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Second Kings - Chapter 25 AND Second Chronicles - Chapter 36 (Cont’d.)
Jerusalem Under Siege - 2 Kings 25:1-7
Upon Zedekiah’s rebellion Nebuchadnezzar came for the third and final time to Jerusalem. It was Zedekiah’s ninth year of rule, and the siege continued for two years. The Babylonian king was very much in earnest about putting the Jerusalem problem forever to rest. He brought his army and besieged the city, built forts against it all around the walls. It appears that little military effort was actually expended to capture the city. The great army of Babylon simply held their places while the city was slowly starved into submission.
In the fourth month of the eleventh year of Zedekiah the famine reached its ultimate, there was no more bread in the city. Jeremiah tells of this condition in his prophecy, he himself suffering want (Jeremiah 37:21). It was then the city government collapsed, and defenders, king, and council all attempted to flee out of the city and escape capture. They stole out by night through a gate between two walls in the king’s gardens.
The army of the Chaldees had the city surrounded and soon discovered the attempt. The fleeing party went eastward to the plain of Jericho, evidently hoping to escape across the Jordan river and find refuge there. They were overtaken there by the Chaldean army. Zedekiah’s men scattered and left him to his fate. He and his party were taken to the Babylonian king’s headquarters at Riblah, the site of ancient army camps northwest of Damascus, on the Orontes River.
Here at Riblah the king passed sentence against Zedekiah. He was made a horrible example of what other kings who might think to rebel against Nebuchadnezzar could expect. First the heartless Babylonian king gave command to slay Zedekiah’s sons in his presence, before his eyes. Remember that this king, Zedekiah, was only about thirty-two years of age, and his young sons could have been no more than mere boys. He was compelled to witness their slaughter. That was the last act Zedekiah ever saw, for the next gruesome punishment rendered him was to gouge out his eyes. He was then bound with chains of brass and carried away to Babylon to live out his days.
The awful judgment of Zedekiah makes right thinking persons cringe in horror at the mental conception of it. It was cruel, sadistic, and undeserving in the mind of modern men. Yet it is a physical parallel of the spiritual judgment that awaits the unbeliever. The flames of hell are far worse, to the point of no comparison, to the physical tortures of Zedekiah. Hell will contain physical, mental, and spiritual agony for
every unbeliever (Mr 9:47-48; Lu 16:23).
Into Captivity – Commentary on 2 Kings 25:8-21 AND 2 Chronicles 36:17-21
The end had come for the kingdom of Judah. The longsuffering of God was at an end (De 28:63-64); Josiah had foreseen the curse and striven diligently to circumvent it, but Judah had not responded favorably. The king of Babylon began his occupation of the land, sending his officer of the guard, Nebuzar-adan to finalize the conquest. It was a bitter end, for Nebuchadnezzar’s men dealt ruthlessly and cruelly with the people. They even went into the temple killing, sparing not for sex or age any they judged worthy of death. All the treasures of temple, palace, and great houses of the princes were pillaged and their riches carted away to Babylon.
The temple, the palace, the great mansions were burned, and the walls of the city were broken down. The people who had escaped the sword, along with those who had deserted to the Chaldean army during the siege were taken away to Babylon to serve their new master. Nebuzar-adan left only the most abjectly poor of the people in Judah, that they might tend the vineyards and plant the fields to produce a yield for the king’s profit. The great brazen columns, with their capitols, which had stood before the temple, twenty-seven feet high in their beauty, the captain of the guard cut up. He took the brazen sea which was the reservoir for the lavers, the pots, firepans, bowls, shovels of bronze, gold, and silver from the altar and the temple sanctuary he did confiscate for the enrichment of Babylon. So these beautiful things, on which Hiram the artisan, at the command of Solomon, had so cunningly labored, were destroyed and carried into heathen lands.
Seraiah the high priest, Zephaniah the second priest, three doorkeepers who had stayed at the .temple to the end were put- in chains. Along with these were one of the military officers found hiding in the city, and five men of the king’s counsel, also ferreted out by Nebuzaradan There were found sixty men of the common people hiding out in the city who were taken. All of these Nebuzaradan brought to Nebuchadnezzar at his camp at Riblah. The king had them all put to death, "So Judah was carried away out of their land." (Cf. Philippians 3:17-19).
Kings postscript, 2 Kings 25:22-30
The student should read Jeremiah, chapters 39-44, for the fullest account in the Scriptures pertinent to this period of the downfall of Judah and Jerusalem. There it will be found that Jeremiah was released and treated kindly by Nebuzar-adan, and given choice of going with the captives to Babylon or remaining in the land. Jeremiah chose to remain in Jerusalem, where he observed the violence against Gedaliah, who had been appointed governor, warned the people not to fear the Chaldeans, and advised against their descent into Egypt. However he was compelled to accompany the people to Egypt, where he is last heard of prophesying against their idolatry in that country.
