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Jeremiah 1-10

Jeremiah

1The words of Jeremiah son of Hilkiah, of the priests who were in Anathoth in the land of Benjamin, 2to whom the word of the Lord came in the days of King Josiah son of Amon of Judah, in the thirteenth year of his reign. 3It came also in the days of King Jehoiakim son of Josiah of Judah, and until the end of the eleventh year of King Zedekiah son of Josiah of Judah, until the captivity of Jerusalem in the fifth month.

Jeremiah’s Call and Commission

Now the word of the Lord came to me saying,
5 ‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
and before you were born I consecrated you;
I appointed you a prophet to the nations.’
6Then I said, ‘Ah, Lord God! Truly I do not know how to speak, for I am only a boy.’ 7But the Lord said to me,
‘Do not say, “I am only a boy”;
for you shall go to all to whom I send you,
and you shall speak whatever I command you.
8 Do not be afraid of them,
for I am with you to deliver you,

says the Lord.’
9Then the Lord put out his hand and touched my mouth; and the Lord said to me,
‘Now I have put my words in your mouth.
10 See, today I appoint you over nations and over kingdoms,
to pluck up and to pull down,
to destroy and to overthrow,
to build and to plant.’

11 The word of the Lord came to me, saying, ‘Jeremiah, what do you see?’ And I said, ‘I see a branch of an almond tree.’* 12Then the Lord said to me, ‘You have seen well, for I am watching* over my word to perform it.’ 13The word of the Lord came to me a second time, saying, ‘What do you see?’ And I said, ‘I see a boiling pot, tilted away from the north.’

14 Then the Lord said to me: Out of the north disaster shall break out on all the inhabitants of the land. 15For now I am calling all the tribes of the kingdoms of the north, says the Lord; and they shall come and all of them shall set their thrones at the entrance of the gates of Jerusalem, against all its surrounding walls and against all the cities of Judah. 16And I will utter my judgements against them, for all their wickedness in forsaking me; they have made offerings to other gods, and worshipped the works of their own hands. 17But you, gird up your loins; stand up and tell them everything that I command you. Do not break down before them, or I will break you before them. 18And I for my part have made you today a fortified city, an iron pillar, and a bronze wall, against the whole land—against the kings of Judah, its princes, its priests, and the people of the land. 19They will fight against you; but they shall not prevail against you, for I am with you, says the Lord, to deliver you.

God Pleads with Israel to Repent

2The word of the Lord came to me, saying: 2Go and proclaim in the hearing of Jerusalem, Thus says the Lord:
I remember the devotion of your youth,
   your love as a bride,
how you followed me in the wilderness,
   in a land not sown.
3 Israel was holy to the Lord,
   the first fruits of his harvest.
All who ate of it were held guilty;
   disaster came upon them,

says the Lord.

Hear the word of the Lord, O house of Jacob, and all the families of the house of Israel. 5Thus says the Lord:
What wrong did your ancestors find in me
   that they went far from me,
and went after worthless things, and became worthless themselves?
6 They did not say, ‘Where is the Lord
   who brought us up from the land of Egypt,
who led us in the wilderness,
   in a land of deserts and pits,
in a land of drought and deep darkness,
   in a land that no one passes through,
   where no one lives?’
7 I brought you into a plentiful land
   to eat its fruits and its good things.
But when you entered you defiled my land,
   and made my heritage an abomination.
8 The priests did not say, ‘Where is the Lord?’
   Those who handle the law did not know me;
the rulers* transgressed against me;
   the prophets prophesied by Baal,
   and went after things that do not profit.


9 Therefore once more I accuse you,

says the Lord,
   and I accuse your children’s children.
10 Cross to the coasts of Cyprus and look,
   send to Kedar and examine with care;
   see if there has ever been such a thing.
11 Has a nation changed its gods,
   even though they are no gods?
But my people have changed their glory
   for something that does not profit.
12 Be appalled, O heavens, at this,
   be shocked, be utterly desolate,

says the Lord,
13 for my people have committed two evils:
   they have forsaken me,
the fountain of living water,
   and dug out cisterns for themselves,
cracked cisterns
   that can hold no water.


14 Is Israel a slave? Is he a home-born servant?
   Why then has he become plunder?
15 The lions have roared against him,
   they have roared loudly.
They have made his land a waste;
   his cities are in ruins, without inhabitant.
16 Moreover, the people of Memphis and Tahpanhes
   have broken the crown of your head.
17 Have you not brought this upon yourself
   by forsaking the Lord your God,
   while he led you in the way?
18 What then do you gain by going to Egypt,
   to drink the waters of the Nile?
Or what do you gain by going to Assyria,
   to drink the waters of the Euphrates?
19 Your wickedness will punish you,
   and your apostasies will convict you.
Know and see that it is evil and bitter
   for you to forsake the Lord your God;
   the fear of me is not in you,

says the Lord God of hosts.


20 For long ago you broke your yoke
   and burst your bonds,
   and you said, ‘I will not serve!’
On every high hill
   and under every green tree
   you sprawled and played the whore.
21 Yet I planted you as a choice vine,
   from the purest stock.
How then did you turn degenerate
   and become a wild vine?
22 Though you wash yourself with lye
   and use much soap,
   the stain of your guilt is still before me,

says the Lord God.
23 How can you say, ‘I am not defiled,
   I have not gone after the Baals’?
Look at your way in the valley;
   know what you have done—
a restive young camel interlacing her tracks,
24   a wild ass at home in the wilderness,
in her heat sniffing the wind!
   Who can restrain her lust?
None who seek her need weary themselves;
   in her month they will find her.
25 Keep your feet from going unshod
   and your throat from thirst.
But you said, ‘It is hopeless,
   for I have loved strangers,
   and after them I will go.’


26 As a thief is shamed when caught,
   so the house of Israel shall be shamed—
they, their kings, their officials,
   their priests, and their prophets,
27 who say to a tree, ‘You are my father’,
   and to a stone, ‘You gave me birth.’
For they have turned their backs to me,
   and not their faces.
But in the time of their trouble they say,
   ‘Come and save us!’
28 But where are your gods
   that you made for yourself?
Let them come, if they can save you,
   in your time of trouble;
for you have as many gods
   as you have towns, O Judah.


29 Why do you complain against me?
   You have all rebelled against me,

says the Lord.
30 In vain I have struck down your children;
   they accepted no correction.
Your own sword devoured your prophets
   like a ravening lion.
31 And you, O generation, behold the word of the Lord!*
Have I been a wilderness to Israel,
   or a land of thick darkness?
Why then do my people say, ‘We are free,
   we will come to you no more’?
32 Can a girl forget her ornaments,
   or a bride her attire?
Yet my people have forgotten me,
   days without number.


33 How well you direct your course
   to seek lovers!
So that even to wicked women
   you have taught your ways.
34 Also on your skirts is found
   the lifeblood of the innocent poor,
though you did not catch them breaking in.
   Yet in spite of all these things*
35 you say, ‘I am innocent;
   surely his anger has turned from me.’
Now I am bringing you to judgement
   for saying, ‘I have not sinned.’
36 How lightly you gad about,
   changing your ways!
You shall be put to shame by Egypt
   as you were put to shame by Assyria.
37 From there also you will come away
   with your hands on your head;
for the Lord has rejected those in whom you trust,
   and you will not prosper through them.

Unfaithful Israel

3If* a man divorces his wife
   and she goes from him
and becomes another man’s wife,
   will he return to her?
Would not such a land be greatly polluted?
You have played the whore with many lovers;
   and would you return to me?

says the Lord.
2 Look up to the bare heights,* and see!
   Where have you not been lain with?
By the waysides you have sat waiting for lovers,
   like a nomad in the wilderness.
You have polluted the land
   with your whoring and wickedness.
3 Therefore the showers have been withheld,
   and the spring rain has not come;
yet you have the forehead of a whore,
   you refuse to be ashamed.
4 Have you not just now called to me,
   ‘My Father, you are the friend of my youth—
5 will he be angry for ever,
   will he be indignant to the end?’
This is how you have spoken,
   but you have done all the evil that you could.

A Call to Repentance

The Lord said to me in the days of King Josiah: Have you seen what she did, that faithless one, Israel, how she went up on every high hill and under every green tree, and played the whore there? 7And I thought, ‘After she has done all this she will return to me’; but she did not return, and her false sister Judah saw it. 8She* saw that for all the adulteries of that faithless one, Israel, I had sent her away with a decree of divorce; yet her false sister Judah did not fear, but she too went and played the whore. 9Because she took her whoredom so lightly, she polluted the land, committing adultery with stone and tree. 10Yet for all this her false sister Judah did not return to me with her whole heart, but only in pretence, says the Lord.

11 Then the Lord said to me: Faithless Israel has shown herself less guilty than false Judah. 12Go, and proclaim these words towards the north, and say:
Return, faithless Israel,

says the Lord.
I will not look on you in anger,
   for I am merciful,

says the Lord;
I will not be angry for ever.
13 Only acknowledge your guilt,
   that you have rebelled against the Lord your God,
and scattered your favours among strangers under every green tree,
   and have not obeyed my voice,

says the Lord.
14 Return, O faithless children,

says the Lord,
   for I am your master;
I will take you, one from a city and two from a family,
   and I will bring you to Zion.

