Last article we ended with the question of where is the Ark of the Covenant today.
There are various theories about what happened to the Ark of the Covenant, but by far and away the most plausible is that it was taken by the Levites during the reign of king Manasseh who was desecrating everything that was holy, in order to keep it safe. It is believed that it was taken to Ethiopia. There are many legends of the ark being in Ethiopia including a previous study of the connection with Solomon and the Queen of Sheba and 1,000 years later, Phillip meeting with the Ethiopian eunuch.
Recent discoveries by Bob Cornuke have brought to light some compelling evidence to support this Levite belief. What makes all of this interesting is to realize that Pharaoh Necho was not himself Egyptian, but Ethiopian! Could this therefore be the reason that Josiah went out to fight with Necho? Even Ethiopian Necho himself was surprised by Josiah’s actions and told Josiah that he was following God’s instructions and claimed that ‘God is with me’ – a strange comment from a Gentile, unless of course he had the Ark! Bob is president of the Bible Archaeology Search and Exploration Institute in Colorado.
JIV NOTE: There was at times ONE EGYPT and at other times a northern and southern kingdom of Egypt. Ethiopians sat on the throne of Egypt many times throughout history.
Anyway, Josiah died in the battle and Necho went on to defeat the Assyrians as has been mentioned (and was prophesied in Isaiah 10:5-11). With Josiah now dead, his son, Jehoahaz became king in Jerusalem, that is until Necho, on his way back from the battle, stopped off at Jerusalem, and in reprisal put Judah under tribute, carried Jehoahaz away to Egypt and made Jehoahaz’s brother, Jehoiakim, king instead. SPECIAL NOTE: Ethiopia since the Queen of Sheba time had been under Judaism. IN MODERN TIMES IT HAS BEEN MOSTLY CHRISTIAN.
With the Assyrians conquered there was now a ‘power vacuum’ that needed to be filled. Necho was powerful, but there was a new kid on the block; a young general called Nebuchadnezzar. The king of Babylon at that time was Nabopolassar, but it was his son Nebuchadnezzar; i.e. Book of Daniel, who was destined to become one of the most powerful rulers the world has known. Three years after Necho had won at Carchemish he found himself going back again, but this time to fight against Nabopolassar’s Babylon under the command of Nebuchadnezzar. Necho lost the battle and so began the mighty Babylonian Empire.
Eager to make his mark, the young Nebuchadnezzar stopped off at Jerusalem on his way home for some trophies, and here begins the book of Daniel: “In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah…” (Dan 1:1) Jehoiakim was taken to Babylon but then allowed to return as a ‘vassal king’ and he reigned for another eight years. However the last five of these YEARS he rebelled against Nebuchadnezzar despite the warnings from Jeremiah who faithfully continued to prophesy in Jerusalem. When Jehoiakim died (at age 36) his son Jehoiachin (also called Jeconiah and sometimes simply Coniah) reigned, but only for three months and ten days (2 Chronicles 36:9). The Bible says he was evil in the sight of the Lord for which a blood curse was put upon him and his descendants (Jeremiah 22:30).
NOTE: Jehoiachin/Jeconiah was of the royal lineage of King David. This poses a real problem from the coming Messiah who is to be a descendant of David, of the royal line! Spot the difference between Matthew’s 1:1-17 and Luke’s 3:23-37 genealogies!
Eight years after his first visit, Nebuchadnezzar came again, laid siege to Jerusalem and took Jehoiachin back to Babylon along with more captives including a certain young priest called Ezekiel. Ezekiel started prophesying from Babylon in what would have been the 5th year of Jehoiachin; by this time Daniel would have been about 27 years old.
King Nebuchadnezzar then made Zedekiah (Jehoiachin’s uncle: 2 Kings 24:17) the final king of Judah. Zedekiah reigned for eleven years before he too was carried away to Babylon after once again ignoring the prophecies of Jeremiah. (See Jer 34:2-3, then Ezekiel 12:13 and finally Jer 52:8-11 for a dramatic fulfillment of prophecy – Zedekiah went to Babylon, but he never saw it!)
In Jeremiah we read:“Now in the fifth month, in the tenth day of the month, which was the nineteenth year of Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon, came Nebuzar-adan, captain of the guard, which served the king of Babylon, into Jerusalem, And burned the house of the LORD, and the king’s house; and all the houses of Jerusalem, and all the houses of the great men, burned he with fire: And all the army of the Chaldeans, that were with the captain of the guard, brake down all the walls of Jerusalem round about.” (Jeremiah 52:12-14)
Jerusalem was finally destroyed and the remaining people of Judah, all but the very poor and farmers, were led away captive from the land to give the land the rest that it was owed. They remained in this land ever since. Israelis have not vacated the land as Hamas and other Islamic groups would have us believe in modern times.
“To fulfill the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed her Sabbaths: for as long as she lay desolate she kept Sabbath, to fulfill threescore and ten years.” (2 Chronicles 36:21) (See also Leviticus 25:2-4 & 26:32-35)
Judah had seen herself as unconquerable. After all they were God’s chosen people, Jerusalem was the city of David and they had the Temple of God to hide behind. This complacency had led them into idolatry. Idols had been put on the hills and even on the temple mount; sexual immorality was everywhere. All that God had despised about the Canaanites whom God had removed from the land, Israel was now doing. All that God had said would destroy a nation they had embraced – if you sow the wind you will reap the whirlwind. “Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people.” (Proverbs 14:34)
Nebuchadnezzar laid siege to Jerusalem three times in total; the final time in 587 B.C. he leveled the city and destroyed the temple. With the first siege began the ‘servitude of the nation’, which, as prophesied in Jeremiah 29:10, lasted exactly seventy years (based on a 360 Jewish calendar-day-year). The final siege began a period of time known as the ‘desolations of Jerusalem’ (Jer 25:11; Daniel 9:2), also seventy years to the day. The first period of seventy years (servitude of the nation) was ended by the decree of Cyrus in 537 B.C. Legend has it that Cyrus was met at the gate of Babylon by an aged Daniel who presented Cyrus with a scroll of Isaiah in which there was a detailed prophecy from some 200 years earlier which not only mentioned Cyrus by name, but also recorded how he would take the city, and that he would set the captive Jews free allowing them to return home to Jerusalem (see Isaiah 44:24; 45:6).