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Bible Commentaries

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

2 Chronicles 36

 

 

Verse 1

XXXVI.

THE REIGN OF JEHOAHAZ (2 Chronicles 36:1-4). (Comp. 2 Kings 23:30-35; 3 Esdr. 1:32-36.)

(1) Then.—And.

The people of the land took Jehoahaz.—Comp. 2 Chronicles 26:1; 2 Chronicles 33:25. Jehoahaz or Shallum was not the firstborn (1 Chron. iii 15). See Notes on 2 Kings 23:30, with which this verse agrees.


Verse 2

(2) Jehoahaz was twenty and-three.—So Kings, adding the mother’s name as usual. (So the LXX. here.)


Verse 3

(3) And the king of Egypt put him down at Jerusalem.—Rather, removed him. 3 Esdr. adds “from reigning,” which is almost demanded by the context. The LXX. follows the reading of 2 Kings 23:33 : “And Pharaoh-necho bound him in Riblah, in the land of Hamath, from reigning (i.e., so that he reigned not) in Jerusalem “; but the Syriac and Vulg. support the existing Hebrew text. The LXX. begins the verse thus: “And he did the evil before the Lord, according to all that his fathers had done; “and adds, after the clause about the fine, “and the king took him away to Egypt.”

Condemned the land in.—Fined the land.—So Kings: “laid a fine upon the land.”

Riblah was in Syria, on the river Orontes. Necho may have ordered or enticed Jehoahaz to meet him there.


Verse 4

(4) And the king of Egypt made Eliakim.—The verse agrees with 2 Kings 23:34.

Carried him to Egypt.—Made him come. Kings, “and he came to Egypt, and died there.” Comp. Jeremiah 22:10-12. The LXX. adds: and the silver and the gold he gave to the Pharaoh. Then the land began to be assessed, in order to give the money into the mouth of Pharaoh. And each according to ability used to demand the silver and the gold from the people of the land to give to Pharaoh-necho.”


Verse 5

THE REIGN OF JEHOIAKIM (2 Chronicles 36:5-8). (Comp. 2 Kings 23:36 to 2 Kings 24:7; 2 Kings 3 Esdr. 1:37-41; Jeremiah 25:26)

(5) Jehoiakim . . . in Jerusalem.—2 Kings 23:36, adding the mother’s name. here. So LXX.

And he did . . . the Lord.—2 Kings 23:37, which adds “according to all that his fathers had done.” So LXX.

Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon.—Nabium-kudurri-uçur (“Nebo guard the crown! “) son of Nabopalassar, who had founded this dynasty by successful revolt against Assyria. His extant inscriptions chiefly relate to palace and temple building. Schrader gives a short inscription from a brick now in the Zürich Museum. “Nabû-Kudurri-uçur, king of Babylon, restorer of Esagili and Ezida [two famous temples], son of Nabû-abala-uçur, King of Babylon am I.” No really historical inscription is known except a fragment relating to his Egyptian campaign in his 37th year (568 B.C. ), and an illegible one on the rocks of Nahr-el-Kelb near Beirut. The LXX. here interpolates the account of Jehoiakim’s three years of vassalage, and his revolt against Nebuchadnezzar, and the other events and reflections contained in 2 Kings 24:1-4. The LXX. makes Jehoiakim, instead of Manasseh, “fill Jerusalem with innocent blood,” contrary to the Hebrew text.

And bound him in fetters.—Two bronze (chains), as in 2 Chronicles 33:11.

To carry him to Babylon.—To make him go. It is not said that this intention was carried out. (Comp. 2 Chronicles 33:11, “and carried him to Babylon.”) Nebuchadnezzar, who, according to Jeremiah 46:2, had defeated Necho in a great battle at Carchemish, in the 4th year of Jehoiakim, appears to have left the king of Judah to reign as a vassal-king, after inflicting upon him a severe humiliation. (The LXX., 3 Esdr., Vulg., and Arabic, but not the Syriac, read: “and carried him to Babylon.”) Thenius says this must be the right reading, and then denies its claim to credibility. He further asserts that, “in order to allow ample scope for the fulfilment of the prophecy of Jeremiah” (see Note on 2 Chronicles 36:8), the chronicler has represented Jehoiakim as carried alive to Babylon in the last year of his reign. This statement rests not upon objective historical grounds, but upon subjective prejudices against the chronicler.

