Political Conditions

Church Educational System
For three years the Pharaoh of Egypt exercised political control of the kingdom of Judah through the puppet Jehoiakim. Then in the memorable year 605 B.C. the Babylonians marshalled a mighty army and crushed the Pharaoh’s cohorts in the battle of Carchemish and, in so doing, took the Jewish nation out of Egypt’s grasp. (The biblical account of this era is found in 2 Kings, chaps. 23–25; 2 Chronicles, chap. 36; Jeremiah, chaps. 26–39.)

But the Jewish people did not gain their freedom. Instead of Egyptian foreigners ruling their country, Babylonian foreigners took their place. Southern Palestine became a Babylonian vassal state. Unfortunately for all concerned, they allowed the quisling Jehoiakim, Jewish appointee of Egypt, to retain his throne. Before long the new monarch and his subjects were in revolt. In response, King Nebuchadnezzar moved an army to Jerusalem and laid siege against the rebellious city. About this time Jehoiakim either died or was taken captive by the enemy, for Jehoiachin, his son, is spoken of in the biblical account as surrendering to the Babylonians.

These struggles between Assyria, Babylonia, and Egypt took place before the Book of Mormon record opens but during the lifetime of its early leading characters. When the account commences, twenty-one-year-old Zedekiah, the well-meaning but utterly weak uncle of the ill-fated King Jehoiachin, is spoken of as being in the first year of his reign. According to the book of 2 Kings, he was appointed to the throne by Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. It was a time of great wickedness. Immorality and corruption were rampant. Dishonesty, false swearing, and idolatry were common vices of the day. As if the sins of the people were not already enough to invite God’s judgments, Zedekiah chose to follow the disastrous course of Jehoiakim in seeking an alliance with Egypt and scheming a break from Babylonia. It was at this point that the prophet Jeremiah, whose gloomy prophecies had already brought him notoriety in Jehoiakim’s day, thundered forth anew the ominous pronouncement that Jerusalem and its temple were doomed for destruction and the entire nation would be led into captivity if they did not repent and heed the admonitions of the Lord. But the declaration that God would turn against his chosen people and allow his sacred temple and his holy city to be destroyed was considered an outrage. To the incensed priests and princes the prophecy was traitorous and bordered on blasphemy. Jeremiah’s arrest and imprisonment were ordered.

(Daniel H. Ludlow, A Companion to Your Study of the Book of Mormon, pp. 62–63)

Book of Mormon Student Manual (1996 Edition)