Keil and Delitzsch OT Commentary
In his days Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up, and Jehoiakim became his servant three years: then he turned and rebelled against him."In his days Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babel, came up; and Jehoiakim became subject to him three years, then he revolted from him again." נבכדנאצּר, Nebuchadnezzar, or נבוּכדראצּר, Nebuchadrezzar (Jeremiah 21:2, Jeremiah 21:7; Jeremiah 22:25, etc.), Ναβουχοδονόσορ (lxx), Ναβουχοδονόσορος (Beros. in Jos. c. Ap. i. 20, 21), Ναβοκοδρόσορος (Strabo, xv. 1, 6), upon the Persian arrow-headed inscriptions at Bisutun Nabhukudracara (according to Oppert, composed of the name of God, Nabhu (Nebo), the Arabic kadr, power, and zar or sar, prince), and in still other forms (for the different forms of the name see M. v. Niebuhr's Gesch. pp. 41, 42). He was the son of Nabopolassar, the founder of the Chaldaean monarchy, and reigned, according to Berosus (Jos. l.c.), Alex. Polyh. (Eusebii Chr. arm. i. pp. 44, 45), and the Canon of Ptol., forty-three years, from 605 to 562 b.c. With regard to his first campaign against Jerusalem, it is stated in 2 Chronicles 36:6, that "against him (Jehoiakim) came up Nebuchadnezzar, and bound him with brass chains, to carry him (להוליכו) to Babylon;" and in Daniel 1:1-2, that "in the year three of the reign of Jehoiakim, Nebuchadnezzar came against Jerusalem and besieged it; and the Lord gave Jehoiakim, the king of Judah, into his hand, and a portion of the holy vessels, and he brought them (the vessels) into the land of Shinar, into the house of his god," etc. Bertheau (on Chr.) admits that all three passages relate to Nebuchadnezzar's first expedition against Jehoiakim and the first taking of Jerusalem by the king of Babylon, and rejects the alteration of להוליכו, "to lead him to Babylon" (Chr.), into ἀπήγαγεν αὐτὸν (lxx), for which Thenius decides in his prejudice in favour of the lxx. He has also correctly observed, that the chronicler intentionally selected the infinitive with ל, because he did not intend to speak of the actual transportation of Jehoiakim to Babylon. The words of our text, "Jehoiakim became servant (עבד) to him," i.e., subject to him, simply affirm that he became tributary, not that he was led away. And in the book of Daniel also there is nothing about the leading away of Jehoiakim to Babylon. Whilst, therefore, the three accounts agree in the main with one another, and supply one another's deficiencies, so that we learn that Jehoiakim was taken prisoner at the capture of Jerusalem and put in chains to be led away, but that, inasmuch as he submitted to Nebuchadnezzar and vowed fidelity, he was not taken away, but left upon the throne as vassal of the king of Babylon; the statement in the book of Daniel concerning the time when this event occurred, which is neither contained in our account nor in the Chronicles, presents a difficulty when compared with Jeremiah 25 and Jeremiah 46:2, and different attempts, some of them very constrained, have been made to remove it. According to Jeremiah 46:2, Nebuchadnezzar smote Necho the king of Egypt at Carchemish, on the Euphrates, in the fourth year of Jehoiakim. This year is not only called the first year of Nebuchadnezzar in Jeremiah 25:1, but is represented by the prophet as the turning-point of the kingdom of Judah by the announcement that the Lord would bring His servant Nebuchadnezzar upon Judah and its inhabitants, and also upon all the nations dwelling round about, that he would devastate Judah, and that these nations would serve the king of Babylon seventy years (Jeremiah 25:9-11). Consequently not only the defeat of Necho at Carchemish, but also the coming of Nebuchadnezzar to Judah, fell in the fourth year of Jehoiakim, and not in the third. To remove this discrepancy, some have proposed that the time mentioned, "in the fourth year of Jehoiakim" (Jeremiah 46:2), should be understood as relating, not to the year of the battle at Carchemish, but to the time of the prophecy of Jeremiah against Egypt contained in Jeremiah 46, and that Jeremiah 25 should also be explained as follows, that in this chapter the prophet is not announcing the first capture of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar, but is proclaiming a year after this the destruction of Jerusalem and the devastation of the whole land, or a total judgment upon Jerusalem and the rest of the nations mentioned there (M. v. Nieb. Gesch. pp. 86, 87, 371). But this explanation is founded upon the erroneous assumption, that Jeremiah 46:3-12 does not contain a prediction of the catastrophe awaiting Egypt, but a picture of what has already taken place there; and it is only in a very forced manner that it can be brought into harmony with the contents of Jeremiah 25.
