This article is part of a series of Bible passages, which together are mainly about how the Bible says the Jewish race developed and were given laws, how they settled in ancient Israel, and how it says God sometimes punished them for disobeying his commands, which led to them changing their ways.
This is Part 2 (of 4) in Section 10: "The suffering after the Babylonian conquest, and the prophecies of the return of the Jews to Jerusalem".
Some parts of the Old Testament and the Book of Revelation are very unpleasant. If you become offended by anything, please read An Attempt to Explain Gruesome Bible Passages.
The purpose of the Old Testament seems to have been mainly to try to scare lawless societies into behaving decently, giving up the cruel ways the Bible says they were guilty of. Hence much of the gruesomeness, which is at least in part meant to warn people committing cruel and hurtful actions to change.
Jeremiah chapter 52 (NIV)
12 On the tenth day of the fifth month, in the nineteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, Nebuzaradan commander of the imperial guard, who served the king of Babylon, came to Jerusalem. 13 He set fire to the temple of the LORD , the royal palace and all the houses of Jerusalem. Every important building he burned down. 14 The whole Babylonian army under the commander of the imperial guard broke down all the walls around Jerusalem.
15 Nebuzaradan the commander of the guard carried into exile some of the poorest people and those who remained in the city, along with the rest of the craftsmen and those who had gone over to the king of Babylon. 16 But Nebuzaradan left behind the rest of the poorest people of the land to work the vineyards and fields.
Jeremiah chapter 40 (TEV)
1 The Lord spoke to me after Nebuzaradan, the commanding officer, had set me free at Ramah. I had been taken there in chains, along with all the other people from Jerusalem and Judah who were being taken away as prisoners to Babylonia. 2 The commanding officer took me aside and said, "The Lord your God threatened this land with destruction, 3 and now he has done what he said he would. All this happened because your people sinned against the Lord and disobeyed him. 4 Now, I am taking the chains off your wrists and setting you free. If you want to go to Babylonia with me, you may do so, and I will take care of you. But if you don't want to go, you don't have to. You have the whole country to choose from, and you may go wherever you wish." 5 When I did not answer, Nebuzaradan said, "Go back to Gedaliah, the son of Ahikam and grandson of Shaphan, whom the king of Babylonia has made governor of the towns of Judah. You may stay with him and live among the people, or you may go anywhere you think you should." Then he gave me a present and some food to take with me, and let me go on my way.
6 I went to stay with Gedaliah in Mizpah and lived among the people who were left in the land.
7 Some of the Judean officers and soldiers had not surrendered. They heard that the king of Babylonia had made Gedaliah governor of the land and had placed him in charge of all those who had not been taken away to Babylonia-the poorest people in the land. 8 So Ishmael son of Nethaniah, Johanan son of Kareah, Seraiah son of Tanhumeth, the sons of Ephai from Netophah, and Jezaniah from Maacah went with their men to Gedaliah at Mizpah. 9 Gedaliah said to them, "I give you my word that there is no need for you to be afraid to surrender to the Babylonians. Settle in this land, serve the king of Babylonia, and all will go well with you. 10 I myself will stay in Mizpah and be your representative when the Babylonians come here. But you can gather and store up wine, fruit, and olive oil, and live in the villages you occupy."
11 Meanwhile, all the Israelites who were in Moab, Ammon, Edom, and other countries, heard that the king of Babylonia had allowed some Israelites to stay on in Judah and that he had made Gedaliah their governor. 12 So they left the places where they had been scattered, and returned to Judah. They came to Gedaliah at Mizpah, and there they gathered in large amounts of wine and fruit.
13 After this, Johanan and the leaders of the soldiers who had not surrendered came to Gedaliah at Mizpah 14 and said to him, "Don't you know that King Baalis of Ammon has sent Ishmael to murder you?" But Gedaliah did not believe it. 15 Then Johanan said privately to him, "Let me go and kill Ishmael, and no one will know who did it. Why should he be allowed to murder you? That would cause all the Jews who have gathered around you to be scattered, and it would bring disaster on all the people who are left in Judah."
