Jeremiah 4

Israel Forsakes the Lord

The word of the Lord came to me, saying, Go and proclaim in the hearing of Jerusalem, Thus says the Lord,

I remember the devotion of kyour youth,

your love las a bride,

mhow you followed me in the wilderness,

nin a land not sown.

oIsrael was holy to the Lord,

pthe firstfruits of his harvest.

qAll who ate of it incurred guilt;

disaster came upon them,

declares the Lord.

Hear the word of the Lord, O house of Jacob, and all the clans of the house of Israel. Thus says the Lord:

rWhat wrong did your fathers find in me

that they went far from me,

sand went after tworthlessness, and became worthless?

They did not say, uWhere is the Lord

who brought us up from the land of Egypt,

who led us vin the wilderness,

in a land of deserts and pits,

in a land of drought and deep darkness,

in a land that none passes through,

where no man dwells?

wAnd I brought you into a plentiful land

to enjoy its fruits and its good things.

But when you came in, xyou defiled my land

and made my heritage an abomination.

The priests did not say, Where is the Lord?

yThose who handle the law did not know me;

zthe shepherds1 transgressed against me;

athe prophets prophesied by Baal

and went after bthings that do not profit.

Therefore cI still contend with you,

declares the Lord,

and dwith your children's children I will contend.

10  For cross to the coasts of eCyprus and see,

or send to fKedar and examine with care;

see if there has been such a thing.

11  gHas a nation changed its gods,

heven though they are no gods?

But my people ihave changed their glory

for bthat which does not profit.

12  Be appalled, jO heavens, at this;

be shocked, be utterly desolate,

declares the Lord,

13  for my people have committed two evils:

kthey have forsaken lme,

the fountain of mliving waters,

and hewed out cisterns for themselves,

broken cisterns that can hold no water.

14  nIs Israel a slave? Is he a homeborn servant?

Why then has he become a prey?

15  oThe lions have roared against him;

they have roared loudly.

They have made his land a waste;

his cities are in ruins, pwithout inhabitant.

16  Moreover, the men of qMemphis and rTahpanhes

shave shaved2 the crown of your head.

17  tHave you not brought this upon yourself

by forsaking the Lord your God,

when uhe led you in the way?

18  vAnd now what do you gain by going to Egypt

to drink the waters of wthe Nile?

xOr what do you gain by going to Assyria

to drink the waters of ythe Euphrates?3

19  zYour evil will chastise you,

and ayour apostasy will reprove you.

Know and see that it is evil and bbitter

for cyou to forsake the Lord your God;

the fear of me is not in you,

declares the Lord God of hosts.

20  For long ago I dbroke your yoke

and burst your bonds;

but you said, eI will not serve.

Yes, fon every high hill

and under every green tree

you bowed down glike a whore.

21  hYet I planted you a choice vine,

wholly of pure seed.

iHow then have you turned degenerate

and become a wild vine?

22  Though you wash yourself with lye

and use much soap,

jthe stain of your guilt is still before me,

declares the Lord God.

23  kHow can you say, I am not unclean,

I have not gone after the Baals?

Look at your way lin the valley;

know what you have done

a restless young camel running here and there,

24  ma wild donkey used to the wilderness,

in her heat sniffing the wind!

Who can restrain her lust?

None who seek her need weary themselves;

in her month they will find her.

25  Keep nyour feet from going unshod

and oyour throat from thirst.

But you said, It is hopeless,

pfor I have loved foreigners,

and after them I will go.

26  As a thief is shamed when caught,

so the house of Israel shall be shamed:

qthey, their kings, their officials,

their priests, and their prophets,

27  who say to a tree, You are my father,

and to a stone, You gave me birth.

For they have turned their back to me,

and not their face.

But rin the time of their trouble they say,

Arise and save us!

28  But swhere are your gods

that you made for yourself?

Let them arise, tif they can save you,

in your time of trouble;

for uas many as your cities

are your gods, O Judah.

29  Why do you contend with me?

You have all transgressed against me,

declares the Lord.

30  In vain have I vstruck your children;

they took no correction;

wyour own sword devoured your prophets

like a ravening lion.

31  And you, O generation, behold the word of the Lord.

Have I been a wilderness to Israel,

or a land of thick darkness?

