Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers
Then the people of the land took Jehoahaz the son of Josiah, and made him king in his father's stead in Jerusalem.XXXVI.
THE REIGN OF JEHOAHAZ(2Chronicles 36:1-4). (Comp. 2Kings 23:30-35; 3 Esdr. 1:32-36.)
Jehoahaz was twenty and three years old when he began to reign, and he reigned three months in Jerusalem.(2) Jehoahaz was twenty and-three.—So Kings, adding the mother’s name as usual. (So the LXX. here.)
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.(3) And the king of Egypt put him down at Jerusalem.—Rather, removed him. 3 Esdr. 1:33 adds “from reigning,” which is almost demanded by the context. The LXX. follows the reading of 2Kings 23:33 : “And Pharaoh-necho bound him in Riblah, in the land of Hamath, from reigning (i.e., so that he reigned not) in Jerusalem “; but the Syriac and Vulg. support the existing Hebrew text. The LXX. begins the verse thus: “And he did the evil before the Lord, according to all that his fathers had done; “and adds, after the clause about the fine, “and the king took him away to Egypt.”
Condemned the land in.—Fined the land.—So Kings: “laid a fine upon the land.”
Riblah was in Syria, on the river Orontes. Necho may have ordered or enticed Jehoahaz to meet him there.
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.(4) And the king of Egypt made Eliakim.—The verse agrees with 2Kings 23:34.
Carried him to Egypt.—Made him come. Kings, “and he came to Egypt, and died there.” Comp. Jeremiah 22:10-12. The LXX. adds: and the silver and the gold he gave to the Pharaoh. Then the land began to be assessed, in order to give the money into the mouth of Pharaoh. And each according to ability used to demand the silver and the gold from the people of the land to give to Pharaoh-necho.”
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.THE REIGN OF JEHOIAKIM (2Chronicles 36:5-8). (Comp. 2Kings 23:36 to 2Kings 24:7, 2 Kings 3 Esdr. 1:37-41; Jeremiah 25:26)
(5) Jehoiakim . . . in Jerusalem.—2Kings 23:36, adding the mother’s name. here. So LXX.
And he did . . . the Lord.—2Kings 23:37, which adds “according to all that his fathers had done.” So LXX.
Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon.—Nabium-kudurri-uçur (“Nebo guard the crown! “) son of Nabopalassar, who had founded this dynasty by successful revolt against Assyria. His extant inscriptions chiefly relate to palace and temple building. Schrader gives a short inscription from a brick now in the Zürich Museum. “Nabû-Kudurri-uçur, king of Babylon, restorer of Esagili and Ezida [two famous temples], son of Nabû-abala-uçur, King of Babylon am I.” No really historical inscription is known except a fragment relating to his Egyptian campaign in his 37th year (568 B.C. ), and an illegible one on the rocks of Nahr-el-Kelb near Beirut. The LXX. here interpolates the account of Jehoiakim’s three years of vassalage, and his revolt against Nebuchadnezzar, and the other events and reflections contained in 2Kings 24:1-4. The LXX. makes Jehoiakim, instead of Manasseh, “fill Jerusalem with innocent blood,” contrary to the Hebrew text.
And bound him in fetters.—Two bronze (chains), as in 2Chronicles 33:11.
To carry him to Babylon.—To make him go. It is not said that this intention was carried out. (Comp. 2Chronicles 33:11, “and carried him to Babylon.”) Nebuchadnezzar, who, according to Jeremiah 46:2, had defeated Necho in a great battle at Carchemish, in the 4th year of Jehoiakim, appears to have left the king of Judah to reign as a vassal-king, after inflicting upon him a severe humiliation. (The LXX., 3 Esdr., Vulg., and Arabic, but not the Syriac, read: “and carried him to Babylon.”) Thenius says this must be the right reading, and then denies its claim to credibility. He further asserts that, “in order to allow ample scope for the fulfilment of the prophecy of Jeremiah” (see Note on 2Chronicles 36:8), the chronicler has represented Jehoiakim as carried alive to Babylon in the last year of his reign. This statement rests not upon objective historical grounds, but upon subjective prejudices against the chronicler.
Daniel 1:1, by a transcriber’s error, puts this first capture of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar in the third year of Jehoiakim; whereas Nebuchadnezzar only became king in the fourth of Jehoiakim. (2Kings 25:8; Jeremiah 25:1.)
Nebuchadnezzar also carried of the vessels of the house of the LORD to Babylon, and put them in his temple at Babylon.(7) Nebuchadnezzar also carried.—And of the vessels of the house . . . did Nebuchadnezzar bring. Not mentioned in Kings, but confirmed by Daniel 1:2.
In his temple.—The temple of “Mercdach, my Lord” (Bilu, i.e., Bel), whom his inscriptions so frequently mention. The great temple of Belus (Bel Merodach), which Nebuchadnezzar built, was one of the wonders of the world to Herodotus (Herod, i. 181 seq.)
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.(8) Now the rest of the acts.—(Comp. 2Kings 24:5.)
