Jerusalem saw not a good day after Josiah was laid in his grave, but one trouble came after another, till within twenty-two years it was quite destroyed. Of the reign of two of his sons here is a short account; the former we find here a prisoner and the latter a tributary to the king of Egypt, and both so in the very beginning of their reign. This king of Egypt having slain Josiah, though he had not had any design upon Judah, yet, being provoked by the opposition which Josiah gave him, now, it should seem, he bent all his force against his family and kingdom. If Josiah’s sons had trodden in his steps, they would have fared the better for his piety; but, deviating from them, they fared the worse for his rashness.
I. Jehoahaz, a younger son, was first made king by the people of the land, probably because he was observed to be of a more active warlike genius than his elder brother, and likely to make head against the king of Egypt and to avenge his father’s death, which perhaps the people were more solicitous about, in point of honour, than the keeping up and carrying on of his father’s reformation; and the issue was accordingly. 1. He did ill, 2 Kgs. 23:32. Though he had a good education and a good example given him, and many a good prayer, we may suppose, put up for him, yet he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord, and, it is to be feared, began to do so in his father’s lifetime, for his reign was so short that he could not, in that, show much of his character. He did according to all that his wicked fathers had done. Though he had not time to do much, yet he had chosen his patterns, and showed whom he intended to follow and whose steps he resolved to tread in; and, having done this, he is here reckoned to have done according to all the evil which those did whom he proposed to imitate. It is of great consequence to young people whom they choose to take for their patterns and whom they emulate. An error in this choice is fatal. Phil. 3:17, 18. 2. Doing ill, no wonder that he fared ill. He was but three months a prince, and was then made a prisoner, and lived and died so. The king of Egypt seized him, and put him in bands (2 Kgs. 23:33), fearing lest he should give him disturbance, and carried him to Egypt, where he died soon after, 2 Kgs. 23:34. This Jehoahaz is that young lion whom Ezekiel speaks of in his lamentation for the princes of Israel, that learnt to catch the prey and devour men (that was the evil which he did in the sight of the Lord); but the nations heard of him, he was taken in their pit, and they brought him with chains into the land of Egypt, Ezek. 19:1-4. See Jer. 22:10-12.
II. Eliakim, another son of Josiah, was made king by the king of Egypt, it is not said in the room of Jehoahaz (his reign was so short that it was scarcely worth taking notice of), but in the room of Josiah. The crown of Judah had hitherto always descended from a father to a son, and never, till now, from one brother to another; once the succession had so happened in the house of Ahab, but never, till now, in the house of David. The king of Egypt, having used his power in making him king, further showed it in changing his name; he called him Jehoiakim, a name that has reference to Jehovah, for he had no design to make him renounce or forget the religion of his country. “All people will walk in the name of their God, and let him do so.” The king of Babylon did not do so by those whose names he changed, Dan. 1:7. Of this Jehoiakim we are here told, 1. That the king of Egypt made him poor, exacted from him a vast tribute of 100 talents of silver and a talent of gold (2 Kgs. 23:33), which, with much difficulty, he squeezed out of his subjects and gave to Pharaoh, 2 Kgs. 23:35. Formerly the Israelites had spoiled the Egyptians; now the Egyptians spoil Israel. See what woeful changes sin makes. 2. That which made him poor, yet did not make him good. Notwithstanding the rebukes of Providence he was under, by which he should have been convinced, humbled, and reformed, he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord (2 Kgs. 23:37), and so prepared against himself greater judgments; for such God will send if less do not do the work for which they are sent.