5.94 2 Kings -- Fall of Jerusalem
Judah had three bad kings in a row, two of very brief duration. Nebuchadnezzar installed another son of Josiah on the throne, and changed his name to Zedekiah. But he was of the same ilk as his predecessors, an evil king, ambitious and foolish. After a few years, he also rebelled against his master, hoping that Egypt would support him. Why could these petty kings not read the signs of the times and realize that "Ichabod" was written above their heads? Yet they thought they could stand up against the Babylonian Empire.
It was because of the Lord's anger that all this happened to Jerusalem and Judah, and in the end he thrust them from his presence (2 Kings 24:20).
The fall of Jerusalem was a result of Zedekiah's rebellion. Nebuchadnezzar returned, Jerusalem was besieged for over a year, the people starved. Zedekiah sought to run away, but was captured, his sons were killed, he was blinded and led in chains to Babylon. More than this, the city itself was despoiled:
Nebuzaradan, commander of the imperial guard,... set fire to the temple of the Lord, the royal palace and all the houses of Jerusalem. Every important building he burned down. The whole Babylonian army, under the commander of the imperial guard, broke down the walls around Jerusalem. The Babylonians broke up the bronze pillars, the movable stands and the bronze Sea that were at the temple of the Lord and they carried the bronze to Babylon (2 Kings 25:8-13).
So the Golden Age of Judah, as expressed in monumental buildings and civic institutions, came to an end in fire and blood (586 BC). Many of the inhabitants were taken to Babylon, but a number of the leaders were executed, including the chief priest. Nebuchadnezzar appointed a governor, not a king, over the land -- Gedaliah. But he himself didn't bring stability to the land, because he was assassinated by local people in less than a year.
At this, all the people from the least to the greatest, together with the army officers, fled to Egypt for fear of the Babylonians (2 Kings 25:26).