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(1) And it came to pass.—With the account which follows comp. Jeremiah 52:4 seq., Jeremiah 39:1-10, Jeremiah 40-43.
In the ninth year . . . tenth day.—Comp. the similarly exact dates in 2 Kings 25:3; 2 Kings 25:8. Ezekiel 24:1-2, agrees with the present. The days were observed as fasts during the exile (Zechariah 7:3; Zechariah 7:5; Zechariah 8:19).
Came . . . against Jerusalem.—After taking the other strong places of Judah, as Sennacherib had done (Jeremiah 34:7; comp. 2 Kings 18:13; 2 Kings 19:8), Zedekiah must have prepared for the siege, as it lasted a year and a half.
Forts.—The Hebrew word (dâyçq) occurs in Ezekiel 4:2; Ezekiel 17:17; Ezekiel 21:27; Ezekiel 26:8. Its meaning is some kind of siege work, as appears from the context in each case; but what precisely is not clear. The LXX. here has “wall” (τεῖχος); Syriac, “palisade” (qalqûmê, i.e., χαράκωμα).
(2) Unto the eleventh year.—The siege lasted altogether one year, five months, and twenty-seven days (2 Kings 25:1 compared with 2 Kings 25:8). The Chaldæans raised the siege for a time, and marched against Pharaoh-Hophra, who was coming to the help of the Jews (Jeremiah 37:5 seq.; comp. Ezekiel 17:17; Ezekiel 30:20 seq.)
(3) And on the ninth day of the fourth month.—The text is supplemented from Jeremiah 39:2; Jeremiah 52:6. The Syriac, however, has, “And in the eleventh year of King Zedekiah, in the fifth month, on the ninth day of the month, the famine prevailed,” &c.; which may be original. (Comp. 2 Kings 25:1.)
The famine prevailed.—Not that the scarcity was first felt on that day, but that it then had reached a climax, so that defence was no longer possible. The horrors of the siege are referred to in Lamentations 2:11 seq., Lamentations 2:19 seq., Lamentations 4:3-10; Ezekiel 5:10; Bar. 2:3. As in the famine of Samaria and the last siege of Jerusalem, parents ate their own offspring. (Comp. the prophetic threats of Leviticus 26:29; Deuteronomy 28:53 seq.; Jeremiah 15:2 seq., Jeremiah 27:13; Ezekiel 4:16 seq.)
The people of the land.—The population of the city, especially the families which had crowded into it from the country. Thenius, as usual, insists that the militia are meant. But these are the “men of war” (2 Kings 25:4).
(4) Broken up.—Comp. 2 Chronicles 32:1. A breach was made in the wall with battering-rams, such as are depicted in the Assyrian sculptures. The Chaldæans forced their entry on the north side of the city, i.e., they took the Lower City (2 Kings 22:14). This is clear from Jeremiah 39:3, where it is said that, after effecting an entrance, their generals proceeded to assault “the middle gate,” i.e., the gate in the north wall of Zion, which separated the upper from the lower city. (See also 2 Kings 14:13.)
All the men of war fled.—The Hebrew here is defective, for it wants a verb, and mention of the king is implied by what follows. (See Jeremiah 39:4; Jeremiah 52:7.) A comparison of these parallels suggests the reading: “And Zedekiah king of Judah and all the men of war fled, and went out of the city by night,” &c.
By the way of the gate between (the) two walls which is (was) by the king’s garden.—This gate lay at the south end of the Tyropœon, i.e., the glen between Ophel and Zion; and is the same as “the Gate of the Fountain” (Nehemiah 3:15). The two walls were necessary for the protection of the Pool of Siloam and the water supply; besides which the point was naturally weak for purposes of defence. Whether “the king’s garden” was within or without the double wall is not clear, probably the latter, as Thenius supposes.
Now the Chaldees . . . round about.—An indication that even by this route the king and his warriors had to break through the enemy’s lines, as the city was completely invested. (Corap. Ezekiel 12:12.)
And the king went.— Some MSS. and the Syriac, and they went. (So Jeremiah 52:7; a correction, after the mention of the king had fallen out of the text.)
