Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Sunday, April 30, 2023

Sunday Sermonette: Neighborhood dispute

Ezra 4 is chronologically muddled, evidence that the text accreted over time. Of course, we don't know how much of this actually happened. On the one hand, it's hard to see why these stories are here if there isn't some basis for them, on the other hand some of this doesn't seem very plausible. I'll try to sort out some of the complications.


In verses 1 and 2 Zerubabbel is not identified but he is the leader of the community, identified elsewhere in the Tanakh as being of the Davidic line and as the governor of Judah. The reference to Esahaddon king of Syria is to the story in 2 Kings 17, in which the Assyrians conquer Samaria, deport many of the inhabitants, and replace them with settlers. It is not impossible that some of them adopted the cult of Yahweh, or at least came to identify him with some other God to which they sacrificed. This sort of syncretism is common when cultures collide. (E.g. in the Caribbean Catholic saints became identified with Yoruba deities in Santeria.)Tthe leaders of Judah reject the offer of assistance in building the Temple, as Yahweh is "the God of Israel."

The story then gets interrupted, with interpolation of events that happened later. Verse 6 refers to the reign of Xerxes (485-465 BCE), so more than 50  years after the return in 538.  Artaxerxes, in verse 7, is apparently the son of Xerxes (reigned 465-425 BCE), so close to 100 years later. The following verses were evidently originally in Aramaic, although the surviving texts are translations into Greek (Septuagint) and Hebrew (Masoretic). Verses 9-10 refer to historical events, recounted in Kings and Chronicles, in which Judah resisted paying tribute to previous empires, in an attempt to sway Artaxerxes. But again, this letter would have been written a century after the framing events, so the apparent causal link between verses 23 and 24 makes no sense -- it implies time travel into the past. In the next chapter, they resume work on the Temple in the reign of Darius, which began in 522 BCE, which actually makes sense, but obviously happened long before the events in verses 7 et seq which were supposed to have halted the work. So yeah, it's a total mess.


When the enemies of Judah and Benjamin heard that the exiles were building a temple for the Lord, the God of Israel, they came to Zerubbabel and to the heads of the families and said, “Let us help you build because, like you, we seek your God and have been sacrificing to him since the time of Esarhaddon king of Assyria, who brought us here.”

But Zerubbabel, Joshua and the rest of the heads of the families of Israel answered, “You have no part with us in building a temple to our God. We alone will build it for the Lord, the God of Israel, as King Cyrus, the king of Persia, commanded us.”

Then the peoples around them set out to discourage the people of Judah and make them afraid to go on building.[a] They bribed officials to work against them and frustrate their plans during the entire reign of Cyrus king of Persia and down to the reign of Darius king of Persia.

Later Opposition Under Xerxes and Artaxerxes

At the beginning of the reign of Xerxes,[b] they lodged an accusation against the people of Judah and Jerusalem.

And in the days of Artaxerxes king of Persia, Bishlam, Mithredath, Tabeel and the rest of his associates wrote a letter to Artaxerxes. The letter was written in Aramaic script and in the Aramaic language.[c][d]

Rehum the commanding officer and Shimshai the secretary wrote a letter against Jerusalem to Artaxerxes the king as follows:

Rehum the commanding officer and Shimshai the secretary, together with the rest of their associates—the judges, officials and administrators over the people from Persia, Uruk and Babylon, the Elamites of Susa, 10 and the other people whom the great and honorable Ashurbanipal deported and settled in the city of Samaria and elsewhere in Trans-Euphrates.

11 (This is a copy of the letter they sent him.)

To King Artaxerxes,

From your servants in Trans-Euphrates:

12 The king should know that the people who came up to us from you have gone to Jerusalem and are rebuilding that rebellious and wicked city. They are restoring the walls and repairing the foundations.

13 Furthermore, the king should know that if this city is built and its walls are restored, no more taxes, tribute or duty will be paid, and eventually the royal revenues will suffer.[e] 14 Now since we are under obligation to the palace and it is not proper for us to see the king dishonored, we are sending this message to inform the king, 15 so that a search may be made in the archives of your predecessors. In these records you will find that this city is a rebellious city, troublesome to kings and provinces, a place with a long history of sedition. That is why this city was destroyed. 16 We inform the king that if this city is built and its walls are restored, you will be left with nothing in Trans-Euphrates.

