- Nebuchadnezzar was the king of the most powerful nation on earth at this time. His father, Nabopolassar, had founded the Babylonian empire after defeating the Assyrians and developing the commerce and massive building program. He extended the empire as far as the Mediterranean Sea.
Three waves of captives
The Jewish captives were settled along the Chebar River and treated as colonists. They were given freedom to lead normal lives as long as they remained politically loyal to the Babylonian government. Daniel became a government official. Many became quite wealthy in Babylon and their families remained there after the seventy years of captivity were over.
The first group of captives to be led away to Babylon included the prophet Daniel in 605 B.C. A few years later in 597 B.C. ten thousand captives, including the prophet Ezekiel followed. Finally, when the city of Jerusalem fell in 586 B.C. the final captives were led away to the banks of the River Chebar in Babylon (2 Kings 24:1-18; 2 Chron. 36:11-21; Jer. 52:1-11; Ezek. 1:1-2; Daniel 1:1-7).
The important lesson from the captivity was the purging of idolatry from the hearts of God’s people. They never forgot the penalty of turning from Yahweh to follow other gods. They were more faithful to Him in Babylon than in Jerusalem.