1The words of Jeremiah son of Hilkiah, one of the priests at Anathoth in the territory of Benjamin. 2The word of the LORD came to him in the thirteenth year of the reign of Josiah son of Amon king of Judah,
3and through the reign of Jehoiakim son of Josiah king of Judah, down to the fifth month of the eleventh year of Zedekiah son of Josiah king of Judah, when the people of Jerusalem went into exile.
The Call of Jeremiah 4The word of the LORD came to me, saying,
5“Before I formed you in the womb I knew
6“Alas, Sovereign LORD,” I said, “I do not know how to speak; I am too young.” 7But the LORD said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am too young.’ You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you.
10See, today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant.”
11The word of the LORD came to me: “What do you see, Jeremiah?” “I see the branch of an almond tree,” I replied.
12The LORD said to me, “You have seen correctly, for I am watching
13The word of the LORD came to me again: “What do you see?” “I see a pot that is boiling,” I answered. “It is tilting toward us from the north.” 14The LORD said to me, “From the north disaster will be poured out on all who live in the land.
15I am about to summon all the peoples of the northern kingdoms,” declares the LORD . “Their kings will come and set up their thrones in the entrance of the gates of Jerusalem; they will come against all her surrounding walls and against all the towns of Judah.
16I will pronounce my judgments on my people because of their wickedness in forsaking me, in burning incense to other gods and in worshiping what their hands have made. 17“Get yourself ready! Stand up and say to them whatever I command you. Do not be terrified by them, or I will terrify you before them. 18Today I have made you a fortified city, an iron pillar and a bronze wall to stand against the whole land—against the kings of Judah, its officials, its priests and the people of the land. 19They will fight against you but will not overcome you, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the LORD .
Israel Forsakes God 1The word of the LORD came to me:
2“Go and proclaim in the hearing of Jerusalem: “This is what the LORD says: “ ‘I remember the devotion of your youth, how as a bride you loved me and followed me through the wilderness, through a land not sown.
3Israel was holy to the LORD, the firstfruits of his harvest; all who devoured her were held guilty, and disaster overtook them,’ ” declares the LORD .
4Hear the word of the LORD, you descendants of Jacob, all you clans of Israel.
5This is what the LORD says: “What fault did your ancestors find in me, that they strayed so far from me? They followed worthless idols and became worthless themselves.
6They did not ask, ‘Where is the LORD, who brought us up out of Egypt and led us through the barren wilderness, through a land of deserts and ravines, a land of drought and utter darkness, a land where no one travels and no one lives?’
7I brought you into a fertile land to eat its fruit and rich produce. But you came and defiled my land and made my inheritance detestable.
8The priests did not ask, ‘Where is the LORD ?’ Those who deal with the law did not know me; the leaders rebelled against me. The prophets prophesied by Baal, following worthless idols.
9“Therefore I bring charges against you again,” declares the LORD . “And I will bring charges against your children’s children.
10Cross over to the coasts of Cyprus and look, send to Kedar
11Has a nation ever changed its gods? (Yet they are not gods at all.) But my people have exchanged their glorious God for worthless idols.
12Be appalled at this, you heavens, and shudder with great horror,” declares the LORD .
13“My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.
14Is Israel a servant, a slave by birth? Why then has he become plunder?
15Lions have roared; they have growled at him. They have laid waste his land; his towns are burned and deserted.
16Also, the men of Memphis and Tahpanhes have cracked your skull.
17Have you not brought this on yourselves by forsaking the LORD your God when he led you in the way?
18Now why go to Egypt to drink water from the Nile
19Your wickedness will punish you; your backsliding will rebuke you. Consider then and realize how evil and bitter it is for you when you forsake the LORD your God and have no awe of me,” declares the Lord, the LORD Almighty.
20“Long ago you broke off your yoke and tore off your bonds; you said, ‘I will not serve you!’ Indeed, on every high hill and under every spreading tree you lay down as a prostitute.
21I had planted you like a choice vine of sound and reliable stock. How then did you turn against me into a corrupt, wild vine?
22Although you wash yourself with soap and use an abundance of cleansing powder, the stain of your guilt is still before me,” declares the Sovereign LORD .
