21The LORD told me 2to proclaim this message to everyone in Jerusalem.
“I remember how faithful you were when you were young,
how you loved me when we were first married;
you followed me through the desert,
through a land that had not been sown.
3Israel, you belonged to me alone;
you were my sacred possession.
I sent suffering and disaster
on everyone who hurt you.
I, the LORD, have spoken.”
4Listen to the LORD's message, you descendants of Jacob, you tribes of Israel. 5The LORD says:
“What accusation did your ancestors bring against me?
What made them turn away from me?
They worshipped worthless idols
and became worthless themselves.
6They did not care about me,
even though I rescued them from Egypt
and led them through the wilderness:
a land of deserts and sand dunes,
a dry and dangerous land
where no one lives
and no one will even travel.
7I brought them into a fertile land,
to enjoy its harvests and its other good things.
But instead they ruined my land;
they defiled the country I had given them.
8The priests did not ask, ‘Where is the LORD?’
My own priests did not know me.
The rulers rebelled against me;
the prophets spoke in the name of Baal
and worshipped useless idols.
9“And so I, the LORD, will state my case against my people again.
I will bring charges against their descendants.
10Go west to the island of Cyprus,
and send someone eastwards to the land of Kedar.
You will see that nothing like this has ever happened before.
11No other nation has ever changed its gods,
even though they were not real.
But my people have exchanged me,
the God who has brought them honour,
for gods that can do nothing for them.
12And so I command the sky to shake with horror,
to be amazed and astonished,
13for my people have committed two sins:
they have turned away from me,
the spring of fresh water,
and they have dug cisterns,
cracked cisterns that can hold no water at all.
14“Israel is not a slave;
he was not born into slavery.
Why then do his enemies hunt him down?
15They have roared at him like lions;
they have made his land a desert,
and his towns lie in ruins, completely abandoned.
16Yes, those of Memphis and Tahpanhes
have cracked his skull.
17Israel, you brought this on yourself!
You deserted me, the LORD your God,
while I was leading you along the way.
18What do you think you will gain by going to Egypt
to drink water from the Nile?
What do you think you will gain by going to Assyria
to drink water from the Euphrates?
19Your own evil will punish you,
and your turning from me will condemn you.
You will learn how bitter and wrong it is
to abandon me, the LORD your God,
and no longer to remain faithful to me.
I, the Sovereign LORD Almighty, have spoken.”
20The Sovereign LORD says,
“Israel, long ago you rejected my authority;
you refused to obey me and worship me.
On every high hill
and under every green tree
you worshipped fertility gods.
21I planted you like a choice vine
from the very best seed.
But look what you have become!
You are like a rotten, worthless vine.
22Even if you washed with the strongest soap,
I would still see the stain of your guilt.
23How can you say you have not defiled yourself,
that you have never worshipped Baal?
Look how you sinned in the valley;
see what you have done.
You are like a wild camel on heat,
running about loose,
24rushing into the desert.2.24 Probable text rushing into the desert; Hebrew a wild donkey used to the desert.
When she is on heat, who can control her?
No male that wants her has to trouble himself;
she is always available at mating time.
25Israel, don't wear your feet out,
or let your throat become dry
from chasing after other gods.
But you say, ‘No! I can't turn back.
I have loved foreign gods
and will go after them.’ ”
26The LORD says, “Just as a thief is disgraced when caught, so all you people of Israel will be disgraced — your kings and officials, your priests and prophets. 27You will all be disgraced — you that say that a tree is your father and that a rock is your mother. This will happen because you turned away from me instead of turning to me. But when you are in trouble, you ask me to come and save you.
28“Where are the gods that you made for yourselves? When you are in trouble, let them save you — if they can! Judah, you have as many gods as you have cities. 29What is your complaint? Why have you rebelled against me? 30I punished you, but it did no good; you would not let me correct you. Like a raging lion, you have murdered your prophets. 31People of Israel, listen to what I am saying. Have I been like a desert to you, like a dark and dangerous land? Why, then, do you say that you will do as you please, that you will never come back to me? 32Does a young woman forget her jewellery, or a bride her wedding dress? But my people have forgotten me for more days than can be counted. 33You certainly know how to chase after lovers. Even the worst of women can learn from you. 34Your clothes are stained with the blood of the poor and innocent, not with the blood of burglars.
