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Barnes' Notes on the Bible
1Then the people of the land took Jehoahaz the son of Josiah, and made him king in his father's stead in Jerusalem.
The narrative runs parallel with 2 Kings marginal reference) as far as 2 Chronicles 36:13. The writer then emits the events following, and substitutes a sketch in which the moral and didactic element preponderates over the historical.
2Jehoahaz was twenty and three years old when he began to reign, and he reigned three months in Jerusalem.
3And the king of Egypt put him down at Jerusalem, and condemned the land in an hundred talents of silver and a talent of gold.
4And 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.
5Jehoiakim 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.
6Against him came up Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and bound him in fetters, to carry him to Babylon.
7Nebuchadnezzar also carried of the vessels of the house of the LORD to Babylon, and put them in his temple at Babylon.
In his temple - Compare "the house of his god" Daniel 1:2. Nebuchadnezzars inscriptions show him to have been the special votary of Merodach, the Babylonian Mars. His temple, which the Greeks called the temple of Behus, was one of the most magnificent buildings in Babylon. Its ruins still remain in the vast mound, called Babil, which is the loftiest and most imposing of the "heaps" that mark the site of the ancient city.
8Now 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.
His abominations which he did - See Jeremiah 7:9, Jeremiah 7:30-31; Jeremiah 19:3-13; Jeremiah 25:1 etc.; Jehoiakim appears to have restored all the idolatries which Josiah his father had swept away.
9Jehoiachin 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.
Eight years old - Rather, eighteen (see the marginal reference). Jehoiachin had several wives and (apparently) at least one child Jeremiah 22:28, when, three months later, he was carried captive to Babylon.
10And 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.
When the year was expired - literally, as in the margin, i. e. at the return of the season for military expeditions. The expedition against Jehoiakim took place probably late in the autumn of one year, that against Jehoiachin early in the spring of the next.
Strictly speaking, Zedekiah was uncle to Jehoiachin, being the youngest of the sons of Josiah (marginal note and reference). He was nearly of the same age with Jehoiachin, and is called here his "brother" (compare Genesis 14:14).
11Zedekiah was one and twenty years old when he began to reign, and reigned eleven years in Jerusalem.
12And he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD his God, and humbled not himself before Jeremiah the prophet speaking from the mouth of the LORD.
On Zedekiah's character, see 2 Kings 24:19 note.
13And 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.
The oath of allegiance was taken when he was first installed in his kingdom. On Zedekiah's sin in breaking his oath, see Ezekiel 17:18-20; Ezekiel 21:25.
14Moreover 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.
Polluted the house of the Lord - Toward the close of Zedekiah's reign idolatrous rites of several different kinds were intruded into the sacred precincts of the temple (compare Ezekiel 8:10-16).
15And 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:
16But 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.
Misused his prophets - Rather, "scoffed at his prophets." The allusion is to verbal mockery, not to persecution.
17Therefore 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.
The fearful slaughter took place at the capture of the city, in the courts of the temple itself (Ezekiel 9:6-7; compare Lamentations 2:7, Lamentations 2:20).
18And 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.
19And 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.
20And them that had escaped from the sword carried he away to Babylon; where they were servants to him and his sons until the reign of the kingdom of Persia:
Servants - Or, "slaves." They were probably employed by Nebuchadnezzar in the forced labor which his great works necessitated.
His sons - The word probably includes all Nebuchadnezzars successors in the independent sovereignty of Babylon.
21To 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.
See the marginal references. The 70 years of desolation prophesied by Jeremiah, commenced in the fourth year of Jehoiakim (Jeremiah 25:1, Jeremiah 25:12; compare Daniel 1:1), or 605 B.C.; and should therefore have terminated, if they were fully complete, in 536 B.C. As, however, the historical date of the taking of Babylon by Cyrus is 538 B.C., or two years earlier, it has been usual to suppose that the Jews reckoned "the reign of the kingdom of Persia" as commencing two years after the capture of Babylon, on the death or supersession of "Darius the Mede." But the term "seventy" may be taken as a round number, and the prophecy as sufficiently fulfilled by a desolation which lasted 68 years.
Until the land had enjoyed her sabbaths - Between the time of Moses and the commencement of the captivity, there had been (about) 70 occasions on which the Law of the sabbatical year Leviticus 25:4-7 had been violated.
22Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the LORD spoken by the mouth of Jeremiah might be accomplished, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing, saying,
This and the next verse are repeated at the commencement of the book of Ezra Ezr 1:1-3, which was, it is probable, originally a continuation of Chronicles, Chronicles and Ezra together forming one work. See the introduction to Chronicles.
23Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, All the kingdoms of the earth hath the LORD God of heaven given me; and he hath charged me to build him an house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Who is there among you of all his people? The LORD his God be with him, and let him go up.