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The Land Dries Up

14 When there had been no rain for a long time, the Lord told me to say to the people:

Judah and Jerusalem weep
    as the land dries up.
Rulers send their servants
    to the storage pits for water.[a]
But there’s none to be found;
they return in despair
    with their jars still empty.

There has been no rain,
    and farmers feel sick
as they watch cracks appear
    in the dry ground.[b]

A deer gives birth in a field,
then abandons her newborn fawn
    and leaves in search of grass.
Wild donkeys go blind
    from starvation.
So they stand on barren hilltops
and sniff the air,[c]
    hoping to smell green grass.

The Lord’s People Pray

Our terrible sins may demand
    that we be punished.
But if you rescue us, Lord,
everyone will see
    how great you are.
You’re our only hope;
    you alone can save us now.
You help us one day,
    but you’re gone the next.
Did this disaster
    take you by surprise?
Are you a warrior
    with your hands tied?
You have chosen us,
and your temple is here.
    Don’t abandon us!

The Lord’s Answer

10 My people,
    you love to wander away;
you don’t even try
    to stay close to me.
So now I will reject you
and punish you for your sins.
    I, the Lord, have spoken.

Lying Prophets

11 The Lord said, “Jeremiah, don’t ask me to help these people. 12 They may even go without eating[d] and offer sacrifices to please me[e] and to give thanks.[f] But when they cry out for my help, I won’t listen, and I won’t accept their sacrifices. Instead, I’ll send war, starvation, and disease to wipe them out.”

13 I replied, “The other prophets keep telling everyone that you won’t send starvation or war, and that you’re going to give us peace.”

14 The Lord answered:

They claim to speak for me, but they’re lying! I didn’t even speak to them, much less choose them to be my prophets. Their messages come from worthless dreams, useless fortunetelling, and their own imaginations.

15 Those lying prophets say there will be peace and plenty of food. But I say that those same prophets will die from war and hunger. 16 And everyone who listens to them will be killed, just as they deserve. Their dead bodies will be thrown out into the streets of Jerusalem, because their families will also be dead, and no one will be left to bury them.[g]

17 Jeremiah, go and tell the people how you feel about all this.

So I told them:

“Tears will flood my eyes
    both day and night,
because my nation suffers
    from a deadly wound.
18 In the fields I see the bodies
    of those killed in battle.
And in the towns I see crowds
    dying of hunger.
But the prophets and priests
    go about their business,
without understanding
    what has happened.”[h]

Jeremiah Prays to the Lord

19 Have you rejected Judah, Lord?
    Do you hate Jerusalem?
Why did you strike down Judah
    with a fatal wound?
We had hoped for peace
and a time of healing,
    but all we got was terror.
20 We and our ancestors are guilty
    of rebelling against you.
21 If you save us, it will show
    how great you are.
Don’t let our enemies
disgrace your temple,
    your beautiful throne.
Don’t forget that you promised
    to rescue us.
22 Idols can’t send rain,
and showers don’t fall
    by themselves.
Only you control the rain,
so we put our trust in you,
    the Lord our God.

The People of Judah Will Die

15 The Lord said to me:

Even if Moses and Samuel were here, praying with you, I wouldn’t change my mind. So send the people of Judah away. And when they ask where they are going, tell them that I, the Lord, have said:

Some of you are going to die
    of horrible diseases.
Others are going to die in war
    or from starvation.
The rest will be led away
    to a foreign country.
I will punish you
    in four different ways:
You will be killed in war
and your bodies dragged off
    by dogs,
your flesh will be eaten by birds,
and your bones will be chewed on
    by wild animals.
This punishment will happen
because of the horrible things[i]
    your King Manasseh[j] did.
And you will be disgusting
    to all nations on earth.
People of Jerusalem,
    who will feel sorry for you?
Will anyone bother
    to ask if you are well?

My people, you abandoned me
    and walked away.
I am tired of showing mercy;
    that’s why I’ll destroy you
by scattering you like straw
    blown by the wind.
I will punish you with sorrow
    and death,
because you refuse
    to change your ways.
There will be more widows
    in Judah
than grains of sand on a beach.

A surprise attack at noon!
And the mothers in Jerusalem
    mourn for their children.
A mother is in deep despair
    and struggles for breath.
Her daylight has turned
    to darkness—
she has suffered the loss
    of her seven sons.

I will kill anyone who survives.
    I, the Lord, have spoken.

Jeremiah Complains

10 I wish I had never been born!
I’m always in trouble
    with everyone in Judah.
I never lend or borrow money,
but everyone curses me
    just the same.

