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Bible Commentaries

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

2 Kings 25

 

 

Verse 1

2 Kings 25:1. Nebuchadnezzar came, and all his host, against Jerusalem — To chastise Zedekiah for his rebellion and perjury: for, contrary to the solemn oath he had taken, he had been contriving and endeavoring to revolt from the king of Babylon, and shake off his yoke. They built forts against it round about — To keep all supplies of men and provisions from entering into the city, and that from thence, by such arts of war as they then had, they might batter the walls, shoot arrows, and throw darts or stones into it. Formerly Jerusalem was compassed with the favour of God as with a shield, but now their defence is departed from them, and their enemies surround them on every side. The siege lasted two years. At first the besieging army retired for fear of the king of Egypt, who came to help Zedekiah; and then Jeremiah endeavoured to get out of the city, to go into the land of Benjamin, but was hindered, seized, and imprisoned, Jeremiah 37:11. The Chaldeans, finding that Pharaoh was not so powerful as they at first supposed, soon returned, as Jeremiah had foretold they would, with a resolution not to quit the siege till they had made themselves masters of the place.


Verse 3

2 Kings 25:3. The famine prevailed in the city — So that for a long time they ate their bread, as Ezekiel foretold they should do, (Ezekiel 4:16,) by weight and with care, and drunk their water by measure and with astonishment, perceiving the quantity of it lessening fast every day, and having no hope of a fresh supply. Thus they were punished for their gluttony and excess, their fulness of bread, and feeding themselves without fear. At length there was no bread for the people of the land — For the common people, who, upon the approach of the Babylonian army, had flocked from all parts of the country, to secure themselves and their families, but only for the great men. Now they eat their own children for want of food, as had been foretold by one prophet, (Ezekiel 5:10,) and is bewailed by another, Lamentations 4:3, &c. Jeremiah, in this extremity, earnestly persuaded the king to surrender, but his heart was hardened to his destruction.


Verse 4

2 Kings 25:4. The city was broken up — It was taken by storm, the besiegers having made a breach in the wall, at which they forced their way into it. All the men of war fled — Being unable any longer to defend the city, they endeavoured to quit it, which many of them found means to do by the way of the gate between the two walls — That is, between the inward and outward walls of the city, or between the wall and the outworks, by a private way, having the advantage of the darkness of the night, and possibly of some vault under the ground. Many however, no doubt, were put to the sword, the victorious army being much exasperated by their obstinacy. To account, in some degree, for the besieged making their escape, Josephus observes, that as the city was taken about midnight, the enemies’ captains, with the rest of the soldiers, went directly into the temple, which Zedekiah perceiving, took his wives, children, commanders, and friends, and they all slipped away together, by a narrow passage, toward the wilderness. But what this narrow passage was, is still a question. The Jews think there was a subterraneous passage from the palace to the plains of Jericho, and that the king and his courtiers might endeavour to make their escape that way. And we learn from Dion, that in the last siege of Jerusalem by the Romans, the Jews had covered ways, which lay under the walls of the city, to a considerable distance into the country, out of which they were wont to sally, and fall upon the Romans that were straggling from the camp: but since neither Josephus nor the sacred historian takes notice of any such subterraneous passage at this siege, it is most likely that the Chaldeans having made a breach in the wall, many of the besieged escaped through it, proceeding privately between the wall and the outworks, by a passage which the Chaldeans did not suspect. The king went toward the plain — Of Jericho, as it follows.


Verse 5

2 Kings 25:5. The army of the Chaldees pursued after the king — Intelligence was soon given of his flight, and which way he was gone, so that they soon overtook him. And all his army — His guards; were scattered from him — Every man shifting for his safety. Had he made his peace with God, and put himself under his protection, he would not have failed him now. It seems to have been the design of the king, and of those with him, to escape into Egypt through Arabia Deserta.


Verse 6

2 Kings 25:6. And brought him to the king of Babylon, to Riblah — Where Nebuchadnezzar stayed, that he might both supply the besiegers with men and military provisions, as their occasions required, and have an eye to Chaldea, to prevent or suppress any commotions which might happen there in his absence. They gave judgment upon him — The king’s officers appointed thereunto examined his cause, and passed the following sentence against him.


