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2Ch 36:1 Then the people of the land took Jehoahaz the son of Josiah, and made him king in his father’s place in Jerusalem-
2 Kings 23:31 says that Jehoahaz was the son of Hamutal, whereas his brother Eliakim was the son of Zebudah (2 Kings 23:36). So we see that Josiah practiced polygamy- another indication that he was not such a stellar example of spirituality, despite his works of obedience to the Mosaic law; see on 2 Chron. 35:19,20. And the mothers of his sons are blamed in Ez. 19 for leading them into very bad behaviour, so these were not good women.

2Ch 36:2 Joahaz was twenty-three years old when he began to reign; and he reigned three months in Jerusalem-
It is possible that Josiah was spiritually sliding downwards in the last 13 years of his reign; see on 2 Chron. 35:19,20. So the formative years of his sons may not have been spent under a good parental influence, which would explain their weakness and apostacy. LXX adds: "And he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord, according to all that his fathers had done. And Pharaoh Neco bound him in Deblatha in the land of Hamath, that he might not reign in Jerusalem". 

2Ch 36:3 The king of Egypt deposed him at Jerusalem, and fined the land one hundred talents of silver and a talent of gold-
2 Kings 23:35 says that Jehoiakim raised the tribute for the Babylonians by imposing a poll tax on the people. And he succeeded in raising the money. Yet such a tax ought to have been paid to the temple, but Jehoiakim hadn't bothered doing that. He was "deposed at Jerusalem" (2 Chron. 36:3) but put in bonds at Riblah (2 Kings 23:33), which was on the Orontes river on the road from Babylon to Palestine. This was the same place where Nebuchadnezzar was based during the destruction of Jerusalem, and where the captives were brought to him for judgment (2 Kings 25:20,21). The parallel is to show how Judah were intended to learn from their sufferings at the hands of the Egyptians and to repent. But they didn't, and so the situation repeated with the Babylonians.

2Ch 36:4 The king of Egypt made Eliakim his brother king over Judah and Jerusalem, and changed his name to Jehoiakim. Neco took Joahaz his brother, and carried him to Egypt-
"Eliakim" means "God will raise", and "Jehoiakim" means the same, only "Yah will raise". Perhaps the king made Eliakim swear by his God Jehovah, that he would be subservient to him. But it could be that the "Jeh" prefix meant something different to the Egyptians, and was effectively a sign of subservience to them; it may even refer to an Egyptian god. Joahaz died in Egypt (2 Kings 23:34) as prophesied in Jer. 22:12. Shallum in Jer. 22 is the same as Jehoahaz. Perhaps he is called Shallum because that word means 'The one marked out for judgment'. I explain on Ez. 4:6 that potentially, the captivity of Judah need only have lasted for 40 days or years, but this period was extended, just as it could have been reduced. But Jehoahaz was not going to experience this, he had precluded any reduction in his captivity period because of his impenitence at that time. Jer. 22:11,12 imply that the false prophets were claiming that his exile was going to be very short lived and he would return to establish a Messianic kingdom, thus twisting the prophecies of the restoration which Jeremiah may have already given, along with those of Isaiah which were already extant.

LXX adds: "And Pharaoh Neco took his brother Joahaz and brought him into Egypt, and he died there: but he had given the silver and gold to Pharaoh. At that time the land began to be taxed to give the money at the command of Pharaoh; and every one as he could borrowed the silver and the gold of the people of the land, to give to Pharaoh Neco.".

2Ch 36:5 Jehoiakim was twenty-five years old when he began to reign, and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem. He did that which was evil in the eyes of Yahweh his God-
Jer. 22:13-18 gives an example of the sins of Jehoiakim- he built an opulent home for himself and refused to pay the labourers for their work. He also murdered the prophet Urijah who spoke against him (Jer. 26:20-23), and burnt the scroll of God's words and persecuted Jeremiah (Jer. 36).   

2Ch 36:6 Against him came up Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and bound him in fetters, to carry him to Babylon-
It may not have been Nebuchadnezzar in person. "To carry him to Babylon" means that was the intention, but it may not have happened. Jer. 22:18,19 says he was to be thrown out onto the garbage tip outside Jerusalem like a dead donkey. 2 Kings says that bands of the Babylonians attacked him at this time, and he may have been slain at this time. 

