The Lord showed me,.... A vision, or in a vision, what follows; for by this it appears that what was seen was not real, but what was exhibited in a visionary way by the Lord, and represented to the mind of the prophet:
and, behold, two baskets of figs were set before the temple of the Lord; or "pots", as Jarchi; these do not signify the law and Gospel, or the synagogue and church, or the Jews and Christians, or hell and heaven, as some have interpreted it, observed by Jerom; but the Jews that were in captivity with Jeconiah, and those that remained in Jerusalem with Zedekiah, as it is explained in some following verses. These baskets are said to be "set before the temple of the Lord", not to be sold there, but to be presented to the Lord; in allusion to the baskets of firstfruits, which, according to the law, were thither brought for that purpose, Deuteronomy 26:2; and signify, that the two people represented by them were before the Lord, in his sight, were known to him, and judged by him;
after that Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had carried away captive Jeconiah the son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, and the princes of Judah,
with the carpenters and smiths, from Jerusalem, and had brought them to Babylon: this was done when Jeconiah had reigned but little more than three months, and in the eighth year of Nebuchadnezzar's reign, 2 Kings 24:8. This is mentioned, not only to show the time of this vision, which was a little after this captivity, in the beginning of Zedekiah's reign; but to let us know who the captives were, signified by the good figs. The "carpenters" and "smiths" were carried away with the king and the princes, partly that they might be serviceable to the king of Babylon in his country; and partly that they might not be assisting to their own country in repairing their fortifications, and making instruments of war for them. There were a "thousand" of this sort carried captive, 2 Kings 24:16; where the former of these are called "craftsmen". Jarchi interprets both of the scholars of the wise men; and Kimchi, of counsellors and wise men. The word for "carpenters" is used both of carpenters and blacksmiths; and that for "smiths" may be rendered "enclosers", or "shutters up"; which the Targum understands of porters or shutters of gates; and some think goldsmiths are meant, that set or enclose precious stones in gold; and others are of opinion that masons are intended, so called from the building of walls for the enclosing of places. The Syriac version renders it "soldiers"; but those are distinguished from them, 2 Kings 24:14. The Septuagint version translates it "prisoners"; but so all the captives might be called; and it adds, what is not in the text, "and the rich"; and the Arabic version following that; though it is true they were carried captive; for it is said, "none remained, save the poorest sort of the people of the land", 2 Kings 24:14. This, according to Bishop UsherF24Annales Vet. Test. p. 123. , was in the year of the world 3405, and before Christ 599; and so the authors of the Universal HistoryF25Vol. 21. p. 60, place it; and Mr. WhistonF26Chronological Tables, cent. 10. also; and Mr. BedfordF1Scripture Chronology, p. 678. a year later; and in the same year that this captivity began was Cyrus the Persian born, who was the deliverer of the Jews from it.