Written 627 to 586 BC
see 3:7 God Thought… Ch 7:8 Don’t be fooled…..11:4 11:14 12:7 14:10 14:12 15:19 16:1 & 5
I am tired of giving you another chance 17:10 * 18:7 ***** 23:14 , 17 & 36 26:3
If you (change) , then the Lord will change His mind
36:3 how God thinks…. and He does change His Mind 39:18
New Living Translation (NLT)
1 These are the words of Jeremiah son of Hilkiah, one of the priests from the town of Anathoth in the land of Benjamin. 2 The Lord first gave messages to Jeremiah during the thirteenth year of the reign of Josiah son of Amon, king of Judah. 3 The Lord’s messages continued throughout the reign of King Jehoiakim, Josiah’s son, until the eleventh year of the reign of King Zedekiah, another of Josiah’s sons. In August of that eleventh year the people of Jerusalem were taken away as captives.
4 The Lord gave me this message:
5 “I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb. Before you were born I set you apart and appointed you as my prophet to the nations.”
6 “O Sovereign Lord,” I said, “I can’t speak for you! I’m too young!”
7 The Lord replied, “Don’t say, ‘I’m too young,’ for you must go wherever I send you and say whatever I tell you. 8 And don’t be afraid of the people, for I will be with you and will protect you. I, the Lord, have spoken!” 9 Then the Lord reached out and touched my mouth and said,
“Look, I have put my words in your mouth! Today I appoint you to stand up against nations and kingdoms. Some you must uproot and tear down, destroy and overthrow.
Others you must build up and plant.”
11 Then the Lord said to me, “Look, Jeremiah! What do you see?”
And I replied, “I see a branch from an almond tree.”
12 And the Lord said, “That’s right, and it means that I am watching, and I will certainly carry out all my plans.”
13 Then the Lord spoke to me again and asked, “What do you see now?”
And I replied, “I see a pot of boiling water, spilling from the north.”
14 “Yes,” the Lord said, “for terror from the north will boil out on the people of this land. 15 Listen! I am calling the armies of the kingdoms of the north to come to Jerusalem. I, the Lord, have spoken!
“They will set their thrones at the gates of the city. They will attack its walls
and all the other towns of Judah. 16 I will pronounce judgment on my people for all their evil— for deserting me and burning incense to other gods.
Yes, they worship idols made with their own hands!
17 “Get up and prepare for action. Go out and tell them everything I tell you to say.
Do not be afraid of them, or I will make you look foolish in front of them. 18 For see, today I have made you strong like a fortified city that cannot be captured, like an iron pillar or a bronze wall.
You will stand against the whole land— the kings, officials, priests, and people of Judah. 19 They will fight you, but they will fail. For I am with you, and I will take care of you.
I, the Lord, have spoken!”
The Lord’s Case against His People
1 The Lord gave me another message. He said, “Go and shout this message to Jerusalem. This is what the Lord says:
“I remember how eager you were to please me as a young bride long ago, how you loved me and followed me even through the barren wilderness. 3 In those days Israel was holy to the Lord, the first of his children.
All who harmed his people were declared guilty, and disaster fell on them.
I, the Lord, have spoken!”
4 Listen to the word of the Lord, people of Jacob—all you families of Israel! 5 This is what the Lord says:
“What did your ancestors find wrong with me that led them to stray so far from me? They worshiped worthless idols, only to become worthless themselves. 6 They did not ask, ‘Where is the Lord who brought us safely out of Egypt and led us through the barren wilderness—a land of deserts and pits, a land of drought and death, where no one lives or even travels?’
7 “And when I brought you into a fruitful land to enjoy its bounty and goodness, you defiled my land and corrupted the possession I had promised you. 8 The priests did not ask, ‘Where is the Lord?’ Those who taught my word ignored me, the rulers turned against me, and the prophets spoke in the name of Baal, wasting their time on worthless idols.
9 Therefore, I will bring my case against you,” says the Lord. “I will even bring charges against your children’s children in the years to come.
10 “Go west and look in the land of Cyprus; go east and search through the land of Kedar. Has anyone ever heard of anything as strange as this? 11 Has any nation ever traded its gods for new ones, even though they are not gods at all? Yet my people have exchanged their glorious God for worthless idols!
12 The heavens are shocked at such a thing and shrink back in horror and dismay,” says the Lord. 13 “For my people have done two evil things: They have abandoned me—the fountain of living water. And they have dug for themselves cracked cisterns that can hold no water at all!
14 “Why has Israel become a slave? Why has he been carried away as plunder? 15 Strong lions have roared against him, and the land has been destroyed. The towns are now in ruins, and no one lives in them anymore. 16 Egyptians, marching from their cities of Memphis and Tahpanhes, have destroyed Israel’s glory and power. 17 And you have brought this upon yourselves by rebelling against the Lord your God, even though he was leading you on the way!
18 “What have you gained by your alliances with Egypt and your covenants with Assyria? What good to you are the streams of the Nile or the waters of the Euphrates River?
19 Your wickedness will bring its own punishment. Your turning from me will shame you. You will see what an evil, bitter thing it is to abandon the Lord your God and not to fear him.
I, the Lord, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, have spoken!
20 “Long ago I broke the yoke that oppressed you and tore away the chains of your slavery, but still you said, ‘I will not serve you.’
On every hill and under every green tree, you have prostituted yourselves by bowing down to idols. 21 But I was the one who planted you, choosing a vine of the purest stock—the very best. How did you grow into this corrupt wild vine? 22 No amount of soap or lye can make you clean. I still see the stain of your guilt.
I, the Sovereign Lord, have spoken!
23 “You say, ‘That’not true! I haven’t worshiped the images of Baal!’ But how can you say that? Go and look in any valley in the land! Face the awful sins you have done. You are like a restless female camel desperately searching for a mate. 24 You are like a wild donkey, sniffing the wind at mating time. Who can restrain her lust? Those who desire her don’t need to search, for she goes running to them!
25 When will you stop running? When will you stop panting after other gods? But you say, ‘Save your breath. I’m in love with these foreign gods, and I can’t stop loving them now!’
26 “Israel is like a thief who feels shame only when he gets caught. They, their kings, officials, priests, and prophets—all are alike in this. 27 To an image carved from a piece of wood they say, ‘You are my father. To an idol chiseled from a block of stone they say, ‘You are my mother.’
They turn their backs on me, but in times of trouble they cry out to me,
‘Come and save us!’ 28 But why not call on these gods you have made? When trouble comes, let them save you if they can. For you have as many gods as there are towns in Judah.
29 Why do you accuse me of doing wrong? You are the ones who have rebelled,”
says the Lord.
30 “I have punished your children, but they did not respond to my discipline. You yourselves have killed your prophets as a lion kills its prey.
31 “O my people, listen to the words of the Lord! Have I been like a desert to Israel? Have I been to them a land of darkness? Why then do my people say, ‘At last we are free from God! We don’t need him anymore!’
32 Does a young woman forget her jewelry? Does a bride hide her wedding dress?
Yet for years on end my people have forgotten me.
33 “How you plot and scheme to win your lovers. Even an experienced prostitute could learn from you! 34 Your clothing is stained with the blood of the innocent and the poor,
though you didn’t catch them breaking into your houses! 35 And yet you say, ‘I have done nothing wrong. Surely God isn’t angry with me!’
But now I will punish you severely because you claim you have not sinned. 36 First here, then there—you flit from one ally to another asking for help. But your new friends in Egypt will let you down, just as Assyria did before. 37 In despair, you will be led into exile with your hands on your heads, for the Lord has rejected the nations you trust. They will not help you at all.
“If a man divorces a woman and she goes and marries someone else, he will not take her back again, for that would surely corrupt the land. But you have prostituted yourself with many lovers, so why are you trying to come back to me?” says the Lord.
2 “Look at the shrines on every hilltop. Is there any place you have not been defiled by your adultery with other gods? You sit like a prostitute beside the road waiting for a customer. You sit alone like a nomad in the desert. You have polluted the land with your prostitution and your wickedness.
3 That’s why even the spring rains have failed. For you are a brazen prostitute and completely shameless. 4 Yet you say to me, ‘Father, you have been my guide since my youth. 5 Surely you won’t be angry forever! Surely you can forget about it!’ So you talk, but you keep on doing all the evil you can.”
6 During the reign of King Josiah, the Lord said to me, “Have you seen what fickle Israel has done? Like a wife who commits adultery, Israel has worshiped other gods on every hill and under every green tree. 7 I ( God) thought, ‘After she has done all this, she will return to me.’ But she did not return, and her faithless sister Judah saw this. 8 She saw that I divorced faithless Israel because of her adultery. But that treacherous sister Judah had no fear, and now she, too, has left me and given herself to prostitution. 9 Israel treated it all so lightly—she thought nothing of committing adultery by worshiping idols made of wood and stone. So now the land has been polluted. 10 But despite all this, her faithless sister Judah has never sincerely returned to me. She has only pretended to be sorry.
I, the Lord, have spoken!”
11 Then the Lord said to me, “Even faithless Israel is less guilty than treacherous Judah! 12 Therefore, go and give this message to Israel. This is what the Lord says:
“O Israel, my faithless people, come home to me again, for I am merciful. I will not be angry with you forever. 13 Only acknowledge your guilt. Admit that you rebelled against the Lord your God and committed adultery against him by worshiping idols under every green tree. Confess that you refused to listen to my voice.
I, the Lord, have spoken!
14 “Return home, you wayward children,” says the Lord, “for I am your master. I will bring you back to the land of Israel—one from this town and two from that family—from wherever you are scattered. 15 And I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will guide you with knowledge and understanding.
16 “And when your land is once more filled with people,” says the Lord, “you will no longer wish for ‘the good old days’ when you possessed the Ark of the Lord’s Covenant. You will not miss those days or even remember them, and there will be no need to rebuild the Ark. 17 In that day Jerusalem will be known as ‘The Throne of the Lord.’ All nations will come there to honor the Lord. They will no longer stubbornly follow their own evil desires. 18 In those days the people of Judah and Israel will return together from exile in the north. They will return to the land I gave your ancestors as an inheritance forever.
19 “I thought to myself, ‘I would love to treat you as my own children!’ I wanted nothing more than to give you this beautiful land—the finest possession in the world.
I looked forward to your calling me ‘Father,’ and I wanted you never to turn from me.
20 But you have been unfaithful to me, you people of Israel! You have been like a faithless wife who leaves her husband.
I, the Lord, have spoken.”
21 Voices are heard high on the windswept mountains, the weeping and pleading of Israel’s people. For they have chosen crooked paths and have forgotten the Lord their God.
22 “My wayward children,” says the Lord, “come back to me, and I will heal your wayward hearts.”
“Yes, we’re coming,” the people reply, “for you are the Lord our God. 23 Our worship of idols on the hills and our religious orgies on the mountains are a delusion. Only in the Lord our God will Israel ever find salvation. 24 From childhood we have watched as everything our ancestors worked for—their flocks and herds, their sons and daughters—was squandered on a delusion. 25 Let us now lie down in shame and cover ourselves with dishonor, for we and our ancestors have sinned against the Lord our God. From our childhood to this day we have never obeyed him.”
“O Israel,” says the Lord, “if you wanted to return to me, you could.
You could throw away your detestable idols and stray away no more. 2 Then when you swear by my name, saying, ‘As surely as the Lord lives,’ you could do so with truth, justice, and righteousness. Then you would be a blessing to the nations of the world,
and all people would come and praise my name.”
3 This is what the Lord says to the people of Judah and Jerusalem:
“Plow up the hard ground of your hearts! Do not waste your good seed among thorns.
4 O people of Judah and Jerusalem, surrender your pride and power. Change your hearts before the Lord, or my anger will burn like an unquenchable fire because of all your sins.
5 “Shout to Judah, and broadcast to Jerusalem! Tell them to sound the alarm throughout the land: ‘Run for your lives! Flee to the fortified cities!’ 6 Raise a signal flag as a warning for Jerusalem: ‘Flee now! Do not delay!’ For I am bringing terrible destruction upon you from the north.”
7 A lion stalks from its den, a destroyer of nations. It has left its lair and is headed your way. It’s going to devastate your land! Your towns will lie in ruins, with no one living in them anymore. 8 So put on clothes of mourning and weep with broken hearts,
for the fierce anger of the Lord is still upon us.
9 “In that day,” says the Lord, “the king and the officials will tremble in fear.
The priests will be struck with horror, and the prophets will be appalled.”
10 Then I said, “O Sovereign Lord, the people have been deceived by what you said,
for you promised peace for Jerusalem.
But the sword is held at their throats!”
11 The time is coming when the Lord will say to the people of Jerusalem,
“My dear people, a burning wind is blowing in from the desert, and it’s not a gentle breeze useful for winnowing grain. 12 It is a roaring blast sent by me!
Now I will pronounce your destruction!”
13 Our enemy rushes down on us like storm clouds! His chariots are like whirlwinds.
His horses are swifter than eagles. How terrible it will be, for we are doomed!
14 O Jerusalem, cleanse your heart that you may be saved. How long will you harbor
your evil thoughts? 15 Your destruction has been announced from Dan and the hill country of Ephraim.
16 “Warn the surrounding nations and announce this to Jerusalem: The enemy is coming from a distant land, raising a battle cry against the towns of Judah.
17 They surround Jerusalem like watchmen around a field, for my people have rebelled against me,” says the Lord. 18 “Your own actions have brought this upon you. This punishment is bitter, piercing you to the heart!”
19 My heart, my heart—I writhe in pain! My heart pounds within me! I cannot be still.
For I have heard the blast of enemy trumpets and the roar of their battle cries. 20 Waves of destruction roll over the land, until it lies in complete desolation. Suddenly my tents are destroyed; in a moment my shelters are crushed. 21 How long must I see the battle flags and hear the trumpets of war?
22 “My people are foolish and do not know me,” says the Lord. “They are stupid children who have no understanding. They are clever enough at doing wrong, but they have no idea how to do right!”
23 I looked at the earth, and it was empty and formless. I looked at the heavens, and there was no light. 24 I looked at the mountains and hills, and they trembled and shook.
25 I looked, and all the people were gone. All the birds of the sky had flown away.
26 I looked, and the fertile fields had become a wilderness. The towns lay in ruins,
crushed by the Lord’s fierce anger.
27 This is what the Lord says:
“The whole land will be ruined, but I will not destroy it completely. 28 The earth will mourn and the heavens will be draped in black because of my decree against my people.
“ I have made up my mind and will not change it.”
29 At the noise of charioteers and archers, the people flee in terror. They hide in the bushes and run for the mountains. All the towns have been abandoned— not a person remains!
30 What are you doing, you who have been plundered? Why do you dress up in beautiful clothing and put on gold jewelry? Why do you brighten your eyes with mascara? Your primping will do you no good! The allies who were your lovers
despise you and seek to kill you.
31 I hear a cry, like that of a woman in labor, the groans of a woman giving birth to her first child. It is beautiful Jerusalem gasping for breath and crying out: “Help! I’m being murdered!”
“Run up and down every street in Jerusalem,” says the Lord. “Look high and low; search throughout the city! If you can find even one just and honest person, I will not destroy the city. 2 But even when they are under oath, saying, ‘As surely as the Lord lives,’ they are still telling lies!”
3 Lord, you are searching for honesty. You struck your people, but they paid no attention. You crushed them, but they refused to be corrected. They are determined, with faces set like stone; they have refused to repent.
4 Then I said, “But what can we expect from the poor? They are ignorant. They don’t know the ways of the Lord. They don’t understand God’s laws. 5 So I will go and speak to their leaders. Surely they know the ways of the Lord and understand God’s laws.” But the leaders, too, as one man, had thrown off God’s yoke and broken his chains. 6 So now a lion from the forest will attack them; a wolf from the desert will pounce on them. A leopard will lurk near their towns, tearing apart any who dare to venture out. For their rebellion is great, and their sins are many.
7 “How can I pardon you? For even your children have turned from me. They have sworn by gods that are not gods at all! I fed my people until they were full. But they thanked me by committing adultery and lining up at the brothels. 8 They are well-fed, lusty stallions, each neighing for his neighbor’s wife. 9 Should I not punish them for this?” says the Lord.
“Should I not avenge myself against such a nation?
10 “Go down the rows of the vineyards and destroy the grapevines, leaving a scattered few alive. Strip the branches from the vines, for these people do not belong to the Lord.
11 The people of Israel and Judah are full of treachery against me,” says the Lord. “They have lied about the Lord and said, ‘He won’t bother us! No disasters will come upon us. There will be no war or famine. 13 God’s prophets are all windbags who don’t really speak for him. Let their predictions of disaster fall on themselves!’”
14 Therefore, this is what the Lord God of Heaven’s Armies says:
“Because the people are talking like this, my messages will flame out of your mouth and burn the people like kindling wood. 15 O Israel, I will bring a distant nation against you,” says the Lord. “It is a mighty nation, an ancient nation, a people whose language you do not know, whose speech you cannot understand. 16 Their weapons are deadly; their warriors are mighty. 17 They will devour the food of your harvest; they will devour your sons and daughters. They will devour your flocks and herds; they will devour your grapes and figs. And they will destroy your fortified towns, which you think are so safe.
18 “Yet even in those days I will not blot you out completely,” says the Lord. 19 “And when your people ask, ‘Why did the Lord our God do all this to us?’ you must reply, ‘You rejected him and gave yourselves to foreign gods in your own land. Now you will serve foreigners in a land that is not your own.’
20 “Make this announcement to Israel, and say this to Judah: 21 Listen, you foolish and senseless people, with eyes that do not see and ears that do not hear. 22 Have you no respect for me? Why don’t you tremble in my presence? I, the Lord, define the ocean’s sandy shoreline as an everlasting boundary that the waters cannot cross. The waves may toss and roar, but they can never pass the boundaries I set. 23 But my people have stubborn and rebellious hearts. They have turned away and abandoned me. 24 They do not say from the heart, ‘Let us live in awe of the Lord our God, for he gives us rain each spring and fall, assuring us of a harvest when the time is right.’ 25 Your wickedness has deprived you of these wonderful blessings.
“Your sin has robbed you of all these good things.
26 “Among my people are wicked men who lie in wait for victims like a hunter hiding in a blind. They continually set traps to catch people. 27 Like a cage filled with birds,
their homes are filled with evil plots. And now they are great and rich. 28 They are fat and sleek, and there is no limit to their wicked deeds. They refuse to provide justice to orphans and deny the rights of the poor. 29 Should I not punish them for this?” says the Lord.
“Should I not avenge myself against such a nation? 30 A horrible and shocking thing has happened in this land—the prophets give false prophecies, and the priests rule with an iron hand.
“ Worse yet, my people like it that way! But what will you do when the end comes? ”
“Run for your lives, you people of Benjamin! Get out of Jerusalem! Sound the alarm in Tekoa! Send up a signal at Beth-hakkerem! A powerful army is coming from the north, coming with disaster and destruction.
2 “O Jerusalem, you are my beautiful and delicate daughter–but I will destroy you!
3 Enemies will surround you, like shepherds camped around the city. Each chooses a place for his troops to devour. 4 They shout, ‘Prepare for battle! Attack at noon!’ ‘No, it’s too late; the day is fading, and the evening shadows are falling. 5 ‘Well then, let’s attack at night and destroy her palaces!’”
6 This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: “Cut down the trees for battering rams. Build siege ramps against the walls of Jerusalem. This is the city to be punished,
for she is wicked through and through. 7 She spouts evil like a fountain. Her streets echo with the sounds of violence and destruction. I always see her sickness and sores.
8 Listen to this warning, Jerusalem, or I will turn from you in disgust. Listen, or I will turn you into a heap of ruins, a land where no one lives.”
9 This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: “Even the few who remain in Israel will be picked over again, as when a harvester checks each vine a second time to pick the grapes that were missed.”
10 To whom can I give warning? Who will listen when I speak? Their ears are closed, and they cannot hear. They scorn the word of the Lord. They don’t want to listen at all.
11 So now I am filled with the Lord’s fury. Yes, I am tired of holding it in!
“I will pour out my fury on children playing in the streets and on gatherings of young men, on husbands and wives and on those who are old and gray. 12 Their homes will be turned over to their enemies, as will their fields and their wives. For I will raise my powerful fist against the people of this land,” says the Lord. 13 “From the least to the greatest, their lives are ruled by greed. From prophets to priests, they are all frauds.
14 They offer superficial treatments for my people’s mortal wound. They give assurances of peace when there is no peace. 15 Are they ashamed of their disgusting actions? Not at all—they don’t even know how to blush! Therefore, they will lie among the slaughtered.
“They will be brought down when I punish them,” says the Lord.
16 This is what the Lord says: “Stop at the crossroads and look around. Ask for the old, godly way, and walk in it. Travel its path, and you will find rest for your souls. But you reply, ‘No, that’s not the road we want!’ 17 I posted watchmen over you who said, ‘Listen for the sound of the alarm.’ But you replied, ‘No! We won’t pay attention!’
18 “Therefore, listen to this, all you nations. Take note of my people’s situation.
Listen, all the earth! I will bring disaster on my people. It is the fruit of their own schemes, because they refuse to listen to me. They have rejected my word. 20 There’s no use offering me sweet frankincense from Sheba. Keep your fragrant calamus imported from distant lands! I will not accept your burnt offerings.
“Your sacrifices have no pleasing aroma for me.”
21 Therefore, this is what the Lord says: “I will put obstacles in my people’s path.
Fathers and sons will both fall over them. Neighbors and friends will die together.”
22 This is what the Lord says: “Look! A great army coming from the north! A great nation is rising against you from far-off lands. 23 They are armed with bows and spears.
They are cruel and show no mercy. They sound like a roaring sea as they ride forward on horses. They are coming in battle formation, planning to destroy you, beautiful Jerusalem.”
