John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible
INTRODUCTION TO JEREMIAH 52
This chapter contains the history of the besieging, taking, and destroying of Jerusalem; the moving cause of it, the wicked reign of Zedekiah, Jeremiah 52:1; the instruments of it, the king of Babylon and his army, which besieged and took it, Jeremiah 52:4; into whose hands the king of Judah, his sons, and the princes of Judah, fell; and were very barbarously and cruelly used by them, Jeremiah 52:8. Then follows an account of the burning of the temple, the king's palace, and the houses in Jerusalem, and the breaking down of the walls of it, Jeremiah 52:12; and of those that were carried captive, and of those that were left in the land by Nebuzaradan, Jeremiah 52:15; and of the several vessels and valuable things in the temple, of gold, silver, and brass, it was plundered of, and carried to Babylon, Jeremiah 52:17; and of the murder of several persons of dignity and character, Jeremiah 52:24; and of the number of those that were carried captive at three different times, Jeremiah 52:28; and the chapter is concluded with the exaltation of Jehoiachin king of Judah, and of the good treatment he met with from the king of Babylon to the day of his death, Jeremiah 52:31.
Zedekiah was one and twenty years old when he began to reign,.... Whose name was Mattaniah; and who was set on the throne by the king of Babylon, in the room of his brother's son Jehoiachin, 2 Kings 24:17;
and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem; so that he was thirty two years of age when he was taken and carried captive into Babylon:
and his mother's name was Hamutal the daughter of Jeremiah of Libnah; see 2 Kings 24:18.
And he did that which was evil in the eyes of the Lord,.... Though we do not read of any idolatry he was guilty of; yet he was disobedient to the word of the Lord, and did not humble himself before Jeremiah the prophet of the Lord, that spoke in his name; and particularly he rebelled against the king of Babylon, and violated the oath he made to him, 2 Chronicles 36:12;
according to all that Jehoiakim had done; an elder brother of his, who reigned after Josiah, and before Jehoiachin.
For through the anger of the Lord it came to pass in Jerusalem and Judah,.... Or, "besides the anger of the Lord that was in", or "against Jerusalem and Judah"
till he had cast them out from his presence; out of the land of Judea; out of Jerusalem, and the temple, where were the symbols of his presence; so the Targum,
"till he removed them from the land of the house of his Shechinah;'
that Zedekiah rebelled against the king of Babylon: acted a very perfidious part, and broke a solemn covenant made with him by an oath, which was highly displeasing to God, and resented by him; the oath being made in his name, and by one that professed to worship him: this was an additional sin to those of the inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem, which provoked the Lord to anger. According to our version the sense is, that because of the anger of the Lord for the sins of the Jews, God suffered Zedekiah to rebel against the king of Babylon, that so he might be provoked to come against them, and take vengeance on them; or for his former sins he suffered him to fall into this, to his own and his people's ruin.
And it came to pass in the ninth year of his reign,.... Of Zedekiah's reign:
in the tenth month, in the tenth day of the month; the month Tebet, which answers to part of December and part of January; hence the fast of the tenth month, on account of the siege of Jerusalem, Zechariah 8:19;
that Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon came, he, and all his army,
against Jerusalem; from whence it appears that he came in person with his army at first to Jerusalem; but, during the siege, or some part of it, retired to Riblah; perhaps upon the news of the king of Egypt's coming to the assistance of the Jews:
and pitched against it; or encamped against it:
and built forts against it round about; wooden towers, as Jarchi and Kimchi explain it; from whence they could shoot their arrows and cast their stones.
So the city was besieged unto the eleventh year of King Zedekiah. The siege continued about eighteen months; from the tenth day of the tenth month, in the ninth of Zedekiah's reign, to the ninth day of the fourth month, in the eleventh year of his reign; as follows:
And in the fourth month, in the ninth day of the month,.... The month Tammuz
the famine was sore in the city, so that there was no bread for the people of the land; for the common people; though there might be some in the king's palace, and in the houses of princes and noblemen, and officers of the army; yet none for the soldiers, and the meaner sort of people; who therefore were disheartened and enfeebled, that they could not defend the city, or hold out any longer: the famine had been before this time, but was now increased to a prodigious degree, so that the people had no bread to eat; see Jeremiah 38:9.
