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Jeremiah 21 New Century Version (NCV)

God Rejects King Zedekiah’s Request

21 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. 10 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.’

11 “Say to Judah’s royal family: ‘Hear the word of the Lord. 12 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.

13 “‘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.”
14 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!’”

New Century Version (NCV)

The Holy Bible, New Century Version®. Copyright © 2005 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.

Jeremiah 21 Contemporary English Version (CEV)

The Lord Will Fight against Jerusalem

21 King Zedekiah[a] of Judah sent for Pashhur son of Malchiah and for a priest named Zephaniah son of Maaseiah. Then he told them,”Talk with Jeremiah for me.”

So they came to me and said, “King Nebuchadnezzar[b] of Babylonia has attacked Judah. Please ask the Lord to work miracles for our people, as he has done in the past, so that Nebuchadnezzar will leave us alone.”

3-7 I told them that the Lord God of Israel had told me to say to King Zedekiah:

The Babylonians have surrounded Jerusalem and want to kill you and your people. You are asking me to save you, but you have made me furious. So I will stretch out my mighty arm and fight against you myself. Your army is using spears and swords to fight the Babylonians, but I will make your own weapons turn and attack you. I will send a horrible disease to kill many of the people and animals in Jerusalem, and there will be nothing left to eat. Finally, I will let King Nebuchadnezzar and his army fight their way to the center of Jerusalem and capture everyone who is left alive, including you and your officials. But Nebuchadnezzar won’t be kind or show any mercy—he will have you killed! I, the Lord, have spoken.

Then I told them that the Lord had said:

People of Jerusalem, I, the Lord, give you the choice of life or death. The Babylonian army has surrounded Jerusalem, so if you want to live, you must go out and surrender to them. But if you want to die because of hunger, disease, or war, then stay here in the city. 10 I have decided not to rescue Jerusalem. Instead, I am going to let the king of Babylonia burn it to the ground. I, the Lord, have spoken.

The Lord Warns the King of Judah

11 Pay attention, you that belong
    to the royal family.
12 Each new day, make sure
    that justice is done,
and rescue those
    who are being robbed.
Or else my anger will flame up
like a fire that never goes out.

13 Jerusalem,
    from your mountaintop
you look out over the valleys[c]
    and think you are safe.
But I, the Lord, am angry,
14 and I will punish you
    as you deserve.
I’ll set your palace[d] on fire,
and everything around you
    will go up in smoke.


  1. 21.1 Zedekiah: See the note at 1.3.
  2. 21.2 Nebuchadnezzar: Ruled 605-562 B.C.
  3. 21.13 Jerusalem. . . valleys: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
  4. 21.14 your palace: The Hebrew text has “the forest”; the largest room in the king’s palace was known as Forest Hall (see 1 Kings 7.2,3).
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