Judah Led into Captivity
There was a king of Judah, in Jerusalem, named Jehoiakim. He was a wicked king and did evil in the sight of the Lord. Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, came up to make war against him. Jehoiakim was not able to fight against the hosts of Babylon, so he promised to serve Nebuchadnezzar. Nebuchadnezzar then carried off the vessels out of the house of the Lord and put them in the temple of the heathen god in Babylon.
After Jehoiakim had been king for four years and had been very wicked, the Lord spoke to Jeremiah the prophet, and said to him: "Take a roll of a book and write down all I shall tell you that will happen to Judah, on account of the sins of the people."
Jeremiah sent for Baruch, a scribe, and Baruch wrote on a roll the words of Jeremiah, as he spoke them, even the words that the Lord had put into the mouth of Jeremiah. When the roll was finished, Jeremiah said to the scribe: "Go, read the roll which you have written from the words of my mouth, to all the people in the Lord's house upon the day of their fasting." Then the scribe took
roll and went up to the temple where the people were gathered, and read to them the words of the prophet.
The princes heard of the roll which Baruch had read to the people and sent for him to come and read it to them as they sat in the king's palace. Baruch took the roll and went to the king's palace; and began to read it to the princes.
"We will surely tell the king all these words," said the princes to Baruch, for they were afraid of the punishments which Jeremiah had foretold. "Tell us how you wrote these words?"
"Jeremiah spoke all these words with his mouth and I wrote them with ink in a book," answered the scribe. Then the princes told Baruch to hide Jeremiah and himself, for the king would be very angry when he heard the words which the prophet had spoken.
The princes told Jehoiakim about the book, and he sent one of his servants to bring it to him. Then the servant began to read it in the ears of the king, and in the ears of all the princes which stood beside the king. It was winter and there was a fire burning on the hearth before the king. When the servant had read three or four leaves of the book, the king took his penknife and cut them from the book and threw them into the fire. He did this to each leaf until the entire book had been consumed in the fire that was on the hearth.
Three of the princes begged the king not to destroy the book as it was read to him and them, but he paid no heed to their requests. The king and the princes were not afraid when they heard the prophecy of the punishment which was to come upon Judah, and by no means repented of their sins. On the other hand the king was angry with Jeremiah for speaking the words and with Baruch for writing the book, and sent his officers to get them. But the Lord hid the prophet and the scribe so that the soldiers could not find them.
The word of the Lord came to Jeremiah, saying: "Take another roll and write down all that you wrote in the book which the king has destroyed in the fire." And Jeremiah took another roll and gave it to Baruch and the scribe wrote all the words of the prophet which he had written before and many more words besides.
In that book the prophet said that the king of Babylon should certainly come and destroy the land, and that the Lord would punish the people for their sins. But Jehoiakim paid no attention to the words of the prophet and the people of Judah continued in their iniquity. Then Jehoiakim died and his son, Jehoiachin, became king in his place.
Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, came up again with his hosts and besieged Jerusalem. Jehoiachin was not able to fight so strong an army and surrendered to the king of Babylon, even as his father had done. Nebuchadnezzar spoiled the temple of the Lord and carried all the treasures of the temple and of the king's palace to Babylon. He cut in pieces all the vessels of gold that Solomon had made and carried away all the princes and mighty men of valor, and all the craftsmen and smiths, so that none remained in Jerusalem except the poorest sort of people.