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Zedekiah rebelleth. Jerusalem is besieged and taken. Zedekiah's sons killed, and his own eyes put out. Nebuzar-adan burneth and spoileth the city: he carrieth away the captives. Evil-merodach advanceth Jehoiachin.
Before Christ 598.
Jeremiah 52:1. Zedekiah was one-and-twenty years old— The present chapter, seems to belong to the book of Lamentations, and serves as a kind of proem to them. The generality of commentators are agreed, that this chapter could not be added by Jeremiah, not only because a great part of it is a repetition of what he himself had related in the 39th and 40th chapters of his prophesy, but because mention is made in it of the reign of Evil-merodach; and of some transactions which happened at the end of Jeconiah's reign, and after Jeremiah's death. Indeed, the chapter is chiefly taken out of the latter part of the second book of Kings, with some few additions, probably supplied by Ezra. It is therefore most reasonable, to conclude, that this chapter was added by Ezra, who designed this brief history of the desolations of the Jewish nation as an introduction to the book of Lamentations. See Grotius, Calmet, and the notes on 2 Kings 24:18; 2Ki 24:20 to the end of chap. 25:
Jeremiah 52:3. For through the anger of the Lord, &c.— For it was so because of the anger of JEHOVAH against Judah and Jerusalem. The particle כי ki, is here causal, and assigns a reason for what went before; namely, why Zedekiah succeeded Jehoiakim in the throne. This happened, it is said, "because of the anger of JEHOVAH;" not that JEHOVAH instigated either them or any man else to do wickedly; but it was of his special order and appointment, for the punishment of a wicked people, that men of such perverse and evil dispositions were advanced to be their kings. For having determined, as it is said, 2Ki 21:11-16 to execute a signal vengeance upon Judah and Jerusalem for the very heinous provocations that he had received during the reign of Manasseh, he first of all removed the good Josiah out of the way, from respect to whose piety he would not bring the evil in his days, and thus opened the succession to his sons, the badness of whose principles favoured the designs of God's justice, and led them to pursue measures equally fatal to themselves and their country. For hence it flowed, that to their other wicked and sinful actions they added one no less impolitic than profligate, that of rebelling against a prince, to whom they were engaged by all the ties of religion, honour, and gratitude; one who had power to crush them, and who exercised that power with the most unrelenting severity. Thus truly might it be said of the people of Judah, in the words of the prophet Hosea, chap. Jeremiah 13:11. "God gave them kings in his anger, and took, or applied, them to the purposes of his indignation;" which indeed is but another way of expressing the sense here intended, namely, that it, Zedekiah's succession, was the consequence of the anger of JEHOVAH against Judah and Jerusalem, and designed finally to terminate in his removal of them out of his sight.
Jeremiah 52:7. And they went by the way of the plain— In the parallel passage in Kings, it is, And the king went the way toward the plain.
Jeremiah 52:25. An eunuch— An officer. So it is read in the parallel places.
Jeremiah 52:32. And set his throne above the throne of the kings, &c.— And set his seat above the seat of the kings. This may easily be understood to signify, that the king of Babylon shewed him more respect and honour than he did to any of the other captive princes, by placing him nearest himself. See Esther 3:1. It is probable, the phrase may have proceeded from the custom of placing cushions for persons of more than ordinary distinction in the place allotted them to sit in. See Harmer's Observ. ch. 6 obs. 26.
REFLECTIONS.—1st, We are here told,
1. The cause of the ruin of Zedekiah and the people. It was their sins which provoked God's wrath against them: and what particularly hastened their destruction was, his rebellion against the king of Babylon, in violation of the oath of God which was upon him; and this God permitted as a punishment for his former sins. Note; When sinners wilfully depart from God, he gives them up to their own folly; and usually nothing more is needful to push them on their destruction.
2. The instruments employed were, the Chaldeans under Nebuchadnezzar, who, after a siege of about eighteen months, took the city by assault, the famine having disabled the besiegers, and the obstinacy of the king and princes preventing a surrender.
3. Too late the king, and the men of war who survived, attempted to escape. Though covered by the night, they are quickly pursued and taken. See the unhappy king dragged as a criminal before the Babylonish monarch; judgment passed upon him; his sons murdered before his eyes; his princes slain; and then, as if to fix upon his mind continually the memory of the shocking scene, his eyes put out; in chains carried to Babylon, and condemned in a prison to languish out the remainder of his miserable days. He would not be warned, therefore he must suffer for it.
2nd. A month after the taking of the city, we have an account of its entire demolition by Nebuzar-adan, sent for this purpose by Nebuchadnezzar: the temple is laid in ashes, after being plundered of all its vessels and all its brass; the quantity of which was immense, and the particulars of which are mentioned, to shew the exact fulfilment of the prediction, chap. Jeremiah 27:19. The palaces and houses of Jerusalem are burnt to the ground, the walls razed, and the residue of the people, who survived the siege and famine, led captive by the Chaldean army. A melancholy scene! a warning to other nations, how dangerous it is to provoke a jealous God!
3rdly, When the sword is drawn, it is not quickly sheathed. We have,
1. The dreadful execution of seventy-four of the principal men, who were brought up by Nebuzar-adan to the king of Babylon at Riblah. The account in 2Ki 25:18-19 reckons them but seventy-two; some hence imagine, that Jeremiah and Ebed-melech were of the number who were taken, but afterwards released; or two, of less note than the rest, might not be there reckoned. All these were murdered in cold blood by Nebuchadrezzar's orders, as a punishment for their rebellion; and we must own this to be the just fate of traitors, while we condemn the cruelty of the Chaldean king.
2. Their repeated captivities in the seventh, the eighteenth, and twenty-third years of Nebuchadnezzar. The two former we had an account of, 2 Kings 24:12; 2Ki 24:20 though the numbers considerably differ. Perhaps here the men of note only are mentioned, and the officers; there the common people also: but the latter probably was the gleaning of the people after the death of Gedaliah and the flight of Johanan: a number small and inconsiderable, compared to the multitudes which once dwelt in the land; but by pestilence, famine, and the sword, they were thus miserably reduced. Such ravages does sin make!
4thly, There is a difference between the account given, Jer 52:31 and that in 2 Kings 25:27. There Jehoiakin's deliverance from prison is said to be on the 27th day of the 12th month; here on the 25th: probably the orders were given this day, though not executed till two days after. The captive king experienced now a very happy change; released from his prison; arrayed in royal robes, instead of his prison-garments; his throne exalted above his fellow-captive monarchs; treated with great affection and regard by the Babylonish emperor; admitted to a constant seat at his table, and nobly provided for all his days. Thus strange are the changes of this shifting scene; prosperity and adversity are often set over-against each other, that in our highest estate we may never be confident, nor, in the lowest, despair. It was, no doubt, matter of inexpressible joy to this unhappy captive, after so long a confinement, once more to taste the sweets of liberty. But how much greater the delight of the captive soul, when delivered from the bondage of corruption through the blood of the covenant; exchanging its filthy prison-garments for the glorious robe of righteousness; fed at the table of the King of kings; yea, called to sit down on his throne.
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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Jeremiah 52". Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 22 / Ordinary 27