Jeremiah 52

Jeremiah 52:1-11 the city was broken up and all the men of war fled
The story of the breach of the city walls and Zedekiah’s fate before Nebuchadnezzar are covered in commentary for Jeremiah 39.
Jeremiah 52:12-13 Nebuzar-adan, captain of the guard… burned the house of the Lord, and the king’s house
For temple lovers, to have a Gentile like Nebuzar-adan enter the temple would defile it—complete sacrilege!   But long before he entered the temple, Nebuchadnezzar had been looting the gold and wealth of the temple.  About 12 years prior, in the end of Jehoiakim’s reign “came up Neubchadnezzar king of Babylon, and bound him in fetters, to carry him to Babylon.  Nebuchadnezzar also carried of the vessels of the house of the Lord to Babylon and put them in his temple at Babylon.” (2 Chron 26:6-7).  A few months later, Nebuchadnezzar took more “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” (2 Kgs. 24:13). Now at the end of Zedekiah’s reign, the last of the unlooted gold and silver, brass and fine linens were taken or destroyed. (See commentary for Jer. 27:19.
The burning of the temple was the final destruction of the temple, but the temple was taken in stages much like the captives to Babylon were taken in stages.  For Jerusalem, the end came in stages.
  • Vessels of temple taken when Jehoiakim is killed
  • More vessels removed when Nebuchadnezzar removes Jehoiachin
  • Last of the gold looted before the temple burned when Zedekiah was undone.
To burn the temple would have been the final act of desecration.  The holiest place on earth would be made as Sodom and Gomorrah.  How could the Lord allow such a thing?  The real question is, “how could the priests and custodians of the temple have allowed the practice of idolatry to take place there?”  Long before Nebuzar- adan had defiled the temple, the priests had turned the temple into a “den of robbers” (Jer. 7:11).  They had built a special room for idol worship within the upper rooms of the temple, and they had encouraged Jeremiah’s rejection from the holy house (Jer. 26).  The temple was defiled by those whose duty it was to keep it holy. Their outrage at the scorching of their emblem of holiness should have been directed at the priests and high priests not the Babylonians.
Jeremiah 52:14 the army… brake down all the walls of Jerusalem round about
Jerusalem had been able to maintain independence for hundreds of years, in part because of reinforced walls around the city.  They would afford no more protection, nor could the remnant left in the land afford to rebuild them.  The remnant could hardly feel the security that the city once provided.
The tragedy was understood by the prophet Nehemiah who made it his life's mission to reestablish the walls of Jerusalem, "they said unto me, The remnant that are left... are in great affliction and reproach: the wall of Jerusalem also is broken down, and the gates thereof are burned with fire. And it came to pass, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned certain days, and fasted, and prayed before the God of heaven." (Neh. 1:3-4)
He understood that to rebuild the walls was a great thing and so he organized the people to rebuild the walls.  His enemies "thought to do [him] mischief" and tried to call him away from his work, but he replied, "I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down" (Neh. 6:2-3)  "yet they sent unto me four times after this sort; and I answered them after the same manner" (Neh. 6:4).
Dieter F. Uchtdorf
As the work continued, Nehemiah's enemies became more desparate.  Four times they entreated him to leave the safety of the city and meet with them under the pretense of resolving the conflict, but Nehemiah knew that their intent was to do him harm.  Each time they approached him, he responded with the same answer: "I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down."
What a remarkable response! With that clear and unchanging purpose of heart and miind, with that great resolve, the walls of Jerusalem rose until they were rebuilt in an astonishing 52 days.  Nehemiah refused to allow distractions to prevent him from doing what the Lord wanted him to do. (Ensign, May 2009, "We are doing a great work and cannot come down")
Jeremiah 52:17 the pillars of brass… and the brazen sea…
Jeremiah had prophesied to the priests and the people, “concerning the pillars, and concerning the sea, and concerning the bases, and concerning the residue of the vessels that remain in this city… They shall be carried to Babylon.” (Jer. 27:19-22)
The king of Babylon sent Nebuzaradan, the general of his army, to Jerusalem, to pillage the temple: who had it also in command to burn it and the royal palace, and to lay the city even with the ground… Accordingly, he came to Jerusalem, in the eleventh year of king Zedekiah, pillaged the temple, and carried out the vessels of God, both gold and silver, and particularly that large laver which Solomon dedicated, as also the pillars of brass, and their chapiters, with the golden tables and the candlesticks: and when he had carried these off, he set fire to the temple… he also burnt the palace, and overthrew the city.  Now the temple was burnt 470 years, six months, and ten days, after it was built.  It was then 1062 years, six months, and ten days, from the departure out of Egypt. (Antiquities of the Jews, Book X, 8:5) 
Jeremiah 52:17 The caldrons also, and the shovels, and the snuffers, and the bowls
Golden snuffer
Jeremiah 52:24-27 chief priests and king’s advisors were killed
The chief priests were responsible to administer the temple in righteousness.  The men of the king’s court were responsible to advise the king in righteousness.  Both failed in their duties.  Their demise was in accordance with their failure.  In addition to the slaughter of Zedekiah’s children, these 74 individuals were killed, “Howl, ye shepherds, and cry; and wallow yourselves in the ashes, ye principal of the flock: for the days of your slaughter and of your dispersions are accomplished; and ye shall fall like a pleasant vessel” (Jer. 25:34).
