2 Kings 25:1
And it came to pass 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 host, against Jerusalem, and pitched against it; and they built forts against it round about.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
XXV.

(1) And it came to pass.—With the account which follows comp. Jeremiah 52:4 seq., Jeremiah 39:1-10, Jeremiah 40-43.

In the ninth year . . . tenth day.—Comp. the similarly exact dates in 2Kings 25:3; 2Kings 25:8. Ezekiel 24:1-2, agrees with the present. The days were observed as fasts during the exile (Zechariah 7:3; Zechariah 7:5; Zechariah 8:19).

Came . . . against Jerusalem.—After taking the other strong places of Judah, as Sennacherib had done (Jeremiah 34:7; comp. 2Kings 18:13; 2Kings 19:8), Zedekiah must have prepared for the siege, as it lasted a year and a half.

Forts.—The Hebrew word (dāyēq) occurs in Ezekiel 4:2; Ezekiel 17:17; Ezekiel 21:27; Ezekiel 26:8. Its meaning is some kind of siege work, as appears from the context in each case; but what precisely is not clear. The LXX. here has “wall” (τεῖχος); Syriac, “palisade” (qalqûmê, i.e., χαράκωμα).

2 Kings

THE END

2 Kings 25:1 - 2 Kings 25:12
.

Eighteen months of long-drawn-out misery and daily increasing famine preceded the fall of the doomed city. The siege was a blockade. No assaults by the enemy, nor sorties by the inhabitants, are narrated, but the former grimly and watchfully drew their net closer, and the latter sat still in their despair. The passionless tone of the narrative here is very remarkable. Not a word escapes the writer to show his feelings, though he is telling his country’s fall. We must turn to Lamentations for sighs and groans. There we have the emotions of devout hearts; here we have the calm record of God’s judgment. It is all one long sentence, for in the Hebrew each verse begins with ‘and,’ clause heaped on clause, as if each were a footstep of the destroying angel in his slow, irresistible march.

The narrative falls into two principal parts-the fate of the king and that of the city. It is unnecessary to dwell on the details. The confusion of counsels, the party strife, the fierce hatred of God’s prophet, the agony of famine, are all suppressed here, but painted with terrible vividness in the Book of Jeremiah. At last the fatal day came. On the north side a breach was made in the wall, and through it the fierce besiegers poured-the ‘princes of the king of Babylon,’ with their idolatrous and barbarous names, ‘came in, and sat in the middle gate.’ It was night. The sudden appearance of the conquerors in the heart of the city shot panic into the feeble king and his ‘men of war’ who had never struck one blow for deliverance; and they hurried under cover of darkness, and hidden between two walls, down the ravine to the king’s garden, once the scene of pleasure, but waste now, and thence, as best they could, round or over Olivet to the road to Jericho. The king’s flight by night had been foretold by Ezekiel far away in captivity {Ezekiel 12:12}; and the same prophet received on that very day a divine message announcing the fall of the city, and bidding him ‘write thee the name of the day, even of this selfsame day,’ as that on which the king of Babylon ‘drew close unto Jerusalem’ {Ezekiel 24:1 et seq.}.

Down the rocky road went the flying host, with ‘their shaftless, broken bows’ closely followed by the avenging foe with ‘red pursuing spear.’ Where Israel had first set foot on its inheritance, the last king of David’s line was captured and his monarchy shattered. The scene of the first victory, when Jericho fell before unarmed men trusting in God, was the scene of the last defeat. The spot where the covenant was renewed, and the reproach of Israel rolled away, was the spot where the broken covenant was finally avenged and abrogated. The end came back to the beginning, and the cradle was the coffin.

Away up to Riblah, in the far north, under the shadow of Lebanon, the captive was dragged to meet the conqueror. The name of each is a profession of belief. The one means ‘Jehovah is righteousness’; the other, ‘Nebo, protect the crown.’ The idol seemed to have overcome, but the defeat of the unbelieving confessor of the true God at the hands of the idolater is really the victory of the righteousness which the name celebrated and the bearer of the name insulted. His murdered sons were the last sight which he saw before he was blinded, according to the ferocious practice of the East. It was ingenuity of cruelty to let him see for so long, and then to give him that as the last thing seen, and therefore often remembered. Note how the enigma of Ezekiel’s prophecy {Ezekiel 12:13} and its apparent contradiction of Jeremiah’s {Jeremiah 32:4; Jeremiah 34:3} are reconciled, and learn how easily the fact, when it comes, clears the riddles of prophecy, and how easily, probably, the whole facts, if we knew them, would clear the difficulties of Scripture history. The blinded king was harmless, but according to Jewish tradition, was set to work in a mill {though that is probably only an application of Samson’s story}, and according to Jeremiah {Jeremiah 52:11}, was kept in prison till his death. So ended the monarchy of Judah.

