2 Chronicles

Solomon’s gift of wisdom

1

1Solomon, son of David, took firm control of the Kingdom of Israel. Yahweh, his God, was with him and exalted him greatly. 2Solomon then spoke to all Israel, to commanders of thousands and of hundreds, to the judges, and to all the princes of Israel, the heads of families. 3Then Solomon, and with him the whole assembly, went to the high place at Gibeon, where God’s Tent of Meeting was, which Moses, the servant of God, had made in the wilderness; 4David, however, had brought the Ark of God from Kiriath-jearim to the place he had prepared for it, having set up a tent for it in Jerusalem. 5The bronze altar that Bezalel, son of Uri, son of Hur, had made stood there in front of the Holy Tent of Yahweh; Solomon, with the assembly, came to this altar, looking for Yahweh’s presence. 6Solomon went up to the bronze altar that was by the Tent of Meeting, and offered a thousand burnt offerings on it.

7That night, God appeared to Solomon and said, “Ask what you would like me to give you.” 8Solomon replied to God, “You showed great kindness to David my father; and you have made me king in his place. 9Yahweh God, the promise you made to David my father has now been fulfilled, since you have made me king over a people who are so many that they cannot be counted. 10Therefore now give me wisdom and knowledge to act as leader of this people, for who could govern a people so great as yours?”

11God said to Solomon, “Since that is what you want, you have asked, not for riches, treasure, honor, the lives of your enemies, or even for a long life, but for wisdom and knowledge to govern my people of whom I have made you king; 12therefore wisdom and knowledge are granted you. I give you riches too, and treasures, and honor such as none of the kings had that were before you, nor shall any have that come after you.”

13Solomon left the high place and the Tent of Meeting at Gibeon and returned to Jerusalem. 14Solomon built up a force of chariots and horses; he had one thousand four hundred chariots and twelve thousand horses; these he stationed in the chariot towns and with the king in Jerusalem. 15During his reign, silver and gold became as common in Jerusalem as stone, while cedar wood was as plentiful as the ordinary sycamore trees in the foothills of Judah. 16Solomon’s horses were imported from Cilicia; the king’s agents took delivery of them from Cilicia at a fixed rate. 17They imported chariots from Egypt for 600 pieces of silver each, and horses for 150 each. These men acted in the same way for all the kings of the Hittites and the kings of Aram. 18Solomon decided to build a house for Yahweh’s Name and a palace for himself.

Solomon and Huram

2

1He put 70,000 men to work transporting materials, 80,000 to quarry in the hill country, and 3,600 supervisors in charge of them. 2Solomon then sent this message to Huram king of Tyre, “Deal with me as you dealt with my father David when you sent him cedars to build a house to live in. 3I am now building a house to honor Yahweh, my God, to acknowledge his holiness by burning incense of scented spices in his presence, by the loaves that are perpetually set out, by offerings morning and evening, on the sabbath, New Moon, and the solemn festivals of Yahweh our God—and this forever in Israel. 4The house I am building will be large, for our God is greater than all gods. 5Yet no one can really build a temple for God since heaven, even highest heaven, cannot contain him. And I cannot build him a house for anything more than to burn incense in his presence. 6So send me a man skilled in working with gold, silver, bronze, iron, scarlet, crimson, violet, and the art of engraving too; he is to work with the skilled men whom my father David provided here in Judah and Jerusalem. 7From Lebanon send me cedar wood, juniper and algummim, since I know your servants are experts in felling the trees of Lebanon. My servants will work with yours. 8They will prepare wood in bulk for me, since the house I wish to build is to be of astounding size. 9For the woodmen who are to fell the trees I assign twenty thousand kors of ground wheat, twenty thousand kors of barley, twenty thousand baths of wine, and twenty thousand baths of oil—this is for the maintenance of your servants.”

10In a letter sent to king Solomon, Huram king of Tyre replied, “Because Yahweh loves his people he has made you king. 11Blessed be Yahweh, the God of Israel, who has made the heavens and the earth, and given king David a wise son, full of understanding and skill, who is going to build a house for Yahweh and a palace for himself and his court. 12And I am also sending you a skilled craftsman, Huram-abi, 13the son of a Danite woman by a Tyrian father. He is skilled in the use of gold, silver, bronze, iron, stone, wood, scarlet, violet, fine linen, crimson, in engraving of all kinds, and in the execution of any design suggested to him. Let him be put to work with your craftsmen and those of my lord David, your father. 14So now let my lord send his servants the wheat, barley, oil and wine, as already suggested.

15For our part, we will cut down all the cedar trees you need from Lebanon, and bring them to you in rafts by sea to Joppa, and you will transport them to Jerusalem.”

16Solomon took a count of all the foreigners living in the land of Israel, following the census that David his father had taken; it was found there were a hundred and fifty-three thousand six hundred. 17He assigned seventy thousand of these for carrying loads, eighty thousand as stonecutters in the hill country, and three thousand six hundred as overseers to make sure the people worked.

The building of Yahweh’s house

3

1Solomon then began to build Yahweh’s House in Jerusalem on Mount Moriah where David his father had a vision. It was the place prepared by David, the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite. 2Solomon began building in the second month of the fourth year of his reign, on the second day. 3The house which Solomon built was 90 feet long and its width was 30 feet. 4The vestibule in front of the nave of the house was 30 feet wide across the width of the house; and its height was 30 feet. He plated it on the inside with pure gold. 5The Great Room he faced with juniper which he plated with pure gold, and on it set palms and festoons. 6He adorned the building with precious stones of great beauty; the gold was gold from Parvaim, 7and with this he faced the house, the beams, thresholds, walls and doors; on the walls he carved cherubs.

8He then built the Holy of Holies; its length, across the width of the Great Room, was 30 feet, and its width 30feet. He plated it with 25 tons of fine gold; 9the gold nails weighed 20 ounces. He also plated the upper rooms with gold. 10In the Holy of Holies he made two cherubs of wrought metal work and plated them with gold. 11The total span of the cherubs’ wings was 30 feet, each being 7-1/2 feet long, with one wing touching the wall of the room, while the other touched that of the other cherub. 12One wing of a cherub, 7-1/2 feet long, touched the wall of the apartment; the second, 7-1/2 feet long, touched the wing of the other cherub. 13The spread of these cherubs’ wings was 30 feet. They stood on their feet, facing the Hall.

14He made the Veil of violet, scarlet, crimson and fine linen; he worked cherubs on it.

15In front of the Great room he made two pillars 52 feet high, and on the top of each a capital measuring 7 feet. 16He set festoons like in the Holy of holies, at the tops of the pillars, and a hundred pomegranates which he placed on the festoons. 17He set up the pillars in front of the house, one on the right, the other on the left; the one on the right he called Jachin, the one on the left Boaz.

4

1He made an altar of bronze, 30 feet long, 30 feet wide and ten high. 2He also made the big bronze basin called “The Sea.” It measured 15 feet from rim to rim, circular in shape and 7 feet high; a cord 44 feet long gave the measurement of its girth. 3Under it and completely encircling it were pomegranates; they went around the Sea over a length of 44 feet; the pomegranates were in two rows, of one and the same casting with the rest. 4It rested on twelve oxen, three facing north, three facing west, three facing south, three facing east; on these, their hindquarters all turned inward, stood the Sea. 5It was a hand’s breadth in thickness, and its rim was shaped like the rim of a cup, like a flower. It could hold 15,000 gallons of water.

6He made ten washing basins; he put five on the south side and five on the north side. In them they rinsed the items used for burnt sacrifices; the priests washed in “The Sea.” 7He made the ten golden lampstands in the way prescribed and placed them in the temple, five on the right and five on the left. 8He made ten tables and had them set in a nave, five to the right and five to the left; and he made a hundred golden sprinkling bowls.

9He made the court of the priests and the great court with its gates and plated the gates with bronze. 10He placed the Sea some distance from the right-hand side, to the southeast.

11Huram-abi also made the pots, the shovels and the bowls.

Thus he completed the work he had to do for king Solomon in the House of God: 12the two pillars; the two moldings of the capitals surmounting the pillars; the two sets of filigree to cover the two moldings of the capitals surmounting the pillars; 13the four hundred pomegranates for the two sets of filigree, with the pomegranates of each filigree in two rows; 14the ten stands and the ten basins on the stands; 15the Sea and the twelve oxen beneath it; 16the pots, the shovels, the forks, and all their accessories made by Huram-abi of burnished bronze for king Solomon, for Yahweh’s House. 17The king made them by the process of sand casting, near the Jordan between Succoth and Zeredah. 18Solomon made all these articles in such quantities, that the weight of bronze could not be reckoned.

19Solomon placed all the furnishings he had made in the House of God: the golden altar and the tables for the loaves of offering; 20the lampstands of pure gold with their lamps to burn, as prescribed, before the Sanctuary, of pure gold; 21the floral work, the lamps, the extinguishers, of gold (and it was pure gold); 22the knives, the sprinkling bowls, incense boats, of fine gold; the door of the Temple, the inner doors (for the Holy of Holies) and the Temple doors (for the Hekal), of gold.

The Ark is brought to the temple

5

1So all the work that Solomon did for Yahweh’s House was completed, and Solomon brought the dedicated offerings of his father David, the silver and the gold and the vessels, and put them in the Temple storerooms.

2Then Solomon called the leaders of the tribes and clans of Israel together in Jerusalem to bring the Ark of the Covenant of Yahweh up from the city of David, which is Zion. 3All the men of Israel assembled around the king in the seventh month, at the time of the feast. 4All the leaders of Israel came, and the Levites took up the Ark 5and the Tent of Meeting with all the sacred vessels that were in it; the levitical priests carried them.

6King Solomon, and all the community of Israel gathered with him in front of the Ark, sacrificed countless and innumerable sheep and oxen. 7The priests brought the Ark of the Covenant of Yahweh to its place, in the Sanctuary of the house, that is, in the Holy of Holies, under the cherubs’ wings. 8For there where the Ark was placed the cherubs spread out their wings and sheltered the Ark and its poles. 9The poles of the Ark were long enough for their ends to be seen from the Holy Place in front of the Sanctuary, but not from outside; they are still there today. 10There was nothing in the Ark except the two stone slabs that Moses had placed in it at Horeb, where Yahweh had made a Covenant with the Israelites when they came out of Egypt.

11Finally, the priests came out of the Sanctuary. All the priests were present, for they had purified themselves whatever group they belonged to. 12All the Levite musicians, Asaph, Heman and Jeduthun with their sons and brothers, were stationed to the east of the altar, robed in fine linen and playing cymbals, harps, and lyres. A hundred and twenty priests accompanied them on the trumpet. 13All those who played the trumpet, or who sang, united in giving praise and glory to Yahweh. Lifting their voices to the sound of the trumpet and cymbal and instruments of music, they gave praise to Yahweh. “For he is good, for his love is everlasting.” Just then a cloud filled the Sanctuary, the building of Yahweh.

14Because of the cloud the priests could no longer perform their duties: for the Glory of Yahweh filled the House of God.

6

1Then Solomon said: “Yahweh has chosen to live in the thick cloud. Yes, I have built you a majestic temple, 2a place for you to live in forever.”

3Then the king turned and asked God’s blessing on the whole assembly of Israel, who were standing there. 4He said, “Blessed be Yahweh, the God of Israel, who has spoken through the mouth of David, my father and has now carried out by his hand what he said: 5‘From the day I brought my people out of Egypt until now I did not choose any city in the land of Israel as the place to build a house where my Name would be, and I did not choose anyone to be prince of my people Israel. 6But now I have chosen Jerusalem as the place where my Name will be, and you, David, to rule my people.’ 7My father David had set his heart on building a house for the Name of Yahweh, the God of Israel, 8but Yahweh said to him, ‘You have set your heart on building a temple for my name, and in this you have done well; 9and yet, you are not the man to build the house; your son, born of your own body, shall build me a house.’ 10Yahweh has kept the promise he made: I have succeeded David my father and am seated on the throne of Israel, as Yahweh promised; and now I have built a house for the Name of Yahweh, the God of Israel, 11and have placed in it the Ark containing the Covenant that Yahweh made with the people of Israel.”

Solomon’s prayer

12Then in the presence of the whole assembly of Israel Solomon stood before the altar of Yahweh and stretched out his hands. 13Solomon had made a bronze pedestal and had placed it in the middle of the court; it was 7 feet long, 7 feet wide and 7 feet high. Solomon mounted it, and knelt down on it in the presence of the whole assembly of Israel; he stretched out his hands to heaven 14and said, “Yahweh, God of Israel, not in heaven nor on earth is there such a God as you; you are true to your Covenant and show graciousness toward your servants when they live in wholehearted obedience to you. 15You have kept the promise you made to your servant David my father; what you promised with your mouth, today you have carried out by your hand. 16And now, Yahweh, God of Israel, keep the promise you made your servant David when you said, ‘You shall always have someone from your line to rule as king of Israel, if only your sons are careful how they behave, following my Law as you yourself have done.’

17So now, God of Israel, let the words come true which you spoke to your servant David my father. 18Yet will God really live with men and women on the earth? Why, the heavens and their own heavens cannot contain you! How much less this house that I have built! 19Listen to the prayer and grant the requests of your servant, Yahweh my God; listen to the cry and to the prayer your servant makes to you. 20Day and night let your eyes watch over this house, where you have promised that your Name would be.

21Hear the prayers of your servant and of Israel your people as they pray in this place. From heaven where your dwelling is, hear; and, as you hear, forgive.

22If anyone sins against his neighbor, and the neighbor calls down a curse on him and makes him swear an oath before your altar in this house, 23hear from heaven, and act; decide between your servants: punish the wicked one, bringing his conduct down on his own head; and vindicate the innocent, rewarding him as his innocence deserves.

