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Jeremiah 12-16 Common English Bible (CEB)

12 If I took you to court, Lord,
    you would win.
But I still have questions about your justice.
    Why do guilty persons enjoy success?
    Why are evildoers so happy?
You plant them, and they take root;
    they flourish and bear fruit.
You are always on their lips
    but far from their hearts.
Yet you, Lord, you know me.
    You see me.
You can tell that I love you.[a]
    So drag them away
    and butcher them like sheep.
    Prepare them for the slaughterhouse.
How long will the land mourn
    and the grass in the fields dry up?
The animals and birds are swept away
    due to the evil of those in the land.
The people say,
    “God doesn’t see what we’re up to!”

If you have raced with people and are worn out,
    how will you compete with horses?
If you fall down in an open field,[b]
    how will you survive in the forest along the Jordan?
Even your relatives, your very family,
    are planning to trap you.
        They are out to get you.
    So don’t trust them,
        even if they appear to be on your side.

God’s lament over Judah’s destruction

I have abandoned my house;
    I have deserted my inheritance.
    I have given the one I love
        into the power of her enemies.
My inheritance has turned against me
    like a lion in the forest;
        she growls at me;
            therefore, I have rejected her.
My inheritance has become
    like a bird of prey,
        surrounded and attacked.[c]
Go, gather all the wild animals for the feast.
10 Many shepherds have destroyed my vineyard;
    they have trampled down my field;
    they have reduced my treasured field
        to a desolate wilderness.
11 They have devastated her;
    desolate, she cries out to me in distress:
        “The whole land is desolate,
        and no one seems to care.”
12 Over all the desert roads
    destroyers march;
        for the sword of the Lord devours
    from one end of the land to the other;
        no one is safe.
13 They have sown wheat and reaped weeds;
    they have worn themselves out for nothing.
They will be ashamed of their[d] harvest
    on account of the Lord’s fierce anger.

14 The Lord proclaims: The evil nations have seized the land[e] that I gave my people Israel. I’m going to dig them up from their own lands, and I will dig up the people of Judah from among them. 15 And after I have dug them up, I will again have compassion on them and restore their inheritance and their land. 16 And then, if they will learn the ways of my people, to make a solemn pledge in my name, “As the Lord lives,” just as they once taught my people to swear to Baal, then they will be built up in the midst of my people. 17 But if they don’t listen, I will dig up that nation; yes, I will dig up and destroy, declares the Lord.

Jeremiah’s symbolic acts

13 The Lord proclaimed to me: Go and buy a linen undergarment. Wear it for a while without washing it. So I bought a linen undergarment, as the Lord told me, and I put it on. The Lord spoke to me again: Take the undergarment that you are wearing and go at once to the Euphrates and put it under a rock. So I went and buried it at the Euphrates,[f] as the Lord instructed. After a long time, the Lord said to me: Return to the Euphrates and dig up the undergarment that I commanded you to bury there. So I went to the Euphrates and I dug up the linen undergarment from the place I had buried it. But it was ruined and good for nothing.

Then the Lord’s word came to me: The Lord proclaims: In the same way I will ruin the brazen pride of Judah and Jerusalem! 10 Instead of listening to me, this wicked people follow their own willful hearts and pursue other gods, worshipping and serving them. They will become like this linen garment—good for nothing! 11 Just as a linen undergarment clings to the body, so I created the people of Israel and Judah to cling to me, declares the Lord, to be my people for my honor, praise, and grandeur. But they wouldn’t obey.

12 So deliver this word to them: The Lord the God of Israel proclaims: Every wine jug should be filled with wine. And they will answer you, “Don’t we already know that? Obviously every wine jug should be filled with wine!” 13 Then you should say to them: The Lord proclaims: I’m going to fill everyone who lives in this country with wine that makes them drunk, including the kings on David’s throne, the priests, the prophets, and all those living in Jerusalem. 14 And I will shatter every one of them, even parents and children, declares the Lord. I won’t take pity; I won’t have compassion; I will show no mercy when I destroy them.