Then the city was broken up,.... Either its gates were broke open, some one or other of them; or a breach was made in the walls of it, through which the Chaldean army entered:
and all the men of war fled; the soldiers, with their officers, not being able to stand before the army of the king of Babylon:
and went forth out of the city by night; at which time, very probably, the attack was made, and the gates of the city forced open, or the walls broke down; Josephus
by the way of the gate between the two walls, which was by the king's garden; See Gill on Jeremiah 39:4;
now the Chaldeans were by the city round about; as part of their army entered into it, the other part surrounded it; or, however, were placed at the gates and avenues all around, that none might escape:
and they went by the way of the plain; that is, the men of war or soldiers that fled, together with King Zedekiah, his family and princes; see Jeremiah 39:4.
But the army of the Chaldeans pursued after the king,.... Not finding him in his palace, and being informed of his flight, and which way he took:
and overtook Zedekiah in the plains of Jericho: See Gill on Jeremiah 39:5;
and all his army was scattered from him; when they saw the enemy pursuing them, and near unto them, they left him, as Josephus
Then they took the king,.... King Zedekiah, being left alone, excepting some few with him:
and carried him up unto the king of Babylon to Riblah in the land of Hamath; which is supposed to be Antioch in Syria:
where he gave judgment upon him; or "spake with him judgments"
And the king of Babylon slew the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes,.... Or, however, ordered them to be slain; See Gill on Jeremiah 39:6;
he slew also all the princes of Judah in Riblah; who, together with the king's sons, were taken with him; or, however, were taken in Jerusalem, and brought to Riblah; which of them is not certain, very probably the former.
Then he put out the eyes of Zedekiah,.... After he had seen his children and princes executed, which must be very terrible to him; See Gill on Jeremiah 39:7;
and the king of Babylon bound him in chains, and carried him to Babylon; in Jeremiah 39:7; it is said, he bound him, "to carry him" there; here it is affirmed he did carry him thither: and it is added,
and put him in prison till the day of his death; from this place only we learn that King Zedekiah was put into a prison, and died a prisoner.
Now in the fifth month, in the tenth day of the month,.... Hence the fast of the fifth month, for the burning of the city, which was the month Ab, and answers to part of July and part of August, Zechariah 8:19;
which was the nineteenth year of Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon; that is, the nineteenth year of his reign; who reigned in all forty three years, according to Ptolemy's canon:
came Nebuzaradan captain of the guard, which served the king of Babylon, into Jerusalem; or "stood before the king of Babylon"
"strangers entered into the temple, and ate in it, and defiled it, the seventh and eighth days; and on the ninth, towards dark, they set fire to it; and it burned and continued all that whole day, as it is said, Jeremiah 6:4;'
R. Johanan was saying, if I had been in that generation, I should have fixed on that day, for the greatest part of the temple was burnt on that day. The authors of the Universal History say
And burnt the house of the Lord,.... The temple built by Solomon, after it had stood four hundred and seventy years, six months, and ten days, according to Josephus
and the king's house; the royal palace; probably that which was built by Solomon, 1 Kings 7:1;
and all the houses of Jerusalem: of any note or strength:
and all the houses of the great men burnt he with fire; of the princes and nobles in Jerusalem; it is in the singular number, "and every house of the great one"; or "every great house"
And all the army of the Chaldeans, that were with the captain of the guard,.... Which he brought with him from Riblah, or were left at Jerusalem by those that pursued after Zedekiah when the city was taken, which the captain of the guard now had the command of:
broke down all the walls of Jerusalem round about: See Gill on Jeremiah 39:8.
Then Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard carried away captive certain of the poor of the people,.... That is, of the city, as distinct from the poor of the land of Judea he left, afterwards observed:
and the residue of the people that remained in the city; that died not by the sword or famine, and fled not with Zedekiah: or "even the residue of the people"; and so are the same with the poor people in the former clause; though Kimchi explains it thus,
"some of the poor of the people he carried captive, and some of them he left:'
and those that fell away, that fell to the king of Babylon; that fell off from the Jews, and surrendered to the king of Babylon during the siege; or that voluntarily came in, and put themselves into the hands of the captain of the guard:
and the rest of the multitude; of the people, both in city and country.
But Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard left certain of the poor of the land,.... Of the land of Judea, who lived in the country, and had not been concerned in defending the city against the Chaldeans:
for vinedressers, and for husbandmen; to look after the vineyards and fields, and dress and manure them, that the king of Babylon might receive some advantage by the conquest he had made; See Gill on Jeremiah 39:10.
Also the pillars of brass that were in the house of the Lord,.... The two pillars in the temple, called Jachin and Boaz, which were made of cast brass, 1 Kings 7:15;
and the bases; which were in number ten, and which were also made of cast brass, and were all of one measure and size; and on which the ten lavers of brass were set, five on the right side and five on the left side of the house, 1 Kings 7:37;
and the brasen sea that was in the house of the Lord; called the molten sea; a sea, because of the large quantity of water it held; and brasen and molten, because made of molten brass, 1 Kings 7:23;
the Chaldeans broke, and carried all the brass of them to Babylon: they broke them to pieces, that they might carry them the more easily. This account is given, and which is continued in some following verses, partly to show the accomplishment of the prophecy of Jeremiah, Jeremiah 27:19; and partly to show that what was left in the temple, at the former captivities of Jehoiakim and Jeconiah, were now carried clear off.
The cauldrons also,.... Or "pots", as it is rendered, 2 Kings 25:14; which were made of bright brass, 1 Kings 7:45; these were used to boil the flesh of the sacrifices in:
and the shovels; used to remove the ashes from off the altar of burnt offerings, and were of brass also: the Targum renders them "besoms", whose handles perhaps were of brass:
and the snuffers; the Vulgate Latin translates it "psalteries"; and so Jarchi interprets it of musical instruments; some think "tongs" are meant:
and the bowls; or "basins"; either to drink out of, or to receive the blood of the sacrifice:
and the spoons: ladles, cups, or dishes, vessels used about the sacrifices:
and all the vessels of brass wherewith they ministered; that is, the priests in the temple:
took they away; the Chaldeans took them away.
And the basins,.... Or "bowls"; these are omitted, 2 Kings 25:15; they were of gold, 1 Kings 7:50;
and the firepans; or "censers"; these were those of gold, which belonged to the golden altar, 1 Kings 7:50;
and the bowls; or "basins"; there were a hundred of them made of gold, 2 Chronicles 4:8;
and the cauldrons; or "pots"; these are not mentioned, 2 Kings 25:15; what they should be, that were either of gold or silver, cannot be said:
and the candlesticks; of which there were ten in number, made of pure gold, five on the right side, and five on the left, before the oracle, 1 Kings 7:49;
and the spoons; which were also of gold, 1 Kings 7:50;
and the cups: the word is rendered "bowls", to cover withal, Exodus 25:29; it was some kind of instrument or vessel used about the shewbread table, made of pure gold; according to Jarchi, these were little golden forks, upon which they placed the shewbread, to keep it from moulding; according to the Misna
that which was of gold in gold, and that which was of silver in silver, took the captain of the guard away; that is, everything that was of gold or silver he took away; the golden things by themselves, and the silver things by themselves, as some think.
The two pillars, one sea, and twelve brasen bulls,.... The two pillars of Jachin and Boaz before mentioned, and the molten or brasen sea, with the twelve bulls or oxen the sea stood upon, 1 Kings 7:25;
that were under the bases; or "by the bases", as Jarchi; or rather, "that were instead of bases"
which King Solomon had made in the house of the Lord; this is mentioned to show that these were the selfsame pillars, sea, and oxen, and other vessels, that Solomon made, that were now carried away; for though Ahaz took down the sea from off the brasen oxen, and put it on a pavement of stones, yet it seems not to have been destroyed; and might be restored to its proper place by Hezekiah, or some other prince;
the brass of all these vessels was without weight; there was no weight sufficient to weigh them; the weight of them could not very well be told; they were so heavy, that in Solomon's time the weight of them was not taken, when they were placed in the temple, so neither when they were taken away, 1 Kings 7:47.