16 But Gedaliah answered, "Don't do it! What you are saying about Ishmael is not true!"
Jeremiah chapter 41 (NIV)
1 In the seventh month Ishmael son of Nethaniah, the son of Elishama, who was of royal blood and had been one of the king's officers, came with ten men to Gedaliah son of Ahikam at Mizpah. While they were eating together there, 2 Ishmael son of Nethaniah and the ten men who were with him got up and struck down Gedaliah son of Ahikam, the son of Shaphan, with the sword, killing the one whom the king of Babylon had appointed as governor over the land. 3 Ishmael also killed all the Jews who were with Gedaliah at Mizpah, as well as the Babylonian soldiers who were there.
10 Ishmael made captives of all the rest of the people who were in Mizpah-the king's daughters along with all the others who were left there, over whom Nebuzaradan commander of the imperial guard had appointed Gedaliah son of Ahikam. Ishmael son of Nethaniah took them captive and set out to cross over to the Ammonites.
11 When Johanan son of Kareah and all the army officers who were with him heard about all the crimes Ishmael son of Nethaniah had committed, 12 they took all their men and went to fight Ishmael son of Nethaniah. They caught up with him near the great pool in Gibeon. 13 When all the people Ishmael had with him saw Johanan son of Kareah and the army officers who were with him, they were glad. 14 All the people Ishmael had taken captive at Mizpah turned and went over to Johanan son of Kareah. 15 But Ishmael son of Nethaniah and eight of his men escaped from Johanan and fled to the Ammonites.
16 Then Johanan son of Kareah and all the army officers who were with him led away all the survivors from Mizpah whom he had recovered from Ishmael son of Nethaniah after he had assassinated Gedaliah son of Ahikam: the soldiers, women, children and court officials he had brought from Gibeon. 17 And they went on, stopping at Geruth Kimham near Bethlehem on their way to Egypt 18 to escape the Babylonians. They were afraid of them because Ishmael son of Nethaniah had killed Gedaliah son of Ahikam, whom the king of Babylon had appointed as governor over the land.
Jeremiah chapter 42 (TEV)
1 Then all the army leaders, including Johanan son of Kareah and Azariah son of Hoshaiah, came with people of every class 2 and said to me, "Please do what we ask you! Pray to the Lord our God for us. Pray for all of us who have survived. Once there were many of us; but now only a few of us are left, as you can see. 3 Pray that the Lord our God will show us the way we should go and what we should do."
4 I answered, "Very well, then. I will pray to the Lord our God, just as you have asked, and whatever he says, I will tell you. I will not keep back anything from you."
5 Then they said to me, "May the Lord be a true and faithful witness against us if we do not obey all the commands that the Lord our God gives you for us. 6 Whether it pleases us or not, we will obey the Lord our God, to whom we are asking you to pray. All will go well with us if we obey him."
7 Ten days later the Lord spoke to me; 8 so I called together Johanan, all the army leaders who were with him, and all the other people. 9 I said to them,
"The Lord, the God of Israel, to whom you sent me with your request has said,
10 "If you are willing to go on living in this land, then I will build you up and not tear you down; I will plant you and not pull you up. The destruction I brought on you has caused me great sorrow.
11 Stop being afraid of the king of Babylonia. I am with you, and I will rescue you from his power. 12 Because I am merciful, I will make him have mercy on you and let you go back home. I, the Lord, have spoken.'
13 "But you people who are left in Judah must not disobey the Lord your God and refuse to live in this land. You must not say, "No, we will go and live in Egypt, where we won't face war any more or hear the call to battle or go hungry.' If you say this, then the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says,
"If you are determined to go and live in Egypt, 16 then the war that you fear will overtake you, and the hunger you dread will follow you, and you will die there in Egypt. 17 All the people who are determined to go and live in Egypt will die either in war or of starvation or disease. Not one of them will survive, not one will escape the disaster that I am going to bring on them.' 18 "The Lord, the God of Israel, says, "Just as my anger and fury were poured out on the people of Jerusalem, so my fury will be poured out on you if you go to Egypt. You will be a horrifying sight; people will make fun of you and use your name as a curse. You will never see this place again.' "
19 Then I continued, "The Lord has told you people who are left in Judah not to go to Egypt. And so I warn you now 20 that you are making a fatal mistake. You asked me to pray to the Lord our God for you, and you promised that you would do everything that he commands. 21 And now I have told you, but you are disobeying everything that the Lord our God sent me to tell you. 22 So then, remember this: you will die in war or of starvation or disease in the land where you want to go and live."
