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The Babylonish Captivity

The Babylonish Captivity

  1. Causes That Led to It. The people were taken into captivity because of their departure from the laws of the Lord and their consequent idolatry ( 1 Kings 14:21-24 ; 1 Kings 15:1-3 ; 1 Kings 16:1-20 ; 1 Kings 21:1-24 ; 1 Kings 23:31-37 2 Chronicles 36:1-21 ).

  2. Conditions During the Captivity. The people of God were not oppressed during their sojourn in Babylon although they sat down by the rivers and wept, and hung their harps upon the willow trees, and declared that they could not sing the Lord's songs in a strange land ( Psalms 137:1-6 ). It is probable that many of them followed the advice of the prophet Jeremiah and built houses in which to reside ( Jeremiah 29:3-7 ). There were great possibilities before the ambitious Hebrews, and numbers of them arose to positions of distinction and usefulness in the Empire ( Daniel 2:48 ; Nehemiah 1:1-11 ).

  3. Synagogues. It is probable that the custom of erecting synagogues originated during the Babylonish captivity.

  4. Ezekiel and Daniel the Prophets. The prophets Ezekiel and Daniel flourished during the Babylonish captivity. Ezekiel's life and labors were characterized by,
    1. his call to the prophetic office while residing by the river Chebar ( Ezekiel 1:1-3 );
    2. he saw a vision of a whirlwind from the North out of which came the likeness of four living creatures ( Ezekiel 1:3-28 );
    3. he was commissioned to Israel ( Ezekiel 2:1-10 );
    4. he predicted the siege, downfall, and ruin of Jerusalem ( Ezekiel 4:1-5:17 );
    5. he predicted the utter desolation of Israel ( Ezekiel 6:1-15 );
    6. his visions of the preservation of the righteous and the destruction of the wicked ( Ezekiel 9:1-11 ; Ezekiel 18:1-28 );
    7. his vision of the cherubim, and coals of fire scattered over the city ( Ezekiel 10:1-22 );
    8. he predicted the restoration of the children of Israel ( Ezekiel 11:17-20 ; Ezekiel 16:60-62 ; Ezekiel 34:12-16 );
    9. he predicted the captivity of the prince of Jerusalem and his subjects by the Babylonians, whose land he should not see though he should die there ( Ezekiel 12:8-20 );
    10. he predicted the downfall of the Ammonites ( Ezekiel 25:1-10 );
    11. he predicted the destruction of Moab, Edom and the Philistines ( Ezekiel 25:11-17 );
    12. he predicted the destruction of Tyrus ( Ezekiel 26:1-21 );
    13. he predicted the downfall of Pharaoh and Egypt ( Ezekiel 29:1-10 );
    14. he predicted the coming of the good Shepherd ( Ezekiel 34:23 Ezekiel 34:24 );
    15. he predicted the downfall of Mount Seir ( Ezekiel 35:2-15 );
    16. the Lord's promise of a new heart ( Ezekiel 36:24-29 );
    17. his vision of the dry bones ( Ezekiel 37:1-14 );
    18. his vision of the temple, the court and the priests ( Ezekiel 40:1-44:31 );
    19. his vision of the holy waters ( Ezekiel 47:1-12 );

    Daniel's life and labors were characterized by,

    1. the beginning of the captivity at the overthrow of Jehoiakim, king of Judah ( Daniel 1:1-6 );
    2. he was selected to receive an education in the Chaldean language ( Daniel 1:3-6 );
    3. he refused to defile himself with the king's meat ( Daniel 1:5-16 );
    4. God gave him knowledge, skill and wisdom ( Daniel 1:17-20 );
    5. he made known the dream of Nebuchadnezzar and interpreted it ( Daniel 2:48 Daniel 2:49 );
    6. the casting of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego into the fire and their preservation ( Daniel 2:49-3:30 );
    7. he interpreted the dream of Nebuchadnezzar the king ( Daniel 4:1-37 );
    8. he interpreted the handwriting upon the wall ( Daniel 5:1-30 );
    9. he was advanced by Darius to a high and honorable position ( Daniel 6:1-4 );
    10. he was cast into a den of lions ( Daniel 6:4-23 );
    11. the destruction of his accusers ( Daniel 6:24 );
    12. the king's decree in honor of Daniel's God ( Daniel 6:25-27 );
    13. his vision in the first year of Belshazzar's reign ( Daniel 7:1-28 );
    14. his vision in the third year of Belshazzar's reign ( Daniel 8:1-27 );
    15. his prayers for his people in the first year of Darius' reign ( Daniel 9:1-21 );
    16. the visit of Gabriel to him who informed him of the time of his coming of the Messiah, the Prince ( Daniel 9:21-27 );
    17. he described the three kings that were to rule Persia followed by a fourth richer and more powerful than they all ( Daniel 11:1-45 );
    18. he foretold the general resurrection ( Daniel 12:1-13 ).

