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Jeremiah 3 Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)

Wages of Apostasy

If[a] a man divorces his wife
and she leaves him to marry another,
can he ever return to her?
Wouldn’t such a land[b] become totally defiled?
But you!
You have played the prostitute with many partners
can you return to Me?
This is the Lord’s declaration.
Look to the barren heights and see.
Where have you not been immoral?
You sat waiting for them beside the highways
like a nomad in the desert.
You have defiled the land
with your prostitution and wickedness.
This is why the showers haven’t come
why there has been no spring rain.
You have the brazen look of a prostitute[c]
and refuse to be ashamed.
Have you not lately called to Me, “My Father.
You were my friend in my youth.
Will He bear a grudge forever?
Will He be endlessly infuriated?”
This is what you have said,
but you have done the evil things
you are capable of.

Unfaithful Israel, Treacherous Judah

In the days of King Josiah the Lord asked me, “Have you seen what unfaithful Israel has done? She has ascended every high hill and gone under every green tree to prostitute herself there. I thought: After she has done all these things, she will return to Me. But she didn’t return, and her treacherous sister Judah saw it. I[d] observed that it was because unfaithful Israel had committed adultery that I had sent her away and had given her a certificate of divorce. Nevertheless, her treacherous sister Judah was not afraid but also went and prostituted herself. Indifferent to[e] her prostitution, she defiled the land and committed adultery with stones and trees. 10 Yet in spite of all this, her treacherous sister Judah didn’t return to Me with all her heart—only in pretense.”

This is the Lord’s declaration.

11 The Lord announced to me, “Unfaithful Israel has shown herself more righteous than treacherous Judah. 12 Go, proclaim these words to the north, and say:

Return, unfaithful Israel.
This is the Lord’s declaration.
I will not look on you with anger,[f]
for I am unfailing in My love.
This is the Lord’s declaration.
I will not be angry forever.
13 Only acknowledge your guilt
you have rebelled against the Lord your God.
You have scattered your favors to strangers
under every green tree
and have not obeyed My voice.
This is the Lord’s declaration.

14 “Return, you faithless children”—this is the Lord’s declaration—“for I am your master, and I will take you, one from a city and two from a family, and I will bring you to Zion. 15 I will give you shepherds who are loyal to Me,[g] and they will shepherd you with knowledge and skill. 16 When you multiply and increase in the land, in those days”—the Lord’s declaration—“no one will say any longer, ‘The ark of the Lord’s covenant.’ It will never come to mind, and no one will remember or miss it. It will never again be made. 17 At that time Jerusalem will be called, Yahweh’s Throne, and all the nations will be gathered to it, to the name of Yahweh in Jerusalem. They will cease to follow the stubbornness of their evil hearts. 18 In those days the house of Judah will join with the house of Israel, and they will come together from the land of the north to the land I have given your ancestors to inherit.”

True Repentance

19 I thought: How I long to make you My sons
and give you a desirable land,
the most beautiful inheritance of all the nations.
I thought: You will call Me, my Father,
and never turn away from Me.
20 However, as a woman may betray her lover,[h]
so you have betrayed Me, house of Israel.
This is the Lord’s declaration.

21 A sound is heard on the barren heights,
the children of Israel weeping and begging for mercy,
for they have perverted their way;
they have forgotten the Lord their God.
22 Return, you faithless children.
I will heal your unfaithfulness.
“Here we are, coming to You,
for You are the Lord our God.
23 Surely, falsehood comes from the hills,
commotion from the mountains,
but the salvation of Israel
is only in the Lord our God.
24 From the time of our youth
the shameful one[i] has consumed
what our fathers have worked for—
their flocks and their herds,
their sons and their daughters.
25 Let us lie down in our shame;
let our disgrace cover us.
We have sinned against the Lord our God,
both we and our fathers,
from the time of our youth even to this day.
We have not obeyed the voice of the Lord our God.”


