The Holy Bible – Knox Translation
The Prophecy of Jeremias
The word of the Lord came to Jeremias at the time when king Nabuchodonosor of Babylon, at the head of his own army, with vassal kingdoms and peoples to aid him, levied war on Jerusalem and its daughter cities.
This was the message sent by the Lord God of Israel: Go and warn Sedecias, king of Juda, in my name that I mean to hand over this city to the Babylonian king, who will burn it to the ground.
And add this besides: Thou thyself wilt not escape from him; they will catch thee, sure enough, and hand thee over to him; thou and the king of Babylon shall have speech together, meet face to face, and to Babylon thou shalt go.
Wouldst thou but listen, King Sedecias of Juda, to the Lord’s bidding!✻ Die by the sword, he tells thee, thou shouldst not;
peaceful thy death should be, and they should make such burning for thee as they made for thy fathers that reigned before thee, raise such cries of lamentation, Alas, what a king was this! This is my promise to thee, the Lord says.
All this king Sedecias of Juda must hear from the prophet Jeremias, there in Jerusalem;
and still the Babylonian army pressed hard on the city, and on those other cities of Juda that were left, Lachis and Azecha; the rest of the fortified cities had already been taken.
Here is another message the Lord entrusted to Jeremias, and this was the occasion of it. King Sedecias had bound the citizens of Jerusalem by a covenant;
all alike were to set free their slaves and handmaids that were of Hebrew blood; would they play the master to their own Jewish kinsfolk?
On hearing the proclamation, nobles and common people alike had agreed to release slave and handmaid, and exempt them from all service henceforward; and this they did obediently enough;
but afterwards they changed their minds, haled them off, men and women, and reduced them to slavery once again.
Then it was word came from the Lord to Jeremias, and thus the divine message ran:
Word from the Lord God of Israel! I made a covenant with your fathers, when I rescued them from their place of bondage in Egypt.
Seven years up, every slave sold in bondage to his fellow Hebrew must go free; six years of service, and then release. Your fathers would not listen, turned a deaf ear to me;
but you, to-day, have thought better of it, and done my will, proclaiming liberty to your fellow-countrymen; you have sworn it in my presence, in the house that is the shrine of my name.
And then you went back, and dragged my name in the dust! You would claim them afresh, men and women servants you had set free, now their own masters; they must be your servants and handmaids still.
This sentence, then, the Lord pronounces: You have not obeyed me, by granting freedom to your own brethren and neighbours, and here is the freedom I mean to grant you in return; freedom of the sword, freedom of the famine, freedom of the pestilence! A bane I will make you to all the kingdoms of earth.
I will have no more of them, the men who transgress my covenant, have no respect for the agreement they made in my own presence, the calf they cut in two and walked between the slices of it,
nobles of Juda and Jerusalem, chamberlains and priests, and all the common folk that passed between share and share.
I mean to give them up into the hands of enemies that are sworn upon their lives; bird in air and beast on earth shall prey upon that carrion of theirs.
Sedecias, king of Juda, and his nobles, shall fall into the hands of pitiless enemies, the armies of Babylon, that now give you a respite.
These, at my command, shall march on this city again, lay siege to it, and capture it, and burn it to the ground; and I will make the townships of Juda into a desert, never a soul to dwell there.
The Holy Bible