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Jeremiah 5-24 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

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.[a]
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[b]
    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[c] 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;[d]
    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;[e]
my people love to have it so,
    but what will you do when the end comes?

The Imminence and Horror of the Invasion

Flee for safety, O children of Benjamin,
    from the midst of Jerusalem!
Blow the trumpet in Tekoa,
    and raise a signal on Beth-haccherem;
for evil looms out of the north,
    and great destruction.
I have likened daughter Zion
    to the loveliest pasture.[f]
Shepherds with their flocks shall come against her.
    They shall pitch their tents around her;
    they shall pasture, all in their places.
“Prepare war against her;
    up, and let us attack at noon!”
“Woe to us, for the day declines,
    the shadows of evening lengthen!”
“Up, and let us attack by night,
    and destroy her palaces!”
For thus says the Lord of hosts:
Cut down her trees;
    cast up a siege ramp against Jerusalem.
This is the city that must be punished;[g]
    there is nothing but oppression within her.
As a well keeps its water fresh,
    so she keeps fresh her wickedness;
violence and destruction are heard within her;
    sickness and wounds are ever before me.
Take warning, O Jerusalem,
    or I shall turn from you in disgust,
and make you a desolation,
    an uninhabited land.

Thus says the Lord of hosts:
Glean[h] thoroughly as a vine
    the remnant of Israel;
like a grape-gatherer, pass your hand again
    over its branches.

10 To whom shall I speak and give warning,
    that they may hear?
See, their ears are closed,[i]
    they cannot listen.
The word of the Lord is to them an object of scorn;
    they take no pleasure in it.
11 But I am full of the wrath of the Lord;
    I am weary of holding it in.

Pour it out on the children in the street,
    and on the gatherings of young men as well;
both husband and wife shall be taken,
    the old folk and the very aged.
12 Their houses shall be turned over to others,
    their fields and wives together;
for I will stretch out my hand
    against the inhabitants of the land,
says the Lord.

13 For from the least to the greatest of them,
    everyone is greedy for unjust gain;
and from prophet to priest,
    everyone deals falsely.
14 They have treated the wound of my people carelessly,
    saying, “Peace, peace,”
    when there is no peace.
15 They acted shamefully, they committed abomination;
    yet they were not ashamed,
    they did not know how to blush.
Therefore they shall fall among those who fall;
    at the time that I punish them, they shall be overthrown,
says the Lord.
16 Thus says the Lord:
Stand at the crossroads, and look,
    and ask for the ancient paths,
where the good way lies; and walk in it,
    and find rest for your souls.
But they said, “We will not walk in it.”
17 Also I raised up sentinels for you:
    “Give heed to the sound of the trumpet!”
But they said, “We will not give heed.”
18 Therefore hear, O nations,
    and know, O congregation, what will happen to them.
19 Hear, O earth; I am going to bring disaster on this people,
    the fruit of their schemes,
because they have not given heed to my words;
    and as for my teaching, they have rejected it.
20 Of what use to me is frankincense that comes from Sheba,
    or sweet cane from a distant land?
Your burnt offerings are not acceptable,
    nor are your sacrifices pleasing to me.
21 Therefore thus says the Lord:
See, I am laying before this people
    stumbling blocks against which they shall stumble;
parents and children together,
    neighbor and friend shall perish.

22 Thus says the Lord:
See, a people is coming from the land of the north,
    a great nation is stirring from the farthest parts of the earth.
23 They grasp the bow and the javelin,
    they are cruel and have no mercy,
    their sound is like the roaring sea;
they ride on horses,
    equipped like a warrior for battle,
    against you, O daughter Zion!

24 “We have heard news of them,
    our hands fall helpless;
anguish has taken hold of us,
    pain as of a woman in labor.
25 Do not go out into the field,
    or walk on the road;
for the enemy has a sword,
    terror is on every side.”

26 O my poor people, put on sackcloth,
    and roll in ashes;
make mourning as for an only child,
    most bitter lamentation:
for suddenly the destroyer
    will come upon us.

27 I have made you a tester and a refiner[j] among my people
    so that you may know and test their ways.
28 They are all stubbornly rebellious,
    going about with slanders;
they are bronze and iron,
    all of them act corruptly.
29 The bellows blow fiercely,
    the lead is consumed by the fire;
in vain the refining goes on,
    for the wicked are not removed.
30 They are called “rejected silver,”
    for the Lord has rejected them.

Jeremiah Proclaims God’s Judgment on the Nation

The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: Stand in the gate of the Lord’s house, and proclaim there this word, and say, Hear the word of the Lord, all you people of Judah, you that enter these gates to worship the Lord. Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Amend your ways and your doings, and let me dwell with you[k] in this place. Do not trust in these deceptive words: “This is[l] the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord.”

For if you truly amend your ways and your doings, if you truly act justly one with another, if you do not oppress the alien, the orphan, and the widow, or shed innocent blood in this place, and if you do not go after other gods to your own hurt, then I will dwell with you in this place, in the land that I gave of old to your ancestors forever and ever.

Here you are, trusting in deceptive words to no avail. Will you steal, murder, commit adultery, swear falsely, make offerings to Baal, and go after other gods that you have not known, 10 and then come and stand before me in this house, which is called by my name, and say, “We are safe!”—only to go on doing all these abominations? 11 Has this house, which is called by my name, become a den of robbers in your sight? You know, I too am watching, says the Lord. 12 Go now to my place that was in Shiloh, where I made my name dwell at first, and see what I did to it for the wickedness of my people Israel. 13 And now, because you have done all these things, says the Lord, and when I spoke to you persistently, you did not listen, and when I called you, you did not answer, 14 therefore I will do to the house that is called by my name, in which you trust, and to the place that I gave to you and to your ancestors, just what I did to Shiloh. 15 And I will cast you out of my sight, just as I cast out all your kinsfolk, all the offspring of Ephraim.

The People’s Disobedience

16 As for you, do not pray for this people, do not raise a cry or prayer on their behalf, and do not intercede with me, for I will not hear you. 17 Do you not see what they are doing in the towns of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem? 18 The children gather wood, the fathers kindle fire, and the women knead dough, to make cakes for the queen of heaven; and they pour out drink offerings to other gods, to provoke me to anger. 19 Is it I whom they provoke? says the Lord. Is it not themselves, to their own hurt? 20 Therefore thus says the Lord God: My anger and my wrath shall be poured out on this place, on human beings and animals, on the trees of the field and the fruit of the ground; it will burn and not be quenched.

21 Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Add your burnt offerings to your sacrifices, and eat the flesh. 22 For in the day that I brought your ancestors out of the land of Egypt, I did not speak to them or command them concerning burnt offerings and sacrifices. 23 But this command I gave them, “Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be my people; and walk only in the way that I command you, so that it may be well with you.” 24 Yet they did not obey or incline their ear, but, in the stubbornness of their evil will, they walked in their own counsels, and looked backward rather than forward. 25 From the day that your ancestors came out of the land of Egypt until this day, I have persistently sent all my servants the prophets to them, day after day; 26 yet they did not listen to me, or pay attention, but they stiffened their necks. They did worse than their ancestors did.

27 So you shall speak all these words to them, but they will not listen to you. You shall call to them, but they will not answer you. 28 You shall say to them: This is the nation that did not obey the voice of the Lord their God, and did not accept discipline; truth has perished; it is cut off from their lips.

29 Cut off your hair and throw it away;
    raise a lamentation on the bare heights,[m]
for the Lord has rejected and forsaken
    the generation that provoked his wrath.

30 For the people of Judah have done evil in my sight, says the Lord; they have set their abominations in the house that is called by my name, defiling it. 31 And they go on building the high place[n] of Topheth, which is in the valley of the son of Hinnom, to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire—which I did not command, nor did it come into my mind. 32 Therefore, the days are surely coming, says the Lord, when it will no more be called Topheth, or the valley of the son of Hinnom, but the valley of Slaughter: for they will bury in Topheth until there is no more room. 33 The corpses of this people will be food for the birds of the air, and for the animals of the earth; and no one will frighten them away. 34 And I will bring to an end the sound of mirth and gladness, the voice of the bride and bridegroom in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem; for the land shall become a waste.

