Siege of Jerusalem (597 BC)

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Siege of Jerusalem
Part of the Jewish–Babylonian war (601–587 BC)
Date c. 597 BC
Location Jerusalem
Result Babylonia takes and despoils Jerusalem; Babylonian victory
Judah Babylonia
Commanders and leaders
Jehoiakim Nebuchadnezzar II
Much fewer Unknown
Casualties and losses
Many slain, others taken to captivity Unknown

In 605 BC Nebuchadnezzar II, king of Babylon defeated Pharaoh Necho at the Battle of Carchemish, and subsequently invaded Judah. To avoid the destruction of Jerusalem, King Jehoiakim of Judah, in his third year, changed allegiances from Egypt to Babylon. He paid tribute from the treasury in Jerusalem, some temple artifacts, and some of the royal family and nobility as hostages.[1] In 601 BC, during the fourth year of his reign, Nebuchadnezzar unsuccessfully attempted to invade Egypt and was repulsed with heavy losses. This failure led to numerous rebellions among the states of the Levant which owed allegiance to Babylon, including Judah, where king Jehoiakim stopped paying tribute to Nebuchadnezzar[2] and took a pro-Egyptian position.

Nebuchadnezzar soon dealt with these rebellions. According to the Nebuchadnezzar Chronicle,[3] he laid siege to Jerusalem, which eventually fell on 2 Adar (March 16) 597 BC. The Chronicle states:

In the seventh year [of Nebuchadnezzar, 598 BC] in the month Chislev [November/December] the king of Babylon assembled his army, and after he had invaded the land of Hatti (Syria/Palestine) he laid siege to the city of Judah. On the second day of the month of Adar [16 March] he conquered the city and took the king [Jeconiah] prisoner. He installed in his place a king [Zedekiah] of his own choice, and after he had received rich tribute, he sent forth to Babylon.[4]

Jehoiakim died during the siege, possibly on 22 Marcheshvan (December 10) 598 BC,[5] or during the months of Kislev,[6] or Tevet.[7] Nebuchadnezzar pillaged the city and its Temple, and the new king Jeconiah—who was either eight or eighteen at the time—and his court and other prominent citizens and craftsmen, and much of the Jewish population of Judah, numbering about 10,000 were deported to Babylon.[8] This deportation occurred prior to Nisan of 597 BC, and dates in the Book of Ezekiel are counted from this event.[9] A biblical text reports that "None remained except the poorest people of the land" and that also taken to Babylon were the treasures and furnishings of the Temple, including golden vessels dedicated by King Solomon.(2 Kings 24:13–14)

These events are described in the Nevi'im and Ketuvim sections of the Tanakh (Hebrew Bible, also known as the Old Testament). This first deportation is the start of the Jewish Diaspora (or exile). (2 Kings 24:10–16) Nebuchadnezzar installed Jeconiah's uncle, Zedekiah as puppet-king of Judah, while Jeconiah was compelled to remain in Babylon.[10] The start of Zedekiah's reign has been variously dated within a few weeks before,[11] or after[12][13] the start of Nisan 597 BC.

Chronological note

The Babylonian Chronicles, which were published by Donald Wiseman in 1956, establish that Nebuchadnezzar captured Jerusalem the first time on 2 Adar (16 March) 597 BC.[14] Before Wiseman's publication, Thiele had determined from the biblical texts that Nebuchadnezzar's initial capture of Jerusalem occurred in the spring of 597 BC,[15] while other scholars, including Albright, more frequently dated the event to 598 BC.[16]


  1. C. Hassell Bullock. An Introduction to the Old Testament Prophetic Books. p. 340.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. The Divided Monarchy c. 931–586 BC
  3. Geoffrey Wigoder, The Illustrated Dictionary & Concordance of the Bible Pub. by Sterling Publishing Company, Inc. (2006)
  4. No 24 WA21946, The Babylonian Chronicles, The British Museum
  5. Horn, Siegfried H. (1967). "The Babylonian Chronicle and the Ancient Calendar of the Kingdom of Judah" (pdf). Andrews University Seminary Studies. V (1): 21.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Lua error in Module:Citation/CS1/Identifiers at line 47: attempt to index field 'wikibase' (a nil value).
  7. Green, Alberto R. (1982). "The fate of Jehoiakim" (pdf). Andrews University Seminary Studies. 20 (2): 106.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. The Oxford History of the Biblical World, ed. by Michael D Coogan. Pub. by Oxford University Press, 1999. pg 350
  9. Young, Rodger C. (March 2004). "When Did Jerusalem Fall?" (pdf). JETS. 47 (1): 32ff.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. Zedekiah on
  11. Thompson, John Arthur (1980). The Book of Jeremiah. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing. p. 729.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. Hayes, John H.; Hooker, Paul K. (2007). A New Chronology for the Kings of Israel and Judah and Its Implications for Biblical History and Literature. Wipf and Stock Publishers. p. 95.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. Thiele, Edwin R. (1970). The Mysterious Numbers of the Hebrew Kings. Kregel Academic. p. 192.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. D. J. Wiseman, Chronicles of Chaldean Kings in the British Museum (London: Trustees of the British Museum, 1956) 73.
  15. Edwin Thiele, The Mysterious Numbers of the Hebrew Kings, (1st ed.; New York: Macmillan, 1951; 2d ed.; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1965; 3rd ed.; Grand Rapids: Zondervan/Kregel, 1983). ISBN 0-8254-3825-X, 9780825438257, 217.
  16. Kenneth Strand, "Thiele's Biblical Chronology As a Corrective for Extrabiblical Dates," Andrews University Seminary Studies 34 (1996) 310, 317.

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