The First Year of the Reign of Zedekiah

George Reynolds, Janne M. Sjodahl

That is the time in which the great story of Nephi begins. Zedekiah reigned between 597 and 586 B.C., and according to 2 Chronicles 36:11, he was twenty-one years of age, when Nebuchadnezzar, who had extended the Babylonian Empire to the coast of the Mediterranean, appointed him king over Judah. It was a time of political turmoil all over the world. From the very beginning of his reign, some of the priests and princes of Judah urged Zedekiah to revolt and strike for liberty from the Babylonian rule. The Egyptians, who had been beaten back from Asia-Minor, since their crushing defeat at Carchemish (600 B.C.) also urged Zedekiah to break his oath of allegiance to the Babylonians. Ambassadors from Edom, Moab, Ammon, Tyre and Sidon promised support, and even exiles in Babylon agitated for revolt.

It was under such circumstances that the Lord sent many prophets to the people, who warned them of impending disaster, unless they would repent.

One of these prophets was Jeremiah. He told the people that the Lord had given all the surrounding countries to Nebuchadnezzar, "the king of Babylon, my servant," (Jer. 29:4-10)

Another great prophet, according to the Book of Mormon, was Lehi. His special message is recorded in verse 13.

The Lord sent these messengers because he had "compassion on his people and on his dwelling place: But they mocked the messengers of God, and despised his words, and misused his prophets, until the wrath of the Lord arose against his people, till there was no remedy." (Chron. 36:15, 16)

But all warnings were in vain. Zedekiah revolted. Then, in 587 B.C., Nebuchadnezzar came and besieged Jerusalem. Too late did the Egyptians attempt to rescue the city. Zedekiah was captured, as he fled toward Jericho. His sons, who fell into the hands of the Babylonians, were slain. He, himself, after having been blinded, was carried in chains to Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar also took the treasures of the temple and the palace and carried them to his own capital, and thus the words of the prophets of the Lord came true, notwithstanding the efforts of the politicians.

Commentary on the Book of Mormon, Vol. 1