17 The king sent this reply:

To Rehum the commanding officer, Shimshai the secretary and the rest of their associates living in Samaria and elsewhere in Trans-Euphrates:


18 The letter you sent us has been read and translated in my presence. 19 I issued an order and a search was made, and it was found that this city has a long history of revolt against kings and has been a place of rebellion and sedition. 20 Jerusalem has had powerful kings ruling over the whole of Trans-Euphrates, and taxes, tribute and duty were paid to them. 21 Now issue an order to these men to stop work, so that this city will not be rebuilt until I so order. 22 Be careful not to neglect this matter. Why let this threat grow, to the detriment of the royal interests?

23 As soon as the copy of the letter of King Artaxerxes was read to Rehum and Shimshai the secretary and their associates, they went immediately to the Jews in Jerusalem and compelled them by force to stop.

24 Thus the work on the house of God in Jerusalem came to a standstill until the second year of the reign of Darius king of Persia.


  1. Ezra 4:4 Or and troubled them as they built
  2. Ezra 4:6 Hebrew Ahasuerus
  3. Ezra 4:7 Or written in Aramaic and translated
  4. Ezra 4:7 The text of 4:8–6:18 is in Aramaic.
  5. Ezra 4:13 The meaning of the Aramaic for this clause is uncertain.



Friday, April 28, 2023

Rationing by red tape

One of the worst features of our absurd Rube Goldberg non-system of Medicine is that it buries people in paperwork in order to get the benefits they're entitled to. When my mother went into a nursing home, I assumed I could complete the application to get her onto Medicaid myself, but it turned out that even for a guy with a Ph.D. in Social Policy who was a full-time professor of health services, policy and practice, it was impossible. I had to hire a lawyer, and we have to pay the lawyer every year to do the required re-determination. And by the way, the only entity that's ultimately paying my mother's lawyer is the state of Connecticut, because they get all her money and the lawyer's fee just come out of it.

Every Medicaid beneficiary has to go through redetermination every year, or rather they did until the requirement was temporarily suspended during the Covid-19 pandemic. But now it's been reinstated and I expect you can imagine the snarls, FUBARS and SNAFUS that are happening all over the country. Most people who properly lose Medicaid will be able to get insurance through the ACA, but they're going to face a coverage gap until they can get that figured out. And people who are improperly denied -- and there will be a lot of them -- will have to appeal if they are able to. Obviously most people who are Medicaid eligible can't afford lawyers, and if they can't manage to do what I couldn't do, and pull together the required piles of paperwork, they're out of luck.  (My mother is "medically indigent," which means she has too much income to ordinarily qualify for Medicaid but she has unaffordable medical expenses, which is why she can afford a lawyer.) 


The linked story tells about a guy who "spends his days driving winding roads across the state providing free legal services to people who have lost coverage or need help filling out pages of forms the state has mailed to them. In between his drives, he fields about a half-dozen phone calls daily from people seeking guidance on their Medicaid applications." 


If this isn't ridiculous enough, one of the infinity of outrages in the House bill to raise the debt ceiling is imposition of a federal work requirement for Medicaid.  Republican politicians like to paint a picture of lazy shiftless leeches living off the honest taxpayers, but the actual true fact is that the vast majority of Medicaid beneficiaries either are already working or can't. All this does is impose an additional paperwork burden that is just going to get some people improperly denied benefits and create more work for the legal services philanthropies. 

We need universal, comprehensive, singe payer national health care. Then all this crap will go away.


Wednesday, April 26, 2023

Wednesday Bible Study: Let the slaughter begin

The action in Ezra 3 is pretty straightforward. The priests build an altar and start up the sacrifices, then they lay the foundation for the temple. This does serve to remind us that the basis of this religion is the ritual killing of animals by a hereditary priesthood to propitiate a narcissistic deity. That's what he demands: kill animals and burn them. If you do different rituals to propitiate  other gods, he'll have you murdered en masse by other tribes. If your hereditary priests kill enough animals and burn them, he'll be good to them. That's the theology.

