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Chapter 9

The Corruption of the People

Oh, that I had in the wilderness
    a travelers’ lodging!
That I might leave my people
    and depart from them.
They are all adulterers,
    a band of traitors.
They ready their tongues like a drawn bow;
    with lying, and not with truth,
    they are powerful in the land.
They go from evil to evil,
    and me they do not know—oracle of the Lord.
Be on your guard, everyone against his neighbor;
    put no trust in any brother.
Every brother imitates Jacob, the supplanter,[a]
    every neighbor is guilty of slander.
Each one deceives the other,
    no one speaks the truth.
They have accustomed their tongues to lying,
    they are perverse and cannot repent.(A)
Violence upon violence,
    deceit upon deceit:
They refuse to know me—
    oracle of the Lord.
Therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts:
I will refine them and test them;
    how else should I deal with the daughter of my people?
A murderous arrow is their tongue,
    their mouths utter deceit;
They speak peaceably with their neighbors,
    but in their hearts they lay an ambush!(B)
Should I not punish them for these deeds—oracle of the Lord;
    on a nation such as this should I not take vengeance?(C)

Dirge over the Ravaged Land

Over the mountains I shall break out in cries of lamentation,
    over the pastures in the wilderness, in a dirge:
They are scorched, and no one crosses them,
    no sound of lowing cattle;
Birds of the air as well as beasts,
    all have fled and are gone.(D)
10 I will turn Jerusalem into a heap of ruins,
    a haunt of jackals;
The cities of Judah I will make a waste,
    where no one dwells.(E)

11 Who is wise enough to understand this? To whom has the mouth of the Lord spoken? Let him declare it!

Why is the land ravaged,
    scorched like a wilderness no one crosses?(F)

12 The Lord said: Because they have abandoned my law, which I set before them, and did not listen to me or follow it, 13 but followed instead their stubborn hearts and the Baals, as their ancestors had taught them,(G) 14 therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: See now, I will give this people wormwood to eat and poisoned water to drink.(H) 15 I will scatter them among nations whom neither they nor their ancestors have known; I will send the sword to pursue them until I have completely destroyed them.(I)

16     Thus says the Lord of hosts:
Inquire, and call the wailing women to come;
    summon the most skilled of them.
17 Let them come quickly
    and raise for us a dirge,
That our eyes may run with tears,
    our pupils flow with water.(J)
18 The sound of the dirge is heard from Zion:
    We are ruined and greatly ashamed;
We have left the land,
    given up our dwellings!
19 Hear, you women, the word of the Lord,
    let your ears receive the word of his mouth.
Teach your daughters a dirge,
    and each other a lament:
20 Death has come up through our windows,
    has entered our citadels,
To cut down children in the street,
    young people in the squares.(K)
21 Corpses shall fall
    like dung in the open field,
Like sheaves behind the harvester,
    with no one to gather them.

True Glory

22     Thus says the Lord:
Let not the wise boast of his wisdom,
    nor the strong boast of his strength,
    nor the rich man boast of his riches;
23 But rather, let those who boast, boast of this,
    that in their prudence they know me,(L)
Know that I, the Lord, act with fidelity,
    justice, and integrity on earth.
How I take delight in these—oracle of the Lord.

False Circumcision. 24 See, days are coming—oracle of the Lord—when I will demand an account of all those circumcised in the foreskin:(M) 25 Egypt and Judah, Edom and the Ammonites, Moab, and those who live in the wilderness and shave their temples.[b] For all the nations are uncircumcised, even the whole house of Israel is uncircumcised at heart.


  1. 9:3 Jacob, the supplanter: in Hebrew, a play on words. In the popular etymology given in Gn 25:26, the name Jacob means “he supplants,” for he deprived his brother Esau of his birthright (cf. Gn 25:33).
  2. 9:25 Shave their temples: some Arabian tribes practiced this custom. None of the nations who practice circumcision understand the meaning of their action, not even Israel; no one conforms to life under the covenant.

[a]Oh, that my head were a spring of water
    and my eyes a fountain of tears!(A)
I would weep(B) day and night
    for the slain of my people.(C)
Oh, that I had in the desert(D)
    a lodging place for travelers,
so that I might leave my people
    and go away from them;
for they are all adulterers,(E)
    a crowd of unfaithful(F) people.

