1Then all of the army officers approached me. They included Johanan, the son of Kareah, and Jezaniah, the son of Hoshaiah. All of the people from the least important of them to the most important also came. 2All of them said to me, "Please listen to our appeal. Pray to the Lord your God. Pray for all of us who are left here. Once there were many of us. But as you can see, only a few of us are left now. 3So pray to the Lord your God. Pray that he'll tell us where we should go. Pray that he'll tell us what we should do."
4"I've heard you," I replied. "I'll certainly pray to the Lord your God. I'll do what you have asked me to do. In fact, I'll tell you everything the Lord says. I won't keep anything back from you."
5Then they said to me, "We'll do everything the Lord your God sends you to tell us to do. If we don't, may he be a true and faithful witness against us. 6It doesn't matter whether what you say is in our favor or not. We're asking you to pray to the Lord our God. And we'll obey him. Things will go well with us. That's because we will obey the Lord our God."
7Ten days later a message came to me from the Lord. 8So I sent for Johanan, the son of Kareah, and all of the other army officers who were with him. I also gathered together all of the people from the least important of them to the most important.
9I said to all of them, "The Lord is the God of Israel. You asked me to present your appeal to him. 10He told me, 'Stay in this land. Then I will build you up. I will not tear you down. I will plant you. I will not pull you up by the roots. I am very sad that I had to bring all of this trouble on you.
11" 'Do not be afraid of the king of Babylonia. You are afraid of him now. Do not be,' announces the Lord. 'I am with you. I will keep you safe. I will save you from his powerful hands. 12I will show you my loving concern. Then he will have concern for you. And he will let you return to your land.'
13"But suppose you say, 'We won't stay in this land.' If you do, you will be disobeying the Lord your God. 14And suppose you say, 'No! We'll go and live in Egypt. There we won't have to face war anymore. We won't hear the trumpets of war. And we won't get hungry.'
15"Then listen to what the Lord says to you who are left in Judah. He is the Lord who rules over all. He is the God of Israel. He says, 'Have you already made up your minds to go to Egypt? Are you going to settle down there?
16" 'Then the war you fear will catch up with you there. The hunger you are afraid of will follow you into Egypt. And you will die there. 17In fact, that will happen to all those who go and settle in Egypt. All of them will die of war, hunger and plague. Not one of them will live. None of them will escape the trouble I will bring on them.'
18"He is the Lord who rules over all. He is the God of Israel. He says, 'My burning anger has been poured out on those who used to live in Jerusalem. In the same way, it will be poured out on you when you go to Egypt. People will call down curses on you. They will be shocked at you. They will say bad things about you. And they will bring shame on you. You will never see this place again.'
19"The Lord has spoken to you who are left in Judah. He has said, 'Do not go to Egypt.' Here is something you can be sure of. I am warning you about it today. 20You made a big mistake when you asked me to pray to the Lord your God. You said, 'Pray to the Lord our God for us. Tell us everything he says. We'll do it.'
21"I have told you today what the Lord your God wants you to do. But you still haven't obeyed him. You haven't done anything he sent me to tell you to do. 22So here is something else you can be sure of. You will die of war, hunger and plague. You want to go and settle down in Egypt. But you will die there."