2 Kings 23-25: The Exile of Judah, the Beginning of Hope

II Kings 23:

1 Then the king sent, and all the elders of Judah and Jerusalem were gathered to him.

2 And the king went up to the house of the LORD, and with him all the men of Judah and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem and the priests and the prophets, all the people, both small and great. And he read in their hearing all the words of the Book of the Covenant that had been found in the house of the LORD.

3 And the king stood by the pillar and made a covenant before the LORD, to walk after the LORD and to keep his commandments and his testimonies and his statutes with all his heart and all his soul, to perform the words of this covenant that were written in this book. And all the people joined in the covenant.

 

The reformation of king Josiah therefore continues – for the first time in many decades is it recorded that a king would make a covenant before the LORD and with all the people joining in the covenant.  This is truly a shadow of the propitiatory penal substitution of Christ, our King who made a covenant with the Father and that we should join in this same covenant (John 17).  For who can love God with all his heart and all his soul except the Son who is at the Father’s bosom, at the Father’s side, before creation (John 1:18)?

 

4 And the king commanded Hilkiah the high priest and the priests of the second order and the keepers of the threshold to bring out of the temple of the LORD all the vessels made for Baal, for Asherah, and for all the host of heaven. He burned them outside Jerusalem in the fields of the Kidron and carried their ashes to Bethel.

5 And he deposed the priests whom the kings of Judah had ordained to make offerings in the high places at the cities of Judah and around Jerusalem; those also who burned incense to Baal, to the sun and the moon and the constellations and all the host of the heavens.

6 And he brought out the Asherah from the house of the LORD, outside Jerusalem, to the brook Kidron, and burned it at the brook Kidron and beat it to dust and cast the dust of it upon the graves of the common people.

7 And he broke down the houses of the male cult prostitutes who were in the house of the LORD, where the women wove hangings for the Asherah.

8 And he brought all the priests out of the cities of Judah, and defiled the high places where the priests had made offerings, from Geba to Beersheba. And he broke down the high places of the gates that were at the entrance of the gate of Joshua the governor of the city, which were on one’s left at the gate of the city.

9 However, the priests of the high places did not come up to the altar of the LORD in Jerusalem, but they ate unleavened bread among their brothers.

10 And he defiled Topheth, which is in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, that no one might burn his son or his daughter as an offering to Molech.

11 And he removed the horses that the kings of Judah had dedicated to the sun, at the entrance to the house of the LORD, by the chamber of Nathan-melech the chamberlain, which was in the precincts. And he burned the chariots of the sun with fire.

12 And the altars on the roof of the upper chamber of Ahaz, which the kings of Judah had made, and the altars that Manasseh had made in the two courts of the house of the LORD, he pulled down and broke in pieces and cast the dust of them into the brook Kidron.

13 And the king defiled the high places that were east of Jerusalem, to the south of the mount of corruption, which Solomon the king of Israel had built for Ashtoreth the abomination of the Sidonians, and for Chemosh the abomination of Moab, and for Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites.

14 And he broke in pieces the pillars and cut down the Asherim and filled their places with the bones of men.

15 Moreover, the altar at Bethel, the high place erected by Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin, that altar with the high place he pulled down and burned, reducing it to dust. He also burned the Asherah.

 

Verses 4 to 15 are beautiful – they are reminiscent of the work of the judges (c.f. Gideon, Judges 6) at a greater scale, the destruction of all idols leaving but the one appointed bronze altar as a reminder that there is but one sacrifice (Ephesians 4:5).  Verses 4-6 and 10 are reminders that Kidron (turbid) valley is the same place where Jesus was betrayed (John 18); and it is in this same place that David mourned (2 Samuel 15:23) as his own kin Absalom betrayed him.  So also here, the Kidron is a place of impurity, bearing witness to the sins of Israel and its idolatries and prostitution.   Indeed, it is not a place of clarity – but it is muddy, turbid, unclear, filled with corruption.

