Jerusalem… I have seen thine abominations
And he read, saying: Wo, wo, unto Jerusalem, for I have seen thine abominations! Yea, and many things did my father read concerning Jerusalem—that it should be destroyed, and the inhabitants thereof; many should perish by the sword, and many should be carried away captive into Babylon.
Obviously by this time, Jerusalem was in trouble. They’d nearly reached the fulness of iniquity, and had become ripe for destruction. It takes a lot to get to that point, but it happens repeatedly throughout the scriptures. For Sodom and Gommorah, it was (among other things) moral transgression and violence, for the Nephites and Jaredites it was secret combinations and violence, for the people of king Nimrod (the brother of Jared’s time in the kingdom of Babylon), it was secret combinations and rebellion. There are always multiple layers of wickedness, but there are common threads of rejecting prophets, turning from the truth, and persistently disobeying God, to the point where children growing up the society have no chance for a moral, righteous life.
God’s destruction that comes of the fulness of iniquity is an act of mercy, albeit a last resort.
What were the abominations of Jerusalem? For one thing, they defiled the temple and desecrated it:
2 Chronicles 36:
14 ¶ Moreover all the chief of the priests, and the people, transgressed very much after all the abominations of the heathen; and polluted the house of the Lord which he had hallowed in Jerusalem.
15 And the Lord God of their fathers sent to them by his messengers, rising up betimes, and sending; because he had compassion on his people, and on his dwelling place:
16 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.
17 Therefore he brought upon them the king of the Chaldees, who slew their young men with the sword in the house of their sanctuary, and had no compassion upon young man or maiden, old man, or him that stooped for age: he gave them all into his hand.
18 And all the vessels of the house of God, great and small, and the treasures of the house of the Lord, and the treasures of the king, and of his princes; all these he brought to Babylon.
19 And they burnt the house of God, and brake down the wall of Jerusalem, and burnt all the palaces thereof with fire, and destroyed all the goodly vessels thereof.
20 And them that had escaped from the sword carried he away to Babylon; where they were servants to him and his sons until the reign of the kingdom of Persia:
They also replaced their worship of God with the worship of idols:
2 Kings 21:
1 Manasseh was twelve years old when he began to reign, and reigned fifty and five years in Jerusalem. And his mother’s name was Hephzi-bah.
2 And he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord, after the abominations of the heathen, whom the Lord cast out before the children of Israel.
3 For he built up again the high places which Hezekiah his father had destroyed; and he reared up altars for Baal, and made a grove, as did Ahab king of Israel; and worshipped all the host of heaven, and served them.
4 And he built altars in the house of the Lord, of which the Lord said, In Jerusalem will I put my name.
5 And he built altars for all the host of heaven in the two courts of the house of the Lord.
6 And he made his son pass through the fire, and observed times, and used enchantments, and dealt with familiar spirits and wizards: he wrought much wickedness in the sight of the Lord, to provoke him to anger.
7 And he set a graven image of the grove that he had made in the house, of which the Lord said to David, and to Solomon his son, In this house, and in Jerusalem, which I have chosen out of all tribes of Israel, will I put my name for ever:
8 Neither will I make the feet of Israel move any more out of the land which I gave their fathers; only if they will observe to do according to all that I have commanded them, and according to all the law that my servant Moses commanded them.
9 But they hearkened not: and Manasseh seduced them to do more evil than did the nations whom the Lord destroyed before the children of Israel.
10 ¶And the Lord spake by his servants the prophets, saying,
11 Because Manasseh king of Judah hath done these abominations, and hath done wickedly above all that the Amorites did, which were before him, and hath made Judah also to sin with his idols:
12 Therefore thus saith the Lord God of Israel, Behold, I am bringing such evil upon Jerusalem and Judah, that whosoever heareth of it, both his ears shall tingle.
Obviously, the leaders of the people led out in this rebellion, idolatry, and iniquity. But entirely letting the people off the hook wouldn’t be appropriate, either. Often, political wickedness (in their time as well as ours) is a reflection of the popular ideas of the time–practices that are generally accepted despite being wrong. I doubt these kings were acting against the will of the people in their actions. More likely, they are doing the wickedness as a political move to gain the favor of the people.
When leaders condone the sins of the day, they are simply providing “legal” justification for iniquity. That’s why, as Mosiah taught, “if the time comes that the voice of the people doth choose iniquity, then is the time that the judgments of God will come upon you; yea, then is the time he will visit you with great destruction even as he has hitherto visited this land.”
We discussed more about the condition of Jerusalem in the commentary to 1 Nephi 1:4.
…That it should be destroyed, and the inhabitants thereof; many should perish by the sword, and many should be carried away captive into Babylon.
This was literally fulfilled, and we have several records of it in the Bible.
