II Chronicles 36
One short chapter now brings to a conclusion the work, in so many aspects
remarkable, called ‘The Chronicles.’ And thirteen verses sum the contents
the four last pre-Captivity kings of the line of
in opening this last chapter in his commentary, are not unworthy of note.
He says, “As the
swift steps to its destruction by the Chaldeans, so the author of the
Chronicle goes quickly over the reigns of the last kings of
their godless conduct hastened the ruin of the kingdom. As to the four
kings remaining, who reigned between Josiah’s death and the destruction
only a short characterization of their conduct towards GOD, and a
statement of the main events which, step by step, brought about the ruin of
king and the burning of
contains, first, very brief accounts of the four reigns of:
Ø Jehoahaz (vs. 1-4),
Ø Eliakim or Jehoiakim (vs. 4-8),
Ø Jehoiachin (vs. 9-10), and
Ø Zedekiah (vs. 10-13);
next, general remarks on the iniquity that heralded the destruction of the nation
and the punishment of it by the Chaldean captivity (vs. 14-17); then,
the methods of that destruction and captivity (vs. 17-21); and lastly,
restoring proclamation of Cyrus King of
1 “Then the people of the land took Jehoahaz the son of Josiah, and
made him king in his father’s stead in
and three years old when he began to reign, and he reigned three months in
The form of expression may indicate the hearty zeal of the nation
for this chosen son of Josiah, who seems to have been not the eldest. In the
next verse, as Revised Version, he is called Joahaz. In I Chronicles 3:15,
as in the affecting passage Jeremiah 22:10-12, his name appears
as Shallum. His mother’s name was Hamutal, while the name of the mother
of his immediate successor was Zebudah (II Kings 23:31 and 36).
3 “And the
the land in an hundred talents of silver and a talent of gold.
Put him down; Hebrew, וַיְסִירֵהוּ; i.e. deposed him (Revised
seems to have been returning, and in the neighborhood of
bands” at “Riblath in the
inflicted a fine on the land; Hebrew, וַיַּעֲנשׁ. From this time nothing further
is heard of Jehoahaz or Shallum.
4 “ And the king of
Jehoahaz his brother, and carried him to
of the word is “God sets up;” the meaning of Jehoiakim is “Jehovah sets up.”
An Egyptian king knew and recognized the word “God,” but possibly meant
to taunt the “Jehovah” of the Jew.
Jehoahaz; or, Three Months of Royalty (vs. 1-4)
Ø In his father’s stead. When Necho had defeated Josiah, instead of
back to seize
forward on his first intended march towards the
Accordingly, on Josiah’s death, Josiah’s second son, Shallum, “He who
shall be requited” (Jeremiah 22:11) — a name of evil omen (II Kings 15:13) —
was called to the throne under the name Jehoahaz, “He whom Jehovah sustains.”
Like his predecessor of the same name, Ahaz the son of Jotham (ch. 28:1), he
failed to follow in the steps of his pious father, and rather, like the earlier
untheocratic kings, surrendered himself to the practice of idolatry under
the guidance of the heathen party in the state (II Kings 23:32). According to
Josephus, he was “an impious man, and impure in his course of life”
lion that learned to catch the prey and devoured men, but, as soon as the
nations heard of him, he was taken in their pit, and brought with hooks
Ø Over his elder brother. As Eliakim was twenty-five years when he began
to reign (v. 5), it is obvious he was older than Shallum, who must,
therefore, have been elevated to the throne by the voice of the people. As
Shallum was not the legitimate heir, he was anointed (II Kings 23:30)
— a custom usual in the case of founders of new dynasties (ibid. ch. 9:3).
He may have been preferred to his brother Eliakim on account of his
ferocious character and supposed warlike qualities (Keil), or because
Eliakim was at the time beyond their reach, having probably taken part in
Ø After a short reign. Only three brief months was he allowed to retain the
regal dignity. The other Shallum’s time of glory was still shorter. Sic
transit gloria mundi. (thus passes the glory of the world)
Ø At the request of his brother. This, at least, is not improbable. As Necho
far distant, viz. at Riblath, in the
the party favorable to Eliakim, the legitimate heir, may have craved his
help against the usurper.
Ø By means of treachery. The language of Ezekiel (19:3-4) seems to
imply that he was caught by guile, entrapped by stratagem. That Necho
actually returned from Riblah with part of his forces, besieged and captured
Chronicler (v. 3). It is more likely that Jehoahaz was either expressly
summoned by Necho (Josephus), or treacherously enticed into visiting the
camp at Riblah (Ewald), where he was thrown into chains and so deposed.
Ø With the imposition of a fine upon the land. “A hundred talents of
silver and a talent of gold,”a talent of gold,” were exacted in tribute,
and as a
pledge of fealty to
Ø Whose right was vindicated. The throne belonged to him by right of
Ø Whose name was changed. Called Eliakim, “Whom God establishes,”
he was designated, on acceding to the kingdom, Jehoiakim, “Jehovah
has set up”
Whose throne was secured. The usurper
being deported to
where he died (II Kings 23:34), removed the likelihood at least
of civil strife.
(Jeremiah 22:10-12) probably only gave expression to the feelings of
regard cherished by Jehoahaz’s subjects, who mourned:
Ø For their own disappointed hopes. During his short reign he had pleased
the people, caught the popular imagination, and excited in them
expectations of being able to revive the faded glories and upraise the fallen
Ø For his melancholy fate. This seemed worse than what had threatened to
befall Hezekiah (II Kings 20:1; Isaiah 38:10) — to be cut off in the
middle of his days; worse even than what had overtaken his illustrious
father — death upon the battle-field (ch. 35:23-24). No king
been deported to
restored to his crown and kingdom (ibid. v. 20). In the case of Jehoahaz
no such alleviation of his misery could be looked for. Jehovah’s word,
through Jeremiah, was the death-stroke to any such expectation:
“He shall die in the place whither they have led him captive, and
shall see this land no more.”
Ø The strange vicissitudes of mortal life.
Ø The miseries of many kings — a check to ambition.
Ø The certainty of GOD’S WORD!
5 “Jehoiakim was twenty and five years old when he began to reign,
and he reigned eleven years in
was evil in the sight of the LORD his God.” Here we note the age of Jehoiakim
as greater than that of Jehoahaz, and in the parallel we read that his mother was
him came up Nebuchadnezzar king of
him in fetters, to carry him to
following verse to Nebuchadnezzar’s relations to Jehoiakim and Judah are
strange in comparison with the graphic account furnished by the parallel
(II Kings 24:1-6). The name is the same with Nabokodrosoros, is written in the
Assyrian monuments Nebu-kuduri-utzur, and meaning, “Nebo (Isaiah 46:1),
protector from ill,” or “protects the crown.” In Jeremiah ch. 49:28 we have the
name written Nebuchadrezzar, as also in Ezekiel. Nebuchadnezzar, second
King of Babylon, was the son of Nabopolassar,
625, and reigned above forty years. Though we are here told he bound
Jehoiakim in chains, to take him to
did not carry out this intention, and Jehoiakim was put to death at
Nebuchadnezzar was B.C. 605-4 (Daniel 1:1; Jeremiah 25:1), and during it,
his father dying, he succeeded to the throne.
7 “Nebuchadnezzar also carried of the vessels of the house of the
LORD to Babylon, and put them in his temple
(Compare Daniel 1:2.) The temple here called his temple was,
no doubt, the temple of Belus, or in the vernacular “Merodach,” the
Babylonian god of war. This rifling of the sacred vessels of
8 “Now the rest of the acts of Jehoiakim, and his abominations which
he did, and that which was found in him, behold, they are written
in the book of the kings of
reigned in his stead.” The rest of the acts of Jehoiakim. As our compiler has
literally told us none at all, we need but note his expression here as a convenient
formula, indicating his own intentional brevity, and the fact that he was
privy to all in the original sources, which he nevertheless now omitted; yet
see Jeremiah 7:9; 19:13, etc. The telling expression, what was found in
him, is too readily to be filled up with the references in Jeremiah.
