This issue is sponsored l'iluy Nishmas
Vol. 15 No. 45
Pesach ben Ephraim Shimon z"l
Sichon and Og
In the Gemara in Nidah (24b), Aba Shaul, who was a grave-digger, tells how he once gave chase to a deer, which entered the thigh-bone of a deceased man. He followed it, and after chasing it unsuccessfully for three Parsah (close to twelve kilometers), he gave up - but the deer had not yet left the thigh-bone. Upon asking whose thigh-bone he had entered, he was told that it was the thigh-bone of Og Melech ha'Bashan.
And when the Emperor Hadrian conquered Eretz Yisrael, he boasted of how he had defeated such a mighty nation. R. Yochanan ben Zakai assured him however, that had Yisrael not sinned, he would never have conquered them. To prove his point, he took him to a cave where Emori'im were buried, and he pointed to a gigantic thigh-bone, which, he informed him, was that of Sichon, Melech ha'Emori. 'When we were worthy,' he told him, 'this giant fell into our hands.' In fact, our sages say, Sichon was as strong as the wall of a fortress. So big was he, that when he sat atop the wall of the city, his feet reached the ground.
"So strong were Sichon and Og (who were brothers)," said R. Levi, "that when one of them went to fight his enemy, he did not even deem it necessary to call on the other to join him in battle, as is evident from the Pasuk (Devarim 2:32), which describes how Sichon gathered an army to fight Yisrael, whilst no mention is made of Og coming to assist him."
"Furthemore," R. Levi commented, "their strength was superior to that of all the thirty-one kings with whom Yehoshua had to fight, and to that of the mighty Par'oh and his army. Indeed, David sang a Shirah in their honour just as he did in honour of Par'oh and in honour of the kings, as he wrote in Tehilim (136:17-20) "To smite great kings, for His kindness lasts forever; and he killed mighty rulers, for His kindness lasts forever; Sichon, Melech ha'Emori
, and Og Melech ha'Bashan
. So you see that David ha'Melech placed them on a par with those mighty kings".
More about Sichon
(Adapted from Otzar Ishei ha'T'nach)
Who was Sichon?
R. Bachye explains that Shamchaza'i (one of the two angels who fell from Heaven, and whose evil deeds caused the Great Flood) had relations with the wife of Cham (No'ach's son), shortly before the Flood. Consequently, she entered her father-in-law's boat in a state of pregnancy. In fact, Rabeinu Bachye adds, the reason that Cham contravened his father's instructions to refrain from marital relations during that year, was in order to cover up his wife's adulterous act.
According to the Gemara in Nidah (61a) however, Sichon and Og were both sons of Shamchaza'i's son, Achyah.
Both Sichon and Og, says the Medrash, were as proud as they were strong. They lived no more than a day's journey apart, yet when one of them went to war, he did not bother to call his brother to assist him.
When Sichon decided to fight with Mo'av, says the Medrash Tanchuma, he was afraid, because Mo'av were known to be fierce warriors. That explains why he hired Bil'am and his father to curse Mo'av (which, as we know, he did successfully).
The Medrash informs us that all the kings of Cana'an would pay Sichon taxes, not only because he protected them from invaders, but because it seems, he was the one who crowned them king.
That explains why, when Moshe requested permission to pass through his land prior to the conquest of Cana'an, he responded in the negative, because, as he told them 'The sole purpose of my being here is in order to protect the Cana'ani kings against the likes of you!'
In fact, says the Medrash, Sichon responded by gathering an army and attacking Yisrael. Now Cheshbon, Sichon's capital, was impregnable; so it was quite unnecessary for him to expose his army in this way. G-d however, who 'controls the hearts of kings', put it into his head, to facilitate Yisrael's victory.
The battle against Sichon, says the Yalkut Shimoni, took place in Elul, after which Yisrael celebrated the Yamim-Tovim in Tishri, before being attacked by Og and defeating him.
* * *
'A Hint will Suffice for a Wise Man'
"These are the words that Moshe spoke to all of Yisrael" (Devarim 1:1).
This teaches us, says the Medrash, that they were all worthy of rebuke and were able to handle it.
The Medrash's comment, says the Divrei Sha'arei Chayim, is based on the fact that Moshe did not rebuke the people directly, but by way of hint, as Rashi explains. It is for someone who is on the level of accepting a rebuke that even a hint will suffice. He is ready to be reprimanded and will understand exactly what the rebuker means without any harsh words needing to be said.
