waters of the Red Sea should pour into the finished canal. Recognizing this mistake, Darius I had this canal completed some 80 years later. It was in use for many centuries, the forerunner of the present Suez Canal. Herodotus tells us that in Necho’s time Phoenician sailors accomplished, in three years, the first circumnavigation of Africa.

Psamtik II (595—589B.C.).—Of Psamtik II, Necho’s son, not much more is known than that he attempted to reconquer Nubia and that he once visited Palestine (John Rylands Demotic Papyrus, No. IX), probably to organize anti-Babylonian resistance. Jeremiah 27:3 may refer to the time of this activity, when envoys of different nations were gathered at Jerusalem, only to be warned by Jeremiah of the disastrous results of a revolt against the king of Babylonia.

Apries (589—570 B.C.).—Apries, the Biblical Hophra (Jeremiah 44:30), continued his father’s work and actively plotted against Babylon. It was he who encouraged Zedekiah, king of Judah, in his rebellion against Nebuchadnezzar. He won a naval battle against Tyre and Cyprus, and occupied Sidon. All Phoenicia became subject to him for a short time. Egyptian antiquities found at Arvad, Tyre, and Sidon show how great his influence was throughout the coastal region of Syria. This success made such an impression on the lesser states of Palestine that they put their trust in Egyptian arms and revolted against Babylon. Hophra actually made an attempt to relieve Jerusalem when it was besieged by Nebuchadnezzar’s army, but was not able to do more than draw the besieging forces away from Jerusalem temporarily (Jeremiah 37:5-11).

An Aramaic letter probably written during the reign of Nebuchadnezzar by King Adon of Ashkelon (?) was found a few years ago in Egypt. In this letter Adon told Pharaoh that the Babylonian army was marching along the coast of Palestine toward the south and that it had advanced as far as Aphek. He requested immediate help from Egypt in order to resist.

The pathetic plea of a Palestinian ruler, who, like King Zedekiah, had listened to the false inducements of Egypt and rebelled against the Babylonian overlord, helps us to understand the terrible disappointment the people of Jeremiah’s time must have felt when all their hopes were shattered by the inactivity of the Egyptian army, or by the inadequate help it provided them in their fight against the Babylonians. This letter demonstrates how truly were being fulfilled Jeremiah’s prophecies, in which he had exhorted the nations surrounding Judah to serve Nebuchadnezzar faithfully and warned them of the terrible consequences if they rebelled against him (Jeremiah 27:2-11).

During the course of a military revolt the army commander Ahmose was proclaimed king of Egypt by the soldiers. Apries, with the loyal section of his army, then fought against Ahmose, but was defeated, taken prisoner, and forced to recognize Ahmose as coregent. Two years later a quarrel broke out between the two rulers, which resulted in another bloody battle and the death of Apries, whom Ahmose great heartedly gave a royal burial.

In 568 B.C., not long after Apries’ death, Amasis (Ahmose) seems to have been confronted with a serious threat in the form of a military campaign led by Nebuchadnezzar. Unfortunately, the only document recording this event is so badly preserved that we know nothing more than that Nebuchadnezzar marched against Egypt in his 37th regnal year. About three years earlier Ezekiel had prophesied that the Lord would give Egypt to Nebuchadnezzar as “wages” for his siege of Tyre. Although the result of the campaign of 568 B.C. against Egypt is unknown, it seems certain that Amasis suffered defeat (see Ezekiel 29:17-20).

For the most part, however, the reign of Amasis (570-526 B.C.) seems to have been peaceful. He was a friend of the Greeks; and Naucratis, the Egyptian city where most of the Greeks resident in Egypt lived, became the chief trading center of the country. With his navy, this Pharaoh held Cyprus, and also concluded treaties with Croesus of Lydia, the Spartans, and, in 547 B.C., with Nabonidus of Babylon against Cyrus of Persia.

After Ahmose’ long reign his son Psamtik III (526-525 B.C.) reigned for only a year. In 525 B.C. Cambyses, second king of the Persian Empire, conquered Egypt and deposed Psamtik. The country was then made a Persian satrapy.

