Jeremiah's Call and Commission
1 1 The words of Jeremiah, the son of Hilkiah, of the priests who were in Anathoth in the land of Benjamin: 2 To whom the word of the Lord came in the days of Josiah, the son of Amon, king of Judah, in the thirteenth year of his rule. 3 And it came again in the days of Jehoiakim, the son of Josiah, king of Judah, up to the eleventh year of Zedekiah, the son of Josiah, king of Judah; till Jerusalem was taken away in the fifth month.
4 Now the word of the Lord came to me, saying, 5 Before you were formed in the body of your mother I had knowledge of you, and before your birth I made you holy; I have given you the work of being a prophet to the nations. 6 Then said I, O Lord God! see, I have no power of words, for I am a child. 7 But the Lord said to me, Do not say, I am a child: for wherever I send you, you are to go, and whatever I give you orders to say, you are to say. 8 Have no fear because of them: for I am with you, to keep you safe, says the Lord. 9 Then the Lord put out his hand, touching my mouth; and the Lord said to me, See, I have put my words in your mouth: 10 See, this day I have put you over the nations and over the kingdoms, for uprooting and smashing down, for destruction and overturning, for building up and planting.
11 Again the word of the Lord came to me, saying, Jeremiah, what do you see? And I said, I see a branch of an almond-tree. 12 Then the Lord said to me, You have seen well: for I keep watch over my word to give effect to it. 13 And the word of the Lord came to me a second time, saying, What do you see? And I said, I see a boiling pot, and its face is from the north. 14 Then the Lord said to me, Out of the north evil will come, bursting out on all the people of the land. 15 For see, I will send for all the families of the kingdoms of the north, says the Lord; and they will come, everyone placing his high seat at the way into Jerusalem, and against its walls on every side, and against all the towns of Judah. 16 And I will give my decision against them on account of all their evil-doing; because they have given me up, burning perfumes to other gods and worshipping the works of their hands. 17 So make yourself ready, and go and say to them everything I give you orders to say: do not be overcome by fear of them, or I will send fear on you before them. 18 For see, this day have I made you a walled town, and an iron pillar, and walls of brass, against all the land, against the kings of Judah, against its captains, against its priests, and against the people of the land. 19 They will be fighting against you, but they will not overcome you: for I am with you, says the Lord, to give you salvation.
The LORD Pleads with Backsliding Israel
2 1 And the word of the Lord came to me, saying, 2 Go and say in the ears of Jerusalem, The Lord says, I still keep the memory of your kind heart when you were young, and your love when you became my bride; how you went after me in the waste of sand, in an unplanted land. 3 Israel was holy to the Lord, the first-fruits of his increase: all who made attacks on him were judged as wrongdoers, evil came on them, says the Lord. 4 Give ear to the words of the Lord, O sons of Jacob and all the families of Israel: 5 These are the words of the Lord: What evil have your fathers seen in me that they have gone far from me, and, walking after what is false, have become false? 6 And they never said, Where is the Lord, who took us up out of the land of Egypt; who was our guide through the waste of sand, through an unplanted land full of deep holes, through a dry land of deep shade, which no one went through and where no man was living? 7 And I took you into a fertile land, where you were living on its fruit and its wealth; but when you came in, you made my land unclean, and made my heritage a disgusting thing. 8 The priests did not say, Where is the Lord? and those who were expert in the law had no knowledge of me: and the rulers did evil against me, and the prophets became prophets of the Baal, going after things without value.
9 For this reason, I will again put forward my cause against you, says the Lord, even against you and against your children's children. 10 For go over to the sea-lands of Kittim and see; send to Kedar and give deep thought to it; and see if there has ever been such a thing. 11 Has any nation ever made a change in their gods, though they are no gods? but my people have given up their glory in exchange for what is of no profit. 12 Be full of wonder, O heavens, at this; be overcome with fear, be completely waste, says the Lord. 13 For my people have done two evils; they have given up me, the fountain of living waters, and have made for themselves water-holes, cut out from the rock, broken water-holes, of no use for storing water.
14 Is Israel a servant? has he been a house-servant from birth? why has he been made waste? 15 The young lions have made an outcry against him with a loud voice: they have made his land waste; his towns are burned up, with no one living in them. 16 Even the children of Noph and Tahpanhes have put shame on you. 17 Has not this come on you because you have given up the Lord your God, who was your guide by the way? 18 And now, what have you to do on the way to Egypt, to get your drink from the waters of the Nile? or what have you to do on the way to Assyria, to get your drink from the waters of the River? 19 The evil you yourselves have done will be your punishment, your errors will be your judge: be certain then, and see that it is an evil and a bitter thing to give up the Lord your God, and no longer to be moved by fear of me, says the Lord, the Lord of armies.