15 Listen closely, don’t be arrogant,
    for the Lord has spoken.
16 Honor the Lord your God,
    before it’s too late,
    before you stumble
        on the mountain paths
        in the evening shadows.
Then you will hope for light,
    only to find darkness and gloom.
17 If you are too proud to listen,
    I will go off alone
        and cry my eyes out.
I will weep uncontrollably
    because the Lord’s flock
    will be dragged off into exile.
18 Tell the king and the queen mother:
    Come down from your lofty place,
        because your glorious crowns
            will soon be removed from your heads.
19 The towns of the arid southern plain will be surrounded;
    no one will get in or out;
        all Judah will be taken into exile;
            everyone will be led away.

20 Lift up your eyes
    and see who is approaching from the north.
Where is the flock entrusted to you,
    your beautiful flock?
21 What will you say when he appoints someone as head over you:
    your defenders, your trusted allies?[g]
Won’t pain grip you
    like that of a woman in labor?
22 And when you ask yourself,
    Why have all these things happened to me?
        it is because of your many sins
        that you have been stripped and violated.
23 Can a Cushite change his skin
    or a leopard its spots?
Neither can you do good
    when doing evil comes so naturally.
24 So I will scatter you[h] like straw
    that is blown away by the desert winds.
25 This is the future
    that I have prepared for you,
        declares the Lord,
    because you have forgotten me
        and trusted in lies.
26 I myself will pull up your skirt over your face
    and expose your shame.
27 I have seen your adultery and lust,
    your disgusting idols and shameless prostitution
        on the hills and in the fields.
How terrible for you, Jerusalem!
    How long will you remain dirty?

Destruction on the horizon

14 The Lord’s word to Jeremiah concerning the droughts:

Judah mourns;
    her gates wither away.
The people fall to the ground in sorrow,
    as sobs of Jerusalem ascend.
The rich send their servants for water,
    but the wells run dry.
They return with empty jars,
    ashamed, bewildered, and in despair.
Because the ground is cracked due to lack of rain,
    the farmers too are ashamed;
    they cover their heads.
Even the doe in the field
    abandons her newborn,
    for there’s no grass.
The wild donkeys stand on the well-traveled paths,
    panting like thirsty dogs;
        they go blind
        since there’s nothing to eat.

Even though our sins testify against us,
    help us, Lord, for your name’s sake.
We have turned away from you
    and sinned against you time and again.
You are the hope of Israel,
    its savior in times of trouble.
Why are you like a stranger in the land,
    like a tourist spending only the night?
Why are you like one taken by surprise,
    like a warrior unable to act?
Yet you are in our midst, Lord;
    we are called by your name.
    Don’t give up on us.

10 This is what the Lord proclaims about this people:
Since they have loved to wander off
    and haven’t restrained themselves,
        I[i] won’t accept them.
Now I will recall their wrongdoing
    and punish their sin.

11 The Lord said to me: Don’t pray for the safety of these people. 12 When they fast, I won’t pay attention to their pleas, and when they offer entirely burned offerings and grain offerings, I won’t accept them. Instead, I will devour them with war, famine, and disease.

13 I replied, “Lord God, the prophets are telling them: ‘You won’t see war or famine, for I will give you lasting peace in this place.’”

14 Then the Lord said to me: The prophets are telling lies in my name. I haven’t sent them. I haven’t commanded them. I haven’t spoken to them. They are prophesying to you false visions, worthless predictions, and deceit they have made up on their own. 15 Therefore, this is what the Lord proclaims concerning the prophets who are speaking in my name when I didn’t send them, and who are telling you that war or famine will never come to this land: Those very prophets will die in war and by famine! 16 And the people they are prophesying to will be thrown into the streets of Jerusalem, victims of famine and war. There will be no one to bury them or their wives and children. I will pour out on them their own wickedness.

