and understanding and revealed them to babes; yea, Father, for such was thy gracious will
Chapter 1 introduced the Patriarchs of Israel and the Covenant, with its integral Promise, which God made to them beginning with Abraham. Then Isaac and Jacob successively inherited the Promise by which God granted Israel the Land of Canaan for an inheritance. Continual blessings on Israel were also assured, but from a very early time we learned that not only was Israel to be blessed, but that the Promise was, through Israel, to extend to all the nations of the earth.
In a later announcement of the Promise to Jacob, God expanded it to include this brief phrase, and kings shall spring from you. Finally, the aged Jacob transferred this aspect of the promise, not to all twelve sons, but to Judah alone when he spoke to Judah and blessed him and said, in the course of the blessing, "The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler's staff from between his feet, until he comes to whom it belongs; and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples." ( Gen. 49:10) It was a long story, as we are seeing but we will learn, as we go, that this portion of the Promise points directly to Jesus of Nazareth, who has become King of kings and Lord of lords and, as Jacob told Judah, "to him shall be the obedience of the peoples (the nations)."
Chapter II continued the Promise, leaving Genesis and tracing it through Exodus and the other books of the Pentateuch, where the person of Moses dominates every page. Like a golden chain, the Promise links and binds together, as a single story, the history of God's faithfulness to his covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in spite of the often faithlessness of the People of the Promise. Also please be reminded that we have highlighted references to the Promise in purple.
Chapter III continued this Old Testament survey with the focus on the divine Promise to Israel of a land, a people and a kingdom as set forth in Joshua, Judges, and Ruth. The Israelites have possessed the land promised to the patriarchs.
Here we surveyed the OT book of I Samuel where we found the transition from the judges to the kings. As in Chapter III, I Samuel does not emphasize the promise; nevertheless we learn much as we see certain elements of the Promise carefully maintained such that the links of the Golden Chain remain unbroken. Israel has occupied the Promised Land but problems remain that result in the rejection of the kingdom of God and the initiation of the kingdom of man in Israel. Very significantly, we have here, for the first time, the introduction of the conception of the Messiah, the anointed of God.
David ascended the Throne of Judah ca. 1000 BC. The fall of the Judaic monarchy that followed David through Solomon came finally about 416 years later in 586 BC when the last king of the house of David, Zedekiah, was taken captive to Babylon together with all the principle people. We can put this in perspective by stating that this is about a hundred years less than the period from Christopher Columbus to 2004 AD. This is the sad ending to which this chapter directs us. We will continue to discover that, in spite of the faithlessness of Israel and Judah, God has carefully maintained the Promise. Altogether we have to deal with twenty - two kings of Judah, including David and Zedekiah. And, in spite of everything, the unending chain of promise endures. We also have to deal with the offshoot kingdom of Israel, that began after the death of king Solomon in about 920 BC and ended with the fall of Samaria and the deportation of the Israelites in 722 BC.
After Saul's death the men of Judah came to Hebron where David had settled and anointed him king over the house of Judah (2 Sam. 2:4). He reigned there over Judah for seven and a half years. At the end of this period, the elders of all the tribes of Israel came to him at Hebron and anointed David king over all Israel. He was then age thirty, and we are told that he reigned forty years, including the period of his reign over Judah only of seven and one half years at Hebron. He then moved his government to Jerusalem from which he reigned thirty - three years over Judah and Israel.
He also moved the Ark of God to Jerusalem and placed it in a tent that he had prepared for it, built himself a palace, and then began to reflect. Doesn't God require a house instead of a tent?
Now Nathan was the foremost prophet of the day, and David called Nathan in to tell him of his intention to build a house for God. But that very night the Lord came to Nathan with a message for David that included the following:
 Moreover the LORD declares to you that the LORD will make you a house.
 When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come forth from your body, and I will establish his kingdom.
 He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom for ever.
