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Bible Commentaries

The Pulpit Commentaries
2 Kings 25

 

 

Verses 1-30

EXPOSITION

2 Kings 25:1-30

THE LAST SIEGE OF JERUSALEM. THE JEWS LED INTO CAPTIVITY. HISTORY OF THE REMNANT LEFT BEHIND. RELEASE FROM PRISON OF JEHOIACHIN.

2 Kings 25:1-10

LAST SIEGE AND CAPTURE OF JERUSALEM. The open rebellion of Zedekiah was followed almost immediately by the advance into Judaea of a Babylonian army under Nebuchadnezzar in person, and the strict investment of the capital. We learn the circumstances of the siege from Jeremiah, in the prophecy which bears his name, and in the Book of Lamentations. It lasted one year and seven months, and was accompanied by a blockade so strict that the defenders were reduced to the last extremity, and, as in Samaria under Jehoram (2 Kings 6:29), and again in Jerusalem during the siege by Titus (Josephus, 'Bell. Jud.,' 6.3. § 4), mothers ate their children (see Lamentations 2:20; Lamentations 4:10). When resistance was no longer possible, Zedekiah, with his men-at-arms, attempted to escape by night, and fled eastward, but were overtaken and captured in the plain of Jericho (Jeremiah 39:4, Jeremiah 39:5). Meanwhile the city fell into the enemy's hands, and was treated with all the rigors of war. The temple, the royal palace, and the great houses of the rich men were first plundered and then delivered to the flames (verse 9). The walls of the city were broken down (verse 10), and the gates laid even with the ground (Lamentations 2:9). A great massacre of the population took place in the streets (Lamentations 2:3, Lamentations 2:4).

2 Kings 25:1

And it cams to pass in the ninth year of his—i.e. Zedekiah's—reign, in the tenth month, in the tenth day of the month. Extreme exactness with respect to a date indicates the extreme importance of the event dated. In the whole range of the history contained in the two Books of the Kings, there is no instance of the year, month, and day being all given excepting in the present chapter, where we find this extreme exactness three times (2 Kings 25:1, 2 Kings 25:4, and 2 Kings 25:8). The date in 2 Kings 25:1 is confirmed by Jeremiah 52:10 and Ezekiel 24:1. That Nebuchadnezzar King of Babylon came, he, and all his host, against Jerusalem. 'According to the description of the eye-witness, Jeremiah, the army was one of unusual magnitude. Nebuchadnezzar brought against Jerusalem at this time "all his army, and all the kingdoms of the earth of his dominion, and all the people" (Jeremiah 34:1). The march of the army was not direct upon Jerusalem; it at first spread itself over Judea, wasting the country and capturing the smaller fortified towns (.Josephus, 'Ant. Jud.,' 10.7. §3)—among them Lachish, so famous in the war against Sennacherib (2 Kings 18:14, 2 Kings 18:17; 2 Kings 19:8), and Azekah (Jeremiah 34:7). The capture of these two places was important as intercepting Zedekiah's line of communication with Egypt. Having made himself master of them, Nebuchadnezzar proceeded to invest the capital. And pitched against iti.e; encamped, and commenced a regular siege—and they built forts against it round about. It has been argued that דָיֵק does not mean a "fort" or "tower," but a "line of circumvallation" (Michaelis, Hitzig, Thenius, Bahr). Jerusalem, however, can scarcely be surrounded by lines of circumvallation, which, moreover, were not employed in their sieges by the Orientals. Dayek ( דָיֵק) seems to be properly a "watchtower," from דוּק, speculari, whence it passed into the meaning of a "tower" generally. The towers used in sieges by the Assyrians and Babylonians were movable ones, made of planks, which were pushed up to the walls, so that the assailants might attack their adversaries, on a level, with greater advantage. Sometimes they contained battering rams (see Layard, 'Monuments of Nineveh,' first series, pl. 19; and comp. Jeremiah 52:4; Ezekiel 4:2; Ezekiel 17:17; Ezekiel 26:8; Josephus, 'Ant. Jud.,' 10.8. § 1).

2 Kings 25:2

And the city was besieged unto the eleventh year of King Zedekiah. The writer omits all the details of the siege, and hastens to the final catastrophe. From Jeremiah and Ezekiel we learn that, after the siege had continued a certain time, the Egyptian monarch, Hophra or Apries, made an effort to carry out the terms of his agreement with Zedekiah, and marched an army into Southern Judaea, with the view of raising the siege (Jeremiah 37:5; Ezekiel 17:17). Nebuchadnezzar hastened to meet him. With the whole or the greater part of his host he marched southward and offered battle to the Egyptians. Whether an engagement took place or not is uncertain. Josephus affirms it, and says that Apries was "defeated and driven out of Syria" ('Ant. Jud.,' 10.7. § 3). The silence of Jeremiah is thought to throw doubt on his assertion. At any rate, the Egyptians retired (Jeremiah 37:7) and took no further part in the struggle. The Babylonians returned, and the siege recommenced. A complete blockade was established, and the defenders of the city soon began to suffer from famine (Jeremiah 21:7, Jeremiah 21:9; Lamentations 2:12, Lamentations 2:20). Ere long, as so often happens in sieges, famine was followed by pestilence (Jeremiah 21:6, Jeremiah 21:7; Josephus, 'Ant. Jud.,' l.s.c.), and after a time the place was reduced to the last extremity (Lamentations 4:3-9). Bread was no longer to be had, and mothers devoured their children (Lamentations 4:10). At length a breach was effected in the defenses; the enemy poured in; and the city fell (see the comment on verse 4).

2 Kings 25:3

And on the ninth day of the fourth month. The text of Kings is hero incomplete, and has to be restored from Jeremiah 52:6. Our translators have supplied the missing words. The famine prevailed in the city (see the comment on Jeremiah 52:2). As I have elsewhere observed, "The intensity of the suffering endured may be gathered from Lamentations, Ezekiel, and Josephus. The complexions of the men grew black with famine (Lamentations 4:8; Lamentations 5:10); their skin was shrunk and parched (Lamentations 4:8); the rich and noble women searched the dunghills for setups of offal (Lamentations 4:5); the children perished for want, or were even devoured by their parents (Lamentations 2:20; Lamentations 4:3, Lamentations 4:4, Lamentations 4:10; Ezekiel 5:10); water was scarce, as well as food, and was sold at a price (Lamentations 5:4); third part of the inhabitants died of the famine, and the plague which grew out of it (Ezekiel 5:12)". And there was no bread for the people of the land. Bread commonly fails comparatively early in a siege. It was some time before the fall of the city that Ebed-Meleeh expressed his fear that Jeremiah would starve, since there was no more bread in the place (see Jeremiah 38:9).

2 Kings 25:4

And the city was broken up; rather, brown into; i.e. a breach was made in the walls. Probably the breach was on the north side of the city, where the ground is nearly level (see Ezekiel 9:2). According to Josephus ('Ant. Jud.,' 10.8. § 2), the enemy entered through the breach about midnight. And all the men of wari.e; all the soldiers who formed the garrison—fled by night by the way of the gate between two walls; rather, between the two walls, as in Jeremiah 52:7. As the enemy broke in on the north, the king and garrison quitted the city on the south by a gate which opened into the Tyropoeon valley, between the two walls that guarded the town on either side of it. Which is by the king's garden. The royal gardens were situated near the Pool of Siloam, at the mouth of the Tyrepoeon, and near the junction of the Hinnom with the Kidron valley (see Josephus, 'Ant. Jud.,' 7.11). (Now the Chaldees were against the city round about.) The town, i.e; was guarded on all sides by Chaldean troops, so that Zedekiah and his soldiers must either have attacked the line of guard, and broken through it, or have slipped between two of the blockading pests under cover of the darkness. As no collision is mentioned, either here or in Jeremiah, the latter seems the more probable supposition. And the king went the way toward the plain; literally, and he 'went. The writer supposes that his readers will understand that the king left the city with his troops; and so regards "he went" as sufficiently intelligible. Jeremiah 52:7 has "they went. By "the plain" (literally, "the Arabsh") the valley of the Jordan is intended, and by "the way" to it the ordinary road from Jerusalem to Jericho.

2 Kings 25:5

And the army of the Chaldees pursued after the king. When the escape of Zedekiah and the soldiers of the garrison was discovered, hot pursuit was made, since the honor of the great king required that his enemies should be brought captive to his presence. The commanders at Jerusalem would fuel this the more sensibly, since Nebuchadnezzar had for some time retired from the siege, and left its conduct to them, while he himself exercised a general superintendence over military affairs from Riblah (see 2 Kings 25:6). They were liable to be held responsible for the escape. And overtook him in the plains of Jericho. The "plains of Jericho" ( עַרְבוֹת יְרֵצוֹ) is the fertile tract on the right bank of the Jordan near its embouchure, which was excellently watered, and cultivated in gardens, orchards, and palm-groves. It is probable, though not certain, that Zedekiah intended to cross the Jordan, and seek a refuge in Moab. And all his army were scattered from him (comp. Ezekiel 12:14). This seems to be mentioned in order to account for there being no engagement. Perhaps, thinking themselves in security, and imagining that they were not followed, the troops had dispersed themselves among the farmhouses and homesteads, to obtain a much-needed refreshment.