24If Israel your people are defeated by the enemy because they have sinned against you, but they return to you and praise your name and humbly pray to you for forgiveness, in this house, 25hear from heaven. Forgive the sin of your people Israel, and bring them back to the land you gave to them and to their ancestors.

26When the heavens are shut and there is no rain because they have sinned against you, if they pray in this place and praise your name, having been humbled by you, and repent of their sin, 27hear from heaven and forgive the sin of your servant and of your people Israel. Teach them to do what is right; and send rain on your land which you have given your people as an inheritance.

28Should there be famine in the land or epidemic or the crops are destroyed by scorching winds or swarms of locusts, should this people’s enemies lay siege to one of their cities, if there is any plague or sickness, 29if any person, or all Israel your people, should, out of heartfelt sorrow, pray, stretching out his hands toward this house, 30hear from heaven where your home is. Forgive, and deal with each as his conduct deserves, for you know each heart—you alone know the hearts of all humankind—31that they may come to you and follow your ways as long as they live in the land you gave to our ancestors.

32And the foreigner too, not belonging to your people Israel, if he comes from a distant country for the sake of your Name and of your mighty hand and outstretched arm, if he comes and prays in this house, 33hear from heaven where your home is, and grant all the foreigner asks, so that all the peoples of the earth may come to know your Name and, like your people Israel, revere you, and know that your Name dwells in this house I have built.

34If your people go out to war against their enemies whatever way you send them, and if they turn toward the city you have chosen and toward the house I have built for your Name and pray to you, 35hear from heaven their prayer and give them victory.

36If they sin against you—for there is no one who does not sin—and you are angry with them and deliver them to the enemy, and they are led away captive to a land far or near, 37if in the land of their exile they come to themselves and repent, and in the country of their captivity they pray to you saying, ‘We have sinned, we confess how sinful and wicked we have been,’ 38and if they turn again to you with all their heart and soul in the country of their captivity to which they have been deported, and pray, turning toward the land you gave their ancestors, toward the city you have chosen, and toward the house I have built for your name, 39hear from heaven where your home is. Hear their prayer, be merciful to them, and forgive your people the sins they have committed against you.

40Now, O my God, may your eyes be open and your ears attentive to the prayer offered in this place. 41And now rise Yahweh God, come to your resting place, you and the Ark of your power. Let your priests, Yahweh God, be blessed in all they do, and your faithful people rejoice in prosperity.

42Yahweh God, do not reject the face of your anointed king and remember David your servant.”

Dedication of Yahweh’s house

7

1When Solomon had finished his prayer, fire came down from heaven and burned up the sacrifices that had been offered; and the Glory of Yahweh filled the Temple. 2The priests could not enter the temple of Yahweh’s House because the glory of Yahweh filled his house. 3All the people of Israel, seeing the fire come down and the Glory of God resting on the house, bowed down on the pavement with their faces to the earth; they worshiped and gave praise to Yahweh, “for he is good, for his love is everlasting.” 4Then the king and all the people offered sacrifice before Yahweh. 5King Solomon offered twenty-two thousand oxen and a hundred and twenty thousand sheep in sacrifice; and so the king and all the people dedicated Yahweh’s House. 6The priests stood in their places, and also the Levites who gave praise to Yahweh on the instruments that David had made to accompany the canticles of Yahweh, “for his love is everlasting.” They played and sang the hymns of praise that David had composed. By their side were the priests sounding the trumpet, while all Israel stood.

7Solomon consecrated the inside part of the court that is in front of Yahweh’s House; he offered the burnt offering there and the fatty parts of the peace offerings since the bronze altar Solomon had made could not hold the burnt offering, the grain offering and the fatty part. 8Solomon then celebrated the feast for seven days. Enormous crowds of Israelites gathered together with him from the Pass of Hamath to the border of Egypt. 9On the eighth day they held a closing celebration, for they had been seven days celebrating the dedication of the altar. 10On the twenty-third day of the seventh month Solomon dismissed the people who returned to their homes, rejoicing and with happy hearts for the goodness Yahweh had shown to David, to Solomon and to his people Israel.

11Solomon finished Yahweh’s House and the royal palace and successfully concluded all he had set himself to do in both of them. 12Then Yahweh appeared to Solomon in the night and said, “I have heard your prayer. I choose this house to be the place where sacrifices are to be offered to me. 13When I close the skies and there is no rain, when I command the locust to devour the land, when I send an epidemic among my people, 14and my people who bear my name humble themselves, and pray and look for me, and turn from their wicked ways then I myself will hear from heaven and forgive their sins and restore their land. 15From now on, my eyes are open and my ears attentive to the prayer that is offered in this place. 16From now on, I have chosen and consecrated this house as the place where my name will be forever; my eyes and my heart will be there forever.

17For your part, if you serve me faithfully as David your father did, if you do all that I order you and keep my statutes and my ordinances, 18I will make your royal throne secure, according to the promise I made to David your father when I said: Israel will always be ruled by one of your descendants. 19But if you turn away from me and forsake the commandments and statutes I have set before you, and go and serve other gods and worship them, 20then I will cast the Israelites out from the land I have given them, and I will reject this house that I have consecrated as the place where my Name would be, so that it may be an example for all the nations. 21All those who pass by this place which is now so exalted, will be astounded; they will whistle and say, ‘Why has Yahweh treated this country and this Temple like this?’ 22And the answer will be, ‘Because they abandoned Yahweh, the God of their ancestors, who brought them out of the land of Egypt, and they adopted other gods, which they worshiped and served; that is why he has brought all these disasters on them.’”

Solomon’s works

8

1Solomon spent twenty years in building Yahweh’s House and his own palace. 2Then he rebuilt the towns that Huram had given him and settled Israelites in them. 3He went against Hamath of Zobah and conquered it: 4he built Tadmor in the wilderness and all the storing towns which he built in Hamath. 5He rebuilt Upper beth-horon and Lower Beth-horon, fortified towns with walls and gates and bars, 6also Baalath and all the storing towns owned by Solomon, all the towns for his chariots and horses, and all it pleased Solomon to build in Jerusalem, in Lebanon and in all the countries subject to him. 7Solomon employed for forced labor all those who remained of the Hittite, Amorite, Perizzite, Hivite and Jebusite peoples, that is the non-Israelites 8whose descendants were left in the country and had not been killed by the Israelites. Their descendants continue to be slaves down to the present time. 9Upon the Israelites, however, Solomon did not impose slave labor; these served as fighting men; they were officers of his chariots and commanders of horsemen.

10Solomon appointed two hundred and fifty overseers to make all these people work.

11Solomon brought Pharaoh’s daughter from the city of David up to the house he had built for her. For he said, “I can’t let a woman live in the palace of David king of Israel; these are holy places where the Ark of Yahweh has been.”

12Solomon then offered burnt offerings to Yahweh on Yahweh’s altar which he had built in front of the porch. 13Observing the daily rule for burnt offerings according to the requirements of Moses for sabbaths, New Moon and the three annual feasts: the feast of Unleavened Bread, the feast of Weeks and the feast of Tabernacles. 14He established the priestly orders in their duties according to the regulations of his father David. He also enforced the rules affecting the Levites who offered praise and served with the priests according to the daily ritual, and the different orders of gatekeepers at each gate, for such had been the commandments of David, the man of God. 15They did not change anything of the royal ordinances applying to the priests and the Levites, not even in the matter of treasurership. 16In this way all of Solomon’s work was completed from the day when the foundations of Yahweh’s House were laid, until the end—and so… Yahweh’s House was finished.

17Then Solomon went as far as Eziongeber and Elath on the shores of the sea, in the land of Edom. 18Huram sent him ships manned by his own men, who were experienced sailors. These men went with Solomon’s men to Ophir and from there they brought back almost sixteen tons of gold, which they delivered to king Solomon.

The Queen of Sheba

9

1The fame of Solomon having reached the queen of Sheba, she came to Jerusalem to test him with difficult questions. She came with immense riches, camels loaded with spices, great quantities of gold and precious stones. On coming to Solomon, she asked him all the questions that she had in mind, 2and Solomon had an answer for all her questions, not one was too difficult for him to explain. 3When the queen of Sheba saw the wisdom of Solomon, the palace he had built, 4the food at his table, the accommodations for his officials, the organization of his staff and the way they were dressed, his cupbearers and the burnt offerings he offered in the Temple of Yahweh, it left her breathless; 5and she said to the king, “What I heard in my own country about you and your wisdom was true, then! 6I could not believe what they told me was not even half of your wisdom for the reality surpasses what I heard. 7How happy your wives are! How happy these servants of yours who wait on you always and hear your wisdom! 8Blessed be Yahweh your God who loves you and made you king to rule in his name. Because your God loves Israel and wants to preserve them forever, he has made you their king to administer law and justice.”

9And the queen of Sheba gave king Solomon almost five tons of gold and great quantities of spices and precious stones. There never were spices like those the queen of Sheba gave to king Solomon. 10Similarly the servants of Huram and the servants of Solomon, who carried gold from Ophir, brought algummim wood and precious stones. 11Of the algummim wood the king made floorboards for Yahweh’s House and for the royal palace, and lyres and harps for the musicians; nothing like them had ever been seen before in the land of Judah. 12And king Solomon, in his turn, gave the queen of Sheba everything she expressed any wish for, besides returning what she had brought to the king. Then she went home, she and her servants, to her own country.

13The weight of gold coming to Solomon in one year was over twenty-five tons, 14not counting the taxes paid by the traders and merchants; all the kings of Arabia and the governors of the country also brought gold and silver to Solomon. 15King Solomon made two hundred great shields of beaten gold, and plated each shield with about fifteen pounds of gold, 16and also three hundred small shields of beaten gold, and plated each of these with about eight pounds of gold; and he put them in the Hall of the Forest of Lebanon. 17The king also made a great ivory throne and plated it with purest gold. 18The throne had six steps, with a platform behind and arms at either side of the seat; two lions stood beside the arms, 19and twelve lions stood on either side of the six steps. No throne like this was ever made in any other kingdom.

20All king Solomon’s drinking vessels were of gold, and all the furnishings in the Hall of the Forest of Lebanon were of pure gold; silver was not considered valuable in the time of Solomon. 21And the king also had ships that went to Tarshish with Huram’s men, and once every three years the ships of Tarshish would come back bringing gold and silver, ivory, apes and baboons. 22King Solomon was richer and wiser than any other king in the world. 23All the kings of the earth consulted Solomon to hear the wisdom God had given him, 24and each would bring his own present: gold vessels, silver vessels, robes, armor, spices, horses and mules; and this went on year after year.

25Solomon had four thousand stalls for his horses and chariots, and twelve thousand horses; these were stationed in the chariot towns and near the king in Jerusalem. 26Solomon extended his power over all the kingdoms from the river to the land of the Philistines and the Egyptian border. 27In Jerusalem the king made silver as common as stone, and cedars as plentiful as the sycamores of the Lowlands. 28Horses were imported for Solomon from Cilicia and all the other countries too.

29The rest of the history of Solomon, from first to last, is recorded in the History of Nathan the prophet, in the Prophecy of Ahijah of Shiloh, and in the Vision of Iddo, the seer concerning Jeroboam son of Nebat. 30Solomon reigned in Jerusalem over all Israel for forty years. 31Then Solomon rested with his fathers and was buried in the city of David his father; his son Rehoboam succeeded him.

The division of the kingdom

10

1Rehoboam went to Shechem where all the people of northern Israel had gone to proclaim him king. 2As soon as Jeroboam son of Nebat heard the news—he was still in Egypt where he had gone to escape from king Solomon—he returned from Egypt. 3The people of the northern tribes sent for him, and he came with the whole assembly.

And they said this to Rehoboam, 4“Your father placed heavy burdens on us. If you make these burdens lighter for us, we will serve you.” 5He said, “Come back to me in three days.” And the people went away.

6King Rehoboam consulted the older men who had served as advisers to his father Solomon and asked them, “What reply do you advise me to give to this people?” 7They said, “If you are kind to these people and listen to them and treat them fairly, then they will serve you forever.” 8But he rejected the advice given him by the elders and consulted the young advisers who had grown up with him. 9He asked, “How do you advise us to answer these people who have said to me, ‘Lighten the burden your father put on us’?” 10The young advisers who had grown up with him replied, “Give this answer to these people who have said, ‘Your father gave us a heavy burden to bear, you must lighten it for us.’ Say this to them, ‘My little finger is thicker than my father’s waist! 11My father made you bear a heavy burden, but I will make it heavier still! My father beat you with whips; I am going to beat you with bullwhips!’ ”

12Jeroboam with all the people came to Rehoboam on the third day according to what the king had said, “Come back to me on the third day.” 13King Rehoboam, rejecting the advice of the elders, gave them a harsh answer 14and spoke to them as the young advisers had recommended, “My father made you bear a heavy burden, but I will make it heavier still. My father beat you with whips; I am going to beat you with bullwhips!” 15The king in fact paid no attention to the people’s wishes, and this was brought about by God to carry out what Yahweh had spoken through Ahijah of Shiloh to Jeroboam son of Nebat. 16When all Israel saw that the king paid no attention to their wishes, they gave him this answer: “Down with David and his descendants! What have they ever done for us? To your tents, men of Israel; let’s go home. From now on let David look out for himself!”

17So the people of Israel rebelled and Rehoboam was left with those people of Israel who lived in the towns of Judah. 18King Rehoboam sent Adoram who was in charge of forced labor, but the Israelites stoned him to death; 19whereupon king Rehoboam was obliged to mount his chariot and escape to Jerusalem. And the people of Israel have been in rebellion against the family of David until the present day.

