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2 Kings: Chapter 25

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1And in the ninth year of his reign, in the tenth month, on the tenth day of the month, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon came with all his army against Jerusalem, and laid siege to it; they built siegeworks against it all around. 2So the city was besieged until the eleventh year of King Zedekiah. 3On the ninth day of the fourth month the famine became so severe in the city that there was no food for the people of the land. 4Then a breach was made in the city wall; a Or household gods the king with all the soldiers fled b Heb lacks wall by night by the way of the gate between the two walls, by the king's garden, though the Chaldeans were all around the city. They went in the direction of the Arabah. 5But the army of the Chaldeans pursued the king, and overtook him in the plains of Jericho; all his army was scattered, deserting him. 6Then they captured the king and brought him up to the king of Babylon at Riblah, who passed sentence on him. 7They slaughtered the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes, then put out the eyes of Zedekiah; they bound him in fetters and took him to Babylon.

8In the fifth month, on the seventh day of the month‐which was the nineteenth year of King Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon—Nebuzaradan, the captain of the bodyguard, a servant of the king of Babylon, came to Jerusalem. 9He burned the house of the LORD, the king's house, and all the houses of Jerusalem; every great house he burned down. 10All the army of the Chaldeans who were with the captain of the guard broke down the walls around Jerusalem. 11Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard carried into exile the rest of the people who were left in the city and the deserters who had defected to the king of Babylon—all the rest of the population. 12But the captain of the guard left some of the poorest people of the land to be vinedressers and tillers of the soil.

13The bronze pillars that were in the house of the LORD, as well as the stands and the bronze sea that were in the house of the LORD, the Chaldeans broke in pieces, and carried the bronze to Babylon. 14They took away the pots, the shovels, the snuffers, the dishes for incense, and all the bronze vessels used in the temple service, 15as well as the firepans and the basins. What was made of gold the captain of the guard took away for the gold, and what was made of silver, for the silver. 16As for the two pillars, the one sea, and the stands, which Solomon had made for the house of the LORD, the bronze of all these vessels was beyond weighing. 17The height of the one pillar was eighteen cubits, and on it was a bronze capital; the height of the capital was three cubits; latticework and pomegranates, all of bronze, were on the capital all around. The second pillar had the same, with the latticework.

18The captain of the guard took the chief priest Seraiah, the second priest Zephaniah, and the three guardians of the threshold; 19from the city he took an officer who had been in command of the soldiers, and five men of the king's council who were found in the city; the secretary who was the commander of the army who mustered the people of the land; and sixty men of the people of the land who were found in the city. 20Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard took them, and brought them to the king of Babylon at Riblah. 21The king of Babylon struck them down and put them to death at Riblah in the land of Hamath. So Judah went into exile out of its land.

22He appointed Gedaliah son of Ahikam son of Shaphan as governor over the people who remained in the land of Judah, whom King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon had left. 23Now when all the captains of the forces and their men heard that the king of Babylon had appointed Gedaliah as governor, they came with their men to Gedaliah at Mizpah, namely, Ishmael son of Nethaniah, Johanan son of Kareah, Seraiah son of Tanhumeth the Netophathite, and Jaazaniah son of the Maacathite. 24Gedaliah swore to them and their men, saying, “Do not be afraid because of the Chaldean officials; live in the land, serve the king of Babylon, and it shall be well with you.” 25But in the seventh month, Ishmael son of Nethaniah son of Elishama, of the royal family, came with ten men; they struck down Gedaliah so that he died, along with the Judeans and Chaldeans who were with him at Mizpah. 26then all the people, high and low, a Gk Compare Jer 39.4; 52.7: Heb lacks the king and lacks fled and the captains of the forces set out and went to Egypt; for they were afraid of the Chaldeans.

27In the thirty‐seventh year of the exile of King Jehoiachin of Judah, in the twelfth month, on the twenty‐seventh day of the month, King Evil‐merodach of Babylon, in the year that he began to reign, released King Jehoiachin of Judah from prison; 28he spoke kindly to him, and gave him a seat above the other seats of the kings who were with him in Babylon. 29So Jehoiachin put aside his prison clothes. Every day of his life he dined regularly in the king's presence. 30For his allowance, a regular allowance was given him by the king, a portion every day, as long as he lived.

Notes:

a Or household gods

a Heb lacks wall

b Gk Compare Jer 39.4; 52.7: Heb lacks the king and lacks fled

Text Commentary view alone
Commentary spanning earlier chapters

22.1–23.30 : Josiah (640–609 BCE).

At this crucial juncture in Judean history, when judgment has been announced and disaster is imminent, Judah acquires yet another righteous king‐Josiah, a second Moses or Joshua to match the second David (Hezekiah). Here is a king who does not turn aside to the right or to the left ( 22.2; cf. Deut 5.32; 17.20; Josh 1.7 ; etc.) from the law of Moses ( 23.25; cf. Josh 8.31–32; 23.6 ).

22.3–13 :

Josiah's initial concern is simply to repair the Temple (cf. 12.1–16 ). It is not until Shaphan returns with the book of the law that Josiah becomes worried about the state of worship in Judah (v. 11 ). The book of the law is some form of Deuteronomy (see Deut 28.61; 29.21; 30.10 ).

14–20 :

The prophet chosen by Josiah's officials for consultation was not Jeremiah, whose ministry had begun five years earlier (according to Jer 1.2 ), nor Zephaniah (Zeph 1.1 ), but Huldah, the wife of a Temple official (v. 14; cf. 10.22 ). Her words confirm those of the unnamed prophets of 21.10–15 : Disaster is imminent. Because Josiah has humbled himself before the LORD, however, he will not personally see this disaster (v. 20 ); he will die while Judah and Jerusalem still know peace, rather than the sword.

