Contemporary English Version
A Message of Hope
The Lord said:
23 You leaders of my people are like shepherds that kill and scatter the sheep. 2 You were supposed to take care of my people, but instead you chased them away. So now I’ll really take care of you, and believe me, you will pay for your crimes!
3 I will bring the rest of my people home from the lands where I have scattered them, and they will grow into a mighty nation. 4 I promise to choose leaders who will care for them like real shepherds. All of my people will be there, and they will never again be frightened.
5 Someday I will appoint
an honest king
from the family of David,
a king who will be wise
and rule with justice.
6 As long as he is king,
Israel will have peace,
and Judah will be safe.
The name of this king will be
“The Lord Gives Justice.”
7 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. 8 Instead, you will call me the Living God who rescued you from the land in the north and from all the other countries where I had forced you to go. And you will once again live in your own land.
Jeremiah Thinks about Unfaithful Prophets
9 When I think of the prophets,
I am shocked, and I tremble[a]
like someone drunk,
because of the Lord
and his sacred words.
10 Those unfaithful prophets
misuse their power
all over the country.
So God turned the pasturelands
into scorching deserts.[b]
The Lord Will Punish Unfaithful Prophets
11 The Lord told me to say:
You prophets and priests
think so little of me, the Lord,
that you even sin
in my own temple!
12 Now I will punish you
and you will slip and fall
in the darkness.
I, the Lord, have spoken.
13 The prophets in Samaria
were disgusting to me,
because they preached
in the name of Baal
and led my people astray.
14 And you prophets in Jerusalem
are even worse.
You’re unfaithful in marriage[c]
and never tell the truth.[d]
You even lead others to sin
instead of helping them
turn back to me.
You and the people of Jerusalem
15 You prophets in Jerusalem
have spread evil everywhere.
That’s why I, the Lord, promise
to give you bitter poison
to eat and drink.
The Lord Gives a Warning
The Lord said:
16 Don’t listen to the lies
of these false prophets,
you people of Judah!
The message they preach
is something they imagined;
it did not come from me,
the Lord All-Powerful.
17 These prophets go to people
who refuse to respect me
and who are stubborn
and do whatever they want.
The prophets tell them,
“The Lord has promised
everything will be fine.”
18 But I, the Lord, tell you
that these prophets
have never attended a meeting
of my council in heaven[f]
or heard me speak.
19 They are evil! So in my anger
I will strike them
like a violent storm.
20 I won’t calm down,
until I have finished
what I have decided to do.
Someday you will understand
exactly what I mean.
21 I did not send these prophets
or speak to them,
but they ran to find you
and to preach their message.
22 If they had been in a meeting
of my council in heaven,
they would have told
you people of Judah
to give up your sins
and come back to me.
23 I am everywhere—
both near and far,
24 in heaven and on earth.
There are no secret places
where you can hide from me.
25 These unfaithful prophets claim that I have given them a dream or a vision, and then they tell lies in my name. 26 But everything they say comes from their own twisted minds. How long can this go on? 27 They tell each other their dreams and try to get my people to reject me, just as their ancestors left me and worshiped Baal. 28 Their dreams and my truth are as different as straw and wheat. But when prophets speak for me, they must say only what I have told them. 29 My words are a powerful fire; they are a hammer that shatters rocks.
30-32 These unfaithful prophets claim I give them their dreams, but it isn’t true. I didn’t choose them to be my prophets, and yet they babble on and on, speaking in my name, while stealing words from each other. And when my people hear these liars, they are led astray instead of being helped. So I warn you that I am now the enemy of these prophets. I, the Lord, have spoken.
News and Nuisance
The Lord said to me:
34 If any of you say, “Here is news from the Lord,” I will punish you and your families, even if you are a prophet or a priest. 35 Instead, you must ask your friends and relatives, “What answer did the Lord give?” or “What has the Lord said?” 36 It seems that you each have your own news! So if you say, “Here is news from the Lord,” you are twisting my words into a lie. Remember that I am your God, the Lord All-Powerful.