Jehoiachin his son. In I Chronicles 3:16 he is called Jeconiah, and in
Jeremiah 22:24 he is called Coniah.
The Fortunes of Jehoiakim (vs. 5-8)
Ø His designation. Eliakim, “Whom God establishes,” changed into
Jehoiakim, “Jehovah has set up;” not by himself (Cheyne, ‘Jeremiah: his
Life and Times,’ p. 142), though it would almost seem as if Uzziah had
adopted that name instead of Azariah on acceding to the crown (ch. 26:1),
and Pul had assumed the title Tiglath-Pileser, “Adar is my
confidence,” on succeeding Shalmaneser of Assyria (Saye, ‘Fresh Light,’
etc., p. 126); but by Necho II. (v. 4; II Kings 23:34), as Mattaniah’s
name was changed into Zedekiah by Nebuchadnezzar (ibid. ch. 24:17);
which statements may be harmonized by supposing that “Necho and
Nebuchadnezzar treated the vassal kings appointed by them not altogether
as slaves, but permitted them to choose themselves the new names, which
they only confirmed in token of their supremacy” (Keil).
Ø His lineage. The son of Josiah and of Zebudah, the daughter of Pedaiah
of Rumah, supposed to be identical with Arumah, near Shechem (II Kings
23:36). Jehoahaz., whom he succeeded, was his younger brother by a
different mother, Hamutal, the daughter of Jeremiah of Libnah (ibid.
Ø His accession.
o As to time, when he was twenty-five years of age, which shows he
must have been born in his father’s fourteenth year.
o As to means, by the help of Necho II., who deposed his usurping
brother (v. 3), partly perhaps because he was a usurper, but partly
also, it may be assumed, because the people had elected that brother
without having first obtained Necho’s consent.
o As to title, he was Josiah’s eldest son, and therefore the crown prince
and legal heir to the throne.
Ø His character. Bad; modeled upon that of Ahab rather than of Josiah
(Jeremiah 22:15, reading of two Septuagint manuscripts, adopted by
o Idolatrous: “He did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord” (v. 5),
as his half-brother had done (II Kings 23:32). “He devoted himself
with his whole soul to the heathen party, reintroduced all the foreign rites
formerly extirpated by Josiah, and added the Egyptian to their number”
(Ewald), of which the amplest proof appears in the prophets (Jeremiah
7:9, etc.; 17:2; 19:4-5; Ezekiel 8:9-17).
o Violent; in this respect like his brother, compared to a young lion who
learned to catch the prey and devoured men (Ezekiel 19:5-6; compare
Jeremiah 22:17); the worst examples of his violence being his murder
of Urijah the prophet, whom he fetched out of
(Jeremiah 26:22-23), and his burning of Jeremiah’s roll, accompanied
with an order to arrest the prophet (Jeremiah 36:23, 26).
o Luxurious; he strove to excel in cedar, by building for himself a costly
palace of ample proportions, with spacious chambers and large
windows, ceiled with cedar, and painted with vermilion (Jeremiah
22:14-15). “At another time certainly no one could have blamed
Jehoiakim and his nobles for being discontented with the narrow,
ill-lighted chambers of Syrian houses; but was this the moment
Necho’s war-fine?” (Cheyne, ‘Jeremiah: his Life and Times,’ p. 141).
o Exacting; grinding the faces of his people with severe taxation to pay
the tribute to Pharaoh (II Kings 23:33), and cheating of their
hard earned wages the very laborers who built his palace (Jeremiah
o Licentious; abandoning himself to lewdness (Ezekiel 19:7, margin;
I Esdras 1:42). In short, “he remained fixed in the recollections of his
countrymen as the last example of those cruel, selfish, luxurious
princes, the natural product of Oriental monarchies, the disgrace
monarchy of David “(
Ø His reign. Eleven years. Too long for any good it wrought. Judah could
hardly have fared worse, had he been uncrowned after three months, as his
brother had been.
Ø His death. Accounts vary.
o The Chronicler does not make it clear whether he was carried to
he was probably, like Manasseh (ch. 33:13), permitted after a time
to return to his own land (Keil, Bertheau, Jamieson), since:
o according to II Kings 24:6, Jehoiakim” "slept with his fathers,” and,
to the Septuagint, “was buried in the
The addendum of the Septuagint is obviously non-authentic, and
the statement of Scripture seems contradicted by
o passages in Jeremiah, which say that Jehoiakim should be “buried with
the burial of an ass, drawn and cast forth beyond the gates of
Jerusalem” (Jeremiah 22:19), and that his dead body should be
“cast out in the day to the heat, and in the night to the frost”
(Jeremiah 36:30). The reconciliation, however, of the seeming
discrepancy is easy. He may have been slain by the hand of an
assassin, and his dead body thereupon cast out unburied (Cheyne);
or “he may have perished in a battle with some one of
the irregular marauding bands who, according to "II Kings 24:2,
came against him” (Keil, Bahr), and his corpse been left to rot upon
the battlefield; or, after being first executed by Nebuchadnezzar
and buried with the burial of an ass, his bones may have been
collected and interred in the sepulchre of Manasseh (Rawlinson).
Ø His person. Nebuchadnezzar, Nebuchadrezzar (Jeremiah 21:2),
Nabuchodonosor (Septuagint), in the inscriptions Nabu-kudurri-usur,
meaning “Nebo protect the crown.”
Ø His descent. A son of Nabopolassar, a general of Sarak, the last King of
Nineveh (Ewald), perhaps the viceroy of Babylon (Cheyne). On the fall of
Nineveh he founded the new Babylonian empire (B.C. 625-610).
Ø His title. King of Babylon. Hitherto the enemies of Jerusalem and Judah
now it is a King of Babylon. According to the canon of Ptolemy,
Nebuchadnezzar ascended the throne in B.C. 604; according to Berosus,
while crown prince he was, in B.C. 605, dispatched by his father “to crush
a revolt of the western provinces,” in which he was entirely successful,
Ø His invasion. According to Daniel, this occurred in Jehoiakim’s third
year (Daniel 1:1), the year before Nebuchadnezzar defeated Necho at
that, either before or immediately after defeating Necho, he proceeded to
Jerusalem and received the submission of Jehoiakim, who had up till that
time been Necho’s vassal. In order to secure this transference of
Jehoiakim’s allegiance, he appears to have both taken the city and put its
sovereign in chains, as if, should he prove refractory, to deport him to
Babylon, but to have departed from this design on obtaining promise of
Jehoiakim’s fealty. This, however, Jehoiakim only kept for three years
(II Kings 24:1), at the end of which he rebelled, Nebuchadnezzar, being
with affairs in
years prior to Jehoiakim’s revolt, dispatched against the rebel several
detachments of troops, “bands of Chaldeans,” at the same time stirring up
Ammonites, Syrians, and Moabites to harass
himself returning to
Ø The first plundering of the sacred edifice.
o By whom? Shishak (Sheshonk) King of Egypt.
o When? In the fifth year of Rehoboam, B.C. 971.
o To what extent? Total: “He took away the treasures of the house
of the Lord: he took all” (ch. 12:9; I Kings 14:26).
Ø The second plundering of the sacred edifice.
o The despoiler. Ahaz King of Judah.
o The time. B.C. 734, during the Syro-Ephraimitish invasion.
o The reason. To purchase therewith the help of Tiglath-Pileser II.
against Rezin of
Ø The third plundering of the sacred edifice.
o The agent, Hezekiah, the son of Ahaz.
o The act. He took “all the silver found in the house of the Lord… and
the gold from the doors and pillars of the temple” (II Kings 18:15-16).
o The object. To give to Sennacherib King of Assyria as tribute-money.
o The date. When Sennacherib was encamped at Lachish, B.C. 701.
