1The people of Judah chose Jehoahaz to be the new king in Jerusalem. Jehoahaz was Josiah’s son. 2Jehoahaz was 23 years old when he became king of Judah. He was king in Jerusalem for three months. 3Then King Neco from Egypt made Jehoahaz a prisoner. Neco made the people of Judah pay 3,3/4 tons of silver and 75 pounds of gold for a fine. 4Neco chose Jehoahaz’s brother to be the new king of Judah and Jerusalem. Jehoahaz’s brother’s name was Eliakim. Then Neco gave Eliakim a new name. He named him Jehoiakim. But Neco took Jehoahaz to Egypt. 5Jehoiakim was 25 years old when he became the new king of Judah. He was king in Jerusalem for eleven years. Jehoiakim didn’t do the things the Lord wanted him to do. He sinned against the Lord his God. 6King Nebuchadnezzar from Babylon attacked Judah. He made Jehoiakim a prisoner and put bronze chains on him. Then Nebuchadnezzar took King Jehoiakim to Babylon. 7Nebuchadnezzar took some of the things from the Lord’s temple. He carried those things to Babylon and put them in his own house. 8The other things that Jehoiakim did, the terrible sins he did and everything he was guilty of doing, are written in the book, The History of the Kings of Israel and Judah. Jehoiachin became the new king in Jehoiakim’s place. Jehoiachin was Jehoiakim’s son. 9Jehoiachin was 18 years old when he became king of Judah. He was king in Jerusalem for three months and ten days. He didn’t do the things the Lord wanted him to do. Jehoiachin sinned against the Lord. 10In the spring, King Nebuchadnezzar sent some servants to get Jehoiachin. They brought Jehoiachin and some valuable treasures from the Lord’s temple to Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar chose Zedekiah to be the new king of Judah and Jerusalem. Zedekiah was one of Jehoiachin’s relatives. 11Zedekiah was 21 years old when he became king of Judah. He was king in Jerusalem for eleven years. 12Zedekiah didn’t do the things the Lord wanted him to do. Zedekiah sinned against the Lord. Jeremiah the prophet spoke messages from the Lord. But Zedekiah didn’t humble himself and obey the things Jeremiah said. 13Zedekiah turned against King Nebuchadnezzar. In the past Nebuchadnezzar forced Zedekiah to make a promise to be faithful to Nebuchadnezzar. Zedekiah used God’s name and promised to be faithful to Nebuchadnezzar. But Zedekiah was very stubborn and refused to change his life and come back and obey the Lord God of Israel. 14Also, all the leaders of the priests and the leaders of the people of Judah sinned worse and became more unfaithful to the Lord. They followed the evil example of the other nations. Those leaders ruined the Lord’s temple. The Lord had made the temple holy in Jerusalem. 15The Lord, the God of their ancestors, sent prophets again and again to warn his people. The Lord did this because he felt sorry for them and for his temple. The Lord didn’t want to destroy them or his temple. 16But God’s people made fun of God’s prophets. They refused to listen to God’s prophets. They hated God’s messages. Finally God could not hold his anger any longer. God became angry at his people and there was nothing that could be done to stop it. 17So God brought the King of Babylon to attack the people of Judah and Jerusalem. The king of Babylon killed the young men even when they were in the temple. He didn’t have mercy on the people of Judah and Jerusalem. The king of Babylon killed young and old people. He killed men and women. He killed sick and healthy people. God permitted Nebuchadnezzar to punish the people of Judah and Jerusalem. 18Nebuchadnezzar carried all the things in God’s temple away to Babylon. He took all the valuable things from the temple, from the king, and from the king’s officials. 19Nebuchadnezzar and his army burned the temple. They broke down Jerusalem’s wall and burned all the houses that belonged to the king and his officials. They took or destroyed every valuable thing in Jerusalem. 20Nebuchadnezzar took the people that were still alive back to Babylon and forced them to be slaves. Those people stayed in Babylon as slaves until the Persian kingdom defeated the kingdom of Babylon. 21And so the things the Lord told the people of Israel through the prophet Jeremiah really happened. The Lord had said through Jeremiah: “This place will be an empty wasteland for 70 years. This will happen to make up for the Sabbath rests that the people didn’t do.” 22During the first year that Cyrus was king of Persia, the Lord caused Cyrus to make a special announcement. He did this so that the things the Lord promised through Jeremiah the prophet would really happen. Cyrus sent messengers to every place in his kingdom. They carried this message: 23Cyrus, King of Persia says: The Lord, the God of heaven, made me king over the whole earth. He gave me the responsibility of building a temple for him in Jerusalem. Now, all of you who are God’s people are free to go to Jerusalem. And may the Lord your God be with you.
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