Emancipating the Slaves


An Emancipation Proclamation

Yirmeyahu 34 describes how Tzidkiyahu makes a covenant with the people, calling for the emancipation of their slaves. The move is met with Hashem's approval, but apparently it does not take long for the nation to renege on their promise and re-enslave their former servants. As a result of their actions, Hashem warns that they will be delivered into the hands of their enemies.

The chapter does not provide a motive for either the emancipation or the re-enslavement. What prompted the king to suddenly proclaim liberty for all?  Was he driven by a desire to fulfill the Torah's ordinances or by more mundane concerns? If the former, why specifically now did he decide to heed Hashem's words, and, out of all possible laws to observe, why did he choose this one specifically?  Finally, why was the move so short-lived? What changed that led the people to go back on their word and repossess their slaves?

Additional Questions

The chapter raises several other questions which might bear on the issues discussed above: