New Heart English Bible
1The word which came to Jeremiah from the LORD, when Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and all his army, and all the kingdoms of the earth that were under his dominion, and all the peoples, were fighting against Jerusalem, and against all the cities of it, 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, 'Look, I will give this city into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall burn it with fire: 3and you shall not escape out of his hand, but shall surely be taken, and delivered into his hand; and your eyes shall see the eyes of the king of Babylon, and he shall speak with you mouth to mouth, and you shall go to Babylon.' 4Yet hear the word of the LORD, O Zedekiah king of Judah: thus says the LORD concerning you, 'You shall not die by the sword; 5you shall die in peace; and with the burnings of your fathers, the former kings who were before you, so shall they make a burning for you; and they shall lament you, saying, "Ah Lord." for I have spoken the word,' says the LORD."'"
6Then Jeremiah the prophet spoke all these words to Zedekiah king of Judah in Jerusalem, 7when 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.
8The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD, after that the king Zedekiah had made a covenant with all the people who were at Jerusalem, to proclaim liberty to them; 9that every man should let his male servant, and every man his female servant, who is a Hebrew man or a Hebrew woman, go free; that none should keep a fellow Judean in bondage. 10And all the officials 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 none should make bondservants of them any more; they obeyed, and let them go: 11but 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.
12Therefore 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 forth out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage, saying, 14"At the end of seven years you shall let go every man 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 did not listen to me, neither inclined their ear. 15You had now turned, and had done that which is right in my eyes, in proclaiming liberty every man to his neighbor; and you had made a covenant before me in the house which is called by my name: 16but you turned and profaned my name, and caused every man his servant, and every man his handmaid, whom you had let go free at their pleasure, to return; and you brought them into subjection, to be to you for servants and for handmaids.
17Therefore thus says the LORD: "You have not listened to me, to proclaim liberty, every man to his brother, and every man to his neighbor: look, I proclaim to you a liberty, says the LORD, to the sword, to the pestilence, and to the famine; and I will make you to be tossed back and forth among all the kingdoms of the earth. 18I 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; 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; 20I 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 the sky, and to the animals of the earth. 21And Zedekiah king of Judah and his officials will I give into the hand of their enemies, and into the hand of those who seek their life, and into the hand of the king of Babylon's army, who have gone away from you. 22Look, I will command, says the LORD, and cause them to return to this city; and they shall fight against it, and take it, and burn it with fire: and I will make the cities of Judah a desolation, without inhabitant."'"