Verses 8–21

Though we have reason to think that the army of the Chaldeans were much enraged against the city for holding out with so much stubbornness, yet they did not therefore put all to fire and sword as soon as they had taken the city (which is too commonly done in such cases), but about a month after (compare 2 Kgs. 25:8; 2 Kgs. 25:3) Nebuzar-adan was sent with orders to complete the destruction of Jerusalem. This space God gave them to repent, after all the foregoing days of his patience, but in vain; their hearts (for aught that appears) were still hardened, and therefore execution is awarded to the utmost. 1. The city and temple are burnt, 2 Kgs. 25:9. It does not appear that the king of Babylon designed to send any colonies to people Jerusalem and therefore he ordered it to be laid in ashes, as a nest of rebels. At the burning of the king’s house and the houses of the great men one cannot so much wonder (the inhabitants had, by their sins, made them combustible), but that the house of the Lord should perish in these flames, that that holy and beautiful house should be burnt with fire (Isa. 64:11), is very strange. That house which David prepared for, and which Solomon built at such a vast expense—that house which had the eye and heart of God perpetually upon it (1 Kgs. 9:3)-- might not that have been snatched as a brand out of this burning? No, it must not be fire-proof against God’s judgments. This stately structure must be turned into ashes, and it is probable the ark in it, for the enemies, having heard how dearly the Philistines paid for the abusing of it, durst not seize that, nor did any of its friends take care to preserve it, for then we should have heard of it again in the second temple. One of the apocryphal writers does indeed tell us that the prophet Jeremiah got it out of the temple, and conveyed it to a cave in Mount Nebo on the other side Jordan, and hid it there (2 Macc. ii. 4, 5), but that could not be, for Jeremiah was a close prisoner at that time. By the burning of the temple God would show how little cares for the external pomp of his worship when the life and power of religion are neglected. The people trusted to the temple, as if that would protect them in their sins (Jer. 7:4), but God, by this, let them know that when they had profaned it they would find it but a refuge of lies. This temple had stood about 420, some say 430 years. The people having forfeited the promises made concerning it, those promises must be understood of the gospel-temple, which is God’s rest for ever. It is observable that the second temple was burnt by the Romans the same month, and the same day of the month, that the first temple was burnt by the Chaldeans, which, Josephus says, was the tenth of August. 2. The walls of Jerusalem are demolished (2 Kgs. 25:10), as if the victorious army would be revenged on them for having kept them out so long, or at least prevent the like opposition another time. Sin unwalls a people and takes away their defence. These walls were never repaired till Nehemiah’s time. 3. The residue of the people are carried away captive to Babylon, 2 Kgs. 25:11. Most of the inhabitants had perished by sword or famine, or had made their escape when the king did (for it is said, 2 Kgs. 25:5; His army was scattered from him), so that there were very few left, who with the deserters, making in all but 832 persons (as appears, Jer. 52:29), were carried away into captivity; only the poor of the land were left behind (2 Kgs. 25:12), to till the ground and dress the vineyards for the Chaldeans. Sometimes poverty is a protection; for those that have nothing have nothing to lose. When the rich Jews, who had been oppressive to the poor, were made strangers, nay, prisoners, in an enemy’s country, the poor whom they had despised and oppressed had liberty and peace in their own country. Thus Providence sometimes remarkably humbles the proud and favours those of low degree. 4. The brazen vessels, and other appurtenances of the temple, are carried away, those of silver and gold being most of them gone before. Those two famous columns of brass, Jachin and Boaz, which signified the strength and stability of the house of God, were broken to pieces and the brass of them was carried to Babylon, 2 Kgs. 25:13. When the things signified were sinned away what should the signs stand there for? Ahaz had profanely cut off the borders of the bases, and put the brazen sea upon a pavement of stones (2 Kgs. 16:17); justly therefore are the brass themselves, and the brazen sea, delivered into the enemy’s hand. It is just with God to take away his ordinances from those that profane and abuse them, that curtail and depress them. Some things remained of gold and silver (2 Kgs. 25:15) which were now carried off; but most of this plunder was brass, such a vast quantity of it that it is said to be without weight, 2 Kgs. 25:16. The carrying away of the vessels wherewith they ministered (2 Kgs. 25:14) put an end to the ministration. It was a righteous thing with God to deprive those of the benefit of his worship who had slighted it so long and preferred false worships before it. Those that would have many altars shall now have none. 5. Several of the great men are slain in cold blood—Seraiah the chief priest (who was the father of Ezra as appears, Ezra 7:1), the second priest (who, when there was occasion, officiated for him), and three door-keepers of the temple (2 Kgs. 25:18), the general of the army, five privy-counsellors (afterwards they made them up seven, Jer. 52:25), the secretary of war, or pay-master of the army, and sixty country gentlemen who had concealed themselves in the city. These, being persons of some rank, were brought to the king of Babylon (2 Kgs. 25:19, 20), who ordered them to be all put to death (2 Kgs. 25:21), when, in reason, they might have hoped that surely the bitterness of death was past. These the king of Babylon’s revenge looked upon as most active in opposing him; but divine justice, we may suppose, looked upon them as ringleaders in that idolatry and impiety which were punished by these desolations. This completed the calamity: So Judah was carried away out of their land, about 860 years after they were put in possession of it by Joshua. Now the scripture was fulfilled, The Lord shall bring thee, and the king which thou shalt set over thee, into a nation which thou hast not known, Deut. 28:36. Sin kept their fathers forty years out of Canaan, and now turned them out. The Lord is known by those judgments which he executes, and makes good that word which he has spoken, Amos 3:2. You only have I known of all the families of the earth, therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities.