Bible Inspiration: Zedekiah Would “Not See” Babylon?
The final king in the string of 19 kings that reigned in the southern kingdom of Judah was Mattaniah, whose name was changed to Zedekiah by the Babylonian monarch Nebuchadnezzar after invading and capturing Jerusalem for a second time in 597 B.C. Zedekiah occupied the throne for just over a decade, during which time the mighty prophets Jeremiah and Ezekiel prophesied the demise of both Judah and its final king. Jeremiah’s prophecy was very direct:
The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD in the tenth year of Zedekiah king of Judah, which was the eighteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar. For then the king of Babylon’s army besieged Jerusalem, and Jeremiah the prophet was shut up in the court of the prison, which was in the king of Judah’s house. For Zedekiah king of Judah had shut him up, saying, “Why do you prophesy and say, ‘Thus says the LORD: “Behold, I will give this city into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall take it; and Zedekiah king of Judah shall not escape from the hand of the Chaldeans, but shall surely be delivered into the hand of the king of Babylon, and shall speak with him face to face, and see him eye to eye; then he shall lead Zedekiah to Babylon, and there he shall be until I visit him,” says the LORD; “though you fight with the Chaldeans, you shall not succeed”’?” (Jeremiah 32:1-5).
So, according to Jeremiah, Zedekiah would see Nebuchadnezzar “face to face” and “eye to eye.”
Ezekiel’s prophecy possessed comparable specificity of those future events:
And in the morning the word of the LORD came to me, saying, “Son of man, has not the house of Israel, the rebellious house, said to you, ‘What are you doing?’ Say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD: “This burden concerns the prince in Jerusalem and all the house of Israel who are among them.”’ “Say, ‘I am a sign to you. As I have done, so shall it be done to them; they shall be carried away into captivity.’ “And the prince who is among them shall bear his belongings on his shoulder at twilight and go out. They shall dig through the wall to carry them out through it. He shall cover his face, so that he cannot see the ground with his eyes. I will also spread My net over him, and he shall be caught in My snare. I will bring him to Babylon, to the land of the Chaldeans; yet he shall not see it, though he shall die there” (Ezekiel 12:8-13).
This remarkable prophecy predicts, in uncanny detail, the events that followed the two year besiegement of Jerusalem. In an effort to elude the Babylonian army that breached the walls and stormed the palace, Zedekiah passed through an escape portal near the royal gardens with his face disguised and fled into the night with a sack of personal effects over his shoulder. Headed through the Jordan Valley with his attendants, his Babylonian pursuers overtook him on the plains of Jericho and transported him to the little village of Riblah on the northern frontier of the land of Canaan where Nebuchadnezzar had set up his headquarters and judgment seat during his campaign against Jerusalem.
These two prophecies were issued by two separate prophets—one living in Jerusalem and the other having been transported to Babylon a decade earlier as a result of Nebuchadnezzar’s second campaign against Jerusalem in 597 B.C. Yet, with amazing precision, they speak of future events as if their certainty cannot be questioned. But how could Zedekiah actually see Nebuchadnezzar and speak to him in person, face to face, and also be brought to Babylon (as per Jeremiah), and yet not see Babylon (as per Ezekiel)? He would see the King of Babylon, but not see Babylon, though he would die there? These prophecies must have evoked puzzlement from those to whom they were uttered.
Yet, as always, the Bible’s remarkable inspiration is demonstrated by the historical facts. When the Babylonians overtook Zedekiah and transported him to Riblah to face Nebuchadnezzar and receive judgment for his rebellion, we are informed what happened: “So they took the king and brought him up to the king of Babylon at Riblah, and they pronounced judgment on him. Then they killed the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes, put out the eyes of Zedekiah, bound him with bronze fetters, and took him to Babylon” (2 Kings 25:6-7; cf. Jeremiah 39:7). Mystery solved. Zedekiah actually saw the Babylonian king with his own eyes—before the king gave orders for Zedekiah’s eyes to be gouged out. Bound with bronze fetters, he was then taken to Babylon—where he lived with permanent blindness, never able to see Babylon—until the day of his death while still in exile. The Bible transcends all other books in human history.