15 I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding. 16And when you have multiplied and increased in the land, in those days, says the Lord, they shall no longer say, ‘The ark of the covenant of the Lord.’ It shall not come to mind, or be remembered, or missed; nor shall another one be made. 17At that time Jerusalem shall be called the throne of the Lord, and all nations shall gather to it, to the presence of the Lord in Jerusalem, and they shall no longer stubbornly follow their own evil will. 18In those days the house of Judah shall join the house of Israel, and together they shall come from the land of the north to the land that I gave your ancestors for a heritage.


19 I thought
   how I would set you among my children,
and give you a pleasant land,
   the most beautiful heritage of all the nations.
And I thought you would call me, My Father,
   and would not turn from following me.
20 Instead, as a faithless wife leaves her husband,
   so you have been faithless to me, O house of Israel,

says the Lord.


21 A voice on the bare heights* is heard,
   the plaintive weeping of Israel’s children,
because they have perverted their way,
   they have forgotten the Lord their God:
22 Return, O faithless children,
   I will heal your faithlessness.


‘Here we come to you;
   for you are the Lord our God.
23 Truly the hills are* a delusion,
   the orgies on the mountains.
Truly in the Lord our God
   is the salvation of Israel.

24 ‘But from our youth the shameful thing has devoured all for which our ancestors had laboured, their flocks and their herds, their sons and their daughters. 25Let us lie down in our shame, and let our dishonour cover us; for we have sinned against the Lord our God, we and our ancestors, from our youth even to this day; and we have not obeyed the voice of the Lord our God.’

4If you return, O Israel,

says the Lord,
   if you return to me,
if you remove your abominations from my presence,
   and do not waver,
2 and if you swear, ‘As the Lord lives!’
   in truth, in justice, and in uprightness,
then nations shall be blessed* by him,
   and by him they shall boast.

For thus says the Lord to the people of Judah and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem:
Break up your fallow ground,
   and do not sow among thorns.
4 Circumcise yourselves to the Lord,
   remove the foreskin of your hearts,
   O people of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem,
or else my wrath will go forth like fire,
   and burn with no one to quench it,
   because of the evil of your doings.

Invasion and Desolation of Judah Threatened

Declare in Judah, and proclaim in Jerusalem, and say:
Blow the trumpet through the land;
   shout aloud* and say,
‘Gather together, and let us go
   into the fortified cities!’
6 Raise a standard towards Zion,
   flee for safety, do not delay,
for I am bringing evil from the north,
   and a great destruction.
7 A lion has gone up from its thicket,
   a destroyer of nations has set out;
   he has gone out from his place
to make your land a waste;
   your cities will be ruins
   without inhabitant.
8 Because of this put on sackcloth,
   lament and wail:
‘The fierce anger of the Lord
   has not turned away from us.’


9On that day, says the Lord, courage shall fail the king and the officials; the priests shall be appalled and the prophets astounded. 10Then I said, ‘Ah, Lord God, how utterly you have deceived this people and Jerusalem, saying, “It shall be well with you”, even while the sword is at the throat!’

11 At that time it will be said to this people and to Jerusalem: A hot wind comes from me out of the bare heights* in the desert towards my poor people, not to winnow or cleanse— 12a wind too strong for that. Now it is I who speak in judgement against them.
13 Look! He comes up like clouds,
   his chariots like the whirlwind;
his horses are swifter than eagles—
   woe to us, for we are ruined!
14 O Jerusalem, wash your heart clean of wickedness
   so that you may be saved.
How long shall your evil schemes
   lodge within you?
15 For a voice declares from Dan
   and proclaims disaster from Mount Ephraim.
16 Tell the nations, ‘Here they are!’
   Proclaim against Jerusalem,
‘Besiegers come from a distant land;
   they shout against the cities of Judah.
17 They have closed in around her like watchers of a field,
   because she has rebelled against me,

says the Lord.
18 Your ways and your doings
   have brought this upon you.
This is your doom; how bitter it is!
   It has reached your very heart.’

Sorrow for a Doomed Nation


19 My anguish, my anguish! I writhe in pain!
   Oh, the walls of my heart!
My heart is beating wildly;
   I cannot keep silent;
for I* hear the sound of the trumpet,
   the alarm of war.
20 Disaster overtakes disaster,
   the whole land is laid waste.
Suddenly my tents are destroyed,
   my curtains in a moment.
21 How long must I see the standard,
   and hear the sound of the trumpet?
22 ‘For my people are foolish,
   they do not know me;
they are stupid children,
   they have no understanding.
They are skilled in doing evil,
   but do not know how to do good.’


