1:1 The following is a record of what Jeremiah son of Hilkiah prophesied. He was one of the priests who lived at Anathoth in the territory of the tribe of Benjamin. 2 The Lord’s message came to him in the thirteenth year that Josiah son of Amon ruled over Judah. 3 It also came in the days of Jehoiakim, son of Josiah, king of Judah, and continued until the eleventh year of Zedekiah, son of Josiah, king of Judah, until the people of Jerusalem were taken into exile in the fifth month of that year.
4 The Lord’s message came to me,
5 “Before I formed you in your mother’s womb, I chose you.
Before you were born, I set you apart.
I appointed you to be a prophet to the nations.”
6 I answered, “Oh, Sovereign Lord, Really I do not know how to speak well enough for that, for I am too young.” 7 The Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am too young.’ But go to whomever I send you and say whatever I tell you. 8 Do not be afraid of those to whom I send you, for I will be with you to protect you,” says the Lord. 9 Then the Lord reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, “I will most assuredly give you the words you are to speak for me. 10 Know for certain that I hereby give you the authority to announce to nations and kingdoms that they will be uprooted and torn down, destroyed and demolished, rebuilt and firmly planted.”
11 Later the Lord’s message came to me, “What do you see, Jeremiah?” I answered, “I see a branch of an almond tree.” 12 Then the Lord said, “You have observed correctly. This means I am watching to make sure my threats are carried out.”
13 The Lord’s message came to me a second time, “What do you see?” I answered, “I see a pot of boiling water; it is tipped away from the north.” 14 Then the Lord said, “From the north destruction will break out on all who live in the land. 15 For I will soon summon all the peoples of the kingdoms of the north,” says the Lord. “They will come and their kings will set up their thrones near the entrances of the gates of Jerusalem. They will attack all the walls surrounding it and all the towns in Judah. 16 In this way I will pass sentence on the people of Jerusalem and Judah because of all their wickedness. For they rejected me and offered sacrifices to other gods, worshiping what they made with their own hands.
17 “But you, Jeremiah, get yourself ready! Go and tell these people everything I instruct you to say. Do not be terrified of them, or I will give you good reason to be terrified of them. 18 I, the Lord, hereby promise to make you as strong as a fortified city, an iron pillar, and a bronze wall. You will be able to stand up against all who live in the land, including the kings of Judah, its officials, its priests, and all the people of the land. 19 They will attack you but they will not be able to overcome you, for I will be with you to rescue you,” says the Lord.
2:1 The Lord’s message came to me, 2 “Go and declare in the hearing of the people of Jerusalem: ‘This is what the Lord says: “I have fond memories of you, how devoted you were to me in your early years. I remember how you loved me like a new bride; you followed me through the wilderness, through a land that had never been planted. 3 Israel was set apart to the Lord; they were like the firstfruits of a harvest to him. All who tried to devour them were punished; disaster came upon them,” says the Lord.’”
4 Now listen to the Lord’s message, you descendants of Jacob,
all you family groups from the nation of Israel.
5 This is what the Lord says:
“What fault could your ancestors have possibly found in me
that they strayed so far from me?
They paid allegiance to worthless idols, and so became worthless to me.
6 They did not ask,
‘Where is the Lord who delivered us out of Egypt,
who brought us through the wilderness,
through a land of valleys and gorges,
through a land of desert and deep darkness,
through a land in which no one travels,
and where no one lives?’
7 I brought you into a fertile land
so you could enjoy its fruits and its rich bounty.
But when you entered my land, you defiled it;
you made the land I call my own loathsome to me.
8 Your priests did not ask, ‘Where is the Lord?’
Those responsible for teaching my law did not really know me.
Your rulers rebelled against me.
Your prophets prophesied in the name of the god Baal.
They all worshiped idols that could not help them.
9 “So, once more I will state my case against you,” says the Lord.
“I will also state it against your children and grandchildren.
10 Go west across the sea to the coasts of Cyprus and see.
Send someone east to Kedar and have them look carefully.
See if such a thing as this has ever happened:
11 Has a nation ever changed its gods
(even though they are not really gods at all)?
But my people have exchanged me, their glorious God,
for a god that cannot help them at all!
12 Be amazed at this, O heavens.
Be shocked and utterly dumbfounded,”
says the Lord.
13 “Do so because my people have committed a double wrong:
They have rejected me,
the fountain of life-giving water,
and they have dug cisterns for themselves,
cracked cisterns that cannot even hold water.
14 “Israel is not a slave, is he?
He was not born into slavery, was he?
If not, why then is he being carried off?
15 Like lions his enemies roar victoriously over him;
they raise their voices in triumph.
They have laid his land waste;
his cities have been burned down and deserted.
16 Even the soldiers from Memphis and Tahpanhes
have cracked your skulls, people of Israel.
17 You have brought all this on yourself, Israel,
by deserting the Lord your God when he was leading you along the right path.
18 What good will it do you then to go down to Egypt
to seek help from the Egyptians?
What good will it do you to go over to Assyria
to seek help from the Assyrians?
19 Your own wickedness will bring about your punishment.
Your unfaithful acts will bring down discipline on you.
Know, then, and realize how utterly harmful
it was for you to reject me, the Lord your God,
to show no respect for me,”
says the Sovereign Lord of Heaven’s Armies.
20 “Indeed, long ago you threw off my authority
and refused to be subject to me.
You said, ‘I will not serve you.’
Instead, you gave yourself to other gods on every high hill
and under every green tree,
like a prostitute sprawls out before her lovers.
21 I planted you in the land
like a special vine of the very best stock.
Why in the world have you turned into something like a wild vine
that produces rotten, foul-smelling grapes?
22 You can try to wash away your guilt with a strong detergent.
You can use as much soap as you want.
But the stain of your guilt is still there for me to see,”
says the Sovereign Lord.
23 “How can you say, ‘I have not made myself unclean.
I have not paid allegiance to the gods called Baal.’
Just look at the way you have behaved in the Valley of Hinnom!
Think about the things you have done there!
You are like a flighty, young female camel
that rushes here and there, crisscrossing its path.
24 You are like a wild female donkey brought up in the wilderness.
In her lust she sniffs the wind to get the scent of a male.
No one can hold her back when she is in heat.
None of the males need wear themselves out chasing after her.
At mating time she is easy to find.
25 Do not chase after other gods until your shoes wear out
and your throats become dry.
But you say, ‘It is useless for you to try and stop me
because I love those foreign gods and want to pursue them!’
26 Just as a thief has to suffer dishonor when he is caught,
so the people of Israel will suffer dishonor for what they have done.
So will their kings and officials,
their priests and their prophets.
27 They say to a wooden idol, ‘You are my father.’
They say to a stone image, ‘You gave birth to me.’
Yes, they have turned away from me instead of turning to me.
Yet when they are in trouble, they say, ‘Come and save us!’
28 But where are the gods you made for yourselves?
Let them save you when you are in trouble.
The sad fact is that you have as many gods
as you have towns, Judah.
29 Why do you try to refute me?
All of you have rebelled against me,”
says the Lord.
30 “It did no good for me to punish your people.
They did not respond to such correction.
You slaughtered your prophets
like a voracious lion.”
31 You people of this generation,
listen to the Lord’s message:
“Have I been like a wilderness to you, Israel?
Have I been like a dark and dangerous land to you?
Why then do you say, ‘We are free to wander.
We will not come to you anymore?’
32 Does a young woman forget to put on her jewels?
Does a bride forget to put on her bridal attire?
But my people have forgotten me
for more days than can even be counted.
33 “My, how good you have become
at chasing after your lovers!
Why, you could even teach prostitutes a thing or two!
34 Even your clothes are stained with
the lifeblood of the poor who had not done anything wrong;
you did not catch them breaking into your homes.
Yet, in spite of all these things you have done,
35 you say, ‘I have not done anything wrong,
so the Lord cannot really be angry with me any more.’
But, watch out! I will bring down judgment on you
because you say, ‘I have not committed any sin.’
36 Why do you constantly go about
changing your political allegiances?
You will get no help from Egypt
just as you got no help from Assyria.
37 Moreover, you will come away from Egypt
with your hands covering your faces in sorrow and shame
because the Lord will not allow your reliance on them to be successful
and you will not gain any help from them.
3:1 “If a man divorces his wife
and she leaves him and becomes another man’s wife,
he may not take her back again.
Doing that would utterly defile the land.
But you, Israel, have given yourself as a prostitute to many gods.
So what makes you think you can return to me?”
says the Lord.
2 “Look up at the hilltops and consider this.
Where have you not been ravished?
You waited for those gods like a thief lying in wait in the wilderness.
You defiled the land by your wicked prostitution to other gods.
3 That is why the rains have been withheld
and the spring rains have not come.