 

Rightly should Josiah go on to defile Topheth (v.10), named as such as it became a place of burning, a drum, in the Valley of the Son of Lamentation (Hinnom), lamenting the death of the sons and daughters offered to Molech.  Thus also the idols of even king Solomon and Jeroboam were destroyed – the abomination of the Sidonians, Moab, and Ammonites (c.f. Deuteronomy 18:9; 20:18).

 

16 And as Josiah turned, he saw the tombs there on the mount. And he sent and took the bones out of the tombs and burned them on the altar and defiled it, according to the word of the LORD that the man of God proclaimed, who had predicted these things.

17 Then he said, “What is that monument that I see?” And the men of the city told him, “It is the tomb of the man of God who came from Judah and predicted these things that you have done against the altar at Bethel.”

18 And he said, “Let him be; let no man move his bones.” So they let his bones alone, with the bones of the prophet who came out of Samaria.

19 And Josiah removed all the shrines also of the high places that were in the cities of Samaria, which kings of Israel had made, provoking the LORD to anger. He did to them according to all that he had done at Bethel.

20 And he sacrificed all the priests of the high places who were there, on the altars, and burned human bones on them. Then he returned to Jerusalem.

 

The cleansing is thorough – and Josiah thus fulfils the prophecy made in 1 Kings 13:2-3, the prophecy made against the line of Jeroboam which many sinful kings have walked in, implying an end to the evil king’s corruption spreading throughout Israel.  Josiah knows that this man is indeed a man of God, contrary to the recipients of his cleansing in the previous verses – indeed, “Let him be; let no man move his bones”.  His bones shall not be defiled (1 Kings 13:32).  Thus, the bones are preserved, not because cremation is a practice not for Christians; rather, the burning of the human bones on the same altars built by these sinful men is a pronouncement of the LORD’s judgment against them.  These men did not accept the sacrifice of the one lamb, the one LORD, Christ – and instead, they stand outside of htem whereby they too shall receive the wrath of the Father that Christ did on the cross.  Shall we, too, be burned on our own altars for presumptuously relying on more than the cross?  Or shall we look only to the sacrificial scapegoat, the slaughtered Lamb, and remember that He is sufficient in his propitiatory work?  Josiah’s reformation and specific acts are a timely reminder to look only to Christ, our Passover Lamb, and remember that is sufficient in a time of zealous but empty religiosity:

 

 

21 And the king commanded all the people, “Keep the Passover to the LORD your God, as it is written in this Book of the Covenant.”

22 For no such Passover had been kept since the days of the judges who judged Israel, or during all the days of the kings of Israel or of the kings of Judah.

23 But in the eighteenth year of King Josiah this Passover was kept to the LORD in Jerusalem.

24 Moreover, Josiah put away the mediums and the necromancers and the household gods and the idols and all the abominations that were seen in the land of Judah and in Jerusalem, that he might establish the words of the law that were written in the book that Hilkiah the priest found in the house of the LORD.

25 Before him there was no king like him, who turned to the LORD with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his might, according to all the Law of Moses, nor did any like him arise after him.

 

There is indeed no king like Josiah, following after the words of Deuteronomy 18.  As is the fitting description in 2 Chronicles 34:33 – 33  And Josiah took away all the abominations from all the territory that belonged to the people of Israel and made all who were present in Israel serve the LORD their God. All his days they did not turn away from following the LORD, the God of their fathers.”  The Passover was of such significance to Josiah that “no passover like it has been kept in Israel since the days of Samuel the prophet” (c.f. 2 Chronicles 35:1-19, especially v. 18).  It is a depressing state of events, where no king has kept such as Passover as was kept by Josiah (2 Chronicles 35:19).

 

ALL his days they did not turn away – what a glorious period, perhaps even greater than the period of Solomon who had ushered in idolatry even during his time.  Yet, the LORD’s wrath is not turned – for Josiah is but a king, and Christ is the true king who shall usher in the end times of reformation and sanctification until His second return.  Josiah’s name is not enough – Christ’s name is the one that the LORD wishes to imprint into Jerusalem, after it is refined through the Assyrian and Babylonian captivity:

 

26 Still the LORD did not turn from the burning of his great wrath, by which his anger was kindled against Judah, because of all the provocations with which Manasseh had provoked him.

