Jeremiah 34 Common English Bible (CEB)
Lessons on obedience and disobedience
34 Jeremiah received the Lord’s word when Babylon’s King Nebuchadnezzar and his army, and all the countries and people he ruled, were attacking Jerusalem and all its towns. 2 The Lord, the God of Israel, proclaims, Go and speak to Judah’s King Zedekiah and say to him: The Lord proclaims, I’m handing this city over to the king of Babylon, and he will burn it down. 3 You won’t escape but will be captured and handed over to him. You will see the king of Babylon with your very own eyes and speak to him personally, and you will be taken to Babylon. 4 Even so, hear the Lord’s word, King Zedekiah of Judah: This is what the Lord proclaims about you: You won’t die in battle; 5 you will die a peaceful death. As burial incense was burned to honor your ancestors, the kings who came before you, so it will be burned to honor you as people mourn, “Oh, master!” I myself promise this, declares the Lord.
6 The prophet Jeremiah delivered this message to Judah’s King Zedekiah in Jerusalem 7 when the army of the king of Babylon was attacking Jerusalem and all the remaining Judean towns, Lachish and Azekah—the only fortified towns still standing in Judah.
8 Jeremiah received the Lord’s word after King Zedekiah had made a covenant with all the people in Jerusalem to proclaim liberty for their slaves: 9 everyone was to free their male and female Hebrew slaves and no longer hold a Judean brother or sister in bondage. 10 So all the officials and people who entered into this covenant agreed to free their male and female slaves and no longer hold them in bondage; they obeyed the king’s command[a] and let them go. 11 But afterward they broke their promise, took back the men and women they had freed, and enslaved them again.
12 Then the Lord’s word came to Jeremiah: 13 The Lord, the God of Israel, proclaims: I made a covenant with your ancestors when I brought them out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. 14 I said that every seventh year each of you must free any Hebrews who have been sold to you. After they have served you for six years, you must set them free. But your ancestors didn’t obey or pay any attention to me. 15 Recently you turned about and did what was right in my sight; each of you proclaimed liberty for the other and made a covenant before me in the temple that bears my name. 16 But then you went back on your word and made my name impure; each of you reclaimed the men and women you had set free and forced them to be your slaves again.
17 Therefore, the Lord proclaims: Since you have defied me by not setting your fellow citizens free, I’m setting you free, declares the Lord, free to die by the sword, disease, and famine! And I will make you an object of horror for all nations on earth. 18 I will make those who disregarded my covenant, violating its terms that they agreed to in my presence, like the calf they cut in two and then walked between the halves of its carcass. 19 The officials of Judah and Jerusalem, the eunuchs and priests, and all the people who passed through the pieces of the calf 20 I will hand over to their enemies who seek to kill them. And their corpses will become food for birds and wild animals. 21 I will hand over Judah’s King Zedekiah and his officials to their enemies who seek to kill them: namely, the army of Babylon’s king, which has just withdrawn from you. 22 I’m about to issue orders, declares the Lord, that the army of Babylon return to this city. They will wage war against it, capture it, and burn it down along with other Judean cities. I will make Judah a wasteland, without inhabitants.
Jeremiah 34 New International Version (NIV)
Warning to Zedekiah
34 While Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and all his army and all the kingdoms and peoples in the empire he ruled were fighting against Jerusalem and all its surrounding towns, this word came to Jeremiah from the Lord: 2 “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: Go to Zedekiah king of Judah and tell him, ‘This is what the Lord says: I am about to give this city into the hands of the king of Babylon, and he will burn it down. 3 You will not escape from his grasp but will surely be captured and given into his hands. You will see the king of Babylon with your own eyes, and he will speak with you face to face. And you will go to Babylon.
4 “‘Yet hear the Lord’s promise to you, Zedekiah king of Judah. This is what the Lord says concerning you: You will not die by the sword; 5 you will die peacefully. As people made a funeral fire in honor of your predecessors, the kings who ruled before you, so they will make a fire in your honor and lament, “Alas, master!” I myself make this promise, declares the Lord.’”
6 Then Jeremiah the prophet told all this to Zedekiah king of Judah, in Jerusalem, 7 while the army of the king of Babylon was fighting against Jerusalem and the other cities of Judah that were still holding out—Lachish and Azekah. These were the only fortified cities left in Judah.
Freedom for Slaves
8 The word came to Jeremiah from the Lord after King Zedekiah had made a covenant with all the people in Jerusalem to proclaim freedom for the slaves. 9 Everyone was to free their Hebrew slaves, both male and female; no one was to hold a fellow Hebrew in bondage. 10 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. 11 But afterward they changed their minds and took back the slaves they had freed and enslaved them again.
12 Then the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah: 13 “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: I made a covenant with your ancestors when I brought them out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. I said, 14 ‘Every seventh year each of you must free any fellow Hebrews who have sold themselves to you. After they have served you six years, you must let them go free.’[a] Your ancestors, however, did not listen to me or pay attention to me. 15 Recently you repented and did what is right in my sight: Each of you proclaimed freedom to your own people. You even made a covenant before me in the house that bears my Name. 16 But now you have turned around and profaned 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.
17 “Therefore this is what the Lord says: You have not obeyed me; you have not proclaimed freedom to your own people. So I now proclaim ‘freedom’ for you, declares the Lord—‘freedom’ to fall by the sword, plague and famine. I will make you abhorrent to all the kingdoms of the earth. 18 Those who have violated my covenant 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. 19 The leaders of Judah and Jerusalem, the court officials, the priests and all the people of the land who walked between the pieces of the calf, 20 I will deliver into the hands of their enemies who want to kill them. Their dead bodies will become food for the birds and the wild animals.
21 “I will deliver Zedekiah king of Judah and his officials into the hands of their enemies who want to kill them, to the army of the king of Babylon, which has withdrawn from you. 22 I am going to give the order, declares the Lord, and I will bring them back to this city. They will fight against it, take it and burn it down. And I will lay waste the towns of Judah so no one can live there.”