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Drought and a Prayer for Mercy

14 The word of the Lord that came to Jeremiah concerning the drought:

“Judah mourns
And her gates languish;
Her people sit on the ground in mourning clothes
And the cry of Jerusalem has gone up.

“Their nobles have sent their servants for water;
They have come to the cisterns and found no water.
They have returned with empty vessels;
They have been shamed and humiliated,
And they cover their heads.

“The ground is cracked
Because there has been no rain on the land;
The farmers are distressed,
And they have covered their heads [in shame].

“The doe in the field has given birth only to abandon her young
Because there is no grass.

“And the wild donkeys stand on the barren heights;
They pant for air like jackals,
Their eyesight fails
Because there is no grass.

“O Lord, though our many sins testify against us” [prays Jeremiah],
“Act now [for us and] for Your name’s sake [so that the faithless may witness Your faithfulness]!
For our backslidings are countless;
We have sinned against You.

“O Hope of Israel,
Her Savior in time of distress and trouble,
Why should You be like a sojourner (temporary resident) in the land
Or like a traveler who turns aside and spreads his tent to linger [only] for a night?

“Why should You be [hesitant and inactive] like a man astounded and perplexed,
Like a mighty man unable to save?
Yet You, O Lord, are among us,
And we are called by Your name;
Do not leave us!”

10 Thus says the Lord to this people [Judah], “In the manner and to the degree [already pointed out] they have loved to wander; they have not restrained their feet. Therefore the Lord does not accept them; He will now remember [in detail] their wickedness and punish them for their sins.” 11 So the Lord said to me, “Do not pray for good things for this people. 12 Though they fast, I will not hear their cry; and though they offer burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them [because they are done as obligations, and not as acts of loving obedience]. Instead I will consume them by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence.”

False Prophets

13 But I said, “Alas, Lord God! Behold, the [false] prophets are telling them, ‘You will not see the sword nor will you have famine, but I [the Lord] will give you lasting peace in this place.’” 14 Then the Lord said to me, “The [counterfeit] prophets are prophesying lies in My Name. I have neither sent them nor authorized them nor spoken to them. They are prophesying to you made-up visions [pretending to call forth responses from handmade gods], a worthless divination and the deceit of their own mind. 15 Therefore, thus says the Lord concerning the [false] prophets who are prophesying in My Name, although I did not send them—yet they keep saying, ‘Sword and famine shall not be in this land’: by sword and famine those prophets shall meet their end and be consumed. 16 And the people to whom they are prophesying will be thrown out into the streets of Jerusalem, victims of famine and sword; and they will have no one to bury them—neither them, nor their wives, nor their sons, nor their daughters. For I will pour out their [own] wickedness on them [and not only on the imposters posing as prophets, for the people could not have been deceived without their own consent].

“Therefore [Jeremiah] you will say this word to them,
‘Let my eyes flow with tears night and day,
And let them never cease;
For the virgin daughter of my people has been crushed with a great blow,
With a very serious and severely infected wound.
‘If I go out into the field,
Then I gaze on those slaughtered with the sword!
And if I enter the city,
Then I gaze on [those tormented with] the diseases of famine!
For both prophet and priest [who should have guided the people]
Go about [bewildered and exiled] in a land (Babylon) that they do not know or understand.’”

Have You [O Lord] completely rejected Judah?
Do You loathe Zion?
Why have You stricken us so that there is no healing for us?
We looked for peace and completeness, but nothing good came;
And [we hoped] for a time of healing, but behold, terror!
We know and acknowledge, O Lord,
Our wickedness and the iniquity of our fathers; for we have sinned against You.
Do not treat us with contempt and condemn us, for Your own name’s sake;
Do not disgrace Your [a]glorious throne;
Remember [with consideration] and do not break Your [solemn] covenant with us.
Are there any among the idols of the nations who can send rain?
Or can the heavens [of their own will] give showers?
Is it not You, O Lord our God?
Therefore we will wait and hope [confidently] in You,
For You are the one who has made all these things [the heavens and the rain].