XIV. The Neo-Babylonian Empire From 626 to 586 B.C.

Babylonia had enjoyed a long and illustrious history before the Assyrians became masters of the Mesopotamian valley. The empire of Sargon of Akkad and that of the Amorite king Hammurabi had given a luster to Babylonia that survived the long centuries of political impotence during which the Assyrians ruled over this part of the ancient world. Babylonian language and script, its literature and culture, were considered the classical patterns; and for one reason or another Marduk, the god of the Babylonians, held a magic spell over all Mesopotamian peoples. The Assyrians conquered and occupied Babylonia repeatedly during the centuries of their supreme rule over Mesopotamia, but usually treated that country with respect. It was therefore never completely incorporated into the Assyrian Empire, and always enjoyed a status different from that of other subject nations. Sennacherib dared to destroy the city, but his contemporaries and even many Assyrians considered this such a sacrilegious and blasphemous crime that his son Esarhaddon rebuilt the city as soon as he came to the throne.

This ancient and apparently immortal glory that surrounded Babylon made it possible for the Neo-Babylonian Empire to establish itself quickly in the minds of men after the downfall of the Assyrian kingdom, and gave its memory a luster that long survived its brief life of less than a century.

The establishment of the new Babylonian kingdom by Nabopolassar and his campaigns against Assyria have been discussed in connection with the breakup of the Assyrian Empire. Since this article deals with ancient history only to 586 B.C., the year of Jerusalem’s destruction, the events of the last 45 years of the Babylonian Empire will be discussed later in this commentary.

Sources.—For reasons not yet entirely clear, few contemporary historical inscriptions of the Neo-Babylonian Empire period are known. Many economic texts shed some light on the period, and building inscriptions provide information on the extensive construction activities of the Babylonian monarchs. But no royal annals or display inscriptions yet found have been equal in any way to those of the Assyrian emperors. The deplorable absence of historical inscriptions and the scarcity of chronicles, earlier attributed to Babylonian reluctance to record political or military events, are more likely due to the accidents of preservation and discovery. The Babylonian Chronicle was long known and published in parts. In 1923 and 1956 collections of those from the Neo-Babylonian period were issued (including several hitherto unpublished portions found among the cuneiform tablets of the British Museum). This provides a year-by-year account of political events from Nabopolassar’s accession year to the year 11 of Nebuchadnezzar except for a break of seven years in Nabopolassar’s reign. The so-called Nabonidus Chronicle, although broken, gives an account of the happenings of a number of years during the reign of the last Babylonian king.

On the whole, however, there are extremely few cuneiform records available for a reconstruction of the history of the new Babylonian period. It is therefore a matter of satisfaction that the Bible contains more detailed records of this period than of any other period of Bible history. The information provided in the books of Kings, Chronicles, Jeremiah, and Daniel, added to that found in Josephus’ works and that of the available cuneiform records, makes it possible to piece together a fairly clear picture of what happened in this significant period of the ancient world that marked the end of the kingdom of Judah.

Chronology.—The chronology of the Neo-Babylonian Empire is fixed. A tablet in the Berlin Museum contains the records of numerous astronomical observations made during the 37th year of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign. When these records were checked by astronomers it became apparent that the phenomena described occurred in the Babylonian calendar year equivalent to 568/567 B.C., spring to spring. Since it is possible in this way to determine the 37th regnal year of Nebuchadnezzar to the exact day, in terms of B.C. dates, it is easy with the help of the tens of thousands of dated business documents of that time to reconstruct the complete reign of this monarch and of the other kings of the Neo-Babylonian Empire. Since the chronology secured in this manner agrees perfectly with the list of Babylonian kings contained in the Canon of Ptolemy, there is no doubt that the chronology of the new empire period is based on solid facts.