Ø The fourth plundering of the sacred edifice.
o The person. Nebuchadnezzar, called King of Babylon, though at the
time only crown-prince.
o The extent. Partial: “He carried off the vessels of the house of the
Lord.” (Jeremiah 27:18, 20) predicted that the vessels which
left would one day be carried to
there until the return from captivity, when they should again be restored
to their place in the temple (compare v. 18; Daniel 5:2; Ezra 1:7).
o The cause. To punish Judah as well as Jehoiakim, and to ensure their
o The aggravation. The pillaged vessels were transported to Babylon
and deposited in “his temple,” or “treasure house of his god” (Daniel
1:2; I Esdras 1:41), rather than “his palace” (Bertheau). The inscriptions
show that Marduk, or Merodach, was Nebuchadnezzar’s patron divinity,
that Nebuchadnezzar’s temple was the
which he completely built and restored, and that Nebuchadnezzar
himself was, according to his ideas, intensely religious, even calling
himself “the heaven-adoring king” (‘Records,’ etc., 5:113, etc.;
Ø The native corruption of the human heart, attested by the wicked
characters of Josiah’s sons.
Ø The impossibility of going on in sin with impunity.
An Unlamented Death (v. 8; Jeremiah 22:18)
We learn more of this King of Judah in the prophetic writings of Jeremiah
than in these brief annals. There we learn that his foreign policy was not
less condemnable than his conduct of home affairs. When his treasury was
low by reason of heavy payments to the foreign powers, he must needs
build for himself a splendid and costly mansion (Jeremiah 22:14), and in
order to do this he had to impress the labor of his subjects (ibid. v.13);
he thus excited a strong feeling of just resentment and natural
disaffection among them, and brought down upon himself the severe
rebuke of the prophet of the Lord. We also learn from Jeremiah that the
king acted in daring defiance of God’s holy Law, presuming to cut in two
and to burn in the fire the sacred roll (ibid. 36:23). By this wanton
and impious action he still further drew down upon him the wrath of
Jehovah, and by that act he terribly prejudiced and injured his country.
How, then, can we wonder that the Chronicler writes, as in the text, of “the
abominations which he did”? and how can we wonder that his death
excited so different, so opposite a feeling throughout all his kingdom to
that which the death of his father called forth (here, ch. 35:24-25)?
We have in him a melancholy instance of an unlamented death
cynically, “I don’t want any tears shed over my grave; I shall be quite
content to die without any one sorrowing on my account.” There is no true
unselfishness, but much thoughtlessness” in such a sentiment. Any minister
of religion who has stood at the grave-side, and has been unable to ask for
God’s comfort to be granted to those who are left behind, will know how
little to be desired is the absence of grief at the death of a man or woman.
For what does it mean? It means that God gave to such a man all the
opportunities for winning human love, and that he did not gain it;
for doing service, and that he left it undone; for rendering help and blessing,
and that he did not render it; if means that a human life has been one long
act of mean, barren, dreary selfishness, has been an utter failure, condemned
of God and man! God forbid that any whom we love should die unlamented;
with none to say, “Ah, my brother! ah, my sister!”
and to spare in this world of sin and woe. But there is one sorrow that no
wise or good man would wish for one moment to be spared. It is that
which we feel when our kindred and our friends are taken from us by
death. The hope we have concerning these may chasten and (in
time)supersede it. But sorrow there must be and should be. And it is well
with us and for us that the heart bleeds freely then. For such sorrow is:
Ø The tender tribute we pay to the worth of the departed, to their affection
and to their goodness.
Ø The proof that this hardening world has not petrified our spirit with its
Ø The share we have with all the best and truest of our race, enabling us to
sympathize with them and to succor them.
Ø The occasion which takes us often to the sympathizing Friend in
elevating, chastening communion.
Ø The unloosening of the ties which must soon be unbound to set us free.
It was said of Philip Henry, Matthew Henry’s father, that he was noted
“Lord, help me to be ready to leave this world, or
to be left”
9 “Jehoiachin was eight years old when he began to reign, and he
reigned three months and ten days in
which was evil in the sight of the LORD.” Eight years old. Our text,
not the writer, is in error, and the parallel furnishes the correction,
“eighteen years old.”
10 “And when the year was expired, king Nebuchadnezzar sent, and
brought him to
the LORD, and made Zedekiah his brother king
to reign, and reigned eleven years in
When the year was expired; i.e. at the beginning of the new
year, in spring (ch. 24:23). It appears, from II Kings 25:27-30, that the
captivity of Jehoiachin, which thus began, lasted thirty-seven
years, till B.C. 561, past the end of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign, and that
he was thenceforward kindly treated by Evil-Merodach. Compare
particularly with this verse the parallel in II Kings 24:10-16. Zedekiah his
brother; i.e. not adopting the very generic usage of the terms of
relationship, so common in Old Testament language, his uncle. His mother
(Hamutal, v. 18 of parallel) was the same with the mother of Jehoahaz.
Ten years old evidently when Jehoiakim began his reign, he must have been
thirteen years younger than his whole brother Je-hoahaz. Zedekiah’s name
was before Mat-taniah. The account of Zedekiah in the parallel (which see)
is very much more full.
Three Melancholy Spectacles (vs. 1-10)
As we read these verses we feel that we are drawing very near the end of
chapter of the Hebrew chronicles. There are three things which it is sad to
deposes one king and sets up another, calling that other by a name that it
pleases to confer, at the same time imposing a heavy tribute on the people
of the land; and when, that power declining,
without any resistance, enters the capital, puts the sovereign in chains, and
then extends to him a contemptuous protectorate; when this same power
again comes up and carries away the sovereign after a brief reign of three
months, and takes him away, with the most precious treasures of the
capital; — we are affected by a sense of pitiful national decline. We enter
into the feelings of its patriot-subjects who could not have helped
contrasting the glories of the age of David and Solomon with the abject
humiliation of their own time. A strong and self-respecting people falling
into servitude, bowing its head to an utterly relentless power which has no
other force than that of the sword and the war-chariot, — this is a
melancholy spectacle indeed. It may profitably suggest to us the question
— What is the real cause of a nation’s fall? and it will be found, on inquiry,
that while this may be due to overweening ambition, it is much more likely
to be ascribed:
Ø to indulgence,
Ø to demoralization,
Ø to the weakness which must attend moral and spiritual deterioration.
Simplicity and purity of life, sustained by Christian principle — this is the
one security against decline, subjection, and ruin.
prince Jehoahaz grew up in the court of Judah with high hopes for his
future. His father was in possession of no mean estate, and there was every
prospect of his succeeding to some measure, if not to the chief part of it.
But, after three months’ occupancy or power and enjoyment of wealth, to
be cast into chains and taken away to languish in confinement
until he died, was a sad and sorry portion. We do not know, but we can
well imagine, that there was high hope extinguished, love broken off, much
earthly brightness suddenly eclipsed. It is one of the consolations of
obscurity that it is much less likely than is prominence to be subjected to
such sudden and painful overthrow. It is most wise on the part of all of us
to have in reserve a spiritual force that will sustain us if we “suffer the loss
of all things” human and temporal.
well as of Jehoiakim and of Jehoiachin (see II Kings 23:32, 37; 24:9), it
is recorded that “he did evil in the sight of the Lord.” This is peculiarly sad
as applicable to Jehoahaz. Considering the gracious influences under which
he spent his childhood and his boyhood at court, he ought to have done (as
he must have known) better things. Instead of confirming and consolidating
the glorious revolution effected by his father, he dissipated all good forces
and broke up all good institutions. It is not in the power of most young
men to work evil on such a scale; but who shall measure the good left
undone and the evil wrought when one young man deliberately chooses the
evil part? Within the compass of one human life large capacities are
included; how large only Omniscience can tell. Let the young man feel that
not for his own sake only, but also for the sake of a very large number of
other human souls, it is of the greatest consequence that he should walk in
the ways of heavenly wisdom.
Jehoiachin the Worthless (vs. 9-10)
Ø His title to the throne, He was Jehoiakim’s son, his mother having been
“The Brazen,” the daughter of El-nathan of
II Kings 24:6, 8), one of the princes attached to Jehoiakim’s court
(Jeremiah 26:22; 36:12, 25).
Ø His regal designation. Jehoiachin, “Jehovah has established,” perhaps
expressive of the hopes with which he assumed the scepter. His personal
name appears to have been “Coniah” (Jeremiah 22:24, 28), or Jeconiah
(I Chronicles 3:16), also signifying “Jehovah establishes.”
Ø His age at accession. Eight years (v. 9), obviously a mistake for
eighteen (II Kings 24:8), since he had wives (II Kings 24:15), and in
Jeremiah is represented as a man, while, if Ezekiel (19:5-9) refers to him
rather than Jehoiakim, the language in v. 7 is hardly suitable as applied to
an infant or child of eight.
Ø His continuance upon the throne. Three months and ten days — ten
days longer than his uncle Jehoahaz (v. 2), and “just as long as
Napoleon’s after his landing in March, 1815” (Cheyne). Another
illustration of short-lived glory. Vanitas vanitatura! (earthly life
is ultimately empty)
Ø As a man. He was obviously no better than his father, in whose
footsteps he walked. His father’s wickedness allured more than his father’s
evil fortunes repelled him. Jehovah’s withering scorn of Coniah as “a
despised and broken pot,” “a vessel wherein is no pleasure” (Jeremiah
22:28; compare 48:38), significantly intimates the esteem in which he was
held by Him who tries the hearts and reins alike of kings and common men;
while the relentless doom pronounced upon “this man” and “his seed”
was a clear certification that the stock from which he sprang was incurably
diseased, that the taint of vileness in the family was ineradicable, that he
and his descendants were only fit to be cast out and trodden in the mire
(Matthew 5:13; Luke 14:34).
Ø As a king. “He did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord” (v. 9),
He had no power, even had he possessed the inclination, to arrest the
downward progress of his nation. By personal preference as well as by
official position he was bound neck and heels to THE HEATHEN PARTY
to which his mother Nehushta belonged, and which sought neither the
prosperity nor the safety of their land and kingdom in maintaining the
pure worship of Jehovah, but in serving Canaanitish, Phoenician,
Egyptian, Assyrian, or Babylonian idols, whichever should at any time
be thought most likely to serve their turn.
Ø The reason. Not stated by either the Chronicler or the author of Kings,
this may have been suspicion of Jehoiachin’s fidelity (Rawlinson, . Kings of
Ø The time. At the return of the year (v. 10), i.e. in springtime, when
kings were accustomed to go forth to battle (II Samuel 11:1). The year
was the eighth of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign (II Kings 24:12), or B.C. 597.
Ø The manner. (II Kings 24:10-15.)
Nebuchadnezzar dispatched his generals to besiege
o Afterwards Nebuchadnezzar himself appeared in front of the city.
o Jehoiachin, accompanied by his mother, his wives, his servants, his
princes, his officers, went out to make submission and surrender the
city to Nebuchadnezzar, in the hope doubtless of being permitted, like
Jehoiakim, to retain his kingdom
as a vassal of
however, was not accorded him.
Nebuchadnezzar made him prisoner and carried him off to
Jeremiah (Jeremiah 22:25) had some time before predicted he would do.
o In addition, Nebuchadnezzar carried off his mother, his wives, his
officers, the chief men of the land, amongst whom was Ezekiel
(Ezekiel 1:1-2), even ten thousand captives, with seven thousand men
of might, and a thousand craftsmen and smiths — “a sad mitigation of
his lot indeed, but one for which Jehoahaz might have envied him.
All that was best and worthiest in the old capital city went with
o Only the poorest sort of people were left in the land, with the king’s
uncle Mattanias, or Zedekiah, as king.
o The temple and palace were on this occasion completely plundered.
“The goodly vessels of the house of the Lord” (v. 10), i.e. the larger
articles — the smaller ones having been previously taken (v. 7) —
Ø The duration. Thirty-seven years. Then, on the twenty-seventh day of
the twelfth month of the year, Evil-Merodach (in the inscriptions Avil-
Marduk, signifying “Man of Marduk” or “Merodach”), on coming to the
throne after Nebuchadnezzar’s death, lifted up his head out of prison
(II Kings 25:27-30).
Ø The incurable character of sin, at least by any merely human
Ø The swiftness in some cases of Divine retribution.
Ø The misery entailed by sin upon evil-doers and all connected with
Ø The evil done to religion by the wickedness of those who profess
and should adorn it.
12 “And he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD his God, and
humbled not himself before Jeremiah the prophet speaking from the mouth
of the LORD.” Humbled not himself before Jeremiah the prophet. Very
numerous passages in the Book of Jeremiah (21-51.) illustrate both this
clause and generally the feeble character and uncertain career of Zedekiah.
13 “And he also rebelled against king Nebuchadnezzar, who had made
him swear by God: but he stiffened his neck, and hardened his
heart from turning unto the LORD God of
He also rebelled against… Nebuchadnezzar, who had
made him swear by God (Elohim). The criticism of the Prophet Ezekiel
upon this oath-violation on the part of Zedekiah is to be found Ezekiel
17:12-20; 21:25. Unto the Lord God of
the part of the Jew to the name, Jehovah. It is not this name that is used at
the commencement of the verse.
14 “Moreover all the chief of the priests, and the people, transgressed
very much after all the abominations of the heathen; and polluted
the house of the LORD which He had hallowed in
This, with the following three verses, may be regarded as THE FORMAL
AND FINAL INDICTMENT OF THE PEOPLE OF
compared with that of
I Chronicles 24:1, 3-19). The heads of the twenty-four courses there
spoken of, with the high priest added, sum up the twenty-five men of
Ezekiel 8:16, the entire of which chapter may well be read with the present
history, and its description of the culminating pitch of wickedness of:
Ø priests, and
15 “And the LORD God of their fathers sent to them by His
messengers, rising up betimes, and sending; because He had
compassion on His people, and on His dwelling place:”
His messengers. The chief of these were presumably Isaiah,
Jeremiah, Ezekiel. The marginal references (Jeremiah 25:3-7;
35:12-15) are very interesting, both for this verse and the following.
16 “But they mocked the messengers of God, and despised His words,
and misused His prophets, until the wrath of the LORD arose
against His people, till there was no remedy.” No remedy (compare
Proverbs 6:15; 29:1; Jeremiah 8:15; 14:19; 33:6; Malachi 4:2).
17 “Therefore He brought upon them the king of the Chaldees, who
slew their young men with the sword in the house of their
sanctuary, and had no compassion upon young man or maiden, old
man, or him that stooped for age: He gave them all into his hand.”
Powerful illustrations of this verse may be read in Lamentations 2 and
Ezekiel 9 throughout the length of the chapters.
Stooping (v. 17)
“No compassion on him that stooped for age.” There are many kinds of
“stooping,” some of which are to be commiserated, one of which is to be
honored and even envied and emulated. There is the stooping which is:
poor woman of whom we read that “she had a spirit of infirmity eighteen
years, and was bound together, and could in no wise lift up herself”
(Luke 13:11). We do not wonder that the Lord of love had compassion
on her, and “loosed her from her infirmity.” Perhaps few men and women
are more to be pitied than the deformed. They see all others round them
standing, walking, running, erect in the full stature and freedom of
manhood, and they themselves are subjects of uncomeliness and inability.
How cruelly unchristian to treat these with contempt, or even with
disregard! How are we bound, as the followers of our Lord, to extend to
these stooping ones our sympathy, our brotherliness, our honor! “Trust
me no more, but trust me no less,” our great popular novelist makes such
an afflicted one say continually; and here, as often, the secular writer is
more Christian than he may know.
“stoop for age.” The burdens of life have rested on their shoulders and
have made them stoop. They have carried much, and they bend with the
weight of the years they have spent. It is an honorable mark, like that of the
“hoary head.” Shall we pity them that stoop for age? Yes, if they have lived
a life that has not been worthy, and move toward a future in which no star
of hope is shining. No, if they are bent down with estimable and fruitful
labor, with work that will leave many traces behind it — especially if the
weight beneath which they stoop is the burden of others which they have
generously and (perhaps) nobly borne (Galatians 6:2); no, if this mark
of the passage of time only indicates that he who thus stoops is nearing the
end of his earthly service, that he may lay it down and take up the better
work in the brighter light and the broader sphere, where toil knows no
fatigue, and, instead of wearing out the worker, continually multiplies his
power. But let those who “stoop for age” remember that their work below
is nearly finished; that what else they would do here for the Master and for
their kind they must do quickly; “so much the more (therefore) as they see
the day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:25)
Ø The stoop of servility (an excessive desire to please others) . This is discreditable.