4 ¶And it came to pass in the ninth year of his reign, in the tenth month, in the tenth day of the month, that Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon came, he and all his army, against Jerusalem, and pitched against it, and built forts against it round about.
5 So the city was besieged unto the eleventh year of king Zedekiah.
6 And in the fourth month, in the ninth day of the month, the famine was sore in the city, so that there was no bread for the people of the land.
7 Then the city was broken up, and all the men of war fled, and went forth out of the city by night by the way of the gate between the two walls, which was by the king’s garden; (now the Chaldeans were by the city round about:) and they went by the way of the plain.
8 ¶But the army of the Chaldeans pursued after the king, and overtook Zedekiah in the plains of Jericho; and all his army was scattered from him.
9 Then they took the king, and carried him up unto the king of Babylon to Riblah in the land of Hamath; where he gave judgment upon him.
10 And the king of Babylon slew the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes: he slew also all the princes of Judah in Riblah.
11 Then he put out the eyes of Zedekiah; and the king of Babylon bound him in chains, and carried him to Babylon, and put him in prison till the day of his death.
12 ¶Now in the fifth month, in the tenth day of the month, which was the nineteenth year of Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon, came Nebuzar-adan, captain of the guard, which served the king of Babylon, into Jerusalem,
13 And burned the house of the Lord, and the king’s house; and all the houses of Jerusalem, and all the houses of the great men, burned he with fire:
14 And all the army of the Chaldeans, that were with the captain of the guard, brake down all the walls of Jerusalem round about.
15 Then Nebuzar-adan the captain of the guard carried away captive certain of the poor of the people, and the residue of the people that remained in the city, and those that fell away, that fell to the king of Babylon, and the rest of the multitude.
2 Kings 25:1-22
1 And it came to pass in the ninth year of his reign, in the tenth month, in the tenth day of the month, that Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came, he, and all his host, against Jerusalem, and pitched against it; and they built forts against it round about.
2 And the city was besieged unto the eleventh year of king Zedekiah.
3 And on the ninth day of the fourth month the famine prevailed in the city, and there was no bread for the people of the land.
4 ¶And the city was broken up, and all the men of war fled by night by the way of the gate between two walls, which is by the king’s garden: (now the Chaldees were against the city round about:) and the king went the way toward the plain.
5 And the army of the Chaldees pursued after the king, and overtook him in the plains of Jericho: and all his army were scattered from him.
6 So they took the king, and brought him up to the king of Babylon to Riblah; and they gave judgment upon him.
7 And they slew the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes, and put out the eyes of Zedekiah, and bound him with fetters of brass, and carried him to Babylon.
8 ¶And in the fifth month, on the seventh day of the month, which is the nineteenth year of king Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, came Nebuzar-adan, captain of the guard, a servant of the king of Babylon, unto Jerusalem:
9 And he burnt the house of the Lord, and the king’s house, and all the houses of Jerusalem, and every great man’s house burnt he with fire.
10 And all the army of the Chaldees, that were with the captain of the guard, brake down the walls of Jerusalem round about.
11 Now the rest of the people that were left in the city, and the fugitives that fell away to the king of Babylon, with the remnant of the multitude, did Nebuzar-adan the captain of the guard carry away.
12 But the captain of the guard left of the poor of the land to be vinedressers and husbandmen.
13 And the pillars of brass that were in the house of the Lord, and the bases, and the brasen sea that was in the house of the Lord, did the Chaldees break in pieces, and carried the brass of them to Babylon.
14 And the pots, and the shovels, and the snuffers, and the spoons, and all the vessels of brass wherewith they ministered, took they away.
15 And the firepans, and the bowls, and such things as were of gold, in gold, and of silver, in silver, the captain of the guard took away.
16 The two pillars, one sea, and the bases which Solomon had made for the house of the Lord; the brass of all these vessels was without weight.
17 The height of the one pillar was eighteen cubits, and the chapiter upon it was brass: and the height of the chapiter three cubits; and the wreathen work, and pomegranates upon the chapiter round about, all of brass: and like unto these had the second pillar with wreathen work.
18 ¶And the captain of the guard took Seraiah the chief priest, and Zephaniah the second priest, and the three keepers of the door:
19 And out of the city he took an officer that was set over the men of war, and five men of them that were in the king’s presence, which were found in the city, and the principal scribe of the host, which mustered the people of the land, and threescore men of the people of the land that were found in the city:
20 And Nebuzar-adan captain of the guard took these, and brought them to the king of Babylon to Riblah:
21 And the king of Babylon smote them, and slew them at Riblah in the land of Hamath. So Judah was carried away out of their land.
22 ¶And as for the people that remained in the land of Judah, whom Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had left, even over them he made Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, the son of Shaphan, ruler.
Unfortunately, this was the last time the Jews would rule their own country of Jerusalem until the 1900s AD. This destruction and carrying away into Babylon also marked one of the major stages of the scattering of the tribes Israel.