At that time, says the Lord, the bones of the kings of Judah, the bones of its officials, the bones of the priests, the bones of the prophets, and the bones of the inhabitants of Jerusalem shall be brought out of their tombs; and they shall be spread before the sun and the moon and all the host of heaven, which they have loved and served, which they have followed, and which they have inquired of and worshiped; and they shall not be gathered or buried; they shall be like dung on the surface of the ground. Death shall be preferred to life by all the remnant that remains of this evil family in all the places where I have driven them, says the Lord of hosts.

The Blind Perversity of the Whole Nation

You shall say to them, Thus says the Lord:
When people fall, do they not get up again?
    If they go astray, do they not turn back?
Why then has this people[o] turned away
    in perpetual backsliding?
They have held fast to deceit,
    they have refused to return.
I have given heed and listened,
    but they do not speak honestly;
no one repents of wickedness,
    saying, “What have I done!”
All of them turn to their own course,
    like a horse plunging headlong into battle.
Even the stork in the heavens
    knows its times;
and the turtledove, swallow, and crane[p]
    observe the time of their coming;
but my people do not know
    the ordinance of the Lord.

How can you say, “We are wise,
    and the law of the Lord is with us,”
when, in fact, the false pen of the scribes
    has made it into a lie?
The wise shall be put to shame,
    they shall be dismayed and taken;
since they have rejected the word of the Lord,
    what wisdom is in them?
10 Therefore I will give their wives to others
    and their fields to conquerors,
because from the least to the greatest
    everyone is greedy for unjust gain;
from prophet to priest
    everyone deals falsely.
11 They have treated the wound of my people carelessly,
    saying, “Peace, peace,”
    when there is no peace.
12 They acted shamefully, they committed abomination;
    yet they were not at all ashamed,
    they did not know how to blush.
Therefore they shall fall among those who fall;
    at the time when I punish them, they shall be overthrown,
says the Lord.
13 When I wanted to gather them, says the Lord,
    there are[q] no grapes on the vine,
    nor figs on the fig tree;
even the leaves are withered,
    and what I gave them has passed away from them.[r]

14 Why do we sit still?
Gather together, let us go into the fortified cities
    and perish there;
for the Lord our God has doomed us to perish,
    and has given us poisoned water to drink,
    because we have sinned against the Lord.
15 We look for peace, but find no good,
    for a time of healing, but there is terror instead.

16 The snorting of their horses is heard from Dan;
    at the sound of the neighing of their stallions
    the whole land quakes.
They come and devour the land and all that fills it,
    the city and those who live in it.
17 See, I am letting snakes loose among you,
    adders that cannot be charmed,
    and they shall bite you,
says the Lord.

The Prophet Mourns for the People

18 My joy is gone, grief is upon me,
    my heart is sick.
19 Hark, the cry of my poor people
    from far and wide in the land:
“Is the Lord not in Zion?
    Is her King not in her?”
(“Why have they provoked me to anger with their images,
    with their foreign idols?”)
20 “The harvest is past, the summer is ended,
    and we are not saved.”
21 For the hurt of my poor people I am hurt,
    I mourn, and dismay has taken hold of me.

22 Is there no balm in Gilead?
    Is there no physician there?
Why then has the health of my poor people
    not been restored?
[s] O that my head were a spring of water,
    and my eyes a fountain of tears,
so that I might weep day and night
    for the slain of my poor people!
[t] O that I had in the desert
    a traveler’s lodging place,
that I might leave my people
    and go away from them!
For they are all adulterers,
    a band of traitors.
They bend their tongues like bows;
    they have grown strong in the land for falsehood, and not for truth;
for they proceed from evil to evil,
    and they do not know me, says the Lord.

Beware of your neighbors,
    and put no trust in any of your kin;[u]
for all your kin[v] are supplanters,
    and every neighbor goes around like a slanderer.
They all deceive their neighbors,
    and no one speaks the truth;
they have taught their tongues to speak lies;
    they commit iniquity and are too weary to repent.[w]
Oppression upon oppression, deceit[x] upon deceit!
    They refuse to know me, says the Lord.

Therefore thus says the Lord of hosts:
I will now refine and test them,
    for what else can I do with my sinful people?[y]
Their tongue is a deadly arrow;
    it speaks deceit through the mouth.
They all speak friendly words to their neighbors,
    but inwardly are planning to lay an ambush.
Shall I not punish them for these things? says the Lord;
    and shall I not bring retribution
    on a nation such as this?

10 Take up[z] weeping and wailing for the mountains,
    and a lamentation for the pastures of the wilderness,
because they are laid waste so that no one passes through,
    and the lowing of cattle is not heard;
both the birds of the air and the animals
    have fled and are gone.
11 I will make Jerusalem a heap of ruins,
    a lair of jackals;
and I will make the towns of Judah a desolation,
    without inhabitant.

12 Who is wise enough to understand this? To whom has the mouth of the Lord spoken, so that they may declare it? Why is the land ruined and laid waste like a wilderness, so that no one passes through? 13 And the Lord says: Because they have forsaken my law that I set before them, and have not obeyed my voice, or walked in accordance with it, 14 but have stubbornly followed their own hearts and have gone after the Baals, as their ancestors taught them. 15 Therefore thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: I am feeding this people with wormwood, and giving them poisonous water to drink. 16 I will scatter them among nations that neither they nor their ancestors have known; and I will send the sword after them, until I have consumed them.

The People Mourn in Judgment

17 Thus says the Lord of hosts:
Consider, and call for the mourning women to come;
    send for the skilled women to come;
18 let them quickly raise a dirge over us,
    so that our eyes may run down with tears,
    and our eyelids flow with water.
19 For a sound of wailing is heard from Zion:
    “How we are ruined!
    We are utterly shamed,
because we have left the land,
    because they have cast down our dwellings.”

20 Hear, O women, the word of the Lord,
    and let your ears receive the word of his mouth;
teach to your daughters a dirge,
    and each to her neighbor a lament.
21 “Death has come up into our windows,
    it has entered our palaces,
to cut off the children from the streets
    and the young men from the squares.”
22 Speak! Thus says the Lord:
“Human corpses shall fall
    like dung upon the open field,
like sheaves behind the reaper,
    and no one shall gather them.”

23 Thus says the Lord: Do not let the wise boast in their wisdom, do not let the mighty boast in their might, do not let the wealthy boast in their wealth; 24 but let those who boast boast in this, that they understand and know me, that I am the Lord; I act with steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth, for in these things I delight, says the Lord.

25 The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will attend to all those who are circumcised only in the foreskin: 26 Egypt, Judah, Edom, the Ammonites, Moab, and all those with shaven temples who live in the desert. For all these nations are uncircumcised, and all the house of Israel is uncircumcised in heart.

Idolatry Has Brought Ruin on Israel

10 Hear the word that the Lord speaks to you, O house of Israel. Thus says the Lord:

Do not learn the way of the nations,
    or be dismayed at the signs of the heavens;
    for the nations are dismayed at them.
For the customs of the peoples are false:
a tree from the forest is cut down,
    and worked with an ax by the hands of an artisan;
people deck it with silver and gold;
    they fasten it with hammer and nails
    so that it cannot move.
Their idols[aa] are like scarecrows in a cucumber field,
    and they cannot speak;
they have to be carried,
    for they cannot walk.
Do not be afraid of them,
    for they cannot do evil,
    nor is it in them to do good.

There is none like you, O Lord;
    you are great, and your name is great in might.
Who would not fear you, O King of the nations?
    For that is your due;
among all the wise ones of the nations
    and in all their kingdoms
    there is no one like you.
They are both stupid and foolish;
    the instruction given by idols
    is no better than wood![ab]
Beaten silver is brought from Tarshish,
    and gold from Uphaz.
They are the work of the artisan and of the hands of the goldsmith;
    their clothing is blue and purple;
    they are all the product of skilled workers.
10 But the Lord is the true God;
    he is the living God and the everlasting King.
At his wrath the earth quakes,
    and the nations cannot endure his indignation.