27 And the LORD said, “I will remove Judah also out of my sight, as I have removed Israel, and I will cast off this city that I have chosen, Jerusalem, and the house of which I said, My name shall be there.”

28 Now the rest of the acts of Josiah and all that he did, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah?

29 In his days Pharaoh Neco king of Egypt went up to the king of Assyria to the river Euphrates. King Josiah went to meet him, and Pharaoh Neco killed him at Megiddo, as soon as he saw him.

30 And his servants carried him dead in a chariot from Megiddo and brought him to Jerusalem and buried him in his own tomb. And the people of the land took Jehoahaz the son of Josiah, and anointed him, and made him king in his father’s place.

 

Although not fully recorded in 2 Kings 23, the death of Josiah is perhaps more fully explained in 2 Chronicles 35:

 

“20  After all this, when Josiah had prepared the temple, Neco king of Egypt went up to fight at Carchemish on the Euphrates and Josiah went out to meet him. 21  But he sent envoys to him, saying, “What have we to do with each other, king of Judah? I am not coming against you this day, but against the house with which I am at war. And God has commanded me to hurry. Cease opposing God, who is with me, lest he destroy you.” 22  Nevertheless, Josiah did not turn away from him, but disguised himself in order to fight with him. He did not listen to the words of Neco from the mouth of God, but came to fight in the plain of Megiddo. 23  And the archers shot King Josiah. And the king said to his servants, “Take me away, for I am badly wounded.” 24  So his servants took him out of the chariot and carried him in his second chariot and brought him to Jerusalem. And he died and was buried in the tombs of his fathers. All Judah and Jerusalem mourned for Josiah. 25  Jeremiah also uttered a lament for Josiah; and all the singing men and singing women have spoken of Josiah in their laments to this day. They made these a rule in Israel; behold, they are written in the Laments. 26  Now the rest of the acts of Josiah, and his good deeds according to what is written in the Law of the LORD, 27  and his acts, first and last, behold, they are written in the Book of the Kings of Israel and Judah.”

 

We see that Josiah entered into a quarrel that was not against Israel, but against the king of Assyria (also recorded in v.29 of this chapter).  What we see increasingly, however, is the LORD working through these neighbouring nations to bring a (temporary) end to Israel (c.f. 2 Kings 24:3).  It is indeed the LORD’s plan to pit Neco and Assyria against one another, and Josiah’s intervention is arguably part of the LORD’s plan too, in fulfillment of His own prophecy (c.f. 2 Kings 22:20).  His death is neither untimely nor abrupt – it is intentional, for it shows Josiah’s powerlessness as the type of Christ against the LORD’s allowance that chaos and darkness reign before the incarnation of the Light of lights (Genesis 1:2-3).  The senselessness of the death of Josiah is but a firm reminder that even in a holy man like Josiah, in direct contrast to Manasseh, that salvation was never through the kings but through Christ alone, the Passover Lamb Whom Josiah looked forward to.

 

See Matthew Henry’s commentary on Josiah’s death:

 

