Scriptures

2 Kings 25

Introduction

‘So in the ninth year of Zedekiah’s reign, on the tenth day of the tenth month, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon marched against Jerusalem with his whole army. He encamped outside the city and built siege works all around it. The city was kept under siege until the eleventh year of King Zedekiah. By the ninth day of the fourth month the famine in the city had become so severe that there was no food for the people to eat. Then the city wall was broken through, and the whole army fled at night through the gate between the two walls near the king’s garden, though the Babylonians were surrounding the city. They fled toward the Arabah, but the Babylonian army pursued the king and overtook him in the plains of Jericho. All his soldiers were separated from him and scattered, and he was captured. He was taken to the king of Babylon at Riblah, where sentence was pronounced on him. They killed the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes. Then they put out his eyes, bound him with bronze shackles and took him to Babylon.’ 2 Kings 25:1-7

The Fall Of Jerusalem

It was on the ninth year of Zedekiah when Nebuchadnezzar marched against Jerusalem, he did this for a year and a half, Jeremiah 39:1-10. The people in Jerusalem were desperate because there was no food. Despite fleeing form the city, they had no chance against the mighty Babylonian army, 2 Chronicles 36:17-20 / Jeremiah 52:4-27.

Zedekiah was captured and his son were killed before his eyes because of his rebellion against Nebuchadnezzar, 2 Kings 24:20. Nebuchadnezzar had shown mercy to Jehoiachin, but none was shown to Zedekiah, hence the harsher treatment he received.

‘On the seventh day of the fifth month, in the nineteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, Nebuzaradan commander of the imperial guard, an official of the king of Babylon, came to Jerusalem. He set fire to the temple of the LORD, the royal palace and all the houses of Jerusalem. Every important building he burned down. The whole Babylonian army under the commander of the imperial guard broke down the walls around Jerusalem. Nebuzaradan the commander of the guard carried into exile the people who remained in the city, along with the rest of the populace and those who had deserted to the king of Babylon. But the commander left behind some of the poorest people of the land to work the vineyards and fields. The Babylonians broke up the bronze pillars, the movable stands and the bronze Sea that were at the temple of the LORD and they carried the bronze to Babylon. They also took away the pots, shovels, wick trimmers, dishes and all the bronze articles used in the temple service. The commander of the imperial guard took away the censers and sprinkling bowls—all that were made of pure gold or silver. The bronze from the two pillars, the Sea and the movable stands, which Solomon had made for the temple of the LORD, was more than could be weighed. Each pillar was eighteen cubits high. The bronze capital on top of one pillar was three cubits high and was decorated with a network and pomegranates of bronze all around. The other pillar, with its network, was similar.’ 2 Kings 25:8-17

The Babylonians under Nebuzaradan who was the commander of the army of Nebuchadnezzar, came to Jerusalem and went about totally destroying it, 2 Chronicles 36:17-20 / Jeremiah 52:12-23.

Nebuchadnezzar knew if we wiped out Jerusalem then he would totally wipe out Israel’s pride and joy. This is why he burned the city but especially the temple. Jeremiah tells us how he felt about it in Lamentations 5:11-12.

All the bronze and gold articles of both the royal palace and temple were cut in pieces in order to be transported to Babylon. They totally destroyed everything as it was prophesied many years before by God to Solomon, 1 Kings 9:8.

Everything which Solomon had built, Jerusalem, the very essence and heartbeat of Israel, was now in ruins.

‘The commander of the guard took as prisoners Seraiah the chief priest, Zephaniah the priest next in rank and the three doorkeepers. Of those still in the city, he took the officer in charge of the fighting men, and five royal advisers. He also took the secretary who was chief officer in charge of conscripting the people of the land and sixty of the conscripts who were found in the city. Nebuzaradan the commander took them all and brought them to the king of Babylon at Riblah. There at Riblah, in the land of Hamath, the king had them executed. So Judah went into captivity, away from her land.’ 2 Kings 25:18-21

Seraiah the chief priest, Zephaniah the priest and three doorkeepers, were taken into Babylonian captivity. In Jeremiah 41:16-18, we learn that a number of Jews, after the murder of Gedaliah, went to Egypt, but many of the captives were taken to Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar took all the people who were encouraging the rebellion against Babylon and killed them.

Jeremiah the prophet would have also been taken away, but Nebuchadnezzar ordered that he should be privileged and not restrained in any manner, Jeremiah 39:10-12 / Jeremiah 52:24-30.

