Israel Becomes Two Countries

About this book

This is the story of Israel from the time of King Solomon. Perhaps the prophet Ezra or another priest or Levite wrote it. This book tells us more about the things that we can read about in the Books of the Kings. It tells the people about the temple worship. God wanted to help the people who had been slaves in another country. They were building the temple in Jerusalem. And he wanted to show them that they were special. They were God’s people before they became slaves. They were still his people. So they needed to know what he had done for them. He wanted them to become a strong nation. And he wanted them to worship him again.

Chapter 1

Solomon speaks to his people

1 David’s son Solomon made himself strong over his kingdom. The LORD his God was with him. And the LORD made him very great.

2 Solomon spoke to all the people in Israel. He spoke to the officers who were over groups of 1000 men. And he spoke to the officers who were over groups of 100 men. He spoke to the judges and to all the leaders in Israel. And he spoke to the leaders of the families. 3 Then Solomon and all those people went to the town called Gibeon. They went to the place for worship there. The tent where God met with his people was there. Moses, the LORD’s servant, had made it in the desert. 4 But David had brought God’s Covenant Box from Kiriath-Jearim to Jerusalem. David had made a place for it and he had made a tent for it in Jerusalem. 5 But David put the bronze altar that Bezalel had made in Gibeon in front of the LORD’s tent. (Bezalel was the son of Uri, who was the son of Hur.) So Solomon and the people went to meet LORD there. 6 Solomon went up to the bronze altar in front of the LORD. The altar was in front of the holy tent for the people. And he burnt 1000 sacrifices on the altar.

God asks Solomon what he wants

7 That night, God appeared to Solomon and he said to him, ‘Ask for anything that you want me to give to you.’

Solomon asks God to make him wise

8 Solomon answered God, ‘You have been very kind to my father David. And you have caused me to be king instead. 9 Now, LORD God, do as you promised to my father David. You have caused me to rule over people who seem as many as the dust of the ground. 10 So now please give to me wisdom and knowledge so that I can be the leader of these people. Nobody can rule this big nation without your help, because these people are yours.’

God’s answer

11 God said to Solomon, ‘You have not asked to become rich or for valuable things. You have not asked for honour or for the death of your enemies. You have not asked for a long life. But you asked for wisdom and knowledge to rule over my people, because I have caused you to rule. And that is what you wanted. 12 So I will give to you wisdom and knowledge. Also, I will make you rich. And I will give to you valuable things. You will have more of those than any king who has lived before you. And you will have more of those than any king who will live after you. And I will cause people to give honour to you. They will give more honour to you than people have given to any king before you or after you.’

13 So, Solomon left the place for worship at Gibeon. He went from the tent where God met with his people. And he returned to Jerusalem. There he ruled over Israel.

Solomon buys horses and chariots

14 Solomon bought many chariots and men to ride horses. He had 1400 chariots and 12 000 men to ride horses. He kept them in special cities for chariots and some with him in Jerusalem. 15 There was a lot of silver and gold in Jerusalem while he was king. People had so much silver and gold that they were like stones in Jerusalem. And they had as much wood from cedar trees as from the common trees that grew in the low hills. 16 Solomon brought horses from Egypt and from Kue. The king’s men bought them in Kue at a good price. 17 The chariots came from Egypt. A chariot cost 7 kilos of silver (15 pounds weight) and a horse cost 1.7 kilos of silver (3.25 pounds). Also they sold horses and chariots to all the kings of the people called Hittites and the people from Syria.

Chapter 2

Solomon begins to build the temple

1 Solomon decided to build a house for the LORD’s name and a king’s house for himself. 2 So Solomon chose 70 000 men to carry all the heavy things that he needed. And he had 80 000 men who cut big stones in the hills. And he chose 3600 men to be over those workers.

Solomon asks Huram for help

3 Solomon wrote a letter to Huram, king of Tyre. It said, ‘Send to me the wood of cedar trees as you did for my father David. You sent it for him to build a house to live in. 4 Now I will build a house to honour the LORD my God. It will be a holy place for him. The people and I will burn oils with sweet smells for him. There we will offer special bread to him each day. And we will burn sacrifices to the LORD our God. We will do that every morning, every evening and on Sabbaths and New Moon days and on other holy days. This is a rule for Israel for all time.

5 The house that I will build for our God will be great. It will be great because he is greater than all gods. 6 But nobody can really build a house for our God because he is too great. The heavens, even the highest heavens, cannot contain him. I can only build for him a place to offer oils with sweet smells to him.

7 Now send to me a good worker who is able to make pictures on metal. He must be a man who can work with gold, silver, bronze and iron. And he must be able to work with dark red, purple and blue materials. He will work in Judah and in Jerusalem. He will work with the good workers that my father David chose for me.

8 And send to me also the wood of cedar, cypress and algum trees from Lebanon. I know that your servants know how to cut wood from there. And my servants will work with your servants. 9 I will need a lot of wood because I will build a large and beautiful temple. 10 I will pay your servants, the men who cut the wood. I will pay them 4400 kilolitres (1 150 000 gallons) of wheat and 4400 kilolitres of barley. Also, I will give to them 440 kilolitres (115 000 gallons) of wine and 440 kilolitres of olive oil.’

Huram replies to Solomon’s letter

11 Huram, king of Tyre replied to Solomon with this letter. ‘Because the LORD loves his people, he has chosen you to be their king.’ 12 Huram also said, ‘Praise the LORD, the God of Israel who made heaven and earth. He has given a wise son to King David. This son is clever and he understands things well. And he will build a house for the LORD and a king’s house for himself.

13 I have sent Huram-Abi to you. He is a clever man and he understands things well. 14 His mother came from Dan and his father came from Tyre. He has learnt to work with gold and silver, bronze, iron, stone and wood. He can also work with purple, blue and dark red materials and with linen cloth. He is able to make pictures on metal of any kind that you want. He will work with your good workers and with those of my lord David, your father.

15 So now send to us the wheat, barley, oil and wine that you promised. 16 Then we will cut the wood from Lebanon that you need. We will tie the trees together and we will send them like boats on the sea to Joppa. You can take them from there to Jerusalem.’

Solomon decides which men should build the temple

17 Solomon counted all the men in Israel from foreign countries as his father David had done. There were 153 600 of them. 18 And he chose 70 000 foreign men to carry things and 80 000 men to cut big stones in the hills. He chose 3600 foreign men to be over the other men and to cause them to work well.

Chapter 3

Solomon begins to build

1 Then Solomon began to build the LORD’s house in Jerusalem on the mountain called Moriah. That is where the LORD appeared to his father David. David had bought that place and he had prepared it. Before that, it was the place where Ornan made his wheat seeds separate from their hard coat. (Ornan belonged to the people called Jebusites.) 2 Solomon began to build in the 4th year after he began to rule Israel. It was the 2nd day of the 2nd month.

3 Solomon put the strong stones for the floor of God’s house in the ground. He made it about 27 metres (90 feet) long and 9 metres (30 feet) wide. (He measured it with the old thing called a cubit.)

4 The large entrance at the front of the temple was about 9 metres (30 feet) long and 54 metres (180 feet) high. It went across the whole front of the temple. He covered it inside with the best gold.

Some students think that the entrance was only 9 metres (30 feet) high.

Inside the temple

5 He covered the walls inside the biggest room with pine wood. Then he covered that with good gold. Then his workers drew pictures of palm trees and chains in the gold. 6 He used valuable stones to make the temple beautiful. The gold that he used came from Parvaim. 7 He covered the temple with gold. He covered the beams in the temple’s ceiling with gold. And he put gold under the doors. And he covered the walls and doors with gold. He cut pictures of cherubs on the walls.

The Most Holy Place

8 He built the Most Holy Place. It measured 9 metres (30 feet) long and 9 metres wide. It was as long as the temple was wide. He covered the walls inside with about 20 000 kilos (45 000 pounds) of the best gold. 9 The gold for the nails had a weight of about 0.6 kilos (1.25 pounds). Also, he covered the walls of the rooms above with gold.

10 In the Most Holy Place, he made models of two cherubs and he covered them with gold. 11-13 They stood side by side in the Most Holy Place with their faces towards the biggest room. Each cherub had 2 wings about 2.3 metres (7.5 feet) long. They held their wings out at their sides. One wing of a cherub touched a wing of the other cherub. The other wing of each cherub touched a wall of the Most Holy Place. Both pairs of wings measured 9 metres (30 feet) together.

14 He made a blue, purple and dark red linen curtain with pictures of cherubs on it.

The two bronze pillars

15 He made two pillars at the front of the temple. They were about 16 metres (52 feet) long. Each pillar had a top part about 2.3 metres (7.5 feet) long.

16 He made chains and he put them on the top parts of the pillars. And he made 100 models of fruits called pomegranates. And he put them on the chains. 17 Then he put the pillars up on each side of the temple’s entrance. He put one pillar on the right side and he put the other pillar on the left side. The pillar on the right side he called Jachin, and the pillar on the left side he called Boaz.

Chapter 4

Solomon makes things for the temple

1 He made a bronze altar. It was about 9 metres (30 feet) long and 9 metres (30 feet) wide and 4.5 metres (15 feet) high. 2 He made a round metal thing like a sea. It was about 4.5 metres (15 feet) across and 2.3 metres (7.5 feet) high. And it was about 13.5 metres (45 feet) round its edge. 3 He made shapes of things like male cows below the edge. He put 5 of these to each 0.5 metres (1.5 feet) and 5 more cows below them. And they were part of the same piece of metal as the metal sea.

4 He put the sea on models of 12 male cows. Three cows looked out towards the north, three towards the west, three towards the south and three towards the east. He put the sea on top of them and their tails were in the centre. 5 The edge of the sea was as wide as a hand. And it was like a cup, the shape of a flower called a lily. It contained about 66 000 litres (17 500 gallons) of water.

6 Then he made 10 bowls to wash in. He put 5 bowls on the right side and 5 bowls on the left side. The priests washed in them all the things that they used for the sacrifices by fire. But the priests washed themselves in the water from the bronze sea.

7 He made 10 lampstands out of gold. And he did it as the rules about them said. He put them in the temple, 5 on the right side and 5 on the left side.

See 1 Chronicles 28:15.

8 He also made 10 tables and he put them in the temple. He put 5 tables on the right side and he put 5 tables on the left side. He also made 100 bowls out of gold.

9 He made the yard for the priests and the big yard outside. He made the doors for the yard and he covered the doors with bronze. 10 He put the sea on the right side in the south-east corner.

11 Huram also made more pots and spades and bowls. So Huram finished the work that he had promised to do for King Solomon for the house of God.

Outside the temple

12 He made the two pillars with their top parts. The top parts were in the shape of bowls. He made the two sets of chains to cover the top parts of the pillars.

13 And he made 400 models of fruits called pomegranates for the two sets of chains. There were two groups of these fruits for each set of chains. They were to cover the two bowls on the top parts of the pillars. One group was below the other group.

14 He made the bowls to wash things in. And he made the things to put the bowls on.

15 He made the very large bowl that was like a sea. And he made the models of 12 male cows under it.

16 He made the pots, spades and forks for meat. Huram, the good worker, made all the things for the house of the LORD. He made them from bronze that he caused to shine. King Solomon had told him that he should do that. 17 The king caused him to make them in the clay at the Jordan valley between Succoth and Zeredah. He made the shapes of these things out of clay. Then he poured the hot metal into the shapes. 18 Solomon made very many things. So nobody knew the weight of the bronze that he used.

Inside the temple

19 And Solomon made all the things that were inside God’s house. And he made the altar that he covered with gold. And he made the tables where the priests put the special bread.

20 He made the lampstands and their lamps out of pure gold. The lamps had to burn in front of the Most Holy Place. That was the rule.

21 He made the flowers, the lamps and the tongs out of gold that was the best gold.

22 He made the tools to help the lamps to burn well. He made the bowls, the spoons and the pots to contain burning fire. He made all those things out of the best gold. He made the gate of the temple out of gold. And he made the doors to the Most Holy Place inside the temple out of gold. He made the doors of the biggest room in the temple out of gold too.

Chapter 5

1 So Solomon finished all his work for the house of the LORD. Then Solomon brought into it all the things that his father David had saved for the temple. He brought the silver and the gold and all the other things. And he stored them in rooms of God’s house.

Solomon brings the Covenant Box to the temple

2 Then Solomon brought all the leaders of the Israelites and of their tribes and clans to Jerusalem. He wanted to bring up the LORD’s Covenant Box from Zion, which is David’s city. 3 All the men in Israel came together to the king. It was the time of the feast of the seventh month.

4 When all the leaders in Israel had arrived, the Levites lifted up the Covenant Box. 5 They took the Covenant Box. And they took the Tent where God met with his people. And they took all the holy things that were in the Tent. And the priests and the Levites carried them up to Jerusalem. 6 King Solomon and all the Israelites came together in front of the Covenant Box. They sacrificed more sheep and cows than anyone could count. There were so many that nobody could know the number.

7 Then the priests brought the LORD’s Covenant Box to its place. They put it in the inside room of the temple, that is, the Most Holy Place in the temple. They put it beneath the wings of the cherubs. 8 The cherubswings covered the place where the Covenant Box was. So the cherubs covered the Covenant Box and the pieces of wood that the Levites had used to carry it. 9 Those pieces of wood were so long that the Levites could see the ends from Holy Place. But nobody could see them from outside it. And they are still there now. 10 In the Covenant Box, Moses had put the two pieces of stone at Horeb. The LORD had given a covenant there to the Israelites when they came out of Egypt. Nothing else was in the Box.

See Deuteronomy 10:5 and 1 Kings 8:9.

The priests sing to praise the LORD

11 Then all the priests came out of the Holy Place. All the different groups of priests who were there had made themselves holy. 12 The Levites who were singing stood to the east of the altar. They were Asaph, Heman, Jeduthun and their sons and their relatives. They wore clothes of the best linen. And they made music with cymbals, harps and lyres. With them were 120 priests who made sounds with trumpets. 13 Those priests and the sound of the trumpets was completely right with the sound of the singers. It was like one sound to praise the LORD and to thank him. The singers sang loudly with those who were making music with trumpets, cymbals and other things. To praise the LORD, they were singing,

‘He is good,

because his love will continue for all time.’

Then a cloud filled the house, the LORD’s house. 14 So the priests could not continue their work because of the cloud. And the shining glory of the LORD filled God’s house.

Chapter 6

Solomon prays

1 Then King Solomon prayed. He said, ‘The LORD has said that he would live in the dark clouds. 2 But I have built a beautiful house for you. It is a place for you to live for all time.’

Solomon speaks to the people

3 All the Israelites were standing there together. Then the king turned round and he blessed all the Israelites. 4 He said, ‘Praise the LORD, the God of Israel. He promised something to my father David. And he has done it. He said, 5 “I brought my people out of the country called Egypt. Since then I have not chosen any city in Israel for you to build a house for my name. And I have not chosen a man to be the leader of my people called Israel. 6 But now I have chosen Jerusalem to become the place where they give honour to my name. And I have chosen David to rule my people called Israel.”

7 My father David wanted to build a house for the name of the LORD, the God of Israel. 8 But the LORD said to my father David, “You were good to think that you might build a house for my name. 9 But you will not build the house. But your son who will be born in your own family will build the house for my name.”

10 And the LORD has done what he promised to do. I have become king after my father David. And now I sit on the king’s seat in Israel, as the LORD promised. And I have built the house for the name of the LORD, the God of Israel. 11 I have put the Covenant Box there. The LORD’s covenant that he gave to the Israelites is in it.’

Solomon prays to God

12 Then Solomon stood in front of the altar of the LORD. He held out his hands in front of all the Israelites. 13 He had made a bronze box to stand on. It was about 2.3 metres (7.5 feet) long and 2.3 metres wide. It was about 1.4 metres (4.5 feet) high. He put it in the middle of the yard and he stood on it. And then he went down on his knees in front of all the Israelites. He held out his hands to heaven. 14 He said, ‘LORD, God of Israel, there is no God like you in heaven or on earth. Your servants really try to obey you. And you do what you have promised to those people. You love them and you are very kind to them. 15 You have done what you promised to your servant David my father. You spoke with your mouth. And now, today you have done what you said.

16 Now LORD the God of Israel, please do what you promised to your servant David my father. You said, “Your sons must be careful to obey my rules as you have done. If they do that, a man among your descendants will always sit on the king’s seat in Israel.” 17 LORD the God of Israel, you promised that to your servant David. So now please cause it to happen as you said.

18 But I do not know how it can be possible for God to live on earth with men. Neither the sky, nor the highest heavens can contain you. And this house that I have built is so much smaller than them. 19 So please listen to my prayer. I am your servant. I am asking you to be kind to me, LORD my God. Please listen to what I am saying. And please hear the prayer that I am praying in front of you here. 20 I am asking you to watch this temple always, day and night. You have said that you will put your name here. Listen to the words that your servant is praying towards this place. 21 Your servant and your people Israel will ask for things as they turn towards this place. Please hear them from your home in heaven. And when you hear, please forgive them.

Solomon asks God to forgive people’s sins if they are sorry

22 A man may do something wrong to another Israelite. Then people will tell him that he must promise to speak truly. He must speak in front of your altar in this temple. 23 Then, please hear from heaven and be the judge of the two people. Punish the bad man. Do to him as he has done to the other man. But tell everyone that the good man has not done anything wrong. And give to him what good people should have.

24 The Israelites may sin against you. Then you might punish them. You might cause their enemies to win a fight against them. But then they might come to you. And they might give honour to you. They might come to this temple. They might pray in this temple and they might ask you to help them. 25 Then please hear them from heaven and forgive the sin of your people, the Israelites. And cause them to return to the country that you gave to them and to their ancestors.

26 Perhaps you will punish your people for their sin against you. And there will not be any rain. Then they may turn away from their sin and they may pray towards this place. And they may return to give you honour because you are punishing them. 27 When they return, please listen from heaven. And please forgive your servants, the Israelites. Teach them the right way to live. And send rain on your land that you have given to your people to be theirs.

28 Many bad things might happen to your people or to their land. They might have no food, or many people might be very ill. They may have troubles with their plants. Insects may eat their food‑plants or enemies may attack their towns. Or there might be very bad illnesses in the country. 29 Then any Israelite might pray towards this house. Or all the people might pray. They might ask you to help. Each person might ask for help about the bad things that are hurting him. 30 Then please hear them from your home in heaven. Please forgive them. You, and only you, know what each person is thinking inside himself. So please do what is right for each person. 31 Then they will be afraid to make you angry. And they will do the things that give pleasure to you. They will obey your rules all the time that they live in their country. It is the country that you gave to our ancestors.