 I will be his father, and he shall be my son. When he commits iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men, with the stripes of the sons of men;
 but I will not take my steadfast love from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away from before you.
 And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure for ever before me; your throne shall be established for ever.'
David will not build a house for the Lord -- instead, the Lord will build a house for David, a royal house, a succession of kings to spring from him. This is the basic Promise that the Lord has made to David, and he goes further to explain that he will also establish the kingdom of his son (Solomon) after him. It is Solomon who will build a house for the Lord (v. 13). It is of interest that all the promises here, that concerning Solomon (v. 13) and that concerning David (v.16) are without conditions. This unconditional promise will change so as to suffer a restriction.
2 Samuel continues to relate the major events in the reign of David, including his great sin in the matter of Bathsheba and Uriah the Hittite. This event according to which David committed adultery with Bathsheba, then had his general, Abner, put her husband, Uriah, forward in battle so as to insure his death, resulted in a permanent blot on the royal record, yet never so as to spoil the Promise. Nevertheless, it was Bathsheba who became the mother of Solomon, David's successor, and the ancestor of Jesus.
We observe also that David was a man of blood. His task was to make the nation secure, and he spared no one's blood to accomplish the same. We read where he slew, in battle, twenty-two thousand men of the Syrians (2 Sam. 8:5), eighteen thousand Edomites (2 Sam. 8:13), the men of 700 chariots and forty thousand horsemen (2 Sam. 10:18). There were many other battles as he strove to make his kingdom secure in the midst of enemy nations, and we read that the Lord gave him victory (2 Sam. 8:14).
David closed out his forty year reign as a very old and infirm man. During the latter years, the chief threat to his throne came from his son Absalom. When his time came, he sent for Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet and arranged for the accession of his son Solomon to the throne. The necessary ceremonies were completed, and David delivered this charge to his son and successor:
 "I am about to go the way of all the earth. Be strong, and show yourself a man,
 and keep the charge of the LORD your God, walking in his ways and keeping his statutes, his commandments, his ordinances, and his testimonies, as it is written in the law of Moses, that you may prosper in all that you do and wherever you turn;
 that the LORD may establish his word which he spoke concerning me, saying, `If your sons take heed to their way, to walk before me in faithfulness with all their heart and with all their soul, there shall not fail you a man on the throne of Israel.'
Let us take notice of the fact that this rendering of the Promise is conditional.
God would himself deliver the Promise to Solomon after his kingdom was firmly established. There were many "high places" in the land in those days. These were hills or other elevations on which the people built altars, ordained priests, and went there to make their sacrifices, since there was as yet no house of the Lord in Jerusalem to which they could go. Even though Solomon loved the Lord and purposed to build a house for HIm, he also sacrificed on the high places, which displeased the Lord. There was such an altar at Gibeon, and the king went there to make his sacrifices. Once, while there, the Lord appeared to him in a dream and delivered the Promise to him directly in this, his first appearance to Solomon. First, the Lord told Solomon to "Ask what I shall give you." The king displayed his wisdom in asking for one thing only, which was an understanding mind to govern the people. This pleased the Lord and he said to the king,
 And God said to him, "Because you have asked this, and have not asked for yourself long life or riches or the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern what is right,
 behold, I now do according to your word. Behold, I give you a wise and discerning mind, so that none like you has been before you and none like you shall arise after you.
 I give you also what you have not asked, both riches and honor, so that no other king shall compare with you, all your days.
 And if you will walk in my ways, keeping my statutes and my commandments, as your father David walked, then I will lengthen your days.
In the fourth year of his reign, which was the four hundred and eightieth year after the people came out of the land of Egypt, he began to build the house of the Lord. While it was being built, the Lord spoke to him a second time:
 "Concerning this house which you are building, if you will walk in my statutes and obey my ordinances and keep all my commandments and walk in them, then I will establish my word with you, which I spoke to David your father.
 And I will dwell among the children of Israel, and will not forsake my people Israel."
