2 Chronicles 36
We have here,
I. A short but sad account of the utter ruin of Judah and Jerusalem
within a few years after Josiah's death.
1. The history of it in the unhappy reigns of Jehoahaz for three months
(2 Chronicles 36:1-4),
(2 Chronicles 36:5-8)
for eleven years, Jehoiach in three months
(2 Chronicles 36:9,10),
and Zedekiah eleven years,
2 Chronicles 36:11.
Additions were made to the national guilt, and advances towards the
national destruction, in each of those reigns. The destruction was, at
length, completed in the slaughter of multitudes
(2 Chronicles 36:17),
the plundering and burning of the temple and all the palaces, the
desolation of the city
(2 Chronicles 36:18,19),
and the captivity of the people that remained,
2 Chronicles 36:20.
2. Some remarks upon it--that herein sin was punished, Zedekiah's
(2 Chronicles 36:12,13),
the idolatry the people were guilty of
(2 Chronicles 36:14),
and their abuse of God's prophets,
2 Chronicles 36:15,16.
The word of God was herein fulfilled,
2 Chronicles 36:21.
II. The dawning of the day of their deliverance in Cyrus's
2 Chronicles 36:22,23.
|The Destruction of Jerusalem.
||B. C. 588.|
1 Then the people of the land took Jehoahaz the son of Josiah,
and made him king in his father's stead in Jerusalem.
2 Jehoahaz was twenty and three years old when he began to
reign, and he reigned three months in Jerusalem.
3 And the king of Egypt put him down at Jerusalem, and
condemned the land in a hundred talents of silver and a talent
4 And 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.
5 Jehoiakim 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.
6 Against him came up Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and bound
him in fetters, to carry him to Babylon.
7 Nebuchadnezzar also carried of the vessels of the house of
the LORD to Babylon, and put them in his temple at Babylon.
8 Now 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.
9 Jehoiachin 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.
10 And 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
The destruction of Judah and Jerusalem is here coming on by degrees.
God so ordered it to show that he has no pleasure in the ruin of
sinners, but had rather they would turn and live, and therefore gives
them both time and inducement to repent and waits to be gracious. The
history of these reigns was more largely recorded in the last three
chapters of the second of Kings.
1. Jehoahaz was set up by the people
(2 Chronicles 36:1),
but in one quarter of a year was deposed by Pharaoh-necho, and carried
a prisoner to Egypt, and the land fined for setting him up,
2 Chronicles 36:2-4.
Of this young prince we hear no more. Had he trodden in the steps of
his father's piety he might have reigned long and prospered; but we are
told in the Kings that he did evil in the sight of the
Lord, and therefore his triumphing was short and his joy but for a
2. Jehoiakim was set up by the king of Egypt, an old enemy to their
land, gave what king he pleased to the kingdom and what name he pleased
to the king!
2 Chronicles 36:4.
He made Eliakim king, and called him Jehoiakim, in token of his
authority over him. Jehoiakim did that which was evil
(2 Chronicles 36:5),
nay, we read of the abominations which he did
(2 Chronicles 36:8);
he was very wild and wicked. Idolatries generally go under the name of
abominations. We hear no more of the king of Egypt, but the king of
Babylon came up against him
(2 Chronicles 36:6),
seized him, and bound him with a design to carry him to Babylon; but,
it seems, he either changed his mind, and suffered him to reign as his
vassal, or death released the prisoner before he was carried away.
However the best and most valuable vessels of the temple were now
carried away and made use of in Nebuchadnezzar's temple in Babylon
(2 Chronicles 36:7);
for, we may suppose, no temple in the world was so richly furnished as
that of Jerusalem. The sin of Judah was that they had brought the idols
of the heathen into God's temple; and now their punishment was that the
vessels of the temple were carried away to the service of the gods of
the nations. If men will profane God's institutions by their sins, it
is just with God to suffer them to be profaned by their enemies. These
were the vessels which the false prophets flattered the people with
hopes of the return of,
But Jeremiah told them that the rest should go after them
and they did so. But, as the carrying away of these vessels to Babylon
began the calamity of Jerusalem, so Belshazzar's daring profanation of
them there filled the measure of the iniquity of Babylon; for, when he
drank wine in them to the honour of his gods, the handwriting on the
wall presented him with his doom,
&c. In the reference to the book of the Kings concerning this
Jehoiakim mention is made of that which was found in him
(2 Chronicles 36:8),
which seems to be meant of the treachery that was found in him towards
the king of Babylon; but some of the Jewish writers understand it of
certain private marks or signatures found in his dead body, in honour
of his idol, such cuttings as God had forbidden,
3. Jehoiachin, or Jeconiah, the son of Jehoiakim, attempted to reign
in his stead, and reigned long enough to show his evil inclination;
but, after three months and ten days, the king of Babylon sent and
fetched him away captive, with more of the goodly vessels of the
temple. He is here said to be eight years old, but in Kings he
is said to be eighteen when he began to reign, so that this seems to be
a mistake of the transcriber, unless we suppose that his father took
him at eight years old to join with him in the government, as some
11 Zedekiah was one and twenty years old when he began to
reign, and reigned eleven years in Jerusalem.
