The Babylonians attack Jerusalem in 598 BCE

2 Kings 24:1
" In his days, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon came up, and Jehoiakim became his vassal for three years. Then he turned and rebelled against him."

City of David Megalim Institute, Courtesy of George Blumenthal and the Gol Family

In 598 BCE, at the urging of the Egyptian Pharaoh Neco, King Jehoiakim rebelled against Nebuchadnezzar.  In response, the King of Babylon attacked Judah.  When King Jehoakim died, his son, Jehoiachin took the throne.  However, within a few months, the invading Nebuchadnezzar took King Jehoachin and the vessels of the Temple to Babylon and appointed Zedekiah King of Judah.  King Zedekiah would eventually rebel against Nebuchadnezzar, prompting Nebuchadnezzar’s 588 BCE attack on Jerusalem.     On the 9th of Av, 586 BCE, the Babylonians destroyed Solomon’s Temple.

King Zedekiah Permits Gedaliah and ​Jehuchal to Throw Jeremiah into the Pit

Jeremiah 38:3-6
“This is what the L-rd says: ‘This city will certainly be given into the hands of the army of the king of Babylon, who will capture it.’ ”

Then the officials
(Gedaliah son of Pashhur, ​Jehuchal son of Shelemiah) said to the king (Zedekiah), “This man should be put to death…”

They lowered Jeremiah with ropes into the pit, which had no water but only mud, and Jeremiah sank down into the mud.

Jeremiah warned King Zedekiah that the aid from Pharaoh’s army would only be temporary, and that the Babylonians would return to take Jerusalem.   

Jeremiah 38:3 
“This is what the L-RD says: ‘This city will certainly be given into the hands of the army of the king of Babylon, who will capture it.’ ”  The king’s officials feared that Jeremiah’s prophecy would discourage warriors from fighting and weaken their forces.  King Zedekiah permitted his officials to take Jeremiah
and do with him what they saw fit.  
  
Jeremiah 38:6
They lowered Jeremiah with ropes into the pit, which had no water but only mud, and Jeremiah sank down into the mud.  At the City of David, a large ancient cistern was discovered.  Its proximity to the ancient governmental area of Jerusalem suggests that it might have been the pit that Jeremiah was lowered into. 

The City of David Excavations

Gary Lipton, Biblical Archaeology Society

Psalm 137
By the rivers of Babylon,
there we sat,
sat and wept,
as we thought of Zion.

Sample text. Click to select the Text Element.

The Dead Sea Scrolls Psalms Scroll Fragment Israel Antiquities Authority, Photo by Ardon Bar-Hama

Israelites Are Exiled to Babylon

2 Kings 24:14-16
“He carried into exile all Jerusalem… The king of Babylon also brought into exile to Babylon all seven thousand men of valor and a thousand craftsmen and metalsmiths—all strong and fit for battle.” 

In 2016, The Bible Lands Museum, Jerusalem exhibited “By the Rivers of Babylon,” displaying archaeological artifacts from the time of the Babylonian exile. 

 You can view this exhibit as it was presented in the museum through this virtual tour utilizing photography by Ardon Bar-Hama.  

view exhibit

Al-Yahudu Archive
By The Rivers of Babylon, Bible Lands Museum Jerusalem
Photography and Virtual Exhibit by Ardon Bar-Hama

The Writing Is on the Wall:
"...your kingdom is given to the Medes and Persians"

Daniel 5:1, 5
King Belshazzar gave a great banquet for a thousand of his nobles and drank wine with them…

Suddenly the fingers of a human hand appeared and wrote on the plaster of the wall, near the lampstand in the royal palace.  

The Bible depicts Belshazzar as an arrogant ruler. He ordered the sacred Temple vessels to be brought to his palace for a gala banquet, and he profaned them by using them as common drinking cups, toasting and praising his pagan gods. At the banquet, Daniel relates in Chapter 5 verses 5 and 6:

Suddenly the fingers of a human hand appeared and wrote on the plaster of the wall, near the lampstand in the royal palace. The king’s face darkened, and his thoughts alarmed him; the joints of his loins were loosened and his knees knocked together.

The writing was on the wall for Belshazzar.
Daniel interpreted the cryptic message for him:
Mene Mene Tekel Upharsin
G-d has numbered your days, you have been weighed and found wanting, your kingdom will be divided and given to the Medes and the Persians 

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Belshazzar's Feast by Rembrandt, 
National Gallery, London

The Babylonian Exile and the Edict of King Cyrus

City of David Megalim Institute, Courtesy of George Blumenthal and the Gol Family 

As the Babylonian Empire fell to Persian rule, radical changes swept through the land including an edict by the new ruler Cyrus the Great that made the hope of returning to Zion possible again. Watch this video by the Megallim Institute taking us through the Babylonian exile to the edict of King Cyrus and the subsequent Return to Zion.

לְאַחַר שֶׁשָּׁאוּל הַמֶּלֶךְ וּבְנוֹ יְהוֹנָתָן מֵתִים בַּקְּרָב, פּוֹנִים רָאשֵׁי הַשְּׁבָטִים לְדָוִד, שֶׁמָּלַךְ כְּבָר שֶׁבַע שָׁנִים וָחֵצִי בְּחֶבְרוֹן. הֵם מְמַנִּים אוֹתוֹ לְמֶלֶךְ עַל הַקּוֹנְפֵדֵרַצְיָה הַשִּׁבְטִית הַמְּאֻחֶדֶת שֶׁל יִשְׂרָאֵל.     

דָּוִד הַמֶּלֶךְ פּוֹנֶה מִיָּד לְכִוּוּן יְרוּשָׁלַיִם, אַחַת הֶעָרִים הָאַחֲרוֹנוֹת שֶׁטֶּרֶם נִכְבְּשָׁה בְּמַהֲלַךְ כִּבּוּשׁ הָאָרֶץ בִּידֵי בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל.   דָּוִד בּוֹחֵר בִּירוּשָׁלַיִם מֵאַרְבַּע סִבּוֹת עִקָּרִיּוֹת: מַיִם, בִּטָּחוֹן, אִחוּד וְשִׁלְטוֹן קַרְקָעִי נֵיטְרָלִי, אַךְ חָשׁוּב מֵהַכֹּל, בִּגְלַל הַקְּדוֹשָׁה שֶׁל יְרוּשָׁלַיִם הַטְּבוּעָה בַּמָּקוֹם הַנִּבְחָר, שֶׁבּוֹ יִבָּנֶה בֵּית הַמִּקְדָּשׁ הָעֲתִידִי.     

לְפָנֶיךָ סִרְטוֹן הַמְּסַפֵּר אֶת הַסִּבּוֹת שֶׁל דָּוִד בְּכִבּוּשׁ הָעִיר.