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Jeremiah 52:1 Zedekiah was twenty-one years old when he began to reign; he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem- Jeremiah's words finished in Jer. 51:64. This chapter agrees almost word for word with 2 Kings 24:18-25:30, although we note that the section about Gedaliah in 2 Kings 25:22-26 is omitted because the history of Gedaliah has been dealt with in more detail already in Jeremiah. It could be that the inspired editor of the book chose to as it were copy and paste the section from 2 Kings (with a few minor changes) as a helpful appendix to the book. Verses 28-30 give a different take however on their equivalent in 2 Kings 24:1-20.

And his mother’s name was Hamutal the daughter of Jeremiah of Libnah- Zedekiah was thus brother of Jehoahaz but half-brother of Jehoiakim (2 Kings 23:31, 36).

Jeremiah 52:2 He did that which was evil in the sight of Yahweh, according to all that Jehoiakim had done-
The implication is that he was intended to have learnt from the fate of Jehoiakim his half brother, but instead he acted just the same. God also brings people into our lives so that we might learn from their life path and destiny. We never specifically read of Zedekiah worshipping idols, and he hardly comes over as the worst of Judah's kings, but his "evil" was in the weakness of character which he displayed when faced with God's demand for him to submit to Nebuchadnezzar.

Jeremiah 52:3 For through the anger of Yahweh it happened in Jerusalem and Judah, until He had cast them out from His presence, that Zedekiah rebelled against the king of Babylon-
Zedekiah's rebellion was purely of his own device. But he is described here as rebelling "through the anger of Yahweh"; God intended to pour out His wrath, and so His hand was in the rebellion of Zedekiah, using that man's freewill decisions although through Jeremiah pleading with him not to go that way. We marvel at the perfect balance and intimate involvement in the psychology and decision making of people.

Jeremiah 52:4 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 round about-
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.

Jeremiah 52:5 So the city was besieged to the eleventh year of king Zedekiah-
Jer. 39:1,2 allows us to conclude that the city was besieged for exactly 18 months.

Jeremiah 52:6 In the fourth month, in the ninth day of the 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.

Jeremiah 52:7 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, and went forth out of the city 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 all around)- 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 they went towards the Arabah- The chalky depression in the midst of which the river Jordan ran.

Jeremiah 52:8 But the army of the Chaldeans pursued after the king, and overtook Zedekiah 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.

Jeremiah 52:9 Then they took the king and carried him up to the king of Babylon to Riblah in the land of Hamath; and he gave judgement 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 :11).

Jeremiah 52:10 The king of Babylon killed the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes: he killed also all the princes of Judah in Riblah-
We wonder why Zedekiah was spared but his sons were not. I will suggest on :11 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.

Jeremiah 52:11 He put out the eyes of Zedekiah; and the king of Babylon bound him in fetters, and carried him to Babylon, and imprisoned him until the day of his death-
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.  

Jeremiah 52:12 Now in the fifth month, in the tenth day of the month, which was the nineteenth year of king Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, came Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard, who stood before the king of Babylon, into Jerusalem-
2 Kings 25:8 says on the seventh day of the month. It could be that he arrived on the seventh day, and burnt the houses and temple (:13) on the tenth day. I suggested on :1 that the Kings record has been as it were copied and pasted into this appendix to Jeremiah, so we could have here a simple error in copying.

Jeremiah 52:13 and he burned the house of Yahweh, and the king’s house; and all the houses of Jerusalem, even every great house, burned he with fire-
Jeremiah elsewhere 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.

Jeremiah 52:14 All the army of the Chaldeans, who were with the captain of the guard, broke down all the walls of Jerusalem all around-
We noted 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.

Jeremiah 52:15 Then Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard carried away captive of the poorest of the people, and 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 residue of the multitude-
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.

Jeremiah 52:16 But Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard left of the poorest of the land to be vineyard keepers and farmers-
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.

Jeremiah 52:17 The Chaldeans broke 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 they broke in pieces and carried all of their brass 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.

Jeremiah 52:18 They also took away the pots, the shovels, the snuffers, the basins, 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.

Jeremiah 52:19 The captain of the guard took away the cups, the fire pans, the basins, the pots, the lampstands, the spoons and the bowls; that which was of gold, in gold, and that which was of silver, in silver-
We get the impression that an orderly inventory was kept, with the vessels divided up according to their metal.

Jeremiah 52:20 They took the two pillars, the one sea, and the twelve bronze bulls that were under the bases, which king Solomon had made for the house of Yahweh. The brass of all these vessels was without weight-
Although as noted on :21, the gold and silver was apparently weighed, and the bronze pillars measured.