Yet in spite of this you are obstinate as a prostitute.
You refuse to be ashamed of what you have done.
4 Even now you say to me, ‘You are my father!
You have been my faithful companion ever since I was young.
5 You will not always be angry with me, will you?
You will not be mad at me forever, will you?’
That is what you say,
but you continually do all the evil that you can.”
6 When Josiah was king of Judah, the Lord said to me, “Jeremiah, you have no doubt seen what wayward Israel has done. You have seen how she went up to every high hill and under every green tree to give herself like a prostitute to other gods. 7 Yet even after she had done all that, I thought that she might come back to me. But she did not. Her sister, unfaithful Judah, saw what she did. 8 She also saw that, because of wayward Israel’s adulterous worship of other gods, I sent her away and gave her divorce papers. But still her unfaithful sister Judah was not afraid, and she too went and gave herself like a prostitute to other gods. 9 Because she took her prostitution so lightly, she defiled the land through her adulterous worship of gods made of wood and stone. 10 In spite of all this, Israel’s sister, unfaithful Judah, has not turned back to me with any sincerity; she has only pretended to do so,” says the Lord. 11 Then the Lord said to me, “Under the circumstances, wayward Israel could even be considered less guilty than unfaithful Judah.
12 “Go and shout this message to my people in the countries in the north. Tell them:
‘Come back to me, wayward Israel,’ says the Lord.
‘I will not continue to look on you with displeasure.
For I am merciful,’ says the Lord.
‘I will not be angry with you forever.
13 However, you must confess that you have done wrong
and that you have rebelled against the Lord your God.
You must confess that you have given yourself to foreign gods under every green tree
and have not obeyed my commands,’ says the Lord.
14 “Come back to me, my wayward sons,” says the Lord, “for I am your true master. If you do, I will take one of you from each town and two of you from each family group, and I will bring you back to Zion. 15 I will give you leaders who will be faithful to me. They will lead you with knowledge and insight. 16 In those days, your population will greatly increase in the land. At that time,” says the Lord, “people will no longer talk about having the ark that contains the Lord’s covenant with us. They will not call it to mind, remember it, or miss it. No, that will not be done anymore! 17 At that time the city of Jerusalem will be called the Lord’s throne. All nations will gather there in Jerusalem to honor the Lord’s name. They will no longer follow the stubborn inclinations of their own evil hearts. 18 At that time the nation of Judah and the nation of Israel will be reunited. Together they will come back from a land in the north to the land that I gave to your ancestors as a permanent possession.
19 “I thought to myself,
‘Oh what a joy it would be for me to treat you like a son!
What a joy it would be for me to give you a pleasant land,
the most beautiful piece of property there is in all the world!’
I thought you would call me ‘Father’
and would never cease being loyal to me.
20 But, you have been unfaithful to me, nation of Israel,
like an unfaithful wife who has left her husband,”
says the Lord.
21 “A noise is heard on the hilltops.
It is the sound of the people of Israel crying and pleading to their gods.
Indeed they have followed sinful ways;
they have forgotten to be true to the Lord their God.
22 Come back to me, you wayward people.
I want to cure your waywardness.
Say, ‘Here we are. We come to you
because you are the Lord our God.
23 We know our noisy worship of false gods
on the hills and mountains did not help us.
We know that the Lord our God
is the only one who can deliver Israel.
24 From earliest times our worship of that shameful god, Baal,
has taken away all that our ancestors worked for.
It has taken away our flocks and our herds
and even our sons and daughters.
25 Let us acknowledge our shame.
Let us bear the disgrace that we deserve.
For we have sinned against the Lord our God,
both we and our ancestors.
From earliest times to this very day
we have not obeyed the Lord our God.’
4:1 “If you, Israel, want to come back,” says the Lord,
“if you want to come back to me,
you must get those disgusting idols out of my sight
and must no longer go astray.
2 You must be truthful, honest, and upright
when you take an oath saying, ‘As surely as the Lord lives!’
If you do, the nations will pray to be as blessed by him as you are
and will make him the object of their boasting.”
3 Yes, this is what the Lord has said
to the people of Judah and Jerusalem:
“Break up your unplowed ground, do not cast seeds among thorns.
4 Commit yourselves to the Lord;
dedicate your hearts to me
people of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem.
Otherwise, my anger will blaze up like a flaming fire against you
that no one will be able to extinguish.
That will happen because of the evil you have done.”