17 So deliver this word to them:
My eyes well up with tears;
    I can’t stop weeping—day and night,
    because my virgin daughter, my people,
        has suffered a crushing blow
        and is mortally wounded.
18 If I go into the fields,
    I see only the slain in battle.
If I enter the city,
    I see only those suffering from famine.
Even both prophet and priest
    wander about aimlessly in ignorance.
19 Have you completely rejected Judah?
    Do you hate Zion?
        Why then have you mortally wounded us?
We look for peace,
        but nothing good comes of it;
    for a time of healing,
        only to be terrorized.
20 We acknowledge our sin, Lord,
    the wrongdoing of our ancestors,
        because we have sinned against you.
21 For your name’s sake, don’t reject us,
    don’t scorn your glorious throne.
Remember your covenant with us;
    don’t break it.
22 Can any of the false gods of the nations make it rain?
    Can the sky by itself bring showers?
Aren’t you the Lord, our God?
    You are our hope,
        since only you can do such things.

Lamenting Jerusalem’s dire circumstances

15 The Lord said to me: Even if Moses and Samuel stood before me, I wouldn’t change my mind about these people. Send them away from me. Let them go! And if they say, “Go where?” tell them, This is what the Lord proclaims:

Those marked for death—to death,
those marked for war—to war,
those marked for famine—to famine, and those marked for exile—to exile.

I will appoint over them four agents[j] of death, declares the Lord: soldiers to kill, dogs to drag off, and vultures and wild animals to devour and destroy. Because of what Judah’s King Manasseh, Hezekiah’s son, has done in Jerusalem, I will make them an object of horror to all nations on earth.

Who will pity you, Jerusalem?
    Who will shed tears over you?
    Who will stop and ask how you’re doing?
You have deserted me,
        declares the Lord.
    You have turned your back on me.
    So I will turn my hand against you
        and destroy you.
I’m tired of holding back.
    I will winnow them with a winnowing fork
        at the gates of their country.
I will bereave and destroy my people
    because they haven’t changed their ways.
Their widows will outnumber
    the sand on the shore.
I will bring a destroyer in broad daylight
    against the mothers of young men.[k]
Suddenly I will bring distress
    and terror upon them.
The mother of seven
    will grow weak and gasp for air;
        her sun will set while it is yet day;
        she will be ashamed and disgraced.
    I will deliver the survivors to the sword,
    to the power of their enemies,
        declares the Lord.

10 I wish I had never been born! I have become a source of conflict and dissension in my own country. Even though I haven’t lent or borrowed, still everyone curses me.

11 The Lord said:
Haven’t I taken care of you?
    Haven’t I helped you with your enemies
        in time of trouble and distress?[l]
12 Can a person shatter iron,
    iron from the north, or bronze?
13 Your wealth and belongings
    I will deliver as plunder,
        without a fee,
        because of all your sins
        throughout your territory.
14 I will make you serve your enemies
    in a land you don’t know,
        for my anger blazes like a fire
        that won’t go out.

15 You understand, Lord!
    Remember me and act on my behalf.
Bring judgment on those who torment me.
    In your mercy, spare my life.[m]
    Consider how I’m insulted on your account.
16 When your words turned up, I feasted on them;
    and they became my joy, the delight of my heart,
        because I belong to you,
        Lord God of heavenly forces.
17 I didn’t join the festive occasions;
    I took no delight in them.
    I sat alone
        because your hand was upon me
        and you had filled me with curses.
18 Why am I always in pain?
    Why is my wound incurable,
        so far beyond healing?
You have become for me as unreliable
    as a spring gone dry!

