Josiah Keeps the Passover
35 1 Josiah celebrated the Passover to God in Jerusalem. They killed the Passover lambs on the fourteenth day of the first month. By popular choice, Jehoahaz son of Josiah was made king at Jerusalem, succeeding his father. 2 He gave the priests detailed instructions and encouraged them in the work of leading worship in The Temple of God. 3 He also told the Levites who were in charge of teaching and guiding Israel in all matters of worship (they were especially consecrated for this), "Place the sacred Chest in The Temple that Solomon son of David, the king of Israel, built. You don't have to carry it around on your shoulders any longer! Serve God and God's people Israel. 4 Organize yourselves by families for your respective responsibilities, following the instructions left by David king of Israel and Solomon his son. 5 "Take your place in the sanctuary - a team of Levites for every grouping of your fellow citizens, the laity. 6 Your job is to kill the Passover lambs, then consecrate yourselves and prepare the lambs so that everyone will be able to keep the Passover exactly as God commanded through Moses." 7 Josiah personally donated 30,000 sheep, lambs, and goats and 3,000 bulls - everything needed for the Passover celebration was there. 8 His officials also pitched in on behalf of the people, including the priests and the Levites. Hilkiah, Zechariah, and Jehiel, leaders in The Temple of God, gave 2,600 lambs and 300 bulls to the priests for the Passover offerings. 9 Conaniah, his brothers Shemaiah and Nethanel, along with the Levitical chiefs Hashabiah, Jeiel, and Jozabad, donated 5,000 lambs and 500 bulls to the Levites for the Passover offerings. 10 Preparations were complete for the service of worship; the priests took up their positions and the Levites were at their posts as instructed by the king. 11 They killed the Passover lambs, and while the priests sprinkled the blood from the lambs, the Levites skinned them out. 12 Then they set aside the Whole-Burnt-Offering for presentation to the family groupings of the people so that each group could offer it to God following the instructions in the Book of Moses. They did the same with the cattle. 13 They roasted the Passover lamb according to the instructions and boiled the consecrated offerings in pots and kettles and pans and promptly served the people. 14 After the people had eaten the holy meal, the Levites served themselves and the Aaronite priests - the priests were busy late into the night making the offerings at the Altar. 15 The Asaph singers were all in their places following the instructions of David, Asaph, Heman, and Jeduthun the king's seer. The security guards were on duty at each gate - the Levites also served them because they couldn't leave their posts. 16 Everything went without a hitch in the worship of God that day as they celebrated the Passover and the offering of the Whole-Burnt-Offering on the Altar of God. It went just as Josiah had ordered. 17 The Israelites celebrated the Passover, also known as the Feast of Unraised Bread, for seven days. 18 The Passover hadn't been celebrated like this since the days of Samuel the prophet. None of the kings had done it. But Josiah, the priests, the Levites, all Judah and Israel who were there that week, plus the citizens of Jerusalem - they did it. 19 In the eighteenth year of the rule of King Josiah, this Passover was celebrated.
The Death of Josiah
20 Some time later, after Josiah's reformation of The Temple, Neco king of Egypt marched out toward Carchemish on the Euphrates River on his way to war. Josiah went out to fight him. 21 Neco sent messengers to Josiah saying, "What do we have against each other, O king of Judah? I haven't come to fight against you but against the country with whom I'm at war. God commanded me to hurry, so don't get in my way; you'll only interfere with God, who is on my side in this, and he'll destroy you." 22 But Josiah was spoiling for a fight and wouldn't listen to a thing Neco said (in actuality it was God who said it). Though King Josiah disguised himself when they met on the plain of Megiddo, 23 archers shot him anyway. The king said to his servants, "Get me out of here - I'm badly wounded." 24 So his servants took him out of his chariot and laid him down in an ambulance chariot and drove him back to Jerusalem. He died there and was buried in the family cemetery. Everybody in Judah and Jerusalem attended the funeral. 25 Jeremiah composed an anthem of lament for Josiah. The anthem is still sung by the choirs of Israel to this day. The anthem is written in the Laments. 26 The rest of the history of Josiah, his exemplary and devout life, conformed to The Revelation of God. 27 The whole story, from start to finish, is written in the Royal Annals of the Kings of Israel and Judah.
The Reign and Dethronement of Jehoahaz
36 1 2 Jehoahaz was twenty-three years old when he began to rule. He was king in Jerusalem for a mere three months. 3 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.
The Reign of Jehoiakim
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 Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon made war against him, and bound him in bronze chains, intending to take him prisoner to Babylon. 7 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.
Jehoiachin Taken Captive to Babylon
9 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. 10 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.
The Reign of Zedekiah
11 Zedekiah was twenty-one years old when he started out as king. He was king in Jerusalem for eleven years. 12 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. 13 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 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. 16 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 -
The Captivity of Judah
17 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 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. 19 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. 20 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.
The Proclamation of Cyrus
22 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: 23 "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!"