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

of the four last pre-Captivity kings of the line of Judah. The words of Keil,

in opening this last chapter in his commentary, are not unworthy of note.

He says, “As the kingdom of Judah after Josiah’s death advanced with

swift steps to its destruction by the Chaldeans, so the author of the

Chronicle goes quickly over the reigns of the last kings of Judah, who by

their godless conduct hastened the ruin of the kingdom. As to the four

kings remaining, who reigned between Josiah’s death and the destruction

of Jerusalem, he gives, besides their ages at their respective accessions,

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

the king and the burning of Jerusalem and the temple.”  This chapter, then,

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,

the restoring proclamation of Cyrus King of Persia.


1 “Then the people of the land took Jehoahaz the son of Josiah, and

made him king in his father’s stead in Jerusalem.  2 Jehoahaz was twenty

and three years old when he began to reign, and he reigned three months in

Jerusalem.”  The people of the land took Jehoahaz (see parallel, II Kings 23:30).

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 king of Egypt put him down at Jerusalem, and condemned

the land in an hundred talents of silver and a talent of gold.

Put him down; Hebrew, וַיְסִירֵהוּ; i.e. deposed him (Revised

Version). At Jerusalem. In something more than three months Pharaoh-Necho

seems to have been returning, and in the neighborhood of

Jerusalem. The parallel (II Kings 23:33) tells us that he put Jehoahaz “in

bands” at “Riblath in the land of Hamath.”  And condemned the land; i.e.

inflicted a fine on the land; Hebrew, וַיַּעֲנשׁ.  From this time nothing further

is heard of Jehoahaz or Shallum.



4 “ And the king of Egypt made Eliakim his brother king over Judah

and Jerusalem, and turned his name to Jehoiakim. And Necho took

Jehoahaz his brother, and carried him to Egypt.”  Eliakim. The meaning

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 fathers stead. When Necho had defeated Josiah, instead of

turning back to seize Jerusalem, which was virtually in his power, he

pushed forward on his first intended march towards the Euphrates.

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”

(‘Ant.,’ 10:5. 2). Most likely it was he whom Ezekiel described as “a young

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

into the land of Egypt (Ezekiel 19:3-4).


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

the battle of Megiddo and been made a prisoner (Rawlinson).




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

was not far distant, viz. at Riblath, in the land of Hamath (II Kings 23:33),

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

Jerusalem (Keil), is doubtful, and is not required by the language of the

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 Egypt.




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”


Ø      Whose throne was secured. The usurper being deported to Egypt,

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

fortunes of Judaea. But now these anticipations were scattered to the winds.


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

of Judah had before been carried off into hopeless exile. Manasseh had,

indeed, been deported to Babylon (ch. 33:11), but had afterwards been

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.”


  • LEARN:


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 Jerusalem: and he did that which

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



6 “Against him came up Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and bound

him in fetters, to carry him to Babylon.”  Our mere allusions in this and the

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, who took Nineveh B.C.

625, and reigned above forty years. Though we are here told he bound

Jehoiakim in chains, to take him to Babylon, for some reason or other he

did not carry out this intention, and Jehoiakim was put to death at

Jerusalem (Jeremiah 22:18-19; 36:30; Ezekiel 19:8-9). The expedition of

Nebuchadnezzar was B.C. 605-4 (Daniel 1:1; Jeremiah 25:1), and during it,

his father dying, he succeeded to the throne.


7Nebuchadnezzar also carried of the vessels of the house of the

LORD to Babylon, and put them in his temple at Babylon.”

(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 Jerusalem’s

temple for Babylon’s temple was the significant beginning of the end for

Judah now at last, after many a warning.


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 Israel and Judah: and Jehoiachin his son

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.

ch. 23:31).


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 Egypt and slew

(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

for beautifying Jerusalem when the land was still groaning under

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

of the monarchy of David “(Stanley).


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

Babylon or not. If he was (Daniel 1:2; I Esdras 1:40, Septuagint),

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,

according to the Septuagint, “was buried in the garden of Uzzah.”

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

had been kings of Egypt (v. 3; ch. 12:2) or of Assyria (ch. 28:20; 32:1-2);

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,

having conquered Syria and Phoenicia as well as Egypt.


Ø      His invasion. According to Daniel, this occurred in Jehoiakim’s third

year (Daniel 1:1), the year before Nebuchadnezzar defeated Necho at

Carchemish (Jeremiah 25:1; 46:2), i.e. B.C. 606. The probability is

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

occupied with affairs in Babylon, having acceded to the throne only two

years prior to Jehoiakim’s revolt, dispatched against the rebel several

detachments of troops, “bands of Chaldeans,” at the same time stirring up

the Ammonites, Syrians, and Moabites to harass Judah (ibid. v. 2),

but not himself returning to Jerusalem till five years later, in the reign of





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 Damascus and Pekah of Samaria (ch. 28:21).