32 A man from a foreign country, not somebody from Israel, may come here. He might have come a long way because of your great name. Someone has told him that you are very strong. He may come and he may pray towards this house. 33 Then please hear him from your home in heaven. And do the thing that he is asking you for. So the people in all the nations on the earth will know your name. They will be afraid to make you angry as the Israelites are afraid to make you angry. And they will know that this house is called by your name. That is why I built it.

34 Your people may go to fight their enemies in a place where you send them. Then they will pray to you. They will pray towards this city that you have chosen. And they will pray towards this house that I have built for your name. 35 Then, from heaven, listen to their prayer. Please hear what they are asking you to do. And help them.

36 There is nobody who does not sin. So they will sin against you. And you will be angry with them. You will let their enemies win the fight. And they will take them away to a country that is near or a long way from here. 37 Then they may change their ideas in that country. And they may be sorry about their sin. They may ask you for help from that country. They may say, “We have sinned and we are very bad. We have done many things that are wrong.” 38 Then they will return to you in their minds. They will want to do only the things that give pleasure to you. They will pray from the country where their enemies took them. They will pray towards their country that you have given to their ancestors. And they will pray towards the city that you have chosen. And they will pray towards the house that I have built for your name. 39 Then hear their prayer from your home in heaven. Please listen to what they are asking you for. And help them. And forgive your people who have sinned against you.

40 Now, my God, will you please look at us. And please listen to the words that we are praying in this place.

Solomon asks God to come into his temple

41 Now, LORD God, come up and stay in this, your place. Come with your strong Covenant Box.

LORD God, make your priests holy and good. Let your holy people be happy because you are good.

42 LORD God do not turn away from your anointed king. Remember the great love that you had for your servant David.’

Chapter 7

The glory of the LORD fills the temple

1 When Solomon had finished his prayer, fire came down from heaven. It burnt up the sacrifices by fire and the other sacrifices. And the glory of the LORD filled the temple. 2 And the priests could not go into the LORD’s house because the LORD’s glory had filled the LORD’s house. 3 All the Israelites were watching when the fire came down. And they saw the glory of the LORD over the temple. Then they went down on their knees on the flat stones. And they put their noses to the ground, on the path. They worshipped the LORD and they thanked him. They said, ‘He is good, and his kind love will have no end.’

The king and the people give sacrifices to the LORD

4 Then the king and all the people offered sacrifices in front of the LORD. 5 King Solomon offered a sacrifice of 22 000 cows and 120 000 sheep and goats. That is how the king and all the people made God’s house right for him to use. 6 The priests and the Levites stood in their places. And the Levites took the things that they used to make music to the LORD. King David had made those things to thank the LORD when he said, ‘His kind love has no end.’ The priests stood and they were looking towards the Levites. And they made a loud noise with their trumpets. All the Israelites were standing.

7 The bronze altar that Solomon had made could not contain all the offerings of animals and grains and the fat. So Solomon made the middle of the yard that was in front of the LORD’s house holy for the LORD. Then he gave sacrifices by fire and he burnt the fat of friendship-offerings there.

8 So Solomon obeyed the rules of the feast for 7 days at that time. And a large crowd of Israelites were with him. They came from everywhere from Lebo-Hamath to the valley near the border of Egypt. 9 On the 8th day, they met together for an important meeting. For 7 days, they had made the altar holy for God. And for 7 days, they had obeyed the rules of the feast. 10 Solomon sent the people to their homes on the 23rd day of the 7th month. The LORD had done many good things for David, for Solomon and for his people, the Israelites. So all the people were very happy when they went to their homes.

Verse 8 tells us that people came to the temple from everywhere In Israel. They came from everywhere from the far north of Israel to the far south.

The LORD appears to Solomon

11 Solomon finished the house of the LORD and the king’s house. He was able to do everything that he had wanted to do for the house of the LORD. And he was able to do everything that he had wanted to do for his own house. 12 Then the LORD appeared to Solomon at night. He said to Solomon, ‘I have heard your prayer and I have chosen this place. It will be a place where people can give sacrifices to me.

13 I might cause there to be no rain or I might send insects to eat your food plants. Or I might send bad illnesses to my people. 14 Then my people who are called by my name should be sorry. They should be humble and they should pray. They should try to find me. And they should stop doing the wrong things that they have done. Then I will hear them from heaven and I will forgive their sin. And I will make their country better. 15 Now I will be watching this place and I will be listening to the prayers from here. 16 I have now chosen this temple for me to use and I have made it holy. So my name can be here for all time. I will always be watching it. And it will always be special to me.’

Solomon must obey the LORD

17 ‘But you must live carefully. You must remember that I am watching you. That is what your father David did. You must obey everything that I have said to you. And you must obey my rules and my laws. 18 If you do that, I will make your descendants kings of Israel for all time. That is what I promised to your father David. I said, “A man among your descendants will always be the ruler of Israel.”

19 But that will not happen if you turn away from me. You may stop obeying the rules and the laws that I have given to you. You might go off to become servants of other gods and you might worship them. 20 I have given my country to the Israelites. But if they do those things, I will take them from my country. And I will leave this house that I have made holy for my name to be there. I will make it a thing that the people in other nations think is worth nothing. And the people in all the nations will be talking about that. 21 This temple is now very beautiful. But then all the people who walk past it will be surprised. They will almost feel ill. And they will say, “Why has the LORD done this to this country and to this temple?” 22 Men will answer, “It is because they have left the LORD, the God of their ancestors. He brought them out of the country called Egypt. But they have changed to worship and to be servants of other gods. That is why he has caused them all this trouble.” ’

Chapter 8

Solomon builds more villages

1 After 20 years, Solomon had built the house of the LORD and his own house. 2 After that, he built in the towns that Huram had given to him. And he sent Israelites to live in them. 3 Then Solomon went to Hamath-Zobah. And he won the fight with the people who lived there. 4 He made Tadmor in the desert and the towns that he had built in Hamath to store things stronger. 5 He built again Higher Beth-Horon and Lower Beth-Horon. He made those cities strong and he put walls with strong gates round them. 6 And he built Baalath and more towns to store things. And he built other towns for his chariots and for his men who rode horses to live in. He built in Jerusalem, Lebanon or in any place that he ruled. He built anything that he wanted to build in all those places.

Solomon causes people who are not Israelites to become his slaves

7 Some people who were not Israelites still lived in the country. They were the people called Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. 8 They were descendants of the people from those nations that the Israelites had not killed. Solomon caused them to work as slaves for him. And they are still slaves today. 9 But Solomon did not cause any Israelites to become slaves for his work. But they were his soldiers, their officers, and the men who drove his chariots. Or they were his soldiers who rode on horses. 10 King Solomon’s most important officers were 250 Israelites who ruled over the people.

Solomon gives a house to Pharaoh’s daughter

11 Solomon brought Pharaoh’s daughter up from David’s city into the house that he had built for her. He did that because, he said, ‘My wife must not live in the house of David the king of Israel. The LORD’s Covenant Box has been there, so that house is holy.’

How the priests and the Levites worked in the Temple

12 Solomon had built an altar in front of the door of the temple. Now he gave sacrifices by fire to the LORD on it. 13 He told the priests and the Levites what they must do every day. Moses had told them what they must do every Sabbath, every New Moon and during three special feasts each year. Those three special feasts were the feast of unleavened bread, the feast-of-weeks and the feast-of-shelters. 14 Solomon gave jobs to groups of priests as his father, David, had described. He caused the Levites to be leaders of the praise. And they had to help the priests as they needed it each day. And he told the guards at each gate when each guard should work. He was doing as David, God’s servant, had said. 15 All the priests and all the Levites were careful to do what the king had said about everything. And that included how they kept the valuable things safe. They did not change his words.

16 Solomon’s servants did all Solomon’s work. They started on the day when they put down the floor of the LORD’s house. And they worked until they had finished it. So they finished the house of the LORD.

Solomon’s men fetch gold from Ophir

17 Then Solomon went to Ezion-Geber and to Eloth by the edge of the sea. Those towns were in the country called Edom. 18 And Huram sent ships to him with his own men. They had their own officers who knew the sea. Those officers sailed with Solomon’s servants to Ophir. And they returned with 17 000 kilos (38 000 pounds) of gold and they gave it to King Solomon.

Chapter 9

The Queen of Sheba visits Solomon

1 People told the Queen of Sheba about Solomon and about everything that he had done. So she came to Jerusalem to ask him many difficult things. She arrived with many people and animals. Her camels carried things to make food good when people tasted it. They also brought a lot of gold and many valuable stones. She came to Solomon. And she talked with him about everything that she was thinking about. 2 Solomon answered all her questions. Nothing was too difficult for Solomon to explain to her. 3 The Queen of Sheba saw that Solomon knew many things. And she saw the house that he had built. 4 She saw all the food on his table. And she saw how his officials sat. And she saw how his servants stood. And she saw the clothes that they wore. She also saw the men who gave him wine. And she saw their clothes. She saw the sacrifices by fire that he gave in the LORD’s house. Then she felt very weak. It was too much for her.

What the Queen of Sheba said to Solomon

5 Then she said to the king, ‘People told me about you in my country. And they told me about your wisdom. Everything that they told me was true. 6 But I did not believe it. Now I believe it because I have come here. And I have seen all those things. But people had told me only half of the things that they might have told me. You are much wiser than they said. Everything about you is better than people said. 7 Your men are very happy. And your servants who always stand in front of you are very happy. They can always hear your wise words. 8 I praise the LORD your God. You have given a lot of pleasure to him and so he has put you on his throne. So you are king on behalf of the LORD your God. He loves Israel and he wants to make them strong for all time. That is why he has caused you to be their king. He wants you to rule over them in a fair way. And he wants you to cause them to do right things.’

9 Then she gave to the king 4000 kilos (9000 pounds) of gold, a lot of spices and many valuable stones. There had never been spices in Israel like those that the Queen of Sheba gave to King Solomon.

10 Huram’s servants and Solomon’s servants brought gold from Ophir. They also brought algum trees and valuable stones. 11 The king used this algum wood to make steps for the LORD’s house and for the king’s house. And with it he made lyres and harps for the people who made music. Nobody had ever seen things like those in the country called Judah.

12 King Solomon gave to the Queen of Sheba everything that she wanted. And he gave to her everything that she asked for. He gave more things to her than she had brought to him. Then she left with all her servants and she returned to her own country.

Solomon’s gold and how he used it

13 Every year 23 000 kilos (50 000 pounds weight) of gold came to Solomon. 14 Men who were buyers and sellers brought more things. And the rulers of the country and all the kings of Arabia brought gold and silver to Solomon.

15 King Solomon’s men made 200 large shields out of gold that they hit flat with hammers. They used about of 3.5 kilos of gold (7.5 pounds) to make each shield. 16 Then they made 300 small shields, each with about 1.7 kilos of gold (3.5 pounds). And the king put them in the house of the forest of Lebanon.

17 Then the king made a large king’s seat out of ivory and he covered it with pure gold. 18 This seat had 6 steps and on top of them the throne had a gold box for the king’s feet. On each side of the throne were places for his arms to rest. Also two models of lions were standing next to his hands. 19 Two lions stood on each step. There was one lion at each side of every step. No other kingdom had anything like it. 20 All King Solomon’s cups were gold. Everything that anyone used in the house of the forest of Lebanon was the best gold. People did not think that silver had any value in Solomon’s time. 21 The king’s ships went to Tarshish with the servants of Huram. And ships from Tarshish came every three years with gold, silver, ivory, monkeys and beautiful birds called peacocks.

Solomon’s valuable things

22 King Solomon was more wise and he had more valuable things than any other king on the earth. 23 All the kings on the earth wanted to meet Solomon. They wanted to hear the wisdom that God had put into his mind. 24 Each king brought a gift to him. They brought things of silver, things of gold, clothes and arms to fight with. They also brought spices, horses and mules. And they brought the same amount every year.

25 Solomon had 4000 places for horses and chariots and 12 000 men to ride the horses. And he kept them in the special chariot cities or with him in Jerusalem. 26 He ruled over all the kings from the River Euphrates, past the Philistines’ country to the border of Egypt. 27 The king made Jerusalem rich. Silver was like common stones, and cedar wood was like common trees from the low hills. That was because there were so many things like that. 28 And people brought to Solomon horses from Egypt and from all the other countries.

Solomon dies

29 Nathan the prophet wrote about everything else that Solomon did. He wrote all those things from the beginning to the end. Ahijah from Shiloh wrote everything down. And they wrote what Iddo saw in his visions about Jeroboam the son of Nebat. 30 Solomon ruled in Jerusalem for 40 years over all Israel. 31 Then Solomon died and the people buried him in his father David’s city. And Rehoboam his son ruled instead.

Chapter 10

The Israelites ask Rehoboam to give them less work

1 Rehoboam went to Shechem, where all the Israelites had gone. They thought that he would become their king there. 2 Jeroboam, son of Nebat was in Egypt when people told him about this. He had run there from King Solomon. But he returned from Egypt when people told him this news. 3 So the Israelites asked Jeroboam to meet with them. All the Israelites went to Rehoboam and they said him, 4 ‘Your father made our work very difficult, but will you make it easier? If you do that, we will be your servants.’

5 Rehoboam answered, ‘Come to me again after three days.’ So the people went away.

Rehoboam asks the old men and the young men what they think

6 Then King Rehoboam asked the older men what they thought. Those men had been servants of his father Solomon when he was alive. ‘What should I say to these people?’ he asked.

7 They replied, ‘Be kind to these people. Give to them what they want. And speak good words to them. If you do that, they will always be your servants.’

8 But Rehoboam did not do what the older men had said. He asked the young men who had been children with him. They were standing in front of him. 9 ‘What answer should I give to these people who have spoken to me?’ he said. ‘They have said to me, “Your father made our work very difficult, but will you make it easier?” ’

10 The young men who had been children with him replied, ‘Say this to the people who said, “Your father made our work very difficult, but will you make it easier?” Say, “I am much greater than my father was. 11 My father made your work difficult but I will make your work more difficult. He hurt you a little, but I will hurt you badly.” ’

Rehoboam refuses to do what the people want

12 Jeroboam and all the people returned to Rehoboam after three days as King Rehoboam had said. He had said, ‘Come to me again on the third day after this.’ 13 The king did not speak to them in a kind way. King Rehoboam did not do what the older men had said. 14 He did what the young men had said. He said, ‘My father caused your work to be difficult but I will make your work more difficult. He hurt you a little, but I will hurt you badly.’ 15 So the king did not listen to the people. But this was what God had decided. This was what the LORD had told Jeroboam, Nebat’s son, by Ahijah from Shiloh.

See 1 Kings 11:29-33.

Israel and Judah become separate countries

16 All the Israelites saw that the king did not listen to them. Then they answered him, ‘We have no part in David, no part in Jesse’s son. Israelites, we should return to our tents. David’s people can be separate from us.’ So all the Israelites went to their homes. 17 But Rehoboam still ruled over the Israelites who lived in the towns of Judah.

18 Hadoram was the officer who caused the people to do very difficult work. King Rehoboam sent him to the Israelites. But the Israelites threw stones at him until he died. Then King Rehoboam got in his chariot and he went away to Jerusalem.

19 So Israel has refused to obey David’s descendants to this day.

Chapter 11

1 When Rehoboam returned to Jerusalem, he sent servants to bring all the soldiers in Judah and Benjamin to him. He had 180 000 best soldiers to fight for him against Israel. Rehoboam wanted them to help him to become the king of all the people again.

2 But the LORD said to Shemaiah, the servant of God, 3 ‘Speak to Rehoboam, son of Solomon, king of Judah, and to all the Israelites in Judah and Benjamin. 4 Tell them that the LORD is saying this: “Do not go up to fight your relatives. Each man must return to his house, because I have caused this to happen.” ’ So they obeyed the words of the LORD. They turned round and they did not attack Jeroboam.

Rehoboam makes Judah strong

5 Rehoboam lived in Jerusalem. He built cities in Judah to keep it safe. 6 He put more buildings in Bethlehem, Etam, Tekoa, 7 Beth-Zur, Soco, Adullam, 8 Gath, Mareshah and Ziph. 9 And he built in Adoraim, Lachish, Azekah, 10 Zorah, Aijalon and Hebron. He made all those cities in Judah and Benjamin very strong. 11 He made their strong buildings even stronger and he put important officers in them to rule over them. He stored food and olive oil and wine in them. 12 He supplied every city with shields and spears. And he made them very strong. So Judah and Benjamin were his.

13 The priests and Levites from everywhere in Israel joined his group. 14 The Levites even left their lands and their houses to come to him in Judah and Jerusalem. They came because Jeroboam and his sons had not let them be the LORD’s priests. 15 Jeroboam chose his own priests for the high places for worship. They were priests for the models of the goats and the young male cows that he had made. 16 But some people from every tribe in Israel followed the Levites to Jerusalem. Those people wanted to be servants of the LORD, the God of Israel. They came to sacrifice to the LORD, the God of their ancestors. 17 They helped to make the kingdom of Judah stronger. They had helped Rehoboam, Solomon’s son to be strong for three years. During those three years, they lived in the way that David and Solomon had lived.

Rehoboam’s family

18 Rehoboam married Mahalath, daughter of David’s son Jerimoth and of Abihail the daughter of Jesse’s son Eliab. 19 She gave to him three sons, who were Jeush, Shemariah and Zaham. 20 Then he married Absalom’s daughter Maacah and she gave to him Abijah, Attai, Ziza and Shelomith. 21 Rehoboam loved Absalom’s daughter Maacah better than he loved any of his other wives or lady friends. He had 18 wives and 60 lady friends. And he was the father of 28 sons and 60 daughters.

22 Rehoboam said that Abijah, son of Maacah was the most important among all his sons. He wanted him to become king. 23 He did a wise thing. He sent his sons to different parts of Judah and Benjamin and to all the strong cities. He gave to them plenty of food to store and he found many wives for them.