23“How can you say, ‘I am not defiled; I have not run after the Baals’? See how you behaved in the valley; consider what you have done. You are a swift she-camel running here and there,
24a wild donkey accustomed to the desert, sniffing the wind in her craving— in her heat who can restrain her? Any males that pursue her need not tire themselves; at mating time they will find her.
25Do not run until your feet are bare and your throat is dry. But you said, ‘It’s no use! I love foreign gods, and I must go after them.’
26“As a thief is disgraced when he is caught, so the people of Israel are disgraced— they, their kings and their officials, their priests and their prophets.
27They say to wood, ‘You are my father,’ and to stone, ‘You gave me birth.’ They have turned their backs to me and not their faces; yet when they are in trouble, they say, ‘Come and save us!’
28Where then are the gods you made for yourselves? Let them come if they can save you when you are in trouble! For you, Judah, have as many gods as you have towns.
29“Why do you bring charges against me? You have all rebelled against me,” declares the LORD .
30“In vain I punished your people; they did not respond to correction. Your sword has devoured your prophets like a ravenous lion.
31“You of this generation, consider the word of the LORD : “Have I been a desert to Israel or a land of great darkness? Why do my people say, ‘We are free to roam; we will come to you no more’?
32Does a young woman forget her jewelry, a bride her wedding ornaments? Yet my people have forgotten me, days without number.
33How skilled you are at pursuing love! Even the worst of women can learn from your ways.
34On your clothes is found the lifeblood of the innocent poor, though you did not catch them breaking in. Yet in spite of all this
35you say, ‘I am innocent; he is not angry with me.’ But I will pass judgment on you because you say, ‘I have not sinned.’
36Why do you go about so much, changing your ways? You will be disappointed by Egypt as you were by Assyria. 37You will also leave that place with your hands on your head, for the LORD has rejected those you trust; you will not be helped by them.
1“If a man divorces his wife and she leaves him and marries another man, should he return to her again? Would not the land be completely defiled? But you have lived as a prostitute with many lovers— would you now return to me?” declares the LORD .
2“Look up to the barren heights and see. Is there any place where you have not been ravished? By the roadside you sat waiting for lovers, sat like a nomad in the desert. You have defiled the land with your prostitution and wickedness.
3Therefore the showers have been withheld, and no spring rains have fallen. Yet you have the brazen look of a prostitute; you refuse to blush with shame.
4Have you not just called to me: ‘My Father, my friend from my youth,
5will you always be angry? Will your wrath continue forever?’ This is how you talk, but you do all the evil you can.”
Unfaithful Israel 6During the reign of King Josiah, the LORD said to me, “Have you seen what faithless Israel has done? She has gone up on every high hill and under every spreading tree and has committed adultery there. 7I thought that after she had done all this she would return to me but she did not, and her unfaithful sister Judah saw it. 8I gave faithless Israel her certificate of divorce and sent her away because of all her adulteries. Yet I saw that her unfaithful sister Judah had no fear; she also went out and committed adultery. 9Because Israel’s immorality mattered so little to her, she defiled the land and committed adultery with stone and wood.
10In spite of all this, her unfaithful sister Judah did not return to me with all her heart, but only in pretense,” declares the LORD . 11The LORD said to me, “Faithless Israel is more righteous than unfaithful Judah.
12Go, proclaim this message toward the north: “ ‘Return, faithless Israel,’ declares the LORD, ‘I will frown on you no longer, for I am faithful,’ declares the LORD, ‘I will not be angry forever.
13Only acknowledge your guilt— you have rebelled against the LORD your God, you have scattered your favors to foreign gods under every spreading tree, and have not obeyed me,’ ” declares the LORD . 14“Return, faithless people,” declares the LORD, “for I am your husband. I will choose you—one from a town and two from a clan—and bring you to Zion. 15Then I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will lead you with knowledge and understanding. 16In those days, when your numbers have increased greatly in the land,” declares the LORD, “people will no longer say, ‘The ark of the covenant of the LORD .’ It will never enter their minds or be remembered; it will not be missed, nor will another one be made. 17At that time they will call Jerusalem The Throne of the LORD, and all nations will gather in Jerusalem to honor the name of the LORD . No longer will they follow the stubbornness of their evil hearts.