“But in spite of all this, 35you say, ‘I am innocent; surely the LORD is no longer angry with me.’ But I, the LORD, will punish you because you deny that you have sinned. 36You have cheapened yourself by turning to the gods of other nations. You will be disappointed by Egypt, just as you were by Assyria. 37You will turn away from Egypt, hanging your head in shame. I, the LORD, have rejected those you trust; you will not gain anything from them.”
31The LORD says, “If a man divorces his wife, and she leaves him and becomes another man's wife, he cannot take her back again. This would completely defile the land. But, Israel, you have had many lovers, and now you want to return to me! 2Look up at the hilltops. Is there any place where you have not acted like a prostitute? You waited for lovers along the roadside, as an Arab waits for victims in the desert. You have defiled the land with your prostitution. 3That is why the rains were held back, and the spring showers did not come. You even look like a prostitute; you have no shame.
4“And now you say to me, ‘You are my father, and you have loved me ever since I was a child. 5You won't always be angry; you won't be cross with me for ever.’ Israel, that is what you said, but you did all the evil you could.”
When Josiah was king, the LORD said to me, “Have you seen what Israel, that unfaithful woman, has done? She has turned away from me, and on every high hill and under every green tree she has acted like a prostitute. 7I thought that after she had done all this, she would surely return to me. But she did not return, and her unfaithful sister Judah saw it all. 8Judah also saw that I divorced Israel and sent her away because she had turned from me and had become a prostitute. But Judah, Israel's unfaithful sister, was not afraid. She too became a prostitute 9and was not at all ashamed. She defiled the land, and she committed adultery by worshipping stones and trees. 10And after all this, Judah, Israel's unfaithful sister, only pretended to return to me; she was not sincere. I, the LORD, have spoken.”
11Then the LORD told me that, even though Israel had turned away from him, she had proved to be better than unfaithful Judah. 12He told me to go and say to Israel, “Unfaithful Israel, come back to me. I am merciful and will not be angry; I will not be angry with you for ever. 13Only admit that you are guilty and that you have rebelled against the LORD, your God. Confess that under every green tree you have given your love to foreign gods and that you have not obeyed my commands. I, the LORD, have spoken.
14“Unfaithful people, come back; you belong to me. I will take one of you from each town and two from each clan, and I will bring you back to Mount Zion. 15I will give you rulers who obey me, and they will rule you with wisdom and understanding. 16Then when you have become numerous in that land, people will no longer talk about my Covenant Box. They will no longer think about it or remember it; they will not even need it, nor will they make another one. 17When that time comes, Jerusalem will be called ‘The Throne of the LORD’, and all nations will gather there to worship me. They will no longer do what their stubborn and evil hearts tell them. 18Israel will join with Judah, and together they will come from exile in the country in the north and will return to the land that I gave your ancestors as a permanent possession.”
19The LORD says,
“Israel, I wanted to accept you as my child
and give you a delightful land,
the most beautiful land in all the world.
I wanted you to call me father,
and never again turn away from me.
20But like an unfaithful wife,
you have not been faithful to me.
I, the LORD, have spoken.”
21A noise is heard on the hilltops:
it is the people of Israel crying and pleading,
because they have lived sinful lives
and have forgotten the LORD their God.
22Return, all of you who have turned away from the LORD;
he will heal you and make you faithful.
You say, “Yes, we are coming to the LORD, because he is our God. 23We were not helped at all by our pagan worship on the hilltops. Help for Israel comes only from the LORD our God. 24But the worship of Baal, the god of shame, has made us lose flocks and herds, sons and daughters — everything that our ancestors have worked for since ancient times. 25We should lie down in shame and let our disgrace cover us. We and our ancestors have always sinned against the LORD our God; we have never obeyed his commands.”