Nabopolassar (626-605 B.C.).—Events exceptionally favored Nabopolassar, who had been an independent monarch over Babylonia under the last shadow kings of Assyria. He gained all for which Marduk-apal-iddina (Merodachbaladan) had fought hard for many years. He not only established a Babylonian empire under a Chaldean monarchy but also had the joy of seeing Assyria, his greatest enemy, fall in the dust. When Nineveh was destroyed by the Medes and Babylonians in 612 B.C., Cyaxares and Nabopolassar divided between themselves the territory of the fallen Assyrian colossus. Thus there fell to the Babylonian king an empire that, nominally at least, reached from the Persian Gulf through Mesopotamia, Syria, and Palestine, to the borders of Egypt. The Medes were satisfied to receive the northern and Anatolian provinces of the former Assyrian Empire. Furthermore, relations between the two new powers remained cordial and were never disturbed—as far as our incomplete knowledge of that period goes. Their mutual friendship was sealed by a marriage between Nebuchadnezzar, Nabopolassar’s son and heir, and the Median princess Amuhia (Amyhia).

The years after the fall of Nineveh were used to consolidate the newly acquired territory and to crush the remnants of the Assyrian kingdom that fought for existence under their king Ashur-uballit II in the region of Haran, aided by Egyptian forces. For several years the Babylonian king gained no decisive victory, though Assyrian strength must have been weakened. By 609 B.C. the Assyrian forces seem to have been completely eliminated, and from that time on are not mentioned any more as military opponents, but King Necho of Egypt had, through his victory over Josiah, come into possession of Judea, and had also occupied Syria and parts of northern Mesopotamia. Since Nabopolassar considered himself the heir to the territories that had belonged to the Assyrian Empire, he could not permit Egypt to remain in possession of the Asiatic territories occupied by Necho. By the end of 606 B.C. Nabopolassar had pacified his Mesopotamian possessions and could pay more attention to the Egyptian menace in the west, where the Babylonian garrison forces were sorely pressed. Since the aged king was ailing, the crown prince, Nebuchadnezzar, was entrusted with the campaign against the Egyptians. Decisive victories over the Egyptian army were gained first at Carchemish on the Euphrates, and a few weeks later near Hamath in Syria. In the summer of 605 B.C. Nebuchadnezzar was ready for the invasion of Egypt when news reached him of his father’s death on the 8th of Ab (approximately August 15, 605). This led to his immediate return to Babylon and his accession to the throne on Elul 1 (approximately September 7).

Nebuchadnezzar II (605-562 B.C.).—In Nebuchadnezzar II, Nabopolassar had a worthy successor, and Babylon a successful and illustrious king. He carried out many military campaigns, especially against Judah, as we know from the Bible and from the recently discovered Babylonian Chronicle, and was able to pacify the countries belonging to his empire. Yet, he devoted most of his energies and resources to works of peace. His chief ambition was to make his capital the most glorious metropolis of the world. Tremendous sums of money were spent in building palaces, temples, and fortifications; Nebuchadnezzar could say, “Is not this great Babylon, that I have built?” (Daniel 4:30). A description of the city he built is given in the Additional Note on Daniel 4.

XV. The Kingdom of Judah From 609 to 586 B.C.

Chronology. —Fortunately, the chronology of Egypt and Babylonia is well established for the period from Josiah to Zedekiah. Certain Judean regnal dates synchronize with Babylonian dates based on astronomical records; thus the B.C. dating of the kings of Judah can be established with a high degree of accuracy. The most recently published portion of the Babylonian Chronicle moves five kings of Judah (Manasseh to Jehoiakim) a year earlier than dated in previous printings, but it confirms several key events and yields precise dates for the accessions of Jehoiachin and Zedekiah.

Josiah’s Death, and Jehoahaz.—In Section XII the history of Judah was traced as far as King Josiah’s time. A major part of his reign fell in the years of the disintegration of the Assyrian Empire, when the Assyrians were not strong enough to control their western possessions effectively and Babylonia had not yet taken over these possessions. Josiah took advantage of the situation to extend his influence, perhaps even political control, over considerable parts of the territory that had formerly belonged to the kingdom of Israel, and that had more recently been administered as an Assyrian province.

For a time Josiah profited from the Mesopotamian situation. However, he watched with some apprehension the rebirth of Egyptian power. In view of the fact that Egypt was committed to the policy of preventing the complete collapse of Assyria, Egyptian forces must have traversed Palestine several times during Josiah’s reign. Josiah may have felt that Pharaoh had other plans than merely to keep Assyria alive—aspirations of rebuilding the former Egyptian Empire in Asia—and that he proposed to exchange military help with Assyria for political concessions in Syria and Palestine. It is unknown whether Josiah had actually made an agreement with Nabopolassar of Babylon and resisted Necho II in order to aid his Babylonian ally, or whether he took his stand merely on the basis of his conviction that if the Egyptians and Assyrians should defeat the Babylonians, Judah would be forced to submit either to Egypt or to Assyria. One or the other reason must have prompted his unfortunate decision to meet Necho and prevent him from marching north to assist the Assyrians.