“Notwithstanding this he was cut off by a violent death in the midst of his days, and his kingdom was ruined within a few years after. Consequent upon such a reformation as this, one would have expected nothing but the prosperity and glory both of king and kingdom; but, quite contrary, we find both under a cloud… Yet even this destruction was intended to be their effectual reformation; so that we must say, not only that the criminals had filled their measure and were ripe for ruin, but also that the disease had come to a crisis, and was ready for a cure; and this shall be all the fruit, even the taking away of sin. As an evidence of this, even the reforming king is cut off in the midst of his usefulness–in mercy to him, that he might not see the evil which was coming upon his kingdom, but in wrath to his people, for his death was an inlet to their desolations. The king of Egypt waged war, it seems, with the king of Assyria: so the king of Babylon is now called. Josiah’s kingdom lay between them. He therefore thought himself concerned to oppose the king of Egypt, and check the growing, threatening, greatness of his power; for though, at this time, he protested that he had no design against Josiah, yet, if he should prevail to unite the river of Egypt and the river Euphrates, the land of Judah would soon be overflowed between them. Therefore Josiah went against him, and was killed in the first engagement, 29, 30. Here, (1.) We cannot justify Josiah’s conduct. He had no clear call to engage in this war, nor do we find that he asked counsel of God by urim or prophets concerning it. What had he to do to appear and act as a friend and ally to the king of Assyria? Should he help the ungodly and love those that hate the Lord? If the kings of Egypt and Assyria quarrelled, he had reason to think God would bring good out of it to him and his people, by making them instrumental to weaken one another. Some understand the promise made to him that he should come to his grave in peace in a sense in which it was not performed because, by his miscarriage in this matter, he forfeited the benefit of it. God has promised to keep us in all our ways; but, if we go out of our way, we throw ourselves out of his protection. I understand the promise so as that I believe it was fulfilled, for he died in peace with God and his own conscience, and saw not, nor had any immediate prospect of, the destruction of Judah and Jerusalem by the Chaldeans; yet I understand the providence to be a rebuke to him for his rashness… We must adore God’s righteousness in taking away such a jewel from an unthankful people that knew not how to value it. They greatly lamented his death (2 Chron. xxxv. 25), urged to it by Jeremiah, who told them the meaning of it, and what a threatening omen it was; but they had not made a due improvement of the mercies they enjoyed by his life, of which God taught them the worth by the want.”

 

However, this is not a senselessness without hope.  The victory of Christ is assured.  In the words of Dev Menon in his commentary on Revelation: … the armies of the world assemble at the Mount of Megiddo, the very place where Josiah (God supports) was pierced (2 Chronicles 35, Zechariah 12, John 19:37). That is the place of their destruction. The place of the cross.”  In the midst of the battle between Assyria and Egypt, Megiddo is the place of the cross where the restoration of New Jerusalem begins and the refinement of creation leads to the destruction of those standing outside of Christ.  However, for now, not yet.

 

31 Jehoahaz was twenty-three years old when he began to reign, and he reigned three months in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Hamutal the daughter of Jeremiah of Libnah.

32 And he did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his fathers had done.

33 And Pharaoh Neco put him in bonds at Riblah in the land of Hamath, that he might not reign in Jerusalem, and laid on the land a tribute of a hundred talents of silver and a talent of gold.

34 And Pharaoh Neco made Eliakim the son of Josiah king in the place of Josiah his father, and changed his name to Jehoiakim. But he took Jehoahaz away, and he came to Egypt and died there.

35 And Jehoiakim gave the silver and the gold to Pharaoh, but he taxed the land to give the money according to the command of Pharaoh. He exacted the silver and the gold of the people of the land, from everyone according to his assessment, to give it to Pharaoh Neco.

 

Thus, Jehoahaz (whom the LORD sustains), the son of Josiah is anointed by the people, although walking in the ways rejected by His father.  He is immediately placed under bonds in Riblah in the land of Hamath and made the land a tributary to Egypt.  Instead, Pharoah Neco takes away the anointed son, and opts for Eliakim (raised up by God) changing his name to Jehoiakim (whom Jehovah sets up / resurrects).  There is, however, a question over why Pharoah Neco would change Eliakim’s name (which already is in reverence to the LORD) except to indicate that the Pharoah indeed believes he is the LORD who set up Eliakim – not the LORD who anointed Jehoahaz and the kings before him.  The Pharoah, in understanding the hope of the Israelites, has thus removed any anointed son of God, any potential Messiah, and instead opted for his own king whom he set up and through whom would do Pharoah Neco’s bidding.  Yet, there will come a day where the true Jehoiakim, whom the Father resurrects, the Anointed Son that will be itself a kingdom of heaven and earth for all other nations to be spiritual tributaries to it (Isaiah 2:2-5).

 

36 Jehoiakim was twenty-five years old when he began to reign, and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Zebidah the daughter of Pedaiah of Rumah.

37 And he did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his fathers had done.

 

II Kings 24:

1 In his days, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up, and Jehoiakim became his servant three years. Then he turned and rebelled against him.

2 And the LORD sent against him bands of the Chaldeans and bands of the Syrians and bands of the Moabites and bands of the Ammonites, and sent them against Judah to destroy it, according to the word of the LORD that he spoke by his servants the prophets.