If on the other hand, one tries using the same method of admonishing a person who is averse to being reprimanded, he will simply not understand the hints contained in one's words, The only way to rebuke him is directly and bluntly.
Consequently, the fact that Moshe reproached Yisrael without anything direct being said was ample proof that they were on the level of accepting rebuke.
Rashi, however, ascribes the reason for Moshe's indirect rebuke to the honour of Yisrael. What he evidently means, says the Be'er Mayim Chayim, is that he did not want the nations of the world to hear the harsh words of censure that he was spelling out to K'lal Yisrael.
And that explains, he says, why, after the opening barrage of reprimands and the details that surround it, the Pasuk informs us that Moshe wrote the Torah in seventy languages. This piece of information does not initially seem to belong here. According to what we just explained however, it does, since the fact that Moshe intended to translate the Torah into all seventy languages for the nations of the world to learn, was the reason that he rebuked Yisrael by way of hint, rather than openly.
The Three Covenants
"These are the words that Moshe spoke
'Devarim', 'ha'devarim', 'eileh ha'devarim', the Ba'al ha'Turim comments, is a hint to the three times that the Mitzvos were said, at Sinai, in the Ohel Mo'ed and in Arvos Mo'av. On each and every Mitzvah, he adds, He made sixteen covenants, a total of forty-eight all in all. Corresponding to this, the Torah warns against Avodah-Zarah forty-eight times, and likewise it issues forty-eight warnings against abusing a Ger, who comes to cleave to the Torah, on which forty-eight covenants were made.
The Five Books
The Gematriyah of the first words of the Five Books of the Torah "Bereishis", "ve'Eileh", "Vayikra", "Vayedaber" & "Eileh" the Ba'al ha'Turim observes, is equivalent to that of "Yir'as" (representing the Pasuk in Mishlei "Reishis Chochmah Yir'as Hashem"), which in turn, is equivalent to the word 'Torah'.
And the Gematriyah of the first letters of the five Books ('Beis', 'Vav', 'Vav', 'Vav' & 'Alef'), he adds, equals that of the Name of Hashem "Ehekeh", whereas that of the last letters ('Mem, 'Mem', 'Yud' 'Vav' & 'Lamed') is the equivalent of 'Hu Elokeinu Zeh'.
Chorev - Cherev
"Hashem our G-d spoke to us at Chorev
The word "be'Chorev" is written minus a 'Vav', says the Ba'al ha'Turim, to read 'Cherev' - a hint that if we fail to keep the Torah, then G-d will send upon us the sword (as the Torah testifies in Bechukosai [26:25]).
Maybe this is what Chazal mean when they say that the Seifer and the sword came down wrapped together; if we do not keep what is written in the one, then we will have to suffer the other.
The Rewards of Kibud Av
"You have spent enough time going round ('Sov') this mountain (Har Eisav); turn to the north!" (2:3).
The letter 'Samech' in the word "Sov", says the Ba'al ha'Turim, has Tagin (crowns) on it. This is because Eisav honoured his father, who was sixty when he was born, and that is why he was destined to destroy the Beis-Hamikdash, whose Heichal was sixty Amos tall.
And that's not all, he says, for in Pasuk five, the words "yerushah le'Eisav" (an inheritance for Eisav [in connection with Har Eisav]) contain the same Gematriyah as 'bi'sh'vil Mitzvas kibud' (due to the Mitzvah of honouring
Og's Large Tooth
"And we turned and we went by way of the Bashan" (3:1).
The Ba'al ha'Turim explains why Og's country was called 'Bashan'. It comes from the word 'shein' (tooth) and is connected with the miracle recorded in B'rachos, where Og picked up a mountain to hurl on K'lal Yisrael. Had he succeeded, it is clear that he would have annihilated the entire nation. Only G-d performed a miracle, and one of his teeth grew long and curled round the stone, thereby preventing him from throwing it.
* * *
we traveled from Chorev and we traversed that great and fearful desert, where you saw the smelly carcasses of snakes as large as beams and scorpions the size of bows cast before you
'And the thing was good in my eyes, so I took twelve chosen men from among you
'And you spoke slander in your tents, and you took your sons and daughters on your laps and said to them 'Woe to you and your troubles! Tomorrow you will be killed, for Hashem hates you
'Where are we going to?
and we also saw there the sons of mighty Efron' (1:28).
'And in the desert you saw highly venomous snakes that kill, but G-d was carrying you on the Clouds of the Glory of His Shechinah
* * *
OF THE CHURBAN
(Adapted from Yirmiyah, chaps. 40 & 41)
Gedalyah ben Achikam
After setting Yirmiyahu ha'Navi free, Nevuzraden gave him the option of either accompanying him to Bavel, where he would join the exiles, or returning to Eretz Yisrael, to rejoin the remnant of Jews whom Nevuchadnetzar had left there under the leadership of Gedalyah ben Achikam. Choosing the latter, he joined Gedalyah in Mitzpah, in the land of Yehudah. For, as the Medrash explains, he opted for Hashem to accompany the exiles to Bavel, where He was most needed, whilst he returned to comfort the remnant that remained in Eretz Yisrael.
When the people who had fled to hide from Nevuchadnetzar in the fields outside Yerushalayim heard that the King of Bavel had left a sizeable settlement in Eretz Yisrael, comprising men, women and children, under the capable jurisdiction of Gedalyah, they flocked to join them there. Eventually, they were joined by many Jews who had fled to Mo'av, Amon, Edom and other surrounding countries. Among the new arrivals were Yishmael ben Nesanyah, Yochonan (and his brother Yonasan), son of Kore'ach, both of whom would play a major role in the events that were about to take place.
Gedalyah swore to the people that they had nothing to fear from the Babylonians, and that as long as they served Nevuchadnetzar faithfully, the latter, for his part, would treat them well. He also promised that he personally, would not move from Mitzpah, to be available to communicate with any Babylonians who would visit the area from time to time, to protect the people from whatever harm they plotted against them.
One day, Yochanan ben Kore'ach and all the officers came to warn Gedalyah that Ba'lim, King of Amon, had sent Yishmael ben Nesanyah to assassinate him. Unfortunately however, Gedalyah refused to believe him. And when Yochanan offered to secretly eliminate Yishmael, before the latter carried out his plan and caused the disintegration of the remaining Yishuv, Gedalyah not only declined, but actually accused him of lying.
On the following Rosh Hashanah, Yishmael ben Nesanyah (who was also related to the family and Malchus Beis-David and) who, in his past capacity as an important dignitary in the royal court, was envious of Gedalyah's appointment as leader of the Golah, came from Amon together with ten men, ostensibly to visit Gedalyah and to eat with him. Unfortunately, Yochanan ben Korei'ach had not lied, and so, precisely as he had predicted, Yishmael and his ten henchmen assassinateded the unsuspecting Gedalyah and all the men who were with him, Jews and Babylonians alike. A day passed, and not a soul outside Mitzpah was aware of their leader's assassination. On that second day, a group of eighty men came from Sh'chem, Shiloh and Shomron, with shorn beards, torn clothes and cuts on their flesh, in mourning over the destruction of the Beis-Hamikdash, which they only discovered on the way to Mitzpah. They brought with them a flour-offering and frankincense which they had originally intended to bring on the Mizbei'ach. Yishmael ben Nesanyah went out to meet them, weeping (in a show of empathy). When he met them, he offered to take them to Gedalyah, but when they arrived in the middle of town, he murdered them all, before throwing them into a large communal pit.
There were ten men among them, who pleaded with Yishma'el ben Nesanel to spare them. They informed him that they had hidden a stock of food - wheat, barley, oil and honey, which he was now authorized to take, if he would only spare their lives. He agreed and took them captive. together with all the women and children that remained in Mitzpah (among them daughters of Tzidkiyahu ha'Melech whom Nevuzraden had entrusted into the care of Gedalyahu) and the non-combatant men whom he had not killed.
Meanwhile, word of Yishmael ben Nesanyah's treachery reached the ears of Yochanan ben Kore'ach and the senior officers who were with him. They mobilized the men who were with them and attacked Yishmael and his troop. When the captives saw his army approaching, they were elated, and quickly ran across to join them. However, Yishmael together with eight men managed to escape to Amon. Yochanan ben Kore'ach promptly took the freed captives together with a group of dignitaries whom he brought with him from Giv'on, and placed them temporarily in Geirus (a town that David ha'Melech had given to Kimham ben Barzilai ha'Gil'adi) which was next to Sh'chem. His intention was to move them to Egypt, in anticipation of an attack by Nevuchadnetzar, in revenge for Yishmael's assassination of Gedalyah.
