The words of Jeremiah, the son of Hilkiah, one (A)of the priests who were in (B)Anathoth in the land of Benjamin, to whom the word of the Lord came in the days of (C)Josiah the son of Amon, king of Judah, in (D)the thirteenth year of his reign. It came also in the days of (E)Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah, and (F)until the end of the eleventh year of (G)Zedekiah, the son of Josiah, king of Judah, (H)until the captivity of Jerusalem in the fifth month.

The Call of Jeremiah

Now the word of the Lord came to me, saying,

(I)“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
and before you were born (J)I consecrated you;
I appointed you a prophet (K)to the nations.”

Then I said, “Ah, Lord God! Behold, (L)I do not know how to speak, (M)for I am only a youth.” But the Lord said to me,

“Do not say, ‘I am only a youth’;
for to all to whom I send you, you shall go,
and (N)whatever I command you, you shall speak.
(O)Do not be afraid of them,
(P)for I am with you to deliver you,
declares the Lord.”

(Q)Then the Lord put out his hand and (R)touched my mouth. And the Lord said to me,

“Behold, I have put (S)my words in your mouth.
10 See, I have set you this day (T)over nations and over kingdoms,
(U)to pluck up and to break down,
to destroy and to overthrow,
to build and to plant.”

11 And the word of the Lord came to me, saying, (V)“Jeremiah, what do you see?” And I said, “I see an almond[a] branch.” 12 Then the Lord said to me, “You have seen well, for I am watching over my word to perform it.”

13 The word of the Lord came to me a second time, saying, “What do you see?” And I said, “I see (W)a boiling pot, facing away (X)from the north.” 14 Then the Lord said to me, (Y)“Out of the north disaster[b] shall be let loose upon all the inhabitants of the land. 15 For behold, (Z)I am calling all the tribes of the kingdoms of the north, declares the Lord, (AA)and they shall come, and every one shall set his throne at the entrance of the gates of Jerusalem, against all its walls all around and against all the cities of Judah. 16 And (AB)I will declare my judgments against them, for all their evil (AC)in forsaking me. (AD)They have made offerings to other gods and (AE)worshiped the works of their own hands. 17 But you, (AF)dress yourself for work;[c] arise, and (AG)say to them everything that I command you. (AH)Do not be dismayed by them, lest I dismay you before them. 18 And I, behold, I make you this day (AI)a fortified city, (AJ)an iron pillar, and (AK)bronze walls, against the whole land, against the kings of Judah, its officials, its priests, and the people of the land. 19 (AL)They will fight against you, but they shall not prevail against you, for (AM)I am with you, declares the Lord, to deliver you.”

Israel Forsakes the Lord

The word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Go and proclaim in the hearing of Jerusalem, Thus says the Lord,

“I remember the devotion of (AN)your youth,
    your love (AO)as a bride,
(AP)how you followed me in the wilderness,
    (AQ)in a land not sown.
(AR)Israel was holy to the Lord,
    (AS)the firstfruits of his harvest.
(AT)All who ate of it incurred guilt;
    disaster came upon them,
declares the Lord.”

Hear the word of the Lord, O house of Jacob, and all the clans of the house of Israel. Thus says the Lord:

(AU)“What wrong did your fathers find in me
    that they went far from me,
(AV)and went after (AW)worthlessness, and became worthless?
They did not say, (AX)‘Where is the Lord
    who brought us up from the land of Egypt,
who led us (AY)in the wilderness,
    in a land of deserts and pits,
in a land of drought and deep darkness,
    in a land that none passes through,
    where no man dwells?’
(AZ)And I brought you into a plentiful land
    to enjoy its fruits and its good things.
But when you came in, (BA)you defiled my land
    and made my heritage an abomination.
The priests did not say, ‘Where is the Lord?’
    (BB)Those who handle the law did not know me;
(BC)the shepherds[d] transgressed against me;
    (BD)the prophets prophesied by Baal
    and went after (BE)things that do not profit.

“Therefore (BF)I still contend with you,
declares the Lord,
    and (BG)with your children's children I will contend.
10 For cross to the coasts of (BH)Cyprus and see,
    or send to (BI)Kedar and examine with care;
    see if there has been such a thing.
11 (BJ)Has a nation changed its gods,
    (BK)even though they are no gods?
But my people (BL)have changed their glory
    for (BM)that which does not profit.
12 Be appalled, (BN)O heavens, at this;
    be shocked, be utterly desolate,
declares the Lord,
13 for my people have committed two evils:
(BO)they have forsaken (BP)me,
    the fountain of (BQ)living waters,
and hewed out cisterns for themselves,
    broken cisterns that can hold no water.

