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Jeremiah 3-4 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

Unfaithful Israel

If[a] a man divorces his wife
    and she goes from him
and becomes another man’s wife,
    will he return to her?
Would not such a land be greatly polluted?
You have played the whore with many lovers;
    and would you return to me?
says the Lord.
Look up to the bare heights,[b] and see!
    Where have you not been lain with?
By the waysides you have sat waiting for lovers,
    like a nomad in the wilderness.
You have polluted the land
    with your whoring and wickedness.
Therefore the showers have been withheld,
    and the spring rain has not come;
yet you have the forehead of a whore,
    you refuse to be ashamed.
Have you not just now called to me,
    “My Father, you are the friend of my youth—
will he be angry forever,
    will he be indignant to the end?”
This is how you have spoken,
    but you have done all the evil that you could.

A Call to Repentance

The Lord said to me in the days of King Josiah: Have you seen what she did, that faithless one, Israel, how she went up on every high hill and under every green tree, and played the whore there? And I thought, “After she has done all this she will return to me”; but she did not return, and her false sister Judah saw it. She[c] saw that for all the adulteries of that faithless one, Israel, I had sent her away with a decree of divorce; yet her false sister Judah did not fear, but she too went and played the whore. Because she took her whoredom so lightly, she polluted the land, committing adultery with stone and tree. 10 Yet for all this her false sister Judah did not return to me with her whole heart, but only in pretense, says the Lord.

11 Then the Lord said to me: Faithless Israel has shown herself less guilty than false Judah. 12 Go, and proclaim these words toward the north, and say:

Return, faithless Israel,
says the Lord.
I will not look on you in anger,
    for I am merciful,
says the Lord;
I will not be angry forever.
13 Only acknowledge your guilt,
    that you have rebelled against the Lord your God,
and scattered your favors among strangers under every green tree,
    and have not obeyed my voice,
says the Lord.
14 Return, O faithless children,
says the Lord,
    for I am your master;
I will take you, one from a city and two from a family,
    and I will bring you to Zion.

15 I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding. 16 And when you have multiplied and increased in the land, in those days, says the Lord, they shall no longer say, “The ark of the covenant of the Lord.” It shall not come to mind, or be remembered, or missed; nor shall another one be made. 17 At that time Jerusalem shall be called the throne of the Lord, and all nations shall gather to it, to the presence of the Lord in Jerusalem, and they shall no longer stubbornly follow their own evil will. 18 In those days the house of Judah shall join the house of Israel, and together they shall come from the land of the north to the land that I gave your ancestors for a heritage.

19 I thought
    how I would set you among my children,
and give you a pleasant land,
    the most beautiful heritage of all the nations.
And I thought you would call me, My Father,
    and would not turn from following me.
20 Instead, as a faithless wife leaves her husband,
    so you have been faithless to me, O house of Israel,
says the Lord.

21 A voice on the bare heights[d] is heard,
    the plaintive weeping of Israel’s children,
because they have perverted their way,
    they have forgotten the Lord their God:
22 Return, O faithless children,
    I will heal your faithlessness.

“Here we come to you;
    for you are the Lord our God.
23 Truly the hills are[e] a delusion,
    the orgies on the mountains.
Truly in the Lord our God
    is the salvation of Israel.

24 “But from our youth the shameful thing has devoured all for which our ancestors had labored, their flocks and their herds, their sons and their daughters. 25 Let us lie down in our shame, and let our dishonor cover us; for we have sinned against the Lord our God, we and our ancestors, from our youth even to this day; and we have not obeyed the voice of the Lord our God.”

If you return, O Israel,

says the Lord,
    if you return to me,
if you remove your abominations from my presence,
    and do not waver,
and if you swear, “As the Lord lives!”
    in truth, in justice, and in uprightness,
then nations shall be blessed[f] by him,
    and by him they shall boast.

For thus says the Lord to the people of Judah and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem:

Break up your fallow ground,
    and do not sow among thorns.
Circumcise yourselves to the Lord,
    remove the foreskin of your hearts,
    O people of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem,
or else my wrath will go forth like fire,
    and burn with no one to quench it,
    because of the evil of your doings.

