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Chapter 15

The Lord said to me: Even if Moses and Samuel stood before me, my heart would not turn toward this people. Send them away from me and let them go.(A) If they ask you, “Where should we go?” tell them, Thus says the Lord: Whoever is marked for death, to death; whoever is marked for the sword, to the sword; whoever is marked for famine, to famine; whoever is marked for captivity, to captivity.(B) Four kinds of scourge I have decreed against them—oracle of the Lord—the sword to kill them; dogs to drag them off; the birds of the sky and the beasts of the earth to devour and destroy them.(C) And I will make them an object of horror to all the kingdoms of the earth because of what Manasseh, son of Hezekiah, king of Judah, did in Jerusalem.(D)

Scene of Tragedy

Who will pity you, Jerusalem,
    who will grieve for you?
Who will stop to ask
    about your welfare?(E)
It is you who have disowned me—oracle of the Lord
    turned your back upon me;
I stretched out my hand to destroy you,
    because I was weary of relenting.(F)
I winnowed them with a winnowing fork
    at the gates of the land;
I have bereaved, destroyed my people;
    they have not turned from their evil ways.(G)
Their widows were more numerous before me
    than the sands of the sea.
I brought against the mother of youths
    the destroyer at midday;
Suddenly I struck her
    with anguish and terror.
The mother of seven faints away,
    breathing out her life;
Her sun sets in full day,
    she is ashamed, abashed.
Their survivors I will give to the sword
    in the presence of their enemies—oracle of the Lord.(H)

Jeremiah’s Complaint

10 Woe to me, my mother, that you gave me birth!
    a man of strife and contention to all the land!
I neither borrow nor lend,
    yet everyone curses me.(I)
11 Tell me, Lord, have I not served you for their good?
    Have I not interceded with you
    in time of misfortune and anguish?(J)
12 Can one break iron,
    iron from the north, and bronze?
13 [a]Your wealth and your treasures
    I give as plunder, demanding no payment,
    because of all your sins, throughout all your territory.
14 And I shall enslave you to your enemies
    in a land you do not know,
For fire has broken out from my anger,
    it is kindled against you.
15     You know, Lord:
Remember me and take care of me,
    avenge me on my persecutors.
Because you are slow to anger, do not banish me;
    know that for you I have borne insult.(K)
16 When I found your words, I devoured them;
    your words were my joy, the happiness of my heart,
Because I bear your name,
    Lord, God of hosts.
17 I did not sit celebrating
    in the circle of merrymakers;
Under the weight of your hand I sat alone
    because you filled me with rage.(L)
18 Why is my pain continuous,
    my wound incurable, refusing to be healed?
To me you are like a deceptive brook,
    waters that cannot be relied on!(M)
19     Thus the Lord answered me:
If you come back and I take you back,
    in my presence you shall stand;
If you utter what is precious and not what is worthless,
    you shall be my mouth.
Then they will be the ones who turn to you,
    not you who turn to them.
20 And I will make you toward this people
    a fortified wall of bronze.
Though they fight against you,
    they shall not prevail,
For I am with you,
    to save and rescue you—oracle of the Lord.(N)
21 I will rescue you from the hand of the wicked,
    and ransom you from the power of the violent.


  1. 15:13–14 Though the wording of these verses is close to that in 17:3–4, the present passage is evidently God’s word to Jeremiah, whereas 17:3–4 is evidently a word of judgment on Judah. It is noteworthy that the references to “you” in the present passage are singular, until a shift to plural in “against you” in the last line; this “you” is then doubtless a reference to both the prophet and his enemies.