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2Ki 25:1 It happened in the ninth year of his reign, in the tenth month, in the tenth day of the month, that Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came, he and all his army, against Jerusalem, and encamped against it; and they built forts against it around it-
These forts had been portrayed and 'built' by Ezekiel when he drew them upon a tile in an acted parable (Ez. 4:1-3). Had the earlier exiles in Babylon repented, then this would not have happened. Likewise if Zedekiah had repented, it would not have happened. We see here how God doesn't just let things happen in a disinterested way, allowing natural forces to take their course. What happened was so avoidable; Zedekiah's weakness could have been cancelled out, as it were, by the repentance of the exiles with Ezekiel. And their refusal to repent could have been cancelled out by Zedekiah's repentance. Or if both of these elements failed, had the wealthy rulers of Jerusalem really let their slaves go free and not re-enslaved them, the siege could have been lifted. And there were other such factors and potential possibilities. Stubborn, proud refusal to bow our heads in repentance precludes so much from happening, and allows so much judgment to come which could have been averted.

2Ki 25:2 So the city was captured, by the eleventh year of king Zedekiah-
Literally, was entered. But “I will not enter into the city” (Hos. 11:9). But the enemies of Israel, manifesting God’s judgments, did enter into the city. The Hebrew words for “enter” and “city” occur together in several passages describing this (2 Kings 25:2; Jer. 32:24,29; 44:2; 52:5; Dan. 9:26; Joel 2:9). The promise that they would not was surely uttered in emotional passion; or at best it was conditional. Jer. 39:1,2 allows us to conclude that the city was besieged for exactly 18 months.

2Ki 25:3 On the ninth day of the fourth month the famine was severe in the city, so that there was no bread for the people of the land-
Jeremiah had earlier prophesied that many would die from famine and plague during the siege. It was by special grace that Jeremiah in prison was given bread right up to the day that Jerusalem fell.

2Ki 25:4 Then a breach was made in the city-
The Babylonians made a breach in the wall to the north, from where the cherubim had left and would return. But Zedekiah tried to escape by digging a hole in the southern wall (Ez. 12:12). He did to the city what the Babylonians did. This "breach" is the same word used for the breaking up of things at the time of the flood (Gen. 6:11), a well established foretaste of the destruction of Jerusalem by the flood waters of the Babylonians, albeit with the promise of a new creation coming as a result of it.

And all the men of war fled by night-
Jer. 52:7 says that they "went out by night". "Went out" is the language of Judas going out (Jn. 13:30), Cain '"went out" (Gen. 4:16), as did Zedekiah in the judgment of Jerusalem (Jer. 39:4; 52:7). Esau went out from the land of Canaan into Edom, slinking away from the face of his brother Jacob, sensing his righteousness and his own carnality (Gen. 36:2-8). Even in this life, those who leave the ecclesia 'go out' after the pattern of Judas, who also went out at night, condemning themselves in advance of the judgment by their attitude to the ecclesia (1 Jn. 2:19 cp. Acts 15:24). The unrighteous flee from God now, as they will then (Hos. 7:13). Zedekiah's experience of condemnation is presented as typical of every man condemned at the last day.

By the way of the gate between the two walls, which was by the king’s garden (now the Chaldeans were against the city around it)-
It seems Zedekiah had taken refuge in the temple. From there, he saw the princes of Babylon who had breached the northern wall and were now at the temple gate (Jer. 39:3). And so they fled by "the king's garden", which was his own private entrance to the temple, and then came to the double walls of the southern perimeter of the city. Zedekiah himself dug through those walls, the strongest point of his defence and human strength (Ez. 12:12). He was being taught that all human defence, and the physical temple, was not going to save him.

And the king went by the way of the Arabah-
The chalky depression into which the river Jordan ran.

2Ki 25:5 But the army of the Chaldeans pursued after the king, and overtook him in the plains of Jericho; and all his army was scattered from him-
The allusion is to how an Israel who broke covenant with their God would surely be overtaken by curses and judgment (Dt. 28:15). As his pursuers closed the distance between them and him, with him unable to gather more speed nor find a suitable place to run, now completely alone and without his bodyguards, he was a living exemplification of how Divine judgment will catch up with every man. He would then have dearly wished he had had the humility to listen to Jeremiah's pleas for repentance and submission. And he there was and is the exemplification of every man condemned before God.

The grace of Jesus framed the parable of the man going down from Jerusalem to Jericho in terms of Zedekiah's flight from Jerusalem (2 Kings 25:4); a man who had repeatedly spurned the offers God made to him  through Jeremiah, and who was attacked on that road by the Babylonians (cp. the robbers).  Yet the parable shows that Christ will graciously save even a man like that; for according to the parable, Zedekiah represents every one of us.

