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The Lord’s Promises to Zion

The Lord All-Powerful said to me:

I love Zion so much that her enemies make me angry. I will return to Jerusalem and live there on Mount Zion. Then Jerusalem will be known as my faithful city, and Zion will be known as my holy mountain.

Very old people with walking sticks will once again sit around in Jerusalem, while boys and girls play in the streets. This may seem impossible for my people who are left, but it isn’t impossible for me, the Lord All-Powerful. I will save those who were taken to lands in the east and the west, and I will bring them to live in Jerusalem. They will be my people, and I will be their God, faithful to bring about justice.

I am the Lord All-Powerful! So don’t give up. Think about the message my prophets spoke when the foundation of my temple was laid. 10 Before that time, neither people nor animals were rewarded for their work, and no one was safe anywhere, because I had turned them against each other.

11 My people, only a few of you are left, and I promise not to punish you as I did before. 12 Instead, I will make sure that your crops are planted in peace and your vineyards are fruitful, that your fields are fertile and the dew falls from the sky. 13 People of Judah and Israel, you have been a curse to the nations, but I will save you and make you a blessing to them. So don’t be afraid or lose courage.

14 When your ancestors made me angry, I decided to punish you with disasters, and I didn’t hold back. 15 Now you no longer need to be afraid. I have decided to treat Jerusalem and Judah with kindness. 16 But you must be truthful with each other, and in court you must give fair decisions that lead to peace. 17 Don’t ever plan evil things against others or tell lies under oath. I, the Lord, hate such things.

A Time of Celebration

18 The Lord All-Powerful told me to say:

19 People of Judah, I, the Lord, demand that whenever you go without food as a way of worshiping me, it should become a time of celebration. No matter if it’s the fourth month, the fifth month, the seventh month, or the tenth month, you should have a joyful festival. So love truth and live at peace.

20 I tell you that people will come here from cities everywhere. 21 Those of one town will go to another and say, “We’re going to ask the Lord All-Powerful to treat us with kindness. Come and join us.”

22 Many people from strong nations will come to Jerusalem to worship me and to ask me to treat them with kindness. 23 When this happens, ten people from nations with different languages will grab a Jew by his clothes and say, “Let us go with you. We’ve heard that God is on your side.” I, the Lord All-Powerful, have spoken!

Israel’s Enemies Will Be Punished

This is a message
    from the Lord:
His eyes are on everyone,
especially the tribes
    of Israel.[a]
So he pronounces judgment
against the cities
    of Hadrach and Damascus.[b]
Judgment will also fall
on the nearby city
    of Hamath,
as well as on Tyre and Sidon,[c]
    whose people are clever.
Tyre has built a fortress
    and piled up silver and gold,
as though they were dust
    or mud from the streets.
Now the Lord will punish Tyre
    with poverty;
he will sink its ships
    and send it up in flames.

Both Ashkelon and Gaza
will tremble with fear;
    Ekron will lose all hope.
Gaza’s king will be killed,
and Ashkelon emptied
    of its people.
A mob of half-breeds
    will settle in Ashdod,[d]
and the Lord himself
    will rob Philistia of pride.

No longer will the Philistines
eat meat with blood in it
    or any unclean food.[e]
They will become part
of the people of our God
    from the tribe of Judah.
And God will accept
the people of Ekron,
    as he did the Jebusites.[f]

God says, “I will stand guard
to protect my temple
from those
    who come to attack.
I know what’s happening,
and no one will mistreat
    my people ever again.”

The Lord Tells about the Coming King

Everyone in Jerusalem,
    celebrate and shout!
Your king has won a victory,
    and he is coming to you.
He is humble
    and rides on a donkey;
he comes on the colt
    of a donkey.
10 I, the Lord, will take away
war chariots and horses
    from Israel[g] and Jerusalem.
Bows that were made for battle
    will be broken.
I will bring peace to nations,
and your king will rule
    from sea to sea.
His kingdom will reach
from the Euphrates River
    across the earth.

The Lord Promises To Rescue Captives

11 When I made a sacred agreement
with you, my people,
    we sealed it with blood.[h]
Now some of you are captives
    in waterless pits,
but I will come to your rescue
12     and offer you hope.
Return to your fortress,
because today I will reward you
    with twice what you had.
13 I will use Judah as my bow
    and Israel[i] as my arrow.
I will take the people of Zion
as my sword
    and attack the Greeks.