Verse 7

2 Kings 25:7. They slew the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes — Though they were but children, that this spectacle, the last he was to behold, might leave a deep and durable impression of grief and horror upon his spirit. And in slaying his sons they in effect declared that the kingdom was no more, and that neither he nor any of his breed were fit to be trusted: therefore not fit to live. And put out his eyes, and carried him to Babylon — Thus two prophecies were fulfilled, which seemed contrary the one to the other. Jeremiah foretold, That he should be delivered into the hands of the king of Babylon, and should speak with him mouth to mouth, and his eyes should behold his eyes, and that he should go to Babylon, Jeremiah 32:4; Jeremiah 34:3; and Ezekiel prophesied, That he should never see Babylon, though he should die there, Ezekiel 12:13. This seeming contradiction, Zedekiah the false prophet could not reconcile, and therefore concluded that both prophecies were false, and, if we may credit Josephus, Zedekiah the king stumbled at this difficulty. Both, however, were literally accomplished. The reflection which Josephus makes on this event, is worthy of the reader’s attention: “This may serve to convince even the ignorant, of the power and wisdom of God; and of the constancy of his counsels through all the various ways of his operations. It may likewise show us that God’s foreknowledge of things is certain; and his providence regular in the ordering of events; and besides, it holds forth a most exemplary instance of the danger of our giving way to the motions of sin and infidelity, which deprive us of the means of discerning God’s judgments, even though ready to fall upon us.” — Antiq., lib. 10., cap. 11.


Verse 8

2 Kings 25:8. And in the fifth month, &c. — Though we have reason to think the Chaldeans were much enraged against the city, for holding out with so much stubbornness; yet they did not, therefore, put all to fire and sword as soon as they had taken the city, which is too commonly done in such cases; but about a month after (compare 2 Kings 25:8 with 2 Kings 25:3) Nebuzaradan was sent with orders to complete the destruction of it. This space God gave them for repentance after all the foregoing days of his patience; but in vain; their hearts were still hardened, and therefore execution was awarded to the uttermost.


Verse 9

2 Kings 25:9. And he burnt the house of the Lord — The king of Babylon, it appears, did not design to send any colonies to people Judea, and therefore ordered Jerusalem to be laid in ashes, as a nest of rebels. “At the burning of the king’s house,” says Henry, “and the houses of the great men, one cannot much wonder, the inhabitants had by their sins kindled the fire of God’s wrath against them; but that the house of the Lord should perish in these flames, that that holy and beautiful house should be burned with fire, (Isaiah 64:11,) is very strange; that house which David prepared for, and which Solomon built, at such a vast expense; that house which had the eye and the heart of God perpetually upon it, (1 Kings 9:3,) might not that have been snatched as a brand out of the burning? No, that will not be fireproof against God’s judgments; this stately structure must be laid in ashes, and it is probable the ark in it; for the enemies, probably having heard how dear the Philistines paid for the abusing it, durst not seize it; nor did any of its friends take care to preserve it; for then we should have heard of it again in the second temple.” The temple was burned four hundred years after the time that it was built, says Sir John Marsham; four hundred and twenty-four years three months and eight days, says Archbishop Usher; four hundred thirty years, says Abarbinel and other learned Jews; but Josephus computes the matter still higher; for he tells us that the temple was burned four hundred and seventy years six months and ten days after the building of it; one thousand and sixty years six months and ten days from the time of the Israelites coming out of the land of Egypt; one thousand nine hundred, and fifty years six months and ten days from the deluge; three thousand five hundred and thirty years six months and ten days from the creation; and he mentions it as a very remarkable circumstance, that the second temple was burned by the Romans in the same month and on the very same day of the month that this was set on fire by the Chaldeans, and, as some of the Jewish rabbis say, when the Levites were singing the very same passage, namely, He shall bring upon them their own iniquity, and shall cut them off in their own wickedness: yea, the Lord our God shall cut them off, Psalms 94:23. By the burning of the temple, God would show how little he cares for the external pomp of his worship, when the life and power of religion are neglected. The people trusted to the temple, as if that would protect them in their sins, (Jeremiah 7:4,) but God by this let them know that when they had profaned it, they would find it but a refuge of lies.


Verse 11-12

2 Kings 25:11-12. Now the rest of the people that were left in the city — Whom neither the sword nor famine had destroyed, who were eight hundred and thirty-two persons, (Jeremiah 52:29,) being members and traders of that city: for it is likely that there were very many more of the country people fled thither, who were left with others of their brethren to manure the land. And the fugitives that fell away to the king of Babylon — That is, all that fled to him, and put themselves under his protection; with the remnant of the multitudes — Of the inhabitants of the country. For the captain of the guard left of the poor of the land — So while the rich were prisoners in a strange land, the poor had liberty and peace in their own country! Thus Providence sometimes humbles the proud, and favours them of low degree.


Verse 13

2 Kings 25:13. The pillars of brass, &c., did the Chaldees break in pieces — Because they were too cumbersome to be carried away whole. And carried the brass of them to Babylon — As was foretold Jeremiah 27:21-22.


