For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
Romans 15:4



A Bible Study - Commentary by Jim Melough

Copyright 2003 James Melough

52:1.  “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.”


Zedekaih was the last king of Judah, his youth and inexperience probably accounting in part at least for his folly which brought disaster upon himself and the nation.


There is no readily apparent reason for the giving of his mother’s name, nor does the meaning of her name father-in-law of dew, shed any light on the matter.  The “Jeremiah of Libnah” of course, is not Jeremiah the prophet.


52:2.  “And he did that which was evil in the eyes of the Lord, according to all that Jehoiakim had done.”


Jehoiakim, a son of Josiah, was the name given Eliakim as a mark of vassalage by the Egyptian king Pharaoh Necho II, a detailed account of his (Jehoiakim’s) activity being recorded in 2 Ki 23-24 and 2 Chr 36.


52:3.  “For through the anger of the Lord it came to pass in Jerusalem and Judah, till he had cst them out from his presence, that Zedekiah rebelled against the king of Babylon.”


This may mean that God ceased to restrain Zedekiah from rebellion against Babylon, or that He actively moved him to rebel, neither of these implying His predestination of the king’s activity.  The truth is that God may order circumstances to accomplish His Own perfect designs without over riding man’s freedom of choice, but by His omniscience foreknowing the choices man will make in response to circumstances.  So was it here.  He foreknew that with His protecting restraint removed, Zedekiah would of his own free will choose to rebel against king Nebuchadnezzar, and in doing so choose his own and Judah’s destruction.


Man seals his own doom when he resists the striving of the Holy Spirit to the point where God causes that preserving activity to cease, as it is written, “My spirit shall not always strive with man,” Ge 6:3, and again, “He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy,” Pr 29:1.


52:4.  “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.”


The reign referred to here was that of Zedekiah, not of Nebuchadnezzar; and the “forts” were wooden towers from which the attackers could look into the besieged city, and harass the inhabitants with missiles.


52:5.  “So the city was besieged unto the eleventh year of king Zedekiah.”


The city was besieged for over two years.


52:6.  “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.”


With all their food gone the people in the city faced death by starvation.


52:7.  “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.”


“... the city was broken up” is taken by some to mean that the people in the city broke a hole in the wall, through which they fled across the plain in the direction of Jericho.  No explanation is given as to how they were able to cross the lines of the encircling Babylonians.  It may have been that the besiegers, not anticipating such a flight, hadn’t bothered to maintain a strict watch.  Others understand it to mean that the Babylonians had succeeded in entering the city.


52:8.  “But the army of the Chaldeans pursued after the king, and overtook Zekediah in the plains of Jericho; and all his army was scattered from him.”


This pursuit probably took place in the morning when daylight revealed the hole in the wall.  The fugitives were quickly overtaken while Zedekiah’s soldiers deserted, each man seeking to save his own life.


52:9.  “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.”


This Riblah is probably the town located a few miles east of the northern end of the Sea of Galilee where the Babylonians may have set up their field headquarters.


“... gave judgment upon him” means that Nebuchadnezzar went through at least the motions of giving Zedekiah a trial.


52:10.  “And the king of Babylon slew the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes: he slew also all the princes of Judah in Riblah.”


52:11.  “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.”


The meaning of these verses is so clear as to need no explanation.


52:12.  “Now in the fifth month, in the tenth day of the month, which was the nineteenth year of Nebuchadressar king of Babylon, came Nebuzaradan, captain of the guard, which served the king of Babylon, into Jerusalem,”


According to 2 Ki 25:8 Nebuzaradan arrived in the city on the seventh day of the fifth month, the apparent discrepancy being explained by the fact that he probably arrived in the city on the seventh day, but didn’t begin its destruction util the tenth day.


52:13.  “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:”


Just a month after the evacuation of the city described in verse 7, Nebuzaradan, captain of Nebuchadnezzar’s bodyguard, or chief of the royal executioners, arrived to organize the complete destruction of Jerusalem, which included the burning of all the principal buildings of the city.


52:14.  “And all the army of the Chaldeans, that were with the captain of the guard, brake down all the walls of Jerusalem round about.”


The burning was followed by the demolition of the city walls.


52:15.  “Then Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard carried away captive certain of the poor of the people (of the city), 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.”


52:16.  “But Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard left certain of the poor of the land for vinedressers and for husbandmen.”


With the exception of some of the poor who were left as vinedressers and laborers, all the rest of the people were taken captive to Babylon.


52:17.  “Also the pillars of brass that were in the house of the Lord, and the bases, and the brazen sea (the Laver) that was in the house of the Lord, the Chaldeans, brake, and carried all the brass of them to Babylon”


52:18.  “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.”


52:19.  “And basons, and the fire-pans, 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.”


“... that which was of gold in gold, and that which was of silver in silver” is understood by some to mean that the gold and silver vessels were melted down and removed, not as individual vessels, but as lumps of each precious metal.  Others understand it to mean that the gold vessels were of solid gold, and the silver, of solid silver respectively


52:20.  “The two pillars, one sea (the Laver), and twelve brazen 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.”


The twelve brazen bulls were those upon whose backs the Laver rested, the total amount of brass being so great that no attempt was made to weigh it.


52:21.  “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.”


The pillars were hollow, each 27 feet high, 18 feet in circumference, and 3 inches thick.


52:22.  “And the chapiter (capital) of brass was upon it; and the height of one chapiter was five cubits (71/2 feet), with network and pomegranates upon the chapiters round about, all of brass.  The second pillar also and the pomegranates were like unto these.”


52:23.  “And there were ninety and six pomegranates on a side; and all the pomegranates upon the network were an hundred round about.”


Taylor translates verse 23, “There were 96 pomegranates on the sides, and on the network round about there were 100 more.”


It is generally believed that this detailed record of the Temple furniture carried to Babylon was preserved to vindicate Jeremiah’s words, and to refute those of the false prophet Hananiah who had predicted that what had already been taken would be returned again within two years, see 28:3.


52:24.  “And the captain of the guard took Seriah the chief priest, and Zephaniah the second priest, and the three keepers of the door:”


52:25.  “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.”


52:26.  “So Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard took them and brought them to the king of Babylon in Riblah.”


52:27.  “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.”


52:28.  “This is the people whom Nebuchadrezzar carried away captive: in the seventh year three thousand Jews and three and twenty.”


52:29.  “In the eighteenth year of Nebuchadrezzar he carried away captive from Jerusalem eight hundred thirty and two persons:”


52:30.  “In the three and twentieth year of Nebuchadrezzar Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard carried away captive of theJews seven hundred forty and five persons: all the persons were four thousand and six hundred.”


This concludes the record of those additional Jews who were carried captive to Babylon in the years following the initial mass deportation of the people of Jerusalem and Judah.


52:31.  “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 Evil-merodach 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.” 


Evil-merodach was the son of Nebuchadnezzar.


52:32.  “And spake kindly unto him, and set his throne above the throne of the kings that wre with him in Babylon,”


52:33.  “And changed his prison garments; and he did continually eat bread before him all the days of his life.”


52:34.  “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.”


This release of Jehoiachin is generally taken to be an encourgement to the people to believe that just as the foretold threatened judgments had come, so would also the foretold future restoration and blessings.

[The End]


     Scripture portions taken from the Holy Bible, King James Version
© 2000-2005 James Melough