2Ch 36:7 Nebuchadnezzar also carried of the vessels of the house of Yahweh to Babylon, and put them in his temple at Babylon-
"Of the vessels" means they were not all taken at this time; that was to happen later (:18). Babylon's original plan seemed to have been to make Judah a tributary state, taking away the leadership and seeking to make the youngsters like Daniel completely Babylonian, with a view to them returning and governing Judah. Hence only part of the vessels were initially taken. But this changed to a policy of complete destruction. It would have been at this time that Daniel and his friends went into captivity. Dan. 1:2 describes this situation: "He carried them into the land of Shinar to the house of his god: and he brought the vessels into the treasure house of his god".  The captives were paralleled with the temple treasures; they were taken into the temple as evidence that Yahweh and His people had now been apparently dominated. But Isaiah had prophesied that Bel would be rendered helpless and judged (Is. 46:1,2). The faithful captives would have remembered that, even when it seemed their chips were down. 

2Ch 36:8 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-
I have noted earlier that the kings are often described with a double description- of their works, and of their heart. Some of them like Jehoshaphat had imperfect works but good hearts for God; others performed some outstanding works at some times, but their hearts were not devoted to Yahweh. Here we have the same double reference; Jehoiakim's works were abominations, and what was "found in him", by the Divine search of his heart, was also [it is implied] very bad. I have noted before that "the book of the kings" is not necessarily the books we know as 1 and 2 Kings in our Bibles.

Jehoiachin his son reigned in his place-
Jeconiah of 1 Chron. 3:16 is Coniah in Jer. 22:14, and Jehoiachin in 2 Chron. 36:8,9; 2 Kings 24:6. A reminder that people carried multiple names, explaining some of the apparent contradictions in the genealogies. Ez. 19 says that he was effectively made king by his ambitious mother, whose hope was to be the glorious queen mother, teaching her sons to be ambitious, aggressive lions to that end.    

2Ch 36:9 Jehoiachin was eight years old when he began to reign; and he reigned three months and ten days in Jerusalem. He did that which was evil in the sight of Yahweh-
Jehoiachin of 2 Chron. 36:9 is also called Jeconiah or Jechoniah (1 Chron. 3:16,17); Coniah (Jer. 22:24), and Jechoniah in 2 Chron. 24:1. We note that he was judged as a sinner at eight years old, for what he did over a 70 day period. We sometimes tend to excuse ourselves on the basis of only being products of our background. But eight year old Jehoiachin reigned a mere three months and ten days: and God's comment was that "he did that which was evil in the sight of Yahweh". We could, of course, make the excuse that his surroundings, his immediate family, his peers...were all idolatrous. But Yahweh evidently didn't see this as any real excuse: he, at sweet eight years old, "did that which was evil" and was punished accordingly. Not only does this give an unusual insight into God's view of responsibility; but it shows that God expects even a child to break away from background influences when they are evil.

However, 2 Kings 24:8 says he was 18. Although even so, 18 is very young to be condemned for 70 days' behaviour, and the points made above about God's sensitivity to sin still stand. Kings also gives "three months" rather than "three months and ten days", and it has been suggested that the "ten" has been misplaced by a copyist, explaining why 18 has been miscopied as 8.  

2Ch 36:10 At the return of the year king Nebuchadnezzar sent, and brought him to Babylon, with the beautiful vessels of the house of Yahweh, and made Zedekiah his brother king over Judah and Jerusalem-
"Brother" is used in a very wide sense, and more means "uncle" here (2 Kings 24:17). 2 Kings 24:17 says that Nebuchadnezzar changed the name Mattaniah, 'gift of Yah', to "Zedekiah", 'Yah is right / just'. Perhaps even Nebuchadnezzar perceived that Yahweh was judging Judah justly. But "Zedekiah" is also "Yahweh our righteousness", but his birth name was Mattaniah (2 Kings 24:17). We wonder if this was a pre existing name given him by Josiah, and that Josiah named him this in keeping with his vision of reestablishing the Kingdom of God, based around a united Israel and Judah centered around worshipping Yahweh. For this is the term associated with king of the restored kingdom in Jer. 23:6; 33:16; 51:10. But he again was a case of wasted potential.

