1The people of the land went and got Jehoahaz. He was the son of Josiah. The people made Jehoahaz king in Jerusalem in place of his father.
Jehoahaz King of Judah
2Jehoahaz was 23 years old when he became king. He ruled in Jerusalem for three months. 3The king of Egypt removed him from his throne in Jerusalem. The king of Egypt made the people of Judah pay him a huge tax. The tax was almost four tons of silver and 75 pounds of gold. 4Necho, the king of Egypt, made Eliakim king over Judah and Jerusalem. Eliakim was a brother of Jehoahaz. Necho changed Eliakim’s name to Jehoiakim. But Necho took Eliakim’s brother Jehoahaz with him to Egypt.
Jehoiakim King of Judah
5Jehoiakim was 25 years old when he became king. He ruled in Jerusalem for 11 years. He did what was evil in the eyes of the Lord his God. 6Nebuchadnezzar attacked him. Nebuchadnezzar was king of Babylon. He put Jehoiakim in bronze chains. And he took him to Babylon. 7Nebuchadnezzar also took to Babylon objects from the Lord’s temple. He put them in his own temple there.
8The other events of Jehoiakim’s rule are written in the records of the kings of Israel and Judah. He did things the Lord hated. Those things and everything that happened to him are also written in those records. Jehoiakim’s son Jehoiachin became the next king after him.
Jehoiachin King of Judah
9Jehoiachin was 18 years old when he became king. He ruled in Jerusalem for three months and ten days. He did what was evil in the eyes of the Lord. 10In the spring, King Nebuchadnezzar sent for him. He brought him to Babylon. He also brought things of value from the Lord’s temple. He made Zedekiah king over Judah and Jerusalem. Zedekiah was Jehoiachin’s uncle.
Zedekiah King of Judah
11Zedekiah was 21 years old when he became king. He ruled in Jerusalem for 11 years. 12He did what was evil in the eyes of the Lord his God. He didn’t pay any attention to the message the Lord spoke through Jeremiah the prophet. 13Zedekiah also refused to remain under the control of King Nebuchadnezzar. The king had forced Zedekiah to make a promise in God’s name. But Zedekiah’s heart became very stubborn. He wouldn’t turn to the Lord, the God of Israel. 14And that’s not all. The people and all the leaders of the priests became more and more unfaithful. They followed all the practices of the nations. The Lord hated those practices. The people and leaders made the Lord’s temple “unclean.” The Lord had set the temple in Jerusalem apart in a special way for himself.
The Fall of Jerusalem
15The Lord, the God of Israel, sent word to his people through his messengers. He sent it to them again and again. He took pity on his people. He also took pity on the temple where he lived. 16But God’s people made fun of his messengers. They hated his words. They laughed at his prophets. Finally the Lord’s great anger was stirred up against his people. Nothing could save them. 17The Lord brought the king of the Babylonians against them. The Babylonian army killed their young people with their swords at the temple. They didn’t spare young men or young women. They didn’t spare the old people or weak people either. God handed all of them over to Nebuchadnezzar. 18Nebuchadnezzar carried off to Babylon all the objects from God’s temple. Some of those things were large. Others were small. He carried off the treasures of the temple. He also carried off the treasures that belonged to the king and his officials. 19The Babylonians set God’s temple on fire. They broke down the wall of Jerusalem. They burned all the palaces. They destroyed everything of value there.
20Nebuchadnezzar took the rest of the people to Babylon as prisoners. They had escaped from being killed by swords. They served him and those who ruled after him. That lasted until the kingdom of Persia came to power. 21The land of Israel enjoyed its sabbath years. It rested. That deserted land wasn’t farmed for a full 70 years. What the Lord had spoken through Jeremiah came true.
22It was the first year of the rule of Cyrus. He was king of Persia. The Lord inspired him to send a message all through his kingdom. It happened so that what the Lord had spoken through Jeremiah would come true. The message was written down. It said,
23“Cyrus, the king of Persia, says,
“ ‘The Lord is the God of heaven. He has given me all the kingdoms on earth. He has appointed me to build a temple for him at Jerusalem in Judah. Any of his people among you may go up to Jerusalem. And may the Lord their God be with them.’ ”