2 Kings 25:6

So they took the king [Zedekiah], and brought him up to the King of Babylon. The presentation of rebel kings, when captured, to their suzerain, seated on his throne, is one of the most common subjects of Assyrian and Babylonian sculptures. The Egyptian and Persian artists also represent it. To Riblah. (For the situation of Riblah, see the comment on 2 Kings 23:33.) As Nebuchadnezzar was engaged at one and the same time in directing the sieges both of Tyro and of Jerusalem, it was a most convenient position for him to occupy. And they gave judgment upon him. As a rebel, who had broken his covenant and his oath (Ezekiel 17:16, Ezekiel 17:18), Zedekiah was brought to trial before Nebuchadnezzar and his great lords. The facts could not be denied, and sentence was therefore passed upon him, nominally by the court, practically by Nebuchadnezzar (Jeremiah 52:9). By an unusual act of clemency, his life was spared; but the judgment was still sufficiently severe (see the next verse).

2 Kings 25:7

And they slew the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes (comp. Herod; 2 Kings 3:14, and 2 Macc. 7; for similar aggravations of condemned persons' sufferings). As Zedekiah was no more than thirty-two years of age (2 Kings 24:18), his sons must have been minors, who could not justly be held responsible for their father's doings. It was usual, however, in the East, and even among the Jews, to punish children for the sins of their fathers (see Joshua 7:24, Joshua 7:25; 2 Kings 9:26; 2 Kings 14:6; Daniel 6:24). And put out the eyes of Zedekiah. This, too, was a common Oriental practice. The Philistines blinded Samson ( 16:21). Sargon, in one of his sculptures, seems to be blinding a prisoner with a spear (Botta, 'Monumens de Ninive,' pl. 18). The ancient Persians often blinded criminals. In modern Persia, it was, until very lately, usual for a king, on his accession, to blind all his brothers, in order that they might be disqualified from reigning. The operation was commonly performed in Persia by means of a red-hot iron rod (see Herod; 7.18). Zedekiah's loss of eyesight reconciled the two apparently conflicting prophecies—that he would be carried captive to Babylon (Jeremiah 22:5, etc.), and that he would never see it (Ezekiel 12:13)—in a remarkable manner. And bound him with fetters of brass; literally, with a pair of brazen fetters. Assyrian fetters consisted of two thick rings of iron, joined together by a single long link (Botta, l.s.c.); Babylonian were probably similar. Captives of importance are usually represented as fettered in the sculptures. And carried him to Babylon. Jeremiah adds (Jeremiah 52:11) that Nebuchadnezzar "put him in prison till the day of his death:" and so Josephus ('Ant. Jud.,' 10.8. § 7). The latter writer further tells us that, at his death, the Babylonian monarch gave him a royal funeral (comp. Jeremiah, Jeremiah 34:5).

2 Kings 25:8

And in the fifth month, on the seventh clay of the month. Jeremiah says (Jeremiah 52:12) that it was on the tenth day of the month; and so Josephus ('Bell Jud.; 6.4. § 8). The mistake probably arose from a copyist mistaking י(ten) for ז(seven). According to Josephus, it was on the same day of the same month that the final destruction of the temple by the soldiers of Titus was accomplished. Which is the nineteenth year of King Nebuchadnezzar King of Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar ascended the throne in B.C. 605, which was the fourth year of Jehoiakim, who began to reign in B.C. 608. The seven remaining years of Jehoiakim, added to the eleven of Zedekiah, and the three months of Jehoiachin, produce the result of the text—that the last year of Zedekiah was the nineteenth of Nebuchadnezzar. Came Nebuzaradan. Nebuchadnezzar had apparently hesitated as to how he should treat Jerusalem, since nearly a month elapsed between the capture of the city and the commencement of the work of destruction. He was probably led to destroy the city by the length of the resistance, and the natural strength of the position. The name, Nebuzar-adan, is probably a Hebraized form of the Babylonian Nebu-sar-iddina. "Nebo has given (us) a king." Captain of the guard; literally chief of the executioners; but as the King's guard were employed to execute his commissions, and especially his death-sentences, the paraphrase is quite allowable. A servant of the King of Babyloni.e. a subject—unto Jerusalem. He came doubtless with instructions, which he proceeded to carry out.

2 Kings 25:9

And he burnt the house of the Lord. After it had stood, according to Josephus ('Ant. Jud.,' 2 Kings 10:8. § 5), four hundred and seventy years six months and ten days. This calculation, however, seems to exceed the truth. Neither the Assyrians nor the Babylonians had any regard for the gods of other nations. They everywhere burnt the temples, plundered the shrines, and carried off the images as trophies of victory. In the temple of Jerusalem they would find no images except those of the two cherubim (1 Kings 6:23-28), which they probably took away with them. And the king's house (see 1 Kings 7:1, 1 Kings 7:8-12; 2 Kings 11:16). The royal palace was, perhaps, almost as magnificent as the temple; and its destruction was almost as great a loss to art. It doubtless contained Solomon's throne of ivory (1 Kings 10:18), to which there was an ascent by six steps, with two sculptured lions on each step. And all the houses of Jerusalem. This statement is qualified by the words of the following clause, which show that only the houses of the princes and great men were purposely set on fire. Many of the remaining habitations may have perished in the conflagration, but some probably escaped, and were inhabited by "the poor of the land." And every great man's house burnt he with fire.

2 Kings 25:10

And all the army of the Chaldees, that were with the captain of the guard, brake down the walls of Jerusalem round about. A complete demolition is not intended. When the exiles returned, and even in the time of Nehemiah 2:13, Nehemiah 2:15, much of the wall was still standing, and the circuit was easily traced. Probably the Babylonians did not do more than break one or two large breaches in the wall, as Joash had done (2 Kings 14:13) when he took Jerusalem in the reign of Amaziah.

2 Kings 25:11-21

Fate of the inhabitants of Judah, and of the contents of the temple. Having burnt the temple, the royal palace, and the grand residences of the principal citizens, Nebuzar-adan proceeded to divide the inhabitants of the city and country into two bodies—those whom he would leave in the land, and those whom he would carry off. The line of demarcation was, in a general way, a social one. The rich and well-to-do he would take with him; the poor and insignificant he would leave behind (2 Kings 25:11, 2 Kings 25:12). Among the former were included the high priest, the "second priest," three of the temple Levites, the commandant of the city, a certain number of the royal councilors, the "principal scribe of the host," and sixty of the "princes" (2 Kings 25:18, 2 Kings 25:19). The latter were chiefly persons of the agricultural class, who were left to be "vinedressers and husbandmen." From the temple, which had been already plundered twice (2 Chronicles 36:7, 2 Chronicles 36:10), he carried off such vessels in gold and silver and bronze as were still remaining there, together with the bronze of the two pillars Jachin and Boaz, of the great laver, or "molten sea," and of the stands for the smaller layers, all of which he broke up (2 Kings 25:13). Having reached Riblah, where Nebuchadnezzar still was, he delivered up to him both the booty and the prisoners. Rather more than seventy of the latter Nebuchadnezzar punished with death (2 Kings 25:21). The rest were taken to Babylon.

2 Kings 25:11

Now the rest of the people that were left in the cityi.e; that remained behind when the king and the garrison fled—and the fugitives that fen away to the King of Babylon, with the remnant of the multitude; rather, both the fugitives that had fallen away to the King of Babylon, and the remnant of the multitude, The writer means to divide "the rest of the people" into two classes:

(1) those who during the siege, or before it, had deserted to the Babylonians, as no doubt many did, and as Jeremiah was accused of doing (Jeremiah 37:13);

(2) those who were found inside the city when it was taken. Did Nebuzar-adan the captain of the guard carry away.

2 Kings 25:12

But the captain of the guard left of the poor of the land. It was inconvenient to deport persons who had little or nothing. In the Assyrian sculptures we see the captives, who are carried off, generally accompanied by their own baggage-animals, and taking with them a certain amount of their own household stuff. Pauper immigrants would not have been of any advantage to a country. To be vinedressers and husbandmen. Jeremiah adds that Nebuzar-adan "gave" these persons "vineyards and fields at the same time" (Jeremiah 39:10). The Babylonians did not wish Judaea to lie waste, since it could then have paid no tribute. On the contrary, they designed its continued cultivation; and Gedaliah, the governor of their appointment, made great efforts to have cultivation resumed and extended (see Jeremiah 40:10, Jeremiah 40:12).

2 Kings 25:13

And the pillars of brass that were in the house of the Lord. The two columns, Jachin and Boaz, cast by Hiram under the directions of Solomon (1 Kings 7:15-22), are intended. They were works of art of an elaborate character, but being too bulky to be carried off entire, they were "broken in pieces." And the bases. "The bases" were the stands for the layers, also made by Hiram for Solomon (1 Kings 7:27-37), and very elaborate, having "borders" ornamented with lions, oxen, and cherubim. And the brazen sea that was in the house of the Lord. This was the great laver, fifteen feet in diameter, emplaced originally on the backs of twelve oxen, three facing each way (1 Kings 7:23-26), which King Ahaz had taken down from off the oxen (2 Kings 16:17) and "put upon a pavement of stones," but which Hezekiah had probably restored. The oxen are mentioned by Jeremiah 52:20 among the objects which Nebuzar-adan carried off. Did the Chaldees break in pieces—thus destroying the workmanship, in which their value mainly consisted—and carried the brass of them to Babylon. Brass, or rather bronze, was used by the Babylonians for vessels, arms, armor, and implements generally.

