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Powerful nations like Egypt and Babylon act in their own self-interests under the direction of their sovereign leaders. But true sovereignty in world events belongs to God alone who orchestrates all the details to weave the tapestry of events destined to provide the outcome He has determined for His people.

Donald Wiseman: The historian concludes his history with abbreviated summaries of the last four kings; Jehoahaz (23:31–35) as an introduction to the reign of Jehoiakim (23:36–24:6); Jehoiachin (24:8–17); and Zedekiah (24:18–20) as leading on to the fall of Jerusalem and the exile (25:1–21). Two appendices are added which give information to those in the Babylonian diaspora:

(i) the history of Judah under Gedaliah and the exile into Egypt (25:22–26) and

(ii) the release of Jehoiachin (25:27–30).

William Barnes: For the final time we encounter the short, stereotypical notices of some “lesser” kings (see 15:8–31 for earlier parallels in Israel). Historically, these four successors to King Josiah (three of them his sons, and one, Jehoiachin, his grandson) hardly present themselves with distinction, although two of them, Jehoahaz and Jehoiachin, are said to have been on the throne for only three months each (the curious symmetry here is three months, then 11 years, then again three months, then again 11 years). Overall, it is a relatively quick and seemingly relentless plunge downhill to exile. Not that the Judahites were resigned to their fate—quite the contrary. Malamat (1975:125) counts some six changes of Judahite loyalty between Egypt and Babylon in these 20-some years. It will be our melancholy task to document these six shifts in allegiance as the Judahite people and their kings attempt to avoid the inevitable demise of the nation. The first shift is documented in these few verses on Jehoahaz—from Babylon to Egypt.


A. (23:31) Selected Touchpoints

1. How Old Was He When He Began to Reign?

“Jehoahaz was twenty-three years old when he became king,”

Adam Clarke: This was not the eldest son of Josiah, which is evident from this, that he was twenty-three years old when he began to reign; that he reigned but three months; that, being dethroned, his brother Eliakim was put in his place, who was then twenty-five years of age. Eliakim, therefore, was the eldest brother; but Jehoahaz was probably raised to the throne by the people, as being of a more active and martial spirit.

2. How Long Did He Reign?

“and he reigned three months”

Constable: “Jehoahaz” (“The Lord Has Grasped”), whose other name was Shallum, was the middle of Josiah’s three sons, all of whom ruled Judah after Josiah. Jehoahaz was the people’s choice (v. 31), but he reigned for only three months in 609 B.C.

3. Which Kingdom Did He Reign Over?

“in Jerusalem;”

4. Who Was His Mother?

“and his mother’s name was Hamutal

the daughter of Jeremiah of Libnah.”

Peter Pett: One of the problems with kings having multiple wives was that they did not have a close rapport with their sons, and the result was that the major influence in their bringing up was in the hands of their mothers and their advisers (note the constant importance of the queen mother in the narrative). This would partly explain why Josiah’s godliness had not been passed on to his sons, and why on his death his sons reverted back to Baalism. Such kings did not choose their wives because of their spiritual status, but because of their political influence.

B. (23:32) Moral Evaluation

“And he did evil in the sight of the LORD,

according to all that his fathers had done.”

C. (23:33a) Imprisonment

“And Pharaoh Neco imprisoned him at Riblah in the land of Hamath,

that he might not reign in Jerusalem;”

Peter Pett: he would know that he had little option, when he was summoned to Riblah by Pharaoh Necoh (or went there of his own volition seeking peace terms) but to attend and accept his fate. What had happened to Josiah had already brought home the folly of armed resistance against such a powerful foe. Once there he was put in chains and carried off to Egypt as a royal hostage, where he remained until he died. (see here Ezekiel’s vivid picture in Ezekiel 19:3-4; and compare Jeremiah 22:10-12). There is no closing formula to his reign because he did not die in office. He just disappeared from the scene. And in the author’s eyes it was because he ‘did evil in the sight of YHWH’.

Adam Clarke: But what was the cause of his putting him in bands? It is conjectured, and not without reason, that Jehoahaz, otherwise called Shallum, raised an army, met Nechoh in his return from Carchemish, fought, was beaten, taken prisoner, put in chains; and taken into Egypt, where he died; 2Ch 23:34, and Jeremiah 22:11-12. Riblah or Diblath, the place of this battle, was probably a town in Syria, in the land or district of Hamath.

D. (23:33b) Imposition of Taxes

“and he imposed on the land a fine

of one hundred talents of silver and a talent of gold.”

MacArthur: The tax imposed on Judah, whose king was imprisoned, was 750 lbs. of silver and 7.5 lbs. of gold.

E. (23:34a) Succession – Transition from Jehoahaz to Jehoiakim

“And Pharaoh Neco made Eliakim the son of Josiah king in the place of Josiah his father, and changed his name to Jehoiakim.”

