61People of Benjamin, run for safety! Escape from Jerusalem! Sound the trumpet in Tekoa and build a signal fire in Beth Haccherem. Disaster and destruction are about to come from the north. 2The city of Zion is beautiful, but it will be destroyed; 3kings will camp there with their armies. They will pitch their tents round the city, and they will each camp wherever they want. 4They will say, “Prepare to attack Jerusalem! Get ready! We'll attack at noon!” But then they will say, “It's too late, the day is almost over, and the evening shadows are growing long. 5We'll attack by night; we'll destroy the city's fortresses.”
6The LORD Almighty has ordered these kings to cut down trees and build mounds in order to besiege Jerusalem. He has said, “I will punish this city because it is full of oppression. 7As a well keeps its water fresh, so Jerusalem keeps its evil fresh. I hear violence and destruction in the city; sickness and wounds are all I see. 8People of Jerusalem, let these troubles be a warning to you, or else I will abandon you; I will turn your city into a desert, a place where no one lives.”
9The LORD Almighty said to me, “Israel will be stripped clean like a vineyard from which every grape has been picked. So you must rescue everyone you can while there is still time.”
10I answered, “Who would listen to me if I spoke to them and warned them? They are stubborn and refuse to listen to your message; they laugh at what you tell me to say. 11Your anger against them burns in me too, LORD, and I can't hold it in any longer.”
Then the LORD said to me, “Pour out my anger on the children in the streets and on the gatherings of the young people. Husbands and wives will be taken away, and even the very old will not be spared. 12
Their houses will be given to others, and so will their fields and their wives. I am going to punish the people of this land. 13Everyone, great and small, tries to make money dishonestly; even prophets and priests cheat the people. 14
They act as if my people's wounds were only scratches. ‘All is well,’ they say, when all is not well. 15Were they ashamed because they did these disgusting things? No, they were not at all ashamed; they don't even know how to blush. And so they will fall as others have fallen; when I punish them, that will be the end of them. I, the LORD, have spoken.”
16The LORD said to his people, “Stand at the crossroads and look. Ask for the ancient paths and where the best road is. Walk on it, and you will live in peace.”
But they said, “No, we will not!” 17Then the LORD appointed watchmen to listen for the trumpet's warning. But they said, “We will not listen.”
18So the LORD said, “Listen, you nations, and learn what is going to happen to my people. 19Listen, earth! As punishment for all their schemes I am bringing ruin on these people, because they have rejected my teaching and have not obeyed my words. 20What do I care about the incense they bring me from Sheba, or the spices from a distant land? I will not accept their offerings or be pleased with their sacrifices. 21And so I will make these people stumble and fall. Parents and children will die, and so will friends and neighbours.”
22The LORD says, “People are coming from a country in the north; a mighty nation far away is preparing for war. 23They have taken up their bows and swords; they are cruel and merciless. They sound like the roaring sea, as they ride their horses. They are ready for battle against Jerusalem.”
24“We have heard the news,” say the people of Jerusalem, “and our hands hang limp; we are seized by anguish and pain like a woman in labour. 25We dare not go to the countryside or walk on the roads, because our enemies are armed and terror is all round us.”
26The LORD says to his people, “Put on sackcloth and roll in ashes. Mourn with bitter tears as you would for an only son, because the one who comes to destroy you will suddenly attack. 27Jeremiah, test my people, as you would test metal, and find out what they are like. 28They are all stubborn rebels, hard as bronze and iron. They are all corrupt, going round and spreading gossip. 29The furnace burns fiercely, but the waste metals do not melt and run off. It is useless to go on refining my people, because those who are evil are not taken away. 30They will be called worthless dross, because I, the LORD, have rejected them.”
71-3The LORD sent me to the gate of the Temple where the people of Judah went in to worship. He told me to stand there and announce what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, had to say to them: “Change the way you are living and the things you are doing, and I will let you go on living here. 4Stop believing those deceitful words, ‘We are safe! This is the LORD's Temple, this is the LORD's Temple, this is the LORD's Temple!’
5“Change the way you are living and stop doing the things you are doing. Be fair in your treatment of one another. 6Stop taking advantage of aliens, orphans, and widows. Stop killing innocent people in this land. Stop worshipping other gods, for that will destroy you. 7If you change, I will let you go on living here in the land which I gave your ancestors as a permanent possession.
8“Look, you put your trust in deceitful words. 9You steal, murder, commit adultery, tell lies under oath, offer sacrifices to Baal, and worship gods that you had not known before. 10You do these things I hate, and then you come and stand in my presence, in my own Temple, and say, ‘We are safe!’ 11
Do you think that my Temple is a hiding place for robbers? I have seen what you are doing. 12
Go to Shiloh,7.12 Shiloh: The city where the Covenant Box was kept in the time of Eli (see 1 Sam 1.3). The city was destroyed, probably by the Philistines. the first place where I chose to be worshipped, and see what I did to it because of the sins of my people Israel. 13You have committed all these sins, and even though I spoke to you over and over again, you refused to listen. You would not answer when I called you. 14And so, what I did to Shiloh I will do to this Temple of mine, in which you trust. Here in this place that I gave to your ancestors and to you, I will do the same thing that I did to Shiloh. 15I will drive you out of my sight as I drove out your relatives, the people of Israel. I, the LORD, have spoken.”
