A promise to Zedekiah
1 This was the word of Yahweh ad dressed to Jeremiah when Ne bu chadnezzar, king of Babylon, and his army as well as all the kingdoms of the earth that were under his dominion, and all the peoples were fighting against Jerusalem and all the cities of Judah:
2 This is the word of Yahweh, God of Is rael, “Go and say this to Zedekiah king of Judah: ‘See, I am giving this city to the king of Babylon and he will set it on fire. 3 You will not escape from his hands but will surely be captured and given over to him. You will see him face to face and speak directly to him and you will go to Babylon.’ 4 Just listen, Zede kiah, king of Ju dah, to the word of Yahweh! This is what Yahweh says about you, ‘You will not be slain by the sword; 5 no, you will die in peace. As they made funeral pyres in ho nor of your ancestors, former kings, so will they make a fire in your honor and lament ‘Alas, my master! – word of Yahweh.”
6 Then Jeremiah the prophet gave this message to Zedekiah, king of Judah in Jerusalem. 7 At that time the army of the king of Babylon was besieging Jerusalem and the cities of Judah which were still resisting – Lachish and Azekah. These were the only fortified cities remaining in Judah.
About the liberated slaves
8 The word of Yahweh came to Jeremiah after King Zedekiah had made a treaty with all the people of Jerusalem to proclaim freedom for the slaves. 9 Everyone was to free his Hebrew slaves, male and female, so that no fellow Jew would be kept in bondage.
10 The princes and all the citizens agreed to this. They made a treaty and so set them free. 11 Yet they changed their mind afterwards and brought back the slaves they had freed and used them as slaves again.
12 Then the word of Yahweh came to Jeremiah, 13 “Yahweh the God of Israel says this: I made a covenant with your ancestors the day I brought them out of Egypt from the house of slavery and I said: 14 At the end of every seven years you will free any Hebrews who have been sold to you and have served you for six years, you are to send them free from your services. But your ancestors did not listen and paid no attention. 15 Re cently you repented and did what was right in my sight when each one proclaimed liberty to one another and you made a covenant with me in the House where my Name rests. 16 But now you have gone back on your word and profaned my Name. You have brought back your slaves, male and female, to whom you had given com plete freedom and you have again reduced them to slavery.
17 That is why Yahweh says: Since you have not obeyed me in proclaiming freedom for your friends and neighbors I now proclaim ‘freedom’ for you, freedom to fall by the sword, plague and famine. I will make you detestable to every kingdom on earth. 18 Those who have sinned against my covenant, who have not observed the terms of the alliance they made before me, I will liken them to the calf they cut in two and then walked between its halves. 19 The princes of Judah and Jeru salem, the court officials, the priests and all the people of the land who walked between the pieces of the calf, 20 I will hand them over to their enemies. Their corpses will serve as food for the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth.
21 Zedekiah and his officials I will give over to the hands of their enemies. You saw the army of the king of Babylon withdrawing from you. 22 But now I am issuing an order to bring them back to this city. They will attack and capture the city and set it on fire. As for the towns of Judah I will reduce them to a wasteland without inhabitants.”