2 Kings 23-25 Easy-to-Read Version (ERV)
The People Hear the Law
23 King Josiah told all the leaders of Judah and Jerusalem to come and meet with him. 2 Then the king went up to the Lord’s Temple. All the people of Judah and the people who lived in Jerusalem went with him. The priests, the prophets, and all the people—from the least important to the most important—went with him. Then he read the Book of the Agreement. This was the Book of the Law that was found in the Lord’s Temple. Josiah read the book so that all the people could hear it.
3 The king stood by the column and made an agreement with the Lord. He promised to follow the Lord and to obey his commands, the laws, and his rules. He promised to do this with all his heart and soul. He promised to obey the agreement written in this book. All the people stood to show that they promised to follow the agreement.
4 Then the king commanded Hilkiah the high priest, the other priests, and the gatekeepers to bring out of the Lord’s Temple all the dishes and things that were made to honor Baal, Asherah, and the stars of heaven. Then Josiah burned those things outside Jerusalem in the fields in Kidron Valley. Then they carried the ashes to Bethel.
5 The kings of Judah had chosen some ordinary men to serve as priests. These false priests were burning incense at the high places in every city of Judah and all the towns around Jerusalem. They burned incense to honor Baal, the sun, the moon, the constellations, and all the stars in the sky. But Josiah stopped those false priests.
6 Josiah removed the Asherah pole from the Lord’s Temple. He took the Asherah pole outside the city to the Kidron Valley and burned it there. Then he beat the burned pieces into dust and scattered the dust over the graves of the common people.[a]
7 Then King Josiah broke down the houses of the male prostitutes who were in the Lord’s Temple. Women also used these houses and made little tent covers to honor the false goddess Asherah.
8-9 At that time the priests did not bring the sacrifices to Jerusalem and offer them on the Lord’s altar in the Temple. The priests lived in cities all over Judah. They burned incense and offered sacrifices at the high places in those cities. The high places were everywhere, from Geba to Beersheba. And the priests ate their unleavened bread in those towns with the ordinary people—not at the special place for priests in the Temple in Jerusalem. But King Josiah ruined the high places and brought the priests to Jerusalem. Josiah also destroyed the high places that were on the left side of the city gate, by the Gate of Joshua. (Joshua was the ruler of the city.)
10 Topheth was a place in the Valley of Hinnom’s Son where people killed their children and burned them on an altar to honor the false god Molech.[b] Josiah ruined that place so that no one could use it again. 11 In the past the kings of Judah had put some horses and a chariot near the entrance to the Lord’s Temple. This was near the room of an important official named Nathan Melech. The horses and chariot were to honor the sun god.[c] Josiah removed the horses and burned the chariot.
12 In the past the kings of Judah had built altars on the roof of Ahab’s building. King Manasseh had also built altars in the two courtyards of the Lord’s Temple. Josiah destroyed all the altars and threw the broken pieces into the Kidron Valley.
13 In the past King Solomon built some high places on Destroyer Hill near Jerusalem. The high places were on the south side of that hill. King Solomon built one of these places of worship to honor Ashtoreth, that horrible thing the people of Sidon worship. He also built one to honor Chemosh, that horrible thing the Moabites worship. And King Solomon built one high place to honor Milcom, that horrible thing the Ammonites worship. But King Josiah ruined all these places of worship. 14 He broke all the memorial stones and Asherah poles. Then he scattered dead men’s bones over that place.[d]
15 Josiah also broke down the altar and high place at Bethel. Jeroboam son of Nebat had made this altar. Jeroboam caused Israel to sin.[e] Josiah broke down both that altar and the high place. He broke the stones of the altar to pieces. Then he beat it into dust and he burned the Asherah pole. 16 Josiah looked around and saw graves on the mountain. He sent men, and they took the bones from the graves. Then he burned the bones on the altar. In this way Josiah ruined the altar. This happened according to the message from the Lord that the man of God announced.[f] The man of God announced these things when Jeroboam stood beside the altar at the feast.
