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Chronology of the kings during the 27th generation
The 8 years old King Josiah
(3121 AM - 639 BCE)
Jeremiah the Prophet
(3133 AM - 627 BCE)
King Josiah celebrates Passover
(3138 AM - 622 BCE)
King Josiah hides the Ark
(3138 AM - 622 BCE)
Destruction of Nineveh
(3148 AM - 612 BCE)
(3150 AM - 610 BCE)
Jeremiah prophetizes the destruction of Jerusalem
(3155 AM - 605 BCE)
The Battle of Carchemish
(3155 AM - 605 BCE)
Daniel is taken to Babylon
(3155 AM - 605 BCE)
Jehoiakim's Rations Tablets
(3155 AM - 605 BCE)
The dream of Nebuchadnezzar
(3156 AM - 604 BCE)
Previous << Generation 27 >> Next
Hebrew years 3120 to 3240 (640-520 BCE)
~~~ Part I ~~~ Part II ~~~ Part III ~~~ Part IV
The eventful 27th Generation witnessed the fall of the Assyrian empire and destruction of Nineveh, the fall of Jerusalem with the destruction of the Temple of Solomon (the First Temple), the new rise and fall of Babylon, and the rule of the Persian empire.
The first part of the chronology below covers the time until the end of the kingdom of Judah.
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Amon was murdered by his servants 2 years after the start of his reign. This called for revenge and the people killed all the servants who conspired against Manasseh. They then put his son Josiah on the throne in his stead, although he only was 8 years old. This young age however allowed the people to raise the child in the path of God and he reigned for 31 years.
Jeremiah, son of Hilkiah from a family of priests in the tribe of Benjamin, started to prophetise in the 13th year of the reign of Josiah until Zedekiah, the son of Josiah, was carried away as captive to Babylon, 30 years later. His main prophecy was about the end of the kingdom of Judah, because it adopted the customs of the other nations. This end happened so in his lifetime:
Hear you the word which the Lord speaks unto you, O house of Israel; thus says the Lord: Learn not the way of the nations, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the nations are dismayed at them. For the customs of the peoples are vanity; for it is but a tree which one cuts out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman with the axe. They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers [so] that it moves not. They are like a [still] pillar in a garden of cucumbers, and speak not; they need to be borne, because they cannot make a step. Be not afraid of them, for they cannot do evil, neither is it in them to do good. --- Jeremiah 10:1-5
Jeremiah the Prophet (Gustave Doré, 1868)
In the 18th year of his reign, Josiah started to make repairs to the Temple of Solomon and destroyed all the pagan altars that had been raised in the kingdom by all the kings before him. He also broke down the altar that Jeroboam, first king of Israel, raised in Beth-El and made it impure to ensure that it would never be raiseed again:
And the king commanded all the people, saying: 'Keep the Passover unto the Lord your God, as it is written in this Book of the Covenant.' For there was not kept such a Passover from the days of the judges that judged Israel, nor in all the days of the kings of Israel, nor of the kings of Judah; but in the eighteenth year of king Josiah was this Passover kept to the Lord in Jerusalem. --- II Kings 23:21-23
No king before Josiah had done as much to restore the divine spirit among Israelites. The "Book of the Covenant" mentioned in the above text was the original one belonging to Moses. It had been hidden in the Temple away from King Ahaz who would have destroyed it. It was shown to the king by Hulda the prophetess who used to live on the Mount of the Olives, facing the Southern slope to the Mount Moriah. There is a tomb in the area which tradition says it was hers. The Southern gates to enter the Second Temple (many years later) were named after her: the Hulda Gates.