11

1Rehoboam went to Jerusalem and called together the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, a hundred and eighty thousand selected warriors, to fight the northern tribes of Israel and win back the kingdom of Rehoboam. 2But the word of Yahweh came to the prophet Shemaiah, 3“Say this to Rehoboam son of Solomon, king of Judah, and to all the Israelites in Judah and Benjamin, ‘Yahweh says this: 4Do not attack your fellow Israelites; let everyone go home, for what has happened is my doing.’” 5They obeyed Yahweh’s command and went back, instead of fighting against Jeroboam.

Rehoboam

Rehoboam lived in Jerusalem and built fortified towns in Judah. 6He rebuilt Bethlehem, Etam, Tekoa, 7Bethzur, Soco, Adullam, 8Gath, Mareshah, Ziph, 9Adoraim, Lachish, Azekah, 10Zorah, Aijalon, Hebron; these were fortified towns in Judah and Benjamin. 11He fortified them with walls and put commanders in them with stores of food, oil and wine. 12In each of these towns were shields and spears. He made them very strong to keep Judah and Benjamin under control.

13From all the territory of Israel, priests and Levites came south to Judah. 14The Levites, indeed, abandoned their pasture lands and their holdings, and came to Judah and Jerusalem, since Jeroboam and his sons did not recognize them as the only priests of Yahweh 15and had appointed priests of his own to serve at the high places to worship the goats and the bullcalves he had made. 16Members of all the tribes of Israel, people who sincerely wanted to worship Yahweh the God of Israel, followed them and came to Jerusalem to sacrifice to Yahweh, the God of their ancestors. 17These Israelites added strength to the kingdom of Judah, and gave their support to Rehoboam son of Solomon for three years, because during three years he followed the example of David and Solomon.

18Rehoboam took as wife Mahalath the daughter of Jerimoth, son of David and of Abihail, daughter of Eliab, son of Jesse. 19She bore him sons: Jeush, Shemariah and Zaham. 20After her, he married Maacah daughter of Absalom, who bore him Abijah, Attai, Ziza and Shelomith. 21Rehoboam loved Maacah, daughter of Absalom, more than all his other wives and concubines. He had in fact a total of eighteen wives and sixty concubines, twenty-eight sons and sixty daughters. 22Rehoboam favored Abijah, Maacah’s son over all his other children, choosing him as the one to succeed him as king. 23Rehoboam ruled prudently by scattering his sons throughout Judah and Benjamin in the fortified towns, where he provided them with generous provisions and many wives.

12

1As soon as Rehoboam had established his authority as king and had become powerful, he and all his people abandoned the Law of Yahweh. 2In the fifth year of Rehoboam, Shishak the king of Egypt attacked Jerusalem, since it had been unfaithful to Yahweh. 3With twelve hundred chariots and sixty thousand horses and countless army of Libyans, Sukkiim and Ethiopians who came from Egypt with him, 4he captured the fortified towns of Judah and reached Jerusalem. 5Rehoboam and the Judaean captains, at the advance of Shishak, had gathered near Jerusalem; to them came Shemaiah the prophet and he said, “Yahweh says this: as you have abandoned me, now I have abandoned you into the hands of Shishak. 6Then the Israelite captains and the king humbled themselves and said, “Yahweh is just!” 7When Yahweh saw that they had humbled themselves, the word of Yahweh came to Shemaiah. “They have humbled themselves; because of this I will not destroy them. In a little while I will grant them deliverance; my anger shall not fall on Jerusalem through the power of Shishak. 8Nevertheless they shall become his slaves, so that they may come to understand the difference between serving me and serving the kings of foreign countries.”

9Shishak the king of Egypt attacked Jerusalem and took all the treasures from the Temple of Yahweh and from the royal palace. He took everything, including the golden shields that Solomon had made; 10in place of them king Rehoboam had bronze shields made, entrusting them to the care of the officers of the guard who guarded the king’s palace gate. 11Whenever the king went to the Temple of Yahweh, the guards would come out carrying them, and return them to the guardroom afterward. 12Since he had submitted to Yahweh, the anger of Yahweh did not completely destroy him. There was still something good in Judah.

13King Rehoboam was able to strengthen his position in Jerusalem and to govern. Now Rehoboam was forty-one years old when he became king and he reigned for seventeen years in Jerusalem, the city chosen by Yahweh out of all the tribes of Israel, as the place where his Name would be. Rehoboam’s mother was Naamah, the Ammonitess. 14He did evil, because he had not set his heart on seeking Yahweh.

15The history of Rehoboam, from first to last, is all recorded in the Annals of Shemaiah the prophet and of Iddo the seer. There was constant warfare between Rehoboam and Jeroboam. 16Then Rehoboam rested with his fathers and was buried in the city of David; his son Abijah succeeded him.

Abijah

13

1In the eighteenth year of king Jeroboam, Abijah became king of Judah 2and reigned for three years in Jerusalem. His mother was Micaiah, daughter of Uriel, from Gibeah. Abijah and Jeroboam were at war. 3Abijah went into battle with an army of brave fighters, four hundred thousand picked men, while Jeroboam drew up his battle line against him with eight hundred thousand picked men, brave soldiers.

4Abijah went up Mount Zemaraim, in the hill country of Ephraim, and cried, “Jeroboam and all Israel, listen to me! 5Do you know that Yahweh the God of Israel has given the kingship of Israel to David forever? It is an unbreakable Covenant for him and for his sons. 6Yet Jeroboam son of Nebat, a servant of Solomon son of David, has rebelled against his king; 7worthless men, scoundrels, have rallied to him and opposed Rehoboam, the son of Solomon. Rehoboam, then a young man and timid, was unable to resist them. 8Now you propose to subdue the Kingdom of Yahweh that he gave to David’s descendants. You stand here with a huge army, but you are bringing the golden calves that Jeroboam made you for gods! 9Have you not driven out the priests of Yahweh, the sons of Aaron and the Levites, to make priests of your own like the peoples of foreign countries? Anyone who comes with a bull and seven rams can ask to be consecrated and become priest of what is no god at all! 10As for us, our God is Yahweh, and we have not abandoned him: the sons of Aaron minister to Yahweh, and the Levites as well. 11Every morning, every evening, we burn burnt offerings to Yahweh our God, we have the incense of sweet spices, the loaves set out in rows on the pure table, the golden lampstand with its lamps that burn each evening; for we observe the ritual of Yahweh our God, that you have abandoned. 12See how God is with us, at our head; see his priests with the trumpets, which they will sound against you. People of Israel, do not fight against Yahweh, the God of our ancestors, for you will not succeed.”

13Jeroboam outflanked the Judaeans by setting an ambush behind them; the Judaeans were facing the Israelites with the ambush at their rear. 14The Judaeans, turning about, found themselves attacked from the front and the rear. They called on Yahweh and while the priests sounded the trumpets, 15the men of Judah raised the war cry. And as they raised the war cry, God scattered Jeroboam and all Israel before Abijah and the people of Judah. 16The Israelites fled before Judah and God delivered them into the power of the Judaeans. 17Abijah and his army inflicted a crushing defeat on them: five hundred thousand of Israel’s chosen men were killed. 18And so the people of Israel were humbled and the people of Judah were victorious because they relied on Yahweh, the God of their ancestors.

19Abijah pursued Jeroboam’s army and captured towns from him: Bethel with its outlying villages, Jeshanah with its outlying villages and Ephron with its outlying villages. 20So in the lifetime of Abijah, Jeroboam could no longer maintain his power. Yahweh struck him down, and he died. 21But Abijah grew in strength; he took fourteen wives and had twenty-two sons and sixteen daughters. 22The rest of the acts of Abijah, his behavior and his deeds, are written in the story of the prophet Iddo. 23Then Abijah rested with his fathers and they buried him in the city of David; his son Asa succeeded him.

In his time the country was at peace for ten years.

Asa

14

1Asa did what is good and right in the eyes of Yahweh. 2He removed the pagan altars and the high places, smashed the sacred pillars, and cut down the Asherah poles. 3He commanded the people of Judah to do the will of Yahweh, the God of their ancestors, and to observe the Law and its commands. 4He removed the high places and the altars of incense in every town of Judah. The kingdom was at peace under his rule. 5He rebuilt the fortified towns of Judah, since the country was at peace, and there was no war during those years, for Yahweh granted him peace.

6He told the people of Judah, “Let us rebuild these towns and surround them with walls and towers, with gates and bars while we have control of this land, since we have done the will of Yahweh our God; and he has protected us and given us peace on every side.”

They built and prospered. 7Asa had an army of three hundred thousand Judaeans armed with buckler and spear, and two hundred eighty thousand Benjaminites bearing shield and wielding the bow, all of them brave, well-trained men.

8Zerah the Cushite, with an army of one million strong men and three hundred chariots, made an incursion which reached to Mareshah. 9Asa marched against him and drew up his battle line in the Valley of Zephathah, at Mareshah. 10He called on Yahweh, his God, “Yahweh, no one but you can stand up for the powerless against the powerful. Come to our help, Yahweh our God! We rely on you, and fight against this huge army in your name. Yahweh, you are our God. Let no one defeat you.”

11Yahweh defeated the Cushites when Asa and the Judaean army attacked them. The Cushites fled, 12and Asa pursued them with his army as far as Gerar. The Cushites fell even to the last for they had been overpowered by Yahweh and his camp. They collected great amounts of loot. 13They conquered all the towns in the area of Gerar, for the terror of Yahweh had fallen on these towns and they plundered them all since they were full of loot. 14They also attacked the camps of some shepherds and carried off great numbers of sheep and camels; then they returned to Jerusalem.

15

1The spirit of God came on Azariah, son of Obed; 2he went out to meet Asa and said, “Listen to me, Asa, and all you of Judah and of Benjamin. Yahweh is with you so long as you are with him. When you look for him, he lets you find him; when you turn away, he will abandon you. 3For a long time Israel will be without the true God, and without priest to teach the Law, 4but when trouble comes, they will turn to Yahweh, the God of Israel. They will look for him and find him. 5When that time comes, there will be no peace for anyone, for many troubles will come upon all the inhabitants of the earth. 6One nation will oppress another nation, and one city another city, because God will bring trouble and distress on them. 7But for your part, take courage, and be strong, for your deeds will be rewarded.”

8When Asa heard these words and this prophecy, he was encouraged to do away with all the idols throughout the land of Judah and Benjamin, and in the towns he had captured in the highlands of Ephraim; he then repaired the altar of Yahweh that stood in front of the Hall of Yahweh. 9He gathered all Judah and Benjamin together, and also the Ephraimites, Manassites and Simeonites who had settled with them, since great numbers of Israelites had gone over to Asa’s side when they saw that Yahweh was with him. 10In the third month of the fifteenth year of Asa they assembled in Jerusalem; 11and they sacrificed to Yahweh that day seven hundred oxen and seven thousand sheep out of the spoil they had brought back. 12They made a Covenant in which they agreed to seek Yahweh, the God of their ancestors, with all their heart and soul; 13anyone who would not seek Yahweh the God of Israel was to be put to death, young or old, man or woman. 14They pledged their oath to Yahweh aloud with shouts to the sound of trumpet and horn; 15all Judah rejoiced at the oath they had wholeheartedly taken. They sought Yahweh so earnestly that he let them find him, and granted them peace on every side.

16King Asa took from his mother Maacah her title of queen mother, because she had made a hideous idol for Asherah. Asa cut down the idol, and burned it at the Wadi Kidron. 17Though the high places were not abolished in Israel, the heart of Asa was blameless all his life. 18He deposited the offerings dedicated by his father and his own offerings too, in the House of God, silver and gold and furnishings. 19Up to the thirty-fifth year of Asa’s reign there was no war.

16

1In the thirty-sixth year of Asa’s reign, Baasha king of Israel invaded Judah and fortified Ramah to blockade Asa king of Judah. 2Asa then took the silver and gold from the treasuries of Yahweh’s House and the royal palace, and sent it with the following message to Ben-hadad king of Aram who lived in Damascus, 3“Let there be a Covenant between myself and you, as between my father and your father! With this I send you silver and gold. Come, break off your alliance with Baasah king of Israel, so that he goes away from me. 4Ben-hadad agreed, and sent his generals against the towns of Israel; he conquered Ijon, Dan, Abelmaim and all the garrison towns of Naphtali. 5When Baasha heard this he stopped fortifying Ramah, abandoning this work. 6King Asa then brought all the people of Judah, who took away the stones and timber with which Baasah had been fortifying Ramah, and the king used them to fortify Geba and Mizpah.

7It was then that Hanani, the prophet, came to Asa king of Judah and said, “Since you have relied on the king of Aram and not on Yahweh your God, the army of the king of Aram will escape from you. 8Did not the Cushites and Libyans form a vast army with great numbers of chariots and horses? And were they not delivered into your power because you relied on Yahweh? 9Yahweh keeps close watch over the whole world to give strength to those who are devoted to him wholeheartedly. You have acted foolishly in this matter, for from now on you will have wars.”

10Asa was very angry with the prophet and had him put in chains in prison, for he was angry because of these words. At the same time Asa treated some others harshly too.

11The history of Asa, from first to last, is recorded in the Book of the Kings of Judah and Israel. 12A disease attacked Asa from head to foot in the thirty-ninth year of his reign; and, what is more, he turned in his sickness, not to Yahweh, but to doctors. 13Then Asa rested with his fathers in the forty-first year of his reign. 14They buried him in the tomb he had ordered to be dug for himself in the city of David. They laid him on a couch entirely covered with spices and varied ointments, products of the perfumer’s skill, and lit a huge fire for him.

Jehoshaphat

17

1His son Jehoshaphat succeeded him and strengthened his position against Israel. 2He put troops in all the fortified towns in Judah, and appointed governors in the land of Judah and in all the towns of Ephraim captured by his father Asa.

