Matthew Poole's Commentary
Zedekiah was one and twenty 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.A repetition of the reign of Zedekiah: of the siege, taking, and destruction of Jerusalem; with the causes thereof; and what further happened there, Jeremiah 52:1-30. Evil-merodach advanceth Jehoiachin, Jeremiah 52:31-34.
No text from Poole on this verse.
And he did that which was evil in the eyes of the LORD, according to all that Jehoiakim had done.No text from Poole on this verse.
For through the anger of the LORD it came to pass in Jerusalem and Judah, till he had cast them out from his presence, that Zedekiah rebelled against the king of Babylon.It is generally thought that what we have in this chapter was not penned by the prophet Jeremiah, who it is not probable would have so largely repeated what he had related before, Jeremiah 39, and could not historically relate what happened after his time, as some things did, which are mentioned towards the end of the chapter, from Jeremiah 52:31 to the end. They therefore rather think it penned by some or other of those in Babylon, and put in here as a preface to the Book of Lamentations. What we have in the three first verses is entirely taken out of 2 Kings 24:18-20. See the notes there.
Here the wicked actions of Zedekiah, and particularly his rebellion against the king of Babylon, who had made him king, as 2 Kings 24:17, and to whom he had given an oath of fealty, is ascribed to the wrath of the Lord; God not putting any such wickedness into his heart, but suffering him so to miscarry, having a design to send Judah into captivity. Princes are often by God suffered to miscarry for the sins of their people, which should oblige us, when we think we have cause to complain of the errors of our rulers, to consider whether we have not by some sinful courses provoked God, which hath made him leave our rulers so to miscarry in order to our ruin and punishment.
And it came to pass in the ninth year of his reign, in the tenth month, in the tenth day of the month, that Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon came, he and all his army, against Jerusalem, and pitched against it, and built forts against it round about.No text from Poole on this verse.
So the city was besieged unto the eleventh year of king Zedekiah.No text from Poole on this verse.
And in the fourth month, in the ninth day of the month, the famine was sore in the city, so that there was no bread for the people of the land.No text from Poole on this verse.
Then the city was broken up, and all the men of war fled, and went forth out of the city by night by the way of the gate between the two walls, which was by the king's garden; (now the Chaldeans were by the city round about:) and they went by the way of the plain.No text from Poole on this verse.
But the army of the Chaldeans pursued after the king, and overtook Zedekiah in the plains of Jericho; and all his army was scattered from him.No text from Poole on this verse.
Then they took the king, and carried him up unto the king of Babylon to Riblah in the land of Hamath; where he gave judgment upon him.No text from Poole on this verse.
And the king of Babylon slew the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes: he slew also all the princes of Judah in Riblah.No text from Poole on this verse.
Then he put out the eyes of Zedekiah; and the king of Babylon bound him in chains, and carried him to Babylon, and put him in prison till the day of his death.This history is found 2 Kings 25:1-7, much in the same words. See the annotations on that chapter. Jeremiah also hath the substance of it, Jeremiah 39:1-7; only neither of those places have the last words, from whence we learn that Zedekiah died in Babylon a prisoner.
Now in the fifth month, in the tenth day of the month, which was the nineteenth year of Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon, came Nebuzaradan, captain of the guard, which served the king of Babylon, into Jerusalem,No text from Poole on this verse.
And burned the house of the LORD, and the king's house; and all the houses of Jerusalem, and all the houses of the great men, burned he with fire:No text from Poole on this verse.
And all the army of the Chaldeans, that were with the captain of the guard, brake down all the walls of Jerusalem round about.No text from Poole on this verse.
Then Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard carried away captive certain of the poor of the people, and the residue of the people that remained in the city, and those that fell away, that fell to the king of Babylon, and the rest of the multitude.No text from Poole on this verse.
But Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard left certain of the poor of the land for vinedressers and for husbandmen.See Poole "2 Kings 25:8", See Poole "2 Kings 25:9", See Poole "2 Kings 25:10", See Poole "2 Kings 25:11", See Poole "2 Kings 25:12" where all this is related, only with a small difference as to the day of the month when Nebuzar-adan came to Jerusalem and burned the temple. In the Kings it is said he came the seventh day, here it is said he came the tenth day. See the solution of it in the annotations on 2 Kings 25. Probably he might come into Jerusalem the seventh day, and not burn the temple till the tenth. Much of it also is related by Jeremiah 39. The provost-marshal, about a month after the taking of the city, returned with a part of the army, burned the temple, the great men’s houses in the city, and many other houses, and carried away divers prisoners, but left some of the poorer sort of the people to dress the vineyards and till the grounds, which is a thing very usual with conquerors, for their own advantage, that their conquests may yield them some revenue.
Also the pillars of brass that were in the house of the LORD, and the bases, and the brasen sea that was in the house of the LORD, the Chaldeans brake, and carried all the brass of them to Babylon.The particular enumeration of the parts and utensils of the temple, mentioned in this and in the following verses, may be conceived to have been to justify the prophecy of Jeremiah, Jeremiah 27:19, where there is a particular mention made of the pillars, the bases, and the sea, that they should all, with the residue of the vessels of the temple, be carried into Babylon. Of these pillars we read 1 Kings 7:15; they were of brass, eighteen cubits high, they were in the porch of the temple, Jeremiah 52:21: of the bases we read there also largely, 1 Kings 7:27-37; they also were all of brass: and of the sea, Jeremiah 52:23-26. These being all made of brass, were, for conveniency of carriage, broken by the Chaldeans.
The caldrons also, and the shovels, and the snuffers, and the bowls, and the spoons, and all the vessels of brass wherewith they ministered, took they away.The caldrons also: these were called pots, 2 Kings 25:14.
And the shovels; which were to remove the ashes from the altar.
The snuffers: some think that this word in this place were better translated tongs, because he is speaking of instruments of brass; and that those utensils are not here understood with which they snuffed the lamps, because they were of gold. The bowls, or basons; it is uncertain which is here intended, there being in the temple both bowls to drink in, and also basens to receive the blood of the sacrifices.
The spoons; the word is such as may signify ladles, or cups, or dishes.
And the basons, and the firepans, and the bowls, and the caldrons, and the candlesticks, and the spoons, and the cups; that which was of gold in gold, and that which was of silver in silver, took the captain of the guard away.Some of these utensils were only of brass; others were some of them brass, some of silver, some of gold: the captain of the guard carried away all, both those of silver, and those of gold, and those of brass.
The two pillars, one sea, and twelve brasen bulls that were under the bases, which king Solomon had made in the house of the LORD: the brass of all these vessels was without weight.Solomon made two pillars, 1 Kings 7:15, which, Jeremiah 52:21, he called Jachin and Boaz; Jeremiah 52:23, a molten sea, ten cubits broad; this, Jeremiah 52:25, stood upon twelve oxen, and had ten bases, Jeremiah 52:27: the making of all these took up a vast quantity of brass, as any one will easily judge, who, 1 Kings 7:27, readeth the dimensions of these things.
And concerning the pillars, the height of one pillar was eighteen cubits; and a fillet of twelve cubits did compass it; and the thickness thereof was four fingers: it was hollow.This agreeth with 1 Kings 7:15, where what is called here a fillet is called a thread; concerning the height of the pillars, we read the same 2 Kings 25:17 2 Chronicles 3:15.
And a chapiter of brass was upon it; and the height of one chapiter was five cubits, with network and pomegranates upon the chapiters round about, all of brass. The second pillar also and the pomegranates were like unto these.No text from Poole on this verse.
