2 CHRONICLES CHAPTER 36
The End of the Southern Kingdom.
THE REIGN OF JEHOAHAZ, JOHOIAKIM, AND JEHOIACHIN. ó V. l. Then the people of the land, as before, in the case of Josiah and Uzziah, took Jehoahaz, the son of Josiah, and made him king in his fatherís stead in Jerusalem. His name before his accession to the throne was Shallum, and the people chose him in preference to his older brother Eliakim, probably because they believed he would show an aggressive spirit over against the encroachments of Egypt. V. 2. Jehoahaz was twenty and three years old when he began to reign, and he reigned three months in Jerusalem, but even in this short space of time managed to reintroduce idolatry, 2 Kings 23, 32. V. 3. And the king of Egypt put him down at Jerusalem, removed him from office, and condemned the land in an hundred talents of silver and a talent of gold (over two hundred thousand dollars), this being laid upon the country as a punishment. The sequence of events is probably this: After the defeat and the death of Josiah, while Necho was still at Megiddo, the Jews made Jehoahaz king. His brother Eliakim may have complained to Necho, causing him to come to Jerusalem as soon as he could and depose the choice of the people, while the bulk of his army continued the campaign against Carchemish. V. 4. And the king of Egypt made Eliakim, his brother, king over Judah and Jerusalem, and turned his name, evidently at his own suggestion, to Jehoiakim. And Necho took Jehoabaz, his brother, and carried him to Egypt, where he died, Jer. 22, 10-12. Jehoiakim may have seemed to Necho a more willing tool and a fine sovereign for a tributary buffer state against Babylon, which was rapidly becoming a world empire. V. 5. Jehoiakim was twenty and five years old when he began to reign, and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem; and he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord, his God. Cp. 2 Kings 23, 36-24, 7. He freely gave the people all the license they wanted in serving false gods. His boastfulness and vanity is excellently portrayed by the prophet Jeremiah, Jer. 22, 13-19. V. 6. Against him came up Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, after having conquered the greater part of Western Asia and broken the power of Necho east of the Mediterranean Sea, and bound him in fetters, after he had rebelled against him, to carry him to Babylon. So the idolatrous and proud Jewish king languished in chains. This was about in the year 603 before Christ, some three years after Nebuchadnezzar had made the first campaign to the southwest. V. 7. Nebuchadnezzar also carried of the vessels of the house of the Lord to Babylon, perhaps to make up for the tribute which Jehoiakim had refused to pay, and put them in his temple at Babylon, in the temple of Belus, Dan. 1, 2; 5, 2. V. 8. Now, the rest of the acts of Jehoiakim and his abominations which he did, his idolatry and other wickedness, and that which was found in him, behold, they are written in the Book of the Kings of Israel and Judah. And Jehoiachin, his son, reigned in his stead. Cp. 2 Kings 24, 8-17. V. 9. Jehoiachin (also called Jeconiah or Coniah) was eight years old (rather, eighteen) when he began to reign, and he reigned three months and ten days in Jerusalem; and he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord, continuing in all the idolatrous abominations of his predecessors, Ezek. 19, 5-7. V. 10. And when the year was expired, at the time of the year when campaigns usually began, King Nebuchadnezzar sent and brought him to Babylon with the goodly vessels of the house of the Lord, the precious vessels remaining, which might well arouse the kingís desire, and made Zedekiah, his brother, more exactly, his fatherís brother, his uncle, whose name before his accession had been Mattaniah, king over Judah and Jerusalem. If people deliberately sell themselves to do evil, the patience of the Lord is at length exhausted and He delivers them to destruction.