3Yahweh blessed Jehoshaphat because he followed the example of David his father and did not worship Baal; 4he served the God of his father, following his commandments and not following the example of Israel. 5So Yahweh made the kingship secure in his hands; all the people of Judah brought gifts to Jehoshaphat, and ample riches and honor were his. 6He took pride in serving Yahweh and destroyed all the high places and Asherah’s trunks in Judah.

7In the third year of his reign he sent his officers: Benhail, Obadiah, Zechariah, Nethanel and Micaiah, to give instruction in the towns of Judah. 8With them went the Levites: Shemaiah, Nethaniah, Zebadiah, Asaherel, Shemiramoth, Jehonathan, Adonijah and Tobijah, the Levites, together with the priests, Elishama and Jehoram. 9They gave instruction in Judah, having with them the book of the Law of Yahweh, and went around all the towns of Judah instructing the people.

10The fear of Yahweh came upon all the kingdoms surrounding Judah, so that they did not war against Jehoshaphat. 11Some of the Philistines brought him gifts and silver in tribute; the Arabs themselves brought him, in small stock, seven thousand seven hundred rams and seven thousand seven hundred he-goats. 12Jehoshaphat became more and more powerful. Throughout Judah he built fortresses and towns with storage places.

13He had many workers in the towns of Judah and a garrison of outstanding officers in Jerusalem. 14This was their disposition by families: for Judah, commanders of thousands; Adnah, the commanding officer, with three hundred thousand outstanding officers under his command, 15Jehohanan with two hundred and eighty thousand; 16Amasiah son of Zichri, who had volunteered for Yahweh’s service, with two hundred thousand valiant warriors.

17From Benjamin: the valiant warrior Eliada with two hundred thousand, armed with bow and shield: 18under his command, Jehozabad with a hundred and eighty thousand equipped for war.

19These were the men who served the king, not counting those the king had put in the fortified towns throughout Judah.

Jehoshaphat and Ahab

18

1Jehoshaphat, then, enjoyed great wealth and honor and allied himself by marriage to Ahab. 2After some years he went to visit Ahab in Samaria. Ahab slaughtered for him and for his retinue great numbers of sheep and oxen; then urged him to attack Ramoth-gilead. 3And he asked Jehoshaphat, “Will you come with me to Ramoth-gilead?” Jehoshaphat answered the king of Israel, “I am with you, my men are yours, and we will fight together.”

4Jehoshaphat, however, said to the king of Israel, “First, please consult the word of Yahweh.” 5So the king of Israel called the prophets who were four hundred men, and asked them, “Should we march to attack Ramoth-gilead, or should I refrain?” They replied, “Go, because Yahweh will deliver it into your power.” 6But Jehoshaphat said, “Is there no other prophet of Yahweh here for us to consult?” 7The king of Israel answered, “There is one more man through whom we can consult Yahweh, but I hate him because he never tells me good things but only discouraging words. He is Micaiah son of Imlah.” Jehoshaphat said, “The king should not say such things.” 8Accordingly the king of Israel summoned one of his officials and said, “Bring Micaiah son of Imlah immediately.”

9The king of Israel and Jehoshaphat king of Judah were both sitting on their thrones in royal garments; they sat at the threshing-floor outside the gate of Samaria, with all the prophets raving in front of them. 10Zedekiah son of Chenaanah had made himself iron horns and said, “Yahweh says this: You will gore the Arameans till you make an end of them.” 11And all the prophets prophesied the same saying, “March to Ramoth-gilead, for you will succeed. Yahweh will deliver it into the power of the king.”

12In the meantime the messenger who had gone to summon Micaiah said to him, “All the prophets as one man are foretelling victory to the king. Try to speak like one of them and foretell success.” 13But Micaiah answered, “As Yahweh lives, what my God says, that will I utter!” 14When he came to the king, the king asked him, “Micaiah, should we go to attack Ramoth-gilead, or should I refrain?” He answered, “Go and you will succeed. They will be delivered into your power.” 15But the king said, “How often must I beg you to tell me nothing but the truth in the name of Yahweh?” 16Then Micaiah said, “I have seen all Israel scattered on the mountains like sheep without a shepherd. And Yahweh said, ‘These have no master, let each one go home in peace.’”

17At this the king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, “Did I not tell you that he never foretells me good things, but only what is discouraging?” 18Micaiah went on. “Listen to the word of Yahweh. I have seen Yahweh seated on his throne; all the array of heaven stood to his right and to his left. 19Yahweh said, ‘Who will trick Ahab king of Israel so that he goes and falls at Ramoth-gilead?’ At which some answered one way, and some another. 20Then a spirit stepped forward, approached Yahweh and said, ‘I will trick him.’ Yahweh asked, ‘How?’ 21He replied, ‘I will go and become a lying spirit in the mouths of all his prophets.’ Yahweh said, ‘You shall trick him and succeed. Go and do it.’ 22So Yahweh has put a lying spirit into the mouths of your prophets here because he himself wants you to meet with disaster!”

23Then Zedekiah, son of Chenaanah came up and slapped Micaiah’s face, and he asked, “When did the spirit of Yahweh leave me, to talk to you?” 24Micaiah replied, “This is what you will find out the day you flee from house to house to hide.” 25The king of Israel said, “Seize Micaiah and hand him over to Amon, governor of the city, and to Prince Joash, 26and say: This is the king’s order: Put this man in prison and feed him on nothing but bread and water until I come back safe and sound.” 27Micaiah said, “If you come back safe and sound, Yahweh has not spoken through me.”

28The king of Israel and Jehoshaphat king of Judah went to attack the city of Ramoth in Gilead. 29The king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, “I will disguise myself as we go into battle, but I want you to wear your royal clothes.” 30The king of Aram had given his chariot commanders the following order: “Do not attack anyone of whatever rank, except the king of Israel.” 31When the chariot commanders saw Jehoshaphat, they thought he was the king of Israel. And they wheeled to the attack. But Jehoshaphat gave a shout and Yahweh came to his help, God rescued him and turned the attack away from him. 32The chariot commanders realized that he was not the king of Israel and called off their pursuit.

33By chance, however, one of the soldiers shot an arrow which struck the king of Israel between the joints of his armor. The king said to his charioteer, “Turn around and get me out of the battle; I have been hurt.” 34But the battle grew fiercer so that they held the king upright in his chariot facing the Aramaeans until evening, and at sunset he died.

19

1Jehoshaphat came back safe and sound to Jerusalem. 2Jehu, son of Hanani the prophet, went to meet him and said to king Jehoshaphat, “Should a man give help to the wicked? Should you love those who hate Yahweh? Because of this you have brought his anger on you! 3There is some good in you, however, since you have removed from your land Asherah’s trunks and have set your heart on seeking God.”

4Jehoshaphat stayed for a time in Jerusalem. After that he would again visit his people regularly, from Beersheba to the highlands of Ephraim to bring them back to Yahweh, the God of their ancestors. 5He appointed judges in the country in every one of all the fortified towns of Judah. 6He said to these judges, “Give due thought to your duties, since you are not judging in people’s name but in the name of Yahweh, who is with you whenever you pronounce sentence. 7May the fear of Yahweh now be on you. Keep the Law, apply it, for Yahweh our God does not tolerate fraud or partiality or the taking of bribes.”

8In addition, Jehoshaphat appointed priests, Levites and heads of Israelite families in Jerusalem as judges in cases involving a violation of the Law or legal disputes between people living in the city. They lived in Jerusalem 9and Jehoshaphat gave them the following instructions, “You are to perform these duties in the fear of Yahweh, as upright and honest men. 10Whatever dispute comes before you from your brothers living in their towns: either about crimes or questions of the Law, you are to teach them the commandments, statutes or ordinances, so that they do not become guilty of sinning against Yahweh, lest his anger come on you and your brothers. Do this and you will not be guilty.

11Amariah, the chief priest, will have final authority over you in all religious matters, and Zebadiah son of Ishmael, governor of Judah, in all matters affecting the king. The Levites will serve as your scribes. Be courageous, carry out these instructions, and Yahweh will be there to bring success.”

20

1After this the Moabites and Ammonites with some of the Meunites started to make war on Jehoshaphat. 2Jehoshaphat received the following message, “A large army is advancing against you from Edom, from the other side of the sea; they are already at Hazaaon-tamar, that is, Engedi.” 3Jehoshaphat was frightened and prayed to Yahweh for guidance. Then he ordered that a fast be observed throughout the country. 4Judah assembled to seek help from Yahweh; they came seeking Yahweh’s guidance from every single town in Judah.

5Then Jehoshaphat stood before this assembly of the people of Judah and Jerusalem in Yahweh’s House, before the new court 6and said, “Yahweh, God of our ancestors, are you not the God who dwells in heaven? Do you not rule over all the kingdoms of the world? Such power and might are in your hands that no one can oppose you. 7Are you not our God, you who drove out the people who were living here before your people Israel and gave the land to the descendants of your friend Abraham forever? 8They have settled in it and built a Sanctuary in it for your name, 9saying, ‘Should disaster strike us, or war, punishment, epidemic, or famine, then we shall stand before this house and before you, for your Name rests on this house. From the depths of our distress we shall cry to you, and you will hear and save us.’

10Here now are the Ammonites and Moab and the folk of Seir. When Israel came out of the land of Egypt you would not let Israel invade them; instead, Israel turned away from them and did not destroy them, 11and this is how they reward us, by coming to drive us out of the possessions you have given us as our inheritance. 12Will you, our God, not punish them, since we are helpless in the face of this large army that attacks us? We ourselves do not know what to do; but we look to you.”

13All the men of Judah, even down to their youngest children and their wives, stood there at the House. 14In the middle of the assembly the spirit of Yahweh came on Jahaziel son of Zechariah, son of Benaiah, son of Jeiel, son of Mattaniah the Levite, one of the sons of Asaph. 15And he cried, “Listen all you people of Judah and you who live in Jerusalem, and you, king Jehoshaphat! Yahweh says this to you: You must not be discouraged or afraid to face this large army; this battle is not yours but God’s. 16March out against them tomorrow; they are coming up by the Slope of Ziz and you will come on them in the Valley of Soph, near the wilderness of Jeruel. 17You will not need to fight there, but only take up your position, stand firm, and see what salvation Yahweh has in store for you. Judah and Jerusalem, be fearless, be dauntless; go out to battle tomorrow and Yahweh will be with you.”

18Jehoshaphat bent his head, his face to the ground, and all Judah with those who lived in Jerusalem fell down before Yahweh, worshiping him. 19Then the Levites—Kohathites and Korahites—began praising Yahweh the God of Israel at the top of their voices.

20They rose early in the morning and left for the wilderness of Tekoa. As they were setting out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, “Listen to me Judah and all who live in Jerusalem! Put your trust in Yahweh your God and you will stand your ground; have faith in his prophets and you will be successful.” 21Then, having held a conference with the people, he ordered some musicians to put on the robes they wore on sacred occasions and to march at the head of the army, to sing praises to him: “Give praise to Yahweh, for his love is everlasting.” 22As they began to sing their joy and their praise, Yahweh threw the invading armies into a panic and completely destroyed them. The Moabites and the Ammonites struck the people of Seir and there was a disaster. 23For the Ammonites and Moabites turned on the mountain folk of Seir in savage fighting and after they had destroyed them, they began to kill one another.

24When the men of Judah reached the spot that looks out on the wilderness and turned to face the enemy, they found only dead bodies lying on the ground; no one had escaped. 25Jehoshaphat came with his troops to plunder them, and found quantities of cattle, goods, clothing and valuables; they collected more than they could take away; the loot was so plentiful that they were three days gathering it. 26On the fourth day they assembled in the Valley of Beracah; and there they did indeed praise Yahweh for all he had done. Because of this, this Valley was named the Valley of Beracah which it is still called. 27Then all the men of Judah and Benjamin, with Jehoshaphat at their head, went back joyfully to Jerusalem, for Yahweh had filled them with joy at the expense of their enemies. 28To the music of harp and lyre and trumpet they came to Jerusalem and to Yahweh’s House. 29When the kingdoms of foreign countries heard how Yahweh had defeated Israel’s enemies, they were all terrified. 30In the meantime, the kingdom of Jehoshaphat was calm, and God granted him peace on every side.

31Jehoshaphat reigned over Judah. He was thirty-five years old when he became king and he reigned for twenty-five years in Jerusalem. His mother was Azubah, daughter of Shilhi. 32He followed the example of his father Asa without wavering, doing what is right in the eyes of Yahweh. 33The high places however, were not destroyed; the people had still not turned their hearts to the God of their ancestors. 34The rest of the history of Jehoshaphat, from first to last, is recorded in the Annals of Jehu son of Hanani which have been transcribed into the Book of the Kings of Israel.

35After this, Jehoshaphat king of Judah allied himself with Ahaziah king of Israel, who led him into evil ways. 36He combined with him to build big ships that would sail to Tarshish. These were built at Eziongeber. 37Eliezer, son of Dodavahu of Mareshah, then made a prophecy against Jehoshaphat, “Because you have allied yourself with Ahaziah, Yahweh has destroyed your plans.” In fact the ships broke up and were never fit to sail to Tarshish.

Jehoram

21

1Jehoshaphat rested with his ancestors and was buried in the city of David. His son Jehoram succeeded him.

2Jehoram had six brothers, sons of Jehoshaphat: Azariah, Jehiel, Zechariah, Azariahu, Michael and Shepatiah; these were all the sons of Jehoshaphat king of Israel. 3Their father had made them many gifts of silver, gold and jewels, and of fortified towns in Judah, but he made Jehoram his successor since he was the firstborn. 4When Jehoram was in firm control of the kingdom, he had all his brothers killed, as well as some Israelite officials.