14 (BR)“Is Israel a slave? Is he a homeborn servant?
    Why then has he become a prey?
15 (BS)The lions have roared against him;
    they have roared loudly.
They have made his land a waste;
    his cities are in ruins, (BT)without inhabitant.
16 Moreover, the men of (BU)Memphis and (BV)Tahpanhes
    (BW)have shaved[e] the crown of your head.
17 (BX)Have you not brought this upon yourself
    by forsaking the Lord your God,
    when (BY)he led you in the way?
18 (BZ)And now what do you gain by going to Egypt
    to drink the waters of (CA)the Nile?
(CB)Or what do you gain by going to Assyria
    to drink the waters of (CC)the Euphrates?[f]
19 (CD)Your evil will chastise you,
    and (CE)your apostasy will reprove you.
Know and see that it is evil and (CF)bitter
    for (CG)you to forsake the Lord your God;
    the fear of me is not in you,
declares the Lord God of hosts.

20 “For long ago I (CH)broke your yoke
    and burst your bonds;
    but you said, (CI)‘I will not serve.’
Yes, (CJ)on every high hill
    and under every green tree
    you bowed down (CK)like a whore.
21 (CL)Yet I planted you a choice vine,
    wholly of pure seed.
(CM)How then have you turned degenerate
    and become a wild vine?
22 Though you wash yourself with lye
    and use much soap,
    (CN)the stain of your guilt is still before me,
declares the Lord God.
23 (CO)How can you say, ‘I am not unclean,
    I have not gone after the Baals’?
Look at your way (CP)in the valley;
    know what you have done—
a restless young camel running here and there,
24     (CQ)a wild donkey used to the wilderness,
in her heat sniffing the wind!
    Who can restrain her lust?
None who seek her need weary themselves;
    in her month they will find her.
25 Keep (CR)your feet from going unshod
    and (CS)your throat from thirst.
But you said, ‘It is hopeless,
    (CT)for I have loved foreigners,
    and after them I will go.’

26 “As a thief is shamed when caught,
    so the house of Israel shall be shamed:
(CU)they, their kings, their officials,
    their priests, and their prophets,
27 who say to a tree, ‘You are my father,’
    and to a stone, ‘You gave me birth.’
For they have turned their back to me,
    and not their face.
But (CV)in the time of their trouble they say,
    ‘Arise and save us!’
28 But (CW)where are your gods
    that you made for yourself?
Let them arise, (CX)if they can save you,
    in your time of trouble;
for (CY)as many as your cities
    are your gods, O Judah.

29 “Why do you contend with me?
    You have all transgressed against me,
declares the Lord.
30 In vain have I (CZ)struck your children;
    they took no correction;
(DA)your own sword devoured your prophets
    like a ravening lion.
31 And you, O generation, behold the word of the Lord.
Have I been a wilderness to Israel,
    or a land of thick darkness?
Why then do my people say, ‘We are free,
    we will come no more to you’?
32 (DB)Can a virgin forget her ornaments,
    or a bride her attire?
Yet (DC)my people have forgotten me
    days without number.

33 “How well you direct your course
    to seek love!
So that even to wicked women
    you have taught your ways.
34 Also on your skirts is found
    (DD)the lifeblood of the guiltless poor;
you did not find them (DE)breaking in.
    Yet in spite of all these things
35 you say, ‘I am innocent;
    surely his anger has turned from me.’
(DF)Behold, I will bring you to judgment
    for (DG)saying, ‘I have not sinned.’
36 (DH)How much you go about,
    changing your way!
You shall be (DI)put to shame by Egypt
    as you were put to shame by Assyria.
37 From it too you will come away
    with (DJ)your hands on your head,
for the Lord has rejected those in whom you trust,
    and you will not prosper by them.

(DK)“If[g] a man divorces his wife
    and she goes from him
and becomes another man's wife,
    will he return to her?
(DL)Would not that land be greatly polluted?
(DM)You have played the whore with many lovers;
    and would you return to me?
declares the Lord.
Lift up your eyes to (DN)the bare heights, and see!
    Where have you not been ravished?
(DO)By the waysides you have sat awaiting lovers
    like an Arab in the wilderness.
(DP)You have polluted the land
    with your vile whoredom.
(DQ)Therefore the showers have been withheld,
    and the spring rain has not come;
yet you have (DR)the forehead of a whore;
    you refuse to be ashamed.
Have you not just now (DS)called to me,
    ‘My father, you are the friend of my youth—
(DT)will he be angry forever,
    will he be indignant to the end?’
Behold, you have spoken,
    but you have done all the evil that you could.”