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

had been left would one day be carried to Babylon, and would remain

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 temple of Merodach at Babylon,

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.;

7:75, 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

(Jeremiah 22:18).


  • A LAMENTABLE ABSENCE OF SORROW. Let no man say lightly or

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!”


  • A SORROW MUCH TO BE DESIRED. Truly there is sorrow enough

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

for praying:


                        “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 Jerusalem: and he did that

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 Babylon, with the goodly vessels of the house of

the LORD, and made Zedekiah his brother king over Judah and

Jerusalem.  11 Zedekiah was one and twenty years old when he began

to reign, and reigned eleven years in Jerusalem.”

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

the kingdom of Judah; there is an air of melancholy pervading this last

chapter of the Hebrew chronicles. There are three things which it is sad to



  • A NATION SINKING INTO SERVITUDE. When Egypt comes up and

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, Assyria sends its troops and,

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.


  • A YOUNG MAN’S HOPES EXTINGUISHED. No doubt the young

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 in Egypt

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

Nehushta, “The Brazen,” the daughter of El-nathan of Jerusalem (v. 8;

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

Israel and Judah,’ p. 231), or knowledge of Egyptian troops advancing to

the aid of Jerusalem (Cheyne, ‘Jeremiah: his Life and Times,’ p. 162).


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.)


o        Nebuchadnezzar dispatched his generals to besiege Jerusalem.

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 Babylon. This,

however, was not accorded him.

o        Nebuchadnezzar made him prisoner and carried him off to Babylon, as

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

Jehoiachin to Babylon” (Cheyne,n‘Jeremiah,’ etc., p. 162).

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) —

were transported to Babylon.


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).


  • LEARN:


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 Israel.”

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 Israel. Note here the resorting on

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 Jerusalem.”

This, with the following three verses, may be regarded as THE FORMAL


compared with that of Israel (II Kings 17:6-23). All the chief of the priests (see

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      king,

Ø      priests, and

Ø      people.


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:


  • A MISFORTUNE. That of bodily deformity; such as was suffered by the

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.


  • A MARK OF TIME. This is the case of those named in the text; they

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 Babylon.” Compare the parallel

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 Babylon; where they were servants to him

and his sons until the reign of the kingdom of Persia:”

(Compare the parallel, II Kings 25:1-12; Jeremiah 39:1-10; 52:24-30.)

The reign of the kingdom of Persia; i.e. the ascending on the throne of

the Persian king. The immediate successor of Nebuchadnezzar was his

son Evil-Merodach.



Desecration and Destruction (vs. 18-19)


We look at:


  • A SAD HISTORICAL FACT. Perhaps a Jew would say, the saddest of

all the facts of history. This is the very climax of disasters — the, great

temple of Jehovah in Jerusalem burnt down, and all its precious treasures

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!


  • ITS SADDEST HISTORICAL ANALOGUE. Once there lived upon

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 temple of God suffered

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 Calvary.



the visible, approachable, appreciable manifestation of God now? Where,

but in the life and the character of good men? We are the temple of God

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;

then the temple of God is despoiled and desecrated.


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.


  • ITS EXCELLENT OPPOSITE. This is found in the reverence we pay

to the human body as the temple of God; the habit of regarding our bodily

frame and how much more our human spirit!as a sacred thing,

because it is (because we are) THE VERY DWELLING PLACE OF GOD!

(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 Babylon; where they were servants

[slaves] to him and his sons.” The captivity of the Jews in Babylon may be

regarded in three lights.


  • AS A PENALTY. It undoubtedly was that; nothing can be clearer than

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      DEFEAT,




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 Judah in Babylon had often occasion to say,

“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!


  • AS A PURGATION. God meant that Babylonian captivity to be a fiery

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 temple of God, they should acquire

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

felt before,

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)


  • AS A PICTURE. Of what is that exile a picture? Is it not of OUR

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,

from Him:


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

Zion(Psalm 137:1).  Spiritual exile is joylessness of soul; unreconciled

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 Jerusalem, B.C. 606-5. Although this date does not tally exactly

with the B.C. 538 of Cyrus’s conquest of Babylon, yet the discrepancy is

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

conquest of Babylon, etc.). Enjoyed her sabbaths (see Leviticus 26:34-35,





Zedekiah; or the Fall of Judah (vs. 11-21)




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

was originally called, ascended the throne of Judah in his twenty-first year,

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

Judah’s last king, it is hardly possible not to be struck with its singular

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

of righteousness.