24 We have heard reports about the enemy, and we wring our hands in fright. Pangs of anguish have gripped us, like those of a woman in labor. 25 Don’t go out to the fields! Don’t travel on the roads! The enemy’s sword is everywhere and terrorizes us at every turn! 26 Oh, my people, dress yourselves in burlap and sit among the ashes.
Mourn and weep bitterly, as for the loss of an only son. For suddenly the destroying armies will be upon you!
27 “Jeremiah, I have made you a tester of metals, that you may determine the quality of my people. 28 They are the worst kind of rebel, full of slander. They are as hard as bronze and iron, and they lead others into corruption. 29 The bellows fiercely fan the flames to burn out the corruption. But it does not purify them, for the wickedness remains. 30 I will label them ‘Rejected Silver,’ for I, the Lord, am discarding them.”
The Lord gave another message to Jeremiah. He said, 2 “Go to the entrance of the Lord’s Temple, and give this message to the people: ‘O Judah, listen to this message from the Lord! Listen to it, all of you who worship here! 3 This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says:
“Even now, if you quit your evil ways, I will let you stay in your own land. 4 But don’t be fooled by those who promise you safety simply because the Lord’s Temple is here. They chant, “The Lord’s Temple is here! The Lord’s Temple is here!” 5 But I will be merciful only if you stop your evil thoughts and deeds and start treating each other with justice; 6 only if you stop exploiting foreigners, orphans, and widows; only if you stop your murdering; and only if you stop harming yourselves by worshiping idols. 7 Then I will let you stay in this land that I gave to your ancestors to keep forever.
8 “‘Don’t be fooled into thinking that you will never suffer because the Temple is here. It’s a lie! 9 Do you really think you can steal, murder, commit adultery, lie, and burn incense to Baal and all those other new gods of yours, 10 and then come here and stand before me in my Temple and chant, “We are safe!”—only to go right back to all those evils again? 11 Don’t you yourselves admit that this Temple, which bears my name, has become a den of thieves? Surely I see all the evil going on there. I, the Lord, have spoken!
12 “‘Go now to the place at Shiloh where I once put the Tabernacle that bore my name. See what I did there because of all the wickedness of my people, the Israelites. 13 While you were doing these wicked things, says the Lord, I spoke to you about it repeatedly, but you would not listen. I called out to you, but you refused to answer. 14 So just as I destroyed Shiloh, I will now destroy this Temple that bears my name, this Temple that you trust in for help, this place that I gave to you and your ancestors. 15 And I will send you out of my sight into exile, just as I did your relatives, the people of Israel.’
16 “Pray no more for these people, Jeremiah. Do not weep or pray for them, and don’t beg me to help them, for I will not listen to you. 17 Don’t you see what they are doing throughout the towns of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem? 18 No wonder I am so angry! Watch how the children gather wood and the fathers build sacrificial fires. See how the women knead dough and make cakes to offer to the Queen of Heaven. And they pour out liquid offerings to their other idol gods! 19 Am I the one they are hurting?” asks the Lord. “Most of all, they hurt themselves, to their own shame.”
20 So this is what the Sovereign Lord says: “I will pour out my terrible fury on this place. Its people, animals, trees, and crops will be consumed by the unquenchable fire of my anger.”
21 This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: “Take your burnt offerings and your other sacrifices and eat them yourselves! 22 When I led your ancestors out of Egypt, it was not burnt offerings and sacrifices I wanted from them. This is what I told them: ‘Obey me, and (then) I will be your God, and you will be my people. Do everything as I say, and all will be well!’
24 “But my people would not listen to me. They kept doing whatever they wanted, following the stubborn desires of their evil hearts. They went backward instead of forward. 25 From the day your ancestors left Egypt until now, I have continued to send my servants, the prophets—day in and day out. 26 But my people have not listened to me or even tried to hear. They have been stubborn and sinful—even worse than their ancestors.
27 “Tell them all this, but do not expect them to listen. Shout out your warnings, but do not expect them to respond. 28 Say to them, ‘This is the nation whose people will not obey the Lord their God and who refuse to be taught. Truth has vanished from among them; it is no longer heard on their lips. 29 Shave your head in mourning, and weep alone on the mountains. For the Lord has rejected and forsaken this generation that has provoked his fury.’
30 “The people of Judah have sinned before my very eyes,” says the Lord. “They have set up their abominable idols right in the Temple that bears my name, defiling it. They have built pagan shrines at Topheth, the garbage dump in the valley of Ben-Hinnom, and there they burn their sons and daughters in the fire. I have never commanded such a horrible deed; it never even crossed my mind to command such a thing! 32 So beware, for the time is coming,” says the Lord, “when that garbage dump will no longer be called Topheth or the valley of Ben-Hinnom, but the Valley of Slaughter. They will bury the bodies in Topheth until there is no more room for them. 33 The bodies of my people will be food for the vultures and wild animals, and no one will be left to scare them away. 34 I will put an end to the happy singing and laughter in the streets of Jerusalem. The joyful voices of bridegrooms and brides will no longer be heard in the towns of Judah. The land will lie in complete desolation.”
“In that day,” says the Lord, “the enemy will break open the graves of the kings and officials of Judah, and the graves of the priests, prophets, and common people of Jerusalem. 2 They will spread out their bones on the ground before the sun, moon, and stars—the gods my people have loved, served, and worshiped. Their bones will not be gathered up again or buried but will be scattered on the ground like manure. 3 And the people of this evil nation who survive will wish to die rather than live where I will send them. I, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, have spoken!
4 “Jeremiah, say to the people, ‘This is what the Lord says:
“When people fall down, don’t they get up again? When they discover they’re on the wrong road, don’t they turn back? 5 Then why do these people stay on their self-destructive path? Why do the people of Jerusalem refuse to turn back? They cling tightly to their lies and will not turn around. 6 I listen to their conversations and don’t hear a word of truth. Is anyone sorry for doing wrong? Does anyone say, “What a terrible thing I have done”? No! All are running down the path of sin as swiftly as a horse galloping into battle! 7 Even the stork that flies across the sky knows the time of her migration, as do the turtledove, the swallow, and the crane. They all return at the proper time each year. But not my people!
“They do not know the Lord’s laws.
8 “How can you say, “We are wise because we have the word of the Lord,” when your teachers have twisted it by writing lies? 9 These wise teachers will fall into the trap of their own foolishness, for they have rejected the word of the Lord. Are they so wise after all? 10 I will give their wives to others and their farms to strangers. From the least to the greatest, their lives are ruled by greed. Yes, even my prophets and priests are like that. They are all frauds. 11 They offer superficial treatments for my people’s mortal wound. They give assurances of peace when there is no peace. 12 Are they ashamed of these disgusting actions? Not at all—they don’t even know how to blush! Therefore, they will lie among the slaughtered. They will be brought down when I punish them, says the Lord. 13 I will surely consume them. There will be no more harvests of figs and grapes. Their fruit trees will all die. Whatever I gave them will soon be gone.
“I, the Lord, have spoken!
14 “Then the people will say, ‘Why should we wait here to die? Come, let’s go to the fortified towns and die there. For the Lord our God has decreed our destruction and has given us a cup of poison to drink because we sinned against the Lord. 15 We hoped for peace, but no peace came. We hoped for a time of healing, but found only terror.’
16 “The snorting of the enemies’ warhorses can be heard all the way from the land of Dan in the north! The neighing of their stallions makes the whole land tremble. They are coming to devour the land and everything in it—cities and people alike. 17 I will send these enemy troops among you like poisonous snakes you cannot charm. They will bite you, and you will die.
“I, the Lord, have spoken!”
18 My grief is beyond healing; my heart is broken. 19 Listen to the weeping of my people; it can be heard all across the land. “Has the Lord abandoned Jerusalem?” the people ask. “Is her King no longer there?”
“ Oh, why have they provoked my anger with their carved idols and their worthless foreign gods?” I, the Lord, have spoken!” says the Lord.
20 “The harvest is finished, and the summer is gone,” the people cry, “yet we are not saved!”
21 I hurt with the hurt of my people. I mourn and am overcome with grief. 22 Is there no medicine in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Why is there no healing for the wounds of my people?
If only my head were a pool of water and my eyes a fountain of tears, I would weep day and night for all my people who have been slaughtered. 2 Oh, that I could go away and forget my people and live in a travelers’ shack in the desert. For they are all adulterers—a pack of treacherous liars.
3 “My people bend their tongues like bows to shoot out lies. They refuse to stand up for the truth. They only go from bad to worse. They do not know me,” says the Lord.
4 “Beware of your neighbor! Don’t even trust your brother! For brother takes advantage of brother, and friend slanders friend. 5 They all fool and defraud each other; no one tells the truth. With practiced tongues they tell lies; they wear themselves out with all their sinning. 6 They pile lie upon lie and utterly refuse to acknowledge me,” says the Lord.
7 Therefore, this is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says:
“See, I will melt them down in a crucible and test them like metal. What else can I do with my people? 8 For their tongues shoot lies like poisoned arrows. They speak friendly words to their neighbors while scheming in their heart to kill them. 9 Should I not punish them for this?” says the Lord.
“Should I not avenge myself against such a nation?”
10 I will weep for the mountains and wail for the wilderness pastures. For they are desolate and empty of life; the lowing of cattle is heard no more; the birds and wild animals have all fled.
11 “I will make Jerusalem into a heap of ruins,” says the Lord. “It will be a place haunted by jackals. The towns of Judah will be ghost towns, with no one living in them.”
12 Who is wise enough to understand all this? Who has been instructed by the Lord and can explain it to others? Why has the land been so ruined that no one dares to travel through it?
13 The Lord replies, “This has happened because my people have abandoned my instructions; they have refused to obey what I said. 14 Instead, they have stubbornly followed their own desires and worshiped the images of Baal, as their ancestors taught them. 15 So now, this is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: Look! I will feed them with bitterness and give them poison to drink. 16 I will scatter them around the world, in places they and their ancestors never heard of, and even there I will chase them with the sword until I have destroyed them completely.”
17 This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says:
“Consider all this, and call for the mourners. Send for the women who mourn at funerals. 18 Quick! Begin your weeping! Let the tears flow from your eyes. 19 Hear the people of Jerusalem crying in despair, ‘We are ruined! We are completely humiliated!
We must leave our land, because our homes have been torn down.’”
20 Listen, you women, to the words of the Lord; open your ears to what he has to say.
Teach your daughters to wail; teach one another how to lament. 21 For death has crept in through our windows and has entered our mansions. It has killed off the flower of our youth: Children no longer play in the streets, and young men no longer gather in the squares.
22 This is what the Lord says:
“Bodies will be scattered across the fields like clumps of manure, like bundles of grain after the harvest. No one will be left to bury them.”
23 This is what the Lord says:
“Don’t let the wise boast in their wisdom, or the powerful boast in their power, or the rich boast in their riches. 24 But those who wish to boast should boast in this alone:
that they truly know me and understand that I am the Lord who demonstrates unfailing love and who brings justice and righteousness to the earth, and that I delight in these things.
I, the Lord, have spoken!
25 “A time is coming,” says the Lord, “when I will punish all those who are circumcised in body but not in spirit—26 the Egyptians, Edomites, Ammonites, Moabites, the people who live in the desert in remote places, and yes, even the people of Judah. And like all these pagan nations, the people of Israel also have uncircumcised hearts.”
Hear the word that the Lord speaks to you, O Israel! 2 This is what the Lord says:
“Do not act like the other nations, who try to read their future in the stars. Do not be afraid of their predictions, even though other nations are terrified by them. 3 Their ways are futile and foolish. They cut down a tree, and a craftsman carves an idol.
4 They decorate it with gold and silver and then fasten it securely with hammer and nails
so it won’t fall over. 5 Their gods are like helpless scarecrows in a cucumber field!
They cannot speak, and they need to be carried because they cannot walk. Do not be afraid of such gods, for they can neither harm you nor do you any good.”
6 Lord, there is no one like you! For you are great, and your name is full of power.
7 Who would not fear you, O King of nations? That title belongs to you alone!
Among all the wise people of the earth and in all the kingdoms of the world, there is no one like you.
8 People who worship idols are stupid and foolish. The things they worship are made of wood! 9 They bring beaten sheets of silver from Tarshish and gold from Uphaz, and they give these materials to skillful craftsmen who make their idols. Then they dress these gods in royal blue and purple robes made by expert tailors. 10 But the Lord is the only true God. He is the living God and the everlasting King! The whole earth trembles at his anger. The nations cannot stand up to his wrath.
11 Say this to those who worship other gods: “Your so-called gods, who did not make the heavens and earth, will vanish from the earth and from under the heavens.”
12 But the Lord made the earth by his power, and he preserves it by his wisdom.
With his own understanding he stretched out the heavens. 13 When he speaks in the thunder, the heavens roar with rain. He causes the clouds to rise over the earth. He sends the lightning with the rain and releases the wind from his storehouses. 14 The whole human race is foolish and has no knowledge! The craftsmen are disgraced by the idols they make, for their carefully shaped works are a fraud. These idols have no breath or power. 15 Idols are worthless; they are ridiculous lies!
On the day of reckoning they will all be destroyed. 16 But the God of Israel is no idol! He is the Creator of everything that exists, including Israel, his own special possession.
The Lord of Heaven’s Armies is his name.
17 Pack your bags and prepare to leave; the siege is about to begin. 18 For this is what the Lord says: “Suddenly, I will fling out all you who live in this land. I will pour great troubles upon you, and at last you will feel my anger.”
19 My wound is severe, and my grief is great. My sickness is incurable, but I must bear it. 20 My home is gone, and no one is left to help me rebuild it. My children have been taken away, and I will never see them again. 21 The shepherds of my people have lost their senses. They no longer seek wisdom from the Lord. Therefore, they fail completely, and their flocks are scattered. 22 Listen! Hear the terrifying roar of great armies as they roll down from the north. The towns of Judah will be destroyed and become a haunt for jackals.
23 I know, Lord, that our lives are not our own. We are not able to plan our own course. 24 So correct me, Lord, but please be gentle. Do not correct me in anger, for I would die. 25 Pour out your wrath on the nations that refuse to acknowledge you–on the peoples that do not call upon your name. For they have devoured your people Israel;
they have devoured and consumed them, making the land a desolate wilderness.
The Lord gave another message to Jeremiah. He said, 2 “Remind the people of Judah and Jerusalem about the terms of my covenant with them. 3 Say to them, ‘This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: Cursed is anyone who does not obey the terms of my covenant! 4 For I said to your ancestors when I brought them out of the iron-smelting furnace of Egypt, “If you obey me and do whatever I command you, then you will be my people, and I will be your God.” 5 I said this so I could keep my promise to your ancestors to give you a land flowing with milk and honey—the land you live in today.’”
Then I replied, “Amen, Lord! May it be so.”
6 Then the Lord said, “Broadcast this message in the streets of Jerusalem. Go from town to town throughout the land and say, ‘Remember the ancient covenant, and do everything it requires. 7 For I solemnly warned your ancestors when I brought them out of Egypt, “Obey me!” I have repeated this warning over and over to this day, 8 but your ancestors did not listen or even pay attention. Instead, they stubbornly followed their own evil desires. And because they refused to obey, I brought upon them all the curses described in this covenant.’”
9 Again the Lord spoke to me and said, “I have discovered a conspiracy against me among the people of Judah and Jerusalem. 10 They have returned to the sins of their ancestors. They have refused to listen to me and are worshiping other gods. Israel and Judah have both broken the covenant I made with their ancestors. 11 Therefore, this is what the Lord says: I am going to bring calamity upon them, and they will not escape. Though they beg for mercy, I will not listen to their cries. 12 Then the people of Judah and Jerusalem will pray to their idols and burn incense before them. But the idols will not save them when disaster strikes! 13 Look now, people of Judah; you have as many gods as you have towns. You have as many altars of shame—altars for burning incense to your god Baal—as there are streets in Jerusalem.
14 “Pray no more for these people, Jeremiah. Do not weep or pray for them, for I will not listen to them when they cry out to me in distress.
15 “What right do my beloved people have to come to my Temple, when they have done so many immoral things? Can their vows and sacrifices prevent their destruction They actually rejoice in doing evil! 16 I, the Lord, once called them a thriving olive tree, beautiful to see and full of good fruit. But now I have sent the fury of their enemies to burn them with fire, leaving them charred and broken.
17 “I, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, who planted this olive tree, have ordered it destroyed. For the people of Israel and Judah have done evil, arousing my anger by burning incense to Baal.”
18 Then the Lord told me about the plots my enemies were making against me. 19 I was like a lamb being led to the slaughter. I had no idea that they were planning to kill me! “Let’s destroy this man and all his words,” they said. “Let’s cut him down, so his name will be forgotten forever.”
20 O Lord of Heaven’s Armies, you make righteous judgments, and you examine the deepest thoughts and secrets. Let me see your vengeance against them, for I have committed my cause to you.
21 This is what the Lord says about the men of Anathoth who wanted me dead. They had said, “We will kill you if you do not stop prophesying in the Lord’s name.” 22 So this is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says about them: “I will punish them! Their young men will die in battle, and their boys and girls will starve to death. 23 Not one of these plotters from Anathoth will survive, for I will bring disaster upon them when their time of punishment comes.”
Jeremiah Questions the Lord’s Justice
Lord, you always give me justice when I bring a case before you. So let me bring you this complaint: Why are the wicked so prosperous? Why are evil people so happy?
2 You have planted them, and they have taken root and prospered. Your name is on their lips, but you are far from their hearts. 3 But as for me, Lord, you know my heart. You see me and test my thoughts. Drag these people away like sheep to be butchered! Set them aside to be slaughtered!
4 How long must this land mourn? Even the grass in the fields has withered. The wild animals and birds have disappeared because of the evil in the land. For the people have said, “The Lord doesn’t see what’s ahead for us!”
and here is the Lord’s answer :
5 “If racing against mere men makes you tired, how will you race against horses?
If you stumble and fall on open ground, what will you do in the thickets near the Jordan?
6 Even your brothers, members of your own family, have turned against you. They plot and raise complaints against you. Do not trust them, no matter how pleasantly they speak.
7 “I have abandoned my people, my special possession. I have surrendered my dearest ones to their enemies. 8 My chosen people have roared at me like a lion of the forest, so I have treated them with contempt. 9 My chosen people act like speckled vultures, but they themselves are surrounded by vultures. Bring on the wild animals to pick their corpses clean!
10 “Many rulers have ravaged my vineyard, trampling down the vines and turning all its beauty into a barren wilderness. 11 They have made it an empty wasteland; I hear its mournful cry. The whole land is desolate, and no one even cares. 12 On all the bare hilltops, destroying armies can be seen. The sword of the Lord devours people from one end of the nation to the other. No one will escape! 13 My people have planted wheat but are harvesting thorns. They have worn themselves out, but it has done them no good.
They will harvest a crop of shame because of the fierce anger of the Lord.”
14 Now this is what the Lord says: “I will uproot from their land all the evil nations reaching out for the possession I gave my people Israel. And I will uproot Judah from among them. 15 But afterward I will return and have compassion on all of them. I will bring them home to their own lands again, each nation to its own possession. 16 And if these nations truly learn the ways of my people, and if they learn to swear by my name, saying, ‘As surely as the Lord lives’ (just as they taught my people to swear by the name of Baal), then they will be given a place among my people. 17 But any nation who refuses to obey me will be uprooted and destroyed. I, the Lord, have spoken!”
This is what the Lord said to me: “Go and buy a linen loincloth and put it on, but do not wash it.” 2 So I bought the loincloth as the Lord directed me, and I put it on.
3 Then the Lord gave me another message: 4 “Take the linen loincloth you are wearing, and go to the Euphrates River. Hide it there in a hole in the rocks.” 5 So I went and hid it by the Euphrates as the Lord had instructed me.
6 A long time afterward the Lord said to me, “Go back to the Euphrates and get the loincloth I told you to hide there.” 7 So I went to the Euphrates and dug it out of the hole where I had hidden it. But now it was rotting and falling apart. The loincloth was good for nothing.
8 Then I received this message from the Lord: 9 “This is what the Lord says: This shows how I will rot away the pride of Judah and Jerusalem. 10 These wicked people refuse to listen to me. They stubbornly follow their own desires and worship other gods. Therefore, they will become like this loincloth—good for nothing! 11 As a loincloth clings to a man’s waist, so I created Judah and Israel to cling to me, says the Lord. They were to be my people, my pride, my glory—an honor to my name. But they would not listen to me.
12 “So tell them, ‘This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: May all your jars be filled with wine.’ And they will reply, ‘Of course! Jars are made to be filled with wine!’
13 “Then tell them, ‘No, this is what the Lord means: I will fill everyone in this land with drunkenness—from the king sitting on David’s throne to the priests and the prophets, right down to the common people of Jerusalem. 14 I will smash them against each other, even parents against children, says the Lord. I will not let my pity or mercy or compassion keep me from destroying them.’”
15 Listen and pay attention! Do not be arrogant, for the Lord has spoken. 16 Give glory to the Lord your God before it is too late. Acknowledge him before he brings darkness upon you, causing you to stumble and fall on the darkening mountains.
For then, when you look for light, you will find only terrible darkness and gloom.
17 And if you still refuse to listen, I will weep alone because of your pride. My eyes will overflow with tears, because the Lord’s flock will be led away into exile.
18 Say to the king and his mother, “Come down from your thrones and sit in the dust,
for your glorious crowns will soon be snatched from your heads.” 19 The towns of the Negev will close their gates, and no one will be able to open them. The people of Judah will be taken away as captives. All will be carried into exile.
20 Open up your eyes and see the armies marching down from the north! Where is your flock—your beautiful flock—that he gave you to care for? 21 What will you say when the Lord takes the allies you have cultivated and appoints them as your rulers?
Pangs of anguish will grip you, like those of a woman in labor! 22 You may ask yourself, “Why is all this happening to me?” It is because of your many sins!
That is why you have been stripped and raped by invading armies. 23 Can an Ethiopian change the color of his skin? Can a leopard take away its spots? Neither can you start doing good, for you have always done evil.