23 I looked on the earth, and lo, it was waste and void;
   and to the heavens, and they had no light.
24 I looked on the mountains, and lo, they were quaking,
   and all the hills moved to and fro.
25 I looked, and lo, there was no one at all,
   and all the birds of the air had fled.
26 I looked, and lo, the fruitful land was a desert,
   and all its cities were laid in ruins
   before the Lord, before his fierce anger.

27 For thus says the Lord: The whole land shall be a desolation; yet I will not make a full end.
28 Because of this the earth shall mourn,
   and the heavens above grow black;
for I have spoken, I have purposed;
   I have not relented nor will I turn back.


29 At the noise of horseman and archer
   every town takes to flight;
they enter thickets; they climb among rocks;
   all the towns are forsaken,
   and no one lives in them.
30 And you, O desolate one,
what do you mean that you dress in crimson,
   that you deck yourself with ornaments of gold,
   that you enlarge your eyes with paint?
In vain you beautify yourself.
   Your lovers despise you;
   they seek your life.
31 For I heard a cry as of a woman in labour,
   anguish as of one bringing forth her first child,
the cry of daughter Zion gasping for breath,
   stretching out her hands,
‘Woe is me! I am fainting before killers!’

The Utter Corruption of God’s People

5Run to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem,
   look around and take note!
Search its squares and see
   if you can find one person
who acts justly
   and seeks truth—
so that I may pardon Jerusalem.*
2 Although they say, ‘As the Lord lives’,
   yet they swear falsely.
3Lord, do your eyes not look for truth?
You have struck them,
   but they felt no anguish;
you have consumed them,
   but they refused to take correction.
They have made their faces harder than rock;
   they have refused to turn back.


4 Then I said, ‘These are only the poor,
   they have no sense;
for they do not know the way of the Lord,
   the law of their God.
5 Let me go to the rich*
   and speak to them;
surely they know the way of the Lord,
   the law of their God.’
But they all alike had broken the yoke,
   they had burst the bonds.


6 Therefore a lion from the forest shall kill them,
   a wolf from the desert shall destroy them.
A leopard is watching against their cities;
   everyone who goes out of them shall be torn in pieces—
because their transgressions are many,
   their apostasies are great.


7 How can I pardon you?
   Your children have forsaken me,
   and have sworn by those who are no gods.
When I fed them to the full,
   they committed adultery
   and trooped to the houses of prostitutes.
8 They were well-fed lusty stallions,
   each neighing for his neighbour’s wife.
9 Shall I not punish them for these things?

says the Lord;
   and shall I not bring retribution
   on a nation such as this?


10 Go up through her vine-rows and destroy,
   but do not make a full end;
strip away her branches,
   for they are not the Lord’s.
11 For the house of Israel and the house of Judah
   have been utterly faithless to me,

says the Lord.
12 They have spoken falsely of the Lord,
   and have said, ‘He will do nothing.
No evil will come upon us,
   and we shall not see sword or famine.’
13 The prophets are nothing but wind,
   for the word is not in them.
Thus shall it be done to them!


14 Therefore thus says the Lord, the God of hosts:
Because they* have spoken this word,
I am now making my words in your mouth a fire,
   and this people wood, and the fire shall devour them.
15 I am going to bring upon you
   a nation from far away, O house of Israel,

says the Lord.
It is an enduring nation,
   it is an ancient nation,
a nation whose language you do not know,
   nor can you understand what they say.
16 Their quiver is like an open tomb;
   all of them are mighty warriors.
17 They shall eat up your harvest and your food;
   they shall eat up your sons and your daughters;
they shall eat up your flocks and your herds;
   they shall eat up your vines and your fig trees;
they shall destroy with the sword
   your fortified cities in which you trust.

18 But even in those days, says the Lord, I will not make a full end of you. 19And when your people say, ‘Why has the Lord our God done all these things to us?’ you shall say to them, ‘As you have forsaken me and served foreign gods in your land, so you shall serve strangers in a land that is not yours.’


20 Declare this in the house of Jacob,
   proclaim it in Judah:
21 Hear this, O foolish and senseless people,
   who have eyes, but do not see,
   who have ears, but do not hear.
22 Do you not fear me? says the Lord;
   Do you not tremble before me?
I placed the sand as a boundary for the sea,
   a perpetual barrier that it cannot pass;
though the waves toss, they cannot prevail,
   though they roar, they cannot pass over it.
23 But this people has a stubborn and rebellious heart;
   they have turned aside and gone away.
24 They do not say in their hearts,
   ‘Let us fear the Lord our God,
who gives the rain in its season,
   the autumn rain and the spring rain,
and keeps for us
   the weeks appointed for the harvest.’
25 Your iniquities have turned these away,
   and your sins have deprived you of good.
26 For scoundrels are found among my people;
   they take over the goods of others.
Like fowlers they set a trap;*
   they catch human beings.
27 Like a cage full of birds,
   their houses are full of treachery;
therefore they have become great and rich,
28   they have grown fat and sleek.
They know no limits in deeds of wickedness;
   they do not judge with justice
the cause of the orphan, to make it prosper,
   and they do not defend the rights of the needy.
29 Shall I not punish them for these things?

says the Lord,
   and shall I not bring retribution
   on a nation such as this?