Why then do my people say, We are free,

we will come no more to you?

32  xCan a virgin forget her ornaments,

or a bride her attire?

Yet ymy people have forgotten me

days without number.

33  How well you direct your course

to seek love!

So that even to wicked women

you have taught your ways.

34  Also on your skirts is found

zthe lifeblood of the guiltless poor;

you did not find them abreaking in.

Yet in spite of all these things

35  you say, I am innocent;

surely his anger has turned from me.

bBehold, I will bring you to judgment

for csaying, I have not sinned.

36  dHow much you go about,

changing your way!

You shall be eput to shame by Egypt

as you were put to shame by Assyria.

37  From it too you will come away

with fyour hands on your head,

for the Lord has rejected those in whom you trust,

and you will not prosper by them.

gIf1 a man divorces his wife

and she goes from him

and becomes another man's wife,

will he return to her?

hWould not that land be greatly polluted?

iYou have played the whore with many lovers;

and would you return to me?

declares the Lord.

Lift up your eyes to jthe bare heights, and see!

Where have you not been ravished?

kBy the waysides you have sat awaiting lovers

like an Arab in the wilderness.

hYou have polluted the land

with your vile whoredom.

lTherefore the showers have been withheld,

and the spring rain has not come;

yet you have mthe forehead of a whore;

you refuse to be ashamed.

Have you not just now ncalled to me,

My father, you are the friend of my youth

owill he be angry forever,

will he be indignant to the end?

Behold, you have spoken,

but you have done all the evil that you could.

Faithless Israel Called to Repentance

The Lord said to me in the days of pKing Josiah: Have you seen what she did, that faithless one, Israel, qhow she went up on every high hill and under every green tree, and there iplayed the whore? And I thought, After she has done all this she will return to me, but she did not return, and her treacherous rsister Judah saw it. She saw that for all the adulteries of that faithless one, Israel, sI had sent her away with ta decree of divorce. uYet her treacherous sister Judah did not fear, but she too went iand played the whore. Because she took her whoredom lightly, she polluted the land, committing adultery with vstone and tree. 10 Yet for all this her treacherous sister Judah did not return to me wwith her whole heart, but in pretense, declares the Lord.

11 And the Lord said to me, xFaithless Israel has shown herself more righteous than treacherous Judah. 12 Go, and proclaim these words toward ythe north, and say,

zReturn, faithless Israel,

declares the Lord.

I will not look on you in anger,

for aI am merciful,

declares the Lord;

bI will not be angry forever.

13  cOnly acknowledge your guilt,

that you rebelled against the Lord your God

and scattered your favors among foreigners under devery green tree,

and that you have not obeyed my voice,

declares the Lord.

14  eReturn, O faithless children,

declares the Lord;

ffor I am your master;

I will take you, one from a city and two from a family,

and I will bring you to Zion.

15 And gI will give you shepherds after my own heart, hwho will feed you with knowledge and understanding. 16 And when you have multiplied and been fruitful in the land, in those days, declares the Lord, they shall no more say, The ark of the covenant of the Lord. It shall not come to mind or be remembered or missed; it shall not be made again. 17 At that time Jerusalem shall be called the throne of the Lord, iand all nations shall gather to it, jto the presence of the Lord in Jerusalem, and they shall no more stubbornly follow their own evil heart. 18 kIn those days the house of Judah shall join the house of Israel, and together they shall come from the land lof the north to mthe land that I gave your fathers for a heritage.

19  I said,

How I would set you among my sons,

and give you a pleasant land,

a heritage most beautiful of all nations.

And I thought you would ncall me, My Father,

and would not turn from following me.

20  oSurely, as a treacherous wife leaves her husband,

so have you been treacherous to me, O house of Israel,

declares the Lord.

21  A voice on the pbare heights is heard,

qthe weeping and pleading of Israel's sons

because they have perverted their way;

they have forgotten the Lord their God.

22  rReturn, O faithless sons;

sI will heal your faithlessness.

Behold, we come to you,

for you are the Lord our God.

23  Truly tthe hills are a delusion,

the orgies2 on the mountains.

uTruly in the Lord our God

is the salvation of Israel.

