2 Kings 21-25 Common English Bible (CEB)
Manasseh rules Judah
21 Manasseh was 12 years old when he became king, and he ruled for fifty-five years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Hephzibah. 2 He did what was evil in the Lord’s eyes, imitating the detestable practices of the nations that the Lord had driven out before the Israelites. 3 He rebuilt the shrines that his father Hezekiah had destroyed, set up altars for Baal, and made a sacred pole,[a] just as Israel’s King Ahab had done. He bowed down to all the stars in the sky and worshipped them. 4 He even built altars in the two courtyards of the Lord’s temple—the very place the Lord was speaking of when he said: “I will put my name in Jerusalem.” 5 Manasseh built altars for all the stars in the sky in both courtyards of the Lord’s temple. 6 He burned his own son alive, consulted sign readers and fortune-tellers, and used mediums and diviners. He did much evil in the Lord’s eyes and made him angry.
7 Manasseh set up the carved Asherah image he had made in the temple—the very temple the Lord had spoken about to David and his son Solomon, saying, In this temple and in Jerusalem, which I have chosen out of all Israel’s tribes, I will put my name forever. 8 I will never again remove Israel from the land I gave to their ancestors, provided they carefully do everything I have commanded them—keeping all the Instruction my servant Moses commanded them. 9 But they wouldn’t listen. Manasseh led them into doing even more evil than the nations the Lord had wiped out before the Israelites.
10 The Lord spoke through his servants the prophets: 11 Judah’s King Manasseh has done detestable things, things more evil than the Amorites had done before his time. He has caused Judah to sin with his images. 12 Because of this, the Lord, Israel’s God, has said: I’m about to bring on Jerusalem and Judah such a great disaster that the ears of anyone who hears about it will ring. 13 I will stretch out over Jerusalem the same line that I used to measure Samaria and the same mason’s level that I used on Ahab’s family. I will wipe Jerusalem clean the same way someone wipes a plate clean, wiping it clean then turning it facedown. 14 Whatever survives of my inheritance, I’ll leave behind, handing them over to their enemies. They will be nothing but plunder and loot for every one of their enemies. 15 This will happen because they have done what is evil in my eyes, making me angry from the day their ancestors left Egypt until this very moment.
16 Manasseh spilled so much innocent blood that he filled up every corner of Jerusalem with it. And this doesn’t include the sins he caused Judah to commit so that they did what was evil in the Lord’s eyes. 17 The rest of Manasseh’s deeds, all that he accomplished, and the sin he committed, aren’t they written in the official records of Judah’s kings? 18 Manasseh lay down with his ancestors. He was buried in his palace garden, the Uzza Garden. His son Amon succeeded him as king.
Amon rules Judah
19 Amon was 22 years old when he became king, and he ruled for two years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Meshullemeth; she was Haruz’s daughter and was from Jotbah. 20 He did what was evil in the Lord’s eyes, just as his father Manasseh had done. 21 He walked in all the ways his father had walked. He worshipped the same worthless idols his father had worshipped, bowing down to them. 22 He deserted his ancestors’ God, the Lord—he didn’t walk in the Lord’s way.
23 Amon’s officials plotted against him and assassinated the king in his palace. 24 The people of the land then executed all those who had plotted against King Amon and made his son Josiah the next king. 25 The rest of Amon’s deeds, aren’t they written in the official records of Judah’s kings? 26 He was buried in his tomb in the Uzza Garden. His son Josiah succeeded him as king.
Josiah rules Judah
22 Josiah was 8 years old when he became king, and he ruled for thirty-one years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Jedidah; she was Adaiah’s daughter and was from Bozkath. 2 He did what was right in the Lord’s eyes, and walked in the ways of his ancestor David—not deviating from it even a bit to the right or left.
3 In the eighteenth year of King Josiah’s rule, he sent the secretary Shaphan, Azaliah’s son and Meshullam’s grandson, to the Lord’s temple with the following orders: 4 “Go to the high priest Hilkiah. Have him carefully count[b] the money that has been brought to the Lord’s temple and that has been collected from the people by the doorkeepers. 5 It should be given to the supervisors in charge of the Lord’s temple, who in turn should pay it to those who are in the Lord’s temple, repairing the temple— 6 the carpenters, the builders, and the masons. It should be used to pay for lumber and quarried stone to repair the temple. 7 But there’s no need to check on them regarding the money they receive, because they are honest workers.”
