corner graphic   Hi,    
Facebook image
ver. 2.0.17.06.26
Finding the new version too difficult to understand? Go to classic.studylight.org/

Bible Commentaries

Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible

2 Kings 25

 

 

Verses 8-22

3). The Final Destruction Of Jerusalem And The Death Of Its Leaders (2 Kings 25:8-22).

Kings began with a description of the building of the house of YHWH and of the king’s house (1 Kings 5:1 to 1 Kings 7:12), and of the making of the pillars of bronze and the brazen sea (1 Kings 5:13 onwards), and it now ends with a description of their destruction, along with all the larger houses in Jerusalem. And it all occurred because they had incurred the wrath of YHWH. The continual downward slide to this point, in spite of the constant efforts of the prophets, is one of the themes of the book.

At the same time the leading men of Jerusalem were brought to Riblah and there executed, while the remainder of the inhabitants of the city were transported (we are not told where but it may well have been to Babylon where they would join up with the previous exiles being ministered to by Ezekiel). Only the very poorest were left in the land to tend its vineyards and fields under the control of the newly appointed governor Gedaliah who took up his residence in Mizpah. (Jerusalem was uninhabitable although a kind of worship would continue to be conducted at the site of the ruined Temple).

Analysis.

a Now in the fifth month, on the seventh day of the month, which was the nineteenth year of king Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, came Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard, a servant of the king of Babylon, to Jerusalem, and he burnt the house of YHWH, and the king’s house, and all the houses of Jerusalem, even every great house, he burned with fire, and all the army of the Chaldeans, who were with the captain of the guard, broke down the walls of Jerusalem round about (2 Kings 25:8-10).

b And the residue of the people who were left in the city, and those who fell away, who fell to the king of Babylon, and the residue of the multitude, did Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard carry away captive (2 Kings 25:11).

c But the captain of the guard left of the poorest of the land to be vinedressers and husbandmen (2 Kings 25:12).

d And the pillars of bronze which were in the house of YHWH, and the bases and the brazen sea that were in the house of YHWH, did the Chaldeans break in pieces, and carried the bronze of them to Babylon (2 Kings 25:13).

e And the pots, and the shovels, and the snuffers, and the spoons, and all the vessels of bronze with which they ministered, they took away, and the firepans, and the basins, that which was of gold, in gold, and that which was of silver, in silver, the captain of the guard took away (2 Kings 25:14-15).

d The two pillars, the one sea, and the bases, which Solomon had made for the house of YHWH, the bronze of all these vessels was without weight. The height of the one pillar was eighteen cubits, and a capital of bronze was on it, and the height of the capital was three cubits, with network and pomegranates on the capital round about, all of bronze, and like to these had the second pillar with network (2 Kings 25:16-17).

c And the captain of the guard took Seraiah the chief priest, and Zephaniah the second priest, and the three keepers of the threshold, and out of the city he took an officer who was set over the men of war, and five men of those who saw the king’s face, who were found in the city, and the scribe, the captain of the host, who mustered the people of the land, and threescore men of the people of the land, who were found in the city. And Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard took them, and brought them to the king of Babylon to Riblah. And the king of Babylon smote them, and put them to death at Riblah in the land of Hamath (2 Kings 25:18-21 a).

b So Judah was carried away captive out of his land (2 Kings 25:21 b).

a And as for the people who were left in the land of Judah, whom Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had left, even over them he made Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, the son of Shaphan, governor (2 Kings 25:22).

Note that in ‘a’ all the recognised places of authority were destroyed, including Jerusalem itself, and in the parallel Gedaliah was made the authority of all who remained in the land. In ‘b’ the residue of the people in the city were carried away captive out of the land, and in the parallel Judah was carried away captive out of his land. In ‘c’ the poorest people of the land were left to live in the land, and in the parallel the most important people were executed. In ‘e’ the pillars of bronze and the brazen sea were broken up, and in the parallel the pillars and the sea are described. Centrally in ‘ f’ all the instruments of worship in the Temple were taken away. There would be no further worship in the Temple which Judah had defiled.