Verse 18-19

2 Kings 25:18-19. The captain of the guard took Seraiah, the chief priest — The high-priest, grandson of that Hilkiah mentioned 2 Kings 22:4, and father of Jehosadak, who, it seems, was taken with his father; and when his father was slain, (2 Kings 25:21,) was carried away to Babylon, as is observed 1 Chronicles 6:13-14. And Zephaniah the second priest — Who was the high-priest’s deputy, when he was by sickness, or any other means, prevented from the execution of his office. And five of them that were in the king’s presence — Who constantly attended upon the king’s person wheresoever he was, and were his most intimate counsellors. And threescore men of the land that were found in the city — These were some eminent persons, who had concealed themselves in some private place; but before Nebuzar-adan left Jerusalem, were discovered.


Verse 20-21

2 Kings 25:20-21. Brought them to the king of Babylon — That he might dispose of them as he thought fit, they being not vulgar persons like those whom he had ordered to be carried captive or left in the land. The king of Babylon smote them — Ordered them all to be put to death, when in reason they might have hoped that surely the bitterness of death was past. He probably looked upon them as persons that had been active in opposing him; but divine justice, we may suppose, viewed them as ring-leaders in that idolatry and impiety which were punished by these desolations. So Judah was carried away out of their land — This completed their calamity, about eight hundred and sixty years after they were put in possession of Canaan by Joshua.


Verse 22

2 Kings 25:22. Over them he made Gedaliah, the son of Ahikam, ruler — A righteous and good man, and a friend to the Prophet Jeremiah, Jeremiah 26:24. Ahikam, his father, was a person in such credit in all the latter reigns, that he had been able to screen Jeremiah from the resentment of the king and the fury of the people; so that it is very probable the prophet, in gratitude to the father, obtained this favour for the son, from Nebuzaradan. Or, as some think, Gedaliah, by the advice of Jeremiah, had gone over to the Chaldeans, and had approved himself so well, that on that account the king of Babylon judged it proper to intrust him with the government. Gedaliah’s good conduct, together with the obligations which Jeremiah was under to his father, was probably the motive which induced the prophet to live with him in Judea rather than go to Babylon, when the Chaldean general put it to his option, not without some considerable encouragement to invite him to the latter, Jeremiah 39:11.


Verse 23

2 Kings 25:23. When all the captains of the armies — Who escaped when Zedekiah was taken; heard that the king of Babylon had made Gedaliah governor — One of themselves, and that things were put into a good posture: there came to Gedaliah to Mizpah — A place in the land of Benjamin, famous in Samuel’s time; Ishmael, Johanan, &c., they and their men — To put themselves under his protection. Gedaliah, though he had not the pomp and power of a sovereign prince, yet might have been a greater blessing to them than many of their kings had been, especially having such a privy counsellor as Jeremiah, who was now with them, and interested himself in their affairs, Jeremiah 40:5-6.


Verse 24

2 Kings 25:24. Gedaliah sware to them — Assured them by his promise and oath, that if they would be patient and peaceable under the government of the king of Babylon, and would conduct themselves properly, they should be kept from the evils which they feared. This he might safely swear, because he had not only Nebuchadnezzar’s promise, and interest too, but also God’s promise, delivered by Jeremiah. And it might seem that a fair prospect was now again opening for them. But, alas! this hopeful settlement was soon dashed to pieces, not by the Chaldeans, but by themselves. The things of their peace were so hid from their eyes that they neither knew when they were well, nor would believe when they were told so even by God himself.


Verse 25

2 Kings 25:25. Ishmael, of the seed royal, came — Moved with envy at Gedaliah’s advancement, and the happy settlement of the people under him; and ten men with him — That is, ten captains or officers, and under each of them many soldiers. And smote Gedaliah, and the Jews and Chaldees, &c. — Resolved to ruin him and them. Nebuchadnezzar would not, could not, have been a more mischievous enemy to their peace than this degenerate branch of the house of David was! We have a fuller account of this affair in the fortieth and forty-first chapters of Jeremiah, where we read that Gedaliah was admonished of this intended conspiracy against him; but, like other good men, who are commonly void of suspicion, because they have no design to hurt others, he did not believe what was told him.


Verse 26

2 Kings 25:26. And all the people arose, and came to Egypt — Contrary to the persuasion of Jeremiah, who pressed them to stay in the land, that it might not altogether lie uncultivated, (seeing they were to be settled in it again, according to the word of the Lord by the Prophet Isaiah, chap. Isaiah 44:28, and Isaiah 45:1,) assuring them that they should be safe if they would stay in the land of Judah, but should perish if they went into Egypt. See Jeremiah 42:9-10, &c. But they would not hearken. Thus this populous and fertile country was laid waste and desolate, part of the people being carried captive to Babylon, part of those who were left in the land being slain with Gedaliah, and the remainder fleeing into Egypt. So that it was left to be overrun with briers and thorns, and to be inhabited by wild beasts. Only some of the neighbouring nations seem to have settled themselves in some parts of it. And from hence the Jews found much greater difficulty when they came to be restored than they would have done if some of them had continued in their country and cultivated it. For they were afraid of the Chaldees

