Jeremiah 39:6
Then the king of Babylon slew the sons of Zedekiah in Riblah before his eyes: also the king of Babylon slew all the nobles of Judah.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(6) The sons of Zedekiah.—The history of Eastern monarchies presents us with many examples of this refinement of cruelty, notably in the case of (Eobazus under Darius (Herod. Iv. 84), and Pythius under Xerxes (Herod, vii. 39). The slaughter of the “nobles” probably included most of those whom we have seen in Jeremiah 36:12, and elsewhere.

39:1-10 Jerusalem was so strong, that the inhabitants believed the enemy could never enter it. But sin provoked God to withdraw his protection, and then it was as weak as other cities. Zedekiah had his eyes put out; so he was condemned to darkness who had shut his eyes against the clear light of God's word. Those who will not believe God's words, will be convinced by the event. Observe the wonderful changes of Providence, how uncertain are earthly possessions; and see the just dealings of Providence: but whether the Lord makes men poor or rich, nothing will profit them while they cleave to their sins.Compare the marginal reference. The differences between the two accounts are slight. 6. slew … sons … before his eyes—previous to his eyes being "put out" (Jer 39:7); literally, "dug out." The Assyrian sculptures depict the delight with which the kings struck out, often with their own hands, the eyes of captive princes. This passage reconciles Jer 32:4, "his eyes shall behold his eyes"; with Eze 12:13, "he shall not see Babylon, though he shall die there."

slew all … nobles—(Jer 27:20).

Thus the stubbornness of this prince and his nobles proved the ruin of his family, and of themselves, and of the whole people. The nobles were great authors of this mischief, and brought Zedekiah into that obstinacy which he showed to the prophet’s admonitions and exhortations, upon them, therefore, a more exemplary punishment is taken. The Hebrew calls the nobles white men, either from their white garments, or from that candour of spirit which should be found in persons of their quality.

Then the king of Babylon slew the sons of Zedekiah in Riblah before his eyes,.... Not with his own hands, but gave orders to do it: these must be very young, at least some of them; since Zedekiah at this time was but thirty two years of age. This must be a dreadful spectacle for him to behold; and the consideration must be cutting, that it was owing to his own obstinacy in not taking the advice of the Prophet Jeremiah to surrender to the Chaldeans, whereby he and his family would have been saved, Jeremiah 38:17;

also the king of Babylon slew all the nobles of Judah; who did not come over to the Chaldean army and surrender themselves; such who advised the king to stand out to the last, and who fled, and were taken with him; as many of them as fell into the hands of the king of Babylon. Jarchi says those were the sanhedrim, who loosed Zedekiah from his oath to Nebuchadnezzar.

Then the king of Babylon slew the sons of Zedekiah in Riblah before his eyes: also the king of Babylon slew all the nobles of Judah.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Jeremiah 39:6In Jeremiah 39:4-7 are narrated the flight of Zedekiah, his capture, and his condemnation, like what we find in Jeremiah 52:7-11 and 2 Kings 25:4-7. "When Zedekiah the king of Judah and all the men of war saw them (the Chaldean generals who had taken up their position at the mid-gate), they fled by night out of the city, by the way of the king's garden, by a gate between the walls, and he went out by the way to the Arabah. Jeremiah 39:5. But the army of the Chaldeans pursued after them, and overtook Zedekiah in the steppes of Jericho, and captured him, and brought him to Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, to Riblah, in the land of Hamath; and he pronounced judgment on him." Hitzig and Graf consider that the connection of these events, made by כּאשׁר ראם, is awkward, and say that the king would not have waited till the Chaldean generals took up their position at the mid-gate, nor could he see these in the night-time; that, moreover, he would hardly have waited till the city was taken before he fled. These objections are utterly worthless. If the city of Zion, in which the royal palace stood, was separated from the lower city by a wall, then the king might still be quite at ease, with his men of war, in the upper city or city of Zion, so long as the enemy, who were pushing into the lower city from the north, remained at the separating wall, near the middle gate in it; and only when he saw that the city of Zion, too, could no longer be held, did he need to betake himself to flight with the men of war around him. In actual fact, then, he might have been able to see the Chaldean generals with his own eyes, although we need not press ראם so much as to extract this meaning from it. Even at this juncture, flight was still possible through the south gate, at the king's garden, between the two walls. Thenius, on 2 Kings 25:4, takes חמתים to mean a double wall, which at the southern end of Ophel closed up the ravine between Ophel and Zion. But a double wall must also have had two gates, and Thenius, indeed, has exhibited them in his plan of Jerusalem; but the text speaks of but one gate (שׁער). "The two walls" are rather the walls which ran along the eastern border of Zion and the western border of Ophel. The gate between these was situated in the wall which ran across the Tyropoean valley, and united the wall of Zion and that of Ophel; it was called the horse-gate (Nehemiah 3:28), and occupied the position of the modern "dung-gate" (Bab-el Moghribeh); see on Nehemiah 3:27-28. It was not the "gate of the fountain," as Thenius (Bcher der Kn. S. 456), Ngelsbach, and others imagine, founding on the supposed existence of the double wall at the south end of Ophel. Outside this gate, where the valley of the Tyropoeon joined with the valley of the Kidron, lay the king's garden, in the vicinity of the pool of Siloam; see on Nehemiah 3:15. The words 'ויּצא וגו introduce further details as to the king's flight. In spite of the preceding plurals ויּברחוּ , the sing. יצא is quite suitable here, since the narrator wishes to give further details with regard to the flight of the king alone, without bringing into consideration the warriors who fled along with him. Nor does the following אחריהם militate against this view; for the Chaldean warriors pursued the king and his followers, not to capture these followers, but the king. Escaped from the city, the king took the direction of the ערבה, the plain of the Jordan, in order to escape over Jordan to Gilead. But the pursuing enemy overtook him in the steppes of Jericho (see Comm. on Joshua on Joshua 4:13), and thus before he had crossed the Jordan; they led him, bound, to Riblah, before the king of Babylon. "Riblah in the land of Hamath" is still called Ribleh, a wretched village about 20 miles S.S.W. from Hums (Emesa) on the river el Ahsy (Orontes), in a large fertile plain in the northern portion of the Beka, on the great caravan-track which passes from Palestine through Damascus, Emesa, and Hamath to Thapsacus and Carchemish on the Euphrates; see Robinson's Bibl. Res. iii. 545, and on Comm. on Kings at 2 Kings 23:33. - On דּבּר משׁפּטים, to speak judgment, pronounce sentence of punishment, see on Jeremiah 1:16. Nebuchadnezzar caused the sons of Zedekiah and all the princes of Judah (חרים, nobles, lords, as in 27:30) to be slain before the eyes of the Jewish king; then he put out his eyes and bound him with brazen fetters, to carry him away to Babylon (לביא for להביא), where, according to Jeremiah 52:11, he remained in confinement till his death.
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