The battle took place at Megiddo, in 609 B.C. The date is based on the Babylonian Chronicle, which mentions the Egyptians as aiding the Assyrians at Haran in that year. Josiah was mortally wounded (see on 2 Chronicles 35:20-24), and defeated Judah had to submit to Egypt. However, at that time Necho hurried on to the north without following up his victory over Josiah. He was more concerned with a decision against Babylonia, since a victory there would give him a free hand in Palestine.

In the meantime Jehoahaz, a 23-year-old son of Josiah, was crowned in Jerusalem by popular demand, though he was not the oldest (2 Kings 23:30, 31). He seems to have been known as one who would follow his father’s policies, being probably pro-Babylonian as his father had been, which to Pharaoh-Necho meant that he was anti-Egyptian. After consolidating his position in northern Mesopotamia and Syria, Necho decided to punish Judah for interfering with his plans, and accordingly summoned Jehoahaz before him at Riblah, in Syria. This demand and the fact that Jehoahaz obeyed show clearly that Judah must have suffered heavy losses in the battle of Megiddo, and that the country was powerless to resist Necho, who must by now have considered himself the unquestioned lord of Palestine. Necho took the young king, after he had reigned only three months, and sent him a prisoner to Egypt. In his stead Necho appointed Eliakim, an older brother of Jehoahaz, under the name of Jehoiakim. The new king was apparently known for pro-Egyptian sympathies. A tribute of 100 talents of silver and 1 talent of gold was imposed, and this he exacted from the people (2 Kings 23:32-35).

Jehoiakim (609—598 B.C.).—Jehoiakim’s 11 years as king (609-598 B.C.) were marked by gross idolatry and wickedness, which hastened Judah’s final downfall. The exact opposite of his pious father, he distinguished himself by various godless acts, even murdering a prophet (2 Kings 23:37; Jeremiah 26:20-23).

Jehoiakim was probably an Egyptian vassal until his third regnal year. In 605 B.C., according to the recently discovered Babylonian Chronicle, Nebuchadnezzar, crown prince of Babylon, was dispatched by his father to fight against the Egyptians in northern Mesopotamia. In two battles, at Carchemish and near Hamath, he decisively defeated the Egyptians, and was able to conquer Syria and Palestine. It must have been while following the defeated Egyptians toward their homeland that Nebuchadnezzar besieged Jerusalem and forced Jehoiakim to become a vassal of Babylon, taking a part of the Temple treasure and certain princes as hostages—among them Daniel and his friends (Daniel 1:1-6). News of his father’s death sent Nebuchadnezzar back to Babylon by the shortest possible route to take the throne, leaving in the hands of his generals the prisoners already taken during the campaign, with orders to retreat to Mesopotamia (Josephus Contra Apion i. 19). When a king died there was always danger of a revolt at home or of a usurper’s attempt to seize the throne. For this reason Nebuchadnezzar did not want his army fighting in faraway Egypt at a time when it might be urgently needed in Babylonia.

Since Nebuchadnezzar found no opposition at home he could immediately return to the task of bringing under full control the western territories that, as the result of the battles at Carchemish and near Hamath, had fallen into his lap. Hence, we find him campaigning in “Hatti-land,” as the Babylonians called Syria and Palestine, during each of the following three years. Resistance must have been light, because the only military action mentioned is the capture and destruction of Ashkelon. His campaigns may have served chiefly to organize the territory and collect the annual tributes.

