Then all the army commanders along with Kareah's son Johanan and Hoshaiah's son Jezaniah and all the people, from the least important to the most important, came to the prophet Jeremiah.
They said to him, "Please listen to our request, and pray to the LORD your God for all of us who are left here. As you can see, there are only a few of us left.
Let the LORD your God tell us where we should go and what we should do."
The prophet Jeremiah answered them, "I have listened to your request. I will pray to the LORD your God as you have requested, and I will tell you everything the LORD says. I won't keep anything from you."
They said to Jeremiah, "May the LORD be a true and faithful witness against us if we don't do exactly what the LORD your God tells us to do.
We will obey the LORD our God to whom we are sending you, whether it's good or bad. Yes, we will obey the LORD our God so that everything will go well for us."
After ten days the LORD spoke his word to Jeremiah.
So Jeremiah called Kareah's son Johanan, all the army commanders who were with him, and all the people from the least important to the most important.
Jeremiah said to them, "You sent me to plead your case humbly to the LORD. This is what the LORD God of Israel says:
Suppose you stay in this land. Then I will build you up and not tear you down. I will plant you and not uproot you. I will change my plans about the disaster I've brought on you.
Don't be afraid of the king of Babylon, whom you now fear. Don't be afraid of him, declares the LORD. I'm with you. I will save you and rescue you from his power.
I will have compassion on you. I will make him have compassion on you and return you to your land.
"But suppose you say, 'We won't stay in this land,' and you disobey the LORD your God.
Then you say, 'We'll go to Egypt, where we won't have to see war, hear the sound of a ram's horn, or be hungry. We'll stay there.'
"Now, listen to the word of the LORD, you people who are left in Judah. This is what the LORD of Armies, the God of Israel, says: Suppose you're determined to go to Egypt, and you go and live there.
Then the wars you fear will catch up with you in Egypt. The famines you dread will follow you to Egypt, and you will die there.
So all the people who decide to go and live in Egypt will die in wars, famines, and plagues. No one will survive or escape the disasters I will bring on them.
"This is what the LORD of Armies, the God of Israel, says: As my anger and my fury were poured out on those who live in Jerusalem, so my fury will be poured out on you if you go to Egypt. You will become a curse word. You will become something ridiculed, cursed, and disgraced. You won't see this place again.
"The LORD has told you people who are left in Judah not to go to Egypt. You need to know that I am warning you today.
You only deceived yourselves when you sent me to the LORD your God and said, 'Pray to the LORD our God for us, and tell us everything that the LORD our God says, and we'll do it.'
I have told you today, but you won't obey anything the LORD your God sent me to tell you.
But now, you need to know that you will die in wars, famines, or plagues in the place where you want to go and live."
So Jeremiah finished telling all the people the message from the LORD their God. He told them everything the LORD their God sent him to tell them.
Azariah (son of Hoshaiah), Johanan (son of Kareah), and all the arrogant people said to Jeremiah, "You're lying! The LORD our God didn't send you to tell us that we must not go to live in Egypt.
But Baruch, son of Neriah, has turned you against us in order to hand us over to the Babylonians. Then they will kill us or take us as captives to Babylon."
So Johanan (son of Kareah), all the army commanders, and all the people didn't obey the LORD. They didn't stay in Judah.
Johanan (son of Kareah) and all the army commanders took all the people who were left in Judah to Egypt. These were all the people who had come back to Judah from the places where they had been scattered.
They took men, women, children, and the king's daughters. They took every person whom Nebuzaradan, the captain of the guard, had left with Gedaliah, son of Ahikam and grandson of Shaphan, including the prophet Jeremiah and Baruch, son of Neriah.
They didn't listen to the LORD, so they went to Egypt. They went as far as Tahpanhes.
Then the LORD spoke his word to Jeremiah in Tahpanhes. He said,
"Take some large stones, and bury them under the brick pavement at the entrance to the Pharaoh's palace in Tahpanhes. Do this while the people of Judah watch you.
Say to them, 'This is what the LORD of Armies, the God of Israel, says: I'm going to send for my servant King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. I will set his throne over these stones that I buried, and I will spread his royal canopy above them.
He will defeat Egypt. He will bring death to those who are supposed to die. He will capture those who are supposed to be captured. He will kill in battle those who are supposed to be killed in battle.
He will set fire to the temples of Egypt's gods. He will burn down the temples and take their gods captive. Nebuchadnezzar will put on Egypt as his coat as a shepherd puts on his coat. He will leave Egypt peacefully.
At Beth Shemesh he will break the monuments in Egypt and burn down the temples of Egypt's gods.'"
The LORD spoke his word to Jeremiah about all the Jews living in Egypt at Migdol, Tahpanhes, Noph, and Pathros.
This is what the LORD of Armies, the God of Israel, says: You have seen all the disasters I brought on Jerusalem and on all the cities of Judah. Today they are deserted ruins.