24 But from our youth the shameful thing has devoured all for which our fathers labored, their flocks and their herds, their sons and their daughters. 25 vLet us lie down in our shame, and let our dishonor cover us. For wwe have sinned against the Lord our God, we and our fathers, from our youth even to this day, and we have not obeyed the voice of the Lord our God.

If you return, O Israel,

declares the Lord,

xto me you should return.

If you remove your detestable things from my presence,

yand do not waver,

zand if you swear, As the Lord lives,

in truth, in justice, and in righteousness,

then anations shall bless themselves in him,

band in him shall they glory.

For thus says the Lord to the men of Judah and Jerusalem:

cBreak up your fallow ground,

and dsow not among thorns.

eCircumcise yourselves to the Lord;

remove the foreskin of your hearts,

O men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem;

flest my wrath go forth like fire,

and burn with none to quench it,

gbecause of the evil of your deeds.

Disaster from the North

Declare in Judah, and proclaim in Jerusalem, and say,

hBlow the trumpet through the land;

cry aloud and say,

iAssemble, and let us go

into the fortified cities!

jRaise a standard toward Zion,

flee for safety, stay not,

for I bring disaster from kthe north,

land great destruction.

mA lion has gone up from his thicket,

a destroyer of nations has set out;

he has gone out from his place

to make your land a waste;

your cities will be ruins

nwithout inhabitant.

For this oput on sackcloth,

lament and wail,

for pthe fierce anger of the Lord

has not turned back from us.

In that day, declares the Lord, qcourage shall fail both king and officials. The priests shall be appalled and the prophets astounded. 10 Then I said, Ah, Lord God, rsurely you have utterly deceived this people and Jerusalem, saying, It shall be well with you, whereas the sword has reached their very life.

11 At that time it will be said to this people and to Jerusalem, A hot wind from sthe bare heights in the desert toward the daughter of my people, not to winnow or cleanse, 12 a wind too full for this comes for me. Now it is I who tspeak in judgment upon them.

13  Behold, he comes up like clouds;

uhis chariots like the whirlwind;

his horses are vswifter than eagles

woe to us, wfor we are ruined!

14  O Jerusalem, xwash your heart from evil,

that you may be saved.

How long shall your wicked thoughts

lodge within you?

15  For a voice ydeclares from Dan

and proclaims trouble from zMount Ephraim.

16  Warn the nations that he is coming;

announce to Jerusalem,

Besiegers come afrom a distant land;

they shout against the cities of Judah.

17  Like keepers of a field bare they against her all around,

because she has rebelled against me,

declares the Lord.

18  Your ways and your deeds

have brought this upon you.

This is your doom, and cit is bitter;

it has reached your very heart.

Anguish over Judah's Desolation

19  dMy anguish, my anguish! I writhe in pain!

Oh the walls of my heart!

My heart is beating wildly;

I cannot keep silent,

for I hear the sound of the trumpet,

the alarm of war.

20  eCrash follows hard on crash;

the whole land is laid waste.

fSuddenly my tents are laid waste,

my curtains in a moment.

21  How long must I see the standard

and hear the sound of the trumpet?

22  For gmy people are foolish;

they know me not;

they are stupid children;

they have no understanding.

hThey are wisein doing evil!

But how to do good they know not.

23  I looked on the earth, and behold, it was iwithout form and void;

jand to the heavens, and they had no light.

24  I looked on kthe mountains, and behold, they were quaking,

and all the hills moved to and fro.

25  lI looked, and behold, there was no man,

and all the birds of the air had fled.

26  I looked, and behold, the mfruitful land was a desert,

and all its cities were laid in ruins

before the Lord, before nhis fierce anger.

27 For thus says the Lord, The whole land shall be a desolation; oyet I will not make a full end.

28  pFor this the earth shall mourn,

qand the heavens above be dark;

for I have spoken; I have purposed;

rI have not relented, nor will I turn back.

29  At the noise of horseman and archer

every city takes to flight;

they enter thickets; they climb among rocks;

all the cities are forsaken,

and sno man dwells in them.

30  And you, O desolate one,

what do you mean that you dress in scarlet,

tthat you adorn yourself with ornaments of gold,

uthat you enlarge your eyes with paint?

In vain you beautify yourself.

vYour lovers despise you;

they seek your life.

31  For I heard wa cry as of a woman in labor,

anguish as of one giving birth to her first child,

the cry of the daughter of Zion gasping for breath,

xstretching out her hands,

Woe is me! I am fainting before murderers.