The way toward the plain.—The Arabah, or valley of the Jordan (Joshua 11:2; 2 Samuel 2:29).
(5) In the plains of Jericho.—In the neighbour. hood of Jericho, the Arabah expands to the breadth of eleven or twelve miles. The part west of Jordan was called the “plains” (Arbôth plural of Arabah) of Jericho; and that which lay east of the river was known as the plains of Moab (Joshua 4:13; Numbers 22:1). The depression between the Dead Sea and the Gulf of Akaba still bears the old name of the Arabah; between the Dead Sea and the Lake of Tiberias it is called the Ghor.
(6) To the king of Babylon, to Riblah.—2 Kings 23:33. Nebuchadnezzar was not present at the storm of Jerusalem (Jeremiah 39:3). He awaited the result in his headquarters.
And they gave judgment upon him.—Or, brought him to trial. (Comp. Jeremiah 1:16; Jeremiah 4:12.) Nebuchadnezzar with the grandees of his court, perhaps including some dependent princes of the country, held a solemn trial of Zedekiah, as a rebel against his liege lord, in which, no doubt, his breach of oath was made prominent (2 Chronicles 36:13; Ezekiel 17:15; Ezekiel 17:18). The verb is singular in Jeremiah, and the versions. (See next Note.)
(7) And they slew . . .—The verbs are all singular in Jeremiah 39:6; Jeremiah 52:10-11; so that the acts in question are attributed directly to Nebuchadnezzar, to whose orders they were due. (So the versions, except that the Targum has “they slew.”) The blinding of Zedekiah need not have been done by the conqueror himself, although in the Assyrian sculptures kings are actually represented as blinding and otherwise torturing their captives. It is no argument against the singular, “he carried him to Babylon,” to say with Thenius that Zedekiah was sent to Babylon at once, while Nebuchadnezzar remained at Riblah. “Qui facit per alium, facit per se.”
The sons.—Who fled with him (Comp. Jeremiah 41:10). In Jeremiah it is added that all the nobles or princes. of Judah were slain also.
Put out the eyes.—A Babylonian punishment (Herod, vii. 18). This was the meaning of Ezekiel’s prediction; “I will bring him to Babylon . . . yet shall he not see it, though he shall die there” (Ezekiel 12:13).
With fetters of brass.—Literally, with the double brass (2 Chronicles 33:12); i.e., with manacles and fetters, as represented on the Assyrian monuments.
Carried him to Babylon.—Jeremiah 52:11; “and put him in prison till the day of his death.” So the Arabic of Kings.
(8) On the seventh day . . .—An error for the tenth day (Jeremiah 52:12), one numeral letter having been mistaken for another. The Syriac and Arabic read ninth (perhaps, because, as Thenius suggests, the memorial fasts began on the evening of the ninth day).
According to Josephus the second Temple also was burnt on the tenth of the fifth month (Bell. Jud. vi. 4.8).
The nineteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar.—This agrees with Jeremiah 32:1, according to which the tenth of Zedekiah was the eighteenth of Nebuchadnezzar.
Nebuzaradan.—A Hebrew transcript of the Babylonian name Nabû-zir-iddina, “Nebo gave seed.”
Captain of the guard.—Strictly, chief of executioners. (See Genesis 37:36.) This means commander of the Royal Bodyguard, the “Praetorians” of the time; a corps of picked warriors, answering to the “Cherethites and Pelethites,” and the “Carians and Runners” among the Hebrews (2 Kings 11:4). Nebuzaradan is not mentioned among the other generals in Jeremiah 39:3. On this ground, and because his coming is expressly-mentioned here, and because a month elapsed between the taking of the city (2 Kings 25:4) and its destruction (2 Kings 25:9-10), Thenius infers that the city of David and the Temple did not at once fall into the hands of the Chaldeans; but were so well defended under the lead of some soldier like Ishmael (2 Kings 25:23), that Nebuchadnezzar was compelled to despatch a specially distinguished commander to bring the matter to a conclusion. 2 Kings 25:18-21 certainly appear to favour this view.
A servant.—In Jeremiah 52:0, “who stood before the king;” probably the original phrase. (Comp. 2 Kings 3:14; 2 Kings 5:16).
(9) He burnt the house . . . king’s house.—Which were in the upper city. (There should be a semicolon after “king’s house.”)
And every great man’s house.—Omit man’s. The phrase limits the preceding one, “all the houses of Jerusalem,” that is to say, “every great house” (2 Chronicles 36:19, “all her palaces”). The common houses were spared for the poor who were left (2 Kings 25:12).
(10) With the captain.—The preposition, though wanting in the common Hebrew text, is found in many MSS. and the old versions, as well as Jeremiah 52:0
(11) The fugitives that fell away—i.e., the deserters. (See Jeremiah 27:12; Jeremiah 37:13 sea., Jeremiah 38:2; Jeremiah 38:4; Jeremiah 38:17; Jeremiah 38:19.)
The multitude.—Probably the rank and file of the fighting-men (Judges 4:7). The word is hâmôn, strictly a shouting throng. (The Syriac has “the rest of the army.”) Jeremiah 52:15, spells the word with the light breathing (‘âniôn—either a dialectic use, or a mistake, not a distinct word).
(12) Of the poor of the land.—2 Kings 24:14 (Comp. Jeremiah 39:10.)
Husbandmen.—Or, plowmen. The word (Hebrew text, gâbîm) occurs here only. Jeremiah 52:16 has a cognate form (yôg’bîm) also unique.
(13) And the pillars of brass.—From this point Jeremiah 39:0 ceases to be parallel with the present narrative. (See the Notes on 1 Kings 7:15 seq., for the objects enumerated in this and the following verses.) Instead of “brass” we should probably understand copper throughout.
(14) The snuffers.—Jeremiah 52:18 adds: and the sprinkling-bowls. The account there is in general more detailed than the present. (See 1 Kings 7:40; 1 Kings 7:50.)
Ministered.—Used to minister. Things belonging to the service of the brazen altar are enumerated in this verse.
(15) Firepans.—See 1 Kings 7:50. Besides “firepans” and “bowls” five other sorts of vessel are given in Jeremiah 52:19.
Such things as were . . . silver.—A general expression intended to include all other objects of the same material as the two kinds mentioned. The verse treats of the utensils of the holy place. Many such had doubtless been carefully concealed by the priests on the occasion of the first plundering of the Temple (2 Kings 24:13). (Comp. Jeremiah 27:19 seq.)
(16) The two pillars, (the) one sea . . .—A nominative absolute.
All these vessels . . .—Those just mentioned, the two pillars, &c.
Without weight.—A natural hyperbole closely resembling one which we often meet with in Assyrian accounts of the plunder carried off from conquered towns: “spoils without number 1 carried off.”
(17) Three cubits.—An error of transcription for five. Five cubits was the height of the capital according to 1 Kings 7:16; Jeremiah 52:22; 2 Chronicles 3:15.
The wreathen work.—Lattice-work (1 Kings 7:17).
With wreathen work.—Upon the lattice-work. Thenius says this is the residuum of a sentence preserved in Jeremiah—namely, “And the pomegranates were ninety and six towards the outside; all the pomegranates were a hundred upon the lattice-work round about” (Jeremiah 52:23). Our text is, at any rate, much abridged.
(18) Seraiah the chief (high) priest.—And grandfather or great-grandfather of Ezra (1 Chronicles 6:14; Ezra 7:1).
Zephaniah the second priest.—See 2 Kings 23:4, Note; and Jeremiah 21:1; Jeremiah 29:25; Jeremiah 29:29; Jeremiah 37:3. From the last three passages it is clear that Zephaniah was a priest of high rank, being probably the high priest’s deputy.
The three keepers of the door (threshold).—The chief warders of the principal entrances to the Temple. (See Jeremiah 38:13.) All the chief officials of the Temple were apparently taken away together.
(18, 19) List of the chief personages taken by Nebu-zaradan in the Temple and the city of David. This notice may be regarded as an indirect proof that the upper city was not captured before.
