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The Lord Will Punish Judah

The Lord said:

17 People of Judah,
    your sins cannot be erased.
They are written on your hearts
    like words chiseled in stone
or carved on the corners
    of your altars.[a]
One generation after another
    has set up pagan altars
and worshiped the goddess Asherah
everywhere in your country—
    on hills and mountains,
    and under large trees.
So I’ll take everything you own,
    including your altars,
and give it all
    to your enemies.[b]
You will lose[c] the land
    that I gave you,
and I will make you slaves
    in a foreign country,
because you have made my anger
blaze up like a fire
    that won’t stop burning.

Trust the Lord

I, the Lord, have put a curse
on those who turn from me
    and trust in human strength.
They will dry up like a bush
in salty desert soil,
    where nothing can grow.

But I will bless those
    who trust me.
They will be like trees
    growing beside a stream—
trees with roots that reach
    down to the water,
and with leaves
    that are always green.
They bear fruit every year
and are never worried
    by a lack of rain.

You people of Judah
    are so deceitful
that you even fool yourselves,
    and you can’t change.
10 But I know your deeds
    and your thoughts,
and I will make sure
    you get what you deserve.
11 You cheated others,
    but everything you gained
will fly away, like birds
    hatched from stolen eggs.
Then you will discover
    what fools you are.

Jeremiah Prays to the Lord

12 Our Lord, your temple
    is a glorious throne
that has stood on a mountain
    from the beginning.
13 You are a spring of water
    giving Israel life and hope.
But if the people reject
    what you have told me,
they will be swept away
    like words written in dust.[d]

14 You, Lord, are the one I praise.
    So heal me and rescue me!
Then I will be completely well
    and perfectly safe.

15 The people of Judah say to me,
“Jeremiah, you claimed to tell us
    what the Lord has said.
So why hasn’t it come true?”

16 Our Lord, you chose me
to care for your people,
    and that’s what I have done.
You know everything I have said,
and I have never once
    asked you to punish them.[e]
17 I trust you for protection
in times of trouble,
    so don’t frighten me.
18 Keep me from failure
    and disgrace,
but make my enemies fail
    and be disgraced.
Send destruction to make
    their worst fears come true.

Resting on the Sabbath

19-20 The Lord said:

Jeremiah, stand at each city gate in Jerusalem, including the one the king uses, and speak to him and everyone else. Tell them I have said:

I am the Lord, so pay attention. 21-24 If you value your lives, don’t do any work on the Sabbath. Don’t carry anything through the city gates or through the door of your house, or anywhere else. Keep the Sabbath day sacred!

I gave this command to your ancestors, but they were stubborn and refused to obey or to be corrected. But if you obey, 25 then Judah and Jerusalem will always be ruled by kings from David’s family. The king and his officials will ride through these gates on horses or in chariots, and the people of Judah and Jerusalem will be with them. There will always be people living in Jerusalem, 26 and others will come here from the nearby villages, from the towns of Judah and Benjamin,[f] from the hill country and the foothills to the west, and from the Southern Desert. They will bring sacrifices to please me and to give me thanks,[g] as well as offerings of grain and incense.

27 But if you keep on carrying things through the city gates on the Sabbath and keep treating it as any other day, I will set fire to these gates and burn down the whole city, including the fortresses.

Footnotes

  1. 17.1 carved on the corners of your altars: When sacrifices were offered to the Lord to ask him to forgive sins, some of the blood was smeared on the corners of the altar (see Leviticus 4.7,18-20,25,26,30,31,34,35; 16.18). But now the Lord refuses to accept these sacrifices.
  2. 17.3 enemies: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text of verses 2,3.
  3. 17.4 You will lose: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
  4. 17.13 reject. . . dust: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
  5. 17.16 you chose. . . punish them: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
  6. 17.26 Judah and Benjamin: These two tribes made up the southern kingdom of Judah.
  7. 17.26 sacrifices to please me and to give me thanks: See the notes at 14.12.