And they slew the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes, and put out the eyes of Zedekiah, and bound him with fetters of brass, and carried him to Babylon.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)And they slew . . .—The verbs are all singular in Jeremiah 39:6; Jeremiah 52:10-11; so that the acts in question are attributed directly to Nebuchadnezzar, to whose orders they were due. (So the versions, except that the Targum has “they slew.”) The blinding of Zedekiah need not have been done by the conqueror himself, although in the Assyrian sculptures kings are actually represented as blinding and otherwise torturing their captives. It is no argument against the singular, “he carried him to Babylon,” to say with Thenius that Zedekiah was sent to Babylon at once, while Nebuchadnezzar remained at Riblah. “Qui facit per alium, facit per se.”
The sons.—Who fled with him (Comp. Jeremiah 41:10). In Jeremiah it is added that all the nobles or princes. of Judah were slain also.
Put out the eyes.—A Babylonian punishment (Herod, vii. 18). This was the meaning of Ezekiel’s prediction; “I will bring him to Babylon . . . yet shall he not see it, though he shall die there” (Ezekiel 12:13).
With fetters of brass.—Literally, with the double brass (2Chronicles 33:12); i.e., with manacles and fetters, as represented on the Assyrian monuments.
Carried him to Babylon.—Jeremiah 52:11; “and put him in prison till the day of his death.” So the Arabic of Kings.2 Kings 25:7. They slew the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes — Though they were but children, that this spectacle, the last he was to behold, might leave a deep and durable impression of grief and horror upon his spirit. And in slaying his sons they in effect declared that the kingdom was no more, and that neither he nor any of his breed were fit to be trusted: therefore not fit to live. And put out his eyes, and carried him to Babylon — Thus two prophecies were fulfilled, which seemed contrary the one to the other. Jeremiah foretold, That he should be delivered into the hands of the king of Babylon, and should speak with him mouth to mouth, and his eyes should behold his eyes, and that he should go to Babylon, Jeremiah 32:4; Jeremiah 34:3; and Ezekiel prophesied, That he should never see Babylon, though he should die there, Ezekiel 12:13. This seeming contradiction, Zedekiah the false prophet could not reconcile, and therefore concluded that both prophecies were false, and, if we may credit Josephus, Zedekiah the king stumbled at this difficulty. Both, however, were literally accomplished. The reflection which Josephus makes on this event, is worthy of the reader’s attention: “This may serve to convince even the ignorant, of the power and wisdom of God; and of the constancy of his counsels through all the various ways of his operations. It may likewise show us that God’s foreknowledge of things is certain; and his providence regular in the ordering of events; and besides, it holds forth a most exemplary instance of the danger of our giving way to the motions of sin and infidelity, which deprive us of the means of discerning God’s judgments, even though ready to fall upon us.” — Antiq., lib. 10., cap. 11.Jeremiah 39:6; Jeremiah 52:10.
And put out the eyes of Zedekiah - Blinding has always been among the most common of secondary punishments in the East (compare Judges 16:2 l). The blinding of Zedekiah reconciled in a very remarkable way prophecies, apparently contradictory, which had been made concerning him. Jeremiah had prophesied distinctly that he would be carried to Babylon Jeremiah 32:5; Jeremiah 34:3. Ezekiel had said that he should not "see Babylon" Ezekiel 12:13. His deprivation of sight before he was carried to the conqueror's capital fulfilled the predictions of both prophets.
With fetters of brass - literally, (see Jeremiah 39:7 margin), "with two chains of brass." The Assyrians' captives are usually represented as bound hand and foot - the two hands secured by one chain, the two feet by another. According to Jewish tradition Zedekiah was, like other slaves, forced to work in a mill at Babylon. Jeremiah tells us that he was kept in prison until he died Jeremiah 52:11.
they gave judgment upon him—They, that is, the council (Jer 39:3, 13; Da 6:7, 8, 12), regarding him as a seditious and rebellious vassal, condemned him for violating his oath and neglecting the announcement of the divine will as made known to him by Jeremiah (compare Jer 32:5; 34:2; 38:17). His sons and the nobles who had joined in his flight were slain before his eyes (Jer 39:6; 52:10). In conformity with Eastern ideas, which consider a blind man incapable of ruling, his eyes were put out, and being put in chains, he was carried to perpetual imprisonment in Babylon (Jer 52:11), which, though he came to it, as Ezekiel had foretold, he did not see (Jer 32:5; Eze 12:13; 17:16).that he should go to Babylon, Jeremiah 32:5 34:3, and that he should never see Babylon; which seeming contradiction, because Zedekiah the false prophet could not reconcile, he concluded both were false, and that Jeremiah was a false prophet; and it seems Zedekiah the king might stumble at this difficulty. 2 Kings 25:7, the account exactly agrees with Jeremiah 52:4. And they slew the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes, and put out the eyes of Zedekiah, and bound him with fetters of brass, and carried him to Babylon.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)7. slew the sons of Zedekiah] This was done to prevent the rise of a new revolt under a successor. To do it in the sight of the father was to break down all his hope of any rightful successor taking his throne. The narrative in Jeremiah adds that Nebuchadnezzar ‘slew all the nobles of Judah’. Not only was the royal family destroyed, but the men of power and influence were all extinguished.
