Chronicles of Jerahmeel, by M. Gaster , at sacred-texts.com
LX. (1) From the time our ancestors were brought out of Egypt until the destruction of the first temple they were exiled eight times. This happened on the following occasions: Four times Sennacherib banished them, and four times Nebuchadnezzar. The first time Sennacherib, King of Assyria, going up to Jerusalem, sent the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Menasseh into exile, and captured the golden calf which Jeroboam had placed in Dan; and the children of Gad and Reuben had brought it up from Dan, and made a holy temple (sanctuary) for it. For this they were exiled from the land of their possession to another land until this very day. When Sennacherib banished them he made them dwell in Lahlah, Habor, the river Gozan, and the cities of Media. At that time Pekaḥ, the son of Remalyahu, reigned over Israel. When Hosea, the son of Elah, perceived that the armies of Pekaḥ were considerably diminished, he went out to war against him and killed him. He reigned over Israel, in Samaria, five years. This was the first exile.
(2) When Sennacherib heard of this he went up against Hosea, the son of Elah, and fought against him, and Hosea, the son of Elah, going to Sennacherib, gave him a present of silver and gold and brought him the golden calf, which Jeroboam had placed in Bethel. After this he (Sennacherib) exiled the tribes of Asher, Zebulun, Naphtali, and Isaachar, because they refused to allow Hosea, the son of Elah, to reign over them. He then appointed Hosea, the son of Elah, over Samaria, and thus fulfilled the scriptural passage, 'Thus saith the Lord, Just as the shepherd delivers two legs, or the tip of the ear, from the clutches of the lion, so shall the Israelites be rescued (that sit in Samaria) in the corner of a couch, and in Damascus on a bed.'
[paragraph continues] And Hosea, the son of Elah, reigned over Israel, and Ahaz over Judah. This was the second exile.
(3) When this king died Hezekiah reigned over the whole of Judah, and at the beginning of the fourth year of Hezekiah's reign Sennacherib went up against Samaria and besieged it for three years, in the third (!) year of Hezekiah's reign, and he exiled the tribes of Ephraim and Menasseh from Samaria. This was the third exile.
(4) After an interval of five years he mustered together the Babylonians, Kuthim, Avim, the B‘ne Ḥamath, and the Sapharvaim, and then going against Judah, besieged all the fortified cities in Judah, among the 150 places in which were the tribes of Judah and Simeon. He besieged them and took them captive, and sought to bring them to Lahlah and Habor, to the other tribes. Hearing that Tirhakah, King of Ethiopia, whose land was near Egypt, had rebelled against him, he took with him the tribes of Judah and Simeon, and ascended the mountains of Ethiopia to wage war with the Ethiopian king, and to test the strength of the tribes of Judah and Simeon. He then took these tribes and concealed them behind the mountains of darkness on the other side of the rivers of Ethiopia. Concerning them the prophetess ‘Athrai (###), the daughter of Pusai (###), prophesied, 'They shall bring my offering.' This was the fourth captivity brought about by Sennacherib, King of Assyria.
(5) There remained in Jerusalem of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin 130,000, over whom the righteous Hezekiah reigned. Sennacherib, King of Assyria, now once more became proud, and setting his face towards the holy city of Jerusalem, he assembled all his host, to the number of 40,000 and 2,590,000 warriors, and went up to besiege Jerusalem. When Hezekiah saw the great multitude he was greatly afraid, and, praying to the Lord, he called upon the people of Judah and Benjamin to proclaim a fast. Then, covering themselves with sackcloth, they went into the house of the Lord, and, repenting with all their heart, they cried unto the Lord, and He heard the prayer of the
righteous Hezekiah, and sent His angel who smote the Assyrian camp, slaying 185,000 men, together with the kings and princes. Not one of the kings and princes of his army remained except Sennacherib and Nebuchadnezzar. Thus Isaiah's prophecy was fulfilled, who said, 'On that day the Lord shall shave with a razor that is hired, the parts beyond the river of Ethiopia, even the King of Assyria, the head, and the hair of the feet; and it shall also consume the beard.' The head represents the kings, the hair of the feet represents the armies, and the beard the wicked Sannacherib, whose two sons slew him. From the fall of Sennacherib to the time of Nebuchadnezzar passed 107 years.
(6) In the fourth year of the reign of Jehoiakim the decree was sealed on account of the sins of the Israelites, and the remnant of those who were delivered from the mouth of the lion and the mouth of the bear, the remnant of Judah and Benjamin, and the rest of the people that remained of the tribes were banished by Nebuchadnezzar during his first captivity. Of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin 3,023, and of the remaining tribes 7,000. All these were warriors skilled in the art of battle, but their sin lay heavy upon them, and he exiled them to Babylon. This was the first captivity brought about by Nebuchadnezzar.
(7) After an interval of seven years he went up to Jerusalem for the second time, and besieging it, he captured it, and exiled of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin 4,600 men, and of the remaining tribes 10,000, together with the free and the imprisoned, i.e., the kings and queens. Others explain the words ### and ### to refer to the pupils of the sages who study the Torah, and thus open and shut the books. In the time of David these people were called Kerethi and Pelethi. Yet another explanation makes the words refer to the mighty men of Judah and their children. All these were banished through Jechoniah and his sons. This constituted the second captivity of Nebuchadnezzar.
(8) He made Zedekiah King of Judah, over which and Jerusalem he reigned eleven years. In the nineteenth year
of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, while he was yet seated on the throne of his kingdom, he sent Nebuzaraddan, his captain of the guard, against Jerusalem. Having besieged it, he caught Zedekiah, and bringing him to Riblah, to the King of Babylon, he executed his judgment upon him. He then took the pillars, the sea of brass, and all the vessels of the house of the Lord, and the bases which Solomon had made, and the treasures found in Jerusalem, and carried them to Babylon. In Jerusalem he slew 940,000 (2) men, besides those he slew in avenging the blood of Zechariah.
(9) He also besieged sixty cities of the Levites, the sons of Moses, in which there were 600,000 men, as we know from the verses, 'And the sons of Moses were Gershom and Eliezer; and of the sons of Eliezer the eldest was Rehabya,' and it is said, 'And the children of Rehabya continually increased, i.e., increased beyond the number of 600,000 men.' The total number of those exiled from Jerusalem was 802,000, all of whom consisted of the youths of Judah and Benjamin. Concerning them the prophet says, 'And he exiled the flower of Judah,' so that there only remained in Jerusalem the poverty of the people, as it is said, 'The people of the land which Nebuzaraddan left were vile,' etc. He made the son of Aḥikam king over them, and giving the land over to him, the exiles were carried to Babylon, which constituted the third exile.
(10) When Ishmael, the son of Netaniah, of the royal seed, heard that Gedaliah, the son of Aḥikam, was appointed over the remnant of the people, he came in stealth and slew him and all his men. The Israelites were exceedingly afraid of this and fled to Egypt, in the twenty-seventh year of Nebuchadnezzar's reign, when he besieged Tyre, and capturing it, killed all its inhabitants and sent its king into captivity. On his return he went to Egypt, captured it, and reduced it to desolation, thus fulfilling the prophecy of Scripture, 'Egypt shall be a desolation.' He then slew all the Jews found in Ammon and Moab, and in the surrounding parts of Egypt. There, in Egypt, he discovered the
prophet Jeremiah and Baruch, the son of Neriya, and carried them to Babylon. When the Israelites dwelling in Egypt heard that Nebuchadnezzar had announced his intention to come there, in fear and trembling they fled to Amon, a little fortified city in Egypt, near the Salt Sea. This was the fourth captivity through Nebuchadnezzar.
(11) When Jeremiah saw that scarcely any of the Israelites were left, he lifted up his heart in prayer to God, saying, 'Why dost Thou cause me to see grief and iniquity? Why hast Thou caused the flock of Thy chosen people to fall into the hands of their enemy? I am sorely grieved and my soul is crushed within me, and mine eye sheddeth tears, and ceaseth not, for the destruction of the daughter of my people am I hurt. Mine eye weepeth with my soul, and for this do I weep day and night. Therefore do I pour forth my supplication before Thee that Thou wilt take my soul from me, for it is better for me to die than to live.' A voice was forthwith heard to say, 'By thy life wait, and behold the downfall of Babylon. Afterwards I shall preserve thee until I build the everlasting building.' Immediately upon these words, God hid him.