231King Josiah summoned all the leaders of Judah and Jerusalem, 2and together they went to the Temple, accompanied by the priests and the prophets and all the rest of the people, rich and poor alike. Before them all, the king read aloud the whole book of the covenant which had been found in the Temple. 3He stood by the royal column and made a covenant with the LORD to obey him, to keep his laws and commands with all his heart and soul, and to put into practice the demands attached to the covenant, as written in the book. And all the people promised to keep the covenant.
Then Josiah ordered the High Priest Hilkiah, his assistant priests, and the guards on duty at the entrance to the Temple to bring out of the Temple all the objects used in the worship of Baal, of the goddess Asherah, and of the stars. The king burnt all these objects outside the city near the valley of the Kidron, and then had the ashes taken to Bethel. 5He removed from office the priests that the kings of Judah had ordained to offer sacrifices23.5 Some ancient translations to offer sacrifices; Hebrew and he offered sacrifices. on the pagan altars in the cities of Judah and in places near Jerusalem — all the priests who offered sacrifices to Baal, to the sun, the moon, the planets, and the stars. 6He removed from the Temple the symbol of the goddess Asherah, took it out of the city to the valley of the Kidron, burnt it, pounded its ashes to dust, and scattered it over the public burial ground. 7He destroyed the living quarters in the Temple occupied by the temple prostitutes.23.7 temple prostitutes: Men and women who practised prostitution in the worship of fertility gods. (It was there that women wove robes used in the worship of Asherah.) 8He brought to Jerusalem the priests who were in the cities of Judah, and throughout the whole country he desecrated the altars where they had offered sacrifices. He also tore down the altars dedicated to the goat-demons near the gate built by Joshua, the city governor, which was to the left of the main gate as one enters the city. 9Those priests were not allowed to serve in the Temple, but they could eat the unleavened bread provided for their fellow-priests.
King Josiah also desecrated Topheth, the pagan place of worship in the Valley of Hinnom, so that no one could sacrifice his son or daughter as a burnt offering to the god Molech. 11He also removed the horses that the kings of Judah had dedicated to the worship of the sun, and he burnt the chariots used in this worship. (These were kept in the temple courtyard, near the gate and not far from the living quarters of Nathan Melech, a high official.) 12
The altars which the kings of Judah had built on the palace roof above King Ahaz' quarters, King Josiah tore down, along with the altars put up by King Manasseh in the two courtyards of the Temple; he smashed the altars to bits23.12 Probable text smashed… to bits; Hebrew unclear. and threw them into the valley of the Kidron. 13
Josiah desecrated the altars that King Solomon had built east of Jerusalem, south of the Mount of Olives,23.13 Mount of Olives: Hebrew here refers to it as “Mount of Destruction” or “Mount of Sin”. for the worship of disgusting idols — Astarte the goddess of Sidon, Chemosh the god of Moab, and Molech the god of Ammon. 14King Josiah broke the stone pillars to pieces, cut down the symbols of the goddess Asherah, and the ground where they had stood he covered with human bones.
Josiah also tore down the place of worship in Bethel which had been built by King Jeroboam son of Nebat, who led Israel into sin. Josiah pulled down the altar, broke its stones into pieces,23.15 One ancient translation broke its stones into pieces; Hebrew burnt the altar. and pounded them to dust; he also burnt the image of Asherah. 16
Then Josiah looked round and saw some tombs there on the hill; he had the bones taken out of them and burnt on the altar. In this way he desecrated the altar, doing what the prophet had predicted long before during the festival as King Jeroboam was standing by the altar. King Josiah looked round and saw the tomb of the prophet23.16 One ancient translation during the festival… the prophet; Hebrew does not have these words. who had made this prediction. 17
“Whose tomb is that?” he asked.
The people of Bethel answered, “It is the tomb of the prophet who came from Judah and predicted these things that you have done to this altar.”
18“Leave it as it is,” Josiah ordered. “His bones are not to be moved.”
So his bones were not moved, neither were those of the prophet who had come from Samaria.
19In every city of Israel King Josiah tore down all the pagan places of worship which had been built by the kings of Israel, who thereby aroused the LORD's anger. He did to all those altars what he had done in Bethel. 20He killed all the pagan priests on the altars where they served, and he burnt human bones on every altar. Then he returned to Jerusalem.
21King Josiah ordered the people to celebrate the Passover in honour of the LORD their God, as written in the book of the covenant. 22No Passover like this one had ever been celebrated by any of the kings of Israel or of Judah, since the time when judges ruled the nation. 23Now at last, in the eighteenth year of the reign of Josiah, the Passover was celebrated in Jerusalem.
