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Judgment against Judah

The Lord, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies,
    will take away from Jerusalem and Judah
everything they depend on:
    every bit of bread
    and every drop of water,
all their heroes and soldiers,
    judges and prophets,
    fortune-tellers and elders,
army officers and high officials,
    advisers, skilled sorcerers, and astrologers.

I will make boys their leaders,
    and toddlers their rulers.
People will oppress each other—
    man against man,
    neighbor against neighbor.
Young people will insult their elders,
    and vulgar people will sneer at the honorable.

In those days a man will say to his brother,
“Since you have a coat, you be our leader!
    Take charge of this heap of ruins!”
But he will reply,
    “No! I can’t help.
I don’t have any extra food or clothes.
    Don’t put me in charge!”

For Jerusalem will stumble,
    and Judah will fall,
because they speak out against the Lord and refuse to obey him.
    They provoke him to his face.
The very look on their faces gives them away.
    They display their sin like the people of Sodom
    and don’t even try to hide it.
They are doomed!
    They have brought destruction upon themselves.

10 Tell the godly that all will be well for them.
    They will enjoy the rich reward they have earned!
11 But the wicked are doomed,
    for they will get exactly what they deserve.

12 Childish leaders oppress my people,
    and women rule over them.
O my people, your leaders mislead you;
    they send you down the wrong road.

13 The Lord takes his place in court
    and presents his case against his people.[a]
14 The Lord comes forward to pronounce judgment
    on the elders and rulers of his people:
“You have ruined Israel, my vineyard.
    Your houses are filled with things stolen from the poor.
15 How dare you crush my people,
    grinding the faces of the poor into the dust?”
    demands the Lord, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.

A Warning to Jerusalem

16 The Lord says, “Beautiful Zion[b] is haughty:
craning her elegant neck,
    flirting with her eyes,
walking with dainty steps,
    tinkling her ankle bracelets.
17 So the Lord will send scabs on her head;
    the Lord will make beautiful Zion bald.”

18 On that day of judgment
    the Lord will strip away everything that makes her beautiful:
ornaments, headbands, crescent necklaces,
19     earrings, bracelets, and veils;
20 scarves, ankle bracelets, sashes,
    perfumes, and charms;
21 rings, jewels,
22     party clothes, gowns, capes, and purses;
23 mirrors, fine linen garments,
    head ornaments, and shawls.

24 Instead of smelling of sweet perfume, she will stink.
    She will wear a rope for a sash,
    and her elegant hair will fall out.
She will wear rough burlap instead of rich robes.
    Shame will replace her beauty.[c]
25 The men of the city will be killed with the sword,
    and her warriors will die in battle.
26 The gates of Zion will weep and mourn.
    The city will be like a ravaged woman,
    huddled on the ground.

In that day so few men will be left that seven women will fight for each man, saying, “Let us all marry you! We will provide our own food and clothing. Only let us take your name so we won’t be mocked as old maids.”

A Promise of Restoration

But in that day, the branch[d] of the Lord
    will be beautiful and glorious;
the fruit of the land will be the pride and glory
    of all who survive in Israel.
All who remain in Zion
    will be a holy people—
those who survive the destruction of Jerusalem
    and are recorded among the living.
The Lord will wash the filth from beautiful Zion[e]
    and cleanse Jerusalem of its bloodstains
    with the hot breath of fiery judgment.
Then the Lord will provide shade for Mount Zion
    and all who assemble there.
He will provide a canopy of cloud during the day
    and smoke and flaming fire at night,
    covering the glorious land.
It will be a shelter from daytime heat
    and a hiding place from storms and rain.

A Song about the Lord’s Vineyard

Now I will sing for the one I love
    a song about his vineyard:
My beloved had a vineyard
    on a rich and fertile hill.
He plowed the land, cleared its stones,
    and planted it with the best vines.
In the middle he built a watchtower
    and carved a winepress in the nearby rocks.
Then he waited for a harvest of sweet grapes,
    but the grapes that grew were bitter.

Now, you people of Jerusalem and Judah,
    you judge between me and my vineyard.
What more could I have done for my vineyard
    that I have not already done?
When I expected sweet grapes,
    why did my vineyard give me bitter grapes?

Now let me tell you
    what I will do to my vineyard:
I will tear down its hedges
    and let it be destroyed.
I will break down its walls
    and let the animals trample it.
I will make it a wild place
    where the vines are not pruned and the ground is not hoed,
    a place overgrown with briers and thorns.
I will command the clouds
    to drop no rain on it.