The Lord Will Protect His People

14 Like a cloud, the Lord God
    will appear over his people,
and his arrows will flash
    like lightning.
God will sound his trumpet
and attack in a whirlwind
    from the south.
15 The Lord All-Powerful
    will protect his people,
and they will trample down
the sharpshooters
    and their slingshots.
They will drink and get rowdy;
they will be as full as a bowl
    at the time of sacrifice.

16 The Lord God will save them
on that day,
    because they are his people,
and they will shine on his land
    like jewels in a crown.
17 How lovely they will be.
Young people will grow there
    like grain in a field
    or grapes in a vineyard.

A Bright Future for Judah and Israel

10 I, the Lord, am the one
    who sends storm clouds
and showers of rain
    to make fields produce.
So when the crops need rain,
    you should pray to me.

You can’t believe idols
    and fortunetellers,
or depend on the hope
you receive from witchcraft
    and interpreters of dreams.
But you have tried all of these,
and now you are like sheep
    without a shepherd.

I, the Lord All-Powerful,
    am fiercely angry
with you leaders,
    and I will punish you.
I care for my people,
    the nation of Judah,
and I will change
this flock of sheep
    into charging war horses.

From this flock will come leaders
    who will be strong
like cornerstones and tent pegs
    and weapons of war.
They will join in the fighting,
and together they will trample
    their enemies like mud.
They will fight,
because I, the Lord,
    will be on their side.
And they will crush
    the enemy cavalry.

I will strengthen
the kingdoms of Judah
    and Israel.[j]
And I will show mercy
because I am the Lord,
    their God.
I will answer their prayers
    and bring them home.
Then it will seem as though
    I had never rejected them.
Israel[k] will be like
a tribe of warriors
    celebrating with wine.
When their children see this,
they will also be happy
    because of me, the Lord.

I will give a signal
for them to come together
    because I have rescued them.
And there will be as many
    as ever before.
Although I scattered my people
in distant countries,
    they won’t forget me.
Once their children are raised,[l]
    they will return—
10 I will bring them home
from Egypt and Assyria,
    then let them settle
as far as Gilead and Lebanon,
until the land overflows
    with them.
11 My people will go through
    an ocean of troubles,
but I will overcome the waves
and dry up the deepest part
    of the Nile.
Assyria’s great pride
    will be put down,
and the power of Egypt
    will disappear.
12 I’ll strengthen my people
because of who I am,
    and they will follow me.
I, the Lord, have spoken!

Trouble for Israel’s Enemies

11 Lebanon, open your gates!

Let the fire come in
    to destroy your cedar trees.
Cry, you cyprus trees!
The glorious cedars have fallen
    and are rotting.
Cry, you oak trees of Bashan!
The dense forest
    has been chopped down.
Listen! Shepherds are crying.
Their glorious pastures
    have been ruined.
Listen! Lions are roaring.
The forests of the Jordan Valley
    are no more to be found.

Worthless Shepherds

The Lord my God said to me:

Tend those sheep doomed for slaughter! The people who buy and butcher them go unpunished, while everyone who sells them says, “Praise the Lord! I’m rich.” Not even their shepherds have pity on them.

Tend those sheep because I, the Lord, will no longer have pity on the people of this earth. I’ll turn neighbor against neighbor and make them slaves of a king. They will bring disaster on the earth, and I’ll do nothing to rescue any of them.

So I became a shepherd of those sheep doomed to be slaughtered by the sheep dealers.[m] And I gave names to the two sticks I used for tending the sheep: One of them was named “Mercy” and the other “Unity.” In less than a month, I became impatient with three shepherds who didn’t like me, and I got rid of them. Then I said, “I refuse to be your shepherd. Let the sheep that are going to die, go on and die, and those that are going to be destroyed, go on and be destroyed. Then let the others eat one another alive.”

10 On that same day, I broke the stick named “Mercy” to show that the Lord had canceled his agreement with all people. 11 The sheep dealers who saw me knew right away that this was a message from the Lord. 12-13 I told them, “Pay me my wages, if you think you should; otherwise, forget it.” So they handed me my wages, a measly thirty pieces of silver.

Then the Lord said, “Throw the money into the treasury.”[n] So I threw the money into the treasury at the Lord’s temple. 14 Then I broke the stick named “Unity” and canceled the ties between Judah and Israel.

