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A Satire on Idolatry

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

“Do not learn the way of the [pagan] nations,
And do not be terrified and distressed by the signs of the heavens
Although the pagans are terrified by them;

For the customs and decrees of the peoples are [mere] delusion [exercises in futility];
It is only wood which one cuts from the forest [to make a god],
The work of the hands of the craftsman with the axe or cutting tool.

“They adorn the idol with silver and with gold;
They fasten it with hammers and nails
So that it will not fall apart.

“They are like scarecrows in a cucumber field;
They cannot speak;
They have to be carried,
Because they cannot walk!
Do not be afraid of them,
For they can do no harm or evil,
Nor can they do any good.”


There is none like You, O Lord;
You are great, and great is Your mighty and powerful name.

Who would not fear You, O King of the nations?
For it is appropriate and it is Your due!
For among all the wise men of the nations
And in all their kingdoms,
There is none like You.

But they are altogether irrational and stupid and foolish
In their discipline of delusion—their idol is [only] wood [it is ridiculous, empty and worthless]!

Silver that has been beaten [into plates] is brought from [a]Tarshish,
And gold from [b]Uphaz,
The work of the craftsman and of the hand of the goldsmith;
Violet and purple are their clothing;
They are all the work of skilled men.
10 
But the Lord is the true God and the God who is Truth;
He is the living God and the everlasting King.
The earth quakes and shudders at His wrath,
And the nations are not able to endure His indignation.

11 In this manner you shall say to them, “The gods that did not make the heavens and the earth will perish from the earth and from under the heavens.”

12 
God made the earth by His power;
He established the world by His wisdom
And by His understanding and skill He has stretched out the heavens.
13 
When He utters His voice, there is a tumult of [c]waters in the heavens,
And He causes the clouds and the mist to ascend from the end of the earth;
He makes lightning for the rain,
And brings out the wind from His treasuries and from His storehouses.
14 
Every man has become [like a brute] irrational and stupid, without knowledge [of God];
Every goldsmith is shamed by his carved idols;
For his molten images are frauds and lies,
And there is no breath in them.
15 
They are worthless and devoid of promise, a work of delusion and mockery;
In their time of [trial and] punishment they will perish [without hope].
16 
The Portion of Jacob [the true God on whom Israel has a claim] is not like these;
For He is the Designer and Maker of all things,
And Israel is the tribe of His inheritance [and He will not fail them]—
The Lord of hosts is His name.

17 
Gather up your bundle [of goods] from the ground,
You who live under siege.
18 
For thus says the Lord;
“Behold, I am slinging out at this time the people of this land,
And will cause them [great] distress,
That they may find it [to be as I have said].”

19 
“Woe to me because of my [spiritual] brokenness!” [says Jeremiah, speaking for the nation.]
“My wound is incurable.”
But I said, “Surely this sickness and suffering and grief are mine,
And I must bear it.”
20 
My tent is destroyed,
And all my [tent] cords are broken;
My children have been taken from me [as captives] and are no more.
There is no one to stretch out my tent again
And to set up my [tent] curtains.
21 
For the shepherds [of the people] have become [like brutes,] irrational and stupid,
And have not searched for the Lord or asked about Him or realized their need for Him;
Therefore they have not been wise and have not prospered,
And all their flocks are scattered.
22 
The sound of a report! Behold, [the invader] comes—
A great commotion from the country of the north (Babylonia)—
To make the cities of Judah
A desolation, a haunt and dwelling place of jackals.

23 
O Lord, I know that the path of [life of] a man is not in himself;
It is not within [the limited ability of] man [even one at his best] to choose and direct his steps [in life].(A)
24 
O Lord, correct me [along with Your people], but with mercy and in just measure—
Not in Your anger, or You will crush me and bring me to nothing.
25 
Pour out Your wrath on the nations that do not know nor recognize You
And on the families that do not call Your name.
For they have devoured Jacob;
They have devoured him and consumed him
And made his land a desolate waste.

