1. The word which came to Jeremiah from the LORD when Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and all his army, and all the kingdoms of the earth (because his hand rules) and all the people, fought against Jerusalem and against all its cities; saying,
2. “Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, ‘Go and speak to Zedekiah king of Judah and tell him, “Thus says the LORD, ‘Behold, I will give this city into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall burn it with fire.
3. And you shall not escape out of his hand, but shall surely be captured and delivered into his hand. And your eyes shall behold the eyes of the king of Babylon, and he shall speak with you face to face, and you shall go to Babylon.'” ’
4. Yet hear the Word of the LORD, O Zedekiah king of Judah: Thus says the LORD of you, ‘You shall not die by the sword.
5. You shall die in peace; and as the burnings of spices for your fathers, the former kings which were before you, so they shall burn spices for you. And they will mourn you, saying, “Ah, lord!” For I have spoken the word, says the LORD.’ ”
6. Then Jeremiah the prophet spoke all these words to Zedekiah king of Judah in Jerusalem,
7. When the king of Babylon’s army fought against Jerusalem and against all the remaining cities of Judah; against Lachish, and against Azekah; for only these fortified cities remained of the cities of Judah.
8. The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD, after King Zedekiah had made a covenant with all the people at Jerusalem, to proclaim liberty to them,
9. That each man should let his male slave, and each man his female slave—if a Hebrew man or a Hebrew woman—go free, that none should enslave a Jew, his brother among them.
10. And all the rulers obeyed, and all the people who had entered into the covenant allowed them to go free, each man his male slave, and each man his female slave, so that not any should be enslaved among them any more; and they obeyed and let them go.
11. But afterward they turned and took back the male slaves and the female slaves whom they had set free and enslaved them again as male slaves and female slaves.
12. So 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 with your fathers in the day that I brought them out from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, saying,
14. “At the end of seven years each man should let go free his brother, a Hebrew, who 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 hearken to Me, nor incline their ears.
15. And you had turned today, and had done right in My sight to call for liberty, each man to his neighbor. And you had made a covenant before Me in the house which is called by My name.
16. But you turned back and defiled My name, and each of you has taken back his male slave and his female slave whom you had set free to do as they pleased. But you forced them again to become your male and your female slaves.’
17. Thus says the LORD, ‘You have not hearkened to Me to proclaim liberty each man to his brother, and each man to his neighbor! Behold, I proclaim freedom for you,’ says the LORD, ‘to the sword, to the plague, and to the famine. And I will cause you to be a horror to all the kingdoms of the earth.
18. And I will give the men who have sinned against My covenant, who have not done the words of the covenant which they made before Me when they divided the calf in two and passed between its parts;
19. The rulers of Judah, and the rulers of Jerusalem, the officials, and the priests, and all the people of the land who passed between the parts of the calf;
20. I will even give them into the hand of their enemies, and into the hand of those who seek their life. And their dead bodies shall be for food to the birds of heaven and to the beasts of the earth.
21. And I will give Zedekiah king of Judah, and his rulers, into the hand of their enemies, and into the hand of those who seek their lives, and into the hand of the king of Babylon’s army, who has withdrawn from you.
22. Behold, I will command,’ says the LORD, ‘and cause them to return to this city. And they shall fight against it and capture it, and burn it with fire. And I will make the cities of Judah a desert without a soul to live in it.”
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