Question:

I've always heard about the three waves of the Babylonian captivity, but where is this found?


Answer:

Three Captivities

  1. Jehoiakim, also called Eliakim, was put into power by Pharaoh Neco who had killed his brother. Babylon attacked Judah and Jehoiakim surrendered to Babylon for three years, but he rebelled and Judah suffered its first devastating blow by Nebuchadnezzar. Nebuchadnezzar took away many in the ruling class. This is the wave that took Daniel into captivity (II Kings 23:34-24:6; Daniel 1:1-4).
  2. Jehoiachin, also called Coniah or Jeconiah, only managed to reign three months under Babylon. He was carted away in the second attack by Nebuchadnezzar along with the middle class, craftsmen, and the remainder of the upper class. In this attack the treasures of Israel were carted off to Babylon. This was the wave that took Ezekile into captivity (II Kings 24:6-16).
  3. Zedekiah, also called Mattaniah, managed to reign eleven years before rebelling and the third wave destroyed what was left of Judah. Most of Jeremiah deals with Zedekiah's reign. (II Kings 24:17-25:21).

Three Returns

  1. Lead by Zerubbabel, the first wave of less than 50,000 people returned and began work on the Temple, managing to lay the Temple's foundations before quitting. Years later the project was restarted and the temple was completed (Ezra 1-6).
  2. Lead by Ezra, the second wave consisted of just over 1,700 people. The priests returned and the law again was taught and followed (Ezra 7-10).
  3. Lead by Nehemiah, this group rebuilt Jerusalem's walls and reestablished the government with Nehemiah serving as governor for twelve years (Nehemiah).