And his abominations which he did.—His crimes against God and man, i.e., probably acts of idolatry and tyranny. (Comp. Jeremiah 25:6; Jeremiah 7:5-11; Jeremiah 22:13-19; covetousness, shedding innocent blood, &c. charged against him.)
That which was found in him.—2Chronicles 19:3. His general character and conduct.
As in the case of Anion (2Chronicles 33:25), the last particulars about Jehoiakim are omitted in this flying notice of his reign, which was only memorable because of the invasion of Nebuchadnezzar. The LXX., however, gives instead of this verse 2Kings 24:5-6, interpolating in the latter “and was buried with his fathers in the garden of Uzza” (ἐν γανοζαῆ or γανοζάν; see 2Kings 21:26). Thenius says “these words certainly (!) stood in the original text,” but were omitted by the chronicler and the editor of Kings, because they conflict with the prophecy of Jeremiah (Jeremiah 22:18-19, Jeremiah 36:30)—which is apparently the reason why he is so sure of their genuineness.
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.(9) Jehoiachin was eight years old.—2Kings 24:8 has correctly “eighteen;” and so some MSS., LXX. (Alex.), Syriac, Arabic. What the prophet Ezekiel says of him could not apply to a boy of eight. (The difference turns on the omission of the smallest Hebrew letter, namely, yod, which as a numeral represents ten.)
Three months and ten days.—Kings, “three months;” Syriac and Arabic here have “one hundred days,” i.e., three months and ten days. Thenius thinks the ten days were added, in order that the catastrophe of Jehoiachin’s reign might fall on a tenth day of the month, like the investment of Jerusalem and the fall of the city under Zedekiah (2Chronicles 25:1; 2Chronicles 25:8).
He did that which was evil.—2Kings 24:9. (See also the above-cited passages of Jeremiah and Ezekiel.) According to the latter prophet, Jehoiachin “devoured men, and forced widows, and wasted cities.”
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.(10) And when the year was expired.—See margin. “At the return of the year” means in spring, when kings usually went forth to war. (2Samuel 11:1; 1Kings 20:22.) Kings gives a full account of the siege and surrender of Jerusalem, and the deportation to Babylon of the king and all his princes and men of war, by “the servants of Nebuchadnezzar.”
Zedekiah his brother.—Zedekiah was uncle of Jehoiachin, being a son of Josiah, and brother of Jehoiakim. Perhaps “brother” is equivalent to “kinsman” here, as elsewhere. (Comp. 1Chronicles 3:15, where Zedekiah appears as a son of Josiah; and 2Kings 24:17.) The versions read “his father’s brother”—a correction. Thenius thinks the word for “uncle” had become illegible in the MS. here used by the chronicler.
Zedekiah was one and twenty years old when he began to reign, and reigned eleven years in Jerusalem.ZEDEKIAH AND THE FINAL CATASTROPHE (2Chronicles 36:11-21). (Comp. 2Kings 24:18 to 2Kings 25:21; Jeremiah 39, 52; Jeremiah 3 Esdr. 1:44-55.)
(11) Zedekiah was one and twenty.—So 2Kings 24:18, adding his mother’s name (Hamutal, who was also mother of Jehoahaz).
Before Jeremian . . . mouth of the Lord.—Not in Kings. (Comp. Jeremiah 21, Jeremiah 22:1-10, Jeremiah 27, 28, 32-34, 37, 38)
Two special sins of Zedekiah are mentioned in this and the next verse—viz., his disregard of Jeremiah’s counsel, and his perjury to Nebuchadnezzar.
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.(13) And he also rebelled.—2Kings 24:20.
Who had made him swear by God.—When Nebuchadnezzar appointed Zedekiah vassal-king of Judah, he would naturally make him swear fealty to himself by the God of his fathers. The fact is not specially recorded in Kings; but the prophet Ezekiel makes it the point of a prophecy against the king and his grandees (Ezekiel 17:11-21; comp, especially 2Chronicles 36:17, “mine oath that he hath despised.”)
But (and) stiffened his neck and hardened his heart.—(Comp. the like expression in Deuteronomy 2:30; 2Kings 17:14; Jeremiah 19:15.) Zedekiah was not personally unfavourable to the prophet Jeremiah, and consulted him more than once; but he was too weak and timorous to stand by the prophetic counsel, in defiance of his princes who were intriguing with Egypt.
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.SINS OF THE RULING CLASSES WHICH BROUGHT DOWN THE JUDGMENT OF GOD (2Chronicles 36:14-16). (Comp. with this passage 2Kings 17:7-23.)
(14) The chiefs.—The princes.
Transgressed very much.—Committed manifold unfaithfulness.
After all the abominations . . .—See Ezekiel 8:5-18; where “the princes of the priests and the people” are specially singled out in 2Chronicles 36:11; 2Chronicles 36:16. The twenty-five men of the latter verse are the High Priest and the heads of the twenty-four courses of priests. (Comp. also Jeremiah 32:32, sea).
His Messengers.—The prophets (2Kings 17:13).
