44 This is the message God gave to Jeremiah concerning all the Jews who were living in the north of Egypt in the cities of Migdol, Tahpanhes, and Memphis, and throughout southern Egypt as well:
2-3 The Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: You saw what I did to Jerusalem and to all the cities of Judah. Because of all their wickedness they lie in heaps and ashes, without a living soul. For my anger rose high against them for worshiping other gods—“gods” that neither they nor you nor any of your fathers have ever known.
4 I sent my servants, the prophets, to protest over and over again and to plead with them not to do this horrible thing I hate, 5 but they wouldn’t listen and wouldn’t turn back from their wicked ways; they have kept right on with their sacrifices to these “gods.” 6 And so my fury and anger boiled over and fell as fire upon the cities of Judah and into the streets of Jerusalem, and there is desolation until this day.
7 And now the Lord, the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, asks you: Why are you destroying yourselves? For not one of you shall live—not a man, woman, or child among you who has come here from Judah, not even the babies in arms. 8 For you are rousing my anger with the idols you have made and worshiped here in Egypt, burning incense to them, and causing me to destroy you completely and to make you a curse and a stench in the nostrils of all the nations of the earth. 9 Have you forgotten the sins of your fathers, the sins of the kings and queens of Judah, your own sins, and the sins of your wives in Judah and Jerusalem? 10 And even until this very hour there has been no apology; no one has wanted to return to me or follow the laws I gave you and your fathers before you.
11 Therefore the Lord, the God of Israel, says: There is fury in my face and I will destroy every one of you! 12 I will take this remnant of Judah that insisted on coming here to Egypt, and I will consume them. They shall fall here in Egypt, killed by famine and sword; all shall die, from the least important to the greatest. They shall be despised and loathed, cursed and hated. 13 I will punish them in Egypt just as I punished them in Jerusalem, by sword, famine, and disease. 14 Not one of them shall escape from my wrath except those who repent of their coming and escape from the others by returning again to their own land.
15 Then all the women present and all the men who knew that their wives had burned incense to idols (it was a great crowd of all the Jews in southern Egypt) answered Jeremiah:
16 “We will not listen to your false ‘Messages from God’! 17 We will do whatever we want to. We will burn incense to the Queen of Heaven[a] and sacrifice to her just as much as we like—just as we and our fathers before us, and our kings and princes have always done in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem; for in those days we had plenty to eat, and we were well off and happy! 18 But ever since we quit burning incense to the Queen of Heaven and stopped worshiping her, we have been in great trouble and have been destroyed by sword and famine.”
19 “And,” the women added, “do you suppose that we were worshiping the Queen of Heaven and pouring out our libations to her and making cakes for her with her image on them, without our husbands knowing it and helping us? Of course not!”
20 Then Jeremiah said to all of them, men and women alike, who had given him that answer:
21 “Do you think the Lord didn’t know that you and your fathers, your kings and princes, and all the people were burning incense to idols in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem? 22 It was because he could no longer bear all the evil things you were doing that he made your land desolate, an incredible ruin, cursed, without an inhabitant, as it is today. 23 The very reason all these terrible things have befallen you is because you have burned incense and sinned against the Lord and refused to obey him.”
24 Then Jeremiah said to them all, including the women: “Listen to the word of the Lord, all you citizens of Judah who are here in Egypt! 25 The Lord, the God of Israel, says: Both you and your wives have said that you will never give up your devotion and sacrifices to the Queen of Heaven, and you have proved it by your actions. Then go ahead and carry out your promises and vows to her! 26 But listen to the word of the Lord, all you Jews who are living in the land of Egypt: I have sworn by my great name, says the Lord, that it will do you no good to seek my help and blessing anymore, saying, ‘O Lord our God, help us!’ 27 For I will watch over you, but not for good! I will see to it that evil befalls you, and you shall be destroyed by war and famine until all of you are dead.
28 “Only those who return to Judah (it will be but a tiny remnant) shall escape my wrath, but all who refuse to go back—who insist on living in Egypt—shall find out who tells the truth, I or they! 29 And this is the proof I give you that all I have threatened will happen to you and that I will punish you here: 30 I will turn Pharaoh Hophra,[b] king of Egypt, over to those who seek his life, just as I turned Zedekiah, king of Judah, over to Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon.”