* * *
This issue is sponsored anonymously
Tish'ah be'Av Supplement
Eating and Drinking
on Tish'ah be'Av
(Adapted from the Seifer ha'Mo'adim ba'Halachah)
The Tur, supported by the Seifer ha'Eshkol) places eating & drinking on Tish'ah be'Av on a par with eating & drinking on Yom Kipur, except that the former is Chayav Kareis, whilst the latter is Divrei Kabalah (i.e. from the words of the Navi), and Divrei Kabalah, as is well-known, is more stringent than Divrei Sofrim (mi'de'Rabbanan).
The reason for this, says the Mo'adim be'Halachah, lies in the fact that the Navi Zecharyah (8:19) mentions "Tzom ha'chamishi" with reference to Tish'ah be'Av. Though this is strange, seeing as, in the same Pasuk, he mentions to "Tzom ha'Revi'i", "Tzom ha'Shevi'i" and "Tzom ha'Asiri" with reference to the other fast-days, yet nobody claims that they have the status of Divrei Kabalah.
However, the P'nei Yehoshua proves from the Gemara in Rosh Hashanah (18b), where the Gemara suggests that, in the time of the Beis-ha'Mikdash, when there is neither peace nor war, the status of all the fast-days (Tish'ah be'Av) is determined by what Yisrael wants as to whether one fasts or not, that it is only mi'de'Rabbanan. Granted, the Gemara concludes that since Yisrael suffered so many calamities on Tish'ah be'Av, fasting on it is compulsory after all, but that hardly raises it to the level of Divrei Kabalah.
The Turei Even too, proves that it is no more than mi'de'Rabbanan, from Shmuel, who permits a Safek Bein-ha'Shemashos (dusk) on Tish'ah be'Av, treating it as a branch of 'Safek de'Rabbanan Lekula'.
And the author brings a final proof from the Shulchan Aruch 554), who permits a pregnant woman and sick people to eat Lechatchilah on Tish'ah be'Av.
Fasting on Tish'ah be'Av may well be mi'de'Rabbanan, concludes the Mo'adim be'Halachah, but Chazal were particularly hard on those who don't. Based on the Pasuk in Yeshayah (66:10), they said that 'whoever eats and drinks on Tish'ah be'Av will not see the rejoicing of Yerushalayim'. The Pasuk does not mention Tish'ah be'Av, yet Chazal connect the two, perhaps, as we wrote earlier, because 'Yisrael suffered so many calamities on Tish'ah be'Av'.
On the other hand, they added, based on the same Pasuk in Yeshayah that 'Those who mourn over Yerushalayim's destruction will merit to see its rejoicing!'
* * *
THE NINTH - OR THE TENTH OF AV
The Gemara in Ta'anis 20b describes how the enemy entered the Heichal on the seventh of Av, ate, drank and wrought havoc on the seventh, eighth and ninth, and on the ninth, shortly before nightfall, they set fire to it, and how it continued to burn for an entire day, until the end of the tenth.
The Gemara concludes that Chazal nevertheless fixed the ninth of Av as a day of mourning, rather than the tenth because it is the beginning of the punishment that is felt the most. R. Yochanan protested however. Had he been alive at that time, he proclaimed, he would have fixed it on the tenth and not on the ninth.
Interestingly, also Rebbi (who was one of R. Yochanan's Rebbes), in the Gemara in Megilah 5b) wanted to fix Tish'ah be'Av on the tenth (see Tosfos there), though the Chachamim did not agree with him.
The Chasam Sofer attributes Chazal fixing the ninth as the day of mourning to the Pasuk in Yechezkel "And lawless people will enter it and profane it". Once they set fire to it, he explains, they profaned it. It therefore transpires that what burned on the tenth was not G-d's Holy House, but a profane one.