(Note: Still less tenable is the view of Hofman, renewed by Zndel (Krit. Unterss. b. d. Abfassungszeit des B. Daniel, p. 25), that Nebuchadnezzar conquered Jerusalem in the third year of Jehoiakim, and that it was not till the following, or fourth year, that he defeated the Egyptian army at Carchemish, because so long as Pharaoh Necho stood with his army by or in Carchemish, on the Euphrates, Nebuchadnezzar could not possibly attempt to pass it so as to effect a march upon Jerusalem.)
We must rather take "the year three of the reign of Jehoiakim" (Daniel 1:1) as the extreme terminus a quo of Nebuchadnezzar's coming, i.e., must understand the statement thus: that in the year referred to Nebuchadnezzar commenced the expedition against Judah, and smote Necho at Carchemish at the commencement of the fourth year of Jehoiakim (Jeremiah 46:2), and then, following up this victory, took Jerusalem in the same year, and made Jehoiakim tributary, and at the same time carried off to Babylon a portion of the sacred vessels, and some young men of royal blood as hostages, one of whom was Daniel (2 Chronicles 36:7; Daniel 1:2.). The fast mentioned in Jeremiah 36:9, which took place in the fifth year of Jehoiakim, cannot be adduced in disproof of this; for extraordinary fast-days were not only appointed for the purpose of averting great threatening dangers, but also after severe calamities which had fallen upon the land or people, to expiate His wrath by humiliation before God, and to invoke the divine compassion to remove the judgment that had fallen upon them. The objection, that the godless king would hardly have thought of renewing the remembrance of a divine judgment by a day of repentance and prayer, but would rather have desired to avoid everything that could make the people despair, falls to the ground, with the erroneous assumption upon which it is founded, that by the fast-day Jehoiakim simply intended to renew the remembrance of the judgment which had burst upon Jerusalem, whereas he rather desired by outward humiliation before God to secure the help of God to enable him to throw off the Chaldaean yoke, and arouse in the people a religious enthusiasm for war against their oppressors. - Further information concerning this first expedition of Nebuchadnezzar is supplied by the account of Berosus, which Josephus (Ant. x. 11, and c. Ap. i. 19) has preserved from the third book of his Chaldaean history, namely, that when Nabopolassar received intelligence of the revolt of the satrap whom he had placed over Egypt, Coele-Syria, and Phoenicia, because he was no longer able on account of age to bear the hardships of war, he placed a portion of his army in the hands of his youthful son Nebuchadnezzar and sent him against the satrap. Nebuchadnezzar defeated him in battle, and established his power over that country again. In the meantime Nabopolassar fell sick and died in Babylon; and as soon as the tidings reached Nebuchadnezzar, he hastened through the desert to Babylon with a small number of attendants, and directed his army to follow slowly after regulating the affairs of Egypt and the rest of the country, and to bring with it the prisoners from the Jews, Syrians, Phoenicians, and Egyptian tribes, and with the heavily-armed troops. So much, at any rate, is evident from this account, after deducting the motive assigned for the war, which is given from a Chaldaean point of view, and may be taken as a historical fact, that even before his father's death Nebuchadnezzar had not only smitten the Egyptians, but had also conquered Judah and penetrated to the borders of Egypt. And there is no discrepancy between the statement of Berosus, that Nebuchadnezzar was not yet king, and the fact that in the biblical books he is called king proleptically, because he marched against Judah with kingly authority.
And the LORD sent against him bands of the Chaldees, and bands of the Syrians, and bands of the Moabites, and bands of the children of Ammon, and sent them against Judah to destroy it, according to the word of the LORD, which he spake by his servants the prophets.To punish Jehoiakim's rebellion, Jehovah sent hosts of Chaldaeans, Aramaeans, Moabites, and Ammonites against him and against Judah to destroy it (להאבידו). Nebuchadnezzar was probably too much occupied with other matters relating to his kingdom, during the earliest years of his reign after his father's death, to be able to proceed at once against Jehoiakim and punish him for his revolt.
