2 Kings 17 - 20
Bible Time Period: Exile
You punished first Israel, then Judah, with exile. Prophets brought a message of hope: In my exile due to sin, show me the way home.
We have moved into the period of Exile. Here is a review:
By about 1050 BC Israel at last had her kingdom, but it quickly ran aground when Solomon turned his eyes from God and focused on building for himself. His son only made things worse, precipitating a drastic split. David’s royal kingdom of Israel divided into two kingdoms: “Judah” (two tribes in the south) and “Israel” (ten tribes to the north). Israel’s king, Jeroboam, set up golden calves at two centers of worship to replace the Temple, appointed his own priests, and established new festivals. Under this alternative religion, Israel quickly went astray. About 200 years followed of apostasy, violence, Baal worship, and the like. Despite repeated warnings form God’s prophets, there was no change. By 722 BC the time for punishment had come. The period of Exile begins in the north when the people of Israel are conquered by Assyria and scattered abroad.
Judah fared somewhat better in the south, with good kings periodically calling the people back to God. For about 350 years after Solomon, David’s dynasty held the throne in Jerusalem. However, the people continued to fall into idol worship and failed to heed the prophets’ warnings. Around the time that the northern kingdom fell to Assyria, Isaiah foretold that Judah too would be punished with exile, this time to the new world power, Babylon. This prophecy will come true starting with deportations in 605 and 597 BC and culminates in 587 BC when Judah falls to Babylon and Solomon’s Temple is destroyed. It will be another 70 years before the people of Judah are allowed to return from their so-called “Babylonian captivity.”
The readings for this period is short: just 2 Kings 17 (which tells of the fall and deportation of Israel) and 2 Kings 25 (which tells of the exile of Judah). The intervening chapters, which you will also read in this section, tell how Judah fares after the conquest of the northern kingdom. Many of the prophets write during this time: Jeremiah and Ezekiel, Daniel and Baruch to name a few.