2 Kings 25:14

And the pots. The word used, סִירוֹת, is translated by, "caldrons" in Jeremiah 52:18, and "ash-pans" in Exodus 27:3. The latter is probably right. And the shovels—appurtenances of the altar of burnt sacrifice—and the snuffers—rather, the knivesand the spoons—or, incense-cups—and all the vessels of brain wherewith they ministered. It appears that after the two previous spoliations of the temple by Nebuchadnezzar, in B.C. 605 and in B.C. 597, wherein so many of the more costly vessels had been carried off (Daniel 1:2; 2 Kings 24:13); the ministrations had to be performed mainly with vessels of bronze. Took they away. Soldiers are often represented in the Assyrian sculptures as carrying off vessels from temples, apparently on their own account.

2 Kings 25:15

And the firepans, and the bowls; rather, the snuff-dishes, (Exodus 25:38; 1 Kings 7:50) and the bowls, or basins (Exodus 12:22; 1 Kings 7:50; 2 Chronicles 4:8). Of these Solomon made one hundred, all in gold. And such things as were of gold, in gold. The "and" supplied by our translators would be better omitted. The writer means that of the articles enumerated some were in gold and some in silver, though probably the greater pert were in bronze. And of silver, in silver, the captain of the guard took away (comp. Jeremiah 52:19).

2 Kings 25:16

The two pillars (see the comment on 2 Kings 25:13), one sea—rather, the one seaand the bases which Solomon had made for the house of the Lord; the brass of all these vessels was without weight; i.e. the quantity of the brass was so large that it was not thought to be worth while to weigh it. When gold and silver vessels were carried off, their weight was carefully taken by the royal scribes or secretaries, who placed it on record as a check upon embezzlement or peculation.

2 Kings 25:17

The height of the one pillar wee eighteen cubits, and the chapiter upon it was brass; rather, and there was a chapiter (or capital) upon it of brass—and the height of the chapiter three cubits. The measure given, both in 1 Kings 7:16 and Jeremiah 52:22, is "five cubits," which is generally regarded as correct; but the proportion of 3 to 18, or one-sixth, is far more suitable for a capital than that of 5 to 18, or between a third and a fourth. And the wreathen work—rather, and there was wreathen work, or network—and pomegranates upon the chapiter round about, all of brass: and like unto these had the second pillar with wreathen work. The ornamentation of the second pillar was the same as that of the first (see Jeremiah 52:22).

2 Kings 25:18

And the captain of the guard took Seraiah the chief priest. The "chief priest" is a new expression; but it can only mean the "high priest." Seraiah seems to have been the grandson of Hilkiah (1 Chronicles 6:18, 1 Chronicles 6:14), and an ancestor (grandfather or great-grandfather) of Ezra (Ezra 7:1). He had stayed at his post till the city was taken, and was now seized by Nebuzar-adan as one of the most important personages whom he found in the city. And Zephaniah the second priest. Keil and Bahr translate "a priest of the second order;' i.e. a mere Ordinary priest; but something more than this must be intended by Jeremiah, who calls him (Jeremiah 52:34), כֹּהֵן הַמִּשְׁנֶה i.e. distinctly "the second priest." It is conjectured that he was the high priest's substitute, empowered to act for him on occasions. Possibly he was the Zephaniah, son of Maaseiah, of whom we hear a good deal in Jeremiah (see Jeremiah 21:1; Jeremiah 29:25-29 : Jeremiah 37:3). And the three keepers of the door; rather, and three keepers of the threshold. There were twenty-five "gatekeepers" of the temple (1 Chronicles 26:17, 1 Chronicles 26:18), all of them Levites. On what principle Nebuzar-adan selected three out of the twenty-four is uncertain, since we have no evidence that the temple had. as Bahr says it had, "three main entrances." Jeremiah 38:14 certainly does not prove this.

2 Kings 25:19

And out of the city he took an officer—literally, a eunuch—that was set over the man of war—eunuchs were often employed in the East as commanders of soldiers. Bagoas, general of the Persian monarch, Ochus, is a noted example—and five men of them that were in the king's presence—literally, of them that saw the king's face; i.e. that were habitually about the court; Jeremiah says (Jeremiah 50:25) "seven men" instead of five—which were found in the city—the majority of the courtiers had, no doubt, dispersed, and were not to be found when Nebuzar-adan searched for them—and the principal scribe of the host; rather, as in the margin, the scribe of the captain of the host ( τὸν γραμματέα τοῦ ἄρχοντος τῆς δυνάμεως, LXX.). "Scribes" or "secretaries" always accompanied the march of Assyrian armies, to count and record the number of the slain, to catalogue the spoil, perhaps to write dispatches and the like. We may gather that Jewish commandants were similarly attended. Which mustered the people of the landi.e; enrolled them, or entered them upon the army list, another of the "scribe's" duties—and threescore men of the people of the land that were found in the city. Probably notables of one kind or another, persons regarded as especially responsible for the revolt.

2 Kings 25:20

And Nebuzar-adan captain of the guard took those, and brought them to the King of Babylon to Riblah (see the comment on 2 Kings 25:6). Two batches of prisoners seem to have been brought before Nebuchadnezzar at Riblah—first, the most important of all the captives, Zedekiah and his sons (2 Kings 25:6, 2 Kings 25:7); then, a month later, Seraiah the high priest, and the other persons enumerated in 2 Kings 25:18 and 2 Kings 25:19. The remaining prisoners were no doubt brought also by Nebuzar-adan to Ribiah, but were not conducted into the presence of the king.

2 Kings 25:21

And the King of Babylon smote them, and slew them at Riblah in the land of Hamath. Severities of this kind characterized all ancient warfare. The Assyrian sculptures show us prisoners of war impaled on crosses, beheaded, beaten on the head with maces, and sometimes extended on the ground and flayed. The inscriptions speak of hundreds as thus executed, and mention others as burnt in furnaces, or thrown to wild beasts, or cruelly mutilated. Herodotus says that Darius Hystaspis crucified three thousand prisoners round about Babylon after one of its revolts. That monarch himself, in the Behistun inscription, speaks of many eases where, after capturing rebel chiefs in the field or behind walls, he executed them and their principal adherents (see Colossians 2:1-23. Par. 13; Colossians 3:1-25. Par. 8, 11). If Nebuchadnezzar contented himself with the execution of between seventy and eighty of the rebel inhabitants of Jerusa-lee, he cannot be charged with cruelty, or extreme severity, according to the notions of the time. So Judah was carried away out of their land. Jeremiah adds an estimate of the number carried off. These were, he says (Jeremiah 52:28-30), in the captivity of the seventh (query, seventeenth?) year, 3023; in the captivity of the eighteenth year, 832; and in that of the twenty-third, five years later, 745, making a total of 4600. If we suppose these persons to be men, and multiply by four for the women and children, the entire number will still be no more than 18,400.

2 Kings 25:22-26

History of the remnant left in the land by Nebuzar-adan. Nebuchadnezzar, when he carried off Zedekiah to Babylon, appointed, as governor of Judaea, a certain Gedaliah, a Jew of good position, but not of the royal family. Gedaliah made Mizpah, near Jerusalem, his residence; and here he was shortly joined by a number of Jews of importance, who had escaped from Jerusalem and hidden themselves until the Babylonians were gone. Of these the most eminent were Johanan the son of Karcah, and Ishmael, a member of the royal house of David. Gedaliah urged the refugees to be good subjects of the King of Babylon, and to settle themselves to agricultural pursuits. His advice was accepted and at first followed; but presently a warning was given to Gedaliah by Johanan that Ishmael designed his destruction; and soon afterwards, as Gedaliah took no precautions, the murder was actually carried out. Other atrocities followed; but after a time Johanan and the other leading refugees took up arms, forced Ishmael to fly to the Ammonites, and then, fearing that Nebuchadnezzar would hold them responsible for Ishmael's act, against Jeremiah's remonstrances, fled, with the great mass of the Jews that had been left in the land, from Judaea into Egypt. Here our writer leaves them (verse 26), without touching on the calamities which befell them there, according to the prophetic announcements of Jeremiah 44:2-28.

2 Kings 25:22

And as for the people that remained in the land of Judah. These con-stated of Gedaliah and his court, which included Jeremiah, Baruch, and some princesses of the royal house (Jeremiah 43:6); the poor of the land, whom Nebuzar-adan had intentionally left behind; and a considerable number of Jewish refugees of a better class, who came in from the neighboring nations, and from places in Judaea where they had been hiding themselves (Jeremiah 40:7-12). For about two months all went well with this "remnant," who applied themselves to agricultural pursuits, in which they prospered greatly. Whom Nebuchadnezzar King of Babylon had left (see verse 12), even over them he made Gedaliah the son of Ahikam. Ahikam had protected Jeremiah in his earlier days (Jeremiah 26:24); Gedaliah protected him in the latter part of the siege (Jeremiah 39:14). Nebuchadnezzar's choice of Gedaliah for governor was probably made from some knowledge of his having sided with Jeremiah, whose persistent endeavors to make the Jews submit to the Babylonian yoke seem to have been well known, not only to the Jews, but to the Babylonians; most likely by reason of the letter he sent to his countrymen already in captivity (Jeremiah 29:1-32.). The son of Shaphan, ruler. Probably not "Shaphan the scribe" (2 Kings 22:3, 2 Kings 22:12), but an unknown person of the same name.

