Jeremiah’s Complaint

12 You are always righteous,(A) Lord,
    when I bring a case(B) before you.
Yet I would speak with you about your justice:(C)
    Why does the way of the wicked prosper?(D)
    Why do all the faithless live at ease?
You have planted(E) them, and they have taken root;
    they grow and bear fruit.(F)
You are always on their lips
    but far from their hearts.(G)
Yet you know me, Lord;
    you see me and test(H) my thoughts about you.
Drag them off like sheep(I) to be butchered!
    Set them apart for the day of slaughter!(J)
How long will the land lie parched(K)
    and the grass in every field be withered?(L)
Because those who live in it are wicked,
    the animals and birds have perished.(M)
Moreover, the people are saying,
    “He will not see what happens to us.”

God’s Answer

“If you have raced with men on foot
    and they have worn you out,
    how can you compete with horses?
If you stumble[a] in safe country,
    how will you manage in the thickets(N) by[b] the Jordan?
Your relatives, members of your own family—
    even they have betrayed you;
    they have raised a loud cry against you.(O)
Do not trust them,
    though they speak well of you.(P)

“I will forsake(Q) my house,
    abandon(R) my inheritance;
I will give the one I love(S)
    into the hands of her enemies.(T)
My inheritance has become to me
    like a lion(U) in the forest.
She roars at me;
    therefore I hate her.(V)
Has not my inheritance become to me
    like a speckled bird of prey
    that other birds of prey surround and attack?
Go and gather all the wild beasts;
    bring them to devour.(W)
10 Many shepherds(X) will ruin my vineyard
    and trample down my field;
they will turn my pleasant field
    into a desolate wasteland.(Y)
11 It will be made a wasteland,(Z)
    parched and desolate before me;(AA)
the whole land will be laid waste
    because there is no one who cares.
12 Over all the barren heights in the desert
    destroyers will swarm,
for the sword(AB) of the Lord(AC) will devour(AD)
    from one end of the land to the other;(AE)
    no one will be safe.(AF)
13 They will sow wheat but reap thorns;
    they will wear themselves out but gain nothing.(AG)
They will bear the shame of their harvest
    because of the Lord’s fierce anger.”(AH)

14 This is what the Lord says: “As for all my wicked neighbors who seize the inheritance(AI) I gave my people Israel, I will uproot(AJ) them from their lands and I will uproot(AK) the people of Judah from among them. 15 But after I uproot them, I will again have compassion(AL) and will bring(AM) each of them back to their own inheritance and their own country. 16 And if they learn(AN) well the ways of my people and swear by my name, saying, ‘As surely as the Lord lives’(AO)—even as they once taught my people to swear by Baal(AP)—then they will be established among my people.(AQ) 17 But if any nation does not listen, I will completely uproot and destroy(AR) it,” declares the Lord.

A Linen Belt

13 This is what the Lord said to me: “Go and buy a linen belt and put it around your waist, but do not let it touch water.” So I bought a belt, as the Lord directed, and put it around my waist.

Then the word of the Lord came to me a second time:(AS) “Take the belt you bought and are wearing around your waist, and go now to Perath[c](AT) and hide it there in a crevice in the rocks.” So I went and hid it at Perath, as the Lord told me.(AU)

Many days later the Lord said to me, “Go now to Perath and get the belt I told you to hide there.” So I went to Perath and dug up the belt and took it from the place where I had hidden it, but now it was ruined and completely useless.

Then the word of the Lord came to me: “This is what the Lord says: ‘In the same way I will ruin the pride of Judah and the great pride(AV) of Jerusalem. 10 These wicked people, who refuse to listen(AW) to my words, who follow the stubbornness of their hearts(AX) and go after other gods(AY) to serve and worship them,(AZ) will be like this belt—completely useless!(BA) 11 For as a belt is bound around the waist, so I bound all the people of Israel and all the people of Judah to me,’ declares the Lord, ‘to be my people for my renown(BB) and praise and honor.(BC) But they have not listened.’(BD)

Wineskins

12 “Say to them: ‘This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: Every wineskin should be filled with wine.’ And if they say to you, ‘Don’t we know that every wineskin should be filled with wine?’ 13 then tell them, ‘This is what the Lord says: I am going to fill with drunkenness(BE) all who live in this land, including the kings who sit on David’s throne, the priests, the prophets and all those living in Jerusalem. 14 I will smash them one against the other, parents and children alike, declares the Lord. I will allow no pity(BF) or mercy or compassion(BG) to keep me from destroying(BH) them.’”

Threat of Captivity

15 Hear and pay attention,
    do not be arrogant,
    for the Lord has spoken.(BI)
16 Give glory(BJ) to the Lord your God
    before he brings the darkness,
before your feet stumble(BK)
    on the darkening hills.
You hope for light,
    but he will turn it to utter darkness
    and change it to deep gloom.(BL)
17 If you do not listen,(BM)
    I will weep in secret
    because of your pride;
my eyes will weep bitterly,
    overflowing with tears,(BN)
    because the Lord’s flock(BO) will be taken captive.(BP)

18 Say to the king(BQ) and to the queen mother,(BR)
    “Come down from your thrones,
for your glorious crowns(BS)
    will fall from your heads.”
19 The cities in the Negev will be shut up,
    and there will be no one to open them.
All Judah(BT) will be carried into exile,
    carried completely away.

20 Look up and see
    those who are coming from the north.(BU)
Where is the flock(BV) that was entrusted to you,
    the sheep of which you boasted?
21 What will you say when the Lord sets over you
    those you cultivated as your special allies?(BW)
Will not pain grip you
    like that of a woman in labor?(BX)
22 And if you ask yourself,
    “Why has this happened to me?”(BY)
it is because of your many sins(BZ)
    that your skirts have been torn off(CA)
    and your body mistreated.(CB)
23 Can an Ethiopian[d] change his skin
    or a leopard its spots?
Neither can you do good
    who are accustomed to doing evil.(CC)

24 “I will scatter you like chaff(CD)
    driven by the desert wind.(CE)
25 This is your lot,
    the portion(CF) I have decreed for you,”
declares the Lord,
“because you have forgotten(CG) me
    and trusted in false gods.(CH)
26 I will pull up your skirts over your face
    that your shame may be seen(CI)
27 your adulteries and lustful neighings,
    your shameless prostitution!(CJ)
I have seen your detestable acts
    on the hills and in the fields.(CK)
Woe to you, Jerusalem!
    How long will you be unclean?”(CL)

Footnotes

  1. Jeremiah 12:5 Or you feel secure only
  2. Jeremiah 12:5 Or the flooding of
  3. Jeremiah 13:4 Or possibly to the Euphrates; similarly in verses 5-7
  4. Jeremiah 13:23 Hebrew Cushite (probably a person from the upper Nile region)

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