And there were ninety and six pomegranates on a side; and all the pomegranates upon the network were an hundred round about.There are some differences as to the measure of these chapiters betwixt 2 Kings 25:17 and this text; here the height of them is made to be five cubits, there it is said to be three cubits: that which is said to resolve this difficulty is, that there were three parts in the chapiter, the square, the belly, and the crown, and that this text gives an account of the whole; but that text, 2 Kings 25:17, gives an account only of the belly and the crown, which were no more than three cubits. The like difference there is betwixt this text and 1 Kings 7:20, and 2 Chronicles 4:13, about the number of the pomegranates. In the Book of Kings it is said the pomegranates were in number two hundred; 2 Chronicles 4:13, they are said to have been four hundred. The meaning is, there were a hundred in a row, in the two rows two hundred, in the four rows (two upon each pillar) four hundred. Some other difference also there is about the particular number of pomegranates on a side, which are here said to be but ninety-six, which make on the two sides but one hundred and ninety-two, on the four sides but three hundred and eighty-four, and comes up neither to the two hundred mentioned in the Book of Kings, nor to the number of four hundred mentioned in the Book of Chronicles. See the English Annotations, where the learned author hath observed that in the Hebrew, what we translate of a side, is word for word windward, that is, toward the four winds, so as the table was square, and there were twenty-four on each side, which made ninety-six in all, to which four being added. one at each corner, this made a hundred. But these are niceties, a satisfaction in which is of no great concernment to us, unless to satisfy such as would make use of these little things to question the authority of the Scriptures because of these seeming contradictions, of how little concernment soever they be as to our faith and holiness.
And the captain of the guard took Seraiah the chief priest, and Zephaniah the second priest, and the three keepers of the door:See Poole "2 Kings 25:18", where we have the same words. This Seraiah was not he mentioned Jeremiah 51:59, but the son of Azariah, 1 Chronicles 6:14. By the
second priest, interpreters understand him that supplied the place of the high priest in case he were sick, &c., he that was sent by Zedekiah to the prophet, Jeremiah 21:1, and whom Jeremiah chose by his letters, Jeremiah 29:25, for not setting Jeremiah in the stocks. It is probable there were more keepers of the door, but the captain of the guard took only three of the principal.
He took also out of the city an eunuch, which had the charge of the men of war; and seven men of them that were near the king's person, which were found in the city; and the principal scribe of the host, who mustered the people of the land; and threescore men of the people of the land, that were found in the midst of the city.See 2 Kings 25:19; only there is mention out of five men, here there is mention of seven, but probably two of them were of less note.
So Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard took them, and brought them to the king of Babylon to Riblah.No text from Poole on this verse.
And the king of Babylon smote them, and put them to death in Riblah in the land of Hamath. Thus Judah was carried away captive out of his own land.See 2 Kings 25:20,21.
This is the people whom Nebuchadrezzar carried away captive: in the seventh year three thousand Jews and three and twenty:That is, in the time of Jehoiachin, 2 Kings 24:12-14; here it is said to be in the seventh year, there in the eighth year, it might be in part of both. But there is a difference in the number of the captives, which are here said to be three thousand and twenty-three, and 2 Kings 24:14,16, seven thousand, or eight. It is thought by some that the number here mentioned were such as properly belonged to Judah, and the number mentioned 2 Kings 24, were the number of the captives of Judah and Benjamin. See the English Annotations.
In the eighteenth year of Nebuchadrezzar he carried away captive from Jerusalem eight hundred thirty and two persons:That was the year when the city was broken up.
In the three and twentieth year of Nebuchadrezzar Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard carried away captive of the Jews seven hundred forty and five persons: all the persons were four thousand and six hundred.Of this we read nothing in holy writ; some judge it to have been upon occasion of Ishmael’s killing Gedaliah, but this was four years after the taking of the city, and we are not certain what at this time brought again the Chaldean forces.
