Warning to Zedekiah

34 While Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and all his army and all the kingdoms and peoples(A) in the empire he ruled were fighting against Jerusalem(B) and all its surrounding towns, this word came to Jeremiah from the Lord: “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: Go to Zedekiah(C) 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.(D) You will not escape from his grasp but will surely be captured and given into his hands.(E) 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.

“‘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;(F) you will die peacefully. As people made a funeral fire(G) in honor of your predecessors, the kings who ruled before you, so they will make a fire in your honor and lament, “Alas,(H) master!” I myself make this promise, declares the Lord.’”

Then Jeremiah the prophet told all this to Zedekiah king of Judah, in Jerusalem, while the army of the king of Babylon was fighting against Jerusalem and the other cities of Judah that were still holding out—Lachish(I) and Azekah.(J) These were the only fortified cities left in Judah.

Freedom for Slaves

The word came to Jeremiah from the Lord after King Zedekiah had made a covenant with all the people(K) in Jerusalem to proclaim freedom(L) for the slaves. Everyone was to free their Hebrew slaves, both male and female; no one was to hold a fellow Hebrew in bondage.(M) 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(N) 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(O) when I brought them out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.(P) 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](Q) Your ancestors, however, did not listen to me or pay attention(R) to me. 15 Recently you repented and did what is right in my sight: Each of you proclaimed freedom to your own people.(S) You even made a covenant before me in the house that bears my Name.(T) 16 But now you have turned around(U) and profaned(V) 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,(W) declares the Lord—‘freedom’ to fall by the sword, plague(X) and famine.(Y) I will make you abhorrent to all the kingdoms of the earth.(Z) 18 Those who have violated my covenant(AA) 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.(AB) 19 The leaders of Judah and Jerusalem, the court officials,(AC) the priests and all the people of the land who walked between the pieces of the calf, 20 I will deliver(AD) into the hands of their enemies who want to kill them.(AE) Their dead bodies will become food for the birds and the wild animals.(AF)

21 “I will deliver Zedekiah(AG) king of Judah and his officials(AH) into the hands of their enemies(AI) who want to kill them, to the army of the king of Babylon,(AJ) which has withdrawn(AK) 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(AL) it and burn(AM) it down. And I will lay waste(AN) the towns of Judah so no one can live there.”

The Rekabites

35 This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord during the reign of Jehoiakim(AO) son of Josiah king of Judah: “Go to the Rekabite(AP) family and invite them to come to one of the side rooms(AQ) of the house of the Lord and give them wine to drink.”

So I went to get Jaazaniah son of Jeremiah, the son of Habazziniah, and his brothers and all his sons—the whole family of the Rekabites. I brought them into the house of the Lord, into the room of the sons of Hanan son of Igdaliah the man of God.(AR) It was next to the room of the officials, which was over that of Maaseiah son of Shallum(AS) the doorkeeper.(AT) Then I set bowls full of wine and some cups before the Rekabites and said to them, “Drink some wine.”

But they replied, “We do not drink wine, because our forefather Jehonadab[b](AU) son of Rekab gave us this command: ‘Neither you nor your descendants must ever drink wine.(AV) Also you must never build houses, sow seed or plant vineyards; you must never have any of these things, but must always live in tents.(AW) Then you will live a long time in the land(AX) where you are nomads.’ We have obeyed everything our forefather(AY) Jehonadab son of Rekab commanded us. Neither we nor our wives nor our sons and daughters have ever drunk wine or built houses to live in or had vineyards, fields or crops.(AZ) 10 We have lived in tents and have fully obeyed everything our forefather Jehonadab commanded us. 11 But when Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon invaded(BA) this land, we said, ‘Come, we must go to Jerusalem(BB) to escape the Babylonian[c] and Aramean armies.’ So we have remained in Jerusalem.”

12 Then the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah, saying: 13 “This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: Go and tell(BC) the people of Judah and those living in Jerusalem, ‘Will you not learn a lesson(BD) and obey my words?’ declares the Lord. 14 ‘Jehonadab son of Rekab ordered his descendants not to drink wine and this command has been kept. To this day they do not drink wine, because they obey their forefather’s command.(BE) But I have spoken to you again and again,(BF) yet you have not obeyed(BG) me. 15 Again and again I sent all my servants the prophets(BH) to you. They said, “Each of you must turn(BI) from your wicked ways and reform(BJ) your actions; do not follow other gods(BK) to serve them. Then you will live in the land(BL) I have given to you and your ancestors.” But you have not paid attention or listened(BM) to me. 16 The descendants of Jehonadab son of Rekab have carried out the command their forefather(BN) gave them, but these people have not obeyed me.’

17 “Therefore this is what the Lord God Almighty, the God of Israel, says: ‘Listen! I am going to bring on Judah and on everyone living in Jerusalem every disaster(BO) I pronounced against them. I spoke to them, but they did not listen;(BP) I called to them, but they did not answer.’”(BQ)

18 Then Jeremiah said to the family of the Rekabites, “This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: ‘You have obeyed the command of your forefather(BR) Jehonadab and have followed all his instructions and have done everything he ordered.’ 19 Therefore this is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: ‘Jehonadab son of Rekab will never fail(BS) to have a descendant to serve(BT) me.’”


  1. Jeremiah 34:14 Deut. 15:12
  2. Jeremiah 35:6 Hebrew Jonadab, a variant of Jehonadab; here and often in this chapter
  3. Jeremiah 35:11 Or Chaldean