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

he should die in Babylon. The reason of this revolt was the accession of

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 Egypt or Jerusalem. By means

of divination he decided for Jerusalem (Ezekiel 21:20-22). In the ninth

year of Zedekiah’s reign, on the tenth month, Nebuchadnezzar with his

armies sat down before Jerusalem (II Kings 25:1). Hearing, however, of

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 Jerusalem (v. 14). “Jeremiah (Jeremiah

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 Orontes,

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 Jerusalem, which, however, triumphantly

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

pitiless, eclipsed in horror only by that which took place when Jerusalem

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 Jerusalem, and burnt all the palaces” (v. 19); which was pure

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.

the capture, near Jericho, of Zedekiah with his court and his forces, who

had escaped when the city was taken, and their journey north to Riblah,

the head-quarters of Nebuchadnezzar, where, after judgment held

(II Kings 25:6), Zedekiah’s sons and the princes of Judah were slain,

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

preparatory to being deported to Babylon. In Babylon he was cast into

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

kings of Babylon, “until the land had enjoyed her sabbaths,” viz. for

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

thousand Jews from Judaea; Esarhaddon placed Elamites, Susianians, and

Babylonians in Samaria. Darius Hystaspis brought the nation of the

Paeonians from Europe into Asia Minor, removed the Barcaeans to

Bactria, and the Eretrians to Ardericca near Susa” (Rawlinson, ‘Egypt and

Babylon,’ pp. 45, 46).




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


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.”

(Matthew 24:35)


22 “Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the

LORD spoken by the mouth of Jeremiah might be accomplished,

the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, that he

made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in

writing, saying,”

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 kingdom of Lydia; he took Babylon, as

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 Persia, All the kingdoms of the earth hath

the LORD God of heaven given me; and he hath charged me to

build him an house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Who is there

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 Judah, and in

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)  Judah’s long-drawn sin, of many a

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 adoredthis 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 lesson Judah never learned effectually was that she was not her own.

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,

§         self-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

various methods.


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

life-ache to king and people! but “the turning to the Lord God of Israel

(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.






REDEMPTION. After the banishment from Eden it was so; after the

deluge of Noah it was so; now, after Israel and Judah had run their course

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






Cyrus of Persia; or, the Return of the Exiles (vs. 22-23)


  • The GREAT DELIVERER (v. 22.)


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

dethroning kings.

o        That he should overthrow Babylon, and become the sovereign of the

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

both the city and the temple of Jerusalem.

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 Kurus and Ku-ra-as (Schrader, ‘Die Keilinschriften,’

p. 372).


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 Persia, though the monuments now show

that he was originally King of Elam, on the east of Persia (Sayce, ‘Fresh

Light,’ etc., pp. 168, etc.).


o        First he conquered Astyages the Median, who had marched against him

in the sixth year of Nabonidus King of Babylon. Next, before the ninth

year of Nabonidus, he must have acquired the sovereignty of Persia,

as in that year he calls himself “King of Persia.”


o        In the month Nisan (March), of the ninth year of Nabonidus, Cyrus

marched his troops into Accad, or Northern Babylonia. In the tenth

year Erech was captured. In the eleventh the situation remained

in statu quo. In the seventeenth year, in the month of Tammuz (July),

Cyrus encountered the army of Accad in the town of Rutum, upon the

river Nizallat, when the soldiers of Nabonidus broke into revolt. On

the fourteenth day the garrison of Sippara surrendered, while Nabonidus

fled. On the sixteenth the governor of Gutium (Kurdistan) marched the

troops of Cyrus into Babylon without requiring to strike a blow.

Nabonidus, subsequently captured, was cast into fetters in Babylon.

Whether the siege of Babylon described by Herodotus (3:158, 159)

was this of Cyrus (Budge), or a later one of Darius Hystaspis (Sayce),

need not here be determined; it is sufficient to note that

after this Cyrus assumed the title “King of Babylon (Ezra 5:13) in

addition to his other titles — “King of Persia and King of Elam.”


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.).


o        “Those who chose to return to Jerusalem were allowed to do so, and

there rebuild a fortress, which Cyrus considered would be useful to

him as a check upon Egypt” (Sayce).


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

Cyrus the King of Anzan [Elam, Sayce; Persia, Budge] throughout

the length and breadth of the land Merodach, the great lord, directed

his (Cyrus’s) hand-and heart” (Budge, ‘ Babyonian Life,’ etc.,

pp. 80-81).




Ø      Its date. The first year of Cyrus, i.e. the first year of his reign as King of

Babylon, i.e. B.C. 538 (Canon of Ptolemy).


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

immediate guidance of Heaven in the taking of Babylon; and hence, it may

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

be seen from an easy calculation. Dating from s.c. 599, the year of

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

exiles settled in Palestine (Ezra 3:1), will practically make seventy

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

ch. 30:5-6).

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

of Cyrus stating, “Cyrus King of Elam, he (Merodach) proclaimed by

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 Jerusalem, which is in Judah.” According to Josephus

(‘Ant.,’ 11:1. 2), Cyrus learned the Divine will concerning himself by

reading Isaiah’s prophecy (Isaiah 44:28); but as Cyrus, whether a

polytheist (Sayce) or a monotheist (Budge), was extremely tolerant

to all religions, and as on capturing Babylon he immediately proceeded

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

in Palestine.


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.


o        A free permission to return to Jerusalem. “Let him go up.”Jerusalem

was on a much higher level than Babylonia, and the travelers would

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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