Keil and Delitzsch OT Commentary
And it came to pass in the ninth year of his reign, in the tenth month, in the tenth day of the month, that Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came, he, and all his host, against Jerusalem, and pitched against it; and they built forts against it round about.Siege and conquest of Jerusalem; Zedekiah taken prisoner and led away to Babel (cf. Jeremiah 52:4-11 and Jeremiah 39:1-7). - 2 Kings 25:1. In the ninth year of the reign of Zedekiah, on the tenth day of the tenth month, Nebuchadnezzar marched with all his forces against Jerusalem and commenced the siege (cf. Jeremiah 39:1), after he had taken all the rest of the fortified cities of the land, with the exception of Lachish and Azekah, which were besieged at the same time as Jerusalem (Jeremiah 34:7). On the very same day the commencement of the siege of Jerusalem was revealed to the prophet Ezekiel in his exile (Ezekiel 24:1). "And they built against it (the city) siege-towers round about." דּיק, which only occurs here and in Jeremiah (Jeremiah 52:4) and Ezekiel (Ezekiel 4:2; Ezekiel 17:17; Ezekiel 21:27; Ezekiel 26:8), does not mean either a line of circumvallation (J. D. Mich., Hitzig), or the outermost enclosure constructed of palisades (Thenius, whose assertion that דּיק is always mentioned as the first work of the besiegers is refuted by Ezekiel 17:17 and Ezekiel 21:27), but a watch, and that in a collective sense: watch-towers or siege-towers (cf. Ges. thes. p. 330, and Hvernick on Ezekiel 4:2).
And the city was besieged unto the eleventh year of king Zedekiah."And the city was besieged till the eleventh year of king Zedekiah," in which the northern wall of the city was broken through on the ninth day of the fourth month (2 Kings 25:3). That Jerusalem could sustain a siege of this duration, namely eighteen months, shows what the strength of the fortifications must have been. Moreover the siege was interrupted for a short time, when the approach of the Egyptian king Hophra compelled the Chaldaeans to march to meet him and drive him back, which they appear to have succeeded in doing without a battle (cf. Jeremiah 37:5., Ezekiel 17:7).
And on the ninth day of the fourth month the famine prevailed in the city, and there was no bread for the people of the land.Trusting partly to the help of the Egyptians and partly to the strength of Jerusalem, Zedekiah paid no attention to the repeated entreaties of Jeremiah, that he would save himself with his capital and people from the destruction which was otherwise inevitable, by submitting, to the Chaldaeans (cf. Jeremiah 38:17, Jeremiah 38:18), but allowed things to reach their worst, until the famine became so intense, that inhuman horrors were perpetrated (cf. Lamentations 2:20-21; Lamentations 4:9-10), and eventually a breach was made in the city wall on the ninth day of the fourth month. The statement of the month is omitted in our text, where the words הרביעי בּחרשׁ (Jeremiah 52:6, cf. Jeremiah 39:2) have fallen out before בּתשׁעה (2 Kings 25:3, commencement) through the oversight of a copyist. The overwhelming extent of the famine is mentioned, not "because the people were thereby rendered quite unfit to offer any further resistance" (Seb. Schm.), but as a proof of the truth of the prophetic announcements (Leviticus 26:29; Deuteronomy 28:53-57; Jeremiah 15:2; Jeremiah 27:13; Ezekiel 4:16-17). הארץ עם are the common people in Jerusalem, or the citizens of the capital. From the more minute account of the entrance of the enemy into the city in Jeremiah 39:3-5 we learn that the Chaldaeans made a breach in the northern or outer wall of the lower city, i.e., the second wall, built by Hezekiah and Manasseh (2 Chronicles 32:5; 2 Chronicles 33:14), and forced their way into the lower city (המּשׁנה, 2 Kings 22:14), so that their generals took their stand at the gate of the centre, which was in the wall that separated the lower city from the upper city upon Zion, and formed the passage from the one to the other. When Zedekiah saw them here, he fled by night with the soldiers out of the city, through the gate between the two walls at or above the king's garden, on the road to the plain of the Jordan, while the Chaldaeans were round about the city. In 2 Kings 25:4 a faulty text has come down to us. In the clause המּלחמה וכל־אנשׁי the verb יברחוּ is omitted, if not even more, namely העיר מן