15 Next, the Lord said to me, “Act like a shepherd again—this time a worthless shepherd. 16 Once more I am going to let a worthless nobody rule the land—one who won’t care for the strays or search for the young or heal the sick or feed the healthy. He will just dine on the fattest sheep, leaving nothing but a few bones.”

17 You worthless shepherd,
    deserting the sheep!
I hope a sword
will cripple your arm
    and blind your right eye.

Victory for Jerusalem

12 This is a message from the Lord about Israel:

I am the Lord! I stretched out the heavens; I put the earth on its foundations and gave breath to humans. I have decided that Jerusalem will become a bowl of wine that makes the neighboring nations drunk. And when Jerusalem is attacked, Judah will also be attacked.[o] But I will turn Jerusalem into a heavy stone that crushes anyone who tries to lift it.

When all nations on earth surround Jerusalem, I will make every horse panic and every rider confused. But at the same time, I will watch over Judah. Then every clan in Judah will realize that I, the Lord All-Powerful, am their God, and that I am the source of their strength.

At that time I will let the clans of Judah be like a ball of fire in a wood pile or a fiery torch in a hay stack. Then Judah will send the surrounding nations up in smoke. And once again the city of Jerusalem will be filled with people.

But I will first give victory to Judah, so the kingdom of David and the city of Jerusalem in all of their glory won’t be thought of more highly than Judah itself. I, the Lord God, will protect Jerusalem. Even the weakest person there will be as strong as David, and David’s kingdom will rule as though my very own angel were its leader. I am determined to wipe out every nation that attacks Jerusalem.

Mourning for the One Pierced with a Spear

10 I, the Lord, will make the descendants of David and the people of Jerusalem feel deep sorrow and pray when they see the one they pierced with a spear. They will mourn and weep for him, as parents weep over the death of their only child or their first-born. 11 On that day the people of Jerusalem will mourn as much as everyone did for Hadad Rimmon[p] on the flatlands near Megiddo. 12 Everyone of each family in the land will mourn, and the men will mourn separately from the women. This includes those from the family of David, and the families of Nathan, 13 Levi, Shimei,[q] 14 and all other families as well.

Getting Rid of Idols and False Prophets

13 In the future there will be a fountain, where David’s descendants and the people of Jerusalem can wash away their sin and guilt.

The Lord All-Powerful says:

When that time comes, I will get rid of every idol in the country, and they will be forgotten forever. I will also do away with their prophets and those evil spirits that control them. If any such prophets ever appear again, their own parents must warn them that they will die for telling lies in my name—the name of the Lord. If those prophets don’t stop speaking, their parents must then kill them with a sword.

Those prophets will be ashamed of their so-called visions, and they won’t deceive anyone by dressing like a true prophet. Instead, they will say, “I’m no prophet. I’ve been a farmer all my life.”[r]

And if any of them are asked why they are wounded,[s] they will answer, “It happened at the house of some friends.”

A Wounded Shepherd and Scattered Sheep

The Lord All-Powerful said:

My sword, wake up! Attack
    my shepherd and friend.
Strike down the shepherd!
Scatter the little sheep,
    and I will destroy them.
Nowhere in the land
will more than a third of them
    be left alive.
Then I will purify them
    and put them to the test,
just as gold and silver
    are purified and tested.
They will pray in my name,
    and I will answer them.
I will say, “You are my people,”
and they will reply,
    “You, Lord, are our God!”

War and Victory

14 The Lord will have his day. And when it comes, everything that was ever taken from Jerusalem will be returned and divided among its people. But first, he will bring many nations to attack Jerusalem—homes will be robbed, women raped, and half of the population dragged off, though the others will be allowed to remain.

The Lord will attack those nations like a warrior fighting in battle. He will take his stand on the Mount of Olives east of Jerusalem, and the mountain will split in half, forming a wide valley that runs from east to west. Then you people will escape from the Lord’s mountain, through this valley, which reaches to Azal.[t] You will run in all directions, just as everyone did when the earthquake struck[u] in the time of King Uzziah of Judah. Afterwards, the Lord my God will appear with his holy angels.

It will be a bright day that won’t turn cloudy.[v] And the Lord has decided when it will happen—this time of unending day.

In both summer and winter, life-giving streams will flow from Jerusalem, half of them to the Dead Sea in the east and half to the Mediterranean Sea in the west. Then there will be only one Lord who rules as King and whose name is worshiped everywhere on earth.

