Wages of Apostasy

If[a] a man divorces his wife
and she leaves him to marry another,
can he ever return to her?(A)
Wouldn’t such a land[b] become totally defiled?
But you!
You have prostituted yourself with many partners(B)
can you return to me?(C)
This is the Lord’s declaration.
Look to the barren heights(D) and see.
Where have you not been immoral?
You sat waiting for them beside the highways(E)
like a nomad in the desert.
You have defiled the land
with your prostitution and wickedness.(F)
This is why the showers haven’t come(G)
why there has been no spring rain.
You have the brazen look(H) of a prostitute[c]
and refuse to be ashamed.(I)
Haven’t you recently called to me, “My Father!(J)
You were my friend in my youth.(K)
Will he bear a grudge forever?(L)
Will he be endlessly infuriated?”
This is what you have said,
but you have done the evil things
you are capable of.

Unfaithful Israel, Treacherous Judah

In the days of King Josiah the Lord asked me, “Have you seen what unfaithful Israel has done? She has ascended every high hill and gone under every green tree to prostitute herself there.(M) I thought, ‘After she has done all these things, she will return to me.’(N) But she didn’t return, and her treacherous sister Judah(O) saw it. I[d] observed that it was because unfaithful Israel had committed adultery that I had sent her away and had given her a certificate of divorce.(P) Nevertheless, her treacherous sister Judah was not afraid but also went and prostituted herself.(Q) Indifferent to[e] her prostitution, she defiled the land and committed adultery with stones(R) and trees.(S) 10 Yet in spite of all this, her treacherous sister Judah didn’t return to me with all her heart(T)—only in pretense.”

This is the Lord’s declaration.

11 The Lord announced to me, “Unfaithful Israel has shown herself more righteous than treacherous Judah.(U) 12 Go, proclaim these words to the north, and say,

‘Return, unfaithful Israel.(V)
This is the Lord’s declaration.
I will not look on you with anger,[f]
for I am unfailing in my love.(W)
This is the Lord’s declaration.
I will not be angry forever.(X)
13 Only acknowledge your guilt(Y)
you have rebelled against the Lord your God.(Z)
You have scattered your favors to strangers
under every green tree(AA)
and have not obeyed me.
This is the Lord’s declaration.

14 “‘Return, you faithless children(AB)—this is the Lord’s declaration—for I am your master,[g](AC) and I will take you,(AD) one from a city and two from a family, and I will bring you to Zion. 15 I will give you shepherds who are loyal to me,[h](AE) and they will shepherd you with knowledge and skill. 16 When you multiply and increase in the land,(AF) in those days—this is the Lord’s declaration—no one will say again, “The ark of the Lord’s covenant.”(AG) It will never come to mind, and no one will remember or miss it. Another one will not be made.[i] 17 At that time Jerusalem will be called The Lord’s Throne,(AH) and all the nations will be gathered to it,(AI) to the name of the Lord in Jerusalem.(AJ) They will cease to follow the stubbornness of their evil hearts. 18 In those days the house of Judah will join with the house of Israel,(AK) and they will come together from the land of the north to the land I have given your ancestors to inherit.’”(AL)

True Repentance

19 I thought, “How I long to make you my sons
and give you a desirable land,
the most beautiful inheritance(AM) of all the nations.”
I thought, “You will call me ‘My Father’
and never turn away from me.”
20 However, as a woman may betray her lover,[j]
so you have betrayed(AN) me, house of Israel.
This is the Lord’s declaration.

21 A sound is heard on the barren heights:
the children of Israel weeping and begging for mercy,
for they have perverted their way;
they have forgotten the Lord their God.(AO)

22 Return, you faithless children.
I will heal your unfaithfulness.(AP)
“Here we are, coming to you,
for you are the Lord our God.

23 Surely, falsehood comes from the hills,
commotion from the mountains,(AQ)
but the salvation of Israel
is only in the Lord our God.(AR)
24 From the time of our youth
the shameful one[k] has consumed
what our ancestors have worked for—
their flocks and their herds,
their sons and their daughters.
25 Let us lie down in our shame;
let our disgrace cover us.(AS)
We have sinned against the Lord our God,(AT)
both we and our ancestors,
from the time of our youth even to this day.(AU)
We have not obeyed the Lord our God.”

Blessing or Curse

If you return,[l] Israel—
this is the Lord’s declaration—
you will return to me,(AV)
if you remove your abhorrent idols(AW)
from my presence
and do not waver,
then you can swear, “As the Lord lives,”(AX)
in truth,(AY) justice, and righteousness,(AZ)
and then the nations will be blessed[m] by him(BA)
and will boast in him.(BB)

For this is what the Lord says to the men of Judah and Jerusalem:

Break up the unplowed ground;(BC)
do not sow among the thorns.(BD)
Circumcise yourselves to the Lord;
remove the foreskin of your hearts,(BE)
men of Judah and residents of Jerusalem.
Otherwise, my wrath will break out like fire
and burn with no one to extinguish it(BF)
because of your evil deeds.

