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Jeremiah’s Question

12 O Yahweh, even if I would argue my case with you,
    you would always be right.
        Yet, I want to talk to you about your justice.
            Why do wicked people succeed?
            Why do treacherous people have peace and quiet?
You plant them, and they take root.
    They grow, and they produce fruit.
        They speak well of you with their lips,
    but their hearts are far from you.
You know me, O Yahweh.
    You see me and test my devotion to you.
    Drag them away like sheep to be slaughtered.
    Prepare them for the day of slaughter.
How long will the land mourn?
    How long will the plants in every field remain dried up?
    The animals and the birds are dying,
        because people are wicked.
    They think that Elohim[a] doesn’t know what they are doing.

The Lord’s Reply

“If you have raced against others on foot, and they have tired you out,
    how can you compete with horses?
    If you stumble in open country,
    how can you live in the jungle along the Jordan River?
Even your relatives and members of your father’s household betray you.
    They have also formed a mob to find you.
        Don’t trust them when they say good things about you.

“I have abandoned my nation.
    I have left my own people.
    I have handed the people I love over to their enemies.
My people have turned on me like a lion in the forest.
    They roar at me, so I hate them.
My people are like a colorful bird of prey.
    Other birds of prey surround it.
    Go, gather all the animals in the field,
        and bring them to devour it.
10 Many shepherds have destroyed my vineyard.
    They’ve trampled my property.
    They’ve turned my pleasant property into a wasteland.
11 They’ve left it a wasteland.
    Devastated, it mourns in my presence.
        The whole land is destroyed,
            but no one takes this to heart.
12 Looters swarm all over the bare hills in the desert.
    Yahweh’s sword destroys them
        from one end of the land to the other.
            No one will be safe.
13 My people planted wheat, but they harvested thorns.
    They worked until they became sick, but they gained nothing by it.
    They were disappointed by their harvests
        because of the burning anger of Yahweh.

14 “This is what I, Yahweh, say about all my evil neighbors who take the inheritance that I gave my people Israel: I am going to uproot those neighbors from their lands. I will also uproot the people of Judah from among them. 15 After I’ve uprooted them, I will have compassion on them again. I will return them to their inheritance and to their lands. 16 Suppose they learn carefully the ways of my people. Suppose they take an oath in my name, ‘As Yahweh lives . . .’ as they taught my people to take an oath in the name of Baal. Then they will build homes among my people. 17 But suppose they don’t listen. Then I will uproot that nation and destroy it,” declares Yahweh.


  1. Jeremiah 12:4 Greek; Masoretic Text “he.”