Jerusalem Refused to Repent

yRun to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem,

look and take note!

Search her squares to see

zif you can find a man,

one who does justice

and seeks truth,

athat I may pardon her.

bThough they say, As the Lord lives,

cyet they swear falsely.

O Lord, do not your eyes look for truth?

dYou have struck them down,

but they felt no anguish;

you have consumed them,

but they refused to take correction.

eThey have made their faces harder than rock;

they have refused to repent.

Then I said, These are only the poor;

they have no sense;

ffor they do not know the way of the Lord,

the justice of their God.

I will go to the great

and will speak to them,

for they know the way of the Lord,

the justice of their God.

gBut they all alike had broken the yoke;

they had burst the bonds.

Therefore ha lion from the forest shall strike them down;

a iwolf from the desert shall devastate them.

jA leopard is watching their cities;

everyone who goes out of them shall be torn in pieces,

because their transgressions are many,

their kapostasies are great.

lHow can I pardon you?

Your children have forsaken me

mand have sworn by those who are no gods.

nWhen I fed them to the full,

othey committed adultery

pand trooped to the houses of whores.

They were well-fed, lusty stallions,

qeach neighing rfor his neighbor's wife.

sShall I not punish them for these things?

declares the Lord;

and shall I not avenge myself

on a nation such as this?

10  tGo up through her vine rows and destroy,

ubut make not a full end;

strip away her branches,

for they are not the Lord's.

11  vFor the house of Israel and the house of Judah

have been utterly treacherous to me,

declares the Lord.

12  They have spoken falsely of the Lord

and have said, He will do nothing;

wno disaster will come upon us,

xnor shall we see sword or famine.

13  The prophets will become wind;

the word is not in them.

Thus shall it be done to them!

The Lord Proclaims Judgment

14  Therefore thus says the Lord, the God of hosts:

Because you have spoken this word,

behold, yI am making my words in your mouth za fire,

and this people wood, and the fire shall consume them.

15  aBehold, I am bringing against you

a nation from afar, O house of Israel,

declares the Lord.

It is an enduring nation;

it is an ancient nation,

a nation whose language you do not know,

bnor can you understand what they say.

16  cTheir quiver is like dan open tomb;

they are all mighty warriors.

17  eThey shall eat up your harvest and your food;

they shall eat up your sons and your daughters;

they shall eat up your flocks and your herds;

they shall eat up your vines and your fig trees;

your ffortified cities in which you trust

they shall beat down with the sword.

18 But even in those days, declares the Lord, uI will not make a full end of you. 19 And when your people say, gWhy has the Lord our God done all these things to us? you shall say to them, As you have forsaken me and served foreign gods in your land, hso you shall serve foreigners in a land that is not yours.

20  Declare this in the house of Jacob;

proclaim it in Judah:

21  Hear this, iO foolish and senseless people,

jwho have eyes, but see not,

who have ears, but hear not.

22  kDo you not fear me? declares the Lord.

Do you not tremble before me?

I placed the sand las the boundary for the sea,

a perpetual barrier that it cannot pass;

though the waves toss, they cannot prevail;

though mthey roar, they cannot pass over it.

23  nBut this people has a stubborn and rebellious heart;

they have turned aside and gone away.

24  They do not say in their hearts,

Let us fear the Lord our God,

owho gives the rain in its season,

the autumn rain and the spring rain,

and keeps for us

pthe weeks appointed for the harvest.

25  qYour iniquities have turned these away,

and your sins have kept good from you.

26  For wicked men are found among my people;

rthey lurk like fowlers lying in wait.1

sThey set a trap;

they catch men.

27  Like a cage full of birds,

their houses are full of deceit;

therefore they have become great and rich;

28  tthey have grown fat and sleek.

They know no bounds in deeds of evil;

uthey judge not with justice

the cause of the fatherless, to make it prosper,

and they do not defend the rights of the needy.

29  vShall I not punish them for these things?

declares the Lord,

and shall I not avenge myself

on a nation such as this?

30  An appalling and whorrible thing

has happened in the land:

31  xthe prophets prophesy falsely,

and the priests rule at their direction;

ymy people love to have it so,

but what will you do when the end comes?

