2 Chronicles 36 Bible Commentary

John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible

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This chapter records the reigns of the four kings of Judah, and the captivity of the Jews, the short reign of Jehoahaz, deposed by the king of Egypt, and his brother Eliakim or Jehoiakim set up in his room, 2 Chronicles 36:1, the reign of Jehoiakim, who was bound and carried away by Nebuchadnezzar, 2 Chronicles 36:5, the reign of Jehoiachin his son, who also in a short time was taken and carried to Babylon by the same king, 2 Chronicles 36:9, the reign of Zedekiah, who also rebelled against the king of Babylon, and he and his people were taken and carried captive by him for his sins, which are here mentioned, according to the prophecy of Jeremiah, and where the Jews continued until the reign of the kingdom of Persia, 2 Chronicles 36:11 and the chapter is concluded with the proclamation of Cyrus king of Persia, and with which also the next book begins, 2 Chronicles 36:22.

Verses 1-13. Then the people of the land took Jehoahaz the son of Josiah,.... Of whose reign, and of the three following, Jehoiakim, Jehoiachin, and Zedekiah, and the account of them, from hence to the end of 2 Chronicles 36:13, what needs explanation or reconciliation.

Verse 14. Moreover, the chief of the priests, and of the people, transgressed very much after all the abominations of the Heathens,.... The priests, and even the chief of them, who should have instructed the people in the duties of religion, and retained them in the pure worship of God, these were the ringleaders of idolatry, who led the people to commit all the idolatries of the Heathens round about them; and of the people, all ranks and degrees of them were corrupted with them; this was their case in several of the preceding reigns, and now a little before the destruction of them:

and polluted the house of the Lord, which he had hallowed in Jerusalem; the temple dedicated to his worship there; this they defiled, by setting up idols in it.

Verse 15. And the Lord God of their fathers sent to them by his messengers,.... The prophets of the Lord, to admonish them of their idolatries, and to reprove them for them, to warn them of the wrath of God that would come upon them on that account, unless they repented and reformed; these were at the beginning of their apostasy, and were successively continued unto this time, as Ahijah, Elijah, and others, in the first times of it; Amos, Isaiah, and others, in the middle of it; and Jeremiah, Zephaniah, and Ezekiel, towards the close of it:

rising up betimes, and sending; which is either to be understood of the Lord, and as expressive of his care and diligence, like the master of a family, solicitous for the good of it; or of the messengers, the prophets, who made haste to go or send their prophecies and instructions to reclaim the people; the phrase is often to be met with in the prophecy of Jeremiah, See Gill on "Jer 11:7":

because he had compassion on his people, and on his dwellingplace; being unwilling they should come to ruin, and perish, and their city and temple be destroyed where they dwelt.

Verse 16. But they mocked the messengers of God, and despised his words,.... Which was the treatment Jeremiah and Ezekiel frequently met with:

and misused his prophets; imprisoned them, as Micaiah and Jeremiah were:

until the wrath of the Lord arose against his people; which burned like fire in his breast, and broke out to the consumption of them:

till there was no remedy; or healing of them; there was no reclaiming or recovering of them, no bringing them to repentance, and no pardon for them.

Verse 17. Therefore he brought upon them the king of the Chaldees,.... Nebuchadnezzar; and though it was the rebellion of Zedekiah which was the cause and occasion of his coming against them, yet it was the Lord that moved him to it, and gave him success:

who slew their young men with the sword, in the house of the sanctuary; in the temple, where they took sanctuary, imagining that sacred place would protect them from the rage of the enemy, but it did not:

and had no compassion on young man or maiden, old man, or him that stooped for age; spared none on account of age or sex, but put them all to the sword, or carried them captive:

he gave them into his hand; that is, the Lord delivered them into the hand of the king of Babylon, for their sins.