2Ch 36:11 Zedekiah was twenty-one years old when he began to reign, and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem-
Hamutal his mother (2 Kings 24:18) is severely criticized in Ez. 19 as an ambitious, aggressive and scheming mother lion who set up her young lion sons for destruction by wanting them to be kings. Instead they needed to heed Jeremiah's message and humble themselves before Babylon, realizing they had sinned, rather than trying to break away from Babylon to achieve the independent kingship their mother was so obsessed with. 

2Ch 36:12 He did that which was evil in the sight of Yahweh his God; he didn’t humble himself before Jeremiah the prophet speaking the words of Yahweh-
The prophets "spoke from the mouth of Yahweh" Himself; and yet the people scoffed at them (2 Chron. 36:12,16 RV). The power of inspiration was and is so great; and to not heed God's word is therefore a personal affront to Him. And those words have been recorded. When we read His word, we hear His voice. 1 Kings 13:21 speaks of us hearing "the mouth of God". Jeremiah spoke "from the mouth of the Lord". His word brings Him that near to us, if we will perceive it for what it is. Jeremiah's appeals for Zedekiah to submit to Babylon were repeated so often (Jer. 21:1-7; 34:8-22; 37:1-10,17; 38:17-23).

And yet we wonder whether Zedekiah may have finally repented. For Ez. 21:14 speaks of Zedekiah as "the deadly wounded", likewise "You, deadly wounded wicked one, the prince of Israel, whose day has come" (Ez. 21:25). The intention was that Zedekiah would die by the sword, but in fact he didn't. He was blinded, but died peacefully in prison (Jer. 52:11). The wound that ought to have been unto death was in fact not unto death- because God wanted him to be moved by His grace to repent. And the change of judgment upon him would suggest to me that he did repent.

2Ch 36:13 He also rebelled against king Nebuchadnezzar, who had made him swear by God; but he stiffened his neck, and hardened his heart against turning to Yahweh, the God of Israel-
Turning to Yahweh with a soft heart therefore involved his accepting that Judah had sinned, and therefore their servitude to Babylon was the appropriate punishment. But egged on by his mother (see on :11), Zedekiah broke his oath to Nebuchadnezzar, which he had made in the name of Yahweh. He thus despised the Name. The parable of Ez. 17:12-20 clearly condemns him for doing this (also Ez. 21:25). Ez. 17:14 explains the intention of God in all this: "That the kingdom might be base, that it might not lift itself up, but that by keeping his covenant it might stand". The idea may be that it was God's plan that through keeping the covenant, the royal family and leadership would be humbled, and this would bring about God's favourite paradox- the brought down could then be exalted, "that... it might stand". See on Ez. 17:24. But they refused to repent, to be humbled, to be ashamed, and instead sought to wriggle out of the covenant by making agreements with Egypt to attack the Babylonian forces, liberate Jerusalem and perhaps later themselves from Babylon itself. Yet all these things had been explicitly promised to Judah; God would do all these things, if they repented. But instead of doing so, they sought by all manner of desperate means to bring about this liberation in the strength of Egypt. This is so typical of human behaviour. It is for us to learn the lesson.

Ez. 17:15 commented: "Shall he who does such things escape? Shall he break the covenant, and yet escape?". This is the language of Judah breaking covenant with God, just used in Ez. 16:59. God had designed the covenant between Zedekiah and the Babylonians, for the spiritual growth and repentance of the Jews. To break it was therefore to effectively break covenant with God. Or we could instead perceive that covenant breaking with God is reflected in covenant breaking with men. Our attitude to God becomes our attitude to men. Hence Ez. 17:19 specifically states: "Therefore thus says the Lord Yahweh: As I live, surely My oath that he has despised, and My covenant that he has broken, I will even bring it on his own head". Judah were light hearted in their attitude to everything; they "gave the hand" in covenant (Ez. 17:18) in order just to get "bread" (Lam. 5:6). They were in need, and instead of turning to God in repentance, they madly made promises of total loyalty to various peoples and their gods. It is this light hearted, not serious attitude, seeking for the immediate for the total sacrifice of principle, which dominates our age today.