12 And 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.
13 And 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.
14 Moreover 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
15 And 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:
16 But 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.
17 Therefore 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
18 And 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.
19 And 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.
20 And 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:
21 To 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.
We have here an account of the destruction of the kingdom of Judah and
the city of Jerusalem by the Chaldeans. Abraham, God's friend, was
called out of that country, from Ur of the Chaldees, when God took him
into covenant and communion with himself; and now his degenerate seed
were carried into that country again, to signify that they had
forfeited all that kindness wherewith they had been regarded for the
father's sake, and the benefit of that covenant into which he was
called; all was now undone again. Here we have,
I. The sins that brought this desolation.
1. Zedekiah, the king in whose days it came, brought it upon himself by
his own folly; for he conducted himself very ill both towards God and
towards the king of Babylon.
(1.) If he had but made God his friend, that would have prevented the
ruin. Jeremiah brought him messages from God, which, if he had given
due regard to them, might have secured a lengthening of his
tranquillity; but it is here charged upon him that he humbled not
himself before Jeremiah,
2 Chronicles 36:12.
It was expected that this mighty prince, high as he was, should humble
himself before a poor prophet, when he spoke from the mouth of the
Lord, should submit to his admonitions and be amended by them, to
his counsels and be ruled by them, should lay himself under the
commanding power of the word of God in his mouth; and, because he would
not thus make himself a servant to God, he was made a slave to his
enemies. God will find some way or other to humble those that will not
humble themselves. Jeremiah, as a prophet, was set over the nations
and, as mean a figure as he made, whoever would not humble themselves
before him found that it was at their peril.
(2.) If he had but been true to his covenant with the king of Babylon,
that would have prevented his ruin; but he rebelled against him,
though he had sworn to be his faithful tributary, and perfidiously
violated his engagements to him,
2 Chronicles 36:13.
It was this that provoked the king of Babylon to deal so severely with
him as he did. All nations looked upon an oath as a sacred thing, and
on those that durst break through the obligations of it as the worst of
men, abandoned of God and to be abhorred by all mankind. If therefore
Zedekiah falsify his oath, when, lo, he has given his hand, he
shall not escape,
Though Nebuchadnezzar was a heathen, an enemy, yet if, having sworn to
him, he be false to him, he shall know there is a God to whom
vengeance belongs. The thing that ruined Zedekiah was not only that
he turned not to the Lord God of Israel, but that he
stiffened his neck and hardened his heart from turning to him,
that is, he as obstinately resolved not to return to him, would not lay
his neck under God's yoke nor his heart under the impressions of his
word, and so, in effect, he would not be healed, he would not
2. The great sin that brought this destruction was idolatry. The
priests and people went after the abominations of the heathen,
forsook the pure worship of God for the lewd and filthy rites of the
Pagan superstition, and so polluted the house of the Lord,
2 Chronicles 36:14.
The priests, the chief of the priests, who should have opposed
idolatry, were ring-leaders in it. That place is not far from ruin in
which religion is already ruined.
3. The great aggravation of their sin, and that which filled the
measure of it, was the abuse they gave to God's prophets, who were sent
to call them to repentance,
2 Chronicles 36:15,16.
Here we have,
(1.) God's tender compassion towards them in sending prophets to them.
Because he was the God of their fathers, in covenant with them,
and whom they worshipped (though this degenerate race forsook him),
therefore he sent to them by his messengers, to convince them of
their sin and warn them of the ruin they would bring upon themselves by
it, rising up betimes and sending, which denotes not only that
he did it with the greatest care and concern imaginable, as men rise
betimes to set their servants to work when their heart is upon their
business, but that, upon their first deviation from God to idols, if
they took but one step that way, God immediately sent to them by his
messengers to reprove them for it. He gave them early timely notice
both of their duty and danger. Let this quicken us to seek God early,
that he rises betimes to send to us. The prophets that were sent rose
betimes to speak to them, were diligent and faithful in their office,
lost no time, slipped no opportunity of dealing with them; and
therefore God is said to rise betimes. The more pains ministers take
in their work the more will the people have to answer for if it be all
in vain. The reason given why God by his prophets did thus strive with
them is because he had compassion on his people and on his
dwelling-lace, and would by these means have prevented their ruin.