19 Therefore, the Lord proclaims:
If you return to me, I will take you back
    and let you stand before me.
If you utter what is worthwhile,
        not what is worthless,
    you will be my spokesman.
They will turn to you,
    not you to them!
20 I will make you a sturdy bronze wall
    against these people.
They will attack you,
        but they won’t triumph,
    because I am with you
        to protect and rescue you,
            declares the Lord.
21 I will rescue you from the hand of the wicked;
    I will redeem you from the grasp of the violent.

Loss of hope

16 The Lord’s word came to me: Don’t marry or have children in this place. This is what the Lord proclaims concerning children who are born in this place and their mothers and fathers who give birth to them in this place:

They will die of horrible diseases.
        No one will mourn for them or bury them.
They will be like refuse lying on the ground.
    They will die from the sword and by famine,
        and their corpses will be food for birds and wild animals.
This is what the Lord says:
Don’t enter a house where there is mourning;
    don’t grieve or lament for them,
    for I have taken away my blessing, kindness, and mercy from this people,
        declares the Lord.
From the least to the greatest,
    all will die in this land,
        and there will be no funerals or time of mourning.
    No one will gash themselves in grief
        or shave their heads in sorrow.
    No one will bring food[n] for the mourner
        as comfort for the dead.
    No one will offer a cup of consolation
        for the loss of father or mother.

Don’t enter a house where there is feasting and sit down to eat and drink. This is what the Lord of heavenly forces, the God of Israel, proclaims:

Before your very eyes and in your own lifetime, I will silence in this place the sounds of joy and gladness and the voices of the bridegroom and the bride.

10 When you proclaim all these things to the people, and they ask you, “Why has the Lord pronounced such massive devastation against us? What have we done wrong? How have we sinned against the Lord our God?” 11 then you should tell them: It’s because your ancestors have deserted me and followed other gods, declares the Lord. They have served and worshipped them, while abandoning me and refusing to keep my Instruction. 12 And you, you have acted worse than your ancestors, each of you following your own willful, evil hearts and paying no attention to me. 13 So I will banish you from this land to a place that neither you nor your ancestors have known, and there you will serve other gods day and night, for I will show you no mercy.

14 But the time is coming, declares the Lord, when no one will say, “As the Lord lives who brought up the Israelites from the land of Egypt”; 15 instead, they will say, “As the Lord lives who brought up the Israelites from the land of the north and from all the lands where he has banished them.” I will bring them back to the land that I gave to their ancestors.

16 I’m going to send hordes of fishermen to catch them, declares the Lord. Afterward I will send a party of hunters to hunt them down on every mountain, hill, and cave. 17 I am watching their every move; not one is hidden from me. Nor is their sin concealed from my sight. 18 I will initially pay them back double for their evil and sin, because they have corrupted my land with their disgusting, lifeless idols and have filled my inheritance with their detestable practices.

19 Lord, you are my strength and my stronghold;
    you are my refuge in time of trouble.
The nations will flock to you
    from the ends of the earth,
    and they will say:
        “Our ancestors have inherited utter lies,
        things that are hollow and useless.”
20 Can humans make their own gods?
    If so, they are not gods at all!
21 Therefore, I will teach them;
    this time I will teach them
        my power and my might.
    They will understand that I am the Lord.


  1. Jeremiah 12:3 Or You test my heart.
  2. Jeremiah 12:5 Or If you are at ease only when in a peaceful land
  3. Jeremiah 12:9 Heb uncertain
  4. Jeremiah 12:13 Or your
  5. Jeremiah 12:14 Or inheritance
  6. Jeremiah 13:5 Heb Perath
  7. Jeremiah 13:21 Heb uncertain
  8. Jeremiah 13:24 Or them
  9. Jeremiah 14:10 Or the Lord
  10. Jeremiah 15:3 Or families
  11. Jeremiah 15:8 Heb uncertain
  12. Jeremiah 15:11 Heb uncertain
  13. Jeremiah 15:15 Heb uncertain
  14. Jeremiah 16:7 LXX; Heb break for them
Common English Bible (CEB)

Copyright © 2011 by Common English Bible

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