5 The Lord said, 1
“Go up and down 2 through the streets of Jerusalem. 3
Look around and see for yourselves.
Search through its public squares.
See if any of you can find a single person
who deals honestly and tries to be truthful. 4
If you can, 5 then I will not punish this city. 6
2 These people make promises in the name of the Lord. 7
But the fact is, 8 what they swear to is really a lie.” 9
3 Lord, I know you look for faithfulness. 10
But even when you punish these people, they feel no remorse. 11
Even when you nearly destroy them, they refuse to be corrected.
They have become as hardheaded as a rock. 12
They refuse to change their ways. 13
4 I thought, “Surely it is only the ignorant poor who act this way. 14
They act like fools because they do not know what the Lord demands. 15
They do not know what their God requires of them. 16
5 I will go to the leaders 17
and speak with them.
Surely they know what the Lord demands. 18
Surely they know what their God requires of them.” 19
Yet all of them, too, have rejected his authority
and refuse to submit to him. 20
6 So like a lion from the thicket their enemies will kill them.
Like a wolf from the desert they will destroy them.
Like a leopard they will lie in wait outside their cities
and totally destroy anyone who ventures out. 21
For they have rebelled so much
and done so many unfaithful things. 22
7 The Lord asked, 23
“How can I leave you unpunished, Jerusalem? 24
Your people 25 have rejected me
and have worshiped gods that are not gods at all. 26
Even though I supplied all their needs, 27 they were like an unfaithful wife to me. 28
They went flocking 29 to the houses of prostitutes. 30
8 They are like lusty, well-fed 31 stallions.
Each of them lusts after 32 his neighbor’s wife.
9 I will surely punish them for doing such things!” says the Lord.
“I will surely bring retribution on such a nation as this!” 33
10 The Lord commanded the enemy, 34
“March through the vineyards of Israel and Judah and ruin them. 35
But do not destroy them completely.
Strip off their branches
for these people do not belong to the Lord. 36
11 For the nations of Israel and Judah 37
have been very unfaithful to me,”
says the Lord.
12 “These people have denied what the Lord says. 38
They have said, ‘That is not so! 39
No harm will come to us.
We will not experience war and famine. 40
13 The prophets will prove to be full of wind. 41
The Lord has not spoken through them. 42
So, let what they say happen to them.’”
14 Because of that, 43 the Lord, the God who rules over all, 44 said to me, 45
“Because these people have spoken 46 like this, 47
I will make the words that I put in your mouth like fire.
And I will make this people like wood
which the fiery judgments you speak will burn up.” 48
15 The Lord says, 49 “Listen, 50 nation of Israel! 51
I am about to bring a nation from far away to attack you.
It will be a nation that was founded long ago
and has lasted for a long time.
It will be a nation whose language you will not know.
Its people will speak words that you will not be able to understand.
16 All of its soldiers are strong and mighty. 52
Their arrows will send you to your grave. 53
17 They will eat up your crops and your food.
They will kill off 54 your sons and your daughters.
They will eat up your sheep and your cattle.
They will destroy your vines and your fig trees. 55
Their weapons will batter down 56
the fortified cities you trust in.
18 Yet even then 57 I will not completely destroy you,” says the Lord. 19 “So then, Jeremiah, 58 when your people 59 ask, ‘Why has the Lord our God done all this to us?’ tell them, ‘It is because you rejected me and served foreign gods in your own land. So 60 you must serve foreigners 61 in a land that does not belong to you.’
20 “Proclaim 62 this message among the descendants of Jacob. 63
Make it known throughout Judah.
21 Tell them: ‘Hear this,
you foolish people who have no understanding,
who have eyes but do not discern,
who have ears but do not perceive: 64
22 “You should fear me!” says the Lord.
“You should tremble in awe before me! 65
I made the sand to be a boundary for the sea,
a permanent barrier that it can never cross.
Its waves may roll, but they can never prevail.
They may roar, but they can never cross beyond that boundary.” 66
23 But these people have stubborn and rebellious hearts.
They have turned aside and gone their own way. 67
24 They do not say to themselves, 68
“Let us revere the Lord our God.
It is he who gives us the autumn rains and the spring rains at the proper time.
It is he who assures us of the regular weeks of harvest.” 69
25 Your misdeeds have stopped these things from coming. 70
Your sins have deprived you of my bounty.’ 71
26 “Indeed, there are wicked scoundrels among my people.
They lie in wait like bird catchers hiding in ambush. 72
They set deadly traps 73 to catch people.
27 Like a cage filled with the birds that have been caught, 74
their houses are filled with the gains of their fraud and deceit. 75
That is how they have gotten so rich and powerful. 76
28 That is how 77 they have grown fat and sleek. 78
There is no limit to the evil things they do. 79
They do not plead the cause of the fatherless in such a way as to win it.
They do not defend the rights of the poor.
29 I will certainly punish them for doing such things!” says the Lord.
“I will certainly bring retribution on such a nation as this! 80
30 “Something horrible and shocking
is going on in the land of Judah:
31 The prophets prophesy lies.
The priests exercise power by their own authority. 81
And my people love to have it this way.
But they will not be able to help you when the time of judgment comes! 82
6 “Run for safety, people of Benjamin!