MacArthur: In 609 B.C. Pharaoh Neco II placed jehoahaz’s older brother on the throne of Judah. Neco changed his name form Eliakim, meaning “God has established,” to Jehoiakim, “the Lord has established.” The naming of a person was regarded in the ancient Near East as sign of authority; so by naming Jehoiakim, Neco demonstrated that he was the lord who controlled Judah. As vassal of Egypt, Judah risked attack by Egypt’s enemy Babylon.

John Dummelow: Jehoahaz had been chosen by the people without the sanction of Nechoh, who therefore asserted his authority by deposing him, and substituting his brother.

Constable: When Pharaoh Neco defeated Josiah at Megiddo (v. 29), Judah fell under Egyptian control. Neco summoned Josiah’s successor Jehoahaz to meet him at Riblah. This town stood about 65 miles north of Damascus in central Aramea. The meeting took place before the battle of Carchemish. Neco found Jehoahaz obstinate, as his father had been, so he imprisoned him and sent him back to Egypt (v. 34) where he died later (Jer. 22:10-12). Neco also imposed a heavy tax on Judah (v. 33) and installed Jehoahaz’s older brother Eliakim on Judah’s throne as his puppet.

Adam Clarke: These names are precisely the same in signification: ELIAKIM is God shall arise; JEHOIAKIM, Jehovah shall arise; or, the resurrection of God; the resurrection of Jehovah. That is, God’s rising again to show his power, justice. The change of the name was to show Nechoh’s supremacy, and that Jehoiakim was only his vassal or viceroy.

F. (23:34b) Death of Jehoahaz

“But he took Jehoahaz away and brought him to Egypt, and he died there.”


A. (23:35) Progressive Taxation of Judah for the Egyptian Pharaoh

“So Jehoiakim gave the silver and gold to Pharaoh, but he taxed the land in order to give the money at the command of Pharaoh. He exacted the silver and gold from the people of the land, each according to his valuation, to give it to Pharaoh Neco.”

Peter Pett: Jehoiakim then set about gathering the tribute required by the Pharaoh by means of levying taxation on the people of the land ‘according to the commandment of Pharaoh’. The phrase is significant. It was no longer YHWH’s commandments that were being observed in Judah, but Pharaoh’s. As a result each man in Judah was assessed, and was then called on to contribute in accordance with his ability to pay. It would appear from this that while the Temple had been restored it had few treasures in it of which it could be stripped. Such poverty, the author wants us to know, was the consequence of its history (it is in total contrast to the wealth of Solomon with which the book began).

Throughout the book of Kings the prophetic author has constantly and deliberately emphasised the source from which tribute was paid. Initially and regularly it was paid from the Temple and palace treasuries (2 Kings 12:18; 2 Kings 16:8; 1 Kings 14:26; 1 Kings 15:18) then by stripping the Temple of its gold (2 Kings 18:16). Now it was down to everyone making a contribution. The royal treasuries were finally empty. This was the consequence of disobedience to YHWH.

David Guzik: Jehoiakim was nothing more than a puppet king presiding over a vassal kingdom under the Egyptians. He imposed heavy taxes on the people and paid the money to the Egyptians, as required.

B. (23:36) Selected Touchpoints of Reign of Jehoiakim

1. How Old Was He When He Became King?

“Jehoiakim was twenty-five years old when he became king,”

2. How Long Did He Reign?

“and he reigned eleven years”

3. Which Kingdom Did He Rule Over?

“in Jerusalem;”

4. Who Was His Mother?

“and his mother’s name was Zebidah

the daughter of Pedaiah of Rumah.”

C. (23:37) Moral Evaluation of Reign of Jehoiakim

“And he did evil in the sight of the LORD,

according to all that his fathers had done.”

Wiersbe: It was Jehoiakim who cut to pieces and burned to ashes the scroll of Jeremiah’s prophecy (Jer. 36). Unlike his father, Josiah, he had no respect for the Lord or His Word (Jer. 22:1-23).

Josephus: He was of a wicked disposition, and ready to do mischief; nor was he either religious towards God, or good-natured towards men.

Adam Clarke: He was a most unprincipled and oppressive tyrant. Jeremiah gives us his character at large, Jeremiah 22:13-19, to which the reader will do well to refer. Jeremiah was at that time in the land, and was an eyewitness of the abominations of this cruel king.

D. (24:1-4) Divine Control of World Events Impacting Judah

1. (:1) Subjugation to Nebuchadnezzar and Subsequent Rebellion

a. Subjugation to Nebuchadnezzar

“In his days Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up, and Jehoiakim became his servant for three years;”

b. Subsequent Rebellion

“then he turned and rebelled against him.”

