A Message for Zedekiah
1The word that came to Jeremiah from Yahweh, when Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, and all his army, with all the kingdoms of the earth under the dominion of his hand, and all the peoples were fighting against Jerusalem and against all its cities, saying,#Literally “to say” 2“Thus says Yahweh, the God of Israel: ‘Go and say to Zedekiah the king of Judah, now you must say to him, “Thus says Yahweh: ‘Look, I am going to give this city into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he will burn it with fire. 3And you will not escape from his hand, but surely you will be captured, and into his hand you will be given, and you will see the king of Babylon eye to eye,#Literally “your eyes shall see with the eyes of the king of Babylon” and you will speak face to face with him,#Literally “his mouth shall speak with your mouth” and to Babylon you will go.’ 4However, hear the word of Yahweh, O Zedekiah, the king of Judah. Thus says Yahweh concerning you: ‘You will not die by the sword. 5In peace you will die, and as there was burning for your ancestors,#Or “fathers” the former kings who were before you,#Literally “to the face of you” so they will burn for you, and they will lament for you, “Alas, lord!” For the word I have spoken,’ declares#Literally “a declaration of” Yahweh.” ’ ” 6Then Jeremiah the prophet spoke to Zedekiah the king of Judah all these words in Jerusalem 7when the army of the king of Babylon was fighting against Jerusalem and against all the cities of Judah that were left over—Lachish and Azekah, for these remained among the cities of Judah, the cities of fortification.
Zedekiah’s Covenant Concerning Slaves
8The word that came to Jeremiah from Yahweh after king Zedekiah made#Literally “cut” a covenant with all the people who were in Jerusalem to proclaim release to them, 9to let go each one his male slave and each one his female slave, the Hebrew and the free Hebrew, so that no one among the Judeans#Hebrew “Judean” should enslave his fellow countryman. 10And all the officials and all the people obeyed, who had entered into the covenant to let go each one his male slave and each one his female slave, not enslaving them again, and they obeyed and they let them#Here the direct object is supplied from context in the English translation go. 11But afterward#Literally “after thus” they turned back and they brought back the male slaves and the female slaves whom they had let go free, and they subdued them as male slaves and female slaves.
12And the word of Yahweh came to Jeremiah from Yahweh, saying,#Literally “to say” 13“Thus says Yahweh, the God of Israel: ‘I made#Literally “cut” a covenant with your ancestors#Or “fathers” on the day of my bringing them out from the land of Egypt, from the house of slaves, saying,#Literally “to say” 14“At the end of seven years you must let go each one his fellow countryman, the Hebrew who has been sold to you and who has served you six years, and you must let him go free from you.” But your ancestors#Or “fathers” did not listen to me, and they did not incline their ears.#Hebrew “ear” 15And you turned back recently#Literally “the day” and you did right in my eyes, to proclaim release each one to his neighbor, and you made#Literally “cut” a covenant before me#Literally “to the face of me” in the house that is called by#Literally “on it” my name. 16But you turned back and you profaned my name when you brought back each one his male slave and each one his female slave, whom you had let go free according to their desire, and you subdued them to be to you as male slaves and as female slaves.’
17“Therefore#Literally “To thus” thus says Yahweh, ‘You have not listened to me to proclaim release each one to his fellow countryman and each one to his neighbor. Look, I am going to proclaim to you a release,’ declares#Literally “a declaration of” Yahweh, ‘to the sword, to the plague, and to the famine, and I will make you a terror to all the kingdoms of the earth. 18And I will make the men who transgressed my covenant, who have not kept the words of the covenant that they made#Literally “cut” before me,#Literally “to the face of me” like the calf which they cut in two and they passed between its parts— 19the officials of Judah, and the officials of Jerusalem, the eunuchs, and the priests, and all the people of the land who passed between the parts of the calf— 20and I will give them into the hand of their enemies, and into the hand of the seekers of their lives, and their dead bodies#Hebrew “dead body” will become as food for the birds#Hebrew “bird” of the heavens#Or “sky” and for the animals#Hebrew “animal” of the earth. 21And Zedekiah the king of Judah and his officials I will give into the hand of their enemies, and into the hand of the seekers of their lives, and into the hand of the army of the king of Babylon, who retreated from you. 22Look, I am going to command,’ declares#Literally “a declaration of” Yahweh, ‘and I will bring them back to this city, and they will fight against it, and they will capture it, and they will burn it with fire, and the towns of Judah I will make a desolation without#Literally “from there is not” an inhabitant.’ ”