2 Kings 25:23

And when all the captains of the armies; rather, the captains of the forces (Revised Version); i.e. the officers in command of the troops which had defended Jerusalem, and, having escaped from the city, were dispersed and scattered in various directions, partly in Judaea, partly in foreign countries. They and their men—apparently, each of them had kept with him a certain number of the men under his command—heard that the King of Babylon had made Gedaliah governor. The news was gratifying to them. It was something to have a Jewish ruler set over them, and not a Babylonian; it was, perhaps, even more to have a man noted for his justice and moderation (Josephus, 'Ant. Jud.,' 10.9. § 12), who had no selfish aims, but desired simply the prosperity and good government of the country. There same to Gedaliah to Mispah, even Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, and Jo-hanan the son of CareahJeremiah 40:8 has "Johanan and Jonathan, the sons of Kareah"—and Seraiah the son of Tanhumeth the Netophathite. In Jeremiah 40:8 we read, "And Seraiah the son of Tanhumeth, and the sons of Ephai the Netephathite," by which it would seem that some words have fallen out here. By "Netophathite" is to be understood "native of Netophah," now Antubah, near Bethlehem (see Ezra 2:22; Nehemiah 7:26). And Jaazaniah the son of a Maschathite. Called Jezaniak by Jeremiah, and said by him (Jeremiah 42:1) to have been the son of a certain Heshaiah. Hoshaiah was a native of the Syrian kingdom, or district, known as Maschah, or Maachathi (Deuteronomy 3:14; 1 Chronicles 19:6, 1 Chronicles 19:7), which adjoined Bashan towards the north. They and their men. The persons mentioned, that is, with the soldiers under them, came to Gedaliah at Mizpah, and placed themselves under him as his subjects.

2 Kings 25:24

And Gedaliah aware to them, and to their men. As rebels, their lives were forfeit; but Gedaliah granted them an amnesty, and for their greater assurance swore to them that, so long as they remained peaceful subjects of the King of Babylon, they should suffer no harm. Jeremiah adds (Jeremiah 40:10) that he urged them to apply themselves diligently to agricultural pursuits. And said unto them, Fear not to be the servants of the Chaldees: dwell in the land, sad serve the King of Babylon; and it shall be well with you; rather, and said unto them, Fear not because of the servants of the Chaldeans, etc. "Do not be afraid," i.e; "of the Chaldean officials and guards (Jeremiah 42:3) that are about my court. Be assured that they shall do you no hurt."

2 Kings 25:25

And it mane to pass in the seventh month—two months only after Gedaliah received his appointment as governor, which was in the fifth month—that Ishmael the son of Nethaniah; the son of Elishama—"Nethaniah" is otherwise unknown; "Elishama" may be the "scribe" or secretary of Jehoiakim mentioned in Jeremiah 36:12, Jeremiah 36:20of the seed royal. So Josephus ('Ant. Jud.,' 10.9. § 2) and Jeremiah 41:1. Josephus adds that he was a wicked and most crafty man, who, during the siege of Jerusalem, had made his escape from the place, and fled for shelter to Baalim (Baalis, Jeremiah 40:14), King of Ammon, with whom he remained till the siege was over. Came, and ten men with him—as his retinue—and smote Gedaliah, that he died. Gedaliah had been warned by Johanan and the other captains (Jeremiah 40:13-15) of Ishmael's probable intentions, but had treated the accusation as a calumny, and refused to believe that his life was in any danger. When Ishmael and his ten companions arrived, he still suspected nothing, but received them hospitably (Jeremiah 41:1), entertained them at a grand banquet, according to Josephus ('Ant. Jud.,' 10.9. § 4), and being overtaken with drunkenness, was attacked and killed without difficulty. And the Jews and the Chaldees that were with him at Mizpah (comp. Jeremiah 41:3, "Ishmael also slew all the Jews that were with him, even with Gedaliah, at Mizpah, and the Chaldeans that were found them, and the men of war"). It is evident from this that Gedaliah had a Chaldean guard.

2 Kings 25:26

And all the people, both small and great, and the captains of the armies (see above, 2 Kings 25:23). The leader of the movement was Johanan, the son of Careah. Having first attacked Ishmael, and forced him to fly to the Ammonites (Jeremiah 41:15), he almost immediately afterwards conceived a fear of Nebuchadnezzar, who would, he thought, resent the murder of Gedaliah, and even avenge it upon these who had done all they could to prevent it. He therefore gathered together the people, and made a preliminary retreat to Chimham, near Bethlehem (Jeremiah 41:17), on the road to Egypt, whence he subsequently, against the earnest remonstrances and prophetic warnings of Jeremiah 42:9-22, carried them on into Egypt itself (Jeremiah 43:1-7). The first settle-merit was made at Tahpanhes, or Daphnae. Arose, and came into Egypt: for they were afraid of the Chaldees (see Jeremiah 41:18; Jeremiah 43:3). There does not appear to have been any real reason for this fear. Nebuchadnezzar might have been trusted to distinguish between the act of an individual and conspiracy on the part of the nation.

2 Kings 25:27-30

Fate of Jehoiachin. The writer of Kings, whose general narrative, since the time of Hezekiah, has been gloomy and dispiriting, seems to have desired to terminate his history in a more cheerful strain. He therefore mentions, as his last incident, the fate of Jehoiachin, who, after thirty-six years of a cruel and seemingly hopeless imprisonment, experienced a happy change of circumstances. The king who succeeded Nebuchadnezzar, his son, Evil-Merodach, in the first year of his sovereignty had compassion upon the miserable captive, and releasing him from prison, changed his garments (2 Kings 25:29), and gave him a place at his table, among other dethroned monarchs, even exalting him above the rest (2 Kings 25:28), and making him an allowance for his support (2 Kings 25:30). This alleviation of their king's condition could not but be felt by the captive Jews as a happy omen—a portent of the time when their lot too would be alleviated, and the Almighty Disposer of events, having punished them sufficiently for their sins, would relent at last, and put an end to their banishment, and give them rest and peace in their native country.

2 Kings 25:27

And it came to pass in the seven and thirtieth year of the captivity of Jehoiachin King of Judah. According to Berosus and the Canon of Ptolemy, Nebuchadnezzar reigned forty-four years. He carried off Jehoiachin to Babylon in his eighth year (2 Kings 24:12), and thus the year of his death would exactly coincide with the thirty-seventh year of the captivity of the Jewish prince. In the twelfth month, on the seven and twentieth day of the month. The five and twentieth day, according to Jeremiah 52:31, (On the rarity of such exact dates in the historical Scriptures, see the comment on Jeremiah 52:1.) That Evil-Merodach King of Babylon. The native name, which is thus expressed, seems to have been "Avil-Marduk." The meaning of avil is uncertain; but the name probably placed the prince under the protection of Merodach, who was Nebuchadnezzar's favorite god. Avil-Marduk ascended the Babylonian throne in B.C. 561, and reigned two years only, when he was murdered by Neriglissar, or Nergal-sar-uzur, his brother-in-law. In the year that he began to reign—the year B.C. 561—did lift up the head of Jehoiachin King of Judah out of prison. (For the phrase used, see Genesis 40:13, Genesis 40:19, Genesis 40:20.) The act was probably part of a larger measure of pardon and amnesty, intended to inaugurate favorably the new reign.

2 Kings 25:28

And he spake kindly to him; literally, he spake good things with him; but the meaning is well expressed by our rendering. Evil-Merodach compassionated the sufferings of the unfortunate monarch, who had grown old in prison, and strove by kind speech to make up to him for them in a certain measure. And set his throne above the throne of the kings that were with him in Babylon. Evil-Merodach had at his court other captured kings besides Jehoiachin, whose presence was considered to enhance his dignity and grandeur (comp. 1:7). An honorable position and probably a seat of honor was assigned to each; but the highest position among them was now conferred on Jehoiachin. Whether he had actually a more elevated seat, is (as Bahr observes) a mattes of no importance.

