Notes on the Bible, by Albert Barnes, , at sacred-texts.com
4 Kings (2 Kings) 25:1
In the ninth year ... - As the final catastrophe approaches, the historian becomes more close and exact in his dates, marking not only the year, but the month and the day, on which the siege began, no less than those on which it closed Kg2 25:3. From Eze 24:1 we find that on the very day when the host of Nebuchadnezzar made its appearance before Jerusalem the fact was revealed to Ezekiel in Babylonia, and the fate of the city announced to him Eze 24:6-14. The army seems to have at first spread itself over all Judaea. It fought, not only against Jerusalem, but especially against Lachish and Azekah Jer 34:7, two cities of the south Ch2 11:9, which had probably been strongly garrisoned in order to maintain the communication with Egypt. This division of the Babylonian forces encouraged Hophra to put his troops in motion and advance to the relief of his Jewish allies Jer 37:5. On hearing this, Nebuchadnezzar broke up from before Jerusalem and marched probably to Azekah and Lachish. The Egyptians shrank back, returned into their own country Jer 37:7; Eze 17:17, and took no further part in the war. Nebuchadnezzar then led back his army, and once more invested the city. (It is uncertain whether the date at the beginning of this verse refers to the first or to the second investment.)
Forts - Probably moveable towers, sometimes provided with battering-rams, which the besiegers advanced against the walls, thus bringing their fighting men on a level with their antagonists. Such towers are seen in the Assyrian sculptures.
4 Kings (2 Kings) 25:2
The siege lasted almost exactly a year and a half. Its calamities - famine, pestilence, and intense suffering - are best understood from the Lamentations of Jeremiah, written probably almost immediately after the capture.
4 Kings (2 Kings) 25:4
The city was broken up - Rather, "broken into," i. e., A breach was made about midnight in the northern wall Eze 9:2, and an entry effected into the second or lower city (see the Kg2 22:14 note), which was protected by the wall of Manasseh Ch2 33:14.
Precipitate flight followed on the advance of the Babylonians to the "middle gate," or gate of communication between the upper and the lower cities. This position was only a little north of the royal palace, which the king therefore quitted. He escaped by the royal garden at the junction of the Hinnom and Kidron valleys, passing between the two walls which skirted on either side the valley of the Tyropoeon.
Toward the plain - "The Arabah" or the great depression which bounds Palestine Proper on the east (Num 21:4 note). The "way toward the Arabah" is here the road leading eastward over Olivet to Bethany and Jericho.
4 Kings (2 Kings) 25:5
Jeremiah Jer 38:23 and Ezekiel Eze 12:13 had prophesied this capture; and the latter had also prophesied the dispersion of the troops Kg2 25:14.
4 Kings (2 Kings) 25:6
To Riblah - See Kg2 23:33 note. A position from where Nebuchadnezzar could most conveniently superintend the operations against Tyre and Jerusalem. In the absence of the monarch, the siege of Jerusalem was conducted by a number of his officers, the chief of whom were Nebuzar-adan, the captain of the guard, and Nergal-shar-ezer (Neriglissar), the Rab-mag Jer 39:3, Jer 39:13.
4 Kings (2 Kings) 25:7
Before his eyes - This refinement of cruelty seems to have especially shocked the Jews, whose manners were less barbarous than those of most Orientals. It is noted by Jeremiah in two places Jer 39:6; Jer 52:10.
And put out the eyes of Zedekiah - Blinding has always been among the most common of secondary punishments in the East (compare Jdg 16:2 l). The blinding of Zedekiah reconciled in a very remarkable way prophecies, apparently contradictory, which had been made concerning him. Jeremiah had prophesied distinctly that he would be carried to Babylon Jer 32:5; Jer 34:3. Ezekiel had said that he should not "see Babylon" Eze 12:13. His deprivation of sight before he was carried to the conqueror's capital fulfilled the predictions of both prophets.
With fetters of brass - literally, (see Jer 39:7 margin), "with two chains of brass." The Assyrians' captives are usually represented as bound hand and foot - the two hands secured by one chain, the two feet by another. According to Jewish tradition Zedekiah was, like other slaves, forced to work in a mill at Babylon. Jeremiah tells us that he was kept in prison until he died Jer 52:11.
4 Kings (2 Kings) 25:8
The nineteenth year of king Nebuchadnezzar - 586 B.C., if we count from the real date of his accession (604 B.C.); but 587 B.C., if, with the Jews, we regard him as beginning to reign when he was sent by his father to recover Syria and gained the battle of Carchemish (in 605 B.C.).
Captain of the guard - literally, "the chief of the executioners" Gen 37:36.
4 Kings (2 Kings) 25:9
He burnt the house of the Lord - Compare the prophecies of Jeremiah Jer 21:10; Jer 34:2; Jer 38:18, Jer 38:23. Psa 79:1-13 is thought to have been written soon after this destruction of the temple.
4 Kings (2 Kings) 25:11
The fugitives ... - It was from a fear of the treatment which he would receive at the hands of these deserters that Zedekiah persisted in defending the city to the last Jer 38:19.
4 Kings (2 Kings) 25:12
There was probably an intention of seating colonists into the country from some other part of the Empire, as the Assyrians had done in Samaria Kg2 17:24.
