Before we move on to other books of the Tanak we are going to look at some of the concepts concerning the Exile (Galut) and the Return (Aliyah). We will be dealing with concepts that we think are important to know before we continue with other books that deal with the return from Babylon.
There is a word we need to know and it is called the “Schema” and it basically means the “background” to a certain subject. People today do not have a proper “schema” to know what is happening in the Scriptures. Christians have a Replacement Theology background so they can’t understand what is really being said, and Jews are coming from a Rabbinic Judaism background where Yeshua is rejected and the teachings of the rabbis take precedence over Moses and the Tanak. So, in order to understand the exile, the prophets, the return, and leading up to the events of the first century, we need to get some basic background first.
We will also have several empires dealing with the Jews in Babylon. First, we will have the Babylonians, and then Babylon falls to the Medo-Persians. After the Medo-Persians we will have the rise of Greek Hellenism, and then we have the rise of the Roman Empire that will bring us up to the first century. What we are going to look at is what happened after the Jews were allowed to go back to the land, but we will look at other things that developed during this time as well. This will give us a good background in the Scriptures.
Up to this point we have gone through several eras. We have the creation in the first five chapters in Genesis. Then we have Noah and the Flood leading up to the age of the Patriarchs. After that we have Moses and the Torah at Mount Sinai. Following that we have the Joshua and the conquest of the land.
Then we enter into the period of the Judges leading up to the Dual Monarchy of Saul, David and Solomon. That is where one king rules over Judah and Israel. Then we have the Divided Monarchy, with two kings ruling Judah and Israel. The Assyrians came and took away some of the ten northern tribes of Israel, and later the Babylonians came and took captive those from Judah in three separate deportations. The beginning of the 70 years of captivity spoken of by Jeremiah began about 597 B.C. with the first deportation (2 Kings 24.8-16). This happened during the reign of King Yehoiachin, and his mother’s name (the Givorah) was Nechusta (“serpent”), which is significant.
From the last deportation to the first of the returnees there will be only 39 years. This is an important fact because when they rebuild the Temple there will be many who are still alive who saw the First Temple. Ezekiel and the “elite” were taken in the first deportation (Ezek 1.2). When they rebuilt the Temple there were certain areas that were remembered by the people.
There were four huge buildings that measured 100 cubits by 50 cubits in the corners. In what would be called the Beit Ha Moked in the northwest corner there was what was called the “Shaar Yeconiah” or “Gate of Yehoiachin.” It was the gate he went through to go to Babylon (he lived 37 years). The Beit Ha Moked means “House of the Hearth” because it was the dormitory for the serving priests and it had a big fire for the priests to stay warm.
Across the courtyard (Azarah), in the southwest corner, there was another building called the “Beit Yair Ha Levanon” or the “House of the Forest of Lebanon” (2 Kings 24.13), and in the Second Temple it was called the “Beit Ha Otzrot” meaning “House of the Treasuries.” In the half closest to the inner court, treasure for the Lord was kept, and it was also an armory. South of that building was the location of Solomon’s palace, and all the kings to Zedekiah.
In 2 Kings 24.14 we learn that the people, captains and the mighty men of valor, ten thousand captives and craftsmen and smiths were carried away. The unlearned were left behind. Now, the term “craftsmen and smiths” are terms used to describe rabbis. The term “carpenter” meant a “rabbi or a teacher.” Literally, these terms in v 14 is “carpenters and locksmiths.” In the Artscroll Tanak series by Mesorah Publications, there is a book called “Yechezkel” (Ezekiel), and on page 75 it has a commentary on Ezek 1.2 that says, “King Yehoyachin’s exile. This was to be the nucleus from which a new, regenerated Israel would grow (see Overview and comm. to 11.15). Included in it were the best of Israel’s sons. The charash (carpenters) and masger (locksmiths) mentioned in 2 Kings 24.14 were no ordinary workers. The Sages (Sifri to Deut.32.25) identify them as the greatest teachers of Torah in the nation. They silenced everyone who would want to argue with them (the root for charash denotes “silence” as well as carpentry) with their brilliance; and when they spoke everyone else would close his mouth (s’ger, or to close, is also the root for locksmith) in order to listen.”
In the book “Jesus the Jew” by Geza Vermes, Maclillan Publication Co, it says, “Jesus the Carpenter. His secular profession remains uncertain. Tradition has it that he was a carpenter and learned his trade from his father, but this on the fragile evidence that after his first and last sermon in the synagogue of Nazareth, the townsfolk could not understand how “the carpenter” or “the carpenter’s son” could have acquired such great wisdom. Was he a carpenter himself, or was he only the son of a carpenter? The confused state of the Greek text of the Gospels usually indicate either (a) a doctrinal difficulty thought by some to demand rewording; or (b) the existence of a linguistic problem in the expression in Hellenistic terms of something typically Jewish. Here the second alternative applies. The congregation in the synagogue voices astonishment. ‘Where does he get it from/’ ‘What wisdom is this…?’ ‘Is this not the carpenter/the son of the carpenter…? Now those familiar with the language spoken by Jesus are acquainted with a metaphorical use of ‘carpenter’ and ‘carpenter’s son’ in ancient Jewish writings. In Talmudic sayings the Aramaic noun denoting carpenter or craftsmen (naggar) stands for a ‘scholar’ or ‘learned man.'”
Zedekiah (Mattaniah) was the last king of Judah. Jeremiah prophesied in his days also, and was put in prison. Zedekiah rebels against Babylon’s yoke and Nebuchadnezzar comes again and besieges Jerusalem. Zedekiah escapes (2 Kings 25.1-7) but is captured. His sons are killed before his eyes and Zedekiah is blinded. Then he is led away to Babylon. A second deportation commences.
The only king who has sons who survive is Yehoiachin, or Yeconiah, or just plain Coniah (Matt 1.12). However, he cannot have a son who sits on the throne, and that’s why we have a virgin birth (Jer 22.30). We will get back to this later. He has a son named Shealtiel, who then has a son named Zerubbabel. Yeconiah is the Greek form of Yehoiachin. In Zech 4.8, Zerubbabel, the grandson of Yehoiachin, will build the Temple. He is the governor over Judah, appointed by the Persians. Hag 1.1-2 confirms this also.
We have come to the end of the kingdom and the people have gone into exile in Judah. In the captivity, Zerubbabel is appointed governor of Judah as we have said. He is the last possible heir to the throne, being the grandson of Yehoiachin. He is sent back to the land 39 years after the last deportation. This is called “the beginning of the age of return” or an “aliyah.” This is a return from the first galut (exile) to the third aliyah, which will be 70 years.
Now everything begins to change. With the destruction of the Temple on Tisha B’ Av (ninth of Av) the kingship ended. With the destruction of the Second Temple on Tisha B’Av (ninth of Av), the platform for the priesthood ended. Up to this time in 70 A.D. the priesthood was a power to be reckoned with, but without the Temple, there was no stage for them anymore.
All of the laws of the Temple did not apply anymore, like the Festivals, the laws of clean and unclean, the korbanot (offerings), tithing and so on. These are going to be major changes in the lives of the Jewish people. The “Judaisms” that the people understood and the many different sects had to be “reformed” and the problem was, they restructured Judaism to be Rabbinic-based, and restructured away from being Torah-based.
Let’s go to Jer 22.11-12. One of the things we need to realize is people have more than one name in the Bible sometimes. Shallum is Yehoahaz (2 Kings 23.30-34, the son of Josiah. He was led away captive and never saw the land again. He is the first king after Josiah. Jer 22.13-17 are the charges brought against Yehoahaz. Jer 22.18-23 tells us about Yehoiakim, the successor of Yehoahaz.
Jer 22.24-30 tells us about Coniah, also known as Yehoiachin and Yeconiah. These verses refer to his captivity in Babylon, and it contains a very interesting prophecy. Does Yeconiah have descendants? Yes, he has a son named Shealtiel and a grandson named Zerubbabel. But he is written down “as if” he is childless. His sons will never sit or prosper sitting on the throne of David. So, if you descend from this man you cannot sit as a king over Israel.
Now, let’s go to Matt 1.6-12 and we have the line of David through Yeconiah, who had a son named Shealtiel, then Zerubbabel (the governor), then the genealogy goes down to Yeshua in verses 13-16. To be king, you must be a descendant of David through Solomon, which is the line of Yeconiah. But Yeconiah has a curse on his descendants and none of them can sit as king. As a result, Joseph (the husband of Miriam/Mary) had a right to the throne but he had the curse that was attached to the throne, so he never could have been king anyway. That is one reason that you had to have a virgin birth.
In Luke 3.31 we learn that in the genealogy of his mother Miriam (Mary), she was descended from David through Nathan, the third son of David and Bathsheba, followed by Solomon (2 Sam 5.14; 1 Chr 3.5). This is how Yeshua can be a son of David and be king. It just didn’t come through the same, cursed line of Yeconiah.
We will pick up here in the conclusion.