1Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylonia, and all of his armies were fighting against Jerusalem. They were also fighting against all of the towns that were around it. All of the kingdoms and nations Nebuchadnezzar ruled over were helping him. At that time a message came to me from the Lord. He said,2“I am the Lord, the God of Israel. Go to Zedekiah, the king of Judah. Tell him, ‘The Lord says, “I am about to hand this city over to the king of Babylonia. He will burn it down.3You will not escape from his powerful hand. You will certainly be captured. You will be handed over to him. You will see the king of Babylonia with your own eyes. He will speak with you face to face. And you will go to Babylon.4“ ‘ “But listen to my promise, Zedekiah. Listen, king of Judah. I say that you will not be killed with a sword.5You will die in a peaceful way. People made fires to honor the kings who died before you. In the same way, they will make a fire in your honor. They will sob over you. They will say, ‘My poor master!’ I myself make this promise,” announces the Lord.’ ”6Then I, the prophet Jeremiah, told all of that to King Zedekiah in Jerusalem.7At that time Nebuchadnezzar's armies were fighting against Jerusalem. They were also fighting against Lachish and Azekah. Those two cities were still holding out. They were the only cities left in Judah that had high walls around them.
The People Set Their Slaves Free
8A message came to me from the Lord. King Zedekiah had made a covenant with all of the people in Jerusalem. He had told them to set their Hebrew slaves free.9All of them had to do it. That applied to male and female slaves alike. No one was allowed to hold another Jew as a slave.10So all of the officials and people entered into that covenant. They agreed to set their male and female slaves free. They agreed not to hold them as slaves anymore. Instead, they set them free.11But later they changed their minds. They took back the people they had set free. They made them slaves again.12Then a message came to me from the Lord.13The Lord is the God of Israel. He says, “I made a covenant with your people long ago. I brought them out of Egypt. That is the land where they were slaves. I said,14‘Every seventh year you must set your people free. You must set free all of the Hebrews who have sold themselves to you. Let them serve you for six years. Then you must let them go free.’ But your people did not listen to me. They did not pay any attention to me. (De 15:12)15“Recently you turned away from your sins. You did what is right in my eyes. Each of you set your Hebrew slaves free. You even made a covenant in front of me. You did it in the house where I have put my Name.16But now you have turned around. You have treated my name as if it were not holy. Each of you has taken back your male and female slaves. You had set them free to go where they wished. But now you have forced them to become your slaves again.”17So the Lord says, “You have not obeyed me. You have not set your Hebrew slaves free. So now I will set you free,” announces the Lord. “I will set you free to be destroyed by war, plague and hunger. I will make all of the kingdoms on earth displeased with you.18“The men who have broken my covenant will be punished. They have not lived up to the terms of the covenant they made in front of me. When you made that covenant, you cut a calf in two. Then you walked between its pieces. Now I will cut you to pieces.19That includes all of you who walked between the pieces of the calf. It includes the leaders of Judah and Jerusalem, the court officials and the priests. It also includes some of the people of the land.20“So I will hand all of those people over to their enemies who are trying to kill them. Their dead bodies will become food for the birds of the air and the wild animals.21“I will hand King Zedekiah and his officials over to their enemies. I will hand them over to those who want to kill them. I will give them over to the armies of the king of Babylonia. They have now pulled back from you.22But I am going to give an order,” announces the Lord. “I will bring them back to this city. They will fight against it. They will take it and burn it down. And I will completely destroy the towns of Judah. No one will be able to live there.”