4 Kings (2 Kings) 25:13
The pillars of brass ... - All the more precious treasures had been already removed from the temple Kg2 24:13. But there still remained many things, the list of which is given in Jer 52:17-23 much more fully than in this place. Objects in brass, or rather bronze, were frequently carried off by the Assyrians from the conquered nations. Bronze was highly valued, being the chief material both for arms and implements. The breaking up of the pillars, bases, etc., shows that it was for the material, and not for the workmanship, that they were valued. On the various articles consult the marginal references.
4 Kings (2 Kings) 25:16
Without weight - The Babylonians did not take the trouble to weigh the brass as they did the gold and silver. In the Assyrian monuments there are representations of the weighing of captured articles in gold and silver in the presence of the royal scribes.
4 Kings (2 Kings) 25:17
Compare with this description the accounts in marginal references. The height of the capital ("three cubits") must be corrected, in accordance with those passages, to "five cubits."
4 Kings (2 Kings) 25:18
It devolved on Nebuzaradan to select for exemplary punishment the persons whom he regarded as most guilty, either in respect of the original rebellion or of the protracted resistance. Instead of taking indiscriminately the first comers, he first selected those who by their offices would be likely to have had most authority - the high priest; the second priest (Kg2 23:4 note); three of the temple Levites; the commandant of the city; five members of the king's Privy Council (or seven, see Kg2 25:19 note); and the secretary (or adjutant) of the captain of the host. To these he added sixty others, who were accounted "princes." Compared with the many occasions on which Assyrian and Persian conquerers put to death hundreds or thousands after taking a revolted town, Nebuzaradan (and Nebuchadnezzar) must be regarded as moderate, or even merciful, in their vengeance. Compare Jer 40:2-5.
The three keepers of the door - Rather, "three keepers." The Hebrew has no article. The temple "door-keepers" in the time of Solomon numbered twenty-four Ch1 26:17-18, who were probably under six chiefs. After the captivity the chiefs are either six Ezr 2:42; Neh 7:45 or four Ch1 9:17.
4 Kings (2 Kings) 25:19
Out of the city - This clause shows that the five persons mentioned in Kg2 25:18 were taken out of the temple.
Five men - Or, "seven men," according to Jer 52:25. It is impossible to say which of the two numbers is correct.
Of them that were in the king's presence - See the margin. A mode of speech arising from the custom of Eastern rulers to withdraw themselves as much as possible from the view of their subjects.
4 Kings (2 Kings) 25:21
So Judah was carried away - The kingdom of the two tribes was at an end; and the task of the historian might seem to be accomplished. He still, however, desires to notice two things:
(1) the fate of the remnant Kg2 25:22-26 left in the land by Nebuzaradan; and
(2) the fate of Johoiachin, who, of all those led into captivity, was the least to blame Kg2 25:27-30.
4 Kings (2 Kings) 25:22
We may be allowed to conjecture that Jeremiah, in gratitude for Ahikam's service to himself Jer 26:24, recommended his son Gedaliah to Nebuzaradan, and through him to Nebuchadnezzar, for the office of governor.
4 Kings (2 Kings) 25:23
The captains of the armies - i. e., the officers of the troops who had fled from Jerusalem with Zedekiah Kg2 25:4, and had then dispersed and gone into hiding Kg2 25:5.
For Mizpah, see Jos 18:26 note.
The Netophathite - Netophah, the city of Ephai (compare Jer 40:8), appears to have been in the neighborhood of Bethlehem Neh 7:26; Ezr 2:21-22. The name is perhaps continued in the modern Antubeh, about 2 12 miles S. S. E. of Jerusalem.
A Maachathite - Maachah lay in the stony country east of the upper Jordan, bordering upon Bashan Deu 3:14.
4 Kings (2 Kings) 25:24
As rebels against the Babylonian king, their lives were forfeit. Gedaliah pledged himself to them by oath, that, if they gave no further cause of complaint, their past offences should be forgiven.
4 Kings (2 Kings) 25:25
Jeremiah gives this history with much fullness of detail Jer. 41-43.
4 Kings (2 Kings) 25:27
The captivity of Jehoiachin commenced in the year 597 B.C. - the eighth year of Nebuchadnezzar. It terminated 561 B.C. - the first year of Evil-merodach, the son and successor of Nebuchadnezzar. He reigned only two years, being murdered by his brother-in-law, Neriglissar, or Nergal-shar-ezer. He is said to have provoked his fate by lawless government and intemperance.
4 Kings (2 Kings) 25:28
The kings that were with him - Probably captive kings, like Jehoiachin himself. Compare Jdg 1:7.
4 Kings (2 Kings) 25:29
Evil-merodach gave him garments befitting his rank. To dress a man suitably to his position was the first thought of an Oriental Gen 41:42; Est 8:15; Dan 5:29; Luk 15:22. So again, Oriental kings regarded it as a part of their greatness to feed daily a vast multitude of persons at their courts (see Kg1 4:22-23). Of these, as here, a certain number had the special privilege of sitting actually at the royal board, while the others ate separately, generally at a lower level. See Jdg 1:7; Sa2 9:13; Kg1 2:7; Psa 41:9.
4 Kings (2 Kings) 25:30
Allowance - From the treasury, in order to enable him to maintain the state proper to his rank, and in addition to his food at the royal table. Jehoiachin, to the day of his death, lived in peace and comfort at the court of Babylon (compare Jer 52:34).