3 “If a man divorces his wife
and she leaves him and becomes another man’s wife,
he may not take her back again. 1
Doing that would utterly defile the land. 2
But you, Israel, have given yourself as a prostitute to many gods. 3
So what makes you think you can return to me?” 4
says the Lord.
2 “Look up at the hilltops and consider this. 5
You have had sex with other gods on every one of them. 6
You waited for those gods like a thief lying in wait in the desert. 7
You defiled the land by your wicked prostitution to other gods. 8
3 That is why the rains have been withheld,
and the spring rains have not come.
Yet in spite of this you are obstinate as a prostitute. 9
You refuse to be ashamed of what you have done.
4 Even now you say to me, ‘You are my father! 10
You have been my faithful companion ever since I was young.
5 You will not always be angry with me, will you?
You will not be mad at me forever, will you?’ 11
That is what you say,
but you continually do all the evil that you can.” 12
6 When Josiah was king of Judah, the Lord said to me, “Jeremiah, you have no doubt seen what wayward Israel has done. 13 You have seen how she went up to every high hill and under every green tree to give herself like a prostitute to other gods. 14 7 Yet even after she had done all that, I thought that she might come back to me. 15 But she did not. Her sister, unfaithful Judah, saw what she did. 16 8 She also saw 17 that I gave wayward Israel her divorce papers and sent her away because of her adulterous worship of other gods. 18 Even after her unfaithful sister Judah had seen this, 19 she still was not afraid, and she too went and gave herself like a prostitute to other gods. 20 9 Because she took her prostitution so lightly, she defiled the land 21 through her adulterous worship of gods made of wood and stone. 22 10 In spite of all this, 23 Israel’s sister, unfaithful Judah, has not turned back to me with any sincerity; she has only pretended to do so,” 24 says the Lord. 11 Then the Lord said to me, “Under the circumstances, wayward Israel could even be considered less guilty than unfaithful Judah. 25
12 “Go and shout this message to my people in the countries in the north. 26 Tell them,
‘Come back to me, wayward Israel,’ says the Lord.
‘I will not continue to look on you with displeasure. 27
For I am merciful,’ says the Lord.
‘I will not be angry with you forever.
13 However, you must confess that you have done wrong, 28
and that you have rebelled against the Lord your God.
You must confess 29 that you have given yourself to 30 foreign gods under every green tree,
and have not obeyed my commands,’ says the Lord.
14 “Come back to me, my wayward sons,” says the Lord, “for I am your true master. 31 If you do, 32 I will take one of you from each town and two of you from each family group, and I will bring you back to Zion. 15 I will give you leaders 33 who will be faithful to me. 34 They will lead you with knowledge and insight. 16 In those days, your population will greatly increase 35 in the land. At that time,” says the Lord, “people will no longer talk about having the ark 36 that contains the Lord’s covenant with us. 37 They will not call it to mind, remember it, or miss it. No, that will not be done any more! 38 17 At that time the city of Jerusalem 39 will be called the Lord’s throne. All nations will gather there in Jerusalem to honor the Lord’s name. 40 They will no longer follow the stubborn inclinations of their own evil hearts. 41 18 At that time 42 the nation of Judah and the nation of Israel will be reunited. 43 Together they will come back from a land in the north to the land that I gave to your ancestors as a permanent possession. ” 44
19 “I thought to myself, 45
‘Oh what a joy it would be for me to treat you like a son! 46
What a joy it would be for me to give 47 you a pleasant land,
the most beautiful piece of property there is in all the world!’ 48
I thought you would call me, ‘Father’ 49
and would never cease being loyal to me. 50
20 But, you have been unfaithful to me, nation of Israel, 51
like an unfaithful wife who has left her husband,” 52
says the Lord.
21 “A noise is heard on the hilltops.
It is the sound of the people of Israel crying and pleading to their gods.
Indeed they have followed sinful ways; 53
they have forgotten to be true to the Lord their God. 54
22 Come back to me, you wayward people.
I want to cure your waywardness. 55
Say, 56 ‘Here we are. We come to you
because you are the Lord our God.
23 We know our noisy worship of false gods
on the hills and mountains did not help us. 57
We know that the Lord our God
is the only one who can deliver Israel. 58
24 From earliest times our worship of that shameful god, Baal,
has taken away 59 all that our ancestors 60 worked for.
It has taken away our flocks and our herds,
and even our sons and daughters.
25 Let us acknowledge 61 our shame.
Let us bear the disgrace that we deserve. 62
For we have sinned against the Lord our God,
both we and our ancestors.
From earliest times to this very day
we have not obeyed the Lord our God.’
4 “If you, Israel, want to come back,” says the Lord,
“if you want to come back to me 1
you must get those disgusting idols 2 out of my sight
and must no longer go astray. 3
2 You must be truthful, honest and upright
when you take an oath saying, ‘As surely as the Lord lives!’ 4
If you do, 5 the nations will pray to be as blessed by him as you are
and will make him the object of their boasting.” 6
3 Yes, 7 the Lord has this to say
to the people of Judah and Jerusalem:
“Like a farmer breaking up hard unplowed ground,
you must break your rebellious will and make a new beginning;
just as a farmer must clear away thorns lest the seed is wasted,
you must get rid of the sin that is ruining your lives. 8
4 Just as ritual circumcision cuts away the foreskin
as an external symbol of dedicated covenant commitment,
you must genuinely dedicate yourselves to the Lord
and get rid of everything that hinders your commitment to me, 9
people of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem.