English Standard Version
Zedekiah to Die in Babylon
1The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord, when Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and all his army and all the kingdoms of the earth under his dominion and all the peoples were fighting against Jerusalem and all of its cities: (2Ki 25:1; Jer 1:15; Jer 39:1; Jer 51:28; Jer 52:4)2“Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: Go and speak to Zedekiah king of Judah and say to him, ‘Thus says the Lord: Behold, I am giving this city into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall burn it with fire. (2Ki 25:2; Jer 21:10)3You shall not escape from his hand but shall surely be captured and delivered into his hand. You shall see the king of Babylon eye to eye and speak with him face to face. And you shall go to Babylon.’ (Jer 32:4)4Yet hear the word of the Lord, O Zedekiah king of Judah! Thus says the Lord concerning you: ‘You shall not die by the sword. (Jer 38:17; Jer 38:20; Jer 39:4; Jer 39:7)5You shall die in peace. And as spices were burned for your fathers, the former kings who were before you, so people shall burn spices for you and lament for you, saying, “Alas, lord!”’ For I have spoken the word, declares the Lord.” (1Sa 31:12; 2Ch 16:14; 2Ch 21:19; Jer 22:18)6Then Jeremiah the prophet spoke all these words to Zedekiah king of Judah, in Jerusalem,7when the army of the king of Babylon was fighting against Jerusalem and against all the cities of Judah that were left, Lachish and Azekah, for these were the only fortified cities of Judah that remained. (Jos 10:3; Jos 10:10; Jos 15:35; 2Ki 18:13; Jer 4:5)8The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord, after King Zedekiah had made a covenant with all the people in Jerusalem to make a proclamation of liberty to them, (Ex 21:2; Le 25:10; Isa 61:1; Jer 34:15; Jer 34:17)9that everyone should set free his Hebrew slaves, male and female, so that no one should enslave a Jew, his brother. (Le 25:39; Ne 5:8)10And they obeyed, all the officials and all the people who had entered into the covenant that everyone would set free his slave, male or female, so that they would not be enslaved again. They obeyed and set them free.11But afterward they turned around and took back the male and female slaves they had set free, and brought them into subjection as slaves. (Jer 34:9)12The word of the Lord came to Jeremiah from the Lord:13“Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: I myself made a covenant with your fathers when I brought them out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, saying, (Ex 20:2)14‘At the end of seven years each of you must set free the fellow Hebrew who has been sold to you and has served you six years; you must set him free from your service.’ But your fathers did not listen to me or incline their ears to me. (Ex 21:2; De 15:12; Jer 7:24; Jer 7:26; Jer 11:8; Jer 17:23; Jer 25:4; Jer 34:9; Jer 35:15; Jer 44:5)15You recently repented and did what was right in my eyes by proclaiming liberty, each to his neighbor, and you made a covenant before me in the house that is called by my name, (2Ki 23:3; Jer 7:10; Jer 34:8)16but then you turned around and profaned my name when each of you took back his male and female slaves, whom you had set free according to their desire, and you brought them into subjection to be your slaves. (Le 18:21; Le 19:12; Jer 34:11)17“Therefore, thus says the Lord: You have not obeyed me by proclaiming liberty, every one to his brother and to his neighbor; behold, I proclaim to you liberty to the sword, to pestilence, and to famine, declares the Lord. I will make you a horror to all the kingdoms of the earth. (Jer 14:12; Jer 15:4; Jer 34:8; Mt 7:2; Ga 6:7; Jas 2:13)18And the men who transgressed my covenant and did not keep the terms of the covenant that they made before me, I will make them like the calf that they cut in two and passed between its parts— (Ge 15:10; Jer 34:15)19the officials of Judah, the officials of Jerusalem, the eunuchs, the priests, and all the people of the land who passed between the parts of the calf. (Jer 29:2)20And I will give them into the hand of their enemies and into the hand of those who seek their lives. Their dead bodies shall be food for the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth. (Jer 7:33; Jer 22:25)21And Zedekiah king of Judah and his officials I will give into the hand of their enemies and into the hand of those who seek their lives, into the hand of the army of the king of Babylon which has withdrawn from you. (Jer 34:2; Jer 34:4; Jer 34:8; Jer 37:5; Jer 37:11)22Behold, I will command, declares the Lord, and will bring them back to this city. And they will fight against it and take it and burn it with fire. I will make the cities of Judah a desolation without inhabitant.” (Isa 10:6; Jer 4:7; Jer 9:11; Jer 37:8; Jer 38:3)