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Chapter 34

Fate of Zedekiah. The word which came to Jeremiah from the Lord while Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, and all his army and all the earth’s kingdoms under his rule, and all the peoples were attacking Jerusalem and all her cities:(A) Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: Go to Zedekiah, king of Judah, and tell him: Thus says the Lord: I am handing this city over to the king of Babylon; he will burn it with fire.(B) You yourself shall not escape his hand; rather you will be captured and fall into his hand. You shall see the king of Babylon eye to eye and speak to him face to face. Then you shall go to Babylon.(C)

Just hear the word of the Lord, Zedekiah, king of Judah! Then, says the Lord concerning you, you shall not die by the sword. You shall die in peace, and they will burn spices for you as they did for your ancestors, the earlier kings who preceded you, and they shall make lament over you, “Alas, Lord.” I myself make this promise—oracle of the Lord.

Jeremiah the prophet told all these things to Zedekiah, king of Judah, in Jerusalem, while the army of the king of Babylon was attacking Jerusalem and the remaining cities of Judah, Lachish, and Azekah.[a] Only these fortified cities were left standing out of all the cities of Judah!

The Pact Broken.[b]

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  1. 34:7 Lachish, and Azekah: fortress towns southwest of Jerusalem which Nebuchadnezzar besieged to prevent any help coming to Jerusalem from Egypt. At Lachish, archaeologists found several letters written on ostraca (pottery fragments) dated to 598 or 588 B.C., which mention both Lachish and Azekah.
  2. 34:8–22 During the siege of Jerusalem, its citizens made a covenant at Zedekiah’s instigation to free Judahites they held in servitude, thus providing additional defenders for the city, leaving slave owners with fewer mouths to feed, and making reparation for past violations of the law, which dictated that Hebrew slaves should serve no longer than six years (Dt 15:12–15). But when the siege was temporarily lifted, when the assistance promised by Pharaoh Hophra arrived (cf. Jer 37:5), the inhabitants of Jerusalem broke the covenant and once more pressed their fellow citizens into slavery (v. 11).

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