Verse 18. And all the vessels of the house of God, great and small,.... All that were left; for some had been carried away in both the reigns preceding:

and the treasures of the house of the Lord, and the treasures of the king and of his princes; which became the spoil and booty of the soldiers:

all these he brought to Babylon; the vessels were laid up there, and restored when Cyrus took it; but the treasures were no doubt in part taken for his own use, and the rest divided in the army.

Verse 19. And they burnt the house of the Lord,.... The temple; of which, and what follows in this verse, See Gill on "Jer 52:13," See Gill on "Jer 52:14."

Verse 20. And them that had escaped from the sword carried he away captive,.... The king of Babylon, or his general by his orders, excepting some poor persons left to till the land, see Jeremiah 52:15,

where they were servants to him and his sons; his son Evilmerodach, and his grandson Belshazzar, See Gill on "Jer 27:7":

until the reign of the kingdom of Persia; until that monarchy began, as it did upon the taking of Babylon by Cyrus king of Persia. This is the first place we meet with this name of Persia in Scripture. The Arabic writers differ about the origin of it; some derive it from Pars the son of Arsham (Arphaxad), the son of Shem; others from Pars the son of Amur, the son of Japheth; and others say Pars was the son of Elam, the son of Shem, the son of Noah {a}; but Bochart {b}, seems to be most correct in the derivation of the word, who observes, from Xenophon {c}, horses were very rare in this country; and very few could ride them before the times of Cyrus, who taught his foot soldiers to ride horses; and hence it became common, so that none of the best men of the land cared to be seen on foot; yea, he made a law, that it should be reckoned infamous if any of those he had taught the art of riding were seen to go on foot, though ever so little a way; from this sudden change made in his time the people were called Persians, and the country Persia; in the Arabic language, "pharas" signifying a horse, and "pharis" a horseman; and the same writer observes, that hence it is that no mention is made of this country, in the name of Persia, by Isaiah and Jeremiah; but by Ezekiel and Daniel, who were contemporary with Cyrus; and in this book and the following historical ones, which were wrote after the Babylonish captivity, as their history shows; and that this book was, is clear from the preceding clause, as well as from the three last verses.

{a} Hyde, Hist. Relig. Vet. Pers. c. 35. p. 418, 419. {b} Phaleg. l. 4. c. 10. col. 224. {c} Cyropaedia, l. 1. c. 11. & l. 4. c. 17, 18.

Verse 21. To fulfil the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah,.... That is, the Jews were so long servants in Babylon, as in the preceding verse, to accomplish Jeremiah's prophecy of it, 2 Chronicles 25:12

until the land had enjoyed her sabbaths; the sabbatical years, or seventh year sabbaths, which, according to the law of the land, was to rest from being tilled, Leviticus 25:4, which law had been neglected by the Jews, and now, whether they would or not, the land should have rest for want of persons to till it:

for as long as she lay desolate she kept sabbath, to fulfil threescore and ten years; as threatened in Leviticus 26:34 on which text Jarchi observes, that at the destruction of the first temple the law concerning the sabbath, or rest of the land had been neglected four hundred and thirty years, in which space were sixty nine sabbatical years; and, according to Maimonides {d}, it was at the end of a sabbatic year that the city and temple were destroyed, and so just seventy years had been neglected, and the land was tilled in them as in other years, and now it had rest that exact number of years; but of this we cannot be certain, though it is probable.

{d} Hilchot Shemitah Veyobel, c. 10. sect. 3.

Verses 22-23. Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia,.... These two verses are the same with which the next book, the book of Ezra, begins, where they will be explained; and these two books, the one ending and the other beginning with the same words, is a strong presumption, that one and the same person, Ezra, is the writer of them both; or rather, as a learned {e} writer conjectures, these two verses are added by some transcriber, who, having finished the book of Chronicles at verse twenty one went on with the book of Ezra, without any stop; but, perceiving his mistake, broke off abruptly; for so it is plain these verses conclude; however, this shows, as the same writer observes, that the book of Ezra followed that of the Chronicles, in the Hebrew copies, though it now does not.

{e} Dr. Kennicott's Dissert. 1. p. 492, &c.