Daniel 1:1, by a transcriber’s error, puts this first capture of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar in the third year of Jehoiakim; whereas Nebuchadnezzar only became king in the fourth of Jehoiakim. (2 Kings 25:8; Jeremiah 25:1.)


Verse 7

(7) Nebuchadnezzar also carried.—And of the vessels of the house . . . did Nebuchadnezzar bring. Not mentioned in Kings, but confirmed by Daniel 1:2.

In his temple.—The temple of “Mercdach, my Lord” (Bilu, i.e., Bel), whom his inscriptions so frequently mention. The great temple of Belus (Bel Merodach), which Nebuchadnezzar built, was one of the wonders of the world to Herodotus (Herod, i. 181 seq.)


Verse 8

(8) Now the rest of the acts.—(Comp. 2 Kings 24:5.)

And his abominations which he did.—His crimes against God and man, i.e., probably acts of idolatry and tyranny. (Comp. Jeremiah 25:6; Jeremiah 7:5-11; Jeremiah 22:13-19; covetousness, shedding innocent blood, &c. charged against him.)

That which was found in him.—2 Chronicles 19:3. His general character and conduct.

As in the case of Anion (2 Chronicles 33:25), the last particulars about Jehoiakim are omitted in this flying notice of his reign, which was only memorable because of the invasion of Nebuchadnezzar. The LXX., however, gives instead of this verse 2 Kings 24:5-6, interpolating in the latter “and was buried with his fathers in the garden of Uzza” ( ἐν γανοζαῆ or γανοζάν; see 2 Kings 21:26). Thenius says “these words certainly (!) stood in the original text,” but were omitted by the chronicler and the editor of Kings, because they conflict with the prophecy of Jeremiah (Jeremiah 22:18-19, Jeremiah 36:30)—which is apparently the reason why he is so sure of their genuineness.

JEHOIACHIN (2 Chronicles 36:9-10). (Comp. 2 Kings 24:8-17; 3 Esdr. 1:41-44; Jeremiah 22:24-30; Ezekiel 19:5-9.)


Verse 9

(9) Jehoiachin was eight years old.—2 Kings 24:8 has correctly “eighteen;” and so some MSS., LXX. (Alex.), Syriac, Arabic. What the prophet Ezekiel says of him could not apply to a boy of eight. (The difference turns on the omission of the smallest Hebrew letter, namely, yod, which as a numeral represents ten.)

Three months and ten days.—Kings, “three months;” Syriac and Arabic here have “one hundred days,” i.e., three months and ten days. Thenius thinks the ten days were added, in order that the catastrophe of Jehoiachin’s reign might fall on a tenth day of the month, like the investment of Jerusalem and the fall of the city under Zedekiah (2 Chronicles 25:1; 2 Chronicles 25:8).

He did that which was evil.—2 Kings 24:9. (See also the above-cited passages of Jeremiah and Ezekiel.) According to the latter prophet, Jehoiachin “devoured men, and forced widows, and wasted cities.”


Verse 10

(10) And when the year was expired.—See margin. “At the return of the year” means in spring, when kings usually went forth to war. (2 Samuel 11:1; 1 Kings 20:22.) Kings gives a full account of the siege and surrender of Jerusalem, and the deportation to Babylon of the king and all his princes and men of war, by “the servants of Nebuchadnezzar.”

With the goodly vessels.—2 Chronicles 32:27. “Some of the vessels” had already been carried off (2 Chronicles 36:7). (See 2 Kings 24:13 and Jeremiah 27:18-22.)

Zedekiah his brother.—Zedekiah was uncle of Jehoiachin, being a son of Josiah, and brother of Jehoiakim. Perhaps “brother” is equivalent to “kinsman” here, as elsewhere. (Comp. 1 Chronicles 3:15, where Zedekiah appears as a son of Josiah; and 2 Kings 24:17.) The versions read “his father’s brother”—a correction. Thenius thinks the word for “uncle” had become illegible in the MS. here used by the chronicler.


Verse 11

ZEDEKIAH AND THE FINAL CATASTROPHE (2 Chronicles 36:11-21). (Comp. 2 Kings 24:18 to 2 Kings 25:21; Jeremiah 39, 52; Jeremiah 3 Esdr. 1:44-55.)

