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THE BEGINNING OF THE SEVENTY YEARS OF CAPTIVITY
"In his days Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up, and Jehoiakim became his servant three years: then he turned and rebelled against him. And Jehovah sent against him bands of Chaldeans, and bands of the Syrians, and bands of the Moabites, and bands of the children of Ammon, and sent them against Judah to destroy it, according to the word of Jehovah, which he spake by his servants the prophets. Surely at the commandment of Jehovah came this upon Judah, to remove them out of his sight, for the sins of Manasseh, according to all that he did, and also for the innocent blood that he shed; for he filled Jerusalem with innocent blood: and Jehovah would not pardon. Now the rest of the acts of Jehoiakim, and all that he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah? So Jehoiakim slept with his fathers; and Jehoiakin his son reigned in his stead. And the king of Egypt came not again any more out of his land; for the king of Babylon had taken, from the brook of Egypt unto the river Euphrates, all that pertained to the king of Egypt."
Right here in 2 Kings 24:1 is the beginning of the seventy years of captivity for the children of Israel, as Jeremiah had prophesied:
"And this whole land (Palestine) shall be a desolation and an astonishment; and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years." (Jeremiah 25:11).
It should be noted that the `seventy years' of Jeremiah's prophecy should be applied to the sovereignty of the king of Babylon and not uniquely to the actual period that the people of God would be in captivity, although that too was approximately seventy years.
"In his days Nebuchadnezzar ... came up" (2 Kings 24:1). This is a reference to the days of Jehoiakim.
"And he became his servant" (2 Kings 24:1). From this day, Judah was no longer an independent nation. The exact date when Jehoiakim became the servant of Nebuchadnezzar is not exactly clear. Josephus thought that it was in the years 603-601 B.C., but we agree with LaSor that it was, "Soon after Pharaoh-necoh withdrew to Egypt in 608 B.C.," which would have been very near the year 606 B.C., the year prior to the battle of Carchemish. This would mean that Jehoiakim's revolt would have been in the year 605.
We have written extensive comments on all of these events in Jeremiah 20-39. Helpful facts that help in understanding the complicated history of this period include the following:
(1) There are four separate Biblical accounts of the fall of Jerusalem (1) Jeremiah 39; (2) Jeremiah 52; (2) 2 Kings 24, and (4) 2 Chronicles 36. Additionally, there is the account of it in the works of Flavius Josephus. There are variations in these reports, of course; and the exploration of these differences is an absolutely worthless endeavor! (See my full comment on this in Vol. 2 (Jeremiah) of the major prophets, p. 429.)
(2) There were no less than three deportations of the Israelites from, Jerusalem and Judah. "These were in 597 B.C., 587 B.C. and 582 B.C." Cawley, however, gave the dates as 597 B.C., 586 B.C., and 581 B.C. respectively. Daniel and his friends were among the first deportees; Ezekiel was in the second group; and the conceited residue of Judah which still remained in Jerusalem, who supposed that they alone were the terminal heirs of all the promises to the patriarchs, were removed in the last one.
Scholars disagree about the exact date when the bands of Chaldeans, Moabites, Ammonites, and Syrians raided Jerusalem and Judah. Some think it was in the interval when Nebuchadnezzar returned to Babylon to receive the throne after his father died, and others place it somewhat later. "During the interval (whenever it was), Nebuchadnezzar sent raiding bands to harass Jerusalem (2 Kings 24:2) as a judgment from Jehovah."
"And Jehovah sent against him bands of the Chaldeans ..." (2 Kings 24: 2). Of course, it was the king of Babylon who commanded those raiding bands; "But after the Lord had given Judah into the hands of the Chaldeans as a punishment of their apostasy, all revolt against them was rebellion against the Lord."
"And Jehovah would not pardon" (2 Kings 24:4). Jeremiah 15:1ff explains why this was true. "It was because the measure of their sins was full, and in justice God had no choice except to punish them. Even if the greatest intercessors such as Moses and Samuel had come before the Lord (pleading for Judah), it would have done no good."