No one need be and no one should be servile. It is a mistake as well as a fault and
a dishonor. Civility (formal politeness and courtesy in behavior or speech)
every one appreciates; respect, all who are worthy of it look for and like to
receive; but cringing or servility is as unacceptable to him to whom it is
shown as it is dishonorable and injurious to him by whom it is offered.
Ø The stoop of immorality; the lowering of the standard of morals in order
to accommodate ourselves to circumstances, in order to be free to gain or
to enjoy that which, in our truer and worthier moods, we could not touch.
This stooping of the soul is pitiable indeed; it is also condemnable indeed.
If we have yielded to it, let us be ashamed of it; let us rise to our true
height, let us stand erect again in the full stature of honorable and
estimable Christian manhood. Only then can we respect ourselves and
enjoy the esteem of the pure and good.
that has stooped the furthest; it is that SON OF GOD who became the
Son of man. It is He who, “though He was rich, for our sakes became
poor, that we through His poverty might be rich” (II Corinthians 8:9; and
see Philippians 2:3-8). We never rise so high in the estimation of our
Divine Lord as when we stoop thus. When we are thus reduced we are
enlarged indeed. When we renounce our right, whether it be:
Ø of enjoyment, or
Ø of adornment, or
Ø of enrichment,
in order to reach and rescue others, then do we rise toward the nobility of
our great Exemplar, and then are we in the way of reaping a large reward.
(As Job says, may it be said of us all “Thou shalt come to thy grave in a full age,
like as a shock of corn cometh in his season.” Job 5:26 – CY – 2017)
18 “And all the vessels of the house of God, great and small, and the
treasures of the house of the LORD, and the treasures of the king,
and of his princes; all these he brought to
in II Kings 25:13-17; Jeremiah 52:15-23.
19 “And they burnt the house of God, and brake down the wall of
Jerusalem, and burnt all the palaces thereof with fire, and destroyed
all the goodly vessels thereof. 20 And them that had escaped from the
sword carried he away to
and his sons until the reign of the
(Compare the parallel, II Kings 25:1-12; Jeremiah 39:1-10; 52:24-30.)
The reign of the
the Persian king. The immediate successor of Nebuchadnezzar was his
Desecration and Destruction (vs. 18-19)
We look at:
all the facts of history. This is the very climax of disasters — the, great
and all its sacred vessels carried away into a heathen land, to be there
profaned by irreverent and wanton hands! Could anything happen more
painful to the feelings, more shocking to the imagination, of the devout
than that? All the work to which David consecrated his energies with such
rare affection and devotion, to which Solomon brought all his wisdom and
for which he obtained the most advanced culture of his time, brought to
desolation by the ruthless hand of the heathen! That glorious, that sacred,
that beloved building, meeting-place of God and man, where the people of
God realized their highest privileges, and recognized their relation to their
Redeemer and to one another, burned and desolated, the foot of the
idolater intruding into its holiest sanctuary, and the hand of the spoiler
taking away its most sacred treasure!
the earth a Son of man who could say of Himself without presumption, “In
this place is One greater than the temple” (Matthew 12:6); and He once
spake of “the temple of his body” (John 2:21). And well, indeed, might
the Son of God speak thus of Himself; for was He not the manifestation of
the Divine to the children of men, and did He not reveal the truth of God to
mankind, and in His presence men drew near to God as they did not even in
“the holy of holies”?
We know how that living
from the rude violence of men, and at last “with wicked hands was slain.”
No such desecration took place when the temple was burnt and spoiled as
was witnessed when Jesus Christ was crowned with thorns in the soldiers’
hall, and was crucified at
the visible, approachable, appreciable manifestation of God now? Where,
but in the life and
the character of good men? We are the
when we are what our Divine Father created us to be; such are we then,
that, as men draw nigh to us and observe us and learn of us, they know
God and learn of Him. But how may this temple be desecrated and
Ø By the profanation of our powers and our affections. When our powers
are expended on the furtherance of that which is evil and on the production
of that which is baneful; when our affections are wasted on those who are
unworthy of our love; when we prize and when we pursue that which is
below our true aspiration, and which leads us downward and backward; —
Ø By the guilty forfeiture of our life. What a destruction of the temple of
God is a guilty suicide! And they are many who take their own lives. It is
not only those who shoot or hang themselves that commit suicide; it is they
who deliberately and repeatedly do those things which they must know are
destroying their vitality and taking away their life; these are men who put a
brand to the temple which God as well as man has built.
to the human body as the
frame — and how much more our human spirit! — as a sacred thing,
because it is (because we are) THE VERY
(see I Corinthians 3:9, 16-17; 6:19; II Corinthians 6:16; Ephesians 2:20-21;
I Peter. 2:5). It is this elevated and ennobling thought which, more
than any other, stirs and strengthen us to “purify ourselves even as Christ
the Lord is pure” (I John 3:3), to seek, by earnest effort and frequent
prayer, for the utmost attainable sanctity of spirit and of life.
Exile (v. 20)
“And them… carried he away to
[slaves] to him and his sons.”
The captivity of the Jews in
regarded in three lights.
that they were permitted to be “the prey to the teeth” of the enemy because
of their sins. The very next verse (21) intimates that it was disobedience to
the Law of God that resulted in the denudation of the land. And the truth
that NATIONAL CALAMITY is the consequence of NATIONAL
TRANSGRESSION is “writ large” and plain on every page of this Book
of Chronicles. He may run that reads it (Habakkuk 2:2). Sin entails penalty.
The truth is written on the pages of NATIONAL and INDIVIDUAL history
as well as on those of the Word of God. EVERY NATION and EVERY
MAN may make up its (his) mind that, sooner or later, sin will entail:
Ø HUMILIATION, and
The penalty may take various forms, but penalty will most surely come.
It may be obviously physical, or it may be principally spiritual; it will
almost certainly be both the one and the other. But no man can harden
himself against the Holy One and prosper. Whoso sinneth against Him
“wrongeth his own soul” (Proverbs 8:36); he deprives himself of
inestimable good, and he makes himself the victim of deep and
lasting evil. The children of
“We suffer because we sinned against the Lord.” This is the explanation
of the tribulation and distress, of the DARKNESS and THE DEATH
of the HUMAN WORLD!
trial which should burn up the large measure of “wood, hay, and stubble”
(I Corinthians 3:12) in the character of the Jews that needed to be consumed.
Strange it may seem to us that they should learn purity of creed among the
heathen; that, away from
the city and the
a taste and a love for His service and worship shown for many generations
in their synagogues; that in the midst of many superstitions they should
come to hate all idolatrous forms and tendencies with the utmost abhorrence.
But so it was. In the land of the stranger they lost their inclination to apostatize
from God; they were purged of their old folly and guilt. And what early
instruction, what fuller privileges, what later experiences will not do, that
DIVINE CHASTISEMENT may accomplish. God passes us through the
fiery trial to purge us of our dross, to consume our earthliness, our
selfishness, our grossness, our unbelief. And in some “strange land,”
Ø in some place of spiritual solitude,
Ø in conditions under which we are compelled to feel as we never
Ø to learn what we never knew before,
Ø to lay to heart what we never realized before,
we leave many things behind us which are weights and hindrances,
we move on to that which is before us. (“.....forgetting those things which
are behind, and reaching forrth unto those things which are before,
I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in
Jesus Christ.” Philippians 3:13-14)
SPIRITUAL DISTANCE from God? To be living in sin, in a state in which
we are not reconciled unto God, — is not this the exile of the soul? For what
does it mean?
Ø It is distance from God. It is to be a long way, an increasing distance,
o from His favor,
o from His likeness,
o from the desire to hold communion with Him, and therefore from
o His felt PRESENCE!