(11) Zedekiah was one and twenty.—So 2 Kings 24:18, adding his mother’s name (Hamutal, who was also mother of Jehoahaz).

Before Jeremian . . . mouth of the Lord.—Not in Kings. (Comp. Jeremiah 21, Jeremiah 22:1-10, Jeremiah 27, 28, 32-34, 37, 38)

Two special sins of Zedekiah are mentioned in this and the next verse—viz., his disregard of Jeremiah’s counsel, and his perjury to Nebuchadnezzar.


Verse 13

(13) And he also rebelled.—2 Kings 24:20.

Who had made him swear by God.—When Nebuchadnezzar appointed Zedekiah vassal-king of Judah, he would naturally make him swear fealty to himself by the God of his fathers. The fact is not specially recorded in Kings; but the prophet Ezekiel makes it the point of a prophecy against the king and his grandees (Ezekiel 17:11-21; comp, especially 2 Chronicles 36:17, “mine oath that he hath despised.”)

But (and) stiffened his neck and hardened his heart.—(Comp. the like expression in Deuteronomy 2:30; 2 Kings 17:14; Jeremiah 19:15.) Zedekiah was not personally unfavourable to the prophet Jeremiah, and consulted him more than once; but he was too weak and timorous to stand by the prophetic counsel, in defiance of his princes who were intriguing with Egypt.


Verse 14

SINS OF THE RULING CLASSES WHICH BROUGHT DOWN THE JUDGMENT OF GOD (2 Chronicles 36:14-16). (Comp. with this passage 2 Kings 17:7-23.)

(14) The chiefs.—The princes.

Transgressed very much.—Committed manifold unfaithfulness.

After all the abominations . . .—See Ezekiel 8:5-18; where “the princes of the priests and the people” are specially singled out in 2 Chronicles 36:11; 2 Chronicles 36:16. The twenty-five men of the latter verse are the High Priest and the heads of the twenty-four courses of priests. (Comp. also Jeremiah 32:32, sea).

His Messengers.—The prophets (2 Kings 17:13).


Verse 15

(15) Rising up betimes and sending.—i.e., constantly and earnestly. Jeremiah 25:3-4 : “The Lord hath sent all his servants, the prophets, rising early and sending them” (comp. also Jeremiah 26:5; Jeremiah 29:19; Jeremiah 35:14-15).

He had compassion on.—He spared, was forbearing with.

Dwelling place.—Mâcôn (2 Chronicles 30:27; Psalms 26:8; comp. Jeremiah 25:6).


Verse 16

(16) But they mocked.—And they were mocking, mal’îbîm; only here (an Aramaism).

Misused.—Mitta’te’îm, only here. Derided, strictly, stammered. Another form of this verb occurs in Genesis 27:12. (Comp. for the fact Isaiah 28:9-14; Ezekiel 33, 30; Jeremiah 17:15; Jeremiah 20:7-8.)

Till there was no remedy.—Healing; i.e., deliverance, σωτηρία (comp. 2 Chronicles 21:18). God is said to heal, when he averts calamity (2 Chronicles 30:20).

The wrath . . . arose.—Went up (‘âlâh), like smoke (Psalms 18:8; 2 Samuel 11:20).


Verse 17

(17) Therefore he brought up.—And He caused to come up; alluding to “the wrath . . . went up.”

In the house of their sanctuary.—Which they had polluted (2 Chronicles 36:14). The scene of their sin witnessed their destruction.

Him that stooped for age.—Rather, greyheaded, hoary (yâshçsh). (Comp. Ezekiel 9, where the horrors of the capture of Jerusalem are ascribed expressly to the Divine working; see also Jeremiah 15:1-9; Deuteronomy 32:25.)

He gave them all into his hand.—Comp. Jeremiah 37:6; Jeremiah 32:3-4.

Them all.—Literally, the whole, everything, τά πάντα. “Them all” would be hullâm, whereas the text is hakkôl. (So 2 Chronicles 36:18, “all these.”) Jerusalem was taken 588 B.C.


Verse 18

(18) All the vessels . . . (the) great and (the) small.—See 2 Kings 25:13-17, for an inventory of the articles; also Jeremiah 27:19 seq.


Verse 19

(19) They burnt the house of God.—2 Kings 25:9.

Brake down the wall . . .—Jeremiah 39:8; 2 Kings 25:9-10.

