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This chapter is a historical addition to the book of Jeremiah. It tells
1. about the fall of Jerusalem,
2. what the Babylonians did to the temple and its tools,
3. how Nebuchadnezzar treats Zedekiah, Jehoiachin and other officials, and
4. the number of Jews taken into exile.
The purpose of the chapter is to show how Jeremiah’s prophecies were fulfilled, in contrast to those of the false prophets (Jer 27:16-22; Jer 28:1-17). The chapter is almost identical to the history in 2 Kings 24 (2Kgs 24:18-20; 2Kgs 25:1-30).
The Fall of Jerusalem
This chapter describes the fall of Jerusalem. God emphasizes the importance of the fall by including a fourfold description of it in His Word (Jer 39:1-14; Jer 52:1-11; 2Kgs 24:18-20; 2Kgs 25:1-30; 2Chr 36:11-21). The fall takes place during the reign of Zedekiah, who reigned in Jerusalem for eleven years (Jer 52:1). His reign is of the same evil character as that of his brother Jehoiakim (Jer 52:2) who also reigned eleven years (2Kgs 23:36). He too does what is evil in the sight of the LORD.
The LORD can no longer bear it and must reject Jerusalem and Judah from His presence (Jer 52:3; 2Kgs 24:18-20). To all his evil deeds Zedekiah adds that he rebels against the king of Babylon. He has already been to Babylon once and promised to obey Nebuchadnezzar. However, he broke that promise (Eze 17:12-15). Therefore, Nebuchadnezzar has gone up against Jerusalem with all his army and is besieging the city (Jer 52:4).
The date of his arrival at the city is accurately recorded (Eze 24:1-2). The arrival of Nebuchadnezzar is the beginning of the end of the city. He besieges the city for nineteen months, closing it hermetically (Jer 52:5). No one can get in or out.
After the nineteen-month long siege, the city falls, on a day again named with date (Jer 52:6). The city is starving. There is no strength left to fight. Then the city is broken into (Jer 52:7). The resistance is broken. The men can no longer fight, but they can still flee. Among the refugees is King Zedekiah. In the darkness of the night they run away. The escape route is accurately described. They go out of the city through the gate between the two walls near the king’s garden. The direction of escape is the Arabah.
The refugees, however, are quickly overtaken (Jer 52:8). Zedekiah is seized when he is in the plains of Jericho. His army does not protect him. It is separated from him and scattered and thus made even more powerless than it already is. Zedekiah is taken to the king of Babylon, who is in Riblah and passes sentence on him (Jer 52:9). It is a horrible judgment.
First Nebuchadnezzar slaughters the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes (Jer 52:10). He also slaughters all the princes of Judah in Riblah. With the slaughter of his sons on his mind, Zedekiah’s eyes are blinded (Jer 52:11). Thus, the man who is blind to the LORD is also literally blind. As if that were not enough to subdue this wicked and untrustworthy man, Zedekiah is also bound with two bronze chains. In this way he is taken to Babylon. There he is put in prison where he remains until the day of his death.
Consequences of the Fall of Jerusalem
After the city falls into the hands of Nebuchadnezzar, he sends Nebuzaradan to Jerusalem (Jer 52:12). The dating is now done not to the reigns of the kings of Israel, but to those of the heathen king to whom God has given world domination and also the rule over His people. Arriving in Jerusalem, Nebuzaradan burns all the houses, beginning with the house of the LORD (Jer 52:13). This is followed by the king’s house and all the other houses, including those of the dignitaries. All these houses are destroyed because in them the LORD is no longer served, but the idols.
Furthermore, the walls of the city are broken down by the army (Jer 52:14). The people of the cities are carried away into exile to Babylon (Jer 52:15). Only a few of the poorest of the land are allowed to stay in Judah to take care of the land there as vinedressers and plowmen (Jer 52:16).
In Jer 52:17-23, a more detailed description of the plundering and destruction of the temple takes place. Some parts are broken down, while other parts are taken to Babylon. The bronze pillar, Boaz and Jachin, are broken down, as are the stands and the bronze sea (Jer 52:17). All their bronze is carried to Babylon. The objects for use in the temple service suffer the same fate (Jer 52:18-19). The amount of bronze from the pillars, the sea, and the twelve oxen is impossible to weigh (Jer 52:20). To give an impression of that enormous amount of bronze, the pillars with everything attached are described in detail (Jer 52:21-23).
More important still is the spiritual meaning. Even today, what should serve as pillars in God’s house is completely removed and taken away by the enemy. Bronze is a picture of the righteousness of God. It indicates that a man can only exist before God on the basis of the righteousness of God offered to him by Who Christ is before God and what He has done. This is taken away in professing Christianity by the preaching of a social gospel of fellow humanity and living by virtue of one’s own righteousness.
After the remaining objects of the temple, some persons are now taken who have been in connection with the temple service (Jer 52:24). They are the high priest, the second priest and three officers of the temple i.e. the doorkeepers. Some people who have been in connection with the army and the king are also carried away. These are an official, seven of the king’s advisers, an army official, and sixty more men of the land who are in the city (Jer 52:25).
The religious leaders, the warriors, and the common people are all taken to Nebuchadnezzar in Riblah (Jer 52:26). There, in Riblah, in the land of Hamath, which is Syria, they are all killed (Jer 52:27a). The priesthood is finished. All the rest is led away into exile (Jer 52:27b).
Jer 52:28-30 list the various deportations. There were deportations in
1. the seventh year, 599 BC (Jer 52:28; 2Chr 36:9-10),
2. the eighteenth year, 588 BC (Jer 52:29; 2Chr 36:20) and
3. the twenty-third year, 584 BC (Jer 52:30; Jer 52:12),
in which a total of 4,600 people were taken into exile. Daniel and his friends are already in Babylon by then. They were taken there in an earlier transport, around 606 BC (Dan 1:1-6; 2Chr 36:6-7).
Jehoiachin Is Treated Kindly
After the righteous judgment that the LORD had to bring upon His people through the king of Babylon, we now see that He also shows mercy to His people through that same king (Jer 52:31; 2Kgs 25:27-30). Jehoiachin did do what was evil in the sight of the LORD, but he did not resist the king of Babylon. He surrendered to him (2Kgs 24:12). When he has been in prison for thirty-seven years, the king of Babylon pardons him. Jehoiachin is then fifty-five years old.
The king of Babylon speaks kindly to him and gives him a privileged place above the other kings he has subjugated (Jer 52:32). Jehoiachin is given other clothes instead of his prison clothes (Jer 52:33). For meals he is always allowed to join the king. For the rest of his life he is assured of his meals and the place where he may take them. Everything he needs to live on is given to him daily by the king of Babylon (Jer 52:34). It is said in a double affirmation: it is “all the days of his life” and “until the day of his death”.
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 Jeremiah 52". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 8 / Ordinary 13