2Ch 36:14 Moreover all the chiefs of the priests, and the people, trespassed very greatly after all the abominations of the nations; and they polluted the house of Yahweh which He had made holy in Jerusalem-
Their sin with "all" the abominable idols of the nations is in contrast to how those nations were themselves loyal to their gods. But Judah was so desperate for help that she prostituted herself to every possible god of the nations. Hence Hosea describes her with the image of a woman who is sexually addicted.  This is what happens when someone goes away from the true God; they will live a sad life of endless drifting between idols, desperately trying to find as much benefit as possible from as many of them as possible. The temple was therefore finally found to be full of various idols and images to various gods.

2Ch 36:15 Yahweh, the God of their fathers, sent to them by His messengers, rising up early and sending, because He had compassion on His people and on His dwelling place-
Several times God speaks of His rising up early in the morning through the ministry of the prophets, every single day since Israel left Egypt (2 Chron. 36:15; Jer. 7:13,25). The figure is stressed- God Himself rose up early every day to teach and appeal to His people (Jer. 32:33). Alarm clocks have changed our appreciation of this. Have you ever had to make yourself wake up before dawn, without an alarm clock? You can only do it by having a deep internal, subconscious awareness that you must get up early. You don't sleep well, you keep waking up and wondering if it's time to get up. So to make oneself rise up early was easily understood as a figure expressing great mental effort. And God did this every day for centuries... This figure of rising up early is surely the basis for the Lord's parable in Mt. 20:1- where God is likened to a man going out early in the morning to hire labourers. It is through the ministry of His word that God does this- each morning that word calls us to labour for Him in His vineyard. Israel didn't notice the huge effort God puts into His word- that every day He rose early and taught them. We can also misunderstand Biblical inspiration to mean that God effortlessly inspired "the original autographs" long ago, and moved on; but actually the whole process is an ongoing and incredible outgiving of God's energy in appealing to us. And... in our mismanaged, weakly disciplined lives, is it so that we don't even make time to read His word daily?

There is a much repeated characteristic of God's servants: that they 'rose up early in the morning' and did God's work. In each of the following passages, this phrase is clearly not an idiom; rather does it have an evidently literal meaning: Abraham (Gen. 19:27; 21:14; 22:3); Jacob (Gen. 28:18); Job (1:5); Moses (Ex. 8:20; 9:13; 24:4; 34:4); Joshua (Josh. 3:1; 6:12; 7:16; 8:10); Gideon (Jud. 6:38; 7:1); Samuel (1 Sam. 15:12); David (1 Sam. 17:20; 29:11); Hezekiah (2 Kings 19:35; 2 Chron. 29:20). This is quite an impressive list, numerically. This can be a figure for being zealous (Ps. 127:2; Pr. 27:14; Song 7:12; Is. 5:11; Zeph. 3:7). God Himself rises up early in His zeal to save and bring back His wayward people (2 Chron. 36:15; Jer. 7:13,25; 11:7; 25:3,4; 26:5; 29:19; 32:33; 35:14,15; 44:4). Yet the above examples all show that men literally rose up early in their service to God; this was an expression of their zeal for God, in response to His zeal for us. I'm not suggesting that zeal for God is reflected by rising early rather than staying up late; but it wouldn't be too much to suggest that if we are men of mission, we won't waste our hours in bed. Get up when you wake up.

2Ch 36:16 But they mocked the messengers of God, and despised His words and scoffed at His prophets, until the wrath of Yahweh arose against His people, until there was no remedy-
"Despised" is the word used for the sin of presumption (Num. 15:31), and yet having been told this, they could still repent; but they did not, until there was no remedy, the implication being that each time they were told what they were doing, they could have repented. It is the word used by Nathan to David of what he had done (2 Sam. 12:9,10), and he repented in response to the prophetic word of rebuke. Even though God had told Josiah that His wrath with His people would not be quenched (2 Chron. 34:25), it would seem that there was still some possibility of "remedy", had the people accepted God's word in their hearts (2 Chron. 36:16) and not despised and imprisoned Jeremiah and murdered Urijah the prophet (Jer. 26:20-23). We see here His absolute eagerness for their repentance, and unwillingness that any of His people should have to perish. And that is the same God with whom we have to do.