2Ki 25:6 Then they took the king, and carried him up to the king of Babylon to Riblah; and they gave judgment on him-
Zedekiah fled, was overtaken, wept (Ez. 7:27), judgment was given upon him (Jer. 52:9), he was punished in the presence of the king (Jer. 52:10), cast into prison (Jer. 52:11 cp. Mt. 5:25). He had his judgment in this life; and perhaps he may yet therefore be saved in the last day, seeing he apparently repented (see on :7; 2 Kings 24:19).

2Ki 25:7 They killed the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes, and put out the eyes of Zedekiah, and bound him in fetters, and carried him to Babylon-
We wonder why Zedekiah was spared but his sons were not. I will suggest on 2 Kings 24:19 that he later repented, even though he refused to repent and humble himself before God's word when he ought to have done. His sons presumably were foreknown that they would not repent, and so they were slain. Perhaps seeing their deaths made Zedekiah realize that they were dying because he had not repented when he ought to have done; for it was his lack of repentance earlier which, he was told, would bring about the death of women and children. We may just possibly have some window here onto the terrible problem of the death of children.

Jer. 52:11 says that he was imprisoned, LXX "in the mill", as if he was in hard labour, now blinded, exactly like Samson (Jud. 16:21), and as the young men were made to (Lam. 5:13). And the similarities continued, in that it seems Zedekiah likewise did finally repent. Jer. 21:7; 27:13 had prophesied that Zedekiah would be slain by the sword of Nebuchadnezzar when Jerusalem fell. But Zedekiah wasn't slain by Nebuchadnezzar, but rather died in captivity. Perhaps he repented; or God chose to work out another path of judgment with Zedekiah which would achieve more glory for Him and His objectives than simply having him slain by the sword. The statement in Jer. 21:7 that Nebuchadnezzar would not show him "pity nor have mercy" and not spare him was therefore not fulfilled; because he was reflecting the God who had also said He would not spare or pity, but yet He did. I explained on Jer. 34:5 that Zedekiah died "in peace", peace with God, and the threatened judgments upon him weren't completely carried out- presumably because he did finally repent. If we are to finally repent, then let us repent now before suffering comes upon us to elicit that repentance.  

The intensity of Samson's repentance was quite something. It must have inspired Manasseh (2 Chron. 33:11), who like Samson was bound (Jud. 16:21) and humbled (Jud. 16:5,16,19 AVmg.)- and then repented with a like intensity. And Zedekiah went through the same basic experience, of capture by his enemies, having his eyes put out, his capture attributed to false gods; and he likewise repented (2 Kings 25:7).  

2Ki 25:8 Now in the fifth month, on the seventh day of the month, which was the nineteenth year of king Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, came Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard, a servant of the king of Babylon, to Jerusalem-
Jer. 52:12 says "in the tenth day of the month". It could be that he arrived on the seventh day, and burnt the houses and temple (:9) on the tenth day. I suggested on Jer. 52:1 that the Kings record was as it were copied and pasted into the appendix to Jeremiah which we have in Jer. 52, so we could have here a simple error in copying.

2Ki 25:9 He burnt the house of Yahweh and the king’s house; and all the houses of Jerusalem, even every great house, burnt he with fire-
Jeremiah earlier criticized the building of these great houses on the walls of Jerusalem- for they were built on the back of abusing the poor for material and labour. They were finally torn down by the Babylonians, but even before that, the owners themselves broke them down and the materials were used to shore up the breaches in the city walls (Jer. 33:4). Likewise there are foretastes of judgment ahead of time in the lives of all God's people.

Jerusalem was threatened with the eternal fire of God’s anger, due to the sins of Israel: “Then I will kindle a fire in its gates, and it shall devour the palaces of Jerusalem, and it shall not be quenched” (Jer. 17:27). Jerusalem being the prophesied capital of the future Kingdom (Is. 2:2-4; Ps. 48:2), God did not mean us to read this literally. The houses of the great men in Jerusalem were burnt down with fire (2 Kings 25:9), but that fire did not continue eternally. Fire represents the anger/punishment of God against sin, but His anger is not eternal (Jer. 3:12). Fire turns what it burns to dust; and we know that the ultimate wages of sin is death, a turning back to dust. This perhaps is why fire is used as a figure for punishment for sin.