Faithless Israel Called to Repentance

The Lord said to me in the days of (DU)King Josiah: “Have you seen what she did, that faithless one, Israel, (DV)how she went up on every high hill and under every green tree, and there (DW)played the whore? And I thought, ‘After she has done all this she will return to me,’ but she did not return, and her treacherous (DX)sister Judah saw it. She saw that for all the adulteries of that faithless one, Israel, (DY)I had sent her away with (DZ)a decree of divorce. (EA)Yet her treacherous sister Judah did not fear, but she too went (EB)and played the whore. Because she took her whoredom lightly, she polluted the land, committing adultery with (EC)stone and tree. 10 Yet for all this her treacherous sister Judah did not return to me (ED)with her whole heart, but in pretense, declares the Lord.”

11 And the Lord said to me, (EE)“Faithless Israel has shown herself more righteous than treacherous Judah. 12 Go, and proclaim these words toward (EF)the north, and say,

(EG)“‘Return, faithless Israel,
declares the Lord.
I will not look on you in anger,
    for (EH)I am merciful,
declares the Lord;
(EI)I will not be angry forever.
13 (EJ)Only acknowledge your guilt,
    that you rebelled against the Lord your God
and scattered your favors among foreigners under (EK)every green tree,
    and that you have not obeyed my voice,
declares the Lord.
14 (EL)Return, O faithless children,
declares the Lord;
    (EM)for I am your master;
I will take you, one from a city and two from a family,
    and I will bring you to Zion.

15 “‘And (EN)I will give you shepherds after my own heart, (EO)who will feed you with knowledge and understanding. 16 And when you have multiplied and been fruitful in the land, in those days, declares the Lord, they shall no more say, “The ark of the covenant of the Lord.” It shall not come to mind or be remembered or missed; it shall not be made again. 17 At that time Jerusalem shall be called the throne of the Lord, (EP)and all nations shall gather to it, (EQ)to the presence of the Lord in Jerusalem, and they shall no more stubbornly follow their own evil heart. 18 (ER)In those days the house of Judah shall join the house of Israel, and together they shall come from the land (ES)of the north to (ET)the land that I gave your fathers for a heritage.

19 “‘I said,
    How I would set you among my sons,
and give you a pleasant land,
    a heritage most beautiful of all nations.
And I thought you would (EU)call me, My Father,
    and would not turn from following me.
20 (EV)Surely, as a treacherous wife leaves her husband,
    so have you been treacherous to me, O house of Israel,
declares the Lord.’”

21 A voice on the (EW)bare heights is heard,
    (EX)the weeping and pleading of Israel's sons
because they have perverted their way;
    they have forgotten the Lord their God.
22 (EY)“Return, O faithless sons;
    (EZ)I will heal your faithlessness.”
“Behold, we come to you,
    for you are the Lord our God.
23 Truly (FA)the hills are a delusion,
    the orgies[h] on the mountains.
(FB)Truly in the Lord our God
    is the salvation of Israel.

24 “But from our youth the shameful thing has devoured all for which our fathers labored, their flocks and their herds, their sons and their daughters. 25 (FC)Let us lie down in our shame, and let our dishonor cover us. For (FD)we have sinned against the Lord our God, we and our fathers, from our youth even to this day, and we have not obeyed the voice of the Lord our God.”

“If you return, O Israel,
declares the Lord,
    (FE)to me you should return.
If you remove your detestable things from my presence,
    (FF)and do not waver,
(FG)and if you swear, ‘As the Lord lives,’
    in truth, in justice, and in righteousness,
then (FH)nations shall bless themselves in him,
    (FI)and in him shall they glory.”

For thus says the Lord to the men of Judah and Jerusalem:

(FJ)“Break up your fallow ground,
    and (FK)sow not among thorns.
(FL)Circumcise yourselves to the Lord;
    remove the foreskin of your hearts,
    O men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem;
(FM)lest my wrath go forth like fire,
    and burn with none to quench it,
    (FN)because of the evil of your deeds.”