5 The Lord said,
“Announce this in Judah and proclaim it in Jerusalem:
‘Sound the trumpet throughout the land!’
Shout out loudly,
‘Gather together! Let us flee into the fortified cities!’
6 Raise a signal flag that tells people to go to Zion.
Run for safety! Do not delay!
For I am about to bring disaster out of the north.
It will bring great destruction.
7 Like a lion that has come up from its lair,
the one who destroys nations has set out from his home base.
He is coming out to lay your land waste.
Your cities will become ruins and lie uninhabited.
8 So put on sackcloth!
Mourn and wail, saying,
‘The fierce anger of the Lord
has not turned away from us!’
9 When this happens,” says the Lord,
“the king and his officials will lose their courage.
The priests will be struck with horror,
and the prophets will be speechless in astonishment.”
10 In response to all this I said, “Ah, Sovereign Lord, you have surely allowed the people of Judah and Jerusalem to be deceived by those who say, ‘You will be safe!’ But in fact a sword is already at our throats.”
11 At that time the people of Judah and Jerusalem will be told,
“A scorching wind will sweep down
from the hilltops in the wilderness on my dear people.
It will not be a gentle breeze
for winnowing the grain and blowing away the chaff.
12 No, a wind too strong for that will come at my bidding.
Yes, even now I, myself, am calling down judgment on them.
13 Look! The enemy is approaching like gathering clouds.
The roar of his chariots is like that of a whirlwind.
His horses move more swiftly than eagles.”
I cry out, “We are doomed, for we will be destroyed!”
14 O people of Jerusalem, purify your hearts from evil
so that you may yet be delivered.
How long will you continue to harbor up
wicked schemes within you?
15 For messengers are coming, heralding disaster,
from the city of Dan and from the hills of Ephraim.
16 They are saying,
“Announce to the surrounding nations,
‘The enemy is coming!’
Proclaim this message to Jerusalem:
‘Those who besiege cities are coming from a distant land.
They are ready to raise the battle cry against the towns in Judah.’
17 They will surround Jerusalem
like men guarding a field
because they have rebelled against me,”
says the Lord.
18 “The way you have lived and the things you have done
will bring this on you.
This is the punishment you deserve, and it will be painful indeed.
The pain will be so bad it will pierce your heart.”
19 I said,
“Oh, the feeling in the pit of my stomach!
I writhe in anguish.
Oh, the pain in my heart!
My heart pounds within me.
I cannot keep silent.
For I hear the sound of the trumpet;
the sound of the battle cry pierces my soul!
20 I see one destruction after another taking place,
so that the whole land lies in ruins.
I see our tents suddenly destroyed,
their curtains torn down in a mere instant.
21 How long must I see the enemy’s battle flags
and hear the military signals of their bugles?”
22 The Lord answered,
“This will happen because my people are foolish.
They do not know me.
They are like children who have no sense.
They have no understanding.
They are skilled at doing evil.
They do not know how to do good.”
23 I looked at the land and saw that it was an empty wasteland.
I looked up at the sky, and its light had vanished.
24 I looked at the mountains and saw that they were shaking.
All the hills were swaying back and forth!
25 I looked and saw that there were no more people
and that all the birds in the sky had flown away.
26 I looked and saw that the fruitful land had become a desert
and that all the cities had been laid in ruins.
The Lord had brought this all about
because of his blazing anger.
27 All this will happen because the Lord said,
“The whole land will be desolate;
however, I will not completely destroy it.
28 Because of this, the land will mourn
and the sky above will grow black.
For I have made my purpose known,
and I will not relent or turn back from carrying it out.”
29 At the sound of the approaching horsemen and archers
the people of every town will flee.
Some of them will hide in the thickets.
Others will climb up among the rocks.
All the cities will be deserted.
No one will remain in them.
30 And you, Zion, city doomed to destruction,
you accomplish nothing by wearing a beautiful dress,
decking yourself out in jewels of gold,
and putting on eye shadow!
You are making yourself beautiful for nothing.
Your lovers spurn you.
They want to kill you.
31 In fact, I hear a cry like that of a woman in labor,
a cry of anguish like that of a woman giving birth to her first baby.
It is the cry of Daughter Zion gasping for breath,
reaching out for help, saying, “I am done in!
My life is ebbing away before these murderers!”
The Scriptures quoted are from the NET Bible® copyright ©1996, 2019 used with permission from Biblical Studies Press, L.L.C. All rights reserved