The house, which was the first temple, was seven years in the building. Solomon provided all the necessary vessels and furnishing for the temple, and brought the Ark of God into it. He dedicated the temple, and prayed to God a long prayer that included the following:
 Then Solomon stood before the altar of the LORD in the presence of all the assembly of Israel, and spread forth his hands toward heaven;
 and said, "O LORD, God of Israel, there is no God like thee, in heaven above or on earth beneath, keeping covenant and showing steadfast love to thy servants who walk before thee with all their heart;
 who hast kept with thy servant David my father what thou didst declare to him; yea, thou didst speak with thy mouth, and with thy hand hast fulfilled it this day.
 Now therefore, O LORD, God of Israel, keep with thy servant David my father what thou hast promised him, saying, `There shall never fail you a man before me to sit upon the throne of Israel, if only your sons take heed to their way, to walk before me as you have walked before me.'
 Now therefore, O God of Israel, let thy word be confirmed, which thou hast spoken to thy servant David my father.
The king is again reminding the Lord of the Promise to David of an everlasting kingdom. But we must carefully note the conditional element here in v. 26: if only your sons take heed to their way. This is an early expression of the conditional, but it will not be the last as we search the history and the prophets of the time, and as we continue to search the record of Solomon's reign. We need not search far, as we soon read of the completion of the king's building projects, after which the Lord appeared to him a second time as at Gibeon, and said:
 And the LORD said to him, "I have heard your prayer and your supplication, which you have made before me; I have consecrated this house which you have built, and put my name there for ever; my eyes and my heart will be there for all time.  And as for you, if you will walk before me, as David your father walked, with integrity of heart and uprightness, doing according to all that I have commanded you, and keeping my statutes and my ordinances,
 then I will establish your royal throne over Israel for ever, as I promised David your father, saying, `There shall not fail you a man upon the throne of Israel.'
 But if you turn aside from following me, you or your children, and do not keep my commandments and my statutes which I have set before you, but go and serve other gods and worship them,
 then I will cut off Israel from the land which I have given them; and the house which I have consecrated for my name I will cast out of my sight; and Israel will become a proverb and a byword among all peoples.
 And this house will become a heap of ruins; everyone passing by it will be astonished, and will hiss; and they will say, `Why has the LORD done thus to this land and to this house?'
 Then they will say, `Because they forsook the LORD their God who brought their fathers out of the land of Egypt, and laid hold on other gods, and worshiped them and served them; therefore the LORD has brought all this evil upon them.'"
This is the strongest possible expression of the conditional promise. But remember that it is thus directed to Solomon; it was never so stated to David, who received the Promise without conditions. This is also a threat of what will be the fate of this people and this kingdom should they turn aside from following the Lord, fail to keep his commandments and statutes, and turn to other gods. It also is a sort of prophecy, for this is exactly what took place. The kings and the people, beginning with and including Solomon and his administration, turned away from the Lord to foreign gods.
Nevertheless, Solomon's kingdom flourished, was relatively free from war, and he amassed great wealth. We read that he excelled all the kings of the earth in riches and they came to him hoping to share in his wisdom, which God had put into his mind (1 Kings 10:23,24).
What followed is a sad story, and one of the oldest tales among men. An otherwise wise man became an utter fool in the presence of beautiful women. So it came to pass that the king married many foreign women and took concubines until he had 700 wives who were princesses, and 300 concubines. One wonders how he found time to govern so wisely!
But the major result of so many women in his life was that they were for the most part foreign women who brought with them, to the palace, the worship of their native gods, and it follows that they enticed Solomon' heart to turn from the pure devotion to the Lord and to do what was evil in the sight of the Lord.
 And the LORD was angry with Solomon, because his heart had turned away from the LORD, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice,
 and had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not go after other gods; but he did not keep what the LORD commanded.
 Therefore the LORD said to Solomon, "Since this has been your mind and you have not kept my covenant and my statutes which I have commanded you, I will surely tear the kingdom from you and will give it to your servant.
