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I wish that my eyes
    were fountains of tears,
so I could cry day and night
for my people
    who were killed.
I wish I could go into the desert
    and find a hiding place
from all who are treacherous
    and unfaithful to God.

The Lord Answers Jeremiah

The Lord replied:

Lies come from the mouths
of my people,
    like arrows from a bow.
With each dishonest deed
    their power increases,
and not one of them will admit
    that I am God.

Jeremiah, all your friends
    and relatives
tell lies about you,
    so don’t trust them.
They wear themselves out,
always looking for a new way
    to cheat their friends.
Everyone takes advantage
    of everyone else,
and no one will admit
    that I am God.

And so I will purify
    the hearts of my people
just as gold is purified
in a furnace.
    I have no other choice.
They say they want peace,
    but this lie is deadly,
like an arrow that strikes
    when you least expect it.
Give me one good reason
not to punish them
    as they deserve.
I, the Lord All-Powerful,
    have spoken.

Jeremiah Weeps for His People

10 I weep for the pastureland
    in the hill country.
It’s so barren and scorched
    that no one travels there.
No cattle can be found there,
and birds and wild animals
    have all disappeared.

11 I heard the Lord reply,
    “When I am finished,
Jerusalem and the towns of Judah
will be piles of ruins
    where only jackals[a] live.”

Why the Land Was Destroyed

12 I said to the Lord, “None of us can understand why the land has become like an uncrossable desert. Won’t you explain why?”

13 The Lord said:

I destroyed the land because the people disobeyed me and rejected my laws and teachings. 14 They were stubborn and worshiped Baal,[b] just as their ancestors did. 15 So I, the Lord All-Powerful, the God of Israel, promise them poison to eat and drink.[c] 16 I’ll scatter them in foreign countries that they and their ancestors have never even heard of. Finally, I will send enemy soldiers to kill every last one of them.

The Women Who Are Paid To Weep

17 The Lord All-Powerful said,
    “Send for the women
who are paid to weep
    at funerals,[d]
especially the women
    who can cry the loudest.”

18 The people answered,
“Let them come quickly
    and cry for us,
until our own eyes
    are flooded with tears.
19 Now those of us on Zion cry,
‘We are ruined!
    We can’t stand the shame.
Our homes have been destroyed,
    and we must leave our land.'

20 “We ask you women
to pay attention
    to what the Lord says.
We will teach you a funeral song
that you can teach
    your daughters and friends:
21 ’We were in our fortress,
but death sneaked in
    through our windows.
It even struck down
children at play
    and our strongest young men.'

22 “The Lord has told us
the ground will be covered
    with dead bodies,
like stalks of ungathered grain
    or like manure.”

What the Lord Likes Best

23 The Lord says:

Don’t brag about your wisdom
    or strength or wealth.
24 If you feel you must brag,
    then have enough sense
to brag about worshiping me,
    the Lord.
What I like best
    is showing kindness,
justice, and mercy
    to everyone on earth.

25-26 Someday I will punish the nations of Egypt, Edom, Ammon, and Moab, and the tribes of the desert.[e] The men of these nations are circumcised, but they don’t worship me. And it’s the same with you people of Judah. Your bodies are circumcised, but your hearts are unchanged.

Footnotes

  1. 9.11 jackals: Desert animals related to wolves, but smaller.
  2. 9.14 Baal: See the note at 2.23.
  3. 9.15 poison to eat and drink: Or “bitter disappointment to eat, and tears to drink.”
  4. 9.17 women. . . weep at funerals: Or “the women who weep for Baal”; the god Baal was believed to have died and come back to life, and some women would go to places of worship and weep over the death of Baal.
  5. 9.25,26 the tribes of the desert: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.

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