1 By popular choice, Jehoahaz son of Josiah was made king at Jerusalem, succeeding his father.
12-3 Jehoahaz was twenty-three years old when he began to rule. He was king in Jerusalem for a mere three months. The king of Egypt dethroned him and forced the country to pay him nearly four tons of silver and seventy-five pounds of gold.
4 Neco king of Egypt then made Eliakim, Jehoahaz’s brother, king of Judah and Jerusalem, but changed his name to Jehoiakim; then he took Jehoahaz back with him to Egypt.
5 Jehoiakim was twenty-five years old when he began to rule; he was king for eleven years in Jerusalem. In God’s opinion he was an evil king.
6-7 Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon made war against him, and bound him in bronze chains, intending to take him prisoner to Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar also took things from The Temple of God to Babylon and put them in his royal palace.
8 The rest of the history of Jehoiakim, the outrageous sacrilege he committed and what happened to him as a consequence, is all written in the Royal Annals of the Kings of Israel and Judah.
Jehoiachin his son became the next king.
9-10 Jehoiachin was eighteen years old when he became king. But he ruled for only three months and ten days in Jerusalem. In God’s opinion he was an evil king. In the spring King Nebuchadnezzar ordered him brought to Babylon along with the valuables remaining in The Temple of God. Then he made his uncle Zedekiah a puppet king over Judah and Jerusalem.
11-13 Zedekiah was twenty-one years old when he started out as king. He was king in Jerusalem for eleven years. As far as God was concerned, he was just one more evil king; there wasn’t a trace of contrition in him when the prophet Jeremiah preached God’s word to him. Then he compounded his troubles by rebelling against King Nebuchadnezzar, who earlier had made him swear in God’s name that he would be loyal. He became set in his own stubborn ways—he never gave God a thought; repentance never entered his mind.
14 The evil mindset spread to the leaders and priests and filtered down to the people—it kicked off an epidemic of evil, repeating the abominations of the pagans and polluting The Temple of God so recently consecrated in Jerusalem.
15-17 God, the God of their ancestors, repeatedly sent warning messages to them. Out of compassion for both his people and his Temple he wanted to give them every chance possible. But they wouldn’t listen; they poked fun at God’s messengers, despised the message itself, and in general treated the prophets like idiots. God became more and more angry until there was no turning back—God called in Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, who came and killed indiscriminately—and right in The Temple itself; it was a ruthless massacre: young men and virgins, the elderly and weak—they were all the same to him.
18-20 And then he plundered The Temple of everything valuable, cleaned it out completely; he emptied the treasuries of The Temple of God, the treasuries of the king and his officials, and hauled it all, people and possessions, off to Babylon. He burned The Temple of God to the ground, knocked down the wall of Jerusalem, and set fire to all the buildings—everything valuable was burned up. Any survivor was taken prisoner into exile in Babylon and made a slave to Nebuchadnezzar and his family. The exile and slavery lasted until the kingdom of Persia took over.
21 This is exactly the message of God that Jeremiah had preached: the desolate land put to an extended sabbath rest, a seventy-year Sabbath rest making up for all the unkept Sabbaths.
22-23 In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia—this fulfilled the message of God preached by Jeremiah—God moved Cyrus king of Persia to make an official announcement throughout his kingdom; he wrote it out as follows: “From Cyrus king of Persia a proclamation: God, the God of the heavens, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth. He has also assigned me to build him a Temple of worship at Jerusalem in Judah. All who belong to God’s people are urged to return—and may your God be with you! Move forward!”