5Jehoram was thirty-two years old when he became king and he reigned for eight years in Jerusalem. 6He followed the wicked example of the kings of Israel and did as the family of Ahab had done, for he had married one of Ahab’s daughters; and he did what was evil in the eyes of Yahweh. 7Yahweh however did not intend to destroy the descendants of David, because of the Covenant he had made with David, when he promised to leave a lamp for him and his sons forever.

8In his time Edom revolted against Judah and set up a king for itself. 9Jehoram invaded Edom with his commanders and all his chariots. He rose during the night and broke through and escaped from the Edomites encircling him and his chariot commanders. 10Thus Edom became independent of Judah, and has remained free to the present day. Libnah also revolted against Jehoram at the same time for he had deserted Yahweh, the God of his ancestors. 11He also set up high places in the highlands of Judah and caused the people living in Jerusalem and Judah to sin against Yahweh.

12Then something written by the prophet Elijah came into his hand. It ran, “This is the word of Yahweh, the God of David your ancestor. You have not followed the example of your father Jehoshaphat or of Asa king of Judah, 13but the wicked example of the kings of Israel, and have caused Judah and the people living in Jerusalem to sin against Yahweh, just as Ahab and his successors did. You have also murdered your brothers, your own family, better men than yourself. 14Because of this Yahweh will strike you with a great calamity, which will come upon your people, your descendants, your wives and all your property. 15You yourself will suffer a painful intestinal disease that will grow worse day by day until it causes your bowels to come out.”

16Yahweh stirred up against Jehoram the Philistines and the Arabs bordering on the Cushites. 17They attacked Judah and invaded it, carrying off all they found in the king’s palace, including his sons and his wives; the only son left him was Ahaziah, the youngest of them. 18And after all this, Yahweh brought on him a painful disease of the intestines. 19It lasted for more than one year, and when the two years were over and his last hour had come, he died in great pain. The people did not light a bonfire in mourning for him as they had for his father.

20He was thirty-two years old when he became king and he reigned for eight years in Jerusalem. He passed away with no one to regret him, and they buried him in the city of David, though not in the tombs of the kings.

Ahaziah and his policy

22

1The people of Jerusalem proclaimed his youngest son, Ahaziah, king in place of him, since the armed band that had broken into the camp with the Arabs had killed all the elder sons. So Ahaziah son of Jehoram became king of Judah.

2Ahaziah was forty-two years old when he became king and he reigned for one year in Jerusalem. His mother was Athaliah, a granddaughter of Omri. 3He too followed the example of Ahab’s family, since his mother gave him wicked advice. 4He sinned against Yahweh as Ahab’s family had done, for they were his advisers after his father’s death, and they led him to his downfall. 5He followed their advice and joined Ahab’s son king Joram of Israel in a battle against king Hazael of Syria at Ramoth-gilead in which the Syrians defeated Joram. 6Joram returned to Jezreel to recover from the wounds he received from the Syrians in Ramah when he fought against king Hazael of Syria.

Ahaziah son of king Jehoram of Judah went down to visit Joram son of Ahab in Jezreel, because he had been wounded. 7Yahweh brought about Ahaziah’s downfall through his visit to Joram. When Ahaziah arrived, he went out with Joram to meet Jehu son of Nimshi, whom Yahweh had commissioned to wipe out Ahab’s family. 8While Jehu was busy carrying out God’s sentence against Ahab’s family, he came across the officials of Judah and the kinsmen of Ahaziah who were in the king’s service and killed them. 9He then went in search of Ahaziah who was captured while he tried to hide in Samaria. He was taken to Jehu who put him to death. But they gave him burial, for they said, “This was a son of Jehoshaphat who sought Yahweh with all his heart.”

Athaliah

10There was no one left in the royal family of Ahaziah strong enough to reign. As soon as Athaliah, the mother of Ahaziah, learned that her son was dead, she promptly gave orders for all the members of the royal family of Judah to be killed. 11But Jehosheba, daughter of king Joram, secretly rescued Joash, her brother’s son, from among the sons of the king who were being murdered, and put him with his nurse in the sleeping quarters; in this way Jehosheba the daughter of king Joram and wife of Jehoiada the priest (a sister, too, of Ahaziah) hid him from Athaliah, and prevented her from killing him. 12He stayed with them for six years, hidden in the House of God, while Athaliah governed the country.

23

1In the seventh year Jehoiada made a bold move. He made a pact with the officers of the units of hundreds: Azariah son of Jehoram, Ishmael son of Jehochanan, Azariah son of Obed, Maaseiah son of Adaiah, and Elishaphat son of Zichri. 2They went through Judah, gathering the Levites from all the towns of Judah, and the heads of the Israelite families. They came to Jerusalem, 3and this whole assembly made a pact with the king in the House of God. Jehoiada told them, “Here is the son of the king, let him rule as king as Yahweh has promised regarding the descendants of David! 4This is what you must do: one third of you, priests, Levites and keepers of the gate, must come in for the sabbath, 5one third must be at the royal palace, one third at the Gate of Foundation, and all the people will be in the court of Yahweh’s House. 6No one is to enter Yahweh’s House except the priests and the Levites on duty, since they are consecrated and may enter. The people must all obey Yahweh’s instructions and stay outside. 7The Levites must surround the king, each with his weapons in his hand; anyone who tries to enter the Temple is to be put to death. Stay with the king wherever he goes.”

8The Levites and all Judah carried out all the orders of Jehoiada the priest. Every commander summoned both those who went off duty on the Sabbath, and those coming on duty, because Jehoiada did not except anyone. 9Then Jehoiada the priest provided the commanders of hundreds with king David’s spears and large and small shields, which were in the House of God. 10He stationed the men from the west wing to the east wing, between the House and the altar, each with spear in hand, to protect the king. 11Then they brought out the king’s son, crowned him and put on him the ornaments, and they proclaimed him king. Jehoiada and his sons then anointed him and shouted, “Long live the king!”

12Athaliah, on hearing the shouts of the people who were rushing to the king and acclaiming him, went to Yahweh’s House where the people were. 13When she saw the king standing there at the entrance beside the pillar, with the captains and trumpeters at his side, and all the people from the countryside rejoicing and sounding trumpets, and the cantors with their musical instruments leading the hymns, Athaliah tore her clothes in distress and shouted, “Treason, treason!” 14Then Jehoiada the priest called out the military officers and ordered them, “Take her outside the Temple, and kill anyone who follows her.” And he also said, “You must not put her to death in Yahweh’s House.” 15They seized her, and when she had reached the palace at the entry to the Gate of the Horses, they put her to death there.

16Jehoiada made a Covenant between the king and all the people, by which they would be the people of Yahweh. 17All the people then went to the house of Baal and tore it down; they smashed his altars and his images and killed Mattan, priest of Baal, in front of the altars.

18Jehoiada posted sentries to guard Yahweh’s House under the authority of the levitical priests. David had appointed them in Yahweh’s House to offer the burnt offerings of Yahweh according to the Law of Moses, and to sing joyfully the songs of David. 19He stationed gatekeepers at the gates of the Temple of Yahweh so that no one who was in any way unclean might enter. 20Then taking the commanders of hundreds, the notables, the ranking officials, and all the people from the countryside, he brought the king in procession from the House to the palace. They entered the royal palace through the main gate and seated the king on the royal throne. 21All the people from the countryside were delighted, and the city was quiet. Athaliah was put to death.

Joash

24

1Joash was seven years old when he became king and he reigned for forty years in Jerusalem. His mother was Zibiah of Beersheba. 2Joash did what is pleasing to Yahweh throughout the lifetime of Jehoiada the priest. 3Jehoiada found him two wives and he had sons and daughters. 4After that Joash decided to repair Yahweh’s House.

5Calling the priests and the Levites together, he said, “Go out to the towns of Judah, and collect enough money from all the Israelites to make possible annual repairs on the House of God. Do this quickly.” But the Levites were in no hurry, 6so the king called Jehoiada for he was their head, and said, “Why have you not insisted on the Levites collecting from Judah and Jerusalem the tax which Moses, the servant of Yahweh, required the people to pay for the maintenance of the Tent of the Meeting? 7Athaliah and her sons, whom she perverted, damaged the House of God and even used many of the sacred objects in the worship of Baal.” 8So the king ordered them to make a chest and to place it outside the gate of Yahweh’s House. 9And they announced throughout Judah and Jerusalem that they had to bring to Yahweh the tax Moses, that servant of God, had required in the wilderness. 10All the officials and all the people came joyfully with their contribution, dropping it into the chest until all was paid.

11The chest was taken to the royal office of control by the Levites whenever they saw that there was a great amount of money in it. The king’s secretary then came with representatives of the chief priest to take the chest, empty it of money and later return it to its place. They did this every day, and collected a large sum of money. 12The king and Jehoiada gave the money to those who were in charge of repairing the House, and they hired men, masons and carpenters, who set about restoring Yahweh’s House; craftsmen in iron and bronze also worked on the repairing of it. 13The supervisors having once made a start, the repairs went ahead; they rebuilt the House of God as it was before, as solid as ever. 14When they had finished, they brought the balance of the money to the king and Jehoiada, and from this, furnishings were made for Yahweh’s House, vessels for the liturgy and for the burnt offerings, incense boats and objects of gold and silver.

So, for as long as Jehoiada lived they offered sacrifices regularly in Yahweh’s House. 15Then Jehoiada, growing old, had his fill of days and died. He died at the age of a hundred and thirty years, 16and they buried him with the kings in the city of David because he had served Israel well and also God and his house.

17After the death of Jehoiada, the officials of Judah came to pay court to the king, and the king now turned to them for advice. 18The Judaeans abandoned the House of Yahweh, the God of their ancestors, and worshipped the Asherah poles and idols. Because of this sinful activity, God was angry with Judah and Jerusalem. 19He sent them prophets to bring them back to Yahweh, but when the prophets spoke, they would not listen. 20The spirit of God took control of Zechariah, son of Jehoiada the priest. He stood up before the people and said, “God says this: Why are you disobeying the commandments of Yahweh? You cannot prosper. You have abandoned Yahweh and he will abandon you.” 21They then plotted against him and by order of the king stoned him in the court of Yahweh’s House. 22King Joash forgot the kindness of Jehoiada, the father of Zechariah, and killed Jehoiada’s son who cried out as he died, “Let Yahweh see and do justice!”

23When a year had gone by, the Aramaean army made war on Joash. They reached Judah and Jerusalem, and killed all the officials among the people, sending back to the king of Damascus all that they had plundered from them. 24Though the Aramaean army was small, Yahweh delivered into its power an army of great size for they had abandoned him, the God of their ancestors.

25The Aramaeans wounded Joash and when they withdrew they left him a very sick man; and his officers, plotting against him to avenge the death of the son of Jehoiada the priest, murdered him in his bed. So he died, and they buried him in the city of David, though not in the tombs of the king. 26These were the conspirators: Zabad son of Shimeath the Ammonite woman, and Jehozabad son of Shimrith the Moabitess. 27As regard his sons, the heavy tribute he demanded, and the restoration of the House of God, this is all recorded in the commentary on the Book of the Kings. His son Amaziah succeeded him.

Amaziah

25

1Amaziah was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned for twenty-nine years in Jerusalem. His mother was Jehoaddan from Jerusalem. 2He did what is pleasing to Yahweh, though not steadily. 3As soon as he was firmly in power, he killed those of his officers who had murdered the king his father. 4But he did not put their sons to death, in obedience to what is written in the Law, in the book of Moses, where Yahweh has ordered, “Fathers must not be put to death for sons, nor sons for fathers; but everyone will pay for his own crime.”

5Amaziah called the people of Judah together and organized them in families with commanders of thousands and of hundreds for all Judah and Benjamin. He counted those who were twenty years old or older, and found there were three hundred thousand of selected warriors fit for military service, and for handling spear and shield. 6Next, he enrolled one hundred thousand from Israel as mercenaries, for about four tons of silver. 7A man of God then came to him and said, “O king, don’t take these Israelite soldiers with you, for Yahweh is not with Israel or with any of the Ephraimites. 8If they come, whatever be the number of your men, God will still bring you down before your enemies, for God’s is the power to uphold or to throw down.” 9Amaziah answered the man of God, “And what about the four tons of silver I have given the Israelite soldiers?” The man of God replied, “Yahweh can give you far more than that.” 10At this, Amaziah dismissed from his army the troops that had come to him from Ephraim and sent them home; these men were furious with Judah and went home in great anger.

11Amaziah led his army to Salt Valley and defeated ten thousand men of Seir. 12The men of Judah took ten thousand captives alive and, taking them to the top of the cliff, threw them off the top; they were all dashed to pieces. 13Then the Israelite troops which Amaziah had dismissed and not allowed to fight with him raided the towns of Judah, from Samaria as far as Beth-horon, but they were defeated by a troop of three thousand men who recovered great quantities of plunder.

14On returning from his defeat of the Seirites, Amaziah brought the gods of the Edomites with him and set these up as gods for himself, bowing down before them and burning incense to them. 15Then Yahweh became angry with Amaziah and he sent him a prophet, who said, “Why have you looked to this people’s gods, who could not save their own people from your power?” 16He was still speaking when Amaziah interrupted him, “Have we appointed you a royal counselor? If you do not want to be hurt, be quiet!” The prophet paused; then he said, “Now I know that God has decided to destroy you, since after having acted like this, you refuse to listen to me.”

17After consulting his advisers, Amaziah king of Judah sent a message to Joash son of Jehoahaz, son of Jehu, king of Israel, challenging him to fight. 18Joash king of Israel sent back word to Amaziah king of Judah, “The thornbush of Lebanon sent a message to the cedar of Lebanon, saying, ‘Give my son your daughter in marriage’; but the wild animals of Lebanon trampled the thornbush down as they passed. You are very proud because you have defeated the Edomites—Boast on but stay at home. 19Why stir up trouble that will only bring disaster on you and your people?”