The fate of the city was not settled for a month, during which, no doubt, there was much consultation at Riblah whether to garrison or destroy it. The king of Babylon did not go in person, but despatched a force commanded by a high officer, to burn palace, Temple, the more important houses {the poorer people would probably be lodged in huts not worth burning}, and to raze the fortifications. In accordance with the practice of the great Eastern despotisms, deportation followed victory-a clever though cruel device for securing conquests. But some were left behind; for the land, if deserted, would have fallen out of cultivation, and been profitless to Babylon. The bulk of the people of Jerusalem, the fugitives who had joined the invaders during the siege, and the mass of the general population, were carried off, in such a long string of misery as we may still see on the monuments, and a handful left behind, too poor to plot, and stirred to diligence by necessity. So ended the possession by Israel of its promised inheritance.

Now this fall of Jerusalem is like an object-lesson to teach everlasting truth as to the retributive providence of God. What does it say?

It declares plainly what brings down God’s judgments. The terms on which Israel prospered and held its land were obedience to God’s law. We cannot directly apply the principles of God’s government of it to modern nations. The present analogue of Israel is the Church, not the nation. But when all deductions have been made, it is still true that a nation’s religious attitude is a most potent factor in its prosperous development. It is not accidental that, on the whole, stagnant Europe and America are Roman Catholic, and the progressive parts Protestant. Nor was it causes independent of religion that scattered a decaying Christianity in the lands of the Eastern Church before the onslaught of wild Arabs, who, at all events, did believe in Allah. So there are abundant lessons for politics and sociology in the story of Jerusalem’s fall.

But these lessons have direct application to the individual and to the Christian Church. All departure from God is ruin. We slay ourselves by forsaking Him, and every sinner is a suicide. We live under a moral government, and in a system of things so knit together as that even here every transgression receives its just recompense-if not visibly and palpably in outward circumstances, yet really and punctually in effects on mind and heart, which are more solemn and awful. ‘Behold the righteous shall be recompensed in the earth: much more the wicked and the sinner.’ Sin and sorrow are root and fruit.

Especially does that crash of Jerusalem’s fall thunder the lesson to all churches that their life and prosperity are inseparably connected with faithful obedience and turning away from all worldliness, which is idolatry. They stand in the place that was made empty by Israel’s later fall. Our very privileges call us to beware. ‘Because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith.’ That great seven-branched candlestick was removed out of its place, and all that is left of it is its sculptured image among the spoils on the triumphal arch to its captor. Other lesser candlesticks have been removed from their places, and Turkish oppression brings night where Sardis and Laodicea once gave a feeble light. The warning is needed to-day; for worldliness is rampant in the Church. ‘If God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest He also spare not thee.’ The fall of Jerusalem is not merely a tragic story from the past. It is a revelation, for the present, of the everlasting truth, that the professing people of God deserve and receive the sorest chastisement, if they turn again to folly.

Further, we learn the method of present retribution. Nebuchadnezzar knew nothing of the purposes which he fulfilled. ‘He meaneth not so, neither doth his heart think so.’ He was but the ‘axe’ with which God hewed. Therefore, though he was God’s tool, he was also responsible, and would be punished even for performing God’s ‘whole work upon Jerusalem,’ because of ‘the glory of his high looks.’ The retribution of disobedience, so far as that retribution is outward, needs no ‘miracle.’ The ordinary operations of Providence amply suffice to bring it. If God wills to sting, He will ‘hiss for the fly,’ and it will come. The ferocity and ambition of a grim and bloody despot, impelled by vainglory and lust of cruel conquest, do God’s work, and yet the doing is sin. The world is full of God’s instruments, and He sends punishments by the ordinary play of motives and circumstances, which we best understand when we see behind all His mighty hand and sovereign will. The short-sighted view of history says ‘Nebuchadnezzar captured Jerusalem B.C. so and so,’ and then discourses about the tendencies of which Babylonia was exponent and creature. The deeper view says, God smote the disobedient city, as He had said, and Nebuchadnezzar was ‘the rod of His anger.’

