This is how Jerusalem was taken: In the ninth year of Zedekiah king of Judah, in the tenth month, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon marched against Jerusalem with his whole army and laid siege to it.
And on the ninth day of the fourth month of Zedekiah's eleventh year, the city wall was broken through.
Then all the officials of the king of Babylon came and took seats in the Middle Gate: Nergal-Sharezer of Samgar, Nebo-Sarsekim a chief officer, Nergal-Sharezer a high official and all the other officials of the king of Babylon.
When Zedekiah king of Judah and all the soldiers saw them, they fled; they left the city at night by way of the king's garden, through the gate between the two walls, and headed toward the Arabah.
But the Babylonian army pursued them and overtook Zedekiah in the plains of Jericho. They captured him and took him to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon at Riblah in the land of Hamath, where he pronounced sentence on him.
There at Riblah the king of Babylon slaughtered the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes and also killed all the nobles of Judah.
Then he put out Zedekiah's eyes and bound him with bronze shackles to take him to Babylon.
The Babylonians set fire to the royal palace and the houses of the people and broke down the walls of Jerusalem.
Nebuzaradan commander of the imperial guard carried into exile to Babylon the people who remained in the city, along with those who had gone over to him, and the rest of the people.
But Nebuzaradan the commander of the guard left behind in the land of Judah some of the poor people, who owned nothing; and at that time he gave them vineyards and fields.
Now Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had given these orders about Jeremiah through Nebuzaradan commander of the imperial guard:
"Take him and look after him; don't harm him but do for him whatever he asks."
So Nebuzaradan the commander of the guard, Nebushazban a chief officer, Nergal-Sharezer a high official and all the other officers of the king of Babylon
sent and had Jeremiah taken out of the courtyard of the guard. They turned him over to Gedaliah son of Ahikam, the son of Shaphan, to take him back to his home. So he remained among his own people.
While Jeremiah had been confined in the courtyard of the guard, the word of the LORD came to him:
"Go and tell Ebed-Melech the Cushite, 'This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: I am about to fulfill my words against this city through disaster, not prosperity. At that time they will be fulfilled before your eyes.
But I will rescue you on that day, declares the LORD; you will not be handed over to those you fear.
I will save you; you will not fall by the sword but will escape with your life, because you trust in me, declares the LORD.' "
Then Agrippa said to Paul, "You have permission to speak for yourself." So Paul motioned with his hand and began his defense:
"King Agrippa, I consider myself fortunate to stand before you today as I make my defense against all the accusations of the Jews,
and especially so because you are well acquainted with all the Jewish customs and controversies. Therefore, I beg you to listen to me patiently.
"The Jews all know the way I have lived ever since I was a child, from the beginning of my life in my own country, and also in Jerusalem.
They have known me for a long time and can testify, if they are willing, that according to the strictest sect of our religion, I lived as a Pharisee.
And now it is because of my hope in what God has promised our fathers that I am on trial today.
This is the promise our twelve tribes are hoping to see fulfilled as they earnestly serve God day and night. O king, it is because of this hope that the Jews are accusing me.
Why should any of you consider it incredible that God raises the dead?
"I too was convinced that I ought to do all that was possible to oppose the name of Jesus of Nazareth.
And that is just what I did in Jerusalem. On the authority of the chief priests I put many of the saints in prison, and when they were put to death, I cast my vote against them.
Many a time I went from one synagogue to another to have them punished, and I tried to force them to blaspheme. In my obsession against them, I even went to foreign cities to persecute them.
"On one of these journeys I was going to Damascus with the authority and commission of the chief priests.
About noon, O king, as I was on the road, I saw a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, blazing around me and my companions.
We all fell to the ground, and I heard a voice saying to me in Aramaic, 'Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.'15
"Then I asked, 'Who are you, Lord?' " 'I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,' the Lord replied.
16'Now get up and stand on your feet. I have appeared to you to appoint you as a servant and as a witness of what you have seen of me and what I will show you.17I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles. I am sending you to them18to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.'19
"So then, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the vision from heaven.
First to those in Damascus, then to those in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and to the Gentiles also, I preached that they should repent and turn to God and prove their repentance by their deeds.
That is why the Jews seized me in the temple courts and tried to kill me.
