[This is] the word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord after King Zedekiah made a covenant with all the people who were in Jerusalem to proclaim freedoma to them,
so each man would free his male and female Hebrew slaves and no one enslave his Judean brother.
All the officials and people who entered into covenant to free their male and female slaves-in order not to enslave them any longer-obeyed and freed them.
Afterwards, however, they changed their minds and took back their male and female slaves they had freed and forced them to become slaves [again].
Then the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah from the Lord:
"This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: I made a covenantb with your ancestors when I brought them out of the land of Egypt, out of the place of slavery, saying:
At the end of seven years, each of you must free his Hebrew brother who sold himselfc to you. He may serve you six years, but then you must send him out free from you.d But your ancestors did not obey Me or pay any attention.
Today you repented and did what pleased Me, each of you proclaiming freedom for his neighbor. You made a covenant before Me at the temple called by My name.
But you have changed your minds and profaned My name. Each has taken back his male and female slaves who had been freed [to go] wherever they wanted, and you have [again] subjugated them to be your slaves.
"Therefore, this is what the Lord says: You have not obeyed Me by proclaiming freedom, each man for his brother and for his neighbor. I hereby proclaim freedom for you"-[this is] the Lord's declaration-"to the sword, to plague, and to famine! I will make you a horror to all the earth's kingdoms.
As for those who disobeyed My covenant,e not keeping the terms of the covenant they made before Me, I will treat them like the calf they cut in two in order to pass between its pieces.f19
The officials of Judah and Jerusalem, the court officials, the priests, and all the people of the land who passed between the pieces of the calf
will be handed over to their enemies, to those who want to take their life. Their corpses will become food for the birds of the sky and for the wild animals of the land.g21
I will hand Zedekiah king of Judah and his officials over to their enemies, to those who want to take their life, to the king of Babylon's army that is withdrawing.h22
I am about to give the command"-[this is] the Lord's declaration-"and I will bring them back to this city. They will fight against it, capture it, and burn it down. I will make Judah's cities a desolation, without inhabitant."