2 Kings 25:29

And changed his prison garments. The subject to "changed" may be either "Jehoiachin" or" Evil-Merodach." Our translators preferred the latter, our Revisers the former. In either case the general meaning is the same. Evil Merodach supplied suitable garments to the released monarch instead of his "prison garments," and Jehoiachin arrayed himself in the comely apparel before taking his seat among his equals. Dresses of honor are among the most common gifts which an Oriental monarch makes to his subjects (see Genesis 41:42; Esther 6:8, Esther 6:11; Esther 8:15; Daniel 5:29; Xen; 'Cyrop.,' 5.1. § 1). And hei.e. Jehoiachin—did eat bread continually before him. Besides giving occasional great feasts (see Esther 1:3-9), Oriental monarchs usually entertain at their table daily a large number of guests, some of whom are specially invited, while others have the privilege of daily attendance. It was to this latter class that Jehoiachin was admitted. Comp. 2 Samuel 9:7-13, which shows that the custom was one not unknown at the Jewish court. All the days of hisi.e. Jehoiachin's—life. Jehoisohin enjoyed this privilege till his death. Whether this fell in the lifetime of Evil-Merodach or not, is scarcely in the writer's thoughts. He merely means to tell us that the comparative comfort and dignity which Jehoiachin enjoyed after the accession of Evil-Merodach to the throne was not subsequently clouded over or disturbed. He continued a privileged person at the Baby-Ionian court so long as he lived.

2 Kings 25:30

And his allowance was a continual allowance. Keil supposes that this "allowance" was a daily "ration of food," intended for the maintenance of a certain number of servants or retainers. But it is quite as likely to have been a money payment. The word translated by "allowance"— אֲרֻצַת—does not point necessarily to food. It is a "portion' of any kind. Given him of the kingi.e; out of the privy purse, by the king's command—a daily rate for every day—or, a certain amount day by day—all the days of his life (see the comment on the preceding verse). Beth the privileges accorded to Jehoiachin, his sustenance at the king's table, and his allowance, whether in money or in kind, continued to the day of his death. Neither of them was ever revoked or forfeited. Thus this last representative of the Davidic monarchy, after thirty-six years of chastisement, experienced a happy change of circumstances, and died in peace and comfort. Probably, as Keil says, "this event was intended as a comforting sign to the whole of the captive people, that the Lord would one day put an end to their banishment, if they would acknowledge that it was a well-merited punishment for their sins that they had been driven away from before his face, and would turn again to the Lord their God with all their heart."

HOMILETICS

2 Kings 25:1-10

The fall of Judah and Jerusalem a warning for all time to all nations.

Jerusalem had defied Zerah with his host of a minion men (2 Chronicles 14:9-15), and had triumphed over Sennacherib at the head of all the armed force of Assyria (2 Kings 19:35, 2 Kings 19:36): why did she succumb to Nebuchadnezzar? It is quite certain that Babylon was not a stronger power than either Egypt or Assyria when in their prime. There is no reason to believe that Nebuchadnezzar was a better general than Sennacherib, or even than Zerah. The ground of the difference in the result of Judah's struggle with Babylon, and her earlier struggles with Egypt and Assyria, is certainly not to be sought in the greater strength of her assailant, but in her own increased weakness. What, then, were the causes of this weakness?

I. IT WAS NOT THE RESULT OF ANY DECLINE IN MILITARY STRENGTH, AS ORDINARILY ESTIMATED. The population of Judaea may have diminished, but under Josiah her dominion had increased (2 Kings 23:15-20), and it is probable that she could still put into the field as many men as at any former period. Even if there were a diminution in the number of her troops, the fact would not have been one of much importance, since her military successes had never been dependent upon the numerical proportion between her own forces and those of her adversaries, but had been most signal and striking where the disproportion had been the greatest (see Numbers 31:3 47; 7:7-22; 8:4 12; 15:15; 1 Samuel 14:11-16; 2 Chronicles 14:8-12; 2 Chronicles 20:15-24, etc.).

II. IT WAS NOT PRODUCED BY INTERNAL QUARREL OR DISSENSION. Ewald attributes the fall of Judah and Jerusalem mainly to the antagonism between the monarchy and the prophetical order, and to the violence employed by each against the other. "The kingdom of Judah was torn," he says, "with less and less hope of remedy, by the most irreconcilable internal divisions; and the sharpest dissensions at length made their way into the sanctity of every house." Violence on the part of the kings was met by violence on the part of the prophets; and "the sacred land went to ruin under the development of the element of force". It is difficult to discover any sufficient support for this view in the sacred narrative, which shows us Hezekiah on the most friendly terms with Isaiah, Josiah on the same terms with Huldah, and Zedekiah certainly not on unfriendly terms with Jeremiah. In the closing scene the antagonism is not between prophetism and monarchy, but between prophetism and an aristocratical clique. Nor is it at all clear that the final result was seriously affected by the antagonism in question. It may have somewhat relaxed the defense; but we cannot possibly imagine that, if there had been no difference of view, no sharp dissension, a successful resistance could have been made, The resistance might, perhaps, have been prolonged had all Israelites been of one mind; but still Babylon would have prevailed in the end.

III. IT WAS NOT FROM ANY TREACHERY OR DESERTION ON THE PART OF ALLIES. Allies had never done Judaea much good; and dependence on them was regarded as an indication of want of faith in Jehovah. But, so far as the matter of alliances went, Judah was in a superior, rather than in an inferior, position now than formerly. Her natural allies in any struggle with the dominant power of Western Asia were Phoenicia and Egypt; and at this time both Phoenicia and Egypt rendered her aid. Tyro was in revolt against Babylon from B.C. 598 to B.C. 585, and gave occupation to a considerable portion of the Babylonian forces while Jerusalem was being besieged. Egypt, under the enterprising Hophra, took the field soon after the siege began, and for a time succeeded in raising it. Babylon had to contend with the three allies, Tyro, Egypt, and Judea, at one and the same time, but proved equal to the strain, and overcame all three antagonists. Judaea's weakness lay in this—that she had offended God. From the time of Moses to that of Zedekiah, it was not her own inherent strength, or vigor, or energy, that had protected and sustained her, but the supporting hand of the Almighty. God had ever "gone forth with her armies" (Psalms 60:10). God had given her "help from trouble." Through God she had "done valiantly." He it was who had "trodden down her enemies" (Psalms 60:11, Psalms 60:12). Many of their deliverances had been through actual miracle; others were the result of a divinely infused courage pervading their own ranks, or a panic falling upon their adversaries. It was only as God's "peculiar people," enjoying his covenanted protection, that they could possibly hold their place among the nations of the earth, so soon as great empires were formed and mighty monarchs devised schemes of extensive conquests. God's arm had saved them, from Egypt and from Assyria; he could as easily have saved them from Babylon. It is nothing with God to help, whether with many, or with them that have no power" (2 Chronicles 14:11). He could have bridled Nebuchadnezzar as easily as Zerah or Sennacherib, and have saved the Jews under Zedekiah as readily as under Asa or Hezekiah. But Judah's sins came between him and them. The persistent transgressions of the people from the time of Manasseh, their idolatries, immoralities, cruelties, and wickedness of all kinds, shortened God's arm, that he could not interpose to save them. As the author of Chronicles puts it, "there was no remedy" (2 Chronicles 36:16). "They had transgressed very much after all the abominations of the heathen; and polluted the house of the Lord which he had hallowed in Jerusalem … they had mocked the messengers of God, and despised his words, and misused his prophets" (2 Chronicles 36:14-16); and so "filled up the measure of their iniquities." Under such circumstances, God could not spare even his own children (Isaiah 1:4; Isaiah 63:16)—his own people. Can, then, any sinful nation hope to escape? Ought not each to feel the fate of Judah a warning to itself? a warning to repent of its evil ways, and turn from them, and walk in the paths of righteousness, according to the exhortation of Isaiah?—"Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil; learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow. Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land: but if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it" (Isaiah 1:16-20).

2 Kings 25:27-30

The loving-kindness of the Lord.

God, "in his wrath, thinketh upon mercy." The captive king, and the captive nation, each of them suffered a long and severe punishment. Each of them must have been inclined to sink into a state of hopelessness and apathy. Each may have thought that God had forgotten them altogether, or at any rate had forgotten, and would forget, to be gracious. Thirty-six years—how long a space is this in the life of a man! Jehoiachin had grown from youth to a man of full age, and from a man of full age almost into an old man, for he was in his fifty-fifth year, and Jewish monarchs rarely reached the age of sixty. Yet he had not really been forgotten. God had had his eye upon him all the while, and had kept in reserve for him a happy change of circumstances. The Disposer of events brought Evil-Merodach to the throne, and put it into the heart of that monarch to have compassion upon the aged captive. Jehoiachin passed from a dungeon to a chair of state (2 Kings 25:28), from prison food and prison dress to royal banquets and apparel fitting his rank, from the extreme of misery to happiness, dignity, and honor. This was the doing of the Almighty Father, using men as his instruments; and it was a strong evidence of his loving-kindness. Would not the nation likewise experience his mercy? The penal sentence passed upon it was well deserved, and might, in strict justice, have been final. But would God exact the uttermost farthing? No. By the release and restoration to honor of Jehoiachin, he sufficiently indicated to his people that for them too there was a place of repentance, a day of grace, a restoration to his favor. A ray of light thus broke in upon the long darkness of the Captivity. God's gracious intent was indicated. The nation felt a stir of hope, and woke up to the expectation of a new life; Isaiah's later prophecies (Isaiah 40:1-31 :66.), which had seemed a dead letter, became living words, speaking to the heart of the people; and the later years of the Captivity were cheered by the prospect—ever becoming brighter and clearer—of a reinstatement in God's favor, a return to the Holy Land, and a restoration of the sanctuary (Daniel 9:2-19).