Again, we learn the Divine reluctance to smite. More than four hundred years had passed since Solomon began idolatry, and steadily, through all that time, a stream of prophecy of varying force and width had flowed, while smaller disasters had confirmed the prophets’ voices. ‘Rising up early and sending’ his servants, God had been in earnest in seeking to save Israel from itself. Men said then, ‘Where is the promise of His coming?’ and mocked His warnings and would none of His reproof; but at last the hour struck and the crash came. ‘As a dream when one awaketh; so, O Lord! when Thou awakest, Thou shalt despise their image.’ His judgment seems to slumber, but its eyes are open, and it remains inactive, that His long-suffering may have free scope. As long as His gaze can discern the possibility of repentance, He will not strike; and when that is hopeless, He will not delay. The explanation of the marvellous tolerance of evil which sometimes tries faith and always evokes wonder, lies in the great words, which might well be written over the chair of every teacher of history: ‘The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness; but is long-suffering to us-ward.’ Alas, that that divine patience should ever be twisted into the ground of indurated disobedience! ‘Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil.’

God’s reluctance to punish is no reason for doubting that He will. Judgment is His ‘strange work,’ less congenial, if we may so paraphrase that strong word of the prophet’ s, than pure mercy, but it will be done nevertheless. The tears over Jerusalem that witnessed Christ’s sorrow did not blind the eyes like a flame of fire, nor stay the outstretched hand of the Judge, when the time of her final fall came. The longer the delay, the worse the ruin. The more protracted the respite and the fuller it has been of entreaties to return, the more terrible the punishment. ‘Behold, therefore, the goodness and severity of God: towards them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in His goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.’2 Kings 25:1. Nebuchadnezzar came, and all his host, against Jerusalem — To chastise Zedekiah for his rebellion and perjury: for, contrary to the solemn oath he had taken, he had been contriving and endeavoring to revolt from the king of Babylon, and shake off his yoke. They built forts against it round about — To keep all supplies of men and provisions from entering into the city, and that from thence, by such arts of war as they then had, they might batter the walls, shoot arrows, and throw darts or stones into it. Formerly Jerusalem was compassed with the favour of God as with a shield, but now their defence is departed from them, and their enemies surround them on every side. The siege lasted two years. At first the besieging army retired for fear of the king of Egypt, who came to help Zedekiah; and then Jeremiah endeavoured to get out of the city, to go into the land of Benjamin, but was hindered, seized, and imprisoned, Jeremiah 37:11. The Chaldeans, finding that Pharaoh was not so powerful as they at first supposed, soon returned, as Jeremiah had foretold they would, with a resolution not to quit the siege till they had made themselves masters of the place.25:1-7 Jerusalem was so fortified, that it could not be taken till famine rendered the besieged unable to resist. In the prophecy and Lamentations of Jeremiah, we find more of this event; here it suffices to say, that the impiety and misery of the besieged were very great. At length the city was taken by storm. The king, his family, and his great men escaped in the night, by secret passages. But those deceive themselves who think to escape God's judgments, as much as those who think to brave them. By what befell Zedekiah, two prophecies, which seemed to contradict each other, were both fulfilled. Jeremiah prophesied that Zedekiah should be brought to Babylon, Jer 32:5; 34:3; Ezekiel, that he should not see Babylon, Eze 12:13. He was brought thither, but his eyes being put out, he did not see it.In the ninth year ... - As the final catastrophe approaches, the historian becomes more close and exact in his dates, marking not only the year, but the month and the day, on which the siege began, no less than those on which it closed 2 Kings 25:3. From Ezekiel 24:1 we find that on the very day when the host of Nebuchadnezzar made its appearance before Jerusalem the fact was revealed to Ezekiel in Babylonia, and the fate of the city announced to him Ezekiel 24:6-14. The army seems to have at first spread itself over all Judaea. It fought, not only against Jerusalem, but especially against Lachish and Azekah Jeremiah 34:7, two cities of the south 2 Chronicles 11:9, which had probably been strongly garrisoned in order to maintain the communication with Egypt. This division of the Babylonian forces encouraged Hophra to put his troops in motion and advance to the relief of his Jewish allies Jeremiah 37:5. On hearing this, Nebuchadnezzar broke up from before Jerusalem and marched probably to Azekah and Lachish. The Egyptians shrank back, returned into their own country Jeremiah 37:7; Ezekiel 17:17, and took no further part in the war. Nebuchadnezzar then led back his army, and once more invested the city. (It is uncertain whether the date at the beginning of this verse refers to the first or to the second investment.)