11 Then the Lord replied,
“I promise to protect you,
    and when disaster comes,
even your enemies
    will beg you for help.”[k]

The Enemy Cannot Be Defeated

The Lord told me to say:

12 People of Judah,
just as you can’t break iron
    mixed with bronze,
you can’t defeat the enemies
that will attack
    from the north.
13 I will give them
    everything you own,
because you have sinned
    everywhere in your country.
14 My anger is a fire
    that cannot be put out,[l]
so I will make you slaves
of your enemies
    in a foreign land.[m]

Jeremiah Complains Again

15 You can see how I suffer
insult after insult,
    all because of you, Lord.
Don’t be so patient
    with my enemies;
take revenge on them
    before they kill me.

16 When you spoke to me,
    I was glad to obey,
because I belong to you,
    the Lord All-Powerful.
17 I don’t go to parties
    and have a good time.
Instead, I keep to myself,
because you have filled me
    with your anger.

18 I am badly injured
    and in constant pain.
Are you going to disappoint me,
like a stream that goes dry
    in the heat of summer?

The Lord Replies

19 Then the Lord told me:
    Stop talking like a fool!
If you turn back to me
    and speak my message,
I will let you be my prophet
    once again.
I hope the people of Judah
    will accept what you say.
But you can ignore their threats,
20 because I am making you strong,
    like a bronze wall.
They are evil and violent,
    but when they attack,
21 I will be there to rescue you.
    I, the Lord, have spoken.

Jeremiah Must Live His Message

16 The Lord said to me:

Jeremiah, don’t get married and have children—Judah is no place to raise a family. I’ll tell you what’s going to happen to children and their parents here. They will die of horrible diseases and of war and starvation. No one will give them a funeral or bury them, and their bodies will be food for the birds and wild animals. And what’s left will lie on the ground like manure.

When someone dies, don’t visit the family or show any sorrow. I will no longer love or bless or have any pity on the people of Judah. Rich and poor alike will die and be left unburied. No one will mourn and show their sorrow by cutting themselves or shaving their heads.[n] No one will bring food and wine to help comfort those who are mourning the death of their father or mother.

Don’t even set foot in a house where there is eating and drinking and celebrating. Warn the people of Judah that I, the Lord All-Powerful, will put an end to all their parties and wedding celebrations. 10 They will ask, “Why has the Lord our God threatened us with so many disasters? Have we done something wrong or sinned against him?”

11 Then tell them I have said:

People of Judah, your ancestors turned away from me; they rejected my laws and teachings and started worshiping other gods. 12 And you have done even worse! You are stubborn, and instead of obeying me, you do whatever evil comes to your mind. 13 So I will throw you into a land that you and your ancestors know nothing about, a place where you will have to worship other gods both day and night. And I won’t feel the least bit sorry for you.

14 A time will come when you will again worship me. But you will no longer call me the Living God who rescued Israel from Egypt. 15 Instead, you will call me the Living God who rescued you from that country in the north and from the other countries where I had forced you to go.

Someday I will bring you back to this land that I gave your ancestors. 16 But for now, I am sending enemies who will catch you like fish and hunt you down like wild animals in the hills and the caves.

17 I can see everything you are doing, even if you try to hide your sins from me. 18 I will punish you double for your sins, because you have made my own land disgusting. You have filled it with lifeless idols that remind me of dead bodies.

The Lord Gives Strength

I prayed to the Lord:

19 Our Lord, you are the one
    who gives me strength
and protects me like a fortress
    when I am in trouble.
People will come to you
    from distant nations and say,
“Our ancestors worshiped
    false and useless gods,
20 worthless idols
    made by human hands.”

21 Then the Lord replied,
“That’s why I will teach them
    about my power,
and they will know
    that I am the true God.”

The Lord Will Punish Judah

The Lord said:

17 People of Judah,
    your sins cannot be erased.
They are written on your hearts
    like words chiseled in stone
or carved on the corners
    of your altars.[o]
One generation after another
    has set up pagan altars
and worshiped the goddess Asherah
everywhere in your country—
    on hills and mountains,
    and under large trees.
So I’ll take everything you own,
    including your altars,
and give it all
    to your enemies.[p]
You will lose[q] the land
    that I gave you,
and I will make you slaves
    in a foreign country,
because you have made my anger
blaze up like a fire
    that won’t stop burning.

Trust the Lord

I, the Lord, have put a curse
on those who turn from me
    and trust in human strength.
They will dry up like a bush
in salty desert soil,
    where nothing can grow.

But I will bless those
    who trust me.
They will be like trees
    growing beside a stream—
trees with roots that reach
    down to the water,
and with leaves
    that are always green.
They bear fruit every year
and are never worried
    by a lack of rain.

