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Jeremiah Chapter 34 | Parsha: Mishpatim

1The word which came to Jeremiah from the Lord, when King Nebuchadrezzar of Babylon and all his army, and all the kingdoms of the earth and all the peoples under his sway, were waging war against Jerusalem and all its towns:

2Thus said the Lord, the God of Israel: Go speak to King Zedekiah of Judah, and say to him: “Thus said the Lord: I am going to deliver this city into the hands of the king of Babylon, and he will destroy it by fire. 3And you will not escape from him; you will be captured and handed over to him. And you will see the king of Babylon face to face and speak to him in person; and you will be brought to Babylon. 4But hear the word of the Lord, O King Zedekiah of Judah! Thus said the Lord concerning you: You will not die by the sword. 5You will die a peaceful death; and as incense was burned for your ancestors, the earlier kings who preceded you, so they will burn incense for you, and they will lament for you ‘Ah, lord!’ For I Myself have made the promise—declares the Lord.”

6The prophet Jeremiah spoke all these words to King Zedekiah of Judah in Jerusalem, 7when the army of the king of Babylon was waging war against Jerusalem and against the remaining towns of Judah—against Lachish and Azekah, for they were the only fortified towns of Judah that were left.

8The word which came to Jeremiah from the Lord after King Zede- kiah had made a covenant with all the people in Jerusalem to proclaim a release among them— 9that everyone should set free his Hebrew slaves, both male and female, and that no one should keep his fellow Judean enslaved.

10Everyone, officials and people, who had entered into the covenant agreed to set their male and female slaves free and not keep them enslaved any longer; they complied and let them go. 11But afterward they turned about and brought back the men and women they had set free, and forced them into slavery again. 12Then it was that the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah from the Lord:

13Thus said the Lord, the God of Israel: I made a covenant with your fathers when I brought them out of the land of Egypt, the house of bondage, saying: 14“In the seventh year each of you must let go any fellow Hebrew who may be sold to you; when he has served you six years, you must set him free.” But your fathers would not obey Me or give ear. 15Lately you turned about and did what is proper in My sight, and each of you proclaimed a release to his countrymen; and you made a covenant accordingly before Me in the House which bears My name. 16But now you have turned back and have profaned My name; each of you has brought back the men and women whom you had given their freedom, and forced them to be your slaves again.

17Assuredly, thus said the Lord: You would not obey Me and proclaim a release, each to his kinsman and countryman. Lo! I proclaim your release—declares the Lord—to the sword, to pestilence, and to famine; and I will make you a horror to all the kingdoms of the earth. 18I will make the men who violated My covenant, who did not fulfill the terms of the covenant which they made before Me, ke] the calf which they cut in two so as to pass between the halves: 19The officers of Judah and Jerusalem, the officials, the priests, and all the people of the land who passed between the halves of the calf 20shall be handed over to their enemies, to those who seek to kill them. Their carcasses shall become food for the birds of the sky and the beasts of the earth. 21I will hand over King Zedekiah of Judah and his officers to their enemies, who seek to kill them—to the army of the king of Babylon which has withdrawn from you. 22I hereby give the command—declares the Lord—by which I will bring them back against this city. They shall attack it and capture it, and burn it down. I will make the towns of Judah a desolation, without inhabitant.

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