Judgment Must Come

15 Then the Lord said to me, “Even though Moses and Samuel were to stand before Me [interceding for them], My heart would still not be [turned with favor] toward this people [Judah]. Send them away from My presence and out of My sight and let them go! And it shall be that when they say to you, ‘Where should we go?’ then tell them, ‘Thus says the Lord:

“Those [destined] for death, to death;
Those for the sword, to the sword;
Those for famine, to famine;
Those for captivity, to captivity.”’

I will appoint four kinds of destroyers over them,” says the Lord, “the sword to slay, the dogs to tear and drag away, and the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth to devour and to destroy. I will make them an object of horror to all nations of the earth because of Manasseh [the despicable] son of Hezekiah, king of Judah, for the [evil and detestable] things which he did in Jerusalem.(A)

“For who will have pity on you, O Jerusalem,
Or who will mourn for you,
Or who will turn aside to ask about your welfare?

“You have abandoned (rejected) Me,” says the Lord.
“You keep going backward.
Therefore I shall stretch out My hand against you and destroy you;
I am tired of delaying [your punishment]!

“I will winnow (sort, separate) them with a winnowing fork
At the gates of the land;
I will deprive them of children, I will destroy My people;
They did not repent and turn from their [evil] ways.

“I will make their widows more numerous before Me
Than the sand of the seas;
I will bring against them, against the mother of the young men,
A [b]destroyer at noonday;
I will suddenly cause anguish and terror
To fall on her.

“She who has borne seven [sons] languishes;
She has breathed out her soul.
Her sun has set while it was still day;
She has been shamed and humiliated.
So I will hand over [the rest of] the survivors to the sword
Before their enemies,” says the Lord.

Woe to me, my mother, that you have given birth to me
To be a man of strife and a man of contention to all the earth!
I have not loaned, nor have men lent money to me,
Yet everyone curses me.(B)
The Lord said, “Surely [it will go well for Judah’s obedient remnant for] I will set you free for good purposes;
Surely [Jeremiah] I will [intercede for you with the enemy and I will] cause the enemy to plead with you [for help]
In a time of disaster and a time of distress.(C)

“Can anyone crush iron,
The iron from the north, or bronze?
“Your [nation’s] riches and your treasures
I will give as plunder without price [to the Babylonians],
Because of all your sins
And within all your territories.
“Then I will make your enemies bring [you along with] your possessions
Into a land which you do not know [for there you will serve your conquerors];
For a fire has been kindled in My anger,
Which will burn upon you.”

Jeremiah’s Prayer and God’s Answer

O Lord, You know and understand;
Remember me [thoughtfully], take notice of me,
take vengeance for me on my persecutors.
Do not, in view of Your patience, take me away;
Know that for Your sake I endure [continual] rebuke and dishonor.
Your words were found and I ate them,
And Your words became a joy to me and the delight of my heart;
For I have been called by Your name,
O Lord God of hosts.
I did not sit with the group of those who celebrate,
Nor did I rejoice;
I sat alone because Your [powerful] hand was upon me,
For You had filled me with indignation [at their sin].
Why has my pain been perpetual
And my wound incurable, refusing to be healed?
Will you indeed be to me like a deceptive brook
With water that is unreliable?

Therefore, thus says the Lord [to Jeremiah],
“If you repent [and give up this mistaken attitude of despair and self-pity], then I will restore you [to a state of inner peace]
So that you may stand before Me [as My obedient representative];
And if you separate the precious from the worthless [examining yourself and cleansing your heart from unwarranted doubt concerning My faithfulness],
You will become My spokesman.
Let the people turn to you [and learn to value My values]—
But you, you must not turn to them [with regard for their idolatry and wickedness].
“And I will make you to this people
A fortified wall of bronze;
They will fight against you,
But they will not prevail over you,
For I am with you [always] to save you
And [c]protect you,” says the Lord.
“So I will rescue you out of the hand of the wicked,
And I will redeem you from the [grasping] palm of the terrible and ruthless [tyrant].”

