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Zedekiah Warned by God

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

Then Jeremiah the prophet spoke all these words to Zedekiah king of Judah in Jerusalem, when the king of Babylon’s army fought against Jerusalem and all the cities of Judah that were left, against Lachish and Azekah; for only (J)these fortified cities remained of the cities of Judah.

Treacherous Treatment of Slaves

This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord, after King Zedekiah had made a covenant with all the people who were at Jerusalem to proclaim (K)liberty to them: (L)that every man should set free his male and female slave—a Hebrew man or woman—(M)that no one should keep a Jewish brother in bondage. 10 Now when all the princes and all the people, who had entered into the covenant, heard that everyone should set free his male and female slaves, that no one should keep them in bondage anymore, they obeyed and let them go. 11 But afterward they changed their minds and made the male and female slaves return, whom they had set free, and brought them into subjection as male and female slaves.

12 Therefore the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah from the Lord, saying, 13 “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: ‘I made a (N)covenant with your fathers in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage, saying, 14 “At the end of (O)seven years let every man set free his Hebrew brother, who [b]has been sold to him; and when he has served you six years, you shall let him go free from you.” But your fathers did not obey Me nor incline their ear. 15 Then you [c]recently turned and did what was right in My sight—every man proclaiming liberty to his neighbor; and you (P)made a covenant before Me (Q)in the house which is called by My name. 16 Then you turned around and (R)profaned My name, and every one of you brought back his male and female slaves, whom you had set at liberty, at their pleasure, and brought them back into subjection, to be your male and female slaves.’

17 “Therefore thus says the Lord: ‘You have not obeyed Me in proclaiming liberty, every one to his brother and every one to his neighbor. (S)Behold, I proclaim liberty to you,’ says the Lord(T)‘to the sword, to pestilence, and to famine! And I will deliver you to (U)trouble among all the kingdoms of the earth. 18 And I will give the men who have transgressed My covenant, who have not performed the words of the covenant which they made before Me, when (V)they cut the calf in two and passed between the parts of it— 19 the princes of Judah, the princes of Jerusalem, the [d]eunuchs, the priests, and all the people of the land who passed between the parts of the calf— 20 I will (W)give them into the hand of their enemies and into the hand of those who seek their life. Their (X)dead bodies shall be for meat for the birds of the heaven and the beasts of the earth. 21 And I will give Zedekiah king of Judah and his princes into the hand of their enemies, into the hand of those who seek their life, and into the hand of the king of Babylon’s army (Y)which has gone back from you. 22 (Z)Behold, I will command,’ says the Lord, ‘and cause them to return to this city. They will fight against it (AA)and take it and burn it with fire; and (AB)I will make the cities of Judah a desolation without inhabitant.’ ”

Footnotes

  1. Jeremiah 34:3 Lit. mouth to mouth
  2. Jeremiah 34:14 Or sold himself
  3. Jeremiah 34:15 Lit. today
  4. Jeremiah 34:19 Or officers

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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