ויּצאוּ יברחוּ, "fled and went out of the city." And if we compare Jeremiah 39:4, it is evident that before הם וכל־אנשׁיstill more has dropped out, not merely המּלך, which must have stood in the text, since according to 2 Kings 25:5 the king was among the fugitives; but most probably the whole clause יהוּדה מלך צדקיּהוּ ראם כּאשׁר ויהי, since the words הם וכל־אנשׁי have no real connection with what precedes, and cannot form a circumstantial clause so far as the sense is concerned. The "gate between the two walls, which (was) at or over (על) the king's garden," was a gate at the mouth of the Tyropoeon, that is to say, at the south-eastern corner of the city of Zion; for, according to Nehemiah 3:15, the king's garden was at the pool of Siloah, i.e., at the mouth of the Tyropoeon (see Rob. Pal. ii. 142). By this defile, therefore, the approach to the city was barred by a double wall, the inner one running from Zion to the Ophel, whilst the outer one, at some distance off, connected the Zion wall with the outer surrounding wall of the Ophel, and most probably enclosed the king's garden. The subject to ויּלך is המּלך, which has dropped out before הם וכל־אנשׁי. הערבה is the lowland valley on both sides of the Jordan (see at Deuteronomy 1:1).
And the city was broken up, and all the men of war fled by night by the way of the gate between two walls, which is by the king's garden: (now the Chaldees were against the city round about:) and the king went the way toward the plain.
And the army of the Chaldees pursued after the king, and overtook him in the plains of Jericho: and all his army were scattered from him.As the Chaldaeans were encamped around the city, the flight was immediately discovered. The Chaldaean army pursued him, and overtook him in the steppes of Jericho, whilst his own army was dispersed, all of which Ezekiel had foreseen in the Spirit (Ezekiel 12:3.). ירחו ערבות are that portion of the plain of the Jordan which formed the country round Jericho (see at Joshua 4:13).
So they took the king, and brought him up to the king of Babylon to Riblah; and they gave judgment upon him.Zedekiah having been seized by the Chaldaeans, was taken to the king of Babel in the Chaldaean headquarters at Riblah (see at 2 Kings 23:33), and was there put upon his trial. According to 2 Kings 25:1, Nebuchadnezzar had commenced the siege of Jerusalem in person; but afterwards, possibly not till after the Egyptians who came to relieve the besieged city had been repulsed, he transferred the continuance of the siege, which was a prolonged one, to his generals, and retired to Riblah, to conduct the operations of the whole campaign from thence. את־פל משׁפּט דּבּר, to conduct judicial proceedings with any one, i.e., to hear and judge him. For this Jeremiah constantly uses the plural משׁפּטם, not only in Jeremiah 52:9 and Jeremiah 39:5, but also in Jeremiah 1:16 and Jeremiah 4:12.
And they slew the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes, and put out the eyes of Zedekiah, and bound him with fetters of brass, and carried him to Babylon.The punishment pronounced upon Zedekiah was the merited reward of the breach of his oath, and his hardening himself against the counsel of the Lord which was announced to him by Jeremiah during the siege, that he should save not only his own life, but also Jerusalem from destruction, by a voluntary submission to the Chaldaeans, whereas by obstinate resistance he would bring an ignominious destruction upon himself, his family, the city, and the whole people (Jeremiah 38:17., Jeremiah 32:5; Jeremiah 34:3.). His sons, who, though not mentioned in 2 Kings 25:4, had fled with him and had been taken, and (according to Jeremiah 52:10 and Jeremiah 39:6) all the nobles (princes) of Judah, sc. those who had fled with the king, were slain before his eyes. He himself was then blinded, and led away to Babel, chained with double chains of brass, and kept a prisoner there till his death (Jeremiah 52:11); so that, as Ezekiel (Ezekiel 12:13) had prophesied, he came to Babel, but did not see the land, and died there. Blinding by pricking out the eyes was a common punishment for princes among the Babylonians and Persians (cf. Herod. vii. 18, and Brisson, de region Pers. princip. p. 589). נחשׁתּים, double brazen chains, are brazen fetters for the hands and feet. Samson was treated in the same manner by the Philistines (Judges 16:21).
