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The Land Dries Up

14 When there had been no rain for a long time, the Lord told me to say to the people:

Judah and Jerusalem weep
    as the land dries up.
Rulers send their servants
    to the storage pits for water.[a]
But there’s none to be found;
they return in despair
    with their jars still empty.

There has been no rain,
    and farmers feel sick
as they watch cracks appear
    in the dry ground.[b]

A deer gives birth in a field,
then abandons her newborn fawn
    and leaves in search of grass.
Wild donkeys go blind
    from starvation.
So they stand on barren hilltops
and sniff the air,[c]
    hoping to smell green grass.

The Lord’s People Pray

Our terrible sins may demand
    that we be punished.
But if you rescue us, Lord,
everyone will see
    how great you are.
You’re our only hope;
    you alone can save us now.
You help us one day,
    but you’re gone the next.
Did this disaster
    take you by surprise?
Are you a warrior
    with your hands tied?
You have chosen us,
and your temple is here.
    Don’t abandon us!

The Lord’s Answer

10 My people,
    you love to wander away;
you don’t even try
    to stay close to me.
So now I will reject you
and punish you for your sins.
    I, the Lord, have spoken.

Lying Prophets

11 The Lord said, “Jeremiah, don’t ask me to help these people. 12 They may even go without eating[d] and offer sacrifices to please me[e] and to give thanks.[f] But when they cry out for my help, I won’t listen, and I won’t accept their sacrifices. Instead, I’ll send war, starvation, and disease to wipe them out.”

13 I replied, “The other prophets keep telling everyone that you won’t send starvation or war, and that you’re going to give us peace.”

14 The Lord answered:

They claim to speak for me, but they’re lying! I didn’t even speak to them, much less choose them to be my prophets. Their messages come from worthless dreams, useless fortunetelling, and their own imaginations.

15 Those lying prophets say there will be peace and plenty of food. But I say that those same prophets will die from war and hunger. 16 And everyone who listens to them will be killed, just as they deserve. Their dead bodies will be thrown out into the streets of Jerusalem, because their families will also be dead, and no one will be left to bury them.[g]

17 Jeremiah, go and tell the people how you feel about all this.

So I told them:

“Tears will flood my eyes
    both day and night,
because my nation suffers
    from a deadly wound.
18 In the fields I see the bodies
    of those killed in battle.
And in the towns I see crowds
    dying of hunger.
But the prophets and priests
    go about their business,
without understanding
    what has happened.”[h]

Jeremiah Prays to the Lord

19 Have you rejected Judah, Lord?
    Do you hate Jerusalem?
Why did you strike down Judah
    with a fatal wound?
We had hoped for peace
and a time of healing,
    but all we got was terror.
20 We and our ancestors are guilty
    of rebelling against you.
21 If you save us, it will show
    how great you are.
Don’t let our enemies
disgrace your temple,
    your beautiful throne.
Don’t forget that you promised
    to rescue us.
22 Idols can’t send rain,
and showers don’t fall
    by themselves.
Only you control the rain,
so we put our trust in you,
    the Lord our God.

Footnotes

  1. 14.3 storage pits for water: Since water was scarce, pits were dug into solid rock for collecting and storing rainwater. These pits were called “cisterns.”
  2. 14.4 cracks. . . ground: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
  3. 14.6 sniff the air: The Hebrew text has “sniff the air, like jackals” (see the note at 9.11).
  4. 14.12 go without eating: The people of Israel sometimes went without eating to show sorrow for their sins.
  5. 14.12 sacrifices to please me: These sacrifices have traditionally been called “whole burnt offerings” because the whole animal was burned on the altar. A main purpose of such sacrifices was to please the Lord with the smell of the sacrifice, and so in the CEV they are sometimes called “sacrifices to please the Lord.”
  6. 14.12 sacrifices. . . to give thanks: These sacrifices have traditionally been called “grain offerings.” A main purpose of such sacrifices was to thank the Lord with a gift of grain, and so in the CEV they are sometimes called “sacrifices to give thanks to the Lord.”
  7. 14.16 dead bodies. . . bury them: A proper burial was considered very important.
  8. 14.18 go about. . . has happened: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.