23.1–3 :

Josiah is a pious king, and Huldah's dire oracle about the future does not deflect him from the path of religious reform. The book of the law here becomes the book of the covenant, for the purpose of its public reading is to prepare the way for a renewal of the covenant between the LORD and his people, to which Deuteronomy is the supreme witness (see Deut 5.2–3; 29.1–28 ; cf. another covenant‐renewal ceremony in 2 Kings 11.12–14 , when the king also stood by the pillar).

4–25 :

Josiah now proceeds to remove all trace of apostasy from Jerusalem (cf. the aftermath of Joash's renewal of the covenant in 11.17–18 ) and Judah, and indeed from Bethel (vv. 15–20 ; cf. the prophecy of the man of God in 1 Kings 13.2 ).

7 :

The verse probably refers to the manufacture of ritual garments for worship of the goddess (cf. 10.22 ).

11 :

Nonbiblical evidence suggests a particularly close connection between horses and chariots and worship of the sun.

13 :

The Mount of Destruction is the Mount of Olives, referred to in this manner to express the authors’ distaste for the worship that was practiced there; cf. 1 Kings 11.7 .

14 :

With human bones, to defile the sanctuaries; cf. v. 16 .

21–22 :

In celebrating the passover according to the stipulations of Deuteronomy (Deut 16.1–8 , noting esp. v. 6 ), Josiah not only outstrips Hezekiah in faithfulness to God, but even David himself, for a Passover like this had not been observed since the days of the judges who judged Israel (cf. Josh 5.10–12 ).

26–30 :

Judah's fate was already settled, and Josiah's reforms changed nothing. Even Josiah himself did not come to a happy end. Unwisely attempting to prevent Egypt from going to Assyria's aid in its struggle with Babylon, he was killed at Megiddo, suffering the same ignominious exit from the stage as his apostate ancestor Ahaziah (cf. 9.27–28 ). A fuller account of Josiah's death is found in 2 Chr 35.20–24 .

23.31–25.30 : The end of Judah.

Gradually the glory of Solomon is dismantled, as imperial power passes from Assyria to Babylon; Temple and palace are destroyed, and Jerusalem's treasures are carried off to a foreign land.

23.31–35 :

Jehoahaz (609 BCE) is not a ruler acceptable to the Pharaoh of Egypt; and Pharaoh is (temporarily) Judah's new overlord, in the aftermath of Josiah's death at Megiddo. He is therefore replaced with his brother Jehoiakim (608–598).

33 :

A talent weighed about 34 kg (75 lb).

35 :

The people of the land, see 11.14n. The succession was probably irregular (cf. 1 Chr 3.15; Jer 22.11 ).

23.36–24.7 :

The Babylonians (here called Chaldeans) are the ultimate agent of divine judgment upon Judah (cf. 20.16–18 ). Nebuchadnezzar (also called Nebuchadrezzar) ruled Babylon 605–562 BCE. He subdues Egypt and comes into possession of the whole Solomonic empire, from the Wadi of Egypt to the River Euphrates (cf. 1 Kings 4.21,24; 8.65; see Map on p. 573 HB ). Jehoiakim first becomes his vassal ( 24.1 ), but then rebels.

8–17 :

His son Jehoiachin succeeds him and has to pay the price for his father's rebellion, a siege of Jerusalem and his own exile to Babylon, both in 597 BCE. He is replaced by an uncle, Mattaniah.

24.18–25.21 :

Most of ch 25 is repeated in Jer 52 with some variations. Mattaniah, like Zedekiah (597–586 BCE) is at first a loyal vassal, but eventually also rebels against the king of Babylon ( 24.20 ). The result is another siege of Jerusalem, lasting about a year and a half ( 25.1–2 ). Zedekiah's army flees when faced with a breach in the city wall, and the king flees with them, only to be overtaken near Jericho ( 25.4–5 ). The site of Israel's first military victory in their new land (Josh 6 ) thus becomes a place associated with their final defeat in it. Zedekiah is taken to Nebuchadnezzar's headquarters at Riblah in Syria, and his sons are executed, apparently to thwart dynastic hopes ( 25.6–7 ). A few weeks after the fall of Jerusalem (see 25.3, 8 ), the full vengeance of the Babylonian king is visited upon the city and the Temple is plundered. The threats of 1 Kings 9.6–9 have become reality.

25.13–17 :

A detailed description of the looted furnishings of the Temple; cf. 1 Kings 7.15–51 .

18–21 :

Execution of leading Judean officials. On the people of the land, see 11.14n.

22–26 :

A fuller version of these events is found in Jer 40–43 . Gedaliah, the grandson of Josiah's secretary Shaphan ( 23.12 ), is appointed to govern what is left, and the remnants of the scattered army (v. 5 ) gather to him at the new administrative center of Mizpah, just 12 km (7 mi) north of the ruined capital (v. 23 ). Ishmael apparently has ambitions to be the next king (he is of the royal family, v. 25 ), however, and takes it upon himself to slaughter everyone at Mizpah. The final exile of the book of Kings is a voluntary one, as the remaining people flee to Egypt (v. 26; cf. Jer 40.7–43.7 ).

23–30 :

An epilogue holds out the faint hope that the Davidic promise (see esp. 2 Sam 7.15–16 ) may even yet, after awful judgment has fallen, remain in force—that God's wrath having been poured out upon good Josiah's sons, his (admittedly wicked) grandson Jehoiachin might still produce a further “lamp in Jerusalem” (1 Kings 11.36; 15.4; 2 Kings 8.19 ). Evil merodach (Amel‐marduk) ruled Babylon ca. 562–560 BCE.

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