And the city was besieged to the eleventh year of king Zedekiah.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Unto the eleventh year.—The siege lasted altogether one year, five months, and twenty-seven days (2Kings 25:1 compared with 2Kings 25:8). The Chaldæans raised the siege for a time, and marched against Pharaoh-Hophra, who was coming to the help of the Jews (Jeremiah 37:5 seq.; comp. Ezekiel 17:17; Ezekiel 30:20 seq.)
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.2 Kings 25:7, the account exactly agrees with Jeremiah 52:4. And the city was besieged unto the eleventh year of king Zedekiah.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)2. unto the eleventh year] The natural strength of the position of Jerusalem must have been very considerable, for such a rabble as remained to be able to hold out nearly two years against the forces of Babylon. We know however (Jeremiah 34:7) that Nebuchadnezzar’s troops were engaged at the same time in attacking Lachish and Azekah. So that a part only of his soldiers were employed against Jerusalem. We find too (Jeremiah 37:5; Jeremiah 37:11) that, on the report that the army of Pharaoh was coming forth out of Egypt, the siege of Jerusalem was so far relaxed that Jeremiah undertook to leave the city and depart into the land of Benjamin but was stopped at the gate by Irijah.Verse 2. - And the city was besieged unto the eleventh year of King Zedekiah. The writer omits all the details of the siege, and hastens to the final catastrophe. From Jeremiah and Ezekiel we learn that, after the siege had continued a certain time, the Egyptian monarch, Hophra or Apries, made an effort to carry out the terms of his agreement with Zedekiah, and marched an army into Southern Judaea, with the view of raising the siege (Jeremiah 37:5; Ezekiel 17:17). Nebuchadnezzar hastened to meet him. With the whole or the greater part of his host he marched southward and offered battle to the Egyptians. Whether an engagement took place or not is uncertain. Josephus affirms it, and says that Apries was "defeated and driven out of Syria" ('Ant. Jud.,' 10:7. § 3). The silence of Jeremiah is thought to throw doubt on his assertion. At any rate, the Egyptians retired (Jeremiah 37:7) and took no further part in the struggle. The Babylonians returned, and the siege recommenced. A complete blockade was established, and the defenders of the city soon began to suffer from famine (Jeremiah 21:7, 9; Lamentations 2:12, 20). Ere long, as so often happens in sieges, famine was followed by pestilence (Jeremiah 21:6, 7; Josephus, 'Ant. Jud.,' l.s.c.), and after a time the place was reduced to the last extremity (Lamentations 4:3-9). Bread was no longer to be had, and mothers devoured their children (Lamentations 4:10). At length a breach was effected in the defenses; the enemy poured in; and the city fell (see the comment on ver. 4). 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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