(Note: Compare the remarks of M. v. Niebuhr on this point (Gesch. pp. 208,209) and his summary at p. 209: "Nebuchadnezzar had enough to do in Babylon and the eastern half of his kingdom, to complete the organization of the new kingdom, to make the military roads to the western half of the kingdom along the narrow valley of the Euphrates and through the desert, and also to fortify them and provide them with watering stations and every other requisite, to repair the damages of the Scythian hordes and the long contest with Nineveh, to restore the shattered authority, and to bring Arabs and mountain-tribes to order. All this was more important than a somewhat more rapid termination of the Egyptian war and the pacification of Syria.")
He may also have thought it a matter of too little importance for him to go himself, as there was not much reason to be afraid of Egypt since its first defeat (cf. M. v. Niebuhr, p. 375). He therefore merely sent such troops against him as were in the neighbourhood of Judah at the time. The tribes mentioned along with the Chaldaeans were probably all subject to Nebuchadnezzar, so that they attacked Judah at his command in combination with the Chaldaean tribes left upon the frontier. How much they effected is not distinctly stated; but it is evident that they were not able to take Jerusalem, from the fact that after the death of Jehoiakim his son was able to ascend the throne (2 Kings 24:6). - The sending of these troops is ascribed to Jehovah, who, as the supreme controller of the fate of the covenant-nation, punished Jehoiakim for his rebellion. For, after the Lord had given Judah into the hands of the Chaldaeans as a punishment for its apostasy from Him, all revolt from them was rebellion against the Lord. "According to the word of Jehovah, which He spake by His servants the prophets," viz., Isaiah, Micah, Habakkuk, Jeremiah, and others.
Surely at the commandment of the LORD came this upon Judah, to remove them out of his sight, for the sins of Manasseh, according to all that he did;יי על־פּי אך: "only according to the mouth (command) of Jehovah did this take place against Judah," i.e., for no other reason than because the Lord had determined to put away Judah from before His face because of Manasseh's sins (cf. 2 Kings 21:12-16, and 2 Kings 23:27). "And Jehovah would not forgive," even if the greatest intercessors, Moses and Samuel, had come before Him (Jeremiah 15:1.), because the measure of the sins was full, so that God was obliged to punish according to His holy righteousness. We must repeat בּ from the preceding words before הנּקי דּם.
And also for the innocent blood that he shed: for he filled Jerusalem with innocent blood; which the LORD would not pardon.
Now the rest of the acts of Jehoiakim, and all that he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah?
So Jehoiakim slept with his fathers: and Jehoiachin his son reigned in his stead."Jehoiakim lay down to (fell asleep with) his fathers, and Jehoiachin his son became king in his stead." That this statement is not in contradiction to the prophecies of Jeremiah 22:19 : "Jehoiakim shall be buried like an ass, carried away and cast out far away from the gates of Jerusalem," and Jeremiah 36:30 : "no son of his shall sit upon the throne of David, and his body shall lie exposed to the heat by day and to the cold by night," is now generally admitted, as it has already been by J. D. Michaelis and Winer. But the solution proposed by Michaelis, Winer, and M. v. Niebuhr (Gesch. p. 376) is not sufficient, namely, that at the conquest of Jerusalem, which took place three months after the death of Jehoiakim, his bones were taken out of the grave, either by the victors out of revenge for his rebellion, or by the fury of the people, and cast out before the city gate; for Jeremiah expressly predicts that he shall have no funeral and no burial whatever. We must therefore assume that he was slain in a battle fought with the troops sent against him, and was not buried at all; an assumption which is not at variance with the words, "he laid himself down to his fathers,"' since this formula does not necessarily indicate a peaceful death by sickness, but is also applied to king Ahab, who was slain in battle (1 Kings 22:40, cf. 2 Kings 22:20).
(Note: The supposition of Ewald (Gesch. iii. p. 733), that Jehoiakim was enticed out of the capital by a stratagem of the enemy, and taken prisoner, and because he made a furious resistance was hurried off in a scuffle and mercilessly slaughtered, is at variance with the fact that, according to v. 10, it was not till after his death that the army of the enemy advanced to the front of Jerusalem and commenced the siege.)