King Josiah is shown the Holy Scriptures
by the prophetess Hulda (engraving, 1897)
The Talmud asked the question about the reason why the scriptures were shown to King Josiah by the prophetess Hulda rather than Jeremiah the Prophet himself:
But if Jeremiah was there, how could she prophesy? — It was said in the school of Rab in the name of Rab: Hulda was a near relative of Jeremiah, and he did not object to her doing so. But how could Josiah himself pass over Jeremiah and send to her? — The members of the school of R. Shila replied, Because women are tender-hearted. R. Johanan said: Jeremiah was not there, as he had gone to bring back the Ten Tribes. Whence do we know that they returned? — Because it is written, For the seller shall not return to that which is sold. (Ezekiel 7:13) --- Talmud, Megilah, 14b
So there is some interrogation about the location of Jeremiah at this time. If he went to bring back the exiled tribes, his mission had not fully succeeded as there is other evidence that numerous Israelites remained in the Assyrian empire until its fall 10 years later (see below - Destruction of Nineveh). Some of them moved to Persia and Babylonia before its fall. And other tribes moved more East and populated remote regions of Asia, such as modern-day Afghanistan.
According to Tradition,King Josiah hid away the Ark of the Covenant and other items as he foresaw the upcoming destruction of the Temple after reading the scriptures:
When the Ark was hidden, the bottle containing the Manna [Exodus 16:33] was hidden with it, as well as the bottle containing the sprinkling water [Numbers 19:9], the staff of Aaron [Numbers 17:25] with its almonds and blossoms, and the chest which the Philistines had sent as a gift to the God of Israel, as it is said: And put the jewels of gold which you return to Him for a guilt-offering in a coffer by the side thereof and send it away that it may go. [I Samuel 6:8] Who hid it? — Josiah hid it. --- Talmud, Yoma, 52b
This is confirmed by another passage of the Talmud which, in addition, gives the reason for this decision:
It was Josiah, King of Judah, who hid them; because, having observed that it was written in the Torah, "The Lord will bring you and your king . . . [unto a nation that you have not known]" [Deutoronomy 28:36], he gave orders that they shall be hidden away, as it is said, "And he said unto the Levites that taught all Israel, that were holy unto the Lord, ‘Put the Holy Ark into the house which Solomon the son of David, King of Israel, did build; there shall no more be a burden upon your shoulders; now serve the Lord your God and his people Israel." [II Chronicles 35:3] --- Talmud, Horayoth, 12a
These sacred items were buried in some place inside the Temple Mount (Talmud, Yoma, 54a). An excavation done on the site in 1991 by Rabbi Yehuda Getz and Rabbi Shlomo Goren led to one of the underground tunnels that was used at the time, starting from the so-called Warren's Gate. This gate is today accessible to visitors of the Temple Mount Tunnels tours, but it is sealed to prevent the passage underneath the Muslim mosques which stands today on the Mount.
Gates of the Temple Mount (source: Ritmeyer blog)
This secret tunnel leading from the Warren's Gate inside the mount and towards a place directly beneath where the Temple stood once has been nicknamed the "Getz-Goren Tunnel". One of the Rabbis stated that he had no doubt that the Ark of the Covenant was hidden at the end of that particular tunnel, but authorities prevented the excavation to proceed further.
