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Chapter 8

At that time—oracle of the Lord—the bones of the kings and princes of Judah, the bones of the priests and the prophets, and the bones of the inhabitants of Jerusalem will be brought out of their graves(A) and spread out before the sun, the moon, and the whole host of heaven,[a] which they loved and served, which they followed, consulted, and worshiped. They will not be gathered up for burial, but will lie like dung upon the ground.(B) Death will be preferred to life by all the survivors of this wicked people who remain in any of the places to which I banish them—oracle of the Lord of hosts.

Israel’s Conduct Incomprehensible

    Tell them: Thus says the Lord:
When someone falls, do they not rise again?
    if they turn away, do they not turn back?
Why then do these people resist
    with persistent rebellion?
Why do they cling to deception,
    refuse to turn back?(C)
I have listened closely:
    they speak what is not true;
No one regrets wickedness,
    saying, “What have I done?”
Everyone keeps on running their course,
    like a horse dashing into battle.(D)
Even the stork in the sky
    knows its seasons;
Turtledove, swift, and thrush
    observe the time of their return,
But my people do not know
    the order of the Lord.(E)
How can you say, “We are wise,(F)
    we have the law of the Lord”?
See, that has been changed into falsehood
    by the lying pen of the scribes![b]
The wise are put to shame,
    terrified, and trapped;
Since they have rejected the word of the Lord,
    what sort of wisdom do they have?(G)

Shameless in Their Crimes

10 Therefore, I will give their wives to other men,
    their fields to new owners.
Small and great alike, all are greedy for gain,
    prophet and priest, all practice fraud.(H)
11 They have treated lightly
    the injury to the daughter of my people:[c]
“Peace, peace!” they say,
    though there is no peace.(I)
12 They have acted shamefully; they have done abominable things,
    yet they are not at all ashamed,
    they do not know how to blush.
Hence they shall be among those who fall;
    in their time of punishment they shall stumble,
    says the Lord.(J)

Threats of Punishment

13 I will gather them all in—oracle of the Lord:
    no grapes on the vine,
No figs on the fig trees,
    foliage withered!
Whatever I have given them is gone.
14 Why do we remain here?
    Let us assemble and flee to the fortified cities,
    where we will meet our doom;
For the Lord our God has doomed us,
    he has given us poisoned water to drink,
    because we have sinned against the Lord.(K)
15 We wait for peace to no avail;
    for a time of healing, but terror comes instead.(L)
16 From Dan is heard
    the snorting of horses;
The neighing of stallions
    shakes the whole land.
They come to devour the land and everything in it,
    the city and its inhabitants.
17 Yes, I will send against you
    poisonous snakes.
Against them no charm will work
    when they bite you—oracle of the Lord.(M)

The Prophet’s Grief over the People’s Suffering

18 My joy is gone,
    grief is upon me,
    my heart is sick.
19 Listen! the cry of the daughter of my people,
    far and wide in the land!
“Is the Lord no longer in Zion,
    is her King no longer in her midst?”
Why do they provoke me with their idols,
    with their foreign nonentities?(N)
20 “The harvest is over, the summer ended,
    but we have not yet been saved!”
21 I am broken by the injury of the daughter of my people.
    I am in mourning; horror has seized me.(O)
22 Is there no balm in Gilead,[d]
    no healer there?
Why does new flesh not grow
    over the wound of the daughter of my people?(P)
23 Oh, that my head were a spring of water,
    my eyes a fountain of tears,
That I might weep day and night
    over the slain from the daughter of my people!


  1. 8:2 Host of heaven: the stars, worshiped by other nations and even by the inhabitants of Jerusalem, particularly during the reigns of Manasseh and Amon.
  2. 8:8 Lying pen of the scribes: because the teachings and interpretations of the scribes ran counter to the word of the Lord.
  3. 8:11 Daughter of my people: see note on 4:11.
  4. 8:22 Gilead: a region southeast of the Sea of Galilee noted for its healing balm.