When the seventh month came and the Israelites had settled in their towns, the people assembled together as one in Jerusalem. Then Joshua son of Jozadak and his fellow priests and Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel and his associates began to build the altar of the God of Israel to sacrifice burnt offerings on it, in accordance with what is written in the Law of Moses the man of God. Despite their fear of the peoples around them, they built the altar on its foundation and sacrificed burnt offerings on it to the Lord, both the morning and evening sacrifices. Then in accordance with what is written, they celebrated the Festival of Tabernacles with the required number of burnt offerings prescribed for each day. After that, they presented the regular burnt offerings, the New Moon sacrifices and the sacrifices for all the appointed sacred festivals of the Lord, as well as those brought as freewill offerings to the Lord. On the first day of the seventh month they began to offer burnt offerings to the Lord, though the foundation of the Lord’s temple had not yet been laid.

Rebuilding the Temple

Then they gave money to the masons and carpenters, and gave food and drink and olive oil to the people of Sidon and Tyre, so that they would bring cedar logs by sea from Lebanon to Joppa, as authorized by Cyrus king of Persia.

In the second month of the second year after their arrival at the house of God in Jerusalem, Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, Joshua son of Jozadak and the rest of the people (the priests and the Levites and all who had returned from the captivity to Jerusalem) began the work. They appointed Levites twenty years old and older to supervise the building of the house of the Lord. Joshua and his sons and brothers and Kadmiel and his sons (descendants of Hodaviah[a]) and the sons of Henadad and their sons and brothers—all Levites—joined together in supervising those working on the house of God.

10 When the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the Lord, the priests in their vestments and with trumpets, and the Levites (the sons of Asaph) with cymbals, took their places to praise the Lord, as prescribed by David king of Israel. 11 With praise and thanksgiving they sang to the Lord:

“He is good;
    his love toward Israel endures forever.”

And all the people gave a great shout of praise to the Lord, because the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid. 12 But many of the older priests and Levites and family heads, who had seen the former temple, wept aloud when they saw the foundation of this temple being laid, while many others shouted for joy. 13 No one could distinguish the sound of the shouts of joy from the sound of weeping, because the people made so much noise. And the sound was heard far away.


  1. Ezra 3:9 Hebrew Yehudah, a variant of Hodaviah

Tuesday, April 25, 2023

Pure evil

That would be Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo. He ordered a study of the safety of the Covid-19 vaccine, and when the result of the study was that it is safe, he altered the report to falsely imply that it poses a risk of cardiac complications in young men. In other words, he lied to the world in order to support the pre-ordained conclusion that his boss, the pathological liar and fascist governor of Florida, was touting as part of his political act. The result we can assume is that some people did not get vaccinated who other wise would have, and that therefore people got sick and died because of the lies of "Doctor" Ladapo. 

The linked Politico article prominently presents Ladapo's denials and doesn't really explain technically how he altered the report and its conclusions, presumably because they think you couldn't possibly understand. As I've discussed here many times, spurious associations are often observed by chance, so statistical techniques are used to assess how likely this is in a given case. Ladapo essentially deleted all of the references to sensitivity analysis, and to the risks of Covid-19 infection itself, including these:

Deleted: in the primary analysis, but this association was
attenuated and no longer significant when applying the
event-dependent exposures model utilized for multidose
vaccines. Thus, there is little suggestion of any effect
immediately following vaccination.


Deleted: Since the vaccine is designed to mimic a natural
infection, it will be important to better understand what
proportion of excess deaths are related to cardiac events
that could be attributed to COVID-19 infections before
vaccine recommendations are changed.

 He should lose his medical license.  But obviously that is not going to happen in the tinpot dictatorship of Ron DeSantis.

Sunday, April 23, 2023

Sunday Sermonette: Hit the snooze button

Ezra 2 rivals or beats out a couple of the early chapters of Chronicles for the most boring book in the Bible. It's mostly just a list of men's names and purported numbers of their descendants who returned from exile. Who cares? I will just note that it's highly unlikely that Nebuchadnezzar kidnapped anything like this number of people. He would have taken the royal household, the literate priesthood, and some other high status people who might have been able to challenge his viceroy's rule, but obviously most of the population remained.There are a couple of other problems here. This list is repeated in Nehemiah, but there are at least 19 discrepancies. The arithmetic in verse 64 is off by a lot. If you add all the people in verses 3-62 you get  29,818. Adding the 7,337 slaves plus the 200 singers (who for some reason didn't previously count as people) you get 37,335, not 42,360. It seems the inerrant word of God does not include the ability to do arithmetic. Also, as usual, the quantities of gold and silver are preposterous.