The Broken Covenant

11 The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord, “Hear the words of this [solemn] covenant, and speak to the men of Judah and to the people of Jerusalem. Say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, “Cursed is the man who does not heed the words of this covenant which I commanded your fathers at the time that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, from the iron furnace, saying, ‘Listen to My voice and do according to all that I command you. So you shall be My people, and I will be your God,’ that I may complete the oath which I swore to your fathers, to give them a land [of plenty] [d]flowing with milk and honey, as it is this day.”’” Then I answered, “Amen (so be it), O 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 [solemn] covenant and do them. For I solemnly warned your fathers at the time that I brought them up from the land of Egypt, even to this day, warning them persistently, saying, “Obey My voice.” Yet they did not obey or incline their ear [to listen to Me], but everyone walked in the stubborn way of his [own] evil heart. Therefore I brought on them all [the suffering threatened in] the words of this covenant, which I commanded them to do, but they did not.’”

Then the Lord said to me, “A conspiracy has been found among the men of Judah and among the people of Jerusalem. 10 They have returned to the wickedness of their ancestors who refused to hear My words; they have followed other gods [in order] to serve them. The house of Israel and the house of Judah have broken My [solemn] covenant which I made with their fathers.” 11 Therefore thus says the Lord, “Behold I am bringing disaster and suffering on them which they will not be able to escape; though they cry to Me, I will not listen to them. 12 Then the cities of Judah and the people of Jerusalem will go and cry to the [man-made] gods to whom they burn incense, but they cannot save them in the time of their disaster. 13 For [as many as] the number of your cities are your gods, O Judah; and [as many as] the number of the streets of Jerusalem are the altars you have set up to the shameful thing, altars to burn incense to Baal.

14 “Therefore do not pray for this people, nor lift up a cry or prayer for them, for I shall not listen when they cry to Me in the time of their disaster.

15 
“What right has My beloved [to be] in My house
When she has done many vile things and acted treacherously [over and over again]?
Can vows and the meat of your sacrifices remove your wickedness from you and cancel the consequences of your sin,
So that you can [escape your judgment and] rejoice?”
16 
The Lord [acknowledged you once as worthy and] called your name,
“A green olive tree, fair and beautiful in fruit and form”;
But with the roar of a great tempest
He has set fire to it,
And its branches are worthless.(B)

17 For the Lord of hosts, who planted you, has pronounced evil and horror against you because of the evil of the house of Israel and of the house of Judah, which they have done to provoke Me [to anger] by offering sacrifices and burning incense to Baal.

Plots against Jeremiah

18 
Then the Lord gave me knowledge [of their plot], and I knew it;
So You [O Lord] revealed their deeds to me.
19 
But I was like a gentle and tame lamb brought to the slaughter;
And I did not know that they had devised plots and schemes against me, saying,
“Let us destroy the tree with its fruit;
Let us cut him off from the land of the living,
That his name be remembered no longer.”
20 
But, O Lord of hosts, who judges righteously,
Who tests the feelings and the heart (mind),
Let me see Your vengeance on them,
For to You I have committed my cause.

21 Therefore thus says the Lord regarding the men of Anathoth, who seek your life, saying, “Do not prophesy in the name of the Lord, so that you will not die by our hand.” 22 Therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts, “Behold, I am about to punish them. Their young men will die by the sword, their sons and their daughters will die by famine; 23 and there will be no remnant [of the conspirators] left, for I will bring disaster and horror on the men of Anathoth in the year of their punishment.”

Jeremiah’s Prayer

12 You, O Lord are [uncompromisingly] righteous and consistently just when I plead my case with You;
Yet let me discuss issues of justice with You:
Why has the way of the wicked prospered?
Why are those who deal in treachery (deceit) at ease and thriving?

You have planted them, they have also taken root;
They grow, they have even produced fruit.
You are [e]honored by their [hypocritical] lips
But [You are] far from their heart and mind.

