2 Kings 25

Judah Exiled

Siege Works

Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came, he and all his army, against Jerusalem, and they camped against it and built siege works all around it (2 Kings 25:1).

The word “siege works” should probably be taken to refer to a siege wall. No evidence of the Babylonian siege works against Jerusalem have been found, which is hardly surprising given the great amount of building and rebuilding of the city that has taken place since then. The siege wall in this photo is from the Roman siege of Masada (ca. AD 71–74). The portion in the foreground of the photo has been rebuilt in the modern era. Such walls were intended to prevent anyone from coming or going, and it seems likely that Nebuchadnezzar’s siege wall would have been similar.

A Breach

Then the city was breached (2 Kings 25:4).

The fact that the city was “breached” strongly implies the use of siege ramps and battering rams. Such an understanding is confirmed by both Jeremiah and Ezekiel, who specifically mention such tactics (Jer 32:24; Ezek 4:2; 17:17; 21:22). Very few siege ramps have been found. The best-known is the Assyrian siege ramp at Lachish, which is located at the southwest corner of the city. This ramp was built by the Assyrians under Sennacherib in the late 8th century BC. It allowed the Assyrian army to bring battering rams up to the wall and breach it, despite the Judean attempt to build a matching counter-ramp on the inside of the wall.

The Plains of Jericho

And they overtook him on the plains of Jericho (2 Kings 25:5).

It is difficult to tell what Zedekiah’s goal might have been. He may have been hoping to cross the Jordan River to the east, hiding in the hills of Gilead as David did, or perhaps heading south to safety in Egypt. Either way, he made it no further than Jericho before he was apprehended. In this aerial view, the barren hills of the Judean desert are in the foreground, the Jericho oasis is in the center, and the thin ribbon where the Jordan River runs can be seen in the distance. The reader may note the irony of Judah’s last king being captured near the city where Israel began its conquest of the promised land.

Destruction in the City

He burned the house of Yahweh, the king’s house, and all the houses of Jerusalem (2 Kings 25:9).

In the City of David there is a building known as the “Burnt Chamber” (to be distinguished from the “Burnt House” in the Jewish Quarter that was destroyed by the Romans in AD 70). Like the other buildings in the area, the “Burnt Chamber” was built in the 7th century BC and was destroyed in 586. This building is so-named because it has the abundant evidence of the Babylonian destruction. In the massive conflagration, the wooden furniture was carbonized. In addition, a metal spoon and arrowheads were found.


And Nebuzaradan brought them to the king of Babylon at Riblah (2 Kings 25:20).

Riblah (modern Ribleh in Syria) is about 200 miles (320 km) north of the city of Jerusalem, as the crow flies. Located on the east bank of the Orontes River, it is in a wide plain that would have been suitable for a large military campsite, which probably explains the significance of the location during this period. It was here at Riblah that Zedekiah’s sons were killed and then his own eyes were gouged out. As Jeremiah and Ezekiel had predicted, Zedekiah would go to Babylon but he would not see it (Jer 34:2-5; Ezek 12:13).

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