11 Thus shall you say to them: The gods who did not make the heavens and the earth shall perish from the earth and from under the heavens.[ac]

12 It is he who made the earth by his power,
    who established the world by his wisdom,
    and by his understanding stretched out the heavens.
13 When he utters his voice, there is a tumult of waters in the heavens,
    and he makes the mist rise from the ends of the earth.
He makes lightnings for the rain,
    and he brings out the wind from his storehouses.
14 Everyone is stupid and without knowledge;
    goldsmiths are all put to shame by their idols;
for their images are false,
    and there is no breath in them.
15 They are worthless, a work of delusion;
    at the time of their punishment they shall perish.
16 Not like these is the Lord,[ad] the portion of Jacob,
    for he is the one who formed all things,
and Israel is the tribe of his inheritance;
    the Lord of hosts is his name.

The Coming Exile

17 Gather up your bundle from the ground,
    O you who live under siege!
18 For thus says the Lord:
I am going to sling out the inhabitants of the land
    at this time,
and I will bring distress on them,
    so that they shall feel it.

19 Woe is me because of my hurt!
    My wound is severe.
But I said, “Truly this is my punishment,
    and I must bear it.”
20 My tent is destroyed,
    and all my cords are broken;
my children have gone from me,
    and they are no more;
there is no one to spread my tent again,
    and to set up my curtains.
21 For the shepherds are stupid,
    and do not inquire of the Lord;
therefore they have not prospered,
    and all their flock is scattered.

22 Hear, a noise! Listen, it is coming—
    a great commotion from the land of the north
to make the cities of Judah a desolation,
    a lair of jackals.

23 I know, O Lord, that the way of human beings is not in their control,
    that mortals as they walk cannot direct their steps.
24 Correct me, O Lord, but in just measure;
    not in your anger, or you will bring me to nothing.

25 Pour out your wrath on the nations that do not know you,
    and on the peoples that do not call on your name;
for they have devoured Jacob;
    they have devoured him and consumed him,
    and have laid waste his habitation.

Israel and Judah Have Broken the Covenant

11 The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: Hear the words of this covenant, and speak to the people of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem. You shall say to them, Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: Cursed be anyone who does not heed the words of this covenant, which I commanded your ancestors when I brought them out of the land of Egypt, from the iron-smelter, saying, Listen to my voice, and do all that I command you. So shall you be my people, and I will be your God, that I may perform the oath that I swore to your ancestors, to give them a land flowing with milk and honey, as at this day. Then I answered, “So be it, Lord.”

And the Lord said to me: Proclaim all these words in the cities of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem: Hear the words of this covenant and do them. For I solemnly warned your ancestors when I brought them up out of the land of Egypt, warning them persistently, even to this day, saying, Obey my voice. Yet they did not obey or incline their ear, but everyone walked in the stubbornness of an evil will. So I brought upon them all the words of this covenant, which I commanded them to do, but they did not.

And the Lord said to me: Conspiracy exists among the people of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem. 10 They have turned back to the iniquities of their ancestors of old, who refused to heed my words; they have gone after other gods to serve them; the house of Israel and the house of Judah have broken the covenant that I made with their ancestors. 11 Therefore, thus says the Lord, assuredly I am going to bring disaster upon them that they cannot escape; though they cry out to me, I will not listen to them. 12 Then the cities of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem will go and cry out to the gods to whom they make offerings, but they will never save them in the time of their trouble. 13 For your gods have become as many as your towns, O Judah; and as many as the streets of Jerusalem are the altars to shame you have set up, altars to make offerings to Baal.

14 As for you, do not pray for this people, or lift up a cry or prayer on their behalf, for I will not listen when they call to me in the time of their trouble. 15 What right has my beloved in my house, when she has done vile deeds? Can vows[ae] and sacrificial flesh avert your doom? Can you then exult? 16 The Lord once called you, “A green olive tree, fair with goodly fruit”; but with the roar of a great tempest he will set fire to it, and its branches will be consumed. 17 The Lord of hosts, who planted you, has pronounced evil against you, because of the evil that the house of Israel and the house of Judah have done, provoking me to anger by making offerings to Baal.

Jeremiah’s Life Threatened

18 It was the Lord who made it known to me, and I knew;
    then you showed me their evil deeds.
19 But I was like a gentle lamb
    led to the slaughter.
And I did not know it was against me
    that they devised schemes, saying,
“Let us destroy the tree with its fruit,
    let us cut him off from the land of the living,
    so that his name will no longer be remembered!”
20 But you, O Lord of hosts, who judge righteously,
    who try the heart and the mind,
let me see your retribution upon them,
    for to you I have committed my cause.

21 Therefore thus says the Lord concerning the people of Anathoth, who seek your life, and say, “You shall not prophesy in the name of the Lord, or you will die by our hand”— 22 therefore thus says the Lord of hosts: I am going to punish them; the young men shall die by the sword; their sons and their daughters shall die by famine; 23 and not even a remnant shall be left of them. For I will bring disaster upon the people of Anathoth, the year of their punishment.

Jeremiah Complains to God

12 You will be in the right, O Lord,
    when I lay charges against you;
    but let me put my case to you.
Why does the way of the guilty prosper?
    Why do all who are treacherous thrive?
You plant them, and they take root;
    they grow and bring forth fruit;
you are near in their mouths
    yet far from their hearts.
But you, O Lord, know me;
    You see me and test me—my heart is with you.
Pull them out like sheep for the slaughter,
    and set them apart for the day of slaughter.
How long will the land mourn,
    and the grass of every field wither?
For the wickedness of those who live in it
    the animals and the birds are swept away,
    and because people said, “He is blind to our ways.”[af]

God Replies to Jeremiah

If you have raced with foot-runners and they have wearied you,
    how will you compete with horses?
And if in a safe land you fall down,
    how will you fare in the thickets of the Jordan?
For even your kinsfolk and your own family,
    even they have dealt treacherously with you;
    they are in full cry after you;
do not believe them,
    though they speak friendly words to you.

I have forsaken my house,
    I have abandoned my heritage;
I have given the beloved of my heart
    into the hands of her enemies.
My heritage has become to me
    like a lion in the forest;
she has lifted up her voice against me—
    therefore I hate her.
Is the hyena greedy[ag] for my heritage at my command?
    Are the birds of prey all around her?
Go, assemble all the wild animals;
    bring them to devour her.
10 Many shepherds have destroyed my vineyard,
    they have trampled down my portion,
they have made my pleasant portion
    a desolate wilderness.
11 They have made it a desolation;
    desolate, it mourns to me.
The whole land is made desolate,
    but no one lays it to heart.
12 Upon all the bare heights[ah] in the desert
    spoilers have come;
for the sword of the Lord devours
    from one end of the land to the other;
    no one shall be safe.
13 They have sown wheat and have reaped thorns,
    they have tired themselves out but profit nothing.
They shall be ashamed of their[ai] harvests
    because of the fierce anger of the Lord.

14 Thus says the Lord concerning all my evil neighbors who touch the heritage that I have given my people Israel to inherit: I am about to pluck them up from their land, and I will pluck up the house of Judah from among them. 15 And after I have plucked them up, I will again have compassion on them, and I will bring them again to their heritage and to their land, every one of them. 16 And then, if they will diligently learn the ways of my people, to swear by my name, “As the Lord lives,” as they taught my people to swear by Baal, then they shall be built up in the midst of my people. 17 But if any nation will not listen, then I will completely uproot it and destroy it, says the Lord.

The Linen Loincloth

13 Thus said the Lord to me, “Go and buy yourself a linen loincloth, and put it on your loins, but do not dip it in water.” So I bought a loincloth according to the word of the Lord, and put it on my loins. And the word of the Lord came to me a second time, saying, “Take the loincloth that you bought and are wearing, and go now to the Euphrates,[aj] and hide it there in a cleft of the rock.” So I went, and hid it by the Euphrates,[ak] as the Lord commanded me. And after many days the Lord said to me, “Go now to the Euphrates,[al] and take from there the loincloth that I commanded you to hide there.” Then I went to the Euphrates,[am] and dug, and I took the loincloth from the place where I had hidden it. But now the loincloth was ruined; it was good for nothing.