And in the fifth month, on the seventh day of the month, which is the nineteenth year of king Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, came Nebuzaradan, captain of the guard, a servant of the king of Babylon, unto Jerusalem:Destruction of Jerusalem and the temple. The people carried away to Babel (cf. Jeremiah 52:12-27, and Jeremiah 39:8-10). - In this section we have first a general account of the destruction of the temple and city (2 Kings 25:8-10), and of the carrying away of the people (2 Kings 25:11 and 2 Kings 25:12), and then a more particular description of what was done with the metal vessels of the temple (2 Kings 25:13-17), and how the spiritual and secular leaders of the people who had been taken prisoners were treated (2 Kings 25:18-21).
The destruction of Jerusalem, by the burning of the temple, of the king's palace, and of all the larger buildings, and by throwing down the walls, was effected by Nebuzaradan, the chief of the body-guard of Nebuchadnezzar, on the seventh day of the fifth month in the nineteenth year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar. Instead of the seventh day we have the tenth in Jeremiah 52:12. This difference might be reconciled, as proposed by earlier commentators, on the assumption that the burning of the city lasted several days, commencing on the seventh and ending on the tenth. But since there are similar differences met with afterwards (2 Kings 25:17, 2 Kings 25:19) in the statement of numbers, which can only be accounted for from the substitution of similar numeral letters, we must assume that there is a change of this kind here. Which of the two dates is the correct one it is impossible to determine. The circumstance that the later Jews kept the ninth as a fast-day cannot be regarded as decisive evidence in favour of the date given in Jeremiah, as Thenius supposes; for in Zechariah 7:3 and Zechariah 8:19 the fasting of the fifth month is mentioned, but no day is given; and though in the Talmudic times the ninth day of the month began to be kept as a fast-day, this was not merely in remembrance of the Chaldaean destruction of Jerusalem, but of the Roman also, and of three other calamities which had befallen the nation (see the statement of the Gemara on this subject in Lightfoot, Opp. ii. p. 139, ed. Leusden, and in Khler on Zechariah 7:3), from which we see that the Gemarists in the most unhistorical manner grouped together different calamitous events in one single day. The nineteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar corresponds to the eleventh of Zedekiah (see at 2 Kings 24:12). Nebuzaradan is not mentioned in Jeremiah 39:3 among the Chaldaean generals who forced their way into the city, so that he must have been ordered to Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar after the taking of the city and the condemnation of Zedekiah, to carry out the destruction of the city, the carrying away of the people, and the appointment of a deputy-governor over those who were left behind in the land. This explains in a very simple manner how a month could intervene between their forcing their way into the city, at all events into the lower city, and the burning of it to the ground, without there being any necessity to assume, with Thenius, that the city of Zion held out for a month, which is by no means probable, for the simple reason that the fighting men had fled with Zedekiah and had been scattered in their flight. רב־תבּחים equals הטּבּחים שׂר in Genesis 37:36; Genesis 39:1, was with the Babylonians, as with the Egyptians, the chief of the king's body-guard, whose duty it was to execute the sentences of death (see at Genesis 37:36). הטּבּחים answers to the הכּרתי of the Israelites (2 Samuel 8:18, etc.). In Jeremiah 52:12 we have מלך לפני עמד instead of מלך עבד, without the אשׁר, which is rarely omitted in prose, and בּירוּשׁלם instead of ירוּשׁלם: he came into Jerusalem, not he forced a way into the real Jerusalem (Thenius). The meaning is not altered by these two variations.
