|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
24:8-20 Jehoiachin reigned but three months, yet long enough to show that he justly smarted for his fathers' sins, for he trod in their steps. His uncle was intrusted with the government. This Zedekiah was the last of the kings of Judah. Though the judgments of God upon the three kings before him might have warned him, he did that which was evil, like them. When those intrusted with the counsels of a nation act unwisely, and against their true interest, we ought to notice the displeasure of God in it. It is for the sins of a people that God hides from them the things that belong to the public peace. And in fulfilling the secret purposes of his justice, the Lord needs only leave men to the blindness of their own minds, or to the lusts of their own hearts. The gradual approach of Divine judgments affords sinners space for repentance, and believers leisure to prepare for meeting the calamity, while it shows the obstinacy of those who will not forsake their sins.
Verses 17-20. - EARLIER PORTION OF ZEDEKIAH'S REIGN. Nebuchadnezzar found a son of Josiah, named Mattaniah, still surviving at Jerusalem. At his father's death he must have been a boy of ten, but he was now, eleven years later, of the age of twenty-one. This youth, only three years older than his nephew Jehoiachin, he appointed king, at the same time requiring him to change his name, which he did from "Mattaniah" to "Zedekiah" (ver. 17). Zedekiah pursued nearly the same course of action as the other recent kings. He showed no religious zeal, instituted no reform, but allowed the idolatrous practices, to which the people were so addicted, to continue (ver. 19). Though less irreligious and less inclined to persecute than Jehoiakim, he could not bring himself to turn to God. He was weak and vacillating, inclined to follow the counsels of Jeremiah, but afraid of the "princes," and ultimately took their advice, which was to ally himself with Egypt, and openly rebel against Nebuchadnezzar. This course of conduct brought about the destruction of the nation (ver. 29). Verse 17. - And the King of Babylon made Mattaniah his father's brother king in his stead. Josiah had four sons (1 Chronicles 3:15) - Johanan, the eldest, who probably died before his father; Jehoiakim, or Eliakim, the second, who was twenty-five years old at his father's death (2 Kings 23:36); Jehoahaz, the third, otherwise called Shallum (1 Chronicles, l.s.c.; Jeremiah 22:11), who, when his father died, was aged twenty-three (2 Kings 32:31); and Mattaniah, the youngest, who must have been then aged ten or nine. It was this fourth son, now grown to manhood, whom Nebuchadnezzar appointed king in Jehoiachin's room. And changed his name to Zedekiah. (On the practice of changing a king's name on his accession, see the comment upon 2 Kings 23:31, 34.) Mat-lab means "Gift of Jehovah;" Zedekiah, "Righteousness of Jehovah." Josiah had called his son the first of these names in humble acknowledgment of God's mercy in granting him a fourth son. So other pious Jews called their sons "Nathaniel," and Greeks "Theodotus" or "Theodorus," and Romans "Deodatua." Mattaniah, in taking the second of the names, may have had in his mind the prophecy of Jeremiah 23:5-8, where blessings are promised to the reign of a king whose name should be "Jehovah-Tsidkenu," i.e. "The Lord our Righteousness." Or he may simply have intended to declare that "the righteousness of Jehovah" was what he aimed at establishing. In this case it can only be said that it would have been happy for his country, had his professions been corroborated by his acts.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And the king of Babylon made Mattaniah his father's brother king in his stead,.... The third son of Josiah, 1 Chronicles 3:15.
and changed his name to Zedekiah; for the same reason the king of Egypt changed the name of Eliakim, 2 Kings 23:34 to signify his subjection to him; though some think it was to put him in mind of the justice of God, as the name signifies, that would overtake him, should he be treacherous to him, and rebel against him; so the Jewish Midrash.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
2Ki 24:17-20. Zedekiah's Evil Reign.
17-19. the king of Babylon made Mattaniah, his father's brother, king in his stead—Adhering to his former policy of maintaining a show of monarchy, Nebuchadnezzar appointed the third and youngest son of Josiah (1Ch 3:15), full brother of Jehoahaz, and uncle of the captive Jehoiachin. But, according to the custom of conquerors, who changed the names of the great men they took captives in war, in token of their supremacy, he gave him the new name of
Zedekiah—that is, "The righteous of God." This being a purely Hebrew name, it seems that he allowed the puppet king to choose his own name, which was confirmed. His heart towards God was the same as that of Jehoiakim, impenitent and heedless of God's word.
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