24 “I will scatter you like chaff that is blown away by the desert winds. 25 This is your allotment, the portion I have assigned to you,” says the Lord, “for you have forgotten me, putting your trust in false gods. 26 I myself will strip you and expose you to shame.
27 I have seen your adultery and lust, and your disgusting idol worship out in the fields and on the hills. What sorrow awaits you, Jerusalem! How long before you are pure?”
This message came to Jeremiah from the Lord, explaining why he was holding back the rain:
2 “Judah wilts; commerce at the city gates grinds to a halt. All the people sit on the ground in mourning, and a great cry rises from Jerusalem. 3 The nobles send servants to get water, but all the wells are dry. The servants return with empty pitchers, confused and desperate, covering their heads in grief. 4 The ground is parched and cracked for lack of rain. The farmers are deeply troubled; they, too, cover their heads. 5 Even the doe abandons her newborn fawn because there is no grass in the field. 6 The wild donkeys stand on the bare hills panting like thirsty jackals. They strain their eyes looking for grass, but there is none to be found.”
7 The people say, “Our wickedness has caught up with us, Lord, but help us for the sake of your own reputation. We have turned away from you and sinned against you again and again. 8 O Hope of Israel, our Savior in times of trouble, why are you like a stranger to us? Why are you like a traveler passing through the land, stopping only for the night? 9 Are you also confused? Is our champion helpless to save us? You are right here among us, Lord. We are known as your people. Please don’t abandon us now!”
10 So this is what the Lord says to his people: “You love to wander far from me and do not restrain yourselves. Therefore, I will no longer accept you as my people. Now I will remember all your wickedness and will punish you for your sins.”
11 Then the Lord said to me, “Do not pray for these people anymore. 12 When they fast, I will pay no attention. When they present their burnt offerings and grain offerings to me, I will not accept them. Instead, I will devour them with war, famine, and disease.”
13 Then I said, “O Sovereign Lord, their prophets are telling them, ‘All is well—no war or famine will come. The Lord will surely send you peace.’”
14 Then the Lord said, “These prophets are telling lies in my name. I did not send them or tell them to speak. I did not give them any messages. They prophesy of visions and revelations they have never seen or heard. They speak foolishness made up in their own lying hearts. 15 Therefore, this is what the Lord says: I will punish these lying prophets, for they have spoken in my name even though I never sent them. They say that no war or famine will come, but they themselves will die by war and famine! 16 As for the people to whom they prophesy—their bodies will be thrown out into the streets of Jerusalem, victims of famine and war. There will be no one left to bury them. Husbands, wives, sons, and daughters—all will be gone. For I will pour out their own wickedness on them. 17 Now, Jeremiah, say this to them:
“Night and day my eyes overflow with tears. I cannot stop weeping, for my virgin daughter—my precious people—has been struck down and lies mortally wounded.
18 If I go out into the fields, I see the bodies of people slaughtered by the enemy. If I walk the city streets, I see people who have died of starvation. The prophets and priests continue with their work, but they don’t know what they’re doing.”
19 Lord, have you completely rejected Judah? Do you really hate Jerusalem?
Why have you wounded us past all hope of healing? We hoped for peace, but no peace came. We hoped for a time of healing, but found only terror. 20 Lord, we confess our wickedness and that of our ancestors, too. We all have sinned against you. 21 For the sake of your reputation, Lord, do not abandon us. Do not disgrace your own glorious throne. Please remember us, and do not break your covenant with us.
22 Can any of the worthless foreign gods send us rain? Does it fall from the sky by itself? No, you are the one, O Lord our God! Only you can do such things.
So we will wait for you to help us.
Then the Lord said to me, “Even if Moses and Samuel stood before me pleading for these people, I wouldn’t help them. Away with them! Get them out of my sight! 2 And if they say to you, ‘But where can we go?’ tell them, ‘This is what the Lord says:
“‘Those who are destined for death, to death; those who are destined for war, to war;
those who are destined for famine, to famine; those who are destined for captivity, to captivity.’
3 “I will send four kinds of destroyers against them,” says the Lord. “I will send the sword to kill, the dogs to drag away, the vultures to devour, and the wild animals to finish up what is left. 4 Because of the wicked things Manasseh son of Hezekiah, king of Judah, did in Jerusalem, I will make my people an object of horror to all the kingdoms of the earth.
5 “Who will feel sorry for you, Jerusalem? Who will weep for you? Who will even bother to ask how you are? 6 You have abandoned me and turned your back on me,” says the Lord. “Therefore, I will raise my fist to destroy you. I am tired of always giving you another chance. 7 I will winnow you like grain at the gates of your cities
and take away the children you hold dear. I will destroy my own people, because they refuse to change their evil ways. 8 There will be more widows than the grains of sand on the seashore. At noontime I will bring a destroyer against the mothers of young men.
I will cause anguish and terror to come upon them suddenly. 9 The mother of seven grows faint and gasps for breath; her sun has gone down while it is still day. She sits childless now, disgraced and humiliated. And I will hand over those who are left to be killed by the enemy.
I, the Lord, have spoken!”
10 Then I said, “What sorrow is mine, my mother. Oh, that I had died at birth! I am hated everywhere I go. I am neither a lender who threatens to foreclose nor a borrower who refuses to pay—yet they all curse me.”
11 The Lord replied,
“I will take care of you, Jeremiah. Your enemies will ask you to plead on their behalf in times of trouble and distress. 12 Can a man break a bar of iron from the north, or a bar of bronze? 13 At no cost to them, I will hand over your wealth and treasures
as plunder to your enemies, for sin runs rampant in your land. 14 I will tell your enemies to take you as captives to a foreign land. For my anger blazes like a fire that will burn forever.”
15 Then I said, “Lord, you know what’s happening to me. Please step in and help me. Punish my persecutors! Please give me time; don’t let me die young. It’s for your sake that I am suffering. 16 When I discovered your words, I devoured them. They are my joy and my heart’s delight, for I bear your name, O Lord God of Heaven’s Armies.
17 I never joined the people in their merry feasts. I sat alone because your hand was on me. I was filled with indignation at their sins. 18 Why then does my suffering continue?
Why is my wound so incurable? Your help seems as uncertain as a seasonal brook, like a spring that has gone dry.”
19 This is how the Lord responds: “If you return to me, I will restore you
so (that) you can continue to serve me. If you speak good words rather than worthless ones, you will be my spokesman. You must influence them; do not let them influence you! 20 They will fight against you like an attacking army, but I will make you as secure as a fortified wall of bronze. They will not conquer you, for I am with you to protect and rescue you. I, the Lord, have spoken! 21 Yes, I will certainly keep you safe from these wicked men. I will rescue you from their cruel hands.”
The Lord gave me another message. He said, 2 “Do not get married or have children in this place. 3 For this is what the Lord says about the children born here in this city and about their mothers and fathers: 4 They will die from terrible diseases. No one will mourn for them or bury them, and they will lie scattered on the ground like manure. They will die from war and famine, and their bodies will be food for the vultures and wild animals.”
5 This is what the Lord says: “Do not go to funerals to mourn and show sympathy for these people, for I have removed my protection and peace from them. I have taken away my unfailing love and my mercy. 6 Both the great and the lowly will die in this land. No one will bury them or mourn for them. Their friends will not cut themselves in sorrow or shave their heads in sadness. 7 No one will offer a meal to comfort those who mourn for the dead—not even at the death of a mother or father. No one will send a cup of wine to console them.
8 “And do not go to their feasts and parties. Do not eat and drink with them at all. For this is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: In your own lifetime, before your very eyes, I will put an end to the happy singing and laughter in this land. The joyful voices of bridegrooms and brides will no longer be heard.
10 “When you tell the people all these things, they will ask, ‘Why has the Lord decreed such terrible things against us? What have we done to deserve such treatment? What is our sin against the Lord our God?’
11 “Then you will give them the Lord’s reply: ‘It is because your ancestors were unfaithful to me. They worshiped other gods and served them. They abandoned me and did not obey my word. 12 And you are even worse than your ancestors! You stubbornly follow your own evil desires and refuse to listen to me. 13 So I will throw you out of this land and send you into a foreign land where you and your ancestors have never been. There you can worship idols day and night—and I will grant you no favors!’
14 “But the time is coming,” says the Lord, “when people who are taking an oath will no longer say, ‘As surely as the Lord lives, who rescued the people of Israel from the land of Egypt.’ 15 Instead, they will say, ‘As surely as the Lord lives, who brought the people of Israel back to their own land from the land of the north and from all the countries to which he had exiled them.’ For I will bring them back to this land that I gave their ancestors.
16 “But now I am sending for many fishermen who will catch them,” says the Lord. “I am sending for hunters who will hunt them down in the mountains, hills, and caves. I am watching them closely, and I see every sin. They cannot hope to hide from me. 18 I will double their punishment for all their sins, because they have defiled my land with lifeless images of their detestable gods and have filled my territory with their evil deeds.
19 Lord, you are my strength and fortress, my refuge in the day of trouble!
Nations from around the world will come to you and say, “Our ancestors left us a foolish heritage, for they worshiped worthless idols. 20 Can people make their own gods? These are not real gods at all!”
21 The Lord says, “Now I will show them my power; now I will show them my might.
At last they will know and understand that I am the Lord.
“The sin of Judah is inscribed with an iron chisel—engraved with a diamond point on their stony hearts and on the corners of their altars. 2 Even their children go to worship
at their pagan altars and Asherah poles, beneath every green tree and on every high hill.
3 So I will hand over my holy mountain—along with all your wealth and treasures and your pagan shrines—as plunder to your enemies, for sin runs rampant in your land.
4 The wonderful possession I have reserved for you will slip from your hands. I will tell your enemies to take you as captives to a foreign land. For my anger blazes like a fire that will burn forever.”
5 This is what the Lord says: “Cursed are those who put their trust in mere humans,
who rely on human strength and turn their hearts away from the Lord. 6 They are like stunted shrubs in the desert, with no hope for the future. They will live in the barren wilderness, in an uninhabited salty land.
7 “But blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence. 8 They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green, and they never stop producing fruit.
9 “The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is? 10 But I, the Lord, search all hearts and examine secret motives. I give all people their due rewards, according to what their actions deserve.”
11 Like a partridge that hatches eggs she has not laid, so are those who get their wealth by unjust means. At midlife they will lose their riches; in the end, they will become poor old fools. 12 But we worship at your throne—eternal, high, and glorious!
13 O Lord, the hope of Israel, all who turn away from you will be disgraced. They will be buried in the dust of the earth, for they have abandoned the Lord, the fountain of living water.
14 O Lord, if you heal me, I will be truly healed; if you save me, I will be truly saved. My praises are for you alone! 15 People scoff at me and say, “What is this ‘message from the Lord’ you talk about?
Why don’t your predictions come true?”
16 Lord, I have not abandoned my job as a shepherd for your people. I have not urged you to send disaster. You have heard everything I’ve said. 17 Lord, don’t terrorize me!
You alone are my hope in the day of disaster. 18 Bring shame and dismay on all who persecute me, but don’t let me experience shame and dismay.
Bring a day of terror on them. Yes, bring double destruction upon them!
Observing the Sabbath
19 This is what the Lord said to me: “Go and stand in the gates of Jerusalem, first in the gate where the king goes in and out, and then in each of the other gates. 20 Say to all the people, ‘Listen to this message from the Lord, you kings of Judah and all you people of Judah and everyone living in Jerusalem. 21 This is what the Lord says: Listen to my warning! Stop carrying on your trade at Jerusalem’s gates on the Sabbath day. 22 Do not do your work on the Sabbath, but make it a holy day. I gave this command to your ancestors, 23 but they did not listen or obey. They stubbornly refused to pay attention or accept my discipline.
24 “‘But if you obey me, says the Lord, and do not carry on your trade at the gates or work on the Sabbath day, and if you keep it holy, then kings and their officials will go in and out of these gates forever. There will always be a descendant of David sitting on the throne here in Jerusalem. Kings and their officials will always ride in and out among the people of Judah in chariots and on horses, and this city will remain forever. 26 And from all around Jerusalem, from the towns of Judah and Benjamin, from the western foothills and the hill country and the Negev, the people will come with their burnt offerings and sacrifices. They will bring their grain offerings, frankincense, and thanksgiving offerings to the Lord’s Temple.
27 “‘But if you do not listen to me and refuse to keep the Sabbath holy, and if on the Sabbath day you bring loads of merchandise through the gates of Jerusalem just as on other days, then I will set fire to these gates. The fire will spread to the palaces, and no one will be able to put out the roaring flames.’”
The Lord gave another message to Jeremiah. He said, “Go down to the potter’s shop, and I will speak to you there.” 3 So I did as he told me and found the potter working at his wheel. 4 But the jar he was making did not turn out as he had hoped, so he crushed it into a lump of clay again and started over.
5 Then the Lord gave me this message: 6 “O Israel, can I not do to you as this potter has done to his clay? As the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand. 7 If I announce that a certain nation or kingdom is to be uprooted, torn down, and destroyed, but then that nation renounces its evil ways, I will not destroy it as I had planned. 9 And if I announce that I will plant and build up a certain nation or kingdom, 10 but then that nation turns to evil and refuses to obey me, I will not bless it as I said I would.
11 “Therefore, Jeremiah, go and warn all Judah and Jerusalem. Say to them, ‘This is what the Lord says: I am planning disaster for you instead of good. So turn from your evil ways, each of you, and do what is right.’”
12 But the people replied, “Don’t waste your breath. We will continue to live as we want to, stubbornly following our own evil desires.”
13 So this is what the Lord says: “Has anyone ever heard of such a thing, even among the pagan nations? My virgin daughter Israel has done something terrible! 14 Does the snow ever disappear from the mountaintops of Lebanon? Do the cold streams flowing from those distant mountains ever run dry? 15 But my people are not so reliable, for they have deserted me; they burn incense to worthless idols. They have stumbled off the ancient highways and walk in muddy paths. 16 Therefore, their land will become desolate, a monument to their stupidity. All who pass by will be astonished and will shake their heads in amazement. 17 I will scatter my people before their enemies as the east wind scatters dust. And in all their trouble I will turn my back on them and refuse to notice their distress.”
18 Then the people said, “Come on, let’s plot a way to stop Jeremiah. We have plenty of priests and wise men and prophets. We don’t need him to teach the word and give us advice and prophecies. Let’s spread rumors about him and ignore what he says.”
19 Lord, hear me and help me! Listen to what my enemies are saying. 20 Should they repay evil for good? They have dug a pit to kill me, though I pleaded for them and tried to protect them from your anger. 21 So let their children starve! Let them die by the sword! Let their wives become childless widows. Let their old men die in a plague, and let their young men be killed in battle! 22 Let screaming be heard from their homes as warriors come suddenly upon them. For they have dug a pit for me and have hidden traps along my path. 23 Lord, you know all about their murderous plots against me. Don’t forgive their crimes and blot out their sins. Let them die before you.
Deal with them in your anger.
This is what the Lord said to me: “Go and buy a clay jar. Then ask some of the leaders of the people and of the priests to follow you. 2 Go out through the Gate of Broken Pots to the garbage dump in the valley of Ben-Hinnom, and give them this message. 3 Say to them, ‘Listen to this message from the Lord, you kings of Judah and citizens of Jerusalem! This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: I will bring a terrible disaster on this place, and the ears of those who hear about it will ring!
4 “‘For Israel has forsaken me and turned this valley into a place of wickedness. The people burn incense to foreign gods—idols never before acknowledged by this generation, by their ancestors, or by the kings of Judah. And they have filled this place with the blood of innocent children. 5 They have built pagan shrines to Baal, and there they burn their sons as sacrifices to Baal. I have never commanded such a horrible deed; it never even crossed my mind to command such a thing! 6 So beware, for the time is coming, says the Lord, when this garbage dump will no longer be called Topheth or the valley of Ben-Hinnom, but the Valley of Slaughter.
7 “‘For I will upset the careful plans of Judah and Jerusalem. I will allow the people to be slaughtered by invading armies, and I will leave their dead bodies as food for the vultures and wild animals. 8 I will reduce Jerusalem to ruins, making it a monument to their stupidity. All who pass by will be astonished and will gasp at the destruction they see there. 9 I will see to it that your enemies lay siege to the city until all the food is gone. Then those trapped inside will eat their own sons and daughters and friends. They will be driven to utter despair.’
10 “As these men watch you, Jeremiah, smash the jar you brought. 11 Then say to them, ‘This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: As this jar lies shattered, so I will shatter the people of Judah and Jerusalem beyond all hope of repair. They will bury the bodies here in Topheth, the garbage dump, until there is no more room for them. 12 This is what I will do to this place and its people, says the Lord. I will cause this city to become defiled like Topheth. 13 Yes, all the houses in Jerusalem, including the palace of Judah’s kings, will become like Topheth—all the houses where you burned incense on the rooftops to your star gods, and where liquid offerings were poured out to your idols.’”
14 Then Jeremiah returned from Topheth, the garbage dump where he had delivered this message, and he stopped in front of the Temple of the Lord. He said to the people there, 15 “This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: ‘I will bring disaster upon this city and its surrounding towns as I promised, because you have stubbornly refused to listen to me.’”
Now Pashhur son of Immer, the priest in charge of the Temple of the Lord, heard what Jeremiah was prophesying. 2 So he arrested Jeremiah the prophet and had him whipped and put in stocks at the Benjamin Gate of the Lord’s Temple.
3 The next day, when Pashhur finally released him, Jeremiah said, “Pashhur, the Lord has changed your name. From now on you are to be called ‘The Man Who Lives in Terror.’ 4 For this is what the Lord says: ‘I will send terror upon you and all your friends, and you will watch as they are slaughtered by the swords of the enemy. I will hand the people of Judah over to the king of Babylon. He will take them captive to Babylon or run them through with the sword. 5 And I will let your enemies plunder Jerusalem. All the famed treasures of the city—the precious jewels and gold and silver of your kings—will be carried off to Babylon. 6 As for you, Pashhur, you and all your household will go as captives to Babylon. There you will die and be buried, you and all your friends to whom you prophesied that everything would be all right.’”
7 O Lord, you misled me, and I allowed myself to be misled. You are stronger than I am, and you overpowered me. Now I am mocked every day; everyone laughs at me.
8 When I speak, the words burst out. “Violence and destruction!” I shout. So these messages from the Lord have made me a household joke. 9 But if I say I’ll never mention the Lord or speak in his name, his word burns in my heart like a fire. It’s like a fire in my bones! I am worn out trying to hold it in! I can’t do it! 10 I have heard the many rumors about me. They call me “The Man Who Lives in Terror.” They threaten, “If you say anything, we will report it.” Even my old friends are watching me, waiting for a fatal slip. “He will trap himself,” they say, “and then we will get our revenge on him.”
11 But the Lord stands beside me like a great warrior. Before him my persecutors will stumble. They cannot defeat me. They will fail and be thoroughly humiliated. Their dishonor will never be forgotten. 12 O Lord of Heaven’s Armies, you test those who are righteous, and you examine the deepest thoughts and secrets. Let me see your vengeance against them, for I have committed my cause to you. 13 Sing to the Lord! Praise the Lord! For though I was poor and needy, he rescued me from my oppressors.
14 Yet I curse the day I was born! May no one celebrate the day of my birth. 15 I curse the messenger who told my father, “Good news—you have a son!” 16 Let him be destroyed like the cities of old that the Lord overthrew without mercy. Terrify him all day long with battle shouts, because he did not kill me at birth. Oh, that I had died in my mother’s womb, that her body had been my grave! 18 Why was I ever born?
My entire life has been filled with trouble, sorrow, and shame.
The Lord spoke through Jeremiah when King Zedekiah sent Pashhur son of Malkijah and Zephaniah son of Maaseiah, the priest, to speak with him. They begged Jeremiah, 2 “Please speak to the Lord for us and ask him to help us. King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon is attacking Judah. Perhaps the Lord will be gracious and do a mighty miracle as he has done in the past. Perhaps he will force Nebuchadnezzar to withdraw his armies.”
3 Jeremiah replied, “Go back to King Zedekiah and tell him, 4 ‘This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: I will make your weapons useless against the king of Babylon and the Babylonians who are outside your walls attacking you. In fact, I will bring your enemies right into the heart of this city. 5 I myself will fight against you with a strong hand and a powerful arm, for I am very angry. You have made me furious! 6 I will send a terrible plague upon this city, and both people and animals will die. 7 And after all that, says the Lord, I will hand over King Zedekiah, his staff, and everyone else in the city who survives the disease, war, and famine. I will hand them over to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon and to their other enemies. He will slaughter them and show them no mercy, pity, or compassion.’
8 “Tell all the people, ‘This is what the Lord says: Take your choice of life or death! 9 Everyone who stays in Jerusalem will die from war, famine, or disease, but those who go out and surrender to the Babylonians will live. Their reward will be life! 10 For I have decided to bring disaster and not good upon this city, says the Lord. It will be handed over to the king of Babylon, and he will reduce it to ashes.’
11 “Say to the royal family of Judah, ‘Listen to this message from the Lord! 12 This is what the Lord says to the dynasty of David:
“‘Give justice each morning to the people you judge! Help those who have been robbed; rescue them from their oppressors. Otherwise, my anger will burn like an unquenchable fire because of all your sins. 13 I will personally fight against the people in Jerusalem, that mighty fortress—the people who boast, “No one can touch us here.
No one can break in here.” 14 And I myself will punish you for your sinfulness, says the Lord. I will light a fire in your forests that will burn up everything around you.’”
This is what the Lord said to me: “Go over and speak directly to the king of Judah. Say to him, 2 ‘Listen to this message from the Lord, you king of Judah, sitting on David’s throne. Let your attendants and your people listen, too. 3 This is what the Lord says: Be fair-minded and just. Do what is right! Help those who have been robbed; rescue them from their oppressors. Quit your evil deeds! Do not mistreat foreigners, orphans, and widows. Stop murdering the innocent! 4 If you obey me, there will always be a descendant of David sitting on the throne here in Jerusalem. The king will ride through the palace gates in chariots and on horses, with his parade of attendants and subjects. 5 But if you refuse to pay attention to this warning, I swear by my own name, says the Lord, that this palace will become a pile of rubble.’”