And destroyed all the goodly vessels.—Literally, And all her delightsome vessels were for destroying (lĕhashchîth). (Comp. Isaiah 64:11): “all our pleasant things are laid waste.” 2 Kings 25:13 speaks of the breaking-up of the great vessels of the Temple, for the sake of carrying off their material more easily.

Servants to him and his sons . . . kingdom Of Persia.—A fulfilment of Jeremiah’s prophecy concerning Nebuchadnezzar: “And all nations shall serve him, and his son, and his son’s son, until the time of his own land come” (Jeremiah 27:7). Comp. also Isaiah’s word to Hezekiah (2 Kings 20:18.)


Verse 21

(21) To fulfil.—lĕmalûth (an Aramaised form).

The word . . . Jeremiah.—The seventy years of Babylonian exile are predicted in Jeremiah 25:11-12. (Comp. also Jeremiah 29:10 : “Thus saith the Lord, After seventy years be accomplished for Babylon, I will visit you.”)

Until the land had enjoyed her sabbaths.—“Enjoyed” is râçĕthâh, which Gesenius renders persolvit, “made good,” “discharged,” as a debt. The meaning is that during the long years of the exile, the land would enjoy that rest of which it had been defrauded by the neglect of the law concerning the sabbatical years (Leviticus 25:1-7). The following words, “as long as she lay desolate she kept sabbath” (literally, all the days of the desolation she rested) are taken from Leviticus 26:34-35.

To fulfil threescore and ten years.—i.e., in order to fulfil the seventy years of exile foretold by Jeremiah.

We have no right whatever to press the words of the sacred writer, in the sense of assuming that he means to say that when Jerusalem was taken by the Chaldeans exactly seventy sabbatical years had been neglected—that is, that the law in this respect had not been observed for 490 years (70×7), or ever since the institution of monarchy in Israel (490 + 588 = 1,078).

The seventy years are reckoned from the 4th of Jehoiakim, when the prophecy was uttered (Jeremiah 25:1; Jeremiah 25:12), to the first year of Cyrus, and the return under Zernbbabel, 536 B.C.

THE EDICT OF CYRUS, AUTHORISING THE RETURN (2 Chronicles 36:22-23). (Comp. Ezra 1:1-3; 3 Esdr. 2:1-5; Isaiah 44:28; Isaiah 45-47)

(22) Now in the first year of Cyrus.—This verse is the same as Ezra 1:1, save that it has “by the mouth “instead of “from the mouth.” The latter is probably correct. (Comp. 2 Chronicles 36:12 supra.) So some MSS. here also.

That the word . . . Jeremiah.—Concerning the seventy years.

Stirred up the spirit.—1 Chronicles 5:26;2 Chronicles 21:16.

That he made a proclamation.—And he made a voice pass (2 Chronicles 30:5).

Throughout all his kingdom . . . and put it also in writing.—Into all . . . and also into a writing.

Writing.—Miktâb (2 Chronicles 35:4.)

The Lord.—Iahweh. Instead of this Ezra 1:3 has, Iehi, “Be;” so also 3 Esdr. 2:5. “The Lord—with him!” (Iahiveh ‘immô) is a frequent formula in the chronicle, and is probably correct here. (Some Hebrew MSS. and the Vulg. unite the readings.)

And let him go up.—Whither The sentence is abruptly broken off here, but continued in Ezra 1:3. As to the relation between the Chronicles and Ezra, see Introduction.

Thus saith Cyrus, king of Persia.—Comp. the words of Darius Hystaspes on the famous Behistuu Inscription, which begins “I am Darius, the great king, the king of kings, the king of Persia;” while every paragraph opens with “Saith Darius the king.”

All the kingdoms . . . given me.—Comp. the words of Darius: “Saith Darius the king :—By the grace of Ormazd I am king; Ormazd has granted me the empire.”

The Lord God of heaven.—Jehovah, the God of heaven. “The god of heaven” was a title of Ormazd or Ahuramazda, the Supreme Being according to Persian belief, which was Zoroastrianism. It is not at all wonderful that Cyrus should have identified the God of Israel with his own deity, especially if he had heard of the prophecies Isaiah 44:28, &c. Such a politic syncretism was the settled practice of the Roman empire in a later age.

 


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Bibliography Information
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on 2 Chronicles 36:4". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/2-chronicles-36.html. 1905.

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