Then the word of the Lord came to me: Thus says the Lord: Just so I will ruin the pride of Judah and the great pride of Jerusalem. 10 This evil people, who refuse to hear my words, who stubbornly follow their own will and have gone after other gods to serve them and worship them, shall be like this loincloth, which is good for nothing. 11 For as the loincloth clings to one’s loins, so I made the whole house of Israel and the whole house of Judah cling to me, says the Lord, in order that they might be for me a people, a name, a praise, and a glory. But they would not listen.

Symbol of the Wine-Jars

12 You shall speak to them this word: Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: Every wine-jar should be filled with wine. And they will say to you, “Do you think we do not know that every wine-jar should be filled with wine?” 13 Then you shall say to them: Thus says the Lord: I am about to fill all the inhabitants of this land—the kings who sit on David’s throne, the priests, the prophets, and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem—with drunkenness. 14 And I will dash them one against another, parents and children together, says the Lord. I will not pity or spare or have compassion when I destroy them.

Exile Threatened

15 Hear and give ear; do not be haughty,
    for the Lord has spoken.
16 Give glory to the Lord your God
    before he brings darkness,
and before your feet stumble
    on the mountains at twilight;
while you look for light,
    he turns it into gloom
    and makes it deep darkness.
17 But if you will not listen,
    my soul will weep in secret for your pride;
my eyes will weep bitterly and run down with tears,
    because the Lord’s flock has been taken captive.

18 Say to the king and the queen mother:
    “Take a lowly seat,
for your beautiful crown
    has come down from your head.”[an]
19 The towns of the Negeb are shut up
    with no one to open them;
all Judah is taken into exile,
    wholly taken into exile.

20 Lift up your eyes and see
    those who come from the north.
Where is the flock that was given you,
    your beautiful flock?
21 What will you say when they set as head over you
    those whom you have trained
    to be your allies?
Will not pangs take hold of you,
    like those of a woman in labor?
22 And if you say in your heart,
    “Why have these things come upon me?”
it is for the greatness of your iniquity
    that your skirts are lifted up,
    and you are violated.
23 Can Ethiopians[ao] change their skin
    or leopards their spots?
Then also you can do good
    who are accustomed to do evil.
24 I will scatter you[ap] like chaff
    driven by the wind from the desert.
25 This is your lot,
    the portion I have measured out to you, says the Lord,
because you have forgotten me
    and trusted in lies.
26 I myself will lift up your skirts over your face,
    and your shame will be seen.
27 I have seen your abominations,
    your adulteries and neighings, your shameless prostitutions
    on the hills of the countryside.
Woe to you, O Jerusalem!
    How long will it be
    before you are made clean?

The Great Drought

14 The word of the Lord that came to Jeremiah concerning the drought:

Judah mourns
    and her gates languish;
they lie in gloom on the ground,
    and the cry of Jerusalem goes up.
Her nobles send their servants for water;
    they come to the cisterns,
they find no water,
    they return with their vessels empty.
They are ashamed and dismayed
    and cover their heads,
because the ground is cracked.
    Because there has been no rain on the land
the farmers are dismayed;
    they cover their heads.
Even the doe in the field forsakes her newborn fawn
    because there is no grass.
The wild asses stand on the bare heights,[aq]
    they pant for air like jackals;
their eyes fail
    because there is no herbage.

Although our iniquities testify against us,
    act, O Lord, for your name’s sake;
our apostasies indeed are many,
    and we have sinned against you.
O hope of Israel,
    its savior in time of trouble,
why should you be like a stranger in the land,
    like a traveler turning aside for the night?
Why should you be like someone confused,
    like a mighty warrior who cannot give help?
Yet you, O Lord, are in the midst of us,
    and we are called by your name;
    do not forsake us!

10 Thus says the Lord concerning this people:
Truly they have loved to wander,
    they have not restrained their feet;
therefore the Lord does not accept them,
    now he will remember their iniquity
    and punish their sins.

11 The Lord said to me: Do not pray for the welfare of this people. 12 Although they fast, I do not hear their cry, and although they offer burnt offering and grain offering, I do not accept them; but by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence I consume them.

Denunciation of Lying Prophets

13 Then I said: “Ah, Lord God! Here are the prophets saying to them, ‘You shall not see the sword, nor shall you have famine, but I will give you true peace in this place.’” 14 And the Lord said to me: The prophets are prophesying lies in my name; I did not send them, nor did I command them or speak to them. They are prophesying to you a lying vision, worthless divination, and the deceit of their own minds. 15 Therefore thus says the Lord concerning the prophets who prophesy in my name though I did not send them, and who say, “Sword and famine shall not come on this land”: By sword and famine those prophets shall be consumed. 16 And the people to whom they prophesy shall be thrown out into the streets of Jerusalem, victims of famine and sword. There shall be no one to bury them—themselves, their wives, their sons, and their daughters. For I will pour out their wickedness upon them.

17 You shall say to them this word:
Let my eyes run down with tears night and day,
    and let them not cease,
for the virgin daughter—my people—is struck down with a crushing blow,
    with a very grievous wound.
18 If I go out into the field,
    look—those killed by the sword!
And if I enter the city,
    look—those sick with[ar] famine!
For both prophet and priest ply their trade throughout the land,
    and have no knowledge.

The People Plead for Mercy

19 Have you completely rejected Judah?
    Does your heart loathe Zion?
Why have you struck us down
    so that there is no healing for us?
We look for peace, but find no good;
    for a time of healing, but there is terror instead.
20 We acknowledge our wickedness, O Lord,
    the iniquity of our ancestors,
    for we have sinned against you.
21 Do not spurn us, for your name’s sake;
    do not dishonor your glorious throne;
    remember and do not break your covenant with us.
22 Can any idols of the nations bring rain?
    Or can the heavens give showers?
Is it not you, O Lord our God?
    We set our hope on you,
    for it is you who do all this.

Punishment Is Inevitable

15 Then the Lord said to me: Though Moses and Samuel stood before me, yet my heart would not turn toward this people. Send them out of my sight, and let them go! And when they say to you, “Where shall we go?” you shall say to them: Thus says the Lord:

Those destined for pestilence, to pestilence,
    and those destined for the sword, to the sword;
those destined for famine, to famine,
    and those destined for captivity, to captivity.

And I will appoint over them four kinds of destroyers, says the Lord: the sword to kill, the dogs to drag away, and the birds of the air and the wild animals of the earth to devour and destroy. I will make them a horror to all the kingdoms of the earth because of what King Manasseh son of Hezekiah of Judah did in Jerusalem.

Who will have pity on you, O Jerusalem,
    or who will bemoan you?
Who will turn aside
    to ask about your welfare?
You have rejected me, says the Lord,
    you are going backward;
so I have stretched out my hand against you and destroyed you—
    I am weary of relenting.
I have winnowed them with a winnowing fork
    in the gates of the land;
I have bereaved them, I have destroyed my people;
    they did not turn from their ways.
Their widows became more numerous
    than the sand of the seas;
I have brought against the mothers of youths
    a destroyer at noonday;
I have made anguish and terror
    fall upon her suddenly.
She who bore seven has languished;
    she has swooned away;
her sun went down while it was yet day;
    she has been shamed and disgraced.
And the rest of them I will give to the sword
    before their enemies,
says the Lord.

Jeremiah Complains Again and Is Reassured

10 Woe is me, my mother, that you ever bore me, a man of strife and contention to the whole land! I have not lent, nor have I borrowed, yet all of them curse me. 11 The Lord said: Surely I have intervened in your life[as] for good, surely I have imposed enemies on you in a time of trouble and in a time of distress.[at] 12 Can iron and bronze break iron from the north?

13 Your wealth and your treasures I will give as plunder, without price, for all your sins, throughout all your territory. 14 I will make you serve your enemies in a land that you do not know, for in my anger a fire is kindled that shall burn forever.