8 The high priest Hilkiah told Shaphan the secretary: “I have found the Instruction scroll in the Lord’s temple.” Then Hilkiah turned the scroll over to Shaphan, who read it.
9 Shaphan the secretary then went to the king and reported this to him: “Your officials have released the money that was found in the temple and have handed it over to those who supervise the work in the Lord’s temple.” 10 Then Shaphan the secretary told the king, “Hilkiah the priest has given me a scroll,” and he read it out loud before the king.
11 As soon as the king heard what the Instruction scroll said, he ripped his clothes. 12 The king ordered the priest Hilkiah, Shaphan’s son Ahikam, Micaiah’s son Achbor, Shaphan the secretary, and Asaiah the royal officer as follows: 13 “Go and ask the Lord on my behalf, and on behalf of the people, and on behalf of all Judah concerning the contents of this scroll that has been found. The Lord must be furious with us because our ancestors failed to obey the words of this scroll and do everything written in it about us.”
14 So Hilkiah the priest, Ahikam, Achbor, Shaphan, and Asaiah went to the prophetess Huldah. She was married to Shallum, Tikvah’s son and Harhas’ grandson, who was in charge of the wardrobe. She lived in Jerusalem in the second district. When they spoke to her, 15 she replied, “This is what the Lord, Israel’s God, says: Tell this to the man who sent you to me: 16 This is what the Lord says: I am about to bring disaster on this place and its citizens—all the words in the scroll that Judah’s king has read! 17 My anger burns against this place, never to be quenched, because they’ve deserted me and have burned incense to other gods, angering me by everything they have done.[c] 18 But also say this to the king of Judah, who sent you to question the Lord: This is what the Lord, Israel’s God, says about the message you’ve just heard: 19 Because your heart was broken and you submitted before the Lord when you heard what I said about this place and its citizens—that they will become a horror and a curse—and because you ripped your clothes and cried before me, I have listened to you, declares the Lord. 20 That’s why I will gather you to your ancestors, and you will go to your grave in peace. You won’t experience the disaster I am about to bring on this place.”
When they reported Huldah’s words to the king, 23 1 the king sent a message, and all of Judah’s and Jerusalem’s elders gathered before him. 2 Then the king went up to the Lord’s temple, together with all the people of Judah and all the citizens of Jerusalem, the priests and the prophets, and all the people, young and old alike. There the king read out loud all the words of the covenant scroll that had been found in the Lord’s temple. 3 The king stood beside the pillar and made a covenant with the Lord that he would follow the Lord by keeping his commandments, his laws, and his regulations with all his heart and all his being in order to fulfill the words of this covenant that were written in this scroll. All of the people accepted the covenant.
4 The king then commanded the high priest Hilkiah, the second-order priests, and the doorkeepers to remove from the Lord’s temple all the religious objects made for Baal, Asherah, and all the heavenly bodies. The king burned them outside Jerusalem in the Kidron fields and took the ashes to Bethel. 5 He got rid of the pagan priests that the Judean kings had appointed to burn incense at the shrines in Judah’s cities and the areas around Jerusalem. He did the same to those who burned incense to Baal, to the sun, to the moon, to the constellations, and to all the heavenly bodies. 6 He removed the Asherah image[d] from the Lord’s temple, taking it to the Kidron Valley outside Jerusalem. There he burned it, ground it to dust, and threw the dust on the public graveyard. 7 The king tore down the shrines for the consecrated workers[e] that were in the Lord’s temple, where women made woven coverings[f] for Asherah.
8 Then Josiah brought all the priests out of Judah’s cities. From Geba to Beer-sheba, he defiled the shrines where the priests had been burning incense. He also tore down the shrines at the gates at the entrance to the gate of Joshua the city’s governor, which were on the left as one entered the city gate. 9 Although the priests of these shrines didn’t go up on the Lord’s altar in Jerusalem, they did eat unleavened bread with their fellow priests.
