The destruction of Jerusalem. (1-21) The proclamation of Cyrus. (22,23)
Verses 1-21 The ruin of Judah and Jerusalem came on by degrees. The methods God takes to call back sinners by his word, by ministers, by conscience, by providences, are all instances of his compassion toward them, and his unwillingness that any should perish. See here what woful havoc sin makes, and, as we value the comfort and continuance of our earthly blessings, let us keep that worm from the root of them. They had many times ploughed and sowed their land in the seventh year, when it should have rested, and now it lay unploughed and unsown for ten times seven years. God will be no loser in his glory at last, by the disobedience of men. If they refused to let the land rest, God would make it rest. What place, O God, shall thy justice spare, if Jerusalem has perished? If that delight of thine were cut off for wickedness, let us not be high-minded, but fear.
Verses 22-23 God had promised the restoring of the captives, and the rebuilding of Jerusalem, at the end of seventy years; and that time to favour Zion, that set time, came at last. Though God's church be cast down, it is not cast off; though his people be corrected, they are not abandoned; though thrown into the furnace, they are not lost there, nor left there any longer than till the dross be separated. Though God contend long, he will not contend always. Before we close the books of the Chronicles, which contain a faithful register of events, think what desolation sin introduced into the world, nay, even into the church of God. Let us tremble at what is here recorded, while in the character of some few gracious souls, we discover that the Lord left not himself without witness. And when we have looked at this faithful portrait of man by nature, let us contrast with it that same nature, when recovered by Almighty grace, through the justifying and soul-adorning righteousness of Christ our Saviour.
2 Chronicles 36:1-4 . JEHOAHAZ, SUCCEEDING, IS DEPOSED BY PHARAOH.
1. the people of the land took Jehoahaz--Immediately after Josiah's overthrow and death, the people raised to the throne Shallum ( 1 Chronicles 3:15 ), afterwards called Jehoahaz, in preference to his older brother Eliakim, from whom they expected little good. Jehoahaz is said ( 2 Kings 23:30 ) to have received at Jerusalem the royal anointing--a sceremony not usually deemed necessary, in circumstances of regular and undisputed succession. But, in the case of Jehoahaz, it seems to have been resorted to in order to impart greater validity to the act of popular election; and, it may be, to render it less likely to be disturbed by Necho, who, like all Egyptians, would associate the idea of sanctity with the regal anointing. He was the youngest son of Josiah, but the popular favorite, probably on account of his martial spirit ( Ezekiel 19:3 ) and determined opposition to the aggressive views of Egypt. At his accession the land was free from idolatry; but this prince, instead of following the footsteps of his excellent father, adopted the criminal policy of his apostatizing predecessors. Through his influence, directly or indirectly used, idolatry rapidly increased (see 2 Kings 23:32 ).
2. he reigned three months in Jerusalem--His possession of sovereign power was of but very brief duration; for Necho determined to follow up the advantage he had gained in Judah; and, deeming it expedient to have a king of his own nomination on the throne of that country, he deposed the popularly elected monarch and placed his brother Eliakim or Jehoiakim on the throne, whom he anticipated to be a mere obsequious vassal. The course of events seems to have been this: on receiving intelligence after the battle of the accession of Jehoahaz to the throne, and perhaps also in consequence of the complaint which Eliakim brought before him in regard to this matter, Necho set out with a part of his forces to Jerusalem, while the remainder of his troops pursued their way at leisure towards Riblah, laid a tribute on the country, raised Eliakim (Jehoiakim) as his vassal to the throne, and on his departure brought Jehoahaz captive with him to Riblah. The old expositors mostly assumed that Necho, after the battle of Megiddo, marched directly against Carchemish, and then on his return came to Jerusalem. The improbability, indeed the impossibility, of his doing so appears from this: Carchemish was from four hundred to five hundred miles from Megiddo, so that within "three months" an army could not possibly make its way thither, conquer the fenced city of Carchemish, and then march back a still greater distance to Jerusalem, and take that city [KEIL].
3. an hundred talents of silver--about $170,000.
and a talent of gold--about $25,000; total amount of tribute, about $195,000.
4. carried him--Jehoahaz.
to Egypt--There he died ( Jeremiah 22:10-12 ).