"So Jehoiakim slept with his fathers; and Jehoiakin his son reigned in his stead" (2 Kings 24:6). "This does not contradict Jeremiah's prophecy (Jeremiah 22:19) that Jehoiakim would receive the burial of an ass, carried off and cast away beyond the gates of Jerusalem." (See our comment on this under that reference in Jeremiah.) LaSor explained what probably happened. "Jehoiakim had revolted again; and 2 Chronicles 36:6 states that, `Nebuchadnezzar bound him with fetters to take him to Babylon,' but he had been wounded and died on the way; and his body was cast away."
Jeremiah gave another prophecy regarding Jehoiakim that, "He shall have none to sit upon the throne of David" (Jeremiah 36:30). Yes, our text says that, "His son Jehoiakin reigned in his stead," but it was no longer "the throne of David," nor had it been since Nebuchadnezzar had become Lord of the entire world of that era. Also, as Keil stated in this connection, "Even though Jeconiah ascended the throne, his brief three-months reign, quickly followed by his capture and removal to Babylon, was quite properly described by the prophet as not sitting upon the throne of David."
"The king of Babylon had taken ... all that pertained to the king of Egypt" (2 Kings 24:7). At this point in history, Nebuchadnezzar was supreme from the border of Egypt to the Euphrates, and for seventy years Judah would lie under the heel of the Chaldeans. In no real sense did the `throne of David' actually exist during this period, nor would it ever on earth exist any more. God had completely and forever removed the "sinful kingdom" (Amos 9:8) out of his sight.
THE THREE-MONTH REIGN OF KING JEHOIAKIN
This king was also known as Jeconiah (or Coniah). See Matthew 1:11 and Jeremiah 22:24. He was just as wicked as any of his fathers.
"Jehoiakin was eighteen years old when he began to reign; and he reigned in Jerusalem three months: and his mother's name was Nehushta the daughter of Elnathan of Jerusalem. And he did that which was evil in the sight of Jehovah, according to all that his father had done."
It is amazing that so short a reign could have been marked by so much evil. Ezekiel described him as ... a young lion who devoured men and also that he knew, ravished, the widows of those whom he murdered (Ezekiel 19:5-7). Keil commented that, "Jehoiakin did not confine his deeds of violence to individuals, but extended them to all who were left behind by his murders, viz., their families and possessions. Also, nothing is affirmed in Jeremiah 22:24,28 respecting his character that is at variance with this." There must have been a sigh of relief in Judah when Nebuchadnezzar came up and carried him off to Babylon.
THE FALL OF JERUSALEM AND THE FIRST DEPORTATION
"At that time the servants of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up to Jerusalem, and the city was besieged. And Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came unto the city, while his servants were besieging it; and Jehoiakin the king of Judah went out to the king of Babylon, he, and his mother, and his servants; and his princes, and his officers; and the king of Babylon took him in the eighth year of his reign. And he carried out thence all the treasures of the house of Jehovah, and the treasures of the king's house, and cut in pieces all the vessels of gold, which Solomon king of Israel had made in the temple of Jehovah, as Jehovah had said. And he carried away all Jerusalem, and all the princes, and all the mighty men of valor, even ten thousand captives, and all the craftsmen and the smiths; none remained, save the poorest sort of the people of the land. And he carried away Jehoiakin to Babylon; and the king's mother, and the king's wives,, and his officers, and the chief men of the land, carried he into captivity from Jerusalem to Babylon. And all the men of might, even seven thousand, and the craftsmen and the smiths a thousand, all of them strong and apt for war, even them the king of Babylon brought captive to Babylon. And the king of Babylon made Mattaniah, Jehoiakin's father's brother, king in his stead, and changed his name to Zedekiah."