HOMILIES BY C.H. IRWIN

2 Kings 25:1-21

The last days of Jerusalem.

The shameful story of Judah's disobedience and sin is now drawing to a close. Here we have an account of the capture of Jerusalem and its king by Nebuchadnezzar King of Babylon. Zedekiah, the king, was taken prisoner. His sons were first put to death before his eyes. Then his own eyes were put out. He was bound in fetters of brass, and carried sway to Babylon. Jerusalem itself, the city of David and Solomon, was a scene of desolation. Nebuzar-adan, captain of the Babylonian guard, burnt with fire the house of the Lord and the king's house and all the principal houses of the city. The men of war had deserted their pests and fled from the city. All who remained there were taken captive. The poor of the land only were left to be vinedressers and husbandmen. What were the causes of this sad downfall.

I. THE WICKEDNESS OF ITS RULERS. One after the other, the kings of Judah had done evil in the sight of the Lord.

1. They disobeyed God's commands. They imitated the idolatry and the vices of the heathen.

2. They ill-treated God's prophets. When men begin to despise and ill-treat God's messengers, those who are trying to lead them to what is fight, they are blind to their own true interests. The treatment which the Prophet Jeremiah in particular received showed how low in degradation the kingdom of Judah had sunk. After the prophet's fearless denunciations of national sin (Jeremiah 13-19.), Pashur, who was chief governor of the temple, smote Jeremiah, and put him in the stocks, or pillory, that was in the high gate of Benjamin, near the temple, where all men might see him and mock at his disgrace. We have seen how Jehoiakim cut the roll of Jeremiah's prophecies with his penknife, and burned its leaves. Jeremiah's last years at Jerusalem were years of increased suffering and persecution. Zedekiah actually put him in prison. The princes cast him to perish in a hideous pit in the prison-house, where he sank in the mire, but at the intercession of an Ethiopian officer, Ebed-Melech, the king rescued him. Wickedness in high places soon proves to be a nation's ruin.

II. THE CORRUPTION OF ITS PEOPLE. Unhappily, the people were just as corrupt and as godless as their rulers. A nation is responsible for its national sins. The sins of Judah cried aloud to Heaven for vengeance. And in the days of the Captivity they were taught to feel that there is a God that reigneth in the earth. We learn from the fate of Judah and Jerusalem:

1. The danger of forsaking God. They forsook God in the day of their prosperity. And when the hour of their need came, the gods whom they served were not able to deliver them.

2. The danger of disregarding God's Word. How often, in these later years of Judah's history, was the Law of God utterly neglected and forgotten: No life can be truly happy which is not based on the Word of God. No home can be truly happy where the Bible is not read. No nation can expect prosperity which disregards the Word of God.

3. The danger of despising God's warnings. Every message God sends us is for our good. If it is worth his while to speak to us, it is worth our while to listen. Neglected warnings—what guilt they revolve! what danger they threaten. Because I have called, and. ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded … I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh."—C.H.I.

HOMILIES BY D. THOMAS

2 Kings 25:18-21

Space for repentance.

"And the captain of the guard took Seraiah the chief priest, and Zephaniah the second priest, and the three keepers of the door," etc. This piece of history may be usefully employed to illustrate that space which Heaven allows to be given men for improvement in this life. Notice here—

I. SPACE FOR IMPROVEMENT. "And the captain of the guard," etc. Though we have reason to think that the army of Chaldeans were much enraged against the city for holding out with so much stubbornness, yet they did not therefore put all to fire and sword as soon as they had taken the city (which is too commonly done in such cases), but three months after Nebuzar-adan was sent with orders to complete the destruction of Jerusalem. This space God gave them to repent after all the foregoing days of his patience; but in vain. Their hearts were still hardened. Thus wicked men constantly ignore "things that belong to their peace."

II. SPACE FOR IMPROVEMENT NEGLECTED. "And out of the city he took an officer that was set over the men of war," etc. These men, to whom time had been given to do the work required, day after day neglected it. No effort was put forth to avoid the threatened calamity. It is ever thus. Men are waiting for a more "convenient season." The cry, "Unless ye repent ye shall all likewise perish," was neglected.

III. NEGLECTED SPACE FOR IMPROVEMENT AVENGED. "And Nebuzar-adan captain of the guard took these, and brought them to the King of Babylon to Riblah." "Be sure your sins will find you out." "Rejoice, O, young man, in thy youth … but know thou, that for all these things God will bring thee into judgment."

IV. THE AVENGEMENT OF THIS NEGLECT WAS TERRIBLE IN THE EXTREME. "And the King of Babylon smote them, and slew them at Biblah in the land of Hamath. So Judah was carried away out of their land." The city and the temple were burnt. The walls were never repaired until Nehemiah's time; and Judah was carried out of their land, etc. The history of this calamity is too well known to record here. "Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil."—D.T.

2 Kings 25:22-26

Rulers and their enemies.

"And as for the people that remained in the land of Judah, whom Nebuchadnezzar King of Babylon had left," etc. By this fragment of Jewish history two observations are suggested.

I. MEN ARE SOMETIMES ELEVATED INTO RESPONSIBLE POSITIONS. Gedalaih, a friend of Jereremiah's, and acting under the prophet's counsel, took the government of Judaea, and fixed his court at Mizpah. He seemed on the whole qualified for the office he assumed. The people committed to his charge were those who were left in the country after Judah had been carried away into Babylonian captivity. They were, perhaps, considered too insignificant to be removed. However, being peasantry, who could till the land and dress the vineyards, he counseled them to submit to his rule, promising them that they should retain their possessions and enjoy the produce of the land. Such was the responsible position to which this Gedaliah was elevated. In every age and land there are some men thus distinguished—men that rise to eminence and obtain distinction and power. Sometimes it may be by the force of their own genius and character, and sometimes by the force and patronage of others. Hence in Church and state, literature, commerce, and art, we have rulers ecclesiastical, political, scholastic, and mercantile. This arrangement in our social life has many signal advantages, although often exposed to many terrible evils.

II. MALIGNANT ENMITY SOMETIMES FRUSTRATES THE PURPOSE OF SUCH MEN. "But it came to pass in the seventh month, that Ishmael the son of Nathaniah, the son of Elishama, of the seed royal, came, and ten men with him, and smote Gedaliah, that he died, and the Jews and the Chaldees that were with him at Mizpah." Thus envy is always excited by superiority, and one of the most cruel of human passions terminated the life of Gedaliah and-the purpose of his mission a few brief months after his elevation to office. Envy murdered Gedaliah, and drove back those poor scattered Jews to Egypt, which they loathed. Thus envy is ever at work, blasting the reputations and degrading the positions of distinguished men. "Envy is the daughter of Pride, the author of murder and revenge, the beginner of secret sedition, and the perpetual tormentor of virtue. Envy is the filthy slime of the soul; a worm, a poison or quicksilver which consumeth the flesh, and drieth up the marrow of the bones" (Socrates).—D.T.

2 Kings 25:27-30

Jehoiachin as a victim of tyrannic despotism, and as an object of delivering mercy.

"And it came to pass in the seven and thirtieth year," etc. The life of this man has been already sketched. The incident here recorded presents him—

I. AS A VICTIM OF TYRANNIC DESPOTISM. He had been in prison for thirty-seven years, and was fifty-five years of age. It was Nebuchadnezzar, the tyrannic King of Babylon that stripped this man of liberty and freedom, and shut him up in a dungeon for this long period of time. Such despotism has prevailed in all egos and lands.

II. As AN OBJECT OF DELIVERING MERCY. We are told that as soon as Evil. Merodach came to the throne on the death of his father Nebuchadnezzar, mercy stirred his heart and relieved this poor victim of tyranny. Corrupt as this world is, the element of mercy is not entirely extinct. This mercy gave honor and liberty to the man who had been so long in confinement and disgrace. Let not the victims of tyranny—and they abound everywhere—despair. Mercy will ere long sound the trump of jubilee over all the land. "The Spirit of the Lord," said the great Redeemer of the race, "is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the broken-hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised."—D.T.

HOMILIES BY J. ORR

2 Kings 25:1-10

The fall and destruction of Jerusalem.

With this account of the siege of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar should be compared the narrative of its later destruction by Titus (A.D. 70). History does not always repeat itself; but in this instance it does so with marvelous fidelity. The close investment of the city, the desperate resistance, the horrors of famine within, the incidents of the capture, the burning of the temple, the demolition of the walls, and the captivity of the people, present striking parallels in the two cases. By one of those rare coincidences that sometimes occur, it was on the very same month and day of the month on which the temple was burned by Nebuchadnezzar, that the sanctuary was fired by the soldiers of Titus. The earlier destruction fulfilled the predictions of the prophets; the later the predictions of our Lord (Matthew 24:1-51.).

