Baruch writing down Jeremiah’s prophecies
Following the destruction of Samaria, the Assyrians came after Judah. They destroyed most of the surrounding cities and they besieged Jerusalem. However, whether through political arrangements or, as the Bible tells it, the intervention of God, Jerusalem survived (this time). Judah managed to avoid destruction for almost another 150 years, but then the other great Mesopotamian kingdom – Babylon – rose to power. They began by conquering Assyria, but then kept on until they besieged Jerusalem. A political agreement was arrived such that Judah became a Babylonian vassal state in 597 (paying tribute, contributing troops, etc.), but the Davidic line continued until their rebellion recalled the Babylonian army under Nebuchadnezzar II who was less open to negotiation a second time around. The city was destroyed, including the temple, and so began the Babylonian captivity.
From the point of view of the author of Samuel-Kings the ultimate issue that prompted God to permit Jerusalem to fall to the pagan conquerors was idolatry. Jewish idolatry, that is – the Babylonians never got in trouble for it. From the point of view of the Jewish leaders this was either an issue of freedom of religion or of keeping all your bases covered, but as it turns out God did not see it that way. In any case that is the way of thinking that emerged as dominant during this period. Most of the skilled and literate had been taken off to Bablyon, and another batch had run off to Egypt. A large percentage of scholars believe that it was in this period that much of the Bible as we know it began to take shape, although certainly exilic writers would have been drawing on traditions, some of them written.