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Jeremiah 18-22 (Common English Bible)

Jeremiah 18-22

God the potter

18 Jeremiah received the Lord’s word: Go down to the potter’s house, and I’ll give you instructions about what to do there. So I went down to the potter’s house; he was working on the potter’s wheel. But the piece he was making was flawed while still in his hands, so the potter started on another, as seemed best to him. Then the Lord’s word came to me: House of Israel, can’t I deal with you like this potter, declares the Lord? Like clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in mine, house of Israel! At any time I may announce that I will dig up, pull down, and destroy a nation or kingdom; but if that nation I warned turns from its evil, then I’ll relent and not carry out the harm I intended for it. At the same time, I may announce that I will build and plant a nation or kingdom; 10 but if that nation displeases and disobeys me, then I’ll relent and not carry out the good I intended for it. 11 Now say to the people of Judah and those living in Jerusalem: This is what the Lord says: I am a potter preparing a disaster for you; I’m working out a plan against you. So each one of you, turn from your evil ways; reform your ways and your actions. 12 But they said, “What’s the use! We will follow our own plans and act according to our own willful, evil hearts.”

13 Therefore, the Lord proclaims:
Ask among the nations:
    Have you ever heard anything like this?
        Virgin Israel has done
        the most horrible thing.
14 Does the snow on the mountains of Lebanon ever melt entirely
        off their rocky cliffs?
    Do the cool mountain streams ever dry up?[a]
15 Yet my people have forgotten me;
    they have offered sacrifices to a lie.
And so they have stumbled along the way,
    even along the ancient paths.
They have taken side roads,
    not the main roads.[b]
16 They have ruined their country
    and brought utter shame on it.
All who pass by are shocked
    and shake their heads.
17 Like a strong east wind,
    I will scatter them before their enemy.
When disaster strikes them,
    I will show them my back,
        not my face.

18 Then they said, “Come, let’s unite against Jeremiah, for the priest’s instruction won’t fail, nor will the sage’s counsel, nor the prophet’s word. Come, let’s silence him and pay no attention to his words.”

19 Pay attention to me, Lord;
    listen to what my enemies are saying.
20 Should evil be returned for good?
    Yet they have set traps for me.
Remember that I stood before you,
    begging you to be merciful
        and not to punish them.
21 Enough! Let their children starve;
    let them die by the sword.
    Let their wives be barren widows;
    let their men be slaughtered
    and their youth struck down in battle.
22     Let screams be heard from their homes
    when you suddenly bring armies against them.
They have dug a pit to capture me,
    set traps for my feet.
23 But you, Lord, you know
    all their sinister plots to kill me.
Don’t overlook their wrongdoing;
    don’t cleanse their sin from before you.
May they stumble before you;
    when you become angry, do something about them.

Broken beyond repair

19 The Lord proclaims: Go buy a clay jar from a potter in the presence of the elders of the people and the priests. Then go out to the Ben-hinnom Valley at the entrance of the gate called Broken Pots and proclaim there the words I will tell you. Listen to the Lord’s word, you kings of Judah and those of you living in Jerusalem: This is what the Lord of heavenly forces, the God of Israel, says: I’m going to bring such disaster upon this place that it will shock all who hear of it. They have deserted me and degraded this place into a shrine for other gods, which neither they nor their ancestors nor Judah’s kings have ever known. And they have filled this place with the blood of the innocent. Yes, they have built shrines to Baal, to burn their sons and daughters in the fire, although I never commanded or ordered such a thing, nor did it ever cross my mind.

So now the time is coming, declares the Lord, when people will no longer call this place Topheth or Ben-hinnom Valley but Carnage Valley. I will foil the plans of Judah and Jerusalem in this place and will have them fall in battle before their enemies, before those who seek their lives. I will give their corpses as food to the birds and the wild animals. I will make this city something that sounds horrible; all who pass by it will be shocked at its pain. And when their enemies lay siege to the city, seeking their lives, they will resort in desperation to eating the flesh of their sons and daughters, and to devouring the flesh of their neighbors.

10 Then you should shatter the clay jar in the sight of the people who are with you, 11 and you should say to them: This is what the Lord of heavenly forces says: Just as one smashes the potter’s piece beyond repair, so I will smash this people and this city. And they will bury the dead in Topheth until there’s no room left. 12 That is what I will do to this place and its residents, declares the Lord: I will make this city like Topheth. 13 The houses of Jerusalem and those of Judah’s kings will become as foul as Topheth—all the houses on whose roofs they made offerings to the heavenly force and poured out drink offerings to other gods.

14 When Jeremiah returned from Topheth where the Lord had sent him to prophesy, he stood in the court of the Lord’s temple and said to all the people: 15 The Lord of heavenly forces, the God of Israel, proclaims: I am about to bring upon this city and its surrounding towns every disaster that I have pronounced against them, because they have been stubborn and wouldn’t obey my words.