In the last years of his life, Tobit had the vision of the future and gave advice to his son Tobias:
And when he was very aged he called his son, and the sons of his son, and said to him, My son, take your children; for, behold, I am aged, and am ready to depart out of this life. Go into Media my son, for I surely believe those things which Jonah the prophet spoke of Nineveh, that it shall be overthrown; and that for a time peace shall rather be in Media; and that our brethren shall lie scattered in the earth from that good land: and Jerusalem shall be desolate, and the house of God in it shall be burned, and shall be desolate for a time. --- Apocrypha, Tobit, 14:3-4
The Book of Nahum in the Bible is dedicated to God’s decree against the great city of Assyria:
"And I will cast detestable things upon you [Nineveh], and make you vile, and will make you as dung. And it shall come to pass, that all they that look upon you shall flee from you, and say: 'Nineveh is laid waste; who will bemoan her? Whence shall I seek comforters for you?'" --- Nahum 3:6-7
Nahum also predicted that the city will suffer a siege, as did Samaria:
Draw you water for the siege, strengthen your fortresses; go into the clay, and tread the mortar, lay hold of the brickmould. --- Nahum 3:14
This siege lasted 3 months from the month of Sivan to the month of Av, and was led by a formidable coalition of Babylonians, Medians and Scythians against the Assyrian capital:
From the month Simanu [Sivan] until the month Ābu [Av] -for three months- they subjected the city to a heavy siege. On the Nth day of the month Ābu they inflicted a major defeat upon a great people. At that time Sin-šar-iškun, king of Assyria, died. They carried off the vast booty of the city and the temple and turned the city into a ruin heap. --- Chronicle of the Fall of Nineveh, ABC 3
Excavations of Nineveh by Layard in the 19th century (engraving 1852)
Tobit died soon after the destruction of Nineveh, so he saw the accomplishment of Jonah’s prediction:
And he died at Ecbatane in Media, being an hundred and seven and twenty years old. But before he died he heard of the destruction of Nineveh, which was taken by Nebuchadnezzar and Assuerus [Cyaxares, king of Media, born in Ecbatane]: and before his death he rejoiced over Nineveh. --- Apocrypha, Tobit, 14:14-15
His descendants will however be among the Israelites who will return to Sion, with Ezra the Scribe, although they seemed to have forgotten their origin from the Tribe of Nephtali, or were ashamed to mention it as they were among the tribes who had adopted idolatry in the kingdom of Israel:
And these were they that went up from Tel-melah, Tel-harsa, Cherub, Addan, and Immer; but they could not tell [about] their fathers' houses, and their seed, whether they were of Israel: the children of Delaiah, the children of Tobiah, the children of Nekoda, six hundred fifty and two. --- Ezra 2:59 and also Nehemiah 7:61
The destruction of the Assyrian capital did not immediately cause the end of the Assyrian Empire: it took another three years until Babylon would finally conquer all Assyria.
Nothing was left of Assyria because of a drought that ruined the land, people and animals, as the prophet Zephaniah had announced:
And He will stretch out His hand against the north, and destroy Assyria; and will make Nineveh a desolation, and dry like the wilderness. And all beasts of every kind shall lie down in the midst of her in herds; both the pelican and the bittern shall lodge in the capitals thereof; voices shall sing in the windows; desolation shall be in the posts; for the cedar-work thereof shall be uncovered. This is the joyous city that dwelt without care, that said in her heart: 'I am, and there is none else beside me'; how is she become a desolation, a place for beasts to lie down in! Every one that passes by her shall hiss, and wag his hand. --- Zephaniah, 2:13-15
There is in fact archaeological evidence of a massive climate change that affected Assyria in the years preceding its final demise. In one letter, the Assyrian astrologer Akkulanu wrote the following to the king Assurbanipal in 657 BCE:
And about this year’s rains that were diminished and that no harvest was reaped; this is a good omen for the life and well-being of the king my lord.--- Parpola, Simo, Letters from Assyrian and Babylonian scholars. Helsinki University Press [State Archives of Assyria 10], Helsinki, 1993
It is today assumed that the time of this letter was the start of successive droughts that affected Assyria and ruined its agriculture. Desolation was starting. And the once mighty empire finally fell to the hand of its once vassal kingdom of Babylon.