And it came to pass in the seven and thirtieth year of the captivity of Jehoiachin king of Judah, in the twelfth month, in the five and twentieth day of the month, that Evilmerodach king of Babylon in the first year of his reign lifted up the head of Jehoiachin king of Judah, and brought him forth out of prison,Jehoiachin began his reign at eighteen years of age, 2 Kings 24:8, and reigned but three months, but that he yielded himself to the king of Babylon besieging him, Jeremiah 52:12, in the eighth year of the king of Babylon’s reign. He was a prisoner in Babylon, (as appeareth by this text,) in which circumstances he continued (as appears from this text) about thirty years; which was during the whole reign of Nebuchadrezzar, sometimes called Nebuchadnezzar, sometimes Nebuchodonosor. Evil-merodach was son to this Nebuchadrezzar, who, in the twelfth month of that year, the twenty-fifth day of the month, (saith this text, but, 2 Kings 25:27, it is the twenty-seventh day; but that difference may easily be reconciled: the penman of this part of holy writ might count precisely from the day of his father’s death, and the penman of the Book of Kings from the time of the coronation of Evil-merodach, or when he openly showed himself as king; or the one might reckon from the day that Evil-merodach decreed the thing, the other from the day when he put it in execution,)
lifted up the head, which signifies in Scripture the altering of one’s estate that is in misery, Genesis 40:20, which is all that is here meant, for his bringing him out of prison is mentioned in the next words. The reason of this favour is variously guessed at. The reverend author of our English Annotations fancieth that Evil-merodach might be much of the same age with him, and that Jehoiachin got into the acquaintance of this Evil-merodach during his thirty years’ captivity, who considering his long imprisonment, and that now there was no danger of his heading the Jews, (whose city had now been destroyed twenty-five years and upward,) this prince out of his humanity might show him this favour; nor are such things unusual in nations upon their changes of princes and counsellors.
And spake kindly unto him, and set his throne above the throne of the kings that were with him in Babylon,The king of Babylon might have other kings his prisoners, his father having been so great a conqueror, or he might have other kings his subjects, that might reside at his court; and either out of a particular kindness he had to Jehoiachin, or in regard of the fame of David and Solomon, from whom Jehoiachin lineally descended, he might do him this honour.
And changed his prison garments: and he did continually eat bread before him all the days of his life.No text from Poole on this verse.
And for his diet, there was a continual diet given him of the king of Babylon, every day a portion until the day of his death, all the days of his life.He treated him like a prince, with a respect becoming his former state, took care both for his habit and diet: for his habit, that it should be decent, such as became a person of his quality, though a captive: for his diet, that he should have it in his court, thereby learning others that humanity which becometh all men to treat others with that are fallen under their power; that decency which becometh them as men, and as men whose circumstances have been better; doing to others as we would they should do unto us. Thus Jehoiachin’s lot was different from that of his father Jehoiakim, whose body was cast out, as we heard before; as also from that of his uncle Zedekiah, who did not only die in Babylon, but died a prisoner; his nephew Jehoiachin died there, and a captive, but not in durance.
Thee four last verses are found also 2 Kings 25:27-30; and being found here in a narrative form, related as a piece of history relating a thing done not in a prophetical style, are an argument (as was said before) that this whole chapter is no part of the prophecy of Jeremiah, and probably not wrote by him; for he beginning his prophecy in the thirteenth year of Josiah, who reigned thirty-one years, and continuing it three months during the reign of Jehoahaz, and eleven years during the reign of Jehoiakim, and three months during the reign of Jehoiachin, (or Jeconiah,) and eleven years during the reign of Zedekiah, and Jehoiachin outliving the reign of Zedekiah twenty-five years, it must needs be sixty-five years and a half after the word of the Lord first came to Jeremiah before the death of Jehoiachin; so as the prophet, if he lived to that time, must be near a hundred years old, which is not probable.
Here now endeth the history of the kingdom of Judah. I shall only note the severe judgment of God upon this people, whose kingdom was made up of the two tribes of Judah and Benjamin, and half the tribe of Manasseh. In the numbering of the persons belonging to these two tribes, Numbers 1, (counting half of the number of the tribe of Manasseh,) we find one hundred twenty-six thousand one hundred. Numbers 26, we find of them one hundred forty-eight thousand four hundred and fifty. Here, Jeremiah 52:30, we find no more of them carried into captivity than four thousand and six hundred. From whence we may judge what a multitude of them were slain by the sword, or killed by the famine and the pestilence, though we make a great allowance for such as were left in the land to dress vineyards and to till the ground. It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God, to mock his messengers, despise his words, and misuse his prophets, till there be no remedy, as this people did, 2 Chronicles 36:16.