6 Now this is what the Lord says concerning Judah’s royal palace:
“I love you as much as fruitful Gilead and the green forests of Lebanon. But I will turn you into a desert, with no one living within your walls. 7 I will call for wreckers,
who will bring out their tools to dismantle you. They will tear out all your fine cedar beams and throw them on the fire.
8 “People from many nations will pass by the ruins of this city and say to one another, ‘Why did the Lord destroy such a great city?’ 9 And the answer will be, ‘Because they violated their covenant with the Lord their God by worshiping other gods.’”
10 Do not weep for the dead king or mourn his loss. Instead, weep for the captive king being led away! For he will never return to see his native land again.
11 For this is what the Lord says about Jehoahaz, who succeeded his father, King Josiah, and was taken away as a captive: “He will never return. 12 He will die in a distant land and will never again see his own country.”
A Message about Jehoiakim
13 And the Lord says, “What sorrow awaits Jehoiakim, who builds his palace with forced labor. He builds injustice into its walls, for he makes his neighbors work for nothing. He does not pay them for their labor. 14 He says, ‘I will build a magnificent palace with huge rooms and many windows. I will panel it throughout with fragrant cedar and paint it a lovely red.’ 15 But a beautiful cedar palace does not make a great king! Your father, Josiah, also had plenty to eat and drink. But he was just and right in all his dealings. That is why God blessed him. 16 He gave justice and help to the poor and needy, and everything went well for him. Isn’t that what it means to know me?” says the Lord. 17 “But you! You have eyes only for greed and dishonesty! You murder the innocent, oppress the poor, and reign ruthlessly.”
18 Therefore, this is what the Lord says about Jehoiakim, son of King Josiah:
“The people will not mourn for him, crying to one another, ‘Alas, my brother! Alas, my sister!’ His subjects will not mourn for him, crying, ‘Alas, our master is dead! Alas, his splendor is gone!’ 19 He will be buried like a dead donkey—dragged out of Jerusalem and dumped outside the gates! 20 Weep for your allies in Lebanon. Shout for them in Bashan. Search for them in the regions east of the river. See, they are all destroyed. Not one is left to help you. 21 I warned you when you were prosperous, but you replied, ‘Don’t bother me.’ You have been that way since childhood—you simply will not obey me! 22 And now the wind will blow away your allies. All your friends will be taken away as captives. Surely then you will see your wickedness and be ashamed. 23 It may be nice to live in a beautiful palace paneled with wood from the cedars of Lebanon, but soon you will groan with pangs of anguish—anguish like that of a woman in labor.
A Message for Jehoiachin
24 “As surely as I live,” says the Lord, “I will abandon you, Jehoiachin son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah. Even if you were the signet ring on my right hand, I would pull you off. 25 I will hand you over to those who seek to kill you, those you so desperately fear—to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon and the mighty Babylonian army. 26 I will expel you and your mother from this land, and you will die in a foreign country, not in your native land. 27 You will never again return to the land you yearn for.
28 “Why is this man Jehoiachin like a discarded, broken jar? Why are he and his children to be exiled to a foreign land? 29 O earth, earth, earth! Listen to this message from the Lord! 30 This is what the Lord says: ‘Let the record show that this man Jehoiachin was childless. He is a failure, for none of his children will succeed him on the throne of David to rule over Judah.’
“What sorrow awaits the leaders of my people—the shepherds of my sheep—for they have destroyed and scattered the very ones they were expected to care for,” says the Lord.
2 Therefore, this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says to these shepherds: “Instead of caring for my flock and leading them to safety, you have deserted them and driven them to destruction. Now I will pour out judgment on you for the evil you have done to them. 3 But I will gather together the remnant of my flock from the countries where I have driven them. I will bring them back to their own sheepfold, and they will be fruitful and increase in number. 4 Then I will appoint responsible shepherds who will care for them, and they will never be afraid again. Not a single one will be lost or missing. I, the Lord, have spoken!
5 “For the time is coming,” says the Lord, “when I will raise up a righteous descendant from King David’s line. He will be a King who rules with wisdom. He will do what is just and right throughout the land. 6 And this will be his name: ‘The Lord Is Our Righteousness.’ in that day Judah will be saved, and Israel will live in safety.
7 “In that day,” says the Lord, “when people are taking an oath, they will no longer say, ‘As surely as the Lord lives, who rescued the people of Israel from the land of Egypt.’ 8 Instead, they will say, ‘As surely as the Lord lives, who brought the people of Israel back to their own land from the land of the north and from all the countries to which he had exiled them.’ Then they will live in their own land.”
Judgment on False Prophets
9 My heart is broken because of the false prophets, and my bones tremble. I stagger like a drunkard, like someone overcome by wine, because of the holy words the Lord has spoken against them. 10 For the land is full of adultery, and it lies under a curse.
The land itself is in mourning— its wilderness pastures are dried up. For they all do evil
and abuse what power they have. 11 “Even the priests and prophets are ungodly, wicked men. I have seen their despicable acts right here in my own Temple,” says the Lord.
12 “Therefore, the paths they take will become slippery. They will be chased through the dark, and there they will fall. For I will bring disaster upon them at the time fixed for their punishment.
I, the Lord, have spoken!
13 “I saw that the prophets of Samaria were terribly evil, for they prophesied in the name of Baal and led my people of Israel into sin. 14 But now I see that the prophets of Jerusalem are even worse! They commit adultery and love dishonesty. They encourage those who are doing evil so that no one turns away from their sins. These prophets are as wicked as the people of Sodom and Gomorrah once were.”
15 Therefore, this is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says concerning the prophets:
“I will feed them with bitterness and give them poison to drink. For it is because of Jerusalem’s prophets that wickedness has filled this land.”
16 This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says to his people:
“Do not listen to these prophets when they prophesy to you, filling you with futile hopes. They are making up everything they say. They do not speak for the Lord!
17 They keep saying to those who despise my word, ‘Don’t worry! The Lord says you will have peace!’ And to those who stubbornly follow their own desires,
they say, ‘No harm will come your way!’
18 “Have any of these prophets been in the Lord’s presence to hear what he is really saying? Has even one of them cared enough to listen? 19 Look! The Lord’s anger bursts out like a storm, a whirlwind that swirls down on the heads of the wicked. 20 The anger of the Lord will not diminish until it has finished all he has planned. In the days to come
you will understand all this very clearly.
21 “I have not sent these prophets, yet they run around claiming to speak for me.
I have given them no message, yet they go on prophesying. 22 If they had stood before me and listened to me, they would have spoken my words, and they would have turned my people from their evil ways and deeds. 23 Am I a God who is only close at hand?” says the Lord. “No, I am far away at the same time. 24 Can anyone hide from me in a secret place? Am I not everywhere in all the heavens and earth?” says the Lord.
25 “I have heard these prophets say, ‘Listen to the dream I had from God last night.’ And then they proceed to tell lies in my name. 26 How long will this go on? If they are prophets, they are prophets of deceit, inventing everything they say. 27 By telling these false dreams, they are trying to get my people to forget me, just as their ancestors did by worshiping the idols of Baal.
28 “Let these false prophets tell their dreams, but let my true messengers faithfully proclaim my every word. There is a difference between straw and grain! 29 Does not my word burn like fire?” says the Lord. “Is it not like a mighty hammer that smashes a rock to pieces?
30 “Therefore,” says the Lord, “I am against these prophets who steal messages from each other and claim they are from me. 31 I am against these smooth-tongued prophets who say, ‘This prophecy is from the Lord!’ 32 I am against these false prophets. Their imaginary dreams are flagrant lies that lead my people into sin. I did not send or appoint them, and they have no message at all for my people. I, the Lord, have spoken!
33 “Suppose one of the people or one of the prophets or priests asks you, ‘What prophecy has the Lord burdened you with now?’ You must reply, ‘You are the burden! The Lord says he will abandon you!’
34 “If any prophet, priest, or anyone else says, ‘I have a prophecy from the Lord,’ I will punish that person along with his entire family. 35 You should keep asking each other, ‘What is the Lord’s answer?’ or ‘What is the Lord saying?’ 36 But stop using this phrase, ‘prophecy from the Lord.’ For people are using it to give authority to their own ideas, turning upside down the words of our God, the living God, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.
37 “This is what you should say to the prophets: ‘What is the Lord’s answer?’ or ‘What is the Lord saying?’ 38 But suppose they respond, ‘This is a prophecy from the Lord!’ Then you should say, ‘This is what the Lord says: Because you have used this phrase, “prophecy from the Lord,” even though I warned you not to use it, 39 I will forget you completely.I will expel you from my presence, along with this city that I gave to you and your ancestors. 40 And I will make you an object of ridicule, and your name will be infamous throughout the ages.’”
After King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon exiled Jehoiachin son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, to Babylon along with the officials of Judah and all the craftsmen and artisans, the Lord gave me this vision. I saw two baskets of figs placed in front of the Lord’s Temple in Jerusalem. 2 One basket was filled with fresh, ripe figs, while the other was filled with bad figs that were too rotten to eat.
3 Then the Lord said to me, “What do you see, Jeremiah?”
I replied, “Figs, some very good and some very bad, too rotten to eat.”
4 Then the Lord gave me this message: 5 “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: The good figs represent the exiles I sent from Judah to the land of the Babylonians. 6 I will watch over and care for them, and I will bring them back here again. I will build them up and not tear them down. I will plant them and not uproot them. 7 I will give them hearts that recognize me as the Lord. They will be my people, and I will be their God, for they will return to me wholeheartedly.
8 “But the bad figs,” the Lord said, “represent King Zedekiah of Judah, his officials, all the people left in Jerusalem, and those who live in Egypt. I will treat them like bad figs, too rotten to eat. 9 I will make them an object of horror and a symbol of evil to every nation on earth. They will be disgraced and mocked, taunted and cursed, wherever I scatter them. 10 And I will send war, famine, and disease until they have vanished from the land of Israel, which I gave to them and their ancestors.”
This message for all the people of Judah came to Jeremiah from the Lord during the fourth year of Jehoiakim’s reign over Judah. This was the year when King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon began his reign.
2 Jeremiah the prophet said to all the people in Judah and Jerusalem, 3 “For the past twenty-three years—from the thirteenth year of the reign of Josiah son of Amon, king of Judah, until now—the Lord has been giving me his messages. I have faithfully passed them on to you, but you have not listened.
4 “Again and again the Lord has sent you his servants, the prophets, but you have not listened or even paid attention. 5 Each time the message was this: ‘Turn from the evil road you are traveling and from the evil things you are doing. Only then will I let you live in this land that the Lord gave to you and your ancestors forever. 6 Do not provoke my anger by worshiping idols you made with your own hands. Then I will not harm you.’
7 “But you would not listen to me,” says the Lord. “You made me furious by worshiping idols you made with your own hands, bringing on yourselves all the disasters you now suffer. 8 And now the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: Because you have not listened to me, 9 I will gather together all the armies of the north under King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, whom I have appointed as my deputy. I will bring them all against this land and its people and against the surrounding nations. I will completely destroy you and make you an object of horror and contempt and a ruin forever. 10 I will take away your happy singing and laughter. The joyful voices of bridegrooms and brides will no longer be heard. Your millstones will fall silent, and the lights in your homes will go out. 11 This entire land will become a desolate wasteland. Israel and her neighboring lands will serve the king of Babylon for seventy years.
12 “Then, after the seventy years of captivity are over, I will punish the king of Babylon and his people for their sins,” says the Lord. “I will make the country of the Babylonians a wasteland forever. 13 I will bring upon them all the terrors I have promised in this book—all the penalties announced by Jeremiah against the nations. Many nations and great kings will enslave the Babylonians, just as they enslaved my people. I will punish them in proportion to the suffering they cause my people.”
15 This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, said to me: “Take from my hand this cup filled to the brim with my anger, and make all the nations to whom I send you drink from it. 16 When they drink from it, they will stagger, crazed by the warfare I will send against them.”
17 So I took the cup of anger from the Lord and made all the nations drink from it—every nation to which the Lord sent me. 18 I went to Jerusalem and the other towns of Judah, and their kings and officials drank from the cup. From that day until this, they have been a desolate ruin, an object of horror, contempt, and cursing. 19 I gave the cup to Pharaoh, king of Egypt, his attendants, his officials, and all his people, 20 along with all the foreigners living in that land. I also gave it to all the kings of the land of Uz and the kings of the Philistine cities of Ashkelon, Gaza, Ekron, and what remains of Ashdod. Then I gave the cup to the nations of Edom, Moab, and Ammon, 22 and the kings of Tyre and Sidon, and the kings of the regions across the sea. 23 I gave it to Dedan, Tema, and Buz, and to the people who live in distant places. 24 I gave it to the kings of Arabia, the kings of the nomadic tribes of the desert, and to the kings of Zimri, Elam, and Media. 26 And I gave it to the kings of the northern countries, far and near, one after the other—all the kingdoms of the world. And finally, the king of Babylon himself drank from the cup of the Lord’s anger.
27 Then the Lord said to me, “Now tell them, ‘This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: Drink from this cup of my anger. Get drunk and vomit; fall to rise no more, for I am sending terrible wars against you.’ 28 And if they refuse to accept the cup, tell them, ‘The Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: You have no choice but to drink from it. 29 I have begun to punish Jerusalem, the city that bears my name. Now should I let you go unpunished? No, you will not escape disaster. I will call for war against all the nations of the earth. I, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, have spoken!’
30 “Now prophesy all these things, and say to them, “‘The Lord will roar against his own land from his holy dwelling in heaven. He will shout like those who tread grapes;
he will shout against everyone on earth. 31 His cry of judgment will reach the ends of the earth, for the Lord will bring his case against all the nations. He will judge all the people of the earth, slaughtering the wicked with the sword. I, the Lord, have spoken!’”
32 This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: “Look! Disaster will fall upon nation after nation! A great whirlwind of fury is rising from the most distant corners of the earth!”
33 In that day those the Lord has slaughtered will fill the earth from one end to the other. No one will mourn for them or gather up their bodies to bury them. They will be scattered on the ground like manure.
34 Weep and moan, you evil shepherds! Roll in the dust, you leaders of the flock!
The time of your slaughter has arrived; you will fall and shatter like a fragile vase.
35 You will find no place to hide; there will be no way to escape. 36 Listen to the frantic cries of the shepherds. The leaders of the flock are wailing in despair, for the Lord is ruining their pastures. 37 Peaceful meadows will be turned into a wasteland by the Lord’s fierce anger. 38 He has left his den like a strong lion seeking its prey, and their land will be made desolate by the sword of the enemy and the Lord’s fierce anger.
This message came to Jeremiah from the Lord early in the reign of Jehoiakim son of Josiah, king of Judah. 2 “This is what the Lord says: Stand in the courtyard in front of the Temple of the Lord, and make an announcement to the people who have come there to worship from all over Judah. Give them my entire message; include every word. Perhaps they will listen and turn from their evil ways. Then I will change my mind about the disaster I am ready to pour out on them because of their sins.
4 “Say to them, ‘This is what the Lord says: If you will not listen to me and obey my word I have given you, 5 and if you will not listen to my servants, the prophets—for I sent them again and again to warn you, but you would not listen to them— 6 then I will destroy this Temple as I destroyed Shiloh, the place where the Tabernacle was located. And I will make Jerusalem an object of cursing in every nation on earth.’”
7 The priests, the prophets, and all the people listened to Jeremiah as he spoke in front of the Lord’s Temple. 8 But when Jeremiah had finished his message, saying everything the Lord had told him to say, the priests and prophets and all the people at the Temple mobbed him. “Kill him!” they shouted. 9 “What right do you have to prophesy in the Lord’s name that this Temple will be destroyed like Shiloh? What do you mean, saying that Jerusalem will be destroyed and left with no inhabitants?” And all the people threatened him as he stood in front of the Temple.
10 When the officials of Judah heard what was happening, they rushed over from the palace and sat down at the New Gate of the Temple to hold court. 11 The priests and prophets presented their accusations to the officials and the people. “This man should die!” they said. “You have heard with your own ears what a traitor he is, for he has prophesied against this city.”
12 Then Jeremiah spoke to the officials and the people in his own defense. “The Lord sent me to prophesy against this Temple and this city,” he said. “The Lord gave me every word that I have spoken. 13 But if you stop your sinning and begin to obey the Lord your God, he will change his mind about this disaster that he has announced against you. 14 As for me, I am in your hands—do with me as you think best. 15 But if you kill me, rest assured that you will be killing an innocent man! The responsibility for such a deed will lie on you, on this city, and on every person living in it. For it is absolutely true that the Lord sent me to speak every word you have heard.”
16 Then the officials and the people said to the priests and prophets, “This man does not deserve the death sentence, for he has spoken to us in the name of the Lord our God.”
17 Then some of the wise old men stood and spoke to all the people assembled there. They said, “Remember when Micah of Moresheth prophesied during the reign of King Hezekiah of Judah. He told the people of Judah:
‘This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: Mount Zion will be plowed like an open field; Jerusalem will be reduced to ruins! A thicket will grow on the heights where the Temple now stands.’
19 But did King Hezekiah and the people kill him for saying this? No, they turned from their sins and worshiped the Lord. They begged him for mercy. Then the Lord changed his mind about the terrible disaster he had pronounced against them. So we are about to do ourselves great harm.”
20 At this time Uriah son of Shemaiah from Kiriath-jearim was also prophesying for the Lord. And he predicted the same terrible disaster against the city and nation as Jeremiah did. 21 When King Jehoiakim and the army officers and officials heard what he was saying, the king sent someone to kill him. But Uriah heard about the plan and escaped in fear to Egypt. 22 Then King Jehoiakim sent Elnathan son of Acbor to Egypt along with several other men to capture Uriah. 23 They took him prisoner and brought him back to King Jehoiakim. The king then killed Uriah with a sword and had him buried in an unmarked grave.
24 Nevertheless, Ahikam son of Shaphan stood up for Jeremiah and persuaded the court not to turn him over to the mob to be killed.
This message came to Jeremiah from the Lord early in the reign of Zedekiah son of Josiah, king of Judah.
2 This is what the Lord said to me: “Make a yoke, and fasten it on your neck with leather straps. 3 Then send messages to the kings of Edom, Moab, Ammon, Tyre, and Sidon through their ambassadors who have come to see King Zedekiah in Jerusalem. Give them this message for their masters: ‘This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: 5 With my great strength and powerful arm I made the earth and all its people and every animal. I can give these things of mine to anyone I choose. 6 Now I will give your countries to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, who is my servant. I have put everything, even the wild animals, under his control. 7 All the nations will serve him, his son, and his grandson until his time is up. Then many nations and great kings will conquer and rule over Babylon. 8 So you must submit to Babylon’s king and serve him; put your neck under Babylon’s yoke! I will punish any nation that refuses to be his slave, says the Lord. I will send war, famine, and disease upon that nation until Babylon has conquered it.
9 “‘Do not listen to your false prophets, fortune-tellers, interpreters of dreams, mediums, and sorcerers who say, “The king of Babylon will not conquer you.” 10 They are all liars, and their lies will lead to your being driven out of your land. I will drive you out and send you far away to die. 11 But the people of any nation that submits to the king of Babylon will be allowed to stay in their own country to farm the land as usual. I, the Lord, have spoken!’”
12 Then I repeated this same message to King Zedekiah of Judah. “If you want to live, submit to the yoke of the king of Babylon and his people. 13 Why do you insist on dying—you and your people? Why should you choose war, famine, and disease, which the Lord will bring against every nation that refuses to submit to Babylon’s king? 14 Do not listen to the false prophets who keep telling you, ‘The king of Babylon will not conquer you.’ They are liars. 15 This is what the Lord says: ‘I have not sent these prophets! They are telling you lies in my name, so I will drive you from this land. You will all die—you and all these prophets, too.’”
16 Then I spoke to the priests and the people and said, “This is what the Lord says: ‘Do not listen to your prophets who claim that soon the gold articles taken from my Temple will be returned from Babylon. It is all a lie! 17 Do not listen to them. Surrender to the king of Babylon, and you will live. Why should this whole city be destroyed? 18 If they really are prophets and speak the Lord’s messages, let them pray to the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. Let them pray that the articles remaining in the Lord’s Temple and in the king’s palace and in the palaces of Jerusalem will not be carried away to Babylon!’
19 “For the Lord of Heaven’s Armies has spoken about the pillars in front of the Temple, the great bronze basin called the Sea, the water carts, and all the other ceremonial articles. 20 King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon left them here when he exiled Jehoiachin[b] son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, to Babylon, along with all the other nobles of Judah and Jerusalem. 21 Yes, this is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says about the precious things still in the Temple, in the palace of Judah’s king, and in Jerusalem: 22 ‘They will all be carried away to Babylon and will stay there until I send for them,’ says the Lord. ‘Then I will bring them back to Jerusalem again.’”
One day in late summer of that same year—the fourth year of the reign of Zedekiah, king of Judah—Hananiah son of Azzur, a prophet from Gibeon, addressed me publicly in the Temple while all the priests and people listened. He said, 2 “This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: ‘I will remove the yoke of the king of Babylon from your necks. 3 Within two years I will bring back all the Temple treasures that King Nebuchadnezzar carried off to Babylon. 4 And I will bring back Jehoiachin son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, and all the other captives that were taken to Babylon. I will surely break the yoke that the king of Babylon has put on your necks. I, the Lord, have spoken!’”
5 Jeremiah responded to Hananiah as they stood in front of all the priests and people at the Temple. 6 He said, “Amen! May your prophecies come true! I hope the Lord does everything you say. I hope he does bring back from Babylon the treasures of this Temple and all the captives. 7 But listen now to the solemn words I speak to you in the presence of all these people. 8 The ancient prophets who preceded you and me spoke against many nations, always warning of war, disaster, and disease. 9 So a prophet who predicts peace must show he is right. Only when his predictions come true can we know that he is really from the Lord.”
