Then the people of the land took Jehoahaz the son of Josiah, and made him king in his father's stead in Jerusalem.2 Chronicles 36:1. The people of the land took Jehoahaz, &c. — The principal contents of this chapter are explained in the notes on 2 Kings 23:31, and 24., and 25., to which the reader is referred. What is peculiar to this chapter shall be noticed here.
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.
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.
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.
Against him came up Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and bound him in fetters, to carry him to Babylon.2 Chronicles 36:6. And bound him in fetters to carry him to Babylon — But he did not carry him thither, for Nebuchadnezzar altered his mind, and permitted him to reign at Jerusalem as his tributary, though he carried away, as it follows, some of the vessels of the temple, and also certain principal persons, as we read in the first of Daniel.
Nebuchadnezzar also carried of the vessels of the house of the LORD to Babylon, and put them in his temple at Babylon.
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.2 Chronicles 36:8. That which was found in him — That crime of rebellion against the king of Babylon, which for a time he kept in his own breast, but when he saw fit, discovered it and was convicted of it.
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.2 Chronicles 36:9. Jehoiachin was eight years old — See the note on 2 Kings 24:8, in which it is said that he was eighteen years old when he began to reign, which is probably the right reading.
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.2 Chronicles 36:10. When the year was expired — Hebrew, At the return of the year. At the beginning of the next year, according to the sacred account of the Hebrews, at the spring of the year, the time when kings go forth to battle, as is elsewhere said, when Nebuchadnezzar, among others, went forth to settle and enlarge his conquests. His brother — Largely so called, for this was his uncle, or his father’s brother, being the son of Josiah.
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.2 Chronicles 36:12. And humbled not himself — By repentance for his past errors and obedience to God’s express commands, which he would not yield to, through the pride of his heart, as is intimated by this phrase, and expressed Jeremiah 38:19.
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.2 Chronicles 36:13. Who had made him swear by God — Who had required him to swear fealty and constant obedience to him, by the true God, whom he called upon to be a witness against him if he broke his oath. So his rebellion was aggravated with perjury and horrid contempt of God. But he stiffened his neck, and hardened his heart — He added obstinacy and incorrigibleness to his sins.
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.2 Chronicles 36:14-15. The people transgressed very much — They were universally corrupt, and therefore God justly brought upon them a general destruction. Rising up betimes, and sending them — Sending them early and diligently, as a careful householder, who rises betimes about his business. God sent them many prophets and messages, some at the very beginning of their apostacy, and others afterward, till the very day of their captivity.
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:
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.2 Chronicles 36:16. But they mocked the messengers of God — Of which see instances Ezekiel 11:3; Ezekiel 20:49. Misused his prophets — Imprisoning and persecuting them as they did Jeremiah; or, seduced themselves by his prophets; that is, by the prophecies of his prophets, which they perverted, or misconstrued. An eminent instance of which we have in this, that because Jeremiah prophesied that Zedekiah should be led to Babylon, (Jeremiah 32:5,) and Ezekiel, that he should not see Babylon, (Ezekiel 12:13,) and therefore they believed neither, as the Hebrew writers relate. Till there was no remedy — Because the people would not repent, and God would not pardon them without repentance.
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.2 Chronicles 36:17. Therefore he brought upon them the king of the Chaldees —
The king of the Chaldeans marched against them out of some political view; but we are taught in the Holy Scriptures to ascribe all these events to the agency of the Divine Providence, and therefore it is said here, not that the king of the Chaldeans went against them, but that the Lord brought upon them the king of the Chaldeans. Who slew their young men in the house of their sanctuary — Either in Jerusalem, which was the dwelling- place of God’s sanctuary, or in the house which was their sanctuary. It is probable they killed some of them in the very courts and house of God, to which they had fled for refuge, such places being esteemed sacred and inviolable by the heathen themselves. He gave them all into his hand — To be carried captive into Chaldea. Abraham was called out of Ur of the Chaldees, when God took him into covenant with himself. And now his degenerate seed are carried into that country again, to signify that they had forfeited all that kindness wherewith they had been loved for their father’s sake, and the benefit of the covenant into which he was called.
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.2 Chronicles 36:18. And the treasures of the king, and of his princes — The treasures of the temple, by a special providence of God, were preserved, and restored, in the reign of Cyrus, to the house of the Lord: but the other, it is likely, were looked upon as spoil, and spent by the king and his great men.
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.
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:2 Chronicles 36:20. Where they were servants to him and his sons — They do not seem to have been made captives to private persons, but to have been taken in one body, and made the servants of the king; that is, to have been employed by him, in one way or other, to his private advantage, which we are not now acquainted with. Until the reign of the kingdom of Persia — Until the reign of the king of Persia, Houb. Respecting the proclamation of Cyrus, see the beginning of the next book. From these words, we may conclude that this book was written after the return from captivity.
