Jeremiah 52 is written by someone other than Jeremiah, likely Baruch. It captures the fall of Jerusalem and Judah. God’s patience had finally run its course and He allowed – even prompted – the Babylonian capture of Judah. The straw that broke the camel’s back was King Zedekiah and his evil rule. “He did what was evil in the sight of the Lord….because of the anger of the Lord things came to the point in Jerusalem and Judah that he cast them out from his presence”. God had enough and took action.
The Babylonians lay siege to the city and after a few years, hunger sets in and the walls are breached. “The king of Babylon slaughtered the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes, and also slaughtered all the officials of Judah at Riblah. He put out the eyes of Zedekiah, and bound him in chains”. It wasn’t a happy capture – the king of Babylon wiped out any and all of the leaders who had resisted him. Zedekiah went from king to a blind prisoner. Nebuchadnezzar kept Zedekiah in prison until he died; and then buried him.
The enemy destroyed Solomon’s temple by holding a two-day feast there to desecrate it; then, on the third day, they set fire to the building. They also broke down the city walls. The walls of Jerusalem – the physical security of the city – were now destroyed. Jerusalem was no longer a place of safety and security. The walls would remain in ruin until they were rebuilt by the returning exiles in the days of Nehemiah. Nebuzaradan was the captain of the guard and carried the title in Hebrew that is literally, ‘the chief executioner’ or ‘the slaughterer.’ Methodically, he set about to demolish the beautiful city, burning the palace and the chief buildings, breaking down the walls, and wrecking the temple. Total destruction was the goal.
A new king comes to the throne in Babylon at the end of Jeremiah’s book and he takes a less harsh approach to his captives from Judah. The fact that Jehoiachin lived on long after the exile and that he was finally released from prison may have seemed like the first signs of the fulfillment of Jeremiah’s promise of a day of restoration. “And in the thirty-seventh year of the exile of Jehoiachin king of Judah….Evil-merodach king of Babylon, in the year that he became king, graciously freed Jehoiachin king of Judah and brought him out of prison”. It is evidence that God was not done blessing and restoring His people, foreshadowing even greater blessing and restoration to come.