Now these are the people of the province who came up from the captivity of the exiles, whom Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had taken captive to Babylon (they returned to Jerusalem and Judah, each to their own town, in company with Zerubbabel, Joshua, Nehemiah, Seraiah, Reelaiah, Mordecai, Bilshan, Mispar, Bigvai, Rehum and Baanah):

The list of the men of the people of Israel:

the descendants of Parosh2,172
of Shephatiah372
of Arah775
of Pahath-Moab (through the line of Jeshua and Joab)2,812
of Elam1,254
of Zattu945
of Zakkai760
10 of Bani642
11 of Bebai623
12 of Azgad1,222
13 of Adonikam666
14 of Bigvai2,056
15 of Adin454
16 of Ater (through Hezekiah)98
17 of Bezai323
18 of Jorah112
19 of Hashum223
20 of Gibbar95
21 the men of Bethlehem123
22 of Netophah56
23 of Anathoth128
24 of Azmaveth42
25 of Kiriath Jearim,[a] Kephirah and Beeroth743
26 of Ramah and Geba621
27 of Mikmash122
28 of Bethel and Ai223
29 of Nebo52
30 of Magbish156
31 of the other Elam1,254
32 of Harim320
33 of Lod, Hadid and Ono725
34 of Jericho345
35 of Senaah3,630

36 The priests:

the descendants of Jedaiah (through the family of Jeshua)973
37 of Immer1,052
38 of Pashhur1,247
39 of Harim1,017

40 The Levites:

the descendants of Jeshua and Kadmiel (of the line of Hodaviah)74

41 The musicians:

the descendants of Asaph128

42 The gatekeepers of the temple:

the descendants of
Shallum, Ater, Talmon,
Akkub, Hatita and Shobai139

43 The temple servants:

the descendants of
Ziha, Hasupha, Tabbaoth,
44 Keros, Siaha, Padon,
45 Lebanah, Hagabah, Akkub,
46 Hagab, Shalmai, Hanan,
47 Giddel, Gahar, Reaiah,
48 Rezin, Nekoda, Gazzam,
49 Uzza, Paseah, Besai,
50 Asnah, Meunim, Nephusim,
51 Bakbuk, Hakupha, Harhur,
52 Bazluth, Mehida, Harsha,
53 Barkos, Sisera, Temah,
54 Neziah and Hatipha

55 The descendants of the servants of Solomon:

the descendants of
Sotai, Hassophereth, Peruda,
56 Jaala, Darkon, Giddel,
57 Shephatiah, Hattil,
Pokereth-Hazzebaim and Ami
58 The temple servants and the descendants of the servants of Solomon392

59 The following came up from the towns of Tel Melah, Tel Harsha, Kerub, Addon and Immer, but they could not show that their families were descended from Israel:

60 The descendants of
Delaiah, Tobiah and Nekoda652

61 And from among the priests:

The descendants of
Hobaiah, Hakkoz and Barzillai (a man who had married a daughter of Barzillai the Gileadite and was called by that name).

62 These searched for their family records, but they could not find them and so were excluded from the priesthood as unclean. 63 The governor ordered them not to eat any of the most sacred food until there was a priest ministering with the Urim and Thummim.

64 The whole company numbered 42,360, 65 besides their 7,337 male and female slaves; and they also had 200 male and female singers. 66 They had 736 horses, 245 mules, 67 435 camels and 6,720 donkeys.

68 When they arrived at the house of the Lord in Jerusalem, some of the heads of the families gave freewill offerings toward the rebuilding of the house of God on its site. 69 According to their ability they gave to the treasury for this work 61,000 darics[b] of gold, 5,000 minas[c] of silver and 100 priestly garments.

70 The priests, the Levites, the musicians, the gatekeepers and the temple servants settled in their own towns, along with some of the other people, and the rest of the Israelites settled in their towns.


  1. Ezra 2:25 See Septuagint (see also Neh. 7:29); Hebrew Kiriath Arim.
  2. Ezra 2:69 That is, about 1,100 pounds or about 500 kilograms
  3. Ezra 2:69 That is, about 3 tons or about 2.8 metric tons

Friday, April 21, 2023

A bit about the history of Medicaid

Medicaid was actually something of an afterthought in the 1965 Medicare legislation. As Moore and Smith write, “There was so little comment that Medicaid did, indeed, seem like a casual add-on. A legislative draftsman said that he could scarcely recall working on Medicaid.” Since retirees receiving Social Security were covered by Medicare, Medicaid originally benefited only recipients of Aid to Families with Dependent Children, AFDC, the program generally known at that time as “welfare,” and the smaller categories of recipients of aid for the blind and disabled.