- And even though his son Jehoiachin ascended the throne after his father's death and maintained his position for three months against the Chaldaeans, until at length he fell into their hands and was carried away alive to Babylon, the prophet might very truly describe this short reign as not sitting upon the throne of David (cf. Graf on Jeremiah 22:19). - To the death of Jehoiakim there is appended the notice in 2 Kings 24:7, that the king of Egypt did not go out of his own land any more, because the king of Babylon had taken away everything that had belonged to the king of Egypt, from the brook of Egypt to the river Euphrates. The purpose of this notice is to indicate, on the one hand, what attitude Necho, whose march to the Euphrates was previously mentioned, had assumed on the conquest of Judah by the Chaldaeans, and on the other hand, that under these circumstances a successful resistance to the Chaldaeans on the part of Judah was not for a moment to be thought of.
And the king of Egypt came not again any more out of his land: for the king of Babylon had taken from the river of Egypt unto the river Euphrates all that pertained to the king of Egypt.
Jehoiachin was eighteen years old when he began to reign, and he reigned in Jerusalem three months. And his mother's name was Nehushta, the daughter of Elnathan of Jerusalem.(cf. 2 Chronicles 36:9 and 2 Chronicles 36:10). Jehoiachin, יהויכין or יויכין (Ezekiel 1:2), i.e., he whom Jehovah fortifies, called יכניהוּ in 1 Chronicles 3:16-17, and Jeremiah 27:20; Jeremiah 28:4, etc., and כּניהוּ in Jeremiah 22:24, Jeremiah 22:28; Jeremiah 37:1, probably according to the popular twisting and contraction of the name Jehoiachin, was eighteen years old when he ascended the throne (the eight years of the Chronicles are a slip of the pen), and reigned three months, or, according to the more precise statement of the Chronicles, three months and ten days, in the spirit of his father. Ezekiel (Ezekiel 19:5-7) describes him not only as a young lion, who learned to prey and devoured men, like Jehoahaz, but also affirms of him that he knew their (the deceased men's) widows, i.e., ravished them, and destroyed their cities-that is to say, he did not confine his deeds of violence to individuals, but extended them to all that was left behind by those whom he had murdered, viz., to their families and possessions; and nothing is affirmed in Jeremiah 22:24 and Jeremiah 22:28 respecting his character at variance with this. His mother Nehushta was a daughter of Elnathan, a ruler of the people, or prince, from Jerusalem (Jeremiah 26:22; Jeremiah 36:12, Jeremiah 36:25).
And he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his father had done.
At that time the servants of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up against Jerusalem, and the city was besieged."At that time," i.e., when Jehoiachin had come to the throne, or, according to 2 Chronicles 36:10, "at the turn of the year," i.e., in the spring (see at 1 Kings 20:22), the servants (generals) of Nebuchadnezzar marched against Jerusalem, and the city was besieged. The Keri עלוּ is substantially correct, but is an unnecessary alteration of the Chethb עלה, since the verb when it precedes the subject is not unfrequently used in the singular, though before a plural subject (cf. Ewald, 316, a.). The נב עבדי are different from the גדוּדים of 2 Kings 24:2. As the troops sent against Jehoiakim had not been able to conquer Judah, especially Jerusalem, Nebuchadnezzar sent his generals with an army against Jerusalem, to besiege the city and take it.
And Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came against the city, and his servants did besiege it.During the siege he came himself to punish Jehoiakim's revolt in the person of his successor.
And Jehoiachin the king of Judah went out to the king of Babylon, he, and his mother, and his servants, and his princes, and his officers: and the king of Babylon took him in the eighth year of his reign.Then Jehoiachin went out to the king of Babylon to yield himself up to him, because he perceived the impossibility of holding the city any longer against the besiegers, and probably hoped to secure the favour of Nebuchadnezzar, and perhaps to retain the throne as his vassal by a voluntary submission. Nebuchadnezzar, however, did not show favour any more, as he had done to Jehoiakim at the first taking of Jerusalem, but treated Jehoiachin as a rebel, made him prisoner, and led him away to Babylon, along with his mother, his wives (2 Kings 24:15), his princes and his chamberlains, as Jeremiah had prophesied (Jeremiah 22:24.), in the eighth year of his (Nebuchadnezzar's) reign. The reference to the king's mother in 2 Kings 24:12 and 2 Kings 24:15 is not to be explained on the ground that she still acted as guardian over the king, who was not yet of age (J. D. Mich.), but from the influential position which she occupied in the kingdom as הגּבירה (Jeremiah 29:2 : see at 1 Kings 14:21). The eighth year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar is reckoned from the time when his father had transferred to him the chief command over the army to make war upon Necho, according to which his first year coincides with the fourth year of Jehoiakim (Jeremiah 25:1). As Nebuchadnezzar acted as king, so far as the Jews were concerned, from that time forward, although he conducted the war by command of his father, this is always reckoned as the point of time at which his reign commenced, both in our books and also in Jeremiah (cf. 2 Kings 25:8; Jeremiah 32:1). According to this calculation, his reign lasted forty-four years, viz., the eight years of Jehoiakim and the thirty-six years of Jehoiachin's imprisonment, as is evident from 2 Kings 25:27.