But You, O Lord, know me [and understand my devotion to You];
You see me;
And You examine the attitude of my heart toward You.
Drag out the faithless like sheep for the slaughter [O Lord]
And set them apart for the day of slaughter.

How long must the land mourn
And the grass of the countryside wither?
Because of the wickedness and hypocrisy of those who live in it,
The beasts and the birds are consumed and are swept away [by the drought],
Because men [mocking me] have said, “He will not [live long enough to] see [what happens at] our final end.”


[The Lord rebukes Jeremiah for his impatience, saying] “If you have raced with men on foot and they have tired you out,
Then how can you compete with horses?
If you fall down in a land of peace [where you feel secure],
Then how will you do [among the lions] in the [flooded] thicket beside the Jordan?

“For even your [tribal] brothers and the household of your father,
Even they have dealt treacherously (unfaithfully) with you;
Indeed they are [like a pack of hounds] howling after you.
Do not believe them, although they may say kind words and promise you good things.”

God’s Answer


“I have abandoned My house,
I have given up My [precious] inheritance (Judah);
I have given the [dearly] beloved of My life
Into the hands of her enemies.

“My inheritance has become to Me
Like a lion in the forest;
She has raised her voice and roared against Me;
So I have come to [treat her as if I] hate her.

“Is My inheritance like a speckled bird of prey to Me [unlike the others]?
Are the birds of prey (enemies) surrounding her on every side?
Go, gather all the [wild] beasts of the field;
Bring them to devour [her]!
10 
“Many shepherds (invaders) have destroyed My vineyard (Judah),
They have trampled My field underfoot;
They have made My pleasant field
A desolate wilderness.
11 
“They have made it a wasteland,
Desolate, it mourns before Me;
The whole land has been made a wasteland,
Because no man takes it to heart.
12 
“Destroyers have come
On all the caravan roads in the desert,
For the sword of the Lord (Babylon) is devouring
From one end of the land even to the other;
No one has peace or a way of escape.
13 
“They have planted wheat but have reaped thorns;
They have exhausted themselves but without profit.
So be ashamed of your harvest
Because of the fierce and raging anger of the Lord.”

14 Thus says the Lord regarding all My evil neighbors (Gentile nations) who strike at the inheritance which I have granted to My people Israel, “Behold, I will uproot them from their land and I will uproot the house of Judah from among them. 15 And it shall come about that after I have uprooted them, I will return and have compassion on them; and I will bring them back again, each one to his inheritance and each one to his land. 16 And if these [neighboring nations] will diligently learn the ways of My people, to swear by My Name, saying, ‘As the Lord lives’—even as they taught My people to swear by Baal, then they will be built up among My people. 17 But if [any nation] will not listen and obey, I will [completely] uproot and destroy that nation, says the Lord.”

The Ruined Waistband

13 Thus the Lord said to me, “Go and buy yourself a linen waistband and put it on your [f]loins, but do not put it in water.” So I bought the waistband according to the word of the Lord and put it on my loins. Then the word of the Lord came to me a second time, saying, “Get up and take the waistband that you have bought, which is [wrapped] around your loins, and go to the [river] Euphrates and hide it there in a crevice of the rock.” So I went and hid it by the Euphrates, as the Lord had commanded me. And after many days the Lord said to me, “Get up, go to the Euphrates and get the waistband which I commanded you to hide there.” Then I went to the Euphrates and dug, and I took the waistband from the place where I had hidden it. And behold, the waistband was decayed and ruined; it was completely worthless.

Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Thus says the Lord, ‘In this same way I shall destroy the pride of Judah and the great pride of Jerusalem. 10 These wicked and malevolent people, who refuse to listen to My words, who walk in the stubborn way of their heart and have followed other gods [which are nothing—just man-made carvings] to serve them and to worship them, let them be just like this waistband which is completely worthless. 11 For as the waistband clings to the body of a man, so I caused the whole house of Israel and the whole house of Judah to cling to Me,’ says the Lord, ‘that they might be for Me a people, a name, a praise, and a glory; but they did not listen and obey.’