During these three years of comparative quiet, it would appear that Jehoiakim of Judah remained a loyal vassal of Nebuchadnezzar (2 Kings 24:1). However, since the annual tribute to Babylon rested heavily upon the land, he felt a strong urge to switch his allegiance to Egypt, which was regaining strength. This directed Nebuchadnezzar’s attention toward Egypt, the chief cause of the troubles with his vassals. A battle fought with the Egyptian army in Kislev (November–December), 601 B.C., seems to have ended in a draw, with heavy losses, because the Babylonians withdrew. The records tell us that Nebuchadnezzar remained at home during the following year and built up a new army before venturing out on a new campaign toward the end of 599 B.C. Yet in the meantime he allowed several of his western vassal nations, aided by some of his own troops, to raid and harass Judah (2 Kings 24:2). At that time 3,023 Jews were deported to Babylon (Jeremiah 52:28). In December, 598, Chaldean troops probably were able to take Jerusalem. Once more Temple treasures were taken to Babylon (2 Chronicles 36:7). The king was placed in fetters, to be taken to Babylon (2 Chronicles 36:6) and punished for his rebellion. But this plan was apparently not carried out. Jehoiakim seems to have died before he could be deported, either from rough treatment at the hands of the Chaldeans or from natural causes. His body was cast outside the city gates and lay there exposed to heat and cold for several days before it received a disgraceful burial—like that “of an ass” (Jeremiah 22:18, 19; see also 2 Kings 24:6; 2 Chronicles 36:6; Jeremiah 36:30; Josephus Antiquities x. 6. 3).

Jehoiachin (598/97 B.C.).—Jehoiakim was succeeded by his 18-year-old son, Jehoiachin, who reigned only three months (598/97 B.C.). It is not known why Nebuchadnezzar proceeded to Jerusalem to take the new king prisoner. In any case the records inform us that Nebuchadnezzar’s army, shortly after Jehoiachin’s accession, began another western campaign. When Nebuchadnezzar arrived at Jerusalem, Jehoiachin surrendered himself, his mother, and his whole staff on Adar 2 (approximately March 16), 597, a specific date established by the Babylonian Chronicle. Nebuchadnezzar took Jehoiachin to Babylon as hostage and made his uncle, Zedekiah, king in his stead. Also he now transported to Babylonia all the remaining vessels of the Temple treasure, 7,000 soldiers, and all the skilled craftsmen he found. The latter would be useful in his extensive building enterprises. (See 2 Kings 24:8-16.)

Jehoiachin, still considered the king of Judah, was more or less only a hostage in Babylon. This conclusion is based on the fact that there was agitation in Judah and among the captives in Babylon, who expected Jehoiachin to be returned to the throne and the sacred vessels to be brought back (Jeremiah 28:3, 4; and 29). Since the Jews in Babylon could not date events according to the regnal years of Jehoiachin without offending the Babylonians, they apparently labeled such events—as Ezekiel did—by the years of his captivity (Ezekiel 1:2; 40:1).

These conclusions find some confirmation in archeological discoveries. Three clay jar handles unearthed at Beth-shemesh and Tell Beit Mirsim (probably Debir) all bear the imprint of the same stamp seal, “Belonging to Eliakim, steward of Jehoiachin.” These finds seem to indicate that Jehoiachin’s property had not been confiscated, but that it was administered in his absence by his steward. Furthermore, several tablets found in the ruins of Babylon, dated in the year 592 B.C.— five years after Jehoiachin’s surrender—contain lists of food-stuff provided by the royal storehouse for certain persons who were fed by the king. Among them Jehoiachin is repeatedly mentioned as “king of Judah,” together with five of his sons and their tutor Kenaiah. These facts—that Jehoiachin is called king, that he received 20 times as much ration as any other person mentioned in these records, and that any reference to his imprisonment is lacking—seem to indicate that he was held by Nebuchadnezzar for the time, in anticipation of the day when he should be restored to his throne, if and when conditions in Judah might make such a course of action advisable.

At a later time, either in connection with the incidents described in Jeremiah 29 or at the time of Zedekiah’s rebellion, Jehoiachin was definitely imprisoned. This imprisonment continued until the 37th year of his captivity, when Nebuchadnezzar’s son, Amel-Marduk, the Biblical Evil-merodach, released and exonerated him (2 Kings 25:27-30). This event, however, falls in the period of the Exile and is therefore not within the limits of this article.

