609 B.C.E.

• Pharaoh Necho II, leader of the mightiest power of the day, marches north to support the dying Assyrian Empire in its struggle against the rising star of Babylon. As the Egyptian forces pass through Megiddo, King Josiah of Judah attacks and is defeated. Josiah dies from a battle wound and is succeeded by his younger, anti-Egyptian son Jehoahaz. Necho swiftly deposes Jehoahaz and installs his elder, pro-Egyptian brother Jehoiakim as vassal king of Judah.

• Egypt crosses the Euphrates in July and joins forces with the Assyrians. Egypt controls the region from the Euphrates to Egypt (2 Kings 24:7).

• Judah’s brief stretch of independence, between periods of Assyrian and Egyptian domination, comes to an end.

605 B.C.E.

• Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon takes the reins of power and routs Pharaoh Necho at Carchemish, on the Euphrates. Syria and Palestine fall to the Babylonians.

• Failing to recognize the enormity of this shift in power, Judah sympathizes with Egypt, thereby ensuring future conflict with Babylon.

603 B.C.E.

• Judah surrenders to Babylon as Nebuchadnezzar sweeps through Syria-Palestine. Despite his pro-Egyptian sympathies, Jehoiakim submits to Nebuchadnezzar (2 Kings 24:1).

601/600 B.C.E.

• Babylonia attacks, and is defeated by, Egypt in the eastern Delta. Nebuchadnezzar withdraws to Babylon for two years to rebuild his army. This allows Necho to campaign in southern Palestine. Jehoiakim, sensing shifts in the balance of power, switches his allegiance to Necho, who seeks to build a coalition against Babylon.

598 B.C.E.

• Jehoiakim dies (possibly as a result of foul play) and is succeeded by his 18-year-old son Jehoiachin. Late in the year, Nebuchadnezzar strikes at Judah.

597 B.C.E.

• Jerusalem surrenders to Babylon on March 16 (2 Adar). Appeased by Judah’s capitulation and Jehoiakim’s removal, Nebuchadnezzar orders that the city be spared. Nebuchadnezzar sends Jehoiachin and thousands of other Judahites into exile and installs Jehoiachin’s uncle Zedekiah as puppet king. The territory of Benjamin may also succumb to Nebuchadnezzar (although this might not occur until 589/588 B.C.E.).

595 B.C.E.

• Necho of Egypt dies and is succeeded by the ambitious pharaoh Psammetich II.

594/593 B.C.E.

• Zedekiah, emboldened by news of an uprising in Babylon, hosts a mini-summit of neighboring petty states—probably to plan a revolt against Babylon, whose defeat in 601/600 B.C.E. was still green in memory. This conspiracy comes to an end, however, when Nebuchadnezzar enters Palestine and is assured of Judah’s continuing loyalty.

592 B.C.E.

• Pharaoh Psammetich II marches into Palestine and Phoenicia with the aim of fomenting anti-Babylonian feeling in Judah, Philistia and Phoenicia.

590/589 B.C.E.

• Zedekiah, possibly inspired by the new pharaoh Hophra, rebels against Babylon.

589/588 B.C.E.

• Nebuchadnezzar, in a delayed reaction to Pharaoh Hophra’s aggressive initiative, attacks Judah and places Jerusalem under siege. The territory of Benjamin (and other territories) may also succumb to Nebuchadnezzar.

586 B.C.E.

• The Babylonian army breaches the walls of Jerusalem in July. Zedekiah is captured while trying to escape at night and is taken before Nebuchadnezzar at Riblah. He blinds Zedekiah and sends him into exile in Babylon. In August, the city and its Temple are razed, and more Jews are deported.

• The Davidic dynasty comes to an end.