The Chaldeans had reason enough to be offended at the murder of Gedaliah; but, if those that remained had humbly remonstrated to them, that it was only the act of Ishmael and his party, we may suppose they who were innocent of it, nay, who suffered greatly by it, would not have been punished for it: but, under pretence of this apprehension they all went into Egypt, where, it is probable, they mixed with the Egyptians by degrees, and were never heard of more as Israelites. Thus there was a full end made of them by their own folly and disobedience, and Egypt had the last of them, that the last verse of that chapter of threatenings might be fulfilled after all the rest, (Deuteronomy 28:68,) The Lord shall bring thee into Egypt again. For a more particular account of these events see the prophecy of Jeremiah, from chap. 40. to chap. 45.


Verses 27-30

2 Kings 25:27-30. Evil-merodach, king of Babylon — “Nebuchadnezzar, the father of Evil-merodach, died in the year of the world 3442, and before Christ 562, after he had reigned from the death of his father, according to the Babylonish account, forty-three years. He was certainly one of the greatest princes that had appeared in the East for many years before him; and, according to Megasthenes, as he is cited by Josephus, both for his enterprises and performances, far excelled even Hercules himself. The same historian, as he is quoted by Eusebius, informs us, that a little before his death he foretold to his subjects the coming of the Persians, and their subduing the kingdom of Babylon, which he might gather from the Prophet Daniel, and especially from the interpretation of his dreams.” — Dodd.

In the year that he began to reign did lift up the head of Jehoiachin, &c. — He released him out of prison, where he had lain thirty-seven years, and was now fifty-five years old. And he spake kindly to him — Paid more respect to him than to any other of the kings his father had left in captivity, gave him princely clothing instead of his prison garments, maintained him in his own palace, and allowed him a pension for himself and his family, some way agreeable to his rank; a daily rate for every day as long as he lived. This was a very happy change of Jehoiachin’s condition. To have honour, liberty, and plenty, after he had been so long in confinement and disgrace, and compelled to endure the straits and miseries of a prison, was like the return of the morning after a very dark and tedious night. Let none say they shall never see good again, because they have long seen little but evil: the most miserable know not what blessed turn Providence may yet give to their affairs, nor what comforts they are reserved for, according to the days wherein they have been afflicted, Psalms 90:15. It is likely Evil-merodach thought his father made the yoke of his captives too heavy; and, therefore, with the tenderness of a man, and the honour of a prince, he made it lighter. The Jews tell us, he had himself been imprisoned by his own father, after the latter was restored from his insanity, for some mal- administration at that time, and that in prison he contracted a friendship for Jehoiachin; and, therefore, as soon as he had it in his power, showed him this kindness as a sufferer, and as a fellow-sufferer. It should seem that all the kings he had in his power were favoured, but Jehoiachin above them all. Perhaps, as some have suggested, he had learned from Daniel and his fellows the principles of true religion, and was well affected to them, and upon that account favoured Jehoiachin. This undoubtedly happened by the good providence of God for the encouragement of the Jews in captivity, and the support of their faith and hope concerning their enlargement in due time. Thirty-six of the seventy years of their captivity were now past, and almost as many yet remained, when now, in this midnight of their bondage and misery, they see their king thus advanced as a comfortable earnest to them of their own release at the appointed season.

We are now come to the dreadful end of the Jewish monarchy, after it had stood four hundred and sixty-eight years from the time that David began to reign over it; three hundred and eighty-eight years from the revolt of the ten tribes from it; and one hundred and thirty-four years from the excision of the Israelitish commonwealth; and would have still continued under the sunshine of the divine protection, had it not been for the almost constant and horrid ingratitude of the people, and their invincible itch of imitating the idolatries and witcheries of other nations: crimes which, though abominable before God, were but too generally practised by mankind, through the amazing degeneracy of the human nature.

Having now gone through the history of the Jewish state, from its first beginning to its total captivity in a foreign land, we must acknowledge it to be a history of such remarkable particulars, as distinguish it from all other histories: a history of a state founded upon such principles, governed in such a manner, concerned in such extraordinary circumstances, distinguished by such wonderful facts, and its condition, from the beginning to the end, so corresponding to its obedience or disobedience to the principles upon which it was first founded, that it cannot be paralleled by the history of any people in the world.

 


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Bibliography Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on 2 Kings 25:4". Joseph Benson's Commentary. http://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/2-kings-25.html11. 1857.


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Saturday, August 19th, 2017
the Week of Proper 14 / Ordinary 19
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