The commentaries query R. Yochanan from his own opinion with regard to someone who lights a fire (in connection with both Shabbos damages). R. Yochanan, in Bava Kama, holds that someone who kindles a fire is compared to someone who shoots an arrow, whose entire act is attributed to the time of shooting. That, he explains, is why we are permitted to light Shabbos candles before Shabbos comes in, even though they continue to burn after Shabbos is in. In that case, they ask, R. Yochanan ought to be the first to admit that Chazal were justified in fixing the ninth (when the kindling took place), as the day of mourning.
It seems to me however, that fixing the day of mourning is not a matter of Halachic principles (whether the burning took place on this day or on that day), but rather of at which point the conflagration was the most painful. Indeed, the reason that the Gemara gives for
Fixing it on the ninth is (not because that was when the entire burning took place Halachically, but) because that is when it was felt the most. R. Yochanan presumably, holds that watching it burn for so many hours on the tenth overrode the short (if more painful) period that it burned on the ninth.
* * *
(Adapted mainly from the Otzar ha'Medrashim)
Yerushalayim was destroyed because
they annulled the Mitzvah of Kriy'as Sh'ma morning and evening (R. Avahu - Shabbos 119b).
they annulled the Tinokos shel Beis Raban from learning Torah (Rav Hamnuna - Shabbos 119b).
they equated the young and the old (the young showed no respect for the old [R. Yitzchak - Shabbos 119b]).
they failed to rebuke one another (Rav Amram b'rei de'R. Shimon bar Aba
Amar R. Chanina - Shabbos 119b).
they despised Talmidei-Chachmim (R. Yehudah - Shabbos 119b). Rav Yehudah Amar Rav said that there is no cure for the strokes of anyone who despises Talmidei-Chachamim.
men who had faith in Hashem ceased to exist (Rava - Shabbos 119b).
they desecrated the Shabbos (Abaye - Shabbos 119b).
they had no shame before one another (Ula - Shabbos 119b).
they perverted justice (Tanchuma).
they followed the letter of the law (and failed to go 'lif'nim mi'shuras ha'din' [R. Yochanan - Bava Metzi'a 30b]).
they forsook the Torah (i.e. they failed to recite the B'rachah before learning Torah [Rav Yehudah Amar Rav - Nedarim 81a]).
So much for the second Beis-Hamikdash. And how about the first?
The first Beis-Hamikdash say Chazal, was destroyed
because they were guilty of the three cardinal sins 'Avodah-Zarah, Giluy Arayos and Shefichus Damim' (idolatry, adultery & murder).
* * *
THE DINIM OF TISH'AH BE'AV
THAT FALLS ON
(Adapted from the Derech ha'Chayim)
ha'Rachamim and Hazkaras Neshamos
One recites both Av ha'Rachamim and Hazkaras Neshamos as usual.
Until mid-day, one may learn Torah as usual. After-mid-day, one should avoid learning those things that are not connected with Tish'ah Be'Av or mourning and that are not sad (The Mishnah B'rurah however, tends to agree with those Poskim who are lenient in this point). Therefore one does not say Pirkei Avos. Shenayim mikra ve'echad. Targum however, is permitted, though there are some Poskim who prefer that where possible, one finishes it in the morning.
Meat and Wine
One may eat meat and drink wine all day, even at Shalosh-Se'udos, nor is one even permitted to refrain from doing so.
One eats Shalosh Se'udos as usual, only in a restrained atmosphere, without inviting friends, though some Poskim permit eating together with friends with whom one is used to eat.
In any event, eating with one's immediate family is permitted, and even to Bensch Mezuman (with three people) if necessary.
One is obligated to finish eating before Sheki'ah (sunset), though all other positive forms of mourning are forbidden until nightfall.
Preparing for Tish'ah be'Av
It is forbidden to do anything on Shabbos in preparation for the fast (such as taking out one's Tish'ah be'Av's shoes or one's Kinos).
What One Omits at Ma'ariv
One does not sing 'la'Menatzei'ach bi'Neginos' before Ma'ariv, or vi'Yehi No'am and ve'Atah Kadosh after Ma'ariv, because they were instituted in connection with the Avodah of the Beis-Hamikdash, whose destruction we are commemorating. Neither do we say 've'Yiten L'cha' (Kitzur Shulchan Aruch),
Removing One's Shoes
One removes one's shoes only after 'Borchu', except for the Chazen, who removes them before 've'Hu Rachum'. Before doing so, one says 'Baruch ha'mavdil bein kodesh le'chol'.
