A Prophecy against Zedekiah

34 The word which came to Jeremiah from the Lord, when (A)Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and all his army, with (B)all the kingdoms of the earth that were under his dominion and all the peoples, were fighting against Jerusalem and against all its cities, saying, “Thus says the Lord God of Israel, ‘(C)Go and speak to Zedekiah king of Judah and say to him: “Thus says the Lord, ‘Behold, (D)I am giving this city into the hand of the king of Babylon, and (E)he will burn it with fire. (F)You will not escape from his hand, for you will surely be captured and delivered into his hand; and you will (G)see the king of Babylon eye to eye, and he will speak with you [a]face to face, and you will go to Babylon.’”’ Yet hear the word of the Lord, O Zedekiah king of Judah! Thus says the Lord concerning you, ‘You will not die by the sword. You will die in peace; and as spices were burned for your fathers, the former kings who were before you, so they will (H)burn spices for you; and (I)they will lament for you, “Alas, lord!”’ For I have spoken the word,” declares the Lord.

Then Jeremiah the prophet spoke (J)all these words to Zedekiah king of Judah in Jerusalem when the army of the king of Babylon was fighting against Jerusalem and against all the remaining cities of Judah, that is, (K)Lachish and (L)Azekah, for they alone remained as (M)fortified cities among the cities of Judah.

The word which came to Jeremiah from the Lord after King Zedekiah had (N)made a covenant with all the people who were in Jerusalem to (O)proclaim [b]release to them: that each man should set free his male servant and each man his female servant, a (P)Hebrew man or a Hebrew woman; so that (Q)no one should keep them, a Jew his brother, in bondage. 10 And all the (R)officials and all the people obeyed who had entered into the covenant that each man should set free his male servant and each man his female servant, so that no one should keep them any longer in bondage; they obeyed, and set them free. 11 But afterward they turned around and took back the male servants and the female servants whom they had set free, and brought them into subjection for male servants and for female servants.

12 Then the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah from the Lord, saying, 13 “Thus says the Lord God of Israel, ‘I (S)made a covenant with your forefathers in the day that I (T)brought them out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage, saying, 14 (U)At the end of seven years each of you shall set free his Hebrew brother who [c]has been sold to you and has served you six years, you shall send him out free from you; but your forefathers (V)did not obey Me or incline their ear to Me. 15 Although recently you had turned and (W)done what is right in My sight, each man proclaiming [d]release to his neighbor, and you had (X)made a covenant before Me (Y)in the house which is called by My name. 16 Yet you (Z)turned and (AA)profaned My name, and each man [e]took back his male servant and each man his female servant whom you had set free according to their desire, and you brought them into subjection to be your male servants and female servants.”’

17 “Therefore thus says the Lord, ‘You have not obeyed Me in proclaiming [f]release each man to his brother and each man to his neighbor. Behold, I am (AB)proclaiming a [g]release to you,’ declares the Lord, ‘to the (AC)sword, to the pestilence and to the famine; and I will make you a (AD)terror to all the kingdoms of the earth. 18 I will give the men who have (AE)transgressed My covenant, who have not fulfilled the words of the covenant which they made before Me, when they (AF)cut the calf in two and passed between its parts— 19 the (AG)officials of Judah and the officials of Jerusalem, the court officers and the priests and all the people of the land who passed between the parts of the calf— 20 I will give them into the hand of their enemies and into the hand of those who (AH)seek their life. And their (AI)dead bodies will be food for the birds of the sky and the beasts of the earth. 21 (AJ)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 life, and into the hand of the army of the king of Babylon which has (AK)gone away from you. 22 Behold, I am going to command,’ declares the Lord, ‘and I will bring them back to this city; and they will fight against it and (AL)take it and burn it with fire; and I will make the cities of Judah a (AM)desolation (AN)without inhabitant.’”

Footnotes

  1. Jeremiah 34:3 Lit mouth to mouth
  2. Jeremiah 34:8 Or liberty
  3. Jeremiah 34:14 Or has sold himself
  4. Jeremiah 34:15 Or liberty
  5. Jeremiah 34:16 Lit caused them to return
  6. Jeremiah 34:17 Or liberty
  7. Jeremiah 34:17 Or liberty

Warning to Zedekiah

34 While Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and all his army and all the kingdoms and peoples(A) in the empire he ruled were fighting against Jerusalem(B) and all its surrounding towns, this word came to Jeremiah from the Lord: “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: Go to Zedekiah(C) king of Judah and tell him, ‘This is what the Lord says: I am about to give this city into the hands of the king of Babylon, and he will burn it down.(D) You will not escape from his grasp but will surely be captured and given into his hands.(E) You will see the king of Babylon with your own eyes, and he will speak with you face to face. And you will go to Babylon.

“‘Yet hear the Lord’s promise to you, Zedekiah king of Judah. This is what the Lord says concerning you: You will not die by the sword;(F) you will die peacefully. As people made a funeral fire(G) in honor of your predecessors, the kings who ruled before you, so they will make a fire in your honor and lament, “Alas,(H) master!” I myself make this promise, declares the Lord.’”

Then Jeremiah the prophet told all this to Zedekiah king of Judah, in Jerusalem, while the army of the king of Babylon was fighting against Jerusalem and the other cities of Judah that were still holding out—Lachish(I) and Azekah.(J) These were the only fortified cities left in Judah.

Freedom for Slaves

The word came to Jeremiah from the Lord after King Zedekiah had made a covenant with all the people(K) in Jerusalem to proclaim freedom(L) for the slaves. Everyone was to free their Hebrew slaves, both male and female; no one was to hold a fellow Hebrew in bondage.(M) 10 So all the officials and people who entered into this covenant agreed that they would free their male and female slaves and no longer hold them in bondage. They agreed, and set them free. 11 But afterward they changed their minds(N) and took back the slaves they had freed and enslaved them again.

12 Then the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah: 13 “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: I made a covenant with your ancestors(O) when I brought them out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.(P) I said, 14 ‘Every seventh year each of you must free any fellow Hebrews who have sold themselves to you. After they have served you six years, you must let them go free.’[a](Q) Your ancestors, however, did not listen to me or pay attention(R) to me. 15 Recently you repented and did what is right in my sight: Each of you proclaimed freedom to your own people.(S) You even made a covenant before me in the house that bears my Name.(T) 16 But now you have turned around(U) and profaned(V) my name; each of you has taken back the male and female slaves you had set free to go where they wished. You have forced them to become your slaves again.

17 “Therefore this is what the Lord says: You have not obeyed me; you have not proclaimed freedom to your own people. So I now proclaim ‘freedom’ for you,(W) declares the Lord—‘freedom’ to fall by the sword, plague(X) and famine.(Y) I will make you abhorrent to all the kingdoms of the earth.(Z) 18 Those who have violated my covenant(AA) and have not fulfilled the terms of the covenant they made before me, I will treat like the calf they cut in two and then walked between its pieces.(AB) 19 The leaders of Judah and Jerusalem, the court officials,(AC) the priests and all the people of the land who walked between the pieces of the calf, 20 I will deliver(AD) into the hands of their enemies who want to kill them.(AE) Their dead bodies will become food for the birds and the wild animals.(AF)

21 “I will deliver Zedekiah(AG) king of Judah and his officials(AH) into the hands of their enemies(AI) who want to kill them, to the army of the king of Babylon,(AJ) which has withdrawn(AK) from you. 22 I am going to give the order, declares the Lord, and I will bring them back to this city. They will fight against it, take(AL) it and burn(AM) it down. And I will lay waste(AN) the towns of Judah so no one can live there.”

Footnotes

  1. Jeremiah 34:14 Deut. 15:12

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