Jeremiah chapter 43 (TEV)
1 I finished telling the people everything that the Lord their God had sent me to tell them. 2 Then Azariah son of Hoshaiah and Johanan son of Kareah and all the other arrogant men said to me, "You are lying. The Lord our God did not send you to tell us not to go and live in Egypt. 3 Baruch son of Neriah has stirred you up against us, so that the Babylonians will gain power over us and can either kill us or take us away to Babylonia."
4 So neither Johanan nor any of the army officers nor any of the people would obey the Lord's command to remain in the land of Judah.
5 Then Johanan and all the army officers took everybody left in Judah away to Egypt, together with all the people who had returned from the nations where they had been scattered: 6 the men, the women, the children, and the king's daughters. They took everyone whom Nebuzaradan the commanding officer had left under the care of Gedaliah, including Baruch and me. 7 They disobeyed the Lord's command and went into Egypt as far as the city of Tahpanhes.
8 There the Lord said to me, 9 "Get some large stones and bury them in the mortar of the pavement in front of the entrance to the government building here in the city, and let some of the Israelites see you do it. 10 Then tell them that I, the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, am going to bring my servant King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylonia to this place, and he will put his throne over these stones that you buried, and will spread the royal tent over them. 11 Nebuchadnezzar will come and defeat Egypt. Those people who are doomed to die of disease will die of disease, those doomed to be taken away as prisoners will be taken away as prisoners, and those doomed to be killed in war will be killed in war. 12 I will set fire to the temples of Egypt's gods, and the king of Babylonia will either burn their gods or carry them off. As shepherds pick their clothes clean of lice, so the king of Babylonia will pick the land of Egypt clean and then leave victorious. 13 He will destroy the sacred stone monuments at Heliopolis in Egypt and will burn down the temples of the Egyptian gods."
Jeremiah chapter 44 (CEV)
1 The LORD told me to speak with the Jews who were living in the towns of Migdol, Tahpanhes, and Memphis in northern Egypt, and also to those living in southern Egypt. He told me to tell them:
2 I am the LORD All-Powerful, the God of Israel. You saw how I destroyed Jerusalem and the towns of Judah. They lie empty and in ruins today, 3 because the people of Judah made me angry by worshiping gods that had never helped them or their ancestors. 4 Time after time I sent my servants the prophets to tell the people of Judah how much I hated their disgusting sins. The prophets warned them to stop sinning, 5 but they refused to listen and would not stop worshiping other gods. 6 Finally, my anger struck like a raging flood, and today Jerusalem and the towns of Judah are nothing but empty ruins.
7 Why do you now insist on heading for another disaster? A disaster that will destroy not only you, but also your children and babies. 8 You have made me angry by worshiping idols and burning incense to other gods after you came here to Egypt. You will die such a disgusting death, that other nations will use the name of Judah as a curse word. 9 When you were living in Jerusalem and Judah, you followed the example of your ancestors in doing evil things, just like your kings and queens. 10 Even now, your pride keeps you from respecting me and obeying the laws and teachings I gave you and your ancestors. 11 I, the LORD All-Powerful, have decided to wipe you out with disasters. 12 There were only a few of you left in Judah, and you decided to go to Egypt. But you will die such horrible deaths in war or from starvation, that people of other countries will use the name of Judah as a curse word. 13 I punished Jerusalem with war, hunger, and disease, and that's how I will punish you. 14 None of you will survive. You may hope to return to Judah someday, but only a very few of you will escape death and be able to go back.
15 A large number of Jews from both northern and southern Egypt listened to me as I told them what the LORD had said. Most of the men in the crowd knew that their wives often burned incense to other gods. So they and their wives shouted: 16 Jeremiah, what do we care if you speak in the LORD's name? We refuse to listen! 17 We have promised to worship the goddess Astarte, the Queen of Heaven, and that is exactly what we are going to do. We will burn incense and offer sacrifices of wine to her, just as we, our ancestors, our kings, and our leaders did when we lived in Jerusalem and the other towns of Judah. We had plenty of food back then. We were well off, and nothing bad ever happened to us. 18 But since the time we stopped burning incense and offering wine sacrifices to her, we have been dying from war and hunger. 19 Then the women said, "When we lived in Judah, we worshiped the Queen of Heaven and offered sacrifices of wine and special loaves of bread shaped like her. Our husbands knew what we were doing, and they approved of it."