Note, The methods God takes to reclaim sinners by his word, by
ministers, by conscience, by providences, are all instances of his
compassion towards them and his unwillingness that any should
(2.) Their base and disingenuous carriage towards God
(2 Chronicles 36:16):
They mocked the messengers of God (which was a high affront to
him that sent them), despised his word in their mouths, and not
only so, but misused the prophets, treating them as their
enemies. The ill usage they gave Jeremiah who lived at this time, and
which we read much of in the book of his prophecy, is an instance of
this. This was an evidence of an implacable enmity to God, and an
invincible resolution to go on in their sins. This brought wrath upon
them without remedy, for it was sinning against the remedy. Nothing is
more provoking to God than abuses given to his faithful ministers; for
what is done against them he takes as done against himself. Saul,
Saul, why persecutest thou me? Persecution was the sin that brought
upon Jerusalem its final destruction by the Romans. See
Those that mock at God's faithful ministers, and do all they can to
render them despicable or odious, that vex and misuse them, to
discourage them and to keep others from hearkening to them, should be
reminded that a wrong done to an ambassador is construed as done to the
prince that sends him, and that the day is coming when they will find
it would have been better for them if they had been thrown into the
sea with a mill-stone about their necks; for hell is deeper and
II. The desolation itself, and some few of the particular so fit, which
we had more largely
2 Kings 25:1.
Multitudes were put to the sword, even in the house of their
(2 Chronicles 36:17),
whither they fled for refuge, hoping that the holiness of the place
would be their protection. But how could they expect to find it so when
they themselves had polluted it with their abominations?
2 Chronicles 36:14.
Those that cast off the dominion of their religion forfeit all the
benefit and comfort of it. The Chaldeans not only paid no reverence to
the sanctuary, but showed no natural pity either to the tender sex or
to venerable age. They forsook God, who had compassion on them
(2 Chronicles 36:15),
and would have none of him; justly therefore are they given up into the
hands of cruel men, for they had no compassion on young man or
2. All the remaining vessels of the temple, great and small, and all
the treasures, sacred and secular, the treasures of God's house and of
the king and his princes, were seized, and brought to Babylon,
2 Chronicles 36:18.
3. The temple was burnt, the walls of Jerusalem were demolished, the
houses (called here the palaces, as
so stately, rich, and sumptuous were they) laid in ashes, and all the
furniture, called here the goodly vessels thereof, destroyed,
2 Chronicles 36:19.
Let us see where what woeful havock sin makes, and, as we value the
comfort and continuance of our estates, keep that worm from the root of
4. The remainder of the people that escaped the sword were carried
captives to Babylon
(2 Chronicles 36:20),
impoverished, enslaved, insulted, and exposed to all the miseries, not
only of a strange and barbarous land, but of an enemy's land, where
those that hated them bore rule over them. They were servants to those
monarchs, and no doubt were ruled with rigour so long as that monarchy
lasted. Now they sat down by the rivers of Babylon, with the streams of
which they mingled their tears,
And though there, it should seem, they were cured of idolatry, yet, as
appears by the prophet Ezekiel, they were not cured of mocking the
5. The land lay desolate while they were captives in Babylon,
2 Chronicles 36:21.
That fruitful land, the glory of all lands, was now turned into a
desert, not tilled, nor husbanded. The pastures were not clothed as
they used to be with flocks, nor the valleys with corn, but all lay
neglected. Now this may be considered,
(1.) As the just punishment of their former abuse of it. They had
served Baal with its fruits; cursed therefore is the ground
for their sakes. Now the land enjoyed her sabbaths;
(2 Chronicles 36:21),
as God had threatened by Moses,
and the reason there given
(2 Chronicles 36:35)
is, "Because it did not rest on your sabbaths; you profaned the
sabbath-day, did not observe the sabbatical year." They many a time
ploughed and sowed their land in the seventh year, when it should have
rested, and now it lay unploughed and unsown for ten times seven years.
Note, God will be no loser in his glory at last by the disobedience of
men: if the tribute be not paid, he will distrain and recover it, as he
If they would not let the land rest, God would make it rest whether
they would or no. Some think they had neglected the observance of
seventy sabbatical years in all, and just so many, by way of reprisal,
the land now enjoyed; or, if those that had been neglected were fewer,
it was fit that the law should be satisfied with interest. We find
that one of the quarrels God had with them at this time was for not
observing another law which related to the seventh year, and that was
the release of servants; see
(2.) Yet we may consider it as giving some encouragement to their hopes
that they should, in due time, return to it again. Had others come and
taken possession of it, they might have despaired of ever recovering
it; but, while it lay desolate, it did, as it were, lie waiting for
them again, and refuse to acknowledge any other owners.
22 Now 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,
23 Thus 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 a 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.
These last two verses of this book have a double aspect.
1. They look back to the prophecy of Jeremiah, and show how that was
2 Chronicles 36:22.
God had, by him, promised the restoring of the captives and the
rebuilding of Jerusalem, at the end of seventy years; and that time to
favour Sion, that set time, came at last. After a long and dark night
the day-spring from on high visited them. God will be found true to
every word he has spoken.
2. They look forward to the history of Ezra, which begins with the
2 Chronicles 36:22,23,Ezr+1:1-3.
They are there the introduction to a pleasant story; here they are the
conclusion of a very melancholy one; and so we learn from them that,
though God's church be cast down, it is not cast off, though his people
be corrected, they are not abandoned, though thrown into the furnace,
yet not lost there, nor left there any longer than till the dross be
separated. Though God contend long, he will not contend always. The
Israel of God shall be fetched out of Babylon in due time, and even the
dry bones made to live. It may be long first; but the vision is for an
appointed time, and at the end it shall speak and not lie; therefore,
though it tarry, wait for it.