24In order to enforce the laws written in the book that the High Priest Hilkiah had found in the Temple, King Josiah removed from Jerusalem and the rest of Judah all the mediums and fortune tellers, and all the household gods, idols, and all other pagan objects of worship. 25There had never been a king like him before, who served the LORD with all his heart, mind, and strength, obeying all the Law of Moses; nor has there been a king like him since.
26But the LORD's fierce anger had been aroused against Judah by what King Manasseh had done, and even now it did not die down. 27The LORD said, “I will do to Judah what I have done to Israel: I will banish the people of Judah from my sight, and I will reject Jerusalem, the city I chose, and the Temple, the place I said was where I should be worshipped.”
28Everything else that King Josiah did is recorded in The History of the Kings of Judah. 29While Josiah was king, King Neco of Egypt led an army to the River Euphrates to help the emperor of Assyria. King Josiah tried to stop the Egyptian army at Megiddo and was killed in battle. 30His officials placed his body in a chariot and took it back to Jerusalem, where he was buried in the royal tombs.
The people of Judah chose Josiah's son Joahaz and anointed him king.
31Joahaz was 23 years old when he became king of Judah, and he ruled in Jerusalem for three months. His mother was Hamutal, the daughter of Jeremiah from the city of Libnah. 32Following the example of his ancestors, he sinned against the LORD. 33His reign ended when King Neco of Egypt took him prisoner in Riblah, in the land of Hamath, and made Judah pay 3.4 tonnes of silver and 34 kilogrammes of gold as tribute. 34
King Neco made Josiah's son Eliakim king of Judah as successor to Josiah, and changed his name to Jehoiakim. Joahaz was taken to Egypt by King Neco, and there he died.
35King Jehoiakim collected a tax from the people in proportion to their wealth, in order to raise the amount needed to pay the tribute demanded by the king of Egypt.
Jehoiakim was 25 years old when he became king of Judah, and he ruled in Jerusalem for eleven years. His mother was Zebidah, the daughter of Pedaiah from the town of Rumah. 37Following the example of his ancestors, Jehoiakim sinned against the LORD.
While Jehoiakim was king, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylonia invaded Judah, and for three years Jehoiakim was forced to submit to his rule; then he rebelled. 2The LORD sent armed bands of Babylonians, Syrians, Moabites, and Ammonites against Jehoiakim to destroy Judah, as the LORD had said through his servants the prophets that he would do. 3This happened at the LORD's command, in order to banish the people of Judah from his sight because of all the sins that King Manasseh had committed, 4and especially because of all the innocent people he had killed. The LORD could not forgive Manasseh for that.
5Everything else that Jehoiakim did is recorded in The History of the Kings of Judah. 6Jehoiakim died, and his son Jehoiachin succeeded him as king.
7The king of Egypt and his army never marched out of Egypt again, because the king of Babylonia now controlled all the territory that had belonged to Egypt, from the River Euphrates to the northern border of Egypt.
8Jehoiachin was eighteen years old when he became king of Judah, and he ruled in Jerusalem for three months. His mother was Nehushta, the daughter of Elnathan from Jerusalem. 9Following the example of his father, Jehoiachin sinned against the LORD.
10It was during his reign that the Babylonian army, commanded by King Nebuchadnezzar's officers, marched against Jerusalem and besieged it. 11During the siege Nebuchadnezzar himself came to Jerusalem, 12
and King Jehoiachin, along with his mother, his sons, his officers, and the palace officials, surrendered to the Babylonians. In the eighth year of Nebuchadnezzar's reign he took Jehoiachin prisoner 13and carried off to Babylon all the treasures in the Temple and the palace. As the LORD had foretold, Nebuchadnezzar broke up all the gold utensils which King Solomon had made for use in the Temple. 14Nebuchadnezzar carried away as prisoners the people of Jerusalem, all the royal princes, and all the leading men, 10,000 in all. He also deported all the skilled workmen, including the blacksmiths, leaving only the poorest of the people behind in Judah.
Nebuchadnezzar took Jehoiachin to Babylon as a prisoner, together with Jehoiachin's mother, his wives, his officials, and the leading men of Judah. 16Nebuchadnezzar deported all the important men to Babylonia, 7,000 in all, and 1,000 skilled workers, including the blacksmiths, all of them able-bodied men fit for military duty.
Nebuchadnezzar made Jehoiachin's uncle Mattaniah king of Judah and changed his name to Zedekiah.