(19) The city.—Thenius is probably right in explaining the city of David.
An officer that was set over the men of war—i.e., a royal officer commanding the garrison of the city of David. He was probably not an eunuch (2 Kings 20:18; 2 Kings 24:12), though in the Byzantine empire, at all events, eunuchs were sometimes great soldiers—e.g., the heroic Narses.
And five men of them . . .—See margin. The phrase is explained by the seclusion affected by Oriental sovereigns. The LXX., Syriac, and Vulg., read five; the Targum, fifty. Jeremiah 52:0 and the Arabic read seven. The numeral letter denoting 5 had probably become partially obliterated in the MS. used by the writer of Jeremiah 52:0. The persons in question were royal counsellors. They may have dissuaded the king from flight, and so held out to the last (Thenius).
The principal scribe of the host.—See margin. This scribe was an officer on the staff of the commander-in-chief, who had himself either fallen fighting or accompanied the king in his flight.
Which mustered the people of the land—i.e., enrolled the names of such persons as were bound to serve in the army.
Threescore men of the people of the land . . .—i.e., apparently the remains of the garrison of the citadel. Keil thinks such as had distinguished themselves above others in the defence, or had been ringleaders in the rebellion.
That were found . . .—This expression seems to imply that they were the few survivors of a much larger force.
In the city.—Jeremiah 52:0 in the midst of the city, an expression which seems to point to the city of David, which was the strategical centre of Jerusalem.
(21) The king of Babylon smote them . . .—He was too irritated by the obstinacy of their defence to admire their bravery.
So Judah was carried away . . .—This sentence evidently concludes the whole account of the destruction of Jerusalem and the deportation of the people (comp. 2 Kings 17:23; Jeremiah 52:27); and not merely that of the proceedings of Nebuzaradan. The prophecy of Obadiah refers to the heartless behaviour of the Edomites on occasion of the ruin of Judah. (Comp. Psalms 137:0; Lamentations 4:21-22.)
(22) Gedaliah the son of Ahikam.—Ahikam was one of Josiah’s princes (2 Kings 22:12). In the reign of Jehoiakim he saved the prophet Jeremiah from the popular fury (Jeremiah 26:24). Nebuzaradan committed the prophet to the care of Gedaliah, who probably, like his father, sympathised with Jeremiah’s views (Jeremiah 39:13-14). After hesitating whether to accompany Nebuzaradan to Babylon or not, the prophet finally decided upon repairing to Gedaliah at Mizpah (Jeremiah 40:1-6). Gedaliah’s magnanimous behaviour in regard to Ishmael (Jeremiah 40:16 seq.) shows that he was not a traitor and deserter as some have misnamed him. Rather he was a disciple of Jeremiah, and did his utmost to induce the remnant over which he was appointed governor to submit with patience to their divinely-ordered lot, as the prophet urged them to do.
(22-26) An extract from Jeremiah 40-63, relating to the people left in the land.
(23) The captains of the armies.—Rather, the army captains; or, the captains of the forces. They and their men had fled with the king, and dispersed themselves over the country (Jeremiah 40:7). Now they came out of hiding.
Their men.—The Hebrew text has the men, but all the versions, and Jeremiah 40:7, read rightly, their men.
Mizpah.—See 1 Kings 15:22. It was well suited to be the governor’s residence, as it lay high, and was a naturally strong position. Moreover, it was the seat of an ancient sanctuary (Judges 20:1), which might serve in some sort as a substitute for the destroyed Temple of Jerusalem (Jeremiah 41:5).
Ishmael.—Grandson of Elishama the royal secretary (2 Kings 25:25; Jeremiah 36:12; Jeremiah 36:20), and of royal blood (Jeremiah 41:1).
Johanan the son of Careah.—Jeremiah 40:8, “and Johanan and Jonathan the sons of Careah.”
The Netophathite.—The words, “and the sons of Ophai,” have fallen out before this epithet (Jeremiah 40:8), and probably the names of these sons of Ophai in both passages. Netophah is mentioned in Ezra 2:22; Nehemiah 7:26. It may be Beit Nettif south-west of Jerusalem.