30 An appalling and horrible thing
   has happened in the land:
31 the prophets prophesy falsely,
   and the priests rule as the prophets direct;*
my people love to have it so,
   but what will you do when the end comes?

The Imminence and Horror of the Invasion

6Flee for safety, O children of Benjamin,
   from the midst of Jerusalem!
Blow the trumpet in Tekoa,
   and raise a signal on Beth-haccherem;
for evil looms out of the north,
   and great destruction.
2 I have likened daughter Zion
   to the loveliest pasture.*
3 Shepherds with their flocks shall come against her.
   They shall pitch their tents around her;
   they shall pasture, all in their places.
4 ‘Prepare war against her;
   up, and let us attack at noon!’
‘Woe to us, for the day declines,
   the shadows of evening lengthen!’
5 ‘Up, and let us attack by night,
   and destroy her palaces!’
6 For thus says the Lord of hosts:
Cut down her trees;
   cast up a siege-ramp against Jerusalem.
This is the city that must be punished;*
   there is nothing but oppression within her.
7 As a well keeps its water fresh,
   so she keeps fresh her wickedness;
violence and destruction are heard within her;
   sickness and wounds are ever before me.
8 Take warning, O Jerusalem,
   or I shall turn from you in disgust,
and make you a desolation,
   an uninhabited land.


9 Thus says the Lord of hosts:
Glean* thoroughly as a vine
   the remnant of Israel;
like a grape-gatherer, pass your hand again
   over its branches.


10 To whom shall I speak and give warning,
   that they may hear?
See, their ears are closed,*
   they cannot listen.
The word of the Lord is to them an object of scorn;
   they take no pleasure in it.
11 But I am full of the wrath of the Lord;
   I am weary of holding it in.


Pour it out on the children in the street,
   and on the gatherings of young men as well;
both husband and wife shall be taken,
   the old folk and the very aged.
12 Their houses shall be turned over to others,
   their fields and wives together;
for I will stretch out my hand
   against the inhabitants of the land,

says the Lord.


13 For from the least to the greatest of them,
   everyone is greedy for unjust gain;
and from prophet to priest,
   everyone deals falsely.
14 They have treated the wound of my people carelessly,
   saying, ‘Peace, peace’,
   when there is no peace.
15 They acted shamefully, they committed abomination;
   yet they were not ashamed,
   they did not know how to blush.
Therefore they shall fall among those who fall;
   at the time that I punish them, they shall be overthrown,

says the Lord.
16 Thus says the Lord:
Stand at the crossroads, and look,
   and ask for the ancient paths,
where the good way lies; and walk in it,
   and find rest for your souls.
But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.’
17 Also I raised up sentinels for you:
   ‘Give heed to the sound of the trumpet!’
But they said, ‘We will not give heed.’
18 Therefore hear, O nations,
   and know, O congregation, what will happen to them.
19 Hear, O earth; I am going to bring disaster on this people,
   the fruit of their schemes,
because they have not given heed to my words;
   and as for my teaching, they have rejected it.
20 Of what use to me is frankincense that comes from Sheba,
   or sweet cane from a distant land?
Your burnt-offerings are not acceptable,
   nor are your sacrifices pleasing to me.
21 Therefore thus says the Lord:
See, I am laying before this people
   stumbling-blocks against which they shall stumble;
parents and children together,
   neighbour and friend shall perish.


22 Thus says the Lord:
See, a people is coming from the land of the north,
   a great nation is stirring from the farthest parts of the earth.
23 They grasp the bow and the javelin,
   they are cruel and have no mercy,
   their sound is like the roaring sea;
they ride on horses,
   equipped like a warrior for battle,
   against you, O daughter Zion!


24 ‘We have heard news of them,
   our hands fall helpless;
anguish has taken hold of us,
   pain as of a woman in labour.
25 Do not go out into the field,
   or walk on the road;
for the enemy has a sword,
   terror is on every side.’


26 O my poor people, put on sackcloth,
   and roll in ashes;
make mourning as for an only child,
   most bitter lamentation:
for suddenly the destroyer
   will come upon us.


27 I have made you a tester and a refiner* among my people
   so that you may know and test their ways.
28 They are all stubbornly rebellious,
   going about with slanders;
they are bronze and iron,
   all of them act corruptly.
29 The bellows blow fiercely,
   the lead is consumed by the fire;
in vain the refining goes on,
   for the wicked are not removed.
30 They are called ‘rejected silver’,
   for the Lord has rejected them.