(Like David, may we pray “Cast me not way from thy presence; and
take not thy Holy Spirit from me.” Psalm 51:11 – CY - 2017
Ø It is captivity. It is to be in the hands of the enemy; it is to be where
silken cords at first, and at last iron chains, of unholy habit hold us fast in a
cruel and degrading bondage; where we are held fast to covetousness, or
to vanity, or to procrastination, or even to some dishonoring vice.
(The chains of habit are too light to be felt, until, they are too strong to
be broken! CY – 2017)
Ø It is dissatisfaction or even misery of soul. In that “strange land” these
exiles could not sing “the Lord’s song;” they “wept when they remembered
to Him, there can be no “joy and rejoicing in Him” or in His holy service.
But let us bless God that away in this saddest exile we have not to wait until
an appointed term is fulfilled, or until some Cyrus issues a proclamation
(v. 22); we may hear, IF WE WILL LISTEN, THE VOICE OF THE ONE
who does indeed rule over “all the kingdoms of the earth” (v. 23), who
is ever saying to us, “Return unto me, and I will return unto you.”
(Zechariah 1:3; Malachi 3:7; Jeremiah 15:19) We may hear the blessed
words of Him who never ceases to address the generations of men, saying,
“Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give
you rest.” (Matthew 11:28) We may learn of that Divine Teacher that
whoever comes back from the “far country’ of sin, and seeks the heavenly
Father’s mercy, shall find the most cordial welcome he could hope to meet,
and be taken back at once to all the love and to all the freedom of the
Father’s home. (Luke 15:17-24)
21 “To fulfill the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the
land had enjoyed her sabbaths: for as long as she lay desolate she
kept sabbath, to fulfill threescore and ten years.” The word of the Lord.
Note marginal references (Jeremiah 25:9-12; 29:10). The three score and
ten years of desolateness may probably best be dated from Nebuchadnezzar’s
first taking of
with the B.C. 538 of Cyrus’s conquest of
easily explained on more than one sufficiently natural supposition (e.g. that
Cyrus’s reign was not exactly synchronous in the beginning of it with his
Zedekiah; or the Fall
Ø On the part of the king. Seemingly the third (I Chronicles 3:15), but
in reality the fourth, son of Josiah (compare II Kings 23:31, 36), and the full
brother of Jehoahaz, or Shallum (ibid. v. 31; 24:18). but the half-brother
of Jehoiakim (ibid. v. 36), Mattanias, or Jehovah s gift, as he
originally called, ascended the throne of
by the favor of Nebuchadnezzar his overlord (v. 10). With his superior’s
consent, like Jehoiakim, he adopted of his own accord, or had chosen for
him by others (Cheyne), a special throne-name. Zedekiah, Zidkiah,
meaning “Jehovah is righteous,” or “Justice of Jehovah,” had been the
name of a former sovereign of Ascalon, whom Sennacherib had subdued
(Schrader, ‘Die Keilinschriften,’ p. 291); and whatever may have been the
object of Mattanias or his princes in selecting this as the designation of
propriety. To a people who were frequently instructed by “signs” it was a
double symbol — first by way of contrast of the utter corruption of the
nation, both prince and people; and second by way of prediction of coming
doom for the kingdom. So far as the king was concerned, it was a grim
satire on holy things to designate a creature like him Zedekiah. If his
person and character were remarkable for anything, it was for the absence
o His devotion to idols was intense. He did evil in the sight of the Lord
his God (v. 12), by adhering to the heathen worship of his predecessors
(II Kings 24:19; Jeremiah 52:2).
o His unbelief was pronounced. He refused to believe Jeremiah the
prophet speaking to him in Jehovah’s name (Jeremiah 37:2).
o His disobedience was flagrant. He rebelled against Nebuchadnezzar,
who had made him swear (allegiance) by God (v. 13; compare II Kings
24:20; Ezekiel 17:13-19) — a wickedness for which Jehovah declared
a new Pharaoh, Hophrah in Scripture (Jeremiah 44:30), in
the hieroglyphic — inscriptions Uahibri, in the Septuagitn, or
Apries, in Herodotus (2:161, 169; 4:159). To him Zedekiah, against
Jeremiah’s advice, dispatched ambassadors, hoping to obtain “horses
and much people” (Ezekiel 17:15). Nebuchadnezzar at once took the
field, uncertain whether to march against
of divination he decided for
year of Zedekiah’s reign, on the tenth month, Nebuchadnezzar with his
sat down before
Pharaoh-Hophra’s approach, he raised the siege (Jeremiah 37:5). This
having excited false hopes as to Nebuchadnezzar’s final withdrawal from
the city (Ezekiel 17:17), Jeremiah warned king and people that he
would soon return (Jeremiah 37:8-10). This warning Zedekiah would
not hear (here, v. 16).
Ø On the part of the people. Hardly second to their monarch were the
priests, the princes, and the people.
o Their passion for idolatry was as great: “They trespassed very greatly
after all the abominations of the heathen” (v. 14). “Like priest, like
people” (Hosea 4:9), a proverb applicable to kings and subjects,
masters and servants, as well as ecclesiastics and worshippers.
o Their insolence was as high. “They polluted the house of the Lord
which he had hallowed in
23:11) alludes to practices specially inconsistent with the holy place,
and one of the Jewish captives explains what they were (Ezekiel
8:11-17). There was:
§ an image of Asherah;
§ totemistic animal-emblems on the wall of a temple-chamber;
§ weeping for ‘Tammuz dearly wounded;’
§ sun-worship and the rite of holding up ‘the twig’ to the nose”
(Cheyne, ‘Jeremiah: his Life’ etc., pp. 166, 167).
o Their unbelief was as daring. Though Jehovah had “sent to them by
his messengers, rising up early and sending them,” yet had they
“mocked the messengers of God, and despised His words, and
scoffed at His prophets” (vs. 15-16) — a degree of criminality
beyond that of which the Israelites had been guilty when they
laughed Hezekiah’s messengers to scorn (ch. 30:10), but not above
that which hearers of the gospel may incur (Acts 2:13; 17:32;
Hebrews 10:29; II Peter 2:3-4; Jude 1:18).
moral and spiritual corruption of the community in Zedekiah’s time was so
great that nothing remained but to pour out upon them the vials of long-
threatened wrath (Deuteronomy 28:21, 36, 52; 31:16-21; Jeremiah
5:19; 32:28-36). In the expressive language of the Chronicler, “there was
no remedy,” “no healing,” more; nothing but fire and sword. After
defeating Pharaoh-Hophra, or causing him to retreat, Nebuchadnezzar
returned to his head-quarters at Riblah,
on the east bank of the
thirty-five miles northeast of Baalbec, and dispatched his captains,
Nergalsharezer, Samgar-nebo, Sar-sechim, Rab-saris, Rab-mag, and
others to resume the siege of
withstood their assaults until the beginning of the eleventh year, when
the supply of provisions began to fail (Jeremiah 52:6). On the ninth
day of the fourth month, i.e. in July, B.C. 586, “there was no bread
for the people of the land.” The starving defenders of the city could no
longer hold out. The horrors of the situation may be gathered from
Lamentations 2:19; 4:3-10; Ezekiel 5:10; Baruch 2:3. The besiegers
eventually effected a breach in the north wall, and poured in like a
destroying flood. Then ensued:
Ø Merciless carnage. The Chaldean soldiers butchered all and sundry,
young and old, lad and maiden, not even sparing such as had taken refuge
in the temple (v. 17). The massacre was wholesale, truculent, and
eclipsed in horror only by that which took place when
was captured by Titus (Josephus, ‘Wars’ 6:9. 4).
