King Josiah celebrated the Passover at Jerusalem in honor of the Lord; on the fourteenth day of the first month they killed the animals for the festival.
Josiah assigned the priests, dressed in their priestly robes, to serve in the Temple according to the daily order.
He also instructed the Levites, the Temple servants, to purify themselves for the Lord's service, so that they could put the sacred Covenant Box of the Lord in the Temple that King Solomon, the son of David, had built.
Josiah said to them, "You must no longer carry it from place to place, but you are to serve the Lord your God and minister to his people Israel. Get ready by family and clan to carry out your duties
according to the directions given by King David and the splendid way that they were carried out by his son King Solomon. Take your places in the Temple in proper order according to your family divisions as Levites serving the Lord for the people of Israel. 1
Kill the Passover lambs and goats and prepare the sacrifices for your people. Then celebrate the Passover according to the instructions that the Lord gave to Moses."
Josiah gave to the people who were present 30,000 young sheep and goats and 3,000 calves. These were a gift from the royal estates to carry out the promise he had made to the people, the priests, and the Levites.
The officials in charge of the Temple - Hilkiah, Zechariah, and Jehiel - also gave the priests 2,600 sheep and 300 calves for the sacrifices during the festival.
And the army commanders - Conaniah, Shemaiah and his brother Nethanel, Hashabiah, Ochiel, and Joram - contributed 5,000 sheep and 700 calves for the Levites to offer as sacrifices.
Here is what happened. The priests and the Levites, dressed in the proper manner and carrying the unleavened bread, came that morning to present the offerings to the Lord according to the instructions in the Law of Moses. They took their positions in front of the people in the order of tribal and family divisions.
The Levites roasted the Passover sacrifices and then boiled them in pots and kettles, making a pleasant smell. 2
Then they distributed the meat to all the people. After that was done, they took meat for themselves and for the priests, the descendants of Aaron,
because the priests were kept busy until night burning the fat of the sacrifices.
The guards at the Temple gates and the Temple singers of the Levite clan of Asaph (with Asaph, Zechariah, and Eddinus, who were representatives of the king) remained at the places assigned to them by King David's instructions. They did not need to leave their posts, because the other Levites prepared the Passover for them.
So, as King Josiah had commanded, everything that related to the sacrifices offered to the Lord was done that day; the Passover Festival was celebrated, and the sacrifices were offered on the altar.
All the people of Israel who were present at that time kept the Passover and observed the Festival of Unleavened Bread for seven days. 3
Since the days of the prophet Samuel, the Passover had never been celebrated so well.
None of the former kings of Israel had ever celebrated a Passover like this one celebrated by King Josiah in Jerusalem in the eighteenth year of his reign; it was celebrated by the priests, the Levites, and all the people of Judah and Israel.
The Lord was pleased with everything Josiah did, for he was a very religious man.
But the ancient records also tell the story of those who sinned and rebelled against the Lord during Josiah's reign. They sinned more than any other nation or kingdom and did things that offended the Lord so much that his judgment fell on the people of Israel.
After Josiah had done all these things, the king of Egypt led an army to fight at Carchemish on the Euphrates River. Josiah tried to stop him,
but the king of Egypt sent Josiah this message: "The war I am fighting does not concern you, King of Judah.
The Lord God did not send me to fight you; my battle is on the Euphrates River. The Lord is with me, and he is urging me on; so withdraw your troops and don't oppose the Lord."
But Josiah did not go back to his chariot and withdraw. He refused to listen to what the Lord had said through the prophet Jeremiah and decided to fight.
He went into battle on the plain of Megiddo, and the Egyptian commanders attacked him.
King Josiah ordered his servants, "Take me off the battlefield; I'm badly hurt." So they took him out of the line of battle immediately,
and he got into a second chariot and was taken back to Jerusalem. There he died and was buried in the royal tomb.
All the people of Judah mourned his death. The prophet Jeremiah composed a lament for King Josiah. It has become a custom in Israel for the leaders and their wives to sing this song when they mourn for him.
These things are recorded in [The History of the Kings of Judah.] Everything that Josiah did, how he gained his fame and his understanding of the Law, what he did earlier and what is told here, is all recorded in [The History of the Kings of Israel and Judah.]
The people of Judah chose Josiah's son Joahaz and made him king. Joahaz was twenty-three years old,
and he ruled Judah and Jerusalem for three months. Then the king of Egypt deposed him
and made the nation pay 7,500 pounds of silver and 75 pounds of gold as tribute.
The king of Egypt appointed Joahaz's brother Jehoiakim king of Judah and Jerusalem. 4
Jehoiakim put the leading men of the nation in prison, then had his brother Zarius arrested and brought back from Egypt.
Jehoiakim was twenty-five years old when he became king of Judah and Jerusalem. He sinned against the Lord. 5
King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylonia invaded Judah, captured Jehoiakim, and took him to Babylonia in bronze chains. 6
Nebuchadnezzar also carried off some of the sacred utensils from the Temple and put them in his own temple in Babylon.
The stories about Jehoiakim, his depravity, and the godless way he lived are recorded in [The Chronicles of the Kings.]
Jehoiachin was eighteen years old when he succeeded his father Jehoiakim as king,
and he ruled in Jerusalem for three months and ten days. He too sinned against the Lord.
A year later King Nebuchadnezzar had Jehoiachin taken to Babylonia as a prisoner; Nebuchadnezzar also carried off sacred utensils from the Temple. 7
Then he made Zedekiah king of Judah and Jerusalem. Zedekiah was then twenty-one years old, and he ruled for eleven years.
He sinned against the Lord and refused to listen to the prophet Jeremiah, who spoke the word of the Lord.
Although King Nebuchadnezzar had forced Zedekiah to swear in the Lord's name that he would be loyal to him, Zedekiah broke his oath and rebelled against him. He stubbornly refused to obey the commands of the Lord, the God of Israel. 8
In addition, the leaders of the people and even the chief priests did more godless and lawless things than all the corrupt heathen; they defiled the Temple of the Lord, which he had made holy.
The God of their ancestors had continued to send prophets to call them back from their sins, because he wanted to spare them and the Temple.
But when the Lord spoke through his prophets, the people made fun of them and laughed.
At last the Lord became so angry with his people and their depraved ways that he ordered the kings of Babylonia to attack them.
The Babylonians killed the young men of Judah all around the Temple and did not spare anyone, young or old, man or woman. The Lord handed them all over to their enemies.
The Babylonians carried off all the sacred utensils from the Temple, the treasure chests, and the wealth of the king; they took everything away to Babylon, leaving nothing behind.
They burned down the Temple, broke down the city wall, set fire to its towers,
and completely destroyed all its beauty. Nebuchadnezzar forced all the survivors to be led away to Babylon,
where they served him and his descendants as slaves until the rise of the Persian Empire. And so what the Lord had foretold through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled:
"The land will lie desolate for seventy years to make up for the Sabbath rest that has not been observed." 9