Get out of Jerusalem! 1
Sound the trumpet 2 in Tekoa!
Light the signal fires at Beth Hakkerem!
For disaster lurks 3 out of the north;
it will bring great destruction. 4
2 I will destroy 5 Daughter Zion, 6
who is as delicate and defenseless as a young maiden. 7
3 Kings will come against it with their armies. 8
They will encamp in siege all around it. 9
Each of them will devastate the portion assigned to him. 10
4 They will say, 11 ‘Prepare to do battle 12 against it!
Come on! Let’s attack it at noon!’
But later they will say, 13 ‘Oh, oh! Too bad! 14
The day is almost over
and the shadows of evening are getting long.
5 So come on, let’s go ahead and attack it by night
and destroy all its fortified buildings.’
6 All of this is because 15 the Lord who rules over all 16 has said:
‘Cut down the trees around Jerusalem
and build up a siege ramp against its walls. 17
This is the city which is to be punished. 18
Nothing but oppression happens in it. 19
7 As a well continually pours out fresh water
so it continually pours out wicked deeds. 20
Sounds of violence and destruction echo throughout it. 21
All I see are sick and wounded people.’ 22
8 So 23 take warning, Jerusalem,
or I will abandon you in disgust 24
and make you desolate,
a place where no one can live.”
9 This is what the Lord who rules over all 25 said to me: 26
“Those who remain in Israel will be
like the grapes thoroughly gleaned 27 from a vine.
So go over them again, as though you were a grape harvester
passing your hand over the branches one last time.” 28
10 I answered, 29
“Who would listen
if I spoke to them and warned them? 30
Their ears are so closed 31
that they cannot hear!
Indeed, 32 what the Lord says is offensive to them.
They do not like it at all. 33
11 I am as full of anger as you are, Lord, 34
I am tired of trying to hold it in.”
The Lord answered, 35
“Vent it, then, 36 on the children who play in the street
and on the young men who are gathered together.
Husbands and wives are to be included, 37
as well as the old and those who are advanced in years.
12 Their houses will be turned over to others
as will their fields and their wives.
For I will unleash my power 38
against those who live in this land,”
says the Lord.
13 “That is because, from the least important to the most important of them,
all of them are greedy for dishonest gain.
Prophets and priests alike,
all of them practice deceit.
14 They offer only superficial help
for the harm my people have suffered. 39
They say, ‘Everything will be all right!’
But everything is not all right! 40
15 Are they ashamed because they have done such shameful things?
No, they are not at all ashamed.
They do not even know how to blush!
So they will die, just like others have died. 41
They will be brought to ruin when I punish them,”
says the Lord.
16 The Lord said to his people: 42
“You are standing at the crossroads. So consider your path. 43
Ask where the old, reliable paths 44 are.
Ask where the path is that leads to blessing 45 and follow it.
If you do, you will find rest for your souls.”
But they said, “We will not follow it!”
17 The Lord said, 46
“I appointed prophets as watchmen to warn you, 47 saying:
‘Pay attention to the warning sound of the trumpet!’” 48
But they said, “We will not pay attention!”
18 So the Lord said, 49
“Hear, you nations!
Be witnesses and take note of what will happen to these people. 50
19 Hear this, you peoples of the earth: 51
‘Take note! 52 I am about to bring disaster on these people.
It will come as punishment for their scheming. 53
For they have paid no attention to what I have said, 54
and they have rejected my law.
20 I take no delight 55 when they offer up to me 56
frankincense that comes from Sheba
or sweet-smelling cane imported from a faraway land.
I cannot accept the burnt offerings they bring me.
I get no pleasure from the sacrifices they offer to me.’ 57
21 So, this is what the Lord says:
‘I will assuredly 58 make these people stumble to their doom. 59
Parents and children will stumble and fall to their destruction. 60
Friends and neighbors will die.’
22 “This is what the Lord says:
‘Beware! An army 61 is coming from a land in the north.
A mighty nation is stirring into action in faraway parts of the earth.
23 Its soldiers are armed with bows and spears.
They are cruel and show no mercy.
They sound like the roaring sea
as they ride forth on their horses.
Lined up in formation like men going into battle
to attack you, Daughter Zion.’” 62
24 The people cry out, 63 “We have heard reports about them!
We have become helpless with fear! 64
Anguish grips us,
agony like that of a woman giving birth to a baby!
25 Do not go out into the countryside.
Do not travel on the roads.
For the enemy is there with sword in hand. 65
They are spreading terror everywhere.” 66
26 So I said, 67 “Oh, my dear people, 68 put on sackcloth
and roll in ashes.
Mourn with painful sobs
as though you had lost your only child.
For any moment now 69 that destructive army 70
will come against us.”
27 The Lord said to me, 71
“I have made you like a metal assayer
to test my people like ore. 72
You are to observe them
and evaluate how they behave.” 73
28 I reported, 74
“All of them are the most stubborn of rebels! 75
They are as hard as bronze or iron.
They go about telling lies.
They all deal corruptly.
29 The fiery bellows of judgment burn fiercely.
But there is too much dross to be removed. 76
The process of refining them has proved useless. 77
The wicked have not been purged.
30 They are regarded as ‘rejected silver’ 78
because the Lord rejects them.”