You people of Judah
    are so deceitful
that you even fool yourselves,
    and you can’t change.
10 But I know your deeds
    and your thoughts,
and I will make sure
    you get what you deserve.
11 You cheated others,
    but everything you gained
will fly away, like birds
    hatched from stolen eggs.
Then you will discover
    what fools you are.

Jeremiah Prays to the Lord

12 Our Lord, your temple
    is a glorious throne
that has stood on a mountain
    from the beginning.
13 You are a spring of water
    giving Israel life and hope.
But if the people reject
    what you have told me,
they will be swept away
    like words written in dust.[r]

14 You, Lord, are the one I praise.
    So heal me and rescue me!
Then I will be completely well
    and perfectly safe.

15 The people of Judah say to me,
“Jeremiah, you claimed to tell us
    what the Lord has said.
So why hasn’t it come true?”

16 Our Lord, you chose me
to care for your people,
    and that’s what I have done.
You know everything I have said,
and I have never once
    asked you to punish them.[s]
17 I trust you for protection
in times of trouble,
    so don’t frighten me.
18 Keep me from failure
    and disgrace,
but make my enemies fail
    and be disgraced.
Send destruction to make
    their worst fears come true.

Resting on the Sabbath

19-20 The Lord said:

Jeremiah, stand at each city gate in Jerusalem, including the one the king uses, and speak to him and everyone else. Tell them I have said:

I am the Lord, so pay attention. 21-24 If you value your lives, don’t do any work on the Sabbath. Don’t carry anything through the city gates or through the door of your house, or anywhere else. Keep the Sabbath day sacred!

I gave this command to your ancestors, but they were stubborn and refused to obey or to be corrected. But if you obey, 25 then Judah and Jerusalem will always be ruled by kings from David’s family. The king and his officials will ride through these gates on horses or in chariots, and the people of Judah and Jerusalem will be with them. There will always be people living in Jerusalem, 26 and others will come here from the nearby villages, from the towns of Judah and Benjamin,[t] from the hill country and the foothills to the west, and from the Southern Desert. They will bring sacrifices to please me and to give me thanks,[u] as well as offerings of grain and incense.

27 But if you keep on carrying things through the city gates on the Sabbath and keep treating it as any other day, I will set fire to these gates and burn down the whole city, including the fortresses.

Footnotes

  1. 14.3 storage pits for water: Since water was scarce, pits were dug into solid rock for collecting and storing rainwater. These pits were called “cisterns.”
  2. 14.4 cracks. . . ground: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
  3. 14.6 sniff the air: The Hebrew text has “sniff the air, like jackals” (see the note at 9.11).
  4. 14.12 go without eating: The people of Israel sometimes went without eating to show sorrow for their sins.
  5. 14.12 sacrifices to please me: These sacrifices have traditionally been called “whole burnt offerings” because the whole animal was burned on the altar. A main purpose of such sacrifices was to please the Lord with the smell of the sacrifice, and so in the CEV they are sometimes called “sacrifices to please the Lord.”
  6. 14.12 sacrifices. . . to give thanks: These sacrifices have traditionally been called “grain offerings.” A main purpose of such sacrifices was to thank the Lord with a gift of grain, and so in the CEV they are sometimes called “sacrifices to give thanks to the Lord.”
  7. 14.16 dead bodies. . . bury them: A proper burial was considered very important.
  8. 14.18 go about. . . has happened: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
  9. 15.4 the horrible things: See 2 Kings 21.1-16.
  10. 15.4 Manasseh: Hebrew “Manasseh son of Hezekiah”; he ruled 687-642 B.C.
  11. 15.11 help: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text of verse 11.
  12. 15.14 that cannot be put out: Some Hebrew manuscripts; most Hebrew manuscripts “against you.”
  13. 15.14 I will make. . . land: Many Hebrew manuscripts; most Hebrew manuscripts “I will make your enemies go through to a land you don’t know about.”
  14. 16.6 mourn and show their sorrow by cutting themselves or shaving their heads: A custom in some Canaanite religions.
  15. 17.1 carved on the corners of your altars: When sacrifices were offered to the Lord to ask him to forgive sins, some of the blood was smeared on the corners of the altar (see Leviticus 4.7,18-20,25,26,30,31,34,35; 16.18). But now the Lord refuses to accept these sacrifices.
  16. 17.3 enemies: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text of verses 2,3.
  17. 17.4 You will lose: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
  18. 17.13 reject. . . dust: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
  19. 17.16 you chose. . . punish them: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
  20. 17.26 Judah and Benjamin: These two tribes made up the southern kingdom of Judah.
  21. 17.26 sacrifices to please me and to give me thanks: See the notes at 14.12.

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