2 Chronicles 36:5-8 . JEHOIAKIM, REIGNING ILL, IS CARRIED INTO BABYLON.
5. Jehoiakim . . . did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord--He followed the course of his idolatrous predecessors; and the people, to a great extent, disinclined to the reforming policy of his father, eagerly availed themselves of the vicious license which his lax administration restored. His character is portrayed with a masterly hand in the prophecy of Jeremiah ( Jeremiah 22:13-19 ). As the deputy of the king of Egypt, he departed further than his predecessor from the principles of Josiah's government; and, in trying to meet the insatiable cupidity of his master by grinding exactions from his subjects, he recklessly plunged into all evil.
6. Against him came up Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon--This refers to the first expedition of Nebuchadnezzar against Palestine, in the lifetime of his father Nabopolassar, who, being old and infirm, adopted his son as joint sovereign and despatched him, with the command of his army, against the Egyptian invaders of his empire. Nebuchadnezzar defeated them at Carchemish, drove them out of Asia, and reduced all the provinces west of the Euphrates to obedience--among the rest the kingdom of Jehoiakim, who became a vassal of the Assyrian empire ( 2 Kings 24:1 ). Jehoiakim at the end of three years threw off the yoke, being probably instigated to revolt by the solicitations of the king of Egypt, who planned a new expedition against Carchemish. But he was completely vanquished by the Babylonian king, who stripped him of all his possessions between the Euphrates and the Nile ( 2 Kings 24:7 ). Then marching against the Egyptian's ally in Judah, he took Jerusalem, carried away a portion of the sacred vessels of the temple, perhaps in lieu of the unpaid tribute, and deposited them in the temple of his god, Belus, at Babylon ( Daniel 1:2 , 5:2 ). Though Jehoiakim had been taken prisoner (and it was designed at first to transport him in chains to Babylon), he was allowed to remain in his tributary kingdom. But having given not long after some new offense, Jerusalem was besieged by a host of Assyrian dependents. In a sally against them Jehoiakim was also Jeremiah 22:18 Jeremiah 22:19 , 36:30 ).
9, 10. Jehoiachin was eight years old--called also Jeconiah or Coniah ( Jeremiah 22:24 )--"eight" should have been "eighteen," as appears from 2 Kings 24:8 , and also from the full development of his ungodly principles and habits (see Ezekiel 19:5-7 ). His reign being of so short duration cannot be considered at variance with the prophetic denunciation against his father ( Jeremiah 36:30 ). But his appointment by the people gave umbrage to Nebuchadnezzar, who, "when the year was expired" ( 2 Chronicles 36:10 )--that is, in the spring when campaigns usually began--came in person against Jerusalem, captured the city, and sent Jehoiachin in chains to Babylon, removing at the same time all the nobles and most skilful artisans, and pillaging all the remaining treasures both of the temple and palace
2 Chronicles 36:11-21 . ZEDEKIAH'S REIGN.
11. Zedekiah--Nebuchadnezzar appointed him. His name, originally Mattaniah, was, according to the custom of Oriental conquerors, changed into Zedekiah. Though the son of Josiah ( 1 Chronicles 3:15 , Jeremiah 1:2 Jeremiah 1:3 , 37:1 ), he is called the brother of Jehoiachin ( 2 Chronicles 36:10 ), that is, according to the latitude of Hebrew style in words expressing affinity, his relative or kinsman (see 2 Kings 24:18 , 25:1-21 ).
13. who had made him swear by God--Zedekiah received his crown on the express condition of taking a solemn oath of fealty to the king of Babylon ( Ezekiel 17:13 ); so that his revolt by joining in a league with Pharaoh-hophra, king of Egypt, involved the crime of perjury. His own pride and obdurate impiety, the incurable idolatry of the nation, and their reckless disregard of prophetic warnings, brought down on his already sadly reduced kingdom the long threatened judgments of God. Nebuchadnezzar, the executioner of the divine vengeance, commenced a third siege of Jerusalem, which, after holding out for a year and a half, was taken in the eleventh year of the reign of Zedekiah. It resulted in the burning of the temple, with, most probably, the ark, and in the overthrow of the kingdom of Judah
21. until the land had enjoyed her sabbaths--The return of every seventh was to be held as a sabbatic year, a season of rest to all classes, even to the land itself, which was to be fallow. This divine institution, however, was neglected--how soon and how long, appears from the prophecy of Moses and of Jeremiah in this passage (see Jeremiah 25:9-12 ), which told that for divine retribution it was now to remain desolate seventy years. As the Assyrian conquerors usually colonized their conquered provinces, so remarkable a deviation in Palestine from their customary policy must be ascribed to the overruling providence of God.
2 Chronicles 36:22 2 Chronicles 36:23 . CYRUS' PROCLAMATION.
22. the Lord stirred up the spirit of