Distresses Foretold

16 The word of the Lord also came to me, saying, “You shall not take a wife or have sons and daughters in this place (Jerusalem).” For thus says the Lord concerning the sons and daughters who are born in this place, and concerning the mothers who give birth to them, and the fathers who father them in this land: “They will die of deadly diseases. They will not be mourned or buried; they will be like dung on the surface of the ground and come to an end by sword and famine, and their dead bodies will be food for the birds of the air and for the beasts of the earth.”

For thus says the Lord, “Do not enter a house of mourning, nor go to lament (express grief) or bemoan [the dead], for I have taken My peace away from this people,” says the Lord, “even My lovingkindness and compassion. Both great men and small will die in this land; they will not be buried, nor will they be lamented (mourned over with expressions of grief in death), nor will anyone cut himself or shave his head for them [in mourning]. People will not offer food to the mourners, to comfort anyone [as they grieve] for the dead, nor give them a cup of consolation to drink for anyone’s father or mother. And you [Jeremiah] shall not go into a house of feasting to sit with them to eat and drink.” For thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, “Behold, I will remove from this place, before your very eyes and in your time, the sound of joy and the shout of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride.

10 “Now when you tell these people all these words and they ask you, ‘Why has the Lord decreed all this great tragedy against us? And what is our iniquity, what is the sin which we have committed against the Lord our God?’ 11 Then you are to say to them, ‘It is because your fathers have abandoned (rejected) Me,’ says the Lord, ‘and have walked after other gods and have served them and bowed down to the handmade idols and have abandoned (rejected) Me and have not kept My law, 12 and because you have done worse [things] than your fathers. Just look, every one of you walks in the stubbornness of his own evil heart, so that you do not listen [obediently] to Me. 13 Therefore I will hurl you out of this land [of Judah] into the land [of the Babylonians] which neither you nor your fathers have known, and there you will serve other gods day and night, for I will show you no compassion.’

God Will Restore Them

14 “Therefore behold, the days are coming,” says the Lord, “when it will no longer be said, ‘As the Lord lives, who brought up the sons of Israel out of the land of Egypt,’ 15 but, ‘As the Lord lives, who brought up the sons of Israel from the land of the north and from all the countries to which He had driven them.’ And I will bring them back to their land which I gave to their fathers.

16 “Behold (listen carefully), I will send for many fishermen,” says the Lord, “and they will fish for them; and afterward I will send for many hunters, and they will hunt them from every mountain and from every hill and out of the clefts of the rocks. 17 For My eyes are on all their ways; they are not hidden from My face, nor is their wickedness concealed from My eyes. 18 I will first doubly repay and punish them for their wickedness and their sin [before I return them to their land], because they have profaned My land; they have filled My inheritance with the carcasses of their detestable idols and with their abominations.”

[Then said Jeremiah] “O Lord, my Strength and my Stronghold,
And my Refuge in the day of distress and need,
The nations will come to You
From the ends of the earth and say,
‘Our fathers have inherited nothing but lies and illusion,
[Worthless] things in which there is no benefit!’
“Can a man make gods for himself?
Such [things] are not gods!

“Therefore,” [says the Lord] “behold, I will make them know—
This time I will make them know
My power and My might;
And they will know and recognize [without any doubt] that My Name is the Lord.”

The Deceitful Heart

17 The sin of Judah is written down with an iron stylus;
With a diamond point it is engraved upon the tablet of their heart
And on the horns of their altars.

As they remember their children,
So they remember [in detail] their [pagan] altars and their [d]Asherim
Beside green trees on the high hills.

O [Jerusalem] My mountain in the countryside,
I will give [to the Babylonians, as the cost of your sin] your wealth and all your treasures as plunder,
And throughout your territory, your high places of sin.

And you will, through your own fault, let go of your [grip on your] inheritance
That I gave you;
And I will make you serve your enemies
In a land which you do not know;
For you have kindled a fire in My anger
Which will burn forever.