 Yet for the sake of David your father I will not do it in your days, but I will tear it out of the hand of your son.
 However I will not tear away all the kingdom; but I will give one tribe to your son, for the sake of David my servant and for the sake of Jerusalem which I have chosen.
So Solomon failed of the conditions imposed by the Lord and lost his place in the eternal Chain of Promise. Only the unconditional Promise made to David remained intact.
Next, we have to introduce a very capable young man by the name of Jeroboam, of the tribe of Ephriam. He came to Solomon's attention, and was placed in charge of all the forced labor of "the House of Joseph (1 Kings 11:28). There was also a faithful prophet in the land at that time by the name of Ahijah. Jeroboam was on a journey and Ahijah found him on the road. Ahijah had clad himself with a new garment but when he saw Jeroboam, he approached him, ripped his new garment into twelve pieces and said to Jeroboam:
 "Take for yourself ten pieces; for thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, `Behold, I am about to tear the kingdom from the hand of Solomon, and will give you ten tribes
 (but he shall have one tribe, for the sake of my servant David and for the sake of Jerusalem, the city which I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel),
 because he has forsaken me, and worshiped Ash'toreth the goddess of the Sido'nians, Chemosh the god of Moab, and Milcom the god of the Ammonites, and has not walked in my ways, doing what is right in my sight and keeping my statutes and my ordinances, as David his father did.
 Nevertheless I will not take the whole kingdom out of his hand; but I will make him ruler all the days of his life, for the sake of David my servant whom I chose, who kept my commandments and my statutes;
 but I will take the kingdom out of his son's hand, and will give it to you, ten tribes.
 Yet to his son I will give one tribe, that David my servant may always have a lamp before me in Jerusalem, the city where I have chosen to put my name.
 And I will take you, and you shall reign over all that your soul desires, and you shall be king over Israel.
 And if you will hearken to all that I command you, and will walk in my ways, and do what is right in my eyes by keeping my statutes and my commandments, as David my servant did, I will be with you, and will build you a sure house, as I built for David, and I will give Israel to you.
 And I will for this afflict the descendants of David, but not for ever.'"
 Solomon sought therefore to kill Jerobo'am; but Jerobo'am arose, and fled into Egypt, to Shishak king of Egypt, and was in Egypt until the death of Solomon.
Solomon died about 920 BC and his son Rehoboam ascended the throne. Jeroboam returned from Egypt and appeared with the assembly of Israel before Rehoboam with the request that he lighten the hard burden and the heavy yoke that Solomon had placed on them. Wisely, Rehoboam sought council with the elders and they advised him to lighten the burden as requested by Jeroboam and all the people of Israel. Then, unwisely, he sought the council of the young men who had grown up with him, and they advised the very opposite -- say to them, "My finger is thicker than my father's loins." He chose to accept the latter advise.
With predictable results, the ten tribes of Israel withdrew their loyalty from Rehoboam and turned to Jeroboam, making him their king.
The Northern Kingdom of Israel
Jeroboam began to reign over the ten tribes of Israel about 920 BC, being the first of a succession of eighteen kings that extended until the fall of Samaria to the Assyrian king, Shalmaneser in 722 BC. Shalmaneser carried the children of Israel away to Assyria, and from that day to this, they have been spoken of as "the ten lost tribes of Israel."
The sad two hundred year history of this kingdom was the record of one idolatrous king after another. Jeroboam set the course. He was greatly concerned that his subjects, who had been accustomed to go up to the house of the Lord at Jerusalem, that Solomon had built, would continue to do so and that this would cause them to return to the rule of the king of Judah. He therefore set up alternative altars in Israel and established a non Levitical priesthood and caused the people to offer sacrifices in Israel rather than Jerusalem. He also made idols, two golden calves, that he set up as gods for the worship of the people (1 Kings 12). He also appointed feast days and other annual observances such as the people had observed under David and Solomon. In short, he attempted to establish a different but parallel religious system in Israel.
A son of Jeroboam, Abijah by name, became ill and Jeroboam sent him with his mother to consult with Ahijah, the aged prophet at Shiloh, in the hope that the prophet would cure his son. Ahijah was one of the faithful prophets of the Lord and his word to the wife of Jeroboam was not encouraging, for it foretold the entire history of Israel in few words:
1 Kings 14:
 Go, tell Jerobo'am, `Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel: "Because I exalted you from among the people, and made you leader over my people Israel,
 and tore the kingdom away from the house of David and gave it to you; and yet you have not been like my servant David, who kept my commandments, and followed me with all his heart, doing only that which was right in my eyes,
 but you have done evil above all that were before you and have gone and made for yourself other gods, and molten images, provoking me to anger, and have cast me behind your back;
 therefore behold, I will bring evil upon the house of Jerobo'am, and will cut off from Jerobo'am every male, both bond and free in Israel, and will utterly consume the house of Jerobo'am, as a man burns up dung until it is all gone.
 Any one belonging to Jerobo'am who dies in the city the dogs shall eat; and any one who dies in the open country the birds of the air shall eat; for the LORD has spoken it."'
 Arise therefore, go to your house. When your feet enter the city, the child shall die.
 And all Israel shall mourn for him, and bury him; for he only of Jerobo'am shall come to the grave, because in him there is found something pleasing to the LORD, the God of Israel, in the house of Jerobo'am.
 Moreover the LORD will raise up for himself a king over Israel, who shall cut off the house of Jerobo'am today. And henceforth
 the LORD will smite Israel, as a reed is shaken in the water, and root up Israel out of this good land which he gave to their fathers, and scatter them beyond the Euphra'tes, because they have made their Ashe'rim, provoking the LORD to anger.
 And he will give Israel up because of the sins of Jerobo'am, which he sinned and which he made Israel to sin."
Yet the kingdom of Israel persisted through the reign of seventeen successive kings before this sentence of the Lord was completed. Not one of the kings of Israel pleased the Lord, although he sent prophets to them to warn them from their errors and their idolatrous ways. Each one died in turn, and in each case, with only two exceptions, the chronicler wrote this epitaph in the books of the kings of Israel:
This was written of Pekah who preceded Hosea, the last of the kings of Israel. It is typical of the concluding comments concerning every one of them. In retrospect, we can wonder why the Lord established Jeroboam as king of Israel at the beginning, and why he endured the idolatries of that kingdom from beginning to end. Perhaps it was to show His patience, how he is merciful toward every people and abides with their failures with much long suffering and with the expectation that they will repent and learn to serve HIm. The scribe who penned 2 Kings sums up the entire history of the abortive kingdom of Israel -- all two hundred years of it -- as follows:
28] And he did what was evil in the sight of the LORD; he did not depart from the sins of Jerobo'am the son of Nebat, which he made Israel to sin.
 When he had torn Israel from the house of David they made Jerobo'am the son of Nebat king. And Jerobo'am drove Israel from following the LORD and made them commit great sin.
 The people of Israel walked in all the sins which Jerobo'am did; they did not depart from them,
 until the LORD removed Israel out of his sight, as he had spoken by all his servants the prophets. So Israel was exiled from their own land to Assyria until this day.
We have set forth this brief review of the northern kingdom to explain how there is not one hint in the scripture that the Promise had any association with that kingdom. No son of David reigned there, and no one qualified to claim the Promise in any sense. It was an abortive kingdom, ruled by brutal, faithless and idolatrous kings. The only highlights in its history involves faithful prophets, in particular Elijah and Elisha, who held fast the Word of the Lord throughout. But there was no Promise, no promised land, no promised kingdom of God to come from the kings of Israel. Therefore we leave this kingdom in its grave and turn back to the line of David and the continuance of the Promise through that line exclusively.
The Kingdom of Judah
The reduced kingdom of Judah began with no better promise than Israel. Rehoboam reigned for seventeen years during which he followed after the same abominations as did the king of Israel, and his son, Abijam, did the same. Yet, the scribe of 1 Kings tells us:
 Nevertheless for David's sake the LORD his God gave him a lamp in Jerusalem, setting up his son after him, and establishing Jerusalem;
 because David did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, and did not turn aside from anything that he commanded him all the days of his life, except in the matter of Uri'ah the Hittite.
No doubt about it -- the only real hero of this story is David. To him alone is the Promise without conditions, and for his sake alone the Lord established his "lamp" in Jerusalem. this tells us that the path of the Promise remains unbroken. It began with David, continued with Solomon, and now if firmly fixed on the Southern kingdom of Judah.
The reader should be prepared for a treat. There followed two "good" kings, each of which was blessed with a long reign: Asa, who reigned forty-one years, and Jehoshaphat who reigned twenty five years. But it was, after all, short lived. Jehoshaphat was succeeded by his son, Jehoram (850-843), who reigned eight years. His wife was the daughter of Ahab, king of Israel, and he followed in the ways of Ahab. Now, the scribe again reminds us:
 Yet the LORD would not destroy Judah, for the sake of David his servant, since he promised to give a lamp to him and to his sons for ever.
The brief reign of Ahaziah was terminated by his death in battle as Jehu rebelled against Joram, king of Israel, and slew both Joram and Ahaziah (843 BC). When the queen mother, Athaliah, saw that her son Ahaziah was dead, she sought to claim power for herself by slaying all the royal family in the succession of David. But the sister of Ahaziah, Johosheba, saved one infant son, Joash, and hid him away for for six years while she reigned in Jerusalem. When Joash (Jehoash) was seven years old, Jehoiada the priest engineered a revolt from Athaliah and placed the child on the throne of David in Jerusalem. Athaliah was slain and the young king survived and reigned forty years in Jerusalem, during which time the scribe tells us,
 And Jeho'ash did what was right in the eyes of the LORD all his days, because Jehoi'ada the priest instructed him.
 Nevertheless the high places were not taken away; the people continued to sacrifice and burn incense on the high places.
Joash was one of the best kings Judah put forward, and when he acceded to the throne was apparently the only surviving descendent of David who was qualified to ascend to David's throne and claim the Promise of the Lord to David and his descendants. Yet in his case as in that of every one of the "good" kings of Judah, there was to be found cause for much displeasure in the Lord because none of them stopped the sacrificing on the high places of Judah. Since the temple had been completed, it was the only officially approved site for sacrifices to God in Judah.
Amaziah, son of Joash (Jehoash) succeeded him and reigned for 29 years in Jerusalem. He departed from the godly ways of his father and was succeeded by Azariah (Uzziah). This was one of the most faithful kings of Judah, and the Lord rewarded him with a very long reign of fifty-two years. HIs son, Jotham (also a good king), reigned for sixteen years, until about 742 BC. Ahaz succeeded him in 742 BC and reigned for sixteen years. His was one of the most abominable reigns of all the Kings of Judah and Israel, and even burned his son as an offering. He was succeeded by Hezekiah, his son, who in contrast to his father was one of the best rulers to reign from Jerusalem, and he reigned 29 years. Perhaps he was watching what the Assyrians were doing to Israel, for it was during the the sixth year of his reign that Samaria fell to the Assyrians and the children of the ten tribes dispersed among the nations, never to be seen again.
Hezekiah surpassed the previous "good" kings in faithfulness, for he went beyond their reforms and removed the high places from the land. The scribe gives to him the highest of praise:
Sennacherib, king of Assyria, was not happy with this rebellion. A series of moves followed, that culminated with the Assyrian army surrounding Jerusalem and things seemed very bleak to Hezekiah. Enter now Isaiah, the prophet. The Lord sent him to Hezekiah to assure the king that he had nothing to fear from Sennacherib. This is the conclusion of the Word of the Lord to Hezekiah through Isaiah:
 He trusted in the LORD the God of Israel; so that there was none like him among all the kings of Judah after him, nor among those who were before him.
