The Broken Covenant
11 1 This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: 2 "Listen to the terms of this covenant and tell them to the people of Judah and to those who live in Jerusalem. 3 Tell them that this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: 'Cursed is the one who does not obey the terms of this covenant- 4 the terms I commanded your ancestors when I brought them out of Egypt, out of the iron-smelting furnace.' I said, 'Obey me and do everything I command you, and you will be my people, and I will be your God. 5 Then I will fulfill the oath I swore to your ancestors, to give them a land flowing with milk and honey'-the land you possess today." I answered, "Amen, Lord." 6 The Lord said to me, "Proclaim all these words in the towns of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem: 'Listen to the terms of this covenant and follow them. 7 From the time I brought your ancestors up from Egypt until today, I warned them again and again, saying, "Obey me." 8 But they did not listen or pay attention; instead, they followed the stubbornness of their evil hearts. So I brought on them all the curses of the covenant I had commanded them to follow but that they did not keep.' " 9 Then the Lord said to me, "There is a conspiracy among the people of Judah and those who live in Jerusalem. 10 They have returned to the sins of their ancestors, who refused to listen to my words. They have followed other gods to serve them. Both Israel and Judah have broken the covenant I made with their ancestors.
11 Therefore this is what the Lord says: 'I will bring on them a disaster they cannot escape. Although they cry out to me, I will not listen to them. 12 The towns of Judah and the people of Jerusalem will go and cry out to the gods to whom they burn incense, but they will not help them at all when disaster strikes. 13 You, Judah, have as many gods as you have towns; and the altars you have set up to burn incense to that shameful god Baal are as many as the streets of Jerusalem.' 14 "Do not pray for this people or offer any plea or petition for them, because I will not listen when they call to me in the time of their distress. 15 "What is my beloved doing in my temple as she, with many others, works out her evil schemes? Can consecrated meat avert your punishment? When you engage in your wickedness, then you rejoice. " 16 The Lord called you a thriving olive tree with fruit beautiful in form. But with the roar of a mighty storm he will set it on fire, and its branches will be broken. 17 The Lord Almighty, who planted you, has decreed disaster for you, because the people of both Israel and Judah have done evil and aroused my anger by burning incense to Baal.
The Plot against Jeremiah
18 Because the Lord revealed their plot to me, I knew it, for at that time he showed me what they were doing. 19 I had been like a gentle lamb led to the slaughter; I did not realize that they had plotted against me, saying, "Let us destroy the tree and its fruit; let us cut him off from the land of the living, that his name be remembered no more." 20 But you, Lord Almighty, who judge righteously and test the heart and mind, let me see your vengeance on them, for to you I have committed my cause. 21 Therefore this is what the Lord says about the people of Anathoth who are threatening to kill you, saying, "Do not prophesy in the name of the Lord or you will die by our hands"- 22 therefore this is what the Lord Almighty says: "I will punish them. Their young men will die by the sword, their sons and daughters by famine. 23 Not even a remnant will be left to them, because I will bring disaster on the people of Anathoth in the year of their punishment."
Jeremiah's Complaint and God's Answer
12 1 You are always righteous, Lord, when I bring a case before you. Yet I would speak with you about your justice: Why does the way of the wicked prosper? Why do all the faithless live at ease? 2 You have planted them, and they have taken root; they grow and bear fruit. You are always on their lips but far from their hearts. 3 Yet you know me, Lord; you see me and test my thoughts about you. Drag them off like sheep to be butchered! Set them apart for the day of slaughter! 4 How long will the land lie parched and the grass in every field be withered? Because those who live in it are wicked, the animals and birds have perished. Moreover, the people are saying, "He will not see what happens to us." 5 "If you have raced with men on foot and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses? If you stumble in safe country, how will you manage in the thickets by the Jordan? 6 Your relatives, members of your own family- even they have betrayed you; they have raised a loud cry against you. Do not trust them, though they speak well of you.
7 "I will forsake my house, abandon my inheritance; I will give the one I love into the hands of her enemies. 8 My inheritance has become to me like a lion in the forest. She roars at me; therefore I hate her. 9 Has not my inheritance become to me like a speckled bird of prey that other birds of prey surround and attack? Go and gather all the wild beasts; bring them to devour. 10 Many shepherds will ruin my vineyard and trample down my field; they will turn my pleasant field into a desolate wasteland. 11 It will be made a wasteland, parched and desolate before me; the whole land will be laid waste because there is no one who cares. 12 Over all the barren heights in the desert destroyers will swarm, for the sword of the Lord will devour from one end of the land to the other; no one will be safe. 13 They will sow wheat but reap thorns; they will wear themselves out but gain nothing. They will bear the shame of their harvest because of the Lord's fierce anger."
