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Fate of Zedekiah and Jerusalem. 1The word which came to Jeremiah from the LORD when King Zedekiah* sent Pashhur, son of Malchiah, and the priest Zephaniah, son of Maaseiah, to him with this request: 2Inquire for us of the LORD, because Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, is attacking us. Perhaps the LORD will act for us in accord with his wonderful works by making him withdraw from us. 3But Jeremiah answered them: This is what you shall report to Zedekiah: 4Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel: I will turn against you the weapons with which you are fighting the king of Babylon and the Chaldeans who besiege you outside the walls. These weapons I will pile up in the midst of this city,a 5and I myself will fight against you with outstretched hand and mighty arm, in anger, wrath, and great rage!b 6I will strike down the inhabitants of this city, human being and beast; they shall die in a great pestilence.c 7After that—oracle of the LORD—I will hand over Zedekiah, king of Judah, and his ministers and the people in this city who survive pestilence, sword, and famine, to Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, to their enemies and those who seek their lives. He shall strike them down with the edge of the sword, without quarter, without mercy or compassion.d 8And to this people you shall say: Thus says the LORD: See, I am giving you a choice between the way to life and the way to death.e 9Whoever remains in this city shall die by the sword or famine or pestilence. But whoever leaves and surrenders to the Chaldeans who are besieging you shall live and escape with his life. 10I have set my face against this city, for evil and not for good—oracle of the LORD. It shall be given into the power of the king of Babylon who shall set it on fire.*
11To the royal house of Judah:
Hear the word of the LORD,
12house of David!
Thus says the LORD:
Each morning dispense justice,
rescue the oppressed from the hand of the oppressor,
Or my fury will break out like fire
and burn with no one to quench it
because of your evil deeds.f
13Beware! I am against you, Ruler of the Valley,
Rock of the Plain*—oracle of the LORD.
You say, “Who will attack us,
who can storm our defenses?”
14I will punish you—oracle of the LORD—
as your deeds deserve!
I will kindle a fire in its forest*
that shall devour all its surroundings.g
* [21:1] Zedekiah: brother of Jehoiakim, appointed king by Nebuchadnezzar after he had carried Jehoiachin away to captivity (2 Kgs 24:17). Pashhur: different from the one in 20:1–3 but also one of Jeremiah’s enemies; cf. 38:1, 4.
* [21:10] Jeremiah consistently pointed out the uselessness of resistance to Babylon, since the Lord had delivered Judah to Nebuchadnezzar (27:6). Because of this the prophet was denounced and imprisoned as a traitor (37:13–14).
* [21:11–23:8] This section contains an editor’s collection of Jeremiah’s oracles against the kings of Judah. They are placed in the chronological order of the kings, and are prefaced by oracles against the kings of Judah in general (21:11–22:9).
* [21:13] Ruler of the Valley, Rock of the Plain: Mount Zion, surrounded by valleys, was regarded by the royal house as impregnable. Despite this natural fortification, God derides it as no more than a rock rising from the plain, useless against the attack of his fury.
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