Disaster from the North

Declare in Judah, and proclaim in Jerusalem, and say,

(FO)“Blow the trumpet through the land;
    cry aloud and say,
(FP)‘Assemble, and let us go
    into the fortified cities!’
(FQ)Raise a standard toward Zion,
    flee for safety, stay not,
for I bring disaster from (FR)the north,
    (FS)and great destruction.
(FT)A lion has gone up from his thicket,
    a destroyer of nations has set out;
    he has gone out from his place
to make your land a waste;
    your cities will be ruins
    (FU)without inhabitant.
For this (FV)put on sackcloth,
    lament and wail,
for (FW)the fierce anger of the Lord
    has not turned back from us.”

“In that day, declares the Lord, (FX)courage shall fail both king and officials. The priests shall be appalled and the prophets astounded.” 10 Then I said, “Ah, Lord God, (FY)surely you have utterly deceived this people and Jerusalem, saying, ‘It shall be well with you,’ whereas the sword has reached their very life.”

11 At that time it will be said to this people and to Jerusalem, “A hot wind from (FZ)the bare heights in the desert toward the daughter of my people, not to winnow or cleanse, 12 a wind too full for this comes for me. Now it is I who (GA)speak in judgment upon them.”

13 Behold, he comes up like clouds;
    (GB)his chariots like the whirlwind;
his horses are (GC)swifter than eagles—
    woe to us, (GD)for we are ruined!
14 O Jerusalem, (GE)wash your heart from evil,
    that you may be saved.
How long shall your wicked thoughts
    lodge within you?
15 For a voice (GF)declares from Dan
    and proclaims trouble from (GG)Mount Ephraim.
16 Warn the nations that he is coming;
    announce to Jerusalem,
“Besiegers come (GH)from a distant land;
    they shout against the cities of Judah.
17 Like keepers of a field (GI)are they against her all around,
    because she has rebelled against me,
declares the Lord.
18 Your ways and your deeds
    have brought this upon you.
This is your doom, and (GJ)it is bitter;
    it has reached your very heart.”

Anguish over Judah's Desolation

19 (GK)My anguish, my anguish! I writhe in pain!
    Oh the walls of my heart!
My heart is beating wildly;
    I cannot keep silent,
for I hear the sound of the trumpet,
    the alarm of war.
20 (GL)Crash follows hard on crash;
    the whole land is laid waste.
(GM)Suddenly my tents are laid waste,
    my curtains in a moment.
21 How long must I see the standard
    and hear the sound of the trumpet?

22 “For (GN)my people are foolish;
    they know me not;
they are stupid children;
    they have no understanding.
(GO)They are ‘wise’—in doing evil!
    But how to do good they know not.”

23 I looked on the earth, and behold, it was (GP)without form and void;
    (GQ)and to the heavens, and they had no light.
24 I looked on (GR)the mountains, and behold, they were quaking,
    and all the hills moved to and fro.
25 (GS)I looked, and behold, there was no man,
    and all the birds of the air had fled.
26 I looked, and behold, the (GT)fruitful land was a desert,
    and all its cities were laid in ruins
    before the Lord, before (GU)his fierce anger.

27 For thus says the Lord, “The whole land shall be a desolation; (GV)yet I will not make a full end.

28 (GW)“For this the earth shall mourn,
    (GX)and the heavens above be dark;
for I have spoken; I have purposed;
    (GY)I have not relented, nor will I turn back.”

29 At the noise of horseman and archer
    every city takes to flight;
they enter thickets; they climb among rocks;
    all the cities are forsaken,
    and (GZ)no man dwells in them.
30 And you, O desolate one,
what do you mean that you dress in scarlet,
    (HA)that you adorn yourself with ornaments of gold,
    (HB)that you enlarge your eyes with paint?
In vain you beautify yourself.
    (HC)Your lovers despise you;
    they seek your life.
31 For I heard (HD)a cry as of a woman in labor,
    anguish as of one giving birth to her first child,
the cry of the daughter of Zion gasping for breath,
    (HE)stretching out her hands,
“Woe is me! I am fainting before murderers.”

Footnotes

  1. Jeremiah 1:11 Almond sounds like the Hebrew for watching (compare verse 12)
  2. Jeremiah 1:14 The Hebrew word can mean evil, harm, or disaster, depending on the context; so throughout Jeremiah
  3. Jeremiah 1:17 Hebrew gird up your loins
  4. Jeremiah 2:8 Or rulers
  5. Jeremiah 2:16 Hebrew grazed
  6. Jeremiah 2:18 Hebrew the River
  7. Jeremiah 3:1 Septuagint, Syriac; Hebrew Saying, “If
  8. Jeremiah 3:23 Hebrew commotion

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