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Jeremiah 4-5 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

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[a] 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[b] 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[c] 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[d] 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!”

The Utter Corruption of God’s People

Run to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem,
    look around and take note!
Search its squares and see
    if you can find one person
who acts justly
    and seeks truth—
so that I may pardon Jerusalem.[e]
Although they say, “As the Lord lives,”
    yet they swear falsely.
O Lord, do your eyes not look for truth?
You have struck them,
    but they felt no anguish;
you have consumed them,
    but they refused to take correction.
They have made their faces harder than rock;
    they have refused to turn back.

Then I said, “These are only the poor,
    they have no sense;
for they do not know the way of the Lord,
    the law of their God.
Let me go to the rich[f]
    and speak to them;
surely they know the way of the Lord,
    the law of their God.”
But they all alike had broken the yoke,
    they had burst the bonds.

Therefore a lion from the forest shall kill them,
    a wolf from the desert shall destroy them.
A leopard is watching against their cities;
    everyone who goes out of them shall be torn in pieces—
because their transgressions are many,
    their apostasies are great.

How can I pardon you?
    Your children have forsaken me,
    and have sworn by those who are no gods.
When I fed them to the full,
    they committed adultery
    and trooped to the houses of prostitutes.
They were well-fed lusty stallions,
    each neighing for his neighbor’s wife.
Shall I not punish them for these things?
says the Lord;
    and shall I not bring retribution
    on a nation such as this?

10 Go up through her vine-rows and destroy,
    but do not make a full end;
strip away her branches,
    for they are not the Lord’s.
11 For the house of Israel and the house of Judah
    have been utterly faithless to me,
says the Lord.
12 They have spoken falsely of the Lord,
    and have said, “He will do nothing.
No evil will come upon us,
    and we shall not see sword or famine.”
13 The prophets are nothing but wind,
    for the word is not in them.
Thus shall it be done to them!

14 Therefore thus says the Lord, the God of hosts:
Because they[g] have spoken this word,
I am now making my words in your mouth a fire,
    and this people wood, and the fire shall devour them.
15 I am going to bring upon you
    a nation from far away, O house of Israel,
says the Lord.
It is an enduring nation,
    it is an ancient nation,
a nation whose language you do not know,
    nor can you understand what they say.
16 Their quiver is like an open tomb;
    all of them are mighty warriors.
17 They shall eat up your harvest and your food;
    they shall eat up your sons and your daughters;
they shall eat up your flocks and your herds;
    they shall eat up your vines and your fig trees;
they shall destroy with the sword
    your fortified cities in which you trust.

18 But even in those days, says the Lord, I will not make a full end of you. 19 And when your people say, “Why has the Lord our God done all these things to us?” you shall say to them, “As you have forsaken me and served foreign gods in your land, so you shall serve strangers in a land that is not yours.”

20 Declare this in the house of Jacob,
    proclaim it in Judah:
21 Hear this, O foolish and senseless people,
    who have eyes, but do not see,
    who have ears, but do not hear.
22 Do you not fear me? says the Lord;
    Do you not tremble before me?
I placed the sand as a boundary for the sea,
    a perpetual barrier that it cannot pass;
though the waves toss, they cannot prevail,
    though they roar, they cannot pass over it.
23 But this people has a stubborn and rebellious heart;
    they have turned aside and gone away.
24 They do not say in their hearts,
    “Let us fear the Lord our God,
who gives the rain in its season,
    the autumn rain and the spring rain,
and keeps for us
    the weeks appointed for the harvest.”
25 Your iniquities have turned these away,
    and your sins have deprived you of good.
26 For scoundrels are found among my people;
    they take over the goods of others.
Like fowlers they set a trap;[h]
    they catch human beings.
27 Like a cage full of birds,
    their houses are full of treachery;
therefore they have become great and rich,
28     they have grown fat and sleek.
They know no limits in deeds of wickedness;
    they do not judge with justice
the cause of the orphan, to make it prosper,
    and they do not defend the rights of the needy.
29 Shall I not punish them for these things?
says the Lord,
    and shall I not bring retribution
    on a nation such as this?

30 An appalling and horrible thing
    has happened in the land:
31 the prophets prophesy falsely,
    and the priests rule as the prophets direct;[i]
my people love to have it so,
    but what will you do when the end comes?

Footnotes:

  1. Jeremiah 4:2 Or shall bless themselves
  2. Jeremiah 4:5 Or shout, take your weapons: Heb shout, fill (your hand)
  3. Jeremiah 4:11 Or the trails
  4. Jeremiah 4:19 Another reading is for you, O my soul,
  5. Jeremiah 5:1 Heb it
  6. Jeremiah 5:5 Or the great
  7. Jeremiah 5:14 Heb you
  8. Jeremiah 5:26 Meaning of Heb uncertain
  9. Jeremiah 5:31 Or rule by their own authority
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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