Zedekiah (597-586 B.C.).—When Nebuchadnezzar put Jehoiachin’s uncle on the throne of Judah, he changed his name from Mattaniah, “gift of Jehovah,” to Zedekiah, “righteousness of Jehovah.” He probably did this so that this name might be a continual reminder to the king of his solemn oath of loyalty to Nebuchadnezzar, by his own God Jehovah (2 Chronicles 36:13; Ezekiel 17:15-19). Zedekiah, however, was a weak character; and although he was sometimes inclined to do right, he allowed himself to be swayed from the right path by popular demands, as the history of his reign clearly shows.

For a number of years—according to Josephus, for eight years (Antiquities x. 7. 3)—Zedekiah remained loyal to Babylonia. Once he sent an embassy to Nebuchadnezzar to assure him of his fidelity (Jeremiah 29:3-7). In his fourth year (594/593 B.C.) he made a journey to Babylon (Jeremiah 51:59), being perhaps summoned to renew his oath of loyalty or possibly to take part in the ceremonies described in Daniel 3. Later on, being under the constant pressure of his subjects, particularly the princes, who urged him to seek the aid of Egypt against Babylon, Zedekiah made an alliance with the Egyptians (see Jeremiah 37:6-10; 38:14-28). In doing so he completely disregarded the strong warnings of the prophet Jeremiah. This alliance was probably made after Psamtik II had personally appeared in Palestine 590 B.C. and given all kinds of assurances and promises of help.

Nebuchadnezzar, who had prudently refrained from attacking Egypt, was, nevertheless, not willing to lose any of his western possessions to Egypt. He therefore marched against Judah as soon as Zedekiah’s perfidy became apparent. Taking all cities of the country, he practically repeated what Sennacherib had done a century earlier, systematically devastating the whole land. From this unhappy period come the famous Lachish Letters (see on Jeremiah 34:7) recently found in the excavations of that city. These letters, written in ink on broken bits of pottery, were sent by an officer in charge of an outpost between Azekah and Lachish to the commandant of the latter fortress. They vividly illustrate the deplorable conditions prevailing in the country at that time, and in many details corroborate statements made by Jeremiah, who lived in Jerusalem then.

The siege of Jerusalem began in earnest on January 15, 588 B.C. (2 Kings 25:1), and lasted until July 19, 586 B.C. (2 Kings 25:2; Jeremiah 39:2), when the Chaldean army finally broke through the walls into the city, where unspeakable famine conditions prevailed. Once the 30-month-long siege was interrupted briefly by the unsuccessful attempt of the Egyptian army to defeat the Babylonians (Jeremiah 37:5). When the breakthrough came Zedekiah made an attempt to escape. In the confused fighting that followed the breakthrough he managed to leave the city and reach the plain of Jericho, but was overtaken there. Carried to Nebuchadnezzar’s headquarters at Riblah, Zedekiah saw his sons killed; then his eyes were put out and he was sent to Babylon in chains. His chief ministers were executed and all others carried away (2 Kings 25:4-7, 19-21; Jeremiah 52:10).

Jerusalem was systematically looted and then destroyed. The walls were torn down, and the Temple, the palaces, and all other houses were burned to the ground. The fire may have raged for three days in the unhappy city—August 15-18, 586 B.C.—as the two dates of 2 Kings 25:82 and Jeremiah 52:12, 13, seem to indicate. Most of the Jews were carried as captives to Babylonia, but some of the poorest of the country were left behind. Nebuchadnezzar appointed over them as governor a Jew, Gedaliah, at Mizpah (2 Kings 25:22; 2 Chronicles 36:20).

Gedaliah as Governor (586 B.C.).—Gedaliah seems to have served as governor for only a short time, although the lack of a year date in 2 Kings 25:25 leaves it uncertain how long after the fall of Jerusalem he was assassinated. Jeremiah, who had been a prisoner in Jerusalem at the fall of the city, was released by Nebuchadnezzar’s army commander and joined Gedaliah at Mizpah. Also, several Jewish field commanders who had escaped from the debacle found their way to Mizpah. One of them, Ishmael, a relative of Zedekiah, a fanatical royalist, killed Gedaliah, his staff, and the Chaldean garrison of Mizpah, and tried to join the Ammonites, probably planning to continue the fight against Nebuchadnezzar with their help. This plan was thwarted by Johanan, another general of Zedekiah, who intercepted Ishmael and liberated his captives. Ishmael escaped with eight men to the Ammonites, but Johanan and the remnants of the army that were with him, fearing Nebuchadnezzar, went to Egypt and forced Jeremiah and Baruch to join them. Thus ends Judah’s pre-exilic history.


