Siege of Jerusalem (587 BC)
In 589 BC
580s BC
-Events and trends:* 589 BC—Apries succeeds Psamtik II as king of Egypt.* 588 BC—Nebuchadrezzar II of Babylon begins siege of Jerusalem; the opera Nabucco sets the date at 587 BC.* 587 BC—Jerusalem falls to the Babylonians, ending the Kingdom of Judah...

, 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
Siege of Jerusalem (597 BC)
In 601 BC, in the fourth year of his reign, Nebuchadnezzar II, king of Babylon, unsuccessfully attempted to invade Egypt and was repulsed with heavy losses...

, Nebuchadnezzar installed Zedekiah
Zedekiah or Tzidkiyahu was the last king of Judah before the destruction of the kingdom by Babylon. He was installed as king of Judah by Nebuchadnezzar II, king of Babylon, after a siege of Jerusalem to succeed his nephew, Jeconiah, who was overthrown as king after a reign of only three months and...

 as tributary king of Judah at the age of twenty-one. However, Zedekiah revolted against Babylon, and entered into an alliance with Pharaoh Hophra
Apries is the name by which Herodotus and Diodorus designate Wahibre Haaibre, Ουαφρης , a pharaoh of Egypt , the fourth king of the Twenty-sixth dynasty of Egypt. He was equated with the Waphres of Manetho, who correctly records that he reigned for 19 years...

, king of Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

. Nebuchadnezzar responded by invading Judah 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". 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
Jericho ; is a city located near the Jordan River in the West Bank of the Palestinian territories. It is the capital of the Jericho Governorate and has a population of more than 20,000. Situated well below sea level on an east-west route north of the Dead Sea, Jericho is the lowest permanently...

 and taken to Riblah
Riblah , was an ancient town on the northern frontier of Israel, 35 miles north-east of Baalbec, and 10 or 12 south of Lake Homs, on the eastern bank of the Orontes, in a wide and fertile plain....

. There, after seeing his sons killed, Zedekiah was blinded, bound, and taken captive to Babylon, 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
Solomon's Temple
Solomon's Temple, also known as the First Temple, was the main temple in ancient Jerusalem, on the Temple Mount , before its destruction by Nebuchadnezzar II after the Siege of Jerusalem of 587 BCE....

 was destroyed. Most of the elite were taken into captivity in Babylon
Babylonian captivity
The Babylonian captivity was the period in Jewish history during which the Jews of the ancient Kingdom of Judah were captives in Babylon—conventionally 587–538 BCE....

. The city was razed to the ground. Only a small number of people were permitted to remain to tend to the land. Gedaliah
According to the Hebrew Bible, Gedaliah was appointed by Nebuchadnezzar II of Babylon as governor of Yehud province, which was formed after the defeat of the Kingdom of Judah and the destruction of Jerusalem, in a part of the territory that previously formed the kingdom. He was supported by a...

 was made governor of the remnant of Judah, the Yehud Province, with a Chaldea
Chaldea or Chaldaea , from Greek , Chaldaia; Akkadian ; Hebrew כשדים, Kaśdim; Aramaic: ܟܐܠܕܘ, Kaldo) was a marshy land located in modern-day southern Iraq which came to briefly rule Babylon...

n guard stationed at Mizpah
Mizpah in Benjamin
Mizpah was a city of Benjamin.Tell en-Nasbeh is one of two sites often identified with Biblical Mizpah of Benjamin, and is located about 8 miles north of Jerusalem. The other suggested location is Neby Samwil, which is some 4 miles north-west of Jerusalem, and situated on the loftiest hill in the...

. On hearing this news, the Jews who were in Moab
Moab is the historical name for a mountainous strip of land in Jordan. The land lies alongside much of the eastern shore of the Dead Sea. The existence of the Kingdom of Moab is attested to by numerous archeological findings, most notably the Mesha Stele, which describes the Moabite victory over...

, Ammon
Ammon , also referred to as the Ammonites and children of Ammon, was an ancient nation located east of the Jordan River, Gilead, and the Dead Sea, in present-day Jordan. The chief city of the country was Rabbah or Rabbath Ammon, site of the modern city of Amman, Jordan's capital...

, Edom
Edom or Idumea was a historical region of the Southern Levant located south of Judea and the Dead Sea. It is mentioned in biblical records as a 1st millennium BC Iron Age kingdom of Edom, and in classical antiquity the cognate name Idumea was used to refer to a smaller area in the same region...

, and in other countries returned to Judah. Gedaliah was assassinated two months later, and the population that had remained and those who had returned then fled to Egypt for safety. In Egypt, they settled in Migdol
Migdol, or migdal, is a Hebrew word which means either a tower , an elevated stage , or a raised bed . Physically, it can mean fortified land, i.e. a walled city or castle; or elevated land, as in a raised bed, like a platform, possibly a lookout...

, Tahpanhes
Tahpanhes was a city in Ancient Egypt. It was located on Lake Manzala on the Tanitic branch of the Nile, about 16 miles from Pelusium...

, Noph
Noph or Moph was the Hebrew name for the ancient Egyptian city of Memphis, which stood on the Nile near the site of modern-day Cairo. It is mentioned several times in the Hebrew Bible ....

, and Pathros
Pathros was a place located in Ancient Egypt. It is mentioned in the Bible, in the Book of Jeremiah, chapter 44:1 and 15, Book of Isaiah 11: 11; Book of Ezekiel 29: 14; 30: 14. It is associated with Upper Egypt....


Chronological notes

The Babylonian Chronicles
Babylonian Chronicles
The Babylonian Chronicles are many series of tablets recording major events in Babylonian history. They are thus one of the first steps in the development of ancient historiography...

, published in 1956, indicate that Nebuchadnezzar captured Jerusalem the first time putting an end to the reign of Jehoaichin
Jeconiah "; ; ), also known as Coniah and as Jehoiachin , was a king of Judah who was dethroned by the King of Babylon in the 6th Century BCE and was taken into captivity. Most of what is known about Jeconiah is found in the Hebrew Bible. After many excavations in Iraq, records of Jeconiah's...

 on 2 Adar (16 March) 597 BC.

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 , William F. Albright
William F. Albright
William Foxwell Albright was an American archaeologist, biblical scholar, philologist and expert on ceramics. From the early twentieth century until his death, he was the dean of biblical archaeologists and the universally acknowledged founder of the Biblical archaeology movement...

 dates the end of Zedekiah's reign (and the fall of Jerusalem) to 587 BC, whereas Edwin R. Thiele
Edwin R. Thiele
Edwin R. Thiele was an American missionary in China, an editor, archaeologist, writer, and Old Testament professor. He is best known for his chronological studies of the Hebrew kingdom period.- Biography :...

 offers 586 BC.

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.

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
Jeconiah "; ; ), also known as Coniah and as Jehoiachin , was a king of Judah who was dethroned by the King of Babylon in the 6th Century BCE and was taken into captivity. Most of what is known about Jeconiah is found in the Hebrew Bible. After many excavations in Iraq, records of Jeconiah's...

 and the start of Zedekiah's reign, and also provide the accession year of Nebuchadnezzar's successor Amel-Marduk
Amel-Marduk Amel-Marduk Amel-Marduk (Akk.: Amēl-Marduk, 'man of Marduk' (died 560 BC) was the son and successor of Nebuchadrezzar, king of Babylon. He reigned only two years, 562 - 560 BC.- Biography :...

(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.
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