ZEDEKIAHíS REIGN AND THE END OF JUDAH. ó V. 11. Zedekiah was one and twenty years old when he began to reign, and reigned eleven years in Jerusalem. Cp. 2 Kings 24, 18-25, 21; Jer. 52. All the nobles, artisans, and craftsmen of the people having been removed, there remained only the laboring class and the farmers and gardeners. V. 12. And he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord, his God, persisting in idolatry in the face of the Lordís punishment upon his predecessors, and humbled not himself before Jeremiah, the prophet, speaking from the mouth of the Lord. Cp. Jer. 37. V. 13. And he also rebelled against King Nebuchadnezzar, who had made him swear by God, taking a solemn oath of loyalty from him. wherefore his league with Pharaohhophrah of Egypt included the crime of perjury; but he stiffened his neck and hardened his heart from turning unto the Lord God of Israel. That is the height of Godís judgment upon man when He permits self-hardening to take place and delivers man to his own evil way of thinking. V. 14. Moreover, all the chief of the priests and the people transgressed very much after all the abominations of the heathen, thus agreeing with the king in his idolatrous practices; and polluted the house of the Lord which He had hallowed in Jerusalem, by heathen sacrifices and customs. V. 15. And the Lord God of their fathers sent to them by His messengers, especially the prophets Isaiah, Micah, Habakkuk, and Jeremiah, rising up betimes and sending, that is, constantly and earnestly, because He had compassion on His people and on His dwelling-place, wishing to save the people from the punishment which they were inviting upon their own heads. V. 16. But they mocked the messengers of God, as in the case of Jeremiah, Jer. 5, 12. 13, and despised His words, and misused His prophets, Jer. 32, 3, until the wrath of the Lord arose against His people, like a fire eating through into a high flame, till there was no remedy, till the state of affairs was past healing. V. 17. Therefore He brought upon them the king of the Chaldees, Nebuchadnezzar undertaking a third siege of Jerusalem, who slew their young men with the sword in the house of their sanctuary, so called because they had profaned the Temple by their idolatry, and had no compassion upon young man or maiden, old man, or him that stooped for age; He gave them all into his hand, namely, when the city was captured after a siege lasting a year and a half, in the year 587 B. C. V. 18. And all the vessels of the house of God, great and small, those still remaining after the first sacking of the city, and the treasures of the house of the Lord, with the many presents of consecration, and the treasures of the king and of his princes, the entire contents of the royal treasury; all these he brought to Babylon. V. 19. And they burned the house of God, for the floors and the inner walls of the Temple were of wood, and therefore very inflammable, and brake down the wall of Jerusalem, and burned all the palaces thereof with fire, and destroyed all the goodly vessels thereof, all those of value which they could not well transport to Babylon. V. 20. And them that had escaped from the sword, during the siege and at the capture of the city, carried he away to Babylon, where they were servants to him and his sons until the reign of the kingdom of Persia, 2 Kings 25, 9; Jer. 39, 8; 27, 7, v. 21. to fulfill the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed her Sabbaths; the Sabbatic years, as seasons of rest for all classes of people and for the land itself having been ignored for centuries, the Lord was now giving the land lest, Lev. 26, 34; for as long as she lay desolate, she kept Sabbath, for a mere handful of people remained in the land after Nebuchadnezzarís campaign, and many of these went down into Egypt in the course of time, to fulfil threescore and ten years. It seems that no attempt was made to colonize the land in the interval, and that Judah was actually desolate for seventy years. V. 22. Now, in the first year of Cyrus, king of Persia, that the word of the Lord spoken by the mouth of Jeremiah might be accomplished, Jer. 25, 12. 13, the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus, king of Persia, the Babylonian empire having meanwhile passed into the power of the Persian empire, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing, saying, v. 23. Thus saith Cyrus, king of Persia, All the kingdoms of the earth hath the Lord God of heaven given me; and He hath charged me to build Him an house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. This had been revealed to Cyrus either directly or by the mouth of some prophet. Who is there among you of all His people? The Lord, His God, be with him, and let him go up. It was a free invitation calling upon the Jews to return to the land of their fathers. Note the kindness and mercy of the Lord in reinstating a remnant of His people in their country, since the Redeemer was to come out of Zion, born in Bethlehem from the stock of David.