10 Josiah defiled the Topheth in the Ben-hinnom Valley so no one could burn their child alive in honor of the god Molech. 11 He did away with the horses that Judah’s kings had dedicated to the sun. They were kept at the entrance to the Lord’s temple near a room in the annex[g] that belonged to an official named Nathan-melech. Josiah set fire to the chariots that were dedicated to the sun. 12 The king also tore down the altars that were on the roof of Ahaz’s upper story, which had been made by the Judean kings, and he did the same with the altars that Manasseh had built in the two courtyards of the Lord’s temple. He broke them up there[h] and threw their dust into the Kidron Valley. 13 The king then defiled the shrines facing Jerusalem, south of the Mountain of Destruction. Solomon the king of Israel had built these for Ashtoreth, the monstrous Sidonian god, for Chemosh, the monstrous Moabite god, and for Milcom, the detestable Ammonite god. 14 He smashed the sacred pillars and cut down the sacred poles,[i] filling the places where they had been with human bones.
15 Josiah also tore down the altar that was in Bethel. That was the shrine made by Jeroboam, Nebat’s son, who caused Israel to sin. Josiah tore down that altar and its shrine. He burned the shrine, grinding it into dust. Then he burned its sacred pole.[j] 16 When Josiah turned around, he noticed tombs up on the hillside. So he ordered the bones to be taken out of the tombs. He then burned them on the altar, desecrating it. (This was in agreement with the word that the Lord announced by the man of God when Jeroboam stood by the altar at the festival.) Josiah then turned and saw the tomb of the man of God[k] who had predicted these things. 17 “What’s this gravestone I see?” Josiah asked.
The people of the city replied, “That tomb belongs to the man of God who came from Judah and announced what you would do to the altar of Bethel.”
18 “Let it be,” Josiah said. “No one should disturb his bones.” So they left his bones untouched, along with the bones of the prophet who came from Samaria.
19 Moreover, Josiah removed all the shrines on the high hills that the Israelite kings had constructed throughout the cities of Samaria. These had made the Lord angry. Josiah did to them just what he did at Bethel. 20 He actually slaughtered on those altars all the priests of the shrines who were there, and he burned human bones on them. Then Josiah returned to Jerusalem.
21 The king commanded all the people, “Celebrate a Passover to the Lord your God following what is instructed in this scroll containing the covenant.” 22 A Passover like this hadn’t been celebrated since the days when the judges judged Israel; neither had it been celebrated during all the days of the Israelite and Judean kings. 23 But in the eighteenth year of King Josiah’s rule, this Passover was celebrated to the Lord in Jerusalem.
24 Josiah burned those who consulted dead spirits and the mediums, the household gods and the worthless idols—all the monstrous things that were seen in the land of Judah and in Jerusalem. In this way Josiah fulfilled the words of the Instruction written in the scroll that the priest Hilkiah found in the Lord’s temple. 25 There’s never been a king like Josiah, whether before or after him, who turned to the Lord with all his heart, all his being, and all his strength, in agreement with everything in the Instruction from Moses.
26 Even so, the Lord didn’t turn away from the great rage that burned against Judah on account of all that Manasseh had done to make him angry. 27 The Lord said, “I will remove Judah from my presence just as I removed Israel. I will reject this city, Jerusalem, which I chose, and this temple where I promised my name would reside.”
28 The rest of Josiah’s deeds and all that he accomplished, aren’t they written in the official records of Judah’s kings? 29 In his days, the Egyptian king Pharaoh Neco marched against the Assyrian king at the Euphrates River. King Josiah marched out to intercept him. But when Neco encountered Josiah in Megiddo, he killed the king. 30 Josiah’s servants took his body from Megiddo in a chariot. They brought him to Jerusalem and buried him in his own tomb. The people of the land took Jehoahaz, Josiah’s son, anointed him, and made him king after his father.
Jehoahaz rules Judah
31 Jehoahaz was 23 years old when he became king, and he ruled for three months in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Hamutal; she was Jeremiah’s daughter and was from Libnah. 32 He did what was evil in the Lord’s eyes, just as all his ancestors had done. 33 Pharaoh Neco made Jehoahaz a prisoner at Riblah in the land of Hamath, ending his rule in Jerusalem. Pharaoh Neco imposed a fine on the land totaling one hundred kikkars of silver and one kikkar of gold.