3 Surely this came upon Judah at the command of the LORD, to remove them out of his sight, for the sins of Manasseh, according to all that he had done,

4 and also for the innocent blood that he had shed. For he filled Jerusalem with innocent blood, and the LORD would not pardon.

5 Now the rest of the deeds of Jehoiakim and all that he did, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah?

6 So Jehoiakim slept with his fathers, and Jehoiachin his son reigned in his place.

7 And the king of Egypt did not come again out of his land, for the king of Babylon had taken all that belonged to the king of Egypt from the Brook of Egypt to the river Euphrates.

 

Israel’s return to slavery in Egypt is a reversal of the events of Exodus – and once again, the nation is enslaved even further into the hands of the Babylonians.  This is because the anointed kings have not walked in the ways of David the type of Christ – shedding innocent blood when they should be relying on the blood of the Lamb.  Disappointingly, though not surprisingly, Jehoiachin, the son of brass (Nehushta c.f. 2 Kings 18:4) continues to reign in evil as the darkest time of Israel ushers near.

 

 

8 Jehoiachin was eighteen years old when he became king, and he reigned three months in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Nehushta the daughter of Elnathan of Jerusalem.

9  And he did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his father had done.

10 At that time the servants of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up to Jerusalem, and the city was besieged.

11 And Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to the city while his servants were besieging it,

12 and Jehoiachin the king of Judah gave himself up to the king of Babylon, himself and his mother and his servants and his officials and his palace officials. The king of Babylon took him prisoner in the eighth year of his reign

13 and carried off all the treasures of the house of the LORD and the treasures of the king’s house, and cut in pieces all the vessels of gold in the temple of the LORD, which Solomon king of Israel had made, as the LORD had foretold.

 

Thus, the work of Josiah is undone (2 Kings 22-23), the treasures of the house of the LORD removed and cut in pieces (c.f. Deuteronomy 28:49; 2 Kings 20:17).  Note in particular the LORD’s usage of Nebuchadnezzar in relation to Israel as observed by Adam Clarke:

 

“It has been remarked that Nebuchadnezzar spoiled the temple three times.-1. He took away the greater part of those treasures when he took

Jerusalem under Jehoiakim: and the vessels that he took then he placed in the temple of his god, Da 1:2. And these were the vessels which Belshazzar profaned, Da 5:2; and which Cyrus restored to Ezra, when he went up to Jerusalem, Ezr 1:2.  It was at this time that he took Daniel and his companions. 2. He took the remaining part of those vessels, and broke them or cut them in pieces, when he came the second tine against Jerusalem under Jeconiah; as is mentioned here, 2Ki 24:13. 3. He pillaged the temple, took away all the brass, the brazen pillars, brazen vessels, and vessels of gold and silver, which he found there when he besieged Jerusalem under Zedekiah, 2Ki 25:13-17.”

 

 

14 He carried away all Jerusalem and all the officials and all the mighty men of valor, 10,000 captives, and all the craftsmen and the smiths. None remained, except the poorest people of the land.

15 And he carried away Jehoiachin to Babylon. The king’s mother, the king’s wives, his officials, and the chief men of the land he took into captivity from Jerusalem to Babylon.

16 And the king of Babylon brought captive to Babylon all the men of valor, 7,000, and the craftsmen and the metal workers, 1,000, all of them strong and fit for war.

17 And the king of Babylon made Mattaniah, Jehoiachin’s uncle, king in his place, and changed his name to Zedekiah.

18 Zedekiah was twenty-one years old when he became king, and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Hamutal the daughter of Jeremiah of Libnah.

19 And he did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, according to all that Jehoiakim had done.

20 For because of the anger of the LORD it came to the point in Jerusalem and Judah that he cast them out from his presence.

 

And Zedekiah rebelled against the king of Babylon.

