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Why do the Wicked Prosper?

12 Righteous are You, Adonai,
    when I plead my case with You.
    Yet I speak with You about justice.
    Why does the way of the wicked prosper?
    Why do all the treacherous thrive?
You planted them, so they have taken root.
    They are growing, bearing fruit.
    You are near in their mouth,
        yet far from their mind.
But You have known me, Adonai.
    You see me, and examine my heart toward You.
    Drag them off like sheep for slaughter.
    Set them apart for the day of carnage.[a]
How long will the land mourn
    and the grass of all the field wither?
    Because those living in it are evil,
        beasts and birds are swept away.
    For they said, “He cannot see our end.”

“If you raced with those on foot
        and they wore you out,
    how can you compete with horses?
    If you are secure in a land of peace,
    how will you do in Jordan’s thickets?
For even your brothers—your father’s house—
    even they will betray you,
    even they will shout out after you.
    Have no confidence in them,
    even if they say nice words to you.”

“I have abandoned My House.
    I have forsaken My inheritance.
    I have given the beloved of My soul
        Into the hand of her enemies.
My inheritance became to Me
    like a lion in the forest—
    her voice roared against Me!
    Therefore I despised her.
Is My inheritance a speckled vulture?
    Are vultures circling all around her?
    Go, gather all the wild beasts,
        bring them for devouring!

Adonai’s Vineyard in Ruins

10 “Many shepherds ruined My vineyard.
    They trampled My property.
    They made My pleasant portion a desolate wilderness.
11 They made it a wasteland.
    It mourns before Me, desolate.
        The whole land will be laid waste,
    because no one takes it to heart.”
12 On all the bare hills in the wilderness
    destroyers have come.
    For the sword of Adonai is devouring
        from the one end of the land to the other end of the land.
    No flesh has shalom.
13 They sowed wheat but reaped thorns.
    They wore themselves out, gaining nothing.
    So be ashamed of your harvest,
        because of Adonai’s fierce anger.

14 Thus says Adonai, “As for all My evil neighbors who strike at the inheritance that I bequeathed to My people Israel—I am about to uproot them from their land and pluck the house of Judah from them. 15 Yet it will come to pass, after I have uprooted them, that I will again have compassion on them and I will bring them back, each one to his inheritance and each one to his land.

16 “So it will come to pass, if they will diligently learn the ways of My people—to swear by My Name, ‘As Adonai lives,’ just 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, then I will uproot that nation, plucking it up and destroying it.” It is a declaration of Adonai.


  1. Jeremiah 12:3 cf. Jacob 5:5.

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