Although state participation in Medicaid was voluntary, the federal match was sufficiently generous, particularly for the less affluent states, that uptake of Medicaid happened fairly quickly. By 1970, 48 states plus the District of Columbia had established programs. (Alaska held out until 1972, and Arizona till 1982.)

The legislation required that states cover hospital services (except for mental health or tuberculosis, for some reason); physician services; X-rays and laboratory services; and skilled nursing home services for people over 21. However, it did not require coverage for medications; dental, hearing or vision services; or prostheses. States could choose whether to cover any of these, and also set income eligibility standards for AFDC, and hence Medicaid. This meant that the scope of coverage and generosity of the programs varied wildly from state to state, but in general, only people with very low incomes were eligible. This actually created a problem for people with disabilities, who couldn't accept employment without losing their Medicaid eligibility.

Little noticed in 1965 was the option for states to cover “medically indigent” people including not only beneficiaries of AFDC and disability, but also people over 65. "Medically indigent means that people's incomes aren't low enough to qualify for Medicaid ordinarily, but they have unaffordable medical expenses. As all people over age 65 were now to be covered by Medicare, perhaps it did not occur to people that this provision would be important. However, as people tended to live longer past age 65, and to develop costlier medical needs, including notably long-term care that Medicare does not pay for, states increasingly were compelled to provide Medicaid to Medicare beneficiaries with unaffordable medical and long-term care costs.

This “dual eligible” population now accounts for 19% of Medicare beneficiaries and 14% of Medicaid beneficiaries, but 30% of Medicaid spending. The median cost of a nursing home stay is about $8,000 per month nationally but in Connecticut, where my mother is currently in long-term care, it’s more than $13,000. As you can see very few retirees have incomes approaching this amount, and that is why they account for such a disproportionate amount of Medicaid spending.

However, the state takes as much as it can get from them. People who have savings don’t become “medically indigent” and eligible for Medicaid until they first spend nearly all of their savings on medical or supportive services they need. If they have a house or a car they can keep them as long as they’re alive, but they have to get rid of nearly all of their financial assets. (In Connecticut right now they can keep $1,600.) When my mother went into a nursing home, since my father was dead and none of her children wanted to live in the house, we sold it rather than pay taxes and maintenance. Actually we had to sell it anyway since she had a reverse mortgage and didn’t live there any more. But we were required to send the proceeds to the nursing home operator until they were gone. Now, out of her pension, she gets to keep $75 a month. The rest still goes to the nursing home, and the state pays the bulk of the bill that remains. 

I wonder if people think this is the right way to address the problem?


Wednesday, April 19, 2023

Wednesday Bible Study: Literary Complications

What are now considered the Book of Ezra and the Book of Nehemiah were originally a single document. Medieval monks separated them and Rabbinical tradition accepted the separation in the 16th Century. Scholars used to attribute Ezra/Nehemiah to the Chronicler, and while composition of the book(s) probably began around 400 BC and may have been associated with Chronicles, it was revised and amended over the next 250 years before being translated into Koine Greek as part of the Septuagint. It contains interpolated documents in Aramaic as well as the main narrative in Hebrew. 


It is organized around theological concerns, so the chronology is somewhat mixed up. As there is little other evidence about events in Judah following the return from exile, there isn't really any known, accurate chronology to set it against and sort it all out. The theological requirements are first that the Temple has to be restored; then the national community, then the walls that separate the community from the outside world. The character of Ezra doesn't appear until chapter 7, to carry out the second task. The third happens in what is now the Book of Nehemiah.


BTW, regarding Los Testiculos de Jehovah: The name Jehovah results from faulty transliteration of Biblical Hebrew into Greek. Biblical Hebrew lacked vowels. If you speak the language y cn fl thm n, but the Greek translators got it wrong. The name of the Big Guy in the Sky is Yahweh. That's just Los Testiculos' first mistake.

In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of the Lord spoken by Jeremiah, the Lord moved the heart of Cyrus king of Persia to make a proclamation throughout his realm and also to put it in writing:

“This is what Cyrus king of Persia says:

“‘The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and he has appointed me to build a temple for him at Jerusalem in Judah. Any of his people among you may go up to Jerusalem in Judah and build the temple of the Lord, the God of Israel, the God who is in Jerusalem, and may their God be with them. And in any locality where survivors may now be living, the people are to provide them with silver and gold, with goods and livestock, and with freewill offerings for the temple of God in Jerusalem.’”