 

In similar manner to the replacement of Jehoahaz, so also Jehoiachin is replaced by another – Mattaniah (gift of Jehovah), whose name is changed to Zedekiah (justice of Jehovah) – ironically so, as this justice is believed by the king of Babylon to be brought by the king who sees himself as Jehovah.  What arrogance of Pharoah Neco and the king of Babylon, seeing themselves as the LORD who sets up and the LORD who imparts justice!  They will be recipients of such justice when they look upon the victory of the cross at Megiddo, at the place where Josiah was pierced, and regret that they made a mockery of the visible LORD who is resurrected by the LORD of the third heaven.

 

II Kings 25:

1 And in the ninth year of his reign, in the tenth month, on the tenth day of the month, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came with all his army against Jerusalem and laid siege to it. And they built siegeworks all around it.

2 So the city was besieged till the eleventh year of King Zedekiah.

3 On the ninth day of the fourth month the famine was so severe in the city that there was no food for the people of the land.

4 Then a breach was made in the city, and all the men of war fled by night by the way of the gate between the two walls, by the king’s garden, though the Chaldeans were around the city. And they went in the direction of the Arabah.

5 But the army of the Chaldeans pursued the king and overtook him in the plains of Jericho, and all his army was scattered from him.

6 Then they captured the king and brought him up to the king of Babylon at Riblah, and they passed sentence on him.

7 They slaughtered the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes, and put out the eyes of Zedekiah and bound him in chains and took him to Babylon.

 

Yet, this justice of Jehovah is destroyed – a fulfillment of the wrath of God against Israel, the temporary serving of justice upon the appointed nation.  In a time of no food, in the worst time of Israel, the king of Judah was judged – for what reason?  Because the kings of Israel did not follow Christ.  What irony that the men of Israel went in the direction of the Arabah (burnt up) and Nebuchadnezzar took them back to the land of fertility (Riblah).  The LORD thus passed the just judgment upon Zedekiah as the representative of Israel, through Babylon – the utmost shame of being sentenced by a godless and arrogant nation.   Not only the destruction of the king, but also the destruction of the house of the LORD (1 Kings 6) – the house in which the true king shall reign forever.  Yet, let us remember – “But will God indeed dwell on the earth?  Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you; how much less this house that I have built!” (1 Kings 8:27)  Indeed – the house of the LORD is not this pitiful temple (which is but a shadow, a temporary rendition of the heavenly home) but the new dwelling place that the LORD is preparing for us (John 14:2-3).

 

8 In the fifth month, on the seventh day of the month—that 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.

9 And he burned the house of the LORD and the king’s house and all the houses of Jerusalem; every great house he burned down.

10 And all the army of the Chaldeans, who were with the captain of the guard, broke down the walls around Jerusalem.

11 And the rest of the people who were left in the city and the deserters who had deserted to the king of Babylon, together with the rest of the multitude, Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard carried into exile.

12 But the captain of the guard left some of the poorest of the land to be vinedressers and plowmen.

13 And the pillars of bronze that were in the house of the LORD, and 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.

14 And they took away the pots and the shovels and the snuffers and the dishes for incense and all the vessels of bronze used in the temple service,

15 the fire pans also and the bowls. What was of gold the captain of the guard took away as gold, and what was of silver, as silver.

16 As for the two pillars, the one sea, and the stands that Solomon had made for the house of the LORD, the bronze of all these vessels was beyond weight.

17 The height of the one pillar was eighteen cubits, and on it was a capital of bronze. The height of the capital was three cubits. A latticework and pomegranates, all of bronze, were all around the capital. And the second pillar had the same, with the latticework.

18 And the captain of the guard took Seraiah the chief priest and Zephaniah the second priest and the three keepers of the threshold,

19 and from the city he took an officer who had been in command of the men of war, and five men of the king’s council who were found in the city, and the secretary of 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.

20 And Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard took them and brought them to the king of Babylon at Riblah.

21 And the king of Babylon struck them down and put them to death at Riblah in the land of Hamath. So Judah was taken into exile out of its land.

 

Note the brief description of the items in the house of the LORD – the gold, the silver, the bronze – the pillars of the House (Jachin and Boaz, He shall establish and alacrity respectively), and the chief priest Seraiah (prince of the LORD) and Zephaniah (hidden by Jehovah) – all struck down and put to death at the land of fertility (Riblah).  The irony.  Thus, Judah was taken into exile – the hope of the LORD, the offspring of Adam (Genesis 3:15), the gospel at an end.

