1The people of the land took Jehoahaz son of Josiah and made him king in his father’s place in Jerusalem. 2Jehoahaz was twenty-three years old when he became king, and he reigned three months in Jerusalem. 3The king of Egypt prevented him from ruling in Jerusalem and imposed on the land a special tax of one hundred talents of silver and a talent of gold. 4The king of Egypt made Jehoahaz’s brother Eliakim king over Judah and Jerusalem, and changed his name to Jehoiakim. Necho seized his brother Jehoahaz and took him to Egypt.
5Jehoiakim was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned for eleven years in Jerusalem. He did evil in the sight of the Lord his God. 6King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon attacked him, bound him with bronze chains, and carried him away to Babylon. 7Nebuchadnezzar took some of the items in the Lord’s temple to Babylon and put them in his palace there.
8The rest of the events of Jehoiakim’s reign, including the horrible sins he committed and his shortcomings, are recorded in the Scroll of the Kings of Israel and Judah. His son Jehoiachin replaced him as king.
9Jehoiachin was eighteen years old when he became king, and he reigned three months and ten days in Jerusalem. He did evil in the sight of the Lord. 10At the beginning of the year King Nebuchadnezzar ordered him to be brought to Babylon, along with the valuable items in the Lord’s temple. In his place he made his relative Zedekiah king over Judah and Jerusalem.
11Zedekiah was twenty-one years old when he became king, and he ruled for eleven years in Jerusalem. 12He did evil in the sight of the Lord his God. He did not humble himself before Jeremiah the prophet, the Lord’s spokesman. 13He also rebelled against King Nebuchadnezzar, who had made him vow allegiance in the name of God. He was stubborn and obstinate, and refused to return to the Lord God of Israel. 14All the leaders of the priests and people became more unfaithful and committed the same horrible sins practiced by the nations. They defiled the Lord’s temple which he had consecrated in Jerusalem.
The Babylonians Destroy Jerusalem
15The Lord God of their ancestors continually warned them through his messengers, for he felt compassion for his people and his dwelling place. 16But they mocked God’s messengers, despised his warnings, and ridiculed his prophets. Finally the Lord got very angry at his people and there was no one who could prevent his judgment. 17He brought against them the king of the Babylonians, who slaughtered their young men in their temple. He did not spare young men or women, or even the old and aging. God handed everyone over to him. 18He carried away to Babylon all the items in God’s temple, whether large or small, as well as what was in the treasuries of the Lord’s temple and in the treasuries of the king and his officials. 19They burned down the Lord’s temple and tore down the wall of Jerusalem. They burned all its fortified buildings and destroyed all its valuable items. 20He deported to Babylon all who escaped the sword. They served him and his sons until the Persian kingdom rose to power. 21This took place to fulfill the Lord’s message delivered through Jeremiah. The land experienced its sabbatical years; it remained desolate for seventy years, as prophesied.
Cyrus Allows the Exiles to Go Home
22In the first year of the reign of King Cyrus of Persia, in fulfillment of the promise he delivered through Jeremiah, the Lord moved King Cyrus of Persia to issue a written decree throughout his kingdom. 23It read: “This is what King Cyrus of Persia says: ‘The Lord God of the heavens has given to me all the kingdoms of the earth. He has appointed me to build for him a temple in Jerusalem in Judah. May the Lord your God energize you who belong to his people, so you may be able to go back there!”