The later kings of Judah
I covered this period in two overview threads.
1 ) From Athaliah to Manasseh
Joash- Amaziah- Uzziah- Jotham- Ahaz- Hezekiah- Manasseh- Amon
Joash noticed financial mismanagement in the affairs of the Temple, and introduced an important reform.
The Temple building-fund scandal
I detected a three-way power-struggle between the kings, the priesthood of the Temple, and those who followed the worship of other gods. The priests
were trying to escape the control of the kings, which would have been one reason why kings might encourage the religious opposition.
This friction is illustrated by the fate of Uzziah;
Uzziah the leper
We also begin to see the first writing prophets of Judah..
Isaiah began his prophecies in the reign of Uzziah.
Micah began in the reign of Jotham.
In both cases, the original core of their message was criticism of the kingdom and warning of judgement.
Who requires this trampling of my courts?
In the reign of Ahaz, there was a diplomatic reversal in the north. The kings of Israel and Syria came to an agreement against the kingdom of Judah,
which then faced an attack from their combined armies. In response, Ahaz called in the help of Assyria against the other two.
This episode prompted Isaiah to offer the prophecy “A young woman shall give birth”. This was originally a promise that the people of Jerusalem
would not be starved out by the besieging armies, setting a time-limit for the arrival of fresh food (“before he knows how to refuse the evil and
choose the good”). Thus the king of Israel, Pekah the son of Remaliah, was the unconscious stepfather of the best-known prophecy in the whole of the
A child is born, called Immanuel
Hezekiah gave his backing to the Temple, removing all the idols that he could find in Jerusalem.
His reign saw the final destruction of the kingdom of Israel, taken into exile by the Assyrians.
Within less than a decade, there followed that great Assyrian invasion of his own kingdom which provoked other prophecies from Isaiah (ch37).
Calling in the army of a distant nation
Why should the axe be boastful?
Manasseh reversed Hezekiah’s policy completely, and encouraged idolatry to the same degree that his father had been suppressing it. He must have
expected this attitude to be supported by a large portion of the population.
According to Kings, this reign was decisive in persuading the Lord to give up his protection of the kingdom.
2 ) From Josiah to Nebuchadnezzar
Josiah- Jehoahaz- Jehoiakim- Jehoiachin- Zedekiah
Josiah’s reign stands out for two important events.
He instigated a major reform, not just removing idols, but also centralising the worship of the Lord in Jerusalem. This was the beginning of the
national, centralised Passovers.
Unfortunately the other event is the battle of Megiddo, in which he met his death and destroyed the rising hopes of a prospering kingdom focussed upon
The first Armageddon
After Megiddo, everything went downhill.
Jehoiakim was restive under Babylonian supremacy and rebelled. He would have been taken into exile, if he had not died first. His son Jehoiachin was
Jeremiah and the stubborn king.
This left Zedekiah to make the mistake of provoking the final siege, trusting in the illusion that Egypt would be able to support him.
Jeremiah and the nervous king
Zephaniah was prophesying during the reign of Josiah.
Jeremiah began his prophecies at the same time, but was more prominent in the last three reigns.
What’s wrong with Jerusalem?
The harlot city
You must free the slaves
Ezekiel was taken into exile with Jehoiachin and began to receive prophecies there. I am currently working on the first drafts of an Ezekiel
Thus, for the last six years of the kingdom, Jeremiah and Ezekiel were active simultaneously, on opposite sides of the desert.
Unfortunately, their warning message of judgement was being contradicted by more optimistic self-appointed prophets;
The rival prophets
This had been a recurring problem all the way through the kingdom period;
False prophets in the Old Testament
After the return from exile
When Babylon was conquered by Cyrus, Jerusalem was restored in stages.
Ezra and Nehemiah describe the return of the people, the re-establishment of the laws, and the re-building of the walls.
The prophets Haggai and Zechariah announce the rebuilding of the Temple.
They also hint at a possible restoration of the kingship for Zerubbabel (which does not happen).
Seizing the moment to rebuild the Temple
The last of the minor prophets is Malachi, addressing a priest-led society which has a governor instead of a king.
According to the story in Daniel ch1, Daniel experienced the same Babylonian exile as Ezekiel. On the face of it, they should have been acquainted
with one another. However, Ezekiel himself only names Daniel alongside Noah and Job as one of the righteous men of legend (Ezekiel ch14 v20).
The first half of Daniel treats Babylon as a model for the pride of human authority;
Babylon in Daniel; www.abovetopsecret.com...
The second half of Daniel, at least, was written when the Greeks were dominant. The rise and fourfold division of Alexander’s empire is a landmark
event noted in three different chapters.
The eleventh chapter is a fairly transparent account of the wars between the Seleucid dynasty of Syria (“the north”) and the Ptolomies of Egypt
(“the south”), culminating in the reign of the infamous Antiochus Epiphanes. The verse about the “ships of Kittim” refers to his humiliation
at the hands of a Roman envoy, who drew around him the original “circle in the sand”.
However, this account appears to overlap with a description of some future ruler following a similar pattern of kingship.
The king at the appointed time
Thus the story comes round full circle.
Moses was faced by the hostility of worldly rulers, in the shape of the Pharaoh of Egypt.
The book of Judges comes from the time when Israel had no kings.
As long as there was a kingdom, the royal power was either helping or hindering the work of the prophets.
Finally, the book of Malachi comes from a time when Israel had no kings.
While Daniel is faced by the hostility of worldly rulers.