Jeremiah Proclaims God’s Judgement on the Nation

7The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: 2Stand in the gate of the Lord’s house, and proclaim there this word, and say, Hear the word of the Lord, all you people of Judah, you that enter these gates to worship the Lord. 3Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Amend your ways and your doings, and let me dwell with you* in this place. 4Do not trust in these deceptive words: ‘This is* the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord.’

For if you truly amend your ways and your doings, if you truly act justly one with another, 6if you do not oppress the alien, the orphan, and the widow, or shed innocent blood in this place, and if you do not go after other gods to your own hurt, 7then I will dwell with you in this place, in the land that I gave of old to your ancestors for ever and ever.

Here you are, trusting in deceptive words to no avail. 9Will you steal, murder, commit adultery, swear falsely, make offerings to Baal, and go after other gods that you have not known, 10and then come and stand before me in this house, which is called by my name, and say, ‘We are safe!’—only to go on doing all these abominations? 11Has this house, which is called by my name, become a den of robbers in your sight? You know, I too am watching, says the Lord. 12Go now to my place that was in Shiloh, where I made my name dwell at first, and see what I did to it for the wickedness of my people Israel. 13And now, because you have done all these things, says the Lord, and when I spoke to you persistently, you did not listen, and when I called you, you did not answer, 14therefore I will do to the house that is called by my name, in which you trust, and to the place that I gave to you and to your ancestors, just what I did to Shiloh. 15And I will cast you out of my sight, just as I cast out all your kinsfolk, all the offspring of Ephraim.

The People’s Disobedience

16 As for you, do not pray for this people, do not raise a cry or prayer on their behalf, and do not intercede with me, for I will not hear you. 17Do you not see what they are doing in the towns of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem? 18The children gather wood, the fathers kindle fire, and the women knead dough, to make cakes for the queen of heaven; and they pour out drink-offerings to other gods, to provoke me to anger. 19Is it I whom they provoke? says the Lord. Is it not themselves, to their own hurt? 20Therefore thus says the Lord God: My anger and my wrath shall be poured out on this place, on human beings and animals, on the trees of the field and the fruit of the ground; it will burn and not be quenched.

21 Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Add your burnt-offerings to your sacrifices, and eat the flesh. 22For on the day that I brought your ancestors out of the land of Egypt, I did not speak to them or command them concerning burnt-offerings and sacrifices. 23But this command I gave them, ‘Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be my people; and walk only in the way that I command you, so that it may be well with you.’ 24Yet they did not obey or incline their ear, but, in the stubbornness of their evil will, they walked in their own counsels, and looked backwards rather than forwards. 25From the day that your ancestors came out of the land of Egypt until this day, I have persistently sent all my servants the prophets to them, day after day; 26yet they did not listen to me, or pay attention, but they stiffened their necks. They did worse than their ancestors did.

27 So you shall speak all these words to them, but they will not listen to you. You shall call to them, but they will not answer you. 28You shall say to them: This is the nation that did not obey the voice of the Lord their God, and did not accept discipline; truth has perished; it is cut off from their lips.
29 Cut off your hair and throw it away;
   raise a lamentation on the bare heights,*
for the Lord has rejected and forsaken
   the generation that provoked his wrath.

30 For the people of Judah have done evil in my sight, says the Lord; they have set their abominations in the house that is called by my name, defiling it. 31And they go on building the high place* of Topheth, which is in the valley of the son of Hinnom, to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire—which I did not command, nor did it come into my mind. 32Therefore, the days are surely coming, says the Lord, when it will no more be called Topheth, or the valley of the son of Hinnom, but the valley of Slaughter: for they will bury in Topheth until there is no more room. 33The corpses of this people will be food for the birds of the air, and for the animals of the earth; and no one will frighten them away. 34And I will bring to an end the sound of mirth and gladness, the voice of the bride and bridegroom in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem; for the land shall become a waste.

8At that time, says the Lord, the bones of the kings of Judah, the bones of its officials, the bones of the priests, the bones of the prophets, and the bones of the inhabitants of Jerusalem shall be brought out of their tombs; 2and they shall be spread before the sun and the moon and all the host of heaven, which they have loved and served, which they have followed, and which they have inquired of and worshipped; and they shall not be gathered or buried; they shall be like dung on the surface of the ground. 3Death shall be preferred to life by all the remnant that remains of this evil family in all the places where I have driven them, says the Lord of hosts.