18In those days the people of Judah will join the people of Israel, and together they will come from a northern land to the land I gave your ancestors as an inheritance.
19“I myself said, “ ‘How gladly would I treat you like my children and give you a pleasant land, the most beautiful inheritance of any nation.’ I thought you would call me ‘Father’ and not turn away from following me.
20But like a woman unfaithful to her husband, so you, Israel, have been unfaithful to me,” declares the LORD .
21A cry is heard on the barren heights, the weeping and pleading of the people of Israel, because they have perverted their ways and have forgotten the LORD their God.
22“Return, faithless people; I will cure you of backsliding.” “Yes, we will come to you, for you are the LORD our God.
23Surely the idolatrous commotion on the hills and mountains is a deception; surely in the LORD our God is the salvation of Israel.
24From our youth shameful gods have consumed the fruits of our ancestors’ labor— their flocks and herds, their sons and daughters. 25Let us lie down in our shame, and let our disgrace cover us. We have sinned against the LORD our God, both we and our ancestors; from our youth till this day we have not obeyed the LORD our God.”
1“If you, Israel, will return, then return to me,” declares the LORD . “If you put your detestable idols out of my sight and no longer go astray,
2and if in a truthful, just and righteous way you swear, ‘As surely as the LORD lives,’ then the nations will invoke blessings by him and in him they will boast.”
3This is what the LORD says to the people of Judah and to Jerusalem: “Break up your unplowed ground and do not sow among thorns.
4Circumcise yourselves to the LORD, circumcise your hearts, you people of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem, or my wrath will flare up and burn like fire because of the evil you have done— burn with no one to quench it.
Disaster From the North 5“Announce in Judah and proclaim in Jerusalem and say: ‘Sound the trumpet throughout the land!’ Cry aloud and say: ‘Gather together! Let us flee to the fortified cities!’
6Raise the signal to go to Zion! Flee for safety without delay! For I am bringing disaster from the north, even terrible destruction.”
7A lion has come out of his lair; a destroyer of nations has set out. He has left his place to lay waste your land. Your towns will lie in ruins without inhabitant.
8So put on sackcloth, lament and wail, for the fierce anger of the LORD has not turned away from us.
9“In that day,” declares the LORD, “the king and the officials will lose heart, the priests will be horrified, and the prophets will be appalled.”
10Then I said, “Alas, Sovereign LORD ! How completely you have deceived this people and Jerusalem by saying, ‘You will have peace,’ when the sword is at our throats!” 11At that time this people and Jerusalem will be told, “A scorching wind from the barren heights in the desert blows toward my people, but not to winnow or cleanse;
12a wind too strong for that comes from me. Now I pronounce my judgments against them.”
13Look! He advances like the clouds, his chariots come like a whirlwind, his horses are swifter than eagles. Woe to us! We are ruined!
14Jerusalem, wash the evil from your heart and be saved. How long will you harbor wicked thoughts?
15A voice is announcing from Dan, proclaiming disaster from the hills of Ephraim.
16“Tell this to the nations, proclaim concerning Jerusalem: ‘A besieging army is coming from a distant land, raising a war cry against the cities of Judah.
17They surround her like men guarding a field, because she has rebelled against me,’ ” declares the LORD .
18“Your own conduct and actions have brought this on you. This is your punishment. How bitter it is! How it pierces to the heart!”
19Oh, my anguish, my anguish! I writhe in pain. Oh, the agony of my heart! My heart pounds within me, I cannot keep silent. For I have heard the sound of the trumpet; I have heard the battle cry.
20Disaster follows disaster; the whole land lies in ruins. In an instant my tents are destroyed, my shelter in a moment.
21How long must I see the battle standard and hear the sound of the trumpet?
22“My people are fools; they do not know me. They are senseless children; they have no understanding. They are skilled in doing evil; they know not how to do good.”
23I looked at the earth, and it was formless and empty; and at the heavens, and their light was gone.
24I looked at the mountains, and they were quaking; all the hills were swaying.
25I looked, and there were no people; every bird in the sky had flown away.
26I looked, and the fruitful land was a desert; all its towns lay in ruins before the LORD, before his fierce anger.