10 Then Hananiah the prophet took the yoke off Jeremiah’s neck and broke it in pieces. 11 And Hananiah said again to the crowd that had gathered, “This is what the Lord says: ‘Just as this yoke has been broken, within two years I will break the yoke of oppression from all the nations now subject to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon.’” With that, Jeremiah left the Temple area.
12 Soon after this confrontation with Hananiah, the Lord gave this message to Jeremiah: 13 “Go and tell Hananiah, ‘This is what the Lord says: You have broken a wooden yoke, but you have replaced it with a yoke of iron. 14 The Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: I have put a yoke of iron on the necks of all these nations, forcing them into slavery under King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. I have put everything, even the wild animals, under his control.’”
15 Then Jeremiah the prophet said to Hananiah, “Listen, Hananiah! The Lord has not sent you, but the people believe your lies. 16 Therefore, this is what the Lord says: ‘You must die. Your life will end this very year because you have rebelled against the Lord.’”
17 Two months later the prophet Hananiah died.
Jeremiah wrote a letter from Jerusalem to the elders, priests, prophets, and all the people who had been exiled to Babylon by King Nebuchadnezzar. 2 This was after King Jehoiachin, the queen mother, the court officials, the other officials of Judah, and all the craftsmen and artisans had been deported from Jerusalem. 3 He sent the letter with Elasah son of Shaphan and Gemariah son of Hilkiah when they went to Babylon as King Zedekiah’s ambassadors to Nebuchadnezzar. This is what Jeremiah’s letter said:
4 This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says to all the captives he has exiled to Babylon from Jerusalem: 5 “Build homes, and plan to stay. Plant gardens, and eat the food they produce. 6 Marry and have children. Then find spouses for them so that you may have many grandchildren. Multiply! Do not dwindle away! And work for the peace and prosperity of the city where I sent you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, for its welfare will determine your welfare.”
8 This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: “Do not let your prophets and fortune-tellers who are with you in the land of Babylon trick you. Do not listen to their dreams, 9 because they are telling you lies in my name. I have not sent them,” says the Lord.
10 This is what the Lord says: “You will be in Babylon for seventy years. But then I will come and do for you all the good things I have promised, and I will bring you home again. 11 For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. 12 In those days when you pray, I will listen. 13 If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. 14 I will be found by you,” says the Lord. “I will end your captivity and restore your fortunes. I will gather you out of the nations where I sent you and will bring you home again to your own land.”
15 You claim that the Lord has raised up prophets for you in Babylon. 16 But this is what the Lord says about the king who sits on David’s throne and all those still living here in Jerusalem—your relatives who were not exiled to Babylon. 17 This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: “I will send war, famine, and disease upon them and make them like bad figs, too rotten to eat. 18 Yes, I will pursue them with war, famine, and disease, and I will scatter them around the world. In every nation where I send them, I will make them an object of damnation, horror, contempt, and mockery. 19 For they refuse to listen to me, though I have spoken to them repeatedly through the prophets I sent. And you who are in exile have not listened either,” says the Lord.
20 Therefore, listen to this message from the Lord, all you captives there in Babylon. This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says about your prophets—Ahab son of Kolaiah and Zedekiah son of Maaseiah—who are telling you lies in my name: “I will turn them over to Nebuchadnezzar[b] for execution before your eyes. Their terrible fate will become proverbial, so that the Judean exiles will curse someone by saying, ‘May the Lord make you like Zedekiah and Ahab, whom the king of Babylon burned alive!’ 23 For these men have done terrible things among my people. They have committed adultery with their neighbors’ wives and have lied in my name, saying things I did not command. I am a witness to this. I, the Lord, have spoken.”
24 The Lord sent this message to Shemaiah the Nehelamite in Babylon: 25 “This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: You wrote a letter on your own authority to Zephaniah son of Maaseiah, the priest, and you sent copies to the other priests and people in Jerusalem. You wrote to Zephaniah, 26 “The Lord has appointed you to replace Jehoiada as the priest in charge of the house of the Lord. You are responsible to put into stocks and neck irons any crazy man who claims to be a prophet. 27 So why have you done nothing to stop Jeremiah from Anathoth, who pretends to be a prophet among you? 28 Jeremiah sent a letter here to Babylon, predicting that our captivity will be a long one. He said, ‘Build homes, and plan to stay. Plant gardens, and eat the food they produce.’”
29 But when Zephaniah the priest received Shemaiah’s letter, he took it to Jeremiah and read it to him. 30 Then the Lord gave this message to Jeremiah: 31 “Send an open letter to all the exiles in Babylon. Tell them, ‘This is what the Lord says concerning Shemaiah the Nehelamite: Since he has prophesied to you when I did not send him and has tricked you into believing his lies, 32 I will punish him and his family. None of his descendants will see the good things I will do for my people, for he has incited you to rebel against me. I, the Lord, have spoken!’”
The Lord gave another message to Jeremiah. He said, 2 “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: Write down for the record everything I have said to you, Jeremiah. For the time is coming when I will restore the fortunes of my people of Israel and Judah. I will bring them home to this land that I gave to their ancestors, and they will possess it again. I, the Lord, have spoken!”
4 This is the message the Lord gave concerning Israel and Judah. 5 This is what the Lord says:
“I hear cries of fear; there is terror and no peace. 6 Now let me ask you a question: Do men give birth to babies? Then why do they stand there, ashen-faced, hands pressed against their sides like a woman in labor? 7 In all history there has never been such a time of terror. It will be a time of trouble for my people Israel. Yet in the end they will be saved! 8 For in that day,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, “I will break the yoke from their necks and snap their chains. Foreigners will no longer be their masters.
9 For my people will serve the Lord their God and their king descended from David—
the king I will raise up for them.
10 “So do not be afraid, Jacob, my servant; do not be dismayed, Israel,” says the Lord.
“For I will bring you home again from distant lands, and your children will return from their exile. Israel will return to a life of peace and quiet, and no one will terrorize them.
11 For I am with you and will save you,” says the Lord, “I will completely destroy the nations where I have scattered you, but I will not completely destroy you. I will discipline you, but with justice; I cannot let you go unpunished.”
12 This is what the Lord says: “Your injury is incurable—a terrible wound. 13 There is no one to help you or to bind up your injury. No medicine can heal you. 14 All your lovers—your allies—have left you and do not care about you anymore. I have wounded you cruelly, as though I were your enemy. For your sins are many, and your guilt is great. 15 Why do you protest your punishment—this wound that has no cure?
I have had to punish you because your sins are many and your guilt is great.
16 “But all who devour you will be devoured, and all your enemies will be sent into exile. All who plunder you will be plundered, and all who attack you will be attacked.
17 I will give you back your health and heal your wounds,” says the Lord. “For you are called an outcast— ‘Jerusalem for whom no one cares.’”
18 This is what the Lord says: “When I bring Israel home again from captivity and restore their fortunes, Jerusalem will be rebuilt on its ruins, and the palace reconstructed as before. 19 There will be joy and songs of thanksgiving, and I will multiply my people, not diminish them; I will honor them, not despise them. 20 Their children will prosper as they did long ago. I will establish them as a nation before me, and I will punish anyone who hurts them. 21 They will have their own ruler again, and he will come from their own people. I will invite him to approach me,” says the Lord, “for who would dare to come unless invited? 22 You will be my people, and I will be your God.”
23 Look! The Lord’s anger bursts out like a storm, a driving wind that swirls down on the heads of the wicked. 24 The fierce anger of the Lord will not diminish until it has finished all he has planned. In the days to come you will understand all this.
“In that day,” says the Lord, “I will be the God of all the families of Israel, and they will be my people. 2 This is what the Lord says:
“Those who survive the coming destruction will find blessings even in the barren land,
for I will give rest to the people of Israel.”
3 Long ago the Lord said to Israel: “I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love. With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself. 4 I will rebuild you, my virgin Israel. You will again be happy and dance merrily with your tambourines. 5 Again you will plant your vineyards on the mountains of Samaria and eat from your own gardens there. 6 The day will come when watchmen will shout from the hill country of Ephraim,
‘Come, let us go up to Jerusalem to worship the Lord our God.’”
7 Now this is what the Lord says: “Sing with joy for Israel. Shout for the greatest of nations! Shout out with praise and joy: ‘Save your people, O Lord, the remnant of Israel!’ 8 For I will bring them from the north and from the distant corners of the earth.
I will not forget the blind and lame, the expectant mothers and women in labor. A great company will return! 9 Tears of joy will stream down their faces, and I will lead them home with great care. They will walk beside quiet streams and on smooth paths where they will not stumble. For I am Israel’s father, and Ephraim is my oldest child.
10 “Listen to this message from the Lord, you nations of the world; proclaim it in distant coastlands: The Lord, who scattered his people, will gather them and watch over them as a shepherd does his flock. 11 For the Lord has redeemed Israel from those too strong for them. 12 They will come home and sing songs of joy on the heights of Jerusalem. They will be radiant because of the Lord’s good gifts—the abundant crops of grain, new wine, and olive oil, and the healthy flocks and herds. Their life will be like a watered garden, and all their sorrows will be gone. 13 The young women will dance for joy, and the men—old and young—will join in the celebration. I will turn their mourning into joy. I will comfort them and exchange their sorrow for rejoicing.
14 The priests will enjoy abundance, and my people will feast on my good gifts. I, the Lord, have spoken!”
15 This is what the Lord says: “A cry is heard in Ramah—deep anguish and bitter weeping. Rachel weeps for her children, refusing to be comforted—for her children are gone.”
16 But now this is what the Lord says: “Do not weep any longer, for I will reward you,” says the Lord. “Your children will come back to you from the distant land of the enemy. 17 There is hope for your future,” says the Lord. “Your children will come again to their own land. 18 I have heard Israel saying,‘You disciplined me severely, like a calf that needs training for the yoke. Turn me again to you and restore me, for you alone are the Lord my God. I turned away from God, but then I was sorry. I kicked myself for my stupidity!
I was thoroughly ashamed of all I did in my younger days.’
20 “Is not Israel still my son, my darling child?” says the Lord. “I often have to punish him, but I still love him. That’s why I long for him and surely will have mercy on him. 21 Set up road signs; put up guideposts. Mark well the path by which you came.
Come back again, my virgin Israel; return to your towns here. 22 How long will you wander, my wayward daughter? For the Lord will cause something new to happen—
Israel will embrace her God.”
23 This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: “When I bring them back from captivity, the people of Judah and its towns will again say, ‘The Lord bless you, O righteous home, O holy mountain!’ 24 Townspeople and farmers and shepherds alike will live together in peace and happiness. 25 For I have given rest to the weary and joy to the sorrowing.”
26 At this, I woke up and looked around. My sleep had been very sweet.
27 “The day is coming,” says the Lord, “when I will greatly increase the human population and the number of animals here in Israel and Judah. 28 In the past I deliberately uprooted and tore down this nation. I overthrew it, destroyed it, and brought disaster upon it. But in the future I will just as deliberately plant it and build it up. I, the Lord, have spoken!
29 “The people will no longer quote this proverb: ‘The parents have eaten sour grapes,
but their children’s mouths pucker at the taste.’ 30 All people will die for their own sins—those who eat the sour grapes will be the ones whose mouths will pucker.
31 “The day is coming,” says the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and Judah. 32 This covenant will not be like the one I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand and brought them out of the land of Egypt. They broke that covenant, though I loved them as a husband loves his wife,” says the Lord.
33 “But this is the new covenant I will make with the people of Israel after those days,” says the Lord. “I will put my instructions deep within them, and I will write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. 34 And they will not need to teach their neighbors, nor will they need to teach their relatives, saying, ‘You should know the Lord.’ For everyone, from the least to the greatest, will know me already,” says the Lord. “And I will forgive their wickedness, and I will never again remember their sins.”
35 It is the Lord who provides the sun to light the day and the moon and stars to light the night, and who stirs the sea into roaring waves. His name is the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, and this is what he says: 36 “I am as likely to reject my people Israel as I am to abolish the laws of nature!” 37 This is what the Lord says: “Just as the heavens cannot be measured and the foundations of the earth cannot be explored, so I will not consider casting them away for the evil they have done.
I, the Lord, have spoken!
38 “The day is coming,” says the Lord, “when all Jerusalem will be rebuilt for me, from the Tower of Hananel to the Corner Gate. 39 A measuring line will be stretched out over the hill of Gareb and across to Goah. 40 And the entire area—including the graveyard and ash dump in the valley, and all the fields out to the Kidron Valley on the east as far as the Horse Gate—will be holy to the Lord. The city will never again be captured or destroyed.”
The following message came to Jeremiah from the Lord in the tenth year of the reign of Zedekiah, king of Judah. This was also the eighteenth year of the reign of King Nebuchadnezzar. 2 Jerusalem was then under siege from the Babylonian army, and Jeremiah was imprisoned in the courtyard of the guard in the royal palace. 3 King Zedekiah had put him there, asking why he kept giving this prophecy: “This is what the Lord says: ‘I am about to hand this city over to the king of Babylon, and he will take it. 4 King Zedekiah will be captured by the Babylonians and taken to meet the king of Babylon face to face. 5 He will take Zedekiah to Babylon, and I will deal with him there,’ says the Lord. ‘If you fight against the Babylonians, you will never succeed.’ ”
6 At that time the Lord sent me a message. He said, 7 “Your cousin Hanamel son of Shallum will come and say to you, ‘Buy my field at Anathoth. By law you have the right to buy it before it is offered to anyone else.’”
8 Then, just as the Lord had said he would, my cousin Hanamel came and visited me in the prison. He said, “Please buy my field at Anathoth in the land of Benjamin. By law you have the right to buy it before it is offered to anyone else, so buy it for yourself.” Then I knew that the message I had heard was from the Lord.
9 So I bought the field at Anathoth, paying Hanamel seventeen pieces of silver for it. I signed and sealed the deed of purchase before witnesses, weighed out the silver, and paid him. 11 Then I took the sealed deed and an unsealed copy of the deed, which contained the terms and conditions of the purchase, 12 and I handed them to Baruch son of Neriah and grandson of Mahseiah. I did all this in the presence of my cousin Hanamel, the witnesses who had signed the deed, and all the men of Judah who were there in the courtyard of the guardhouse.
13 Then I said to Baruch as they all listened, 14 “This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: ‘Take both this sealed deed and the unsealed copy, and put them into a pottery jar to preserve them for a long time.’ 15 For this is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: ‘Someday people will again own property here in this land and will buy and sell houses and vineyards and fields.’”
16 Then after I had given the papers to Baruch, I prayed to the Lord:
17 “O Sovereign Lord! You made the heavens and earth by your strong hand and powerful arm. Nothing is too hard for you! 18 You show unfailing love to thousands, but you also bring the consequences of one generation’s sin upon the next. You are the great and powerful God, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. 19 You have all wisdom and do great and mighty miracles. You see the conduct of all people, and you give them what they deserve. 20 You performed miraculous signs and wonders in the land of Egypt—things still remembered to this day! And you have continued to do great miracles in Israel and all around the world. You have made your name famous to this day.
21 “You brought Israel out of Egypt with mighty signs and wonders, with a strong hand and powerful arm, and with overwhelming terror. 22 You gave the people of Israel this land that you had promised their ancestors long before—a land flowing with milk and honey. 23 Our ancestors came and conquered it and lived in it, but they refused to obey you or follow your word. They have not done anything you commanded. That is why you have sent this terrible disaster upon them.
24 “See how the siege ramps have been built against the city walls! Through war, famine, and disease, the city will be handed over to the Babylonians, who will conquer it. Everything has happened just as you said. 25 And yet, O Sovereign Lord, you have told me to buy the field—paying good money for it before these witnesses—even though the city will soon be handed over to the Babylonians.”
26 Then this message came to Jeremiah from the Lord: 27 “I am the Lord, the God of all the peoples of the world. Is anything too hard for me? 28 Therefore, this is what the Lord says: I will hand this city over to the Babylonians and to Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, and he will capture it. 29 The Babylonians outside the walls will come in and set fire to the city. They will burn down all these houses where the people provoked my anger by burning incense to Baal on the rooftops and by pouring out liquid offerings to other gods. 30 Israel and Judah have done nothing but wrong since their earliest days. They have infuriated me with all their evil deeds,” says the Lord. 31 “From the time this city was built until now, it has done nothing but anger me, so I am determined to get rid of it.
32 “The sins of Israel and Judah—the sins of the people of Jerusalem, the kings, the officials, the priests, and the prophets—have stirred up my anger. 33 My people have turned their backs on me and have refused to return. Even though I diligently taught them, they would not receive instruction or obey. 34 They have set up their abominable idols right in my own Temple, defiling it. 35 They have built pagan shrines to Baal in the valley of Ben-Hinnom, and there they sacrifice their sons and daughters to Molech. I have never commanded such a horrible deed; it never even crossed my mind to command such a thing. What an incredible evil, causing Judah to sin so greatly!
36 “Now I want to say something more about this city. You have been saying, ‘It will fall to the king of Babylon through war, famine, and disease.’ But this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: 37 I will certainly bring my people back again from all the countries where I will scatter them in my fury. I will bring them back to this very city and let them live in peace and safety. 38 They will be my people, and I will be their God. 39 And I will give them one heart and one purpose: to worship me forever, for their own good and for the good of all their descendants. 40 And I will make an everlasting covenant with them: I will never stop doing good for them. I will put a desire in their hearts to worship me, and they will never leave me. 41 I will find joy doing good for them and will faithfully and wholeheartedly replant them in this land.
42 “This is what the Lord says: Just as I have brought all these calamities on them, so I will do all the good I have promised them. 43 Fields will again be bought and sold in this land about which you now say, ‘It has been ravaged by the Babylonians, a desolate land where people and animals have all disappeared.’ 44 Yes, fields will once again be bought and sold—deeds signed and sealed and witnessed—in the land of Benjamin and here in Jerusalem, in the towns of Judah and in the hill country, in the foothills of Judah and in the Negev, too. For someday I will restore prosperity to them. I, the Lord, have spoken!”
While Jeremiah was still confined in the courtyard of the guard, the Lord gave him this second message: 2 “This is what the Lord says—the Lord who made the earth, who formed and established it, whose name is the Lord: 3 Ask me and I will tell you remarkable secrets you do not know about things to come. 4 For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: You have torn down the houses of this city and even the king’s palace to get materials to strengthen the walls against the siege ramps and swords of the enemy. 5 You expect to fight the Babylonians, but the men of this city are already as good as dead, for I have determined to destroy them in my terrible anger. I have abandoned them because of all their wickedness.
6 “Nevertheless, the time will come when I will heal Jerusalem’s wounds and give it prosperity and true peace. 7 I will restore the fortunes of Judah and Israel and rebuild their towns. 8 I will cleanse them of their sins against me and forgive all their sins of rebellion. 9 Then this city will bring me joy, glory, and honor before all the nations of the earth! The people of the world will see all the good I do for my people, and they will tremble with awe at the peace and prosperity I provide for them.
10 “This is what the Lord says: You have said, ‘This is a desolate land where people and animals have all disappeared.’ Yet in the empty streets of Jerusalem and Judah’s other towns, there will be heard once more 11 the sounds of joy and laughter. The joyful voices of bridegrooms and brides will be heard again, along with the joyous songs of people bringing thanksgiving offerings to the Lord. They will sing,‘Give thanks to the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, for the Lord is good. His faithful love endures forever!’ For I will restore the prosperity of this land to what it was in the past, says the Lord.
12 “This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: This land—though it is now desolate and has no people and animals—will once more have pastures where shepherds can lead their flocks. 13 Once again shepherds will count their flocks in the towns of the hill country, the foothills of Judah, the Negev, the land of Benjamin, the vicinity of Jerusalem, and all the towns of Judah. I, the Lord, have spoken!
14 “The day will come, says the Lord, when I will do for Israel and Judah all the good things I have promised them.
15 “In those days and at that time I will raise up a righteous descendant from King David’s line. He will do what is just and right throughout the land. 16 In that day Judah will be saved, and Jerusalem will live in safety. And this will be its name: ‘The Lord Is Our Righteousness.’ 17 For this is what the Lord says: David will have a descendant sitting on the throne of Israel forever. 18 And there will always be Levitical priests to offer burnt offerings and grain offerings and sacrifices to me.”
19 Then this message came to Jeremiah from the Lord: 20 “This is what the Lord says: If you can break my covenant with the day and the night so that one does not follow the other, 21 only then will my covenant with my servant David be broken. Only then will he no longer have a descendant to reign on his throne. The same is true for my covenant with the Levitical priests who minister before me. 22 And as the stars of the sky cannot be counted and the sand on the seashore cannot be measured, so I will multiply the descendants of my servant David and the Levites who minister before me.”
23 The Lord gave another message to Jeremiah. He said, 24 “Have you noticed what people are saying?—‘The Lord chose Judah and Israel and then abandoned them!’ They are sneering and saying that Israel is not worthy to be counted as a nation. 25 But this is what the Lord says: I would no more reject my people than I would change my laws that govern night and day, earth and sky. 26 I will never abandon the descendants of Jacob or David, my servant, or change the plan that David’s descendants will rule the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Instead, I will restore them to their land and have mercy on them.”
King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon came with all the armies from the kingdoms he ruled, and he fought against Jerusalem and the towns of Judah. At that time this message came to Jeremiah from the Lord: 2 “Go to King Zedekiah of Judah, and tell him, ‘This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: I am about to hand this city over to the king of Babylon, and he will burn it down. 3 You will not escape his grasp but will be captured and taken to meet the king of Babylon face to face. Then you will be exiled to Babylon.
4 “‘But listen to this promise from the Lord, O Zedekiah, king of Judah. This is what the Lord says: You will not be killed in war 5 but will die peacefully. People will burn incense in your memory, just as they did for your ancestors, the kings who preceded you. They will mourn for you, crying, “Alas, our master is dead!” This I have decreed, says the Lord.’”