Chapter 12

Rehoboam does not do what gives pleasure to the LORD

1 When Rehoboam had become a safe, strong king, he stopped obeying the LORD’s Law. And all the Israelites did the same thing. 2 They had not been faithful to the LORD. Because of that, Shishak, the king of Egypt, attacked Jerusalem. That happened 5 years after Rehoboam began to rule Judah. 3 Shishak attacked with 1200 chariots and 60 000 men on horses. Also, there were so many other soldiers that nobody could count them. There were soldiers from Libya and Ethiopia. And there were men called Sukkiim. And they came from Egypt with him. 4 He won the fight for the strong cities in Judah and he came near to Jerusalem.

The LORD uses Shemaiah to speak to Rehoboam

5 The prophet Shemaiah came to the leaders of Judah in Jerusalem. They had come together in Jerusalem because they were afraid of Shishak. Shemaiah told them that the LORD was saying, ‘You have gone away from me. So now I have gone away from you and I will let Shishak beat you.’

6 The leaders of Israel and the king made themselves humble and they said, ‘The LORD is a fair judge.’

7 The LORD saw that they had made themselves humble. So he said to Shemaiah, ‘I will not kill them because they have made themselves humble. I will give some help to them. I was angry but I will not let Shishak destroy Jerusalem now. 8 But they will become his servants. Then they will learn what it is like to be my servants. And they will learn that it is very different to be servants of kings from other countries.

9 Shishak, king of Egypt attacked Jerusalem. And he took away the valuable things from the LORD’s house and the valuable things from the king’s house. He took everything. That included the shields of gold that Solomon had made. 10 So King Rehoboam made bronze shields instead. He gave them to the captains of the guards who kept the door of the king’s house safe. 11 They carried the shields when they went with the king to the LORD’s house. When the king returned, they put the shields in their usual place again. That was in the guards’ room.

Rehoboam is sorry that he did wrong things

12 Rehoboam made himself humble. So the LORD was not so angry with him that he killed him. He did not kill him. And some things that happened in Judah were good.

13 King Rehoboam made himself strong in Jerusalem and he ruled there. He was 41 years old when he began to rule. He ruled for 17 years in Jerusalem, the city where the LORD had chosen to put his name. He chose it out of all the tribes of Israel. Rehoboam’s mother was called Naamah and she was an Ammonite. 14 But he did not really want to be the LORD’s servant. So he did evil things.

15 Shemaiah the prophet and Iddo, the man that God showed visions to, have written about King Rehoboam in their books. They wrote down everything that he did from the beginning to the end. They wrote about things that happened to the people in each clan. Rehoboam and Jeroboam fought each other for their whole lives. 16 Rehoboam died and people buried him in David’s city with his ancestors. Then Abijah his son ruled as king instead.

Chapter 13

Abijah becomes king

1 Abijah began to rule over Judah when King Jeroboam had been king of Israel for 18 years. 2 Abijah was king in Jerusalem for three years. His mother’s name was Micaiah, daughter of Uriel from the town called Gibeah. Abijah and Jeroboam fought a war. 3 Abijah chose his best 400 000 soldiers. And Jeroboam prepared to fight against him with 800 000 strong brave men that he had chosen.

Abijah speaks to Jeroboam and to his army

4 Abijah stood on the hill called Zemaraim in the hills of Ephraim. He said, ‘Listen to me, Jeroboam and all you men from Israel. 5 The LORD, Israel’s God, has said that David and his descendants would be kings of Israel for all time. And you should know that. It is God’s promise and so it must happen. 6 Jeroboam, the son of Nebat, was a servant of David’s son Solomon. But this Jeroboam has refused to obey his master. 7 Some evil men with no value joined his group. They made themselves strong against Solomon’s son, Rehoboam. Rehoboam was young and he was not brave. So he could not be strong against them.

8 And now you want to be strong against the LORD’s kingdom. But David’s descendants rule over that kingdom. You are a very large crowd. And you have the young cows of gold that Jeroboam made to be your gods. 9 But you pushed out the LORD’s priests, the sons of Aaron. And you sent away the Levites. And you made your own priests as the people in other nations do. You will call anyone a priest who comes with a young male cow and 7 male sheep to sacrifice. But he will become a priest of things that are not gods.

10 But we are different. The LORD is our God and we have not left him. Our priests are the LORD’s servants. They are Aaron’s sons. And the Levites help them. 11 They burn sacrifices to the LORD and oils with sweet smells every morning and every evening. They put out bread on his special table every day. They put lights on their lampstand of gold every evening. We are obeying the LORD our God. But you have gone away from him. 12 God is with us and he is our leader. His priests will make a loud noise with their trumpets. That will start the fight against you. Men from Israel, you will not win. So do not fight against the LORD, your ancestors’ God.’

Jeroboam attacks Abijah and Judah

13 But Jeroboam had sent some soldiers round behind Judah’s men. He was in front of them with his army but the other soldiers were now behind Judah’s army. 14 Judah’s men turned. And they saw Jeroboam’s soldiers who were attacking them from the front and from behind them. Then they shouted out to the LORD and the priests started to make a noise with their trumpets.

The LORD helps Abijah to win the fight

15 The men from Judah shouted very loudly. When the men from Judah shouted, the LORD beat Jeroboam and all Israel’s men. He helped Abijah and Judah’s men to beat them. 16 Israel’s men ran away from Judah’s men and God caused the men from Judah to win the fight. 17 Abijah and his men completely beat the men from Israel. And 500 000 men from Israel’s best soldiers died. 18 On that day, the LORD helped Judah’s people to beat the people from Israel. That was because they believed the promises of their ancestors’ God. So Israel’s men felt silly.

19 Abijah went after Jeroboam. And he won the fight for the towns called Bethel, Jeshanah and Ephron with their villages. 20 After that, Jeroboam was always weak while Abijah was Judah’s king. The LORD made Jeroboam ill and so he died.

21 But Abijah became very strong. He married 14 wives and he had 22 sons and 16 daughters.

22 Many other things happened while Abijah was king. The prophet Iddo has written about all those things in his book. He wrote about everything that Abijah had done. And he wrote about everything that he had said.

Chapter 14

Abijah dies

1 Then Abijah died and people buried him in David’s city with his ancestors. His son Asa ruled instead. The country had peace for the first 10 years that Asa was king.

Asa obeys God’s Law

2 Asa did good things that gave pleasure to the LORD his God. 3 He took away the altars for foreign gods and their high places for worship. And he broke down the tall pillars of stones and he cut down the models of Asherah. 4 Asa said that all the people in Judah must try to obey the LORD, the God of their ancestors. He said that they must obey God’s rules and God’s Law. 5 He took away the high places for worship. And he removed the altars where people burnt oils with sweet smells. He did that in every city in Judah. And his kingdom had peace while he ruled. 6 He built strong cities in Judah while there was peace for the country. Nobody fought him during that time because the LORD let him rest.

7 Asa said to Judah’s people, ‘We should make these towns stronger. We will put walls round them with tall buildings and gates and strong pieces of wood across the gates. The country is ours because we have obeyed the LORD our God. We asked him for help and he has given peace everywhere round us.’ So they built strong towns and everything was good.

Zerah attacks Asa

8 Asa had an army of 300 000 men from Judah. They carried big shields and spears. And he had 280 000 men from Benjamin’s tribe who carried small shields and bows to shoot arrows with. All these were brave men who could fight well.

9 Zerah from Ethiopia marched out to fight them with a big army and 300 chariots. His army contained 1 000 000 men. He reached Mareshah. 10 Asa went out to fight Zerah. And they prepared for the fight in the valley called Zephathah near Mareshah.

Asa asks God for help

11 Then Asa asked the LORD his God to help him. He said, ‘There is nobody like you LORD. It is not difficult for you to help the weak against the strong. Help us, LORD our God, because we trust you. We have come to fight this large army because we want people to honour your name. LORD, you are our God. Do not let men win the fight against you.’

The LORD helps Asa to win the fight

12 So the LORD let Asa and the men from Judah knock down the men from Ethiopia. So the soldiers from Ethiopia ran away. 13 Then Asa and his soldiers ran after them until they reached Gerar. So many soldiers from Ethiopia died there that their army could not fight again. The LORD and his army beat them completely and they destroyed their army. And Judah’s men carried away very many good things from them. 14 The people in the towns round Gerar had become very afraid of the LORD. So the Israelites destroyed those towns. There were many good things in those towns. So Judah’s men took away all those good things. 15 They also attacked the tents of those people there who had animals. And they took very many sheep and camels from there. Then they returned to Jerusalem.

Chapter 15

Azariah speaks to Asa

1 God’s Spirit came on Azariah, Oded’s son. 2 He went out to meet Asa and he said to him, ‘Listen to me Asa and all you men from Judah and Benjamin. The LORD will be with you while you are with him. If you look for him, you will find him. But if you go away from him, he will go away from you. 3 Israel’s people have been without the only God that there really is for a long time. They have not had any priests to teach them. And they have not really had God’s Law. 4 But when they were in trouble they turned to the LORD, the God of Israel. They looked for him and they found him. 5 At that time it was not safe to go on journeys. The people in all the nations were always fighting. 6 One nation would destroy another nation. The people from one city destroyed another city. God was causing every kind of trouble for all those people. 7 But you be strong and do not be afraid. God will be good to you because your work gives pleasure to him.’

Asa does more things to give pleasure to the LORD

8 When Asa heard those words of Azariah, son of the prophet Oded, he became very brave. He took away all the very bad idols from the country of the tribes called Judah and Benjamin. He also took them from the towns that he had won among the hills in Ephraim. And he did repairs to the LORD’s altar that was in front of the first part of the LORD’s house.

9 Then he brought all his people together. They were from Judah and Benjamin. And there were some people from the tribes of Ephraim, Manasseh, and Simeon who lived in Judah. Many people like that had come to him from Israel because the LORD, Asa’s God was with him.

Asa brings all the people together in Jerusalem

10 These people met together in Jerusalem in the 15th year after Asa had become king. They met in the 3rd month. 11 At that time they sacrificed many animals to the LORD. They killed 700 cows and 7000 sheep that they had taken from their enemies. 12 They promised the LORD, the God of their ancestors, that they would obey all his laws. They really wanted to do that as well as they could. 13 They decided to kill anyone who would not obey the LORD, the God of Israel. They would kill them whether they were important or not important, man or woman. 14 They gave a very serious promise to the LORD. They shouted with loud voices and with the noise of trumpets and horns. 15 All Judah’s people were happy because they had given this promise to God. They really wanted to obey the LORD. They really wanted to find him. So he let them find him. Then the LORD gave them peace with all the nations round them.

Asa punishes Maacah because she worshipped idols

16 Asa took away his grandmother Maacah’s special honour. He would not let people call her queen. He did that because she had made a very bad idol of the false god Asherah. He cut it down and he broke it into pieces. Then he burned it in the Kidron Valley. 17 Asa did not remove out of Israel the high places for worship to false gods. But Asa loved the LORD as well as he could for his whole life. 18 He took the silver and gold and the other things that he and his father had saved for God. And he put it them into God’s house.

19 Judah did not have to fight again until Asa had been king for more than 35 years.

Chapter 16

Baasha, king of Israel, attacks Judah

1 After Asa had been king of Judah for nearly 36 years Baasha, king of Israel, attacked Judah. And he made Ramah a strong town. He did not want to let anyone go in or out of King Asa’s country, Judah.

Asa asks Ben-Hadad for help

2 Then Asa took silver and gold from the safe rooms in the LORD’s house and in the king’s house. And he sent it to Ben-Hadad, king of Syria, who lived in Damascus. He said to him, 3 ‘We should promise to help each other. My father and your father promised to help each other. I am sending silver and gold to you. Please stop helping Baasha, king of Israel. Then he will go away from me.’

4 Ben-Hadad agreed with King Asa and he sent the captains of his armies to attack Israel’s towns. They won the fights at Ijon, Dan, Abel-Maim and all the cities where Naphtali kept their things. 5 When Baasha knew about this, he stopped building Ramah. He stopped his work on it. 6 So King Asa brought all the men from Judah. They carried away the stones and wood that Baasha had used to build with in Ramah. And Asa used them to build in Geba and Mizpah.

Hanani tells Asa that he has done a wrong thing

7 At that time Hanani, the prophet came to Asa, king of Judah. He said, ‘You asked the king of Syria for help and not the LORD your God. So the army of Syria’s king will get away from you. 8 The armies of Ethiopia and Libya were very large. And they had many chariots and soldiers who rode on horses. But you trusted the LORD then and he helped you to win the fight against them. 9 The LORD can see everything that happens on the earth. He is strong. And he helps those who love him completely. You have done a very silly thing. So now you will always be fighting.’

Asa gets angry

10 Asa was angry with the prophet because of what he had said. He put him in a prison because he was so angry. And at that time Asa caused a lot of trouble to some of the people.

The end of Asa’s life

11 Somebody wrote about all the things that King Asa did. They are in the Book about the Kings of Judah and Israel. All the events from the first event to the last event are in that book. 12 When Asa had been king for nearly 39 years, he became ill. His feet became very bad. But Asa did not ask the LORD for help even when he was very ill. He went to the doctors instead. 13 Asa died as his ancestors had done. He had been king for almost 41 years. 14 The people buried him in the place that he had prepared in the city of David. They put him on a table that he had covered with spices and oils with sweet smells. And they lit a large fire to give honour to him.

Chapter 17

Jehoshaphat becomes king of Judah

1 Asa’s son Jehoshaphat ruled instead. And he made himself strong against Israel. 2 He put armies in all the cities of Judah that had walls. And he put groups of soldiers in places in Judah. And he put them in the towns of Ephraim that his father Asa had won.

3 Jehoshaphat was like his ancestor David when he was young. He obeyed the LORD’s rules as David had done. And Jehoshaphat did not ask the Baals for help. So the LORD was with him. 4 He went for help to the God of his father. He obeyed the LORD’s laws. He did not do the wrong things that Israel’s people did. 5 The LORD made the kingdom safe with him as its king. And all Judah’s people brought gifts to him. So Jehoshaphat became rich and the people gave a lot of honour to him. 6 He really wanted be the LORD’s servant. He removed from Judah the high places where people worshipped false gods. And he cut down the models of the false female god called Asherah.

The king sends men to teach the Law in all his towns and cities

7 When he had been king for nearly three years, Jehoshaphat sent his officers to teach in Judah’s towns. The names of those officers were Ben-Hail, Obadiah, Zechariah, Nethanel and Micaiah. 8 He sent some Levites with them. The Levites’ names were Shemaiah, Nethaniah, Zebadiah, Asahel, Shemiramoth, Jehonathan, Adonijah, Tobijah, and Tob-Adonijah. And he sent the priests Elishama and Jehoram with them. 9 They taught the people in all parts of Judah. They took with them the Book of the LORD’s Law. They went to all the towns in Judah and they taught the people.

People in other nations give honour to Jehoshaphat and to the LORD his God

10 The people in all the kingdoms round Judah were afraid of the LORD. So they did not fight against Jehoshaphat. 11 Some Philistines brought gifts to Jehoshaphat. Those gifts included silver as taxes. People from Arabia brought animals to him. They brought 7700 male sheep and 7700 male goats.

Jehoshaphat’s army

12 Jehoshaphat became more and more powerful. He built strong buildings. And he built towns in Judah to store his good things. 13 He stored many valuable things in the towns of Judah. And he kept strong, brave soldiers in Jerusalem. 14 These are their names for each clan.

From Judah there were officers over groups of 1000 men. Adnah was the officer over 300 000 brave soldiers.

15 Next, there was Jehohanan. He was the officer over 280 000 soldiers.

16 Next, there was Amasiah, Zichri’s son. He wanted to be the LORD’s servant and there were 200 000 brave soldiers with him.

17 From Benjamin, there was Eliada, a brave soldier, with 200 000 men with bows and shields.

18 Next, there was Jehozabad with 180 000 men with weapons who had prepared themselves to fight.

19 All these soldiers worked for the king. He also had other soldiers that he put in all Judah’s strong cities.

Chapter 18

Jehoshaphat becomes a friend of Ahab

1 Jehoshaphat was very rich and people gave a lot of honour to him. And he started to agree with Ahab because his son married Ahab’s daughter. 2 After some years, he went to visit Ahab in Samaria. Ahab killed many sheep and cows for him and for the people who were with him. Ahab wanted to attack Ramoth-Gilead. He asked Jehoshaphat to help him. And Jehoshaphat decided to do it. 3 This is what happened. Ahab, Israel’s king said to Jehoshaphat Judah’s king, ‘Will you go with me to attack Ramoth-Gilead?’ Jehoshaphat replied, ‘I am like you. My people are like your people. We will come with you to the fight.’ 4 But Jehoshaphat also said to the king of Israel, ‘Please ask the LORD first what he wants us to do.’

5 So the king of Israel brought the prophets. (There were 400 of them.) He asked them, ‘Should we go to fight against Ramoth-Gilead, or should I not go?’ ‘Go’, they answered. ‘God will help the king to win the fight.’

Jehoshaphat wants to ask the LORD’s prophet a question

6 But Jehoshaphat asked, ‘Is there another prophet of the LORD here that we can ask?’

7 Ahab replied, ‘There is one other man here who will ask the LORD for us. But I do not like him because he only prophesies bad things about me, never anything good. He is Micaiah, son of Imlah.’

‘Do not say that!’ replied Jehoshaphat.

8 So the king of Israel said to an officer, ‘Bring Micaiah son of Imlah to me quickly.’

Ahab’s prophets speak

9 The king of Israel and Jehoshaphat, king of Judah were sitting on their special king’s seats. And they were wearing their special king’s clothes. They were at a threshing-floor. It was near the gate of Samaria and all the prophets were prophesying in front of them. 10 Zedekiah son of Chenaanah had made two iron horns for himself. He said, ‘The LORD says, “You will push the people from Syria with these horns until you have killed all those people.” ’

11 All the other prophets said the same thing. ‘Attack Ramoth-Gilead. If you do that, you will win the fight’, they said. ‘The LORD will help the king to win it’, they said.

What Micaiah says

12 The officer who had gone to fetch Micaiah spoke to him. ‘All the other prophets are saying good things to the king. Please agree with them and say good things to the king.’

13 But Micaiah said, ‘The LORD lives. And I can say to the king only what my God says.’

14 When he arrived, the king asked him, ‘Micaiah, should we go to fight at Ramoth-Gilead or should I not go?’

‘Attack and win’, he said. ‘The LORD will help you to beat them.’