When Necoh II became Pharaoh of Egypt in 610 BCE, in the 26th Dynasty, he led a campaign in support of the Assyrians against the Babylonians. He had to cross the kingdom of Josiah but the latter would not agree to let the Egyptian army pass freely. Josiah marched onto the city of Megiddo, Lower Galilee in Israel, where Necoh’s army was stationed but was killed in the battle that he wanted to wage.[3a] Necoh also destroyed the Philistine cities, of which the powerful Gaza (Jeremiah 47:1). These events of the Bible have also been recorded by Herodotus, the famous Greek historian:
He [Necoh] used these ships when needed, and with his land army met and defeated the Syrians at Magdolus [Megiddo],[3b] taking the great Syrian of Cadytis [Gaza] after the battle. --- Herodotus, The Histories, Book 2, 159:2
After the death of Josiah, the people proclaimed his son Jehoahaz, 23 years old, king of Judah. But he diverted from his father’s ways towards God. This attitude was probably caused by the influence of his mother. He only reigned 3 months until Pharaoh Necoh removed him from office and placed his older brother Eliakim, who was 25 years old, in his stead, and renamed him Jehoiakim (II Kings 23:31-34). Jehoahaz was taken to Egypt where he died. Jehoiakim accepted to be vassal to Necoh and raised money from his people to pay the requested high tribute. And he also diverted from the path of God.
But the new Babylonian power was rising stronger in the days of Jehoiakim, and even Necoh could not be a match against the army who invaded the region, until the brook of Egypt (II Kings 24:7). Jehoiakim had no choice but to change allegiance:
In his days Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up, and Jehoiakim became his servant three years; then he turned and rebelled against him. And the Lord sent against him bands of the Chaldeans, and bands of the Arameans, and bands of the Moabites, and bands of the children of Ammon, and sent them against Judah to destroy it, according to the word of the Lord, which He spoke by the hand of His servants the prophets. Surely at the commandment of the Lord came this upon Judah, to remove them out of His sight, for the sins of Manasseh, according to all that he did; and also for the innocent blood that he shed; for he filled Jerusalem with innocent blood; and the Lord would not pardon. --- II Kings 24:1-4 23 years after the beginning of his prophesies, Jeremiah announced in the 4th year of Jehoiakim son of Josiah, which was in the 1st year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar in Babylon, the forthcoming exile:
Therefore thus says the Lord of hosts: Because you have not heard My words, behold, I will send and take all the families of the north, saith the Lord, and I will send unto Nebuchadrezzar the king of Babylon, My servant, and will bring them against this land, and against the inhabitants thereof, and against all these nations round about; and I will utterly destroy them, and make them an astonishment, and a hissing, and perpetual desolations. Moreover I will cause to cease from among them the voice of mirth and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, the sound of the millstones, and the light of the lamp. And this whole land shall be desolation, and a waste; and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon 70 years. And it shall come to pass, when 70 years are accomplished, that I will punish the king of Babylon, and that nation, says the Lord, for their iniquity, and the land of the Chaldeans; and I will make it perpetual desolations. And I will bring upon that land all My words which I have pronounced against it, even all that is written in this book, which Jeremiah has prophesied against all the nations. --- Jeremiah 25:8-13
This book is the Book of Jeremiah that God instructed the Prophet to write down. He did so with the help of Baruch son of Neriah (Jeremiah 36:1-4).
After defeating the army of King Josiah at Megiddo, Pharaoh marched north to meet with the Assyrian army, their ally, against the king of Babylon. In Carchemish, which is in the northern Syria near Haran, a big battle took place in 605 BCE, precisely when the Biblical text mentioned it as happening in the fourth year of Jehoiakim son of Josiah (Jeremiah 46:2). The result of this battle was that Nebuchadnezzar entirely destroyed both enemies: Assyria never rose to power again and Egypt lost all their conquest in the Levant and had to retire back to the Nile region. In the years that followed this decisive battle, the king of Babylon pushed the border of his empire until the brook of Egypt which probably meant one of the canal that was located on the eastern side of the Nile Delta, acting as a border with the Sinai Peninsula (before the construction of the Suez Canal in the 19th century).
