Josephus, Antiquities, The Babylonian Exile (10.131-154)

131 Now the king of Babylon was very intent and earnest upon the siege of Jerusalem; and he erected towers upon great banks of earth, and from them repelled those who stood upon the walls: he also made a great number of such banks around the whole city, whose height was equal to those walls.

132 However, those that were within bore the siege with courage and alacrity, for they were not discouraged, either by the famine, or by the pestilential distemper, but were of cheerful minds in the prosecution of the war, although those miseries within oppressed them also; and they did not suffer themselves to be terrified, either by the contrivances of the enemy, or by their engines of war, but contrived still different engines to oppose all the others with, 133 till indeed there seemed to be an entire struggle between the Babylonians and the people of Jerusalem, who had the greater sagacity and skill; the former party supposing they should be thereby too hard for the other, for the destruction of the city; the latter, placing their hopes of deliverance in nothing else but in persevering in such inventions, in opposition to the other, as might demonstrate the enemy's engines were useless to them.

134 And this siege they endured for eighteen months, until they were killed by the famine, and by the arrows which the enemy shot at them from the towers. 135 Now the city was taken on the ninth day of the fourth month, in the eleventh year of the reign of Zedekiah. They were indeed only generals of the king of Babylon, to whom Nebuchadnezzar committed the care of the siege, for he abode himself in the city of Riblah. The names of these generals who ravaged and subdued Jerusalem, if anyone desire to know them, were these:--Nergal Sharezer, Shamgar, Nebo, Rabsaris, Sarsechim, and Rabmag.

136 And when the city was taken about midnight, and the enemy's generals had entered into the temple, and when Zedekiah was aware of it, he took his wives and his children, and his captains and his friends, and with them fled out of the city, through the fortified ditch, and through the desert; 137 and when certain of the deserters had informed the Babylonians of this, at break of day, they made haste to pursue after Zedekiah, and overtook him, not far from Jericho, and surrounded him. But for those friends and captains of Zedekiah who had fled out of the city with him, when they saw their enemies near them, they left him and dispersed themselves, some one way, and some another, and everyone resolved to save himself; 138 so the enemy took Zedekiah alive, when he was deserted by all but a few, with his children and his wives, and brought him to the king.

When he was come, Nebuchadnezzar began to call him a wicked wretch, and a covenant breaker, and one that had forgotten his former words, when he promised to keep the country for him. 139 He also reproached him for his ingratitude, that when he had received the kingdom from him, who had taken it from Jehoiachin, and given it to him, he had made use of the power he gave him against him that gave it: “But,” said he, “God is great, who hated your conduct, and has brought you under us.”

140 And when he had used these words to Zedekiah, he commanded his sons and his friends to be slain, while Zedekiah and the rest of the captains looked on; after which he put out the eyes of Zedekiah, and bound him, and carried him to Babylon.

141 And these things happened to him, as Jeremiah and Ezekiel had foretold to him, that he should be caught, and brought before the king of Babylon, and should speak to him face to face, and should see his eyes with his own eyes; and thus far did Jeremiah prophesy. But he was also made blind, and brought to Babylon, but did not see it, according to the prediction of Ezekiel.

142 We have said thus much, because it was sufficient to show the nature of God to such as are ignorant of it, that it is various, and acts many different ways, and that all events happen after a regular manner, in their proper season, and that it foretells what must come to pass. It is also sufficient to show the ignorance and incredulity of men, whereby they are not permitted to foresee any thing that is future, and are, without any guard, exposed to calamities, so that it is impossible for them to avoid the experience of those calamities.

143 And after this manner have the kings of David's family ended their lives, being twenty-one in number, (until the last king,) who all together reigned five hundred and fourteen years, and six months, and ten days; of whom Saul, who was their first king, retained the government twenty years, though he was not of the same tribe with the rest.

144 And now it was that the king of Babylon sent Nebuzaradan, the general of his army, to Jerusalem, to pillage the temple; who was ordered to burn it and the royal palace, and to lay the city even with the ground, and to transplant the people into Babylon. 145 Accordingly, he came to Jerusalem in the eleventh year of King Zedekiah, and pillaged the temple, and carried out the vessels of God, both gold and silver, and particularly that large laver which Solomon dedicated, as also the pillars of brass, and their capitals, with the golden tables and the lampstands; 146 and when he had carried these off, he set fire to the temple in the fifth month, the first day of the month, in the eleventh year of the reign of Zedekiah, and in the eighteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar: he also burnt the palace, and overthrew the city. 147 Now the temple was burnt four hundred and seventy years, six months, and ten days after it was built. It was then one thousand and sixty-two years, six months, and ten days from the departure out of Egypt; and from the deluge to the destruction of the temple, the whole interval was one thousand nine hundred and fifty-seven years, six months, and ten days; 148 but from the generation of Adam, until this befell the temple, there were three thousand five hundred and thirteen years, six months, and ten days; so great was the number of years hereto belonging. And what actions were done during these years we have particularly related.

149 But the general of the Babylonian king now overthrew the city to the very foundations, and moved all the people, and took for prisoners the high priest Seraiah, and Zephaniah the priest that was next to him, and the rulers that guarded the temple, who were three in number, and the eunuch who was over the armed men, and seven friends of Zedekiah, and his scribe, and sixty other rulers; all which, together with the vessels which they had pillaged, he carried to the king of Babylon to Riblah, a city of Syria.

150 So the king commanded the heads of the high priest and of the rulers to be cut off there; but he himself led all the captives and Zedekiah to Babylon. He also led Jozadak the high priest away bound. He was the son of Seraiah the high priest, whom the king of Babylon had slain in Riblah, a city of Syria, as we just now related.

151 And now, because we have enumerated the succession of the kings, and who they were, and how long they reigned, I think it necessary to set down the names of the high priests, and who they were that succeeded one another in the high priesthood under the kings. 152 The first high priest then at the temple which Solomon built was Zadok; after him his son Ahimaaz received that dignity; after Ahimaaz was Azariah; his son was Johanan, and Johanan's son was Isus; after him was Axioramus; 153 his son was Phideus, and Phideus' son was Sudeas, and Sudeas' son was Juelus, and Juelus' son was Jotham, and Jotham's son was Urias, and Urias' son was Nerias, and Nerias' son was Zadoc, and his son was Shallum, and Shallum' son was Hilkiah, and his son [was Azariah, and his son] was Saraiah, and his son was Jehozadak, who was carried captive to Babylon. All these received the high priesthood by succession, the sons from their father.

154 When the king was come to Babylon, he kept Zedekiah in prison until he died, and buried him magnificently, and dedicated the vessels he had pillaged out of the temple of Jerusalem to his own gods, and planted the people in the country of Babylon, but freed the high priest from his bonds.