20 When the priest Pashhur, Immer’s son, the officer in charge of the Lord’s temple, heard Jeremiah prophesying these words, he beat the prophet and detained him in confinement at the upper Benjamin Gate in the Lord’s temple. The next day, when Pashhur released Jeremiah from confinement, Jeremiah said to him, “The Lord has changed your name from Pashhur to Panic Lurks Everywhere. The Lord proclaims: I’m going to strike panic into your heart and into the hearts of your friends. You will watch as they fall in battle to their enemies. I will hand over all Judah to the king of Babylon, who will exile some to Babylon and slaughter others. I will hand over all the wealth of this city, all its goods and valuables, including the treasures of the kings of Judah, to their enemies, who will ransack and pillage and carry it all off to Babylon. And you, Pashhur, and all those in your household, will go into captivity. You will be deported to Babylon where you will die. There you will be buried with all your friends to whom you prophesied falsely.”

Total despair

Lord, you enticed me, and I was taken in.
    You were too strong for me, and you prevailed.
Now I’m laughed at all the time;
    everyone mocks me.
Every time I open my mouth, I cry out
    and say, “Violence and destruction!”
The Lord’s word has brought me
    nothing but insult and injury, constantly.
I thought, I’ll forget him;
    I’ll no longer speak in his name.
But there’s an intense fire in my heart,
    trapped in my bones.
    I’m drained trying to contain it;
        I’m unable to do it.
10 I hear many whispering—
    “Panic Lurks Everywhere!—
    proclaim, yes, let’s proclaim it ourselves!”
All my friends are waiting for me to stumble:
    “Perhaps he can be enticed.
        Then we’ll prevail against him
            and get our revenge on him!”
11 But the Lord is with me like a strong defender.
    Therefore, my oppressors
        will stumble and not prevail.
They will be disgraced by their own failures.
    Their dishonor will never be forgotten.
12 The Lord of heavenly forces tests the righteous
    and discerns the heart and the mind.
Let me see your retribution upon them,
    for I have committed my case to you.
13 Sing to the Lord,
    praise the Lord,
        for he has rescued the needy
        from the clutches of evildoers.
14 Cursed be the day that I was born.
    May the day my mother gave birth to me not be blessed.
15 Cursed be the one
    who delivered the news to my father,
        “You have a son!”—
        filling him with joy.
16 May the bearer of that news be like the cities
    that the Lord destroyed without mercy.
May he hear screams in the morning,
    and the battle cries at noon,
17     because he didn’t kill me in the womb
        and let my mother become my grave,
        her womb pregnant forever.
18 Why was I ever born
    when all I see is suffering and misery,
        and my days are filled with shame?

Verdict against king and city

21 Jeremiah received the Lord’s word when King Zedekiah sent Pashhur, Malchiah’s son, and the priest Zephaniah, Maaseiah’s son, to him with an appeal: “Speak to the Lord on our behalf because Babylon’s King Nebuchadnezzar[c] is attacking us. Perhaps the Lord will perform one of his mighty deeds and force him to withdraw from us.”

Jeremiah answered them: This is what you should tell Zedekiah: The Lord, the God of Israel, says: I’m going to turn your own weapons against you, yes, the weapons you are using to fight the king of Babylon and the Babylonians[d] who have surrounded you! I will round them up in the center of the city. Then I myself will fight against you with an outstretched hand and strong arm in fierce anger and rage. I will strike down those within this city—both people and animals—and they will die of a terrible plague. Afterward, declares the Lord, I will deliver Judah’s King Zedekiah, his servants, and those in this city who have survived plague, war, and famine to Babylon’s King Nebuchadnezzar[e] and to their enemies who seek to do them harm. He will put them to the sword without pity, mercy, or compassion.

This is what you should tell this people: The Lord says: I’m setting before you the way of life and the way of death. Whoever stays in the city will die by the sword, famine, and disease. But whoever leaves the city and surrenders to the Babylonians[f] will live; yes, their lives will be spared. 10 I have set my face against this city for harm and not for good, declares the Lord; it will be delivered to the king of Babylon, who will set it on fire.

