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Megilah, 11

MEGILAH 11-13 sponsored by a generous grant from an anonymous donor. Kollel Iyun Hadaf is indebted to him for his encouragement and support and prays that Hashem will repay him in kind.


QUESTION: The Gemara explains that the Jews of Jerusalem were exiled *seven* years after Nevuchadnezar's original conquest of Judea, which was then ruled by king Yehoyakim. When Rashi (DH Sheniyah) makes the year-by-year accounting, however, there seem to be only *six* years between Yehoyakim's downfall and the exile of Judea. (See Chart #5)

As Rashi tells us (based on Seder Olam, ch. 25), Nevuchadnezar captured Jerusalem during Yehoyakim's fifth year of reign (out of his 11-year reign), and appointed Yehoyakim to continue ruling as a vassal king. Yehoyakim ruled in this manner for three years, then rebelled against Nevuchadnezar for another three years, after which Nevuchadnezar recaptured Jerusalem and dethroned Yehoyakim, who died while being dragged to Bavel (Yirmiyahu 22:19 - - see also Rashi, Erchin 12a, DH Kivesh).

Although it is true that Yehoyakim's death did not mark the exile, but rather the death of his son Yehoyachin (who was appointed to rule in his father's stead by Nevuchadnezar), nevertheless the verse specifies that Yehoyachin ruled for only *three months and ten days* before he, and Judea with him, were exiled (Divrei Hayamim II 36:9). How are we to account for the "seventh year" that the Gemara mentions? (See RASHASH in Erchin 12a.)


(a) From RASHI it appears that Yehoyakim actually ruled for 11 years and 9 months, and not just 11 years exactly. Since his son finished the last 3 months of the 12th year, the year was counted towards his reign rather than towards his father's reign. The seventh year was thus comprised of Yehoyakim's 9 months and his son's 3 months. Alternatively, There were 9 months during which *nobody* was appointed as king in Yerushalayim until Yehoyachin was appointed by Nevuchadnezar (and that is what the verse means when it says that Nevuchadnezer returned to exile Yehoyachin "at the turn of the year" -- one full year since the exile and death of Yehoyakim. See the Vilna Gaon in IMREI NO'AM, Rosh Hashanah 3a).

(b) From IBN EZRA (Daniel 1:1) and RADAK (Divrei Hayamim II 36:6) it appears that Yehoyakim was taken to Bavel immediately upon his original capture, where he remained imprisoned for one year. Only *after* that year did Nevuchadnezar return Yehoyakim to his throne as a vassal king. This, then, accounts for the missing seventh year. (According to this view, Nevuchadnezar conquered Yehoyakim at the *beginning* of his fifth year of reign -- i.e. at the end of the fourth -- and not at the end of the fifth, as Rashi explains.)

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