14 This is what the Lord says: "As for all my wicked neighbors who seize the inheritance I gave my people Israel, I will uproot them from their lands and I will uproot the people of Judah from among them. 15 But after I uproot them, I will again have compassion and will bring each of them back to their own inheritance and their own country. 16 And if they learn well the ways of my people and swear by my name, saying, 'As surely as the Lord lives'-even as they once taught my people to swear by Baal-then they will be established among my people. 17 But if any nation does not listen, I will completely uproot and destroy it," declares the Lord.
The Lesson from the Marred Girdle
13 1 This is what the Lord said to me: "Go and buy a linen belt and put it around your waist, but do not let it touch water." 2 So I bought a belt, as the Lord directed, and put it around my waist. 3 Then the word of the Lord came to me a second time: 4 "Take the belt you bought and are wearing around your waist, and go now to Perath and hide it there in a crevice in the rocks." 5 So I went and hid it at Perath, as the Lord told me. 6 Many days later the Lord said to me, "Go now to Perath and get the belt I told you to hide there." 7 So I went to Perath and dug up the belt and took it from the place where I had hidden it, but now it was ruined and completely useless. 8 Then the word of the Lord came to me: 9 "This is what the Lord says: 'In the same way I will ruin the pride of Judah and the great pride of Jerusalem. 10 These wicked people, who refuse to listen to my words, who follow the stubbornness of their hearts and go after other gods to serve and worship them, will be like this belt-completely useless! 11 For as a belt is bound around the waist, so I bound all the people of Israel and all the people of Judah to me,' declares the Lord, 'to be my people for my renown and praise and honor. But they have not listened.'
The Lesson from the Filled Bottles
12 "Say to them: 'This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: Every wineskin should be filled with wine.' And if they say to you, 'Don't we know that every wineskin should be filled with wine?' 13 then tell them, 'This is what the Lord says: I am going to fill with drunkenness all who live in this land, including the kings who sit on David's throne, the priests, the prophets and all those living in Jerusalem. 14 I will smash them one against the other, parents and children alike, declares the Lord. I will allow no pity or mercy or compassion to keep me from destroying them.' "
Captivity Threatened for Judah's Impenitence
15 Hear and pay attention, do not be arrogant, for the Lord has spoken. 16 Give glory to the Lord your God before he brings the darkness, before your feet stumble on the darkening hills. You hope for light, but he will turn it to utter darkness and change it to deep gloom. 17 If you do not listen, I will weep in secret because of your pride; my eyes will weep bitterly, overflowing with tears, because the Lord's flock will be taken captive. 18 Say to the king and to the queen mother, "Come down from your thrones, for your glorious crowns will fall from your heads." 19 The cities in the Negev will be shut up, and there will be no one to open them. All Judah will be carried into exile, carried completely away. 20 Look up and see those who are coming from the north. Where is the flock that was entrusted to you, the sheep of which you boasted? 21 What will you say when the Lord sets over you those you cultivated as your special allies? Will not pain grip you like that of a woman in labor?
22 And if you ask yourself, "Why has this happened to me?"- it is because of your many sins that your skirts have been torn off and your body mistreated. 23 Can an Ethiopian change his skin or a leopard its spots? Neither can you do good who are accustomed to doing evil. 24 "I will scatter you like chaff driven by the desert wind. 25 This is your lot, the portion I have decreed for you," declares the Lord, "because you have forgotten me and trusted in false gods. 26 I will pull up your skirts over your face that your shame may be seen- 27 your adulteries and lustful neighings, your shameless prostitution! I have seen your detestable acts on the hills and in the fields. Woe to you, Jerusalem! How long will you be unclean?"
11:15 Or "Could consecrated meat avert your punishment?" / "Then you would rejoice"
12:5 Or "you feel secure only"
12:5 Or "the flooding of"
13:4 Or possibly "to the Euphrates" ; similarly in verses 5-7
13:23 Hebrew "Cushite" (probably a person from the upper Nile region)