Then Josiah looked around and saw the grave of the man of God.[g]
17 Josiah said, “What is that monument I see?”
The people of the city told him, “It is the grave of the man of God who came from Judah. This man of God told about the things you have done to the altar at Bethel. He said them a long time ago.”
18 Josiah said, “Leave the man of God alone. Don’t move his bones.” So they left his bones and the bones of the man of God from Samaria.
19 Josiah also destroyed all the temples at the high places in the cities of Samaria. The kings of Israel had built those temples, which had made the Lord very angry. Josiah destroyed them, just as he had destroyed the place of worship at Bethel.
20 Josiah killed all the priests of the high places that were in Samaria. He killed the priests on those altars and burned men’s bones on the altars so that they could never be used again. Then he went back to Jerusalem.
The People of Judah Celebrate Passover
21 Then King Josiah gave a command to all the people. He said, “Celebrate the Passover for the Lord your God. Do this just as it is written in the Book of the Agreement.”
22 The people had not celebrated a Passover like this since the days when the judges ruled Israel. None of the kings of Israel or the kings of Judah ever had such a big celebration for Passover. 23 They celebrated this Passover for the Lord in Jerusalem during Josiah’s 18th year as king.
24 Josiah destroyed the mediums, wizards, the house gods, the idols, and all the horrible things people worshiped in Judah and Jerusalem. He did this to obey the law written in the book that Hilkiah the priest found in the Lord’s Temple.
25 There had never been a king like Josiah before. Josiah turned to the Lord with all his heart, with all his soul, and with all his strength.[h] No king had followed all the Law of Moses like Josiah. And there has never been another king like Josiah since that time.
26 But the Lord did not stop being angry with the people of Judah. He was still angry with them for everything that Manasseh had done. 27 The Lord said, “I forced the Israelites to leave their land. I will do the same to Judah. I will take Judah out of my sight. I will not accept Jerusalem. Yes, I chose that city. I was talking about Jerusalem when I said, ‘My name will be there.’ But I will destroy the Temple that is in that place.”
28 All the other things that Josiah did are written in the book, The History of the Kings of Judah.
The Death of Josiah
29 While Josiah was king, Pharaoh Neco, the king of Egypt, went to fight against the king of Assyria at the Euphrates River. Josiah went out to meet Neco at Megiddo. Pharaoh saw Josiah and killed him. 30 Josiah’s officers put his body in a chariot and carried him from Megiddo to Jerusalem. They buried Josiah in his own grave.
Then the common people took Josiah’s son Jehoahaz and anointed him. They made Jehoahaz the new king.
Jehoahaz Becomes King of Judah
31 Jehoahaz was 23 years old when he became king. He ruled three months in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Hamutal, daughter of Jeremiah from Libnah. 32 Jehoahaz did what the Lord said was wrong. He did all the same things that his ancestors had done.
34 Pharaoh Neco made Josiah’s son Eliakim the new king. Eliakim took the place of Josiah his father. Pharaoh Neco changed Eliakim’s name to Jehoiakim. And Pharaoh Neco took Jehoahaz away to Egypt where he died. 35 Jehoiakim gave the silver and the gold to Pharaoh. But Jehoiakim made the common people pay taxes and used that money to give to Pharaoh Neco. So everyone paid their share of silver and gold, and King Jehoiakim gave the money to Pharaoh Neco.
36 Jehoiakim was 25 years old when he became king. He ruled eleven years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Zebidah daughter of Pedaiah from Rumah. 37 Jehoiakim did what the Lord said was wrong. He did all the same things his ancestors had done.
