If a divorced woman marries, can her first husband ever marry her again? No, because this would pollute the land. But you have more gods than a prostitute has lovers. Why should I take you back? 2 Just try to find one hilltop where you haven’t gone to worship other gods by having sex.[a] You sat beside the road like a robber in ambush, except you offered yourself to every passerby. Your sins of unfaithfulness have polluted the land. 3 So I, the Lord, refused to let the spring rains fall. But just like a prostitute, you still have no shame for what you have done. 4 You call me your father or your long-lost friend; 5 you beg me to stop being angry, but you won’t stop sinning.
Jeremiah, the kingdom of Israel[c] was like an unfaithful wife who became a prostitute on the hilltops and in the shade of large trees.[d]7-8 I knew that the kingdom of Israel had been unfaithful and committed many sins, yet I still hoped she might come back to me. But she didn’t, so I divorced her and sent her away.
Her sister, the kingdom of Judah, saw what happened, but she wasn’t worried in the least, and I watched her become unfaithful like her sister. 9 The kingdom of Judah wasn’t sorry for being a prostitute, and she didn’t care that she had made both herself and the land unclean by worshiping idols of stone and wood. 10 And worst of all, the people of Judah pretended to come back to me. 11 Even the people of Israel were honest enough not to pretend.
12 Jeremiah, shout toward the north:
Israel, I am your Lord— come back to me! You were unfaithful and made me furious, but I am merciful, and so I will forgive you. 13 Just admit that you rebelled and worshiped foreign gods under large trees everywhere. 14 You are unfaithful children, but you belong to me. Come home! I’ll take one or two of you from each town and clan and bring you to Zion. 15 Then I’ll appoint wise rulers who will obey me, and they will care for you like shepherds.
16 You will increase in numbers, and there will be no need to remember the sacred chest or to make a new one.[e] 17 The whole city of Jerusalem will be my throne.[f] All nations will come here to worship me, and they will no longer follow their stubborn, evil hearts. 18 Then, in countries to the north, you people of Judah and Israel will be reunited, and you will return to the land I gave your ancestors. 19 I have always wanted to treat you as my children and give you the best land, the most beautiful on earth. I wanted you to call me “Father” and not turn from me. 20 But instead, you are like a wife who broke her wedding vows. You have been unfaithful to me. I, the Lord, have spoken.
The People Confess Their Sins
The Lord said:
21 Listen to the noise on the hilltops! It’s the people of Israel, weeping and begging me to answer their prayers. They forgot about me and chose the wrong path. 22 I will tell them, “Come back, and I will cure you of your unfaithfulness.”
They will answer, “We will come back, because you are the Lord our God. 23 On hilltops, we worshiped idols and made loud noises, but it was all for nothing— only you can save us. 24 Since the days of our ancestors when our nation was young, that shameful god Baal[g] has taken our crops and livestock, our sons and daughters. 25 We have rebelled against you just like our ancestors, and we are ashamed of our sins.”
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