Through the Bible Day by Day
Then the people of the land took Jehoahaz the son of Josiah, and made him king in his father's stead in Jerusalem.
AT THE MERCY OF THE FOE
The narrative here runs parallel with II Kings, but the events are described with a certain gravity of warning which enforces the lesson of history. Here was the final Catastrophe. Long predicted, at last it fell. The Jewish kings named here were mere puppets, and instead of turning to Jehovah, followed each other in persistent idolatry. Jehoahaz was deposed by Necho, who hoped for a more obsequious tool in his brother Jehoiakim; and the latter in his turn was deposed by Nebuchadnezzar, because he was Necho’s nominee. Jehoiachin was carried into captivity because he was the choice of the people, and Zedekiah because he rebelled. These are the superficial reasons for the changes that followed each other with such terrible rapidity. But the pages of Jeremiah and Ezekiel reveal other and deeper reasons, alluded to subsequently in this chapter.
It was a long process of pruning through which Israel had to pass, before this stock could bear that one pure flower, the mother of our Lord, who was to give the human side of His holy nature to the world.
Zedekiah was one and twenty years old when he began to reign, and reigned eleven years in Jerusalem.
DEFEAT AND EXILE
It is expressly stated in Eze_17:13 that Nebuchadnezzar administered to Zedekiah an oath of fealty in the presence of Jehovah. Hence by his rebellion, he not only broke his promise to the king of Babylon, but profaned the name of God. It is in reference to this profanation of his oath that Zedekiah is addressed in Eze_21:25, r.v., as “thou deadly wounded wicked one… whose day is come.”
It also appears from Eze_8:1 that toward the close of this reign idolatrous rites of various kinds intruded upon the sacred precincts of the Temple. Hebrew women bewailed Tammuz; elders burned incense to the forms of beasts portrayed on the walls; and men, turning their backs on the sanctuary, worshiped the sun. There was no remedy but exile.
It had been distinctly predicted that if the Hebrew people disobeyed, their land should become a desolation, and their cities a waste, until the soil had enjoyed the rest which they had failed to give it. Compare Lev_25:4 with 26:34, 35. There was a point beyond which the divine judgment would not go. God loved the people whom he chastened; and since He hates putting away, the recreant nation, at the instigation of Cyrus, had one further opportunity of fulfilling their great mission to mankind.