Impending Disaster for Jerusalem

Flee for safety, zO people of Benjamin,

from the midst of Jerusalem!

Blow the trumpet in aTekoa,

and raise a signal on bBeth-haccherem,

for disaster looms cout of the north,

and great destruction.

The lovely and delicately bred I will destroy,

dthe daughter of Zion.1

eShepherds with their flocks shall come against her;

fthey shall pitch their tents around her;

they shall pasture, each in his place.

gPrepare war against her;

arise, and let us attack hat noon!

Woe to us, for the day declines,

for the shadows of evening lengthen!

Arise, and let us attack by night

and destroy her palaces!

For thus says the Lord of hosts:

iCut down her trees;

jcast up a siege mound against Jerusalem.

This is the city that must be kpunished;

there is nothing but oppression within her.

lAs a well keeps its water fresh,

so she keeps fresh her evil;

mviolence and destruction are heard within her;

sickness and wounds are ever before me.

Be warned, O Jerusalem,

nlest I turn from you in disgust,

lest I make you oa desolation,

an uninhabited land.

Thus says the Lord of hosts:

pThey shall glean thoroughly as a vine

the remnant of Israel;

like a grape gatherer pass your hand again

over its branches.

10  qTo whom shall I speak and give warning,

that they may hear?

rBehold, their ears are uncircumcised,

sthey cannot listen;

behold, tthe word of the Lord is to them an object of scorn;

they take no pleasure in it.

11  Therefore I am full of the wrath of the Lord;

uI am weary of holding it in.

vPour it out upon the children in the street,

and upon the gatherings of young men, also;

wboth husband and wife xshall be taken,

the elderly and the very aged.

12  yTheir houses shall be turned over to others,

their fields and wives together,

for I will stretch out my hand

against the inhabitants of the land,

declares the Lord.

13  zFor from the least to the greatest of them,

everyone ais greedy for unjust gain;

and from bprophet to priest,

everyone deals falsely.

14  They have healed the wound of my people lightly,

saying, cPeace, peace,

dwhen there is no peace.

15  eWere they ashamed when they committed abomination?

No, they were not at all ashamed;

they did not know how to blush.

Therefore they shall fall among those who fall;

fat the time that I punish them, they shall be overthrown,

says the Lord.

16  Thus says the Lord:

Stand by the roads, and look,

and ask for gthe ancient paths,

where the good way is; and walk in it,

hand find rest for your souls.

But they said, We will not walk in it.

17  iI set watchmen over you, saying,

Pay attention to jthe sound of the trumpet!

But they said, kWe will not pay attention.

18  Therefore hear, O nations,

and know, O congregation, what will happen to them.

19  Hear, O earth; behold, I am bringing disaster upon this people,

lthe fruit of their devices,

because they have not paid attention to my words;

and as for my law, they have rejected it.

20  mWhat use to me is nfrankincense that comes from oSheba,

or sweet cane from a distant land?

pYour burnt offerings are not acceptable,

nor your sacrifices pleasing to me.

21  Therefore thus says the Lord:

qBehold, I will lay before this people

stumbling blocks against which they shall stumble;

fathers and sons together,

neighbor and friend shall perish.

22  Thus says the Lord:

rBehold, a people is coming sfrom the north country,

a great nation is stirring from tthe farthest parts of the earth.

23  They lay hold on bow and javelin;

they are ucruel and have no mercy;

vthe sound of them is like the roaring sea;

they ride on horses,

set in array as a man for battle,

against you, O daughter of Zion!

24  We have heard the report of it;

wour hands fall helpless;

anguish has taken hold of us,

xpain as of a woman in labor.

25  Go not out into the field,

nor walk on the road,

for the enemy has a sword;

yterror is on every side.

26  O daughter of my people, zput on sackcloth,

and aroll in ashes;

bmake mourning as for an only son,

most bitter lamentation,

for suddenly the destroyer

will come upon us.

27  I have made you ca tester of metals among my people,

that you may know and dtest their ways.

28  eThey are all stubbornly rebellious,

fgoing about with slanders;

they are gbronze and iron;

all of them act corruptly.

29  The gbellows blow fiercely;

the lead is consumed by the fire;

hin vain the refining goes on,

for the wicked are not removed.

30  iRejected silver they are called,

for the Lord has rejected them.