15 O Lord, you know;
    remember me and visit me,
    and bring down retribution for me on my persecutors.
In your forbearance do not take me away;
    know that on your account I suffer insult.
16 Your words were found, and I ate them,
    and your words became to me a joy
    and the delight of my heart;
for I am called by your name,
    O Lord, God of hosts.
17 I did not sit in the company of merrymakers,
    nor did I rejoice;
under the weight of your hand I sat alone,
    for you had filled me with indignation.
18 Why is my pain unceasing,
    my wound incurable,
    refusing to be healed?
Truly, you are to me like a deceitful brook,
    like waters that fail.

19 Therefore thus says the Lord:
If you turn back, I will take you back,
    and you shall stand before me.
If you utter what is precious, and not what is worthless,
    you shall serve as my mouth.
It is they who will turn to you,
    not you who will turn to them.
20 And I will make you to this people
    a fortified wall of bronze;
they will fight against you,
    but they shall not prevail over you,
for I am with you
    to save you and deliver you,
says the Lord.
21 I will deliver you out of the hand of the wicked,
    and redeem you from the grasp of the ruthless.

Jeremiah’s Celibacy and Message

16 The word of the Lord came to me: You shall not take a wife, nor shall you have sons or daughters in this place. For thus says the Lord concerning the sons and daughters who are born in this place, and concerning the mothers who bear them and the fathers who beget them in this land: They shall die of deadly diseases. They shall not be lamented, nor shall they be buried; they shall become like dung on the surface of the ground. They shall perish by the sword and by famine, and their dead bodies shall become food for the birds of the air and for the wild animals of the earth.

For thus says the Lord: Do not enter the house of mourning, or go to lament, or bemoan them; for I have taken away my peace from this people, says the Lord, my steadfast love and mercy. Both great and small shall die in this land; they shall not be buried, and no one shall lament for them; there shall be no gashing, no shaving of the head for them. No one shall break bread[au] for the mourner, to offer comfort for the dead; nor shall anyone give them the cup of consolation to drink for their fathers or their mothers. You shall not go into the house of feasting to sit with them, to eat and drink. For thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: I am going to banish from this place, in your days and before your eyes, the voice of mirth and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride.

10 And when you tell this people all these words, and they say to you, “Why has the Lord pronounced all this great evil against us? What is our iniquity? What is the sin that we have committed against the Lord our God?” 11 then you shall say to them: It is because your ancestors have forsaken me, says the Lord, and have gone after other gods and have served and worshiped them, and have forsaken me and have not kept my law; 12 and because you have behaved worse than your ancestors, for here you are, every one of you, following your stubborn evil will, refusing to listen to me. 13 Therefore I will hurl you out of this land into a land that neither you nor your ancestors have known, and there you shall serve other gods day and night, for I will show you no favor.

God Will Restore Israel

14 Therefore, the days are surely coming, says the Lord, when it shall no longer be said, “As the Lord lives who brought the people of Israel up out of the land of Egypt,” 15 but “As the Lord lives who brought the people of Israel up out of the land of the north and out of all the lands where he had driven them.” For I will bring them back to their own land that I gave to their ancestors.

16 I am now sending for many fishermen, says the Lord, and they shall catch them; and afterward I will send for many hunters, and they shall hunt them from every mountain and every hill, and out of the clefts of the rocks. 17 For my eyes are on all their ways; they are not hidden from my presence, nor is their iniquity concealed from my sight. 18 And[av] I will doubly repay their iniquity and their sin, because they have polluted my land with the carcasses of their detestable idols, and have filled my inheritance with their abominations.

19 O Lord, my strength and my stronghold,
    my refuge in the day of trouble,
to you shall the nations come
    from the ends of the earth and say:
Our ancestors have inherited nothing but lies,
    worthless things in which there is no profit.
20 Can mortals make for themselves gods?
    Such are no gods!

21 “Therefore I am surely going to teach them, this time I am going to teach them my power and my might, and they shall know that my name is the Lord.”

Judah’s Sin and Punishment

17 The sin of Judah is written with an iron pen; with a diamond point it is engraved on the tablet of their hearts, and on the horns of their altars, while their children remember their altars and their sacred poles,[aw] beside every green tree, and on the high hills, on the mountains in the open country. Your wealth and all your treasures I will give for spoil as the price of your sin[ax] throughout all your territory. By your own act you shall lose the heritage that I gave you, and I will make you serve your enemies in a land that you do not know, for in my anger a fire is kindled[ay] that shall burn forever.

Thus says the Lord:
Cursed are those who trust in mere mortals
    and make mere flesh their strength,
    whose hearts turn away from the Lord.
They shall be like a shrub in the desert,
    and shall not see when relief comes.
They shall live in the parched places of the wilderness,
    in an uninhabited salt land.

Blessed are those who trust in the Lord,
    whose trust is the Lord.
They shall be like a tree planted by water,
    sending out its roots by the stream.
It shall not fear when heat comes,
    and its leaves shall stay green;
in the year of drought it is not anxious,
    and it does not cease to bear fruit.

The heart is devious above all else;
    it is perverse—
    who can understand it?
10 I the Lord test the mind
    and search the heart,
to give to all according to their ways,
    according to the fruit of their doings.

11 Like the partridge hatching what it did not lay,
    so are all who amass wealth unjustly;
in mid-life it will leave them,
    and at their end they will prove to be fools.

12 O glorious throne, exalted from the beginning,
    shrine of our sanctuary!
13 O hope of Israel! O Lord!
    All who forsake you shall be put to shame;
those who turn away from you[az] shall be recorded in the underworld,[ba]
    for they have forsaken the fountain of living water, the Lord.

Jeremiah Prays for Vindication

14 Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed;
    save me, and I shall be saved;
    for you are my praise.
15 See how they say to me,
    “Where is the word of the Lord?
    Let it come!”
16 But I have not run away from being a shepherd[bb] in your service,
    nor have I desired the fatal day.
You know what came from my lips;
    it was before your face.
17 Do not become a terror to me;
    you are my refuge in the day of disaster;
18 Let my persecutors be shamed,
    but do not let me be shamed;
let them be dismayed,
    but do not let me be dismayed;
bring on them the day of disaster;
    destroy them with double destruction!

Hallow the Sabbath Day

19 Thus said the Lord to me: Go and stand in the People’s Gate, by which the kings of Judah enter and by which they go out, and in all the gates of Jerusalem, 20 and say to them: Hear the word of the Lord, you kings of Judah, and all Judah, and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, who enter by these gates. 21 Thus says the Lord: For the sake of your lives, take care that you do not bear a burden on the sabbath day or bring it in by the gates of Jerusalem. 22 And do not carry a burden out of your houses on the sabbath or do any work, but keep the sabbath day holy, as I commanded your ancestors. 23 Yet they did not listen or incline their ear; they stiffened their necks and would not hear or receive instruction.

24 But if you listen to me, says the Lord, and bring in no burden by the gates of this city on the sabbath day, but keep the sabbath day holy and do no work on it, 25 then there shall enter by the gates of this city kings[bc] who sit on the throne of David, riding in chariots and on horses, they and their officials, the people of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and this city shall be inhabited forever. 26 And people shall come from the towns of Judah and the places around Jerusalem, from the land of Benjamin, from the Shephelah, from the hill country, and from the Negeb, bringing burnt offerings and sacrifices, grain offerings and frankincense, and bringing thank offerings to the house of the Lord. 27 But if you do not listen to me, to keep the sabbath day holy, and to carry in no burden through the gates of Jerusalem on the sabbath day, then I will kindle a fire in its gates; it shall devour the palaces of Jerusalem and shall not be quenched.

The Potter and the Clay

18 The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: “Come, go down to the potter’s house, and there I will let you hear my words.” So I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was working at his wheel. The vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter’s hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as seemed good to him.

