Lectionary Calendar
Saturday, May 25th, 2024
the Week of Proper 2 / Ordinary 7
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Bible Commentaries
2 Kings 25

Coke's Commentary on the Holy BibleCoke's Commentary

Verse 3

2 Kings 25:3. The famine prevailed See Eze 5:10 and Lamentations 4:5.

Verse 4

2 Kings 25:4. The men of war fled by night It is difficult to conceive how the besieged could make their escape, as the Chaldees had encompassed the city. Josephus indeed gives us this account, that as the city was taken about midnight, the captains with the rest of the soldiers went directly into the temple; which Zedekiah perceiving, he took his wives, children, commanders, and friends, and they all slipped away together by a narrow passage towards the wilderness; but then what this narrow passage was is still the question. The Jews think that 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. Dion, it is true, tells us, lib. 66: that, in the last siege of Jerusalem, 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 their camp; but since neither Josephus nor the sacred historian take notice of any such subterraneous passage at this siege, we may suppose that, the Chaldeans having made a breach in the wall, the besieged got away privately between the wall and the out-works, by a passage which they did not suspect. See Jer 25:4 and Joseph. Hist. Bell. lib. 10: cap. 11.

Verse 7

2 Kings 25:7. And put out the eyes of Zedekiah, &c.— Josephus takes notice, that the seeming contradiction in the prophesies of Ezekiel and Jeremiah concerning the fate of Zedekiah, made that prince give no heed to what was foretold. Ezekiel's prophesy runs thus: I will bring him to Babylon, to the land of the Chaldeans, yet shall he not see it, though he die there, chap. 2 Kings 12:13. Jeremiah's thus: He shall be delivered into the hands of the king of Babylon, and shall speak with him mouth to mouth, and his eyes shall behold his eyes, Jeremiah 32:4. Both of which were literally accomplished; for Zedekiah was carried to Riblah, where he saw the king of Babylon, and spake to him, and beheld his children executed, but had afterwards his eyes put out, and was then carried to Babylon, which however he was incapable of seeing. The reflection which Josephus makes upon this event as excellent: "This may serve to convince even the ignorant," says he, "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 shew 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.

REFLECTIONS.—Zedekiah soon felt what an unequal match he was for the king whom he had by rebellion provoked; for, how could he hope to resist, who had not only the powers of earth but the arm of God against him?

1. Jerusalem is besieged, and, after suffering the greatest extremities of famine, Ezekiel 5:10, Jer 52:6 taken by storm. How terrible is war!

2. The king is taken prisoner as he attempted to escape, forsaken of his guards, and brought back with shame to the camp of the Chaldeans, to behold those miseries which, had he followed Jeremiah's advice, chap. Jer 38:17 he might have escaped. He is condemned to suffer the reward of his deeds; first, to behold the tormenting sight of his sons all murdered before his eyes, and then for ever to close them upon this mournful scene, as left in misery to ruminate on the cause; while, languishing in fetters of iron, he passed his wretched days, a miserable spectacle, and monument of the wages of sin. Note; (1.) They who refuse God's counsel to escape, will find the vanity of their own contrivances. (2.) The impenitent sinner's doom is, to be bound in chains of darkness unto the judgment of the great day.

Verse 9

2 Kings 25:9. He burned the house of the Lord Josephus 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; and 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; the 23rd verse of the 94th Psalm. See Antiq. lib. 10: cap. 11.

* Archbishop Usher's chronology does not here agree with that of Josephus.

Verse 18

2 Kings 25:18. Zephaniah, the second priest The Jews call their second priest their סגן Segan, whose business it was to supply the function of the high-priest, in case he was sick, or under any other incapacity. We find no such particular institution under the law; but Eleazar, the son of Aaron, who is styled the chief over the chief of the Levites, and who had the oversight of them who kept the charge of the sanctuary, Numbers 3:32., and whose authority was not much inferior to that of the high-priest, may not improperly be deemed one of that order. It is most probable that Nebuchadnezzar put to death the persons mentioned in this and the following verse, because he looked upon them as Zedekiah's principal counsellors in the advising him to rebel.

REFLECTIONS.—Near two months were spent in plundering the city, or given of God as a reprieve to the people, and then the decree went forth.

1. The temple, and all the palaces in Zion, are laid in ashes, the walls dismantled, and the whole city laid in ruins. Note; (1.) The temple is no longer precious in God's sight, when the people are apostate. (2.) God's patience with sinners by and by will end, and then judgment will overtake them to the uttermost.

