Now in the fifth month, in the tenth day of the month, which was the nineteenth year of king Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard, who stood before the king of Babylon, came into Jerusalem. He burned Yahweh’s house, and the king’s house; and all the houses of Jerusalem, even every great house, he burned with fire. All the army of the Chaldeans, who were with the captain of the guard, broke down all the walls of Jerusalem all around. Then Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard carried away captive of the poorest of the people, and the rest of the people who were left in the city, and those who fell away, who defected to the king of Babylon, and the rest of the multitude. But Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard left of the poorest of the land to be vineyard keepers and farmers.
The Chaldeans broke the pillars of bronze that were in Yahweh’s house and the bases and the bronze sea that were in Yahweh’s house in pieces, and carried all of their bronze to Babylon. They also took away the pots, the shovels, the snuffers, the basins, the spoons, and all the vessels of bronze with which they ministered. The captain of the guard took away the cups, the fire pans, the basins, the pots, the lamp stands, the spoons, and the bowls; that which was of gold, as gold, and that which was of silver, as silver.
They took the two pillars, the one sea, and the twelve bronze bulls that were under the bases, which king Solomon had made for Yahweh’s house. The bronze of all these vessels was without weight. As for the pillars, the height of the one pillar was eighteen cubits; and a line of twelve cubits encircled it; and its thickness was four fingers. It was hollow. A capital of bronze was on it; and the height of the one capital was five cubits, with network and pomegranates on the capital all around, all of bronze. The second pillar also had the same, with pomegranates. There were ninety-six pomegranates on the sides; all the pomegranates were one hundred on the network all around.
It’s pretty obvious that the Chaldeans wanted the gold, silver and bronze more than they wanted the presence of the God of Israel to be near to them. That’s what I discern when I consider the fact that they broke the columns up into pieces. It says here that they took “that which was of gold, as gold, and that which was of silver, as silver.” It’s as if the gold and silver were more important than the God whose temple the gold and silver was used for.
There is an apparent difference between the numbers of pomegranates on the capitals on the columns between Jeremiah 52 and 2 Chronicles 4. Jeremiah says that there were only 100 pomegranates per network and Chronicles says that there were twice as many. I believe that the problem is solved when you consider the difference between “rows” and “networks” in the two passages. Jeremiah may have been referring to each row as a network, whereas Ezra may have been referring to two rows as a network. So, there would have been 200 in Ezra’s network and 100 in Jeremiah’s. This is actually a powerful confirmation of the perspectives of two witnesses. It’s unclear to me what Jeremiah meant by saying that there were 96 pomegranates on a side. That depends on how much you could see from any one side. I am not willing to worry about doing a computer model of the column to see how much could be seen, but I would imagine that someone in Jerusalem has. It may tell us more about the curvature of the column than anything else.
I see to things to remember from this. First, God is always more important than any earthly thing. Materialism is a serious form of idolatry, especially here in the United States. Remember what Jesus said:
“Woe to you, you blind guides, who say, ‘Whoever swears by the temple, it is nothing; but whoever swears by the gold of the temple, he is obligated.’ You blind fools! For which is greater, the gold or the temple that sanctifies the gold?
The second is to remember that the Bible claims to define the truth. Before we assume that there is a mistake in it, we must consider it as a standard, which means that we need to see if there is a way in which apparent differences actually fit together. In this case, it would make sense for there to be two separate perspectives of the same information from two witnesses. This may give us a better understanding of the facts when we put the two testimonies together. If you have watched or read a court case mystery before, you probably know what I’m talking about. Missing information is often the thing that causes us to make a poor assumption based on mere evidence.