Cyrus the Great was the founder of the largest empire the ancient Near East had seen thus far. He conquered much of Southwest and Central Asia, and reigned for 30 years. He was a strong military leader and a shrewd politician. Any people group he conquered was allowed to maintain its own customs and religion, […]
Exile to Babylon. The people of Judah were deported to Babylon in four stages. In 605 b.c., Nebuchadnezzar defeated Jerusalem, carrying away treasures and some of the people. Daniel was taken to Babylon at this time. In 597, Babylon responded to rebellion in Jerusalem by defeating the city again. Ezekiel was taken into exile at […]
Passover is a feast remembering Israel’s exodus from Egypt. It recalls their final meal in Egypt before deliverance. The most important element is the lamb (Ex. 12:5). It reminds participants of the blood smeared on the doorposts to protect them from the plague of the firstborn. Bitter herbs are eaten with the lamb, symbolizing the […]
The Book of the Law of the Lord. The high priest discovered this forgotten book while the temple was being repaired (34:14). After reading the Law, King Josiah called the nation to further measures of repentance and reform. The book may have included part or all of Deuteronomy.
Hezekiah’s wall (32:5) was one of his many efforts to defend Jerusalem from the invading Assyrians. Archaeologists have uncovered a 650-foot (200-m)portion of this wall.
Generous givers. When Hezekiah asked the people to contribute financially to his temple restoration project, they gave generously (31:5). Their response recalls the time of the tabernacle’s construction. The people gave so freely that Moses actually asked them to stop giving (Ex. 36:3–7).
What is a scapegoat? Laying hands on a sacrificial animal (29:23–24) was a symbolic act. It meant that human sin was being placed on the animal and taken away. On the Day of Atonement the people sacrificed a goat in this manner (see Lev. 16:20–22). Thus, today, when a person takes the blame for someone […]
Ten Hebrew kings are mentioned among the records of the Assyrian Empire, which helps to show the reliability of biblical history. King Ahaz asked the Assyrians for help (28:16) but ended up becoming their servant (28:20–21).
Thistles (25:18) are flowering plants known for their sharp outer edges. This discourages animals from feeding on the plant. In the Bible, thistles often represent God’s curse on the land.
Why did the guards carry King David’s spears? Even though King David’s spears (23:9) were around 150 years old, they served an important purpose. Having the guards hold the spears at the coronation of Joash, who was only seven years old, symbolized his right to David’s throne.