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25 On the 10th day of the 10th month, during the 9th year of his reign, Nebuchadnezzar (Babylon’s king) and his entire army surrounded Jerusalem. They camped outside the city and built siege ramps around it. The city remained under siege until the 11th year of Zedekiah’s reign.

On the 9th day of the 4th month, there was a food shortage in the city, and no one had anything to eat. Everyone became afraid of starvation. The city wall was breached, and all the warriors ran out during the night through the gateway between the two walls near the king’s garden, in spite of the Chaldeans surrounding the city. The warriors went on the Arabah road. The Chaldean army chased after the fleeing king and caught up to him in the fields of Jericho. His army dispersed in all directions. They took the king captive and escorted him to Babylon’s king at Riblah. Nebuchadnezzar decided on a punishment for the king: they killed Zedekiah’s sons right in front of Zedekiah; then they gouged out Zedekiah’s eyes so that the slaughter of his sons was the last thing he ever saw, and they put him in bronze shackles and transported him to Babylon.

On the 7th day, during the 5th month of Nebuchadnezzar’s 19th year as king over Babylon, Nebuzaradan, a servant of the king and captain of Nebuchadnezzar’s guards, arrived in Jerusalem. Nebuzaradan set fire to the Eternal’s temple, the palace, and every house in Jerusalem. He burned down every large house and structure in Jerusalem. 10 The entire Chaldean army, who was with Nebuzaradan, tore down Jerusalem’s walls. 11 Nebuzaradan captured everyone who was still in the city, even the renegades who had fled to Nebuchadnezzar, and he forced them into exile. 12 But Nebuzaradan spared the poorest people and left them to take care of the land as farmers and gardeners.

13 The Chaldeans took everything of value. They took the bronze pillars, stands, and the bronze sea in the Eternal’s temple; and they broke them up into pieces and took the bronze to Babylon. 14 They also took the pans, the shovels, the snuffers, the bronze objects, and every bronze cup that was used during the rituals of the temple. 15 Nebuzaradan took the coal pans and bowls and all the gold and purified silver. 16 The amount of bronze (including the two bronze pillars, the bronze sea, and the bronze stands Solomon crafted for the Eternal’s temple) was so great that it could not be weighed. 17 Each pillar was 27 feet high with a bronze capital. The capital was 54 inches high, and it was covered with bronze network and bronze pomegranates. Both pillars were exactly alike.

18 Nebuzaradan gathered Seraiah, the head priest, and Zephaniah, the second priest, along with the three doorkeepers. 19 In the city, he gathered up one officer of the army, five of the king’s counselors, the army captain’s aide for mustering the troops, and 60 other Judahite men. 20 Nebuzaradan (captain of the guard) escorted them to Babylon’s king at Riblah. 21 Nebuchadnezzar killed them all at Riblah in Hamath. Thus Judah was separated from the land and forced into exile.

22 Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, had allowed some people to remain in Judah, so he appointed Gedaliah (son of Ahikam, Shaphan’s son) to govern the land. 23 When all the army commanders received word that Nebuchadnezzar had appointed Gedeliah to govern the land, they went to visit Gedeliah in Mizpah. Those who visited him were Ishmael (Nethaniah’s son), Johanan (Kareah’s son), Seraiah (Tanhumeth the Netophathite’s son), and Jaazaniah (the Maacathite’s son), including their men. 24 Gedaliah attempted to assuage them and swore an oath before them.

Gedaliah: Do not fear those Babylonian officials who serve the Chaldeans. If you dwell here and give your service to the Babylonian king, then you will live in peace and have nothing to fear.

25 But during the 7th month, Ishmael, (son of Nethaniah, Elishama’s son) of the royal family, attacked Gedaliah with 10 male accomplices. Gedaliah and all the Jews and Chaldeans at Mizpah were killed. 26 Everyone in the community, both rich and poor, even the commanders of the army, traveled to Egypt because they greatly feared the Chaldeans.

27 On the 27th day of the 12th month during the 37th year of the exile of Jehoiachin (Judah’s king), Evil-merodach (Babylon’s king) released Jehoiachin from prison. Evil-merodach did this the same year he inherited the throne. 28 Evil-merodach was good to Jehoiachin, and he gave Jehoiachin an honorary throne that was higher than all the thrones of the other kings held captive in Babylon. 29 Jehoiachin removed his prison garments and put on new clothes. He ate his meals with the king every day for the rest of his life. 30 The king also gave him a stipend on a daily basis for the rest of his life.

Sitting in a foreign country and getting comfortable with pagan ways isn’t the end of the story for Judah. A remnant will return to re-found Jerusalem and Israel, a story that is told in the books of Ezra and Nehemiah. God will lift out of captivity those people who remain faithful to Him in spite of difficult circumstances.

For the Northern Kingdom of Israel, their fate is not so clear. When Assyria exiles the northern Israelites all over the empire, those ten tribes are lost. For centuries people have developed theories as to what happened to them, some more far-fetched than others, but one thing is certain: whatever is left of the proper worship of God when they are captured dies among those people. Without that connection to Him, there is no one to save them.

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