Good News Translation (GNB)

A Message for Zedekiah


2 Kgs 25.1–11
2 Chr 36.17–21
The LORD spoke to me when King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylonia and his army, supported by troops from all the nations and races that were subject to him, were attacking Jerusalem and its nearby towns. 2The LORD, the God of Israel, told me to go and say to King Zedekiah of Judah, “I, the LORD, will hand this city over to the king of Babylonia, and he will burn it down. 3You will not escape; you will be captured and handed over to him. You will see him face to face and talk to him in person; then you will go to Babylonia. 4Zedekiah, listen to what I say about you. You will not be killed in battle. 5You will die in peace, and as people burnt incense when they buried your ancestors, who were kings before you, in the same way they will burn incense for you. They will mourn over you and say, ‘Our king is dead!’ I, the LORD, have spoken.”

6Then I gave this message to King Zedekiah in Jerusalem 7while the army of the king of Babylonia was attacking the city. The army was also attacking Lachish and Azekah, the only other fortified cities left in Judah.

Deceitful Treatment of Slaves

8King Zedekiah and the people of Jerusalem had made an agreement to set free 9their Hebrew slaves, both male and female, so that no one would have a fellow-Israelite as a slave. 10All the people and their leaders agreed to free their slaves and never to enslave them again. They did set them free, 11but later they changed their minds, took them back, and forced them to become slaves again.

12Then the LORD, 13the God of Israel, told me to say to the people: “I made a covenant with your ancestors when I rescued them from Egypt and set them free from slavery. I told them that 14

Ex 21.2
Deut 15.12
every seven years they were to set free any Hebrew slave who had served them for six years. But your ancestors would not pay any attention to me or listen to what I said. 15Just a few days ago you changed your minds and did what pleased me. All of you agreed to set your fellow-Israelites free, and you made a covenant in my presence, in the Temple where I am worshipped. 16But then you changed your minds again and dishonoured me. All of you took back the slaves whom you had set free as they desired, and you forced them into slavery again. 17So now, I, the LORD, say that you have disobeyed me: you have not given your fellow-Israelites their freedom. Very well, then, I will give you freedom: the freedom to die by war, disease, and starvation. I will make every nation in the world horrified at what I do to you. 18-19The officials of Judah and of Jerusalem, together with the palace officials, the priests, and all the leaders, made a covenant with me by walking between the two halves of a bull that they had cut in two. But they broke the covenant and did not keep its terms. So I will do to these people what they did to the bull. 20I will hand them over to their enemies, who want to kill them, and their corpses will be eaten by birds and wild animals. 21I will also hand over King Zedekiah of Judah and his officials to those who want to kill them. I will hand them over to the Babylonian army, which has stopped its attack against you. 22I will give the order, and they will return to this city. They will attack it, capture it, and burn it down. I will make the towns of Judah like a desert where no one lives. I, the LORD, have spoken.”


Jeremiah and the Rechabites


2 Kgs 23.36—24.6
2 Chr 36.5–7
When Jehoiakim son of Josiah was king of Judah, the LORD said to me, 2“Go to the members of the Rechabite clan and talk to them. Then bring them into one of the rooms in the Temple and offer them some wine.” 3So I took the entire Rechabite clan — Jaazaniah (the son of another Jeremiah, who was Habazziniah's son) and all his brothers and sons — 4and brought them to the Temple. I took them into the room of the disciples of the prophet Hanan son of Igdaliah. This room was above the room of Maaseiah son of Shallum, an important official in the Temple, and near the rooms of the other officials. 5Then I placed cups and bowls full of wine before the Rechabites, and I said to them, “Have some wine.”

6But they answered, “We do not drink wine. Our ancestor Jonadab son of Rechab told us that neither we nor our descendants were ever to drink any wine. 7He also told us not to build houses or farm the land, and not to plant vineyards or buy them. He commanded us always to live in tents, so that we might remain in this land where we live like strangers. 8We have obeyed all the instructions that Jonadab gave us. We ourselves never drink wine, and neither do our wives, our sons, or our daughters. 9-10We do not build houses for homes — we live in tents — and we own no vineyards, fields, or corn. We have fully obeyed everything that our ancestor Jonadab commanded us. 11But when King Nebuchadnezzar invaded the country, we decided to come to Jerusalem to get away from the Babylonian and Syrian armies. That is why we are living in Jerusalem.”

12-13Then the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, told me to go and say to the people of Judah and Jerusalem, “I, the LORD, ask you why you refuse to listen to me and to obey my instructions. 14Jonadab's descendants have obeyed his command not to drink wine, and to this very day none of them drink any. But I have kept on speaking to you, and you have not obeyed me. 15I have continued to send you all my servants the prophets, and they have told you to give up your evil ways and to do what is right. They warned you not to worship and serve other gods, so that you could go on living in the land that I gave you and your ancestors. But you would not listen to me or pay attention to me. 16Jonadab's descendants have obeyed the command that their ancestor gave them, but you people have not obeyed me. 17So now, I, the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, will bring on you people of Judah and of Jerusalem all the destruction that I promised. I will do this because you would not listen when I spoke to you, and you would not answer when I called you.”