“‘At that time, declares the Lord, the bones of the kings and officials of Judah, the bones of the priests and prophets, and the bones(A) of the people of Jerusalem will be removed(B) from their graves. They will be exposed to the sun and the moon and all the stars of the heavens, which they have loved and served(C) and which they have followed and consulted and worshiped.(D) They will not be gathered up or buried,(E) but will be like dung lying on the ground.(F) Wherever I banish them,(G) all the survivors of this evil nation will prefer death to life,(H) declares the Lord Almighty.’

Sin and Punishment

“Say to them, ‘This is what the Lord says:

“‘When people fall down, do they not get up?(I)
    When someone turns away,(J) do they not return?
Why then have these people turned away?
    Why does Jerusalem always turn away?
They cling to deceit;(K)
    they refuse to return.(L)
I have listened(M) attentively,
    but they do not say what is right.
None of them repent(N) of their wickedness,
    saying, “What have I done?”
Each pursues their own course(O)
    like a horse charging into battle.
Even the stork in the sky
    knows her appointed seasons,
and the dove, the swift and the thrush
    observe the time of their migration.
But my people do not know(P)
    the requirements of the Lord.

“‘How can you say, “We are wise,
    for we have the law(Q) of the Lord,”
when actually the lying pen of the scribes
    has handled it falsely?
The wise(R) will be put to shame;
    they will be dismayed(S) and trapped.(T)
Since they have rejected the word(U) of the Lord,
    what kind of wisdom(V) do they have?
10 Therefore I will give their wives to other men
    and their fields to new owners.(W)
From the least to the greatest,
    all are greedy for gain;(X)
prophets(Y) and priests alike,
    all practice deceit.(Z)
11 They dress the wound of my people
    as though it were not serious.
“Peace, peace,” they say,
    when there is no peace.(AA)
12 Are they ashamed of their detestable conduct?
    No, they have no shame(AB) at all;
    they do not even know how to blush.
So they will fall among the fallen;
    they will be brought down when they are punished,(AC)
says the Lord.(AD)

13 “‘I will take away their harvest,
declares the Lord.
    There will be no grapes on the vine.(AE)
There will be no figs(AF) on the tree,
    and their leaves will wither.(AG)
What I have given them
    will be taken(AH) from them.[a]’”

14 Why are we sitting here?
    Gather together!
Let us flee to the fortified cities(AI)
    and perish there!
For the Lord our God has doomed us to perish
    and given us poisoned water(AJ) to drink,
    because we have sinned(AK) against him.
15 We hoped for peace(AL)
    but no good has come,
for a time of healing
    but there is only terror.(AM)
16 The snorting of the enemy’s horses(AN)
    is heard from Dan;(AO)
at the neighing of their stallions
    the whole land trembles.(AP)
They have come to devour(AQ)
    the land and everything in it,
    the city and all who live there.

17 “See, I will send venomous snakes(AR) among you,
    vipers that cannot be charmed,(AS)
    and they will bite you,”
declares the Lord.

18 You who are my Comforter[b] in sorrow,
    my heart is faint(AT) within me.
19 Listen to the cry of my people
    from a land far away:(AU)
“Is the Lord not in Zion?
    Is her King(AV) no longer there?”

“Why have they aroused(AW) my anger with their images,
    with their worthless(AX) foreign idols?”(AY)

20 “The harvest is past,
    the summer has ended,
    and we are not saved.”

21 Since my people are crushed,(AZ) I am crushed;
    I mourn,(BA) and horror grips me.
22 Is there no balm in Gilead?(BB)
    Is there no physician(BC) there?
Why then is there no healing(BD)
    for the wound of my people?


  1. Jeremiah 8:13 The meaning of the Hebrew for this sentence is uncertain.
  2. Jeremiah 8:18 The meaning of the Hebrew for this word is uncertain.