If you do not, 10 my anger will blaze up like a flaming fire against you
that no one will be able to extinguish.
That will happen because of the evil you have done.”
5 The Lord said, 11
“Announce 12 this in Judah and proclaim it in Jerusalem: 13
‘Sound the trumpet 14 throughout the land!’
Shout out loudly,
‘Gather together! Let us flee into the fortified cities!’
6 Raise a signal flag that tells people to go to Zion. 15
Run for safety! Do not delay!
For I am about to bring disaster out of the north.
It will bring great destruction. 16
7 Like a lion that has come up from its lair 17
the one who destroys nations has set out from his home base. 18
He is coming out to lay your land waste.
Your cities will become ruins and lie uninhabited.
8 So put on sackcloth!
Mourn and wail, saying,
‘The fierce anger of the Lord
has not turned away from us!’” 19
9 “When this happens,” 20 says the Lord,
“the king and his officials will lose their courage.
The priests will be struck with horror,
and the prophets will be speechless in astonishment.”
10 In response to all this 21 I said, “Ah, Lord God, 22 you have surely allowed 23 the people of Judah and Jerusalem 24 to be deceived by those who say, ‘You will be safe!’ 25 But in fact a sword is already at our throats.” 26
11 “At that time the people of Judah and Jerusalem 27 will be told,
‘A scorching wind will sweep down
from the hilltops in the desert on 28 my dear people. 29
It will not be a gentle breeze
for winnowing the grain and blowing away the chaff. 30
12 No, 31 a wind too strong for that will come at my bidding.
Yes, even now I, myself, am calling down judgment on them.’ 32
13 Look! The enemy is approaching like gathering clouds. 33
The roar of his chariots is like that of a whirlwind. 34
His horses move more swiftly than eagles.”
I cry out, 35 “We are doomed, 36 for we will be destroyed!”
14 “Oh people of Jerusalem, purify your hearts from evil 37
so that you may yet be delivered.
How long will you continue to harbor up
wicked schemes within you?
15 For messengers are coming, heralding disaster,
from the city of Dan and from the hills of Ephraim. 38
16 They are saying, 39
‘Announce to the surrounding nations, 40
“The enemy is coming!” 41
Proclaim this message 42 to Jerusalem:
“Those who besiege cities 43 are coming from a distant land.
They are ready to raise the battle cry against 44 the towns in Judah.”’
17 They will surround Jerusalem 45
like men guarding a field 46
because they have rebelled against me,”
says the Lord.
18 “The way you have lived and the things you have done 47
will bring this on you.
This is the punishment you deserve, and it will be painful indeed. 48
The pain will be so bad it will pierce your heart.” 49
19 I said, 50
“Oh, the feeling in the pit of my stomach! 51
I writhe in anguish.
Oh, the pain in my heart! 52
My heart pounds within me.
I cannot keep silent.
For I hear the sound of the trumpet; 53
the sound of the battle cry pierces my soul! 54
20 I see 55 one destruction after another taking place,
so that the whole land lies in ruins.
I see our 56 tents suddenly destroyed,
their 57 curtains torn down in a mere instant. 58
21 “How long must I see the enemy’s battle flags
and hear the military signals of their bugles?” 59
22 The Lord answered, 60
“This will happen 61 because my people are foolish.
They do not know me.
They are like children who have no sense. 62
They have no understanding.
They are skilled at doing evil.
They do not know how to do good.”
23 “I looked at the land and saw 63 that it was an empty wasteland. 64
I looked up at the sky, and its light had vanished.
24 I looked at the mountains and saw that they were shaking.
All the hills were swaying back and forth!
25 I looked and saw that there were no more people, 65
and that all the birds in the sky had flown away.
26 I looked and saw that the fruitful land had become a desert
and that all of the cities had been laid in ruins.
The Lord had brought this all about
because of his blazing anger. 66
27 All this will happen because the Lord said, 67
“The whole land will be desolate;
however, I will not completely destroy it.
28 Because of this the land will mourn
and the sky above will grow black. 68
For I have made my purpose known 69
and I will not relent or turn back from carrying it out.” 70
29 At the sound of the approaching horsemen and archers
the people of every town will flee.
Some of them will hide in the thickets.
Others will climb up among the rocks.
All the cities will be deserted.
No one will remain in them.
30 And you, Zion, city doomed to destruction, 71
you accomplish nothing 72 by wearing a beautiful dress, 73
decking yourself out in jewels of gold,
and putting on eye shadow! 74
You are making yourself beautiful for nothing.
Your lovers spurn you.
They want to kill you. 75
31 In fact, 76 I hear a cry like that of a woman in labor,
a cry of anguish like that of a woman giving birth to her first baby.
It is the cry of Daughter Zion 77 gasping for breath,
reaching out for help, 78 saying, “I am done in! 79
My life is ebbing away before these murderers!”