Whitcomb: After three years of paying tribute to Nebuchadnezzar, he finally decided, against the vigorous warnings of Jeremiah (cf. Jer. 36:29), to rebel against the Babylonian monarch (II Kings 24:1). But God raised up various marauding bands from the north and east to harass Jehoiakim until he was finally killed in early December, 598 B.C. Jeremiah had predicted that “they shall not lament for him, saying, Ah lord! Or, Ah his glory! He shall be buried with the burial of an ass, drawn and cast forth beyond the gates of Jerusalem” (Jer. 22:18-19; cf. 36:30). Furthermore, “he shall have none to sit upon the throne of David” (Jer. 36:30), which must have been an anticipation of the curse which would fall upon his son, Jehoichin.

2. (:2-4) Series of Destructive Raids by Foreign Troops

“And the LORD sent against him bands of Chaldeans, bands of Arameans, bands of Moabites, and bands of Ammonites. So He sent them against Judah to destroy it, according to the word of the LORD, which He had spoken through His servants the prophets. 3 Surely at the command of the LORD it came upon Judah, to remove them from His sight because of the sins of Manasseh, according to all that he had done, 4 and also for the innocent blood which he shed, for he filled Jerusalem with innocent blood; and the LORD would not forgive.”

Peter Pett: But in the eyes of the author the main cause for this activity was not Nebuchadnezzar, but the word of YHWH (after all, unknown to Nebuchadnezzar, he was YHWH’s servant – Jeremiah 25:9). Thus in the author’s view it was primarily because of Judah’s sins that these attacks were being carried out, in accordance with the words of YHWH’s servants the prophets. History was being seen as subject to His will.

The author then again stressed that all that was happening was ‘at the commandment of YHWH’. And this was because He had determined to remove Judah out of His sight as He had warned as long ago as Leviticus 18:28. He was sick of them. And this situation had come about because of the sins of Manasseh and what he had done, and because of the innocent blood which he had shed, and the fact that he had filled Jerusalem with innocent blood. It had been so bad that it was something that YHWH could not overlook because, although the reign of Josiah had at first altered the picture, Judah had turned back to the same behaviour as before, something evidenced by the slaying of Uriah the prophet by Jehoiakim (Jeremiah 26:20-23). Josiah’s death had resulted in YHWH’s covenant being openly slighted on a continual basis and it revealed Judah’s permanent hardness of heart, something which even Josiah had been unable to remedy. That was why Judah was doomed. Compare Deuteronomy 29:20.

David Guzik: Many in the days of Jehoiakim believed that God’s will was to deliver them from their enemies and to preserve an independent Judah. Yet that was not God’s will; it was His will to bring Judah into judgment (knowing they had not genuinely repented and would not). The best thing for Judah to do was to submit to this will of God, as Jeremiah told them to do – despite great opposition.

E. (24:5-7) Conclusion of His Reign

1. (:5) Recorded Deeds

“Now the rest of the acts of Jehoiakim and all that he did, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah?”

2. (:6) Death and Succession

“So Jehoiakim slept with his fathers,

and Jehoiachin his son became king in his place.”

3. (:7) Babylonian Domination

“And the king of Egypt did not come out of his land again,

for the king of Babylon had taken all that belonged to the king of Egypt from the brook of Egypt to the river Euphrates.”

MacArthur: In 601 B.C., Nebuchadnezzar again marched W against Egypt and was turned back by strong Egyptian resistance. However Egypt, though able to defend its own land, was not able to be aggressive and recover its conquered lands or provide any help for its allies, including Judah.

R. D. Patterson: War had cost both the Chaldeans and the Egyptians dearly, so that Nebuchadnezzar was unable to mobilize the troops and equipment to deal with impudent Judah, now newly allied to his Egyptian adversary, Neco. Accordingly Nebuchadnezzar spent the next few years in rebuilding his armed might in anticipation of the time when he could deal with the insurgents. Meanwhile he moved against the Arameans and Arabians, thus strengthening his hold on Judah’s Egyptian flank (v. 2). This also put him in a position to utilize the Transjordanian tribes to send raiding parties into Judah. The author of Kings reports that that harassment found its ultimate origin in God’s command to bring judgment to a wicked Judah that had followed in the train of Manasseh’s wickedness, a judgment the prophets had repeatedly warned about (vv. 3-4; cf. e.g., Jer 15:1-9; Hab 1:2-6; Zeph 1:4-13; 3:1-7).

In 598 B.C., Nebuchadnezzar was ready. Gathering his huge force, he set out for Jerusalem and the impenitent Jehoiakim. But Nebuchadnezzar was not to avenge himself on the Judean king personally; for even as he set out for Judah, Jehoiakim lay dead, succeeded by his son, Jehoiachin.