 For he held fast to the LORD; he did not depart from following him, but kept the commandments which the LORD commanded Moses.
 And the LORD was with him; wherever he went forth, he prospered. He rebelled against the king of Assyria, and would not serve him.
 "And this shall be the sign for you: this year you shall eat what grows of itself, and in the second year what springs of the same; then in the third year sow, and reap, and plant vineyards, and eat their fruit.
 And the surviving remnant of the house of Judah shall again take root downward, and bear fruit upward;
 for out of Jerusalem shall go forth a remnant, and out of Mount Zion a band of survivors. The zeal of the LORD will do this.
Do you see the specification of a remnant? Mark it and watch it well; it is the first indication of a new strategy that the Lord has begun towards keeping his Promise with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob of a land, and David of a kingdom. The prophet continues:
 "Therefore thus says the LORD concerning the king of Assyria, He shall not come into this city or shoot an arrow there, or come before it with a shield or cast up a siege mound against it.
 By the way that he came, by the same he shall return, and he shall not come into this city, says the LORD.
 For I will defend this city to save it, for my own sake and for the sake of my servant David.
That very night, the angel of the Lord slew the Assyrian army, all hundred and eighty-five thousand in the camp about Jerusalem, thus saving the city and the Kingdom of Judah. This event has been best memorialized in the poem, The Destruction of Sennacherib, by Lord Byron.
The Assyrian came down like a wolf on the fold,So it was that the Lord rescued Jerusalem and Hezekiah from the Assyrians, but a worse foe was soon to appear. Hezekiah fell ill for a time and the king of Babylon sent envoys with letters and presents. Hezekiah welcomed them and showed them all his wealth and all the treasures of his kingdom. Big mistake, for the king of Babylon would not be able to resist the temptation that all these treasure set before him.
And his cohorts were gleaming in purple and gold,
And the sheen of their spears was like stars on the sea,
When the blue wave rolls nightly on deep Galilee.
Like the leaves of the forest when
Summer is green,
For the Angel of Death spread his
wings on the blast,
And there lay the steed with his
nostril all wide,
And there lay the rider distorted
And the widows of Ashur are
loud in their wail,
Isaiah heard of it, and came and rebuked Hezekiah and said to him,
 Behold, the days are coming, when all that is in your house, and that which your fathers have stored up till this day, shall be carried to Babylon; nothing shall be left, says the LORD.
 And some of your own sons, who are born to you, shall be taken away; and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon."
 Then said Hezeki'ah to Isaiah, "The word of the LORD which you have spoken is good." For he thought, "Why not, if there will be peace and security in my days?"
Manasseh succeeded his father Hezekiah (697 BC) on the throne of David in Jerusalem; but as his father had been faithful to the Lord, Manasses turned to evil and became perhaps the most wicked of all the kings of Judah. And he reigned for fifty-five years and died in peace! The Lord spoke concerning him through the prophets;
 "Because Manas'seh king of Judah has committed these abominations, and has done things more wicked than all that the Amorites did, who were before him, and has made Judah also to sin with his idols;
 therefore thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, Behold, I am bringing upon Jerusalem and Judah such evil that the ears of every one who hears of it will tingle.  And I will stretch over Jerusalem the measuring line of Sama'ria, and the plummet of the house of Ahab; and I will wipe Jerusalem as one wipes a dish, wiping it and turning it upside down.
 And I will cast off the remnant of my heritage, and give them into the hand of their enemies, and they shall become a prey and a spoil to all their enemies,
 because they have done what is evil in my sight and have provoked me to anger, since the day their fathers came out of Egypt, even to this day.
Give heed again to the concept of the remnant, as verse 14 speaks of the remnant of my heritage.