15 The king said to him, ‘I have to say this to you too many times. You must promise me, in the LORD’s name, to say only what is true.’

16 Then Micaiah said, ‘I saw all Israel’s men and they were running everywhere over the mountains. They were like sheep that had no shepherd. And the LORD said, “These people have no master. Each man should return to his own house and they should not fight.” ’

17 The king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, ‘I told you that he never prophesies anything good about me. He only says bad things’, he said.

18 Then Micaiah said, ‘So listen to the word of the LORD. I saw the LORD and he was sitting on his throne. All the angels in the army of heaven were standing either at his right side or at his left side. 19 The LORD said, “Who can cause Ahab, king of Israel to attack Ramoth-Gilead? Then he will die there.” One angel said one thing and another angel said something different. 20 Then another spirit came and he stood in front of the LORD. “I will cause him to do it”, he said.

“How will you do it?” the LORD asked.

21 “I will go. And I will cause all his prophets to say things that are not true”, he said.

“That will cause him to go and fight”, said the LORD. “Go and do it.”

22 So now the LORD has caused all your prophets here to say things that are not true. The LORD has decided to cause bad trouble for you.’

Zedekiah and Micaiah

23 Then Zedekiah, son of Chenaanah went up and he hit Micaiah on the face. ‘Which way did the LORD’s Spirit go when he left me to speak to you?’ he asked.

24 Micaiah replied, ‘You will know that on the day when you go to hide in an inside room.’

25 Then the king of Israel said to his soldiers, ‘Take Micaiah to Amon, who rules the city and to Joash my son. 26 Tell them that the king says, “Put this man in a prison. Give to him only bread and water as food until I return alive and well.” ’

27 Micaiah said, ‘If you really return alive and well, the LORD has not spoken by me.’ Then he said, ‘Remember my words, all you people.’

Ahab and Jehoshaphat go to fight at Ramoth-Gilead

28 So the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat, king of Judah went to fight against the people in Ramoth-Gilead. 29 The king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, ‘I will not wear special clothes when I am fighting. But you wear your king’s clothes.’ So the king of Israel wore soldier’s clothes. And they started to fight the enemy.

30 But the king of Syria had said to his chariot officers, ‘Do not fight with anyone, important or not important, except the king of Israel.’ 31 The chariot officers saw King Jehoshaphat in his special clothes. So they said, ‘That is the king of Israel.’ And they turned to attack him. Jehoshaphat shouted and the LORD helped him. God caused the officers to turn away from him. 32 The chariot officers saw that it was not the king of Israel. So they stopped running after him.

The enemy hurt Ahab and he dies

33 But a man shot an arrow at the king of Israel. But the man did not know that it was the king of Israel. He hit the king of Israel between different parts of his armour. The king said to the man who was driving his chariot, ‘Turn round. Take me out of the fight because the arrow has hurt me.’ 34 They fought all day and the king of Israel stood against the side of his chariot. He looked towards the army of Syria until evening. Then at sunset he died.

Chapter 19

Jehu tells Jehoshaphat that he has made God angry

1 Jehoshaphat king of Judah returned to his house in Jerusalem. He was safe. 2 Jehu the prophet, Hanani’s son, went out to meet him. He said to King Jehoshaphat, ‘You went to help a bad man. You seem to love people who hate the LORD. The LORD is very angry with you because you have done that. 3 But you have some good things in you. You have destroyed the Asherah idols that people worshipped. And you tried to do the things that give pleasure to God.’

Jehoshaphat chooses men to be judges

4 So Jehoshaphat lived in Jerusalem. But he went out among all the people from Beersheba to the hills of Ephraim. He turned the people to the LORD, the God of their ancestors again. 5 He chose men to become judges in the country’s cities. He put them in every strong city in Judah. 6 He said to the judges, ‘Be careful how you do your job. Remember that you are not doing it for men but for the LORD. And he will be with you. And he can help you to say what is right. 7 Now be afraid to make the LORD angry. Be careful and do your job well. The LORD our God is fair. Sometimes a judge might decide not to be fair because he likes one man more than another. Or he might not be fair because one person gives things to him. But our God never does those things.’

8 Jehoshaphat also chose men in Jerusalem to be judges. Some judges were priests or Levites. Other judges were leaders of clans in Israel. Their job was to help people to obey the LORD’s Law. Sometimes people did not agree with each other. And the judges must say what was right. They lived in Jerusalem.

Rules for judges to obey

9 He said to them, ‘You must be afraid to make the LORD angry in the way that you work for him. Obey him faithfully because you really want to do it. 10 Israelites who live in the cities may be arguing. And they will come to you. These problems may be about deaths. They may be about what the Law teaches. They may be about difficulties with God’s rules or about some other law. You must speak to everyone that comes to you for these reasons. You must teach them so that they do not sin against the LORD. If they do not sin, God will not be angry with you or with the Israelites. If you tell those things to them, you will not have sinned in that way.

11 Amariah, the most important priest, will be over you about all the things that matter to the LORD. And Zebadiah, the son of Ishmael is the leader of the tribe of Judah. He will be over you about all the things that matter to the king. The Levites will be your officers. Be brave and do these things. The LORD will be with those people who do the right things!’

Chapter 20

Soldiers from Moab and Ammon attack Jehoshaphat

1 After that, men from Moab, men from Ammon and some other people called Meunites came to fight Jehoshaphat.

2 Some men came and they said to Jehoshaphat, ‘A large army is coming from this side of Syria. It has come across the Dead Sea to attack you. They are already in Hazazon-Tamar.’ (That is another name for En-Gedi.)

Jehoshaphat asks the LORD to help his people

3 Jehoshaphat was afraid. So, he decided to ask the LORD what he should do. And he told all the people in Judah that they should not eat for some time. 4 All Judah’s people came together to ask the LORD for his help. They came from every town in Judah to meet with the LORD.

5 Then Jehoshaphat stood up in front of the people from Judah and from Jerusalem. He was standing in front of the new yard of the LORD’s house. 6 He said, ‘LORD, you were the God of our ancestors. You are the God who is in heaven. You rule over all kings and their nations. You are strong and powerful and nobody can stand against you. 7 Our God, you pushed out the people who were living in this country. You caused your people, the Israelites to push them out. And you have given this country for all time to the descendants of your friend Abraham. 8 Your people have lived here and they have built a house here to give honour to your name. When they built it, they said, 9 “Perhaps we will have troubles. The trouble might be war, punishment, illness or we might have no food. Then we will come and we will stand in front of you. We will stand in front of this temple because your name is in this temple. Then we will ask you for help when we are in trouble. Then you will hear us and you will save us.”

Israel has never hurt Ammon or Edom

10 But now men from Ammon, Moab and the mountain called Seir are here. You would not let the Israelites attack them when the Israelites came out of Egypt. So our people turned away and they did not kill those people. 11 Now see how these people are paying us for that. They are coming to push us out of your country that you gave to us to keep. 12 So, our God, please punish these people. We are not strong. So we cannot fight this very large army that is attacking us. We are too weak to fight them. We do not know what to do. But we hope that you will help us.’

13 All the men from Judah were standing there in front of the LORD. They were standing there with their babies, their wives and their children.

The LORD speaks to Jahaziel

14 Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon Jahaziel. He was the son of Zechariah. Zechariah was the son of Benaiah, the son of Jeiel, Mattaniah’s son. He was a descendant of Asaph and he was a Levite. He was standing among the people.

The LORD’s reply

15 He said, ‘Listen to me all you people who live in Judah and in Jerusalem. And listen to me King Jehoshaphat. The LORD says to you, “This is God’s fight, not yours. So do not be afraid. And do not think that this large army will certainly beat you. 16 March down against them tomorrow. They will be climbing up the narrow valley called Ziz. People go to the desert called Jeruel through a valley. You will find the enemy at the end of that valley. 17 You will not have to fight this time. Go to your places. Stand there. And see how the LORD will save you, Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid. And do not think that this army will certainly beat you. Go out to stand in front of them tomorrow. When you do that, the LORD will be with you.” ’

The people worship the LORD and the Levites praise him

18 Jehoshaphat put his nose to the ground. And all the people from Judah and from Jerusalem fell down in front of the LORD to worship him. 19 Then some Levites stood up to praise the LORD the God of Israel with very loud voices. They were from the clans of Kohath and Korah.

The LORD fights for Judah

20 Jehoshaphat and his men got up early the next morning. And they started to go to the Desert of Tekoa. When they were leaving, Jehoshaphat stood up. And he said, ‘Listen to me, people from Judah and people who live in Jerusalem! Trust the LORD your God. If you do that, you will be safe. Believe his prophets. If you believe them, you will win the fight.’ 21 And Jehoshaphat talked with the people. Then he chose men to sing and to praise the LORD. They had to wear holy clothes. They went in front of the army and they sang, ‘The LORD always does what he has promised to do. And his kind love has no end. So give thanks to him.’

22 The soldiers from Ammon, Moab and from the mountain called Seir were coming to attack Judah. God’s people started to sing and to praise the LORD. Then the LORD caused the enemy to have trouble. So Judah’s soldiers completely beat the enemy. 23 The men from Ammon and Moab started to attack the men from Seir. They destroyed their army. When they had done that, they started to fight each other. And they were killing each other. 24 The men from Judah came to the place where they could see the desert. They looked for the very large army. But they saw only dead bodies where the enemies had been. All their dead bodies were on the ground. Nobody was still alive. 25 So Jehoshaphat and his people went to take away everything that was valuable. They found a lot of clothes and other valuable things on the dead bodies. They took the things from the dead bodies. But there were more things than they could carry away. There was so much that it took them three days to carry all the things away. 26 On the fourth day they came together in the Valley of Beracah. There they praised the LORD. That is why it is still called the Valley of Beracah.

Beracah means ‘praise’.

Judah’s people return to Jerusalem

27 Then Jehoshaphat and all the men from Judah and Jerusalem returned to Jerusalem. Jehoshaphat was walking in front of them. They were very happy because the LORD had made them happy. He had caused them to beat their enemies. 28 They went into Jerusalem with harps, lyres and trumpets. They went to the LORD’s house there.

29 The people in all the kingdoms round Judah became afraid of God when they knew about this. They knew that the LORD had fought against Israel’s enemies. 30 Then Jehoshaphat’s kingdom had peace. His God stopped all the people who lived round them attacking him.

Jehoshaphat continues to rule Judah

31 So Jehoshaphat was still the king of Judah. He was 35 years old when he started to rule over Judah. And he ruled in Jerusalem for 25 years. His mother’s name was Azubah. She was Shilhi’s daughter. 32 He lived as his father Asa had done. And he always followed his father’s ways. He always did what the LORD wanted him to do. 33 But he did not remove the high places where some people worshipped idols. And the people still did not really want to be the servants of the God of their ancestors.

34 Other things happened while Jehoshaphat was king. Hanani’s son Jehu recorded all those things from the first thing to the last thing. He recorded them in the Book about the Kings of Israel.

Jehoshaphat and Ahaziah build ships together

35 After that, Jehoshaphat became a friend of Ahaziah the king of Israel who did very wrong things. 36 They agreed to build ships that would sail to Tarshish. And they built the ships in the town called Ezion-Geber. 37 Dodavahu’s son Eliezer from the town called Mareshah prophesied against Jehoshaphat. He said, ‘You have become a friend of Ahaziah. So the LORD will destroy the things that you have made.’ The ships broke in the sea. So, they could not sail to Tarshish.

Chapter 21

Jehoshaphat’s son, Jehoram becomes king

1 Then Jehoshaphat died as his ancestors had done. And people buried him in David’s city, with his ancestors. And Jehoram his son ruled Judah instead. 2 Jehoram had brothers who were also sons of Jehoshaphat. They were Azariah, Jehiel, Zechariah, Azaryahu, Michael and Shephatiah. All these men were sons of Jehoshaphat, king of Israel. 3 Their father had given many gifts of silver, gold and valuable things to them. And he gave to them cities with walls in Judah. But Jehoram was the oldest son. So his father said that he should be the next king.

Verse 2 Jehoshaphat was king of Judah. But Judah is the kingdom of two tribes of the Israelites. Perhaps that is why it says Israel here.

Jehoram kills his brothers

4 Jehoram made himself a strong king over his father’s kingdom. Then he killed all his brothers and some leaders of Israel with the sword. 5 Jehoram was 32 years old when he started to rule. He ruled for 8 years in Jerusalem.

Jehoram does not give pleasure to the LORD

6 He had married Ahab’s daughter. So he did what the kings of Israel had done. He did what Ahab and his descendants did. He did very wrong things that the LORD did not like. 7 But the LORD did not want to destroy David’s clan. That was because of what he had promised to David. He had promised that a descendant of David would always rule in Israel.

Edom fights Judah

8 Edom’s people decided not to obey Judah’s king while Jehoram was king. So they chose their own king to rule over them. 9 So Jehoram went there with his officers and all his chariots. Edom’s men went everywhere round him and his chariots. But during the night he got up. He attacked their soldiers and he reached the other side of their army. 10 But since then, Edom’s people have refused to obey Judah’s king. At the same time, the people in Libnah decided not to obey Jehoram. That was because Jehoram had stopped worshipping the LORD, the God of his ancestors. 11 He also built high places on the hills in Judah. And there he caused the people from Jerusalem to worship false gods. So he caused Judah’s people to do wrong things.

A prophet tells Jehoram how the LORD will punish Jehoram

12 Elijah the prophet wrote a letter to Jehoram. This is what it said:

‘The LORD, your father David’s God says, “You have not done what your father Jehoshaphat and Asa, kings of Judah did. 13 Instead, you have done as the kings of Israel do. You have been like Ahab and his descendants. You have caused Judah’s people and the people in Jerusalem to worship false gods. And you have killed your own brothers. They were your father’s sons and they were better men than you. 14 So now the LORD will hit your people, your sons, your wives and everything that is yours. He will hit them very badly. 15 You, yourself, will have many illnesses. You will have an illness in your stomach. The illness will get worse each day until in the end your inside parts will come out of your body.” ’

Enemies attack Judah

16 And the LORD caused the Philistines and the Arabs who lived near Ethiopia to be angry with Jehoram. 17 They attacked Judah and they won a lot of land. They took away all the things in the king’s house and his sons and his wives. The only son that they did not take was Jehoahaz, the youngest son.

Jehoram dies

18 After all those things, the LORD caused Jehoram to have a bad illness in his stomach. And that illness could not get better. 19 He was very ill for two whole years, and then his inside parts came out because of the illness. He had very bad pain because of this illness and then he died. His people did not make a big fire to give honour to him as they had done for his ancestors.

20 Jehoram was 32 years old when he started to rule. And he ruled in Jerusalem for 8 years. When he died nobody was sad. They buried him in David’s city, but not where they had buried the other kings.

Chapter 22

Ahaziah is king of Judah

1 The people who lived in Jerusalem chose Jehoram’s youngest son, Ahaziah to be king of Judah instead. Enemies that came in with the Arabs had killed all Jehoram’s older sons. So Ahaziah, the son of Jehoram, the king of Judah began to rule over Judah.

2 Ahaziah was 22 years old when he started to rule. And he ruled for one year in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Athaliah, who was a granddaughter of Omri.

Ahaziah does not do what gives pleasure to God

3 Ahaziah’s mother taught him to do what was wrong. So he did the things that Ahab and his descendants had done. 4 He did very wrong things that the LORD did not like. They were like the things that Ahab and his descendants had done. Ahab’s officers had taught Ahaziah to do those wrong things after his father had died. And those things caused his death. 5 Ahab’s officers told him that he should go with Jehoram to fight Hazael, king of Syria at Ramoth-Gilead. Jehoram was the son of Ahab and he was the king of Israel. He did as they said and the soldiers from Syria hurt Jehoram. 6 So he went to Jezreel to get better after what had happened at Ramah. While he was fighting against Hazael, the king of Syria there, Hazael’s soldiers had hurt him. Then Jehoram’s son Ahaziah, the king of Judah went to Jezreel to see Ahab’s son Jehoram because he was ill.

Jehu kills Ahaziah and his people

7 God used this visit to Jehoram to cause Ahaziah’s death. When Ahaziah arrived, he went with Jehoram to meet Nimshi’s son Jehu. But the LORD had decided to use Jehu to kill all Ahab’s family. God’s prophet had put oil on Jehu to show him that God would use him. 8 While Jehu was punishing Ahab’s family he found the leaders of Judah. He also found some sons of Ahaziah’s relatives who had been servants of Ahaziah. And Jehu killed them too. 9 Then he went to find Ahaziah. Jehu’s men found him where he was hiding in Samaria. And they caught him. They took him to Jehu. Then they killed him. They buried him because they said, ‘He was the grandson of Jehoshaphat. And Jehoshaphat obeyed the LORD as well as he could.’ But now there was nobody in Ahaziah’s family who could become king.

Athaliah tries to kill all the family of Judah’s king

10 Then Athaliah, Ahaziah’s mother, knew that her son was dead. So she started to kill everyone in the king’s clan in Judah.

Jehoshabeath saves Ahaziah’s son, Joash

11 But Jehoshabeath, King Jehoram’s daughter, took Ahaziah’s son Joash away from the other sons that Athaliah was killing. And she hid him. She was the wife of Jehoiada the priest. She put Joash in a bedroom in the house with his nurse. She hid the child from Athaliah because she was Ahaziah’s sister. So Athaliah did not kill him. 12 He stayed secretly with them in the house of God for 6 years. During that time, Athaliah ruled the country.

Chapter 23

Jehoiada causes Joash to become king

1 After nearly 7 years, Jehoiada decided that he must be brave. He told some officers in the army what he wanted to do. And they agreed with him. They were each over 100 soldiers. These men were Jeroham’s son Azariah, Jehohanan’s son Ishmael, Obed’s son Azariah, Adaiah’s son Maaseiah and Zichri’s son Elishaphat. 2 They went to all the towns in Judah. They brought the Levites from those towns and all the leaders of Israel’s clans to Jerusalem. 3 There in God’s house all those people promised the king that they would help him.