2Ki 25:10 All the army of the Chaldeans, who were with the captain of the guard, broke down the walls around Jerusalem-
We note in the prophecies of Jer. 50 and Jer. 51 a special emphasis upon the breaking down of the walls of Babylon because of what they had done to Jerusalem, i.e. breaking down her walls. But we also observed on Jer. 51:44 that when the Medes took Babylon, the walls weren't broken down, and in fact they were only broken down bit by bit over the course of many years. So the main fulfilment of this must yet be future. Vengeance or "recompense" was not fully taken by God upon Babylon for what they did to Israel because Israel had not repented, recognizing that actually those judgments had been rightfully deserved by their gross sins.

2Ki 25:11 Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard carried away captive the residue of the people who were left in the city, and those who fell away, who fell to the king of Babylon, and the remainder of the multitude of the people-
Or as AVmg. "residue of the artificers" or workmen. I suggested elsewhere that these may have been those skilled in building the defences; or it could refer to those who were the makers of idols. See on Jer. 10:18.

2Ki 25:12 But the captain of the guard left some of the poorest of the land to work the vineyards and fields-
This was probably the majority of the population. The Babylonians, unlike the Assyrians, didn't practice mass deportations. They removed the leadership of subjected peoples, and appointed locals as the leaders under their control. This is what they did to Judah, taking the royal family and priesthood into captivity, and establishing Gedaliah as puppet governor (Jer. 40: 7; 2 Kings 25:2) along with some local Jewish "elders" (Lam. 5:12), with Mizpeh rather than Jerusalem as the capital.  Ezra 9:7 is clear that it was "our kings and our priests [who] have been delivered" into captivity. The Babylonians saw no economic purpose in bringing masses of unskilled peasant farmers into captivity in their cities. It's been estimated that at least 90% of Judah were peasant farmers; and these, the impoverished masses, were left in the land and not deported (Jer. 52:16; 2 Kings 25:12). See on Ez. 11:15. The Babylonian policy regarding deportation and management of conquered lands is described in N.P. Lemche, Ancient Israel: A New History of Israelite Society (Sheffield: JSOT, 1988) and D.L. Smith, The Religion of the Landless: The Social Context of the Babylonian Exile (Bloomington, IN: Meyer Stone, 1989). God did not therefore scatter all the people quite as He intended. There is archaeological evidence for continued agricultural activity in the land after the deportations. And Jer. 41:5 seems to speak of men coming to the Jerusalem temple from Shechem and Shiloh, in the ten tribe area, in order to offer grain offerings at the site of the temple. Presumably the altar had been destroyed, hence no animal sacrifices are mentioned. It has been suggested that the book of Lamentations was written as part of a temple ritual or at least material to be recited at the site of the temple. See on Jer. 12:4; 13:19.

2Ki 25:13 The Chaldeans broke up the pillars of brass that were in the house of Yahweh and the bases and the bronze sea that were in the house of Yahweh, and carried the brass pieces to Babylon-
The breaking in pieces was likely for ease of transportation. But it also symbolized the ending of the temple system. Israel had broken the covenant, and the only way back to God was to be through repentantly accepting His new covenant, as explained on Jer. 31.

2Ki 25:14 They took away the pots, the shovels, the snuffers, the spoons, and all the vessels of brass with which they ministered-
These things were kept in Babylon and then sent back with the exiles, by the special decree of Cyrus. The new covenant offered to Israel at the time in Jer. 31 was not a repeat of the law of Moses, but it did include similar rituals. The worship system of Ez. 40-48 was command more than prediction, and it utilized these vessels.

2Ki 25:15 The captain of the guard took away the fire pans, the basins, whatever was of gold, and of silver-
We get the impression that an orderly inventory was kept, with the vessels divided up according to their metal. David's obsession with building the temple which God never wanted was so great, that he calculated the exact weight of gold for each vessel (1 Chron. 28:14). Even though this was not specified in the commands for building the tabernacle. 1 Kings 7:47 implies Solomon tried to calculate the total weight of all the vessels once they had been made, but the inventory was so huge that he left off. Yet so many vessels were not required by the tabernacle service. This was a completely different, grandiose religious system of David's own device; and in the end, all these vessels of mere religion were taken off into captivity (2 Kings 25:14-16 emphasizes this). 

2Ki 25:16 The two pillars, the one sea and the bases which Solomon had made for the house of Yahweh, the brass of all these things was without weight-
Although as noted on :17, the gold and silver was apparently weighed, and the bronze pillars measured.

