Siege of Jerusalem (587 BC)

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Siege of Jerusalem
Part of Jewish–Babylonian war (601–587 BC)
Date c. 587 BC
Location Jerusalem

Babylonian victory;
Jerusalem is destroyed;

fall of the Kingdom of Judah
Kingdom of Judah Neo-Babylonian Empire
Commanders and leaders
Zedekiah Nebuchadnezzar II
Much fewer Unknown
Casualties and losses
Many slain, 4,200 others taken to captivity Unknown
This article is about the siege that occurred in 587 BC. It is not to be confused with the first siege of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar (597 BC).

In 589 BC, Nebuchadnezzar II laid siege to Jerusalem, culminating in the destruction of the city and its temple in 587 BC.


Following the siege of 597 BC, the Neo-Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar installed Zedekiah as tributary king of Judah at the age of twenty-one. However, Zedekiah revolted against Babylon, and entered into an alliance with Pharaoh Hophra, king of Egypt. Nebuchadnezzar responded by invading Judah[1] and began a siege of Jerusalem in January 589 BC. During this siege, which lasted about thirty months, "every worst woe befell the city, which drank the cup of God's fury to the dregs".[2] In 587 BC, the eleventh year of Zedekiah's reign, Nebuchadnezzar broke through Jerusalem's walls, conquering the city. Zedekiah and his followers attempted to escape, but were captured on the plains of Jericho and taken to Riblah. There, after seeing his sons killed, Zedekiah was blinded, bound, and taken captive to Babylon,[3] where he remained a prisoner until his death.

After the fall of Jerusalem, the Babylonian general Nebuzaraddan was sent to complete its destruction. Jerusalem was plundered and Solomon's Temple was destroyed. Most of the elite were taken into captivity in Babylon. The city was razed to the ground. Only a small number of people were permitted to remain to tend to the land.[4] Gedaliah was made governor of the remnant of Judah, the Yehud Province, with a Chaldean guard stationed at Mizpah.[5] On hearing this news, the Jews who were in Moab, Ammon, Edom, and in other countries returned to Judah.[6] Gedaliah was assassinated two months later, and the population that had remained and those who had returned then fled to Egypt for safety.[7] In Egypt, they settled in Migdol, Tahpanhes, Noph, and Pathros.[8]

Chronological notes[edit]

Zedekiah is chained and brought before Nebuchadnezzar, from Petrus Comestor's "Bible Historiale," 1670.
See also: Jeconiah

The Babylonian Chronicles, published in 1956, indicate that Nebuchadnezzar captured Jerusalem the first time putting an end to the reign of Jehoaichin on 2 Adar (16 March) 597 BC.[9]

There has been some debate as to when the second siege of Jerusalem took place. Though there is no dispute that Jerusalem fell the second time in the summer month of Tammuz (Jeremiah 52:6), William F. Albright dates the end of Zedekiah's reign (and the fall of Jerusalem) to 587 BC, whereas Edwin R. Thiele offers 586 BC.[10]

Thiele's reckoning is based on the presentation of Zedekiah's reign on an accession basis, which was used for most but not all of the kings of Judah. In that case, the year that Zedekiah came to the throne would be his zeroth year; his first full year would be 597/596 BC, and his eleventh year, the year Jerusalem fell, would be 587/586 BC. Since Judah's regnal years were counted from Tishri in autumn, this would place the end of his reign and the capture of Jerusalem in the summer of 586 BC.[10][11]

However, the Babylonian Chronicles support the enumeration of Zedekiah's reign on a non-accession basis. Zedekiah's first year when he was installed by Nebuchadnezzar was therefore in 598/597 BC according to Judah's Tishri-based calendar. The fall of Jerusalem in his eleventh year would then have been in the summer of 587 BC. The Babylonian Chronicles allow the fairly precise dating of the capture of Jehoiachin and the start of Zedekiah's reign, and also provide the accession year of Nebuchadnezzar's successor Amel-Marduk (Evil Merodach) as 562/561 BC, which was the 37th year of Jehoiachin's captivity according to 2 Kings 25:27. These Babylonian records related to Jehoiachin's reign are consistent with the fall of the city in 587 BC.


  1. ^ 2 Kings 25:1
  2. ^ 2 Kings 25:3; Lamentations 4:4, 5, 9
  3. ^ 2 Kings 25:1–7; 2 Chronicles 36:12; Jeremiah 32:4–5; 34:2–3; 39:1–7; 52:4–11; Ezekiel 2:12
  4. ^ Jeremiah 52:16
  5. ^ 2 Kings 25:22–24; Jeremiah 40:6–8
  6. ^ Jeremiah 40:11–12
  7. ^ 2 Kings 25:25–26, Jeremiah 43:5–7
  8. ^ Jeremiah 44:1
  9. ^ D. J. Wiseman, Chronicles of Chaldean Kings in the British Museum (London: Trustees of the British Museum, 1956) 73.
  10. ^ a b Edwin Thiele, The Mysterious Numbers of the Hebrew Kings, (1st ed.; New York: Macmillan, 1951; 2d ed.; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1965; 3rd ed.; Grand Rapids: Zondervan/Kregel, 1983). ISBN 0-8254-3825-X, 9780825438257.
  11. ^ Leslie McFall, "A Translation Guide to the Chronological Data in Kings and Chronicles," Bibliotheca Sacra 148 (1991) 45.[1][dead link]