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Go to Bible: 2 Kings 24
“and Jehoiakim became his servant.” Jehoiakim had been appointed king of Judah by the Pharaoh Necoh (2 Kings 23:34), but by now Nebuchadnezzar was more powerful and influential than Egypt.(top)
“And Yahweh sent against him.” This is the idiom of permission, where Yahweh allows something to happen because someone’s sins, or a nation’s sins, prevent Yahweh from righteously protecting the people. As we see from the scope and context (cp. 2 Kings 24:3), the sins of Manasseh had so infiltrated and involved the people of Judah, and the people of Judah were so sinful themselves, that Yahweh could not righteously protect them from demonic oppression and control.
“and he sent them against Judah to destroy it.” Although the verb translated “sent” at the beginning and end of the verse is the same, the last “sent” is more intensive than the first one. God had said He would send the foreign nations against Judah because of their sins (cp. Jer. 25:9; 35:11).(top)
“because of the sins of Manasseh.” Some are listed in 2 Kings 21:2-3.(top)
“the innocent blood that he had shed.” This is also mentioned in 2 Kings 21:16.
“and Yahweh was not willing to forgive.” God will forgive sin if people truly repent and confess, so this verse is not saying that God will not forgive the killing of innocent people. History is full of murderers who God has forgiven, including the Apostle Paul. What this verse is saying is that the sins of Manasseh were still affecting the people of Judah over 30 years after Manasseh died, and so because of the ongoing sin God could not forgive Judah. By the time of 2 Kings 24:4, during the reign of Jehoiakim, it had been over 30 years since Manasseh died, and those 30 years included Josiah’s reform during which the Temple was repaired and the feasts kept. But as good and godly as Josiah tried to be, he never cleansed Judah of its deeply-rooted sin. What was really going on such that God could not forgive Judah was happening both in the spiritual and the physical realm.
On the physical level, people who had participated in the terrible sins of Manasseh were still around and still affecting Judah. Some of those people were likely in the royal family, some were likely high officials in the kingdom, and some were likely high-ranking military officers. These people would still be doing evil, even if it was not being done on a national level or very openly. On a spiritual level, the heinous sin opened the door for demons to infiltrate the kingdom and influence people’s thoughts and actions, as well as cause other types of disasters such as famines, floods, destructive weather, etc. When demons are empowered by sin to work in a family or kingdom, they work to get deeply rooted in it, and therefore do not leave just because a righteous ruler comes to power. It takes years and diligent work to clean a kingdom or family of the influence of demons, and stopping egregious sins such as murder and idolatry—and there are other such sins as well—is part of cleansing the kingdom in the sight of God.
The fact that a kingdom or nation can be adversely affected by sin and evil long after the primary sinner or sinners are gone is the same reason that God says in the Ten Commandments that if people are involved in idolatry that they will suffer the consequences of that idolatry to the 3rd and 4th generation (Exod. 20:5). Although some idolatry is simply the result of ignorance, a lot of idolatry reveals the disdain and defiance that a person has for God, and that attitude is usually passed down in whole or in part from parents to children. Furthermore, the idolatry also allows demons to come into the family in various ways, including demon possession and oppression, and also direct demonic influences that cause destruction, sickness, and poverty.
The world is a war zone between Good and Evil, and when we humans are evil, God cannot protect us from the evil spirits that we allow into our lives through our ungodly behavior. Also, sadly, as in any war, there is collateral damage and other people who are doing their best to be godly often get hurt.(top)
“Now the rest of the acts of Jehoiakim.” The Book of Chronicles, and especially the Book of Jeremiah, have a lot more to say about Jehoiakim, who was an evil king. Chronicles tells us that Nebuchadnezzar had Jehoiakim put in chains to bring him to Babylon, but he never made it there. From Chronicles and Jeremiah we learn that Jehoiakim died in chains and was not even buried but was ingloriously thrown outside the gate of Jerusalem to rot and be eaten by vermin. That is the meaning of being buried with the burial of a donkey; donkeys were not buried (Jer. 36:30; Jer. 22:18-19). It is likely that Jehoiakim’s body was dragged into the Valley of Hinnom (Greek: “Gehenna”) just south of the city wall and left there to rot.
“the Book of the Chronicles.” Jehoiakim is mentioned in 2 Chronicles 36:4-8. However, there is much more about Jehoiakim in the Book of Jeremiah (cp. Jer. 22:18-19) .(top)
“Jehoiachin.” Jehoiachin in 2 Kings is known as Jeconiah in 1 Chronicles 3:16-17, and as Coniah in Jeremiah.(top)
“the Brook of Egypt.” This is the Wadi El-Arish, which runs across the Sinai and drains into the Mediterranean Sea.(top)
“Jehoiachin was 18 years old.” In 2 Chronicles 36:9, the Hebrew text says Jehoiachin was 8, not 18, but 18 seems correct.(top)
|2Ki 24:9||- (top)|
|2Ki 24:10||- (top)|
|2Ki 24:11||- (top)|
“went out in surrender to the king of Babylon.” Jehoiachin left the walled city of Jerusalem and surrendered to Nebuchadnezzar. This was 597 BC, and Ezekiel was in this captivity and taken to Babylon at this time (Ezek. 1:2).(top)
“in Yahweh’s temple.” This could also refer to the “Holy Place” in Yahweh’s Temple.(top)
|2Ki 24:14||- (top)|
|2Ki 24:15||- (top)|
“strong and apt for war.” It seems that these people who were carried as captives to Babylon became part of the war effort in Babylon, not as fighters, but more as people who would contribute to the machinery of war.(top)
Zedekiah.” This is Josiah’s son.(top)
|2Ki 24:18||- (top)|
|2Ki 24:19||- (top)|
“And Zedekiah rebelled.” The Hebrew of this phrase can be translated as a purpose clause like the KJV, “that Zedekiah rebelled,” or it can be translated like the REV (cp. CJB; ESV; NASB; NET; NIV), in which case Zedekiah’s rebellion is not “because of” God’s anger, but in spite of it. King Zedekiah ignored the revelation that would have saved his life, the lives of his family members, and the lives of many of his people.
Zedekiah was a weak king who was fully aware of the disasters that had happened to Judah, and was also aware that some prophets and Scripture said—although he did not act like he believed it—that sinning against Yahweh brought destruction while repenting and obeying Him would bring relief (although at this point it was likely too late for any real salvation of the kingdom of Judah, but individuals could still be saved; cp. 2 Kings 23:27). At this point, sin and ungodliness had become so imbedded in the culture and the people of Judah, and especially the leaders, that God was fighting against Judah, not for it (Jer. 21:3-7). Zedekiah was concerned about his safety and likely realized that he could not defeat the Babylonians, and therefore his best course of action was to surrender. However, he eventually gave into his fear of, and pressure from, the elite of Judah and false prophets (Jer. 38:19; 28:1-4). He rebelled against Babylon, and so the prophecies of Jeremiah about what would happen to him if he did that came to pass (Jer. 27:12-15; 38:18, 21-23; Ezek. 17:16-21). He was not executed, but died a captive in prison (Jer. 34:4-5), but it must have been a miserable captivity: the last thing he saw on earth was his sons being executed, then he was taken as a prisoner to Babylon where he died (Jer. 52:9-10).
Every leader has good advisors and bad advisors, and it is often the case that the bad advisors use fear and pressure to manipulate and get what they want. A good leader finds ways to ignore the advice of the bad advisors and overcome the fears and trouble they predict. A good leader must have the strength and courage to do things God’s way, if not to make things better in this life, to make them better in the next. God no doubt tells us what He does about Zedekiah, and shows him to us as an example, so we can see the personal and social disaster that a weak and self-centered leader brings upon himself and those he leads. Zedekiah knew God’s will, but did not have the courage to obey it.(top)