And he burnt the house of the LORD, and the king's house, and all the houses of Jerusalem, and every great man's house burnt he with fire.By the words, "every great house," יר כּל־בּתּי את is more minutely defined: not all the houses to the very last, but simply all the large houses he burned to the very last, together with the temple and the royal palaces. The victors used one portion of the dwelling-houses for their stay in Jerusalem. He then had all the walls of the city destroyed. In Jeremiah כּל is omitted before חומת, as not being required for the sense; and also the את before טבּחים רב, which is indispensable to the sense, and has fallen out through a copyist's oversight.
And all the army of the Chaldees, that were with the captain of the guard, brake down the walls of Jerusalem round about.
Now the rest of the people that were left in the city, and the fugitives that fell away to the king of Babylon, with the remnant of the multitude, did Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard carry away.The rest of the people he led away, both those who had been left behind in the city and the deserters who had gone over to the Chaldaeans, and the remnant of the multitude. ההמון יתר, for which we have האמון יתר in Jeremiah 52:15, has been interpreted in various ways. As אמון signifies an artist or artificer in Proverbs 8:30, and העם יתר has just preceded it, we might be disposed to give the preference to the reading האמון, as Hitzig and Graf have done, and understand by it the remnant of the artisans, who were called והמּסגּר החרשׁ in 2 Kings 24:14, 2 Kings 24:16. But this view is precluded by Jeremiah 39:9, where we find הנּשׁארים העם יתר instead of האמון יתר or ההמון .י These words cannot be set aside by the arbitrary assumption that they crept into the text through a copyist's error; for the assertion that they contain a purposeless repetition is a piece of dogmatical criticism, inasmuch as there is a distinction drawn in Jeremiah 39:9 between בּעיר הנּשׁארים העם יתר העם הןּ and הנּשׁארים העם יתר. Consequently האמון is simply another form for ההמון (ה and א being interchanged) in the sense of a mass of people, and we have simply the choice left between two interpretations. Either בּעיר הנּשׁארים העם יתר means the fighting people left in the city, as distinguished from the deserters who had fled to the Chaldaeans, and האמון equals ההמון יתר in Jeremiah 52:15, or הנּשׁארים העם יתר in Jeremiah 39:9, the rest of the inhabitants of Jerusalem; or בּעיר הנּשׁ העם יתר is the people left in Jerusalem (warriors and non-warriors), and ההמון יתר the rest of the population of the land outside Jerusalem. The latter is probably the preferable view, not only because full justice is thereby done to בּעיר in the first clause, but also because it is evident from the exception mentioned in 2 Kings 25:12 that the deportation was not confined to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, but extended to the population of the whole land. The "poor people," whom he allowed to remain in the land as vine-dressers and husbandmen, were the common people, or people without property, not merely in Jerusalem, but throughout the whole land. הארץ דּלּת equals עם־הארץ דּלּת (2 Kings 24:14). Instead of מדּלּת we have in Jeremiah מדּלּות: the plural used in an abstract sense, "the poverty," i.e., the lower people, "the poor who had nothing" (Jeremiah 39:10). Instead of the Chethb לגבים from גּוּב, secuit, aravit, the Keri has ליגבים from יגב, in the same sense, after Jeremiah 52:16.
But the captain of the guard left of the poor of the land to be vinedressers and husbandmen.
