1. This was the word of Yahweh addressed to Jeremiah when Nebuchadnezzar, 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 Israel, "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, Zedekiah, king of Judah, 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 honor of your fathers, 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.
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 fathers 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 your brother Hebrew who sold himself to you. When he has served you for six years, you are to send him away a free man. But your fathers did not listen and paid no attention.
15. Recently you repented and did what was right in my sight when each one proclaimed the freedom of his slave 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 complete 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 brothers 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. The men 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 Jerusalem, the court officials, the priests and all the free men 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."