Then the people of the land took Jehoahaz the son of Josiah, and made him king in his father's stead in Jerusalem.
Verse 1. - The people of the land took Jehoahaz (see parallel, 2 Kings 23:30). The form of expression may indicate the hearty zeal of the nation for this chosen son of Josiah, who seems to have been not the eldest. In the next verse, as Revised Version, he is called Joahaz. In 1 Chronicles 3:15, as in the affecting passage Jeremiah 22:10-12, his name appears as Shallum. His mother's name was Hamutal, while the name of the mother of his immediate sue-cessor was Zebudah (2 Kings 23:31 and 2 Kings 23:36).
Jehoahaz was twenty and three years old when he began to reign, and he reigned three months in Jerusalem.
And the king of Egypt put him down at Jerusalem, and condemned the land in an hundred talents of silver and a talent of gold.
Verse 3. - Put him down; Hebrew, וַיְסִירֵהוּ; i.e. deposed him (Revised Version). At Jerusalem. In something more than three months Pharaoh-Necho seems to have been returning, and in the neighbourhood of Jerusalem. The parallel (2 Kings 23:31) tells us that he put Jahoahaz "in bands" at "Riblath in the land of Hamath" (Ezekiel 19:4). And condemned the land; i.e. inflicted a fine on the land; Hebrew, וַיַּעֲנשׁ. From this time nothing further is heard of Jehoahaz or Shallum.
And the king of Egypt made Eliakim his brother king over Judah and Jerusalem, and turned his name to Jehoiakim. And Necho took Jehoahaz his brother, and carried him to Egypt.
Verse 4. - Eliakim. The meaning of the word is "God sets up;" the meaning of Jehoiakim is "Jehovah sets up." An Egyptian king knew and recognized the word "God," but possibly meant to taunt the "Jehovah" of the Jew.
Jehoiakim was twenty and five years old when he began to reign, and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem: and he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD his God.
Verse 5. - Here we note the age of Jehoiakim as greater than that of Jeoahaz, and in the parallel we read that his mother was different.
Against him came up Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and bound him in fetters, to carry him to Babylon.
Verse 6. - Against him came up Nebuchadnezzar King of Babylon. Our mere allusions in this and the following verse to Nebuchadnezzar's relations to Jehoiakim and Judah are strange in comparison with the graphic account furnished by the parallel (2 Kings 24:1-6). The name is the same with Nabokodrosoros, is written in the Assyrian monuments Nebu-kuduri-utzur, and meaning, "Nebo (Isaiah 46:1), protector from ill," or "protects the crown." In Jeremiah (Jeremiah 49:28) we have the name written Nebuchadrezzar, as also in Ezekiel. Nebuchadnezzar, second King of Babylon, was the son of Nabopolassar, who took Nineveh B.C. 625, and reigned above forty years. Though we are here told he bound Jehoiakim in chains, to take him to Babylon, for some reason or other he did not carry out this intention, and Jehoiakim was put to death at Jerusalem (Jeremiah 12:18, 19; Jeremiah 36:30; Ezekiel 19:8, 9). The expedition of Nebuchadnezzar was B.C. 605-4 (Daniel 1:1; Jeremiah 25:1), and during it, his father dying, he succeeded to the throne.
Nebuchadnezzar also carried of the vessels of the house of the LORD to Babylon, and put them in his temple at Babylon.
Verse 7. - (Comp. Daniel 2:2.) The temple here called his temple was, no doubt, the temple of Belus, or in the vernacular "Merodach," the Babylonian god of war. This rifling of the sacred vessels of Jerusalem's temple for Babylon's temple was the significant beginning of the end for Judah now at last, after many a warning.
Now the rest of the acts of Jehoiakim, and his abominations which he did, and that which was found in him, behold, they are written in the book of the kings of Israel and Judah: and Jehoiachin his son reigned in his stead.
Verse 8. - The rest of the acts of Jehoiakim. As our compiler has literally told us none at all, we need but note his expression here as a convenient formula, indicating his own intentional brevity, and the fact that he was privy to all in the original sources, which he nevertheless now omitted; yet see Jeremiah 7:9; Jeremiah 19:13, etc. The telling expression, what was found in him, is too readily to be filled up from the parallel, in its vers. 3, 4. Jehoiachin his son. In 1 Chronicles 3:16 he is called Jeconiah, and in Jeremiah 22:24 he is called Coniah.