6 So Jeremiah the prophet delivered the message to King Zedekiah of Judah. 7 At this time the Babylonian army was besieging Jerusalem, Lachish, and Azekah—the only fortified cities of Judah not yet captured.
8 This message came to Jeremiah from the Lord after King Zedekiah made a covenant with the people, proclaiming freedom for the slaves. 9 He had ordered all the people to free their Hebrew slaves—both men and women. No one was to keep a fellow Judean in bondage. 10 The officials and all the people had obeyed the king’s command, 11 but later they changed their minds. They took back the men and women they had freed, forcing them to be slaves again.
12 So the Lord gave them this message through Jeremiah: 13 “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: I made a covenant with your ancestors long ago when I rescued them from their slavery in Egypt. 14 I told them that every Hebrew slave must be freed after serving six years. But your ancestors paid no attention to me. 15 Recently you repented and did what was right, following my command. You freed your slaves and made a solemn covenant with me in the Temple that bears my name. 16 But now you have shrugged off your oath and defiled my name by taking back the men and women you had freed, forcing them to be slaves once again.
17 “Therefore, this is what the Lord says: Since you have not obeyed me by setting your countrymen free, I will set you free to be destroyed by war, disease, and famine. You will be an object of horror to all the nations of the earth. 18 Because you have broken the terms of our covenant, I will cut you apart just as you cut apart the calf when you walked between its halves to solemnize your vows. 19 Yes, I will cut you apart, whether you are officials of Judah or Jerusalem, court officials, priests, or common people—for you have broken your oath. 20 I will give you to your enemies, and they will kill you. Your bodies will be food for the vultures and wild animals.
21 “I will hand over King Zedekiah of Judah and his officials to the army of the king of Babylon. And although they have left Jerusalem for a while, 22 I will call the Babylonian armies back again. They will fight against this city and will capture it and burn it down. I will see to it that all the towns of Judah are destroyed, with no one living there.”
This is the message the Lord gave Jeremiah when Jehoiakim son of Josiah was king of Judah: 2 “Go to the settlement where the families of the Recabites live, and invite them to the Lord’s Temple. Take them into one of the inner rooms, and offer them some wine.”
3 So I went to see Jaazaniah son of Jeremiah and grandson of Habazziniah and all his brothers and sons—representing all the Recabite families. 4 I took them to the Temple, and we went into the room assigned to the sons of Hanan son of Igdaliah, a man of God. This room was located next to the one used by the Temple officials, directly above the room of Maaseiah son of Shallum, the Temple gatekeeper.
5 I set cups and jugs of wine before them and invited them to have a drink, 6 but they refused. “No,” they said, “we don’t drink wine, because our ancestor Jehonadab[a] son of Recab gave us this command: ‘You and your descendants must never drink wine. And do not build houses or plant crops or vineyards, but always live in tents. If you follow these commands, you will live long, good lives in the land.’ 8 So we have obeyed him in all these things. We have never had a drink of wine to this day, nor have our wives, our sons, or our daughters. 9 We haven’t built houses or owned vineyards or farms or planted crops. 10 We have lived in tents and have fully obeyed all the commands of Jehonadab, our ancestor. 11 But when King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon attacked this country, we were afraid of the Babylonian and Syrian armies. So we decided to move to Jerusalem. That is why we are here.”
12 Then the Lord gave this message to Jeremiah: 13 “This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: Go and say to the people in Judah and Jerusalem, ‘Come and learn a lesson about how to obey me. 14 The Recabites do not drink wine to this day because their ancestor Jehonadab told them not to. But I have spoken to you again and again, and you refuse to obey me. 15 Time after time I sent you prophets, who told you, “Turn from your wicked ways, and start doing things right. Stop worshiping other gods so that you might live in peace here in the land I have given to you and your ancestors.” But you would not listen to me or obey me. 16 The descendants of Jehonadab son of Recab have obeyed their ancestor completely, but you have refused to listen to me.’
17 “Therefore, this is what the Lord God of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: ‘Because you refuse to listen or answer when I call, I will send upon Judah and Jerusalem all the disasters I have threatened.’”
18 Then Jeremiah turned to the Recabites and said, “This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: ‘You have obeyed your ancestor Jehonadab in every respect, following all his instructions.’ 19 Therefore, this is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: ‘Jehonadab son of Recab will always have descendants who serve me.’”
During the fourth year that Jehoiakim son of Josiah was king in Judah, the Lord gave this message to Jeremiah: 2 “Get a scroll, and write down all my messages against Israel, Judah, and the other nations. Begin with the first message back in the days of Josiah, and write down every message, right up to the present time. 3 Perhaps the people of Judah will repent when they hear again all the terrible things I have planned for them. Then I will be able to forgive their sins and wrongdoings.”
4 So Jeremiah sent for Baruch son of Neriah, and as Jeremiah dictated all the prophecies that the Lord had given him, Baruch wrote them on a scroll. 5 Then Jeremiah said to Baruch, “I am a prisoner here and unable to go to the Temple. 6 So you go to the Temple on the next day of fasting, and read the messages from the Lord that I have had you write on this scroll. Read them so the people who are there from all over Judah will hear them. 7 Perhaps even yet they will turn from their evil ways and ask the Lord’s forgiveness before it is too late. For the Lord has threatened them with his terrible anger.”
8 Baruch did as Jeremiah told him and read these messages from the Lord to the people at the Temple. 9 He did this on a day of sacred fasting held in late autumn, during the fifth year of the reign of Jehoiakim son of Josiah. People from all over Judah had come to Jerusalem to attend the services at the Temple on that day. 10 Baruch read Jeremiah’s words on the scroll to all the people. He stood in front of the Temple room of Gemariah, son of Shaphan the secretary. This room was just off the upper courtyard of the Temple, near the New Gate entrance.
11 When Micaiah son of Gemariah and grandson of Shaphan heard the messages from the Lord, 12 he went down to the secretary’s room in the palace where the administrative officials were meeting. Elishama the secretary was there, along with Delaiah son of Shemaiah, Elnathan son of Acbor, Gemariah son of Shaphan, Zedekiah son of Hananiah, and all the other officials. 13 When Micaiah told them about the messages Baruch was reading to the people, 14 the officials sent Jehudi son of Nethaniah, grandson of Shelemiah and great-grandson of Cushi, to ask Baruch to come and read the messages to them, too. So Baruch took the scroll and went to them. 15 “Sit down and read the scroll to us,” the officials said, and Baruch did as they requested.
16 When they heard all the messages, they looked at one another in alarm. “We must tell the king what we have heard,” they said to Baruch. 17 “But first, tell us how you got these messages. Did they come directly from Jeremiah?”
18 So Baruch explained, “Jeremiah dictated them, and I wrote them down in ink, word for word, on this scroll.”
19 “You and Jeremiah should both hide,” the officials told Baruch. “Don’t tell anyone where you are!” 20 Then the officials left the scroll for safekeeping in the room of Elishama the secretary and went to tell the king what had happened.
21 The king sent Jehudi to get the scroll. Jehudi brought it from Elishama’s room and read it to the king as all his officials stood by. 22 It was late autumn, and the king was in a winterized part of the palace, sitting in front of a fire to keep warm. 23 Each time Jehudi finished reading three or four columns, the king took a knife and cut off that section of the scroll. He then threw it into the fire, section by section, until the whole scroll was burned up. 24 Neither the king nor his attendants showed any signs of fear or repentance at what they heard. 25 Even when Elnathan, Delaiah, and Gemariah begged the king not to burn the scroll, he wouldn’t listen.
26 Then the king commanded his son Jerahmeel, Seraiah son of Azriel, and Shelemiah son of Abdeel to arrest Baruch and Jeremiah. But the Lord had hidden them.
27 After the king had burned the scroll on which Baruch had written Jeremiah’s words, the Lord gave Jeremiah another message. He said, 28 “Get another scroll, and write everything again just as you did on the scroll King Jehoiakim burned. 29 Then say to the king, ‘This is what the Lord says: You burned the scroll because it said the king of Babylon would destroy this land and empty it of people and animals. 30 Now this is what the Lord says about King Jehoiakim of Judah: He will have no heirs to sit on the throne of David. His dead body will be thrown out to lie unburied—exposed to the heat of the day and the frost of the night. 31 I will punish him and his family and his attendants for their sins. I will pour out on them and on all the people of Jerusalem and Judah all the disasters I promised, for they would not listen to my warnings.’”
32 So Jeremiah took another scroll and dictated again to his secretary, Baruch. He wrote everything that had been on the scroll King Jehoiakim had burned in the fire. Only this time he added much more!
Zedekiah son of Josiah succeeded Jehoiachin son of Jehoiakim as the king of Judah. He was appointed by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. 2 But neither King Zedekiah nor his attendants nor the people who were left in the land listened to what the Lord said through Jeremiah.
3 Nevertheless, King Zedekiah sent Jehucal son of Shelemiah, and Zephaniah the priest, son of Maaseiah, to ask Jeremiah, “Please pray to the Lord our God for us.” Jeremiah had not yet been imprisoned, so he could come and go among the people as he pleased.
5 At this time the army of Pharaoh Hophra of Egypt appeared at the southern border of Judah. When the Babylonian army heard about it, they withdrew from their siege of Jerusalem.
6 Then the Lord gave this message to Jeremiah: 7 “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: The king of Judah sent you to ask me what is going to happen. Tell him, ‘Pharaoh’s army is about to return to Egypt, though he came here to help you. 8 Then the Babylonians will come back and capture this city and burn it to the ground.’
9 “This is what the Lord says: Do not fool yourselves into thinking that the Babylonians are gone for good. They aren’t! 10 Even if you were to destroy the entire Babylonian army, leaving only a handful of wounded survivors, they would still stagger from their tents and burn this city to the ground!”
11 When the Babylonian army left Jerusalem because of Pharaoh’s approaching army, 12 Jeremiah started to leave the city on his way to the territory of Benjamin, to claim his share of the property among his relatives there. 13 But as he was walking through the Benjamin Gate, a sentry arrested him and said, “You are defecting to the Babylonians!” The sentry making the arrest was Irijah son of Shelemiah, grandson of Hananiah.
14 “That’s not true!” Jeremiah protested. “I had no intention of doing any such thing.” But Irijah wouldn’t listen, and he took Jeremiah before the officials. 15 They were furious with Jeremiah and had him flogged and imprisoned in the house of Jonathan the secretary. Jonathan’s house had been converted into a prison. 16 Jeremiah was put into a dungeon cell, where he remained for many days.
17 Later King Zedekiah secretly requested that Jeremiah come to the palace, where the king asked him, “Do you have any messages from the Lord?”
“Yes, I do!” said Jeremiah. “You will be defeated by the king of Babylon.”
18 Then Jeremiah asked the king, “What crime have I committed? What have I done against you, your attendants, or the people that I should be imprisoned like this? Where are your prophets now who told you the king of Babylon would not attack you or this land? 20 Listen, my lord the king, I beg you. Don’t send me back to the dungeon in the house of Jonathan the secretary, for I will die there.”
21 So King Zedekiah commanded that Jeremiah not be returned to the dungeon. Instead, he was imprisoned in the courtyard of the guard in the royal palace. The king also commanded that Jeremiah be given a loaf of fresh bread every day as long as there was any left in the city. So Jeremiah was put in the palace prison.
Now Shephatiah son of Mattan, Gedaliah son of Pashhur, Jehucal son of Shelemiah, and Pashhur son of Malkijah heard what Jeremiah had been telling the people. He had been saying, 2 “This is what the Lord says: ‘Everyone who stays in Jerusalem will die from war, famine, or disease, but those who surrender to the Babylonians will live. Their reward will be life. They will live!’ 3 The Lord also says: ‘The city of Jerusalem will certainly be handed over to the army of the king of Babylon, who will capture it.’”
4 So these officials went to the king and said, “Sir, this man must die! That kind of talk will undermine the morale of the few fighting men we have left, as well as that of all the people. This man is a traitor!”
5 King Zedekiah agreed. “All right,” he said. “Do as you like. I can’t stop you.”
6 So the officials took Jeremiah from his cell and lowered him by ropes into an empty cistern in the prison yard. It belonged to Malkijah, a member of the royal family. There was no water in the cistern, but there was a thick layer of mud at the bottom, and Jeremiah sank down into it.
7 But Ebed-melech the Ethiopian, an important court official, heard that Jeremiah was in the cistern. At that time the king was holding court at the Benjamin Gate, 8 so Ebed-melech rushed from the palace to speak with him. 9 “My lord the king,” he said, “these men have done a very evil thing in putting Jeremiah the prophet into the cistern. He will soon die of hunger, for almost all the bread in the city is gone.”
10 So the king told Ebed-melech, “Take thirty of my men with you, and pull Jeremiah out of the cistern before he dies.”
11 So Ebed-melech took the men with him and went to a room in the palace beneath the treasury, where he found some old rags and discarded clothing. He carried these to the cistern and lowered them to Jeremiah on a rope. 12 Ebed-melech called down to Jeremiah, “Put these rags under your armpits to protect you from the ropes.” Then when Jeremiah was ready, 13 they pulled him out. So Jeremiah was returned to the courtyard of the guard—the palace prison—where he remained.
14 One day King Zedekiah sent for Jeremiah and had him brought to the third entrance of the Lord’s Temple. “I want to ask you something,” the king said. “And don’t try to hide the truth.”
15 Jeremiah said, “If I tell you the truth, you will kill me. And if I give you advice, you won’t listen to me anyway.”
16 So King Zedekiah secretly promised him, “As surely as the Lord our Creator lives, I will not kill you or hand you over to the men who want you dead.”
17 Then Jeremiah said to Zedekiah, “This is what the Lord God of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: ‘If you surrender to the Babylonian officers, you and your family will live, and the city will not be burned down. 18 But if you refuse to surrender, you will not escape! This city will be handed over to the Babylonians, and they will burn it to the ground.’”
19 “But I am afraid to surrender,” the king said, “for the Babylonians may hand me over to the Judeans who have defected to them. And who knows what they will do to me!”
20 Jeremiah replied, “You won’t be handed over to them if you choose to obey the Lord. Your life will be spared, and all will go well for you. 21 But if you refuse to surrender, this is what the Lord has revealed to me: 22 All the women left in your palace will be brought out and given to the officers of the Babylonian army. Then the women will taunt you, saying,
‘What fine friends you have! They have betrayed and misled you. When your feet sank in the mud,
they left you to your fate!’
23 All your wives and children will be led out to the Babylonians, and you will not escape. You will be seized by the king of Babylon, and this city will be burned down.”
24 Then Zedekiah said to Jeremiah, “Don’t tell anyone you told me this, or you will die! 25 My officials may hear that I spoke to you, and they may say, ‘Tell us what you and the king were talking about. If you don’t tell us, we will kill you.’ 26 If this happens, just tell them you begged me not to send you back to Jonathan’s dungeon, for fear you would die there.”
27 Sure enough, it wasn’t long before the king’s officials came to Jeremiah and asked him why the king had called for him. But Jeremiah followed the king’s instructions, and they left without finding out the truth. No one had overheard the conversation between Jeremiah and the king. 28 And Jeremiah remained a prisoner in the courtyard of the guard until the day Jerusalem was captured.
In January of the ninth year of King Zedekiah’s reign, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon came with his entire army to besiege Jerusalem. 2 Two and a half years later, on July 18 in the eleventh year of Zedekiah’s reign, a section of the city wall was broken down. 3 All the officers of the Babylonian army came in and sat in triumph at the Middle Gate: Nergal-sharezer of Samgar, and Nebo-sarsekim, a chief officer, and Nergal-sharezer, the king’s adviser, and all the other officers of the king of Babylon.
4 When King Zedekiah of Judah and all the soldiers saw that the Babylonians had broken into the city, they fled. They waited for nightfall and then slipped through the gate between the two walls behind the king’s garden and headed toward the Jordan Valley.
5 But the Babylonian troops chased them and overtook Zedekiah on the plains of Jericho. They captured him and took him to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, who was at Riblah in the land of Hamath. There the king of Babylon pronounced judgment upon Zedekiah. 6 The king of Babylon made Zedekiah watch as he slaughtered his sons at Riblah. The king of Babylon also slaughtered all the nobles of Judah. 7 Then he gouged out Zedekiah’s eyes and bound him in bronze chains to lead him away to Babylon.
8 Meanwhile, the Babylonians burned Jerusalem, including the royal palace and the houses of the people, and they tore down the walls of the city. 9 Then Nebuzaradan, the captain of the guard, took as exiles to Babylon the rest of the people who remained in the city, those who had defected to him, and everyone else who remained. 10 But Nebuzaradan allowed some of the poorest people to stay behind in the land of Judah, and he assigned them to care for the vineyards and fields.
11 King Nebuchadnezzar had told Nebuzaradan, the captain of the guard, to find Jeremiah. 12 “See that he isn’t hurt,” he said. “Look after him well, and give him anything he wants.” 13 So Nebuzaradan, the captain of the guard; Nebushazban, a chief officer; Nergal-sharezer, the king’s adviser; and the other officers of Babylon’s king sent messengers to bring Jeremiah out of the prison. They put him under the care of Gedaliah son of Ahikam and grandson of Shaphan, who took him back to his home. So Jeremiah stayed in Judah among his own people.
15 The Lord had given the following message to Jeremiah while he was still in prison: 16 “Say to Ebed-melech the Ethiopian, ‘This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: I will do to this city everything I have threatened. I will send disaster, not prosperity. You will see its destruction, 17 but I will rescue you from those you fear so much. 18 Because you trusted me, I will give you your life as a reward. I will rescue you and keep you safe. I, the Lord, have spoken!’”
The Lord gave a message to Jeremiah after Nebuzaradan, the captain of the guard, had released him at Ramah. He had found Jeremiah bound in chains among all the other captives of Jerusalem and Judah who were being sent to exile in Babylon.
2 The captain of the guard called for Jeremiah and said, “The Lord your God has brought this disaster on this land, 3 just as he said he would. For these people have sinned against the Lord and disobeyed him. That is why it happened. 4 But I am going to take off your chains and let you go. If you want to come with me to Babylon, you are welcome. I will see that you are well cared for. But if you don’t want to come, you may stay here. The whole land is before you—go wherever you like. 5 If you decide to stay, then return to Gedaliah son of Ahikam and grandson of Shaphan. He has been appointed governor of Judah by the king of Babylon. Stay there with the people he rules. But it’s up to you; go wherever you like.”
Then Nebuzaradan, the captain of the guard, gave Jeremiah some food and money and let him go. 6 So Jeremiah returned to Gedaliah son of Ahikam at Mizpah, and he lived in Judah with the few who were still left in the land.
7 The leaders of the Judean military groups in the countryside heard that the king of Babylon had appointed Gedaliah son of Ahikam as governor over the poor people who were left behind in Judah—the men, women, and children who hadn’t been exiled to Babylon. 8 So they went to see Gedaliah at Mizpah. These included: Ishmael son of Nethaniah, Johanan and Jonathan sons of Kareah, Seraiah son of Tanhumeth, the sons of Ephai the Netophathite, Jezaniah son of the Maacathite, and all their men.
9 Gedaliah vowed to them that the Babylonians meant them no harm. “Don’t be afraid to serve them. Live in the land and serve the king of Babylon, and all will go well for you,” he promised. 10 “As for me, I will stay at Mizpah to represent you before the Babylonians who come to meet with us. Settle in the towns you have taken, and live off the land. Harvest the grapes and summer fruits and olives, and store them away.”
11 When the Judeans in Moab, Ammon, Edom, and the other nearby countries heard that the king of Babylon had left a few people in Judah and that Gedaliah was the governor, 12 they began to return to Judah from the places to which they had fled. They stopped at Mizpah to meet with Gedaliah and then went into the Judean countryside to gather a great harvest of grapes and other crops.
13 Soon after this, Johanan son of Kareah and the other military leaders came to Gedaliah at Mizpah. 14 They said to him, “Did you know that Baalis, king of Ammon, has sent Ishmael son of Nethaniah to assassinate you?” But Gedaliah refused to believe them.
15 Later Johanan had a private conference with Gedaliah and volunteered to kill Ishmael secretly. “Why should we let him come and murder you?” Johanan asked. “What will happen then to the Judeans who have returned? Why should the few of us who are still left be scattered and lost?”
16 But Gedaliah said to Johanan, “I forbid you to do any such thing, for you are lying about Ishmael.”
But in midautumn of that year, Ishmael son of Nethaniah and grandson of Elishama, who was a member of the royal family and had been one of the king’s high officials, went to Mizpah with ten men to meet Gedaliah. While they were eating together, 2 Ishmael and his ten men suddenly jumped up, drew their swords, and killed Gedaliah, whom the king of Babylon had appointed governor. 3 Ishmael also killed all the Judeans and the Babylonian soldiers who were with Gedaliah at Mizpah.
4 The next day, before anyone had heard about Gedaliah’s murder, 5 eighty men arrived from Shechem, Shiloh, and Samaria to worship at the Temple of the Lord. They had shaved off their beards, torn their clothes, and cut themselves, and had brought along grain offerings and frankincense. 6 Ishmael left Mizpah to meet them, weeping as he went. When he reached them, he said, “Oh, come and see what has happened to Gedaliah!”
7 But as soon as they were all inside the town, Ishmael and his men killed all but ten of them and threw their bodies into a cistern. 8 The other ten had talked Ishmael into letting them go by promising to bring him their stores of wheat, barley, olive oil, and honey that they had hidden away. 9 The cistern where Ishmael dumped the bodies of the men he murdered was the large one dug by King Asa when he fortified Mizpah to protect himself against King Baasha of Israel. Ishmael son of Nethaniah filled it with corpses.
10 Then Ishmael made captives of the king’s daughters and the other people who had been left under Gedaliah’s care in Mizpah by Nebuzaradan, the captain of the guard. Taking them with him, he started back toward the land of Ammon.
