While Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and all his army and all the kingdoms and peoples1 in the empire he ruled were fighting against Jerusalem2 and all its surrounding towns, this word came to Jeremiah from the LORD:
"This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: Go to Zedekiah3 king of Judah and tell him, 'This is what the LORD says: I am about to hand this city over to the king of Babylon, and he will burn it down.43
You will not escape from his grasp but will surely be captured and handed over5 to him. You will see the king of Babylon with your own eyes, and he will speak with you face to face. And you will go to Babylon.
" 'Yet hear the promise of the LORD, O Zedekiah king of Judah. This is what the LORD says concerning you: You will not die by the sword;65
you will die peacefully. As people made a funeral fire7 in honor of your fathers, the former kings who preceded you, so they will make a fire in your honor and lament, "Alas,8 O master!" I myself make this promise, declares the LORD.' "
Then Jeremiah the prophet told all this to Zedekiah king of Judah, in Jerusalem,
while the army of the king of Babylon was fighting against Jerusalem and the other cities of Judah that were still holding out--Lachish9 and Azekah.10 These were the only fortified cities left in Judah.
The word came to Jeremiah from the LORD after King Zedekiah had made a covenant with all the people11 in Jerusalem to proclaim freedom12 for the slaves.
Everyone was to free his Hebrew slaves, both male and female; no one was to hold a fellow Jew in bondage.1310
So all the officials and people who entered into this covenant agreed that they would free their male and female slaves and no longer hold them in bondage. They agreed, and set them free.
But afterward they changed their minds14 and took back the slaves they had freed and enslaved them again.