20 Then I told the crowd:
21 Don't you think the LORD knew that you and your ancestors, your leaders and kings, and the rest of the people were burning incense to other gods in Jerusalem and everywhere else in Judah? 22 And when he could no longer put up with your disgusting sins, he placed a curse on your land and turned it into a desert, as it is today. 23 This disaster happened because you worshiped other gods and rebelled against the LORD by refusing to obey him or follow his laws and teachings.
24-25 Then I told the men and their wives, that the LORD All-Powerful, the God of Israel, had said:
Here in Egypt you still keep your promises to burn incense and offer sacrifices of wine to the so-called Queen of Heaven. 26 Keep these promises! But let me tell you what will happen. As surely as I am the LORD God, I swear that I will never again accept any promises you make in my name. 27 Instead of watching over you, I will watch for chances to harm you. Some of you will die in war, and others will starve to death. 28 Only a few will escape and return to Judah. Then everyone who went to live in Egypt will know that when I say something will happen, it will--no matter what you say. 29 And here is how you will know that I will keep my threats to punish you in Egypt. 30 I will hand over King Hophra of Egypt to those who want to kill him, just as I handed Zedekiah over to Nebuchadnezzar, who wanted to kill him.
Jeremiah chapter 45 (TEV)
1 In the fourth year that Jehoiakim son of Josiah was king of Judah, Baruch wrote down what I had dictated to him. Then I told him 2 that the Lord, the God of Israel, had said, "Baruch, 3 you are saying, "I give up! The Lord has added sorrow to my troubles. I am worn out from groaning, and I can't find any rest!'
4 "But I, the Lord, am tearing down what I have built and pulling up what I have planted. I will do this to the entire earth. 5 Are you looking for special treatment for yourself? Don't do it. I am bringing disaster on all people, but you will at least escape with your life, wherever you go. I, the Lord, have spoken."
Ezekiel chapter 29 (NLT)
1 On January 7, during the tenth year of King Jehoiachin's captivity, this message came to me from the LORD: 2 "Son of man, turn toward Egypt and prophesy against Pharaoh the king and all the people of Egypt. 3 Give them this message from the Sovereign LORD: I am your enemy, O Pharaoh, king of Egypt - you great monster, lurking in the streams of the Nile. For you have said, 'The Nile River is mine; I made it for myself!' 4 I will put hooks in your jaws and drag you out on the land with fish sticking to your scales. 5 I will leave you and all your fish stranded in the desert to die. You will lie unburied on the open ground, for I have given you as food to the wild animals and birds.
6 "All the people of Egypt will discover that I am the LORD, for you collapsed like a reed when Israel looked to you for help. 7 Israel leaned on you, but like a cracked staff, you splintered and stabbed her in the armpit. When she put her weight on you, you gave way, and her back was thrown out of joint.
8 So now the Sovereign LORD says: I will bring an army against you, O Egypt, and destroy both people and animals. 9 The land of Egypt will become a desolate wasteland, and the Egyptians will know that I am the LORD.
"Because you said, 'The Nile River is mine; I made it,' 10 I am now the enemy of both you and your river. I will utterly destroy the land of Egypt, from Migdol to Aswan, as far south as the border of Ethiopia. 11 For forty years not a soul will pass that way, neither people nor animals. It will be completely uninhabited. 12 I will make Egypt desolate, and it will be surrounded by other desolate nations. Its cities will be empty and desolate for forty years, surrounded by other desolate cities. I will scatter the Egyptians to distant lands.
13 "But the Sovereign LORD also says: At the end of the forty years I will bring the Egyptians home again from the nations to which they have been scattered. 14 I will restore the prosperity of Egypt and bring its people back to the land of Pathros in southern Egypt from which they came. But Egypt will remain an unimportant, minor kingdom. 15 It will be the lowliest of all the nations, never again great enough to rise above its neighbors.
16 "Then Israel will no longer be tempted to trust in Egypt for help. Egypt's shattered condition will remind Israel of how sinful she was to trust Egypt in earlier days. Then Israel will know that I alone am the Sovereign LORD."
