Old Testament

Jeremiah 34
A Message for Zedekiah
341This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord when Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, along with all his army, all the kingdoms of the earth, and all the peoples that were subject to him were fighting against Jerusalem and against all its cities.
2The Lord, the God of Israel, says:
Go to Zedekiah king of Judah and tell him this is what the Lord says. I certainly am giving this city into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he will burn it. 3You will not escape his grasp. You will surely be taken and handed over to him. You will see the king of Babylon eye-to-eye, and he will speak with you face-to-face. You will go to Babylon.
4Even so, hear the word of the Lord, Zedekiah king of Judah.
The Lord says concerning you: You will not die by the sword. 5You will die in peace. Just as people made a funeral fire in honor of your fathers who were kings before you, so they will make a fire for you. They will lament for you, saying, “Alas, master!” This is my word, declares the Lord.
6Jeremiah the prophet said all these things to Zedekiah king of Judah in Jerusalem 7when the army of the king of Babylon was fighting against Jerusalem and against the cities of Judah that still remained, namely, Lachish and Azekah (for these alone remained from all of Judah's fortified cities).
8The word came to Jeremiah from the Lord after King Zedekiah made a covenant with all the people in Jerusalem proclaiming freedom for the slaves. 9Everyone was to free his Hebrew slaves, male and female. No one was to keep a fellow Jew in slavery. 10All the officials and all the people who entered into this covenant agreed that they would set their male and female slaves free, and that no one would keep them in slavery anymore. They obeyed the agreement and set them free. 11But after this they changed their minds. They took back the slaves they had set free, and they made them serve as male and female slaves once again.
12It was after this that the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah.
13This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says. I made a covenant with your fathers on the day I brought them out of the land of Egypt, out of slavery. I said that 14every seven years you are to set free any fellow Hebrew who has sold himself to you. After he has served you six years, you are to set him free.[] But your fathers did not listen to me or pay attention to me. 15Now, after you repented and did what is right in my sight, each of you proclaimed freedom for his neighbor. You made a covenant before me in the house that bears my name, 16but you have turned around and profaned my name. Each of you has taken back and enslaved his male and female slaves, whom you had set free to go where they wished. You forced them back into slavery, to serve as your male and female slaves.
17Therefore this is what the Lord says. You have not listened to me by proclaiming freedom for your brothers and your neighbors. So I am proclaiming freedom to you, says the Lord. Freedom to fall by the sword, plague, and famine! I will make you a horror among all the kingdoms of the earth. 18I am going to make the men who walked between the covenant pieces,[] but who did not keep the terms of covenant that they had made in my presence, just like that calf they cut in two, and then walked between its pieces. 19The officials of Judah and the officials of Jerusalem, the government ministers,[] the priests, and all the people of the land who walked between the parts of the calf, 20I will hand over to their enemies, to those who seek their lives. Their corpses will be food for the birds in the sky and the wild animals in the land.
21I will hand over Zedekiah king of Judah and his officials to those who seek their lives and to the army of the king of Babylon, which has withdrawn from you. 22Watch, I will give a command, says the Lord, and I will bring them back to this city. They will fight against it, capture it, and burn it down. I will make the cities of Judah desolate so that no one can live there.


  • 34:14 Deuteronomy 15:12
  • 34:18 See Genesis 15:17 for an example of making a covenant by cutting a sacrificial animal into pieces and then walking between the two rows of pieces as a way of invoking a curse on anyone who broke the covenant.
  • 34:19 Or perhaps eunuchs