11King Josiah celebrated the Passover at Jerusalem in honour of the Lord; on the fourteenth day of the first month they killed the animals for the festival. 2Josiah organized the priests, dressed in their priestly robes, to serve in the Temple according to the daily order. 3He also instructed the Levites, the Temple servants, to purify themselves for the Lord's service, so that they could put the sacred Covenant Box of the Lord in the Temple that King Solomon, the son of David, had built. 4Josiah said to them, “You must no longer carry it from place to place, but you are to serve the Lord your God and minister to his people Israel. Get ready by family and clan to carry out your duties 5
according to the directions given by King David and the splendid way that they were carried out by his son King Solomon. Take your places in the Temple in proper order according to your family divisions as Levites serving the Lord for the people of Israel. 6Kill the Passover lambs and goats and prepare the sacrifices for your fellow-Israelites. Then celebrate the Passover according to the instructions that the Lord gave to Moses.”
7Josiah gave to the people who were present 30,000 young sheep and goats and 3,000 calves. These were a gift from the royal estates to carry out the promise he had made to the people, the priests, and the Levites. 8The officials in charge of the Temple — Hilkiah, Zechariah, and Jehiel — also gave the priests 2,600 sheep and 300 calves for sacrifices during the festival. 9And the army commanders — Conaniah, Shemaiah and his brother Nethanel, Hashabiah, Ochiel, and Joram — contributed 5,000 sheep and 700 calves for the Levites to offer as sacrifices.
10-11This is what happened. The priests and the Levites, dressed in the proper manner and carrying the unleavened bread, came that morning to present the offerings to the Lord according to the instructions in the Law of Moses. They took their positions in front of the people in the order of tribal and family divisions. 12The Levites roasted the Passover sacrifices and then boiled them in pots and cauldrons, making a pleasant smell. 13
Then they distributed the meat to all the people. After that was done, they took meat for themselves and for the priests, the descendants of Aaron, 14because the priests were kept busy until night burning the fat of the sacrifices. 15-16The guards at the Temple gates and the Temple singers of the Levite clan of Asaph (with Asaph, Zechariah, and Eddinus, who were representatives of the king) remained at the places assigned to them by King David's instructions. They did not need to leave their posts, because the other Levites prepared the Passover for them.
17-18So, as King Josiah had commanded, everything that related to the sacrifices offered to the Lord was done that day; the Passover Festival was celebrated, and the sacrifices were offered on the altar. 19
All the people of Israel who were present at that time kept the Passover and observed the Festival of Unleavened Bread for seven days. 20Since the days of the prophet Samuel, the Passover had never been celebrated so faithfully. 21-22None of the former kings of Israel had ever celebrated a Passover like this one celebrated by King Josiah in Jerusalem in the eighteenth year of his reign; it was celebrated by the priests, the Levites, and all the people of Judah and Israel.
23The Lord was pleased with everything Josiah did, for he was a deeply religious man. 24But the ancient records also tell the story of those who sinned and rebelled against the Lord during Josiah's reign. They sinned more than any other nation or kingdom and did things that offended the Lord so much that his judgement fell on the people of Israel.
25After Josiah had done all these things, the king of Egypt led an army to fight at Carchemish on the River Euphrates. Josiah tried to stop him, 26but the king of Egypt sent Josiah this message: “The war I am fighting does not concern you, King of Judah. 27The Lord God did not send me to fight you; my battle is on the Euphrates. The Lord is with me, and he is urging me on; so withdraw your troops and don't oppose the Lord.” 28But Josiah did not go back to his chariot and withdraw. He refused to listen to what the Lord had said through the prophet Jeremiah and decided to fight. 29He went into battle on the plain of Megiddo, and the Egyptian commanders attacked him.
30King Josiah ordered his servants, “Take me off the battlefield; I'm badly wounded.” So they took him out of the line of battle immediately, 31and he got into a second chariot and was taken back to Jerusalem. There he died and was buried in the royal tomb. 32All the people of Judah mourned for him.
The prophet Jeremiah composed a lament for King Josiah. It has become a custom in Israel for the leaders and their wives to sing this song when they mourn for him. 33These things are recorded in The History of the Kings of Judah. Everything that Josiah did, how he gained his fame and his understanding of the Law, what he did earlier and what is told here, is all recorded in The History of the Kings of Israel and Judah.
34The people of Judah chose Josiah's son Joahaz1.34 Joahaz; some manuscripts have Jeconiah. and made him king. Joahaz was 23 years old, 35and he ruled over Judah and Jerusalem for three months. Then the king of Egypt deposed him 36and made the nation pay 3.4 tonnes of silver and 34 kilogrammes of gold as tribute. 37
The king of Egypt appointed Joahaz's brother Jehoiakim king of Judah and Jerusalem. 38Jehoiakim put the leading men of the nation in prison, then had his brother Zarius arrested and brought back from Egypt.
Jehoiakim was 25 years old when he became king of Judah and Jerusalem. He sinned against the Lord. 40
King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylonia invaded Judah, captured Jehoiakim, and took him to Babylonia in bronze chains. 41Nebuchadnezzar also carried off some of the sacred utensils from the Temple and put them in his own temple in Babylon. 42The stories about Jehoiakim, his depravity, and the godless way he lived are recorded in The Chronicles of the Kings.
43Jehoiachin was eighteen years old when he succeeded his father Jehoiakim as king, 44and he ruled in Jerusalem for three months and ten days. He too sinned against the Lord. 45
A year later King Nebuchadnezzar had Jehoiachin taken to Babylonia as a prisoner; Nebuchadnezzar also carried off sacred utensils from the Temple. 46Then he made Zedekiah king of Judah and Jerusalem.