Ø Ruthless sacrilege. They completely despoiled the temple of its sacred
vessels, great and small, as well as pillaged the royal palaces, carrying off
their treasures (v. 18). Among the articles removed from the temple were
the brazen and golden utensils of service, the two pillars, the brazen sea,
and the vases which Solomon had made (II Kings 25:13-17; Jeremiah
Ø Wholesale destruction. “They burnt the house of God, and brake down
the wall of
vandalism. This appears to have been done not on the night of the city’s
capture (tenth day of tenth month), but seven months after, on the tenth
day of the fifth month, i.e. in February, B.C. 587 (Jeremiah 52:12), and
to have been carried out by one of Nebuchadnezzar’s generals, Nebuzaradan,
captain of the king’s guards, or “chief of the executioners” (compare
Genesis 39:1), dispatched from Riblah for the purpose. What happened
in the interval is narrated in II Kings 25:4-7 and Jeremiah 52:7-11), viz.
had escaped when the city was taken, and their journey north to Riblah,
the head-quarters of Nebuchadnezzar, where, after judgment held
25:6), Zedekiah’s sons and the princes of
and Zedekiah himself blinded according to an inhuman practice
of the time (see ‘Records,’ etc., 3:50, 1. 117, “Of many soldiers I
destroyed the eyes;” and comp. Herod., 7:18), and cast into bonds
to being deported to
prison until the day of his death (Jeremiah 52:11); according to tradition,
his work in prison was that of grinding in a mill like an ordinary
slave (Ewald, ‘History of Israel,’ 4:273, note 5).
Ø Pitiless expatriation. Those that had escaped the sword were driven off,
like gangs of slaves, to become exiles in a strange land, and servants to the
three score and ten years (vs. 20-21). Such transplantations of conquered
populations were common in the ancient Orient. “Sargon transported the
Samaritans to Gozan and Media; Sennacherib carried off two hundred
from Europe into
Ø The incorrigible character of some sit, hers.
Ø The offensiveness in God’s sight of pride and hardness of heart.
Ø The heinousness of oath-breaking and of unjustifiable rebellion.
Ø The HOPELESSNESS of reformation in a city or a land when
ALL CLASSES are in love with wicked ways.
Ø The infinite compassion of God towards the worst of men.
Ø The certainty that mercy despised will turn into WRATH DISPLAYED!
The pitiless character of Heaven’s judgments upon them FOR WHOM
THERE IS NO REMEDY!
Ø The indifference God shows towards the external symbols of religion
when the inner spirit is wanting.
Ø The impossibility of God’s Word failing! (Jesus said, “Heaven
and earth will pass away but my words shall not pass away.”
22 “Now in
the first year of Cyrus king of
LORD spoken by the mouth of Jeremiah might be accomplished,
the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king
made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in
In the first year of Cyrus King of Persia. A period of half a
century has elapsed between the latest date of the foregoing verses (circ.
B.C. 586) and the date signalized here (circ. B.C. 5.38-6). With the
proclamation of Cyrus begins in fact the manhood, with all its mystic, its
wonderful, and its still non-progressing struggles, of the Jew. His simple
childhood, wilful youth, am indeed for ever gone. But he and his nation are
with unspeakably painful travail born. No life of nation that is or ever has
been merits the devout observation and study that this unchal-lengeably
does. Our present verse and the one succeeding it are, sentence for
sentence, the same with the opening verses of the Book of Ezra, which
may possibly once have joined on to Chronicles, as one work, though we
think this exceedingly unlikely. Cyrus (the כורֶשׁ of the Hebrew text) was
the son of a royal Persian, Cambysses; his mother was Mandane, daughter
of Astyages, last King of Media. The name appears on the monuments,
written Kurus. Cyrus defeated his grandfather Astyages, B.C. 559; ending
thereby the Median royal line; and he defeated Croesus, B.C. 546,
possessing himself thereby of the
above, B.C. 538. He himself died in battle, B.C. 529. That the word of the
Lord by… Jeremiah might be accomplished (see <242511>Jeremiah 25:11-14;
29:9-11). The Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus. The fact is told us,
and this, no doubt, as on a thousand other unsuspected occasions of far
more intrinsic and vital interest in the Bible, is sufficient. It would have
been interesting to know, however, even here, the mode in which Cyrus
was appealed to; as, e.g., it has been plausibly suggested that Daniel may
have been in part instrumental in the work, and that, again, in part perhaps
by directing the attention of Cyrus to <234428>Isaiah 44:28; 45:1.
23 “Thus saith Cyrus king of
the LORD God of heaven given me; and he hath charged me to
build him an house in
among you of all His people? The LORD his God be with him, and
let him go up.”
Hath the Lord God of heaven given me… the Lord his
God be with him. The adopting by Cyrus of the Hebrew “Jehovah” in
both these places cannot escape our notice. There can be no room to doubt
that Cyrus was acquainted with the sacred literature of the Hebrews, and
especially with the writings of Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel, as with the
language of Daniel. It may have been partly a graceful act on the part of
Cyrus to word his proclamation to the Jews thus, or it may have been
simply, what under the circumstances came most naturally to him, with
little or no intention in it either way. The numerous passages in Ezra
parallel in matter with this verse do not need specification here. Now
begins the new period of Jewish life, with fiercer probation, with
unbounded and various trial, and probably of world-length continuance.
The Final Indictment, Sentence, and Execution of it (vs. 1-23)
It is in vs. 11-21 of this chapter that we are given to read the final
summary of, first, the folly and sin of Judah, her king, princes, and people;
and second, the just displeasure and necessary punishment of Jehovah after
an unparalleled forbearance. The historic incidents of the four reigns which
occupy this chapter abound in pathetic, tragic interest. The account of
them given in the parallel (II Kings 23:31-25:30) is fuller. And both are
illustrated and extraordinarily enhanced in interest by the light and by the
cross-lights flung on the scene in the prophecies of Jeremiah and Ezekiel
(particularly Jeremiah chapters 21.; 24.; 27-29.; 32-34.; 37.; 38.;
51:59-52:34; Ezekiel 1:1-3; 12:13; 40:1). Many of these portions of history
write, and loudly utter forth as well, their own emphatic and impressive homilies.
The present Scripture, however, offers matter of most solemn reflection, in
summarizing the long
indictment of centuries that lay against
a most pathetic rehearsing of the compassionate, forbearing, ever-forgiving
ministration of Divine love which had for equal length of time striven to
prevail over her infidelity, yet all in vain! Her day of visitation had been not
one day only; it had been many a day! She “knew” them not, and “now
they are hid from her eyes.” (Luke 19:42)
day, year, generation, and even century, had been, in one word, idolatry. That
sin incurs the guilt of the first two commandments set at naught. There is a
sense, only too obvious and too certain, in which it is the world’s
fundamental source of sin and snare of sin. No age, no people, exempt
from the danger, and every individual exposed, at any rate, to it.
The honored word “worship” is often dishonored, in our not keeping in
vivid memory all its strangely beautiful import.
Ø To love supremely,
Ø to obey perfectly,
Ø to serve perpetually,
Ø to express praise and render homage intelligently, and
Ø to say without a reserve that all this is the simple due of
the object adored — this is to worship!
o The claim is absolute, one undivided and unshared, and always
operating without intermission.
o It is natural, reasonable, vindicable in every sense, and from every point
of view. Nothing else could be thought, nothing else would ever have
been thought, except from one circumstance.
o It postulates the consent, not the conflict, of that in man which is called
his free-will. That free-will is a great fact in human nature, solemn,
responsible, and inspiring fact — but it is the central fact of a moral
nature, instead of a merely physical or merely animal nature. Nay, more;
it is the head and the crown — the very crown of that moral nature,
resting on its brow, and by rights resting there as an imperishable
crown. Unless miserably and most mournfully forfeited, it is such.
There belongs to it by equal rights:
§ immortality of honor, and
§ the honor of immortality.
The last lesson any of us learns absolutely perfectly is — just that same.
Happy is the fresh full life, the patience, the strength, the confidence,
the love, of that man who has learned, “rising up betimes,” that he is
not his own; and that he ought not to be sin’s and Satan’s, but the
blest property of God, and prized (with and because of his freewill
and all) of that God! It is when our free-will becomes:
§ an infatuated will,
§ perverse will,
that our glory is dragged in the dust, and our crown and diadem fall.
There is no so great, broad, practical, ennobling rule for any man’s and
every man’s life than to study to remember well and absolutely that he
is God’s and Christ’s, and not (as also a man often says, oftener thinks
in his heart, of his money), NOT his own, to do with himself, his
lifetime, his powers, his heart, his tongue,” what he likes.”
(“.......and ye are not your own...For ye are bought with a price...”
I Corinthians 6:19-20)
Ø That gracious ministry helps by informing. The force of habit, of
example, of hereditary misinclinations and disinclinations, has been potent
to put out the truth in this matter. “The Lord God of their fathers sent to
them by his messengers, rising up betimes, and sending; because he had
compassion on His people” (v. 15).
Ø The informing ministry is THE MINISTRY OF REVELATION!
Ø It is a graciously persistent one, repeating over and over again its
Ø It is a warning, and, if needs be, a threatening ministry — sometimes so
to the last degree, confronting a man, and standing awhile in his actual
way, as the angel in the way of Balaam. (Numbers 22:21-35)
Ø It is also an encouraging and rewarding ministry. None who heed it
doubt this, or ever find it otherwise. Sin, how often it gave heartache and
to king and people! but “the turning to the Lord God of
(v. 13) NEVER FAILED to do the contrary.
Ø It is a punishing and again relenting and forgiving ministry. How often
punishment is learned, before it is experienced — if, alas! it should be so by
any — for the long last time!
Ø When, after all, that ministry is sinned against, “mocked, despised,
misused, till there is no remedy” (v. 16), then comes the wreck of
“wrath,” that wrath which can no longer be made light of, decisive,
irrevocable, and in itself dreadful.
PUNISHMENT, AND THE DREAD SEVENTY YEARS OF
HUMILIATION AND CAPTIVITY, THERE IS THE SUDDEN,
UNEXPECTED, HEAVEN- SENT INTERPOSITION OF A GREAT
After the banishment from
deluge of Noah it was so; now, after
as separate kingdoms, it was so; after Malachi, the last of “the prophets,” it
was most chiefly so. And IT IS SO NOW! The world of sin, the “mocking,
despising, misusing” world of sin, the ever-suffering world of sin, pitiless
toward itself, and mercilessly inflicting self-punishment, knows the
announcement of an interposition great beyond all before, and the offer of
a Heaven-sent, FREE, PRICELESS, HOPE and REDEMPTION!
Ø Foretold in Scripture.
o That his name should be Cyrus.
o That he should come from the East.
o That he should be a mighty conqueror, subduing nations and
he should overthrow
empire of that name.
o That he should liberate the captive Jews in that city and empire.
o That he should issue orders or grant permission for the rebuilding of
city and the
o That in doing all this he should act (whether consciously or
unconsciously is not stated) under the immediate guidance and direct
superintendence of Jehovah (Isaiah 41:2; 44:28; 45:1-5; 46:11;
Ø Raised up in history.
o He was called Cyrus, in Hebrew Coresh (v. 22; Ezra 1:1), in the
inscriptions K’ur’us and Ku-ra-as (Schrader, ‘Die Keilinschriften,’
o He came from the East, being named in sacred history (v. 22;
Ezra 1:1; 4:3; Daniel 6:28), as well as in profane (Herod., 9:122;
Xen., ‘Cyr.,’ 8. 2:7), King of
was originally King of Elam, on the east of
Light,’ etc., pp. 168, etc.).
o First he conquered Astyages the Median, who had marched against him
sixth year of Nabonidus King of
year of Nabonidus, he must have acquired the sovereignty of
as in that year he calls himself “King of Persia.”
o In the month Nisan (March), of the ninth year of Nabonidus, Cyrus
his troops into Accad, or
year Erech was captured. In the eleventh the situation remained
in statu quo. In the seventeenth year, in the month of Tammuz (July),
encountered the army of Accad in the town of
river Nizallat, when the soldiers of Nabonidus broke into revolt. On
the fourteenth day the garrison of Sippara surrendered, while Nabonidus
the sixteenth the governor of Gutium (
subsequently captured, was cast into fetters in
was this of Cyrus (Budge), or a later one of Darius Hystaspis (Sayce),
need not here be determined; it is sufficient to note that
this Cyrus assumed the title “King of
to his other titles — “King of
o The clay cylinder of Cyrus contains “a reference to the restoration of
the Babylonian captives to their several homes. The experience of
Cyrus had taught him that the old Assyrian and Babylonian system
of transporting conquered nations was an error, and did but introduce
a dangerously disaffected people into the country to which they had
been brought” (Sayce, ibid.).
who chose to return to
there rebuild a fortress, which Cyrus considered would be useful to
him as a
o In the Cyrus cylinder it is said, “Merodach sought out a king for
himself who would perform according to the heart’s desire of the
god whatever was entrusted to him. He proclaimed the renown of
King of Anzan [
the length and breadth of the land Merodach, the great lord, directed
his (Cyrus’s) hand-and heart” (Budge, ‘ Babyonian Life,’ etc.,
Ø Its date. The first year of Cyrus, i.e. the first year of his reign as King of
Ø Its cause. The stirring up of his heart by Jehovah. Though the
monuments have shown that Cyrus was not a monotheist, but a polytheist,
they have also made it manifest that he considered himself as under the
guidance of Heaven in the taking of
be assumed, also in the liberation of the captives. That he was powerfully
persuaded of the propriety of such an action, and regarded his impulse in
that direction as “from Heaven,” is apparent. The sacred writer states that
the true source of that inspiration was Jehovah. Cyrus believed it to be
Ø Its design. To fulfill the Word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah
(Jeremiah 29:10), that after seventy years the captives should be
restored. This was Jehovah’s design, not Cyrus’s — concerning which see
above. That the seventy years, in round numbers, were accomplished, can
from an easy calculation. Dating from
Jehoiachin’s captivity, and setting down the first year of Cyrus as B.C. 538,
the interval is only sixty-one years; but if the period of the exile be dated
from the third (Daniel 1:1) or the fourth year of Jehoiakim
(Jeremiah 25:1-12), i.e. B.C. 606, then the interval from Jeremiah’s
prediction to Cyrus’s proclamation will be sixty-eight years, or sixty-nine
inclusive, which, with the months that elapsed before the first company of
years. Or the prophetic year may be taken as consisting of 360 days; in
which case 360 × 70 = 25,200 days = 69 years of 365 days.
Ø Its form.
o Vocal; being probably proclaimed by means of heralds (compare
o Written; being most likely set forth in two languages — Persian and
Ø Its contents.
o A devout acknowledgment of Heaven’s grace. “All the kingdoms of the
earth hath the Lord God of heaven given me” (v. 23; Ezra 1:1), the
term “Jehovah” being employed in the Hebrew copy instead of
“Ormazd,” in the Persian. Persian sovereigns were accustomed to
speak of the Supreme Being as the God of heaven (Ezra 6:9-10;
7:12, 23), and to recognize their dependence on Him for their earthly
power, an inscription of Darius saying, “Then the land was mine,
and the other lands which Ormazd has given into my hand. I conquered
them by the grace of Ormazd” (‘Records,’ etc., 9:68). And the cylinder
stating, “Cyrus King of
name for sovereignty; all men everywhere commemorate his name”
(Sayce, ‘Fresh Light,’ etc., p. 172).
o A hearty submission to Divine will. “He hath charged me to build Him
an house in
reading Isaiah’s prophecy (Isaiah 44:28); but as Cyrus, whether a
polytheist (Sayce) or a monotheist (Budge), was extremely tolerant
religions, and as on capturing
to restore the shrines of the Babylonian gods, he may have conceived
himself as called upon by Jehovah to do the same thing for the Jews
o An earnest inquiry after Jehovah’s people. “Who is there among you
of all His people. The proclamation was not limited to the Judahites,
but extended to all worshippers of Jehovah — to those who had
been carried captive from both kingdoms.
free permission to return to
was on a
much higher level than
consequently have to ascend considerably” (‘Pulpit Commentary
on Ezra,’ 1:3.).
o A solemn benediction on those who availed themselves of his
permission. “The Lord his God be with him.” The expression
of this wish or prayer corresponded with the mild and benevolent
character of Cyrus.
Ø The ability of God to fulfil His promises no less than His threatenings.
Ø The secret access which God has to the hearts of men — of kings no
less than of common men.
Ø The certainty that God can raise up at any moment a fitting instrument
to do his will.
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