This is the word that the Lord spoke to Jeremiah. It came when Zedekiah king of Judah sent Pashhur son of Malkijah and the priest Zephaniah son of Maaseiah to Jeremiah.
They said, "Ask the Lord for us what will happen, because Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon is attacking us. Maybe the Lord will do miracles for us as he did in the past so Nebuchadnezzar will stop attacking us and leave."
But Jeremiah answered them, "Tell King Zedekiah this:
'Here is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: You have weapons of war in your hands to defend yourselves against the king of Babylon and the Babylonians, who are all around the city wall. But I will make those weapons useless. Soon I will bring them into the center of this city.
In my anger, my very great anger, I myself will fight against you with my great power and strength.
I will kill everything living in Jerusalem -- both people and animals. They will die from terrible diseases.
Then, says the Lord, I'll hand over Zedekiah king of Judah, his officers, and the people in Jerusalem who do not die from the terrible diseases or battle or hunger, to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon. I will let those win who want to kill the people of Judah, so the people of Judah and Jerusalem will be killed in war. Nebuchadnezzar will not show any mercy or pity or feel sorry for them!'
"Also tell this to the people of Jerusalem: 'This is what the Lord says: I will let you choose to live or die.
Anyone who stays in Jerusalem will die in war or from hunger or from a terrible disease. But anyone who goes out of Jerusalem and surrenders to the Babylonians who are attacking you will live. Anyone who leaves the city will save his life as if it were a prize won in war.
I have decided to make trouble for this city and not to help it, says the Lord. I will give it to the king of Babylon, and he will burn it with fire.'
"Say to Judah's royal family: 'Hear the word of the Lord.
Family of David, this is what the Lord says: You must judge people fairly every morning. Save the person who has been robbed from the power of his attacker. If you don't, I will become very angry. My anger will be like a fire that no one can put out, because you have done evil things.
"'Jerusalem, I am against you, you who live on top of the mountain over this valley, says the Lord. You say, "No one can attack us or come into our strong city."
But I will give you the punishment you deserve, says the Lord. I will start a fire in your forests that will burn up everything around you!'"