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Passover Is Celebrated

35 Josiah commanded that Passover be celebrated in Jerusalem to honor the Lord. So, on the fourteenth day of the first month,[a] the lambs were killed for the Passover celebration.

On that day, Josiah made sure the priests knew what duties they were to do in the temple. He called together the Levites who served the Lord and who taught the people his laws, and he said:

No longer will you have to carry the sacred chest from place to place. It will stay in the temple built by King Solomon son of David, where you will serve the Lord and his people Israel. Get ready to do the work that David and Solomon assigned to you, according to your clans. Divide yourselves into groups, then arrange yourselves throughout the temple so that each family of worshipers will be able to get help from one of you.[b] When the people bring you their Passover lamb, you must kill it and prepare it to be sacrificed to the Lord. Make sure the people celebrate according to the instructions that the Lord gave Moses, and don’t do anything to make yourselves unclean and unacceptable.

Josiah donated thirty thousand sheep and goats, and three thousand bulls from his own flocks and herds for the people to offer as sacrifices. Josiah’s officials also voluntarily gave some of their animals to the people, the priests, and the Levites as sacrifices. Hilkiah, Zechariah, and Jehiel, who were the officials in charge of the temple, gave the priests twenty-six hundred sheep and lambs and three hundred bulls to sacrifice during the Passover celebration. Conaniah, his two brothers Shemaiah and Nethanel, as well as Hashabiah, Jeiel, and Jozabad were leaders of the Levites, and they gave the other Levites five thousand sheep and goats, and five hundred bulls to offer as sacrifices.

10 When everything was ready to celebrate Passover, the priests and the Levites stood where Josiah had told them. 11 Then the Levites killed and skinned the Passover lambs, and they handed some of the blood to the priests, who splattered it on the altar. 12 The Levites set aside the parts of the animal that the worshipers needed for their sacrifices to please the Lord,[c] just as the Law of Moses required. They also did the same thing with the bulls. 13 They sacrificed the Passover animals on the altar and boiled the meat for the other offerings in pots, kettles, and pans. Then they quickly handed the meat to the people so they could eat it.

14 All day long, the priests were busy offering sacrifices and burning the animals' fat on the altar. And when everyone had finished, the Levites prepared Passover animals for themselves and for the priests.

15 During the celebration some of the Levites prepared Passover animals for the musicians and the guards, so that the Levite musicians would not have to leave their places, which had been assigned to them according to the instructions of David, Asaph, Heman, and Jeduthun the king’s prophet. Even the guards at the temple gates did not have to leave their posts.

16 So on that day, Passover was celebrated to honor the Lord, and sacrifices were offered on the altar to him, just as Josiah had commanded. 17 The worshipers then celebrated the Festival of Thin Bread for the next seven days.

18 People from Jerusalem and from towns all over Judah and Israel were there. Passover had not been observed like this since the days of Samuel the prophet. In fact, this was the greatest Passover celebration in Israel’s history! 19 All these things happened in the eighteenth year of Josiah’s rule in Judah.

Josiah Dies in Battle

20 Some time later, King Neco of Egypt led his army to the city of Carchemish on the Euphrates River. And Josiah led his troops north to meet the Egyptians in battle.[d]

21 Neco sent the following message to Josiah:

I’m not attacking you, king of Judah! We’re not even at war. But God has told me to quickly attack my enemy. God is on my side, so if you try to stop me, he will punish you.

22 But Josiah ignored Neco’s warning, even though it came from God! Instead, he disguised himself and marched into battle against Neco in the valley near Megiddo.

23 During the battle an Egyptian soldier shot Josiah with an arrow. Josiah told his servants, “Get me out of here! I’ve been hit.” 24 They carried Josiah out of his chariot, then put him in the other chariot he had there and took him back to Jerusalem, where he soon died. He was buried beside his ancestors, and everyone in Judah and Jerusalem mourned his death.

25 Jeremiah the prophet wrote a funeral song in honor of Josiah. And since then, anyone in Judah who mourns the death of Josiah sings that song. It is included in the collection of funeral songs.

26 Everything else Josiah did while he was king, including how he faithfully obeyed the Lord, 27 is written in The History of the Kings of Israel and Judah.

King Jehoahaz of Judah

36 After the death of Josiah, the people of Judah crowned his son Jehoahaz their new king. He was twenty-three years old at the time, and he ruled only three months from Jerusalem. King Neco of Egypt captured Jehoahaz and forced Judah to pay almost four tons of silver and seventy-five pounds of gold as taxes. Then Neco appointed Jehoahaz’s brother Eliakim king of Judah and changed his name to Jehoiakim. He led Jehoahaz away to Egypt as his prisoner.