Jeremiah 52:21 As for the pillars, the height of the one pillar was eighteen cubits; and a line of twelve cubits encircled it; and its thickness was four fingers. It was hollow-
It seems the Babylonians weighed the gold and silver and also noted the height and diameter of the pillars. When the vessels were returned to the temple they were also weighed. There is the impression given that the temple was not pillaged in a wanton way.

Jeremiah 52:22 A capital of brass was on it; and the height of the one capital was five cubits, with network and pomegranates on the capital all around, all of brass: and the second pillar also had like these, and pomegranates-
2 Kings 25:17 gives “three cubits”; perhaps this smaller number is the actual measurement of the network of the capital, excluding the pomegranates.

Jeremiah 52:23 There were ninety-six pomegranates on the sides; all the pomegranates were one hundred on the network all around-
In 1 Kings 7:20,42 each pillar is said to have had two rows of pomegranates, 100 in each, the one above and the other below the ornamental network of the capitals. The "100" may be a rough summary. "On the sides" could mean 'visible outwards i.e. four of the hundred in each row were hidden owing to the nearness of the pillar to the wall of the porch; leaving 96 visible, as stated here. Or it could be translated "hanging loosely", i.e. four of the pomegranates were fixed to the network on the capitals, while the rest hung in festoons between them.

Jeremiah 52:24 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).

Jeremiah 52:25 And out of the city he took an officer who was set over the men of war; and seven men of those who saw the king’s face, who were found in the city-
Five men in 2 Kings 25:19. '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.

And the scribe of 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 midst of the city- These sixty 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.

Jeremiah 52:26 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 :11).

Jeremiah 52:27 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 :26. I noted on  :16 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.

Jeremiah 52:28 This is the people whom Nebuchadnezzar carried away captive: in the seventh year three thousand and twenty-three Jews-
This is the deportation of Jer. 39:1. I noted on :1 that this chapter agrees almost word for word with 2 Kings 24:18-25:30, although we note that the section about Gedaliah in 2 Kings 25:22-26 is omitted because the history of Gedaliah has been dealt with in more detail already in Jeremiah. It could be that the inspired editor of the book chose to as it were copy and paste the section from 2 Kings (with a few minor changes) as a helpful appendix to the book. But verses 28-30 give a different take on their equivalent in 2 Kings 24:1-20. It seems we should correct "seventh" into "seventeenth" (just as in 2 Chron. 36:9, for "eight" we should read "eighteen"); this avoids the number conflict with 2 Kings 24:14,16, which speak of those taken captive with Jehoiachin, earlier. The lower numbers in Jer. 52 are because they are omitting the Jews already taken into captivity in the previous incursions.

Jeremiah 52:29 in the eighteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar he carried away captive from Jerusalem eight hundred and thirty-two persons-
These are
those carried captive “from Jerusalem” itself, but not including those taken into exile after the capture of the city. The figures given in this section are far from complete, because Ezra 2:64 speaks of 42,360 returning, which is far more than went into captivity, even though perhaps the majority remained in Babylon. Perhaps like Israel in Egypt they multiplied supernaturally; or maybe many exiles from other nations and even Babylonians returned with them, being assigned to Jewish tribes and localities. And yet we must ever bear in mind that the Hebrew term "thousand" is often used for a grouping, rather than being a literal figure. But more likely we are reading here just of the leadership classes who were taken away.

Jeremiah 52:30 in the twenty third year of Nebuchadnezzar Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard carried away captive of the Jews seven hundred and forty-five persons: all the persons were four thousand six hundred-
This deportation is not recorded elsewhere, although Josephus (Antiquities 10.9. 7) says that "Nebuchadnezzar in his 23rd year carried on considerable warlike operations in the direction of Palestine and in Egypt, carrying off Jews from that country to Babylon".

Jeremiah 52:31 It happened in the thirty seventh year of the captivity of Jehoiachin king of Judah, in the twelfth month, in the twenty fifth day of the month, that Evilmerodach king of Babylon, in the first year of his reign, lifted up the head of Jehoiachin king of Judah, and brought him forth out of prison-
Lifting up the head out of prison recalls Joseph (Gen. 40:13,20); for the similarities with Joseph, see on :33.

Jeremiah 52:32 and 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.

Jeremiah 52:33 and changed his prison garments. Jehoiachin ate bread before him continually all the days of his life-
See on :34. 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.

Jeremiah 52:34 and for his allowance, there was a continual allowance given him by the king of Babylon, every day a portion until the day of his death, 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.