Peter Pett: Nebuchadnezzar’s control of the land south of the Euphrates, down almost to the borders of Egypt (to the Wadi of Egypt, just north of the border), had become such that the king of Egypt did not venture beyond his borders. All that he had previously gained had been lost and any assistance that he may have promised to Judah would thus come to nothing. He was no match for the forces of Nebuchadnezzar.

Wiseman: Some scholars think that here ended the original book of Kings, the remainder being a series of appendices.


A. (:8) Selected Touchpoints

1. How Old Was He When He Began to Reign?

“Jehoiachin was eighteen years old when he became king,”

2. How Long Did He Reign?

“and he reigned three months”

3. Which Kingdom Did He Reign Over?

“in Jerusalem;”

4. Who Was His Mother?

“and his mother’s name was Nehushta

the daughter of Elnathan of Jerusalem.”

B. (:9) Moral Evaluation

“And he did evil in the sight of the LORD,

according to all that his father had done.”

C. (:10-17) Subjugation to Babylon

1. (:10-11) Siege Against Jerusalem

“At that time the servants of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon went up to Jerusalem, and the city came under siege. 11 And Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon came to the city, while his servants were besieging it.”

2. (:12-16) Capture, Plundering and Exile

a. (:12) Capture of the Royal Family

“And Jehoiachin the king of Judah went out to the king of Babylon, he and his mother and his servants and his captains and his officials. So the king of Babylon took him captive in the eighth year of his reign.”

MacArthur: For the first time, the books of Kings dated an event in Israelite history by a non-Israelite king. This indicated that Judah’s exile was imminent and the land would be in the hands of Gentiles.

b. (:13) Plundering of the Treasures

“And he carried out from there all the treasures of the house of the LORD, and the treasures of the king’s house, and cut in pieces all the vessels of gold which Solomon king of Israel had made in the temple of the LORD, just as the LORD had said.”

Cf. 20:16-18

c. (:14-16) Exile

“Then he led away into exile all Jerusalem and all the captains and all the mighty men of valor, ten thousand captives, and all the craftsmen and the smiths. None remained except the poorest people of the land. 15 So he led Jehoiachin away into exile to Babylon; also the king’s mother and the king’s wives and his officials and the leading men of the land, he led away into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon. 16 And all the men of valor, seven thousand, and the craftsmen and the smiths, one thousand, all strong and fit for war, and these the king of Babylon brought into exile to Babylon.”

MacArthur: Nebuchadnezzar took an additional 10,000 Judeans as captives to Babylon, in particular the leaders of the nation. This included the leaders of the military and those whose sills would support the military. Included in this deportation was the prophet Ezekiel. Only the lower classes remained behind in Jerusalem. The Babylonian policy of captivity was different from that of the Assyrians, who took most of the people into exile and resettled the land of Israel with foreigners (17:24). The Babylonians took only the leaders and the strong, while leaving the weak and poor, elevating those left to leadership and thereby earning their loyalty. Those taken to Babylon were allowed to work and live in the mainstream of society. This kept the captive Jews together, so it would be possible for them to return, as recorded in Ezra.

3. (:17) Succession – Transition to Zedekiah

“Then the king of Babylon made his uncle Mattaniah, king in his place, and changed his name to Zedekiah.”


A. (:18) Selected Touchpoints

1. How Old Was He When He Began to Reign?

“Zedekiah was twenty-one years old when he became king,”

2. How Long Did He Reign?

“and he reigned eleven years”

3. Which Kingdom Did He Reign Over?

“in Jerusalem;”

4. Who Was His Mother?

“and his mother’s name was Hamutal

the daughter of Jeremiah of Libnah.”

B. (:19) Moral Evaluation

“And he did evil in the sight of the LORD,

according to all that Jehoiakim had done.”

C. (:20) Misguided Rebellion

“For through the anger of the LORD this came about in Jerusalem and Judah until He cast them out from His presence. And Zedekiah rebelled against the king of Babylon.”

MacArthur: In 588 B.C., Apries (also called Hophra), the grandson of Neco, became Pharaoh over Egypt. He appears to have influenced Zedekiah to revolt against Babylon (cf. Eze 17:15-18).

Dale Ralph Davis: And Zedekiah’s mind changed with the wind. After reading Jeremiah’s prophecy (especially chs. 37–39) one wonders if Zedekiah ever had a conviction about anything. Perhaps he and a majority of his advisors actually thought Pharaoh Hophra would come to Judah’s aid. But Egypt was all mouth and hot air. Hophra apparently sent some kind of force to meet the Babylonians (Jer. 37:5–11) but it was quickly driven back and the Babylonians resumed their stranglehold on Jerusalem. Zedekiah was not merely befuddled—he was brainless.