Jehoiada said to them, ‘Here is the king’s son. He must rule as the LORD promised about David’s descendants. 4 You must do this: You priests and Levites will go in to work in the temple on the Sabbath. There will be three separate groups of you. One group must watch at the doors of the temple. 5 Another group will watch at the king’s house. And the last group will be at the gate called Foundation Gate. All the other people will be in the yards round the house of the LORD. 6 Only the priests and the Levites who have to work there can go in to the house of the LORD. They can go in because they are holy. All the other people must stay outside as the LORD has said. 7 The Levites must stand round the new king, each with his sword in his hand. They must kill anyone who comes into the temple. They must stay very near to the king in any place that he goes.’

The people put the crown on Joash’s head

8 The Levites and all the men in Judah did everything that Jehoiada the priest had spoken to them about. Each leader took his men who should come into the temple on the Sabbath. And he took his men who should go out of the temple on the Sabbath. Jehoiada the priest did not send anyone to his home. 9 Jehoiada the priest gave spears and large and small shields to the captains over each group of 100 men. Those things had been King David’s and they were in the house of God. 10 He told all the men that they must stand with their spears ready. They stood from the north side to the south side of the temple. And they were near the altar and round the king.

11 Jehoiada and his sons brought out the old king’s son and they put the crown on his head. They gave to him the laws that kings must obey. Jehoiada and his sons anointed him as king and they shouted, ‘We pray that the king will live for a long time.’ So he became the king of Judah.

The people kill Athaliah

12 Athaliah heard the noise when the people started to run about. She heard them when they praised the king. So she went to the people in the house of the LORD. 13 She looked and she saw the new king. He was standing in the king’s place by the door of the temple. The officers and the men who made a noise with trumpets were standing next to him. All the country’s people were happy and people were making a noise with trumpets. There were singers and they were also making music. They were the leaders of the people while the people praised. Athaliah tore her clothes and she screamed, ‘People are fighting against their ruler! They are fighting against their ruler!’

14 Jehoiada the priest sent a message to the captains who were each over 100 men. These captains were over the army. The priest had said to them, ‘Do not kill her in the house of the LORD.’ So now he said, ‘Bring her out between the soldiers. And kill with a sword anyone who tries to help her.’ 15 So they took her and they brought her to the Horse Gate, next to the king’s house. And they killed her there.

The people destroy the temple of Baal

16 Then Jehoiada, the people and the king promised each other that they would be the LORD’s people. 17 All the people went to the temple of Baal and they pulled it down. They broke the altars and the idols into pieces. And they killed Mattan, Baal’s priest in front of the altars.

Worship in the LORD’s temple

18 Then Jehoiada gave authority over the house of the LORD to the priests. They were Levites and David had given to them different jobs at the LORD’s house. They gave sacrifices by fire to the LORD as Moses had written in the Law. They were happy and they sang at the same time. David had told them how to do that. 19 Jehoiada also put men at the gates of the LORD’s house. So, anyone who was not clean for any reason could not go in.

Joash sits on the king’s special seat

20 Jehoiada took the captains who were each over 100 men, the important men and the rulers of the people. And all the country’s people went with them. They brought the king down from the LORD’s house. They came in through the Higher Gate to the king’s house. There they caused the king to sit on the king’s special seat. 21 And all the people in the whole country were very happy. The city was quiet because the people had killed Athaliah with the sword.

Chapter 24

Joash is king

1 Joash was 7 years old when he became king. And he ruled in Jerusalem for 40 years. His mother was Zibiah from Beersheba. 2 Joash did the things that gave pleasure to the LORD. And he did that all the time that Jehoiada the priest was alive. 3 Jehoiada chose two wives for him and he had sons and daughters.

Joash wants money for repairs to the temple

4 Some time after those things, Joash decided to do repairs to the LORD’s house. 5 He asked the priests and the Levites to come to him. ‘Go into all the towns in Judah. And bring here all the money that Israel’s people save each year’, he said. ‘It is for the repair of your God’s house. Do it now.’ But the Levites did not hurry to do it.

6 So the king asked Jehoiada, the most important priest, to come to him. ‘You have not told the Levites that they must bring in the money from Judah and Jerusalem. It is for the tent of God’s promise. You should have caused them to bring it. The LORD’s servant Moses and all Israel’s people agreed to save this money.’

7 The sons of that wicked woman Athaliah had broken God’s house. And they had used the holy things from the LORD’s house for the Baals.

People bring money to the temple

8 The king said that the Levites must make a big box. They made a big box and they put it outside, by the gate of the LORD’s house. 9 Then he sent men to tell everyone in Judah and Jerusalem that they should bring the money there. God’s servant Moses had told the Israelites that they should pay this money. He told them that while they were in the desert. 10 All the officers and all the people were happy to give this money. They brought their part and they threw it into the box. They did that until all the people had given their money. 11 The Levites took the box to the king’s officers. They took it when there was a lot of money in it. The king’s secretary and an officer of the most important priest came. They took the money out of the box. Then they put the box outside the gate again. They did that regularly, so then they had a lot of money.

The king and Jehoiada pay men to make repairs to the temple

12 The king and Jehoiada gave the money to builders for the repairs to the LORD’s house. They used it to pay men who worked there with stone and wood in the LORD’s house. And they paid men who worked with iron and bronze for other repairs to the LORD’s house.

13 These workers worked well and they soon finished the repairs. They made the house as it should be. And they made it stronger, too. 14 They did not use all the money. So when they had finished the work, they brought some money to the king and to Jehoiada. They decided to make tools to use in the LORD’s house. There were things that the priests used for sacrifices by fire and for other work in the house. They also made dishes and cups out of gold and silver. All the time that Jehoiada was alive, they made sacrifices by fire at the LORD’s house.

Jehoiada dies

15 But Jehoiada became very old. He had lived for many years. And he died when he was 130 years old. 16 They buried him among the kings in David’s city. That was because he had done many good things in Israel for God and for God’s house.

Joash and the people decide not to obey the LORD’s rules

17 After Jehoiada died, the most important leaders in Judah came to the king. They fell down in front of him and then the king listened to them. 18 They stopped worshipping the LORD, the God of their ancestors, in his house. They worshipped Asherahs and idols instead. So God became very angry with the people in Judah and in Jerusalem. That was because they had done those very wrong things. 19 The LORD sent prophets to the people. They told the people that they should begin to worship the LORD again. They told them that they were doing something very bad. But the people would not listen to them.

Zechariah tells the people that God is angry with them

20 Then God’s Spirit came upon Zechariah, son of Jehoiada the priest. He stood in front of the people and he said, ‘God says, “You are not obeying the LORD’s rules. So nothing will go well for you. Because you have gone away from the LORD, he has gone away from you.” ’

Joash and the people kill Zechariah

21 But the people decided to hurt him. The king told them that they should kill him. So they threw stones at him until he was dead. They did it in the yard of the LORD’s house. 22 King Joash did not remember that Zechariah’s father Jehoiada had been very kind to him. He killed his son. And when Zechariah was dying he said, ‘I pray that the LORD will see this. And I pray that the LORD will punish you because of it.’

An army from Syria attacks Judah and it wins the fight

23 At the end of that year, an army from Syria attacked Joash. They attacked Judah and Jerusalem. They killed all the people’s leaders and they sent many valuable things to their king in Damascus. 24 The army from Syria was only a few soldiers. But the LORD helped them to win the fight against Judah’s much bigger army. That was because they had stopped worshipping the LORD, the God of their ancestors. So God used those soldiers to punish Joash.

Joash’s officers kill him

25 When the army from Syria left, Joash was very ill. His own servants were angry that he had killed the son of Jehoiada the priest. So they decided to kill him and they killed him in his bed. He died and they buried him in David’s city. But they did not bury him with the dead bodies of the kings.

Amaziah becomes king

26 The officials who decided to kill Joash were Zabad and Jehozabad. Zabad was the son of Shimeath, a woman from the country called Ammon. And Jehozabad was the son of Shimrith, a woman from the country called Moab. 27 People recorded the things about Joash’s sons and the prophecies about him in the Book about the Kings. People also recorded the repairs that he made to the house of God. And his son Amaziah ruled instead.

Chapter 25

Amaziah becomes king

1 Amaziah was 25 years old when he began to rule. He ruled in Jerusalem for 29 years. His mother’s name was Jehoaddan and she was from Jerusalem. 2 He did the things that gave pleasure to the LORD. But he did not always really want to do those things.

He kills the men who killed his father

3 He made himself safe and strong as the ruler of the country. Then he killed all his servants who had killed the king, his father. 4 But he did not kill their children. He did as Moses had written in the Law. The LORD had said to Moses, ‘You must not kill men because of what their children have done. And you must not kill people because of what their fathers have done. Each person must die because of his own sins only.’

Amaziah’s army

5 Then Amaziah brought all the people in Judah together. He chose leaders for their clans. Some were leaders of 1000 men and some were leaders of 100 men from Judah or from Benjamin. He counted 300 000 men who were 20 years old or older. They could fight with spear and shield. 6 And he paid 3500 kilos (7800 pounds) of silver for 100 000 very brave soldiers from Israel to fight for him.

The king sends back the soldiers from Israel

7 But a prophet came to the king and he said, ‘You king, do not let these soldiers from Israel go with you because the LORD is not with Israel. He is not with any of those relatives of Ephraim. 8 With them, you may be strong and you may fight well in the war. But God will use the enemy to beat you. God can help you. And he can cause your enemies to beat you.’

9 Amaziah said to God’s servant, ‘But I have paid 3500 kilos (7800 pounds weight) of silver for the army from Israel. What should I do about that?’ God’s servant replied, ‘The LORD can give you more money than that! He can give you a lot of money!’

10 So Ahaziah spoke to the soldiers who were relatives of Ephraim. He told them that he did not need them. He sent them away to their homes. They were very angry with Judah. They returned to where they had come from with very angry thoughts in their minds.

Amaziah fights men from Seir

11 But Amaziah became brave and he led all his soldiers to the Valley of Salt. There they fought and they killed 10 000 men from Seir. 12 His army also caught 10 000 more men alive. They took them to the top of a tall rock and they threw them from the top of the rock. So, all the men died when they hit the rocks below.

Israelite soldiers attack towns in Judah

13 But the soldiers that Amaziah had sent away were attacking towns in Judah from Samaria to Beth-Horon. He had not let them go to war with his army. They killed 3000 men and they took away many valuable things from those towns.

Amaziah worships idols

14 Amaziah returned to Judah after he had killed all those soldiers from Seir. But he brought the gods that the people in Seir worshipped with him. He put them up as his own gods and he worshipped them. And he burned oils with sweet smells in front of them. 15 So the LORD was very angry with Amaziah and he sent a prophet to him. The prophet said to him, ‘You are silly to ask these gods for help! They could not save their own people from you!’

Amaziah will not listen to God’s prophet

16 While he was speaking, the king said to him, ‘We have not asked you to tell the king what he should do! Stop! If you do not stop, my men will kill you.’ So the prophet stopped. But he said, ‘I know this: God has decided to kill you because you have done this. And you have not listened to my words.’

Amaziah attacks Israel

17 Then Judah’s King Amaziah and his most important officers spoke together. Then they sent a message to the king of Israel. He was Joash, the son of Jehoahaz, who was the son of Jehu. ‘Come and we can fight each other’, the message said.

18 But Israel’s King Joash replied to Amaziah the king of Judah, ‘A small weed in Lebanon sent a message to a great cedar tree in Lebanon. The message said, “Let your daughter marry my son.” Then a wild animal that was in Lebanon came. And it walked on the weed and it destroyed it. 19 You say to yourself that you have won the fight with Edom. And now you think that you are great. But stay in your house! You do not want to cause trouble for yourself. If you fight us, we will beat you and Judah.’

God lets Israel win the fight to punish Amaziah

20 But Amaziah refused to listen. God had decided that he would cause Joash’s army to win the fight. That was because Amaziah had worshipped Edom’s gods. 21 So Joash, Israel’s king attacked Amaziah, the king of Judah. They stood at Beth-Shemesh in Judah. And they were looking at each other. 22 Israel’s army beat Judah’s army completely. So every soldier from Judah ran away to his tent. 23 Joash, the king of Israel caught Amaziah the son of Joash, the son of Jehoahaz, the king of Judah. He caught him at Beth-Shemesh and he took him to Jerusalem. Then Joash broke the wall of Jerusalem, from the Ephraim Gate to the Corner Gate. That part of the wall was about 180 metres (600 feet) long. 24 He took all the gold and the silver from the house of God. And he took all the other things that Obed-Edom was keeping in God’s house. Joash also took the valuable things from the king’s house and some foreign men that Amaziah had kept there. Then he returned to Samaria.

Verse 23 Jehoahaz is another name for Ahaziah.

The end of Amaziah’s life

25 Joash’s son, King Amaziah of Judah lived for 15 years after Jehoahaz’s son Joash, king of Israel died. 26 Men have written down all the other things that Amaziah did from the first thing to the last thing. All those things are in the Book about the Kings of Judah and Israel. 27 After Amaziah had stopped obeying the LORD, men in Jerusalem agreed to kill him. So he ran away to Lachish. But they went after him to Lachish and they killed him there. 28 They brought his dead body to Jerusalem on horses. And they buried him with his ancestors in the city of Judah.

Chapter 26

Uzziah becomes king of Judah

1 Then all the people in Judah took Uzziah and they chose him to be king instead. He was Amaziah’s son and he was 16 years old. 2 He built Eloth again after King Amaziah had died. And he made it a part of Judah again.

Uzziah gives pleasure to the LORD

3 Uzziah was 16 years old when he became king. And he ruled in Jerusalem for 52 years. His mother’s name was Jecoliah and she was from Jerusalem. 4 He did the things that gave pleasure to the LORD. He was doing as his father, Amaziah had done. 5 He tried to obey God all the time that Zechariah was alive. Zechariah was wise because God showed things to him. All the time that Uzziah tried to obey the LORD, God caused everything to go well for him.

God helps Uzziah to win fights

6 Uzziah went and he attacked the Philistines. He destroyed the walls of Gath, Jabneh and Ashdod. Then he built new towns near Ashdod and in other places among the people called Philistines. 7 God helped him to win fights against the Philistines and against the Arabs who lived in Gur-Baal. And God helped him against the people called Meunites. 8 The people from Ammon paid taxes to Uzziah. He had become very powerful. So all the people everywhere from Judah to Egypt knew that Uzziah was great.

Uzziah makes Jerusalem strong and his men work on the land

9 Uzziah built tall buildings to keep Jerusalem safe. He built them at the Corner Gate, at the Valley Gate and at the corner of the wall. He made them strong and he put men with weapons in them. 10 He also built buildings like that in the desert. He dug big holes there to contain water because he had many animals. They were near the lowest part of the hills and on the flat land. He had men who worked in the fields. And he had men who worked in vineyards on the hills. He loved to use the ground to plant things. So, many men worked for him in places where food plants could grow well.

Uzziah’s army

11 Uzziah had an army of soldiers who were ready for war. Jeiel was the king’s secretary and Maaseiah was the king’s officer. These men counted the soldiers and they put them into groups. And the soldiers fought in those groups. Hananiah, an officer of the king, was over them. 12 The number of leaders of the soldiers’ clans was 2600. 13 They ruled an army of 307 500 men who were ready to fight. They were a powerful army to help the king against his enemies. 14 Uzziah gave to all the soldiers enough shields and spears. He gave to them special strong hats and clothes to keep their bodies safe. And he gave bows to them. He even gave stones to them for their things that could shoot stones. 15 Clever men in Jerusalem had new ideas about machines to throw arrows or big stones. Uzziah put them on the tall buildings that he had built on the walls. And he put them at the corners of the walls. God helped him a lot until he became powerful. So the people in places that were a long way away knew a lot about Uzziah.

Uzziah forgets what God has done for him

16 So Uzziah was powerful. But then he began to think that he was more important than anyone. So he began to do wrong things. And he sinned against the LORD his God. He went into the LORD’s temple to burn special oils with sweet smells on the altar for special oils. 17 Azariah and 80 other brave priests of the LORD went in after him. 18 They told King Uzziah that he was wrong. They said to him, ‘It is not right for you, Uzziah to burn special oils with sweet smells in front of the LORD. God has chosen only Aaron’s descendants, the priests, to burn special oils. Go out of this Holy Place because you have sinned. The LORD God will not give honour to you because of this.’

The LORD causes Uzziah to have an illness on his skin

19 Then Uzziah was angry. In his hand, he was holding the thing that priests burn oils with sweet smells in. He was standing by the altar for special oils in the LORD’s house. And the priests were there as well. When he was angry with the priests, immediately an illness appeared on the skin at the front of his head. 20 And Azariah the most important priest and all the priests turned toward Uzziah. They looked at him and they saw the illness on the skin at the front of his head. So they quickly took him out of there. And he himself also rushed out of the temple because the LORD had punished him with this illness.

The end of King Uzziah’s life

21 King Uzziah had the illness on his skin until the day that he died. Because of the illness he had to live in a house by himself. And he could not go into the LORD’s house. Jotham his son was over the king’s house and he ruled the people in his country. 22 Amoz’s son, the prophet Isaiah, has written about Uzziah. He has recorded all the other things that Uzziah did as king. He has recorded them from the first thing to the last thing. 23 Uzziah died. And his servants buried him in a field that the kings had to bury people in. They did that because they said, ‘He had the illness called leprosy.’ Then his son Jotham ruled Judah instead.

Chapter 27

Jotham rules Judah

1 Jotham was 25 years old when he began to rule his country. He ruled for 16 years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Jerushah, the daughter of Zadok. 2 He did the things that his father Uzziah had done. He did things that gave pleasure to the LORD. But he did not do one thing that his father had done. He did not try to go into the LORD’s temple to burn oils with sweet smells. But the people still did very wrong things.

Jotham builds many things

3 Jotham built the highest gate of the LORD’s house. It was called the Higher Gate. And he did a lot of work on the wall near the hill called Ophel. 4 He built towns in the hills of Judah. And he built strong buildings and tall buildings for soldiers in the forests.

Jotham fights with Ammon’s descendants

5 Jotham attacked the king of Ammon’s descendants and he beat them. That year, Ammon’s descendants gave to him about 3400 kilos (7500 pounds) of silver. They also gave to him 2200 kilolitres (575 000 gallons) of wheat and 2200 kilolitres of barley. Ammon’s descendants also gave the same things to him the next year and the year after that. 6 Jotham became powerful because he was careful to obey the LORD his God.

The end of Jotham’s life

7 Someone has written about all the wars and about all the other things that Jotham did. All those things are in the Book about the Kings of Israel and Judah. 8 He was 25 years old when he began to rule his country. And he ruled in Jerusalem for 16 years. 9 Then Jotham died and his servants buried him in the city of David. And his son Ahaz ruled the country instead.

Chapter 28

Ahaz rules Judah

1 Ahaz was 20 years old when he began to rule his country. He ruled in Jerusalem for 16 years. But he was not like his ancestor David. He did not do the things that gave pleasure to the LORD.

Ahaz worships idols

2 He did all the things that the kings of Israel did. And he made metal idols of the gods called Baal to worship. 3 He burnt oils with sweet smells in the Ben-Hinnom Valley for them. And he sacrificed his sons in the fire. The people that had lived in the country before the Israelites had done many very bad things. So the LORD had pushed out those people in front of Israel’s people. But Ahaz copied those things. 4 He offered sacrifices by fire on high places, on the tops of hills and under every green tree. And he burnt oils with sweet smells in those places.

God punishes Ahaz

5 So, the LORD his God sent the king of Syria against him. He caused the king of Syria to win the fight. Then the king of Syria took many people from Judah to Damascus and he kept them there. The LORD also let the king of Israel win a fight with Ahaz. And he killed many people. 6 Remaliah’s son Pekah from Israel killed 120 000 of Judah’s best soldiers in one day. God let that happen because the people in Judah had stopped worshipping the LORD, the God of their ancestors. 7 Zichri, a good fighter from Ephraim, killed Maaseiah the king’s son. He also killed Azrikam, the officer over the king’s house and Elkanah who was the king’s most important officer. 8 The Israelites took away 200 000 wives, sons and daughters from Judah. It did not matter to them that those people were also descendants of Jacob. They also took away to Samaria many good and valuable things.

Oded tells Israel’s people that God is angry with them

9 But a prophet of the LORD called Oded lived there. He met Israel’s soldiers while they were returning to Samaria. He said to them, ‘The LORD, the God of your ancestors was angry with Judah’s people. So he let you win the fight against them. But you have angrily killed very many people among them. And the news about that has reached heaven. 10 And now you want to use people from Judah and Jerusalem as your male and female slaves. But remember that you too have sinned against the LORD your God. 11 Now listen to me. The LORD is very angry with you. So you should let the people that you have taken away from Judah return to their own country. They have the same ancestors that you have.’

Israel’s people obey God’s prophet

12 Then some leaders in Ephraim met the soldiers while the soldiers were returning from the war. Those leaders were Johanan’s son Azariah, Meshillemoth’s son Berechiah, Shallum’s son Jehizkiah and Hadlai’s son Amasa. 13 ‘You must not bring these people that you have caught here’, they said. ‘If you do, it will be a sin against the LORD. The LORD is already angry with Israel because we have sinned. And he may punish us for that. It seems that you want to make it worse.’

14 So the soldiers gave the people and the things that they had taken from Judah to the leaders. All the people were watching them while they did that. 15 Then those 4 leaders gave clothes and shoes to those who had none. They took those things from the things that the soldiers had taken away from Judah. And they gave food, drink and medicines to them. They put on donkeys those people who were too weak to walk. Then they took them to Jericho, the city with many Palms. There they were near where their own people lived. Then those leaders returned to Samaria.

Ahaz asks the king of Assyria for help

16 At that time, King Ahaz asked the king of Assyria for help. 17 The people from Edom had come again. They had attacked Judah and they had taken people away. 18 At the same time, the Philistines had attacked towns in the low hills and in the south of Judah. They won the towns called Beth-Shemesh, Aijalon and Gederoth. They also won Soco, Timnah and Gimzo with the villages near to them. Then they went and they lived in them. 19 The LORD had caused trouble for Judah because of all the wicked things that Ahaz, their king had done. Ahaz let the people in Judah do what was wrong. He sinned badly and he had stopped worshipping the LORD. 20 Tilgath-Pilneser, the king of Assyria came to Ahaz. But he caused trouble and he did not help Ahaz. 21 Ahaz had taken many valuable things from the LORD’s house and from the king’s house and from the rulers. He gave them to the king of Assyria but that did not help Ahaz.

Ahaz continues to sin against God

22 In this time of trouble, this same King Ahaz did more and more bad things against the LORD. 23 He gave sacrifices to the gods of the people in Damascus because those people had beaten him. So, he thought, ‘The gods of the kings of Syria are helping them. So perhaps they will help me if I give sacrifices to them.’ But that caused very bad trouble for him and for all Israel.

24 Ahaz took away all the things that were in God’s house. And he cut them into pieces. He shut the doors of the house of the LORD. And he built altars for himself at the corner of every street in Jerusalem. 25 He built high places in every town in Judah to burn oils with sweet smells to other gods. So he made the LORD, the God of his ancestors, very angry.

Ahaz dies

26 Everything about him is in the Book about the Kings of Judah and Israel. And all the things that he did from the first thing to the last thing are in that book. 27 Ahaz died and the people buried him in the city, in Jerusalem. But they did not bury him near the kings of Israel. Then his son Hezekiah ruled the country instead.

Chapter 29

Hezekiah does what gives pleasure to the LORD

1 Hezekiah was 25 years old when he began to rule. And he ruled in Jerusalem for 29 years. His mother’s name was Abijah. She was the daughter of Zechariah. 2 He did as his ancestor David had done. He did the things that gave pleasure to the LORD.

Hezekiah tells the Levites that they must make the temple clean

3 He opened the doors of the LORD’s house in the first year that he was king, in the first month. And he did repairs to them. 4 He brought the priests and the Levites together in the place at the east side of the temple. 5 He said to them, ‘Listen to me you Levites. Make yourselves holy and make the house holy too. It is the house of the LORD, the God of your ancestors. Take out of that holy place anything that is not holy.’

Why God was angry with Judah

6 ‘Our ancestors have not done the right things. They did very wrong things that the LORD our God did not like. They stopped worshipping him. And they turned away from the LORD’s temple. 7 They also shut the doors of the temple and they stopped burning oil in the lamps. They did not burn oils with sweet smells there. And they have not given sacrifices by fire in the holy place to the God of Israel. 8 So the LORD has become angry with Judah and Jerusalem. He made them places where nobody wants to be. You can see this with your own eyes. 9 So our fathers died while they were fighting our enemies. And our sons, our daughters and our wives are in foreign countries because of it. 10 Now I want to give a promise to the LORD the God of Israel. Then he will stop being very angry with us.’

The Levites must make the temple clean

11 ‘My sons, the LORD has chosen you to stand in front of him. He has chosen you to work for him and to be his servants. And he has chosen you to burn oils with sweet smells to him. So do not waste any time.’

12 Then these Levites began to work.

From Kohath’s clan, there were Amasai’s son Mahath and Azariah’s son Joel.

From Merari’s clan, there were Abdi’s son Kish and Jehallelel’s son Azariah.

From Gershon’s clan, there were Zimmah’s son Joah and Joah’s son Eden.

13 From Elizaphan’s clan, there were Shimri and Jeiel.

From Asaph’s clan, there were Zechariah and Mattaniah.

14 From Heman’s clan, there were Jehiel and Shimei.

And from Jeduthun’s clan, there were Shemaiah and Uzziel.

15 They brought all the Levites together and all the Levites made themselves holy. Then they went in to clean the LORD’s house and to make it holy. The LORD had told the king that he should do that. 16 The priests went into the inside part of the LORD’s house to clean it. They found things in the LORD’s temple that were not holy. They carried all those things into the yard of the LORD’s house. Then the Levites took them away to the Kidron Valley. 17 They began to make the temple holy on the first day of the first month. On the 8th day of the month they reached the door of the LORD’s house. In 8 more days they had made all the house of the LORD holy. And on the 16th day of the first month they had finished the work.

18 Then they went to King Hezekiah and they said, ‘We have made the whole house of the LORD clean and holy. That includes the altar for sacrifices by fire with all its tools. And it includes the table for the holy bread and all its tools. 19 King Ahaz removed many things from the LORD’s house when he stopped worshipping his God. We have prepared all those things and we have made them holy again. They are now in front of the LORD’s altar.’

The king and the people give sacrifices to God to make the temple ready for worship

20 King Hezekiah got up early the next morning and he brought the leaders of the city together. Then he and all the leaders went to the LORD’s house. 21 They brought with them 7 male cows, 7 male sheep, 7 young sheep and 7 young male goats. These animals were for a sin-offering for the kingdom, for the holy place and for Judah. The king told the priests, Aaron’s descendants, that they must sacrifice these on theLORD’s altar. 22 So they killed the male cows and the priests took the blood. They threw the blood on the altar. Then they killed the male sheep and the priests threw their blood on the altar. Then they killed the young male sheep and the priests threw their blood on the altar. 23 Then the king and the people who were there put their hands on the male goats. They were a sacrifice for sin. 24 Then the priests killed them. They put their blood on the altar as a sacrifice for sin for all Israel. That was because the king had said, ‘You must give the sacrifice by fire and the sacrifice for sin to God for all Israel.’

25 The king caused the Levites to stand in the LORD’s house with their cymbals, harps and lyres to make music. They stood as David and David’s prophet Gad and the prophet Nathan had told them. The LORD had used his prophets to tell people how they should do it. 26 The Levites were standing ready with David’s things to make music and the priests were ready with their trumpets.

Verse 25 See 1 Chronicles chapter 6.

27 Then Hezekiah told the priests that they should give the sacrifice by fire on the altar. When they began to give the sacrifice by fire, the singers began to sing to the LORD. The sound of the trumpets also began. And the people with the things of David, the king of Israel, began to make music with them. 28 All the people were worshipping the LORD. At the same time the singers were singing and the priests were making a sound with their trumpets. Everybody did that until the end of the sacrifices by fire.

All the people praise the LORD and they bring offerings to him

29 At the end of the sacrifices by fire, the king and everyone with him bent their bodies to worship. 30 King Hezekiah and his officers told the Levites that they must sing praises to the LORD. ‘Use the words of King David and of the prophet Asaph’, they said. So the Levites praised God and they bent their bodies to worship God. And they were very happy.

31 Then Hezekiah said, ‘Now you have given yourselves to the LORD. Come near and bring sacrifices and offerings to thank the LORD into his house.’ So all the people brought their sacrifices and their offerings to thank the LORD. And everyone who wanted to do it also brought sacrifices by fire.

32 For sacrifices by fire, the people brought 70 male cows, 100 male sheep and 200 young sheep. All these animals were for a sacrifice by fire to the LORD. 33 They also put to one side 600 male cows and 3000 sheep and goats for sacrifices. 34 But there were not enough priests to take the skin off all the animals for the sacrifices by fire. So the Levites helped them until they had finished the work. By that time more priests had made themselves holy to work for the LORD. (The Levites had been more careful to make themselves holy than the priests had been.) 35 There were many sacrifices by fire. Also, there was the fat of the friendship-offerings. They also poured the proper offerings of wine with the sacrifices by fire.

That is how they again began to worship in the LORD’s house. 36 Hezekiah and all the people were happy because God had helped them to do it so quickly.

Chapter 30

Hezekiah tells the people that they must come to the Passover

1 Hezekiah sent servants with letters to all the people in Israel and in Judah. He also wrote letters to the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh. He was asking them to come to the house of the LORD in Jerusalem. He was asking them to worship the LORD, the God of Israel with the Passover. 2 The king, his officers and all the people in Jerusalem decided to have the Passover feast in the second month. 3 The proper time was the first month, but not enough priests had made themselves holy. And all the people had not come to Jerusalem. 4 This idea seemed right to the king and to all the people. 5 So they sent men to read a letter to all the people. They sent them through all Israel from Beersheba to Dan. The letter asked them to come to Jerusalem for the Passover feast of the LORD, the God of Israel. God’s Law said that the people should come to Jerusalem for this feast. But not many people had done what God’s Law said.

6 So the king and his officers sent men with letters to every place in Israel and Judah. The letters said, ‘Israelites, start to obey the LORD, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel again. Then he will return to you. He has saved a few people from the king of Assyria’s army. 7 Do not be like your ancestors and their children who stopped obeying the LORD, the God of their ancestors. He punished them for that in a very bad way, as you can see. 8 Do not refuse to obey him as your ancestors did. Do the things that he wants you to do. Come to the holy place that he has made holy for all time. Become the servants of the LORD your God so that he will stop being very angry with you. 9 If you start to obey the LORD again, your enemies will be kind to your relatives and to your children. They will let them return to this country because the LORD your God is kind. And he wants to be good to you. He will not turn away from you if you start to obey him again.’

10 The men took this letter to every town among the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh and even to Zebulun. But everywhere the people thought that they were fools. And so they laughed. And they said that the men with the letters were silly. 11 But some people from Asher, Manasseh and Zebulun became humble and they did come to Jerusalem. 12 God was also working in the people in Judah. And so all those people agreed to obey the king and his officers. The LORD had told them in his Book what they should do. And they did it.

13 A very large crowd of people came together in Jerusalem in the second month. They came to have the Feast of Bread Without Yeast. 14 They started to work. And they took away the altars for false gods that were in Jerusalem. And they took away all the altars to burn oils with sweet smells. And they threw them into the Kidron Valley.

15 They killed the young sheep for the Passover on the 14th day of the 2nd month. The priests and the Levites were ashamed. So they made themselves holy to work for the LORD. Then they could bring sacrifices by fire into the LORD’s house. 16 They stood in their proper places. God’s servant Moses had described these in the Law. The priests threw on the altar the blood that the Levites gave to them. 17 Many people in the crowd had not made themselves holy. So they could not kill the Passover sheep. So the Levites had to kill the young sheep for the Passover for them. Then the sheep were holy for the LORD. 18 Many people from Ephraim, Manasseh, Issachar and Zebulun had not made themselves holy. So they were not right to eat the Passover. But Hezekiah prayed for them. He said, ‘Good LORD, please forgive everyone 19 who really wants to worship the LORD God, the God of his ancestors. They may not be holy as the rules of the holy place say. Please forgive those people.’ 20 And the LORD listened to Hezekiah and so he made the people well.

21 The Israelites who were in Jerusalem ate the Feast of Bread Without Yeast for 7 days. They were very happy to do it. The Levites and the priests sang praises to the LORD every day. And they praised the LORD with things that make music.

22 All the Levites really understood how they should work for the LORD. And Hezekiah told them that they were doing well. They praised the LORD, the God of their ancestors. For 7 days they ate the proper food for the feast and they gave friendship-offerings to God. And they gave thanks to the LORD, the God of their ancestors.

23 Then all the people there agreed to eat the feast for another 7 days. And so they did that happily for 7 more days. 24 Hezekiah, the king of Judah gave to the people 1000 young male cows and 7000 sheep and goats. And the leaders gave to them 1000 young male cows and 10 000 sheep and goats. And many priests had made themselves holy. 25 All Judah’s people were happy. And the priests and the Levites and people from everywhere in Israel were happy too. They included the foreign people who had come from Israel. And they included people who lived in Judah. 26 Everyone in Jerusalem was very happy. There had not been anything like this in Jerusalem since the time when David’s son Solomon was king of Israel. 27 The priests and the Levites stood up and they asked God to be good to the people. And God heard them. Their prayer had reached heaven, the place where he lives.

Chapter 31

After the Passover

1 All the feast finished. Then the Israelites who were there went out to all the towns in Judah. They broke up the tall idols of stones. And they cut down the poles with Asherah on them. They destroyed the places for worship and their altars in all Judah, Benjamin, Ephraim and Manasseh. That continued until they had destroyed all those things. When they had done that, all the Israelites returned to their homes in their own towns.

Hezekiah gives rules to the priests and to the Levites

2 Hezekiah put the priests and the Levites into separate groups. Each group had special work to do. Some priests and Levites had to give sacrifices by fire. Some had to give friendship-offerings to God. Some worked in other ways. Some thanked God and they praised him at the gates of the LORD’s temple.

Hezekiah and all the people give gifts to worship God

3 The king gave his own animals for sacrifices by fire. And he gave them for the sacrifices by fire each morning and each evening. He gave them for the sacrifices by fire on Sabbaths and days of the new moon. And he gave them for the sacrifices by fire for the other feasts too. He was obeying the Law of the LORD. 4 He spoke to all the people who lived in Jerusalem. He told them that they must give the proper gifts to the priests and to the Levites. That was so that they would be able to study the Law of the LORD really well. 5 When the people got Hezekiah’s message they brought many good things. They brought the first grain that had grown, new wine, oil and honey. And they gave 1 part from every 10 parts of all the things that had grown in their fields. 6 The people from Israel and Judah who lived in Judah’s towns also brought gifts. They brought 1 animal from every 10 of all their cows, sheep and goats. And they brought 1 thing from every 10 things that they had made holy to the LORD their God. They put all these things together in one place. 7 They started to put the things together in the 3rd month and they finished in the 7th month. 8 Hezekiah and the leaders saw all the things. And they said good things about the LORD and they blessed his people, Israel.

9 Hezekiah asked the priests and the Levites about all those things. 10 Azariah, the most important priest was from Zadok’s clan. He answered, ‘The people began to bring their gifts to the LORD’s house. Since that time we have had enough food to eat and even more food than that. The LORD has blessed his people and we have all this extra food.’

11 Hezekiah told them that they must make rooms to store the things in the house of the LORD. So they did it. 12 They brought in all the gifts and the holy things. That included 1 thing from every 10 things that the people had. A Levite called Conaniah had to keep all those things safe. His brother, Shimei helped him. 13 Conaniah and his brother, Shimei were over Jehiel, Azaziah, Nahath, Asahel, Jerimoth, Jozabad, Eliel, Ismachiah, Mahath and Benaiah. And those men told other Levites what they must do. King Hezekiah and Azariah, who was the ruler of God’s house, gave this special job to Conaniah and Shimei.

How Kore and his helpers gave out the gifts to the Levites and to the priests

14 Imnah the Levite had a son called Kore. And Kore kept the East Gate safe. Kore’s other job was to give out what people had given to God. And he had to give out the holy gifts to the priests. 15 He was over Eden, Miniamin, Jeshua, Shemaiah, Amariah and Shecaniah, who lived in the priests’ cities. They helped him to give out the gifts to the priests in a fair way. They were fair to the old ones and to the young ones. 16 They gave gifts to all the males with names that were in the lists of Levites. But they must be three years old or older. When they were older, these young men would come into the LORD’s house on the right days. They would do the special work for each day that was on those lists. 17 The lists of the priests showed them in their clans. But the list of the Levites only showed those who were 20 years old or older. And it showed the work that each group of Levites had to do. 18 Also, the very young children, wives, sons and daughters received some things from the gifts. That was because they always kept themselves holy for their special work.

19 Some of the priests, Aaron’s descendants, lived on the land round the Levites’ towns or in other towns. The officers chose men who were fair and honest to take their gifts to them. They gave the proper gifts to every male among the priests. And they gave them to everybody among the Levites who was on the list of Levites.

20 That is what Hezekiah did in all Judah. He did what was good and right. And he obeyed the LORD his God. 21 He tried to obey God in everything that he did for the LORD’s house. He tried to obey God’s Law and God’s rules. In everything that he did for his God he tried to give pleasure to God. So very good things happened to him.

Chapter 32

Sennacherib attacks Judah

1 After Hezekiah had done all these good things, Sennacherib, the king of Assyria came into Judah. His soldiers lived in tents round all the strong cities that had walls. He hoped to win them for himself.

Hezekiah makes Jerusalem strong

2 Hezekiah saw that Sennacherib had come. And he saw that he wanted to fight against Jerusalem’s people. 3 So he talked with his officers and with his best soldiers. They decided to stop all the water that came from streams round the city. And the officers and the soldiers helped him to do it. 4 Many people came. And they stopped the big stream that went through the land there. They said, ‘We do not want the kings of Assyria to find plenty of water here.’ 5 Then Hezekiah’s men worked to do repairs to the city’s walls where they needed it. All the men worked as well as they could. Hezekiah built tall buildings on the walls. And he built another wall outside the first wall. He made the wall called the Millo round the City of David stronger, too. And he made a lot of weapons and shields too.

Hezekiah prepares to fight

6 Hezekiah chose some men to be captains over the people in the fight. He asked all the captains to come together in front of him. They met in the big place by the city’s gate. Then he spoke to make them braver. This is what he said: 7 ‘Be strong and brave. Do not be afraid of Assyria’s king or of his large army. And do not think that they will certainly beat you. There are more soldiers with us than there are with him. 8 He has only human soldiers to help him. But we have the LORD our God to help us and to fight for us.’ And the words that Judah’s King Hezekiah spoke caused the people to feel brave.

Sennacherib tells Hezekiah that Hezekiah cannot win a fight with him

9 Sennacherib, the king of Assyria and all his army were waiting round Lachish to attack it. Then he sent a message to Judah’s King Hezekiah and to all Judah’s people with him in Jerusalem. This is what it said:

10 ‘Sennacherib, king of Assyria says this to you: “You are sitting in Jerusalem and there are soldiers everywhere round you. But I do not know what you are trusting. 11 Hezekiah is saying that the LORD your God will save you from the king of Assyria. But it is not true. You will die because you will have no food or water. And he knows that. 12 Remember that Hezekiah himself removed this god’s high places for worship and his altars. He told you people in Judah and Jerusalem that you should worship in front of one altar only. And he said that you should burn oils with sweet smells on that altar only.

13 You know what my ancestors and I have done to all the people in other countries. Their gods were never able to save their country from me. 14 None of the gods of the nations that my ancestors completely destroyed was able to save his people from them. So I do not know how your god can save you from me. 15 So now do not let Hezekiah cause you to believe things that are not true. Do not let him change your thoughts. Do not believe him. No god of any nation or kingdom has been able to save his people from me or from my ancestors. So your god certainly will not save you from me!” ’

Sennacherib says that the LORD God has no value

16 Sennacherib’s servants also spoke more things against the LORD God and against his servant Hezekiah. 17 He also wrote letters that said bad things about the LORD, the God of Israel. He wrote, ‘The gods of other nations could not save their people from me. So the god of Hezekiah will not save his people from me.’ 18 Then Sennacherib’s servants shouted loudly in the Jewish language to the people who were standing on Jerusalem’s walls. They wanted to make them very afraid so that they would be able to win the city. 19 They spoke about Jerusalem’s God. They spoke as they had spoken about all the gods of the people in other countries. But those gods were only idols that men had made with their hands.

Hezekiah and Isaiah pray to the LORD

20 King Hezekiah and Amoz’s son, Isaiah the prophet, prayed about this. And they shouted towards heaven. 21 Then the LORD God sent an angel. And the angel killed all the strong, brave soldiers in the camp of the king of Assyria. The angel killed the leaders and he killed the officers too. So the king of Assyria was ashamed and he returned to his own country. He went into his own god’s house. There some of his own sons attacked him with swords and they killed him.

22 So the LORD saved Hezekiah and Jerusalem’s people from Sennacherib, the king of Assyria and from all their other enemies. He kept them safe from the nations everywhere round their country. 23 Many people brought gifts to Jerusalem for the LORD and valuable gifts for Hezekiah, king of Judah. At that time and always after that, the people in all nations thought that Hezekiah was great.

24 Hezekiah became very ill at that time. He nearly died. He prayed to the LORD and the LORD spoke to him. And the LORD showed him that he would get better. 25 But Hezekiah did not thank the LORD for what he had done for him. The king thought that he was too great to do that. So the LORD became angry with him and with the people in Judah and in Jerusalem. 26 But then Hezekiah and the people who lived in Jerusalem made themselves humble. So the LORD did not punish the people while Hezekiah was still alive.

27 Hezekiah was very rich and people gave great honour to him. He had a lot of silver and gold and valuable stones of many colours. He had spices and shields and all kinds of other valuable things. 28 He built places to store grain and new wine and oil. He made buildings for his cows, sheep and goats and all kinds of other animals. 29 He built cities for himself. And he had many sheep and cows because God had given very many things to him.

30 Hezekiah had stopped the water coming from the higher stream that came out of the ground at Gihon. He caused the water to run down inside the west of David’s City. And when he tried to do anything, good things happened. 31 But the rulers of Babylon sent some officials to Hezekiah. They came to ask him about the strange thing that had happened in his country. The LORD let Hezekiah decide what to tell them. He wanted to see what Hezekiah would do.

People write about King Hezekiah’s life

32 The prophet Isaiah, the son of Amoz, wrote about a vision. And he wrote down all the other things that Hezekiah did. That included the things that gave pleasure to God. Some things are in the book called ‘The Vision of Amoz’s son, the prophet Isaiah’. Other things are in the ‘Book about the Kings of Judah and Israel’. 33 Hezekiah died and people buried him with David’s descendants near the top of the hill. All the people in Judah and in Jerusalem gave great honour to him when he died. Then his son Manasseh ruled instead.

Chapter 33

Manasseh becomes king and he does wrong things

1 Manasseh was 12 years old when he started to rule. And he ruled in Jerusalem for 55 years. 2 He did very wrong things that the LORD did not like. The people who lived in the country before the Israelites had done all those things. The LORD had helped the Israelites to push those people out of their country. 3 Manasseh built again the high places for worship that his father Hezekiah had destroyed. He built altars to worship the Baals and the Asherahs. He bent his body to worship all the stars in the sky. 4 The LORD had said about the LORD’s house, ‘My name will be in Jerusalem for all time.’ But Manasseh built altars in the LORD’s house. 5 He built altars in the two yards of the house of the LORD to worship all the stars. 6 He sacrificed his sons by fire in the Ben-Hinnom Valley. He did magic and he tried to know about future events in wrong ways. He used people who spoke to spirits. He used people who did magic. He did a lot of very wrong things that the LORD did not like. So the LORD became angry with him.

7 He made an idol out of wood and he put it in God’s house. But God had said to David and to his son Solomon, ‘I will put my name in this house for all time. I have chosen Jerusalem from the cities of all Israel’s tribes. I chose it as the place to put my name for all time. 8 I do not want to take Israel’s people away again from this country that I gave to your ancestors. But they must be careful to obey all the rules that are in my Law. And they must be careful to obey all the laws and the rules that I gave to them by Moses.’ 9 But Manasseh caused Judah’s people and the people in Jerusalem to sin. So they did more evil things than any of the nations that the LORD had destroyed. The LORD had destroyed those nations when he brought the Israelites into their country.

The LORD punishes Manasseh

10 The LORD spoke to Manasseh and to his people. But they would not listen to the LORD. 11 So the LORD brought the officers of the king of Assyria’s army to attack them. They took Manasseh. And they put a piece of metal in his nose and metal chains to tie his feet together. Then they took him to Babylon. 12 When Manasseh had a lot of trouble, he asked the LORD his God to help him. He told the God of his ancestors that he was not a great man.

The LORD lets Manasseh return to Jerusalem as king

13 When he prayed to the LORD, the LORD listened to him. And he listened to what Manasseh was asking for. So he brought Manasseh to Jerusalem again. And he caused him to become king again. Then Manasseh knew that the LORD is God.

14 After that, he built a new wall outside the wall of David’s City. He built it to the west of Gihon, in the valley and at the way in to the Fish Gate. The wall went round the hill called Ophel. And he made the wall very high. And Manasseh put officers and soldiers in all the strong cities in Judah.

Judah’s people worship the LORD again

15 He took away the gods of other nations and the idol from the LORD’s house. He took out all the altars that he had built on the hill of the LORD’s house and in Jerusalem. He threw them out of the city. 16 Then he did repairs to the LORD’s altar. He sacrificed friendship-offerings and thank-offerings on it. He told Judah that they must be servants of the LORD, the God of Israel. 17 But the people still sacrificed on the high places. But they only burnt sacrifices there to the LORD their God.

The last days of Manasseh’s life

18 The other things that Manasseh did are in ‘The Book about the Kings of Israel’. The prayer that Manasseh said to his God is in it too. And there were prophets who spoke to him in the name of the LORD, the God of Israel. Their words are in it too. 19 The words that he prayed are in another book. That book is called ‘What the Prophets Recorded’. What he asked God for is in it too. The prophets also recorded in it all his sins and how he had not been faithful to God. He had built the high places to worship false gods. He had put up Asherahs and other idols in those places before he made himself humble. The prophets recorded all those places in that book. 20 Manasseh died and his servants buried him in his own house. Then his son Amon ruled instead.

Amon king of Judah

21 Amon was 22 years old when he began to rule. And he ruled in Jerusalem for 2 years. 22 He did all the very wrong things that his father Manasseh had done. The LORD did not like those things. And Amon gave sacrifices to all the idols that his father Manasseh had made. And he worshipped them. 23 But he did not make himself humble in front of the LORD as his father Manasseh made himself humble. Instead, Amon did even more very bad things than his father had done.

Amon dies

24 Amon’s servants decided to kill him and they killed him in his own house. 25 Then all the people in that country killed the men who had decided to kill King Amon. And they chose his son Josiah to be king instead.

Chapter 34

Josiah obeys the LORD

1 Josiah was 8 years old when he started to rule. And he ruled in Jerusalem for 31 years. 2 He did the things that gave pleasure to the LORD. He always did things as his ancestor David had done. He did that all the time.

3 When Josiah had been king for nearly 8 years he was still a boy. He began to worship the God of his ancestor David. When he had been king for nearly 12 years he started to destroy the high places for worship. He did that in Jerusalem and in all Judah. And he started to take away the Asherahs and idols of wood and metal. 4 He caused the people to pull down the altars to the Baals. He watched them while they did it. Then he cut down the altars to burn oils with sweet smells that were above the altars for Baal. He took away the Asherahs. He broke them and the wood and metal idols into pieces. Then he hit the pieces until they were very small. Then he threw those pieces over the places where they had buried people. The people were those who had sacrificed to those gods. 5 Josiah burned the bones of their priests on the idolsaltars. That is how he made Judah and Jerusalem holy again. 6 He went to the towns of Manasseh, Ephraim and Simeon and even into Naphtali. And he did the same in all the old places round them that nobody had used for some time. 7 He pulled down the altars and the Asherahs. He hit their idols until they were very small pieces. He cut down all the altars to burn oils with sweet smells in all Israel. Then he returned to Jerusalem.

Josiah does repairs to the temple

8 When Josiah had been king for nearly 18 years, the country and the temple were clean and holy again. Then he sent men to do repairs to the house of the LORD his God. He chose men to tell them how to do the work. Those men were Azaliah’s son Shaphan, Maaseiah the ruler of the city, and Joah, son of Joahaz, who recorded everything.

9 The people had given money to the Levites who kept the doors of the temple safe. The tribes of Manasseh, Ephraim and those who stayed in Israel gave money to those Levites. Also, the people from all Judah and Benjamin and those who lived in Jerusalem gave money to them. They brought this money into the house of God. The three men came to Hilkiah, the most important priest and they gave the money to him. 10 Then they gave this money to the men who were leaders over the work on the LORD’s house. Those men gave it to the workers. And they worked to do repairs to the LORD’s house and to make it strong. 11 They also gave money to those who worked with wood and with stones. They gave money to the builders to buy stones that were ready to use and wood. The wood was to hold the walls up and for beams. They needed those things because the kings of Judah before Josiah had destroyed the buildings of the temple.

Good men did the work

12 Josiah was able to trust the men and they did good work. The Levites Jahath and Obadiah, Merari’s descendants, were over them. Kohath’s descendants, Zechariah and Meshullam were also over the men. Those Levites also knew how to make beautiful music. 13 They were also over the men who carried heavy things and over all the other workers. Some Levites worked as writers or officials or they kept the doors safe.

Hilkiah finds the Book of the LORD’s Law

14 The Levites brought out the money that people had brought into the house of the LORD. While they were doing that, Hilkiah the priest found the Book of the Law of the LORD. The LORD had used Moses to give this Law to his people. 15 Hilkiah spoke to Shaphan the writer. He said, ‘I have found the Book of the Law in the LORD’s house.’ And Hilkiah gave the book to Shaphan.

16 Then Shaphan brought the book to the king and he told the king about it. He said, ‘Your servants are doing everything that you asked them to do. 17 They have taken the money that was in the LORD’s house. They have given it to the workers and to the men who are over them.’

Shaphan reads the Book to the king

18 Then Shaphan the writer told the king about it. ‘Hilkiah the priest has given a book to me’, he said. And Shaphan read from it to the king. 19 When the king had listened to the words of the Law, he tore his clothes.

The king sends Hilkiah and other men to ask the LORD about the Book

20 Then Josiah spoke to Hilkiah, Shaphan’s son Ahikam, Micah’s son Abdon, Shaphan the writer and Asaiah the king’s servant. He told them what they must do. This is what he said to them: 21 ‘Go to ask the LORD for me and for the people who are still in Israel or in Judah’, he said. ‘Ask about the words in the book that Hilkiah has found. The LORD will be very angry with us because our ancestors have not obeyed the words of the LORD. They have not done everything that is in this book.’

Hilkiah and the other men visit a lady prophet

22 Hilkiah and those other men that the king had sent went to Huldah. Huldah was a lady and she was a prophet. She was the wife of Tokhath’s son Shallum. Tokhath was the son of Hasrah, who kept the king’s clothes. Huldah was living in the new part of Jerusalem. And they spoke to her about this.

The LORD will do bad things to the people in Judah

23 She told them what the LORD the God of Israel said to her. This was the message: ‘Say this to the man who sent you to me: 24 “The LORD says, ‘I will cause very bad things to happen to this place and to all the people who live here. They will be all the bad things that are in the Book. They read that book to the king of Judah. 25 I will do that because they have gone away from me. They have made other gods with their hands and they have burned oils with sweet smells to them. They made me angry by all the things that they made with their hands. So I will punish this place and nobody will be able to make it impossible.’ ” 26 Speak to the king of Judah who sent you to ask the LORD about this. Say, “The LORD the God of Israel says this about the words that you heard: 27 ‘You were sorry when you heard your God’s words about this place and about its people. You made yourself humble in front of your God. You made yourself humble in front of me. You tore your clothes and you wept in front of me. So I have heard you’, says the LORD. 28 ‘So I will let you die in peace and people will bury you with your ancestors. You will not see all the bad things that I will cause for this place and for the people here.’ ” ’ So they took Huldah’s answer to the king.

Josiah and the people promise to obey the Law

29 Then the king asked all the leaders in Judah and in Jerusalem to come to him. And they came. 30 Then the king went to the LORD’s house. And all the men from Judah, the people from Jerusalem and the priests and the Levites went with him. All the people went, from the most important person to the least important person. He read to all the people the words of the Book that Hilkiah had found in the LORD’s house. That book contained the covenant that the LORD made with the Israelites. 31 The king stood there in his special place. And he promised the LORD that he would obey the LORD in every way. He promised that he would obey the LORD’s words, rules and laws. He promised to obey them with his whole mind. And he promised that he would really want to obey them. He promised to obey all the words of the covenant that was in the book.

32 Then he caused all the people from Benjamin and all the other people in Jerusalem to promise that too. And so the people who lived in Jerusalem agreed to obey the covenant of God, the God of their ancestors.

All Israel’s people worship the LORD

33 Josiah took away all the idols from all the land of the Israelites. He caused all the people in Israel to be servants of the LORD their God. All the time that he was alive, they worshipped the LORD, the God of their ancestors. And they did not stop.

Chapter 35

Josiah has the Passover

1 And Josiah had a Passover feast in Jerusalem for the LORD. They killed the sacrifice for Passover on the 14th day of the first month of the year. 2 He caused the priests to do their special jobs. Then he made them happy to be servants in the LORD’s house. 3 He spoke to the Levites who were teaching all the Israelites. These Levites had made themselves holy to work for the LORD. He said, ‘Put the holy Covenant Box in the house that Solomon the son of David the king of Israel built. Do not carry it about on your shoulders. Now you must be the servants of the LORD your God and of his people the Israelites. 4 Make yourselves ready to do the work that King David and King Solomon chose for each group in each clan. David the king of Israel and his son Solomon wrote about the way that you must do it.’

What the priests and Levites must do

5 ‘Stand in the holy place. There should be a group of Levites for each clan of the people or of the Levites. 6 Kill the young sheep for the Passover. Make yourselves holy. And prepare the young sheep for those who are not Levites. Do it as the LORD said to us by Moses.’

See Exodus 12:1-14.

Many people give offerings

7 Josiah gave to the Israelites 30 000 young sheep and young goats to kill for the Passover sacrifices. That was enough animals for all the people who were there. And he gave to them 3000 male cows. All those animals were from the king’s own animals.