27This is what the LORD says: “The whole land will be ruined, though I will not destroy it completely.
28Therefore the earth will mourn and the heavens above grow dark, because I have spoken and will not relent, I have decided and will not turn back.”
29At the sound of horsemen and archers every town takes to flight. Some go into the thickets; some climb up among the rocks. All the towns are deserted; no one lives in them.
30What are you doing, you devastated one? Why dress yourself in scarlet and put on jewels of gold? Why highlight your eyes with makeup? You adorn yourself in vain. Your lovers despise you; they want to kill you. 31I hear a cry as of a woman in labor, a groan as of one bearing her first child— the cry of Daughter Zion gasping for breath, stretching out her hands and saying, “Alas! I am fainting; my life is given over to murderers.”
Not One Is Upright 1“Go up and down the streets of Jerusalem, look around and consider, search through her squares. If you can find but one person who deals honestly and seeks the truth, I will forgive this city.
2Although they say, ‘As surely as the LORD lives,’ still they are swearing falsely.”
3LORD, do not your eyes look for truth? You struck them, but they felt no pain; you crushed them, but they refused correction. They made their faces harder than stone and refused to repent.
4I thought, “These are only the poor; they are foolish, for they do not know the way of the LORD, the requirements of their God.
5So I will go to the leaders and speak to them; surely they know the way of the LORD, the requirements of their God.” But with one accord they too had broken off the yoke and torn off the bonds.
6Therefore a lion from the forest will attack them, a wolf from the desert will ravage them, a leopard will lie in wait near their towns to tear to pieces any who venture out, for their rebellion is great and their backslidings many.
7“Why should I forgive you? Your children have forsaken me and sworn by gods that are not gods. I supplied all their needs, yet they committed adultery and thronged to the houses of prostitutes.
8They are well-fed, lusty stallions, each neighing for another man’s wife.
9Should I not punish them for this?” declares the LORD . “Should I not avenge myself on such a nation as this?
10“Go through her vineyards and ravage them, but do not destroy them completely. Strip off her branches, for these people do not belong to the LORD .
11The people of Israel and the people of Judah have been utterly unfaithful to me,” declares the LORD .
12They have lied about the LORD ; they said, “He will do nothing! No harm will come to us; we will never see sword or famine.
13The prophets are but wind and the word is not in them; so let what they say be done to them.”
14Therefore this is what the LORD God Almighty says: “Because the people have spoken these words, I will make my words in your mouth a fire and these people the wood it consumes.
15People of Israel,” declares the LORD, “I am bringing a distant nation against you— an ancient and enduring nation, a people whose language you do not know, whose speech you do not understand.
16Their quivers are like an open grave; all of them are mighty warriors.
17They will devour your harvests and food, devour your sons and daughters; they will devour your flocks and herds, devour your vines and fig trees. With the sword they will destroy the fortified cities in which you trust. 18“Yet even in those days,” declares the LORD, “I will not destroy you completely.
19And when the people ask, ‘Why has the LORD our God done all this to us?’ you will tell them, ‘As you have forsaken me and served foreign gods in your own land, so now you will serve foreigners in a land not your own.’
20“Announce this to the descendants of Jacob and proclaim it in Judah:
21Hear this, you foolish and senseless people, who have eyes but do not see, who have ears but do not hear:
22Should you not fear me?” declares the LORD . “Should you not tremble in my presence? I made the sand a boundary for the sea, an everlasting barrier it cannot cross. The waves may roll, but they cannot prevail; they may roar, but they cannot cross it.
23But these people have stubborn and rebellious hearts; they have turned aside and gone away.
24They do not say to themselves, ‘Let us fear the LORD our God, who gives autumn and spring rains in season, who assures us of the regular weeks of harvest.’
25Your wrongdoings have kept these away; your sins have deprived you of good.
26“Among my people are the wicked who lie in wait like men who snare birds and like those who set traps to catch people.
27Like cages full of birds, their houses are full of deceit; they have become rich and powerful
28and have grown fat and sleek. Their evil deeds have no limit; they do not seek justice. They do not promote the case of the fatherless; they do not defend the just cause of the poor.
29Should I not punish them for this?” declares the LORD . “Should I not avenge myself on such a nation as this?