A Prophecy against Zedekiah
1The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord when Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and all his army, with all the kingdoms of the earth that were under his sovereignty and all the peoples, were fighting against Jerusalem and against all of its cities: 2“Thus says the Lord God of Israel, ‘Go and speak to Zedekiah king of Judah and tell him: “Thus says the Lord, ‘Behold, I am giving this city into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he will set it on fire and burn it down. 3You will not escape from his hand, for you will definitely be captured and handed over to him; you will see the king of Babylon eye to eye, and he will speak with you face to face; and you will go to Babylon.’ ” ’ 4Yet hear the word of the Lord, O Zedekiah king of Judah! Thus says the Lord concerning you, ‘You will not die by the sword. 5You will die in peace; and as spices were burned for [the memory and honor of] your fathers, the former kings who reigned before you, so shall a [ceremonial] burning be made for you; and people will lament (grieve) for you, saying, “Alas, lord (master)!” ’ For I have spoken the word,” says the Lord.
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 remaining cities of Judah, against Lachish and Azekah, for these were the [only] fortified cities among the cities of Judah.
8The word came to Jeremiah from the Lord after King Zedekiah had made a covenant (solemn pledge) with all the [Hebrew] people who were [slaves] in Jerusalem to proclaim liberty to them: 9that every man should let his Hebrew slaves, male and female, go free, so that no one should make a slave of a Jew, his brother. 10So all the princes and all the people who had entered into the covenant agreed that everyone would let his male servant and his female servant go free, and that no one would keep them in bondage any longer; they obeyed, and set them free. 11But afterward they backed out [of the covenant] and made the male servants and the female servants whom they had set free return [to them], and brought the male servants and the female servants again into servitude.
12Therefore the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah from the Lord, saying, 13“Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘I made a covenant (solemn pledge) with your forefathers 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 seven years each of you shall set free his Hebrew brother who has sold himself [into servitude] or who has been sold to you and has served you six years, you shall release him from [serving] you; but your forefathers did not listen [submissively] to Me or obey Me. 15So then you recently turned and repented, doing what was right in My sight, each man proclaiming release [from servitude] to his countryman [who was his bond servant]; and you had made a covenant before Me in the house which is called by My Name. 16Yet you backed out [of the covenant] and profaned My Name, and each man took back his servants, male and female, whom had been set free in accordance with their desire, and you brought them into servitude [again] to be your male servants and your female servants.” ’
17“Therefore says the Lord, ‘You have not obeyed Me; you have not proclaimed liberty to your brother and your countryman. Behold (listen very carefully), I am proclaiming liberty to you—[liberty to be put] to the sword, [liberty] to [be ravaged by] the virulent disease, and [liberty] to [be decimated by] famine,’ says the Lord; ‘and I will make you a horror and a warning to all the kingdoms of the earth. 18The men who have violated My covenant, who have not kept the terms of the solemn pledge which they made before Me when they split the [sacrificial] calf in half, and then afterwards walked between its separated pieces [sealing their pledge to Me by placing a curse on themselves should they violate the covenant—those men I will make like the calf]! 19The princes of Judah, the princes of Jerusalem, the high officials, the priests, and all the people of the land who passed between the parts of the calf, 20I will give into the hand of their enemies and into the hand of those who seek their lives. And [like the body of the calf] their dead bodies will be food for the birds of the sky and the beasts of the earth. 21Zedekiah king of Judah and his princes I will place 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 withdrawn from you. 22Behold, I am going to command [the Chaldeans who rule Babylon],’ says the Lord, ‘and I will bring them back to this city; and they will fight against it and take it and set it on fire. I will make the cities of Judah a desolation without inhabitant.’ ”