17 On April 26, during the twenty-seventh year of King Jehoiachin's captivity, this message came to me from the LORD: 18 "Son of man, the army of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon fought so hard against Tyre that the warriors' heads were rubbed bare and their shoulders were raw and blistered. Yet Nebuchadnezzar and his army won no plunder to compensate them for all their work. 19 Therefore, this is what the Sovereign LORD says: I will give the land of Egypt to Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon. He will carry off their wealth, plundering everything they have to pay his army. 20 Yes, I have given him the land of Egypt as a reward for his work, says the Sovereign LORD, because he was working for me when he destroyed Tyre.
21 "And the day will come when I will cause the ancient glory of Israel to revive, and then at last your words will be respected. Then they will know that I am the LORD."
Ezekiel chapter 31 (NLT)
1 On June 21, during the eleventh year of King Jehoiachin's captivity, this message came to me from the LORD: 2 "Son of man, give this message to Pharaoh, king of Egypt, and all his people:
To whom would you compare your greatness?
3 You are as Assyria was - a great and mighty nation.
Assyria, too, was once like a cedar of Lebanon,
full of thick branches that cast deep forest shade with its top high among the clouds.
4 Deep springs watered it and helped it to grow tall and luxuriant.
The water was so abundant that there was enough for all the trees nearby.
5 This great tree towered above all the other trees around it.
It prospered and grew long thick branches because of all the water at its roots.
6 The birds nested in its branches, and in its shade all the wild animals gave birth to their young.
All the great nations of the world lived in its shadow.
7 It was strong and beautiful, for its roots went deep into abundant water.
10 "Therefore, this is what the Sovereign LORD says:
Because it became proud and arrogant, and because it set itself so high above the others, reaching to the clouds, 11 I handed it over to a mighty nation that destroyed it as its wickedness deserved. I myself discarded it. 12 A foreign army - the terror of the nations - cut it down and left it fallen on the ground. Its branches were scattered across the mountains and valleys and ravines of the land. All those who lived beneath its shadow went away and left it lying there . 14 Let no other nation proudly exult in its own prosperity, though it be higher than the clouds, for all are doomed. They will land in the pit along with all the proud people of the world.
Ezekiel chapter 35 (NLT)
1 Again a message came to me from the LORD: 2 "Son of man, turn toward Mount Seir, and prophesy against its people. 3 Give them this message from the Sovereign LORD:
I am your enemy, O Mount Seir, and I will raise my fist against you to destroy you completely. 4 I will demolish your cities and make you desolate, and then you will know that I am the LORD. 5 Your continual hatred for the people of Israel led you to butcher them when they were helpless, when I had already punished them for all their sins. 6 As surely as I live, says the Sovereign LORD, since you show no distaste for blood, I will give you a bloodbath of your own. Your turn has come! 7 I will make Mount Seir utterly desolate, killing off all who try to escape and any who return. 8 I will fill your mountains with the dead. Your hills, your valleys, and your streams will be filled with people slaughtered by the sword. 9 I will make you desolate forever. Your cities will never be rebuilt. Then you will know that I am the LORD.
10 "For you said, 'The lands of Israel and Judah will be ours. We will take possession of them. What do we care that the LORD is there!' 11 Therefore, as surely as I live, says the Sovereign LORD, I will pay back your angry deeds with mine. I will punish you for all your acts of anger, envy, and hatred. And I will bring honor to my name by what I do to you. 12 Then you will know that I, the LORD, have heard every contemptuous word you spoke against the mountains of Israel. For you said, 'They have been destroyed; they have been given to us as food to eat!' 13 In saying that, you boasted proudly against me, and I have heard it all!
14 "This is what the Sovereign LORD says: The whole world will rejoice when I make you desolate. 15 You rejoiced at the desolation of Israel's inheritance. Now I will rejoice at yours! You will be wiped out, you people of Mount Seir and all who live in Edom! Then you will know that I am the LORD!
The next file in this section (Part 3), is entitled: "Prophecies About The Return Of The Israelite Exiles From Babylon And The Punishment Decreed By God In His Anger Against Their Enemies".
If you have found parts of the Old Testament or the Book of Revelation offensive, please read An Attempt to Explain Gruesome Bible Passages.
The selections of Bible quotations have been put together by Diana Holbourn.
Throughout this series, wherever the initials TEV appear, they stand for Today's English Version (The Good News Bible).Other initials: