1 The word which came to Jeremiah from the LORD, when Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, with all his army, all the kingdoms of the earth that were under his dominion, and all the peoples, were fighting against Jerusalem and against all its cities, saying: 2 “The LORD, the God of Israel, says, ‘Go, and speak to Zedekiah king of Judah, and tell him, the LORD says, “Behold, I will give this city into the hand of the king of Babylon and he will burn it with fire. 3 You won’t escape out of his hand, but will surely be taken and delivered into his hand. Your eyes will see the eyes of the king of Babylon, and he will speak with you mouth to mouth. You will go to Babylon.” ’
4 “Yet hear the LORD’s word, O Zedekiah king of Judah. The LORD says concerning you, ‘You won’t die by the sword. 5 You will die in peace; and with the burnings of your fathers, the former kings who were before you, so they will make a burning for you. They will lament 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 was fighting against Jerusalem and against all the cities of Judah that were left, against Lachish and against Azekah; for these alone remained of the cities of Judah as fortified cities.
8 The word came to Jeremiah from the LORD, after King Zedekiah had made a covenant with all the people who were at Jerusalem, to proclaim liberty to them, 9 that every man should let his male servant, and every man his female servant, who is a Hebrew or a Hebrewess, go free, that no one should make bondservants of them, of a Jew his brother. 10 All the princes and all the people obeyed who had entered into the covenant, that everyone should let his male servant and everyone his female servant go free, that no one should make bondservants of them any more. They obeyed and let them go, 11 but afterwards they turned, and caused the servants and the handmaids whom they had let go free to return, and brought them into subjection for servants and for handmaids.
12 Therefore the LORD’s word came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying, 13 “The LORD, the God of Israel, says: ‘I made a covenant with your fathers 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, every man of you shall release his brother who is a Hebrew, who has been sold to you, and has served you six years. You shall let him go free from you. But your fathers didn’t listen to me, and didn’t incline their ear. 15 You had now turned, and had done that which is right in my eyes, in every man proclaiming liberty to his neighbor. You had made a covenant before me in the house which is called by my name; 16 but you turned and profaned my name, and every man caused his servant and every man his handmaid, whom you had let go free at their pleasure, to return. You brought them into subjection, to be to you for servants and for handmaids.’ ”
17 Therefore the LORD says: “You have not listened to me, to proclaim liberty, every man to his brother, and every man to his neighbor. Behold, I proclaim to you a liberty,” says the LORD, “to the sword, to the pestilence, and to the famine. I will make you be tossed back and forth among all the kingdoms of the earth. 18 I will give the men who have transgressed my covenant, who have not performed the words of the covenant which they made before me when they cut the calf in two and passed between its parts: 19 the princes of Judah, the princes of Jerusalem, the eunuchs, 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. Their dead bodies will be food for the birds of the sky and for the animals of the earth.
21 “I will give Zedekiah king of Judah and his princes into the hands of their enemies, into the hands of those who seek their life and into the hands of the king of Babylon’s army, who has gone away from you. 22 Behold, I will command,” says the LORD, “and cause them to return to this city. They will fight against it, take it, and burn it with fire. I will make the cities of Judah a desolation, without inhabitant.”