2Ch 36:17 Therefore He brought on them the king of the Chaldeans, who killed their young men with the sword in the house of their sanctuary, and had no compassion on young man or virgin, old man or gray-headed. He gave them all into his hand-
The particular anger with the temple was because Judah had promised unique loyalty to Babylon, and had therefore put Babylonian gods in the temple of Yahweh. But when the Babylonians took Jerusalem, they found the temple full of idols to other gods. As the prophets explain, her nakedness was discovered, and she was put to shame before all her lovers. For she had promised each of them unique loyalty and acceptance of their gods. This verse is the fulfilment of the vision of slaughter in Ez. 9:1-11. 

2Ch 36:18 All the vessels of God’s house, great and small, and the treasures of the house of Yahweh, and the treasures of the king, and of his princes, all these he brought to Babylon-
These were the vessels remaining after the deportation of :10, and were largely the brass vessels which remained (2 Kings 25:13-15).

2Ch 36:19 They burnt God’s house and broke down the wall of Jerusalem, and burnt all its palaces with fire, and destroyed all the beautiful vessels of it-
Israel were told to "throw down", "break in pieces" and "utterly destroy" the idols and altars of Canaan. There were times during their history when they obeyed this command by purging themselves from their apostasy in this. The Hebrew words used scarcely occur elsewhere, except very frequently in the context of how God "broke down", "threw down" and "destroyed" Israel at the hands of their Babylonian and Assyrian invaders as a result of their not 'breaking down' (etc.) the idols. "Throw down" in Ex. 34:13; Dt. 7:5; 12:3; 2 Chron. 31:1 is the same word in 2 Chron. 36:19; Jer. 4:26; 31:28; 33:4; 39:8; 52:14; Ez. 16:39; Nah. 1:6. "Cut down" in Dt. 7:5; 12:3; 2 Chron. 31:1 later occurs in Is. 10:33; Jer. 48;25; Lam. 2:3. So Israel faced the choice: either cut down your idols, or you will be cut down. The stone will either fall on us and destroy us, or we must fall on it and become broken men and women (Mt. 21:44). For the man untouched by the concept of living for God's glory, it's a hard choice. God will conquer sin, ultimately.

2Ch 36:20 He carried those who had escaped from the sword away to Babylon; and they were servants to him and his sons until the reign of the kingdom of Persia-
Being servants to the ruling dynasty of Babylon was the judgment upon all the nations (Jer. 27:7). So God's people were sharing in the judgments of the world, because they were not separate from the world. And thus the punishment of the apostate amongst the new Israel will be to be "condemned with the world" (1 Cor. 11:32). The critics claim that the sons or descendants of Nebuchadnezzar ceased to reign at some point before Persia took over. There were three kings of Babylon after Nebuchadnezzar before Cyrus and the Persians took over: Evil-Merodach (Amil-Marduk) (2 Kings 25:27), Neriglissar and Nabonidus. The last two were not "sons" of Nebuchadnezzar but they were both his sons in law. The Hebrew term "sons" is very broad and easily includes this dimension.

2Ch 36:21 to fulfil the word of Yahweh by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed its Sabbaths. As long as it lay desolate it kept Sabbath, to fulfil seventy years-
It would seem from 2 Chron. 36:21 that the law concerning the land resting every Sabbath year was hardly ever kept, even by the righteous kings. We can imagine how the thinking developed: father didn't do it. grandfather didn't, none of the faithful old kings seemed that interested in it... therefore every time that passage was considered in their study of the Law, it was mentally bypassed. We are all absolutely expert at this kind of bypass.  

The land of Israel had to be rested every Sabbath year. God's people thought they could quietly ignore this inconvenient requirement of their God, and get away with it. But God has His way, in everything, all the time. Eventually the whole land had to go through 70 years laying desolate, to compensate for the 70 Sabbaths (over 490 years) which His people had ignored to keep (2 Chron. 36:21).