Jeremiah 52:28-30 This is the people whom Nebuchadrezzar carried away captive
7th year of Nebuchadnezzar          (598 BC)        3023 captives                       Jehoiakim is killed; Jehoiachin made king
18th year of Nebuchadnezzar        (587 BC)          832 captives                        Zedekiah captured; Jerusalem destroyed
23rd year of Nebuchadnezzar        (582 BC)          745 captives                        Unrecorded 3rd captivity
Total                                                                    4600 captives
The first year of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign corresponds to the 4th year of king Jehoiakim.  Therefore, the 7th year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, when 3023 individuals were taken captive corresponds to the time in which Nebuchadnezzar killed Jehoiakim and set up his son Jehoiachin as king of Jerusalem (circa 598 BC).  In this first batch of captives was the prophet Ezekiel, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, Azariah, aka Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego. (Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, Book X, 6:3; Daniel 1:1-7)
The student should know that the scribe omits the largest captivity of all—the second one.  After Jehoiachin’s father was killed, Nebuchadnezzar feared he would seek retribution.  Even though Nebuchadnezzar had made Jehoiachin king, he felt it safer to go back to Jerusalem and depose him as well, but he wouldn’t kill him like his father.  Rather, he decided to take him captive back to Babylon.  This event occurred only 3 months after the first captivity of 3023.  Josephus records a much larger group, 10,832 captives at this time, including Jehoiachin, is mother, and friends. (Antiquities, Book X, 7:1)   To be complete, we will update the serial captivities as best we can reconstruct them, including this omission. 
7th year of Nebuchadnezzar          (598 BC)                               3023 captives         Jehoiakim is killed; Jehoiachin made king
7th year of Nebuchadnezzar          (598 BC; 3 mo. later)          10,832 captives        Jehoiachin is taken; Zedekiah is made king
18th year of Nebuchadnezzar        (587 BC)                                  832 captives        Zedekiah captured; Jerusalem destroyed
23rd year of Nebuchadnezzar        (582 BC)                                  745 captives        Unrecorded 4th captivity
Total                                                                                         15,432 captives
Jeremiah 52:28-30 all the persons were four thousand and six hundred
“It is to these Jews, those who were actually taken into captivity by Nebuchadnezzar, that one must give the largest credit for the survival of the people. Three major factors contributed. First, the policy of deportation carried out by the Babylonians meant that the Jews in Babylon were the top of Judah's intellectual, political, and ecclesiastical leadership. Jeremiah gives the total number of those deported (in 597, 587, and 582 B.C.) as forty-six hundred (Jer. 52:28-30). This figure most likely represents only adult males, suggesting that the actual number was closer to twenty thousand. That is not very many Jews, certainly far fewer than those living in either Palestine, Syria, or Egypt.
“On the surface it seems surprising that the force that would preserve the nation would come from so few people, even if they were the more elite, but here the second factor came into play. Conditions in Babylon contributed markedly to their success. Though the Jews did suffer some discomfort and instability (especially during the first few years of exile) and were not free to return to their homeland, they were not prisoners, either. Theirs was a kind of modified, somewhat benevolent, internment that allowed them to buy land, open shops, move into civil service, and attend to their many chores. Eventually many of them settled into a comfortable, if unconnected, lifestyle. The historical writings of the Bible suggest that they developed communities of their own and prospered in peace. The Babylonians allowed them to assemble and to carry out certain civil and religious duties among themselves. Many Jews entered trade, and some became quite wealthy. Facilitating that favorable internment would have been the Jewish administrators, such as Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who were moving up in the ranks of Babylonian government. By the year 531 B.C., Zerubbabel had risen to the position of cup bearer, second in command among the palace bureaucrats. Some of the Jewish leaders were in an excellent position both to assist the captives and to enhance their desire to return and restore their homeland and temple.” (Richard D. Draper, Sperry Symposium Voices of Old Testament Prophets: The 26th Annual Sidney B. Sperry Symposium [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1997], 89-90)
Jeremiah 52:31-34 Evil-merodach… lifted up the head of Jehoiachin king of Judah, and brought him forth out of prison
“Jeremiah 22:20-30 contains an oracle against Coniah, another name for Jehoiachin, son of Jehoiakim. His punishment will be like that of a useless, broken pot, to be cast off by the Lord to join his countrymen in exile to Babylon. This prophecy is accompanied by the promise that his seed would not sit upon the throne of Judah. It was fulfilled when he was replaced by the conquering Babylonians with his uncle Mattaniah, whose name was changed to Zedekiah. Jehoiachin is mentioned as being still alive in Babylon — the king in exile — as late as 562 B.C., when Nebuchadnezzar died (2 Kgs. 25:27-30; Jer. 52:31-34).” (Kent P. Jackson, ed., Studies in Scripture, Vol. 4: 1 Kings to Malachi [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1993], 239)
“We may as well here relate the sequel of Jehoiachin's history. For thirty-seven years he lingered in a Babylonian prison. At the end of that period Evil-merodach (‘the man of Merodach’), the son and successor of Nebuchadrezzar, showed him favour. Selected from out the other captive kings he was restored to rank, admitted to the royal table as one of the vassals at the court of the Babylonian monarch, and had a regular allowance assigned to him suited to the wants of his family and establishment. This continued till his death, the date of which is uncertain (2 Kings 25:27-30; Jer. 52:31, 34).” (Edersheim, Alfred, Old Testament Bible History, chapter 17)