These tragic words describe the fall of Jerusalem and the deportation of the cream of its population to Babylon. Daniel and his companions were among the princes carried away. These, in all probability, were emasculated and made eunuchs in the pagan establishment at Babylon. The Book of Daniel relates the fortunes of some of those princes. Significantly, God blessed Daniel with great preferment and power in Nebuchadnezzar's capital.
"In the eighth year of his reign" (2 Kings 24:12). "The eighth year of Nebuchadnezzar's reign was 597 B.C. The siege extended from December (Chislev) 598 B.C. to March (Adar) of 597 B.C., according to Babylonian records."
"And Jehoiakin the king of Judah went out to the king of Babylon" (2 Kings 24:12). Evidently, Jehoiakin believed that by such submission to Nebuchadnezzar he might retain his throne as a vassal of Babylon. Of course, that is what took place earlier at the first conquest of Jerusalem, with the result that Jehoiakim retained his throne as a vassal, but on this occasion, "Nebuchadnezzar showed Jehoiakin no favor at all, treated him as a rebel, and carried him and all the nobility of Jerusalem into captivity in Babylon."
A significant element in this chapter was the plundering and looting of Solomon's temple. "Nebuchadnezzar spoiled Solomon's temple three times: (1) He took some of the treasures away when Jehoiakim was king, placing the golden vessels in the temple of his god in Babylon (Daniel 1:2). These were the vessels profaned by Belshazzar (Daniel 5:2). (2) He continued the destruction by taking many other treasures, breaking and cutting them into pieces when he came up against Jeconiah (as in this chapter). (3) He thoroughly looted and destroyed the temple, even cutting up the brass and all other metal objects of value when the city fell a third time at the end of the reign of Zedekiah (2 Kings 25:13-16)."
"And the king of Babylon made Mattaniah ... king in his stead, and changed his name to Zedekiah" (2 Kings 24:17). Zedekiah, of course, was another wicked son of Josiah; and Nebuchadnezzar's placing him on the throne of Judah should be understood as a full and complete submission of Zedekiah to the will of the king of Babylon. He had evidently sworn with a most solemn oath absolute and continual fealty to the king of Babylon, even invoking the name of Jehovah in that solemn oath. The change of his name to Zedekiah was an essential element in the whole procedure. The meaning of this was that Zedekiah's ultimate rebellion against Babylon was also interpreted by the prophet Jeremiah as rebellion against Jehovah.
This matter is discussed at length at Jeremiah 31.
A SUMMARY OF ZEDEKIAH'S EVIL REIGN
"And Zedekiah was twenty and one years old when he began to reign; and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem: and his mother's name was Hamutal the daughter of Jeremiah of Libnah. And he did that which was evil in the sight of Jehovah, according to all that Jehoiakim had done. For through the anger of Jehovah did it come to pass in Jerusalem and Judah, until he had cast them out from his presence."
Jeconiah was the last king of Israel and was so recognized by the Jews, because Zedekiah was merely a faithless puppet of Nebuchadnezzar; and with his foolish rebellion, Jerusalem fell a third time.
"Until he had cast them out from his presence" (2 Kings 24:20). There is no tragedy in history quite as pathetic as that of the Jewish kingdom with its reprobate Davidic dynasty. Here again, as repeatedly in the sacred text, it is stated that God could no longer bear the sight of them and that he cast them out of his sight. Yet, racial Israel never desired anything either in heaven or upon earth quite as fervently and passionately as they desired the restoration of that godless "sinful kingdom." They even maneuvered the crucifixion of the Son of God himself when they discovered that Jesus Christ did not have the slightest intention of restoring any such kingdom!
Zedekiah violated his oath of allegiance to Nebuchadnezzar, and when Nebuchadnezzar came up once more to destroy Jerusalem, Zedekiah asked Jeremiah to pray for the city, evidently expecting another such deliverance as that which had come in the days of Hezekiah, but God, on the other hand, declared that he would fight against Zedekiah and the city and destroy them. That tragedy, recorded in the next chapter, concludes the Book of 2Kings.
Coffman's Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on 2 Kings 24". "Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany