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Israel’s Unfaithfulness

The Lord told me to go to Jerusalem and tell everyone that he had said:

When you were my young bride,
you loved me
and followed me
    through the barren desert.
You belonged to me alone,
like the first part of the harvest,
    and I severely punished
    those who mistreated you.

Listen, people of Israel,[a]
    and I, the Lord, will speak.
I was never unfair
    to your ancestors,
but they left me
and became worthless
    by following worthless idols.
Your ancestors refused
    to ask for my help,
though I had rescued them
    from Egypt
and led them through
a treacherous, barren desert,
    where no one lives
    or dares to travel.

I brought you here to my land,
    where food is abundant,
but you made my land filthy
    with your sins.
The priests who teach my laws
    don’t care to know me.
Your leaders rebel against me;
your prophets
    give messages from Baal
    and worship false gods.

The Lord Accuses His People

I will take you to court
and accuse you
    and your descendants
10 of a crime that no nation
    has ever committed before.
Just ask anyone, anywhere,
from the eastern deserts
    to the islands in the west.
11 You will find that no nation
has ever abandoned its gods
    even though they were false.
I am the true and glorious God,
but you have rejected me
    to worship idols.
12 Tell the heavens
    to tremble with fear!
13 You, my people, have sinned
    in two ways—
you have rejected me,
the source
    of life-giving water,
and you’ve tried to collect water
in cracked and leaking pits
    dug in the ground.

14 People of Israel,
you weren’t born slaves;
    you were captured in war.
15 Enemies roared like lions
and destroyed your land;
    towns lie burned and empty.
16 Soldiers from the Egyptian towns
of Memphis and Tahpanhes
    have cracked your skulls.
17 It’s all your own fault!
You stopped following me,
    the Lord your God,
18 and you trusted the power
    of Egypt and Assyria.[b]
19 Your own sins will punish you,
because it was a bitter mistake
    for you to reject me
    without fear of punishment.
I, the Lord All-Powerful,
    have spoken.

20 Long ago you left me
and broke all ties between us,
    refusing to be my servant.
Now you worship other gods
    by having sex
on hilltops or in the shade
    of large trees.[c]
21 You were a choice grapevine,
but now you produce nothing
    but small, rotten grapes.

Israel Is Stained with Guilt

22 The Lord said:

People of Israel,
    you are stained with guilt,
and no soap or bleach
    can wash it away.
23 You deny your sins
and say, “We aren’t unclean.
    We haven’t worshiped Baal.”[d]
But think about what you do
    in Hinnom Valley.[e]
And you run back and forth
    like young camels,
as you rush to worship one idol
    after another.
24 You are a female donkey
    sniffing the desert air,
wanting to mate
with just anyone.
    You are an easy catch!
25 Your shoes are worn out,
    and your throat is parched
from running here and there
    to worship foreign gods.
“Stop!” I shouted,
but you replied, “No!
    I love those gods too much.”

26 You and your leaders
are more disgraceful
    than thieves—
you and your kings,
    your priests and prophets
27 worship stone idols
    and sacred poles
as if they had created you
    and had given you life.
You have rejected me,
but when you’re in trouble,
    you cry to me for help.
28 Go cry to the gods you made!
There should be enough of them
    to save you,
because Judah has as many gods
    as it has towns.

Israel Rebels against the Lord

29 The Lord said to Israel:

You accuse me of not saving you,
    but I say you have rebelled.
30 I tried punishing you,
but you refused
    to come back to me,
and like fierce lions
    you killed my prophets.

31 Now listen to what I say!
Did I abandon you in the desert
    or surround you with darkness?
You are my people,
    yet you have told me,
“We’ll do what we want,
and we refuse
    to worship you!”
32 A bride could not forget
to wear her jewelry
    to her wedding,
but you have forgotten me
    day after day.
33 You are so clever
    at finding lovers
that you could give lessons
    to a prostitute.
34 You killed innocent people
    for no reason at all.
And even though their blood
    can be seen on your clothes,
35 you claim to be innocent,
and you want me to stop
    being angry with you.
So I’ll take you to court,
    and we’ll see who is right.

36 When Assyria let you down,
    you ran to Egypt,
but you’ll find no help there,
37 and you will leave
    in great sadness.[f]
I won’t let you find help
    from those you trust.

Footnotes

  1. 2.4 Israel: After the nation was divided, the northern kingdom was called “Israel,” and the southern kingdom was called “Judah” (see 1 Kings 12.1-20). In 722 B.C. the Assyrians conquered the northern kingdom, and Judah was all that was left. And so in the book of Jeremiah the name “Israel” is most often used of the southern kingdom.
  2. 2.18 trusted. . . Assyria: Hebrew “went to Egypt and drank from the Shihor River, and you went to Assyria and drank from the Euphrates River.”
  3. 2.20 having sex. . . trees: In some Canaanite religions, worshipers had sex with temple prostitutes, who represented their gods; many of the Canaanite places of worship were on hilltops or under large trees.
  4. 2.23 Baal: The Hebrew text has “the Baals,” probably because the god Baal was believed to be present in different forms at different places of worship.
  5. 2.23 Hinnom Valley: Hebrew “the valley” (see 7.31-32; 19.1-6).
  6. 2.37 in great sadness: Or “as prisoners.”

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