Captivity Threatened

12 “Therefore you are to speak this word to them, ‘Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, “Every jar should be filled with wine.”’ The people will say to you, ‘Do we not already know that every jar should be filled with wine?’ 13 Then say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord, “Behold, I am about to fill with drunkenness all the people of this land, even the kings who sit on David’s throne, the priests, the prophets and all the people of Jerusalem. 14 I will smash them one against another, both the fathers and the sons together,” says the Lord. “I shall destroy them [nothing will restrain Me]; I will not show pity nor be sorry nor have compassion.”’”

15 
Listen and pay close attention, do not be haughty and overconfident,
For the Lord has spoken [says Jeremiah].
16 
Give glory to the Lord your God,
Before He brings darkness
And before your feet stumble
On the dark and shadowy mountains,
And while you are longing for light
He turns it into the shadow of death,
And makes it into thick darkness.
17 
But if you will not listen and obey,
My soul will weep in secret for your pride;
My eyes will weep bitterly
And flow with tears,
Because the Lord’s flock has been taken captive.
18 
Say to the king and the queen mother,
“Humble yourselves and take a lowly seat,
For your beautiful crown [the crown of your glory]
Has come down from your head.”
19 
The cities of the South (the Negev) have been closed up,
And there is no one to open them;
All Judah has been carried into exile,
Completely carried away into exile.

20 
“Lift up your eyes and see
Those coming from the north.
Where is the flock that was given to you [to shepherd],
Your beautiful flock?
21 
“What will you say [O Jerusalem] when the Lord appoints [foreign nations to rule] over you—
Those former friends and allies whom you have encouraged [to be your companions]—
Will not pain seize you
Like [that of] a woman in childbirth?
22 
“And if you [wonder and] say in your heart,
‘Why have these things happened to me?’
It is because of the greatness and nature of your sin
That your skirts have been [g]pulled away [subjecting you to public disgrace]
And [like a barefoot slave] your heels have been wounded.
23 
“Can the Ethiopian change his skin
Or the leopard his spots?
Then you also can do good
Who are accustomed to evil and even trained to do it.
24 
“Therefore I will scatter you like drifting straw
[Driven away] by the desert wind.
25 
“This is your destiny, the portion [of judgment] measured to you
From Me,” says the Lord,
“Because you have forgotten Me
And trusted in [pagan] lies [the counterfeit gods, and the pretense of alliance].”
26 
“So I Myself will throw your skirts up over your face,
That your shame may be exposed [publicly].
27 
“I have seen your vile and detestable acts,
Even your adulteries and your lustful neighings [after idols],
And the lewdness of your prostitution
On the hills in the fields.
Woe (judgment is coming) to you, O Jerusalem!
How long will you remain unclean [by ignoring My precepts]?”

Footnotes

  1. Jeremiah 10:9 Perhaps a reference to an ancient refinery located on the island of Sardinia.
  2. Jeremiah 10:9 The location of this gold mining region is unknown.
  3. Jeremiah 10:13 Some ancient people believed that the sky was a canopy over the earth and that God stored rainwater behind it. Therefore, it rained only when God opened the windows of heaven.
  4. Jeremiah 11:5 This phrase referred to the abundant fertility of the land of Canaan. Milk (typically that of goats and sheep) was associated with abundance; “honey” referred mainly to syrups made from dates or grapes and was the epitome of sweetness. Bees’ honey was very rare and was considered the choicest of foods.
  5. Jeremiah 12:2 Lit near their mouth.
  6. Jeremiah 13:1 The midsection of the body between the lower ribs and the hips.
  7. Jeremiah 13:22 Using the expression for the violation of a woman, the writer describes how the Babylonians would deal with Judah.

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