Jehoahaz King of Judah
1The people of Judah chose Josiah’s son Jehoahaz and made him king in Jerusalem in his father’s place.
2Jehoahaz was twenty-three years old when he became king, and he was king in Jerusalem for three months. 3Then King Neco of Egypt removed Jehoahaz from being king in Jerusalem. Neco made the people of Judah pay about seventy-five hundred pounds of silver and about seventy-five pounds of gold. 4The king of Egypt made Jehoahaz’s brother Eliakim the king of Judah and Jerusalem and changed his name to Jehoiakim. But Neco took his brother Jehoahaz to Egypt.
Jehoiakim King of Judah
5Jehoiakim was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he was king in Jerusalem for eleven years. He did what the Lord his God said was wrong. 6King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon attacked Judah, captured Jehoiakim, put bronze chains on him, and took him to Babylon. 7Nebuchadnezzar removed some of the things from the Temple of the Lord, took them to Babylon, and put them in his own palace.
8The other things Jehoiakim did as king, the hateful things he did, and everything he was guilty of doing, are written in the book of the kings of Israel and Judah. And Jehoiakim’s son Jehoiachin became king in his place.
Jehoiachin King of Judah
9Jehoiachin was eighteen years old when he became king of Judah, and he was king in Jerusalem for three months and ten days. He did what the Lord said was wrong. 10In the spring King Nebuchadnezzar sent for Jehoiachin and brought him and some valuable treasures from the Temple of the Lord to Babylon. Then Nebuchadnezzar made Jehoiachin’s uncle Zedekiah the king of Judah and Jerusalem.
Zedekiah King of Judah
11Zedekiah was twenty-one years old when he became king of Judah, and he was king in Jerusalem for eleven years. 12Zedekiah did what the Lord his God said was wrong. The prophet Jeremiah spoke messages from the Lord, but Zedekiah did not obey. 13Zedekiah turned against King Nebuchadnezzar, who had forced him to swear in God’s name to be loyal to him. But Zedekiah became stubborn and refused to obey the Lord, the God of Israel. 14Also, all the leaders of the priests and the people of Judah became more wicked, following the evil example of the other nations. The Lord had made the Temple in Jerusalem holy, but the leaders made it unholy.
The Fall of Jerusalem
15The Lord, the God of their ancestors, sent prophets again and again to warn his people, because he had pity on them and on his Temple. 16But they made fun of God’s prophets and hated God’s messages. They refused to listen to the prophets until, finally, the Lord became so angry with his people that he could not be stopped. 17So God brought the king of Babylon to attack them. The king killed the young men even when they were in the Temple. He had no mercy on the young men or women, the old men or those who were sick. God handed all of them over to Nebuchadnezzar. 18Nebuchadnezzar carried away to Babylon all the things from the Temple of God, both large and small, and all the treasures from the Temple of the Lord and from the king and his officers. 19Nebuchadnezzar and his army set fire to God’s Temple and broke down Jerusalem’s wall and burned all the palaces. They took or destroyed every valuable thing in Jerusalem.
20Nebuchadnezzar took captive to Babylon the people who were left alive, and he forced them to be slaves for him and his descendants. They remained there as slaves until the Persian kingdom defeated Babylon. 21And so what the Lord had told Israel through the prophet Jeremiah happened: The country was an empty wasteland for seventy years to make up for the years of Sabbath rest that the people had not kept.
22In the first year Cyrus was king of Persia, the Lord had Cyrus send an announcement to his whole kingdom. This happened so the Lord’s message spoken by Jeremiah would come true. He wrote:
23This is what Cyrus king of Persia says:
The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth, and he has appointed me to build a Temple for him at Jerusalem in Judah. Now may the Lord your God be with all of you who are his people. You are free to go to Jerusalem.