But I have had God's help to this very day, and so I stand here and testify to small and great alike. I am saying nothing beyond what the prophets and Moses said would happen--
that the Christ would suffer and, as the first to rise from the dead, would proclaim light to his own people and to the Gentiles."
At this point Festus interrupted Paul's defense. "You are out of your mind, Paul!" he shouted. "Your great learning is driving you insane."
"I am not insane, most excellent Festus," Paul replied. "What I am saying is true and reasonable.
The king is familiar with these things, and I can speak freely to him. I am convinced that none of this has escaped his notice, because it was not done in a corner.
King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know you do."
Then Agrippa said to Paul, "Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?"
Paul replied, "Short time or long--I pray God that not only you but all who are listening to me today may become what I am, except for these chains."
The king rose, and with him the governor and Bernice and those sitting with them.
They left the room, and while talking with one another, they said, "This man is not doing anything that deserves death or imprisonment."
Agrippa said to Festus, "This man could have been set free if he had not appealed to Caesar."
When it was decided that we would sail for Italy, Paul and some other prisoners were handed over to a centurion named Julius, who belonged to the Imperial Regiment.
We boarded a ship from Adramyttium about to sail for ports along the coast of the province of Asia, and we put out to sea. Aristarchus, a Macedonian from Thessalonica, was with us.
The next day we landed at Sidon; and Julius, in kindness to Paul, allowed him to go to his friends so they might provide for his needs.
From there we put out to sea again and passed to the lee of Cyprus because the winds were against us.
When we had sailed across the open sea off the coast of Cilicia and Pamphylia, we landed at Myra in Lycia.
There the centurion found an Alexandrian ship sailing for Italy and put us on board.
We made slow headway for many days and had difficulty arriving off Cnidus. When the wind did not allow us to hold our course, we sailed to the lee of Crete, opposite Salmone.
We moved along the coast with difficulty and came to a place called Fair Havens, near the town of Lasea.
Much time had been lost, and sailing had already become dangerous because by now it was after the Fast. So Paul warned them,
"Men, I can see that our voyage is going to be disastrous and bring great loss to ship and cargo, and to our own lives also."
But the centurion, instead of listening to what Paul said, followed the advice of the pilot and of the owner of the ship.
Since the harbor was unsuitable to winter in, the majority decided that we should sail on, hoping to reach Phoenix and winter there. This was a harbor in Crete, facing both southwest and northwest.
When a gentle south wind began to blow, they thought they had obtained what they wanted; so they weighed anchor and sailed along the shore of Crete.
Before very long, a wind of hurricane force, called the "northeaster," swept down from the island.
The ship was caught by the storm and could not head into the wind; so we gave way to it and were driven along.
As we passed to the lee of a small island called Cauda, we were hardly able to make the lifeboat secure.
When the men had hoisted it aboard, they passed ropes under the ship itself to hold it together. Fearing that they would run aground on the sandbars of Syrtis, they lowered the sea anchor and let the ship be driven along.
We took such a violent battering from the storm that the next day they began to throw the cargo overboard.
On the third day, they threw the ship's tackle overboard with their own hands.
When neither sun nor stars appeared for many days and the storm continued raging, we finally gave up all hope of being saved.
After the men had gone a long time without food, Paul stood up before them and said: "Men, you should have taken my advice not to sail from Crete; then you would have spared yourselves this damage and loss.
But now I urge you to keep up your courage, because not one of you will be lost; only the ship will be destroyed.
Last night an angel of the God whose I am and whom I serve stood beside me
and said, 'Do not be afraid, Paul. You must stand trial before Caesar; and God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you.'
So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will happen just as he told me.
Nevertheless, we must run aground on some island."
On the fourteenth night we were still being driven across the Adriatic Sea, when about midnight the sailors sensed they were approaching land.
They took soundings and found that the water was a hundred and twenty feet deep. A short time later they took soundings again and found it was ninety feet deep.
Fearing that we would be dashed against the rocks, they dropped four anchors from the stern and prayed for daylight.
In an attempt to escape from the ship, the sailors let the lifeboat down into the sea, pretending they were going to lower some anchors from the bow.
