6 “Run for safety, you children of Benjamin, Out of the midst of Jerusalem! And blow a trumpet in Tekoa [in Judah] And raise a signal-fire in Beth-haccherem [near Jerusalem]; For evil is looking down [with eager anticipation] from the north, And great destruction. 2 “I will destroy the Daughter of Zion (Jerusalem), the lovely and delicate one [so like a luxurious pasture]. 3 “Shepherds with their flocks will come against her; They will pitch their tents all around her; They will pasture, each one in his place [eating up all her rich grasses]. 4 “[They shout], ‘Prepare for war against her; Arise, let us [take her by surprise and] attack her at noon. But alas, the daylight pales, The evening shadows grow long. 5 ‘Arise, let us [awaken to] attack her at night And destroy her [fortified] palaces!’”
6 For the Lord of hosts has said,
“Cut down her trees And build a siege [mound] against Jerusalem. This is the city which must be punished; There is nothing but oppression inside her [walls]. 7 “As a fountain springs up and pours out its fresh waters, So she [continually] pours out her fresh wickedness. Violence and destruction are heard inside her [walls]; Sickness and wounds are always before Me. 8 “Be wise and be warned, O Jerusalem, Or I will be alienated from you, And make you a desolation, An uninhabited land.”
9 Thus says the Lord of hosts, “They will thoroughly gather like [fruit on] a vine what is left of Israel; Pass your hand [over the vine] again and again [Babylon, tool of destruction] like a grape gatherer, Over the branches [stripping the tendrils off the vine].” 10 To whom shall I (Jeremiah) speak and give warning That they may hear? Behold, their ears are [a]closed [absolutely deaf to God] And they cannot listen. Behold, the word of the Lord has become a reprimand and an object of scorn to them; They have no delight in it. 11 But I am full of the wrath (judgment) of the Lord; I am tired of restraining it. “[I will] pour it out on the children in the street And on the young men gathered together; For both the husband and wife shall be taken, The aged and the very old [though full of days they are not exempt from judgment]. 12 “Their houses shall be turned over to others, Their fields and their wives together; For I will stretch out My hand Against the inhabitants of the land,” says the Lord. 13 “For from the least of them even to the greatest of them, Everyone is greedy for [unfair] gain; And from the prophet even to the priest Everyone deals deceitfully. 14 “They have treated superficially the [bloody] broken wound of My people, Saying, ‘Peace, peace,’ When there is no peace. 15 “Were they ashamed because they had committed disgusting and vile things? No, they were not at all ashamed; They did not even know how to blush [at their idolatry]. Therefore they will fall among those who fall; At the time that I punish them They will be overthrown,” says the Lord.
16 Thus says the Lord, “Stand by the roads and look; ask for the ancient paths, Where the good way is; then walk in it, And you will find rest for your souls. But they said, ‘We will not walk in it!’ 17 “I have set watchmen (prophets) over you, Saying, ‘Listen and pay attention to the [warning] sound of the trumpet!’ But they said, ‘We will not listen.’ 18 “Therefore hear, O [Gentile] nations, And see, O congregation, what [vengeful act] is to be done to them. 19 “Hear, O earth: behold, I am bringing disaster on this people, The fruit of their schemes, Because they have not listened and paid attention to My words, And as for My law, they have rejected it also. 20 “For what purpose does frankincense come to Me from [b]Sheba And the sweet cane from a distant land? Your burnt offerings are not acceptable And your sacrifices are not sweet and pleasing to Me.”
21 Therefore, thus says the Lord,
“Behold, I am laying stumbling blocks before this people. The fathers and the sons together Will stumble against them; The neighbor and his friend will perish.”
The Enemy from the North
22 Thus says the Lord, “Behold, a people is coming from the north country, And a great nation shall be stirred up and put into action from the remote parts of the earth. 23 “They seize bow and spear; They are cruel and inhuman and have no mercy. Their voice sounds like the roaring sea; They ride [in formation] on horses, Arrayed as a man for battle Against you, O Daughter of Zion (Jerusalem)!” 24 We have heard the report of it; Our hands become limp and helpless. Anguish has gripped us, Pain like that of a woman in childbirth. 25 Do not go out into the field Nor walk on the road, For the enemy is armed with the sword; Terror is on every side. 26 O daughter of my people [says Jeremiah], Clothe yourself in sackcloth and wallow in ashes; Mourn [aloud] as for an only son, A most bitter cry [of sorrow and regret], For suddenly the destroyer will come upon us [on both prophet and people].
27 “I [the Lord] have set you as an assayer [O Jeremiah] and as a tester [of the ore] of My people, That you may know and analyze their acts.” 28 They are all the worst [kind] of [stiff-necked, godless] rebels, Going around spreading slander. They are [not gold and silver ore, but] bronze and iron; They are all corrupt. 29 The bellows blow fiercely, The lead is consumed by the fire; In vain they continue refining, But the wicked are not separated and removed. 30 They call them rejected silver [only dross, without value], Because the Lord has rejected them.
Jeremiah 6:20Located in southwestern Arabia, Sheba was ruled by the priest-kings of the Sabeans whose primary deity was Attar, a god of procreation. The ruins of the capital city of Mariaba attest to the splendor of the ancient kingdom. The Queen of Sheba visited Solomon the king of Israel in about 950 b.c. The purpose of her 1,200 mile journey was most likely to establish a fair trade agreement. Incense was among the most desirable and valuable exports of Sheba.
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