37 If you go to a prophet, it’s all right to ask, “What answer did the Lord give to my question?” or “What has the Lord said?” 38 But if you disobey me and say, “Here is news from the Lord,” 39 I will pick you up[i] and throw you far away. And I will abandon this city of Jerusalem that I gave to your ancestors. 40 You will never be free from your shame and disgrace.
Jeremiah Has a Vision of Two Baskets of Figs
24 The Lord spoke to me in a vision after King Nebuchadnezzar[j] of Babylonia had come to Judah and taken King Jehoiachin,[k] his officials, and all the skilled workers back to Babylonia. In this vision I saw two baskets of figs in front of the Lord’s temple. 2 One basket was full of very good figs that ripened early, and the other was full of rotten figs that were not fit to eat.
3 “Jeremiah,” the Lord asked, “what do you see?”
“Figs,” I said. “Some are very good, but the others are too rotten to eat.”
4 Then the Lord told me to say:
5 People of Judah, the good figs stand for those of you I sent away as exiles to Babylonia, 6 where I am watching over them. Then someday I will bring them back to this land. I will plant them, instead of uprooting them, and I will build them up, rather than tearing them down. 7 I will give them a desire to know me and to be my people. They will want me to be their God, and they will turn back to me with all their heart.
8 The rotten figs stand for King Zedekiah[l] of Judah, his officials, and all the others who were not taken away to Babylonia, whether they stayed here in Judah or went to live in Egypt. 9 I will punish them with a terrible disaster, and everyone on earth will tremble when they hear about it. I will force the people of Judah to go to foreign countries, where they will be cursed and insulted. 10 War and hunger and disease will strike them, until they finally disappear from the land that I gave them and their ancestors.
Seventy Years of Exile
25 1-2 In the fourth year that Jehoiakim was king of Judah,[m] which was the first year that Nebuchadnezzar[n] was king of Babylonia, the Lord told me to speak to the people of Judah and Jerusalem. So I told them:
3 For twenty-three years now, ever since the thirteenth year that Josiah[o] was king, I have been telling you what the Lord has told me. But you have not listened.
4 The Lord has sent prophets to you time after time, but you refused to listen. 5 They told you that the Lord had said:
Change your ways! If you stop doing evil, I will let you stay forever in this land that I gave your ancestors. 6 I don’t want to harm you. So don’t make me angry by worshiping idols and other gods.
7 But you refused to listen to my prophets. So I, the Lord, say that you have made me angry by worshiping idols, and you are the ones who were hurt by what you did. 8 You refused to listen to me, 9 and now I will let you be attacked by nations from the north, and especially by my servant, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylonia. You and other nearby nations will be destroyed and left in ruins forever. Everyone who sees what has happened will be shocked, but they will still make fun of you. 10 I will put an end to your parties and wedding celebrations; no one will grind grain or be here to light the lamps at night. 11 This country will be as empty as a desert, because I will make all of you the slaves of the king of Babylonia for seventy years.
12 When that time is up, I will punish the king of Babylonia and his people for everything they have done wrong, and I will turn that country into a wasteland forever. 13 My servant Jeremiah has told you what I said I will do to Babylonia and to the other nations, and he wrote it all down in this book. I will do everything I threatened. 14 I will pay back the Babylonians for every wrong they have done. Great kings from many other nations will conquer the Babylonians and force them to be slaves.
The Cup Full of God’s Anger
15 The Lord God of Israel showed me a vision in which he said, “Jeremiah, here is a cup filled with the wine of my anger. Take it and make every nation drink some. 16 They will vomit and act crazy, because of the war this cup of anger will bring to them.”
17 I took the cup from the Lord’s hand, and I went to the kings of the nations and made each of them drink some. 18 I started with Jerusalem and the towns of Judah, and the king and his officials were removed from power in disgrace. Everyone still makes insulting jokes about them and uses their names as curse words. 19 The second place I went was Egypt, where everyone had to drink from the cup, including the king and his officials, the other government workers, the rest of the Egyptians, 20 and all the foreigners who lived in the country.