The nation of Israel is the vineyard of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.
    The people of Judah are his pleasant garden.
He expected a crop of justice,
    but instead he found oppression.
He expected to find righteousness,
    but instead he heard cries of violence.

Judah’s Guilt and Judgment

What sorrow for you who buy up house after house and field after field,
    until everyone is evicted and you live alone in the land.
But I have heard the Lord of Heaven’s Armies
    swear a solemn oath:
“Many houses will stand deserted;
    even beautiful mansions will be empty.
10 Ten acres[f] of vineyard will not produce even six gallons[g] of wine.
    Ten baskets of seed will yield only one basket[h] of grain.”

11 What sorrow for those who get up early in the morning
    looking for a drink of alcohol
and spend long evenings drinking wine
    to make themselves flaming drunk.
12 They furnish wine and lovely music at their grand parties—
    lyre and harp, tambourine and flute—
but they never think about the Lord
    or notice what he is doing.

13 So my people will go into exile far away
    because they do not know me.
Those who are great and honored will starve,
    and the common people will die of thirst.
14 The grave[i] is licking its lips in anticipation,
    opening its mouth wide.
The great and the lowly
    and all the drunken mob will be swallowed up.
15 Humanity will be destroyed, and people brought down;
    even the arrogant will lower their eyes in humiliation.
16 But the Lord of Heaven’s Armies will be exalted by his justice.
    The holiness of God will be displayed by his righteousness.
17 In that day lambs will find good pastures,
    and fattened sheep and young goats[j] will feed among the ruins.

18 What sorrow for those who drag their sins behind them
    with ropes made of lies,
    who drag wickedness behind them like a cart!
19 They even mock God and say,
    “Hurry up and do something!
    We want to see what you can do.
Let the Holy One of Israel carry out his plan,
    for we want to know what it is.”

20 What sorrow for those who say
    that evil is good and good is evil,
that dark is light and light is dark,
    that bitter is sweet and sweet is bitter.
21 What sorrow for those who are wise in their own eyes
    and think themselves so clever.
22 What sorrow for those who are heroes at drinking wine
    and boast about all the alcohol they can hold.
23 They take bribes to let the wicked go free,
    and they punish the innocent.

24 Therefore, just as fire licks up stubble
    and dry grass shrivels in the flame,
so their roots will rot
    and their flowers wither.
For they have rejected the law of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies;
    they have despised the word of the Holy One of Israel.
25 That is why the Lord’s anger burns against his people,
    and why he has raised his fist to crush them.
The mountains tremble,
    and the corpses of his people litter the streets like garbage.
But even then the Lord’s anger is not satisfied.
    His fist is still poised to strike!

26 He will send a signal to distant nations far away
    and whistle to those at the ends of the earth.
    They will come racing toward Jerusalem.
27 They will not get tired or stumble.
    They will not stop for rest or sleep.
Not a belt will be loose,
    not a sandal strap broken.
28 Their arrows will be sharp
    and their bows ready for battle.
Sparks will fly from their horses’ hooves,
    and the wheels of their chariots will spin like a whirlwind.
29 They will roar like lions,
    like the strongest of lions.
Growling, they will pounce on their victims and carry them off,
    and no one will be there to rescue them.
30 They will roar over their victims on that day of destruction
    like the roaring of the sea.
If someone looks across the land,
    only darkness and distress will be seen;
    even the light will be darkened by clouds.

Footnotes

  1. 3:13 As in Greek and Syriac versions; Hebrew reads against the peoples.
  2. 3:16 Or The women of Zion (with corresponding changes to plural forms through verse 24); Hebrew reads The daughters of Zion; also in 3:17.
  3. 3:24 As in Dead Sea Scrolls; Masoretic Text reads robes / because instead of beauty.
  4. 4:2 Or the Branch.
  5. 4:4 Or from the women of Zion; Hebrew reads from the daughters of Zion.
  6. 5:10a Hebrew A ten yoke, that is, the area of land plowed by ten teams of oxen in one day.
  7. 5:10b Hebrew a bath [21 liters].
  8. 5:10c Hebrew A homer [5 bushels or 220 liters] of seed will yield only an ephah [20 quarts or 22 liters].
  9. 5:14 Hebrew Sheol.
  10. 5:17 As in Greek version; Hebrew reads and strangers.