King Jehoiakim of Judah

Jehoiakim was twenty-five years old when he was appointed king, and he ruled eleven years from Jerusalem. Jehoiakim disobeyed the Lord his God by doing evil.

During Jehoiakim’s rule, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylonia invaded Judah. He arrested Jehoiakim and put him in chains, and he sent him to the capital city of Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar also carried off many of the valuable things in the Lord’s temple, and he put them in his palace in Babylon.

Everything else Jehoiakim did while he was king, including all the disgusting and evil things, is written in The History of the Kings of Israel and Judah. His son Jehoiachin then became king.

King Jehoiachin of Judah

Jehoiachin was eighteen[e] years old when he became king of Judah, and he ruled only three months and ten days from Jerusalem. Jehoiachin also disobeyed the Lord by doing evil. 10 In the spring of the year, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylonia had Jehoiachin arrested and taken to Babylon, along with more of the valuable items in the temple. Then Nebuchadnezzar appointed Zedekiah king of Judah.

King Zedekiah of Judah

11 Zedekiah was twenty-one years old when he was appointed king of Judah, and he ruled from Jerusalem for eleven years. 12 He disobeyed the Lord his God and refused to change his ways, even after a warning from Jeremiah, the Lord’s prophet.

13 King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylonia had forced Zedekiah to promise in God’s name that he would be loyal. Zedekiah was stubborn and refused to turn back to the Lord God of Israel, so he rebelled against Nebuchadnezzar. 14 The people of Judah and even the priests who were their leaders became more unfaithful. They followed the disgusting example of the nations around them and made the Lord’s holy temple unfit for worship. 15 But the Lord God felt sorry for his people, and instead of destroying the temple, he sent prophets who warned the people over and over about their sins. 16 But the people only laughed and insulted these prophets. They ignored what the Lord God was trying to tell them, until he finally became so angry that nothing could stop him from punishing Judah and Jerusalem.

Jerusalem Is Destroyed

17 The Lord sent King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylonia to attack Jerusalem. Nebuchadnezzar killed the young men who were in the temple, and he showed no mercy to anyone, whether man or woman, young or old. God let him kill everyone in the city. 18 Nebuchadnezzar carried off everything that was left in the temple; he robbed the treasury and the personal storerooms of the king and his officials. He took everything back to Babylon.

19 Nebuchadnezzar’s troops burned down the temple and destroyed every important building in the city. Then they broke down the city wall. 20 The survivors were taken to Babylonia as prisoners, where they were slaves of the king and his sons, until Persia became a powerful nation.

21 Judah was an empty desert, and it stayed that way for seventy years, to make up for all the years it was not allowed to rest.[f] These things happened just as Jeremiah the Lord’s prophet had said.[g]

Cyrus Lets the Jews Return Home

22 In the first year that Cyrus was king of Persia,[h] the Lord had Cyrus send a message to all parts of his kingdom. This happened just as Jeremiah the Lord’s prophet had promised. 23 The message said:

I am King Cyrus of Persia.

The Lord God of heaven has made me the ruler of every nation on earth. He has also chosen me to build a temple for him in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. The Lord God will watch over any of his people who want to go back to Judah.

Footnotes

  1. 35.1 first month: See the note at 29.3.
  2. 35.5 each family of worshipers. . . you: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
  3. 35.12 sacrifices to please the Lord: See the note at 1.6.
  4. 35.20 battle: At this time, King Neco of Egypt (609-595 B.C.) was fighting on the side of the Assyrians. He marched north to fight the Babylonian army and help Assyria keep control of its land. Since Josiah considered Assyria an enemy, he set out to stop Neco and the Egyptian troops.
  5. 36.9 eighteen: Some manuscripts of one ancient translation (see also 2 Kings 24.8); Hebrew “eight.”
  6. 36.21 rest: According to Leviticus 25.1-7, the land was supposed to rest every seventh year.
  7. 36.21 Jeremiah. . . said: Jeremiah 25.11,12; 29.10. According to the Law, the people had to allow the land to rest one out of every seven years (see Leviticus 25.1-7).
  8. 36.22 the first year that Cyrus was king of Persia: Probably 538 B.C., when Cyrus captured Babylonia. He had actually ruled Persia since 549 B.C.

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