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Jeremiah’s Plea

12 Righteous are You, O Lord,
    that I plead with You.
Indeed, let me talk with You about matters of justice.
    Why does the way of the wicked prosper?
    Why are all those happy who deal very treacherously?
You have planted them; indeed, they have taken root;
    they grow; indeed, they bring forth fruit.
You are near in their mouth,
    but far from their mind.
But You, O Lord, know me;
    You have seen me and tested my heart toward You.
Pull them out like sheep for the slaughter,
    and prepare them for the day of slaughter.
How long shall the land mourn
    and the herbs of every field wither?
For the wickedness of those who dwell in it,
    the beasts and the birds have been snatched away,
because they said,
    “He will not see our latter end.”

God Answers Jeremiah

If you have run with the footmen,
    and they have wearied you,
    then how can you contend with horses?
And if in the land of peace in which you trusted, they wearied you,
    then how will you do in the thicket of the Jordan?
For even your brothers and the household of your father,
    even they have dealt treacherously with you.
    Indeed, they have cried aloud after you.
Do not believe them
    though they speak fair words to you.

I have forsaken My house,
    I have abandoned My heritage;
I have given the dearly beloved of My soul
    into the hand of her enemies.
My heritage is to Me
    as a lion in the forest.
She cries out against Me;
    therefore I have hated her.
My heritage is to Me
    as a speckled vulture;
    the vultures all around are against her.
Come, assemble all the beasts of the field,
    bring them to devour.
10 Many shepherds have destroyed My vineyard;
    they have trodden My portion under foot;
they have made My pleasant portion
    a desolate wilderness.
11 They have made it desolate,
    and being desolate, it mourns to Me.
The whole land has been made desolate,
    because no man lays it to heart.
12 The destroyers have come
    upon all high places through the wilderness,
for the sword of the Lord shall devour
    from the one end of the land even to the other end of the land.
    No one shall have peace.
13 They have sown wheat, but reap thorns;
    they have strained themselves, but shall not profit.
And they shall be ashamed of your harvest
    because of the fierce anger of the Lord.

14 Thus says the Lord: Against all My evil neighbors who touch the inheritance which I have caused My people Israel to inherit, I will pluck them out of their land and pluck out the house of Judah from among them. 15 It shall come to pass that after I have plucked them out, I will again have compassion on them, and will bring them back, every man to his heritage, and every man to his land. 16 It shall come to pass if they will diligently learn the ways of My people, to swear by My name, “As the Lord lives,” as they taught My people to swear by Baal, then they will be built up in the midst of My people. 17 But if they will not obey, I will utterly pluck up and destroy that nation, says the Lord.

Jeremiah’s Complaint

12 You are always righteous,(A) Lord,
    when I bring a case(B) before you.
Yet I would speak with you about your justice:(C)
    Why does the way of the wicked prosper?(D)
    Why do all the faithless live at ease?
You have planted(E) them, and they have taken root;
    they grow and bear fruit.(F)
You are always on their lips
    but far from their hearts.(G)
Yet you know me, Lord;
    you see me and test(H) my thoughts about you.
Drag them off like sheep(I) to be butchered!
    Set them apart for the day of slaughter!(J)
How long will the land lie parched(K)
    and the grass in every field be withered?(L)
Because those who live in it are wicked,
    the animals and birds have perished.(M)
Moreover, the people are saying,
    “He will not see what happens to us.”

God’s Answer

“If you have raced with men on foot
    and they have worn you out,
    how can you compete with horses?
If you stumble[a] in safe country,
    how will you manage in the thickets(N) by[b] the Jordan?
Your relatives, members of your own family—
    even they have betrayed you;
    they have raised a loud cry against you.(O)
Do not trust them,
    though they speak well of you.(P)

“I will forsake(Q) my house,
    abandon(R) my inheritance;
I will give the one I love(S)
    into the hands of her enemies.(T)
My inheritance has become to me
    like a lion(U) in the forest.
She roars at me;
    therefore I hate her.(V)
Has not my inheritance become to me
    like a speckled bird of prey
    that other birds of prey surround and attack?
Go and gather all the wild beasts;
    bring them to devour.(W)
10 Many shepherds(X) will ruin my vineyard
    and trample down my field;
they will turn my pleasant field
    into a desolate wasteland.(Y)
11 It will be made a wasteland,(Z)
    parched and desolate before me;(AA)
the whole land will be laid waste
    because there is no one who cares.
12 Over all the barren heights in the desert
    destroyers will swarm,
for the sword(AB) of the Lord(AC) will devour(AD)
    from one end of the land to the other;(AE)
    no one will be safe.(AF)
13 They will sow wheat but reap thorns;
    they will wear themselves out but gain nothing.(AG)
They will bear the shame of their harvest
    because of the Lord’s fierce anger.”(AH)

14 This is what the Lord says: “As for all my wicked neighbors who seize the inheritance(AI) I gave my people Israel, I will uproot(AJ) them from their lands and I will uproot(AK) the people of Judah from among them. 15 But after I uproot them, I will again have compassion(AL) and will bring(AM) each of them back to their own inheritance and their own country. 16 And if they learn(AN) well the ways of my people and swear by my name, saying, ‘As surely as the Lord lives’(AO)—even as they once taught my people to swear by Baal(AP)—then they will be established among my people.(AQ) 17 But if any nation does not listen, I will completely uproot and destroy(AR) it,” declares the Lord.


  1. Jeremiah 12:5 Or you feel secure only
  2. Jeremiah 12:5 Or the flooding of