Zedekiah was then 21 years old, and he ruled for eleven years. 47He sinned against the Lord and refused to listen to the prophet Jeremiah, who spoke the word of the Lord.
Although King Nebuchadnezzar had forced Zedekiah to swear in the Lord's name that he would be loyal to him, Zedekiah broke his oath and rebelled against him. He stubbornly refused to obey the commands of the Lord, the God of Israel. 49In addition, the leaders of the people and even the chief priests did more lawless and godless things than all the corrupt heathen; they defiled the Temple of the Lord, which he had made holy. 50The God of their ancestors had continued to send prophets to call them back from their sins, because he wanted to spare them and their Temple. 51But when the Lord spoke through his prophets, the people ridiculed them and laughed. 52At last the Lord became so angry with his people and their depraved ways that he ordered the kings of Babylonia to attack them. 53The Babylonians killed the young men of Judah all round the Temple and did not spare anyone, young or old, man or woman. The Lord handed them all over to their enemies. 54The Babylonians carried off all the sacred utensils from the Temple, the treasure chests,1.54 treasure chests; some manuscripts have the equipment of the Covenant Box. and the wealth of the king; they took everything away to Babylon, leaving nothing behind. 55They burnt down the Temple, broke down the city wall, set fire to its towers, 56and completely destroyed all its beauty. Nebuchadnezzar forced all the survivors to be led away to Babylon, 57where they served him and his descendants as slaves until the rise of the Persian Empire. And so what the Lord had foretold through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled: 58
“The land will lie desolate for seventy years to make up for the Sabbath rest1.58 sabbath rest: A reference to the requirement of the Law that every seventh year the land was not to be farmed (see Lev 25.1–7). that has not been observed.”
21In the first year that Cyrus of Persia was emperor,2.1 emperor: King Cyrus of Persia occupied the city of Babylon in 539 bc and began to reign as the emperor of Babylonia. the Lord made what he had said through the prophet Jeremiah come true. 2He prompted Cyrus to issue the following command and send it out in writing to be read aloud everywhere in his empire:
“This is the command of Cyrus, emperor of Persia. The Lord of Israel, the Lord Most High, has appointed me ruler over the whole world 4and has given me the responsibility of building a temple for him in Jerusalem in Judah. 5May the Lord be with those of you who are his people. You are to go to Jerusalem and rebuild the Temple of the Lord of Israel, the Lord who lives in Jerusalem. 6If any of his people in exile need help to return, their neighbours must give them this help, and provide them with silver and gold 7and other gifts, with horses and pack animals, as well as anything else offered for the Temple of the Lord in Jerusalem in fulfilment of a vow.”
8Then the heads of the clans of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, the priests and the Levites, and everyone else whose heart the Lord had moved, got ready to go and rebuild the Lord's Temple in Jerusalem. 9Their neighbours helped them with everything, giving them silver, gold, horses, and pack animals. Many of their neighbours were also led to give a large number of other things, in fulfilment of vows.
10Cyrus gave them back the sacred utensils that King Nebuchadnezzar had taken from Jerusalem and had put in the temple of his idols. 11He brought them out and handed them over to Mithredath, chief of the royal treasury, 12who delivered them to Sheshbazzar, the governor of Judah. 13Here is the inventory of the utensils:
|gold bowls for offerings||1,000|
|silver bowls for offerings||1,000|
|small gold bowls||30|
|small silver bowls||2,410|
14In all there were 5,469 gold and silver bowls and other utensils, 15and Sheshbazzar took these with him when he and the other exiles went from Babylon to Jerusalem.
16In the reign of Emperor Artaxerxes of Persia, Bishlam, Mithredath, Tabeel, Rehum, Beltethmus, Shimshai the secretary of the province, and their associates who lived in Samaria and elsewhere wrote the following letter of protest against the Jews who were living in Judah and Jerusalem:
17“To His Majesty Emperor Artaxerxes from your servants, the official correspondent Rehum, the secretary Shimshai, the other members of the council, and the judges of Greater Syria and Phoenicia.
18“We want Your Majesty to know that the Jews who came here from your other territories have settled in Jerusalem and are rebuilding that evil and rebellious city. They are restoring the market places, repairing the walls, and laying the foundations for a temple. 19If this city is rebuilt and its walls are completed, the people will stop paying taxes and will even rebel against royal authority. 20Since work on the temple has already begun, we consider it appropriate not to overlook such an important matter 21but to bring it to the attention of Your Majesty. Then, if it seems proper to you, a search may be made in the records your ancestors kept. 22You will find information about these matters in the historical records, and you will discover that this city has always been rebellious and given trouble to other cities and kings. 23The Jews have used it from ancient times as a base for rebellions and wars. That is why the city was destroyed. 24We therefore declare to you that if this city is rebuilt and its walls are restored, Your Majesty will no longer be able to enter Greater Syria and Phoenicia.”
25The emperor sent the following answer to the official correspondent Rehum, Beltethmus, the secretary Shimshai, and their associates who lived in Samaria, Syria, and Phoenicia:
26“After reading the letter which you sent me, I gave orders for an investigation to be made, and it has indeed been found that from ancient times Jerusalem has revolted against royal authority, 27and its people have been involved in insurrections and wars. Powerful and cruel kings have reigned there and have ruled over Greater Syria and Phoenicia, from which they collected taxes. 28Therefore I am now issuing orders that those men be prevented from rebuilding the city and that necessary steps be taken to ensure that these orders will not be disobeyed, 29so that this trouble spot will no longer be a threat to the royal interests.”
30As soon as this letter from Artaxerxes was read, Rehum, Shimshai the secretary, and their associates hurried to Jerusalem with a force of cavalry and a large number of armed troops and began interfering with the rebuilding of the Temple. The work had to stop, and no more was done until the second year of the reign of Darius, emperor of Persia.