We left king Zedekiah in rebellion against the king of Babylon (2 Kgs. 24:20), contriving and endeavouring to shake off his yoke, when he was no way able to do it, nor took the right method by making God his friend first. Now here we have an account of the fatal consequences of that attempt.
I. The king of Babylon’s army laid siege to Jerusalem, 2 Kgs. 25:1. What should hinder them when the country was already in their possession? 2 Kgs. 24:2. They built forts against the city round about, whence, by such arts of war as they then had, they battered it, sent into it instruments of death, and kept out of it the necessary supports of life. Formerly Jerusalem had been compassed with the favour of God as with a shield, but now their defence had departed from them and their enemies surrounded them on every side. Those that by sin have provoked God to leave them will find that innumerable evils will compass them about. Two years this siege lasted; at first the army retired, for fear of the king of Egypt (Jer. 37:11), but, finding him not so powerful as they thought, they soon returned, with a resolution not to quit the city till they had made themselves masters of it.
II. During this siege the famine prevailed (2 Kgs. 25:3), so that for a long time they ate their bread by weight and with care, Ezek. 4:16. Thus they were punished for their gluttony and excess, their fulness of bread and feeding themselves without fear. At length there was no bread for the people of the land, that is, the common people, the soldiers, whereby they were weakened and rendered unfit for service. Now they ate their own children for want of food. See this foretold by one prophet (Ezek. 5:10) and bewailed by another, Lam. 4:3-12 Jeremiah earnestly persuaded the king to surrender (Jer. 38:17), but his heart was hardened to his destruction.
III. At length the city was taken by storm: it was broken up, 2 Kgs. 25:4. The besiegers made a breach in the wall, at which they forced their way into it. The besieged, unable any longer to defend it, endeavoured to quit it, and make the best of their way; and many, no doubt, were put to the sword, the victorious army being much exasperated by their obstinacy.
IV. The king, his family, and all his great men, made their escape in the night, by some secret passages which the besiegers either had not discovered or did not keep their eye upon, 2 Kgs. 25:4. But those as much deceive themselves who think to escape God’s judgments as those who think to brave them; the feet of him that flees from them will as surely fail as the hands of him that fights against them. When God judges he will overcome. Intelligence was given to the Chaldeans of the king’s flight, and which way he had gone, so that they soon overtook him, 2 Kgs. 25:5. His guards were scattered from him, every man shifting for his own safety. Had he put himself under God’s protection, that would not have failed him now. He presently fell into the enemies’ hands, and here we are told what they did with him. 1. He was brought to the king of Babylon, and tried by a council of war for rebelling against him who set him up, and to whom he had sworn fidelity. God and man had a quarrel with him for this; see Ezek. 17:16-21 The king of Babylon now lay at Riblah (which lay between Judea and Babylon), that he might be ready to give orders both to his court at home and his army abroad. 2. His sons were slain before his eyes, though children, that this doleful spectacle, the last his eyes were to behold, might leave an impression of grief and horror upon his spirit as long as he lived. In slaying his sons, they showed their indignation at his falsehood, and in effect declared that neither he nor any of his were fit to be trusted, and therefore that they were not fit to live. 3. His eyes were put out, by which he was deprived of that common comfort of human life which is given even to those that are in misery, and to the bitter in soul, the light of the sun, by which he was also disabled for any service. He dreaded being mocked, and therefore would not be persuaded to yield (38:19), but that which he feared came upon him with a witness, and no doubt added much to his misery; for, as those that are deaf suspect that every body talks of them, so those that are blind suspect that every body laughs at them. By this two prophecies that seemed to contradict one another were both fulfilled. Jeremiah prophesied that Zedekiah should be brought to Babylon, Jer. 32:5; 34:3. Ezekiel prophesied that he should not see Babylon, Ezek. 12:13. He was brought thither, but, his eyes being put out, he did not see it. Thus he ended his days, before he ended his life. 4. He was bound in fetters of brass and so carried to Babylon. He that was blind needed not be bound (his blindness fettered him), but, for his greater disgrace, they led him bound; only, whereas common malefactors are laid in irons (Ps. 105:18; 107:10), he, being a prince, was bound with fetters of brass; but that the metal was somewhat nobler and lighter was little comfort, while still he was in fetters. Let it not seem strange if those that have been held in the cords of iniquity come to be thus held in the cords of affliction, Job 36:8.