Jeremiah-Historical Background Part Nine
For a few years after the campaign of 609, Necho was able to hold his gains. The Babylonians were not yet ready to challenge him. Nabopolassar and his son Nebuchadnezzar were occupied with campaigns in the northern mountains, presumably to secure their flank in that quarter in the face of the Egyptian army gathered west of the Euphrates. During this time, save for raids in force across the river by both sides, the Babylonians seeking a bridgehead north of Carchemish from which to attack Egyptian forces based in that city, the Egyptians counterattacking to prevent it, the front remained quiet; no decisive blow was struck. And through these years Yehoyakim remained the Pharoah’s vassal.
All was not well in Judah. Yehoyakim was not the equal of his father in ability or in character, as Jeremiah, who despised him, was at pains to say publicly. Early in his reign he showed his disregard for his subjects’ welfare when, apparently dissatisfied with his father’s palace, he set out to build a new and finer one and, presumably because his depleted treasury lacked the necessary funds, used forced labor to do it (Jeremiah 22:13–19). This action, which seems to us, as it did to Jeremiah, that of a petty and irresponsible man, appears to have been quite typical of him.
Yehoyakim did not exert himself to keep his father’s reforms intact. The tragic events of 609 seemed to many that compliance with Torah had not forestalled disaster as promised. Those who dared to rebuke this drift away from Torah met harassment and persecution, and in some cases, death (Jeremiah 26:20–23).