And concerning the pillars, the height of one pillar was eighteen cubits,.... As in 1 Kings 7:15; said to be thirty five, 2 Chronicles 3:15; of the reconciliation of which; see Gill on 2 Chronicles 3:15,
and a fillet of twelve cubits did compass it; a thread or line of that measure encompassed each of the pillars, 1 Kings 7:15;
and the thickness thereof was four fingers; either of the pillar, or the fillet about it; that is, the brass of it was four fingers thick:
it was hollow; that is, the pillar was hollow.
And a chapiter of brass was upon it,.... Or a coronet of brass, of molten brass, was set upon the top of the pillar:
and the height of one chapiter was five cubits; as in 1 Kings 7:16; but in 2 Kings 25:17; the height is said to be but three cubits; which is reconciled by the Jewish Rabbins thus, the three superior cubits of it were with ornaments, the two inferior without any; the whole together was five cubits; but, as ornamented, only three:
with network and pomegranates upon the chapiters round about, all of brass; the nets were of chequer work, and wreaths of chain work, and there were seven of them to each chapiter, 1 Kings 7:17;
the second pillar also, and the pomegranates, were like unto these; one pillar was exactly like the other, and the ornaments of it the same.
And there were ninety and six pomegranates on a side,.... Or, "to the wind"
and all the pomegranates upon the network were an hundred round about; four, standing upon the four angles, made the ninety six a hundred; in 1 Kings 7:20; they are said to be two hundred; and in 2 Chronicles 4:13; are said to be four hundred upon the two wreaths; which may be accounted for thus, there were two rows of them on each pillar, in every row were a hundred, which made two hundred in one pillar, and four hundred in both. These were the things in the temple carried away in the last captivity.
And the captain of the guard took Seraiah the chief priest,.... That is, out of the temple, where he was ministering, or fled for safety; this is supposed to be the father of Ezra, 1 Chronicles 6:14;
and Zephaniah the second priest: or deputy priest: the "sagan" of the priests, as the Targum calls him, who was deputed to minister for the high priest, in case anything happened which hindered him from officiating; such an one there always was in later times on the day of atonement, as appears from the Misna
and the three keepers of the door; that is, of the temple. The Targum calls them three "amarcalin"; who had, as Jarchi says, the keys of the court committed to them. The number seems better to agree with the "gizbarim" or treasurers; of whom, it is said, they never appoint less than three treasurers, and seven "amarcalin"
He took also out of the city an eunuch, which had the charge of the men of war,.... The master-master-general of the army:
and seven men of them which were near the king's person which were found in the city; or, "saw the face of the king": or rather, "made to see his face"
and the principal scribe of the host, who mustered the people of the land; or the scribe of the prince of the army, as the Targum; the general's secretary:
and threescore men of the people of the land, that were found in the midst of the city: persons of prime note, who, upon the invasion, betook themselves from the country to the city of Jerusalem with their effects, and to defend it. Josephus
So Nebuzaradan captain of the guard took them,.... In the city, and made them captives:
and brought them to the king of Babylon to Riblah; to knew his mind concerning them; how they should be disposed of; and for him to pass sentence on them: as he had done on the king of Judah, his sons, and his princes, in the same place.
And the king of Babylon smote them,.... Or ordered them to be smitten with the sword; to have their heads cut off, according to Josephus
and put them to death in Riblah in the land of Hamath; these being such, no doubt, who obstinately defended the city, and persuaded the prince and people not to surrender the city into the hand of the Chaldeans; and therefore were put to death in cold blood:
thus Judah was carried away captive out of his own land: at different times, of which this was the completion; and of which a particular account is given, even of the number of the captives at these several times, in Jeremiah 52:28.
This is the people whom Nebuchadnezzar carried away captive in the seventh year,.... That is, of his reign: in 2 Kings 24:12; it is said to be in the eighth year of his reign; it being at the latter end of the seventh, and the beginning of the eighth, as Kimchi observes; this was the captivity of Jeconiah: the number of the captives then were
three thousand Jews, and three and twenty; but in 2 Kings 24:14; they are said to be ten thousand; which may be reconciled thus, there were three thousand twenty and three of the tribe of Judah, here called Jews; and the rest were of the tribe of Benjamin, and of the ten tribes that were mixed among them; see 2 Kings 24:16.
In the eighteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar,.... Said to be the nineteenth, Jeremiah 52:12; it was at the end of the eighteenth, and the beginning of the nineteenth, as Kimchi; or this was before the taking of the city, when he raised the siege, and departed to meet the king of Egypt, at which time he might carry captive many, as here said:
he carried away captive from Jerusalem, eight hundred thirty and two persons; which is more likely to be then done than at the taking of the city; when it is very probable a greater number was carried captive, which are not here taken notice of.
In the three and twentieth year of Nebuchadnezzar,.... In this year of his reign, the Jews say
Nebuzaradan captain of the guard carried away captive of the Jews seven hundred forty and five persons; all which being put together make the following sum:
all the persons were four thousand and six hundred; this is the sum total of the three mentioned captivities.
And it came to pass in the seven and thirtieth year of the captivity of Jehoiachin king of Judah,.... He was eighteen years of age when he was carried captive; so that he must be now fifty five years old; see 2 Kings 24:8;
in the twelfth month, in the five and twentieth day of the month; in the month Adar, which answers to part of February, and part of March: in 2 Kings 25:27; the favour shown by the king of Babylon to Jeconiah, after related, is said to be in the twenty seventh day of the month; it might have been determined and notified on the twenty fifth, but not executed till the twenty seventh; or it might be begun to be put in execution on the twenty fifth, and not finished till the twenty seventh, The Jews, in their chronicle, say
that Evilmerodach king of Babylon, in the first year of his reign; who succeeded Nebuchadnezzar, having reigned forty three years; this king is called by Ptolemy
lifted up the head of Jehoiachin king of Judah, and brought him forth out of prison; that is, he changed his condition for the better; he raised him out of a low estate to a more honourable one; he brought him out of a state of imprisonment and misery into a state of liberty and honour; what was the reason of this is not easy to say. The Jews have a tradition, that Nebuchadnezzar, after seven years' madness, coming to himself, and to his kingdom, and understanding that his son Evilmerodach had been guilty of mal-administration during that time, and particularly that he rejoiced at his madness, cast him into prison, where he contracted a friendship with Jeconiah; and when he came to the throne, upon the death of his father, released him: but others think that Jeconiah being a comely young man, when he was brought a captive to Babylon, and about the age of this prince, he took a liking to him, and, pitying his case, showed him this favour, as soon as he had an opportunity.
And spake kindly unto him,.... Used him with great familiarity, treated him with great respect: or, "spake good things to him"
and set his throne above the throne of the kings that were with him in Babylon; these kings were either petty kings over the several provinces that belonged to the Chaldean monarchy, that were occasionally at Babylon; or rather the kings Nebuchadnezzar had conquered, and taken captive, as Jehoiachin; such as the kings of Moab, Ammon, Edom, &c. these, notwithstanding they were captives, had thrones of state, partly in consideration of their former dignity, and partly for the glory of the Babylonish monarch; now Jehoiachin's throne was higher and more grand and stately than the rest, to show the particular respect the king of Babylon had for him.
And changed his prison garments,.... Which were filthy, and of an ill smell; and put on him raiment more comfortable, as well as more honourable, and suitable to his dignity, and more fit to appear in, in the presence of the king and his court:
and he did continually eat bread before him all the days of his life: either at the same table with the king; or at other near him, in his sight, in the same apartment; though the former seems more likely; and this he did as long as he lived; either Evilmerodach, or rather Jeconiah; though perhaps they both died much about the same time. All this was done about the year of the world 3444, and about five hundred sixty years before Christ, according to Bishop Usher
And for his diet, there was a continual diet given him of the king of Babylon,.... This seems to design not food only, and for himself, which he had daily at the king's table, but all necessary provisions for himself, family, and servants:
every day a portion, until the day of his death, all the days of his life; that is, of Jeconiah's; how long he lived after this is not known; he was now fifty five years of age, and cannot be thought to have lived a great while after, having been imprisoned so many years; and it is certain he did not live to the return from the captivity. Of the death of Zedekiah we have no account, only that he died in prison. The Jews say
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