In the ninth year of his reign - Zedekiah, having revolted against the Chaldeans, Nebuchadnezzar, wearied with his treachery, and the bad faith of the Jews, determined the total subversion of the Jewish state. Having assembled a numerous army, he entered Judea on the tenth day of the tenth month of the ninth year of the reign of Zedekiah; this, according to the computation of Archbishop Usher, was on Thursday, January 30, A.M. 3414, which was a sabbatical year: whereon the men of Jerusalem hearing that the Chaldean army was approaching, proclaimed liberty to their servants; see Jeremiah 34:8-10, according to the law, Exodus 21:2; Deuteronomy 15:1, Deuteronomy 15:2, Deuteronomy 15:12; : for Nebuchadnezzar, marching with his army against Zedekiah, having wasted all the country, and taken their strong holds, except Lachish, Azekah, and Jerusalem, came against the latter with all his forces. See Jeremiah 34:1-7. On the very day, as the same author computes, the siege and utter destruction of Jerusalem were revealed to Ezekiel the prophet, then in Chaldea, under the type of a seething pot; and his wife died in the evening, and he was charged not to mourn for her, because of the extraordinary calamity that had fallen upon the land. See Ezekiel 24:1, Ezekiel 24:2, etc.
Jeremiah, having predicted the same calamities, Jeremiah 34:1-7, was by the command of Zedekiah shut up in prison, Jeremiah 32:1-16.
Pharaoh Hophra, or Vaphris, hearing how Zedekiah was pressed, and fearing for the safety of his own dominions should the Chaldeans succeed against Jerusalem, determined to succor Zedekiah. Finding this, the Chaldeans raised the siege of Jerusalem, and went to meet the Egyptian army, which they defeated and put to flight. Joseph. Antiq., lib. 10, cap. 10. In the interim the Jews, thinking their danger was passed, reclaimed their servants, and put them again under the yoke; Jeremiah 34:8, etc.
In the ninth year - As the final catastrophe approaches, the historian becomes more close and exact in his dates, marking not only the year, but the month and the day, on which the siege began, no less than those on which it closed 2 Kings 25:3. From Ezekiel 24:1 we find that on the very day when the host of Nebuchadnezzar made its appearance before Jerusalem the fact was revealed to Ezekiel in Babylonia, and the fate of the city announced to him Ezekiel 24:6-14. The army seems to have at first spread itself over all Judaea. It fought, not only against Jerusalem, but especially against Lachish and Azekah Jeremiah 34:7, two cities of the south 2 Chronicles 11:9, which had probably been strongly garrisoned in order to maintain the communication with Egypt. This division of the Babylonian forces encouraged Hophra to put his troops in motion and advance to the relief of his Jewish allies Jeremiah 37:5. On hearing this, Nebuchadnezzar broke up from before Jerusalem and marched probably to Azekah and Lachish. The Egyptians shrank back, returned into their own country Jeremiah 37:7; Ezekiel 17:17, and took no further part in the war. Nebuchadnezzar then led back his army, and once more invested the city. (It is uncertain whether the date at the beginning of this verse refers to the first or to the second investment.)
Forts - Probably moveable towers, sometimes provided with battering-rams, which the besiegers advanced against the walls, thus bringing their fighting men on a level with their antagonists. Such towers are seen in the Assyrian sculptures.
In the ninth year of Zedekiah's reign “Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came, he, and all his host, against Jerusalem,” to besiege the city. 2 Kings 25:1. The outlook for Judah was hopeless. “Behold, I am against thee,” the Lord Himself declared through Ezekiel. “I the Lord have drawn forth My sword out of his sheath” it shall not return any more.... Every heart shall melt, and all hands shall be feeble, and every spirit shall faint, and all knees shall be weak as water.” “I will pour out Mine indignation upon thee, I will blow against thee in the fire of My wrath, and deliver thee into the hand of brutish men, and skillful to destroy.” Ezekiel 21:3, 5-7, 31. PK 452.1
The Egyptians endeavored to come to the rescue of the beleaguered city; and the Chaldeans, in order to keep them back, abandoned for a time their siege of the Judean capital. Hope sprang up in the heart of Zedekiah, and he sent a messenger to Jeremiah, asking him to pray to God in behalf of the Hebrew nation. PK 452.2Read in context »
The king was even too weak to be willing that his courtiers and people should know that he had held a conference with Jeremiah, so fully had the fear of man taken possession of his soul. If Zedekiah had stood up bravely and declared that he believed the words of the prophet, already half fulfilled, what desolation might have been averted! He should have said, I will obey the Lord, and save the city from utter ruin. I dare not disregard the commands of God because of the fear or favor of man. I love the truth, I hate sin, and I will follow the counsel of the Mighty One of Israel. PK 458.1
Then the people would have respected his courageous spirit, and those who were wavering between faith and unbelief would have taken a firm stand for the right. The very fearlessness and justice of this course would have inspired his subjects with admiration and loyalty. He would have had ample support, and Judah would have been spared the untold woe of carnage and famine and fire. PK 458.2
The weakness of Zedekiah was a sin for which he paid a fearful penalty. The enemy swept down like a resistless avalanche and devastated the city. The Hebrew armies were beaten back in confusion. The nation was conquered. Zedekiah was taken prisoner, and his sons were slain before his eyes. The king was led away from Jerusalem a captive, his eyes were put out, and after arriving in Babylon he perished miserably. The beautiful temple that for more than four centuries had crowned the summit of Mount Zion was not spared by the Chaldeans. “They burnt the house of God, and brake down the wall of Jerusalem, and burnt all the palaces thereof with fire, and destroyed all the goodly vessels thereof.” 2 Chronicles 36:19. PK 458.3Read in context »