And 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, did the Chaldees break in pieces, and carried the brass of them to Babylon.The brazen vessels of the temple were broken in pieces, and the brass, and smaller vessels of brass, silver, and gold, were carried away. Compare Jeremiah 52:17-23, where several other points are mentioned that have been passed over in the account before us. The pillars of brass (see 1 Kings 7:15.), the stands (see 1 Kings 7:27.), and the brazen sea (1 Kings 7:23.), were broken in pieces, because it would have been difficult to carry these colossal things away without breaking them up. On the smaller vessels used in the worship (2 Kings 25:14) see 1 Kings 7:40. In Jeremiah 52:18 המּזרקת are also mentioned. 2 Kings 25:15 is abridged still more in contrast with Jeremiah 52:19, and only המּחתּות and המּזרקות are mentioned, whereas in Jeremiah six different things are enumerated beside the candlesticks. כּסף...זהב אשׁר, "what was of gold, gold, what was of silver, silver, the captain of the guard took away," is a comprehensive description of the objects carried away. To this there is appended a remark in 2 Kings 25:16 concerning the quantity of the brass of the large vessels, which was so great that it could not be weighed; and in 2 Kings 25:17 a supplementary notice respecting the artistic work of the two pillars of brass. וגו העמּוּדים is placed at the head absolutely: as for the pillars, etc., the brass of all these vessels was not to be weighed. In Jeremiah 52:20, along with the brazen sea, the twelve brazen oxen under it are mentioned; and in the description of the pillars of brass (Jeremiah 52:21.) there are several points alluded to which are omitted in our books, not only here, but also in 1 Kings 7:16. For the fact itself see the explanation given there. The omission of the twelve oxen in so condensed an account as that contained in our text does not warrant the inference that these words in Jeremiah are a spurious addition made by a later copyist, since the assumption that Ahaz sent the brazen oxen to king Tiglath-pileser cannot be proved from 2 Kings 16:17. Instead of אמּה שׁלשׁ we must read אמּת המשׁ, five cubits, according to Jeremiah 52:22 and 1 Kings 7:16. The על־השּׂבכה at the end of the verse is very striking, since it stands quite alone, and when connected with וגו וכאלּה does not appear to yield any appropriate sense, as the second pillar was like the first not merely with regard to the trellis-work, but in its form and size throughout. At the same time, it is possible that the historian intended to give especial prominence to the similarity of the two pillars with reference to this one point alone.
And the pots, and the shovels, and the snuffers, and the spoons, and all the vessels of brass wherewith they ministered, took they away.
And the firepans, and the bowls, and such things as were of gold, in gold, and of silver, in silver, the captain of the guard took away.
The two pillars, one sea, and the bases which Solomon had made for the house of the LORD; the brass of all these vessels was without weight.
The height of the one pillar was eighteen cubits, and the chapiter upon it was brass: and the height of the chapiter three cubits; and the wreathen work, and pomegranates upon the chapiter round about, all of brass: and like unto these had the second pillar with wreathen work.
And the captain of the guard took Seraiah the chief priest, and Zephaniah the second priest, and the three keepers of the door:(cf. Jeremiah 52:24-27). The principal officers of the temple and city, and sixty men of the population of the land, who were taken at the destruction of Jerusalem, Nebuzaradan sent to his king at Riblah, where they were put to death. Seraiah, the high priest, is the grandfather or great-grandfather of Ezra the scribe (Ezra 7:1; 1 Chronicles 6:14). Zephaniah, a priest of the second rank (משׁנה כּהן; in Jer. המּשׁנה כּהן: see at 2 Kings 23:4), is probably the same person as the son of Maaseiah, who took a prominent place among the priests, according to Jeremiah 21:1; Jeremiah 29:25., and Jeremiah 37:3. The "three keepers of the threshold" are probably the three superintendents of the Levites, whose duty it was to keep guard over the temple, and therefore were among the principal officers of the sanctuary.
And out of the city he took an officer that was set over the men of war, and five men of them that were in the king's presence, which were found in the city, and the principal scribe of the host, which mustered the people of the land, and threescore men of the people of the land that were found in the city:From the city, i.e., from the civil authorities of the city, Nebuzaradan took a king's chamberlain (סריס), who was commander of the men of war. Instead of פקיד הוּא אשׁר we find in Jeremiah 52:25 /היה אשׁר, who had been commander, with an allusion to the fact that his official function had terminated when the city was conquered. "And five (according to Jeremiah seven) men of those who saw the king's face," i.e., who belonged to the king's immediate circle, de intimis consiliariis regis, and "the scribe of the commander-in-chief, who raised the people of the land for military service," or who enrolled them. Although הסּפר has the article, which is omitted in Jeremiah, the following words הצּבא שׂר are governed by it, or connected with it in the construct state (Ewald, 290 d.). הצּבא שׂר is the commander-in-chief of the whole of the military forces, and וגו המּצבּא a more precise definition of הסּפר, and not of הצּבא שׂר, which needed no such definition. "And sixty men of the land-population who were found in the city." They were probably some of the prominent men of the rural districts, or they may have taken a leading part in the defence of the city, and therefore were executed in Riblah, and not merely deported with the rest of the people. - The account of the destruction of the kingdom of Judah closes with יהוּדה ויּגּל in 2 Kings 25:21, "thus was Judah carried away out of its own land;" and in 2 Kings 25:22-26 there follows merely a brief notice of those who had been left behind in the land, in the place of which we find in Jeremiah 52:28-30 a detailed account of the number of those who were carried away.