 

Yet, that is not true – for the LORD’s kingdom shall be established; no matter how dark the chaos, the light shall reign – the light shall defeat darkness without contention.  Although neither Zedekiah nor the house stand in the face of such oppression, let us remember the hope that the LORD has given to David:

 

2 Samuel 7:11-16 – “And I will give you rest from all your enemies. Moreover, the LORD declares to you that the LORD will make you a house.

12 When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom.

13 He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.

14 I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son. When he commits iniquity, I will discipline him with the rod of men, with the stripes of the sons of men,

15 but my steadfast love will not depart from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away from before you.

16 And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever.

 

He is not Solomon – He is the Christ, who shall build a house for His Father, preparing rooms for His co-heirs, establishing the throne of the Father’s kingdom forever.  Christ is His Son, disciplined by the rod of men on the cross when he bore our sins – the piercing being the stripes of the sons of men, but His Father’s love never departing the Messiah.  Thus, and only on that day, shall the kingdom of Christ reign forever – his throne established forever.  The grand plan of the Messiah shall come to fruition.

 

22 And over the people who remained in the land of Judah, whom Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had left, he appointed Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, son of Shaphan, governor.

23 Now when all the captains and their men heard that the king of Babylon had appointed Gedaliah governor, they came with their men to Gedaliah at Mizpah, namely, Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, and Johanan the son of Kareah, and Seraiah the son of Tanhumeth the Netophathite, and Jaazaniah the son of the Maacathite.

24 And Gedaliah swore to them and their men, saying, “Do not be afraid because of the Chaldean officials. Live in the land and serve the king of Babylon, and it shall be well with you.”

25 But in the seventh month, Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, son of Elishama, of the royal family, came with ten men and struck down Gedaliah and put him to death along with the Jews and the Chaldeans who were with him at Mizpah.

26 Then all the people, both small and great, and the captains of the forces arose and went to Egypt, for they were afraid of the Chaldeans.

 

In the seventh month, the month of Tishri (the same month as the Day of Atonement; c.f. Leviticus 23:27), the month of beginnings, Ishmael of the royal family came with ten men and struck down the governor appointed by Nebuchadnezzar, at Mizpah (the watch-tower).  This is a time of waiting, a time when the people – both small and great – scattered to Egypt for they were afraid of the Babylonians / Chaldeans.

 

Now, we turn to the thirty-seventh year of the exile of Jehoiachin king of Judah (decades since 2 Kings 24).  The time skip is between v.26 to v.27, for the narrator wants us to be reminded of the hope of 2 Samuel 7 – that, in the twelfth month, before Nisan – the month of the Passover, the successor of Nebuchadnezzar (Evil-merodach, the fool of death) freed Jehoiachin.  Instead of Zedekiah, the narrator chose to look at the grace bestowed upon Jehoiachin, whom Jehovah has appointed, as this king of Judah is freed from the pit and was given a seat above the seats of the kings in Babylon.  Jehoiachin is thus no longer a prisoner, but walks with his head higher than the kings.

 

27 And in the thirty-seventh year of the exile of Jehoiachin king of Judah, in the twelfth month, on the twenty-seventh day of the month, Evil-merodach king of Babylon, in the year that he began to reign, graciously freed Jehoiachin king of Judah from prison.

28 And he spoke kindly to him and gave him a seat above the seats of the kings who were with him in Babylon.

29 So Jehoiachin put off his prison garments. And every day of his life he dined regularly at the king’s table,

30 and for his allowance, a regular allowance was given him by the king, according to his daily needs, as long as he lived.

 

Yet, what led us to this place?  What led us to Evil-merodach’s change of heart from Nebuchadnezzar?  This is a story left for the next books, revealing much more of God’s plan of redemption through Christ, the restoration of His house (2 Chronicles 36:22-23), and the ushering of His Son’s incarnation.

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2 Kings 23-25: The Exile of Judah, the Beginning of Hope

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