Amon, another evil king, succeeded Manasseh and reigned for two years, then there came a hopeful change when his son, Josiah, succeeded him in 639 BC. This man was of such a good and godly character that he has become generally known throughout the ages as "good king Josiah."
It was, however, too late for the salvation of the kingdom of Judah in Jerusalem. Even the good kings had been far from righteous in all things, and they had constantly to resist the idolatry pressures of their subjects. We can receive insight into the real condition of the land when we read how the "book of the law" was found in the temple (I Kings 21:8f). It is apparent that this book had been so long neglected as to result in the priests forgetting that such a book existed, not to speak of abiding by its contents. When Josiah heard the words of the book, and realized the poverty of obedience of his people, he instructed the priests, saying:
 "Go, inquire of the LORD for me, and for the people, and for all Judah, concerning the words of this book that has been found; for great is the wrath of the LORD that is kindled against us, because our fathers have not obeyed the words of this book, to do according to all that is written concerning us.
They had abandoned all the observances the Lord had commanded Moses. They had abandoned the Passover, and all the special days. So the Lord was prompt to answer Josiah:
 Thus says the LORD, Behold, I will bring evil upon this place and upon its inhabitants, all the words of the book which the king of Judah has read.
 Because they have forsaken me and have burned incense to other gods, that they might provoke me to anger with all the work of their hands, therefore my wrath will be kindled against this place, and it will not be quenched.
 But as to the king of Judah, who sent you to inquire of the LORD, thus shall you say to him, Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel: Regarding the words which you have heard,
 because your heart was penitent, and you humbled yourself before the LORD, when you heard how I spoke against this place, and against its inhabitants, that they should become a desolation and a curse, and you have rent your clothes and wept before me, I also have heard you, says the LORD.
 Therefore, behold, I will gather you to your fathers, and you shall be gathered to your grave in peace, and your eyes shall not see all the evil which I will bring upon this place.
Josiah immediately instituted vast reforms and set the course of his people towards God once again. At his death it was said of him:
But all was vain; it was far too late. The scribe immediately explains:
 Before him there was no king like him, who turned to the LORD with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his might, according to all the law of Moses; nor did any like him arise after him.
 Still the LORD did not turn from the fierceness of his great wrath, by which his anger was kindled against Judah, because of all the provocations with which Manas'seh had provoked him.
 And the LORD said, "I will remove Judah also out of my sight, as I have removed Israel, and I will cast off this city which I have chosen, Jerusalem, and the house of which I said, My name shall be there."
We are nearing the end of the kingdom of Judah. Three evil kings followed Josiah in quick succession -- Jehoahaz (3 months), Jehoiachim (11 years), and Jehoiachin (3 months). At that time, 597 BC, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon sent his forces up to Jerusalem and took it. He carried Jehoiachin and all the treasures of the land, and all except the poor people, to Babylon. Then he installed Jehoiachin's uncle, Zedekiah, as king in Jerusalem. He reigned eleven years, until 586 BC. He rebelled against the king of Babylon and was crushed. The scribe informs us:
So Zedekiah was the last of the kings of Judah. Taken captive, he was brought to Babylon where every one of his sons was slain before his eyes, then he was blinded. Then the king of Babylon sent his servant, Nebuzaradan, to Jerusalem where he burned the house of the Lord, the kings house, and all the houses of Jerusalem, broke down the walls of the city, and carried away into exile everyone except the very poorest of the land whom he left to be vine dressers and plowmen (2 Kings 25:12).
 For because of the anger of the LORD it came to the point in Jerusalem and Judah that he cast them out from his presence. And Zedeki'ah rebelled against the king of Babylon.
Gedeliah was appointed governor of the land under the king of Babylon, but the people rose up against him and killed him. Thereafter, fearing the king of Babylon, they all, both small and great, rose and went to Egypt out of fear of the Chaldeans. (2 Kings 25:26).
The year was 586 BC. Was this the end?