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 minds1 and took back the slaves they had freed and enslaved them again.
Then the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah:
"This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: I made a covenant with your forefathers2 when I brought them out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.3 I said,
'Every seventh year each of you must free any fellow Hebrew who has sold himself to you. After he has served you six years, you must let him go free.'a4 Your fathers, however, did not listen to me or pay attention5 to me.
Recently you repented and did what is right in my sight: Each of you proclaimed freedom to his countrymen.6 You even made a covenant before me in the house that bears my Name.716
But now you have turned around8 and profaned9 my name; each of you has taken back the male and female slaves you had set free to go where they wished. You have forced them to become your slaves again.
"Therefore, this is what the LORD says: You have not obeyed me; you have not proclaimed freedom for your fellow countrymen. So I now proclaim 'freedom' for you,10 declares the LORD--'freedom' to fall by the sword, plague11 and famine.12 I will make you abhorrent to all the kingdoms of the earth.1318
The men who have violated my covenant14 and have not fulfilled the terms of the covenant they made before me, I will treat like the calf they cut in two and then walked between its pieces.1519
The leaders of Judah and Jerusalem, the court officials,16 the priests and all the people of the land who walked between the pieces of the calf,
I will hand over17 to their enemies who seek their lives.18 Their dead bodies will become food for the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth.19