11 But when Johanan son of Kareah and the other military leaders heard about Ishmael’s crimes, 12 they took all their men and set out to stop him. They caught up with him at the large pool near Gibeon. 13 The people Ishmael had captured shouted for joy when they saw Johanan and the other military leaders. 14 And all the captives from Mizpah escaped and began to help Johanan. 15 Meanwhile, Ishmael and eight of his men escaped from Johanan into the land of Ammon.
16 Then Johanan son of Kareah and the other military leaders took all the people they had rescued in Gibeon—the soldiers, women, children, and court officials[d] whom Ishmael had captured after he killed Gedaliah. 17 They took them all to the village of Geruth-kimham near Bethlehem, where they prepared to leave for Egypt. 18 They were afraid of what the Babylonians would do when they heard that Ishmael had killed Gedaliah, the governor appointed by the Babylonian king.
Then all the military leaders, including Johanan son of Kareah and Jezaniah son of Hoshaiah, and all the people, from the least to the greatest, approached 2 Jeremiah the prophet. They said, “Please pray to the Lord your God for us. As you can see, we are only a tiny remnant compared to what we were before. 3 Pray that the Lord your God will show us what to do and where to go.”
4 “All right,” Jeremiah replied. “I will pray to the Lord your God, as you have asked, and I will tell you everything he says. I will hide nothing from you.”
5 Then they said to Jeremiah, “May the Lord your God be a faithful witness against us if we refuse to obey whatever he tells us to do! 6 Whether we like it or not, we will obey the Lord our God to whom we are sending you with our plea. For if we obey him, everything will turn out well for us.”
7 Ten days later the Lord gave his reply to Jeremiah. 8 So he called for Johanan son of Kareah and the other military leaders, and for all the people, from the least to the greatest. 9 He said to them, “You sent me to the Lord, the God of Israel, with your request, and this is his reply: 10 ‘Stay here in this land. If you do, I will build you up and not tear you down; I will plant you and not uproot you. For I am sorry about all the punishment I have had to bring upon you. 11 Do not fear the king of Babylon anymore,’ says the Lord. ‘For I am with you and will save you and rescue you from his power. 12 I will be merciful to you by making him kind, so he will let you stay here in your land.’
13 “But if you refuse to obey the Lord your God, and if you say, ‘We will not stay here; 14 instead, we will go to Egypt where we will be free from war, the call to arms, and hunger,’ 15 then hear the Lord’s message to the remnant of Judah. This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: ‘If you are determined to go to Egypt and live there, 16 the very war and famine you fear will catch up to you, and you will die there. 17 That is the fate awaiting every one of you who insists on going to live in Egypt. Yes, you will die from war, famine, and disease. None of you will escape the disaster I will bring upon you there.’
18 “This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: ‘Just as my anger and fury have been poured out on the people of Jerusalem, so they will be poured out on you when you enter Egypt. You will be an object of damnation, horror, cursing, and mockery. And you will never see your homeland again.’
19 “Listen, you remnant of Judah. The Lord has told you: ‘Do not go to Egypt!’ Don’t forget this warning I have given you today. 20 For you were not being honest when you sent me to pray to the Lord your God for you. You said, ‘Just tell us what the Lord our God says, and we will do it!’ 21 And today I have told you exactly what he said, but you will not obey the Lord your God any better now than you have in the past. 22 So you can be sure that you will die from war, famine, and disease in Egypt, where you insist on going.”
When Jeremiah had finished giving this message from the Lord their God to all the people, 2 Azariah son of Hoshaiah and Johanan son of Kareah and all the other proud men said to Jeremiah, “You lie! The Lord our God hasn’t forbidden us to go to Egypt! Baruch son of Neriah has convinced you to say this, because he wants us to stay here and be killed by the Babylonians or be carried off into exile.”
4 So Johanan and the other military leaders and all the people refused to obey the Lord’s command to stay in Judah. 5 Johanan and the other leaders took with them all the people who had returned from the nearby countries to which they had fled. 6 In the crowd were men, women, and children, the king’s daughters, and all those whom Nebuzaradan, the captain of the guard, had left with Gedaliah. The prophet Jeremiah and Baruch were also included. 7 The people refused to obey the voice of the Lord and went to Egypt, going as far as the city of Tahpanhes.
8 Then at Tahpanhes, the Lord gave another message to Jeremiah. He said, “While the people of Judah are watching, take some large rocks and bury them under the pavement stones at the entrance of Pharaoh’s palace here in Tahpanhes. 10 Then say to the people of Judah, ‘This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: I will certainly bring my servant Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, here to Egypt. I will set his throne over these stones that I have hidden. He will spread his royal canopy over them. 11 And when he comes, he will destroy the land of Egypt. He will bring death to those destined for death, captivity to those destined for captivity, and war to those destined for war. 12 He will set fire to the temples of Egypt’s gods; he will burn the temples and carry the idols away as plunder. He will pick clean the land of Egypt as a shepherd picks fleas from his cloak. And he himself will leave unharmed. 13 He will break down the sacred pillars standing in the temple of the sun in Egypt, and he will burn down the temples of Egypt’s gods.’”
This is the message Jeremiah received concerning the Judeans living in northern Egypt in the cities of Migdol, Tahpanhes, and Memphis, and in southern Egypt as well: “This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: You saw the calamity I brought on Jerusalem and all the towns of Judah. They now lie deserted and in ruins. 3 They provoked my anger with all their wickedness. They burned incense and worshiped other gods—gods that neither they nor you nor any of your ancestors had ever even known.
4 “Again and again I sent my servants, the prophets, to plead with them, ‘Don’t do these horrible things that I hate so much.’ 5 But my people would not listen or turn back from their wicked ways. They kept on burning incense to these gods. 6 And so my fury boiled over and fell like fire on the towns of Judah and into the streets of Jerusalem, and they are still a desolate ruin today.
7 “And now the Lord God of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, asks you: Why are you destroying yourselves? For not one of you will survive—not a man, woman, or child among you who has come here from Judah, not even the babies in your arms. 8 Why provoke my anger by burning incense to the idols you have made here in Egypt? You will only destroy yourselves and make yourselves an object of cursing and mockery for all the nations of the earth. 9 Have you forgotten the sins of your ancestors, the sins of the kings and queens of Judah, and the sins you and your wives committed in Judah and Jerusalem? 10 To this very hour you have shown no remorse or reverence. No one has chosen to follow my word and the decrees I gave to you and your ancestors before you.
11 “Therefore, this is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: I am determined to destroy every one of you! 12 I will take this remnant of Judah—those who were determined to come here and live in Egypt—and I will consume them. They will fall here in Egypt, killed by war and famine. All will die, from the least to the greatest. They will be an object of damnation, horror, cursing, and mockery. 13 I will punish them in Egypt just as I punished them in Jerusalem, by war, famine, and disease. 14 Of that remnant who fled to Egypt, hoping someday to return to Judah, there will be no survivors. Even though they long to return home, only a handful will do so.”
15 Then all the women present and all the men who knew that their wives had burned incense to idols—a great crowd of all the Judeans living in northern Egypt and southern Egypt—answered Jeremiah, 16 “We will not listen to your messages from the Lord! 17 We will do whatever we want. We will burn incense and pour out liquid offerings to the Queen of Heaven just as much as we like—just as we, and our ancestors, and our kings and officials have always done in the towns of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem. For in those days we had plenty to eat, and we were well off and had no troubles! 18 But ever since we quit burning incense to the Queen of Heaven and stopped worshiping her with liquid offerings, we have been in great trouble and have been dying from war and famine.”
19 “Besides,” the women added, “do you suppose that we were burning incense and pouring out liquid offerings to the Queen of Heaven, and making cakes marked with her image, without our husbands knowing it and helping us? Of course not!”
20 Then Jeremiah said to all of them, men and women alike, who had given him that answer, 21 “Do you think the Lord did not know that you and your ancestors, your kings and officials, and all the people were burning incense to idols in the towns of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem? 22 It was because the Lord could no longer bear all the disgusting things you were doing that he made your land an object of cursing—a desolate ruin without inhabitants—as it is today. 23 All these terrible things happened to you because you have burned incense to idols and sinned against the Lord. You have refused to obey him and have not followed his instructions, his decrees, and his laws.”
24 Then Jeremiah said to them all, including the women, “Listen to this message from the Lord, all you citizens of Judah who live in Egypt. 25 This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: ‘You and your wives have said, “We will keep our promises to burn incense and pour out liquid offerings to the Queen of Heaven,” and you have proved by your actions that you meant it. So go ahead and carry out your promises and vows to her!’
26 “But listen to this message from the Lord, all you Judeans now living in Egypt: ‘I have sworn by my great name,’ says the Lord, ‘that my name will no longer be spoken by any of the Judeans in the land of Egypt. None of you may invoke my name or use this oath: “As surely as the Sovereign Lord lives.” 27 For I will watch over you to bring you disaster and not good. Everyone from Judah who is now living in Egypt will suffer war and famine until all of you are dead. 28 Only a small number will escape death and return to Judah from Egypt. Then all those who came to Egypt will find out whose words are true—mine or theirs!
29 “‘And this is the proof I give you,’ says the Lord, ‘that all I have threatened will happen to you and that I will punish you here.’ 30 This is what the Lord says: ‘I will turn Pharaoh Hophra, king of Egypt, over to his enemies who want to kill him, just as I turned King Zedekiah of Judah over to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon.’”
The prophet Jeremiah gave a message to Baruch son of Neriah in the fourth year of the reign of Jehoiakim son of Josiah, after Baruch had written down everything Jeremiah had dictated to him. He said, 2 “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says to you, Baruch: 3 You have said, ‘I am overwhelmed with trouble! Haven’t I had enough pain already? And now the Lord has added more! I am worn out from sighing and can find no rest.’
4 “Baruch, this is what the Lord says: ‘I will destroy this nation that I built. I will uproot what I planted. 5 Are you seeking great things for yourself? Don’t do it! I will bring great disaster upon all these people; but ( if you obey me ) I will give you your life as a reward wherever you go. I, the Lord, have spoken!’”
The following messages were given to Jeremiah the prophet from the Lord concerning foreign nations.
Messages about Egypt
2 This message concerning Egypt was given in the fourth year of the reign of Jehoiakim son of Josiah, the king of Judah, on the occasion of the battle of Carchemish when Pharaoh Neco, king of Egypt, and his army were defeated beside the Euphrates River by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon.
3 “Prepare your shields, and advance into battle! 4 Harness the horses, and mount the stallions. Take your positions. Put on your helmets. Sharpen your spears, and prepare your armor. 5 But what do I see? The Egyptian army flees in terror. The bravest of its fighting men run without a backward glance. They are terrorized at every turn,” says the Lord. 6 “The swiftest runners cannot flee; the mightiest warriors cannot escape. By the Euphrates River to the north, they stumble and fall.
7 “Who is this, rising like the Nile at floodtime, overflowing all the land? 8 It is the Egyptian army, overflowing all the land, boasting that it will cover the earth like a flood, destroying cities and their people. 9 Charge, you horses and chariots; attack, you mighty warriors of Egypt! Come, all you allies from Ethiopia, Libya, and Lydia who are skilled with the shield and bow! 10 For this is the day of the Lord, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, a day of vengeance on his enemies. The sword will devour until it is satisfied, yes, until it is drunk with your blood! The Lord, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, will receive a sacrifice today in the north country beside the Euphrates River.
11 “Go up to Gilead to get medicine, O virgin daughter of Egypt! But your many treatments will bring you no healing. 12 The nations have heard of your shame. The earth is filled with your cries of despair. Your mightiest warriors will run into each other and fall down together.”
13 Then the Lord gave the prophet Jeremiah this message about King Nebuchadnezzar’s plans to attack Egypt.
14 “Shout it out in Egypt! Publish it in the cities of Migdol, Memphis, and Tahpanhes!
Mobilize for battle, for the sword will devour everyone around you. 15 Why have your warriors fallen? They cannot stand, for the Lord has knocked them down. 16 They stumble and fall over each other and say among themselves, ‘Come, let’s go back to our people, to the land of our birth. Let’s get away from the sword of the enemy!’ 17 There they will say, ‘Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, is a loudmouth who missed his opportunity!’
18 “As surely as I live,” says the King, whose name is the Lord of Heaven’s Armies,
“one is coming against Egypt who is as tall as Mount Tabor, or as Mount Carmel by the sea! 19 Pack up! Get ready to leave for exile, you citizens of Egypt! The city of Memphis will be destroyed, without a single inhabitant. 20 Egypt is as sleek as a beautiful heifer, but a horsefly from the north is on its way! 21 Egypt’s mercenaries have become like fattened calves. They, too, will turn and run, for it is a day of great disaster for Egypt, a time of great punishment. 22 Egypt flees, silent as a serpent gliding away.
The invading army marches in; they come against her with axes like woodsmen. They will cut down her people like trees,” says the Lord, “for they are more numerous than locusts. 24 Egypt will be humiliated; she will be handed over to people from the north.”
25 The Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: “I will punish Amon, the god of Thebes, and all the other gods of Egypt. I will punish its rulers and Pharaoh, too, and all who trust in him. 26 I will hand them over to those who want them killed—to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon and his army. But afterward the land will recover from the ravages of war. I, the Lord, have spoken!
27 “But do not be afraid, Jacob, my servant; do not be dismayed, Israel. For I will bring you home again from distant lands, and your children will return from their exile.
Israel will return to a life of peace and quiet, and no one will terrorize them. 28 Do not be afraid, Jacob, my servant, for I am with you,” says the Lord. “I will completely destroy the nations to which I have exiled you, but I will not completely destroy you.
I will discipline you, but with justice; I cannot let you go unpunished.”
A Message about Gaza
This is the Lord’s message to the prophet Jeremiah concerning the Philistines of Gaza, before it was captured by the Egyptian army. 2 This is what the Lord says:
“A flood is coming from the north to overflow the land. It will destroy the land and everything in it–cities and people alike. People will scream in terror, and everyone in the land will wail. 3 Hear the clatter of stallions’ hooves and the rumble of wheels as the chariots rush by. Terrified fathers run madly, without a backward glance at their helpless children.
4 “The time has come for the Philistines to be destroyed, along with their allies from Tyre and Sidon. Yes, the Lord is destroying the remnant of the Philistines, those colonists from the island of Crete. 5 Gaza will be humiliated, its head shaved bald; Ashkelon will lie silent. You remnant from the Mediterranean coast, how long will you cut yourselves in mourning?
6 “Now, O sword of the Lord, when will you be at rest again? Go back into your sheath; rest and be still.
7 “But how can it be still when the Lord has sent it on a mission? For the city of Ashkelon and the people living along the sea must be destroyed.”
A Message about Moab ( now Jordan)
This message was given concerning Moab. This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says:
“What sorrow awaits the city of Nebo; it will soon lie in ruins. The city of Kiriathaim will be humiliated and captured; the fortress will be humiliated and broken down.
2 No one will ever brag about Moab again, for in Heshbon there is a plot to destroy her.
‘Come,’ they say, ‘we will cut her off from being a nation.’ The town of Madmen, too, will be silenced; the sword will follow you there. 3 Listen to the cries from Horonaim,
cries of devastation and great destruction. 4 All Moab is destroyed. Her little ones will cry out. 5 Her refugees weep bitterly, climbing the slope to Luhith. They cry out in terror, descending the slope to Horonaim. 6 Flee for your lives! Hide in the wilderness
7 Because you have trusted in your wealth and skill, you will be taken captive.
Your god Chemosh, with his priests and officials, will be hauled off to distant lands!
8 “All the towns will be destroyed, and no one will escape—either on the plateaus or in the valleys, for the Lord has spoken. 9 Oh, that Moab had wings so she could fly away,
for her towns will be left empty, with no one living in them. 10 Cursed are those who refuse to do the Lord’s work, who hold back their swords from shedding blood!
11 “From his earliest history, Moab has lived in peace, never going into exile.
He is like wine that has been allowed to settle. He has not been poured from flask to flask, and he is now fragrant and smooth. 12 But the time is coming soon,” says the Lord,
“when I will send men to pour him from his jar. They will pour him out, then shatter the jar! 13 At last Moab will be ashamed of his idol Chemosh, as the people of Israel were ashamed of their gold calf at Bethel.
14 “You used to boast, ‘We are heroes, mighty men of war.’ 15 But now Moab and his towns will be destroyed. His most promising youth are doomed to slaughter,” says the King, whose name is the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. 16 “Destruction is coming fast for Moab; calamity threatens ominously. 17 You friends of Moab, weep for him and cry!
See how the strong scepter is broken, how the beautiful staff is shattered!
18 “Come down from your glory and sit in the dust, you people of Dibon,
for those who destroy Moab will shatter Dibon, too. They will tear down all your towers. 19 You people of Aroer, stand beside the road and watch. Shout to those who flee from Moab, ‘What has happened there?’
20 “And the reply comes back, ‘Moab lies in ruins, disgraced; weep and wail! Tell it by the banks of the Arnon River: Moab has been destroyed!’ 21 Judgment has been poured out on the towns of the plateau—on Holon and Jahaz and Mephaath,
22 on Dibon and Nebo and Beth-diblathaim, 23 on Kiriathaim and Beth-gamul and Beth-meon, 24 on Kerioth and Bozrah—all the towns of Moab, far and near.
25 “The strength of Moab has ended. His arm has been broken,” says the Lord.
26 “Let him stagger and fall like a drunkard, for he has rebelled against the Lord.
Moab will wallow in his own vomit, ridiculed by all. 27 Did you not ridicule the people of Israel? Were they caught in the company of thieves that you should despise them as you do?
28 “You people of Moab, flee from your towns and live in the caves. Hide like doves that nest in the clefts of the rocks. 29 We have all heard of the pride of Moab, for his pride is very great. We know of his lofty pride, his arrogance, and his haughty heart.
30 I know about his insolence,” says the Lord, “but his boasts are empty—as empty as his deeds. 31 So now I wail for Moab; yes, I will mourn for Moab. My heart is broken for the men of Kir-hareseth.
32 “You people of Sibmah, rich in vineyards, I will weep for you even more than I did for Jazer. Your spreading vines once reached as far as the Dead Sea, but the destroyer has stripped you bare! He has harvested your grapes and summer fruits. 33 Joy and gladness are gone from fruitful Moab. The presses yield no wine. No one treads the grapes with shouts of joy. There is shouting, yes, but not of joy.
34 “Instead, their awful cries of terror can be heard from Heshbon clear across to Elealeh and Jahaz; from Zoar all the way to Horonaim and Eglath-shelishiyah. Even the waters of Nimrim are dried up now.
35 “I will put an end to Moab,” says the Lord, “for the people offer sacrifices at the pagan shrines and burn incense to their false gods. 36 My heart moans like a flute for Moab and Kir-hareseth, for all their wealth has disappeared. 37 The people shave their heads and beards in mourning. They slash their hands and put on clothes made of burlap. 38 There is crying and sorrow in every Moabite home and on every street. For I have smashed Moab like an old, unwanted jar. 39 How it is shattered! Hear the wailing! See the shame of Moab! It has become an object of ridicule, an example of ruin to all its neighbors.”
40 This is what the Lord says: “Look! The enemy swoops down like an eagle, spreading his wings over Moab. 41 Its cities will fall, and its strongholds will be seized.
Even the mightiest warriors will be in anguish like a woman in labor. 42 Moab will no longer be a nation, for it has boasted against the Lord.
43 “Terror and traps and snares will be your lot, O Moab,” says the Lord. 44 “Those who flee in terror will fall into a trap, and those who escape the trap will step into a snare. I will see to it that you do not get away, for the time of your judgment has come,”
says the Lord. 45 “The people flee as far as Heshbon but are unable to go on. For a fire comes from Heshbon, King Sihon’s ancient home, to devour the entire land with all its rebellious people.
46 “What sorrow awaits you, O people of Moab! The people of the god Chemosh are destroyed! Your sons and your daughters have been taken away as captives. 47 But I will restore the fortunes of Moab in days to come.
I, the Lord, have spoken!”
This is the end of Jeremiah’s prophecy concerning Moab.
A Message about Ammon ( now Jordan)
This message was given concerning the Ammonites. This is what the Lord says:
“Are there no descendants of Israel to inherit the land of Gad? Why are you, who worship Molech, living in its towns? 2 In the days to come,” says the Lord, “I will sound the battle cry against your city of Rabbah. It will become a desolate heap of ruins, and the neighboring towns will be burned. Then Israel will take back the land
you took from her,” says the Lord.
3 “Cry out, O Heshbon, for the town of Ai is destroyed. Weep, O people of Rabbah!
Put on your clothes of mourning. Weep and wail, hiding in the hedges, for your god Molech, with his priests and officials, will be hauled off to distant lands. 4 You are proud of your fertile valleys, but they will soon be ruined. You trusted in your wealth, you rebellious daughter, and thought no one could ever harm you. 5 But look! I will bring terror upon you,” says the Lord, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. “Your neighbors will chase you from your land, and no one will help your exiles as they flee. 6 But I will restore the fortunes of the Ammonites in days to come.
I, the Lord, have spoken.”
Messages about Edom ( Israel / Jordan area )
7 This message was given concerning Edom. This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says:
“Is there no wisdom in Teman? Is no one left to give wise counsel. 8 Turn and flee!
Hide in deep caves, you people of Dedan! For when I bring disaster on Edom, I will punish you, too! 9 Those who harvest grapes always leave a few for the poor. If thieves came at night, they would not take everything. 10 But I will strip bare the land of Edom,
and there will be no place left to hide. Its children, its brothers, and its neighbors will all be destroyed, and Edom itself will be no more. 11 But I will protect the orphans who remain among you. Your widows, too, can depend on me for help.”
12 And this is what the Lord says: “If the innocent must suffer, how much more must you! You will not go unpunished! You must drink this cup of judgment! 13 For I have sworn by my own name,” says the Lord, “that Bozrah will become an object of horror and a heap of ruins; it will be mocked and cursed. All its towns and villages will be desolate forever.”