Then the word of the Lord came to me: Can I not do with you, O house of Israel, just as this potter has done? says the Lord. Just like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel. At one moment I may declare concerning a nation or a kingdom, that I will pluck up and break down and destroy it, but if that nation, concerning which I have spoken, turns from its evil, I will change my mind about the disaster that I intended to bring on it. And at another moment I may declare concerning a nation or a kingdom that I will build and plant it, 10 but if it does evil in my sight, not listening to my voice, then I will change my mind about the good that I had intended to do to it. 11 Now, therefore, say to the people of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem: Thus says the Lord: Look, I am a potter shaping evil against you and devising a plan against you. Turn now, all of you from your evil way, and amend your ways and your doings.

Israel’s Stubborn Idolatry

12 But they say, “It is no use! We will follow our own plans, and each of us will act according to the stubbornness of our evil will.”

13 Therefore thus says the Lord:
Ask among the nations:
    Who has heard the like of this?
The virgin Israel has done
    a most horrible thing.
14 Does the snow of Lebanon leave
    the crags of Sirion?[bd]
Do the mountain[be] waters run dry,[bf]
    the cold flowing streams?
15 But my people have forgotten me,
    they burn offerings to a delusion;
they have stumbled[bg] in their ways,
    in the ancient roads,
and have gone into bypaths,
    not the highway,
16 making their land a horror,
    a thing to be hissed at forever.
All who pass by it are horrified
    and shake their heads.
17 Like the wind from the east,
    I will scatter them before the enemy.
I will show them my back, not my face,
    in the day of their calamity.

A Plot against Jeremiah

18 Then they said, “Come, let us make plots against Jeremiah—for instruction shall not perish from the priest, nor counsel from the wise, nor the word from the prophet. Come, let us bring charges against him,[bh] and let us not heed any of his words.”

19 Give heed to me, O Lord,
    and listen to what my adversaries say!
20 Is evil a recompense for good?
    Yet they have dug a pit for my life.
Remember how I stood before you
    to speak good for them,
    to turn away your wrath from them.
21 Therefore give their children over to famine;
    hurl them out to the power of the sword,
let their wives become childless and widowed.
    May their men meet death by pestilence,
    their youths be slain by the sword in battle.
22 May a cry be heard from their houses,
    when you bring the marauder suddenly upon them!
For they have dug a pit to catch me,
    and laid snares for my feet.
23 Yet you, O Lord, know
    all their plotting to kill me.
Do not forgive their iniquity,
    do not blot out their sin from your sight.
Let them be tripped up before you;
    deal with them while you are angry.

The Broken Earthenware Jug

19 Thus said the Lord: Go and buy a potter’s earthenware jug. Take with you[bi] some of the elders of the people and some of the senior priests, and go out to the valley of the son of Hinnom at the entry of the Potsherd Gate, and proclaim there the words that I tell you. You shall say: Hear the word of the Lord, O kings of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem. Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: I am going to bring such disaster upon this place that the ears of everyone who hears of it will tingle. Because the people have forsaken me, and have profaned this place by making offerings in it to other gods whom neither they nor their ancestors nor the kings of Judah have known, and because they have filled this place with the blood of the innocent, and gone on building the high places of Baal to burn their children in the fire as burnt offerings to Baal, which I did not command or decree, nor did it enter my mind; therefore the days are surely coming, says the Lord, when this place shall no more be called Topheth, or the valley of the son of Hinnom, but the valley of Slaughter. And in this place I will make void the plans of Judah and Jerusalem, and will make them fall by the sword before their enemies, and by the hand of those who seek their life. I will give their dead bodies for food to the birds of the air and to the wild animals of the earth. And I will make this city a horror, a thing to be hissed at; everyone who passes by it will be horrified and will hiss because of all its disasters. And I will make them eat the flesh of their sons and the flesh of their daughters, and all shall eat the flesh of their neighbors in the siege, and in the distress with which their enemies and those who seek their life afflict them.

10 Then you shall break the jug in the sight of those who go with you, 11 and shall say to them: Thus says the Lord of hosts: So will I break this people and this city, as one breaks a potter’s vessel, so that it can never be mended. In Topheth they shall bury until there is no more room to bury. 12 Thus will I do to this place, says the Lord, and to its inhabitants, making this city like Topheth. 13 And the houses of Jerusalem and the houses of the kings of Judah shall be defiled like the place of Topheth—all the houses upon whose roofs offerings have been made to the whole host of heaven, and libations have been poured out to other gods.

14 When Jeremiah came from Topheth, where the Lord had sent him to prophesy, he stood in the court of the Lord’s house and said to all the people: 15 Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: I am now bringing upon this city and upon all its towns all the disaster that I have pronounced against it, because they have stiffened their necks, refusing to hear my words.

Jeremiah Persecuted by Pashhur

20 Now the priest Pashhur son of Immer, who was chief officer in the house of the Lord, heard Jeremiah prophesying these things. Then Pashhur struck the prophet Jeremiah, and put him in the stocks that were in the upper Benjamin Gate of the house of the Lord. The next morning when Pashhur released Jeremiah from the stocks, Jeremiah said to him, The Lord has named you not Pashhur but “Terror-all-around.” For thus says the Lord: I am making you a terror to yourself and to all your friends; and they shall fall by the sword of their enemies while you look on. And I will give all Judah into the hand of the king of Babylon; he shall carry them captive to Babylon, and shall kill them with the sword. I will give all the wealth of this city, all its gains, all its prized belongings, and all the treasures of the kings of Judah into the hand of their enemies, who shall plunder them, and seize them, and carry them to Babylon. And you, Pashhur, and all who live in your house, shall go into captivity, and to Babylon you shall go; there you shall die, and there you shall be buried, you and all your friends, to whom you have prophesied falsely.

Jeremiah Denounces His Persecutors

O Lord, you have enticed me,
    and I was enticed;
you have overpowered me,
    and you have prevailed.
I have become a laughingstock all day long;
    everyone mocks me.
For whenever I speak, I must cry out,
    I must shout, “Violence and destruction!”
For the word of the Lord has become for me
    a reproach and derision all day long.
If I say, “I will not mention him,
    or speak any more in his name,”
then within me there is something like a burning fire
    shut up in my bones;
I am weary with holding it in,
    and I cannot.
10 For I hear many whispering:
    “Terror is all around!
Denounce him! Let us denounce him!”
    All my close friends
    are watching for me to stumble.
“Perhaps he can be enticed,
    and we can prevail against him,
    and take our revenge on him.”
11 But the Lord is with me like a dread warrior;
    therefore my persecutors will stumble,
    and they will not prevail.
They will be greatly shamed,
    for they will not succeed.
Their eternal dishonor
    will never be forgotten.
12 O Lord of hosts, you test the righteous,
    you see the heart and the mind;
let me see your retribution upon them,
    for to you I have committed my cause.

13 Sing to the Lord;
    praise the Lord!
For he has delivered the life of the needy
    from the hands of evildoers.

14 Cursed be the day
    on which I was born!
The day when my mother bore me,
    let it not be blessed!
15 Cursed be the man
    who brought the news to my father, saying,
“A child is born to you, a son,”
    making him very glad.
16 Let that man be like the cities
    that the Lord overthrew without pity;
let him hear a cry in the morning
    and an alarm at noon,
17 because he did not kill me in the womb;
    so my mother would have been my grave,
    and her womb forever great.
18 Why did I come forth from the womb
    to see toil and sorrow,
    and spend my days in shame?

Jerusalem Will Fall to Nebuchadrezzar

21 This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord, when King Zedekiah sent to him Pashhur son of Malchiah and the priest Zephaniah son of Maaseiah, saying, “Please inquire of the Lord on our behalf, for King Nebuchadrezzar of Babylon is making war against us; perhaps the Lord will perform a wonderful deed for us, as he has often done, and will make him withdraw from us.”

Then Jeremiah said to them: Thus you shall say to Zedekiah: Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: I am going to turn back the weapons of war that are in your hands and with which you are fighting against the king of Babylon and against the Chaldeans who are besieging you outside the walls; and I will bring them together into the center of this city. I myself will fight against you with outstretched hand and mighty arm, in anger, in fury, and in great wrath. And I will strike down the inhabitants of this city, both human beings and animals; they shall die of a great pestilence. Afterward, says the Lord, I will give King Zedekiah of Judah, and his servants, and the people in this city—those who survive the pestilence, sword, and famine—into the hands of King Nebuchadrezzar of Babylon, into the hands of their enemies, into the hands of those who seek their lives. He shall strike them down with the edge of the sword; he shall not pity them, or spare them, or have compassion.