King Nebuchadnezzar Comes to Judah
24 In the time of Jehoiakim, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon came to the country of Judah. Jehoiakim served Nebuchadnezzar for three years. Then Jehoiakim turned against Nebuchadnezzar and broke away from his rule. 2 The Lord sent groups of Babylonians, Arameans, Moabites, and Ammonites to fight against Jehoiakim. He sent them to destroy Judah. This happened just as the Lord had said. He used his servants the prophets to say those things.
3 The Lord commanded this to happen to Judah. In this way he would remove them from his sight. He did this because of all the sins that Manasseh committed. 4 He did this because Manasseh killed many innocent people and filled Jerusalem with their blood. The Lord would not forgive these sins.
5 The other things that Jehoiakim did are written in the book, The History of the Kings of Judah. 6 Jehoiakim died and was buried with his ancestors. His son Jehoiachin became the new king after him.
7 The king of Babylon captured all the land between the Brook of Egypt and the Euphrates River. This land was previously controlled by Egypt. So the king of Egypt did not leave Egypt anymore.
Nebuchadnezzar Captures Jerusalem
8 Jehoiachin was 18 years old when he began to rule. He ruled three months in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Nehushta daughter of Elnathan from Jerusalem. 9 Jehoiachin did what the Lord said was wrong. He did all the same things that his father had done.
10 At that time the officers of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon came to Jerusalem and surrounded it. 11 Then King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon came to the city. 12 King Jehoiachin of Judah went out to meet the king of Babylon. His mother, his officers, leaders, and officials also went with him. Then the king of Babylon captured Jehoiachin. This was during the eighth year of Nebuchadnezzar’s rule.
13 Nebuchadnezzar took from Jerusalem all the treasures in the Lord’s Temple and all the treasures in the king’s palace. He cut up all the golden dishes that King Solomon of Israel had put in the Lord’s Temple. This happened just as the Lord had said.
14 Nebuchadnezzar captured all the people of Jerusalem, including the leaders and other wealthy people. He took 10,000 people and made them prisoners. He took all the skilled workers and craftsmen. No one was left, except the poorest of the common people. 15 Nebuchadnezzar took Jehoiachin to Babylon as a prisoner. He also took the king’s mother, his wives, officers, and the leading men of the land. He took them from Jerusalem to Babylon as prisoners. 16 There were 7000 soldiers. Nebuchadnezzar took all the soldiers and 1000 of the skilled workers and craftsmen. All these men were trained soldiers, ready for war. The king of Babylon took them to Babylon as prisoners.
17 The king of Babylon made Mattaniah the new king. Mattaniah was Jehoiachin’s uncle. He changed his name to Zedekiah. 18 Zedekiah was 21 years old when he began to rule. He ruled 11 years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Hamutal daughter of Jeremiah from Libnah. 19 Zedekiah did what the Lord said was wrong. He did all the same things that Jehoiakim did. 20 The Lord became so angry with Jerusalem and Judah that he threw them away.
Nebuchadnezzar Ends Zedekiah’s Rule
Zedekiah rebelled and refused to obey the king of Babylon.
25 So King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon and all his army came to fight against Jerusalem. This happened on the 10th day of the tenth month of Zedekiah’s ninth year as king. Nebuchadnezzar put his army around Jerusalem to stop people from going in and out of the city. Then he built a wall of dirt around the city. 2 His army stayed around Jerusalem until Zedekiah’s eleventh year as king of Judah. 3 The famine was getting worse and worse in the city. By the 9th day of the fourth month, there was no more food for the common people in the city.
4 Nebuchadnezzar’s army finally broke through the city wall. That night King Zedekiah and all his soldiers ran away. They used the secret gate that went through the double walls. It was by the king’s garden. The enemy soldiers were all around the city, but Zedekiah and his men escaped on the road to the desert. 5 The Babylonian army chased King Zedekiah and caught him near Jericho. All of Zedekiah’s soldiers left him and ran away.
6 The Babylonians took King Zedekiah to the king of Babylon at Riblah. The Babylonians decided to punish Zedekiah. 7 They killed Zedekiah’s sons in front of him. Then they put out Zedekiah’s eyes. They put chains on him and took him to Babylon.
