How the Israelites Went to Captivity

The northern kingdom of Israel continued to worship idols. Finally God caused the Assyrian people to attack them. The Assyrians carried most of them away as prisoners to other lands. God let this happen because the Israelite people were worshiping false gods. The Assyrians brought other people from different lands to live in the land of Israel. These people married with the Israelites who were left. Sometimes these people worshiped God; sometimes they worshiped the false gods of the lands from which they came. They became known as the Samaritans, because the capital city was named Samaria.

At this time God sent the prophet Isaiah to prophesy in the southern kingdom of Judah. He warned the people to repent and told how they too might be carried off as prisoners. But he also told them that someday someone was coming who would be born to a virgin, talking about Jesus Christ, 800 years before he was born.

Hezekiah was king over Judah at the time that the northern kingdom of Israel was destroyed. He was a good king who tried to worship in the right way. The king of Assyria brought an army to Judah to try to conquer that land too. He sent a message to Hezekiah saying, "Do not trust in your God to save you. Have the gods of any of the nations saved them from me?" Hezekiah took the letter up to the temple of God and spread it out there. He prayed, "O God, it is true what he says. None of the gods of any of the nations have been able to save them. But they were not real Gods. Only you are real." Then God sent the prophet Isaiah to Hezekiah to say that the king of Assyria would not come against Jerusalem. After this, 185,000 of the Assyrian soldiers died and the king of Assyria went back to his own land where two of his own sons killed him.

When Hezekiah died, his son Manasseh became king. Manasseh was an evil King. He worshiped false gods. He killed many innocent people. For 55 years he was king and during that time he led most of the Israelites into sin. When he died, his son Amon became king. But he was so wicked that after two years the people killed him and made his son Josiah King.

Now Josiah was only eight years old when he became king. At first others ruled for him. When he was sixteen, he decided to follow God like his great grandfather Hezekiah had done. He had the temple repaired and when the priests were fixing the temple they found a copy of the Law of Moses which had been lost for years. When they read it to Josiah, he was really sorry for the sinful way in which the people had disobeyed God. He told all the people to worship only God. He had the people keep the Passover feast again. When he was twenty years old, he went through out the whole land and destroyed all the idols. He even went into the old northern Kingdom and destroyed the altar to the golden calf at Bethel.

At this time Jeremiah was a prophet. He warned the people to turn to God with all their heart or else they would be taken captive to Babylon for seventy years. He also told about the time when God would make a new covenant or agreement with his people, that would not be like the Law of Moses.

When Josiah died, his son Jehoahaz became king. He was not good like his father, so God had the king of Egypt take him prisoner. The Egyptian king made his brother, Jehoiakim, king in his place. He also was wicked. So God had the king of Babylon come and capture the country. At this time, several young men were taken prisoner to Babylon, including Daniel and his friends. Jehoiakim promised to serve the king of Babylon, but later he rebelled. The king of Babylon again attacked the city of Jerusalem. During this time, Jehoiakim died and his son Jehoiachin became king. After three more months, the king of Babylon captured the city of Jerusalem and took Jehoiachin and 10,000 Israelites prisoner to Babylon. One of them was the prophet Ezekiel.

The king of Babylon made Zedekiah king, but after a few years he too rebelled against the Babylonian king. This time the king of Babylon came and destroyed the city of Jerusalem, including the temple. He killed most of the people and took most of the rest prisoners to Babylon. For seventy years the Israelites were in captivity in Babylon.

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