...And he burned the house of the LORD, and the king's house, and all the houses of Jerusalem, and every great man's house burned he with fire. And all the army of the Chaldeans, that were with the captain of the guard, broke down the walls of Jerusalem round about. Now the rest of the people that were left in the city, and the fugitives that fell away to the king of Babylon, with the remnant of the multitude, did Nebuzar-adan the captain of the guard carry away. But the captain of the guard left some of the poor of the land to be vinedressers and farmers. And the pillars of bronze that were in the house of the LORD, and the stands, and the bronze sea that was in the house of the LORD, did the Chaldeans break in pieces, and carried their bronze to Babylon...
...And the captain of the guard took Seraiah the chief priest, and Zephaniah the second priest, and the three keepers of the door: And out of the city he took an officer that was in charge over the men of war, and five men of them that had been in the king's presence, who were found in the city, and the principal scribe of the army, who mustered the people of the land, and threescore men of the people of the land that were found in the city: And Nebuzar-adan captain of the guard took these, and brought them to the king of Babylon to Riblah: And the king of Babylon struck them down, and slew them at Riblah in the land of Hamath.
So Judah was carried away out of their land. And as for the people that remained in the land of Judah, whom Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had left, even over them he made Gedaliah... govenor.
And when all the captains of the armies, they and their men, heard that the king of Babylon had made Gedaliah governor, there came to Gedaliah to Mizpah, even Ishmael ...and Jaazaniah...they and their men. And Gedaliah swore to them, and to their men, and said unto them, Fear not to be the servants of the Chaldeans: dwell in the land, and serve the king of Babylon; and it shall be well with you. But it came to pass in the seventh month, that Ishmael...of the royal family, came, and ten men with him, and struck down Gedaliah, so that he died, and the Jews and the Chaldeans that were with him at Mizpah. And all the people, both small and great, and the captains of the armies, arose, and came to Egypt: for they were afraid of the Chaldeans. And it came to pass in the seven and thirtieth year of the captivity of Jehoiachin king of Judah ... that Evil-merodach king of Babylon, in the year that he began to reign, did lift up the head of Jehoiachin king of Judah out of prison; And he spoke kindly to him, and set his throne above the throne of the kings that were with him in Babylon; And changed his prison garments: and he did eat food regularly before him all the days of his life. And his allowance was a regular allowance given him from the king, a daily portion for every day, all the days of his life.
With his army scattered to the four winds, the king was overtaken, essentially alone, as an uncovered chess piece in the final plays of a badly outmaneuvered game.
My Thompson Chain notes head this final chapter of the Kings with the simple note,
"Jerusalem besieged, Zedekiah taken, his sons slain, and his eyes put out, etc."
That is a vast etc. there my friends. Imagine that you have achieved all you ever dreamed of in life, and your kingdom crumbles before you in one night. The last sight that you see in your natural life is your children being executed before your eyes. They were supposed to inherit all that you had built. Now they are gone and you are haunted with the memories of their screams and the bloodshed before your own face. Then, you are taken into a lifetime of bondage, and treated as a political prisoner. Imagine some distant Abu Ghraib, some torture cells.
Such was the lot of Zedekiah the King of Jerusalem. What followed was much like Sherman's march to the sea. The mansions were torched by Captain Nebuzar-adan, and the rich and strong men taken captive. The temple was burned to the ground. All the temple's gold, bronze, and silver artifacts were carried away to Babylon. The priests and chief leaders were executed. All that remained in the city were the poor, uneducated, and unambitious, for the most part. These were left to farm the land as tribute for Babylon. An Israelite named Gedaliah was set up as Governor by the Captain of Babylon. Even though he was an Israelii, his power was given to him by Babylon, and he was essentially a traitor to his country. He met with the two chief men over the families remaining, Ishmael and Jaazaniah, and offered to rule them respectfully if they would submit to his authority.
This seemed to work out for awhile. Probably seven months later though, one of the two men, Ismael, led an attack against the Israelite Governor and assassinated him. Many of them fled to Egypt, where they lived as refugees. It seems they grew tired of Governor Gedeliah's "kindness." Babylonian rule must have been harsh for them to prefer to abandon all they owned for freedom and political asylum in Egypt, etc. But, about this time, the King of Babylon died and there was a regime change. Evil-merodach, the next King treated the captives in Babylon much better, and even brought Israel's blinded King out of prison, and treated him kindly until his death, feeding him well. Day in and day out, the former King sat at the table of captivity, dining in darkness from the meat of a strange King who he had never seen. As the meat was passed, and he took it in his gaunt, wasted fingers, the image seared on his brain was of the dying spectacle of his sons and their final screams.
What strikes me is the deal Governor Gedeliah made in Israel with the two leaders. Jaazaniah reportedly never complained, and he is not recorded as taking part in the overthrow of the governor. But, Ishmael wouldn't stand for it at all. He had enough I guess. You can only push some men so far before they will "take up arms against a sea of troubles, and by opposing end them." (Shakespeare, To Be or Not to Be)
What is it you want from God? What are your hopes and dreams? Do you just want to be well fed? Or do you want to reach all that awaits you in the Kingdom? Has your position in the Kingdom been seized from you, etc. etc. etc.? Those are awful big et ceteras. You have the choice of accepting your losses, pulling up to the table, and dining in darkness, or step away from the devil's table and refuse to die in captivity. How can you live like men of God if you sacrifice your freedom in the Spirit? Etc.