20But Amaziah would not listen. It was God’s will for him to be defeated, because he had worshiped the Edomite idols. 21And at Bethshemesh Judah, they made their trial of strength, Joash and Amaziah king of Judah. 22Judah was defeated by Israel, and everyone fled to his tent. 23The king of Judah, Amaziah son of Joash, son of Ahaziah, was taken prisoner at Bethshemesh by Joash, king of Israel who led him off to Jerusalem, where Joash tore down the city wall from the Gate of Ephraim to the Gate of the Corner, a distance of two hundred yards. 24He took all the gold and silver, all the furnishings to be found with Obed-edom in the House of God, the treasures of the royal palace, and hostages besides, and then returned to Samaria.

25Amaziah son of Joash, king of Judah, lived for fifteen years after the death of Joash son of Jehoahaz, king of Israel.

26The rest of the history of Amaziah, from first to last, is all recorded in the Book of the Kings of Judah and Israel. 27After the time when Amaziah rebelled against Yahweh, there had been a plot against him in Jerusalem; he fled to Lachish; but he was followed to Lachish and put to death there. 28He was brought back by horse, and buried with his ancestors in the city of David.

Uzziah

26

1All the people of Judah took Uzziah, who was sixteen years old, and, made him king in place of his father Amaziah. 2He rebuilt Elath and recovered it for Judah, after the death of Amaziah. 3Uzziah was sixteen years old when he became king and he reigned for fifty-two years in Jerusalem. His mother was Jecoliah, of Jerusalem. 4He did what is pleasing to Yahweh, just as his father Amaziah had done; 5he sought God in the lifetime of Zechariah, who taught him the fear of God. And for as long as he sought Yahweh, God gave him prosperity.

6He went out to fight the Philistines, tore down the walls of Gath, Jabneh and Ashdod, then rebuilt the towns in the area of Ashdod and in Philistine territory. 7God helped him defeat the Philistines, the Arabs, the inhabitants of Gurbaal and the Meunites. 8The Ammonites paid tribute to Uzziah. His fame spread as far as the border of Egypt, since he had become very powerful indeed.

9Uzziah built towers in Jerusalem, at the Gate of the Corner, at the Gate of the Valley and at the Angle; and he fortified these. 10He built towers in the wilderness too, and dug a great many cisterns, for he had large herds in the lowlands and on the tableland; and he had farmers and vinedressers in the hills and on the fertile lands; he was fond of agriculture.

11Uzziah had an army ready for battle. They set out for war by turns, according to the census carried out by the scribe Jeiel and the registrar Maaseiah. Their commander was Hananiah, one of the king’s officers. 12The total number of heads of families among these valiant warriors was two thousand six hundred. 13Under their command was a trained army of three hundred and seven thousand five hundred fighting men, a powerful force to support the king against the enemy. 14Uzziah provided them with shields, spears, helmets, coats of armor, bows and sling stones, for each battle. 15In Jerusalem he constructed engines, invented by experts, which were mounted on the towers and at the corners to fire arrows and great stones. His fame spread far and wide; for he was extraordinary in getting help until he was strong.

16But, as his power increased, he became so proud that he lost what he had gained. He defied Yahweh his God by going into the House to burn incense on the altar of incense. 17Azariah the priest followed king Uzziah in, with eighty brave priests of Yahweh, 18to resist him. They said to him, “Uzziah, it is not for you to burn incense to Yahweh, but for the priests, the sons of Aaron, consecrated for the purpose. Leave the Sanctuary; you have offended Yahweh God and you no longer have his blessing.” 19Uzziah, censer in hand for the burning incense, became angry with the priests and immediately, leprosy broke out on his forehead in the presence of the priests, in Yahweh’s House, there by the altar of incense. 20Azariah the chief priest and all the other priests turned toward him and saw the leprosy on his forehead. They quickly hurried him out, and he himself was anxious to go, since Yahweh had punished him.

21King Uzziah was a leper till his dying day. He lived in an isolated house, a leper, excluded from Yahweh’s House. Jotham, his son, was master of the palace, and ruled the people of the country.

22The rest of the history of Uzziah, from first to last, has been written by the prophet Isaiah son of Amoz. 23Then Uzziah rested with his ancestors and they buried him in the ground where the tomb of the kings is, for they said, “He is a leper.” His son Jotham succeeded him.

Jotham

27

1Jotham was twenty-five years old when he became king and he reigned for sixteen years in Jerusalem. His mother was Jerushah, daughter of Zadok. 2He did what is pleasing to Yahweh, just as his father Uzziah had done. But he did not enter the Sanctuary of Yahweh. As for the people, they went on sinning.

3He built the Upper Gate of Yahweh’s House and carried out considerable work on the wall of the Ophel. 4He built towns in the highlands of Judah, and fortified places and towers in the fertile lands.

5He fought against the king of the Ammonites. He defeated them, and that year the Ammonites gave him four tons of silver, fifty thousand bushels of wheat and ten thousand of barley. And they had to pay him the same for the second and third years. 6Jotham became powerful because he faithfully obeyed Yahweh his God.

7The rest of the deeds of Jotham, all his wars and his policy, are recorded in the Book of the Kings of Israel and Judah. 8He was twenty-five years old when he became king and he reigned for sixteen years in Jerusalem. 9Then Jotham rested with his ancestors and they buried him in the city of David; his son Ahaz succeeded him.

Ahaz

28

1Ahaz was twenty years old when he became king, and he reigned for sixteen years in Jerusalem. He did not do what is pleasing to Yahweh, as his ancestor David had done. 2He followed the example of the kings of Israel, and even had Baal’s idols made of metal. 3He offered incense in the Valley of Ben-Hinnom and even sacrificed his own sons as burnt offerings to disgusting idols, copying the shameful practice of the people whom Yahweh had driven out of the land he would give to the Israelites. 4He offered sacrifices and incense at the high places, on the hills and under every spreading tree.

5Yahweh his God let the king of the Aramaeans defeat him and take great numbers of his people captive, carrying them off to Damascus. He was also delivered into the power of the king of Israel, who defeated him. 6In a single day, Pekah son of Remaliah killed a hundred and twenty thousand in Judah, all brave fighting men; this was because they had abandoned Yahweh, the God of their ancestors. 7Zichri, an Ephraimite champion, killed Maaseiah, son of the king, Azrikam the controller of the palace, and Elkanah the king’s second-in-command. 8The Israelites took two hundred thousand of their Judaean brothers captive, with wives, sons, and daughters; they also took quantities of loot, carrying everything off to Samaria.

9A prophet of Yahweh, named Oded, was there and he went out to meet the troops returning to Samaria and said, “Yahweh, the God of your ancestors, was angry with Judah and so he delivered them into your power, but you have slaughtered with such fury as reaches to heaven. 10And you intended to make the men and women of Jerusalem and Judah your slaves. But you yourselves are also guilty before Yahweh your God. 11Now listen to me: release the prisoners you have taken of your brothers, or Yahweh will punish you in his anger.”

12Some of the Ephraimite chieftains then stood up in opposition to those who returned from the war: Azariah son of Jehohanan, Berechiah son of Meshillemoth, Jehizkiah son of Shallum and Amasa son of Hadlai. 13They said, “You must not bring the captives in here for we are guilty enough before Yahweh. Will you add to our sins and to our guilt? But our guilt is already heavy and the fierce anger of Yahweh is hanging over Israel.” 14So in the presence of the officials and of the whole assembly, the army gave up the captives and the loot. 15Four men were appointed to provide the prisoners with clothing. From the loot they clothed all those who were naked; they gave them clothing and sandals, provided them with food and drink, and washed them. Those who were too weak to walk they put on donkeys and took them back to their kinsmen at Jericho, the city of palm trees. Then they returned to Samaria.

16It was then that king Ahaz sent asking the kings of Assyria to come to his assistance, 17for the Edomites once again invaded and defeated Judah, and carried off prisoners. 18The Philistines were raiding the towns in the lowlands and in the Negeb of Judah. They took Bethshemesh, Aijalon, Gederoth, and Soco with its outlying villages, Timnah with its outlying villages, Gimzo with its outlying villages, and they settled in them.

19Yahweh humbled Judah on account of Ahaz, king of Israel, who let Judah go its own way and was not faithful to Yahweh.

20Tiglath-pileser king of Assyria attacked and besieged him but could not defeat him. 21Ahaz however had to take part of the goods in Yahweh’s House and in the palaces of the king and princes, to hand over to the king of Assyria, yet he received no help from him. 22During the time Jerusalem was under siege, king Ahaz sinned against Yahweh more than ever, 23by offering sacrifices to the gods of Damascus who had defeated him. He said, “Since the gods of the kings of Aram have been of help to them, I will sacrifice to them so that they may be of help to me.” But they proved to be his downfall and that of Israel.

24Ahaz then took implements of the House and broke them in pieces; he closed the doors of Yahweh’s House and put up altars at every street corner in Jerusalem; 25he set up high places in every town of Judah to offer incense to other gods, and so brought on himself the anger of Yahweh, the God of his ancestors.

26The rest of his history, his whole policy, from first to last, is recorded in the Book of the Kings of Judah and Israel. 27Then Ahaz rested with his ancestors and they buried him in the city, in Jerusalem, though he was not taken into the tombs of the kings of Israel. His son Hezekiah succeeded him.

Hezekiah

29

1Hezekiah became king when he was twenty-five years old and reigned for twenty-nine years in Jerusalem. His mother was Abijah, daugther Zechariah. 2He did what is pleasing to Yahweh, just as his ancestor David had done.

3In the first month of the first year of his reign, he reopened the gates of Yahweh’s House and repaired them. 4Then he brought the priests and the Levites, assembled them in the eastern square, 5and said to them:

“Listen to me, Levites! Sanctify yourselves now and consecrate the House of Yahweh, the God of our ancestors, and remove from the House everything that defiles it. 6Your ancestors have been unfaithful and have done what is displeasing to Yahweh our God. They have abandoned him; they have turned their faces away from the place Yahweh has made his home, they have turned their backs on him. 7They have even closed the doors of the Vestibule, they have put out the lamps and offered neither incense nor burnt offerings to the God of Israel in the Sanctuary. 8So the anger of Yahweh has fallen on Judah and Jerusalem; and what he has done to them has shocked and frightened everyone, as you can see for yourselves. 9This is why our ancestors have fallen by the sword, and our sons, our daughters, and our wives have been taken captive.

10But now I have decided to make a Covenant with Yahweh, the God of Israel, so that his fierce anger may be turned away from us. 11My people, be negligent no longer, for Yahweh has chosen you to stand in his presence and serve him, to worship him, and offer him incense.”

12The Levites set to work: Mahath son of Amasai and Joel son of Azariah, of the Kohathites; Kish son of Abdi and Azariah son of Jehallelel of the Merarites; Joah son of Zimmah and Eden son of Joah of the Gershonites; 13Shimri and Jeuel of the sons of Elizaphan; Zechariah and Mattaniah of the sons of Asaph; 14Jehiel and Shimei of the sons of Heman; and Shemaiah and Uzziel of the sons of Jeduthun. 15They assembled their brothers and consecrated themselves. Then they went in to purify Yahweh’s temple, just as the king had ordered, in accordance with the word of the Lord.

16The priests went inside the House of Yahweh to make it clean. They brought everything unclean they found in the Sanctuary of Yahweh, out into the court of Yahweh’s House, and the Levites collected it and carried it outside, into the Kidron Valley. 17They began this consecration on the first day of the first month, and were able to enter the Hall of Yahweh on the eighth of the month; they then took eight days to consecrate Yahweh’s House, and finished on the sixteenth day of the first month.

18They then went into the palace of king Hezekiah and said, “We have purified the whole Temple of Yahweh, the altar for burnt offerings with all its furnishings, and the table on which the rows of bread are set with all its furnishings. 19All the furnishings king Ahaz took away during those years he was unfaithful to Yahweh we have put back and consecrated; they are now in front of the altar of Yahweh.”

20King Hezekiah lost no time but called the officials of the city together and went up to Yahweh’s House. 21They brought seven bulls, seven rams and seven lambs, with seven he-goats as a sacrifice for sin on behalf of the royal house, of the Sanctuary, and of Judah. The king then told the priests, the sons of Aaron, to offer the burnt offering on the altar of Yahweh. 22They slaughtered the bulls and the priests took up the blood and poured it on the altar. They then slaughtered the rams and poured their blood on the altar. 23Then they brought the he-goats, the sacrifice for sin, before the king and the assembly who laid their hands on them. 24The priests slaughtered them, and with their blood on the altar offered a sacrifice to take away the sin of all the people—since the king had ordered the burnt offering and the sacrifice for sin on behalf of all Israel.

25He then ordered the Levites to stand in Yahweh’s House with cymbals, harps and lyres, in accordance with the ordinances of David, of Gad the king’s prophet and of Nathan the prophet; the order had in fact come from Yahweh through his prophets. 26When the Levites had taken their places with David’s musical instruments, and the priests with their trumpets, 27Hezekiah ordered the burnt offering to begin, the hymns of Yahweh began too, and the trumpets sounded, to the accompaniment of the instruments of David king of Israel. 28The whole assembly worshiped, cantors singing, trumpets sounding, until the holocaust was over.

29When the offering was at an end, the king and all there with him fell to their knees and worshiped. 30Then king Hezekiah and the officials told the Levites to sing praise to Yahweh in the words of David and of Asaph the prophet; they sang praises till their joy was full and then they fell down and worshiped. 31Hezekiah spoke again, “Now you are dedicated to the service of Yahweh. Come forward, bring sacrifices and thanksgiving offerings into Yahweh’s House.” The assembly brought sacrifices and thanksgiving offerings: all the generous people brought burnt offerings. 32The number of victims for these burnt offerings was seventy bulls, a hundred rams and two hundred lambs, all as burnt offerings for Yahweh; 33six hundred bulls and three hundred sheep were sacrificed. 34The priests were too few, however, and could not slaughter all these animals, so the Levites helped them until the work was done and the other priests were sanctified; for the Levites were more educated than the priests regarding the requirements of purification. 35There were indeed many burnt offerings besides the fat of the peace offerings which was to be burnt together with the drink offerings. So was completed the consecration of Yahweh’s House. 36Hezekiah and all the people rejoiced that God had helped the people to act so promptly.