I. THE LAST SIEGE.

1. Fatal dates. The days which mark the different stages of this terrible siege of Nebuchadnezzar are minutely recorded and carefully remembered. "The ninth year" of Zedekiah, "in the tenth month, in the tenth day of the month," Nebuchadnezzar came, he and his host, against Jerusalem (verse 1); in the eleventh year of Zedekiah "on the ninth day of the fourth month the-famine prevailed in the city" (verse 3), and a breach was affected; "in the fifth month, on the seventh day of the month, which is the nineteenth year of King Nebuchadnezzar," the temple and other buildings were burned by Nebuzar-adan (verse 8). We have the same careful dating in Jeremiah 39:1, Jeremiah 39:2; Jeremiah 52:4, Jeremiah 52:12 (in the latter passage "tenth" for "seventh" as above). These were dates which burned themselves into the very memories of the wretched people crowded in the city, and could never be forgotten. Indirectly they testify to the intensity of misery which was endured, which made them so well remembered. They were observed afterwards as regular days of fasting (Zechariah 7:3, Zechariah 7:5; Zechariah 8:19).

2. The enemy without. Nebuchadnezzar's army came up against the city, and closely invested it, building forts against it round about. Ezekiel 21:1-32. is a vivid prophecy of what was about to happen. The prophet announces the impending capture of the holy city. A sword was furbished which would work terrible destruction. Ezekiel is directed to mark off two ways along which this sword was to travel—the one leading to Jerusalem, and the other to Rabbath of Ammon. The scene changes, and we see the King of Babylon standing at the head of the ways, deliberating, which one he shall choose. He shakes the arrows, consults images, looks for omens m the liver of dead beasts. The decision given is for advancing first against Jerusalem. Now he is at its gates, and has appointed captains "to open the mouth in the slaughter, to lift up the voice with shouting, to appoint battering-rams against the gates, to cast a mount, and to build a fort" (Ezekiel 21:21, Ezekiel 21:22).

3. The famine within. For a year and five months the weary siege dragged itself on, the people within well knowing that, when once it was captured, they could expect no mercy. The writings of Jeremiah give us a vivid picture of the city during this period. From the first the prophet held out no hope. When Zedekiah, at the beginning of the siege entreated him, "Inquire, I pray thee, of the Lord for us," Jeremiah plainly told him that the city was delivered to the Chaldeans, and that Nebuchadnezzar would not spare them, "neither have pity, nor have mercy" (Jeremiah 21:1-7). Life was promised, however, to those who should surrender themselves to the enemy (verses 8-10). This strain was kept up throughout, in spite of imprisonment, threats, and the contrary testimony of false prophets (cf. Jeremiah 32:1-5; Jeremiah 34:1-7; Jeremiah 37:6-21; Jeremiah 38:1-28; etc.). At one point an Egyptian army came forth to arrest the Chaldeans, and great hopes were raised, but Jeremiah bade the people not deceive themselves, for the Chaldeans would prevail, as indeed they did, in spite of a temporary raising of the siege (Jeremiah 37:5-11). By-and-by, as in the previous long siege of Samaria by the Syrians (2 Kings 6:24-33), the misery of the people became extreme. The bread was "spent" in the city (Jeremiah 37:21). The Book of Lamentations gives vivid glimpses of the horrors—the young children fainting for hunger at the top of every street (Lamentations 2:11, Lamentations 2:19); crying to their mothers. Where is corn and wine? (Lamentations 2:12); and asking bread, and no mall breaking it to them (Lamentations 4:4); the delicately nurtured lying on dunghills (Lamentations 4:5); women eating their own offspring (Lamentations 2:20), etc.

II. THE FATE OF ZEDEKIAH. AS the vigor of the defense slackened, the besiegers redoubled their energies, till, on the ninth day of the fourth month, a breach was made in the walls, and Nebuchadnezzar's princes penetrated as far as the middle gate (Jeremiah 29:1-3). The stages that follow are, as respects Zedekiah, those of:

1. Flight. The besiegers had entered by the north side of the city, and the king, with his men of war, feeling that all was lost, made their escape by night through a gate of the city on the south—" the gate between the two walls, which is by the king's garden"—and, evading the Chaldeans in the darkness, fled towards the Jordan. By a symbolic action Ezekiel had foretold this flight, and the actual manner of the escape, down to its minutest details—a singular instance of the unerring prescience of these inspired prophets (Ezekiel 12:1-16). What the king's thoughts were as he fled that night with beating heart and covered face, who can tell? Jeremiah had been vindicated, and the prophets who had buoyed the people up with so many false hopes were now shown to be miserable deceivers.

2. Capture. The flight of the king was soon discovered, and a contingent of Chaldeans was dispatched in pursuit. It was not long ere they overtook the fleeing monarch, no doubt faint with hunger, unnerved by fear, and exhausted with the miles he had already traversed, unable therefore to make any defense. If his followers made any stand, they were speedily scattered, and the king was taken on the plains of Jericho. His hopes, his plans, his intrigues with Egypt, all had come to nothing. He stood there, a prisoner of the Chaldeans, as Jeremiah declared he would be. It is God's Word that always comes true. Would that Zedekiah had believed it in time!

3. Punishment. The fate which awaited Zedekiah was not long deferred. With his sons, and the nobles who were with him (Jeremiah 39:6; Jeremiah 52:10), he was taken to Riblah, to have judgment passed on him by Nebuchadnezzar. Little mercy had he to look for from the haughty, infuriate king, who had given him his throne, and whose covenant he had broken, entailing on him the trouble and delay of a sixteen months' siege. Tortures, perhaps, and death in protracted agonies. The wonder is that Zedekiah escaped as mercifully as he did. But his punishment was, nevertheless, heart-breaking in its severity.

III. JERUSALEM DESTROYED. A month elapsed before the destruction of the now captured city was carried out. It was probably during this interval that Jeremiah composed his passionate and pathetic Lamentations. When at length the work was taken in hand by Nebuzar-adan, an officer deputed for the purpose, it was done with characteristic thoroughness, amidst the glee of Judah's hereditary enemies, whose shouts, "Raze it, ruse it, even to the foundations thereof!" (Psalms 137:7), stimulated the work of demolition. We see:

1. The temple burned. "He burnt the house of the Lord," etc. Thus came to an end the great and beautiful house of God, built by Solomon, consecrated by so many ceremonies and prayers (1 Kings 8:1-66.), and whose courts had so often resounded with the psalms and shouts of the multitude that kept holy day (Psalms 42:5). But idolatry and hypocrisy had made "the house of prayer" into "a den of robbers" (Isaiah 56:7; Jeremiah 7:11; Matthew 21:13), and God's glory had been seen by the prophet on the banks of the Chebar departing from it (Ezekiel 11:22, Ezekiel 11:23). The temple had been the special boast of the godless people. They had trusted in lying words, saying, "The temple of the Lord, The temple of the Lord, The temple of the Lord, are these" (Jeremiah 7:4). This was to make the temple a fetish, and, as Hezekiah had broken the brazen serpent in pieces when it began to be worshipped (2 Kings 18:4), it had become necessary to destroy the temple also.

2. The buildings burned. "The king's house, and all the houses of Jerusalem, and every great man's house burnt he with fire." When the central glory of the city had perished, secular palaces and houses could not expect to escape. They also were set on fire, and the ruddy blaze, spreading from street to street, would consume most of the humbler houses as well. How faithfully had all this been foretold, yet none would believe it! Literally had Jerusalem now become heaps (Micah 3:12).

3. The walls broken down. "All the army of the Chaldeans … brake down the walls of Jerusalem round about." This completed the catastrophe, made the holy city a heap of ruins, and rendered it impossible for inhabitants any longer to dwell in it. Gedaliah made his headquarters at Mizpah (verse 23). The center of Judah's nationality was destroyed. Jerusalem had been emptied, "as a man wipeth a dish, wiping it, and turning it upside down" (2 Kings 21:13). One stands appalled at so complete a wreck of a city which God had once honored by making it the place of his abode, and for which he had done such great things in the past. But the lesson we are to learn from it is that nothing can reverse the action of moral laws. God is terrible in his justice. Though a person or place is as "the signet upon his right hand," yet will he pluck it thence, if it abandons itself to wickedness (Jeremiah 22:24, Jeremiah 22:28).—J.O.

2 Kings 25:11-21

The final deportation.

An end having been made of the city, the next step was to complete the conquest by deporting to Babylon the remnant of the population, and carrying away the spoil. To this task Nebuzar-adan now addressed himself.

I. THE PEOPLE CARRIED AWAY.

1. The gleanings taken. Ten or eleven thousand persons had been carried away in the earlier captivity (2 Kings 24:14), including amongst them the best part of the population (cf. Jeremiah 24:3-10). The remnant had since been thinned by famine, pestilence, and war (Jeremiah 21:7; Jeremiah 24:10). On the most probable view of Jeremiah 52:28 ("seventeenth" for "seventh"), a further large deportation of captives—over three thousand—took place a year before the conclusion of the siege. Now there were only the gleanings to take away, and these amounted to but eight hundred and thirty-two persons (Jeremiah 52:29). They were but a small handful compared with those who had perished, but they would comprise all the people of any position and influence. They consisted of those who were in the city, of those who had previously deserted to the Chaldeans, and of the pickings of the multitude outside. The mourning and lamentation occasioned by these captivities is poetically represented by Jeremiah in the well-known description of Rachel weeping for her children, and refusing to be comforted, as she sees the long trains defile away (Jeremiah 31:15).