Havdalah on Motza'ei Shabbos
One recites Havdalah in the Amidah as usual. Someone who forgets to do so, does not need to repeat the Amidah, since he is going to recite Havdalah over wine on Motza'ei Tish'ah be'Av anyway.
However, the B'rachah over Ner, which is not for pleasure, one recites before Kinos (Mishnah B'rurah).
Havdalah on Motza'ei Tish'ah be'Av
On Motza'ei Tish'ah be'Av of this year one recites Havdalah over wine, which one is permitted to drink oneself (even though meat and wine per se, are forbidden until mid-day of the tenth). One does not recite the B'rachah over Besamim or Ner however (even someone who forgot to recite the B'rachah over Ner on Motza'ei Shabbos, since (with the sole exception of Yom-Kipur) they are only said on Motza'ei Shabbos.
* * *
The last straw that clinched Hashem's decision to destroy the Beis ha'Mikdosh was King Menashe placing an idol in the Heichal of the Beis ha'Mikdosh. The image had four faces so that from whichever direction one approached it, one would immediately be able to prostrate oneself before it. This, Menashe presumably did before his teshuvah in 3250, eighty eight years before the Churban.
The era of the Churban may be said to have begun with the death of Yoshiyah in 3316. Yeho'ochoz, his second son is chosen to succeed him. He is chosen to rule because he is more worthy than his older brother, Yehoyokim, and that is why he has to be crowned (whereas the natural heir to the throne does not). He only reigns for three months, until he is captured by Par'oh the lame and brought to Egypt.
Yeho'ochoz is succeeded by his older brother Yehoyokim (also known as Elyokim).
Nevuchadnetzar, King of Bovel, captures Yerusholayim and exiles Yehoyokim to Bovel together with Doniel, Chananyoh, Mishoel and Azaryoh. He returns Yehoyokim to Yerusholayim however, on the understanding that he will be subservient to him. For three years Yehoyokim remains loyal to Nevuchadnetzar, before he rebels. When Boruch ben Neriyah, Yirmiyoh's disciple, writes out the Book of Eichoh on Yirmiyoh's instructions, and shows it to the King, he promptly tosses it into the fire.
Yehoyokim rebels against Nevuchadnetzar.
Nevuchadnetzar marches against Yerusholayim and demands that Yehoyokim give himself up. When he refuses, his fellow Jews are forced to bind him in chains and deliver him to Nevuchadnetzar, who leads him into exile, but he dies on the way to Bovel. His captors leave his corpse where it falls, open to the heat of the sun by day and the cold by night.
His son, Yehoyochin (also known as Yechonyoh) succeeds him. Like Yeho'ochoz, his uncle, he rules for only three months, before Nevuchadnetzar, on the advice of his people ('How much loyalty can you expect from the son of a rebel?') demands Yehoyochin's surrender. Yehoyochin accedes, but not before he has climbed onto the roof of the Beis ha'Mikdosh and thrown the keys of the Beis ha'Mikdosh into the air, returning them to their Master (because they were no longer worthy of acting as its custodians).
Yechoyochin is taken captive to Bovel, together with three thousand of the elite of Yehudah, including the Sanhedrin and seven thousand from Binyomin and the other tribes. (Others say that Nevuchadnetzar exiles seventeen thousand plus one thousand Torah scholars. Among the captives is Yeoyochin's uncle, Matanyoh ben Yoshiyoh (Yehoyokim's brother).
This is the fifth exile that Yisroel has undergone (three at the hand of Sancheriv and two at the hands of Nevuchadnetzar.)
Nevuchadnetzar places Matanyoh on the throne and changes his hame to Tzidkiyoh (implying that G-d will punish him if he rebels against him). He places all the local kings under Tzidkiyoh's jurisdiction.
Yirmiyoh prophesies about the Churban Beis ha'Mikdosh.
Yechezkel has a vision of the Ma'aseh ha'Merkovoh (incorporating a prophecy of the Churban Beis ha'Mikdosh).
Yechezkel prophesies about the downfall of Yerusholayim. Nevuchadnetzar lays siege to Yerusholayim.
Yirmiyoh warns the people consistently that whoever remains in Yerusholayim will suffer a terrible fate and it is those who surrender to Nevuchadnetzar besieging army who will be spared. He also issues a similar warning to Tzidkiyoh, making it clear that he could save Yerusholayim as well as himself by surrendering. But Tzidkiyoh, who is sometimes described in Chazal as a Tzadik, although the Novi consistently refers to him as a rosho (because he failed to rebuke his generation), ignored the Novi's warnings.
When Nevuchadnetzar appointed Tzidkiyoh king, he made him swear, holding a Seifer Torah, that he would not rebel against him. Before Nevuchadnetzar had arrived in Bovel, however, he had already (annulled his oath and) begun the rebellion that would lead to the Churban. This was by the Divine will, because G-d's decision to destroy the Beis ha'Mikdosh at that stage was already irrevocable.
On an earlier occasion, he entered Nevuchadnetzar's presence as the King was eating a live hare. There too, he made him swear that he would never divulge what he saw to anybody. And there too, Tzidkiyoh had his oath annulled. He will later be made to pay for this dearly.
When Nevuchadnetzar hears that Egyptian troops are on their way to attack him, he raises the siege on Yerusholayim, and his army leaves. But G-d has other plans. As the Egyptians are corssing the Reed Sea, He orders the skulls and bones of human corpses to appear on the water. The Egyptians recall the splitting of the Reed Sea and the drowning of their ancestors, and return to Egypt. The siege of Yerusholayim resumes.
It is as the Babylonian troops are returning to the siege that they spot a deer. They give chase and the deer leads them to the opening of a tunnel in the area of Yericho (forty kilometers from Yerusholayim) just as Tzidkiyoh, together with his family, the Sanhedrin, and many troops, who were attempting to escape via the secret tunnel that led all the way from the King's palace, emerged.
His troops flee, and he, his family and the Sanhedrin are led captive to Nevuchadnetzar who is stationed in Rivloh in the north. Afraid of G-d's wrath, following the impending destruction of the Beis ha'Mikdosh, he has placed his troops under the command of his general Nevuzeradan, whilst he remains in Rivloh.
Nevuchadnetzar, furious with Tzidkiyoh for having reneged on his oath, kills his children in front of him, before taking out his eyes and taking him captive to Bovel, where he remains in prison throughout the reign of Nevuchadnetzar.
He also punishes the Sanhedrin, whom he blames for the annulment of Tzidkiyoh's vows, by tying them by their hair to horses' tails, and allowing the horses to run wild, dragging them along until they are all dead.
It is Nevuchadnetzar's custom never to set free a captive, and so it is with Tzidkiyoh and with Yehoyochin (who was taken into captivity eleven years earlier). Both remain in prison for the entire duration of Nevuchadnetzar's reign.
The Jews prevail upon Nevuchadnetzar's wife to intercede with her husband on behalf of Yehoyochin, to allow his wife to 'visit' him in jail and to spend the night with him. This she succeeds in doing, and the visit is arranged. However, as Yehoyochin's wife is being lowered into the narrow dungeon, she informs her husband that she has just seen blood and that she is forbidden to him. She asks to be withdrawn and another night is arranged.
It is remarkable, Chazal point out, that before going into exile, they did not adhere to the laws of family purity, yet, here in golus (and under such circumstances), they do! As a result, G-d revokes the decree that He issued through Yirmiyoh, that Yehoyochin will die childless. Not only that, but his wife becomes pregnant in a miraculous way, and gives birth to She'elti'el, father of Zerubovel, better known as Nechemyah, who will lead Yisroel out of golus Bovel.
On the twenty-fifth of Ador of the year 3364, twenty-six years after the Churban, Nevuchadnetzar dies. E'vil Merodach, his son, ascends the throne on the twenty-sixth, he exhumes his father's body from the grave and drags it around the town to annul his decrees, and on the twenty-seventh he sets Yehoyochin free.
Tzidkiyohu, content in the knowledge that he has outlived his captor and tormentor Nevuchadnetzar, dies at this time.
E'vil Merodach takes Yehoyochin under his wing and provides for him until his dying day. He places him in charge of all the other vassal kings under his jurisdiction.
Malchus Beis Dovid has come to a temporary end. From now on, Dovid's descendants will be known as princes (Nesi'im). The first prince is Yehoyochin. He is succeeded by his son She'elti'el, who is in turn succeeded by his son, Zerubovel.