Jehoiakim rules Judah
34 Pharaoh Neco made Eliakim, Josiah’s son, king after his father Josiah. Neco changed Eliakim’s name to Jehoiakim. Neco took Jehoahaz away; he later died in Egypt. 35 Jehoiakim gave Pharaoh the silver and gold, but he taxed the land in order to meet Pharaoh’s financial demands. Each person was taxed appropriately. Jehoiakim exacted silver and the gold from the land’s people in order to give it to Pharaoh Neco. 36 Jehoiakim was 25 years old when he became king, and he ruled for eleven years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Zebidah; she was Pedaiah’s daughter and was from Rumah. 37 He did what was evil in the Lord’s eyes, just as all his ancestors had done.
24 In Jehoiakim’s days, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon attacked. Jehoiakim had submitted to him for three years, but then Jehoiakim changed his mind and rebelled against him. 2 The Lord sent Chaldean, Aramean, Moabite, and Ammonite raiding parties against Jehoiakim, sending them against Judah in order to destroy it. This was in agreement with the word that the Lord had spoken through his servants the prophets. 3 Indeed, this happened to Judah because the Lord commanded them to be removed from his presence on account of all the sins that Manasseh had committed 4 and because of the innocent blood that he had spilled. Manasseh had filled Jerusalem with innocent blood, and the Lord didn’t want to forgive that.
5 The rest of Jehoiakim’s deeds and all that he accomplished, aren’t they written in the official records of Judah’s kings? 6 Jehoiakim lay down with his ancestors. His son Jehoiachin succeeded him as king.
7 The Egyptian king never left his country again because the Babylonian king had taken over all the territory that had previously belonged to him—from the border of Egypt to the Euphrates River.
Jehoiachin rules Judah
8 Jehoiachin was 18 years old when he became king, and he ruled for three months in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Nehushta; she was Elnathan’s daughter and was from Jerusalem. 9 He did what was evil in the Lord’s eyes, just as all his ancestors had done. 10 At that time, the officers of Babylon’s King Nebuchadnezzar attacked Jerusalem and laid siege to the city. 11 Babylon’s King Nebuchadnezzar himself arrived at the city while his officers were blockading it. 12 Judah’s King Jehoiachin, along with his mother, his servants, his officers, and his officials, came out to surrender to the Babylonian king. The Babylonian king took Jehoiachin prisoner in the eighth year of Jehoiachin’s rule.
13 Nebuchadnezzar also took away all the treasures of the Lord’s temple and of the royal palace. He cut into pieces all the gold objects that Israel’s King Solomon had made for the Lord’s temple, which is exactly what the Lord said would happen. 14 Then Nebuchadnezzar exiled all of Jerusalem: all the officials, all the military leaders—ten thousand exiles—as well as all the skilled workers and metalworkers. No one was left behind except the poorest of the land’s people. 15 Nebuchadnezzar exiled Jehoiachin to Babylon; he also exiled the queen mother, the king’s wives, the officials, and the land’s elite leaders from Jerusalem to Babylon. 16 The Babylonian king also exiled seven thousand warriors—each one a hero trained for battle—as well as a thousand skilled workers and metalworkers to Babylon. 17 Then the Babylonian king made Mattaniah, Jehoiachin’s uncle, succeed Jehoiachin as king. Nebuchadnezzar changed Mattaniah’s name to Zedekiah.
Zedekiah rules Judah
18 Zedekiah was 21 years old when he became king, and he ruled for eleven years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Hamutal; she was Jeremiah’s daughter and was from Libnah. 19 He did what was evil in the Lord’s eyes, just as Jehoiakim had done. 20 It was precisely because the Lord was angry with Jerusalem and Judah that he thrust them out of his presence.
