Monday, March 27, 2023

What’s the deal with Nebuchadnezzar and the exiles from Jerusalem?

by Naomi Craig

Did Daniel and the others go to Babylon at the same time as Ezekiel?

Why did God allow the Babylonians to conquer Jerusalem and His chosen people anyway?

For many years, Judah and its kings ignored the warning of the prophets. Time and again they were sent to the nation with the same message: Repent. Turn back to God and worship Him only.

Time and again the people refused to honor the Lord’s request.

On the rare occasions, kings like Hezekiah or Josiah led reforms, it was short lived. As soon as the honorable king died, the nation would once again turn to their wicked ways.

One of the things that draws me the most to the Lord is His mercy and longsuffering. But I think I—like the nation of Judah—have grown too accustomed to His mercies being new every morning. I don’t expect my sins to have immediate consequences, because of that amazing grace.

But you see, God is not only a God of Mercy. He is also a Just Judge. He could not continue to allow His perfect law to be broken without consequence.

The Bible says Nebuchadnezzar was God’s servant.

God appointed Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonians to overthrow Judah and the city of Jerusalem.

Shocking news for those who thought Jerusalem was off limits because it was God’s holy city with God’s chosen people.


In 607 BCE Nebuchadnezzar delegated Jehoiakim as vassal kink of Judah. While in Judah, he received word that his father had died and he made the strenuous trip in three weeks. (As a point of reference, Ezra made the trip some seventy years later in about four months).

As was common for overthrowing governments back then, Nebuchadnezzar brought the brightest young men, including some of the king’s descendants, back to Babylon. Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego were in this round.

In 597 BCE, another exile takes place, this time the artisans and valiant warriors. 10,000 people including the then king, JehoiakiN, not to be confused with his dad, the former king JehoiakiM. Ezekiel was a part of this round.

Jehoiachin submitting to Nebuchadnezzar (wikimedia)

The final raid of Judah’s residents took place after a two-year siege ending 586 BCE. This time the city was razed and everyone that was alive was taken.

Ezekiel and Daniel would have been in Babylonia (the nation, not specifically the city Babylon) at the same time, but there is no indication they crossed paths. It was a large province and all the Hebrews were not kept in the same location. But there were Jewish communities that thrived in Babylonia. We all know of how some of the elites actually were able to influence the kings and the nation.

In the Jewish Midrash, there is reference that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego (bonus points if you know their Hebrew names 😉) approached Ezekiel about the bowing before the idol thing. The legend goes that after the three men left, the Lord DID tell Ezekiel they would be spared from the fire, but there’s no indication he was able to tell Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego.

"The Boys of the Bible, by Hartwell James (Wikimedia)

Nebuchadnezzar is known for the deportations of the Hebrews in the Bible, and naturally though of as the “baddie.” Did you know he was also a gifted architect? He designed the hanging gardens to remind his Persian wife of her homeland,  and many temples and buildings in Babylon. The iconic blue Ishtar Gate with the gold lions on it, is Nebuchadnezzar’s creativity.

Roaring lions and flower motifs, decorative glazed wall panel from the Throne Room of Nebuchadnezzar II from Babylon, Iraq. 6th century BCE. Pergamon Museum (wikimedia)

Did you learn something new about the Hebrew exiles in Babylon?

Ezekiel's Song explores life in exile in Babylon, and how serving Nebuchadnezzar would have affected Ezekiel and his family. 

My gift to you! Download On Desolate Heights 
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  1. Thank you for posting today. You raised questions I never even thought of! But that's why I follow this blog, I always learn something.