Jehoahaz, King of Judah
The people of Judah chose Jehoahaz to be the new king in Jerusalem. Jehoahaz was Josiah’s son. 2
He was 23 years old when he became king of Judah. He was king in Jerusalem for three months. 3
Then King Neco from Egypt made Jehoahaz a prisoner. Neco made the people of Judah pay 3 3/4 tons*
of silver and 75 pounds†
of gold for a fine. 4
Neco chose Jehoahaz’s brother Eliakim to be the new king of Judah and Jerusalem. Neco gave Eliakim a new name. He named him Jehoiakim. But Neco took Jehoahaz to Egypt.
Jehoiakim, King of Judah
5 Jehoiakim was 25 years old when he became the new king of Judah. He was king in Jerusalem for eleven years. Jehoiakim did not obey God. He did what the LORD his God considered evil.
6 King Nebuchadnezzar from Babylon attacked Judah. He made Jehoiakim a prisoner and put bronze chains on him. Then Nebuchadnezzar took King Jehoiakim to Babylon. 7 Nebuchadnezzar took some of the things from the LORD’S Temple. He carried them to Babylon and put them in his own house. 8 Everything else Jehoiakim did, the terrible sins he did, and everything he was guilty of doing, are written in the book, The History of the Kings of Israel and Judah. Jehoiakim’s son Jehoiachin became the new king in his place.
Jehoiachin, King of Judah
9 Jehoiachin was 18 years old when he became king of Judah. He was king in Jerusalem for three months and ten days. He did not obey God. He did what the LORD considered evil. 10 In the spring, King Nebuchadnezzar sent some servants to get Jehoiachin. They brought Jehoiachin and some valuable treasures from the LORD’S Temple to Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar chose Zedekiah to be the new king of Judah and Jerusalem. Zedekiah was one of Jehoiachin’s relatives.
Zedekiah, King of Judah
11 Zedekiah was 21 years old when he became king of Judah. He was king in Jerusalem for eleven years. 12 Zedekiah did what the LORD his God considered evil. Jeremiah the prophet told him messages from the LORD. But Zedekiah did not humble himself and obey what Jeremiah said.
Jerusalem Is Destroyed
Zedekiah turned against King Nebuchadnezzar. In the past Nebuchadnezzar forced Zedekiah to make a promise to be faithful to him. Zedekiah used God’s name and promised to be faithful to Nebuchadnezzar. But Zedekiah was stubborn and would not change his life. He refused to obey the LORD, the God of Israel. 14
Also, all the leaders of the priests and the leaders of the people of Judah sinned worse and became more unfaithful to the Lord. They followed the evil example of the other nations. They ruined the Temple that the LORD had made holy in Jerusalem. 15
The LORD, the God of their ancestors, sent prophets again and again to warn his people. He did this because he felt sorry for them and for his Temple. He didn’t want to destroy them or his Temple. 16
But they made fun of God’s prophets and refused to listen to them. They hated God’s messages. Finally, the LORD could not hold his anger any longer. He became angry with his people and there was nothing that could be done to stop it. 17
So God brought the king of Babylon to attack the people of Judah and Jerusalem.‡
The king of Babylon killed the young men even when they were in the Temple. He didn’t have mercy on the people of Judah and Jerusalem. The king of Babylon killed young and old people. He killed men and women. He killed sick and healthy people. God permitted Nebuchadnezzar to punish the people of Judah and Jerusalem. 18
Nebuchadnezzar carried all the things in God’s Temple away to Babylon. He took all the valuable things from the LORD’S Temple, from the king, and from the king’s officials. 19
Nebuchadnezzar and his army burned the Temple. They broke down Jerusalem’s wall and burned all the houses that belonged to the king and his officials. They took or destroyed every valuable thing in Jerusalem. 20
Nebuchadnezzar took the people who were still alive back to Babylon and forced them to be slaves. They stayed in Babylon as slaves until the Persian kingdom defeated the kingdom of Babylon. 21
The land of Judah became an empty desert and stayed that way for 70 years. All this time the land rested to make up for the Sabbath rests§
that the people had not kept. This is just what the LORD said would happen in the warning he gave through the prophet Jeremiah.*
During the first year that Cyrus†
was king of Persia, the LORD caused Cyrus to make a special announcement. He did this so that what the LORD promised through Jeremiah the prophet would really happen. Cyrus sent messengers to every place in his kingdom. They carried this message:
23 This is what King Cyrus of Persia says:
The LORD, the God of heaven, made me king over the whole earth. He gave me the responsibility of building a Temple for him in Jerusalem. Now, all of you who are his people are free to go to Jerusalem. And may the LORD your God be with you.