10-11 From Geba down to Rimmon[w] south of Jerusalem, the entire country will be turned into flatlands, with Jerusalem still towering above. Then the city will be full of people, from Benjamin Gate, Old Gate Place, and Hananel Tower in the northeast part of the city over to Corner Gate in the northwest and down to King’s Wine Press in the south. Jerusalem will always be secure and will never again be destroyed.

12 Here is what the Lord will do to those who attack Jerusalem: While they are standing there, he will make their flesh rot and their eyes fall from their sockets and their tongues drop out. 13 The Lord will make them go into a frenzy and start attacking each other, 14-15 until even the people of Judah turn against those in Jerusalem.[x] This same terrible disaster will also strike every animal nearby, including horses, mules, camels, and donkeys. Finally, everything of value in the surrounding nations will be collected and brought to Jerusalem—gold, silver, and piles of clothing.

16 Afterwards, the survivors from those nations that attacked Jerusalem will go there each year to worship the King, the Lord All-Powerful, and to celebrate the Festival of Shelters. 17 No rain will fall on the land of anyone in any country who refuses to go to Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord All-Powerful. 18-19 This horrible disaster will strike the Egyptians and everyone else who refuses to go there for the celebration.

20-21 At that time the words “Dedicated to the Lord” will be engraved on the bells worn by horses. In fact, every ordinary cooking pot in Jerusalem will be just as sacred to the Lord All-Powerful as the bowls used at the altar. Any one of them will be acceptable for boiling the meat of sacrificed animals, and there will no longer be a need to sell special pots and bowls.[y]

Footnotes

  1. 9.1 His. . . Israel: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
  2. 9.1 Hadrach and Damascus: Hadrach was north of both Damascus (the main city of Syria) and Hamath (verse 2).
  3. 9.2 Tyre and Sidon: Phoenician cities.
  4. 9.5,6 Ashkelon and Gaza. . . Ekron. . . Ashdod: Philistine cities.
  5. 9.7 eat. . . food: The Philistines will become part of Judah and no longer eat meat with blood in it (see Genesis 9.4) or any other forbidden foods (see Leviticus 11.1-23; Deuteronomy 14.3-21).
  6. 9.7 Jebusites: The original people of Canaan, who lived in Jerusalem before it was captured by David (see 2 Samuel 5.6-10) and were later accepted as part of Israel.
  7. 9.10 Israel: The Hebrew text has “Ephraim,” the leading tribe of the northern kingdom of Israel, which sometimes stands for the whole kingdom.
  8. 9.11 agreement. . . blood: The agreement at Mount Sinai (see Exodus 24.7,8).
  9. 9.13 Israel: Hebrew “Ephraim” (see the note at 9.10).
  10. 10.6 Israel: The Hebrew text has “family of Joseph,” the ancestor of Ephraim and Manasseh, the leading tribes of the northern kingdom (Israel).
  11. 10.7 Israel: Hebrew “Ephraim” (see the note at 9.10).
  12. 10.9 Once. . . raised: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
  13. 11.7 by the sheep dealers: One ancient translation; Hebrew “especially the weak ones.”
  14. 11.12,13 Throw. . . treasury: Hebrew “Throw the money to the potter.”
  15. 12.2 Judah. . . attacked: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
  16. 12.11 Hadad Rimmon: Not mentioned elsewhere in the Old Testament.
  17. 12.13 Shimei: A descendant of Gershon son of Levi (see Numbers 3.18).
  18. 13.5 I’ve. . . my life: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
  19. 13.6 wounded: Probably from slashing themselves in the worship of a false god (see 1 Kings 18.28).
  20. 14.5 to Azal: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text. The location of Azal is unknown.
  21. 14.5 earthquake struck: See Amos 1.1.
  22. 14.6 a bright. . . cloudy: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
  23. 14.10 From Geba down to Rimmon: Approximately the northern and southern borders of Judah before the exile (see 2 Kings 23.8); Geba is about ten miles north of Jerusalem, and Rimmon is about ten miles north of Beersheba.
  24. 14.13-15 each other. . . Jerusalem: Or “each other. 14-15 But the people of Judah will fight on the side of Jerusalem.”
  25. 14.20,21 special pots and bowls: Since all pots and bowls will be considered acceptable for use in the temple, there will be no more need for merchants to sell special ones to those people who come to offer sacrifices.

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