Jehoiachin was eight years old when he began to reign, and he reigned three months and ten days in Jerusalem: and he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD.
Verse 9. - Eight years old. Our text, not the writer, is in error, and the parallel furnishes the correction, "eighteen years old."
And when the year was expired, king Nebuchadnezzar sent, and brought him to Babylon, with the goodly vessels of the house of the LORD, and made Zedekiah his brother king over Judah and Jerusalem.
Verse 10. - When the year was expired; i.e. at the beginning of the new year, in spring (2 Chronicles 24:23). It appears, from 2 Kings 25:27-30, that the captivity of Jehoia-chin, which thus began, lasted thirty-seven years, till B.C. 561, past the end of Nebuchadnezzar's reign, and that he was thenceforward kindly treated by Evil-Merodach. Compare particularly with this verse the parallel in its vers. 10-16. Zedekiah his brother; i.e. not adopting the very generic usage of the terms of relationship, so common in Old Testament language, his uncle. His mother (Hamutal, ver. 18 of parallel) was the same with the mother of Jehoahaz. Ten years old evidently when Jehoiakim began his reign, he must have been thirteen years younger than his whole brother Je-hoahaz. Zedekiah's name was before Mat-taniah. The account of Zedekiah in the parallel (which see) is very much more full.
Zedekiah was one and twenty years old when he began to reign, and reigned eleven years in Jerusalem.
And he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD his God, and humbled not himself before Jeremiah the prophet speaking from the mouth of the LORD.
Verse 12. - Humbled not himself before Jeremiah the prophet. Very numerous passages in the Book of Jeremiah (21-51.) illustrate both this clause and generally the feeble character and uncertain career of Zedekiah.
And he also rebelled against king Nebuchadnezzar, who had made him swear by God: but he stiffened his neck, and hardened his heart from turning unto the LORD God of Israel.
Verse 13. - He also rebelled against... Nebuchadnezzar, who had made him swear by God (Elohim). The criticism of the Prophet Ezekiel upon this oath-violation on the part of Zedekiah is to be found Ezekiel 17:12-20; Ezekiel 21:25. Unto the Lord God of Israel. Note here the resorting on the part of the Jew to the name, Jehovah. It is not this name that is used at the commencement of the verse.
Moreover all the chief of the priests, and the people, transgressed very much after all the abominations of the heathen; and polluted the house of the LORD which he had hallowed in Jerusalem.
Verse 14. - This, with the following three verses, may be regarded as the formal and final indictment of the people of Judah, and may be compared with that of Israel (2 Kings 17:6-23). All the chief of the priests (see 1 Chronicles 24:1, 3-19). The heads of the twenty-four courses there spoken of, with the high priest added, sum up the twenty-five men of Ezekiel 8:16, the entire of which chapter may well be read with the present history, and its description of the culminating pitch of wickedness of king, priests, and people.
And the LORD God of their fathers sent to them by his messengers, rising up betimes, and sending; because he had compassion on his people, and on his dwelling place:
Verse 15. - His messengers. The chief of these were presumably Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel. The marginal references (Jeremiah 25:3-7; Jeremiah 35:12-15) are very interesting, both for this verse and the following.
But they mocked the messengers of God, and despised his words, and misused his prophets, until the wrath of the LORD arose against his people, till there was no remedy.
Verse 16. - No remedy (comp. our 2 Chronicles 21:18; Proverbs 6:15; Proverbs 29:1; Jeremiah 8:15; Jeremiah 14:19; Jeremiah 33:6; Malachi 4:2 [3:20]).
Therefore he brought upon them the king of the Chaldees, who slew their young men with the sword in the house of their sanctuary, and had no compassion upon young man or maiden, old man, or him that stooped for age: he gave them all into his hand.
Verse 17. - Powerful illustrations of this verse may be read in Lain. 2. and Ezekiel 9. throughout the length of the chapters.
And all the vessels of the house of God, great and small, and the treasures of the house of the LORD, and the treasures of the king, and of his princes; all these he brought to Babylon.
And they burnt the house of God, and brake down the wall of Jerusalem, and burnt all the palaces thereof with fire, and destroyed all the goodly vessels thereof.
Verses 19, 20. - (Compare the parallel, 2 Kings 25:1-12; Jeremiah 39:1-10; Jeremiah 52:24-30.) The reign of the kingdom of Persia; i.e. the ascending on the throne of the Persian king. The immediate successor of Nebuchadnezzar was his son Evil-Merodach.
And them that had escaped from the sword carried he away to Babylon; where they were servants to him and his sons until the reign of the kingdom of Persia:
To fulfil the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed her sabbaths: for as long as she lay desolate she kept sabbath, to fulfil threescore and ten years.
Verse 21. - The word of the Lord. Note marginal references (Jeremiah 25:9-12; Jeremiah 29:10). The three score and ten years of desolateness may probably best be dated from Nebuchadnezzar's first taking of Jerusalem, B.C. 606-5. Although this date does not tally exactly with the B.C. 538 of Cyrus's conquest of Babylon, yet the discrepancy is easily explained on more than one sufficiently natural supposition (e.g. that Cyrus's reign was not exactly synchronous in the beginning of it with his conquest of Babylon, etc.). Enjoyed her sabbaths (see Leviticus 26:34, 35, 43-46).
Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the LORD spoken by the mouth of Jeremiah might be accomplished, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing, saying,
Verse 22. - In the first year of Cyrus King of Persia. A period of half a century has elapsed between the latest date of the foregoing verses (circ. B.C. 586) and the date signalized here (circ. B.C. 5.38-6). With the proclamation of Cyrus begins in fact the manhood, with all its mystic, its wonderful, and its still non-progressing struggles, of the Jew. His simple childhood, wilful youth, am indeed for ever gone. But he and his nation are with unspeakably painful travail born. No life of nation that is or ever has been merits the devout observation and study that this unchal-lengeably does. Our present verse and the one succeeding it are, sentence for sentence, the same with the opening verses of the Book of Ezra, which may possibly once have joined on to Chronicles, as one work, though we think this exceedingly unlikely. Cyrus (the כורֶשׁ of the Hebrew text) was the son of a royal Persian, Cambysses; his mother was Mandane, daughter of Astyages, last King of Media. The name appears on the monuments, written Kurus. Cyrus defeated his grandfather Astyages, B.C. 559; ending thereby the Median royal line; and he defeated Croesus, B.C. 546, possessing himself thereby of the kingdom of Lydia; he took Babylon, as above, B.C. 538. He himself died in battle, B.C. 529. That the word of the Lord by... Jeremiah might be accomplished (see Jeremiah 25:11-14; Jeremiah 29:9-11). The Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus. The fact is told us, and this, no doubt, as on a thousand other unsuspected occasions of far more intrinsic and vital interest in the Bible, is sufficient. It would have been interesting to know, however, even here, the mode in which Cyrus was appealed to; as, e.g., it has been plausibly suggested that Daniel may have been in part instrumental in the work, and that, again, in part perhaps by directing the attention of Cyrus to Isaiah 44:28; Isaiah 45:1.
Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, All the kingdoms of the earth hath the LORD God of heaven given me; and he hath charged me to build him an house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Who is there among you of all his people? The LORD his God be with him, and let him go up.
Verse 23. - Hath the Lord God of heaven given me... the Lord his God be with him. The adopting by Cyrus of the Hebrew "Jehovah" in both these places cannot escape our notice. There can be no room to doubt that Cyrus was acquainted with the sacred literature of the Hebrews, and especially with the writings of Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel, as with the language of Daniel. It may have been partly a graceful act on the part of Cyrus to word his proclamation to the Jews thus, or it may have been simply, what under the circumstances came most naturally to him, with little or no intention in it either way. The numerous passages in Ezra parallel in matter with this verse do not need specification here. Now begins the new period of Jewish life, with fiercer probation, with unbounded and various trial, and probably of world-length continuance.