Closer study reveals the variableness of outworking of the time periods. Jer. 25:11,12 and Jer. 29:10 speak of a 70 year period of Babylonian rule over Judah, beginning with the invasion of BC597. But Babylon only ruled over Judah for 49 years, before Babylon fell to the Persians. This would connect with the way that Zech. 4:3 speaks of 7 menorah candlesticks each with 7 lamps, making 49 lamps. 49 is the cycle of 7 Sabbath years that culminated in the jubilee year, and the jubilee year, the proclamation of liberty to the land (Lev. 25:8-12; 27:7-24) is a figure used so often in Isaiah to describe the freedom of Judah once released from Babylon. Lev. 26:34,43 speak of the land enjoying her Sabbaths whilst Israel were in exile for their sins- i.e. for 49 years. So it seems that there could have been some restoration after 49 years- but it didn't happen. But Dan. 9:2 and 2 Chron. 36:21 seem to reinterpret those 70 years of Jeremiah's prophecies as speaking of a 70 year period during which Jerusalem and the temple would be desolate. See on Ez. 6:8.

2Ch 36:22 Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of Yahweh by the mouth of Jeremiah might be accomplished-
Daniel understood from Jeremiah’s prophecies that Jerusalem’s fortunes would be revived after the 70 year period was ended. Yet he goes on to ask God to immediately forgive His people, as if Daniel even dared hope that the period might be shortened. Daniel lived into the reign of Cyrus (Dan. 6:28), and so he would have witnessed “the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem” (Dan. 9:25; Ezra 1:1). But it seems to me that whilst the prophecy of the 70 years came true in one sense, the Jews didn’t respond as they should, and so the time of Zion’s true freedom in the Messianic Kingdom was delayed. Daniel had been petitioning the Father to not delay beyond the 70 year period in doing this. But in another sense, the prophecy was re-interpreted; Daniel was now told that there was to be a “seventy weeks of years” (Dan. 9:24 RSV) period involved in order to gain ultimate forgiveness for Israel as Daniel had just been praying for. The 70 years had become “seventy weeks of years”. The command to rebuild Jerusalem was given in the first year of Cyrus; but Daniel must have watched in vain for any sign that Zion’s glad morning had really come. And so it is recorded that in the third year of Cyrus Daniel was given a vision that confirmed to him that “the thing was true, but the time appointed was long [Heb. ‘extended’; the word is also translated “greater”, “more”]: and he understood the thing” (Dan. 10:1). What was “the thing” that was true, which Daniel sought to understand? Surely it was the vision of the 70 years that he had sought to “understand” in Dan. 9:2. The Hebrew dabar, translated “thing”, is usually translated “word”. He was comforted that the word of prophecy would come true; it was “noted in the scripture of truth” (Dan. 10;21). It was just that it had been extended in its fulfilment; “for yet the vision is for many days” (Dan. 10:14). And this was how he came to “understand the thing / word”. The essential and ultimate fulfilment of the 70 years prophecy would only be after a long time, involving 70 “weeks of years”. Thus Daniel came to “understand” the vision (Dan. 10:1); hence he was so shocked, depressed and disappointed that the fulfilment would not be in his days. But he is set up as a representative of those of us in the very last days who shall likewise “understand” (s.w. Dan. 12:10) the very same prophecies which Daniel studied. Daniel is described as both understanding, and also not understanding (Dan. 10:1; 12:8). Surely the idea is that he understood the principle of deferment and the outline meaning of the prophecy; but he didn’t understand the details. And so perhaps it is with us who will, or do, likewise “understand” as Daniel did.

Ez. 4:6 revealed the variable nature of Divine time periods: "You shall lie on your right side, and shall bear the iniquity of the house of Judah: forty days, each day for a year, have I appointed it to you". Ezekiel was asked to prophecy that Judah would suffer for their sins for 40 years. Perhaps something could've happened after 40 years... And then, the starting point of the 70 or 40 years was somewhat flexible- for Ez. 22:3,4 records Ezekiel's prophecy that the desolation of Jerusalem by the Babylonians [the starting point of the time periods] was actually being hastened, brought forward, by the terrible behaviour of the Jews living there after the initial Babylon invasion of the land. Closer study reveals the variableness of outworking of the time periods. Jer. 25:11,12 and Jer. 29:10 speak of a 70 year period of Babylonian rule over Judah, beginning with the invasion of BC597. But Babylon only ruled over Judah for 49 years, before Babylon fell to the Persians. This would connect with the way that Zech. 4:3 speaks of 7 menorah candlesticks each with 7 lamps, making 49 lamps. 49 is the cycle of 7 Sabbath years that culminated in the jubilee year, and the jubilee year, the proclamation of liberty to the land (Lev. 25:8-12; 27:7-24) is a figure used so often in Isaiah to describe the freedom of Judah once released from Babylon. Lev. 26:34,43 speak of the land enjoying her Sabbaths whilst Israel were in exile for their sins- i.e. for 49 years. So it seems that there could have been some restoration after 49 years- but it didn't happen. But Dan. 9:2 and 2 Chron. 36:21 seem to reinterpret those 70 years of Jeremiah's prophecies as speaking of a 70 year period during which Jerusalem and the temple would be desolate. See on Ez. 6:8.


