1Nebuchadnezzar was king of Babylonia. He marched out against Jerusalem. All of his armies went with him. It was in the ninth year of the rule of Zedekiah. It was on the tenth day of the tenth month. Nebuchadnezzar set up camp outside the city. He brought in war machines all around it. 2It was surrounded until the 11th year of King Zedekiah's rule.
3By the ninth day of the fourth month, there wasn't any food left in the city. So the people didn't have anything to eat.
4Then the Babylonians broke through the city wall. Judah's whole army ran away at night. They went out through the gate between the two walls that were near the king's garden. They escaped even though the Babylonians surrounded the city. Judah's army ran toward the Arabah Valley.
5But the armies of Babylonia chased King Zedekiah. They caught up with him in the flatlands near Jericho. All of his soldiers were separated from him. They had scattered in every direction.
6The king was captured. He was taken to the king of Babylonia at Riblah. That's where Nebuchadnezzar decided how he would be punished. 7His men killed the sons of Zedekiah. They forced him to watch it with his own eyes. Then they poked out his eyes. They put him in bronze chains. And they took him to Babylon.
8Nebuzaradan was an official of the king of Babylonia. In fact, he was commander of the royal guard. He came to Jerusalem. It was in the 19th year that Nebuchadnezzar was king of Babylonia. It was on the seventh day of the fifth month.
9Nebuzaradan set the Lord's temple on fire. He also set fire to the royal palace and all of the houses in Jerusalem. He burned down every important building. 10The armies of Babylonia broke down the walls around Jerusalem. That's what the commander told them to do.
11Some people still remained in the city. But the commander Nebuzaradan took them away as prisoners. He also took the rest of the people of the land. That included those who had joined the king of Babylonia.
12But the commander left some of the poorest people of the land behind. He told them to work in the vineyards and fields.
13The armies of Babylonia destroyed the Lord's temple. They broke the bronze pillars into pieces. They broke up the bronze stands that could be moved around. And they broke up the huge bronze bowl. Then they carried the bronze away to Babylon. 14They also took away the pots, shovels, wick cutters and dishes. They took away all of the bronze articles that were used for any purpose in the temple. 15The commander of the royal guard took away the shallow cups for burning incense. He took away the sprinkling bowls. So he took away everything that was made out of pure gold or silver.
16The bronze was more than anyone could weigh. It included the bronze from the two pillars. It also included the bronze from the huge bowl and the stands. Solomon had made all of those things for the Lord's temple. 17Each pillar was 27 feet high. The bronze top of one pillar was four and a half feet high. It was decorated with a set of bronze chains and pomegranates all around it. The other pillar was just like it. It also had a set of chains.
18The commander of the guard took some prisoners. They included the chief priest Seraiah and the priest Zephaniah who was under him. They also included the three men who guarded the temple doors.
19Some people were still left in the city. The commander took as a prisoner the officer who was in charge of the fighting men. He took the five men who gave advice to the king. He also took the secretary who was the chief officer in charge of getting the people of the land to serve in the army. And he took 60 of the secretary's men who were still in the city.
20The commander Nebuzaradan took all of them away. He brought them to the king of Babylonia at Riblah. 21There the king had them put to death. Riblah was in the land of Hamath.
So the people of Judah were taken as prisoners. They were taken far away from their own land.
22Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylonia, appointed Gedaliah to be over the people he had left behind in Judah. Gedaliah was the son of Ahikam. Ahikam was the son of Shaphan.
23All of Judah's army officers and their men heard about what had happened. They heard that the king had appointed Gedaliah as governor. So they came to Gedaliah at Mizpah. Ishmael, the son of Nethaniah, came. So did Johanan, the son of Kareah. Seraiah, the son of Tanhumeth, also came. And so did Jaazaniah, the son of the Maacathite. All of their men came too. Seraiah was from Netophah.
24Gedaliah took an oath to give hope to all of those men. He spoke in a kind way to them. He said, "Don't be afraid of the officials from Babylonia. Settle down in the land of Judah. Serve the king of Babylonia. Then things will go well with you."
25But in the seventh month Ishmael, the son of Nethaniah, came with ten men. He killed Gedaliah. He also killed the people of Judah and Babylonia who were with Gedaliah at Mizpah. Nethaniah was the son of Elishama. Ishmael was a member of the royal family.
26After he had killed Gedaliah, all of the people ran away to Egypt. Everyone from the least important of them to the most important ran away. The army officers went with them. All of them went to Egypt because they were afraid of the Babylonians.
Jehoiachin Is Set Free
27Evil-Merodach set Jehoiachin, the king of Judah, free from prison. It was in the 37th year after Jehoiachin had been taken away to Babylon. It was also the year Evil-Merodach became king of Babylonia. It was on the 27th day of the 12th month. 28Evil-Merodach spoke kindly to Jehoiachin. He gave him a place of honor. Other kings were with Jehoiachin in Babylon. But his place was more important than theirs.
29So Jehoiachin put his prison clothes away. For the rest of Jehoiachin's life the king provided what he needed. 30The king did that for Jehoiachin day by day as long as he lived.