9 Jeremiah: O that my head were a spring of water
and my eyes a fountain of tears;
Then I could weep day and night for my poor people
who have been slaughtered.
2 O that I had a place in the desert I could run to,
a haven for travelers.
Then I could leave my people,
for they are all an adulterous and treacherous lot.
3 Eternal One: With tongues bent like bows they shoot their lies at one another.
Truth does not win out in this land; deceit always seems to triumph.
One evil leads to another because they don’t know who I am.
4 Let everyone be careful of his neighbor,
and think twice before he trusts his brothers;
For every brother is ready to cheat and deceive;
every neighbor is prepared to lie when it suits him.
5 In this land of liars, friends have no misgivings about deceiving one another;
no one even thinks to tell the truth.
They’ve trained their tongues to utter lies;
they wear themselves out with all their sinning.
6 Jeremiah, you live in a place where deception is assumed;
as their lies pile up, they refuse to acknowledge Me.
7 Here is what the Eternal, Commander of heavenly armies, has to say:
Eternal One: Watch, I will refine this nation and put them to the test.
What else can I do with My people?
8 Their tongues are like deadly arrows;
they speak such lies;
Each one leads his neighbor with kind words
into a trap that was already set.
9 Should I not punish them for what they do?
Should I not repay a nation that acts this way?
10 Jeremiah: I will weep bitterly for the mountains of my homeland
and grieve for the death of her wild meadows.
For they have become a silent wasteland
where no one dares to travel.
Pastures once filled with the lowing of cattle, now are empty and lifeless.
All the animals have fled; even the birds have left the sky.
11 Eternal One: I will leave Jerusalem in ruins;
her rubble will be the haunt of jackals.
I will wreak the same havoc on the cities of Judah;
no person will be found there.
Jeremiah: 12 Who is wise enough to take all this in? Who has heard the Eternal speak and can explain His ways to others? Can anyone say why this land has been ruined and left a wasteland, a desert where no one dares to travel?
Eternal One: 13 I will answer you Myself. Because they have ignored the law I gave them generations ago. They haven’t listened to My voice, and they refuse to walk in My ways. 14 Instead, they have stubbornly followed after their own hearts. They have chosen to worship images of Baal just as their ancestors taught them. 15 This is why I, the Eternal, Commander of heavenly armies and God of Israel, must now take action. Look, I will now give them bitter food to eat and poisoned water to drink. 16 I Myself will scatter them among the nations—nations neither they nor their ancestors ever knew existed—and I will hunt them down with the sword and destroy them completely.
These images are too real, too vivid. Jeremiah tells of the people’s judgment. He can’t help but grieve for them and the land that was once a place of promise.
17 The Eternal, Commander of heavenly armies, has this to say:
Eternal One: Think this over, and summon the mourners.
Send for the women who will chant the dirge, that they may come.
18 Let them be quick about it: weep and wail,
that our eyes may fill with tears that streak down our faces.
19 Listen to the voice of sorrow weeping from Zion herself:
“We are ruined. All that remains for us is great shame.
Now we must leave this land that was ours;
they have torn down our houses.”
20 Jeremiah: So listen now, women of Judah, to the word of the Eternal.
Mark His words well.
It is time to teach your daughters how to mourn,
time to teach your neighbors the song of lament.
21 For death has found us all.
It has crept in through our windows and slipped past our defenses.
It has cut down our children in the streets,
and our young men in the public squares. Death has found us all.
22 Tell everyone what the Eternal has said:
“The dead bodies of men will fall like dung on the open field.
Corpses will lie on the ground like grain cut in the harvest;
but on this day, there will be no one to gather and bury the dead.”
Eternal One: 23 Let not the wise boast in their wisdom, nor the mighty in their strength, nor the rich in their wealth. 24 Whoever boasts must boast in this: that he understands and knows Me.[a] Indeed, I am the Eternal One who acts faithfully and exercises justice and righteousness on earth. These are the things that delight Me.
25 Look, the day is coming when I will set things right with all people. I will punish all those who are circumcised in their bodies but not in their hearts— 26 the people of Egypt, Judah, Edom, Ammon, and Moab, and all who live in the desert and clip the corners of their hair. All these nations are really uncircumcised, and all of Israel is uncircumcised where it counts, in the heart.