The Fall of Jerusalem
1Zedekiah was twenty-one years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem eleven years. His mother was Hamutal, the daughter of Jeremiah from Libnah. 2 But Zedekiah did what was evil in the Lord’s sight, just as Jehoiakim had done. 3 These things happened because of the Lord’s anger against the people of Jerusalem and Judah, until he finally banished them from his presence and sent them into exile.
Zedekiah rebelled against the king of Babylon. 4 So on January 15,[a] during the ninth year of Zedekiah’s reign, King Nebuchadnezzar[b] of Babylon led his entire army against Jerusalem. They surrounded the city and built siege ramps against its walls. 5 Jerusalem was kept under siege until the eleventh year of King Zedekiah’s reign.
6 By July 18 in the eleventh year of Zedekiah’s reign,[c] the famine in the city had become very severe, and the last of the food was entirely gone. 7 Then a section of the city wall was broken down, and all the soldiers fled. Since the city was surrounded by the Babylonians,[d] they waited for nightfall. Then they slipped through the gate between the two walls behind the king’s garden and headed toward the Jordan Valley.[e]
8 But the Babylonian troops chased King Zedekiah and overtook him on the plains of Jericho, for his men had all deserted him and scattered. 9 They captured the king and took him to the king of Babylon at Riblah in the land of Hamath. There the king of Babylon pronounced judgment upon Zedekiah. 10 The king of Babylon made Zedekiah watch as he slaughtered his sons. He also slaughtered all the officials of Judah at Riblah. 11 Then he gouged out Zedekiah’s eyes and bound him in bronze chains, and the king of Babylon led him away to Babylon. Zedekiah remained there in prison until the day of his death.
The Temple Destroyed
12 On August 17 of that year,[f] which was the nineteenth year of King Nebuchadnezzar’s reign, Nebuzaradan, the captain of the guard and an official of the Babylonian king, arrived in Jerusalem. 13 He burned down the Temple of the Lord, the royal palace, and all the houses of Jerusalem. He destroyed all the important buildings[g] in the city. 14 Then he supervised the entire Babylonian[h] army as they tore down the walls of Jerusalem on every side. 15 Then Nebuzaradan, the captain of the guard, took as exiles some of the poorest of the people, the rest of the people who remained in the city, the defectors who had declared their allegiance to the king of Babylon, and the rest of the craftsmen. 16 But Nebuzaradan allowed some of the poorest people to stay behind to care for the vineyards and fields.
17 The Babylonians broke up the bronze pillars in front of the Lord’s Temple, the bronze water carts, and the great bronze basin called the Sea, and they carried all the bronze away to Babylon. 18 They also took all the ash buckets, shovels, lamp snuffers, basins, dishes, and all the other bronze articles used for making sacrifices at the Temple. 19 The captain of the guard also took the small bowls, incense burners, basins, pots, lampstands, ladles, bowls used for liquid offerings, and all the other articles made of pure gold or silver.
20 The weight of the bronze from the two pillars, the Sea with the twelve bronze oxen beneath it, and the water carts was too great to be measured. These things had been made for the Lord’s Temple in the days of King Solomon. 21 Each of the pillars was 27 feet tall and 18 feet in circumference.[i] They were hollow, with walls 3 inches thick.[j] 22 The bronze capital on top of each pillar was 7 1⁄2 feet[k] high and was decorated with a network of bronze pomegranates all the way around. 23 There were 96 pomegranates on the sides, and a total of 100 pomegranates on the network around the top.
24 Nebuzaradan, the captain of the guard, took with him as prisoners Seraiah the high priest, Zephaniah the priest of the second rank, and the three chief gatekeepers. 25 And from among the people still hiding in the city, he took an officer who had been in charge of the Judean army; seven of the king’s personal advisers; the army commander’s chief secretary, who was in charge of recruitment; and sixty other citizens. 26 Nebuzaradan, the captain of the guard, took them all to the king of Babylon at Riblah. 27 And there at Riblah, in the land of Hamath, the king of Babylon had them all put to death. So the people of Judah were sent into exile from their land.
28 The number of captives taken to Babylon in the seventh year of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign[l] was 3,023. 29 Then in Nebuchadnezzar’s eighteenth year[m] he took 832 more. 30 In Nebuchadnezzar’s twenty-third year[n] he sent Nebuzaradan, the captain of the guard, who took 745 more—a total of 4,600 captives in all.
Hope for Israel’s Royal Line
31 In the thirty-seventh year of the exile of King Jehoiachin of Judah, Evil-merodach ascended to the Babylonian throne. He was kind to[o] Jehoiachin and released him from prison on March 31 of that year.[p] 32 He spoke kindly to Jehoiachin and gave him a higher place than all the other exiled kings in Babylon. 33 He supplied Jehoiachin with new clothes to replace his prison garb and allowed him to dine in the king’s presence for the rest of his life. 34 So the Babylonian king gave him a regular food allowance as long as he lived. This continued until the day of his death.