2 Kings 25:8

‘Now in the fifth month, on the seventh day of the month, which was the nineteenth year of king Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, came Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard, a servant of the king of Babylon, to Jerusalem.’

One month later Nebuzaradan the captain of Nebuchadnezzar’s guard arrived in Jerusalem, no doubt with strict instructions as to what he was to do. The city had rebelled once too often, and both YHWH and Nebuchadnezzar were sick of it. (Jeremiah 52:29 says it was in the eighteenth year demonstrating that he ignored the year of accession from his calculation).

2 Kings 25:9-10

‘And he burnt the house of YHWH, and the king’s house, and all the houses of Jerusalem, even every great house, he burned with fire, and all the army of the Chaldeans, who were with the captain of the guard, broke down the walls of Jerusalem round about.’

The book of Kings began with a description of the building of the house of YHWH and the king’s house, in all their splendour (1 Kings 5:1 to 1 Kings 7:12). Now those same houses were burned with fire, along with all the other large houses in Jerusalem (no one would bother about the hovels). The walls also of the city were broken down all round the city. Jerusalem was to be left a ruin, almost uninhabited and totally defenceless.

2 Kings 25:11

‘And the residue of the people who were left in the city, and those who fell away, who fell to the king of Babylon, and the residue of the multitude, did Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard carry away captive.’

The whole of what remained of the repopulated Jerusalem (it had had to be repopulated following what happened in 597 BC) was transported, even those who had surrendered to the Babylonians during the siege (those who ‘fell away to the king of Babylon’). ‘The residue of the multitude’ probably refers to those who had taken refuge in the city before the siege began. All were carried away captive because of their connection with Jerusalem.

2 Kings 25:12

‘But the captain of the guard left of the poorest of the land to be vinedressers and husbandmen.’

The land was not, however, to be left totally deserted and the common and unimportant folk (and there would be many of them) were left in the land to maintain its agriculture. Thus while Jerusalem itself was now almost deserted and in ruins, the land around remained populated and was tended, although hardly initially in good condition. What was left of Judah still survived in the land, and they would no doubt be supplemented by those who came out of hiding in the mountains once the Babylonian forces had withdrawn. Thus it is wrong to think of Judah as totally deserted. Babylon’s purpose had been to draw Judah’s teeth, not to commit genocide. Furthermore as far as we know Lachish, and possibly other cities, had not been taken, and if so their inhabitants may have been treated more leniently. Gedaliah the new governor would come from Lachish.

2 Kings 25:13

‘And the pillars of bronze which were in the house of YHWH, and the bases and the brazen sea that were in the house of YHWH, did the Chaldeans break in pieces, and carried the bronze of them to Babylon.’

Reference back to the first part of Kings continues (see 1 Kings 7:13 onwards). The pillars of bronze and the brazen sea which Solomon had made were broken in pieces and their bronze carried back to Babylon. The last remnants of their former glory were being removed. All that Judah had built up was being broken down. Such was the consequence of their disobedience.

2 Kings 25:14

‘And the pots, and the shovels, and the snuffers, and the spoons, and all the vessels of bronze with which they ministered, they took away.’

Furthermore all the means of worship were ‘taken away’ for the sake of their valuable metallic content. They were possibly taken away as spoils by the soldiers in contrast to the gold and silver which was taken away by the ‘captain of the guard’. Theoretically at least all worship in Jerusalem had ceased.

2 Kings 25:15

‘And the firepans, and the basins, that which was of gold, in gold, and that which was of silver, in silver, the captain of the guard took away.’

The silver and gold items that remained were especially taken charge of by Nebuzaradan himself, no doubt in the king’s name.

