1 The people of the land took Jehoahaz son of Josiah and made him king in his father’s place in Jerusalem. 2 Jehoahaz was twenty-three years old when he became king, and he reigned three months in Jerusalem. 3 The 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. 4 The 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.
5 Jehoiakim 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. 6 King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon attacked him, bound him with bronze chains, and carried him away to Babylon. 7 Nebuchadnezzar took some of the items in the Lord’s temple to Babylon and put them in his palace there.
8 The 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.
9 Jehoiachin 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. 10 At 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.
11 Zedekiah was twenty-one years old when he became king, and he ruled for eleven years in Jerusalem. 12 He did evil in the sight of the Lord his God. He did not humble himself before Jeremiah the prophet, the Lord’s spokesman. 13 He 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. 14 All the leaders of the priests and people became more unfaithful and committed the same horrible sins practised by the nations. They defiled the Lord’s temple which he had consecrated in Jerusalem.
The Babylonians Destroy Jerusalem
15 The Lord God of their ancestors continually warned them through his messengers, for he felt compassion for his people and his dwelling place. 16 But 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. 17 He 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 ageing. God handed everyone over to him. 18 He 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. 19 They 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. 20 He deported to Babylon all who escaped the sword. They served him and his sons until the Persian kingdom rose to power. 21 This took place to fulfil 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
22 In the first year of the reign of King Cyrus of Persia, in fulfilment of the promise he delivered through Jeremiah, the Lord moved King Cyrus of Persia to issue a written decree throughout his kingdom. 23 It 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 energise you who belong to his people, so you may be able to go back there!”