Moreover he put out Zedekiah's eyes, and bound him with chains, to carry him to Babylon.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Moreover he put out Zedekiah’s eyes.—The special form of punishment is noticeable as fulfilling the two prophecies—(1) that Zedekiah should see the king of Babylon and be taken to that city (Jeremiah 32:4); and (2) that though he was to die in Babylon, he should never see it (Ezekiel 12:13). Beyond this, the fate of the last king of Judah is buried in darkness. His brother Jehoiachin was already a prisoner in Babylon (2Kings 24:15), but we do not know whether the two were allowed to meet. Twenty-six years later Jehoiachin was released by Evil-merodach (2Kings 25:27); but there is no mention of Zedekiah, and it is a natural inference that his sufferings had ended previously.
Bound him with chains.—Literally, as in the margin, with two brazen chains.
slew all … nobles—(Jer 27:20).Jeremiah 34:4, that Zedekiah should not die by the sword; and that of Ezekiel, that he should not see Babylon, though he should die there, Ezekiel 12:13. Riblah was at a great distance from Babylon, where the king was at this time, probably to be nearer his army while the siege lasted at Jerusalem, and to give orders about it, and to divert himself, the place being a pleasant place, and the king not willing to trouble himself about the siege to go thither in person; but the siege being over, he now removeth to Babylon, and carrieth Zedekiah and the rest of the prisoners along with him. Jeremiah 34:3; and also the prophecy of Ezekiel, Ezekiel 12:13; that he should be brought to Babylon, and yet should not see it; for his eyes were put out before he was carried there: a full proof this of the prescience of God; of his foreknowledge of future and contingent events; of the truth and certainty of prophecy, and of the authority of divine revelation: Moreover he put out Zedekiah's eyes, and bound him with chains, to carry him to Babylon.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)7. Moreover he put out Zedekiah’s eyes] See on Jeremiah 34:3 and cp. Jdg 16:21. “Putting out the eyes has been at all times a common Oriental punishment.… The frequency of the punishment in the time of the younger Cyrus is indicated by a passage in Xenophon, where it is said that men deprived of sight for their crimes were a common spectacle along the highways within his government.” Rawlinson’s Herod. vol. IV. p. 16. C.B. (Barnes), on the parallel passage in Kings, quotes Layard for modern instances in Persia.
fetters] The Hebrew word is dual, and the meaning therefore probably two chains. Cp. Acts 12:6.Jeremiah 38:28 belongs, form one period, broken up by a pretty long piece inserted in it, on the beginning and duration of the siege of Jerusalem; so that, after the introductory clause והיה כּאשׁר( equals ויהי as in Jeremiah 37:11), Jeremiah 38:28, the conclusion does not come till the word ויּבאוּ, Jeremiah 39:3. In the parenthesis, the length of the siege, as stated, substantially agrees with Jeremiah 52:4-7 and 2 Kings 25:1-4, only that in these passages the time when the siege began is further determined by the mention of the day of the month, לחדשׁ be בּעשׂור, which words are omitted here. The siege, then, lasted eighteen months, all but one day. After the besiegers had penetrated into the city through the breaches made in the wall, the princes, i.e., the chief generals, took up their position at "the gate of the midst." ישׁבוּ, "they sat down," i.e., took up a position, fixed their quarters. "The gate of the midst," which is mentioned only in this passage, is supposed, and perhaps rightly, to have been a gate in the wall which divided the city of Zion from the lower city; from this point, the two portions of the city, the upper and the lower city, could most easily be commanded.
With regard to the names of the Babylonian princes, it is remarkable (1) that the name Nergal-sharezer occurs twice, the first time without any designation, the second time with the official title of chief magician; (2) that the name Samgar-nebo has the name of God (Nebo or Nebu) in the second half, whereas in all other compounds of this kind that are known to us, Nebu forms the first portion of the name, as in Nebuchadnezzar, Nebuzaradan, Nebushasban (Jeremiah 39:13), Naboned, Nabonassar, Nabopolassar, etc.; (3) from this name, too, is omitted the title of office, while we find one with the following name. Moreover (4) in Jeremiah 39:13, where the Babylonian grandees are again spoken of, instead of the four names, only three are given, but every one of them with a title of office; and only the third of these, Nergal-sharezer, the chief magician, is identical with the one who is named last in Jeremiah 39:3; while Nebushasban is mentioned instead of the Sarsechim of Jeremiah 39:3 as רב־סריס, chief of the eunuchs (high chamberlain); and in place of Nergal-sharezer, Samgar-nebo, we find Nebuzaradan as the commander of the body-guards (רב טבּחים). On these four grounds, Hitzig infers that Jeremiah 39:3, in the passage before us, has been corrupted, and that it contained originally only the names of three persons, with their official titles. Moreover, he supposes that סמגּר is formed from the Persian jâm and the derivation-syllable kr, Pers. war, and means "he who has or holds the cup," the cup-bearer; thus corresponding to רב שׁקה ot gnidnop, Rab-shakeh, "chief cup-bearer," 2 Kings 18:17; Isaiah 36:2. He also considers שׂרסכים a Hebraizing form of רב סריס; סכה or שׂכה, "to cut," by transposition from חצה, Arab. chtṣy, from which comes chatṣiyun, "a eunuch," equals סכי, plur. סכים; hence שׂרסכים equals רב סריס, of which the former has been a marginal gloss, afterwards received into the text. This complicated combination, however, by which Hitzig certainly makes out two official titles, though he retains no more than the divine name Nebu as that of Rabsaris, is founded upon two very hazardous conjectures. Nor do these conjectures gain much support from the renewal of the attempt, made about fifty years since by the late P. von Bohlen, to explain from the Neo-Persian the names of persons and titles occurring in the Assyrian and Old-Babylonian languages, an attempt which has long since been looked upon as scientifically unwarranted. Strange as it may seem that the two persons first named are not further specified by the addition of an official title, yet the supposition that the persons named in Isaiah 36:3 are identical with those mentioned in Isaiah 36:13 is erroneous, since it stands in contradiction with Jeremiah 52:12, which even Hitzig recognises as historically reliable. According to Jeremiah 52:12, Nebuzaradan, who is the first mentioned in Jeremiah 39:13, was not present at the taking of Jerusalem, and did not reach the city till four weeks afterwards; he was ordered by Nebuchadnezzar to superintend arrangements for the destruction of Jerusalem, and also to make arrangements for the transportation of the captives to Babylon, and for the administration of the country now being laid waste. But in Jeremiah 39:3 are named the generals who, when the city had bee taken by storm, took up their position within it. - Nor do the other difficulties, mentioned above, compel us to make such harsh conjectures. If Nergal-sharezer be the name of a person, compounded of two words, the divine name, Nergal (2 Kings 17:30), and Sharezer, probably dominator tuebitur (see Delitzsch on Isaiah 37:38), then Samgar-Nebu-Sarsechim may possibly be a proper name compounded of three words. So long as we are unable with certainty to explain the words סמגּר and שׂרסכים out of the Assyrian, we can form no decisive judgment regarding them. But not even does the hypothesis of Hitzig account for the occurrence twice over of the name Nergal-sharezer. The Nergal-sharezer mentioned in the first passage was, no doubt, the commander-in-chief of the besieging army; but it could hardly be maintained, with anything like convincing power, that this officer could not bear the same name as that of the chief magician. And if it be conceded that there are really errors in the strange words סמגּר־נבוּ and שׂרסכים, we are as yet without the necessary means of correcting them, and obtaining the proper text.
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