Invasion and Desolation of Judah Threatened

Declare in Judah, and proclaim in Jerusalem, and say:

Blow the trumpet through the land;
    shout aloud[g] and say,
“Gather together, and let us go
    into the fortified cities!”
Raise a standard toward Zion,
    flee for safety, do not delay,
for I am bringing evil from the north,
    and a great destruction.
A lion has gone up from its thicket,
    a destroyer of nations has set out;
    he has gone out from his place
to make your land a waste;
    your cities will be ruins
    without inhabitant.
Because of this put on sackcloth,
    lament and wail:
“The fierce anger of the Lord
    has not turned away from us.”

On that day, says the Lord, courage shall fail the king and the officials; the priests shall be appalled and the prophets astounded. 10 Then I said, “Ah, Lord God, how utterly you have deceived this people and Jerusalem, saying, ‘It shall be well with you,’ even while the sword is at the throat!”

11 At that time it will be said to this people and to Jerusalem: A hot wind comes from me out of the bare heights[h] in the desert toward my poor people, not to winnow or cleanse— 12 a wind too strong for that. Now it is I who speak in judgment against them.

13 Look! He comes up like clouds,
    his chariots like the whirlwind;
his horses are swifter than eagles—
    woe to us, for we are ruined!
14 O Jerusalem, wash your heart clean of wickedness
    so that you may be saved.
How long shall your evil schemes
    lodge within you?
15 For a voice declares from Dan
    and proclaims disaster from Mount Ephraim.
16 Tell the nations, “Here they are!”
    Proclaim against Jerusalem,
“Besiegers come from a distant land;
    they shout against the cities of Judah.
17 They have closed in around her like watchers of a field,
    because she has rebelled against me,
says the Lord.
18 Your ways and your doings
    have brought this upon you.
This is your doom; how bitter it is!
    It has reached your very heart.”

Sorrow for a Doomed Nation

19 My anguish, my anguish! I writhe in pain!
    Oh, the walls of my heart!
My heart is beating wildly;
    I cannot keep silent;
for I[i] hear the sound of the trumpet,
    the alarm of war.
20 Disaster overtakes disaster,
    the whole land is laid waste.
Suddenly my tents are destroyed,
    my curtains in a moment.
21 How long must I see the standard,
    and hear the sound of the trumpet?
22 “For my people are foolish,
    they do not know me;
they are stupid children,
    they have no understanding.
They are skilled in doing evil,
    but do not know how to do good.”

23 I looked on the earth, and lo, it was waste and void;
    and to the heavens, and they had no light.
24 I looked on the mountains, and lo, they were quaking,
    and all the hills moved to and fro.
25 I looked, and lo, there was no one at all,
    and all the birds of the air had fled.
26 I looked, and lo, the fruitful land was a desert,
    and all its cities were laid in ruins
    before the Lord, before his fierce anger.

27 For thus says the Lord: The whole land shall be a desolation; yet I will not make a full end.

28 Because of this the earth shall mourn,
    and the heavens above grow black;
for I have spoken, I have purposed;
    I have not relented nor will I turn back.

29 At the noise of horseman and archer
    every town takes to flight;
they enter thickets; they climb among rocks;
    all the towns are forsaken,
    and no one lives in them.
30 And you, O desolate one,
what do you mean that you dress in crimson,
    that you deck yourself with ornaments of gold,
    that you enlarge your eyes with paint?
In vain you beautify yourself.
    Your lovers despise you;
    they seek your life.
31 For I heard a cry as of a woman in labor,
    anguish as of one bringing forth her first child,
the cry of daughter Zion gasping for breath,
    stretching out her hands,
“Woe is me! I am fainting before killers!”

Footnotes:

  1. Jeremiah 3:1 Q Ms Gk Syr: MT Saying, If
  2. Jeremiah 3:2 Or the trails
  3. Jeremiah 3:8 Q Ms Gk Mss Syr: MT I
  4. Jeremiah 3:21 Or the trails
  5. Jeremiah 3:23 Gk Syr Vg: Heb Truly from the hills is
  6. Jeremiah 4:2 Or shall bless themselves
  7. Jeremiah 4:5 Or shout, take your weapons: Heb shout, fill (your hand)
  8. Jeremiah 4:11 Or the trails
  9. Jeremiah 4:19 Another reading is for you, O my soul,
New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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