Battle of Carchemish (Ollier, Edmund, Cassell's Illustrated Universal History, vol. 1)
Then Nebuchadnezzar and his army invaded the kingdom of Judah and started to besiege Jerusalem. Rather than facing destruction as his neighbours endured, King Jehoiakim chose to become vassal to Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar took a tribute and spoils from the Temple, and he also had some special request:
In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah came Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon unto Jerusalem, and besieged it. And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, with part of the vessels of the house of God; and he carried them into the land of Shinar to the house of his god, and the vessels he brought into the treasure-house of his god.
And the king spoke unto Ashpenaz his chief officer, that he should bring in certain of the children of Israel, and of the seed royal, and of the nobles, youths in whom was no blemish, but fair to look on, and skilful in all wisdom, and skilful in knowledge, and discerning in thought, and such as had ability to stand in the king's palace; and that he should teach them the learning and the tongue of the Chaldeans. And the king appointed for them a daily portion of the king's food, and of the wine which he drank, and that they should be nourished three years; that at the end thereof they might stand before the king. Now among these were, of the children of Judah, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. And the chief of the officers gave names unto them: unto Daniel he gave the name of Belteshazzar; and to Hananiah, of Shadrach; and to Mishael, of Meshach; and to Azariah, of Abed-nego. --- Daniel 1:1-7
And so Daniel was taken to Babylon when he was a young man, and being blessed by an intelligence superior to his brethren. And during the next 3 years, he and his 3 companions would be raised in the palace of Nebuchadnezzar before entering at the service of his empire. Daniel had special skills, above his companions:
Now as for these four youths, God gave them knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom; and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams. And at the end of the days which the king had appointed for bringing them in, the chief of the officers brought them in before Nebuchadnezzar. And the king spoke with them; and among them all was found none like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah; therefore stood they before the king. And in all matters of wisdom and understanding that the king inquired of them he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters that were in his entire realm. --- Daniel 1:17-20
The Biblical text above also mentions that daily portions were appointed to the young Judeans. Archaelogists have found that portions, or rations, were also allocated to Jehoiakim and his sons, according to clay tablets found in Babylon at the turn of the 20th century. These tablets mention the name of Jehoiakim [Ia-ku-u-ki-nu].
Jehoiakim's rations tablets (Pergamon Museum, Berlin)
In the second year of his reign, even before the 3 years period that was set for for Daniel and his companions to learn about the royal service, Nebuchadnezzar was troubled by a dream. He challenged his magicians and wisemen to interpret what it meant, but none of them could do it. In an anger of seeing their uselessness, he decreed that all wisemen of Babylon were full of lies and that they should be put to death. This decree would have been executed upon Daniel and his companions too, as they also were part of the wisemen, but Daniel had a divine vision at night and was able to explain the king’s dreams.
Nebuchadnezzar’s dream is detailed in the Book of Daniel, chapter 2, in Aramaic language, not Hebrew. It tells the vision of the future that God granted to the king of Babylon. The vision was of a colossus with a head made of gold, a chest and arms made of silver, a belly and thighs made of brass, legs of iron and feet of a mixture of iron and clay. Then a stone is detached from a mountain and first breaks the feet into pieces, then breaks all the other parts of this colossus altogether.
Daniel explains Nebuchadnezzar’s dream
Daniel then explained that the vision was about what will become the future after Nebuchadnezzar. The golden head was his present empire, the most powerful of all empires that will ever follow. The silver was the next empire that will take over Babylon: it will be the Persian Empire. It will be a large empire too but weaker than Nebuchadnezzar’s which was of gold. Then a next empire will come, even weaker: it will be the Greeks under Alexander the Great who will conquer Babylon and will end the Persian rule. It is the brass of the vision. The Greek empire is mentioned by Daniel as being one that shall bear rule over all the earth (Daniel 2:39). Indeed the Greek will spread their culture in the known world and it will become the foundation of the Western civilization that is still a dominant one ever since. Next will come the iron of two legs. It will be Christianity which will also spread broadly in the world but will equally be broadly divided, as two legs are, between Rome and Constantinople (Western and Eastern), or between Catholic and Reformist. Last will be the feet made of a mixture of clay and iron. It will be the world as we know it today, where Islam has taken over most of the lands of these old empires, even Babylon, but in a world where the presence of the Greco-Christian heritage will still remain strongly present. Both "empires" will dominate the affairs of the world and yet both will never be able to mix together because, as Daniel explained to Nebuchadnezzar:
And whereas you saw the iron mixed with miry clay, they shall mingle themselves by the seed of men; but they shall not cleave one to another, even as iron does not mingle with clay. --- Daniel 2:43
The vision ends with the allegory of the stone that smashed the colossus, starting by smashing the feet first and then all the rest of the figure would collapse and break. We will come back to this particular vision in the chapter about the end of days.