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.2 Chronicles 36:21. Until the land had enjoyed her sabbaths — “God had commanded them to let their land rest every seventh year; and because the Jews had violated this, as well as other precepts, God gave their land a long sabbath, or rest, for no less than ten times seven years, which Jeremiah threatened, as in the margin. If it be true, that they had neglected this law for the space of four hundred and ninety years, having ploughed their ground in the seventh as well as in other years, then the judgment of God upon them was very remarkable, in causing their ground to rest, and be free from tillage, just as long as it should have been if they had observed his law. For in those four hundred and ninety years, says Procopius Gazæus, when they were under the government of kings, there were seventy years to be kept as sabbaths, which, that the land might enjoy its sabbath, were spent in the captivity of Babylon. Their punishment, too, was made more remarkable in this particular, if it be true, as some have observed, that both the kingdom of Samaria and the kingdom of Judah were destroyed in a sabbatical year; and that immediately after a jubilee, the city and temple were destroyed by Titus, according to Scaliger’s computation.” See Patrick, Calmet, and Dodd.
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,2 Chronicles 36:22. Now in the first year of Cyrus — Kennicott thinks that the last two verses of this book belong properly to the book of Ezra, and were subjoined to the Chronicles through the inadvertency of some transcriber. And thus ends the history of the kingdom of Judah, as governed by the successors of the illustrious King David, with the destruction of Jerusalem, the temple, and the whole Jewish monarchy, by the conquest of the Babylonian king: which, in the course of a righteous providence, in punishment of the idolatry and other sins of this people, fell out about nine hundred and three years after their deliverance from Egypt; eight hundred and sixty-three from their first entrance into the land of Canaan; four hundred and sixty-eight from David’s reign; four hundred and seventeen after the building of the temple; and one hundred and thirty-four after the destruction of the kingdom of the ten tribes.
It is justly observed by a late writer, that the propriety of this dispensation of Divine Providence toward this people will appear, if we reflect,
1st, That this dreadful calamity came upon them gradually, by a succession of judgments, from less to greater, for the space of twenty-two years; in which the lenity of God was very apparent, and which should have been a warning to them, that the threatenings denounced by the prophets would certainly be executed; but which effected no amendment of the religion or morals of the nation; Zedekiah, the last king, being as bad as his predecessors.
2d, That it was a just punishment of their sins, particularly of their idolatry, whereby they forsook God, and therefore God justly forsook them, and delivered them into the hands of their enemies, as Moses had foretold, Leviticus 26:30-36.
3d, That this terrible overthrow was the most effectual means to work their reformation, which was the end proposed by the divine wisdom. Now, in their captive, disconsolate state, they had time, and their calamities had a natural tendency to give them a disposition, to reflect upon the long series of iniquity and perverseness which had brought them under the heaviest of God’s judgments. Now their own wickedness corrected them, and their backslidings reproved them: now they must know and see that it was an evil thing and bitter, that they had forsaken the Lord their God, and that his fear had not been in them, Jeremiah 2:19. In the land of their captivity, the sermons of the prophets, declaiming with the highest authority against their profane and vicious practices, would be still sounding in their ears, and their abject, wretched condition, the consequence of such practices, would cause these discourses to sink deep into their hearts, and produce an utter detestation of what they very well knew was the cause of all their grievous sufferings.
4th, The law of God, written by Moses, as the rule of their conduct in all affairs, civil and religious, and the ground of their happiness, they had so far neglected, that once it was almost unknown and lost among them, 2 Kings 22:8-12. This contempt of the divine law the prophets had frequently and strongly protested against, and publicly declared that it would be their ruin. And in their ruined state this would be remembered as the primary reason of all their sufferings; and they would be made thoroughly sensible that a due regard to the law of God was the only way to recover his favour and their own prosperity; and accordingly would be disposed to attend to it; which, in some measure, was the case. This was another good effect of this dispensation, and may justly be given as one good reason of their being so strongly fixed against idolatry ever after the Babylonish captivity.
5th, This dispensation was also calculated to produce good effects among the nations whither they were carried into captivity. For wherever they were dispersed, in the eastern countries, they would bring with them the knowledge of the true God, now seriously impressed upon their hearts. But Divine Providence, by such signal circumstances of his interposition as were published and known over all the vast extent of the eastern empire, raised some of the captive Jews to the highest posts of dignity and power in the courts of Assyria and Persia, (Daniel 1:19-20,) insomuch that the most haughty monarchs openly confessed the living and true God, (Daniel 2:47-49; Daniel 4:34, &c.,) and made decrees, which were published throughout their spacious dominions, in favour of the profession and worship of him. Daniel 3:29; Daniel 6:25, &c. From all this, it is clear, that the Jews, notwithstanding their depravity in their own country, during the captivity of seventy years, must have been the means of diffusing a blessed light all over the eastern countries. And thus, in this dispensation also, God, the Father and Governor of mankind, was working for the reformation and improvement of the world, in that which is the true excellence of their nature, and the only foundation of their happiness. See Dodd and Taylor’s Scheme of Scripture Doctrine.
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.