“They make ready their tongue
    like a bow, to shoot lies;(G)
it is not by truth
    that they triumph[b] in the land.
They go from one sin to another;
    they do not acknowledge(H) me,”
declares the Lord.
“Beware of your friends;(I)
    do not trust anyone in your clan.(J)
For every one of them is a deceiver,[c](K)
    and every friend a slanderer.(L)
Friend deceives friend,(M)
    and no one speaks the truth.(N)
They have taught their tongues to lie;(O)
    they weary themselves with sinning.
You[d] live in the midst of deception;(P)
    in their deceit they refuse to acknowledge me,”
declares the Lord.

Therefore this is what the Lord Almighty says:

“See, I will refine(Q) and test(R) them,
    for what else can I do
    because of the sin of my people?
Their tongue(S) is a deadly arrow;
    it speaks deceitfully.
With their mouths they all speak cordially to their neighbors,(T)
    but in their hearts they set traps(U) for them.(V)
Should I not punish them for this?”
    declares the Lord.
“Should I not avenge(W) myself
    on such a nation as this?”

10 I will weep and wail for the mountains
    and take up a lament concerning the wilderness grasslands.(X)
They are desolate and untraveled,
    and the lowing of cattle is not heard.
The birds(Y) have all fled
    and the animals are gone.

11 “I will make Jerusalem a heap(Z) of ruins,
    a haunt of jackals;(AA)
and I will lay waste the towns of Judah(AB)
    so no one can live there.”(AC)

12 Who is wise(AD) enough to understand this? Who has been instructed by the Lord and can explain it? Why has the land been ruined and laid waste like a desert that no one can cross?

13 The Lord said, “It is because they have forsaken my law, which I set before them; they have not obeyed me or followed my law.(AE) 14 Instead, they have followed(AF) the stubbornness of their hearts;(AG) they have followed the Baals, as their ancestors taught them.” 15 Therefore this is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: “See, I will make this people eat bitter food(AH) and drink poisoned water.(AI) 16 I will scatter them among nations(AJ) that neither they nor their ancestors have known,(AK) and I will pursue them with the sword(AL) until I have made an end of them.”(AM)

17 This is what the Lord Almighty says:

“Consider now! Call for the wailing women(AN) to come;
    send for the most skillful of them.
18 Let them come quickly
    and wail over us
till our eyes overflow with tears
    and water streams from our eyelids.(AO)
19 The sound of wailing is heard from Zion:
    ‘How ruined(AP) we are!
    How great is our shame!
We must leave our land
    because our houses are in ruins.’”

20 Now, you women, hear the word of the Lord;
    open your ears to the words of his mouth.(AQ)
Teach your daughters how to wail;
    teach one another a lament.(AR)
21 Death has climbed in through our windows(AS)
    and has entered our fortresses;
it has removed the children from the streets
    and the young men(AT) from the public squares.

22 Say, “This is what the Lord declares:

“‘Dead bodies will lie
    like dung(AU) on the open field,
like cut grain behind the reaper,
    with no one to gather them.’”

23 This is what the Lord says:

“Let not the wise boast of their wisdom(AV)
    or the strong boast of their strength(AW)
    or the rich boast of their riches,(AX)
24 but let the one who boasts boast(AY) about this:
    that they have the understanding to know(AZ) me,
that I am the Lord,(BA) who exercises kindness,(BB)
    justice and righteousness(BC) on earth,
    for in these I delight,”
declares the Lord.

25 “The days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will punish all who are circumcised only in the flesh(BD) 26 Egypt, Judah, Edom, Ammon, Moab and all who live in the wilderness in distant places.[e](BE) For all these nations are really uncircumcised,(BF) and even the whole house of Israel is uncircumcised in heart.(BG)


  1. Jeremiah 9:1 In Hebrew texts 9:1 is numbered 8:23, and 9:2-26 is numbered 9:1-25.
  2. Jeremiah 9:3 Or lies; / they are not valiant for truth
  3. Jeremiah 9:4 Or a deceiving Jacob
  4. Jeremiah 9:6 That is, Jeremiah (the Hebrew is singular)
  5. Jeremiah 9:26 Or wilderness and who clip the hair by their foreheads