The Blind Perversity of the Whole Nation


4 You shall say to them, Thus says the Lord:
When people fall, do they not get up again?
   If they go astray, do they not turn back?
5 Why then has this people* turned away
   in perpetual backsliding?
They have held fast to deceit,
   they have refused to return.
6 I have given heed and listened,
   but they do not speak honestly;
no one repents of wickedness,
   saying, ‘What have I done!’
All of them turn to their own course,
   like a horse plunging headlong into battle.
7 Even the stork in the heavens
   knows its times;
and the turtle-dove, swallow, and crane*
   observe the time of their coming;
but my people do not know
   the ordinance of the Lord.


8 How can you say, ‘We are wise,
   and the law of the Lord is with us’,
when, in fact, the false pen of the scribes
   has made it into a lie?
9 The wise shall be put to shame,
   they shall be dismayed and taken;
since they have rejected the word of the Lord,
   what wisdom is in them?
10 Therefore I will give their wives to others
   and their fields to conquerors,
because from the least to the greatest
   everyone is greedy for unjust gain;
from prophet to priest
   everyone deals falsely.
11 They have treated the wound of my people carelessly,
   saying, ‘Peace, peace’,
   when there is no peace.
12 They acted shamefully, they committed abomination;
   yet they were not at all ashamed,
   they did not know how to blush.
Therefore they shall fall among those who fall;
   at the time when I punish them, they shall be overthrown,

says the Lord.
13 When I wanted to gather them, says the Lord,
   there are* no grapes on the vine,
   nor figs on the fig tree;
even the leaves are withered,
   and what I gave them has passed away from them.*


14 Why do we sit still?
Gather together, let us go into the fortified cities
   and perish there;
for the Lord our God has doomed us to perish,
   and has given us poisoned water to drink,
   because we have sinned against the Lord.
15 We look for peace, but find no good,
   for a time of healing, but there is terror instead.


16 The snorting of their horses is heard from Dan;
   at the sound of the neighing of their stallions
   the whole land quakes.
They come and devour the land and all that fills it,
   the city and those who live in it.
17 See, I am letting snakes loose among you,
   adders that cannot be charmed,
   and they shall bite you,

says the Lord.

The Prophet Mourns for the People


18 My joy is gone, grief is upon me,
   my heart is sick.
19 Hark, the cry of my poor people
   from far and wide in the land:
‘Is the Lord not in Zion?
   Is her King not in her?’
(‘Why have they provoked me to anger with their images,
   with their foreign idols?’)
20 ‘The harvest is past, the summer is ended,
   and we are not saved.’
21 For the hurt of my poor people I am hurt,
   I mourn, and dismay has taken hold of me.


22 Is there no balm in Gilead?
   Is there no physician there?
Why then has the health of my poor people
   not been restored?

9*O that my head were a spring of water,
   and my eyes a fountain of tears,
so that I might weep day and night
   for the slain of my poor people!
2 *O that I had in the desert
   a traveller’s lodging-place,
that I might leave my people
   and go away from them!
For they are all adulterers,
   a band of traitors.
3 They bend their tongues like bows;
   they have grown strong in the land for falsehood, and not for truth;
for they proceed from evil to evil,
   and they do not know me, says the Lord.


4 Beware of your neighbours,
   and put no trust in any of your kin;*
for all your kin* are supplanters,
   and every neighbour goes around like a slanderer.
5 They all deceive their neighbours,
   and no one speaks the truth;
they have taught their tongues to speak lies;
   they commit iniquity and are too weary to repent.*
6 Oppression upon oppression, deceit* upon deceit!
   They refuse to know me, says the Lord.


7 Therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts:
I will now refine and test them,
   for what else can I do with my sinful people?*
8 Their tongue is a deadly arrow;
   it speaks deceit through the mouth.
They all speak friendly words to their neighbours,
   but inwardly are planning to lay an ambush.
9 Shall I not punish them for these things? says the Lord;
   and shall I not bring retribution
   on a nation such as this?


10 Take up* weeping and wailing for the mountains,
   and a lamentation for the pastures of the wilderness,
because they are laid waste so that no one passes through,
   and the lowing of cattle is not heard;
both the birds of the air and the animals
   have fled and are gone.
11 I will make Jerusalem a heap of ruins,
   a lair of jackals;
and I will make the towns of Judah a desolation
   without inhabitant.

12 Who is wise enough to understand this? To whom has the mouth of the Lord spoken, so that they may declare it? Why is the land ruined and laid waste like a wilderness, so that no one passes through? 13And the Lord says: Because they have forsaken my law that I set before them, and have not obeyed my voice, or walked in accordance with it, 14but have stubbornly followed their own hearts and have gone after the Baals, as their ancestors taught them. 15Therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: I am feeding this people with wormwood, and giving them poisonous water to drink. 16I will scatter them among nations that neither they nor their ancestors have known; and I will send the sword after them, until I have consumed them.

