1The word which came to Jeremiah from the LORD, when Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and all his army, with 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"Thus says the LORD God of Israel, Go and speak to Zedekiah king of Judah and say to him: "Thus says the LORD, 'Behold, I am giving this city into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he will burn it with fire.
3You will not escape from his hand, for you will surely be captured and delivered into his hand; and you will see the king of Babylon eye to eye, and he will speak with you face to face, and you will go to Babylon.'"'
4"Yet hear the word of the LORD, O Zedekiah king of Judah! Thus says the LORD concerning you, 'You will not die by the sword.
5You will die in peace; and as [spices] were burned for your fathers, the former kings who were before you, so they will burn [spices] for you; and they will lament for you, "Alas, lord!"' For I have spoken the word," declares the LORD.
6Then Jeremiah the prophet spoke all these words to Zedekiah king of Judah in Jerusalem
7when the army of the king of Babylon was fighting against Jerusalem and against all the remaining cities of Judah, [that is], Lachish and Azekah, for they [alone] remained as fortified cities among the cities of Judah.
8The word which came to Jeremiah from the LORD after King Zedekiah had made a covenant with all the people who were in Jerusalem to proclaim release to them:
9that each man should set free his male servant and each man his female servant, a Hebrew man or a Hebrew woman; so that no one should keep them, a Jew his brother, in bondage.
10And all the officials and all the people obeyed who had entered into the covenant that each man should set free his male servant and each man his female servant, so that no one should keep them any longer in bondage; they obeyed, and set [them free].
11But afterward they turned around and took back the male servants and the female servants whom they had set free, and brought them into subjection for male servants and for female servants.
12Then the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying,
13"Thus says the LORD God of Israel, I made a covenant with your forefathers in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage, saying,
14"At the end of seven years each of you shall set free his Hebrew brother who has been sold to you and has served you six years, you shall send him out free from you; but your forefathers did not obey Me or incline their ear to Me.
15"Although recently you [had] turned and done what is right in My sight, each man proclaiming release to his neighbor, and you had made a covenant before Me in the house which is called by My name.
16"Yet you turned and profaned My name, and each man took back his male servant and each man his female servant whom you had set free according to their desire, and you brought them into subjection to be your male servants and female servants."'
17"Therefore thus says the LORD, 'You have not obeyed Me in proclaiming release each man to his brother and each man to his neighbor. Behold, I am proclaiming a release to you,' declares the LORD, to the sword, to the pestilence and to the famine; and I will make you a terror to all the kingdoms of the earth.
18I will give the men who have transgressed My covenant, who have not fulfilled the words of the covenant which they made before Me, [when] they cut the calf in two and passed between its parts--
19the officials of Judah and the officials of Jerusalem, the court officers and the priests and all the people of the land who passed between the parts of the calf--
20I will give them into the hand of their enemies and into the hand of those who seek their life. And their dead bodies will be food for the birds of the sky and the beasts of the earth.
21Zedekiah king of Judah and his officials I will give into the hand of their enemies and into the hand of those who seek their life, and into the hand of the army of the king of Babylon which has gone away from you.
22Behold, I am going to command,' declares the LORD, 'and I will bring them back to this city; and they will fight against it and take it and burn it with fire; and I will make the cities of Judah a desolation without inhabitant.'"