Nebuchadnezzar chose a good man to be governor of Judah under him, Gedaliah, the grandson of Shaphan the scribe, who had served Josiah so well during his reign. Gedaliah had the good of the land at heart, and wanted the people to settle down, forget their fear of the Babylonians, which he told them was groundless as long as they obeyed his rulership. A number of roving bands of men who fled into hiding from the armies of Nebuchadnezzar began to reappear, and Gedaliah sought to involve them in the rebuilding of the ruined land. Among them was one, Ishmael, who was related to the royal family. The captains of several other bands seem to have looked to him for leadership and to act on his command. He pretended friendship to Gedaliah, who trusted him implicitly. Though Gedaliah was warned by some of his friends of Ishmael’s hostile intent he refused to believe it (Jeremiah 40:13-16). So in the seventh month (Jerusalem had fallen in the fourth month) Ishmael, with the backing of Baalis, the Ammonite king, fell upon Gedaliah during a meal prepared for them, killed him and his Jewish council, and all the Chaldeans still there, took the rest of the people captive, and headed for sanctuary in Ammon.
Johanan, who had warned Jeremiah, gathered his men and pursued Ishmael, recapturing the people, though Ishmael escaped, returning them to Bethlehem (Jeremiah 41:16-18 and context). The people were afraid that the king of Babylon would retaliate against them for the murder of Gedaliah, his men, and the Chaldeans. They asked Jeremiah to seek the will of God for them, whether they should flee into Egypt. When he had done so Jeremiah informed them that the Lord would have them stay in the land. However they refused to accept it. They determined to go to Egypt anyway and compelled Jeremiah to accompany them (Jeremiah, chapters 42,43).
The inspired author of Kings has a final postscript about Jehoiachin, the boy king of Judah who surrendered to Nebuchadnezzar, along with his mother, after a reign of only three months. This was the son of Jehoiakim, and was the last generation of David to sit on his throne, until Jesus Christ renews the kingdom in the end of this age. When Jehoiachin had been captive for thirty-seven years a new king of Babylon, Evil-merodach, gave him his freedom, and honored him by setting his throne above all the other captive kings in Babylon. He would have been either forty-five or fifty-five years of age, and enjoyed the bounties of royalty provided by the king of Babylon for the remainder of his days.
There is an interesting note about Jehoiachin in Jeremiah’s prophecies concerning the last four kings of Judah (Jeremiah 22:28-30). There he is called Coniah, and the prophet foretells that no descendant of his will ever prosper sitting on the throne of David. This prophecy negates any throne rights of Jesus through his lineage, which was the lineage of Joseph, the husband of Mary. Therefore the lineage of Mary comes down to Jesus through Nathan, the brother of Solomon (cf. Matthew 1:6 ff with Lu 3:31 and foregoing verses).
2 Chronicles 36:22-23
Chronicles Postscript - 2 Chronicles 36:22-23
The closing verses of Second Chronicles form a transition from the end of the kingdom to the return of the captivity. Verse 20 showed that those whom Nebuchadnezzar carried away, and their descendants, were servants to the Babylonian (or Chadean) kings until the advent of the Persian empire. This is said to be in keeping with the word of the Lord through the prophet Jeremiah, that the exile would continue until the land observed its sabbaths. These were denied in the long centuries of apostasy and failure to adhere to the law of Moses in regard to the land. So the land lay untilled for the seventy years of captivity to atone for four hundred ninety years in which no sabbath of the land had been observed (Jeremiah 25:8-14; Jeremiah 27:6-8; Jeremiah 29:10).
Verses 22-23 furnish the close of the Chronicles and kingdom period and introduction to the post-exile period. They are repeated almost verbatim in Ezra 1:1-3. The fulfillment of Jeremiah’s prophecy was not delayed, for its enactment began in the very first year of Cyrus, king of Persia, when he had overcome Babylon and made it a part of his own empire. Jewish tradition relates that Cyrus heard of the prophecies of Isaiah (see Isaiah 44:24 to Isaiah 45:4) and Jeremiah and was so flattered by them that he sought at once to bring them to pass. Whether this is true or not, the Scriptures make it plain that his decision was by the will of the Lord, who "stirred up the spirit of Cyrus," and he made the proclamation. He published it throughout his empire and put it into writing. In it he is very flattering of himself, stating that God had made him ruler of all kingdoms of the earth. Though this was certainly not literally true he did control all the well-known nations of his time. His decree was that all among the people of his empire who would, should go up to Jerusalem in Judah and these erect a house for the Lord, who had commanded Cyrus so to do. This is one of the most emphatic examples of fulfilled prophecy in the Scriptures and is assurance that all shall be fulfilled in their proper time.
Some lessons: 1) Ultimate judgment for sin is inevitable; 2) Satan’s henchmen are cruel servants of a cruel master; 3) Satanic power will destroy everything beautiful; 4) Some people make promises never intending to keep them, if it turns out contrary to their personal desire; 5) all prophecy of God will come to pass without failure in the least point.
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Text Courtesy of Blessed Hope Foundation and the Baptist Training Center.
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on 2 Kings 25". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://studylight.org/
the Fourth Sunday after Epiphany