Judah: Hear the Lord’s word

11 House of Judah! This is what the Lord says:
12 House of David! The Lord proclaims:
Begin each morning by administering justice,
    rescue from their oppressor
        those who have been robbed,
    or else my anger will spread like a wildfire,
        with no one to put it out,
        because of your evil deeds.
13 I am against you,
    you who live in the valley,[g]
        like a rock of the plain,
            declares the Lord,
    and who say, “Who will come down to attack us?
        Who will breach our fortresses?”
14 I will punish you based on what you have done,
    declares the Lord.
I will set your[h] forests on fire;
    the flames will engulf
        everything around you.[i]

Oracles against the kings

22 The Lord proclaims: Go down to the palace of the king of Judah and declare this message: Listen to the Lord’s word, king of Judah, you who sit on David’s throne—you and your attendants, and all those who go through these gates. The Lord proclaims: Do what is just and right; rescue the oppressed from the power of the oppressor. Don’t exploit or mistreat the refugee, the orphan, and the widow. Don’t spill the blood of the innocent in this place. If you obey this command, then through the gates of this palace will come kings who occupy the throne of David, riding on chariots and horses along with their entourage and subjects. But if you ignore these words, I swear by myself, declares the Lord, that this palace will become a ruin. The Lord proclaims concerning the palace of the king of Judah:

Though you are like Gilead to me,
    like the summit of Lebanon,
    I will turn you into a desert—uninhabited cities.
I will summon destroyers against you,
    who will use their weapons
        to cut down your finest cedars
        and hurl them into the fire.

People from many nations will pass by this city and ask each other: “Why has the Lord treated that great city like this?” And the answer will be, “Because they abandoned the covenant with the Lord their God and worshipped and served other gods.”

10 Don’t weep or lament for the dead king.[j]
    Weep instead for the one who has gone away,
        for he will never return to see his native soil.

11 This is what the Lord says about Shallum son of Judah’s King Josiah, who succeeded his father Josiah as king but who is now gone from this place: He will never return! 12 He will die where he’s been exiled and never see this land again.

13 How terrible for Jehoiakim, who builds his house with corruption
    and his upper chambers with injustice,
        working his countrymen for nothing,
        refusing to give them their wages.
14 He says, “I’ll build myself a grand palace,
    with huge upper chambers,
        ornate windows,
        cedar paneling,
        and rich red decor.”
15 Is this what makes you a king,
    having more cedar than anyone else?
Didn’t your father eat and drink
    and still do what was just and right?
Then it went well for him!
16     He defended the rights of the poor and needy;
        then it went well.
Isn’t that what it means to know me?
    declares the Lord.
17 But you set your eyes and heart
    on nothing but unjust gain;
    you spill the blood of the innocent;
        you practice cruelty;
        you oppress your subjects.

18 Therefore, this is what the Lord says to Jehoiakim son of Judah’s King Josiah:

They won’t grieve for him, saying, “My brother, my sister!”
    They won’t grieve for him, saying, “My master, my majesty!”
19 They will give him a donkey’s burial,
    dragging him outside the gates of Jerusalem
        and dumping him there.

20 Go up to Lebanon and cry out,
    lift up your voice in Bashan,
    cry out from Abarim,
        because all your lovers have been ravished.
21 I spoke to you when you felt safe and secure,
    but you said, “I won’t listen.”
You have been that way since your youth:
    not listening to a word I say.
22 Your shepherds will be tossed to the wind,
    your lovers taken off to exile.
Then you will be embarrassed and humiliated
    by all your wickedness.
23 You who live in Lebanon,
        nestled in cedar,
    who will pity you[k]
        when you are overcome in pain,
        like that of childbirth?

24 As surely as I live, declares the Lord, even if Coniah,[l] King Jehoiakim’s son from Judah were a signet ring on my right hand, I would still remove you from there. 25 I would hand you over to those who seek to kill you, those you dread, even Babylon’s King Nebuchadnezzar and his army.[m] 26 I will banish you and your mother who bore you to a land far from your native soil, and there the two of you will die. 27 You[n] will never return to the land you[o] long to go back to.

28 Is this man Coniah
    merely a defiled and broken pottery jar
        that no one wants?
Why then have he and his children been hurled out
    and cast into an unfamiliar land?
29 Land, land, land,
    hear the Lord’s word:
30 The Lord proclaims:
Mark this man as childless;
    he will not prosper during his lifetime.
        None of his children
        will sit on David’s throne
        and rule again in Judah.

Footnotes:

  1. Jeremiah 18:14 Heb uncertain; or be dug up
  2. Jeremiah 18:15 Heb uncertain
  3. Jeremiah 21:2 Heb Nebuchadrezzar
  4. Jeremiah 21:4 Heb Chaldeans
  5. Jeremiah 21:7 Heb Nebuchadrezzar
  6. Jeremiah 21:9 Heb Chaldeans
  7. Jeremiah 21:13 Heb uncertain
  8. Jeremiah 21:14 Or its
  9. Jeremiah 21:14 Or it
  10. Jeremiah 22:10 Heb lacks king.
  11. Jeremiah 22:23 Heb uncertain
  12. Jeremiah 22:24 Cf Jeconiah in Jer 24:1
  13. Jeremiah 22:25 Or the Babylonians
  14. Jeremiah 22:27 Or They
  15. Jeremiah 22:27 Or they
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