And he carried out thence all the treasures of the house of the LORD, and the treasures of the king's house, and cut in pieces all the vessels of gold which Solomon king of Israel had made in the temple of the LORD, as the LORD had said.Nebuchadnezzar thereupon, that is to say, when he had forced his way into the city, plundered the treasures of the temple and palace, and broke the gold off the vessels which Solomon had made in the temple of Jehovah. קצּץ, to cut off, break off, as in 2 Kings 16:17, i.e., to bear off the gold plates. Nebuchadnezzar had already taken a portion of the golden vessels of the temple away with him at the first taking of Jerusalem in the fourth year of Jehoiakim, and had placed them in the temple of his god at Babylon (2 Chronicles 36:7; Daniel 1:2). They were no doubt the smaller vessels of solid gold-basins, scoops, goblets, knives, tongs, etc., - which Cyrus delivered up again to the Jews on their return to their native land (Ezra 1:7.). This time he took the gold off the larger vessels, which were simply plated with that metal, such as the altar of burnt-offering, the table of shew-bread and ark of the covenant, and carried it away as booty, so that on the third conquest of Jerusalem, in the time of Zedekiah, beside a few gold and silver basins and scoops (2 Kings 25:15) there were only the large brazen vessels of the court remaining (2 Kings 25:13-17; Jeremiah 27:18.). The words, "as Jehovah had spoken," refer to 2 Kings 20:17 and Isaiah 39:6, and to the sayings of other prophets, such as Jeremiah 15:13; Jeremiah 17:3, etc.
And he carried away all Jerusalem, and all the princes, and all the mighty men of valour, even ten thousand captives, and all the craftsmen and smiths: none remained, save the poorest sort of the people of the land.Beside these treasures, he carried away captive to Babylon the cream of the inhabitants of Jerusalem, not only the most affluent, but, as is evident from 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.
And he carried away Jehoiachin to Babylon, and the king's mother, and the king's wives, and his officers, and the mighty of the land, those carried he into captivity from Jerusalem to Babylon.
And all the men of might, even seven thousand, and craftsmen and smiths a thousand, all that were strong and apt for war, even them the king of Babylon brought captive to Babylon.
And the king of Babylon made Mattaniah his father's brother king in his stead, and changed his name to Zedekiah.Over the lower classes of the people who had been left behind Nebuchadnezzar placed the paternal uncle of the king, who had been led away, viz., Mattaniah, and made him king under the name of Zedekiah. He was the youngest son of Josiah (Jeremiah 1:3; Jeremiah 37:1); was only ten years old when his father died, and twenty-one years old when he ascended the throne; and as the uncle of Jehoiachin, who being only a youth of eighteen could not have a son capable of reigning, had the first claim to the throne. Instead of דּדו, his uncle, we have in 2 Chronicles 36:10 אהיו, his brother, i.e., his nearest relation. On the change in the name see at 2 Kings 23:34. The name צדקיּהוּ, i.e., he who has Jehovah's righteousness, was probably chosen by Mattaniah in the hope that through him or in his reign the Lord would create the righteousness promised to His people.