The southern kingdom falls
Now Zedekiah rebelled against the Babylonian king. 25 1 So in the ninth year of Zedekiah’s rule, on the tenth day of the tenth month, Babylon’s King Nebuchadnezzar attacked Jerusalem with his entire army. He camped beside the city and built a siege wall all around it. 2 The city was under attack until King Zedekiah’s eleventh year. 3 On the ninth day of the month, the famine in the city got so bad that no food remained for the common people. 4 Then the enemy broke into the city. All the soldiers fled[l] by night using the gate between the two walls near the King’s Garden. The Chaldeans were surrounding the city, so the soldiers ran toward the desert plain. 5 But the Chaldean army chased King Zedekiah and caught up with him in the Jericho plains. His entire army deserted him. 6 So the Chaldeans captured the king and brought him back to the Babylonian king, who was at Riblah. There his punishment was determined. 7 Zedekiah’s sons were slaughtered right before his eyes. Then he was blinded, put in bronze chains, and taken off to Babylon.
8 On the seventh day of the fifth month in the nineteenth year of Babylon’s King Nebuchadnezzar, Nebuzaradan arrived at Jerusalem. He was the commander of the guard and an official of the Babylonian king. 9 He burned down the Lord’s temple, the royal palace, and all of Jerusalem’s houses. He burned down every important building. 10 The whole Chaldean army under the commander of the guard tore down the walls surrounding Jerusalem. 11 Then Nebuzaradan the commander of the guard exiled the people who were left in the city, those who had already surrendered to Babylon’s king, and the rest of the population. 12 The commander of the guard left some of the land’s poor people behind to work the vineyards and be farmers. 13 The Chaldeans shattered the bronze columns, the stands, and the bronze Sea that were in the Lord’s temple. They carried the bronze off to Babylon. 14 They also took the pots, the shovels, the wick trimmers, the dishes, and all the bronze items that had been used in the temple. 15 The commander of the guard took the fire pans and the sprinkling bowls, which were made of pure gold and pure silver. 16 The bronze in all these objects—the two pillars, the Sea, and the stands that Solomon had made for the Lord’s temple—was too heavy to weigh. 17 Each pillar was twenty-seven feet high. The bronze capital on top of the first pillar was four and a half feet high. Decorative lattices and pomegranates, all made from bronze, were around the capital. And the second pillar was decorated with lattices just like the first.
18 The commander of the guard also took away Seraiah the chief priest, Zephaniah the priest next in rank, and the three doorkeepers. 19 Of those still left in the city, Nebuzaradan took away an officer who was in charge of the army and five royal advisors who were discovered in the city. He also took away the secretary of the officer responsible for drafting the land’s people to fight, as well as sixty people who were discovered in the city. 20 Nebuzaradan the commander of the guard took all of these people and brought them to the Babylonian king at Riblah. 21 The king of Babylon struck them down, killing them in Riblah in the land of Hamath.
So Judah was exiled from its land.
Gedaliah governs Judah
22 Babylon’s King Nebuchadnezzar put Gedaliah, Ahikam’s son and Shaphan’s grandson, in charge of the people he had left behind in the land of Judah. 23 All the army officers and their soldiers heard that the Babylonian king had appointed Gedaliah as governor, so they came with their men to Gedaliah at Mizpah. The officers were Ishmael, Nethaniah’s son; Johanan, Kareah’s son; Seraiah, Tanhumeth’s son who was a Netophathite; and Jaazaniah, Maacathite’s son. 24 Gedaliah made a solemn pledge to them and their soldiers, telling them, “Don’t be afraid of the Chaldean officials. Stay in the land and serve the Babylonian king, and things will go well for you.”
25 But in the seventh month, Ishmael, Nethaniah’s son and Elishama’s grandson, who was from the royal family, came with ten soldiers, and they struck Gedaliah, and he died. They also killed the Judeans and the Chaldeans who were with him at Mizpah. 26 Then all the people, young and old, along with the army officers, departed for Egypt because they were afraid of the Chaldeans.
Jehoiachin in Babylon
27 In the year that Awil-merodach[m] became king of Babylon, he released Judah’s King Jehoiachin from prison. This happened in the thirty-seventh year of the exile of King Jehoiachin, on the twenty-seventh day of the twelfth month. 28 Awil-merodach spoke kindly to Jehoiachin and seated him above the other kings who were with him in Babylon. 29 So Jehoiachin took off his prisoner clothes and ate regularly in the king’s presence for the rest of his life. 30 At the king’s command, a regular food allowance was given to him every day for the rest of his life.