7 Then the Lord said to Jeremiah:
2 Go over to the entrance of the Temple of the Lord and give this message to the people: O Judah, listen to this message from God. Listen to it, all of you who worship here. 3 The Lord, the God of Israel says: Even yet, if you quit your evil ways, I will let you stay in your own land. 4 But don’t be fooled by those who lie to you and say that since the Temple of the Lord is here, God will never let Jerusalem be destroyed. 5 You may remain under these conditions only: If you stop your wicked thoughts and deeds and are fair to others; 6 if you stop exploiting orphans, widows, and foreigners, and stop your murdering; if you stop worshiping idols as you do now to your hurt, 7 then, and only then, will I let you stay in this land that I gave to your fathers to keep forever.
8 You think that because the Temple is here, you will never suffer? Don’t fool yourselves! 9 Do you really think that you can steal, murder, commit adultery, lie, and worship Baal and all of those new gods of yours, 10 and then come here and stand before me in my Temple and chant, “We are saved!”—only to go right back to all these evil things again? 11 Is my Temple but a den of robbers in your eyes? For I see all the evil going on in there.
12 Go to Shiloh, the city I first honored with my name, and see what I did to her because of all the wickedness of my people Israel. 13-14 And now, says the Lord, I will do the same thing here because of all this evil you have done. Again and again I spoke to you about it, rising up early and calling, but you refused to hear or answer. Yes, I will destroy this Temple, as I did in Shiloh—this Temple called by my name, which you trust for help, and this place I gave to you and to your fathers. 15 And I will send you into exile, just as I did your brothers, the people of Ephraim.
16 Pray no more for these people, Jeremiah. Neither weep for them nor pray nor beg that I should help them, for I will not listen. 17 Don’t you see what they are doing throughout the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem? 18 No wonder my anger is great! Watch how the children gather wood and the fathers build fires, and the women knead dough and make cakes to offer to the Queen of Heaven[a] and to their other idol-gods! 19 Am I the one that they are hurting? asks the Lord. Most of all they hurt themselves, to their own shame. 20 So the Lord God says: I will pour out my anger, yes, my fury on this place—people, animals, trees, and plants will be consumed by the unquenchable fire of my anger.
21 The Lord, the God of Israel says: Away with your offerings and sacrifices! 22 It wasn’t offerings and sacrifices I wanted from your fathers when I led them out of Egypt. That was not the point of my command. 23 But what I told them was: Obey me, and I will be your God and you shall be my people; only do as I say, and all shall be well!
24 But they wouldn’t listen; they kept on doing whatever they wanted to, following their own stubborn, evil thoughts. They went backward instead of forward. 25 Ever since the day your fathers left Egypt until now, I have kept on sending them my prophets, day after day. 26 But they wouldn’t listen to them or even try to hear. They are hard and stubborn and rebellious—worse even than their fathers were.
27 Tell them everything that I will do to them, but don’t expect them to listen. Cry out your warnings, but don’t expect them to respond. 28 Say to them: “This is the nation that refuses to obey the Lord its God and refuses to be taught. She continues to live a lie.”
29 O Jerusalem, shave your head in shame and weep alone upon the mountains; for the Lord has rejected and forsaken this people of his wrath. 30 For the people of Judah have sinned before my very eyes, says the Lord. They have set up their idols right in my own Temple, polluting it. 31 They have built the altar called Topheth in the valley of Ben-hinnom, and there they burn to death their little sons and daughters as sacrifices to their gods—a deed so horrible I’ve never even thought of it, let alone commanded it to be done. 32 The time is coming, says the Lord, when that valley’s name will be changed from Topheth or Ben-hinnom Valley, to the Valley of Slaughter; for there will be so many slain to bury that there won’t be room enough for all the graves, and they will dump the bodies in that valley.
33 The bodies of my people shall be food for the birds and animals, and no one shall be left to scare them away. 34 I will end the happy singing and laughter and the joyous voices of the bridegrooms and brides in the streets of Jerusalem and in the cities of Judah. For the land shall lie in desolation.
- Jeremiah 7:18 Queen of Heaven, a name by which Ishtar, the Mesopotamian goddess of love and war, was called. After the fall of Jerusalem, the refugees who fled to Egypt continued to worship her (ch. 44). A papyrus dating from the fifth century B.C. found at Hermopolis in Egypt mentions the “Queen of Heaven” among the gods honored by the Jewish community.