52 Zedekiah was twenty-one years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem eleven years. His mother’s name was Hamutal daughter of Jeremiah; she was from Libnah. 2 He did evil in the eyes of the Lord, just as Jehoiakim had done. 3 It was because of the Lord’s anger that all this happened to Jerusalem and Judah, and in the end he thrust them from his presence.
Now Zedekiah rebelled against the king of Babylon.
4 So in the ninth year of Zedekiah’s reign, on the tenth day of the tenth month, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon marched against Jerusalem with his whole army. They encamped outside the city and built siege works all around it. 5 The city was kept under siege until the eleventh year of King Zedekiah.
6 By the ninth day of the fourth month the famine in the city had become so severe that there was no food for the people to eat. 7 Then the city wall was broken through, and the whole army fled. They left the city at night through the gate between the two walls near the king’s garden, though the Babylonians were surrounding the city. They fled toward the Arabah, 8 but the Babylonian army pursued King Zedekiah and overtook him in the plains of Jericho. All his soldiers were separated from him and scattered, 9 and he was captured.
He was taken to the king of Babylon at Riblah in the land of Hamath,where he pronounced sentence on him. 10 There at Riblah the king of Babylon killed the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes; he also killed all the officials of Judah. 11 Then he put out Zedekiah’s eyes, bound him with bronze shackles and took him to Babylon, where he put him in prison till the day of his death.
12 On the tenth day of the fifth month, in the nineteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, Nebuzaradan commander of the imperial guard, who served the king of Babylon, came to Jerusalem.13 He set fire to the temple of the Lord, the royal palace and all the houses of Jerusalem. Every important building he burned down. 14 The whole Babylonian army, under the commander of the imperial guard, broke down all the walls around Jerusalem. 15 Nebuzaradan the commander of the guard carried into exile some of the poorest people and those who remained in the city, along with the rest of the craftsmen and those who had deserted to the king of Babylon. 16 But Nebuzaradan left behind the rest of the poorest people of the land to work the vineyards and fields.
17 The Babylonians broke up the bronze pillars, the movable stands and the bronze Sea that were at the temple of the Lord and they carried all the bronze to Babylon. 18 They also took away the pots, shovels, wick trimmers, sprinkling bowls, dishes and all the bronze articles used in the temple service. 19 The commander of the imperial guard took away the basins, censers, sprinkling bowls, pots, lampstands, dishes and bowls used for drink offerings—all that were made of pure gold or silver.
20 The bronze from the two pillars, the Sea and the twelve bronze bulls under it, and the movable stands, which King Solomon had made for the temple of the Lord, was more than could be weighed. 21 Each pillar was eighteen cubits high and twelve cubits in circumference; each was four fingers thick, and hollow. 22 The bronze capital on top of one pillar was five cubits high and was decorated with a network and pomegranates of bronze all around. The other pillar, with its pomegranates, was similar.23 There were ninety-six pomegranates on the sides; the total number of pomegranates above the surrounding network was a hundred.
24 The commander of the guard took as prisoners Seraiah the chief priest, Zephaniah the priest next in rank and the three doorkeepers.25 Of those still in the city, he took the officer in charge of the fighting men, and seven royal advisers. He also took the secretary who was chief officer in charge of conscripting the people of the land, sixty of whom were found in the city. 26 Nebuzaradan the commander took them all and brought them to the king of Babylon at Riblah. 27 There at Riblah, in the land of Hamath, the king had them executed.
So Judah went into captivity, away from her land. 28 This is the number of the people Nebuchadnezzar carried into exile:
in the seventh year, 3,023 Jews;
29 in Nebuchadnezzar’s eighteenth year,
832 people from Jerusalem;
30 in his twenty-third year,
745 Jews taken into exile by Nebuzaradan the commander of the imperial guard.
There were 4,600 people in all.
31 In the thirty-seventh year of the exile of Jehoiachin king of Judah, in the year Awel-Marduk became king of Babylon, on the twenty-fifth day of the twelfth month, he released Jehoiachin king of Judah and freed him from prison. 32 He spoke kindly to him and gave him a seat of honor higher than those of the other kings who were with him in Babylon. 33 So Jehoiachin put aside his prison clothes and for the rest of his life ate regularly at the king’s table. 34 Day by day the king of Babylon gave Jehoiachin a regular allowance as long as he lived, till the day of his death.
(Jeremiah 52:1-34 NIV)
The end of Chapter 51 reminds us that Chapter 52 is not part of Jeremiah’s writings. These events captured in Chapter 52 are likely the compilations of the editors that assembled the rest of Jeremiah’s writings.
Today’s passage, besides being the end of the book of Jeremiah, is largely a parallel of 2 Kings 24:18-25:30. This 2 Kings passage is coincidentally the end of 2 Kings as well. Today’s text covered approximately 30 years’ time and was likely written after the 2 Kings passage.
Chapter 52 is broken down into five sections:
- King Zedekiah’s reign, rebellion, and end (vv. 1-11)
- King nebuchadnezzar’s destruction of Jerusalem (vv. 12-16)
- The looting of the Temple (vv. 17-23)
- The record of the exiles (vv. 24-30)
- Former King Jehoiachin’s release (vv. 31-34)
We could spend a lot of time comparing and contrasting today’s text with the 2 Kings passage. However, I think the best use of our time is to focus on verses 31 – 34, the very end of the book (and the parallel to the end of 2 Kings (2 Kings 25:27-30).
While verses 1 – 30 of chapter 52 look back on the rebellion of God’s people and God’s judgment on them, verses 31 – 34 look forward to God keeping His promises (see 23:5-6 and 33:19-22).
Put yourself in King Jehoiachin’s place for a moment. You were appointed the king over Judah, served as Judah’s king for three months, then exiled to Babylon. You have been in prison for 37 years, and wonder what your purpose in life might be, why you are still alive. And now, after this long imprisonment, Nebuchadnezzar’s son releases you from prison and gives you special treatment. What gives?
From our modern-day vantage point, we see God’s hand at work in preserving Jehoiachin’s life. When we read Jesus’ genealogy in Matthew 1:11-12, we see King Jehoiachin (listed as his given name, Jeconiah) as part of Jesus’ lineage. As promised, God preserved the Davidic family line to the Messiah, even through their rebellion and disobedience.
May we remember that God’s redemption and purposes are true and that His timeline is different that ours.
May we see that God has the ability to redeem anything and anyone for His glory. His use of Nebuchadnezzar and the redemption of Jehoiachin gives us hope that He can use us for His glory in His unfolding plan for today and the ages to come.
As we conclude the book of Jeremiah, we see a man:
- called by God
- often misunderstood
- his loyalties questioned by his peers and countrymen
- who was willing to be open and obedient to the Lord
- whose life ultimately reflected God’s glory and redemption
- who rose from self-pity and self-doubt to God-confidence
- who moved from vulnerability to the hope of restoration, even if didn’t happen in his lifetime.
May we have faith and confidence in the Lord and walk with Him as Jeremiah did.