The People Mourn in Judgement


17 Thus says the Lord of hosts:
Consider, and call for the mourning-women to come;
   send for the skilled women to come;
18 let them quickly raise a dirge over us,
   so that our eyes may run down with tears,
   and our eyelids flow with water.
19 For a sound of wailing is heard from Zion:
   ‘How we are ruined!
   We are utterly shamed,
because we have left the land,
   because they have cast down our dwellings.’


20 Hear, O women, the word of the Lord,
   and let your ears receive the word of his mouth;
teach to your daughters a dirge,
   and each to her neighbour a lament.
21 ‘Death has come up into our windows,
   it has entered our palaces,
to cut off the children from the streets
   and the young men from the squares.’
22 Speak! Thus says the Lord:
‘Human corpses shall fall
   like dung upon the open field,
like sheaves behind the reaper,
   and no one shall gather them.’

23 Thus says the Lord: Do not let the wise boast in their wisdom, do not let the mighty boast in their might, do not let the wealthy boast in their wealth; 24but let those who boast boast in this, that they understand and know me, that I am the Lord; I act with steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth, for in these things I delight, says the Lord.

25 The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will attend to all those who are circumcised only in the foreskin: 26Egypt, Judah, Edom, the Ammonites, Moab, and all those with shaven temples who live in the desert. For all these nations are uncircumcised, and all the house of Israel is uncircumcised in heart.

Idolatry Has Brought Ruin on Israel

10Hear the word that the Lord speaks to you, O house of Israel. 2Thus says the Lord:
Do not learn the way of the nations,
   or be dismayed at the signs of the heavens;
   for the nations are dismayed at them.
3 For the customs of the peoples are false:
a tree from the forest is cut down,
   and worked with an axe by the hands of an artisan;
4 people deck it with silver and gold;
   they fasten it with hammer and nails
   so that it cannot move.
5 Their idols* are like scarecrows in a cucumber field,
   and they cannot speak;
they have to be carried,
   for they cannot walk.
Do not be afraid of them,
   for they cannot do evil,
   nor is it in them to do good.


6 There is none like you, O Lord;
   you are great, and your name is great in might.
7 Who would not fear you, O King of the nations?
   For that is your due;
among all the wise ones of the nations
   and in all their kingdoms
   there is no one like you.
8 They are both stupid and foolish;
   the instruction given by idols
   is no better than wood!*
9 Beaten silver is brought from Tarshish,
   and gold from Uphaz.
They are the work of the artisan and of the hands of the goldsmith;
   their clothing is blue and purple;
   they are all the product of skilled workers.
10 But the Lord is the true God;
   he is the living God and the everlasting King.
At his wrath the earth quakes,
   and the nations cannot endure his indignation.

11 Thus shall you say to them: The gods who did not make the heavens and the earth shall perish from the earth and from under the heavens.*


12 It is he who made the earth by his power,
   who established the world by his wisdom,
   and by his understanding stretched out the heavens.
13 When he utters his voice, there is a tumult of waters in the heavens,
   and he makes the mist rise from the ends of the earth.
He makes lightnings for the rain,
   and he brings out the wind from his storehouses.
14 Everyone is stupid and without knowledge;
   goldsmiths are all put to shame by their idols;
for their images are false,
   and there is no breath in them.
15 They are worthless, a work of delusion;
   at the time of their punishment they shall perish.
16 Not like these is the Lord,* the portion of Jacob,
   for he is the one who formed all things,
and Israel is the tribe of his inheritance;
   the Lord of hosts is his name.

The Coming Exile


17 Gather up your bundle from the ground,
   O you who live under siege!
18 For thus says the Lord:
I am going to fling away the inhabitants of the land
   at this time,
and I will bring distress on them,
   so that they shall feel it.


19 Woe is me because of my hurt!
   My wound is severe.
But I said, ‘Truly this is my punishment,
   and I must bear it.’
20 My tent is destroyed,
   and all my cords are broken;
my children have gone from me,
   and they are no more;
there is no one to spread my tent again,
   and to set up my curtains.
21 For the shepherds are stupid,
   and do not inquire of the Lord;
therefore they have not prospered,
   and all their flock is scattered.


22 Hear, a noise! Listen, it is coming—
   a great commotion from the land of the north
to make the cities of Judah a desolation,
   a lair of jackals.


23 I know, O Lord, that the way of human beings is not in their control,
   that mortals as they walk cannot direct their steps.
24 Correct me, O Lord, but in just measure;
   not in your anger, or you will bring me to nothing.


25 Pour out your wrath on the nations that do not know you,
   and on the peoples that do not call on your name;
for they have devoured Jacob;
   they have devoured him and consumed him,
   and have laid waste his habitation.

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