The great Passover

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1Hezekiah sent messengers to all Judah and Israel (for he also wrote letters to Ephraim and Manasseh), inviting them to come to Yahweh’s House in Jerusalem to celebrate a Passover in honor of Yahweh, the God of Israel. 2The king and his officials and all the assembly in Jerusalem had agreed to celebrate it in the second month, 3being unable to celebrate it at the proper time, since the priests had not purified themselves in sufficient numbers, and the people had not assembled in Jerusalem. 4The king and all the assembly were pleased with their plan. 5They issued a decree to be proclaimed throughout Israel, from Dan to Beer-sheba, calling all the people to come to Jerusalem and celebrate a Passover in honor of Yahweh, the God of Israel, for they had not celebrated it for a long time. 6Messengers went out with letters from the hands of the king and his officials for every part of Israel and Judah. They had orders from the king to say, “People of Israel, come back to Yahweh the God of Abraham, of Isaac, of Israel, and he will come back to those of you who are left and have escaped the grasp of the kings of Assyria. 7Do not be like your fathers and brothers who were unfaithful to Yahweh, the God of their ancestors, and whom he punished severely as you can see. 8Do not harden your hearts as your ancestors did, but reconcile with Yahweh and come to his house which he has consecrated forever. Serve Yahweh your God and he will turn his fierce anger from you. 9If you come back sincerely to Yahweh, your brothers and your sons will win the mercy of their conquerors and return to this land, for Yahweh your God is gracious and merciful. If you come back to him, he will not turn his face from you.”

10The messengers went from town to town through the land of Ephraim and Manasseh, and as far as Zebulun; but the people laughed at them and made fun of them, 11though a few men from Asher and Manasseh and Zebulun were humble enough to come to Jerusalem. 12But in Judah, the hand of God was upon the people and made them of one mind to obey the order of the king and the officials according to the word of Yahweh. 13A great number of people gathered in Jerusalem to celebrate the feast of Unleavened Bread in the second month. A very great assembly 14set to work removing the altars that had been used in Jerusalem and all the altars for burning incense, and throwing them into the Wadi Kidron.

15They killed the lambs for the passover sacrifice on the fourteenth day of the second month. The priests and the Levites felt ashamed; so they sanctified themselves and were able to bring burnt offerings into Yahweh’s House. 16Then they took up their places in the House according to the instructions in the Law of Moses, the man of God. The priests poured out the blood handed to them by the Levites, 17since there were many people in the assembly who had not sanctified themselves; so the Levites were to slaughter the Passover lambs on behalf of those who lacked the requisite purity in order to consecrate them to Yahweh. 18For many people, especially from Ephraim, Manasseh, Issachar and Zebulun, had not purified themselves and so had eaten the Passover without observing the regulations.

But Hezekiah interceded for them, saying, 19“Yahweh, God of our ancestors, in your goodness forgive those who seek you with all their heart, even though they are not clean.” 20Yahweh heard Hezekiah and left the people unharmed.

21For seven days the Israelites rejoiced and celebrated in Jerusalem the feast of Unleavened Bread, while each day the Levites and the priests praised Yahweh with all their might. 22At the end Hezekiah encouraged the Levites who had shown themselves skilled in the worship of Yahweh. So for seven days the celebration continued. Peace offerings were sacrificed and the people confessed their sins to Yahweh, the God of their ancestors. 23Then all the assembly agreed to continue the celebrations for a further seven days which they made seven days of rejoicing. 24Hezekiah king of Judah had provided a thousand bulls and seven thousand sheep for the assembly, and the officials another thousand bulls and ten thousand sheep, and now the priests were ready in great numbers. 25So the whole assembly of Judah rejoiced, the priests too, and the Levites, and all who had come from Israel, the refugees of Israel living in Judah and the people of Judah. 26There was great rejoicing in Jerusalem, for since the time of Solomon son of David, king of Israel, nothing like this had happened in Jerusalem. 27The levitical priests began to bless the people. Their voices were heard and their prayer received in heaven, His holy dwelling place.

31

1When all this was over, all the Israelites who were there set off for the towns of Judah to smash the pillar, cut down the sacred trunks and wreck the high places and the altars. So they did throughout Judah, Benjamin, Ephraim, and Manasseh and did away with them. Then all the Israelites returned to their towns, each man to his home.

2Hezekiah reestablished the priestly and levitical orders, each man in his proper order according to his duties, whether priest or Levite, whether for burnt offering, peace offering, liturgical service, thanksgiving or praise, within the gates of the camp of Yahweh. 3The king set aside a portion of his own possessions for the morning and evening burnt offerings, and the burnt offerings of sabbath, New Moon, and solemn feast, as laid down in the Law of Yahweh. 4He then told the people of Jerusalem to give the priests and the Levites their share so that they might devote themselves to the Law of Yahweh.

5As soon as the order had been published, the Israelites gathered in the first fruits of corn, wine, oil, honey, and all agricultural produce, and brought in a generous gift of everything. 6The Israelites and Judaeans living in the towns of Judah also brought in the tithe of cattle and sheep, and the tithe of the holy things dedicated to Yahweh their God, piling them up, heap after heap. 7They began making these heaps in the third month and finished them in the seventh.

8When Hezekiah and his officials saw how much had been given, they praised Yahweh and praised his people Israel. 9Hezekiah questioned the priests and the Levites about the heaps, 10and Azariah, the chief priest, of the family of Zadok, answered him, “Since the contributions were first brought to Yahweh’s House, we have had enough to eat and still have plenty left over, for Yahweh has blessed his people; this huge pile is what is left.” 11Hezekiah then ordered them to have storerooms prepared in Yahweh’s House. They did this, 12and then brought in the contributions, tithes and consecrated things, to keep them in a safe place. Conaniah the Levite was officer-in-charge of them, with Shimei his brother as his assistant.

13Jehiel, Azaziah, Nahath, Asahel, Jerimoth, Jozabad, Eliel, Ismachiah, Mahat, and Benaiah were appointed supervisors under the command of Conaiah and his brother Shimei, by order of king Hezekiah and of Azariah the High Priest. 14Kore, son of Imnah the Levite, keeper of the eastern gate, was made responsible for the voluntary offerings to God; he provided the portion set aside for Yahweh and the most holy offerings. 15Under his command he had Eden, Miniamin, Jeshua, Shemaiah, Amariah and Shecaniah, who resided permanently in the towns of the priests to distribute these gifts to their kinsmen great or small according to their orders.

16In addition to this, there was the organization by related groups of all those men thirty years old or older who went to Yahweh’s House, by daily rotation, to perform the ritual duties appropriate to their orders. 17There was also the organization of priests by families; as also that of Levites twenty years old or older, by duties and orders. 18There was also the organization of all their families for the whole assembly, since they were busy with the holy ministry. 19As regards the priests, the sons of Aaron, who lived in the pasture lands belonging to their towns, or in the towns themselves, appointed men, distributed the food to every male among the priests and also to the inscribed Levites who were enrolled.

20Hezekiah enforced these arrangements throughout Judah. He did what is good and right and loyal before Yahweh his God. 21He was successful, because everything he did for the Temple or in observance of the Law, he did as one seeking God with all his heart.

Invasion of Sennacherib

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1After Hezekiah had faithfully done all this, Sennacherib king of Assyria invaded Judah. He pitched camp before the fortified towns and gave orders for his army to break their way through the walls. 2Hezekiah realized that Sennacherib intended to attack Jerusalem also, 3so he summoned his officers and champions and they decided to cut off the water supply from the springs situated outside the city. 4So a large number of people banded together to block all the springs and cut off the watercourse flowing through the fields. They said, “Why should the king of Assyria find plenty of water when he arrives?” 5Hezekiah strengthened his defenses: he had the broken parts of the wall repaired, built towers on it, constructed a second wall on the outer side, strengthened the Millo of the city of David and made quantities of spears and shields. 6He then appointed generals to command the people, had them assemble in the square by the city gate and spoke as follows to encourage them, 7“Be strong and stand firm; be fearless, be confident when you face the king of Assyria and the whole army he brings with him, since he that is with us is stronger than he that is with him. 8He has only an arm of flesh, but we have Yahweh our God to help us and fight our battles.” The people were encouraged by the words of Hezekiah king of Judah.

9Next, Sennacherib king of Assyria, who was then outside Lachish with all his army, sent his servants to Jerusalem, to Hezekiah king of Judah, and to all the Judaeans who were in Jerusalem. They said, 10“Hear the message from Sennacherib king of Assyria, ‘What gives you the confidence to stay in Jerusalem under siege? 11Is not Hezekiah deceiving you? Is he not condemning you to die of hunger and thirst when he says: Yahweh our God will save us from the king of Assyria? 12Is not Hezekiah the very man who has destroyed the high places and the altars of Yahweh, and given the order to Judah and to Jerusalem: Before one altar only are you to worship, and on that alone offer incense? 13Do you not know what I have done, I and my ancestors, to all the peoples of other countries? Have the gods of any nation in those countries ever been able to save them from me? 14Who among all the gods of those nations was able to save his people from me? What makes you think that God can do any better? 15Do not let Hezekiah deceive you. Do not let him mislead you like this. Do not believe him, for no god of any nation or kingdom has been able to save his people from me or from my ancestors. No more will your god be able to save you from me.”

16His officials were still speaking against Yahweh God, and his servant Hezekiah, 17when Sennacherib wrote a letter insulting Yahweh the God of Israel. This is what he said about him, “Just as the gods of the nations in other countries have failed to save their peoples from me, so will the god of Hezekiah fail to save his people.” 18They shouted this out in the language of Judah, to the people of Jerusalem who were on the city wall, to confuse and frighten them, and so that they might capture the city: 19they spoke of the God of Jerusalem in the same way they talked of the gods of the peoples of the world, the work of human hands.

20Then king Hezekiah and the prophet Isaiah son of Amoz prayed and cried out to heaven. 21And Yahweh sent an angel who made all the mighty warriors, commanders and officers die in the camp of the king of Assyria. So the emperor went back to Assyria very ashamed. And as he came into the temple of his god, some of his own sons struck him with their swords. 22So Yahweh saved Hezekiah and the people of Jerusalem from the power of Sennacherib king of Assyria and from everyone else, and he gave them peace on every side. 23Many people brought grain offerings to Yahweh in Jerusalem and gifts for Hezekiah king of Judah; since then all the nations held Hezekiah in honor.

24In those days, Hezekiah fell ill and was at the point of death. He prayed to Yahweh, who heard him and granted him a sign. 25But Hezekiah did not show gratitude for what Yahweh had done for him; his heart grew proud and Judah and Jerusalem suffered for it. 26Finally, however, Hezekiah and the people of Jerusalem humbled themselves, and so Yahweh did not punish the people until after Hezekiah’s death. 27Hezekiah enjoyed immense riches and honor. He built himself storerooms for gold, silver, precious stones, spices, gems and every sort of valuable. 28He had storehouses for his returns of corn, wine and oil, buildings for his different sorts of cattle, and sheep runs for his sheep, 29and, further, acquired donkeys and enormous herds and flocks. God had indeed given him very great riches.

30It was Hezekiah who stopped the upper outlet of Gihon Spring and channeled the water down to the west side of the city of David. Hezekiah succeeded in all he undertook. 31However, when the authorities in Babylon sent to him to inquire about the extraordinary thing that had taken place in the country, God abandoned him only to test him, and to discover the secrets of his heart.

32The rest of the history of Hezekiah, and his deed of piety, are recorded in the vision of the prophet Isaiah son of Amoz and in the Book of the Kings of Judah and Israel. 33Then Hezekiah rested with his fathers and they buried him on the slope going up to the tombs of the sons of David. At his death, all of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem did him honor. His son Manasseh succeeded him.

Manasseh

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1Manasseh was twelve years old when he came to the throne and he reigned for fifty-five years in Jerusalem. 2He did what was evil in the eyes of Yahweh, and followed the disgusting practices of the nations that Yahweh had removed from the land before giving it to Israel, 3He rebuilt the high places his father Hezekiah had wrecked; he set up altars to the Baals and made sacred trunks. He worshiped the whole array of heaven and served it. 4He built altars in Yahweh’s House of which Yahweh had said, “In Jerusalem shall my Name be forever.”

5He built altars to the whole array of heaven in the two courts of Yahweh’s House. 6He caused his sons to pass through the fire in the Valley of Benhinnom. He practiced soothsaying, magic and witchcraft, and introduced necromancers and wizards. He did many things displeasing to Yahweh, thus provoking his anger. 7He placed the idol he had made in the House of which God had said to David and to his son Solomon, “In this house and in Jerusalem, the city I chose out of all the tribes of Israel, I will give my Name a home forever. 8I will no longer turn Israel’s footsteps away from the land I assigned to their ancestors, provided they observe all I have ordered them in accordance with the whole Law, the statutes and the ordinances, given through Moses.” 9Manasseh led Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem astray, so that they did more evil than those nations Yahweh had destroyed before the Israelites. 10Yahweh spoke to Manasseh and his people, but they paid no attention.

11Then Yahweh sent the generals of the king of Assyria against them, who captured Manasseh with hooks, put him in chains and led him away to Babylon. 12In his distress he sought to appease Yahweh his God. Humbling himself deeply before the God of his ancestors, he prayed to him, 13and God changed his mind. Hearing his plea he allowed him to come back to Jerusalem and reign again. Manasseh realized then that Yahweh is God. 14After that he rebuilt the outer wall of the Citadel of David, west of Gihon in the wadi, as far as the Fish Gate; it encircled the Ophel, and he increased its height very considerably. He stationed military governors in all the fortified towns of Judah.

15He removed the alien gods and the idol from Yahweh’s House and all the altars he had built on the mountain of Yahweh’s House and in Jerusalem, and threw them out of the city. 16He rebuilt the altar of Yahweh and offered peace offerings and praise offerings on it, and ordered Judah to serve Yahweh the God of Israel; 17however, the people continued to sacrifice on the high places, although only to Yahweh their God.

18The rest of the history of Manasseh, his prayer to God, and the words of the seers who spoke to him in the name of Yahweh the God of Israel, can be found in the Annals of the Kings of Israel. 19His prayer and how God heard his prayer, all his sins, his unfaithfulness, the sites where he built high places and set up sacred trunks and idols before he humbled himself are recorded in the Annals of Hozai. 20Then Manasseh rested with his ancestors and was buried in his palace. His son Amon succeeded him.

21Amon was twenty-two years old when he became king and he reigned for two years in Jerusalem. 22He did what is displeasing to Yahweh, as Manasseh his father had done. Amon offered sacrifice and worship to all the idols Manasseh his father had made, 23but he did not humble himself before Yahweh like Manasseh his father had done; instead he made the guilt of Judah worse. 24His officers plotted against him and killed him in his palace. 25But the people of the nation struck down all those who had plotted against king Amon and proclaimed his son Josiah as his successor.

Josiah

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1Josiah was eight years old when he became king and he reigned for thirty-one years in Jerusalem. 2He did what is pleasing to Yahweh, and walked in the ways of his father David, without turning aside.

3In the eighth year of his reign, when he was still a youth, he began to seek the God of his father David. In the twelfth year he began to purge Judah and Jerusalem of the high places, the sacred trunks and the molten idols. 4He looked on while they smashed the altars of Baal, and he himself tore down the incense altars near them. He reduced to dust the symbols of Asherah and the other idols and then threw the dust over the graves of those who had sacrificed to them. 5He burned the bones of their priests on their altars, and so purified Judah and Jerusalem. 6He did the same in the towns of Manasseh, Ephraim, Simeon, and as far as Naphtali, and in the devastated areas around them. 7There too he destroyed the altars and symbols of the goddess, smashed the sacred trunks and the idols and ground them to powder, and tore down all the altars of incense throughout the land of Israel. Then he returned to Jerusalem.

8In the eighteenth year of his reign, with the object of purifying land and Temple, he sent Shaphan son of Azaliah, Maaseiah governor of the city and the herald Joah son of Joahaz, to repair the House of Yahweh his God. 9These men went to the high priest Hilkiah and handed over to him the money that had been brought to the House of God. The Levite gatekeepers had collected this money from Manasseh, Ephraim and all the rest of Israel, and from all the Judaeans and Benjaminites and from the people living in Jerusalem. 10They handed it over to the masters of works of Yahweh’s House and these men used it for the repair and restoration of the House. 11They gave it to the carpenters and builders for buying the stones and timber for the beams and framework of the buildings which the kings of Judah had let go to ruin.

12The men worked conscientiously. Over them were set Jahath and Obadiah, Levites of the sons of Merari; together with Zechariah and Meshullam of the sons of Kohath, as supervisors. These Levites were all skilled liturgical musicians; 13but they also directed the carriers and the masters of works of the various jobs. Other Levites were scribes, clerks and gatekeepers.

The book of the law discovered

14When they were taking out the money that had been brought to Yahweh’s House, Hilkiah the high priest found the book of the Law given through Moses. 15At once Hilkiah told Shaphan the secretary, “I have found the book of the Law in Yahweh’s House.” And Hilkiah gave the book to Shaphan. 16Shaphan took the book to the king, and reported to him, “Your servants are carrying out the commands you gave them: 17they have melted down the silver which was in Yahweh’s House and have handed it over to the supervisors and masters of works.” 18After which Shaphan the secretary informed the king, “Hilkiah the priest has given me a book”; and Shaphan read from it in the king’s presence.

19When the king heard the book being read, he tore his garments, 20and gave the following order to Hilkiah, Ahikam son of Shaphan, Abdon son of Micah, Shaphan the secretary and Asaiah the king’s minister, 21“Go and consult Yahweh, for me and for the people who still remain in Israel and Judah, about the words of the book that has been found. Great indeed must be the anger of Yahweh to be poured down on us because our ancestors did not observe the word of Yahweh nor do according to what is written in this book.”

22Hilkiah and the king’s men went to Huldah the prophetess, wife of Shallum son of Tokhath, son of Hasrah, the keeper of the Temple robes; she lived in Jerusalem in the new town. They spoke to her about this, 23and she answered, “This is the word of Yahweh for the man who sent you to me: 24I am going to punish Jerusalem and all its people, carrying out all the curses written in the book that has been read in the presence of the king of Judah, 25because they have abandoned me and have burned incense to other gods, stirring up my anger by everything they have done. Because of this my anger is aroused against Jerusalem, and it will not die down.

26And you will tell the king of Judah who sent you to consult Yahweh, that thus answers Yahweh, the God of Israel, regarding the words you have heard: 27Since your heart has been touched and you have humbled yourself before God on hearing what he has threatened against Jerusalem and those who live in it, since you have humbled yourself before me and torn your garments and wept before me, I for my part have heard —this is Yahweh’s word. 28The punishment which I am going to bring on Jerusalem will not come until after your death. I will let you die in peace.” They took this answer to the king.

29The king then had all the elders of Judah and of Jerusalem summoned, 30and the king went up to Yahweh’s House, with all the people of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, priests, Levites and all the people, great and small alike. In their hearing he read out everything that was said in the book of the Covenant found in Yahweh’s House. 31The king stood beside the pillar, and in the presence of Yahweh he made a Covenant to follow Yahweh and to keep his laws and commands with all his heart and soul, as written in that book. 32He committed everyone there in Jerusalem or in Benjamin to obey the requirements of the Covenant of God, the God of their ancestors. 33Josiah removed all the disgusting idols throughout the territories belonging to the people of Israel. For the rest of his life he made sure that every member of Israel served their God. They did not fail to follow Yahweh, the God of their ancestors.

The Passover of Josiah

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1Josiah then celebrated a Passover in honor of Yahweh in Jerusalem and they killed the passover lamb on the fourteenth day of the first month. 2He appointed certain functions to the priests and let them discharge the duties of Yahweh’s House. 3Then he said to the Levites, who were to instruct all Israel and who were consecrated to Yahweh, “The holy Ark has been put in the house built by Solomon son of David, king of Israel, and it is no longer a burden for your shoulders. So you shall serve Yahweh your God and Israel your people in this way. 4Stand in the holy place by families and orders, according to the written decree of David king of Israel and his son Solomon, 5and let some be available to help each family of the people of Israel; for the Levites are to have a portion in each family. 6Kill the animals for the festival, sanctify yourselves, and be at the disposal of your brothers in acting in accordance with the word of Yahweh which was spoken through Moses.”

7Josiah then provided for the use of the people, lambs and kids from the flocks to the number of thirty thousand, all as Passover offerings for all who were present, and three thousand bulls as well; all these animals came from the king’s possessions. 8His officials, for their part, made provision for what the people, the priests and the Levites would use. The senior officials of the House of God, Hilkiah, Zechariah and Jehiel, also gave the priests two thousand six hundred lambs and kids and three hundred bulls as Passover victims. 9The heads of the Levites, Conaniah, Shemaiah and his brothers Nathanel, Hashabiah, Jeiel and Jozabad, provided five thousand lambs and kids and five hundred bulls as Passover victims for the Levites.

10When everything for the Passover had been prepared, the priests took their posts, and the Levites also in their orders as commanded by the king. 11They killed the lambs and goats, and while the priests sprinkled the blood they received, the Levites cut up the victims. 12They put aside the animals for the burnt offering and distributed to family groupings of the lay people, giving to each his offering to Yahweh, as is written in the Book of Moses; they did the same with the bulls. 13They roasted the passover, as ordained, and boiled the sacred foods in pots, dishes, and pans, carrying them speedily to the people. 14Afterward they prepared the passover for themselves and for the priests. Because the priests, the sons of Aaron, had been busy till nightfall offering the burnt offering and the fatty parts, the Levites prepared the passover for themselves and for the priests, the sons of Aaron. 15The musicians, the sons of Asaph, were at their places, in accordance with the ordinances of David; neither Asaph, Heman, Jeduthun the king’s prophet, nor the keepers of each gate had to leave their duties, since their brothers the Levites made all the preparations for them.

16So the whole service of Yahweh was prepared that day to celebrate the Passover and to offer burnt offerings on the altar of Yahweh, in accordance with the ordinances of king Josiah.

17The Israelites who were present celebrated the Passover and, for seven days, the feast of Unleavened Bread. 18No Passover like this one had ever been celebrated in Israel since the days of the prophet Samuel; no king of Israel had ever celebrated a Passover like the one celebrated by Josiah with the priests, the Levites, all of Judah and of Israel who were present, and the people of Jerusalem.

The tragic end of the reign

19This Passover was celebrated in the eighteenth year of the reign of Josiah. 20After all this, when Josiah had already repaired the House, Neco king of Egypt came up to fight at Carchemish on the Euphrates and Josiah marched out to stop him. 21Neco sent him messengers to say, “There is no quarrel between me and you, king of Judah. I have not come today to attack you, but to fight my enemies, and God has told me to hurry. Do not oppose God who is with me, lest he destroy you.”

22But Josiah continued to challenge him for he was determined to fight him, and would not listen to what God was saying through Neco. So he went out to fight in the plain of Megiddo. 23Egyptian arrows struck king Josiah, and the king said to his followers, “Take me away; I am badly wounded.” 24His servants lifted him out of his own chariot, transferred him to another one and took him back to Jerusalem, where he died. He was buried in the tombs of his ancestors. All Judah and Jerusalem mourned for Josiah. 25Jeremiah composed a lament for Josiah which all the women singers use when speaking of Josiah in their laments to this day; this has become a custom in Israel; the song is found in the collection of laments.

26The rest of the history of Josiah and all his good deeds according to the Law, 29and his acts from the first to last, are recorded in the Book of the Kings of Israel and Judah.

The last kings

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1The people of the nation took Jehoahaz, son of Josiah and made him king in Jerusalem in succession to his father. 2Jehoahaz was twenty-three years old when he became king and he reigned for three months in Jerusalem. 3The king of Egypt took him prisoner and made the people of Judah pay 7,500 pounds of silver and 75 pounds of gold as tribute. 4The king of Egypt then made Eliakim, brother of Jehoahaz, king of Judah and Jerusalem, and changed his name to Jehoiakim. Neco took his brother Jehoahaz to Egypt.

5Jehoiakim was twenty-five years old when he became king and he reigned for eleven years in Jerusalem. He did what was evil in the eyes of Yahweh his God. 6Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon attacked him, put him in chains and carried him off to Babylon. 7Nebuchadnezzar also carried off to Babylon some of the treasures of the House and put them in his palace at Babylon. 8The rest of the history of Jehoiakim, the disgusting things he did and those discovered to his discredit, these are recorded in the Book of Kings of Israel and Judah. His son Jehoiakim succeeded him.

9Jehoiakim was eight years old when he became king and he reigned for three months and ten days in Jerusalem. He did what was evil in the eyes of Yahweh. 10When spring came, king Nebuchadnezzar sent for him and had him taken to Babylon as a prisoner, with the treasures of the temple and made Zedekiah, his brother, king of Judah and Jerusalem in his place.

11Zedekiah was twenty-one years old when he became king and he reigned for eleven years in Jerusalem. 12He did what was evil in the eyes of Yahweh his God. He did not listen humbly to the prophet Jeremiah, accredited by Yahweh himself. 13He also rebelled against king Nebuchadnezzar who had forced him to swear in God’s name that he would be loyal. He became stubborn, and obstinately refused to return to Yahweh the God of Israel.

Conclusion

14Furthermore, all the heads of the priesthood, and the people, too, were exceedingly unfaithful, following the disgusting example of the nations around them, and so they defiled the house which Yahweh himself had made holy. 15Yahweh, the God of their ancestors, continued to send prophets to warn his people, since he had compassion on them and on his dwelling place. 16But they mocked the messengers of God, ignored his words, and laughed at his prophets, until at last the anger of Yahweh rose so high against his people that there was no further remedy.

17Then he brought against them the king of the Chaldeans who killed with the sword the young men of Judah even in the House; he spared neither youth nor virgin, neither old man nor aged cripple: God handed them all over to him. 18All the furnishings of the House of God, large and small, the treasures of Yahweh’s House, the treasures of the king and his officials, he carried off to Babylon.

19They burned down the House of God, broke down the walls of Jerusalem, set fire to all its palaces, and destroyed everything of value in it. 20The survivors were deported by Nebuchadnezzar to Babylon; they were to serve him and his descendants as slaves until the kingdom of Persia came to power. 21This is how the work of Yahweh was fulfilled that he spoke through Jeremiah, “The land will lie desolate for seventy years, to make up for its Sabbath rests that have not been observed.”

22And in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, to fulfill what he had said through the prophet Jeremiah, Yahweh stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia to issue the following command and send it out in writing to be read aloud everywhere in his kingdom: 23“Thus speaks Cyrus king of Persia: Yahweh, the God of heaven, who has given me all the kingdoms of the earth, has ordered me to build him a house in Jerusalem, in Judah. Now, all of you who belong to his people, go there and may Yahweh your God be with you.”