  5. Decree of Cyrus. In the first year of the reign of Cyrus, king of Persia, in fulfillment of the prophecy of Jeremiah, he proclaimed throughout his dominions that the Lord had charged him to build Him a house at Jerusalem, and gave permission for the captives to return ( 2 Chronicles 36:22 2 Chronicles 36:23 ; Ezra 1:1-4 ). He also delivered to the captives the vessels that had been taken from the house of the Lord by Nebuchadnezzar ( Ezra 1:5-11 ). As a result of this decree, quite a large number of the captives returned to their native land ( Ezra 2:1-70 ; Nehemiah 7:1-69 ).

  6. Rebuilding the Temple. In the second year after the return, the foundation of the temple was laid amidst the weeping of the old men and the shouting of the young ( Ezra 3:1-13 ).

  7. Hindered by Enemies. As soon as the enemies of Judah heard that the work had been commenced, they came to Zerubbabel and other chief men and asked permission to join them in the work, but their proposition was not accepted, and, as a result, they did everything they could to hinder the work, and finally the work was suspended ( Ezra 4:1-24 ). In the second year of Darius, king of Persia, two new prophets arose to encourage the people ( Ezra 5:1-17 ). Finally, under the favor of Darius, the building was completed, and the people re-inaugurated the service of God with great demonstrations of reverence and joy ( Ezra 6:1-22 ).

  8. Ezra, the Scribe. After these events, Ezra the scribe came into Jerusalem from Babylon ( Ezra 7:1-8 ). He was accompanied by many of the brethren ( Ezra 8:1-36 ). Ezra was a true reformer, and he consecrated his powers to the improvement and elevation of his people ( Ezra 9:1-10:17 ).

  9. Nehemiah. Nehemiah heard from some of his brethren of the condition of the city of Jerusalem. As soon as he heard this, he wept, mourned, fasted and prayed to the God of heaven ( Nehemiah 1:1-11 ). He was at this time the cupbearer to Artaxerxes, king of Persia, and the king beheld his sad expression and inquired the cause. He immediately communicated his desire to the king, who gave him permission to return to the land of his nativity ( Nehemiah 2:1-18 ). Upon his arrival at Jerusalem. he inspected the ruins by night, after which he proposed to the rulers that they unite in rebuilding the wall ( Nehemiah 2:11-20 ).

  10. Rebuilding the Wall. Nehemiah's zeal was contagious. The work was inaugurated and carried on to completion in the face of most vehement opposition ( Nehemiah 3:1-4:23 ). After the completion of the wall, Nehemiah, like his distinguished contemporary Ezra, gave his influence to the reformation of the people ( Nehemiah 5:1-6:16 ; Nehemiah 8:1-6 ; Nehemiah 13:1-31 ).

  11. Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi the Prophets. Haggai and Zechariah, the prophets, flourished after the return from Babylon, and Malachi, probably a little later. The chief design of Haggai seems to have been to stir up the people to the completion of the temple ( Ezra 5:1 ; Haggai 1:1-2:23 ).

    Zechariah was associated with Haggai on the work of reformation ( Ezra 5:1 ). He predicted

    1. the betrayal of Lord ( Zechariah 11:10-14 ; Matthew 27:3-10 ),
    2. and the proclamation of the gospel from Jerusalem ( Zechariah 14:1-9 ).

    Malachi was a true reformer. He predicted

    1. the bringing in of the Gentiles ( Malachi 1:11 ),
    2. the coming of the forerunner of Christ ( Malachi 3:1 ; Malachi 4:5 );
    3. and the coming of Christ himself ( Malachi 3:1-4 ).