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A Warning for the People of Jerusalem

The Lord said:

Run for your lives,
people of Benjamin.
    Get out of Jerusalem.
Sound a trumpet in Tekoa
and light a signal fire
    in Beth-Haccherem.
Soon you will be struck
    by disaster from the north.
Jerusalem is a lovely pasture,
but shepherds will surround it
    and divide it up,
then let their flocks
    eat all the grass.[a]
Kings will tell their troops,
    “If we reach Jerusalem
in the morning,
    we’ll attack at noon.
But if we arrive later,
we’ll attack after dark
    and destroy its fortresses.”

I am the Lord All-Powerful,
and I will command these armies
    to chop down trees
and build a ramp up to the walls
    of Jerusalem.

People of Jerusalem,
I must punish you
    for your injustice.
Evil pours from your city
    like water from a spring.
Sounds of violent crimes
    echo within your walls;
victims are everywhere,
    wounded and dying.

Listen to me,
you people of Jerusalem
    and Judah.
I will abandon you,
and your land will become
    an empty desert.
I will tell your enemies
to leave your nation bare
    like a vine stripped of grapes.
I, the Lord All-Powerful,
    have spoken.

Jeremiah’s Anger

10 I have told the people
that you, Lord,
    will punish them,
but they just laugh
    and refuse to listen.
11 Your anger against Judah
    flames up inside me,
and I can’t hold it in
    much longer.

The Lord’s Anger Will Sweep Everyone Away

The Lord answered:

Don’t hold back my anger!
Let it sweep away everyone—
    the children at play
and all adults,
    young and old alike.
12 I’ll punish the people of Judah
    and give to others
their houses and fields,
    as well as their wives.
I, the Lord, have spoken.

13 Everyone is greedy and dishonest,
    whether poor or rich.
Even the prophets and priests
    cannot be trusted.
14 All they ever offer
to my deeply wounded people
    are empty hopes for peace.
15 They should be ashamed
of their disgusting sins,
    but they don’t even blush.
And so, when I punish Judah,
they will end up on the ground,
    dead like everyone else.
I, the Lord, have spoken.

The People of Judah Rejected God’s Way of Life

16 The Lord said:

My people, when you stood
    at the crossroads,
I told you, “Follow the road
    your ancestors took,
and you will find peace.”
    But you refused.
17 I also sent prophets
    to warn you of danger,
but when they sounded the alarm,
    you paid no attention.
18 So I tell all nations on earth,
    “Watch what I will do!
19 My people ignored me
    and rejected my laws.
They planned to do evil,
and now the evil they planned
    will happen to them.”

20 People of Judah,
you bring me incense from Sheba
    and spices from distant lands.
You offer sacrifices of all kinds.
But why bother?
    I hate these gifts of yours!
21 So I will put stumbling blocks
    in your path,
and everyone will die,
including parents and children,
    neighbors and friends.

An Army from the North

22 The Lord said,

“Look toward the north,
where a powerful nation
    has prepared for war.
23 Its well-armed troops are cruel
    and never show mercy.
Their galloping horses sound
like ocean waves
    pounding on the shore.
This army will attack you,
    lovely Jerusalem.”

24 Then the people said,

“Just hearing about them
    makes us tremble with fear,
and we twist and turn in pain
    like a woman giving birth.”

25 The Lord said,

“Don’t work in your fields
    or walk along the roads.
It’s too dangerous.
The enemy is well armed
26     and attacks without warning.
So mourn, my people, as though
    your only child had died.
Wear clothes made of sackcloth[b]
    and roll in the ash pile.”

The Lord’s People Must Be Tested

The Lord said:

27 Jeremiah, test my people
    as though they were metal.
28 And you’ll find they are hard
    like bronze and iron.
They are stubborn rebels,
    always spreading lies.
29 Silver can be purified
    in a fiery furnace,
30 but my people are too wicked
    to be made pure,
and so I have rejected them.


  1. 6.2, 3 Jerusalem. . . grass: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
  2. 6.26 sackcloth: See the note at 4.8.

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