Then the family heads of Judah and Benjamin, and the priests and Levites—everyone whose heart God had moved—prepared to go up and build the house of the Lord in Jerusalem. All their neighbors assisted them with articles of silver and gold, with goods and livestock, and with valuable gifts, in addition to all the freewill offerings.

Moreover, King Cyrus brought out the articles belonging to the temple of the Lord, which Nebuchadnezzar had carried away from Jerusalem and had placed in the temple of his god.[a] Cyrus king of Persia had them brought by Mithredath the treasurer, who counted them out to Sheshbazzar the prince of Judah.

This was the inventory:

gold dishes30
silver dishes1,000
silver pans[b]29
10 gold bowls30
matching silver bowls410
other articles1,000

11 In all, there were 5,400 articles of gold and of silver. Sheshbazzar brought all these along with the exiles when they came up from Babylon to Jerusalem.


  1. Ezra 1:7 Or gods
  2. Ezra 1:9 The meaning of the Hebrew for this word is uncertain.

Tuesday, April 18, 2023

Los testiculos de Jehovah

That's what my Puerto Rican friends call them, because they always come in pairs. (In Spanish the cult is Los Testigos de Jehovah.) Los Testiculos are probably the most pervasive and persistent proselytizers, but far from the only ones. I really do not understand the compulsion. I am not in any way temped to go door to door trying to convert people to atheism and scientific naturalism, although I certainly do offer arguments for people who are interested. 

Aggressive proselytizers do annoy me. In fact two of the Testiculos knocked on my door today. I told them to get lost, but I'm happy to say I showed sufficient forbearance that I didn't shoot them. Apparently that means I'm out of touch with the times.

Monday, April 17, 2023

Why in the Delta Quadrant of the galaxy would you care . . .

If somebody does not identify with the gender they were assigned at birth? That's just the way some people are. What possibly harm does it do to anybody else? And how could it possibly harm or offend you if some people like to entertain in the persona of a person of a different gender than they usually present, and other people are entertained by them? (Maybe you should check out Dame Edna.)

What we're talking about here is the ridiculous ginning up of a moral panic by Republican politicians who have lost the country on abortion and same sex marriage. They don't actually want to offer any policy solutions to the economic distress many people are feeling, because what they are actually all about is making sure rich people don't have to pay taxes or put up with public health and safety regulations. So they invent this stupid crap. This is from Media Matters:

Fox News has joined the rest of right-wing media in a full-fledged freakout over trans TikTok influencer Dylan Mulvaney making a promotional video for Bud Light. This nearly two-week obsession largely overlaps with potential new federal restrictions on the abortion pill mifepristone, a story which Fox News has seemingly been eager to sideline in favor of more Bud Light panic.

From April 7 to April 13, Fox covered the ridiculous Bud Light story for 1 hour and 42 minutes, compared to 43 minutes for the far more consequential ruling about mifepristone. And that timeframe excludes several of Fox's heaviest days covering the Bud Light story, which has been a fixture on the network since April 3.


Yup, this is a major story for two weeks,that a trans-gender guy made a Bud Light commercial. Please folks, get your heads out of the sand.

Sunday, April 16, 2023

Sunday Sermonette: Getting it over with

The last chapter of Chronicles collapses the story told in the last three chapters of Kings. It's pretty much the same story, but the Chronicler seems anxious to get it over with. Just to recap, Kings was originally compiled during the reign of Josiah, but the story of the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Temple was added later, presumably during the Babylonian exile. This doesn't add anything. It pretty much ignores the destruction of the northern kingdom, which doesn't interest the Chronicler. 


Although the writers of both books ascribe the downfall of the Hebrew kingdoms to apostasy and Yahweh's displeasure, the historical reality is that the tiny kingdoms of Israel and Judah got caught between warring empires. After repelling the Assyrians, they first become a tributary of Egypt, and then of Babylon. Pharaoh is content to install a puppet king, but Nebuchadnezzar's philosophy of empire is to eliminate the local polity and culture. He loots and destroys the Temple, and carries off the royal household and literate priesthood, leaving a viceroy over the decapitated state. Then Cyrus of Persia conquers Babylon. He has a different philosophy of empire, in which vassal states are granted religious and cultural freedom and home rule, so he sends the captives back to Jerusalem and allows them to rebuild the Temple and their traditions.Yes, this really happened. It is because of the policy of Cyrus "the Great" that Judaism, Christianity and Islam exist today. Just something to think about.

