2 KINGS CHAPTER 25.
Destruction of Jerusalem. The Exile.
JUDAH CARRIED INTO CAPTIVITY. — V. 1. And it came to pass in the ninth year of his reign, in the tenth month, in the tenth day of the month, when Zedekiah had rebelled against the Babylonian supremacy, that Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, came, he and all his host, against Jerusalem, and pitched against it, encamped round about it; and they built forts against it round about, bulwarks with watch-towers, such as were used in besieging a city. Although Nebuchadnezzar was not present in person, or at least did not remain, yet he directed all the operations, carrying them forward with all energy. V. 2. And the city was besieged unto the eleventh year of King Zedekiah, for the walls and fortifications of the city were very strong. V. 3. And on the ninth day of the fourth month, after almost a year and a half, the famine prevailed in the city, and there was no bread for the people of the land, the common people were in such sore straits on account of the severity of the famine that they resorted to the most horrible means of sustaining life, Lam. 2, 11-19; 4, 3-10; Ezek. 5, 10; Jer. 37, 21. V. 4. And the city was broken up, the breach being made on the north side of the outer wall, Jer. 39, 3-5, and all the men of war, the soldiers who were defending the city, fled by night by the way of the gate between two walls, the outer and the inner wall, which is by the king’s garden, in the lower part of the city, for they believed that escape to the south might still be possible; (now the Chaldees were against the city round about, although their lines may not have been so strong on this side;) and the king went the way toward the plain, Jer. 39, 4, the meadows of the Jordan near Jericho. V. 5. And the army of the Chaldees pursued after the king, and overtook him in the plains of Jericho, for the king’s intention evidently was to escape beyond the river into the desert country; and all his army were scattered from him. Cp. Ezek. 12, 3-16. V. 6. So they took the king, and brought him up to the king of Babylon, to Riblah, a city in a fruitful plain in the north, where the headquarters of Nebuchadnezzar had been established; and they gave judgment upon him, namely, a tribunal appointed by the king, since Zedekiah had broken his oath of allegiance and revolted. V. 7. And they slew the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes, for they were guilty with their father and might have continued the dynasty, and put out the eyes of Zedekiah, they blinded him, probably by passing a heated metal rod over his open eyes, and bound him with fetters of brass, doubly fettered hand and foot, and carried him to Babylon. Thus Zedekiah was maimed for life and had to give up all hope of ever being able to rule again. V. 8. And in the fifth month, on the seventh day of the month, which is the nineteenth year of King Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, came Nebuzar-adan, captain of the guard, a servant of the king of Babylon, one of his chief officers and most trusted officials, unto Jerusalem; v. 9. and he burned the house of the Lord, the wonderful Temple of Solomon, whose upper structure was all of wood, and the king’s house, the beautiful royal palace, and all the houses of Jerusalem, all the palaces of the rich, and every great man’s house burned he with fire, thus completing the taking of the city, and leaving houses only for the poor people of the land. V. 10. And all the army of the Chaldees that were with the captain of the guard, placed under his command for this purpose, brake down the walls of Jerusalem round about, the fortifications which had rendered the city almost impregnable. V. 11. Now, the rest of the people that were left in the city, the few who had escaped the ravages of the sword and of famine, and the fugitives that fell away to the king of Babylon, those who had deserted to the enemy during the siege, with the remnant of the multitude, probably the remaining able-bodied men who might have been able to bear arms, did Nebuzar-adan, the captain of the guard, carry away. V. 12. But the captain of the guard left of the poor of the land, those without landed possessions, to be vine-dressers and husbandmen, they received orders to cultivate the vineyards and fields, lest the country revert to its wild state. V. 13. And the pillars of brass that were in the house of the Lord, the two conspicuous hollow columns, 1 Kings 7, 15, and the bases, 1 Kings 7, 22, of which Ahaz had removed the borders, chap. 16, 17, and the brazen sea that was in the house of the Lord, resting on a stone base since the oxen had been removed, did the Chaldees break in pieces, and carried the brass of them to Babylon. V. 14. And the pots, and the shovels, and the snuffers, and the spoons, and all the vessels of brass wherewith they ministered, those used in the service, of the altar of burnt offering in the court, took they away. Cp. Ex. 27, 3; 1 Kings 7, 45-50. V. 15. And the fire-pans, and the bowls, 1 Kings 7, 50, and such things as were of gold, the appointments used in the Sanctuary proper, in gold, and of silver, in silver, including all vessels made of precious metals, the captain of the guard took away. V. 16. The two pillars, one sea, and the bases which Solomon had made for the house of the Lord, the brass of all these vessels was without weight; its amount was so great that it was useless to attempt to weigh it, 1 Kings 7, 47. V. 17. The height of the one pillar was eighteen cubits, and the chapiter, the capital, upon it was brass, and the height of the chapiter three cubits, or five cubits over all, 1 Kings 7, 16; 2 Chron. 3, 15; Jer. 52, 22; and the wreathen work, and pomegranates upon the chapiter round about, all of brass, this artistic work making the columns very costly; and like unto these had the second pillar with wreathen work. Cp. Jer. 52, 17-22. V. 18. And the captain of the guard took Seraiah, the chief priest, and Zephaniah, the second priest, one of those ordinarily engaged in the work of sacrifice, but evidently a person of importance, and the three keepers at the door, the chief officers of the Temple guard, one of whom was stationed at each of the three main entrances, cp. Jer. 38, 14. V. 19. And out of the city he took an officer that was set over the men of war, the commander of the city, and five men of them that were in the king’s presence, which were found in the city, of the king’s intimate counselors, and the principal scribe of the host, an officer in the direct service of the commander-in-chief, which mustered the people of the land, enrolling them for military service, these seven representing the civil population, and threescore men of the people of the land that were found in the city, either the leaders in the rebellion or such as had distinguished themselves in the defense of the city; v. 20. and Nebuzar-adan, captain of the guard took these, and brought them to the king of Babylon, to Riblah, where Nebuchadnezzar was still encamped. V. 21. And the king of Babylon smote them, for participating in the rebellion, and slew them at Riblah, in the land of Hamath, the Syrian province in the extreme northern part of Palestine. So Judah was carried away out of their land. This was the beginning of the great captivity, wherewith the ancient glory of Judah faded away, for it never again regained its position of independence and power. The destruction of Jerusalem is a type of the last great Judgment which will come upon the world.
GEDALIAH GOVERNOR OF JUDAH — V. 22. And as for the people that remained in the land of Judah, whom Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, had left, even over them he made Gedaliah, the son of Ahikam, the son of Shaphan, ruler. Ahikam had been a man of importance under Josiah and had once, in siding with Jeremiah, saved the latter’s life, Jer. 26, 24. Evidently Gedaliah had followed in his father’s footsteps in siding with the prophet against the policy of Zedekiah, and therefore Nebuchadnezzar now elevated him to this position of trust and placed Jeremiah in his care, Jer. 39, 14; 40, 6. V. 23. And when all the captains of the armies, they and their men, those who had been dispersed and scattered during the flight of the king and had been in hiding ever since, heard that the king of Babylon had made Gedahiah governor, his own representative in the conquered province, there came to Gedahiah, to Mizpah, the ancient fortified city a few miles northwest of Jerusalem, where he had established his headquarters, even Ishmael, the son of Nethaniah, and Johanan, the son of Careah, and Seraiah, the son of Tanhumeth, the Netophathite, and Jaazaniah, the son of a Maachathite, all of these being members of the nobility and men of influence, they and their men. V. 24. And Gedahiah sware to them and to their men, in order to reassure them and make them willing to acknowledge the supremacy of the king of Babylon, and said unto them, Fear not to be the servants of the Chaldees, to yield to the new order of things and submit willingly. Dwell in the land and serve the king of Babylon, and It shall be well with you. To do so would be not merely submitting to the inevitable, but would accord with the policy which the Lord advised through Jeremiah. V. 25. But it came to pass in the seventh month, only two months after the destruction of Jerusalem, that Ishmael, the son of Nethaniah, the grandson of the secretary of state under King Jehoiakim, Jer. 36, 12. 20, the son of Elishama, of the seed royal, a descendant of the royal house, by virtue of which fact he thought he had a claim to the position of governor, came, and ten men with him, and smote Gedaliah that he died, and the Jews and the Clialdees that were with him at Mizpah. This was possible because Gedaliah refused to heed the warning which he received, and because Ishmael was further incited to this murder by Baalis, king of the Ammonites. The story is told in greater detail by Jeremiah, Jer. 41. V. 26. And all the people, both small and great, whether powerful and influential or not, and the captains of the armies arose, and, after stopping for a while near Bethlehem, came to Egypt; for they were afraid of the Chaldees. Cp. Jer. 42 and 43. V. 27. And it came to pass in the seven and thirtieth year of the captivity of Jehoiachin, king of Judah, in the twelfth month, on the seven and twentieth day of the month, the date being noted with great accuracy on account of the significance of the event, that Evil-merodach, son of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, in the year that he began to reign, when he came to be king, did lift up the head of Jehoiachin, king of Judah, out of prison, releasing him from his captivity with its despair and misery, Gen. 40, 13. 20; v. 28. and he spake kindly to him, and set his throne above the throne of the kings that were with him in Babylon, holding him in higher estimation, giving him the preference and a higher rank than the others. v. 29. and changed his prison garments, Jehoiachin appeared in the royal garments befitting his rank; and he did eat bread continually before him all the days of his life, he partook of the king’s bounty, receiving an allowance enabling him to have attendants. V. 30. And his allowance was a continual allowance given him of the king, a regular income upon which he could depend, a daily rate for every day, all the days of his life. This incident was a favorable sign to the captive Jews, reminding them of the fact that the Lord intended to terminate their captivity, if they would but acknowledge their sins and turn to Him in true repentance. It looked forward to the still more glorious day when the Lord would send the promised Messiah.