The reason for the special treatment of Jeremiah is possibly because he actually prophesied that Babylon would conquer the city, 2 Chronicles 36:17-20 / Jeremiah 52:4-27 / Jeremiah 39:11-18.

‘Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon appointed Gedaliah son of Ahikam, the son of Shaphan, to be over the people he had left behind in Judah. When all the army officers and their men heard that the king of Babylon had appointed Gedaliah as governor, they came to Gedaliah at Mizpah—Ishmael son of Nethaniah, Johanan son of Kareah, Seraiah son of Tanhumeth the Netophathite, Jaazaniah the son of the Maakathite, and their men. Gedaliah took an oath to reassure them and their men. ‘Do not be afraid of the Babylonian officials,’ he said. ‘Settle down in the land and serve the king of Babylon, and it will go well with you.’ In the seventh month, however, Ishmael son of Nethaniah, the son of Elishama, who was of royal blood, came with ten men and assassinated Gedaliah and also the men of Judah and the Babylonians who were with him at Mizpah. At this, all the people from the least to the greatest, together with the army officers, fled to Egypt for fear of the Babylonians.’ 2 Kings 25:22-26

Nebuchadnezzar appointed Gedaliah to be over the people he left behind. The name Gedaliah means ‘Yahweh is great’ and he was a grandson of Shaphan, head of a prominent family in Judah.

Gedaliah was favoured by Nebuchadnezzar, possibly because his father had taken measures to spare Jeremiah when his life was threatened by those who were rebellious in Judah before the coming of the Babylonians, Jeremiah 38:24. They had supported the reforms of Josiah and were friendly and helpful to Jeremiah, Jeremiah 26:24.

The full story of the shameful treachery of Ishmael and his murder of Gedaliah is found in Jeremiah 40:7-9 / Jeremiah 41:1-3 / Jeremiah 41:16-18. The army officers were a part of Zedekiah’s army which had deserted him on the plains of Jericho and left him to mercy of Nebuchadnezzar.

Coffman, in his commentary says the following about Gedaliah.

‘Gedaliah was a man of honour and good sense, and Ishmael’s treacherous murder of this good man was probably due to two things.

1. His jealousy that Gedaliah had been appointed governor instead of himself, a member of the seed royal.

2. The ambition of the king of the Ammonites who, for his own selfish reasons, wished to destroy Gedaliah. Gedaliah had been warned of Ishmael’s enmity but unwisely refused to believe the warning.

Nebuchadnezzar had totally destroyed the city of Jerusalem and earlier he had already destroyed Lachish, Debir and Beth Shemesh. He did however spare some of the rural areas and left the people to continue farming.

The murderers then fled to Egypt, believing that Nebuchadnezzar would again come and take vengeance of those who killed his governor, Jeremiah 43:5-7.

Jehoiachin Released

‘In the thirty-seventh year of the exile of Jehoiachin king of Judah, in the year Awel-Marduk became king of Babylon, he released Jehoiachin king of Judah from prison. He did this on the twenty-seventh day of the twelfth month. He spoke kindly to him and gave him a seat of honour higher than those of the other kings who were with him in Babylon. So Jehoiachin put aside his prison clothes and for the rest of his life ate regularly at the king’s table. Day by day the king gave Jehoiachin a regular allowance as long as he lived.’ 2 Kings 25:27-30

Jehoiachin had been in prison for thirty-seven years but was released by Awel-Marduk the king of Babylon. He was given a seat of honour for being the king of Judah, and thus honoured in Babylon as such, Jeremiah 52:31-34.

This is one reason why Ezekiel focused his prophecies on the reign of Jehoiachin and not Zedekiah, Ezekiel 1:2. Zedekiah wasn’t considered a king of Judah simply because he was set up as king by a foreign power.

Awel-Marduk blessed Jehoiachin by allowing him to eat at his table, 1 Kings 2:7, and providing a daily allowance.

Although Judah had been destroyed and the Israelites were going to be in captivity for seventy years, 2 Kings 21:10-15 / 2 Kings 23:26-27 / 2 Kings 24:3-4 / 2 Kings 24:20, there is a glimmer of hope for Israel through Jehoiachin.

In a sense it was God who was still taking care of him at this time, 2 Samuel 7:14 / 2 Samuel 7:15, and the Messiah would eventually come through David’s descendants, Matthew 1:1-17.

DAILY BIBLE VERSE

"In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight."

Proverbs 3:6

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