41The LORD says, “People of Israel, if you want to turn, then turn back to me. If you are faithful to me and remove the idols I hate, 2it will be right for you to swear by my name. Then4.2 it will be right… name. Then; or and if you swear by my name and are truthful, just, and righteous, then. all the nations will ask me to bless them, and they will praise me.”
The LORD says to the people of Judah and Jerusalem, “Plough up your unploughed fields; do not sow your seeds among thorns. 4Keep your covenant with me, your LORD, and dedicate yourselves to me, you people of Judah and Jerusalem. If you don't, my anger will burn like fire because of the evil things you have done. It will burn, and there will be no one to put it out.”
5Blow the trumpet throughout the land!
Shout loud and clear!
Tell the people of Judah and Jerusalem
to run to the fortified cities.
6Point the way to Zion!
Run for safety! Don't delay!
The LORD is bringing disaster
and great destruction from the north.
7Like a lion coming from its hiding place,
a destroyer of nations has set out.
He is coming to destroy Judah.
The cities of Judah will be left in ruins,
and no one will live in them.
8So put on sackcloth, and weep and wail
because the fierce anger of the LORD
has not turned away from Judah.
9The LORD said, “On that day kings and officials will lose their courage; priests will be shocked and prophets will be astonished.”
10Then I said, “Sovereign LORD, you have completely deceived the people of Jerusalem! You have said there would be peace, but a sword is at their throats.”
11The time is coming when the people of Jerusalem will be told that a scorching wind is blowing in from the desert towards them. It will not be a gentle wind that only blows away the chaff — 12the wind that comes at the LORD's command will be much stronger than that! It is the LORD himself who is pronouncing judgement on his people.
13Look, the enemy is coming like clouds. Their war chariots are like a whirlwind, and their horses are faster than eagles. We are lost! We are doomed!
14Jerusalem, wash the evil from your heart, so that you may be saved. How long will you go on thinking sinful thoughts?
15Messengers from the city of Dan and from the hills of Ephraim announce the bad news. 16They have come to warn the nations and to tell Jerusalem that enemies are coming from a country far away. These enemies will shout against the cities of Judah 17and will surround Jerusalem like men guarding a field, because her people have rebelled against the LORD. The LORD has spoken.
18Judah, you have brought this on yourself by the way you have lived and by the things you have done. Your sin has caused this suffering; it has stabbed you through the heart.
19The pain! I can't bear the pain!
My heart! My heart is beating wildly!
I can't keep quiet;
I hear the trumpets
and the shouts of battle.
20One disaster follows another;
the whole country is left in ruins.
Suddenly our tents are destroyed;
their curtains are torn to pieces.
21How long must I see the battle raging
and hear the blasts of trumpets?
22The LORD says, “My people are stupid;
they don't know me.
They are like foolish children;
they have no understanding.
They are experts at doing what is evil,
but failures at doing what is good.”
23I looked at the earth — it was a barren waste;
at the sky — there was no light.
24I looked at the mountains — they were shaking,
and the hills were rocking to and fro.
25I saw that there were no people;
even the birds had flown away.
26The fertile land had become a desert;
its cities were in ruins
because of the LORD's fierce anger.
27(The LORD has said that the whole earth will become a wilderness, but that he will not completely destroy it.)
28The earth will mourn;
the sky will grow dark.
The LORD has spoken
and will not change his mind.
He has made his decision
and will not turn back.
29At the noise of the horsemen and bowmen
everyone will run away.
Some will run to the forest,
others will climb up among the rocks.
Every town will be left empty,
and no one will live in them again.
30Jerusalem, you are doomed!
Why do you dress in scarlet?
Why do you put on jewellery and paint your eyes?
You are making yourself beautiful for nothing!
Your lovers have rejected you
and want to kill you.
31I heard a cry, like a woman in labour,
a scream like a woman bearing her first child.
It was the cry of Jerusalem gasping for breath,
stretching out her hand and saying,
“I am doomed!
They are coming to kill me!”