2 The Lord spoke to me. He said: 2 “Go and declare in the hearing of the people of Jerusalem: 1 ‘This is what the Lord says: “I have fond memories of you, 2 how devoted you were to me in your early years. 3 I remember how you loved me like a new bride; you followed me through the wilderness, through a land that had never been planted. 3 Israel was set apart to the Lord; they were like the first fruits of a harvest to him. 4 All who tried to devour them were punished; disaster came upon them,” says the Lord.’”
4 Now listen to what the Lord has to say, you descendants 5 of Jacob,
all you family groups from the nation 6 of Israel.
5 This is what the Lord says:
“What fault could your ancestors 7 have possibly found in me
that they strayed so far from me? 8
They paid allegiance to 9 worthless idols, and so became worthless to me. 10
6 They did not ask:
‘Where is the Lord who delivered us out of Egypt,
who brought us through the wilderness,
through a land of desert sands and rift valleys,
through a land of drought and deep darkness, 11
through a land in which no one travels,
and where no one lives?’ 12
7 I brought you 13 into a fertile land
so you could enjoy 14 its fruits and its rich bounty.
But when you entered my land, you defiled it; 15
you made the land I call my own 16 loathsome to me.
8 Your priests 17 did not ask, ‘Where is the Lord?’ 18
Those responsible for teaching my law 19 did not really know me. 20
Your rulers rebelled against me.
Your prophets prophesied in the name of the god Baal. 21
They all worshiped idols that could not help them. 22
9 “So, once more I will state my case 23 against you,” says the Lord.
“I will also state it against your children and grandchildren. 24
10 Go west 25 across the sea to the coasts of Cyprus 26 and see.
Send someone east to Kedar 27 and have them look carefully.
See if such a thing as this has ever happened:
11 Has a nation ever changed its gods
(even though they are not really gods at all)?
But my people have exchanged me, their glorious God, 28
for a god that cannot help them at all! 29
12 Be amazed at this, O heavens! 30
Be shocked and utterly dumbfounded,”
says the Lord.
13 “Do so because my people have committed a double wrong:
they have rejected me,
the fountain of life-giving water, 31
and they have dug cisterns for themselves,
cracked cisterns which cannot even hold water.”
14 “Israel is not a slave, is he?
He was not born into slavery, was he? 32
If not, why then is he being carried off?
15 Like lions his enemies roar victoriously over him;
they raise their voices in triumph. 33
They have laid his land waste;
his cities have been burned down and deserted. 34
16 Even the soldiers 35 from Memphis and Tahpanhes
have cracked your skulls, people of Israel. 36
17 You have brought all this on yourself, Israel, 37
by deserting the Lord your God when he was leading you along the right path. 38
18 What good will it do you 39 then 40 to go down to Egypt
to seek help from the Egyptians? 41
What good will it do you 42 to go over to Assyria
to seek help from the Assyrians? 43
19 Your own wickedness will bring about your punishment.
Your unfaithful acts will bring down discipline on you. 44
Know, then, and realize how utterly harmful 45
it was for you to reject me, the Lord your God, 46
to show no respect for me,” 47
says the Lord God who rules over all. 48
20 “Indeed, 49 long ago you threw off my authority
and refused to be subject to me. 50
You said, ‘I will not serve you.’ 51
Instead, you gave yourself to other gods on every high hill
and under every green tree,
like a prostitute sprawls out before her lovers. 52
21 I planted you in the land
like a special vine of the very best stock.
Why in the world have you turned into something like a wild vine
that produces rotten, foul-smelling grapes? 53
22 You can try to wash away your guilt with a strong detergent.
You can use as much soap as you want.
But the stain of your guilt is still there for me to see,” 54
says the Lord God. 55
23 “How can you say, ‘I have not made myself unclean.
I have not paid allegiance to 56 the gods called Baal.’
Just look at the way you have behaved in the Valley of Hinnom! 57
Think about the things you have done there!
You are like a flighty, young female camel
that rushes here and there, crisscrossing its path. 58
24 You are like a wild female donkey brought up in the wilderness.
In her lust she sniffs the wind to get the scent of a male. 59
No one can hold her back when she is in heat.
None of the males need wear themselves out chasing after her.
At mating time she is easy to find. 60
25 Do not chase after other gods until your shoes wear out
and your throats become dry. 61
But you say, ‘It is useless for you to try and stop me
because I love those foreign gods 62 and want to pursue them!’
26 Just as a thief has to suffer dishonor when he is caught,
so the people of Israel 63 will suffer dishonor for what they have done. 64
So will their kings and officials,
their priests and their prophets.
27 They say to a wooden idol, 65 ‘You are my father.’
They say to a stone image, ‘You gave birth to me.’ 66
Yes, they have turned away from me instead of turning to me. 67
Yet when they are in trouble, they say, ‘Come and save us!’
28 But where are the gods you made for yourselves?
Let them save you when you are in trouble.
The sad fact is that 68 you have as many gods
as you have towns, Judah.
29 “Why do you try to refute me? 69
All of you have rebelled against me,”
says the Lord.
30 “It did no good for me to punish your people.
They did not respond to such correction.
You slaughtered your prophets
like a voracious lion.” 70
31 You people of this generation,
listen to what the Lord says.
“Have I been like a wilderness to you, Israel?
Have I been like a dark and dangerous land to you? 71
Why then do you 72 say, ‘We are free to wander. 73
We will not come to you any more?’
32 Does a young woman forget to put on her jewels?
Does a bride forget to put on her bridal attire?
But my people have forgotten me
for more days than can even be counted.
33 “My, how good you have become
at chasing after your lovers! 74
Why, you could even teach prostitutes a thing or two! 75
34 Even your clothes are stained with
the lifeblood of the poor who had not done anything wrong;
you did not catch them breaking into your homes. 76
Yet, in spite of all these things you have done, 77
35 you say, ‘I have not done anything wrong,
so the Lord cannot really be angry with me any more.’
But, watch out! 78 I will bring down judgment on you
because you say, ‘I have not committed any sin.’
36 Why do you constantly go about
changing your political allegiances? 79
You will get no help from Egypt
just as you got no help from Assyria. 80
37 Moreover, you will come away from Egypt
with your hands covering your faces in sorrow and shame 81
because the Lord will not allow your reliance on them to be successful
and you will not gain any help from them. 82
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!”