2Ki 25:17 The height of the one pillar was eighteen cubits, and a capital of brass was on it; and the height of the capital was three cubits, with network and pomegranates on the capital around it, all of brass, similarly the second pillar with its network-
The capitals were placed on the tops of the pillars (as in 1 Kings 7:16). "Tops" is "heads", and the Hebrew for "capitals" suggests "crown". The height of the capitals is given as three cubits in 2 Kings 25:17, but five cubits in 2 Chron. 3:15. The difference would be whether the crowns ["capitals"] were measured to the peak of the highest spike of the crown, or the top of the rim of the crown. But the idea is that everywhere in his house, Solomon had been glorifying his own kingship; forgetting that it was by grace, and conditional upon his obedience.

2Ki 25:18 The captain of the guard took Seraiah the chief priest-
An ancestor of Ezra (Ezra 7:1).

And Zephaniah the second priest, and the three keepers of the threshold-
The Zephaniah of Jer. 21:1 who refused to heed God's word and was associated with persecuting Jeremiah for speaking it (Jer. 29:25,29).

2Ki 25:19 and out of the city he took an officer who was set over the men of war; and five men of those who saw the king’s face, who were found in the city; and the scribe, the captain of the army, who mustered the people of the land; and sixty men of the people of the land, who were found in the city-
Seven men in Jer. 52:25. 'The seven who saw the king's face' was likely a technical term for his immediate courtiers or politburo, although they may have only numbered five men. The sixty men were surely not arbitrarily chosen, but were likely the priests in the temple "in the midst of the city", perhaps those whom Ezekiel had seen offering incense to the sun god in the temple precincts.

2Ki 25:20 Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard took them, and brought them to the king of Babylon to Riblah-
They were obviously seen as representative of the civil and religious leadership of Judah. It was deemed that they needed to be killed so that there was no leadership left; but this then makes it all the more amazing that Zedekiah was not killed as God had said he would be. It would seem that he was the logical one to die. We recall how when the Medes took Babylon, there was little bloodshed but king Belshazzar was slain. All this was to highlight to Zedekiah the amazing grace of his survival, and it seemed he did respond in repentance (see on :7).

2Ki 25:21 The king of Babylon struck them, and put them to death at Riblah in the land of Hamath. So Judah was carried away captive out of his land-
See on :20. I noted on :12 that perhaps the majority of Judah remained in the land. For most of the population were the poor masses. But the exile and destruction of the leadership is seen as "Judah" being carried away captive. But perhaps the phrase is used in order to connect with the description of the ten tribe kingdom being carried away captive out of his land (Am. 7:11,17; 2 Kings  17:23). It was as if to put a final end to Judah's supposition that was somehow morally better than Israel. They shared an identical judgment.

Jehoahaz had been "deposed at Jerusalem" by Pharaoh Neco (2 Chron. 36:3) but put in bonds by him 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.

2Ki 25:22 As for the people who were left in the land of Judah, whom Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had left, even over them he made Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, the son of Shaphan, governor-
I suggested on :12 that the numbers remaining in the land were relatively large. Ahikam, Gedaliah's father, had saved Jeremiah's life (Jer. 26:24). Jeremiah initially lived with Gedaliah once he became governor (Jer. 40:6). 

2Ki 25:23 Now when all the captains of the bands of soldiers, they and their men, heard that the king of Babylon had made Gedaliah governor, they came to Gedaliah to Mizpah, even Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, and Johanan the son of Kareah, and Seraiah the son of Tanhumeth the Netophathite, and Jaazaniah the son of the Maacathite, they and their men-
Ishmael was later to murder Gedaliah, considering that he was the rightful king of Judah. It seems he had taken refuge with Baalis king of the Ammonites during the Babylonian invasion (Jer. 40:14).

2Ki 25:24 Gedaliah swore to them and to their men and said to them, Don’t be afraid because of the servants of the Chaldeans. Dwell in the land and serve the king of Babylon, and it shall be well with you-
Gedaliah was advocating the earlier appeal of Jeremiah; if the people accepted they had sinned and willingly accepted the judgment for it, servitude of their enemies, then all would be well for them. They were not to fear the Babylonians; “because of the servants of the Chaldeans”, referring to the various Babylonian garrisons now stationed throughout the land. "Amend" in the earlier appeals for repentance (e.g. Jer. 7:5) is the word here translated 'to do well to'. If they amended their ways, God would amend or change His plans of judgment. Here we behold the openness of God, His deep sensitivity to human repentance and change.

2Ki 25:25 But it happened in the seventh month-
Three months after the capture and two after the burning of the city.

That Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, the son of Elishama, of the royal seed, came with ten men and struck Gedaliah so that he died, and the Jews and the Chaldeans that were with him at Mizpah-
Ishmael was from the royal family, and therefore assumed that he ought to be the rightful ruler of Judah rather than Gedaliah, who was but a willing puppet of Babylon. But it was not then the time to restore the Kingdom and throne of David, and certainly not in the form of someone as deceitful as Ishmael. Ishmael clearly disbelieved the prophecies concerning the ending of the royal family. Perhaps Gedaliah's willing naivety about Ishmael in Jer. 40:16 was because he could not entertain any plan to slay a member of the royal family, remembering David's attitude to Saul.

They failed to accept that Nebuchadnezzar was Yahweh's servant, doing His will, and therefore the appointment of Gedaliah was also sanctioned by God. Perhaps their game plan was that Baalis of Ammon would take over Judah, and Ishmael would be made the ruler (Jer. 40:14). People will commit murder and any manner of sin for the sake of dreams of power. If Ishmael truly wished to do the best for Judah by becoming their ruler, he surely would not have killed his fellow Jews. But he did so because he was working for the king of Ammon and was following his agenda, in hope of personal benefit and power thereby.

2Ki 25:26 All the people, both small and great, and the captains of the forces, arose and came to Egypt; for they were afraid of the Chaldeans-
They ought not to have even though of going into Egypt, but should have trusted Yahweh's further grace to be shown to them, despite the foolish provocation of the Babylonians by Ishmael; see on Jer. 42:2,12. Jeremiah was to assure them that in fact God's grace would continue to them through the grace of Nebuchadnezzar; he would not take revenge by slaying all Judah as they feared (Jer. 42:12). Fear is so often based upon lack of faith; and such fear can become gripping and all consuming. This fear of certain revenge proving unfounded, by God's grace, is what Jacob learnt after his sons pillaged Shechem. The surrounding tribes did not attack and destroy him, as he had thought would inevitably follow. The people went to Egypt, despite Jeremiah pleading with them to believe God's grace and remain in His land. He warned them that if they went to Egypt, they would go there to their condemnation. But they insisted on going there.

2Ki 25:27 It happened in the thirty-seventh year of the captivity of Jehoiachin king of Judah, in the twelfth month, on the twenty-seventh day of the month, that Evilmerodach king of Babylon, in the year that he began to reign, lifted up the head of Jehoiachin king of Judah out of prison-
Lifting up the head out of prison recalls Joseph (Gen. 40:13,20); for the similarities with Joseph, see on :29.

2Ki 25:28 He spoke kindly to him, and set his throne above the throne of the kings who were with him in Babylon-
There is no reason given for this amazing grace toward Jehoiachin, who would have been considered the legitimate king of Judah. The lack of explanation is perhaps to simply highlight that it was indeed pure grace. He may well have repented, but that is not mentioned. We get the impression that God pitied His people in their well deserved captivity- simply because He so loved them.

2Ki 25:29 and changed his prison garments. Jehoiachin ate bread before him continually all the days of his life-
See on :30. The change of garments by the king would have recalled the experience of Joseph in Gen. 41:14. But Jehoiachin had not had the spirituality of Joseph, and he would have reflected upon that truth; and thereby perceived yet more the huge grace being shown him. We too may experience blessings which we are totally unworthy of, just so that we bow our heads in marvel at God's grace.

2Ki 25:30 For his allowance, there was a continual allowance given him of the king, every day a portion, all the days of his life
Reflect how Daniel refused to eat the food sent to him from the King of Babylon; but God arranged for this very thing to be sent to Jehoiachin as a sign of His recognition of his repentance (Jer. 52:34)! God saw that Jehoiachin wasn't on Daniel's level, and yet He worked with him on his lower level.

Ezekiel had prophesied that those who survived the famine and invasion of Judah would go into captivity, "and I will draw out a sword after them" (Ez. 5:2,12). We would expect from this that the exiles would be persecuted and slain in captivity, and this surely was God's intended judgment. But in Esther we find the exiles in prosperity, in positions of power, and respected by their captors; and Jeremiah concludes his long prophecy with the information that Jehoiachin, Judah's exiled King, was exalted "above the throne of the kings that were with him in Babylon" and he was given special favour and honour by the King of Babylon (Jer. 52:31-34). I can only understand these things as pure grace. God showed tenderness and favour to His people in captivity, far above what He had intended or what they deserved. And He does the same with us- He gives us so much more than we deserve. And yet most of Judah abused that grace; they were so taken up with the good life God gave them in captivity that they chose to remain there and not participate in the restoration. And we so easily can end up abusing His grace likewise.