16The LORD said, “Jeremiah, do not pray for these people. Do not cry or pray on their behalf; do not plead with me, for I will not listen to you. 17Don't you see what they are doing in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem? 18
The children gather firewood, the men build fires, and the women mix dough to bake cakes for the goddess they call the Queen of Heaven. They also pour out wine offerings to other gods, in order to hurt me. 19But am I really the one they are hurting? No, they are hurting themselves and bringing shame on themselves. 20And so I, the Sovereign LORD, will pour out my fierce anger on this Temple. I will pour it out on people and animals alike, and even on the trees and the crops. My anger will be like a fire that no one can put out.
21“My people, some sacrifices you burn completely on the altar, and some you are permitted to eat. But what I, the LORD, say is that you might as well eat them all. 22I gave your ancestors no commands about burnt offerings or any other kinds of sacrifices, when I brought them out of Egypt. 23But I did command them to obey me, so that I would be their God and they would be my people. And I told them to live as I had commanded them, so that things would go well for them. 24But they did not obey or pay any attention. Instead, they did whatever their stubborn and evil hearts told them to do, and they became worse instead of better. 25From the day that your ancestors came out of Egypt until this very day, I have kept on sending my servants, the prophets, to you. 26Yet no one listened or paid any attention. Instead, you became more stubborn and rebellious than your ancestors.
27“So, Jeremiah, you will speak all these words to my people, but they will not listen to you; you will call them, but they will not answer. 28You will tell them that their nation does not obey me, the LORD their God, or learn from their punishment. Faithfulness is dead. No longer is it even talked about.
29“Mourn, people of Jerusalem;
cut off your hair and throw it away.
Sing a funeral song on the hilltops,
because I, the LORD, am angry,
and have rejected my people.
30“The people of Judah have done an evil thing. They have placed their idols, which I hate, in my Temple and have defiled it. 31
In the Valley of Hinnom they have built an altar called Topheth, so that they can sacrifice their sons and daughters in the fire. I did not command them to do this — it did not even enter my mind. 32And so, the time will come when it will no longer be called Topheth or the Valley of Hinnom, but the Valley of Slaughter. They will bury people there because there will be nowhere else to bury them. 33The corpses will be food for the birds and wild animals, and there will be no one to scare them off. 34
The land will become a desert. In the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem I will put an end to the sounds of joy and gladness and to the happy sounds of wedding feasts.
81“At that time the bones of the kings and of the officials of Judah, as well as the bones of the priests, of the prophets, and of the other people who lived in Jerusalem, will be taken out of their graves. 2Instead of being gathered and buried, their bones will be like manure lying on the ground. They will be spread out before the sun, the moon, and the stars, which these people have loved and served, and which they have consulted and worshipped. 3And the people of this evil nation who survive, who live in the places where I have scattered them, will prefer to die rather than to go on living. I, the LORD Almighty, have spoken.”
4The LORD told me to say to his people, “When someone falls down, doesn't he get back up? If someone misses the road, doesn't he turn back? 5Why then, my people, do you turn away from me without ever turning back? You cling to your idols and refuse to return to me. 6I listened carefully, but you did not speak the truth. Not one of you has been sorry for his wickedness; not one of you has asked, ‘What have I done wrong?’ Everyone keeps on going his own way, like a horse rushing into battle. 7Even storks know when it is time to return; doves, swallows, and thrushes know when it is time to migrate. But, my people, you do not know the laws by which I rule you. 8How can you say that you are wise, and that you know my laws? Look, the laws have been changed by dishonest scribes. 9Your wise men are put to shame; they are confused and trapped. They have rejected my words; what wisdom have they got now? 10
So I will give their fields to new owners and their wives to other men. Everyone, great and small, tries to make money dishonestly. Even prophets and priests cheat the people. 11
They act as if my people's wounds were only scratches. ‘All is well,’ they say, when all is not well. 12My people, were you ashamed because you did these disgusting things? No, you were not ashamed at all; you don't even know how to blush! And so you will fall as others have fallen; when I punish you, that will be the end of you. I, the LORD, have spoken.
13“I wanted to gather my people, as a farmer gathers a harvest; but they are like a vine with no grapes, like a fig tree with no figs; even the leaves have withered. Therefore, I have allowed outsiders to take over the land.”8.13 Therefore… land; Hebrew unclear.
14“Why are we sitting still?” God's people ask. “Come on, we will run to the fortified cities, and die there. The LORD our God has condemned us to die; he has given us poison to drink, because we have sinned against him. 15We hoped for peace and a time of healing, but it was no use; terror came instead. 16Our enemies are already in the city of Dan; we hear the snorting of their horses. The whole land trembles when their horses neigh. Our enemies have come to destroy our land and everything in it, our city and all its people.”
17“Watch out!” the LORD says, “I am sending snakes among you, poisonous snakes that cannot be charmed, and they will bite you.”
18My sorrow cannot be healed;8.18 Probable text My sorrow… healed; Hebrew unclear.
I am sick at heart.
19Listen! Throughout the land
I hear my people crying out,
“Is the LORD no longer in Zion?
Is Zion's king no longer there?”
The LORD, their king, replies,
“Why have you made me angry by worshipping your idols
and by bowing down to your useless foreign gods?”
20The people cry out,
“The summer is gone, the harvest is over,
but we have not been saved.”
21My heart has been crushed
because my people are crushed;
I mourn; I am completely dismayed.
22Is there no medicine in Gilead?8.22 Gilead: A region east of the Jordan, famous for plants that were used for medicinal purposes.
Are there no doctors there?
Why, then, have my people not been healed?