Jehoiakim subdued by Nebuchadnezzar. (1-7) Jehoiachim captive in Babylon. (8-20)
Verses 1-7 If Jehoiakim had served the Lord, he had not been servant to Nebuchadnezzar. If he had been content with his servitude, and true to his word, his condition had been no worse; but, rebelling against Babylon, he plunged himself into more trouble. See what need nations have to lament the sins of their fathers, lest they smart for them. Threatenings will be fulfilled as certainly as promises, if the sinner's repentance prevent not.
Verses 8-20 Jehoiachin reigned but three months, yet long enough to show that he justly smarted for his fathers' sins, for he trod in their steps. His uncle was intrusted with the government. This Zedekiah was the last of the kings of Judah. Though the judgments of God upon the three kings before him might have warned him, he did that which was evil, like them. When those intrusted with the counsels of a nation act unwisely, and against their true interest, we ought to notice the displeasure of God in it. It is for the sins of a people that God hides from them the things that belong to the public peace. And in fulfilling the secret purposes of his justice, the Lord needs only leave men to the blindness of their own minds, or to the lusts of their own hearts. The gradual approach of Divine judgments affords sinners space for repentance, and believers leisure to prepare for meeting the calamity, while it shows the obstinacy of those who will not forsake their sins.
2 Kings 24:1-7 . JEHOIAKIM PROCURES HIS OWN RUIN.
1, 2. Nebuchadnezzar--the son of Nabopolassar, the founder of the Chaldee monarchy. This invasion took place in the fourth year of Jehoiakim's, and the first of Nebuchadnezzar's reign ( Jeremiah 25:1 ; compare Jeremiah 46:2 ). The young king of Assyria being probably detained at home on account of his father's demise, despatched, along with the Chaldean troops on his border, an army composed of the tributary nations that were contiguous to Judea, to chastise Jehoiakim's revolt from his yoke. But this hostile band was only an instrument in executing the divine judgment ( 2 Kings 24:2 ) denounced by the prophets against Judah for the sins of the people; and hence, though marching by the orders of the Assyrian monarch, they are described as sent by the Lord ( 2 Kings 24:3 ).
4. the Lord would not Jeremiah 15:1 ).
6. Jehoiakim slept with his fathers--This phraseology can mean nothing more than that he died; for he was not buried with his royal ancestors; and whether he fell in battle, or his body was subjected to posthumous insults, he was, according to the prediction ( Jeremiah 22:19 ), not honored with the rites of sepulture ( Jeremiah 36:30 ).
Jehoiachin his son reigned in his stead--The very brief reign of this prince, which lasted only three months, during which he was a humble vassal of the Assyrians, is scarcely deserving to be taken into account, and therefore is in no way contradictory to the prophetic menace denounced against his father ( Jeremiah 36:30 ).
7. the king of Egypt--that is, Pharaoh-nechoh.
2 Kings 24:8 2 Kings 24:9 . JEHOIACHIN SUCCEEDS HIM.
8. Jehoiachin--that is, "God-appointed," contracted into Jeconiah and Coniah ( Jeremiah 22:24 ).
eighteen years old when he began to reign--At the age of eight his father took him into partnership in the government ( 2 Chronicles 36:9 ). He began to reign alone at eighteen.
9. he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord--Untaught by experience, and deaf to the prophetic warnings, he pursued the evil courses which had brought so many disasters upon the royal family as well as the people of Judah. This bad character is figuratively but strongly depicted ( Ezekiel 19:5-7 ).
2 Kings 24:10-16 . JERUSALEM TAKEN.
10-13. At that time--within three months after his accession to the throne. It was the spring of the year ( 2 Chronicles 36:10 ); so early did he indicate a feeling hostile to the interests of his Assyrian liege lord, by forming a league with Egypt. Nebuchadnezzar sent his generals to besiege Jerusalem, as Jeremiah had foretold ( Jeremiah 22:28 , 34:20 ), and soon after he followed in person. Convinced of the hopelessness of making any effectual resistance, Jehoiachin, going to the camp of the besiegers, surrendered ( 2 Kings 24:12 ), in the expectation, probably, of being allowed to retain his throne as a vassal of the Assyrian empire. But Nebuchadnezzar's clemency towards the kings of Judah was now exhausted, so that Jehoiachin was sent as a captive to Babylon, according to Jeremiah's prediction ( Jeremiah 22:24 ), accompanied by the queen mother (the same who had held that dignity under Jehoahaz) ( 2 Kings 23:31 ), his generals, and officers. This happened in the eighth year of Nebuchadnezzar's reign, computing from the time when he was associated with his father in the government. Those that were left consisted chiefly of the poorer sort of people and the unskilled workmen. The palace and the temple were ransacked. The smaller golden vessels had been taken on the first capture of Jerusalem and placed by Nebuchadnezzar in the temple of his god as tokens of victory. They were used by Belshazzar at his impious feast [ Daniel 5:2 ], for the purpose of rewarding his army with these trophies, among which were probably the golden candlesticks, the ark, &c. (compare 2 Chronicles 36:7 , Daniel 1:2 ). Now the gold plating was torn off all the larger temple furniture.
13-16. as the Lord had said--(compare 2 Kings 20:17 , Isaiah 39:6 , Jeremiah 15:13 , 17:3 ). The elite of the nation for rank, usefulness, and moral worth, all who might be useful in Babylon or dangerous in Palestine, were carried off to Babylon, to the number of ten thousand ( 2 Kings 24:14 ). These are specified ( 2 Kings 24:15 2 Kings 24:16 ), warriors, seven thousand; craftsmen and smiths, one thousand; king's wives, officers, and princes, also priests and prophets ( Jeremiah 29:1 , Ezekiel 1:1 ), two thousand; equal to ten thousand captives in all.
2 Kings 24:17-20 . ZEDEKIAH'S EVIL REIGN.
17-19. the king of Babylon made Mattaniah, his father's brother, king in his stead--Adhering to his former policy of maintaining a show of monarchy, Nebuchadnezzar appointed the third and youngest son of Josiah ( 1 Chronicles 3:15 ), full brother of Jehoahaz, and uncle of the captive Jehoiachin. But, according to the custom of conquerors, who changed the names of the great men they took captives in war, in token of their supremacy, he gave him the new name of
Zedekiah--that is, "The righteous of God." This being a purely Hebrew name, it seems that he allowed the puppet king to choose his own name, which was confirmed. His heart towards God was the same as that of Jehoiakim, impenitent and heedless of God's word.
20. through the anger of the Lord . . . he cast them out from his presence--that is, in the course of God's righteous providence, his policy as king would prove ruinous to his country.
Zedekiah rebelled against the king of Babylon--instigated by ambassadors from the neighboring states who came to congratulate him on his ascension to the throne (compare Jeremiah 17:3 , with Jeremiah 28:1 ), and at the same time get him to join them in a common league to throw off the Assyrian yoke. Though warned by Jeremiah against this step, the infatuated and perjured ( Ezekiel 17:13 ) Zedekiah persisted in his revolt.