The son of a (the) Maachathite.—His father was an alien, and belonged to the Syrian state of Maachah (2 Samuel 10:6; 2 Samuel 10:8).
(24) fear not to be the servants.—Rather, Be not afraid of the servants. By “the servants of the Chaldees” Gedaliah probably means those who recognised the Chaldeans as their masters—that is to say, himself and those who adhere to him. He promises immunity for the past if only the captains and their men will settle down quietly as subjects of the conqueror.
(25) In the seventh month.—Only two months after the fall of Jerusalem (2 Kings 25:8).
Smote Gedaliah.—At a friendly meal in the governor’s own house (Jeremiah 41:1-2). Perhaps, as Josephus says, when he and his followers were overcome with wine.
Of the seed royal.—Perhaps this reveals Ishmael’s motive. He thought his claim to the government of the community was greater than Gedaliah’s. Baalis king of the Ammonites had incited him to the crime (Jeremiah 40:14).
The Chaldees that were with him.—They were soldiers left to support his authority (Jeremiah 41:3).
That he died.—The Jews afterwards observed the day of Gedaliah’s death as a day of mourning.
(26) Arose and came to Egypt.—They took Jeremiah with them (Jeremiah 43:6). This verse only gives the end of the story as it is told in Jeremiah.
(27) In the seven and thirtieth year . . .—Jehoiachin was now fifty-five years old (2 Kings 24:8; 2 Kings 24:12).
On the seven and twentieth day.—Jeremiah 52:31 : five and twentieth, which is probably right. (See Note on 2 Kings 25:19.)
Evil-merodach.—In Babylonian Amil-marduk, “man of Merodach.” (Comp. the Hebrew Eshbaal, “man of Baal.”) There are in the British Museum some contract tablets dated from his regnal years (562, 561, 560, B.C. ). He came to the throne 562 B.C. , upon the death of Nebuchadnezzar, who had reigned forty-three years. According to the canon of Ptolemy, Evil-merodach reigned two years. He was murdered by his brother-in-law Neriglissar—i.e., Nergal-sharezer.
Did lift up the head of Jehoiachin . . . out of prison—i.e., brought him out of prison (Genesis 40:13; Genesis 40:20). The LXX., Syriac, and Arabic add, “and brought him forth” before the words “out of prison.” So Jeremiah 52:31.
(27-30) The captivity of Jehoiachin ameliorated by the new king of Babylon. (See Jeremiah 52:31-34.)
(28) Set his throne above the throne of the kings . . .—Gave him precedence of the other captive kings who were kept at the Babylonian court by way of enhancing its glory (comp. Judges 1:7), and probably marked this precedence by allowing him a higher chair of state in the royal hall. So Cyrus kept Croesus king of Lydia at his court (Herod, i. 88). We may remember also the chivalrous behaviour of our own Black Prince towards his royal captive John of France.
(29) And changed.—Rather, and he (i.e., Jehoiachin) changed his prison garments—that is to say, he discarded them for others more suitable to his new condition. Joseph did the same when taken from prison to the Egyptian court (Genesis 41:14).
He did eat bread continually before him . . .—Jehoiachin became a perpetual guest at the royal table. (Comp. 2 Samuel 9:10-13.)
(30) His allowance.—For the maintenance of his little court. Literally, And (as for) his allowance a continual allowance was given him from the king, a day’s portion in its day.
All the days of his (Jehoiachin’s) life.—He may have died before Evil-merodach was murdered. There would be nothing strange in this, considering his age and his thirty-seven years of imprisonment.
The writer evidently dwells with pleasure on this faint gleam of light amid the darkness of the exile. It was a kind of foreshadowing of the pity which afterwards was to be extended to the captive people, when the divine purpose had been achieved, and the exile had done its work of chastisement and purification. (Comp, Psalms 106:46; Ezra 9:9; Nehemiah 2:2.)
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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on 2 Kings 25". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 15 / Ordinary 20