2 Kings 25:16-17

‘The two pillars, the one sea, and the bases, which Solomon had made for the house of YHWH, the bronze of all these vessels was without weight. The height of the one pillar was eighteen cubits, and a capital of bronze was on it, and the height of the capital was three cubits, with network and pomegranates on the capital round about, all of bronze, and like to these had the second pillar with network.’

Also torn down, and presumably broken up, were the two pillars of Solomon, together with the moulten sea and what remained of the bases. The weight of the whole was such that it was not calculable. They had lasted throughout all Judah’s tribulations without being called on for tribute purposes. But now even this reminder of Solomon’s glory would be no more. Judah was being left with nothing.

‘The height of the capital was three cubits.’ The loss of two cubits compared with 1 Kings 716 was probably due to the necessity for repair work on at least one of the pillars.

2 Kings 25:18

‘And the captain of the guard took Seraiah the chief priest, and Zephaniah the second priest, and the three keepers of the threshold.’

The prominent people in Jerusalem were now to be called to account, and the first were the five ‘chief priests’. They would be seen as important supporters of the revolt.

2 Kings 25:19

‘And out of the city he took an officer who was set over the men of war, and five men of those who saw the king’s face, who were found in the city, and the scribe, the captain of the host, who mustered the people of the land, and threescore men of the people of the land, who were found in the city.’

Together with the chief priests, Zedekiah’s captain of the standing army was taken, and five of his chief officials who had had access into the king’s presence, who were found to be still in the city, and the scribe, and the commander who was set over the general host (the muster of the men of Judah), and another sixty important people of the land who were also in the city. (Alternately we may read ‘the scribe of the captain of the host’).

2 Kings 25:20

‘And Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard took them, and brought them to the king of Babylon to Riblah.’

Nebuzaradan took all these leading people and brought them to the king of Babylon, who was stationed at Riblah.

2 Kings 25:21

‘And the king of Babylon smote them, and put them to death at Riblah in the land of Hamath.’

And there at Riblah Nebuchadnezzar smote them and put them to death as rebels and traitors.

2 Kings 25:21

‘So Judah was carried away captive out of his land.’

Meanwhile the remainder of Judah as previously described were carried away captive out of the land. It was by no means the first exile. Every invasion of Israel and Judah by Assyria and Babylon had resulted in exiles, thus ‘Jews’ were scattered around the known world.

2 Kings 25:22

‘And as for the people who were left in the land of Judah, whom Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had left, even over them he made Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, the son of Shaphan, governor.’

A good number of poorer people were allowed to remain in the land and over them Nebuchadnezzar set a governor. Judah was now a Babylonian province. The governor’s name was Gedaliah. He was the son of the Ahikam who had served Josiah (2 Kings 22:12) and had sought to protect Jeremiah (Jeremiah 26:24), and thus in good standing in the Jewish community.

The Murder Of Gedaliah The Governor.

A more detailed version of this incident and the history that accompanied it can be found in Jeremiah 39:11 to Jeremiah 43:7. Here, as so often in Kings, we are given only the bare bones. It tells us of the captains of roving bands of commandos who had avoided the Babylonian invaders, and who on hearing that Gedaliah had been appointed governor came to see him in Mizpah. And there Gedaliah swore to them that if they would now faithfully serve the king of Babylon it would be well with them, and they would suffer no reprisals.

On the whole they were willing and responsive, but unfortunately Ishmael the son of Nethaniah (who was of the house of a David and was secretly in alliance with the Ammonites) wanted Gedaliah removed, and the result was that he came with ten men and murdered Gedaliah, along with certain Jews and Chaldeans who were with him. The Chaldeans would have been maintaining a watching brief. This terrified the remaining commandos, and the common people, who all feared that Nebuchadnezzar would seek revenge for the death of his governor, with the result that, in spite of Jeremiah’s protests, they fled to Egypt for refuge, leaving Judah even barer of inhabitants than before. (Another group of exiles. Later history would reveal large groups of Jews in Egypt).

Analysis.

a Now when all the captains of the forces, they and their men, heard that the king of Babylon had made Gedaliah governor, they came to Gedaliah to Mizpah (2 Kings 2:25/23a).

b Even Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, and Johanan the son of Kareah, and Seraiah the son of Tanhumeth the Netophathite, and Jaazaniah the son of the Maacathite, they and their men (2 Kings 25:23 b).

c And Gedaliah swore to them and to their men, and said to them, “Do not be afraid because of the servants of the Chaldeans. Dwell in the land, and serve the king of Babylon, and it will be well with you.” (2 Kings 25:24).

b But it came about in the seventh month, that Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, the son of Elishama, of the seed royal, came, and ten men with him, and smote Gedaliah, so that he died, and the Jews and the Chaldeans who were with him at Mizpah (2 Kings 25:25).

a And all the people, both small and great, and the captains of the forces, arose, and came to Egypt, for they were afraid of the Chaldeans (2 Kings 25:26).

Note that in ‘a’ the captains of the commandos came to Gedaliah and in the parallel they went to Egypt. In ‘b’ the list of captains includes Ishmael, and in the parallel Ishmael murders Gedaliah. Centrally in ‘c’ Gedaliah swore that those who faithfully served the king of Babylon would prosper and suffer no reprisals.

2 Kings 25:23

‘Now when all the captains of the forces, they and their men, heard that the king of Babylon had made Gedaliah governor, they came to Gedaliah to Mizpah, even Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, and Johanan the son of Kareah, and Seraiah the son of Tanhumeth the Netophathite, and Jaazaniah the son of the Maacathite, they and their men.’

The ‘captains of the forces’ were commando leaders, either of bands who had hidden in the mountains when Nebuchadnezzar first invaded, or of remnants of the army who had escaped from Jerusalem at the same time as Zedekiah had tried to make his escape, and had taken to the mountains. When they heard that Gedaliah had been appointed governor they came to him in Mizpah, probably hoping for a new beginning. With Jerusalem in ruins and their kings exiled in Babylon there was little left to fight for.

2 Kings 25:24

‘And Gedaliah swore to them and to their men, and said to them, “Do not be afraid because of the servants of the Chaldeans. Dwell in the land, and serve the king of Babylon, and it will be well with you.’

Gedaliah then took an oath that if from now on they would faithfully serve the king of Babylon there would be no reprisals, and they would be able to dwell in the land and live safely and well.

2 Kings 25:25

‘But it came about in the seventh month, that Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, the son of Elishama, of the seed royal, came, and ten men with him, and smote Gedaliah, so that he died, and the Jews and the Chaldeans who were with him at Mizpah.’

Unfortunately Ishmael, one of the captains, who was of the house of David, (with the kings indulging in multiple marriages the house of David would have many descendants), collaborated with the king of Ammon and arrived with ten men and slew Gedaliah, and with him a number of prominent Jews and Chaldeans. The main aim of the author was to bring home to us the fact that by this means YHWH was fulfilling His promise that the whole of Judah would be driven from the land.

2 Kings 25:26

‘And all the people, both small and great, and the captains of the forces, arose, and came to Egypt, for they were afraid of the Chaldeans.’

The result of the assassinations was that the people no longer felt safe in Judah because of the repercussions that might follow the slaying of Gedaliah, Nebuchadnezzar’s appointed governor, and a number of Chaldeans. Consequently they fled to Egypt for refuge. The land had truly ‘spewed out’ its inhabitants.

It may well have been in response to this that Nebuchadnezzar again invaded Judah, taking even more people into exile (Jeremiah 52:30).


Verses 27-30

The Partial Restoration of Jehoiachin, in Babylon (2 Kings 25:27-30).

There can be no question that the purpose of this final narrative is to indicate that YHWH’s hand was still on the house of David. It is demonstrating that He had not forgotten His promise of the continuation of David’s seed, and that Judah and Israel had therefore hope for the future. Though history had consigned Jerusalem to destruction, God still had His hand on history and was preparing for the fulfilment of His purposes in the coming of Jesus Christ. This comes out especially in that he was ‘set above the kings who were in Babylon’. The author probably had in mind the Psalm which speaks of the son of David as ‘the highest of the kings of the earth’ (Psalms 89:27; compare Psalms 2). It was a portent of what was coming.

Analysis.

a And it came about in the seven and thirtieth year of the captivity of Jehoiachin king of Judah, in the twelfth month, on the seven and twentieth day of the month, that Evil-merodach king of Babylon, in the year that he began to reign, did lift up the head of Jehoiachin king of Judah out of prison (2 Kings 25:27).

b And he spoke kindly to him, and set his throne above the throne of the kings who were with him in Babylon (2 Kings 25:28).

a And changed his prison garments. And Jehoiachin did eat bread before him continually all the days of his life, and for his allowance, there was a continual allowance given him of the king, every day a portion, all the days of his life (2 Kings 25:29-30).

Note that in ‘a’ Jehoiachin was released from prison and his head was ‘lifted up’, and in the parallel he changed his prison garments for others, and was sat at the king’s table. Centrally in ‘b’ his throne was set above the thrones of the kings who were with him in Babylon.

2 Kings 25:27

‘And it came about in the seven and thirtieth year of the captivity of Jehoiachin king of Judah, in the twelfth month, on the seven and twentieth day of the month, that Evil-merodach king of Babylon, in the year that he began to reign, did lift up the head of Jehoiachin king of Judah out of prison,’

Many Jews in exile reckoned time by Jehoiachin’s captivity (see Ezekiel 1:2). The thirty seventh year of his captivity would be around 561 BC, and Awel Marduk (Ewil Merodach) succeeded his father in October 562 BC. He only reigned for two years. The prison that Jehoiachin was in probably represented a kind of house imprisonment, and we do in fact have copies of records detailing provision supplied to him and his sons. The ‘lifting up of the head’ indicated more than just release. He was raised to an honoured position. This suggests that he benefited by more than just a coronation amnesty. It suggests a policy decision on behalf of Evil Merodach, which continued on with his successor, Nergal-sarra-usur

2 Kings 25:28

‘And he spoke kindly to him, and set his throne above the throne of the kings who were with him in Babylon,’

Jehoiachin had clearly won Evil Merodach’s favour, and Evil Merodach demonstrated this by setting Jehoiachin’s throne above the thrones of the kings who were in Babylon. In other words he was given the highest status among captured kings. The author may well have seen in this the partial fulfilment of promises made to the sons of David that they would be the highest of the kings of the earth (Psalms 89:27). It was a reminder, in spite of the adverse circumstances, that YHWH was watching over the house of David as He had promised. It gave hope for the future..

2 Kings 25:29-30

‘And changed his prison garments. And Jehoiachin did eat bread before him continually all the days of his life, and for his allowance, there was a continual allowance given him of the king, every day a portion, all the days of his life.’

From this point on Jehoiachin ceased to be treated as a prisoner and was dressed in a way worthy of a king, partaking of ample provisions supplied by the king of Babylon, and provided with regular allowances of food. As this continued ‘all the days of his life’ it indicates that Evil Merodach’s successors carried on his policy. In return, of course, Jehoiachin would have had to swear an oath of loyalty.

There is in this restoration a wonderful picture of what our Lord Jesus Christ has done for us. If we are truly His, He too has changed our garments, clothing us in His righteousness and feeding us daily at His table.

 


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Pett, Peter. "Commentary on 2 Kings 25:4". "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". http://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pet/2-kings-25.html8. 2013.


Lectionary Calendar
Monday, June 26th, 2017
the Week of Proper 7 / Ordinary 12
Commentary Navigator
Search This Commentary
Enter query in the box below
ADVERTISEMENT
To report dead links, typos, or html errors or suggestions about making these resources more useful use our convenient contact form
Powered by Lightspeed Technology