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Jehoiakim King of Judah (continued)
“In his days”, the days when Jehoiakim was king, Nebuchadnezzar – his name is mentioned here for the first time in Scripture – came up against Jerusalem for the first time (cf. Dan 1:1). On that occasion Daniel, together with other princes, was brought to Babylon. It was the year 606 BC. A year later an important battle took place, at Carchemish, where Nebuchadnezzar took over the world domination of Egypt (2Kgs 24:7; Jer 46:2). From then on, Nebuchadnezzar became the golden head (Dan 2:37-38), the first world empire, after Judah was no longer the people of God.
When Jehoiakim had submitted to Nebuchadnezzar for three years, he “rebels” against him. Perhaps we should consider the possibility that he had taken sides with Pharaoh. As a result, Nebuchadnezzar took measures to subjugate the rebellious Jehoiakim.
Remarkably, the marauding bands were not attributed to Nebuchadnezzar, but to the LORD. The LORD acted and did so in faithfulness to His Word. He had foretold this by the service of His servants, the prophets, and so it happened (2Kgs 24:2). The bands coming up against Judah did not happen in the first place because of Jehoiakim’s rebellion, but “because of the sins of Manasseh, according to all that he had done” (2Kgs 24:3).
A sin of Manasseh that is particularly important in this judgment is that he had shed “innocent blood”, yes, that he had “filled Jerusalem with innocent blood” (2Kgs 24:4). The LORD took all this so seriously, that He “would not forgive”.
We certainly have to do with a forgiving God. However, that does not mean that God’s patience is infinite. When judgment comes, the moment has come when He will no longer forgive. This is never due to God, but to man’s impenitence.
We live in a time comparable to that of these last kings. Judgment comes on Christianity. The fact that God has chosen a remnant for Himself, even now, does not change this judgment. For the mass of Christianity there is no forgiveness anymore.
This brings the historian to the end of his description of the life of Jehoiakim. He only mentioned his death (2Kgs 24:6). Nothing is said of a burial. He didn’t get one either. He was given a donkey burial: he was discarded as unsuitable and despicable (Jer 22:18-19).
The communication of 2Kgs 24:7 follows directly on from the communication of Jehoiakim’s death. In this verse the writer stated that Jehoiakim did not receive help from the king of Egypt in his revolt against Babylon (2Kgs 24:1).
Jehoiachin King of Judah
After the death of Jehoiakim, his son Jehoiachin becomes king. This boy was only eighteen years old. He reigned for three months. His short reign was long enough to give him the standard feature that “he did evil in the sight of the LORD” like some of his forebears. To indicate the evil he had done, it is said that he did “according to all that his father had done”.
“At that time”, that is, in the three months that he reigned, the servants of Nebuchadnezzar went up to Jerusalem and besieged the city. While his servants were carrying out the siege, Nebuchadnezzar himself also came up to Jerusalem. When he was there, Jehoiachin voluntarily surrendered, “he and his mother and his servants and his captains and his officials”. That in itself was a sensible act. At the same time it shows that he did not trust in God. If he had bowed before God confessing his sins, he would have been able to resist the king of Babylon in faith, just as Hezekiah had done at the time of the threat of the king of Assyria (2Kgs 19:15-19; 35-36).
The surrender took place in “the eighth year of his reign”, i.e. the reign of Nebuchadnezzar. This is the first dating with a reference to the reign of a foreign ruler.
All Jerusalem Led Away Into Exile
After the surrender of Jehoiachin Nebuchadnezzar “carried out from there all the treasures of the house of the LORD, and the treasures of the king’s house”. He took everything with him to Babylon. The treasures of the LORD’s house were later abused by Belshazzar (Dan 5:1-4). Again later Cyrus the Persian ensured that they were brought back to Jerusalem (Ezra 5:14).
As well as the valuable materials, skilled people with useful abilities were carried away into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon. These people could organize an uprising and thus endanger the authority of Nebuchadnezzar. In this captivity, the prophet Ezekiel (Est 1:1-2) and Mordecai (Est 2:5-6) were also carried away into exile. The only ones who did not have to go were the poorest people of the land. There would be no danger of an organized uprising by them.
He also carried away into exile Jehoiachin to Babylon, along with his mother, his wives, his officials and the leading men of the land. The military men and people able to make weapons (cf. 1Sam 13:19) were also carried away into exile by Nebuchadnezzar. In this way, Nebuchadnezzar prevented any form of resistance.
If the devil succeeds in somehow capturing us by a certain sin, he has nothing left to fear from us and nothing remains of our testimony for the Lord. The same applies to the church. If we engage in strange teachings, such as legalism (see the letter to the Galatians) and philosophy (see the letter to the Colossians), we will also be captured by them and cannot testify of the Savior. The church also loses its witnessing character, both to God and to the world, when the flesh can assert itself without being condemned. We see this in the first letter to the Corinthians.
Zedekiah King of Judah
Nebuchadnezzar made Mattaniah, a son of Josiah, king instead of Jehoiachin, whom he had carried away to Babylon. He gave Mattaniah another name calling him Zedekiah. Zedekiah means ‘my righteousness is Yahweh’. He acted in complete conflict with that name in his actions, for he brought the iniquity of Jerusalem to a climax. As for the righteousness of Yahweh, we see that He acted with Zedekiah in accordance with that name. Because of Zedekiah, the judgment on Israel was an expression of the LORD’s righteousness.
Although he could have been warned by what happened to his three predecessors, he continued to do what was evil in the sight of the LORD, following Jehoiakim. Zedekiah was a weakling. He listened to what seemed reasonable to him (cf. Jer 38:4-6). He did not listen to the warnings of the LORD by his prophets. There was no faith in him.
In his stupidity he rebelled against the king of Babylon and broke the oath he had sworn. Therefore he would perish (Eze 17:15). He resorted to Egypt to cast off the yoke of Babylon, thinking he would not become a servant of Egypt. He did not know history; he was blind to it. A man without God is so stupid!
Kingcomments on the Whole Bible © 2021 Author: G. de Koning. All rights reserved. Used with the permission of the author
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de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op 2 Kings 24". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 9 / Ordinary 14