Jeremiah 34

1The message from the Lord came to Jeremiah. The message came at the time when Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, was fighting against Jerusalem and all the towns around it. Nebuchadnezzar had with him all his army and the armies of all the kingdoms and peoples in the empire he ruled. 2This was the message: “This is what the Lord, the God of the people of Israel, says: Jeremiah, go to Zedekiah king of Judah and give him this message: 'Zedekiah, this is what the Lord says: I will give the city of Jerusalem to the king of Babylon very soon, and he will burn it down. 3Zedekiah, you will not escape from the king of Babylon. You will surely be caught and given to him. You will see the king of Babylon with your own eyes. He will talk to you face to face, and you will go to Babylon. 4But listen to the promise of the Lord, Zedekiah king of Judah. This is what the Lord says about you: You will not be killed with a sword. 5You will die in a peaceful way. People made funeral fires to honor your ancestors, the kings that ruled before you became king. In the same way, people will make a funeral fire to honor you. They will cry for you. They will sadly say, “Oh, master!” I myself make this promise to you.’” This message is from the Lord. 6So Jeremiah gave the message from the Lord to Zedekiah in Jerusalem. 7This was while the army of the king of Babylon was fighting against Jerusalem. The army of Babylon was also fighting against the cities of Judah that had not been captured. Those cities were Lachish and Azekah. These were the only fortified cities left in the land of Judah. 8King Zedekiah had made an agreement with all the people in Jerusalem to give freedom to all the Hebrew slaves. A message from the Lord came to Jeremiah after Zedekiah had made that agreement. 9Every person was supposed to free his Hebrew slaves. All male and female Hebrew slaves were to be set free. No one was supposed to keep another person from the family group of Judah in slavery. 10So all the leaders of Judah and all the people accepted this agreement. Every person would free their male and female slaves and no longer keep them as slaves. Every person agreed, and so all the slaves were set free. 11But after that, the people that had slaves changed their minds. So they took the people they had set free and made them slaves again. 12Then the message from the Lord came to Jeremiah: 13Jeremiah, this is what the Lord, the God of the people of Israel, says: “I brought your ancestors out of the land of Egypt, where they were slaves. When I did that, I made an Agreement with them. 14I said to your ancestors: 'At the end of every seven years, each person must set his Hebrew slaves free. If you have a fellow Hebrew that has sold himself to you, you must let him go free after he has served you for six years.’ But your ancestors didn’t listen to me or pay attention to me. 15A short time ago, you changed your hearts to do what is right. Each of you gave freedom to his fellow Hebrews that were slaves. And you even made an agreement before me in the temple that is called by my name. 16But now, you have changed your minds. You have shown you don’t honor my name. How did you do this? Each of you has taken back the male and female slaves that you had set free. You have forced them to become slaves again. 17“So this is what the Lord says: 'You people have not obeyed me. You have not given freedom to your fellow Hebrews. Because you have not kept the agreement, I will give “freedom.”‘ This is the message of the Lord. '(I will give)˼ “freedom” to be killed by swords, by terrible sicknesses, and by hunger! I will make you become something that terrifies all the kingdoms of the earth, when they hear about you. 18I will hand over the men that broke my Agreement, and have not kept the promises they made before me. These men cut a calf into two pieces before me and walked between the two pieces. 19These are the people that walked between the two pieces of the calf when they made the Agreement before me: the leaders of Judah and Jerusalem, the important officials of the court, the priests, and the people of the land. 20So I will give those people to their enemies and to every person that wants to kill them. The bodies of those people will become food for the birds of the air and for the wild animals of the earth. 21I will give Zedekiah king of Judah, and his leaders to their enemies and to every person that wants to kill them. I will give Zedekiah and his people to the army of the king of Babylon, even though that army has left Jerusalem. 22But I will give the order,’ this message is from the Lord, 'to bring the Babylonian army back to Jerusalem. That army will fight against Jerusalem. They will capture it and set it on fire and burn it down. And I will destroy the cities in the land of Judah. Those cities will become empty deserts. No people will live there.’”

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