The following additional books, though not necessarily agreeing with the views set forth in this document, are useful, at least in part, for reference on phases of the period discussed in this article. Babylonian Chronicle. See entry under Wiseman.

Bright, John. A History of Israel. 2nd ed. Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1972. Written by a moderately conservative scholar; it varies on some points from the interpretation of history presented in this commentary, such as the Exodus date or the time sequence of Ezra’s and Nehemiah’s ministries.

The Cambridge Ancient History. Vols. I, II, 3rd ed.; Vol. III, original ed.

Noth, Martin. The History of Israel. 2d ed.; New York: Harper and Row, 1960. 479 pp. Written by a liberal scholar, it differs in many respects from Bright’s views and from those presented in this commentary, but is today the most widely used work on the history of Israel.

Olmstead, A. T. History of Assyria. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1923. 695 pp. This history is badly out of date, since much newly found material has added much to our knowledge of Assyrian history and especially its chronology, but no more recent book has yet replaced it in the English language._______. History of Palestine and Syria to the Macedonian Conquest. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1931. 664 pp. Reprint: Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1972. The book is of merit because its author describes the Hebrews as part of the ancient world and does not treat them as if they had lived in isolation. Yet, the author, a higher critic, has dealt very liberally with his Biblical source material.

Parker, Richard A., and Dubberstein, W. H. Babylonian Chronology, 626 B.C.-A.D. 75. Providence, R.I.: Brown University Press, 1956. 47 pp. This book reconstructs from source material the Babylonian chronological system, which was adopted by the Persians and Seleucids. Calendrical tables at the end make it easy to convert any Babylonian date into its B.C. equivalent with fairly high accuracy.

Smith, Sidney. Early History of Assyria to 1000 B.C. London: Chatto & Windus, 1928. 418 pp. A good survey, though its chronology is out of date, since new discoveries have altered the placement of many earlier kings. For 1500 B.C. and after—the period chiefly discussed in this article—Smith’s presentation is acceptable.

Thiele, Edwin R. The Mysterious Numbers of the Hebrew Kings. Rev. ed., Grand Rapids, Mich.: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1965. 232 pp. This work by a Seventh-day Adventist scholar deals with Hebrew chronology for the period of the kings of Judah and Israel, from Solomon’s death to the fall of Jerusalem. It is significant chiefly for the chronological aspects of the history of the period.

Wiseman, D. J., ed. Chronicles of Chaldaean Kings (626-556 B.C.) in the British Museum. London: The Trustees of the British Museum, 1961. 99 pp., 21 pl. Text and translation of cuneiform tablets (first printed in 1956) adding hitherto unknown parts of the series of annalistic records that are called the Babylonian Chronicle (see Additional Note below). These texts are of utmost importance for a period of Neo-Babylonian history for which little historical source material was hitherto available—the early and late years of Nabopolassar and the first eleven years of Nebuchadnezzar.


The new portions of the Babylonian Chronicle (see entry under Wiseman, above) throw additional light on an important period of Biblical history, in which there are many synchronism between Biblical and Babylonian events. This has required in the present work a one-year shift in some events and regnal dates, especially for Judah and Egypt. Other dates have been confirmed. For example, the year given in this commentary for Jehoiachin’s capture, 597 B.C., is confirmed by the new evidence (which establishes the date as Adar 2, approximately March 16, 597 B.C.), thus settling a scholarly argument as to whether it was 598 or 597 B.C. On the other hand, the first printing of this volume dated the battle of Carchemish in 604 B.C.; it is now known to have occurred in the spring or early summer of 605 B.C. Further, these new tablets, by mentioning an Egyptian campaign in 609 and none in 608, confirm the date of 609 for the battle of Megiddo, instead of 608 as formerly held. Because of this and other later findings a number of minor changes have been made, particularly in this article. Jehoiakim’s death date and the dates of the last reigns of Judah remain the same.

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