The first Babylonian captivity took place around 598 BC which is where it appears on the Bible Timeline chart. God had decided to make the Hebrews his chosen people. He wanted them to be set apart so that they could be used to tell the people of the Earth about who he is and how he wants them to live. The Lord is holy and he expects his servants to live in the same way. God had given the Hebrew people the fertile land of Canaan to the Hebrew people after he drove out the other nations that occupied the territory. The reason he took the land away from these people was due to their wickedness, deviant sexual practices and idolatry. Once the Hebrew people settled into Canaan, God had to constantly warn them about getting involved in the pagan practices that went on in other nations.
When the nation of Israel first had kings their devotion was to God. From the time of King Saul to the era of King Solomon the nation of Israel didn’t worship any false gods. However at the end of Solomon’s reign, he got involved with many foreign women who were able to turn his heart away from worshipping God alone. The Lord decided to split the kingdom of Israel in half. In the north would be the ten tribes of Israel and the remaining two tribes would be called Judah.
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When the Kingdom first split in half the people still worshipped at God’s temple but the first ruler of the newly formed Israeli kingdom decided that he was going to start the Golden Calf Cult so that he could keep the people of Israel from being reunited with Judah through their devotion to the Lord. After Jeroboam established this religion it became a type of policy that most kings of Israel used during their time in power. The kings of Judah were also influenced by foreign gods as well.
Jeroboam’s actions introduced idolatry to the Israelites and Judeans in a new way. Many people from both parts of the divided kingdom took to idolatry and God became angry. God didn’t just automatically judge and condemn the people he sent them prophets to warn them about their idolatrous ways. Prophets such as Elisha, Elijah, Huldah, Jeremiah and Isaiah constantly warned and rebuked kings to turn from their idolatrous ways. Sometimes the people listened and sometimes they refused to hear. The Lord used priests to help get the people to honor him, but the people only listened to them half of the time. God established righteous kings who did a lot during their reign to keep the people devoted to his truth but once most of these good kings died the people went right back into idolatry.
God had warned the people for so long that finally he had no choice but to judge them for their evil deeds. The Lord had sent the Israelites into captivity by the hands of the Assyrian and this was punishment for their sins. The people of Judah didn’t learn from this example. So God eventually sent them into captivity by the power of the Babylonians. King Jehoiakim experienced the arrival of the Babylonians and he was forced to pay them tribute. After he had died his son Jehoiachin had to deal with the Babylonians.
The Lord prompted King Nebuchadnezzar’s forces to enter Judah a second time during the reign of King Jehoiachin. He was one of the last kings of Judah and the Lord considered him an evil ruler who promoted idolatry. King Jehoiachin was forced to go to Babylon as a prisoner by King Nebuchadnezzar. He ended up spending the rest of his days in Babylon as a prisoner. King Nebuchadnezzar had also marched many of the elite citizens of Judah back to Babylon as well. The people of Judah were forced to pay tribute to King Nebuchadnezzar. God had allowed the Babylonians to become the rulers of Judah and he did this so that they could turn their attention back to him once again.
The first Babylonian captivity of Judah happened during the reign of King Jehoiachin and it was the beginning of a series of captivities that would plague Judah for almost a century. The people of Judah still didn’t learn their lesson and God had to judge them once again.
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