Before his eyes - This refinement of cruelty seems to have especially shocked the Jews, whose manners were less barbarous than those of most Orientals. It is noted by Jeremiah in two places Jeremiah 39:6; Jeremiah 52:10.
And put out the eyes of Zedekiah - Blinding has always been among the most common of secondary punishments in the East (compare Judges 16:2 l). The blinding of Zedekiah reconciled in a very remarkable way prophecies, apparently contradictory, which had been made concerning him. Jeremiah had prophesied distinctly that he would be carried to Babylon Jeremiah 32:5; Jeremiah 34:3. Ezekiel had said that he should not “see Babylon” Ezekiel 12:13. His deprivation of sight before he was carried to the conqueror‘s capital fulfilled the predictions of both prophets.
With fetters of brass - literally, (see Jeremiah 39:7 margin), “with two chains of brass.” The Assyrians‘ captives are usually represented as bound hand and foot - the two hands secured by one chain, the two feet by another. According to Jewish tradition Zedekiah was, like other slaves, forced to work in a mill at Babylon. Jeremiah tells us that he was kept in prison until he died Jeremiah 52:11.
Tell her [Marian Davis] I have just one minute ago read the letters in which she has specified the improvements to be made in articles for Volume 1 [Patriarchs and Prophets]. I thank her. Tell her that she has a point about Zedekiah's having his eyes put out. That needs to be more carefully worded—also the rock, when the water flowed—something in reference to this. I think I can make the articles specified more full.—Letter 38, 1885. 3SM 121.3Read 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 »