  1. Jeremiah 3:1 One Hb ms, LXX, Syr; other Hb mss read Saying: If
  2. Jeremiah 3:1 LXX reads woman
  3. Jeremiah 3:3 Lit have a prostitute’s forehead
  4. Jeremiah 3:8 One Hb ms, Syr read She
  5. Jeremiah 3:9 Lit From the lightness of
  6. Jeremiah 3:12 Lit not cause My face to fall on you
  7. Jeremiah 3:15 Lit shepherds according to My heart
  8. Jeremiah 3:20 Lit friend
  9. Jeremiah 3:24 = Baal

Jeremiah 3 Contemporary English Version (CEV)

Sin and Shame

The Lord said to the people of Israel:

If a divorced woman marries,
can her first husband
    ever marry her again?
No, because this
    would pollute the land.
But you have more gods
than a prostitute has lovers.
    Why should I take you back?
Just try to find one hilltop
    where you haven’t gone
to worship other gods
    by having sex.[a]
You sat beside the road
    like a robber in ambush,
except you offered yourself
    to every passerby.
Your sins of unfaithfulness
    have polluted the land.
So I, the Lord, refused
    to let the spring rains fall.
But just like a prostitute,
you still have no shame
    for what you have done.
You call me your father
    or your long-lost friend;
you beg me to stop being angry,
    but you won’t stop sinning.

The Lord Asks Israel To Come Back to Him

When Josiah[b] was king, the Lord said:

Jeremiah, the kingdom of Israel[c] was like an unfaithful wife who became a prostitute on the hilltops and in the shade of large trees.[d] 7-8 I knew that the kingdom of Israel had been unfaithful and committed many sins, yet I still hoped she might come back to me. But she didn’t, so I divorced her and sent her away.

Her sister, the kingdom of Judah, saw what happened, but she wasn’t worried in the least, and I watched her become unfaithful like her sister. The kingdom of Judah wasn’t sorry for being a prostitute, and she didn’t care that she had made both herself and the land unclean by worshiping idols of stone and wood. 10 And worst of all, the people of Judah pretended to come back to me. 11 Even the people of Israel were honest enough not to pretend.

12 Jeremiah, shout toward the north:

Israel, I am your Lord
    come back to me!
You were unfaithful
    and made me furious,
but I am merciful,
    and so I will forgive you.
13 Just admit that you rebelled
and worshiped foreign gods
    under large trees everywhere.
14 You are unfaithful children,
but you belong to me.
    Come home!
I’ll take one or two of you
from each town and clan
    and bring you to Zion.
15 Then I’ll appoint wise rulers
    who will obey me,
and they will care for you
    like shepherds.

16 You will increase in numbers,
    and there will be no need
to remember the sacred chest
    or to make a new one.[e]
17 The whole city of Jerusalem
    will be my throne.[f]
All nations will come here
    to worship me,
and they will no longer follow
    their stubborn, evil hearts.
18 Then, in countries to the north,
you people of Judah and Israel
    will be reunited,
and you will return to the land
    I gave your ancestors.
19 I have always wanted
    to treat you as my children
and give you the best land,
    the most beautiful on earth.
I wanted you to call me “Father”
    and not turn from me.
20 But instead, you are like a wife
    who broke her wedding vows.
You have been unfaithful to me.
    I, the Lord, have spoken.

The People Confess Their Sins

The Lord said:

21 Listen to the noise
    on the hilltops!
It’s the people of Israel,
weeping and begging me
    to answer their prayers.
They forgot about me
    and chose the wrong path.
22 I will tell them, “Come back,
and I will cure you
    of your unfaithfulness.”

They will answer,
“We will come back, because you
    are the Lord our God.
23 On hilltops, we worshiped idols
    and made loud noises,
but it was all for nothing—
    only you can save us.
24 Since the days of our ancestors
    when our nation was young,
that shameful god Baal[g] has taken
    our crops and livestock,
    our sons and daughters.
25 We have rebelled against you
    just like our ancestors,
and we are ashamed of our sins.”


  1. 3.2 hilltop. . . sex: See the note at 2.20.
  2. 3.6 Josiah: Ruled 640-609 B.C.
  3. 3.6 Israel: The northern kingdom (see the note at 2.4).
  4. 3.6 prostitute. . . trees: See the note at 2.20.
  5. 3.16 make a new one: The sacred chest was probably destroyed or taken away by the Babylonians when they captured Jerusalem in 586 B.C.
  6. 3.16,17 sacred chest. . . throne: The sacred chest was thought to be God’s throne on earth.
  7. 3.24 that shameful god Baal: The Hebrew text has “The Shame,” which was sometimes used as a way of making fun of the Canaanite god Baal.
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