Jeremiah received the LORD's word when King Zedekiah sent Pashhur, Malchiah's son, and the priest Zephaniah, Maaseiah's son, to him with an appeal:
"Speak to the LORD on our behalf because Babylon's King Nebuchadnezzar is attacking us. Perhaps the LORD will perform one of his mighty deeds and force him to withdraw from us."
Jeremiah answered them: This is what you should tell Zedekiah:
The LORD, the God of Israel, says: I'm going to turn your own weapons against you, yes, the weapons you are using to fight the king of Babylon and the Babylonians who have surrounded you! I will round them up in the center of the city.
Then I myself will fight against you with an outstretched hand and strong arm in fierce anger and rage.
I will strike down those within this city—both people and animals—and they will die of a terrible plague.
Afterward, declares the LORD, I will deliver Judah's King Zedekiah, his servants, and those in this city who have survived plague, war, and famine to Babylon's King Nebuchadnezzar and to their enemies who seek to do them harm. He will put them to the sword without pity, mercy, or compassion.
This is what you should tell this people: The LORD says: I'm setting before you the way of life and the way of death.
Whoever stays in the city will die by the sword, famine, and disease. But whoever leaves the city and surrenders to the Babylonians will live; yes, their lives will be spared.
I have set my face against this city for harm and not for good, declares the LORD; it will be delivered to the king of Babylon, who will set it on fire.
House of Judah! This is what the LORD says:
House of David! The LORD proclaims: Begin each morning by administering justice, rescue from their oppressor those who have been robbed, or else my anger will spread like a wildfire, with no one to put it out, because of your evil deeds.
I am against you, you who live in the valley, like a rock of the plain, declares the LORD, and who say, "Who will come down to attack us? Who will breach our fortresses?"
I will punish you based on what you have done, declares the LORD. I will set your forests on fire; the flames will engulf everything around you.