And Nebuzaradan captain of the guard took these, and brought them to the king of Babylon to Riblah:
And the king of Babylon smote them, and slew them at Riblah in the land of Hamath. So Judah was carried away out of their land.
And as for the people that remained in the land of Judah, whom Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had left, even over them he made Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, the son of Shaphan, ruler.Installation of Gedaliah the governor. His assassination, and the flight of the people to Egypt. - Much fuller accounts have been handed down to us in Jeremiah 40-44 of the events which are but briefly indicated here.
Over the remnant of the people left in the land Nebuchadnezzar placed Gedaliah as governor of the land, who took up his abode in Mizpah. Gedaliah, the son of Ahikam, who had interested himself on behalf of the prophet Jeremiah and saved his life (Jeremiah 26:24), and the grandson of Shaphan, a man of whom nothing more is known (see at 2 Kings 22:12), had his home in Jerusalem, and, as we may infer from his attitude towards Jeremiah, had probably secured the confidence of the Chaldaeans at the siege and conquest of Jerusalem by his upright conduct, and by what he did to induce the people to submit to the judgment inflicted by God; so that Nebuchadnezzar entrusted him with the oversight of those who were left behind in the land-men, women, children, poor people, and even a few princesses and court-officials, whom they had not thought it necessary or worth while to carry away (Jeremiah 40:7; Jeremiah 41:10, Jeremiah 41:16), i.e., he made him governor of the conquered land. Mizpah is the present Nebi Samwil, two hours to the north-west of Jerusalem (see at Joshua 18:26). - On hearing of Gedaliah's appointment as governor, there came to him "all the captains of the several divisions of the army and their men," i.e., those portions of the army which had been scattered at the flight of the king (2 Kings 25:5), and which had escaped from the Chaldaeans, and, as it is expressed in Jeremiah 40:7, had dispersed themselves "in the field," i.e., about the land. Instead of והאנשׁים we have in Jeremiah 40:7 the clearer expression ואנשׁיהם, "and their men," whilst והאנשׁים in our text receives its more precise definition from the previous word החילים. Of the military commanders the following are mentioned by name: Ishmael, etc. (the ו eht( .cte ,l before ישׁמעאל, is explic., "and indeed Ishmael"). Ishmael, son of Mattaniah and grandson of Elishama, probably of the king's secretary mentioned in Jeremiah 36:12 and Jeremiah 36:20, of royal blood. Nothing further is known about the other names. We simply learn from Jeremiah 40:13. that Johanan had warned Gedaliah against the treachery of Ishmael, and that when Gedaliah was slain by Ishmael, having disregarded the warning, he put himself at the head of the people and marched with them to Egypt, notwithstanding the dissuasions of Jeremiah (Jeremiah 41:15.). Instead of "Johanan the son of Kareah," we have in Jeremiah 40:8 "Johanan and Jonathan the sons of Kareah;" but it is uncertain whether ויונתן has crept into the text of Jeremiah from the previous יהוחנן merely through a mistake, and this mistake has brought with it the alteration of בּן into בּני (Ewald), or whether ויונתן has dropped out of our text through an oversight, and this omission has occasioned the alteration of בני into בן (Thenius, Graf, etc.). The former supposition is favoured by the circumstance that in Jeremiah 40:13; Jeremiah 41:11, Jeremiah 41:16, Johanan the son of Kareah alone is mentioned. In Jeremiah 40:8 עופי וּבני (Chethb עיפי) stands before הנּטפתי, according to which it was not Seraiah who sprang from Netophah, but Ophai whose sons were military commanders. He was called Netophathite because he sprang from Netopha in the neighbourhood of Bethlehem (Nehemiah 7:26; Ezra 2:22), the identity of which with Beit Nettif is by no means probable (see at 2 Samuel 23:28). The name יאזביהוּ is written יזניהוּ in Jeremiah; he was the son of the Maachathite, i.e., his father sprang from the Syrian district of Maacah in the neighbourhood of the Hermon (see at Deuteronomy 3:14).