Then Paul said to the centurion and the soldiers, "Unless these men stay with the ship, you cannot be saved."
So the soldiers cut the ropes that held the lifeboat and let it fall away.
Just before dawn Paul urged them all to eat. "For the last fourteen days," he said, "you have been in constant suspense and have gone without food--you haven't eaten anything.
Now I urge you to take some food. You need it to survive. Not one of you will lose a single hair from his head."
After he said this, he took some bread and gave thanks to God in front of them all. Then he broke it and began to eat.
They were all encouraged and ate some food themselves.
Altogether there were 276 of us on board.
When they had eaten as much as they wanted, they lightened the ship by throwing the grain into the sea.
When daylight came, they did not recognize the land, but they saw a bay with a sandy beach, where they decided to run the ship aground if they could.
Cutting loose the anchors, they left them in the sea and at the same time untied the ropes that held the rudders. Then they hoisted the foresail to the wind and made for the beach.
But the ship struck a sandbar and ran aground. The bow stuck fast and would not move, and the stern was broken to pieces by the pounding of the surf.
The soldiers planned to kill the prisoners to prevent any of them from swimming away and escaping.
But the centurion wanted to spare Paul's life and kept them from carrying out their plan. He ordered those who could swim to jump overboard first and get to land.
The rest were to get there on planks or on pieces of the ship. In this way everyone reached land in safety.
The word came to Jeremiah from the LORD after Nebuzaradan commander of the imperial guard had released him at Ramah. He had found Jeremiah bound in chains among all the captives from Jerusalem and Judah who were being carried into exile to Babylon.
When the commander of the guard found Jeremiah, he said to him, "The LORD your God decreed this disaster for this place.
And now the LORD has brought it about; he has done just as he said he would. All this happened because you people sinned against the LORD and did not obey him.
But today I am freeing you from the chains on your wrists. Come with me to Babylon, if you like, and I will look after you; but if you do not want to, then don't come. Look, the whole country lies before you; go wherever you please."
However, before Jeremiah turned to go, Nebuzaradan added, "Go back to Gedaliah son of Ahikam, the son of Shaphan, whom the king of Babylon has appointed over the towns of Judah, and live with him among the people, or go anywhere else you please." Then the commander gave him provisions and a present and let him go.
So Jeremiah went to Gedaliah son of Ahikam at Mizpah and stayed with him among the people who were left behind in the land.
When all the army officers and their men who were still in the open country heard that the king of Babylon had appointed Gedaliah son of Ahikam as governor over the land and had put him in charge of the men, women and children who were the poorest in the land and who had not been carried into exile to Babylon,
they came to Gedaliah at Mizpah--Ishmael son of Nethaniah, Johanan and Jonathan the sons of Kareah, Seraiah son of Tanhumeth, the sons of Ephai the Netophathite, and Jaazaniah the son of the Maacathite, and their men.
Gedaliah son of Ahikam, the son of Shaphan, took an oath to reassure them and their men. "Do not be afraid to serve the Babylonians," he said. "Settle down in the land and serve the king of Babylon, and it will go well with you.
I myself will stay at Mizpah to represent you before the Babylonians who come to us, but you are to harvest the wine, summer fruit and oil, and put them in your storage jars, and live in the towns you have taken over."
When all the Jews in Moab, Ammon, Edom and all the other countries heard that the king of Babylon had left a remnant in Judah and had appointed Gedaliah son of Ahikam, the son of Shaphan, as governor over them,
they all came back to the land of Judah, to Gedaliah at Mizpah, from all the countries where they had been scattered. And they harvested an abundance of wine and summer fruit.
Johanan son of Kareah and all the army officers still in the open country came to Gedaliah at Mizpah
and said to him, "Don't you know that Baalis king of the Ammonites has sent Ishmael son of Nethaniah to take your life?" But Gedaliah son of Ahikam did not believe them.
Then Johanan son of Kareah said privately to Gedaliah in Mizpah, "Let me go and kill Ishmael son of Nethaniah, and no one will know it. Why should he take your life and cause all the Jews who are gathered around you to be scattered and the remnant of Judah to perish?"
But Gedaliah son of Ahikam said to Johanan son of Kareah, "Don't do such a thing! What you are saying about Ishmael is not true."