36 And the people of the land took Jehoahaz son of Josiah and made him king in Jerusalem in place of his father.

Jehoahaz King of Judah

Jehoahaz[a] was twenty-three years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem three months. The king of Egypt dethroned him in Jerusalem and imposed on Judah a levy of a hundred talents[b] of silver and a talent[c] of gold. The king of Egypt made Eliakim, a brother of Jehoahaz, king over Judah and Jerusalem and changed Eliakim’s name to Jehoiakim. But Necho took Eliakim’s brother Jehoahaz and carried him off to Egypt.

Jehoiakim King of Judah

Jehoiakim was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem eleven years. He did evil in the eyes of the Lord his God. Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon attacked him and bound him with bronze shackles to take him to Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar also took to Babylon articles from the temple of the Lord and put them in his temple[d] there.

The other events of Jehoiakim’s reign, the detestable things he did and all that was found against him, are written in the book of the kings of Israel and Judah. And Jehoiachin his son succeeded him as king.

Jehoiachin King of Judah

Jehoiachin was eighteen[e] years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem three months and ten days. He did evil in the eyes of the Lord. 10 In the spring, King Nebuchadnezzar sent for him and brought him to Babylon, together with articles of value from the temple of the Lord, and he made Jehoiachin’s uncle,[f] Zedekiah, king over Judah and Jerusalem.

Zedekiah King of Judah

11 Zedekiah was twenty-one years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem eleven years. 12 He did evil in the eyes of the Lord his God and did not humble himself before Jeremiah the prophet, who spoke the word of the Lord. 13 He also rebelled against King Nebuchadnezzar, who had made him take an oath in God’s name. He became stiff-necked and hardened his heart and would not turn to the Lord, the God of Israel. 14 Furthermore, all the leaders of the priests and the people became more and more unfaithful, following all the detestable practices of the nations and defiling the temple of the Lord, which he had consecrated in Jerusalem.

The Fall of Jerusalem

15 The Lord, the God of their ancestors, sent word to them through his messengers again and again, because he had pity on his people and on his dwelling place. 16 But they mocked God’s messengers, despised his words and scoffed at his prophets until the wrath of the Lord was aroused against his people and there was no remedy. 17 He brought up against them the king of the Babylonians,[g] who killed their young men with the sword in the sanctuary, and did not spare young men or young women, the elderly or the infirm. God gave them all into the hands of Nebuchadnezzar. 18 He carried to Babylon all the articles from the temple of God, both large and small, and the treasures of the Lord’s temple and the treasures of the king and his officials. 19 They set fire to God’s temple and broke down the wall of Jerusalem; they burned all the palaces and destroyed everything of value there.

20 He carried into exile to Babylon the remnant, who escaped from the sword, and they became servants to him and his successors until the kingdom of Persia came to power. 21 The land enjoyed its sabbath rests; all the time of its desolation it rested, until the seventy years were completed in fulfillment of the word of the Lord spoken by Jeremiah.

22 In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of the Lord spoken by Jeremiah, the Lord moved the heart of Cyrus king of Persia to make a proclamation throughout his realm and also to put it in writing:

23 “This is what Cyrus king of Persia says:

“‘The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and he has appointed me to build a temple for him at Jerusalem in Judah. Any of his people among you may go up, and may the Lord their God be with them.’”


  1. 2 Chronicles 36:2 Hebrew Joahaz, a variant of Jehoahaz; also in verse 4
  2. 2 Chronicles 36:3 That is, about 3 3/4 tons or about 3.4 metric tons
  3. 2 Chronicles 36:3 That is, about 75 pounds or about 34 kilograms
  4. 2 Chronicles 36:7 Or palace
  5. 2 Chronicles 36:9 One Hebrew manuscript, some Septuagint manuscripts and Syriac (see also 2 Kings 24:8); most Hebrew manuscripts eight
  6. 2 Chronicles 36:10 Hebrew brother, that is, relative (see 2 Kings 24:17)
  7. 2 Chronicles 36:17 Or Chaldeans