And to this people you shall say: Thus says the Lord: See, I am setting before you the way of life and the way of death. Those who stay in this city shall die by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence; but those who go out and surrender to the Chaldeans who are besieging you shall live and shall have their lives as a prize of war. 10 For I have set my face against this city for evil and not for good, says the Lord: it shall be given into the hands of the king of Babylon, and he shall burn it with fire.

Message to the House of David

11 To the house of the king of Judah say: Hear the word of the Lord, 12 O house of David! Thus says the Lord:

Execute justice in the morning,
    and deliver from the hand of the oppressor
    anyone who has been robbed,
or else my wrath will go forth like fire,
    and burn, with no one to quench it,
    because of your evil doings.

13 See, I am against you, O inhabitant of the valley,
    O rock of the plain,
says the Lord;
you who say, “Who can come down against us,
    or who can enter our places of refuge?”
14 I will punish you according to the fruit of your doings,
says the Lord;
    I will kindle a fire in its forest,
    and it shall devour all that is around it.

Exhortation to Repent

22 Thus says the Lord: Go down to the house of the king of Judah, and speak there this word, and say: Hear the word of the Lord, O King of Judah sitting on the throne of David—you, and your servants, and your people who enter these gates. Thus says the Lord: Act with justice and righteousness, and deliver from the hand of the oppressor anyone who has been robbed. And do no wrong or violence to the alien, the orphan, and the widow, or shed innocent blood in this place. For if you will indeed obey this word, then through the gates of this house shall enter kings who sit on the throne of David, riding in chariots and on horses, they, and their servants, and their people. But if you will not heed these words, I swear by myself, says the Lord, that this house shall become a desolation. For thus says the Lord concerning the house of the king of Judah:

You are like Gilead to me,
    like the summit of Lebanon;
but I swear that I will make you a desert,
    an uninhabited city.[bj]
I will prepare destroyers against you,
    all with their weapons;
they shall cut down your choicest cedars
    and cast them into the fire.

And many nations will pass by this city, and all of them will say one to another, “Why has the Lord dealt in this way with that great city?” And they will answer, “Because they abandoned the covenant of the Lord their God, and worshiped other gods and served them.”

10 Do not weep for him who is dead,
    nor bemoan him;
weep rather for him who goes away,
    for he shall return no more
    to see his native land.

Message to the Sons of Josiah

11 For thus says the Lord concerning Shallum son of King Josiah of Judah, who succeeded his father Josiah, and who went away from this place: He shall return here no more, 12 but in the place where they have carried him captive he shall die, and he shall never see this land again.

13 Woe to him who builds his house by unrighteousness,
    and his upper rooms by injustice;
who makes his neighbors work for nothing,
    and does not give them their wages;
14 who says, “I will build myself a spacious house
    with large upper rooms,”
and who cuts out windows for it,
    paneling it with cedar,
    and painting it with vermilion.
15 Are you a king
    because you compete in cedar?
Did not your father eat and drink
    and do justice and righteousness?
    Then it was well with him.
16 He judged the cause of the poor and needy;
    then it was well.
Is not this to know me?
    says the Lord.
17 But your eyes and heart
    are only on your dishonest gain,
for shedding innocent blood,
    and for practicing oppression and violence.

18 Therefore thus says the Lord concerning King Jehoiakim son of Josiah of Judah:

They shall not lament for him, saying,
    “Alas, my brother!” or “Alas, sister!”
They shall not lament for him, saying,
    “Alas, lord!” or “Alas, his majesty!”
19 With the burial of a donkey he shall be buried—
    dragged off and thrown out beyond the gates of Jerusalem.

20 Go up to Lebanon, and cry out,
    and lift up your voice in Bashan;
cry out from Abarim,
    for all your lovers are crushed.
21 I spoke to you in your prosperity,
    but you said, “I will not listen.”
This has been your way from your youth,
    for you have not obeyed my voice.
22 The wind shall shepherd all your shepherds,
    and your lovers shall go into captivity;
then you will be ashamed and dismayed
    because of all your wickedness.
23 O inhabitant of Lebanon,
    nested among the cedars,
how you will groan[bk] when pangs come upon you,
    pain as of a woman in labor!

Judgment on Coniah (Jehoiachin)

24 As I live, says the Lord, even if King Coniah son of Jehoiakim of Judah were the signet ring on my right hand, even from there I would tear you off 25 and give you into the hands of those who seek your life, into the hands of those of whom you are afraid, even into the hands of King Nebuchadrezzar of Babylon and into the hands of the Chaldeans. 26 I will hurl you and the mother who bore you into another country, where you were not born, and there you shall die. 27 But they shall not return to the land to which they long to return.

28 Is this man Coniah a despised broken pot,
    a vessel no one wants?
Why are he and his offspring hurled out
    and cast away in a land that they do not know?
29 O land, land, land,
    hear the word of the Lord!
30 Thus says the Lord:
Record this man as childless,
    a man who shall not succeed in his days;
for none of his offspring shall succeed
    in sitting on the throne of David,
    and ruling again in Judah.

Restoration after Exile

23 Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! says the Lord. Therefore thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, concerning the shepherds who shepherd my people: It is you who have scattered my flock, and have driven them away, and you have not attended to them. So I will attend to you for your evil doings, says the Lord. Then I myself will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the lands where I have driven them, and I will bring them back to their fold, and they shall be fruitful and multiply. I will raise up shepherds over them who will shepherd them, and they shall not fear any longer, or be dismayed, nor shall any be missing, says the Lord.

The Righteous Branch of David

The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. And this is the name by which he will be called: “The Lord is our righteousness.”

Therefore, the days are surely coming, says the Lord, when it shall no longer be said, “As the Lord lives who brought the people of Israel up out of the land of Egypt,” but “As the Lord lives who brought out and led the offspring of the house of Israel out of the land of the north and out of all the lands where he[bl] had driven them.” Then they shall live in their own land.

False Prophets of Hope Denounced

Concerning the prophets:

My heart is crushed within me,
    all my bones shake;
I have become like a drunkard,
    like one overcome by wine,
because of the Lord
    and because of his holy words.
10 For the land is full of adulterers;
    because of the curse the land mourns,
    and the pastures of the wilderness are dried up.
Their course has been evil,
    and their might is not right.
11 Both prophet and priest are ungodly;
    even in my house I have found their wickedness,
says the Lord.
12 Therefore their way shall be to them
    like slippery paths in the darkness,
    into which they shall be driven and fall;
for I will bring disaster upon them
    in the year of their punishment,
says the Lord.
13 In the prophets of Samaria
    I saw a disgusting thing:
they prophesied by Baal
    and led my people Israel astray.
14 But in the prophets of Jerusalem
    I have seen a more shocking thing:
they commit adultery and walk in lies;
    they strengthen the hands of evildoers,
    so that no one turns from wickedness;
all of them have become like Sodom to me,
    and its inhabitants like Gomorrah.
15 Therefore thus says the Lord of hosts concerning the prophets:
“I am going to make them eat wormwood,
    and give them poisoned water to drink;
for from the prophets of Jerusalem
    ungodliness has spread throughout the land.”

16 Thus says the Lord of hosts: Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you; they are deluding you. They speak visions of their own minds, not from the mouth of the Lord. 17 They keep saying to those who despise the word of the Lord, “It shall be well with you”; and to all who stubbornly follow their own stubborn hearts, they say, “No calamity shall come upon you.”

18 For who has stood in the council of the Lord
    so as to see and to hear his word?
    Who has given heed to his word so as to proclaim it?
19 Look, the storm of the Lord!
    Wrath has gone forth,
a whirling tempest;
    it will burst upon the head of the wicked.
20 The anger of the Lord will not turn back
    until he has executed and accomplished
    the intents of his mind.
In the latter days you will understand it clearly.