Next I went to the king of Uz, and then to the four kings of Philistia, who ruled from Ashkelon, Gaza, Ekron, and what was left of Ashdod.[p] 21 Then I went to the kings of Edom, Moab, Ammon, 22 and to the kings of Tyre, Sidon, and their colonies across the sea. 23-24 After this, I went to the kings of Dedan, Tema, Buz, the tribes of the Arabian Desert,[q] 25 Zimri, Elam, Media, 26 and the countries in the north, both near and far.
I went to all the countries on earth, one after another, and finally to Babylonia.[r]
27 The Lord had said to tell each king, “The Lord All-Powerful, the God of Israel, commands you to drink from this cup that is full of the wine of his anger. It will make you so drunk that you will vomit. And when the Lord sends war against the nations, you will be completely defeated.”
28 The Lord told me that if any of them refused to drink from the cup, I must tell them that he had said, “I, the Lord All-Powerful, command you to drink. 29 Starting with my own city of Jerusalem, everyone on earth will suffer from war. So there is no way I will let you escape unharmed.”
30 The Lord told me to say:
From my sacred temple
I will roar like thunder,
while I trample my people
and everyone else
as though they were grapes.
31 My voice will be heard
everywhere on earth,
accusing nations of their crimes
and sentencing the guilty
Disaster Is Coming
32 The Lord All-Powerful says:
You can see disaster spreading
from far across the earth,
from nation to nation
like a horrible storm.
33 When it strikes, I will kill so many people that their bodies will cover the ground like manure. No one will be left to bury them or to mourn.
The Leaders of Judah Will Be Punished
34 The Lord’s people are his flock,
and you leaders
were the shepherds.
But now it’s your turn
to be butchered like sheep.
You’ll shatter like fine pottery
dropped on the floor.[s]
So roll on the ground,
crying and mourning.
35 You have nowhere to run,
nowhere to hide.
- 23.9 tremble: Or “become weak.”
- 23.10 deserts: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text of verse 10.
- 23.14 in marriage: Or “to me.”
- 23.14 never tell the truth: Or “worship other gods.”
- 23.14 Sodom and Gomorrah: Two cities that the Lord destroyed because their people were so evil (see Genesis 18.16—19.29).
- 23.18 a meeting of my council in heaven: Sometimes, prophets had visions of the Lord meeting with his angels (see 1 Kings 22.19-23).
- 23.33 news. . . nuisance: The Hebrew word for “news” in verses 33-38 is the same as “nuisance” and is related to “pick up” in verse 39.
- 23.33 You people are a nuisance to the Lord, and he: Two ancient translations; Hebrew “Does the Lord have news for us? He.”
- 23.39 pick you up: A few Hebrew manuscripts and three ancient translations; most Hebrew manuscripts “forget you completely.”
- 24.1 Nebuchadnezzar: See the note at 21.2.
- 24.1 Jehoiachin: The Hebrew text has “Jeconiah,” another form of Jehoiachin’s name; he ruled for three months in 598 B.C.
- 24.8 Zedekiah: Ruled 598-586 B.C.
- 25.1,2 Jehoiakim. . . Judah: See the note at 1.3.
- 25.1,2 Nebuchadnezzar: See the note at 21.2.
- 25.3 Josiah: Hebrew “Josiah son of Amon”; Josiah ruled 640-609 B.C.
- 25.20 what was left of Ashdod: It was defeated by the king of Egypt after being surrounded for twenty-nine years.
- 25.23,24 the tribes of the Arabian Desert: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
- 25.26 Babylonia: The Hebrew text has “Sheshach,” a secret way of writing “Babylonia.”
- 25.34 You’ll shatter. . . floor: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
- 25.37 anger turns: Or “anger and enemy armies turn.”
- 25.38 The Lord has. . . people: Or “And his people leave their homes.”