And when all the captains of the armies, they and their men, heard that the king of Babylon had made Gedaliah governor, there came to Gedaliah to Mizpah, even Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, and Johanan the son of Careah, and Seraiah the son of Tanhumeth the Netophathite, and Jaazaniah the son of a Maachathite, they and their men.
And Gedaliah sware to them, and to their men, and said unto them, Fear not to be the servants of the Chaldees: dwell in the land, and serve the king of Babylon; and it shall be well with you.As these men were afraid of the vengeance of the Chaldaeans because they had fought against them, Gedaliah assured them on oath that they had nothing to fear from them if they would dwell peaceably in the land, be submissive to the king of Babel, and cultivate the land (cf. Jeremiah 40:9 and Jeremiah 40:10). "Servants of the Chaldees" are Chaldaean officials who were subordinate to the governor Gedaliah.
But it came to pass in the seventh month, that Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, the son of Elishama, of the seed royal, came, and ten men with him, and smote Gedaliah, that he died, and the Jews and the Chaldees that were with him at Mizpah.In the seventh month, i.e., hardly two months after the destruction of Jerusalem, came Ishmael with ten men to Gedaliah at Mizpah, and murdered him together with the Jews and Chaldaeans, whom he had with him as soldiers to do his bidding and for his protection. This occurred, according to Jeremiah 41:1., when Gedaliah had received them hospitably and had invited them to eat with him. Ishmael was instigated to commit this murder by the Ammonitish king Baalis, and Gedaliah had previously been made acquainted with the intended crime and put upon his guard by Johanan, but had put no faith in the information (Jeremiah 40:13-16).
And all the people, both small and great, and the captains of the armies, arose, and came to Egypt: for they were afraid of the Chaldees.After Ishmael had performed this deed, and had also treacherously murdered a number of men, who had come to the temple with a sacrifice from Shechem, Shiloh, and Samaria, he took the Jews who were at Mizpah prisoners, with some kings' daughters among them, intending to take them over to the Ammonites; but as soon as his deed became known, he was pursued by Johanan and the rest of the military chiefs and was overtaken at Gibeon, whereupon those who had been led away by him went over to Johanan, so that he was only able to make his escape with eight men and get away to the Ammonites (Jeremiah 41:4-15). Johanan then went with the rest of the military commanders and the people whom he had brought back into the neighbourhood of Bethlehem, with the intention of fleeing to Egypt for fear of the Chaldaeans. There they did indeed have recourse to the prophet Jeremiah, to inquire of him the word of the Lord; but they did not allow themselves to be diverted from their intention by the word of the Lord which he announced to them, that if they remained in the land they need not fear anything from the king of Babel, but if they went to Egypt they should all perish there with sword, hunger, and pestilence, or by the prediction that the Lord would also deliver Pharaoh Hophra into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar (Jeremiah 42). They went to Egypt notwithstanding, taking the prophet himself with them, and settled in different cities of Egypt, where they gave themselves up to idolatry, and did not suffer themselves to be drawn away from it even by the severe judgments which the prophet Jeremiah predicted as sure to fall upon them (Jeremiah 43:1-13 and 44). In the verse before us we have simply a brief allusion to the eventual result of the whole affair. "Because they were afraid of the Chaldaeans," namely, that they might possibly take vengeance upon them for the murder of the governor.