14 I have heard a message from the Lord that an ambassador was sent to the nations to say, “Form a coalition against Edom, and prepare for battle!”
15 The Lord says to Edom, “I will cut you down to size among the nations. You will be despised by all. 16 You have been deceived by the fear you inspire in others and by your own pride. You live in a rock fortress and control the mountain heights. But even if you make your nest among the peaks with the eagles, I will bring you crashing down,”
says the Lord.
17 “Edom will be an object of horror. All who pass by will be appalled and will gasp at the destruction they see there. 18 It will be like the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah and their neighboring towns,” says the Lord. “No one will live there; no one will inhabit it. 19 I will come like a lion from the thickets of the Jordan, leaping on the sheep in the pasture. I will chase Edom from its land, and I will appoint the leader of my choice. For who is like me, and who can challenge me? What ruler can oppose my will?”
20 Listen to the Lord’s plans against Edom and the people of Teman. Even the little children will be dragged off like sheep, and their homes will be destroyed. 21 The earth will shake with the noise of Edom’s fall, and its cry of despair will be heard all the way to the Red Sea. 22 Look! The enemy swoops down like an eagle, spreading his wings over Bozrah. Even the mightiest warriors will be in anguish like a woman in labor.
A Message about Damascus
23 This message was given concerning Damascus. This is what the Lord says:
“The towns of Hamath and Arpad are struck with fear, for they have heard the news of their destruction. Their hearts are troubled like a wild sea in a raging storm. Damascus has become feeble, and all her people turn to flee. Fear, anguish, and pain have gripped her as they grip a woman in labor. 25 That famous city, a city of joy, will be forsaken!
26 Her young men will fall in the streets and die. Her soldiers will all be killed,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. 27 “And I will set fire to the walls of Damascus that will burn up the palaces of Ben-hadad.”
A Message about Kedar and Hazor ( very Northern Israel)
28 This message was given concerning Kedar and the kingdoms of Hazor, which were attacked by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. This is what the Lord says:
“Advance against Kedar! Destroy the warriors from the East! 29 Their flocks and tents will be captured, and their household goods and camels will be taken away. Everywhere shouts of panic will be heard: ‘We are terrorized at every turn!’ 30 Run for your lives,” says the Lord. “Hide yourselves in deep caves, you people of Hazor, for King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon has plotted against you and is preparing to destroy you.
31 “Go up and attack that complacent nation,” says the Lord. “Its people live alone in the desert without walls or gates. 32 Their camels and other livestock will all be yours.
I will scatter to the winds these people who live in remote places. I will bring calamity upon them from every direction,” says the Lord. 33 “Hazor will be inhabited by jackals,
and it will be desolate forever. No one will live there; no one will inhabit it.”
A Message about Elam ( now Iran)
34 This message concerning Elam came to the prophet Jeremiah from the Lord at the beginning of the reign of King Zedekiah of Judah. 35 This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says:
“I will destroy the archers of Elam—the best of their forces. 36 I will bring enemies from all directions, and I will scatter the people of Elam to the four winds. They will be exiled to countries around the world. 37 I myself will go with Elam’s enemies to shatter it.
In my fierce anger, I will bring great disaster upon the people of Elam,” says the Lord.
“Their enemies will chase them with the sword until I have destroyed them completely.
38 I will set my throne in Elam,” says the Lord, “and I will destroy its king and officials.
39 But I will restore the fortunes of Elam in days to come.
I, the Lord, have spoken!”
A Message about Babylon ( now Iraq )
The Lord gave Jeremiah the prophet this message concerning Babylon and the land of the Babylonians. 2 This is what the Lord says:
“Tell the whole world, and keep nothing back. Raise a signal flag to tell everyone that Babylon will fall! Her images and idols will be shattered. Her gods Bel and Marduk will be utterly disgraced. 3 For a nation will attack her from the north and bring such destruction that no one will live there again. Everything will be gone; both people and animals will flee.
4 “In those coming days,” says the Lord, “the people of Israel will return home together with the people of Judah. They will come weeping and seeking the Lord their God. 5 They will ask the way to Jerusalem and will start back home again. They will bind themselves to the Lord with an eternal covenant that will never be forgotten.
6 “My people have been lost sheep. Their shepherds have led them astray and turned them loose in the mountains. They have lost their way and can’t remember how to get back to the sheepfold. 7 All who found them devoured them. Their enemies said, ‘We did nothing wrong in attacking them, for they sinned against the Lord, their true place of rest, and the hope of their ancestors.’
8 “But now, flee from Babylon! Leave the land of the Babylonians. Like male goats at the head of the flock, lead my people home again. 9 For I am raising up an army of great nations from the north. They will join forces to attack Babylon, and she will be captured. The enemies’ arrows will go straight to the mark; they will not miss! Babylonia will be looted until the attackers are glutted with loot.
I, the Lord, have spoken!
11 “You rejoice and are glad, you who plundered my chosen people. You will be overwhelmed with shame and disgrace. You will become the least of nations— a wilderness, a dry and desolate land. 13 Because of the Lord’s anger, Babylon will become a deserted wasteland. All who pass by will be horrified and will gasp at the destruction they see there.
14 “Yes, prepare to attack Babylon, all you surrounding nations. Let your archers shoot at her; spare no arrows. For she has sinned against the Lord. 15 Shout war cries against her from every side. Look! She surrenders! Her walls have fallen. It is the Lord’s vengeance, so take vengeance on her. Do to her as she has done to others!
16 Take from Babylon all those who plant crops; send all the harvesters away.
Because of the sword of the enemy, everyone will run away and rush back to their own lands.
17 “The Israelites are like sheep that have been scattered by lions. First the king of Assyria ate them up. Then King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon cracked their bones.”
18 Therefore, this is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says:
“Now I will punish the king of Babylon and his land, just as I punished the king of Assyria. 19 And I will bring Israel home again to its own land, to feed in the fields of Carmel and Bashan, and to be satisfied once more in the hill country of Ephraim and Gilead. 20 In those days,” says the Lord, “no sin will be found in Israel or in Judah, for I will forgive the remnant I preserve.
The Lord’s Judgment on Babylon
21 “Go up, my warriors, against the land of Merathaim and against the people of Pekod. Pursue, kill, and completely destroy them, as I have commanded you,” says the Lord. 22 “Let the battle cry be heard in the land, a shout of great destruction. 23 Babylon, the mightiest hammer in all the earth, lies broken and shattered. Babylon is desolate among the nations! 24 Listen, Babylon, for I have set a trap for you. You are caught, for you have fought against the Lord. 25 The Lord has opened his armory and brought out weapons to vent his fury. The terror that falls upon the Babylonians will be the work of the Sovereign Lord of Heaven’s Armies. 26 Yes, come against her from distant lands.
Break open her granaries. Crush her walls and houses into heaps of rubble. Destroy her completely, and leave nothing! 27 Destroy even her young bulls—it will be terrible for them, too! Slaughter them all! For Babylon’s day of reckoning has come. 28 Listen to the people who have escaped from Babylon, as they tell in Jerusalem how the Lord our God has taken vengeance against those who destroyed his Temple.
29 “Send out a call for archers to come to Babylon. Surround the city so none can escape. Do to her as she has done to others, for she has defied the Lord, the Holy One of Israel. 30 Her young men will fall in the streets and die. Her soldiers will all be killed,”
says the Lord.
31 “See, I am your enemy, you arrogant people,” says the Lord, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. “Your day of reckoning has arrived—the day when I will punish you.
32 O land of arrogance, you will stumble and fall, and no one will raise you up. For I will light a fire in the cities of Babylon that will burn up everything around them.”
33 This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: “The people of Israel and Judah have been wronged. Their captors hold them and refuse to let them go. 34 But the one who redeems them is strong. His name is the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. He will defend them and give them rest again in Israel. But for the people of Babylon there will be no rest!
35 “The sword of destruction will strike the Babylonians,” says the Lord. “It will strike the people of Babylon—her officials and wise men, too. 36 The sword will strike her wise counselors, and they will become fools. The sword will strike her mightiest warriors, and panic will seize them. 37 The sword will strike her horses and chariots and her allies from other lands, and they will all become like women. The sword will strike her treasures, and they all will be plundered. 38 A drought[h] will strike her water supply, causing it to dry up. And why? Because the whole land is filled with idols, and the people are madly in love with them.
39 “Soon Babylon will be inhabited by desert animals and hyenas. It will be a home for owls. Never again will people live there; it will lie desolate forever. 40 I will destroy it as I destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah and their neighboring towns,” says the Lord.
“No one will live there;
no one will inhabit it.
41 “Look! A great army is coming from the north. A great nation and many kings are rising against you from far-off lands. 42 They are armed with bows and spears. They are cruel and show no mercy. As they ride forward on horses, they sound like a roaring sea.
They are coming in battle formation, planning to destroy you, Babylon. 43 The king of Babylon has heard reports about the enemy, and he is weak with fright. Pangs of anguish have gripped him, like those of a woman in labor.
44 “I will come like a lion from the thickets of the Jordan, leaping on the sheep in the pasture. I will chase Babylon from its land, and I will appoint the leader of my choice.
For who is like me, and who can challenge me? What ruler can oppose my will?”
45 Listen to the Lord’s plans against Babylon and the land of the Babylonians.
Even the little children will be dragged off like sheep, and their homes will be destroyed.
46 The earth will shake with the shout, “Babylon has been taken!” and its cry of despair will be heard around the world.
This is what the Lord says: “I will stir up a destroyer against Babylon and the people of Babylonia. 2 Foreigners will come and winnow her, blowing her away as chaff.
They will come from every side to rise against her in her day of trouble. 3 Don’t let the archers put on their armor or draw their bows. Don’t spare even her best soldiers!
Let her army be completely destroyed. 4 They will fall dead in the land of the Babylonians, slashed to death in her streets. 5 For the Lord of Heaven’s Armies has not abandoned Israel and Judah. He is still their God, even though their land was filled with sin against the Holy One of Israel.”
6 Flee from Babylon! Save yourselves! Don’t get trapped in her punishment!
It is the Lord’s time for vengeance; he will repay her in full. 7 Babylon has been a gold cup in the Lord’s hands, a cup that made the whole earth drunk. The nations drank Babylon’s wine, and it drove them all mad. 8 But suddenly Babylon, too, has fallen.
Weep for her. Give her medicine. Perhaps she can yet be healed. 9 We would have helped her if we could, but nothing can save her now. Let her go; abandon her.
Return now to your own land. For her punishment reaches to the heavens; it is so great it cannot be measured. 10 The Lord has vindicated us. Come, let us announce in Jerusalem everything the Lord our God has done.
11 Sharpen the arrows! Lift up the shields! For the Lord has inspired the kings of the Medes to march against Babylon and destroy her. This is his vengeance against those
who desecrated his Temple. 12 Raise the battle flag against Babylon! Reinforce the guard and station the watchmen. Prepare an ambush, for the Lord will fulfill all his plans against Babylon. 13 You are a city by a great river, a great center of commerce,
but your end has come. The thread of your life is cut. 14 The Lord of Heaven’s Armies has taken this vow and has sworn to it by his own name:
“Your cities will be filled with enemies, like fields swarming with locusts, and they will shout in triumph over you.”
15 The Lord made the earth by his power, and he preserves it by his wisdom. With his own understanding he stretched out the heavens. 16 When he speaks in the thunder, the heavens roar with rain. He causes the clouds to rise over the earth. He sends the lightning with the rain and releases the wind from his storehouses.
17 The whole human race is foolish and has no knowledge! The craftsmen are disgraced by the idols they make, for their carefully shaped works are a fraud. These idols have no breath or power. 18 Idols are worthless; they are ridiculous lies! On the day of reckoning they will all be destroyed. 19 But the God of Israel is no idol!
He is the Creator of everything that exists, including his people, his own special possession.
The Lord of Heaven’s Armies is his name!
20 “You are my battle-ax and sword,” says the Lord. “With you I will shatter nations
and destroy many kingdoms. 21 With you I will shatter armies—destroying the horse and rider, the chariot and charioteer. 22 With you I will shatter men and women, old people and children, young men and young women. 23 With you I will shatter shepherds and flocks, farmers and oxen, captains and officers.
24 “I will repay Babylon and the people of Babylonia for all the wrong they have done to my people in Jerusalem,” says the Lord.
25 “Look, O mighty mountain, destroyer of the earth! I am your enemy,” says the Lord. “I will raise my fist against you, to knock you down from the heights. When I am finished, you will be nothing but a heap of burnt rubble. 26 You will be desolate forever.
Even your stones will never again be used for building. You will be completely wiped out,” says the Lord.
27 Raise a signal flag to the nations. Sound the battle cry! Mobilize them all against Babylon. Prepare them to fight against her! Bring out the armies of Ararat, Minni, and Ashkenaz. Appoint a commander, and bring a multitude of horses like swarming locusts! 28 Bring against her the armies of the nations—led by the kings of the Medes
and all their captains and officers.
29 The earth trembles and writhes in pain, for everything the Lord has planned against Babylon stands unchanged. Babylon will be left desolate without a single inhabitant. Her mightiest warriors no longer fight. They stay in their barracks, their courage gone.
They have become like women. The invaders have burned the houses and broken down the city gates. 31 The news is passed from one runner to the next as the messengers hurry to tell the king that his city has been captured. 32 All the escape routes are blocked.
The marshes have been set aflame, and the army is in a panic.
33 This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: “Babylon is like wheat on a threshing floor, about to be trampled. In just a little while her harvest will begin.”
34 “King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon has eaten and crushed us and drained us of strength. He has swallowed us like a great monster and filled his belly with our riches He has thrown us out of our own country. 35 Make Babylon suffer as she made us suffer,” say the people of Zion.
“Make the people of Babylonia pay for spilling our blood,” says Jerusalem.
36 This is what the Lord says to Jerusalem:
“I will be your lawyer to plead your case, and I will avenge you. I will dry up her river, as well as her springs, 37 and Babylon will become a heap of ruins, haunted by jackals. She will be an object of horror and contempt, a place where no one lives.
38 Her people will roar together like strong lions. They will growl like lion cubs.
39 And while they lie inflamed with all their wine, I will prepare a different kind of feast for them. I will make them drink until they fall asleep, and they will never wake up again,” says the Lord.
40 “I will bring them down like lambs to the slaughter, like rams and goats to be sacrificed.
41 “How Babylon is fallen—great Babylon, praised throughout the earth! Now she has become an object of horror among the nations. 42 The sea has risen over Babylon; she is covered by its crashing waves. 43 Her cities now lie in ruins; she is a dry wasteland
where no one lives or even passes by. 44 And I will punish Bel, the god of Babylon, and make him vomit up all he has eaten. The nations will no longer come and worship him. The wall of Babylon has fallen!
45 “Come out, my people, flee from Babylon. Save yourselves! Run from the Lord’s fierce anger. 46 But do not panic; don’t be afraid when you hear the first rumor of approaching forces. For rumors will keep coming year by year. Violence will erupt in the land as the leaders fight against each other. 47 For the time is surely coming when I will punish this great city and all her idols. Her whole land will be disgraced, and her dead will lie in the streets. 48 Then the heavens and earth will rejoice, for out of the north will come destroying armies against Babylon,” says the Lord. 49 “Just as Babylon killed the people of Israel and others throughout the world, so must her people be killed. Get out, all you who have escaped the sword! Do not stand and watch—flee while you can!
Remember the Lord, though you are in a far-off land, and think about your home in Jerusalem.”
51 “We are ashamed,” the people say. “We are insulted and disgraced because the Lord’s Temple has been defiled by foreigners.”
52 “Yes,” says the Lord, “but the time is coming when I will destroy Babylon’s idols.
The groans of her wounded people will be heard throughout the land. 53 Though Babylon reaches as high as the heavens and makes her fortifications incredibly strong,
I will still send enemies to plunder her.
I, the Lord, have spoken!
54 “Listen! Hear the cry of Babylon, the sound of great destruction from the land of the Babylonians. 55 For the Lord is destroying Babylon. He will silence her loud voice.
Waves of enemies pound against her; the noise of battle rings through the city.
56 Destroying armies come against Babylon. Her mighty men are captured, and their weapons break in their hands. For the Lord is a God who gives just punishment; he always repays in full. 57 I will make her officials and wise men drunk, along with her captains, officers, and warriors. They will fall asleep and never wake up again!”
says the King, whose name is the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.
58 This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says, “The thick walls of Babylon will be leveled to the ground, and her massive gates will be burned. The builders from many lands have worked in vain, for their work will be destroyed by fire!”
59 The prophet Jeremiah gave this message to Seraiah son of Neriah and grandson of Mahseiah, a staff officer, when Seraiah went to Babylon with King Zedekiah of Judah. This was during the fourth year of Zedekiah’s reign. 60 Jeremiah had recorded on a scroll all the terrible disasters that would soon come upon Babylon—all the words written here. 61 He said to Seraiah, “When you get to Babylon, read aloud everything on this scroll. 62 Then say, ‘Lord, you have said that you will destroy Babylon so that neither people nor animals will remain here. She will lie empty and abandoned forever.’ 63 When you have finished reading the scroll, tie it to a stone and throw it into the Euphrates River. 64 Then say, ‘In this same way Babylon and her people will sink, never again to rise, because of the disasters I will bring upon her.’”
This is the end of Jeremiah’s messages.
The Fall of Jerusalem
Zedekiah was twenty-one years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem eleven years. His mother was Hamutal, the daughter of Jeremiah from Libnah. 2 But Zedekiah did what was evil in the Lord’s sight, just as Jehoiakim had done. 3 These things happened because of the Lord’s anger against the people of Jerusalem and Judah, until he finally banished them from his presence and sent them into exile.
Zedekiah rebelled against the king of Babylon. 4 So on January 15, during the ninth year of Zedekiah’s reign, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon led his entire army against Jerusalem. They surrounded the city and built siege ramps against its walls. 5 Jerusalem was kept under siege until the eleventh year of King Zedekiah’s reign.
6 By July 18 in the eleventh year of Zedekiah’s reign, the famine in the city had become very severe, and the last of the food was entirely gone. 7 Then a section of the city wall was broken down, and all the soldiers fled. Since the city was surrounded by the Babylonians, they waited for nightfall. Then they slipped through the gate between the two walls behind the king’s garden and headed toward the Jordan Valley.
8 But the Babylonian troops chased King Zedekiah and overtook him on the plains of Jericho, for his men had all deserted him and scattered. 9 They captured the king and took him to the king of Babylon at Riblah in the land of Hamath. There the king of Babylon pronounced judgment upon Zedekiah. 10 The king of Babylon made Zedekiah watch as he slaughtered his sons. He also slaughtered all the officials of Judah at Riblah. 11 Then he gouged out Zedekiah’s eyes and bound him in bronze chains, and the king of Babylon led him away to Babylon. Zedekiah remained there in prison until the day of his death.
The Temple Destroyed
12 On August 17 of that year, which was the nineteenth year of King Nebuchadnezzar’s reign, Nebuzaradan, the captain of the guard and an official of the Babylonian king, arrived in Jerusalem. 13 He burned down the Temple of the Lord, the royal palace, and all the houses of Jerusalem. He destroyed all the important buildings in the city. 14 Then he supervised the entire Babylonian army as they tore down the walls of Jerusalem on every side. 15 Then Nebuzaradan, the captain of the guard, took as exiles some of the poorest of the people, the rest of the people who remained in the city, the defectors who had declared their allegiance to the king of Babylon, and the rest of the craftsmen. 16 But Nebuzaradan allowed some of the poorest people to stay behind to care for the vineyards and fields.
17 The Babylonians broke up the bronze pillars in front of the Lord’s Temple, the bronze water carts, and the great bronze basin called the Sea, and they carried all the bronze away to Babylon. 18 They also took all the ash buckets, shovels, lamp snuffers, basins, dishes, and all the other bronze articles used for making sacrifices at the Temple. 19 The captain of the guard also took the small bowls, incense burners, basins, pots, lampstands, ladles, bowls used for liquid offerings, and all the other articles made of pure gold or silver.
20 The weight of the bronze from the two pillars, the Sea with the twelve bronze oxen beneath it, and the water carts was too great to be measured. These things had been made for the Lord’s Temple in the days of King Solomon. 21 Each of the pillars was 27 feet tall and 18 feet in circumference. They were hollow, with walls 3 inches thick. The bronze capital on top of each pillar was 7 1⁄2 feet high and was decorated with a network of bronze pomegranates all the way around. 23 There were 96 pomegranates on the sides, and a total of 100 pomegranates on the network around the top.
24 Nebuzaradan, the captain of the guard, took with him as prisoners Seraiah the high priest, Zephaniah the priest of the second rank, and the three chief gatekeepers. 25 And from among the people still hiding in the city, he took an officer who had been in charge of the Judean army; seven of the king’s personal advisers; the army commander’s chief secretary, who was in charge of recruitment; and sixty other citizens. 26 Nebuzaradan, the captain of the guard, took them all to the king of Babylon at Riblah. 27 And there at Riblah, in the land of Hamath, the king of Babylon had them all put to death. So the people of Judah were sent into exile from their land.
28 The number of captives taken to Babylon in the seventh year of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign was 3,023. 29 Then in Nebuchadnezzar’s eighteenth year he took 832 more. In Nebuchadnezzar’s twenty-third year he sent Nebuzaradan, the captain of the guard, who took 745 more—a total of 4,600 captives in all.
31 In the thirty-seventh year of the exile of King Jehoiachin of Judah, Evil-merodach ascended to the Babylonian throne. He was kind to Jehoiachin and released him from prison on March 31 of that year. 32 He spoke kindly to Jehoiachin and gave him a higher place than all the other exiled kings in Babylon. 33 He supplied Jehoiachin with new clothes to replace his prison garb and allowed him to dine in the king’s presence for the rest of his life. 34 So the Babylonian king gave him a regular food allowance as long as he lived. This continued until the day of his death.