Zedekiah was twenty-one years old when he became king of Judah, and he ruled in Jerusalem for eleven years. His mother's name was Hamutal, the daughter of the Jeremiah who lived in the city of Libnah.
King Zedekiah sinned against the Lord, just as King Jehoiakim had done.
The Lord became so angry with the people of Jerusalem and Judah that he banished them from his sight. Zedekiah rebelled against King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylonia,
and so Nebuchadnezzar came with all his army and attacked Jerusalem on the tenth day of the tenth month of the ninth year of Zedekiah's reign. They set up camp outside the city, built siege walls around it, 1
and kept it under siege until Zedekiah's eleventh year.
On the ninth day of the fourth month of that same year, when the famine was so bad that the people had nothing left to eat,
the city walls were broken through. Although the Babylonians were surrounding the city, all the soldiers escaped during the night. They left by way of the royal garden, went through the gateway connecting the two walls, and fled in the direction of the Jordan Valley. 2
But the Babylonian army pursued King Zedekiah, captured him in the plains near Jericho, and all his soldiers deserted him.
Zedekiah was taken to King Nebuchadnezzar, who was in the city of Riblah in the territory of Hamath, and there Nebuchadnezzar passed sentence on him.
At Riblah he put Zedekiah's sons to death while Zedekiah was looking on and he also had the officials of Judah executed.
After that, he had Zedekiah's eyes put out and had him placed in chains and taken to Babylon. Zedekiah remained in prison in Babylon until the day he died. 3
On the tenth day of the fifth month of the nineteenth year of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylonia, Nebuzaradan, adviser to the king and commander of his army, entered Jerusalem.
He burned down the Temple, the palace, and the houses of all the important people in Jerusalem; 4
and his soldiers tore down the city walls.
Then Nebuzaradan took away to Babylonia the people who were left in the city, the remaining skilled workers, and those who had deserted to the Babylonians.
But he left in Judah some of the poorest people, who owned no property, and he put them to work in the vineyards and fields.
The Babylonians broke in pieces the bronze columns and the carts that were in the Temple, together with the large bronze tank, and they took all the bronze to Babylon. 5
They also took away the shovels and the ash containers used in cleaning the altar, the tools used in tending the lamps, the bowls used for catching the blood from the sacrifices, the bowls used for burning incense, and all the other bronze articles used in the Temple service.
They took away everything that was made of gold or silver: the small bowls, the pans used for carrying live coals, the bowls for holding the blood from the sacrifices, the ash containers, the lampstands, the bowls used for incense, and the bowls used for pouring out wine offerings.
The bronze objects that King Solomon had made for the Temple - the two columns, the carts, the large tank, and the twelve bulls that supported it - were too heavy to weigh.
The two columns were identical: each one was 27 feet high and 18 feet around. They were hollow, and the metal was 3 inches thick. On top of each column was a bronze capital 7 1/2 feet high, and all around it was a grillwork decorated with pomegranates, all of which was also made of bronze.
On the grillwork of each column there were a hundred pomegranates in all, and ninety-six of these were visible from the ground.
In addition, Nebuzaradan, the commanding officer, took away as prisoners Seraiah the High Priest, Zephaniah the priest next in rank, and the three other important Temple officials.
From the city he took the officer who had been in command of the troops, seven of the king's personal advisers who were still in the city, the commander's assistant, who was in charge of military records, and sixty other important men.
Nebuzaradan took them to the king of Babylonia, who was in the city of Riblah
in the territory of Hamath. There the king had them beaten and put to death. So the people of Judah were carried away from their land into exile.
This is the record of the people that Nebuchadnezzar took away as prisoners: in his seventh year as king he carried away 3,023;
in his eighteenth year, 832 from Jerusalem;
and in his twenty-third year, 745 - taken away by Nebuzaradan. In all, 4,600 people were taken away.
In the year that Evil-merodach became king of Babylonia, he showed kindness to King Jehoiachin of Judah by releasing him from prison. This happened on the twenty-fifth day of the twelfth month of the thirty-seventh year after Jehoiachin had been taken away as a prisoner.
Evil-merodach treated him kindly and gave him a position of greater honor than he gave the other kings who were exiles with him in Babylonia.
So Jehoiachin was permitted to change from his prison clothes and to dine at the king's table for the rest of his life.
Each day for as long as he lived, he was given a regular allowance for his needs.