2. The poor left. As before, it was only the poorest of the land, those "which had nothing" (Jeremiah 39:10) who were left behind, to till the fields and care for the vineyards. With the exception of these, the country was depopulated. The best even of this poorer class had been removed in the last sifting of the population, so that the residue must have been poor indeed. They formed but a scant remnant; but even they, as we shall see, were unable to hold together, and were soon to be expatriated, leaving the land utterly desolate.

II. THE BRAZES VESSELS CARRIED AWAY. The temple plunder. The more valuable of the temple vessels had been carried away in the first captivity (2 Kings 24:13), but there remained a large number of articles and utensils of brass, together with some of the precious metals (verse 15), either formerly overlooked or subsequently replaced. All these had been gathered out before the temple was burnt, and were now carried away as spoil. They consisted

2. Treatment of the vessels. The more grievous, for the above reasons, was the treatment to which these beautiful objects were now subjected. Not only were they torn from their places and uses in the temple, but they were ruthlessly broken to pieces, that they might be the more easily carried away. Hiram's masterpieces had sunk to the level of common brass, and were treated only as such. The lesser vessels were, of course, taken away whole. What could more significantly tell of the departure of God from his house, the rejection of its worship, and the reversal of the promises of stability, etc; he had given in connection with it, than this ignominious treatment of its sacred vessels. They had, indeed, when his presence was withdrawn, become mere "pieces of brass," as did the brazen serpent of Moses, when men turned it into an occasion for sin (2 Kings 18:4). Their house was left unto them desolate (Matthew 23:38).

III. THE SLAUGHTER OF THE CHIEF MEN. A final act of vengeance was yet to be perpetrated. Singling out a number of the chief men, Nebuzar-adan brought them to Nebuchadnezzar at Riblah, and there "the King of Babylon smote them, and slew them." The victims were contributed by:

1. The temple. "Seraiah the chief priest, and Zephaniah the second priest, and three keepers of the door."

2. The army and court. "An officer that was set over the men of war, and five men of them that were in the king's presence … and the principal scribe of the host."

3. The citizens. "Three score men of the people of the land that were found in the city." All classes were thus represented, and bore their share, in the expiation of the common guilt. The slaughter was no doubt partly intended to inspire terror in those who were left.—J.O.

2 Kings 25:22-26

Gedaliah and the remnant.

Nothing could more effectually show the hopeless condition of the people, and their unfitness for self-government, than this brief narrative of events which followed the destruction of Jerusalem. The detailed history is given in Jeremiah 40-43.

I. GEDALIAH MADE GOVERNOR. It was necessary to appoint a governor over the land, and for this purpose Nebuchadnezzar chose "Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, the son of Shaphan." The country was desolate, and had been robbed of its chief elements of strength; but, had the people chosen to hold together, they might still have subsisted with a reasonable degree of comfort, and gradually again built up a prosperous community.

1. They had a good governor. Gedaliah was one of themselves, a man of an honorable and godly stock, a sincere patriot, and of a kindly and generous nature. Under his rule they had nothing to fear, and were assured of every help and encouragement.

2. They had a good company.' In numbers the population was probably still not inconsiderable, and it was soon reinforced by many Jews, "who returned out of all places whither they were driven, and came to the land of Judah, to Gedaliah, unto Mizpah" (Jeremiah 40:12). They mine from Moab; from Ammon, from Edom, and "all the countries," attracted by the prospect of the fields and vineyards which were to be had for the asking (Jeremiah 39:10; Jeremiah 40:11). A number of captains with their men also, who had been hiding in the fields, came to Gedaliah, and took possession of the cities (cf. Jeremiah 40:10). Their names are given—Ishmael, Johanan, Seraiah, Jaazaniah, etc. There were here the elements of a community, which, with proper cohesion, might soon have come to something.

3. They had good promises. To those who came to him, Gedaliah gave ready welcome and reassuring promises. He swore to the captains that they need fear no harm. Let them dwell in the land, and serve the King of Babylon, and it would be well with them. Let them gather wine, and summer fruits, and oil, and dwell in the cities they had occupied (Jeremiah 40:10). It may, indeed, be affirmed that the Bulk of the people now left in the land were better off materially than they had been for some time. Formerly they were poor and starving, ground down by oppression, and many of them bondmen; now they had liberty, land, the choice of fields and vineyards, and the advantage of keeping to themselves the fruits of their labor.

II. GEDALIAH'S MURDER, AND THE FLIGHT UNTO EGYPT. What the people might have come to under Gedaliah's benevolent rule, time was not given to show. It soon became fatally evident that the people were incapable of making the best of their situation, and of working heartily and loyally together for the general good. Among the leaders there was a want of faith, of patriotism, of principle; among the people the sense of nationality was utterly broken. This hopeless want of cohesion and absence of higher sentiment was shown:

1. In the murder of Gedaliah. Turbulent spirits were among the captains, who had no concern but for their own advantage, and were utterly unscrupulous as to the means they took to gain it. Intrigue, treachery, and violence were more congenial to them than the restraints of settled government. One of these captains, Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, was of the seed royal, and naturally resented the elevation of a commoner like Gedaliah to the position of governor. Instigated by Baalis King of the Ammonites, he formed a plot for Gedaliah's assassination, and with the help of ten men he secretly carried it out, slaying not only the unsuspicious governor, but all the Jews and Chaldeans and men of war that were with him at Mizpah (cf. Jeremiah 40:13-16; Jeremiah 41:1-3). Ishmael gained nothing by his treachery, for he was immediately afterwards pursued, and his captives taken from him (Jeremiah 41:11-18). What a picture of the wickedness of the human heart is given in his dastardly deed, and in the manner of its accomplishment! Ishmael's moving principle was envy, the source of, so much crime. To gratify a base grudge against one whom he regarded as his rival, he was willing to become the tool of an enemy of his people, to break sacred pledges, to repay kindness with murder, and to plunge the affairs of a community that needed nothing so much as peace into irretrievable confusion. "From whence come wars and fightings among you? etc. (James 4:1, James 4:2).

2. The flight into Egypt. The narrative here only tells that, for fear of the vengeance of the Chaldeans, "all the people, both small and great, and the captains of the armies, arose, and came to Egypt." From Jeremiah, however, we learn, that first the leaders consulted the prophet as to what they should do, promising faithfully to abide by his directions; that he counseled them from the Lord to abide where they were, and not go down to Egypt; and that then they turned against him—"all the proud men"—and said, "Thou speakest falsely: the Lord our God hath not sent thee to say, Go not into Egypt to sojourn there" (Jeremiah 42:1-22.; Jeremiah 43:1-7). They then took their own way, and compelled Jeremiah and all the people to go with them. Here the same unchastened, wayward, stubborn spirit reveals itself which had been- the cause of all their troubles. Had they obeyed Jeremiah, they were assured that it would be well with them; while, if they went down to Egypt, it was foretold that the sword and famine, which they feared, would overtake them (Jeremiah 42:16), as from the recently disinterred ruins at Tahpanhes we know it actually did. But through this self-willed action of their own, God's Word was fulfilled, and the land of Judah swept clean of its remaining inhabitants—J.O.

2 Kings 25:27-30

Jehoiachin's restoration.

We have here—

I. A LONG CAPTIVITY. "In the thirty-seventh year of the reign of Jehoiachin King of Judah."

1. Weary years. Thirty-seven years was a long time to spend in prison. The king was but eighteen years of age when he was taken away, so that now he would be fifty-five. Existence must have seemed hopeless, yet he went on enduring. He was suffering even more for his fathers' sins, and for the nation's sins, than for his own. Life is sweet, and hard to part with, and the love of it is nowhere more strongly seen than when men go on clinging to it under conditions which might, if anything could, suggest the question, "Is life worth living?' Jehoiachin must have had a stout heart to endure so long.

2. A change of rulers. Nebuchadnezzar at length died, and his son Evil-Meredach ascended the throne. Possibly this prince may have formed a friendship with Jehoiachin in prison, and this may have contributed to sustain the captive king's hopes. A change of government usually brings many other changes in its train.

II. A GLIMPSE OF SUNSHINE AT THE CLOSE.

1. At the close of Jehoiachin's life. The new ruler treated Jehoiachin as a human being, a friend, and a king.

2. At the close of the book. It is not without purpose that the Book of Kings closes with this glimpse of brightness. The story it has had to tell has been a sad one—a story of disappointment, failure, rejection, exile. But there is unshaken faith, even amidst the gloom, that God's counsel will stand, and that he hath not cast off his people whom he foreknew (Romans 11:2). Jeremiah had predicted the exile, but he had also predicted restoration after seventy years (Jeremiah 25:11, Jeremiah 25:12; Jeremiah 29:10). That period had but half elapsed, but this kindness shown to Jehoiachin seemed prophetic of the end, and is inserted to sustain faith and hope in the minds of the exiles. The history of the world, like the history in this book, will close in peace and brightness under Christ's reign.—J.O.

 


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Bibliography Information
Exell, Joseph S; Spence-Jones, Henry Donald Maurice. "Commentary on 2 Kings 25:4". The Pulpit Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tpc/2-kings-25.html10. 1897.


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Friday, October 20th, 2017
the Week of Proper 23 / Ordinary 28
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