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Oh, that my eyes were a fountain of tears; I would weep forever; I would sob day and night for the slain of my people! Oh, that I could go away and forget them and live in some wayside shack in the desert, for they are all adulterous, treacherous men.

“They bend their tongues like bows to shoot their arrows of untruth. They care nothing for right and go from bad to worse; they care nothing for me,” says the Lord.

Beware of your neighbor! Beware of your brother! All take advantage of one another and spread their slanderous lies. With practiced tongues they fool and defraud each other; they wear themselves out with all their sinning.

“They pile evil upon evil, lie upon lie, and utterly refuse to come to me,” says the Lord.

Therefore, the Lord Almighty says this: “See, I will melt them in a crucible of affliction. I will refine them and test them like metal. What else can I do with them? For their tongues aim lies like poisoned spears. They speak cleverly to their neighbors while planning to kill them. Should not I punish them for such things as this?” asks the Lord. “Shall not my soul be avenged on such a nation as this?”

10 Sobbing and weeping, I point to their mountains and pastures, for now they are desolate, without a living soul. Gone is the lowing of cattle, gone the birds and wild animals. All have fled.

11 “And I will turn Jerusalem into heaps of ruined houses where only jackals have their dens. The cities of Judah shall be ghost towns, with no one living in them.”

12 Who is wise enough to understand all this? Where is the Lord’s messenger to explain it? Why is the land a wilderness so that no one dares even to travel through?

13 “Because,” the Lord replies, “my people have forsaken my commandments and not obeyed my laws. 14 Instead, they have done whatever they pleased and worshiped the idols of Baal, as their fathers told them to.” 15 Therefore, this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: Look! I will feed them with bitterness and give them poison to drink. 16 I will scatter them around the world, to be strangers in distant lands; and even there the sword of destruction shall chase them until I have utterly destroyed them.

17-18 The Lord Almighty says: “Send for the mourners! Quick! Begin your crying! Let the tears flow from your eyes. 19 Hear Jerusalem weeping in despair. ‘We are ruined! Disaster has befallen us! We must leave our land and homes!’” 20 Listen to the words of God, O women who wail. Teach your daughters to wail and your neighbors too. 21 For death has crept in through your windows into your homes. He has killed off the flower of your youth. Children no longer play in the streets; the young men gather no more in the squares.

22 Tell them this, says the Lord: Bodies shall be scattered across the fields like manure, like sheaves after the mower, and no one will bury them.

23 The Lord says: Let not the wise man bask in his wisdom, nor the mighty man in his might, nor the rich man in his riches. 24 Let them boast in this alone: That they truly know me, and understand that I am the Lord of justice and of righteousness whose love is steadfast; and that I love to be this way.

25-26 A time is coming, says the Lord, when I will punish all those who are circumcised in body but not in spirit—the Egyptians, Edomites, Ammonites, Moabites, Arabs, and yes, even you people of Judah. For all these pagan nations also circumcise themselves. Unless you circumcise your hearts by loving me, your circumcision is only a heathen rite like theirs, and nothing more.

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