Zedekiah was 21 years old when he became king of Judah, and he ruled in Jerusalem for eleven years. His mother was Hamutal, the daughter of Jeremiah from the city of Libnah. 19King Zedekiah sinned against the LORD, just as King Jehoiakim had done. 20
The LORD became so angry with the people of Jerusalem and Judah that he banished them from his sight.
Zedekiah rebelled against King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylonia, so Nebuchadnezzar came with all his army and attacked Jerusalem on the tenth day of the tenth month of the ninth year of Zedekiah's reign. They set up camp outside the city, built siege walls round it, 2and kept it under siege until Zedekiah's eleventh year. 3On the ninth day of the fourth month25.3 Probable text (see Jer 52.6) the fourth month; Hebrew the month. of that same year, when the famine was so bad that the people had nothing left to eat, 4
the city walls were broken through. Although the Babylonians were surrounding the city, all the soldiers escaped during the night. They left by way of the royal garden, went through the gateway connecting the two walls, and fled in the direction of the Jordan Valley. 5But the Babylonian army pursued King Zedekiah, captured him in the plains near Jericho, and all his soldiers deserted him. 6Zedekiah was taken to King Nebuchadnezzar, who was in the city of Riblah, and there Nebuchadnezzar passed sentence on him. 7
While Zedekiah was looking on, his sons were put to death; then Nebuchadnezzar had Zedekiah's eyes put out, placed him in chains, and took him to Babylon.
8On the seventh day of the fifth month of the nineteenth year of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylonia, Nebuzaradan, adviser to the king and commander of his army, entered Jerusalem. 9He burnt down the Temple, the palace, and the houses of all the important people in Jerusalem, 10and his soldiers tore down the city walls. 11Then Nebuzaradan took away to Babylonia the people who were left in the city, the remaining skilled workmen,25.11 Probable text (see Jer 52.15) skilled workmen; Hebrew crowd. and those who had deserted to the Babylonians. 12But he left in Judah some of the poorest people, who owned no property, and put them to work in the vineyards and fields.
The Babylonians broke in pieces the bronze columns and the carts that were in the Temple, together with the large bronze tank, and they took all the bronze to Babylon. 14
They also took away the shovels and the ash containers used in cleaning the altar, the tools used in tending the lamps, the bowls used for catching the blood from the sacrifices, the bowls used for burning incense, and all the other bronze articles used in the temple service. 15They took away everything that was made of gold or silver, including the small bowls and the pans used for carrying live coals. 16The bronze objects that King Solomon had made for the Temple — the two columns, the carts, and the large tank — were too heavy to weigh. 17The two columns were identical: each one was eight metres high, with a bronze capital on top, 1.3 metres high. All round each capital was a bronze grating decorated with pomegranates made of bronze.
18In addition, Nebuzaradan, the commanding officer, took away as prisoners Seraiah the High Priest, Zephaniah the priest next in rank, and the three other important temple officials. 19From the city he took the officer who had been in command of the troops, five of the king's personal advisers who were still in the city, the commander's assistant, who was in charge of military records, and sixty other important men. 20Nebuzaradan took them to the king of Babylonia, who was in the city of Riblah 21in the territory of Hamath. There the king had them beaten and put to death.
So the people of Judah were carried away from their land into exile.
22King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylonia made Gedaliah, the son of Ahikam and grandson of Shaphan, governor of Judah, and placed him in charge of all those who had not been taken away to Babylonia. 23When the Judean officers and soldiers who had not surrendered heard about this, they joined Gedaliah at Mizpah. These officers were Ishmael son of Nethaniah, Johanan son of Kareah, Seraiah son of Tanhumeth, from the town of Netophah, and Jezaniah from Maacah. 24Gedaliah said to them, “I give you my word that there is no need for you to be afraid of the Babylonian officials. Settle in this land, serve the king of Babylonia, and all will go well with you.”
25But in the seventh month of that year, Ishmael, the son of Nethaniah and grandson of Elishama, a member of the royal family, went to Mizpah with ten men, attacked Gedaliah and killed him. He also killed the Israelites and Babylonians who were there with him. 26
Then all the Israelites, rich and poor alike, together with the army officers, left and went to Egypt, because they were afraid of the Babylonians.
27In the year that Evilmerodach became king of Babylonia, he showed kindness to King Jehoiachin of Judah by releasing him from prison. This happened on the 27th day of the twelfth month of the 37th year after Jehoiachin had been taken away as prisoner. 28Evilmerodach treated him kindly, and gave him a position of greater honour than he gave the other kings who were exiles with him in Babylonia. 29So Jehoiachin was permitted to change from his prison clothes and to dine at the king's table for the rest of his life. 30Each day, for as long as he lived, he was given a regular allowance for his needs.