18Then I told the Rechabite clan that the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, had said, “You have obeyed the command that your ancestor Jonadab gave you; you have followed all his instructions, and you have done everything he commanded you. 19So I, the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, promise that Jonadab son of Rechab will always have a male descendant to serve me.”


Baruch Reads the Scroll in the Temple


2 Kgs 24.1
2 Chr 36.5–7
Dan 1.1–2
In the fourth year that Jehoiakim son of Josiah was king of Judah, the LORD said to me, 2“Get a scroll and write on it everything that I have told you about Israel and Judah and all the nations. Write everything that I have told you from the time I first spoke to you, when Josiah was king, up to the present. 3Perhaps when the people of Judah hear about all the destruction that I intend to bring on them, they will turn from their evil ways. Then I will forgive their wickedness and their sins.”

4So I called Baruch son of Neriah and dictated to him everything that the LORD had said to me. And Baruch wrote it all down on a scroll. 5Then I gave Baruch the following instructions: “I am no longer allowed to go into the Temple. 6But I want you to go there the next time the people are fasting. You are to read the scroll aloud, so that they will hear everything that the LORD has said to me and that I have dictated to you. Do this where everyone can hear you, including the people of Judah who have come in from their towns. 7Perhaps they will pray to the LORD and turn from their evil ways, because the LORD has threatened this people with his terrible anger and fury.” 8So Baruch read the LORD's words in the Temple exactly as I had told him to do.

9In the ninth month of the fifth year that Jehoiakim was king of Judah, the people fasted to gain the LORD's favour. The fast was kept by all who lived in Jerusalem and by all who came there from the towns of Judah. 10Then, while all the people were listening, Baruch read from the scroll everything that I had said. He did this in the Temple, from the room of Gemariah son of Shaphan, the court secretary. His room was in the upper court near the entrance of the New Gate of the Temple.

The Scroll is Read to the Officials

11Micaiah, the son of Gemariah and grandson of Shaphan, heard Baruch read from the scroll what the LORD had said. 12Then he went to the royal palace, to the room of the court secretary, where all the officials were in session. Elishama, the court secretary, Delaiah son of Shemaiah, Elnathan son of Achbor, Gemariah son of Shaphan, Zedekiah son of Hananiah, and all the other officials were there. 13Micaiah told them everything that he had heard Baruch read to the people. 14Then the officials sent Jehudi (the son of Nethaniah, grandson of Shelemiah, and great-grandson of Cushi) to tell Baruch to bring the scroll that he had read to the people. Baruch brought them the scroll. 15“Sit down,” they said, “and read the scroll to us.” So Baruch did. 16After he had read it, they turned to one another in alarm, and said to Baruch, “We must report this to the king.” 17Then they asked him, “Tell us, now, how did you come to write all this? Did Jeremiah dictate it to you?”

18Baruch answered, “Jeremiah dictated every word of it to me, and I wrote it down in ink on this scroll.”

19Then they said to him, “You and Jeremiah must go and hide. Don't let anyone know where you are.”

The King Burns the Scroll

20The officials put the scroll in the room of Elishama, the court secretary, and went to the king's court, where they reported everything to the king. 21Then the king sent Jehudi to get the scroll. He took it from the room of Elishama and read it to the king and all the officials who were standing round him. 22It was winter and the king was sitting in his winter palace in front of the fire. 23As soon as Jehudi finished reading three or four columns, the king cut them off with a small knife and threw them into the fire. He kept doing this until the entire scroll was burnt up. 24But neither the king nor any of his officials who heard all this was afraid or showed any sign of sorrow. 25Although Elnathan, Delaiah, and Gemariah begged the king not to burn the scroll, he paid no attention to them. 26Then he ordered Prince Jerahmeel, together with Seraiah son of Azriel and Shelemiah son of Abdeel, to arrest me and my secretary Baruch. But the LORD had hidden us.

Jeremiah Writes Another Scroll

27After King Jehoiakim had burnt the scroll that I had dictated to Baruch, the LORD told me 28to take another scroll and write on it everything that had been on the first one. 29The LORD told me to say to the king, “You have burnt the scroll, and you have asked Jeremiah why he wrote that the king of Babylonia would come and destroy this land and kill its people and its animals. 30So now, I, the LORD, say to you, King Jehoiakim, that no descendant of yours will ever rule over David's kingdom. Your corpse will be thrown out where it will be exposed to the sun during the day and to the frost at night. 31I will punish you, your descendants, and your officials because of the sins all of you commit. Neither you nor the people of Jerusalem and of Judah have paid any attention to my warnings, and so I will bring on all of you the disaster that I have threatened.”

32Then I took another scroll and gave it to my secretary Baruch, and he wrote down everything that I dictated. He wrote everything that had been on the first scroll and similar messages that I dictated to him.