Yahweh stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he made a proclamation-
This is the same word for "noise" in Ez. 37:7: “So I prophesied as I was commanded: and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and behold a shaking, and the bones came together, bone to his bone”. This meant that the “whole house of Israel” was to stand up from their graves and return as a mighty army to the land. Their attitude in Babylon was exactly as in Ez. 37:11: “behold, they say, Our bones are dried, and our hope is lost: we are cut off for our parts”. These were the very sentiments of Jeremiah in Lamentations, and those who wept by the waters of Babylon when they remembered Zion. They were revived by the gift of the Spirit, the breath / spirit which was blown into them by God's initiative.

The stirring up [Heb. 'opening the eyes'] of Cyrus is a parade example of the ability of God to work directly on the human mind, inserting ideas and initiatives, and confirming a person in their responses to various psychological stimuli. This is the nature of the work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of believers today, and it was and will be seen in the revival of the dead bones of Israel. Not visible miracles, but internal mental working. And that Spirit can be resisted, as it was by many of the exiles; for we are not mere puppets in God's hand. Yet grace means that God takes the initiative; "He first loved us". That initiative is seen through His working on the human heart in calling us to action (s.w. 2 Chron. 21:16; Is. 13:17; Jer. 50:41; Joel 3:9) and Cyrus was a parade example of this (Is. 41:2,25, 45:13). The hearts of the returnees were likewise stirred up (see on :5). But this was not some irresistible manipulation of the human person; Zion was called to be stirred up ["awake"], but she refused to be stirred up (Is. 51:17; 52:1 cp. Is. 64:7). Zerubbabel had his mind or "spirit" stirred up to be the king-priest Messianic figure (Hag. 1:14); but he let the baton drop.


Throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing saying-
The restoration prophecies speak of how “all nations” are to be gathered to Zion; they are those who scattered Judah amongst the nations; not every literal nation. And who “scattered” Israel? The Hebrew word is used in Jer. 50:17 to describe how Babylon scattered Judah amongst the nations. And most significantly, the same word occurs again in Est. 3:8: “And Haman said unto king Ahasuerus, There is a certain people scattered abroad and dispersed among the people in all the provinces of thy kingdom...”. It is quite wrong for us to imagine Judah sitting quietly by the rivers of Babylon, all huddled together. They were scattered throughout all the many provinces / colonies of the Babylonian empire. This was why Cyrus’ decree bidding the Jews return to rebuild Jerusalem had to be published “throughout all his kingdom”, and Jews living “in any place” of that kingdom were included in the invitation. It was Babylon who had “parted my land” by dividing it up amongst the various ‘Samaritan’ peoples who were transported there from other conquered territories. And their being in Babylon is paralleled with being scattered to the four corners of the world as it was known to them: “Ho, ho, come forth, and flee from the land of the north, saith the LORD: for I have spread you abroad as the four winds of the heaven, saith the LORD. Deliver thyself, O Zion, that dwellest with the daughter of Babylon” (Zech. 2:6-7). And consider Zech. 7:14: “But I scattered them with a whirlwind among all the nations whom they knew not. Thus the land was desolate after them [i.e. this concerns the Babylonian invasion], that no man passed through nor returned”. Indeed, Zech. 8:7,8 speaks of the restoration as coming from both West and East of Israel, implying that the Babylonians had sold some of the Jews as slaves in Greece and north Africa. 