Zedekiah was twenty and one years old when he began to reign, and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem. And his mother's name was Hamutal, the daughter of Jeremiah of Libnah.(Note: To this section the historical appendix to the book of Jeremiah (Jeremiah 52) furnishes a parallel, which agrees with it for the most part word for word, omitting only the short account of the murder of Gedaliah and of the flight of the people to Egypt (2 Kings 25:22-26), and adding instead a computation of the number of the people who were led away to Babel by Nebuchadnezzar (Jeremiah 52:28-30). Apart from the less important variations, which have arisen in part simply from copyists' errors, we have in Jeremiah 52:18, and especially in Jeremiah 52:21 and Jeremiah 52:22, by no means unimportant notices concerning the vessels of the temple, especially concerning the ornaments of the brazen pillars, which do not occur anywhere in our books. It is evident from this that our text was not derived from Jer (Hvernick), and that Jer was not borrowed from our books of Kings and appended to the book of Jeremiah's prophecies (Ros., Maur., Ew., Graf). On the contrary, the two accounts are simply brief extracts from one common and more elaborate history of the later times of the kingdom of Judah, possibly composed by Jeremiah or Baruch, analogous to the two extracts from the history of Hezekiah in 2 Kings 18-20 and Isaiah 36-39. - More minute accounts of this space of time are given in the historical portions of the prophecies of Jeremiah (Jeremiah 39-44), which form an explanatory commentary to the section before us.)
Length and spirit of Zedekiah's reign (cf. Jeremiah 52:1-3, and 2 Chronicles 36:11-13). - Zedekiah's mother Hamital, daughter of Jeremiah of Libnah, was also the mother of Jehoahaz (2 Kings 23:31); consequently he was his own brother and the half-brother of Jehoiakim, whose mother was named Zebidah (2 Kings 23:36). His reign lasted eleven years, and in its attitude towards the Lord exactly resembled that of his brother Jehoiakim, except that Zedekiah does not appear to have possessed so much energy for that which was evil. According to Jeremiah 38:5 and Jeremiah 38:24., he was weak in character, and completely governed by the great men of his kingdom, having no power or courage whatever to offer resistance. but, like them, he did not hearken to the words of the Lord through Jeremiah (Jeremiah 37:2), or, as it is expressed in 2 Chronicles 36:12, "he did not humble himself before Jeremiah the prophet, who spake to him out of the mouth of the Lord."
And he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD, according to all that Jehoiakim had done.
For through the anger of the LORD it came to pass in Jerusalem and Judah, until he had cast them out from his presence, that Zedekiah rebelled against the king of Babylon."For because of the wrath of the Lord it happened concerning Judah and Jerusalem." The subject to היתה is to be taken from what precedes, viz., Zedekiah's doing evil, or that such a God-resisting man as Zedekiah became king. "Not that it was of God that Zedekiah was wicked, but that Zedekiah, a man (if we believe Brentius, in loc.) simple, dependent upon counsellors, yet at the same time despising the word of God and impenitent (2 Chronicles 36:12-13), became king, so as to be the cause of Jerusalem's destruction" (Seb. Schm.). On וגו השׁליכו עד cf. 2 Kings 24:3, and 2 Kings 17:18, 2 Kings 17:23. "And Zedekiah rebelled against the king of Babel," who, according to 2 Chronicles 36:13, had made him swear by God, to whom he was bound by oath to render fealty. This breach of covenant and frivolous violation of his oath Ezekiel also condemns in sharp words (Ezekiel 17:13.), as a grievous sin against the Lord. Zedekiah also appears from the very first to have had no intention of keeping the oath of fealty which he took to the king of Babel with very great uprightness. For only a short time after he was installed as king he despatched an embassy to Babel (Jeremiah 29:3), which, judging from the contents of the letter to the exiles that Jeremiah gave to the ambassadors to take with them, can hardly have been sent with any other object that to obtain from the king of Babel the return of those who had been carried away. Then in the fourth year of his reign he himself made a journey to Babel (Jeremiah 51:59), evidently to investigate the circumstances upon the spot, and to ensure the king of Babel of his fidelity. And in the fifth month of the same year, probably after his return from Babel, ambassadors of the Moabites, Ammonites, Tyrians, and Sidonians came to Jerusalem to make an alliance with him for throwing off the Chaldaean yoke (Jeremiah 27:3). Zedekiah also had recourse to Egypt, where the enterprising Pharaoh Hophra (Apries) had ascended the throne; and then, in spite of the warnings of Jeremiah, trusting to the help of Egypt, revolted from the king of Babel, probably at a time when Nebuchadnezzar (according to the combinations of M. v. Nieb., which are open to question however) was engaged in a war with Media.