2. The few vessels of silver and gold which remained in the temple, were now carried away, with all the brass, the pillars, the sea, the bases, and all the vessels belonging to the service, which for its vast quantity is said to be without weight. Thus a period was put to their worship. They who had so abused the house of God, and these consecrated vessels, deserved to be deprived of them.

3. Many of the great men are seized and executed, as being the supporters of the rebellion, and the rest carried away captive, Jeremiah 52:29.; only the poor of the land were left to till the ground for their proud conquerors. Thus the same iniquities cast the Jews out of Judea, which had been so fatal to the Canaanites, on whom their ancestors had executed the judgments of God.

Verse 22

2 Kings 25:22. Gedaliah, the son of Ahikam Ahikam, the father of Gedaliah, 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 that the prophet, in gratitude to the father, obtained this favour for the son from Nebuzaradan. This might also be the motive which induced him to go and live with him in Judea, rather than to go to Babylon, when that general put it to his option, not without some considerable encouragements to invite him to the latter. See Jeremiah 39:11; Jer 39:18 and Univ. Hist.

Verse 23

2 Kings 25:23. To Mizpah See Gen 31:49-50 where the reason of the name of this place will be found. It was situate on the east side of the river Jordan, and in the division of the land fell to the tribe of Dan; and here it was that Gedaliah chose to fix his habitation, or perhaps was ordered to fix it, because it lay nearest of any to Babylon, from whence he was to receive his instructions, as to the administration of the government. See Wells's Geography. A fuller account of the events recorded in the following verses will be found in the book of the prophet Jeremiah.

Verse 27

2 Kings 25:27. 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, three and forty years. He was certainly one of the greatest princes that had appeared in the east for many ages; and, according to Megasthenes, as he is cited by Josephus, both for his enterprizes 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. His son Evil-merodach reigned but a short time; for his debaucheries and other crimes in the space of two years made him so intolerable, that even his own relations conspired against him, and put him to death. It is likely that Jehoiachin, whom he thus signally favoured, (2 Kings 25:28-29.) fell with him, for that best agrees with Jeremiah's prophesies concerning him; wherein it is denounced, (ch. Jeremiah 22:30.) that he should not prosper in his days, which could not be so well verified of him, had he died in the full possession of all that prosperity to which Evil-merodach advanced him. Prideaux.

REFLECTIONS.—1st, The few who remained were put under the care of Gedaliah, a good man it should seem, and one who, if it had been possible, might have yet preserved them from utter ruin; but what the king of Babylon left unfinished, their own madness and folly completed. Ishmael, one of the seed-royal, was among the number of those who came to Gedaliah, under pretence of submission to his government: but envying his power, or to be revenged of the Chaldeans, who supported him, he treacherously fell upon him, slew him and his friends, whether Jews or Chaldeans; and then, in spite of Jeremiah's remonstrance, all the people who remained under him as their leader went down to Egypt, and mixed probably with that idolatrous people, (see Deuteronomy 28:68.) and thus their desolations were accomplished.

2nd, How hopeless, how desperate now appeared the case of Judah and her king! but in the midst of their captivity there ariseth up light in their darkness. Their captive, king Jehoiachin is brought from his mournful prison, and, on the accession of Evil-merodach, Nebuchadnezzar's son, admitted into the royal favour. He obtains apartments in the palace, a noble provision for himself and family, and pre-eminence over the other kings who were captives with him. This happened just in the midst of the seventy years during which this captivity was to last, as a means to support the hopes, and confirm the faith of the people in the fulfilment of the promises in due time. Note; (1.) While there is life, there is hope: we must not despair. God can turn the dungeon, when he pleases, into a palace. (2.) When our friend the great King shall sit on the throne of his kingdom, then he shall loose the bands of death, change the prison-garments of his saints, clothe them with immortality, and, placing their throne next to his own, make them sit down with him, and reign in glory everlasting.

We defer, till we come to the end of the book of Chronicles, some reflections on the dreadful end of the Israelitish 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 might have continued under the sunshine of the divine protection, which nothing could have eclipsed but the almost constant and horrid ingratitude of the people, and the invincible propensity to imitate the idolatries and witcheries of other nations; crimes, which, though become as abominable to God as they were universally practised by mankind, yet seem to have flowed from a purer source, though corrupted by degrees to this vast height through the amazing degeneracy of human nature. See the Appendix to the 3rd vol. of Univ. Hist. 8vo.

Bibliographical Information
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on 2 Kings 25". Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/tcc/2-kings-25.html. 1801-1803.
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