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:(15) Rising up betimes and sending.—i.e., constantly and earnestly. Jeremiah 25:3-4 : “The Lord hath sent all his servants, the prophets, rising early and sending them” (comp. also Jeremiah 26:5; Jeremiah 29:19; Jeremiah 35:14-15).
He had compassion on.—He spared, was forbearing with.
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.(16) But they mocked.—And they were mocking, mal’îbîm; only here (an Aramaism).
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.(17) Therefore he brought up.—And He caused to come up; alluding to “the wrath . . . went up.”
In the house of their sanctuary.—Which they had polluted (2Chronicles 36:14). The scene of their sin witnessed their destruction.
Him that stooped for age.—Rather, greyheaded, hoary (yāshēsh). (Comp. Ezekiel 9, where the horrors of the capture of Jerusalem are ascribed expressly to the Divine working; see also Jeremiah 15:1-9; Deuteronomy 32:25.)
Them all.—Literally, the whole, everything, τά πάντα. “Them all” would be hullām, whereas the text is hakkōl. (So 2Chronicles 36:18, “all these.”) Jerusalem was taken 588 B.C.
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.(18) All the vessels . . . (the) great and (the) small.—See 2Kings 25:13-17, for an inventory of the articles; also Jeremiah 27:19 seq.
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.(19) They burnt the house of God.—2Kings 25:9.
And destroyed all the goodly vessels.—Literally, And all her delightsome vessels were for destroying (lĕhashchîth). (Comp. Isaiah 64:11): “all our pleasant things are laid waste.” 2Kings 25:13 speaks of the breaking-up of the great vessels of the Temple, for the sake of carrying off their material more easily.
Servants to him and his sons . . . kingdom Of Persia.—A fulfilment of Jeremiah’s prophecy concerning Nebuchadnezzar: “And all nations shall serve him, and his son, and his son’s son, until the time of his own land come” (Jeremiah 27:7). Comp. also Isaiah’s word to Hezekiah (2Kings 20:18.)
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.(21) To fulfil.—lĕmalûth (an Aramaised form).
The word . . . Jeremiah.—The seventy years of Babylonian exile are predicted in Jeremiah 25:11-12. (Comp. also Jeremiah 29:10 : “Thus saith the Lord, After seventy years be accomplished for Babylon, I will visit you.”)
Until the land had enjoyed her sabbaths.—“Enjoyed” is rāçĕthāh, which Gesenius renders persolvit, “made good,” “discharged,” as a debt. The meaning is that during the long years of the exile, the land would enjoy that rest of which it had been defrauded by the neglect of the law concerning the sabbatical years (Leviticus 25:1-7). The following words, “as long as she lay desolate she kept sabbath” (literally, all the days of the desolation she rested) are taken from Leviticus 26:34-35.
To fulfil threescore and ten years.—i.e., in order to fulfil the seventy years of exile foretold by Jeremiah.
We have no right whatever to press the words of the sacred writer, in the sense of assuming that he means to say that when Jerusalem was taken by the Chaldeans exactly seventy sabbatical years had been neglected—that is, that the law in this respect had not been observed for 490 years (70×7), or ever since the institution of monarchy in Israel (490 + 588 = 1,078).
(22) Now in the first year of Cyrus.—This verse is the same as Ezra 1:1, save that it has “by the mouth “instead of “from the mouth.” The latter is probably correct. (Comp. 2Chronicles 36:12 supra.) So some MSS. here also.
That the word . . . Jeremiah.—Concerning the seventy years.
That he made a proclamation.—And he made a voice pass (2Chronicles 30:5).
Throughout all his kingdom . . . and put it also in writing.—Into all . . . and also into a writing.
Writing.—Miktāb (2Chronicles 35:4.)
The Lord.—Iahweh. Instead of this Ezra 1:3 has, Iehi, “Be;” so also 3 Esdr. 2:5. “The Lord—with him!” (Iahiveh ‘immô) is a frequent formula in the chronicle, and is probably correct here. (Some Hebrew MSS. and the Vulg. unite the readings.)
And let him go up.—Whither The sentence is abruptly broken off here, but continued in Ezra 1:3. As to the relation between the Chronicles and Ezra, see Introduction.
Thus saith Cyrus, king of Persia.—Comp. the words of Darius Hystaspes on the famous Behistuu Inscription, which begins “I am Darius, the great king, the king of kings, the king of Persia;” while every paragraph opens with “Saith Darius the king.”
All the kingdoms . . . given me.—Comp. the words of Darius: “Saith Darius the king :—By the grace of Ormazd I am king; Ormazd has granted me the empire.”
The Lord God of heaven.—Jehovah, the God of heaven. “The god of heaven” was a title of Ormazd or Ahuramazda, the Supreme Being according to Persian belief, which was Zoroastrianism. It is not at all wonderful that Cyrus should have identified the God of Israel with his own deity, especially if he had heard of the prophecies Isaiah 44:28, &c. Such a politic syncretism was the settled practice of the Roman empire in a later age.