It is because their people did evil, and they made me angry. They went to burn incense and serve other gods that neither you nor your ancestors heard of.
I have sent my servants the prophets to you again and again to tell you not to do these detestable things that I hate.
But you wouldn't listen or pay attention. You wouldn't turn from your wicked ways and wouldn't stop burning incense as an offering to other gods.
That is why my fury and anger were poured out and continued to burn in the cities of Judah and on the streets of Jerusalem. So they became the desolate ruin that they are today.
Now, this is what the LORD God of Armies, the God of Israel, says: Why do you bring this terrible disaster on yourselves? Why do you keep destroying men, women, children, and babies from Judah until none are left?
Why do you make me angry by burning incense to other gods in Egypt, where you have come to live. You will destroy yourselves and be cursed and ridiculed by all the nations on earth.
Have you forgotten the wicked things done by your ancestors, by the kings of Judah and their wives, and by you and your wives in Judah and on the streets of Jerusalem?
You have not humbled yourselves even to this day. You haven't feared me or lived your lives by my teachings or by my decrees that I gave your ancestors.
This is what the LORD of Armies, the God of Israel, says: I'm going to bring disaster on you and destroy all of Judah.
I will take away from Judah those who are left, those who were determined to go to live in Egypt. They will die in Egypt. All of them, from the least important to the most important, will die in wars or be brought to an end by famines. They will become something cursed, ridiculed, and disgraced.
I will punish those living in Egypt as I punished Jerusalem with wars, famines, and plagues.
None of the people of Judah who went to live in Egypt will survive or return to Judah, where they long to return and live. Only a few refugees will return there.
Then all the men who knew that their wives were burning incense to other gods, all the women who were standing there, and all the people who lived at Pathros in Egypt answered Jeremiah. They said,
"We won't listen to the message that you have spoken to us in the LORD's name.
We will do everything we said we would do. We will burn incense to the queen of heaven and pour out wine offerings to her as our ancestors, our kings, and our officials did in the cities of Judah and on the streets of Jerusalem. We had plenty to eat then, and we lived comfortably and saw no disaster.
But since we stopped burning incense to the queen of heaven and pouring out wine offerings to her, we have had nothing but wars and famines."
The women added, "When we burned incense to the queen of heaven, poured out wine offerings to her, and made cakes for her with her image on them, do you think our husbands didn't approve?"
Then Jeremiah said to all the people, both men and women, to everyone who answered him,
"Doesn't the LORD remember that you burned incense in the cities of Judah and on the streets of Jerusalem along with your ancestors, your kings and your officials, and the people in the land?
The LORD could no longer bear the wicked and detestable things you did. That is why your land has become something ruined, destroyed, and cursed. No one lives in that land today.
You burned incense as offerings to other gods, sinned against the LORD, and wouldn't obey him. You didn't live by his teachings, decrees, or written instructions. That is why you have met with this disaster as it is today."
Then Jeremiah said to all the people, including the women, "Listen to the word of the LORD, all you people of Judah who are in Egypt.
This is what the LORD of Armies, the God of Israel, says: You and your wives made promises, and you have kept them. You said, 'We will certainly do what we vow. We will burn incense to the queen of heaven and pour out wine offerings to her.' "So go ahead. Keep your vows, and do what you vow.
But listen to the word of the LORD, all you people of Judah who live in Egypt. 'I swear by my great name,' says the LORD, 'that no one from Judah who lives anywhere in Egypt will ever again call on my name and take the oath, "As the Almighty LORD lives..."
I am going to watch over them. I am going to watch over them to bring disasters, not blessings. In Egypt the people from Judah will die in wars and famines until everyone is gone.
Those who escape the wars will return to Judah from Egypt. Then all the people of Judah who went to live in Egypt will know whose words have come true, mine or theirs.
I will give you this sign,' declares the LORD. 'I will punish you in this place so that you will know that my threats of disaster will happen to you.
This is what the LORD says: I'm going to hand Pharaoh Hophra, king of Egypt, over to his enemies and to those who want to kill him, just as I handed over King Zedekiah of Judah to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon and to those who wanted to kill him.'"
This is the message that the prophet Jeremiah spoke to Baruch, son of Neriah. Baruch wrote these things on a scroll as Jeremiah dictated them during the fourth year that Jehoiakim, son of Josiah, was king of Judah. Jeremiah said,
"This is what the LORD God of Israel says to you, Baruch:
You said, 'I'm so miserable! The LORD has added grief to my pain. I'm worn out from groaning. I can't find any rest.'
"Say this to Baruch, 'This is what the LORD says: I will tear down what I have built. I will uproot what I have planted throughout the earth.
Are you looking for great things for yourself? Don't look for them, because I'm going to bring disaster on all people, declares the LORD. But wherever you go I will let you escape with your life.'"