2Ch 36:23 Thus says Cyrus king of Persia, Yahweh, the God of heaven has given all the kingdoms of the earth to me; and He has commanded me to build Him a house in Jerusalem which is in Judah-
Cyrus clearly had a sense of relationship with Yahweh, and I have argued that he was one of the potential Messiah figures who could have reestablished the Kingdom at the restoration. Is. 44:28 is crystal clear about this. God "says of Cyrus, ‘He is My shepherd, and shall perform all My pleasure’, even saying of Jerusalem, ‘She will be built;’ and of the temple, ‘Your foundation will be laid’". It was God's intention that Cyrus repent and become a proselyte, and Yahweh would then use him to save His people "out of all places where they have been scattered". The decree of Cyrus was addressed to "Whoever is left [of the Jews], in any place where he lives" (Ezra 1:4). "Cyrus" literally means "sun" and so contrasts with the cloudy and dark day. But Cyrus let the ball drop and didn't carry through the Divine purpose as he might have done and neither did the Jews respond as they should have done. Cyrus was Yahweh's anointed (Is. 45:1), and so the essence of these prophecies is to come true in the last days in the person of the Lord Jesus. We could say that the prophecies are transferred from Cyrus to the Lord Jesus. LXX "Who bids Cyrus be wise, and he shall perform all my will" suggests Cyrus had a choice; he was commanded, and it seems he partially obeyed, but not enough to the Messiah figure envisaged.

It is significant that Ezra and Nehemiah speak of the "God of Heaven" (e.g. Ezra 1:2) whilst Zechariah speaks of the "God of the earth" or 'land' of Israel, perhaps because the Angel of Israel literally went to Heaven when the glory departed from Jerusalem, and returned, in a sense, at the restoration- to depart again at the Lord's death ("Your house is left unto you desolate"; of the Angel that once dwelt in the temple).

Whoever there is among you of all his people, Yahweh his God be with him, and let him go up-
"His God..." sounds as if Cyrus had not adopted Yahweh as his own God. And yet he does recognize that "He is God". We can know things about God, without grasping their personal reality. That is the lesson of Cyrus.

Amos 9:11-15 is most comfortably interpreted when read as referring to the restoration of Judah and the “remnant” of the ten tribes to the land under Ezra: “In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen, and close up the breaches thereof; and I will raise up his ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old: That they may possess the remnant of Edom, and of all the heathen, which are called by my name, saith the LORD that doeth this. Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that the plowman shall overtake the reaper, and the treader of grapes him that soweth seed; and the mountains shall drop sweet wine, and all the hills shall melt. And I will bring again the captivity of my people of Israel, and they shall build the waste cities, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and drink the wine thereof; they shall also make gardens, and eat the fruit of them. And I will plant them upon their land, and they shall no more be pulled up out of their land which I have given them, saith the LORD thy God”. “I will raise up” uses a Hebrew word very commonly featured in the records of the restoration, when the people were exhorted to “rise up and build” (Ezra 1:5; 3:2; 10:4,15; Neh. 2:18,20). The statement that they would “close up the breaches thereof” is exactly the language of Neh. 6:1, which records that the walls were rebuilt so that there was no breach [s.w.] therein. It was after the Babylonian invasion that Zion was “fallen” and ‘ruined’ (s.w. Jer. 31:18; 45:4; Lam. 2:2,17). “I will build it” is exactly the theme of the records of the return from Babylon (Ezra 1:2,3,5; 3:2,10; 4:1-4; Neh. 2:5,17,18,20; 3:1-3, 13-15; 4:1,3,5,6,10,17,18; 6:1,6; 7:1). Surely Amos 9 is saying that at the rebuilding at the time of the restoration, God’s people could have ushered in the Kingdom age of agricultural plenty and victory over their Arab neighbours. But they intermarried with Edom, and suffered drought because they didn’t fulfill the requirements to rebuild Zion correctly. But the words of Amos were still to come true in some form- they are given an application in Acts 15:17 which may appear to be way out of context, i.e. to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. Thus words which could have had a plain fulfilment at the restoration were given a delayed fulfilment; but they were not fulfilled in a literal sense, but in a spiritual one. And so it is with prophecies like Ezekiel 38, and the temple prophecies of Ezekiel. They will be fulfilled in spiritual essence, but probably not in strict literality, although they could have been had God’s people been more ‘fulfilling’ of them.