Forts - Probably moveable towers, sometimes provided with battering-rams, which the besiegers advanced against the walls, thus bringing their fighting men on a level with their antagonists. Such towers are seen in the Assyrian sculptures.

CHAPTER 25

2Ki 25:1-3. Jerusalem Again Besieged.

1. Nebuchadnezzar … came … against Jerusalem—Incensed by the revolt of Zedekiah, the Assyrian despot determined to put an end to the perfidious and inconstant monarchy of Judea. This chapter narrates his third and last invasion, which he conducted in person at the head of an immense army, levied out of all the tributary nations under his sway. Having overrun the northern parts of the country and taken almost all the fenced cities (Jer 34:7), he marched direct to Jerusalem to invest it. The date of the beginning as well as the end of the siege is here carefully marked (compare Eze 24:1; Jer 39:1; 52:4-6); from which it appears, that, with a brief interruption caused by Nebuchadnezzar's marching to oppose the Egyptians who were coming to its relief but who retreated without fighting, the siege lasted a year and a half. So long a resistance was owing, not to the superior skill and valor of the Jewish soldiers, but to the strength of the city fortifications, on which the king too confidently relied (compare Jer 21:1-14; 37:1-38:28).

pitched against it, and … built forts—rather, perhaps, drew lines of circumvallation, with a ditch to prevent any going out of the city. On this rampart were erected his military engines for throwing missiles into the city.Jerusalem is besieged: Zedekiah taken; his sons slain; and his eyes put out, 2 Kings 25:1-7. Nebuzar-adan burneth Jerusalem and the temple; breaketh down the wall of the city; carrieth the remnant, except a few poor labourers, into captivity, and much treasure, 2 Kings 25:8-17; slayeth the nobles at Riblah, 2 Kings 25:18-21. Gedaliah is made governor of Judah: he is slain: the rest flee into Egypt, 2 Kings 25:22-26. Evil-merodach advanceth Jehoiachin in his court, 2 Kings 25:27-30.

To chastise Zedekiah for his rebellion and perjury, 2 Chronicles 36:13. They built forts against it round about; partly to keep all supplies of men or provisions from entering into the city; and partly that from thence they might shoot darts, or arrows, or stones into the city. See Jeremiah 52:4 Ezekiel 4:2 17:17.

And it came to pass in the ninth year of his reign,.... Of the reign of Zedekiah king of Judah. From hence to the end of 2 Kings 25:7, the account exactly agrees with Jeremiah 52:4. And it came to pass in the {a} ninth year of his reign, in the {b} tenth month, in the tenth day of the month, that Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came, he, and all his host, against Jerusalem, and pitched against it; and they built forts against it round about.

(a) That is, of Zedekiah.

(b) Which the Hebrews call Teber, and it contains part of December and part of January.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
2 Kings 25:1. in the ninth year of his reign] i.e. Of Zedekiah’s reign. How long before this, the neglect to pay the tribute, which was the usual indication of disaffection, had gone on we are not told. The Babylonian power might overlook the first omission, but perhaps not the second. So we may date the determination to revolt from about the seventh year of Zedekiah’s reign. Thus time would be given for such preparations as in the weak condition of the land he could make.

and pitched [R.V. encamped] against it] The verb is one of constant occurrence in the descriptions of the marches of the Israelites from Egypt. There ‘to pitch’ is a very suitable word, but the Babylonian armies did not intend to move till the city of Jerusalem was taken. So ‘encamp’, the general term for such a military ‘pitching’ of tents, seems preferable.

built forts] To the precise character of these erections the word gives no clue by its derivation. It is always used for works built against a city by the attacking party. Hence we must suppose some line of enclosure to be intended, or erections from which the besiegers could with greater effect discharge missiles over the walls.Verse 1. - And it cams to pass in the ninth year of his - i.e. Zedekiah's - reign, in the tenth month, in the tenth day of the month. Extreme exactness with respect to a date indicates the extreme importance of the event dated. In the whole range of the history contained in the two Books of the Kings, there is no instance of the year, month, and day being all given excepting in the present chapter, where we find this extreme exactness three times (vers. 1, 4, and 8). The date in ver. 1 is confirmed by Jeremiah 52:10 and Ezekiel 24:1. That Nebuchadnezzar King of Babylon came, he, and all his host, against Jerusalem. 'According to the description of the eye-witness, Jeremiah, the army was one of unusual magnitude. Nebuchadnezzar brought against Jerusalem at this time "all his army, and all the kingdoms of the earth of his dominion, and all the people" (Jeremiah 34:1). The march of the army was not direct upon Jerusalem; it at first spread itself over Judea, wasting the country and capturing the smaller fortified towns (Josephus, 'Ant. Jud.,' 10:7. §3) - among them Lachish, so famous in the war against Sennacherib (2 Kings 18:14, 17; 2 Kings 19:8), and Azekah (Jeremiah 34:7). The capture of these two places was important as intercepting Zedekiah's line of communication with Egypt. Having made himself master of them, Nebuchadnezzar proceeded to invest the capital. And pitched against it - i.e., encamped, and commenced a regular siege - and they built forts against it round about. It has been argued that דָיֵק does not mean a "fort" or "tower," but a "line of circumvallation" (Michaelis, Hitzig, Thenius, Bahr). Jerusalem, however, can scarcely be surrounded by lines of circumvallation, which, moreover, were not employed in their sieges by the Orientals. Dayek (דָיֵק) seems to be properly a "watchtower," from דוּק, speculari, whence it passed into the meaning of a "tower" generally. The towers used in sieges by the Assyrians and Babylonians were movable ones, made of planks, which were pushed up to the walls, so that the assailants might attack their adversaries, on a level, with greater advantage. Sometimes they contained battering rams (see Layard, 'Monuments of Nineveh,' first series, pl. 19; and setup. Jeremiah 52:4; Ezekiel 4:2; Ezekiel 17:17; Ezekiel 26:8; Josephus, 'Ant. Jud.,' 10:8. § 1). Beside these treasures, he carried away captive to Babylon the cream of the inhabitants of Jerusalem, not only the most affluent, but, as is evident from Jeremiah 24:1-10, the best portion in a moral respect. In 2 Kings 24:14 the number of those who were carried off is simply given in a general form, according to its sum-total, as 10,000; and then in 2 Kings 24:15, 2 Kings 24:16 the details are more minutely specified. "All Jerusalem" is the whole of the population of Jerusalem, which is first of all divided into two leading classes, and then more precisely defined by the clause, "nothing was left except the common people," and reduced to the cream of the citizens. The king, queen-mother, and king's wives being passed over and mentioned for the first time in the special list in 2 Kings 24:15, there are noticed here כּל־השּׂרים and החיל גּבּורי כּל, who form the first of the leading classes. By the שׂרים are meant, according to 2 Kings 24:15, the סריסים, chamberlains, i.e., the officials of the king's court in general, and by הארץ אוּלי ("the mighty of the land") all the heads of the tribes and families of the nation that were found in Jerusalem; and under the last the priests and prophets, who were also carried away according to Jeremiah 29:1, with Ezekiel among them (Ezekiel 1:1), are included as the spiritual heads of the people. The החיל גּבּורי are called החיל אנשׁי in 2 Kings 24:16; their number was 7000. The persons intended are not warriors, but men of property, as in 2 Kings 15:20. The second class of those who ere carried away consisted of כּל־החרשׁ, all the workers in stone, metal, and wood, that is to say, masons, smiths, and carpenters; and המּסגּר, the locksmiths, including probably not actual locksmiths only, but makers of weapons also. There is no need for any serious refutation of the marvellous explanation given of מסגּר by Hitzig (on Jeremiah 24:1), who derives it from מס and גּר, and supposes it to be an epithet applied to the remnant of the Canaanites, who had been made into tributary labourers, although it has been adopted by Thenius and Graf, who make them into artisans of the foreign socagers. עם־הארץ דּלּת equals דלּת־הארץ (2 Kings 25:12), the poor people of the land, i.e., the lower portion of the population of Jerusalem, from whom Nebuchadnezzar did not fear any rebellion, because they possessed nothing (Jeremiah 39:10), i.e., neither property (money nor other possessions), nor strength and ability to organize a revolt. The antithesis to these formed by the מלחמה עשׂי מ גּבּורים, the strong or powerful men, who were in a condition to originate and carry on a war; for this category includes all who were carried away, not merely the thousand workmen, but also the seven thousand החיל אנשׁי, and the king's officers and the chiefs of the nation, whose number amounted to two thousand, since the total number of the exiles was then thousand. There is no special allusion to warriors or military, because in the struggle for the rescue of the capital and the kingdom from destruction every man who could bear arms performed military service, so that the distinction between warriors and non-warriors was swept away, and the actual warriors are swallowed up in the ten thousand. Babel is the country of Babylonia, or rather the Babylonian empire.
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