This vision is comparable to the Covenant between the Pieces with Abraham in 2028 AM (1732 BCE):
And He said unto him: 'Take Me a heifer of three years old, and a she-goat of three years old, and a ram of three years old, and a turtle-dove, and a young pigeon.'--- Genesis 15:9Indeed Tradition tells that the vision of Abraham also foretold of the successive dominions that will rule the world after Babylon (the first dominion), and links it to the text of Daniel:
Rabbi Eliezer said [4a] : The Holy One, blessed be He, showed to our father Abraham at the Covenant between the Pieces the four kingdoms, their dominion and their downfall, as it is said, "And He said unto him, Take me an heifer of three years old, and a she-goat of three years old." An 'heifer of three years old' refers to the kingdom of Edom, which is like the heifer of a sheep.[4b] And 'a she-goat of three years old' refers to the kingdom of Greece, as it is said, (Daniel 8:8) 'And the he-goat magnified himself exceedingly.' And 'a ram of three years old': this is the kingdom of Media and Persia, as it is said, (Daniel 8:20) 'And the ram which you saw that had the two horns, they are the kings of Media and Persia.' And 'a turtle-dove', this refers to the sons of Ishmael.[4c] This expression is not to be understood in the literal meaning of the word 'Tor' (turtle-dove), but in the Aramaic language, in which 'Tor' means Ox, for when the male ox is harnessed to the female, they will open and break all the valleys, even as it says (Daniel 7:19) (about) 'the fourth beast'. And 'a young pigeon' refers to the Israelites who are compared to a young pigeon, as it is said, (Song of Songs 2:14) 'O my dove, you are in the clefts of the rock, For your voice is pleasant in prayer, and your appearance is beautiful in good deeds.' And 'a young pigeon' refers to the Israelites, who are compared to a young pigeon (Song of Songs 6:9) 'My dove, my perfect (one), is (but) one.' --- Pirke de-rabbi Eliezer, chapter 28
The same way that Abraham divided the stronger animals (those of three years old, three being a reference to more strength or solidity) and placed then one part against another (Genesis 15:10), these three dominions will ultimately collapse caused by internal feud among themselves. This is true for Persia, Greece and Rome that ended either with divisions or civil wars that weakened them. As of the two birds, referring to Islam and Judaism, they are dominated by faith rather than strength or power and therefore remained united, as one respectively.
Nebuchadnezzar was grateful to Daniel and granted him the position of governor over the province of Babylon. In turn, Daniel appointed his own companions as governors of other provinces of the empire.
 To read the related article, click here
 Tablet BM 21901 (British Museum), translated by A.K. Grayson in Assyrian and Babylonian Chronicles (1975); to access it online click here
[3a] This Battle of Megiddo of 609 BCE is reported in Esdras 1
[3b] For the Greeks, all the Levant region was considered as Syria since this is where they later established the regional capital of this region they conquered; the Romans followed them
[4a] Some earlier versions of this text mention Rabbi Akiva
[4b] Edom is traditionally compared to an heifer; Edom or Seir refers to Rome/Christianity
[4c] This is the dominion of Islam, the last that will rise in the world
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