put out the eyes of Zedekiah] This punishment the Philistines inflicted on Samson (Jdg 16:21) before they put him in the prison-house. The LXX. had this instance so much in mind that they say Zedekiah was put εἰς οἰκίαν μύλωνος. The deprivation of the eyes was not uncommon in the East as a punishment (cf. Herod. 2 Kings 7:18).
It is very striking to put side by side the two prophecies concerning Zedekiah uttered the one by Jeremiah, the other by Ezekiel. The former said (Ezekiel 34:3) ‘Thine eyes shall behold the eyes of the king of Babylon, and he shall speak with thee mouth to mouth, and thou shalt go to Babylon (cf. Jeremiah 32:4); the latter (2 Kings 12:13) says of this king ‘I will bring him to Babylon to the land of the Chaldæans, yet shall he not see it though he shall die there’.
and bound him with fetters of brass] R.V. in fetters. There is no need to express the metal of which the fetters were made. In English on the contrary we speak of ‘putting a man in irons’ and omit ‘fetters’. The Hebrew word is dual, and properly signifies ‘double fetters’. His legs as well as his hands were shackled.
and carried him to Babylon] The narrative in Jeremiah adds ‘and put him in prison till the day of his death’.Verse 7. - And they slew the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes (comp. Herod., 3:14, and 2 Macc. 7, for similar aggravations of condemned persons' sufferings). As Zedekiah was no more than thirty-two years of age (2 Kings 24:18), his sons must have been minors, who could not justly be held responsible for their father's doings. It was usual, however, in the East, and even among the Jews, to punish children for the sins of their fathers (see Joshua 7:24, 25; 2 Kings 9:26; 2 Kings 14:6; Daniel 6:24). And put out the eyes of Zedekiah. This, too, was a common Oriental practice. The Philistines blinded Samson (Judges 16:21). Sargon, in one of his sculptures, seems to be blinding a prisoner with a spear (Botta, 'Monumens de Ninive,' pl. 18). The ancient Persians often blinded criminals (Xen., 'Anab.,' 1:9. § 13; Ammian. Mare., 27:12; Procop., 'De Bell. Pers.,' 1:11. p. 80). In modern Persia, it was, until very lately, usual for a king, on his accession, to blind all his brothers, in order that they might be disqualified from reigning. The operation was commonly performed in Persia by means of a red-hot iron rod (see Herod., 7:18). Zedekiah's loss of eyesight reconciled the two apparently conflicting prophecies - that he would be carried captive to Babylon (Jeremiah 22:5, etc.), and that he would never see it (Ezekiel 12:13) - in a remarkable manner. And bound him with fetters of brass; literally, with a pair of brazen fetters. Assyrian fetters consisted of two thick rings of iron, joined together by a single long link (Botta, l.s.c.); Babylonian were probably similar. Captives of importance are usually represented as fettered in the sculptures. And carried him to Babylon. Jeremiah adds (Jeremiah 52:11) that Nebuchadnezzar "put him in prison till the day of his death:" and so Josephus ('Ant. Jud.,' 10:8. § 7). The latter writer further tells us that, at his death, the Babylonian monarch gave him a royal funeral (comp. Jeremiah 34:5). Jeremiah 52:4-11 and Jeremiah 39:1-7). - 2 Kings 25:1. In the ninth year of the reign of Zedekiah, on the tenth day of the tenth month, Nebuchadnezzar marched with all his forces against Jerusalem and commenced the siege (cf. Jeremiah 39:1), after he had taken all the rest of the fortified cities of the land, with the exception of Lachish and Azekah, which were besieged at the same time as Jerusalem (Jeremiah 34:7). On the very same day the commencement of the siege of Jerusalem was revealed to the prophet Ezekiel in his exile (Ezekiel 24:1). "And they built against it (the city) siege-towers round about." דּיק, which only occurs here and in Jeremiah (Jeremiah 52:4) and Ezekiel (Ezekiel 4:2; Ezekiel 17:17; Ezekiel 21:27; Ezekiel 26:8), does not mean either a line of circumvallation (J. D. Mich., Hitzig), or the outermost enclosure constructed of palisades (Thenius, whose assertion that דּיק is always mentioned as the first work of the besiegers is refuted by Ezekiel 17:17 and Ezekiel 21:27), but a watch, and that in a collective sense: watch-towers or siege-towers (cf. Ges. thes. p. 330, and Hvernick on Ezekiel 4:2).
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