Judgment from the North

Declare in Judah, proclaim in Jerusalem, and say,

Blow the ram’s horn throughout the land.(BG)
Cry out loudly and say,
“Assemble yourselves,
and let’s flee to the fortified cities.”
Lift up a signal flag toward Zion.(BH)
Run for cover! Don’t stand still!
For I am bringing disaster from the north—
a crushing blow.(BI)
A lion has gone up from his thicket;(BJ)
a destroyer of nations has set out.
He has left his lair
to make your land a waste.
Your cities will be reduced to uninhabited ruins.(BK)
Because of this, put on sackcloth;
mourn and wail,(BL)
for the Lord’s burning anger(BM)
has not turned away from us.

“On that day”—this is the Lord’s declaration—“the king and the officials will lose their courage. The priests will tremble in fear, and the prophets will be scared speechless.”

10 I said, “Oh no, Lord God, you have certainly deceived(BN) this people and Jerusalem, by announcing, ‘You will have peace,’(BO) while a sword is at[n] our throats.”

11 “At that time it will be said to this people and to Jerusalem, ‘A searing wind(BP) blows from the barren heights in the wilderness on the way to my dear[o] people. It comes not to winnow or to sift; 12 a wind too strong for this comes at my call.[p] Now I will also pronounce judgments against them.’”(BQ)

13 Look, he advances like clouds;(BR)
his chariots are like a storm.(BS)
His horses are swifter than eagles.(BT)
Woe to us, for we are ruined!(BU)
14 Wash the evil from your heart,(BV) Jerusalem,
so that you will be delivered.
How long will you harbor
malicious thoughts?(BW)
15 For a voice announces from Dan,
proclaiming malice from Mount Ephraim.
16 Warn the nations: Look!
Proclaim to Jerusalem:
Those who besiege are coming
from a distant land;(BX)
they raise their voices
against the cities of Judah.
17 They have her surrounded(BY)
like those who guard a field,
because she has rebelled against me.(BZ)
This is the Lord’s declaration.
18 Your way and your actions
have brought this on you.(CA)
This is your punishment. It is very bitter,
because it has reached your heart!

Jeremiah’s Lament

19 My anguish, my anguish![q] I writhe in agony!
Oh, the pain in[r] my heart!(CB)
My heart pounds;
I cannot be silent.
For you, my soul,
have heard the sound of the ram’s horn—
the shout of battle.
20 Disaster after disaster(CC) is reported
because the whole land is destroyed.
Suddenly my tents are destroyed,
my tent curtains, in a moment.
21 How long must I see the signal flag
and hear the sound of the ram’s horn?
22 “For my people are fools;
they do not know me.
They are foolish children,
without understanding.(CD)
They are skilled in doing what is evil,
but they do not know how to do what is good.”(CE)
23 I looked at the earth,
and it was formless and empty.(CF)
I looked to the heavens,
and their light was gone.(CG)
24 I looked at the mountains,
and they were quaking;(CH)
all the hills shook.
25 I looked, and there was no human being,(CI)
and all the birds of the sky had fled.(CJ)
26 I looked, and the fertile field(CK) was a wilderness.(CL)
All its cities were torn down
because of the Lord
and his burning anger.(CM)

27 For this is what the Lord says:

“The whole land will be a desolation,(CN)
but I will not finish it off.(CO)
28 Because of this, the earth will mourn;(CP)
the skies above will grow dark.(CQ)
I have spoken; I have planned,
and I will not relent or turn back from it.”(CR)

29 Every city flees(CS)
at the sound of the horseman and the archer.
They enter the thickets
and climb among the rocks.(CT)
Every city is abandoned;
no inhabitant is left.
30 And you, devastated one, what are you doing(CU)
that you dress yourself in scarlet,
that you adorn yourself with gold jewelry,
that you enhance your eyes with makeup?(CV)
You beautify yourself for nothing.
Your lovers reject you;(CW)
they intend to take your life.(CX)
31 I hear a cry like a woman in labor,(CY)
a cry of anguish like one bearing her first child.
The cry of Daughter Zion gasping for breath,
stretching out her hands:(CZ)
“Woe is me, for my life is weary
because of the murderers!”


  1. 3:1 One Hb ms, LXX, Syr; other Hb mss read Saying: If
  2. 3:1 LXX reads woman
  3. 3:3 Lit have a prostitute’s forehead
  4. 3:8 One Hb ms, Syr read She
  5. 3:9 Lit From the lightness of
  6. 3:12 Lit not cause my face to fall on you
  7. 3:14 Or husband
  8. 3:15 Lit shepherds according to my heart
  9. 3:16 Or It will no longer be done
  10. 3:20 Lit friend
  11. 3:24 = Baal
  12. 4:1 Or Repent
  13. 4:2 Or will bless one another
  14. 4:10 Lit sword touches
  15. 4:11 Lit to the daughter of my
  16. 4:12 Lit comes for me
  17. 4:19 Lit My inner parts, my inner parts
  18. 4:19 Lit the walls of

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