8 Also, his leaders gave animals freely to the people, to the priests and to the Levites. Hilkiah, Zechariah, and Jehiel were rulers in God’s house. They gave to the priests 2600 young sheep and young goats and 300 male cows for Passover sacrifices. 9 Conaniah, Shemaiah, Nethanel, Hashabiah, Jeiel and Jozabad gave animals to the Levites as sacrifices for the Passover. The animals that they gave were 5000 young sheep and young goats and 500 male cows. Shemaiah and Nethanel were Conaniah’s brothers. Hashabiah, Jeiel and Jozabad were leaders of the Levites.

The worship begins

10 Everything was ready for the Passover to begin. The priests and the Levites stood in their places, as the king had said. 11 The Levites killed the young sheep for the Passover and they gave the blood to the priests. The priests threw the blood on the altar. At the same time, the Levites were taking the skins from the animals. 12 They put the animals for sacrifices by fire to one side for the people. Then they gave some animals to those who belonged to each clan among the Israelites. They would sacrifice them to the LORD as Moses had written in his book. And they did the same thing with the male cows. 13 They cooked the animals for Passover over fire as is in the rules. And they boiled the holy sacrifices in three kinds of large and small pots. Then they quickly carried the meat to all the people. 14 After that, the Levites prepared the animals for themselves and for the priests. The priests, the descendants of Aaron, were giving the sacrifices by fire and the fat to God. They were doing that until it became dark. So, the Levites prepared the animals for themselves and for the priests, Aaron’s descendants.

15 The singers stood where they should stand. They were descendants of Asaph. They were in their places as David, Asaph, Heman and the king’s prophet, Jeduthun had said. The men who kept each gate safe did not need to leave their gates. The other Levites prepared everything for them.

The feasts happen in a proper way

16 So, they prepared everything that day to worship the LORD. They had the Passover feast and they gave the sacrifices by fire on the LORD’s altar. They did everything that King Josiah had said. 17 Some people from the country called Israel were also there. They had the Passover at that time. And they had the Feast of bread without yeast. That feast continued for 7 days. 18 There had not been a Passover like that in Israel since time when the prophet Samuel was still alive. No king of Israel had a Passover like the Passover that King Josiah had. With him were the priests, the Levites and the people who lived in Jerusalem. All the people from Judah and Israel who were there had the Passover too. 19 They had this Passover in the 18th year that Josiah ruled Judah.

Josiah dies while he is fighting the king of Egypt

20 After Josiah had done all that for the temple, Neco, the king of Egypt came into the country. He came to the city called Carchemish. Carchemish is by the river Euphrates. He came to fight against the people who lived there. And Josiah went to fight against him. 21 But Neco sent men to Josiah. They said to him, ‘King of Judah, you and I should not fight. I did not come to fight you. I came to fight my enemies. God told me that I must hurry. God is with me, so do not fight against him. If you do not fight against me, God will not kill you.’

22 But Josiah would not stop his attack. He did not want Neco’s soldiers to know that he was Josiah. So he wore different clothes to fight against Neco. God had used Neco to speak to Josiah. But Josiah would not listen to his words. He went to fight Neco on the flat land at Megiddo.

23 Neco’s men shot King Josiah with arrows. The king said to his servants, ‘Take me away. The arrows have hurt me very badly.’ 24 So, they took him out of that chariot and they put him in his other chariot. Then they brought him to Jerusalem and he died there. They buried him near his ancestors. All the people in Judah and in Jerusalem were very sad because Josiah was dead.

25 Jeremiah wrote sad songs about Josiah’s death. Even today, all the male and female singers remember Josiah with these songs. These songs became like a law in Israel. They are in a book with other sad songs.

26-27 Everything else that Josiah did is in the Book about the Kings of Israel and Judah. Everything is there from the first thing to the last thing. That includes all the good things that he did. He tried to obey everything that is in the Law of the LORD.

Chapter 36

Judah’s people choose Jehoahaz to become king

1 Then the people in Judah chose Josiah’s son, Jehoahaz to become king in Jerusalem instead.

Pharaoh Neco chooses Eliakim to be king

2 Jehoahaz was 23 years old when he started to rule. And he ruled in Jerusalem for three months. 3 Then the king of Egypt said that Jehoahaz must not be king in Jerusalem. And he caused Judah’s people to pay a lot of money to him. It was about 3400 kilos (7500 pounds) of silver and about 34 kilos (75 pounds) of gold. 4 The king of Egypt chose Jehoahaz’s brother Eliakim to be king over Judah and Jerusalem. And he changed Eliakim’s name to Jehoiakim. But Neco took his brother Jehoahaz to Egypt.

5 Jehoiakim was 25 years old when he started to rule. And he ruled in Jerusalem for 11 years. He did very wrong things that the LORD his God did not like. 6 Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon came and he attacked him. He tied his hands and his feet together with metal chains to take him away to Babylon. 7 Also, Nebuchadnezzar took some things from the LORD’s house. He took them to Babylon and he put them in his temple in Babylon.

8 The other things that Jehoiakim did are in the Book about the Kings of Israel and Judah. That includes all the very wrong things that he did. It includes all the things that God did not like about him. And his son Jehoiachin ruled instead.

Jehoiachin becomes king of Judah

9 Jehoiachin was 8 years old when he started to rule. And he ruled in Jerusalem for three months and 10 days. He did very wrong things that the LORD did not like. 10 In the spring, King Nebuchadnezzar sent his soldiers to fetch Jehoiachin and they brought him to Babylon. Also, he brought the valuable things from the LORD’s house to Babylon. And Nebuchadnezzar chose Jehoiachin’s father’s brother, Zedekiah to be king over Judah and Jerusalem.

Zedekiah king of Judah

11 Zedekiah was 21 years old when he started to rule. And he ruled in Jerusalem for 11 years. 12 He did very wrong things that the LORD his God did not like. Jeremiah the prophet spoke the LORD’s words to him. But he did not make himself humble when he listened to them. 13 King Nebuchadnezzar had caused Zedekiah to promise in God’s name that he would obey Nebuchadnezzar. But he decided not to obey Nebuchadnezzar. And he became proud and he would not change his mind. And so he would not turn to the LORD, the God of Israel. 14 Also, all the leaders of the priests and the people were not obeying the LORD. They were always worshipping all the very bad idols that the people in other nations worshipped. The LORD had made the temple in Jerusalem holy. But they made it like something dirty by the things that they did.

Judah’s people make the LORD very angry

15 The LORD, the God of their ancestors, sent men to them with messages from him. He was very careful to tell them that they must not do those things. He knew that he would have to punish them. But he did not want to punish them because he was sorry for his people and for his house. 16 But they said that the men with God’s messages were silly. And they thought that God’s words were not important. They said that his prophets were saying silly things. Then the LORD became very angry with his people until nothing could help them.

Enemies win the fight for Jerusalem

17 So, the LORD brought the king of Babylon to attack them. The king killed their young men with swords in their holy temple. He did not feel sorry for the young men or for the young women. He did not feel sorry for the old men or for the very old people. God let him take all those people away. 18 And he took all the things that were still in God’s house. He took all the big things and he took all the small things too. He took the valuable things from the house of the LORD. And he took the valuable things of the king and of his officers. He took all those things to Babylon. 19 Nebuchadnezzar’s men burned the house of God and they broke down the wall round Jerusalem. They burned all the king’s houses in Jerusalem and they destroyed all the valuable things in Jerusalem.

20 Nebuchadnezzar took all the people that he had not killed to Babylon. They became slaves for him and for his sons. They were slaves until the king of Persia began to rule everywhere. 21 So, what the LORD had told Israel’s people by the mouth of his prophet Jeremiah happened. The country was empty until it had had its Sabbath rest. It was empty and it had rest for 70 whole years.

22 But Cyrus, king of Persia, began to rule Babylon. And during his first year as king, the LORD did what he had promised by the mouth of Jeremiah. The LORD caused Cyrus, king of Persia to decide something. He wrote it down. And he sent servants to read it in every place that he ruled over. And this is what it said:

23 ‘Cyrus, king of Persia says, “The LORD is the God of heaven. And he has caused me to rule over all the kingdoms on the earth. He has told me that I must build a temple for him at Jerusalem in Judah. I will let anyone among you who belongs to his people go to Jerusalem. I pray that the LORD their God will be with those people.” ’

Word List

algum
a tree or the wood from that tree. It was a very valuable kind of wood.
altar
table where people burn animals or other gifts as a sacrifice to a god or to God.
Ammonite
descendant of Ammon, who was a son of Lot.
ancestors
people centuries ago that your grandparents’ grandparents were born to.
angel
a person who is not human who works for God; OR a bad angel that was good but now he works for Satan, the worst enemy of God.
anoint
to put oil on a person to show that God has given a special job to them; an anointed person or thing is a person or a thing that somebody has anointed.
armour
special clothes that keep soldiers safe.
arrow
a stick with a sharp point; you shoot it from a bow.
Asherah
a false god on a tall stick.
Baal
the name of a very bad false god; the male god of the people who lived in Canaan before the Jews came. The word ‘baal’ means ‘lord’.
barley
small hard seed from a grass that people and animals can eat; or the grass itself.
bless
to say or to do good things to a person; to ask God for good things to happen to somebody.
bowl
a bowl is like a cup but it is wider.
bronze
a kind of metal; you mix two metals to make it.
camel
a big animal to carry people or things. It can walk for a long time without a drink.
camp
place where many people stay for a short time; they live in homes that they have made from animals’ skins.
cedar
big tree. Its wood is good to make floors and other things.
chain
many metal rings that join to make a long piece of strong material.
chariot
a kind of car that soldiers use to fight. Horses pull it.
cherub
a special angel.
clan
part of a tribe, a group of families.
clay
wet material from the ground; people use heat to make pots out of it.
clean
this can mean that something is right to use for God.
covenant
This meant that the Israelites were special to God as his people. And the LORD was special to them as their God. He gave to them rules about things that they should do. And he also gave to them rules about things that they should not do. If they obeyed those rules, he would cause them to do well. If they did not obey them, the LORD would punish them.
Covenant Box
a box of wood that the Israelites had covered with gold. It contained stones that God had written his rules on (Deuteronomy 10:4-5).
crown
a special hat that a king, queen or other ruler wears. A king’s crown is often gold.
cymbal
cymbals make music. People hit two cymbals together.
cypress
tall thin tree that is green all the year.
descendants
a person’s sons, daughters, grandchildren and their children.
desert
a place where not many people live, often dry.
donkey
animal like a small horse that carries people or things.
dust
the dry top part of the ground. Many very small pieces of this make ‘dust’.
entrance
where you go into a building or through a gate.
evil
things or people that are very bad. There is nothing good in them.
faithful
someone that you can always trust; someone who always does what they promised to do.
family
family can sometimes mean not only sons and daughters but grandchildren and their children and so on; sometimes it can mean grandfathers and their fathers.
feast
a large meal; but, in this book, a feast means a special holiday when the people came together to worship God.
forgive
to decide not to punish someone who has done a wrong thing.
friendship-offering
a gift of food to God to thank him; a gift of food to show that you love God; you also gave some of the food to other people.
glory
everything that makes God beautiful and great. It is like a bright light that is shining round God.
grain
a hard seed that you can eat; or you can make bread out of it.
guard
a guard keeps things or places or people safe.
harp
a harp makes music. A harp has long, thin pieces of material. You pull the material when you want to make music with it.
hate
not to like someone at all; to want bad things to happen to them; to want to hurt them.
heaven
the place where God lives and rules; but sometimes this word means the sky.
holy
what God is like; different and better than all other things; all good with nothing bad in it; or if something is special for God to use.
honey
a special kind of sugar that insects called bees make.
honour
to make someone very important; to think that they are great or special; to give honour to someone means that you cause other people to honour him or her.
horn
hard point that someone has cut from a sheep’s head. People can use their mouths to make music with it.
house of David
usually means the family of David, but may mean the palace of David.
house of Jeroboam
the family of Jeroboam.
humble
humble people believe that they are not great.
idol
a thing that people make out of wood, stone or metal. It is like a man or a god. People worship it and they pray to it. But nobody should do that.
Israel
the name of the country that God gave to Jacob and to the Jews. But after Solomon died, the part in the north became a separate country. Then that part was called Israel and the other part was called Judah.
Israelites
descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; the people who lived in Israel; or, sometimes, the people that lived in the north part of Israel.
ivory
a white material like bone that people got from large animals called elephants.
Jew
a person who is born from Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and their children.
Jewish
a word that describes a Jew or anything that is a Jew’s.
judge
person with authority to say what is right or wrong; person who has authority to punish people who do wrong things.
kingdom
a country that a king rules.
knowledge
people who have knowledge know a lot of facts.
lamp
a light that burns oil.
lampstand
it held 7 lamps. They contained burning oil, so that the lampstand gave a lot of light.
law
rules that a government or a king, or God makes.
Law
the first 5 books in the Bible; or the rules that are in those books.
Levite
descendant of Levi, who was a son of Jacob. An Israelite tribe.
linen
strong cloth like cotton that people make from plants.
lion
dangerous animal like a big cat that can kill people and animals.
lord
someone who rules or who is a master.
LORD
the special name that God gave for himself to the Jews. Do not confuse it with ‘lord’. Lord can be a word for any person that we obey. These are two completely different words in the Jews’ language.
lyre
a lyre makes music. It has long, thin pieces of material. You pull the material when you want to make music with it.
magic
to cause strange things to happen that surprise people. These things are not usual. Magic is very bad and it is not from God. Or it means that people cause bad spirits to do things for them. The spirits do things that people cannot usually do.
model
a model of something is like it but you make the model out of wood or some other material.
mule
animal like a horse born from a horse and a donkey.
nail
a sharp thing that someone has made out of metal to fasten things together.
nation
all the people who live together in the same country.
offering
a gift that people give to God.
official
a person who has authority.
olive
a tree with small fruits (or the fruits themselves) that people used to make oil. They burned the oil to give them light. They used it in other ways too.
palace
a large and beautiful house that a king lives in.
palm
a kind of tree.
Passover
an important holy day for the Jews. They ate a special meal on that day every year. They came to Jerusalem, to meet in God’s house, and then they ate a special meal together. God made them free at the time of Moses so that they were not still slaves in Egypt. Passover was to remember that time.
peace, peaceful
at times of peace, there are no fights or wars and all people are kind to each other.
Pharaoh
a word that means the king of Egypt.
Philistines
people from Philistia between Israel and the sea, always enemies of Israel.
pillar
a large long piece of wood or stone that stands on its end.
pine
a beautiful tree - its leaves are always green; or the wood from that tree.
pole
a tall stick.
praise
to say how good and great a person is.
prayer
what you say when you pray.
priest
male descendant of Aaron who gives offerings to God; or a man who works in the same way for a false god.
prophecy
messages that God wants to tell or to teach people, often about future events; but sometimes these messages were not really from God.
prophesy
to tell people what God thinks and what he will do; to tell people about things before they happen; to speak on God’s behalf or on behalf of a false god.
prophet
a person who hears God’s words and tells them to other people; a person who spoke God’s words. Some prophets wrote books in the Bible. But some prophets spoke messages that were not really from God.
proud
proud people believe that they are very great.
punish
to hurt someone for the wrong things that they have done. For example, a person who has robbed another person must go to a prison.
punishment
the bad things that God or people do to a person who has done wrong things.
pure
material of one kind with nothing else in it.
purple
a dark blue-red colour.
relative
a descendant of your grandparents or of their parents.
Sabbath
the day when the Jews rested. It started on Friday at sunset. They did no work until Saturday at sunset.
sacrifice
to give away something valuable, for example, an animal, to someone, perhaps to God; or the gift itself.
Satan
the worst bad spirit, sometimes called the devil. He is against God.
secretary
someone who writes things for an important person.
shepherd
a person who works with sheep; he feeds them and he keeps them safe.
shield
a soldier holds this in front of himself to stop things that would hit him.
silver
valuable metal, like gold, but white.
sin
it means that people have not obeyed God’s rules.
sin-offering
a gift to ask God to forgive people for their sins.
spear
sharp metal point with a long handle of wood. Soldiers used spears to fight.
spices
things that make food good when people taste it.
spirit
spirits are alive, but we cannot see them. There are good spirits that are usually called angels. Bad spirits (also called evil spirits or demons) live in the air round us. Satan is their leader.
sword
a very long metal knife to attack enemies.
tax
money that people have to give to rulers.
temple
the special building in Jerusalem where the Jews worshipped God; or a building where people worship their false gods.
tent
house of cloth or leather. People can carry it with them.
thank-offering
a gift to God to thank him.
threshing-floor
a place where people hit food plants until the seeds fall out.
throne
a special, big chair that a king or a ruler sits on.
tongs
tools that the priests used to pick up parts of the sacrifices from the altar.
tribe
a group of people that have one language and belong together; a large group of people who are descendants of one man. The first Jews were the 12 sons of Jacob. The family of each son became a tribe.
trumpet
a metal pipe with a wide end. People use their mouths to make loud music with it.
trust
believe that someone will be good to you; or believe that someone will not rob anyone; or believe that someone will do their job well.
unleavened bread
bread that had no yeast in it. People used yeast to make the usual bread that they ate.
vineyard
place where fruits called grapes grow. People can make a drink that contains alcohol from grapes.
vision
like a dream but sometimes a person is awake when he or she sees it.
weapon
something to fight people with.
wheat
a special kind of grass. People use its seeds to make bread.
wicked
very, very bad.
wine
a drink that has alcohol in it; people make it from small, sweet fruit called grapes. You can use it as medicine.
wing
a bird or an angel uses its wings to fly.
wisdom
a person with wisdom always knows the best thing to do.
wise
a wise person always chooses the best thing to do.
worship
what we should do when we are with God; to give thanks to God and to Jesus; we usually worship together with other people; we pray and we sing; to bend down to God or to a false god; to show God that he is great and that we love him very much.
yeast
people put yeast into flour and water when they want to make bread. The yeast grows and it causes the flour to become bigger. Then becomes like a loaf of bread. Then you can bake the bread and you can eat it.

Book List

NIV Study Bible ~ Zondervan ~ 1985

Peake’s Commentary on the Bible ~ Routledge ~ 2001

Illustrated Bible Dictionary ~ InterVarsity Press ~ May 1998

Info

© Wycliffe Associates (UK), 1997-2014

This version published September 2014

The translated Bible text has been through Advanced Checking.