Thus says the Lord,
“Cursed is the man who trusts in and relies on mankind,
Making [weak, faulty human] flesh his strength,
And whose mind and heart turn away from the Lord.

“For he will be like a shrub in the [parched] desert;
And shall not see prosperity when it comes,
But shall live in the rocky places of the wilderness,
In an uninhabited salt land.

“Blessed [with spiritual security] is the man who believes and trusts in and relies on the Lord
And whose hope and confident expectation is the Lord.

“For he will be [nourished] like a tree planted by the waters,
That spreads out its roots by the river;
And will not fear the heat when it comes;
But its leaves will be green and moist.
And it will not be anxious and concerned in a year of drought
Nor stop bearing fruit.

“The heart is deceitful above all things
And it is [e]extremely sick;
Who can understand it fully and know its secret motives?(D)
“I, the Lord, search and examine the mind,
I test the heart,
To give to each man according to his ways,
According to the results of his deeds.
“Like the partridge that hatches eggs which she has not laid,
So is he who makes a fortune in ways that are unjust.
It will be lost to him before his days are over,
And in the end he will be [nothing but] a fool.”

A glorious throne, set on high from the beginning,
Is the place of our sanctuary (the temple).
O Lord, the hope of Israel,
All who abandon You will be shamed.
Those who turn away on earth will be written down,
Because they have abandoned the Lord, the fountain of living waters.
Heal me, O Lord, and I will be healed;
Save me and I will be saved,
For You are my praise.
Behold, they keep saying to me,
“Where is the word of the Lord [that is, the disaster that you prophesied]?
Let it come now!”
But as for me, I have not tried to escape from being a shepherd [walking] after You,
Nor have I longed for the woeful day [of judgment];
You know that, whatever I said
Was [spoken] in Your presence and was from You.
Do not be a terror to me;
You are my refuge and my hope in the day of disaster.
Let those who persecute me be shamed, but as for me, protect me from shame;
Let them lose courage, but let me be undaunted.
Bring on them a day of tragedy,
And destroy them with double destruction!

The Sabbath Must Be Kept

19 Thus the Lord said to me, “Go and stand in the [f]public gate, through which the kings of Judah come in and go out, and [stand] also in all the gates of Jerusalem; 20 and say to them, ‘Listen to the word of the Lord, kings of Judah, and all Judah, and all the people of Jerusalem who enter through these gates. 21 Thus says the Lord, “Pay attention for your own good, [and for the sake of your future] do not carry any load on the Sabbath day or bring anything in through the gates of Jerusalem. 22 You shall not carry a load out of your houses on the Sabbath day nor do any work, but keep the Sabbath day holy [by setting it apart as a day of worship], as I commanded your fathers. 23 Yet they would not listen and obey and control their behavior; but they were stiff-necked in order not to hear and take instruction.

24 But it will come about, if you listen diligently to Me,” says the Lord, “to bring no load in through the gates of this city on the Sabbath day, but keep the Sabbath day holy by doing no work on it, 25 then kings and princes who will sit on the throne of David will enter through the gates of this city, riding in chariots and on horses—the kings and their princes, the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and this city will be inhabited and endure throughout the ages. 26 People will come from the cities of Judah and the places all around Jerusalem, from the land of Benjamin, from the lowland, from the hill country and from the South (the Negev), bringing burnt offerings and sacrifices, grain offerings and incense, and bringing sacrifices of thanksgiving to the house of the Lord. 27 But if you will not listen to Me and keep the Sabbath day holy by not carrying a load as you come in the gates of Jerusalem on the Sabbath day, then I will kindle a fire in her gates that cannot be extinguished, and it will devour the palaces of Jerusalem.”’”


  1. Jeremiah 14:21 The temple in Jerusalem.
  2. Jeremiah 15:8 A midday attack would be completely unexpected.
  3. Jeremiah 15:20 Lit deliver.
  4. Jeremiah 17:2 Wooden carvings of the goddess Asherah.
  5. Jeremiah 17:9 Lit incurable.
  6. Jeremiah 17:19 Lit gate of the sons of the people.

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