Jerusalem Is Destroyed
8 Nebuchadnezzar came to Jerusalem on the 7th day of the fifth month of his nineteenth year as king of Babylon. The captain of Nebuchadnezzar’s best soldiers was Nebuzaradan. 9 Nebuzaradan burned the Lord’s Temple, the king’s palace, and all the houses in Jerusalem. He destroyed even the largest houses.
10 Then the Babylonian army that was with Nebuzaradan pulled down the walls around Jerusalem. 11 Nebuzaradan captured all the people who were still left in the city. He took all the people as prisoners, even those who had tried to surrender. 12 He let only the poorest of the common people stay there. He let them stay so that they could take care of the grapes and other crops.
13 The Babylonian soldiers broke into pieces all the bronze things in the Lord’s Temple. They broke the bronze columns, the bronze carts, and the large bronze tank[k] that were in the Lord’s Temple. Then they took all of that bronze to Babylon. 14 The Babylonians also took the pots, the shovels, the tools for trimming the lamps, the spoons, and all the bronze dishes that were used in the Temple. 15 Nebuzaradan took all the firepans and bowls. He took all the things made of gold for the gold. And he took everything made of silver for the silver. 16-17 So Nebuzaradan took the large bronze tank and the 2 bronze columns. (Each column was about 31 feet[l] tall. The capitals on the columns were over 5 feet[m] tall. They were made from bronze and had a design like a net and pomegranates. Both columns had the same kind of design.) He also took the carts that Solomon made for the Lord’s Temple. The bronze from these things was too heavy to be weighed.
The People of Judah Taken as Prisoners
18 From the Temple, Nebuzaradan took Seraiah the high priest, Zephaniah the second priest, and the three men who guarded the entrance.
19 From the city Nebuzaradan took one official who was in charge of the army and five of the king’s advisors[n] who were still in the city. He took one secretary of the commander of the army who was in charge of counting the common people and choosing some of them to be soldiers and 60 people who just happened to be in the city.
20-21 Then Nebuzaradan took all these people to the king of Babylon at Riblah in the area of Hamath. The king of Babylon killed them there at Riblah. And the people of Judah were led away as prisoners from their land.
Gedaliah, Governor of Judah
22 King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon left some people in the land of Judah. There was a man named Gedaliah son of Ahikam son of Shaphan. Nebuchadnezzar made Gedaliah governor over the people in Judah.
23 The army captains were Ishmael son of Nethaniah, Johanan son of Kareah, Seraiah son of Tanhumeth from Netophah, and Jaazaniah son of the Maacathite. These army captains and their men heard that the king of Babylon had made Gedaliah governor, so they went to Mizpah to meet with him. 24 Gedaliah made promises to these officers and their men. He said to them, “Don’t be afraid of the Babylonian officers. Stay here and serve the king of Babylon. Then everything will be all right with you.”
25 Ishmael son of Nethaniah son of Elishama was from the king’s family. In the seventh month, Ishmael and ten of his men attacked Gedaliah and killed all the men of Judah and Babylonians who were with Gedaliah at Mizpah. 26 Then the army officers and all the people ran away to Egypt. Everyone, from the least important to the most important, ran away because they were afraid of the Babylonians.
27 Later, Evil Merodach became the king of Babylon. He let King Jehoiachin of Judah out of prison. This happened in the 37th year after Jehoiachin was captured. This was on the 27th day of the twelfth month from the time that Evil Merodach began to rule. 28 Evil Merodach was kind to Jehoiachin. He gave him a more important place to sit than the other kings who were with him in Babylon. 29 Evil Merodach let Jehoiachin stop wearing prison clothes. And every day for the rest of his life, he ate at the same table with the king. 30 And each day, for as long as Jehoiachin lived, the king gave him enough money to pay for whatever he needed.