21 I did not send the prophets,
    yet they ran;
I did not speak to them,
    yet they prophesied.
22 But if they had stood in my council,
    then they would have proclaimed my words to my people,
and they would have turned them from their evil way,
    and from the evil of their doings.

23 Am I a God near by, says the Lord, and not a God far off? 24 Who can hide in secret places so that I cannot see them? says the Lord. Do I not fill heaven and earth? says the Lord. 25 I have heard what the prophets have said who prophesy lies in my name, saying, “I have dreamed, I have dreamed!” 26 How long? Will the hearts of the prophets ever turn back—those who prophesy lies, and who prophesy the deceit of their own heart? 27 They plan to make my people forget my name by their dreams that they tell one another, just as their ancestors forgot my name for Baal. 28 Let the prophet who has a dream tell the dream, but let the one who has my word speak my word faithfully. What has straw in common with wheat? says the Lord. 29 Is not my word like fire, says the Lord, and like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces? 30 See, therefore, I am against the prophets, says the Lord, who steal my words from one another. 31 See, I am against the prophets, says the Lord, who use their own tongues and say, “Says the Lord.” 32 See, I am against those who prophesy lying dreams, says the Lord, and who tell them, and who lead my people astray by their lies and their recklessness, when I did not send them or appoint them; so they do not profit this people at all, says the Lord.

33 When this people, or a prophet, or a priest asks you, “What is the burden of the Lord?” you shall say to them, “You are the burden,[bm] and I will cast you off, says the Lord.” 34 And as for the prophet, priest, or the people who say, “The burden of the Lord,” I will punish them and their households. 35 Thus shall you say to one another, among yourselves, “What has the Lord answered?” or “What has the Lord spoken?” 36 But “the burden of the Lord” you shall mention no more, for the burden is everyone’s own word, and so you pervert the words of the living God, the Lord of hosts, our God. 37 Thus you shall ask the prophet, “What has the Lord answered you?” or “What has the Lord spoken?” 38 But if you say, “the burden of the Lord,” thus says the Lord: Because you have said these words, “the burden of the Lord,” when I sent to you, saying, You shall not say, “the burden of the Lord,” 39 therefore, I will surely lift you up[bn] and cast you away from my presence, you and the city that I gave to you and your ancestors. 40 And I will bring upon you everlasting disgrace and perpetual shame, which shall not be forgotten.

The Good and the Bad Figs

24 The Lord showed me two baskets of figs placed before the temple of the Lord. This was after King Nebuchadrezzar of Babylon had taken into exile from Jerusalem King Jeconiah son of Jehoiakim of Judah, together with the officials of Judah, the artisans, and the smiths, and had brought them to Babylon. One basket had very good figs, like first-ripe figs, but the other basket had very bad figs, so bad that they could not be eaten. And the Lord said to me, “What do you see, Jeremiah?” I said, “Figs, the good figs very good, and the bad figs very bad, so bad that they cannot be eaten.”

Then the word of the Lord came to me: Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: Like these good figs, so I will regard as good the exiles from Judah, whom I have sent away from this place to the land of the Chaldeans. I will set my eyes upon them for good, and I will bring them back to this land. I will build them up, and not tear them down; I will plant them, and not pluck them up. I will give them a heart to know that I am the Lord; and they shall be my people and I will be their God, for they shall return to me with their whole heart.

But thus says the Lord: Like the bad figs that are so bad they cannot be eaten, so will I treat King Zedekiah of Judah, his officials, the remnant of Jerusalem who remain in this land, and those who live in the land of Egypt. I will make them a horror, an evil thing, to all the kingdoms of the earth—a disgrace, a byword, a taunt, and a curse in all the places where I shall drive them. 10 And I will send sword, famine, and pestilence upon them, until they are utterly destroyed from the land that I gave to them and their ancestors.

Footnotes:

  1. Jeremiah 5:1 Heb it
  2. Jeremiah 5:5 Or the great
  3. Jeremiah 5:14 Heb you
  4. Jeremiah 5:26 Meaning of Heb uncertain
  5. Jeremiah 5:31 Or rule by their own authority
  6. Jeremiah 6:2 Or I will destroy daughter Zion, the loveliest pasture
  7. Jeremiah 6:6 Or the city of license
  8. Jeremiah 6:9 Cn: Heb They shall glean
  9. Jeremiah 6:10 Heb are uncircumcised
  10. Jeremiah 6:27 Or a fortress
  11. Jeremiah 7:3 Or and I will let you dwell
  12. Jeremiah 7:4 Heb They are
  13. Jeremiah 7:29 Or the trails
  14. Jeremiah 7:31 Gk Tg: Heb high places
  15. Jeremiah 8:5 One Ms Gk: MT this people, Jerusalem,
  16. Jeremiah 8:7 Meaning of Heb uncertain
  17. Jeremiah 8:13 Or I will make an end of them, says the Lord. There are
  18. Jeremiah 8:13 Meaning of Heb uncertain
  19. Jeremiah 9:1 Ch 8.23 in Heb
  20. Jeremiah 9:2 Ch 9.1 in Heb
  21. Jeremiah 9:4 Heb in a brother
  22. Jeremiah 9:4 Heb for every brother
  23. Jeremiah 9:5 Cn Compare Gk: Heb they weary themselves with iniquity. Your dwelling
  24. Jeremiah 9:6 Cn: Heb Your dwelling in the midst of deceit
  25. Jeremiah 9:7 Or my poor people
  26. Jeremiah 9:10 Gk Syr: Heb I will take up
  27. Jeremiah 10:5 Heb They
  28. Jeremiah 10:8 Meaning of Heb uncertain
  29. Jeremiah 10:11 This verse is in Aramaic
  30. Jeremiah 10:16 Heb lacks the Lord
  31. Jeremiah 11:15 Gk: Heb Can many
  32. Jeremiah 12:4 Gk: Heb to our future
  33. Jeremiah 12:9 Cn: Heb Is the hyena, the bird of prey
  34. Jeremiah 12:12 Or the trails
  35. Jeremiah 12:13 Heb your
  36. Jeremiah 13:4 Or to Parah; Heb perath
  37. Jeremiah 13:5 Or by Parah; Heb perath
  38. Jeremiah 13:6 Or to Parah; Heb perath
  39. Jeremiah 13:7 Or to Parah; Heb perath
  40. Jeremiah 13:18 Gk Syr Vg: Meaning of Heb uncertain
  41. Jeremiah 13:23 Or Nubians; Heb Cushites
  42. Jeremiah 13:24 Heb them
  43. Jeremiah 14:6 Or the trails
  44. Jeremiah 14:18 Heb look—the sicknesses of
  45. Jeremiah 15:11 Heb intervened with you
  46. Jeremiah 15:11 Meaning of Heb uncertain
  47. Jeremiah 16:7 Two Mss Gk: MT break for them
  48. Jeremiah 16:18 Gk: Heb And first
  49. Jeremiah 17:2 Heb Asherim
  50. Jeremiah 17:3 Cn: Heb spoil your high places for sin
  51. Jeremiah 17:4 Two Mss Theodotion: you kindled
  52. Jeremiah 17:13 Heb me
  53. Jeremiah 17:13 Or in the earth
  54. Jeremiah 17:16 Meaning of Heb uncertain
  55. Jeremiah 17:25 Cn: Heb kings and officials
  56. Jeremiah 18:14 Cn: Heb of the field
  57. Jeremiah 18:14 Cn: Heb foreign
  58. Jeremiah 18:14 Cn: Heb Are . . . plucked up?
  59. Jeremiah 18:15 Gk Syr Vg: Heb they made them stumble
  60. Jeremiah 18:18 Heb strike him with the tongue
  61. Jeremiah 19:1 Syr Tg Compare Gk: Heb lacks take with you
  62. Jeremiah 22:6 Cn: Heb uninhabited cities
  63. Jeremiah 22:23 Gk Vg Syr: Heb will be pitied
  64. Jeremiah 23:8 Gk: Heb I
  65. Jeremiah 23:33 Gk Vg: Heb What burden
  66. Jeremiah 23:39 Heb Mss Gk Vg: MT forget you
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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