And it came to pass in the seven and thirtieth year of the captivity of Jehoiachin king of Judah, in the twelfth month, on the seven and twentieth day of the month, that Evilmerodach king of Babylon in the year that he began to reign did lift up the head of Jehoiachin king of Judah out of prison;Jehoiachin delivered from prison, and exalted to royal honours (cf. Jeremiah 42:31-34). - In the thirty-seventh year after his deportation Jehoiachin was taken out of prison by Evil-merodach when he came to the throne. מלכו בּשׁנת, in the year of his becoming king, probably immediately after he had ascended the throne, for it was no doubt an act of grace at the commencement of his reign. את־ראשׁ נשׂא, to lift up a persons' head, i.e., to release him from prison and exalt him to civil honours and dignities (cf. Genesis 40:13). On the coincidence of the thirty-seventh year of Jehoiachin's imprisonment and the commencement of the reign of Evil-merodach see the remarks at 2 Kings 24:12. Instead of the 27th day of the month, the 25th is given in Jeremiah, again through the substitution of similar numeral letters (see at 2 Kings 25:8). Evil-merodach: מרדך אויל, Εὔιαλ Μαρώδαχ or Εὐιαλμαρωδέκ (lxx); Ἰλλοαροόδαμος, possibly a copyist's error for Ἰλμαροόδακος, in the Can. Ptol., and in other forms also: see M. v. Nieb. Gesch. Ass. p. 42, and Ges. thes. p. 41; compounded from the name of the Babylonian god Merodach (see at 2 Kings 20:12) and the prefix Evil, which has not yet been explained with certainty. He reigned two years, according to Berosus in Jos. c. Ap. i. 20, and the Can Ptol.; and according to the verdict of Berosus, προστὰς τῶν πραγμάτων ἀνόμως καὶ ἀσελγῶς; and was murdered by his brother-in-law Neriglissor. The statement in Jos. Ant. x. 11, 2, to the effect that he reigned eighteen years, and that of Alex. Polyh. in Euseb. Chr. arm. i. p. 45, that he reigned twelve years, are evidently false.
And he spake kindly to him, and set his throne above the throne of the kings that were with him in Babylon;"He spake kindly to him (cf. Jeremiah 12:6), and set his throne above the throne of the kings who were with him in Babel." This is not to be understood literally, as signifying that he assigned him a loftier throne than the other kings (Hitzig, Thenius), but figuratively: loco honestiore eum habuit (Ros.). The "kings with him" were dethroned kings, who were kept at the court like Jehoiachin to add to its splendour, just as Cyrus kept the conquered Croesus by his side (Herod. i.88).
And changed his prison garments: and he did eat bread continually before him all the days of his life."And he (Jehoiachin) changed his prison garments," i.e., took them off and put other regal clothing on (cf. Genesis 41:42). "And ate continually before him all his life," i.e., ate at the king's table (cf. 2 Samuel 9:7). Moreover a daily ration of food was supplied to him by the king for the maintenance of his retainers, who formed his little court. The חיּיו כּל־ימי of 2 Kings 25:30, upon which Thenius throws suspicion without any reason, refers to Jehoiachin like that in 2 Kings 25:29; for the historian intended to show how Jehoiachin had fared from the day of his elevation to the end of his life. At the same time, we cannot infer from this with any certainty that Jehoiachin died before Evil-merodach; for the favour shown to him might be continued by Evil-merodach's successor. We cannot make any safe conjecture as to the motives which induced Evil-merodach to pardon Jehoiachin and confer this distinction upon him. The higher ground of this joyful termination of his imprisonment lay in the gracious decree of God, that the seed of David, though severely chastised for its apostasy from the Lord, should not be utterly rejected (2 Samuel 7:14-15). At the same time, this event was also intended as a comforting sign to the whole of the captive people, that the Lord would one day put an end to their banishment, if they would acknowledge that it was a well-merited punishment for this sins that they had been driven away from before His face, and would turn again to the Lord their God with all their heart.
And his allowance was a continual allowance given him of the king, a daily rate for every day, all the days of his life.