20 For in the past, your yoke was broken by your hands and your cords parted; and you said, I will not be your servant; for on every high hill and under every branching tree, your behaviour was like that of a loose woman 21 But when you were planted by me, you were a noble vine, in every way a true seed: how then have you been changed into the branching plant of a strange vine? 22 For even if you are washed with soda and take much soap, still your evil-doing is marked before me, says the Lord God. 23 How are you able to say, I am not unclean, I have not gone after the Baals? see your way in the valley, be clear about what you have done: you are a quick-footed camel twisting her way in and out; 24 An untrained ass, used to the waste land, breathing up the wind in her desire; at her time, who is able to send her away? all those who are looking for her will have no need to make themselves tired; in her month they will get her. 25 Do not let your foot be without shoes, or your throat dry from need of water: but you said, There is no hope: no, for I have been a lover of strange gods, and after them I will go. 26 As the thief is shamed when he is taken, so is Israel shamed; they, their kings and their rulers, their priests and their prophets; 27 Who say to a tree, You are my father; and to a stone, You have given me life: for their backs have been turned to me, not their faces: but in the time of their trouble they will say, Up! and be our saviour. 28 But where are the gods you have made for yourselves? let them come, if they are able to give you salvation in the time of your trouble: for the number of your gods is as the number of your towns, O Judah.
29 Why will you put forward your cause against me? You have all done evil against me, says the Lord. 30 I gave your children blows to no purpose; they got no good from training: your sword has been the destruction of your prophets, like a death-giving lion. 31 O generation, see the word of the Lord. Have I been a waste land to Israel? or a land of dark night? why do my people say, We have got loose, we will not come to you again? 32 Is it possible for a virgin to put out of her memory her ornaments, or a bride her robes? but my people have put me out of their memories for unnumbered days. 33 With what care are your ways ordered when you are looking for love! so ... your ways. 34 And in the skirts of your robe may be seen the life-blood of those who have done no wrong: ... 35 And still you said, I have done no wrong; truly, his wrath is turned away from me. See, I will take up the cause against you, because you say, I have done no wrong. 36 Why do you go about so much for the purpose of changing your way? you will be shamed on account of Egypt, as you were shamed on account of Assyria. 37 Truly, you will go out from him with your hands on your head: for the Lord has given up those in whom you have put your faith, and they will be of no help to you.
3 1 They say, If a man puts away his wife and she goes from him and becomes another man's, will he go back to her again? will not that land have been made unclean? but though you have been acting like a loose woman with a number of lovers, will you now come back to me? says the Lord. 2 Let your eyes be lifted up to the open hilltops, and see; where have you not been taken by your lovers? You have been seated waiting for them by the wayside like an Arabian in the waste land; you have made the land unclean with your loose ways and your evil-doing. 3 So the showers have been kept back, and there has been no spring rain; still your brow is the brow of a loose woman, you will not let yourself be shamed. 4 Will you not, from this time, make your prayer to me, crying, My father, you are the friend of my early years? 5 Will he be angry for ever? will he keep his wrath to the end? These things you have said, and have done evil and have had your way.
Israel and Judah Entreated to Repent
6 And the Lord said to me in the days of Josiah the king, Have you seen what Israel, turning away from me, has done? She has gone up on every high mountain and under every branching tree, acting like a loose woman there. 7 And I said, After she has done all these things she will come back to me; but she did not. And her false sister Judah saw it. 8 And though she saw that, because Israel, turning away from me, had been untrue to me, I had put her away and given her a statement in writing ending the relation between us, still Judah, her false sister, had no fear, but went and did the same. 9 So that through all her loose behaviour the land became unclean, and she was untrue, giving herself to stones and trees. 10 But for all this, her false sister Judah has not come back to me with all her heart, but with deceit, says the Lord. 11 And the Lord said to me, Israel in her turning away is seen to be more upright than false Judah.
12 Go, and give out these words to the north, and say, Come back, O Israel, though you have been turned away from me, says the Lord; my face will not be against you in wrath: for I am full of mercy, says the Lord, I will not be angry for ever. 13 Only be conscious of your sin, the evil you have done against the Lord your God; you have gone with strange men under every branching tree, giving no attention to my voice, says the Lord. 14 Come back, O children who are turned away, says the Lord; for I am a husband to you, and I will take you, one from a town and two from a family, and will make you come to Zion; 15 And I will give you keepers, pleasing to my heart, who will give you your food with knowledge and wisdom. 16 And it will come about, when your numbers are increased in the land, in those days, says the Lord, that they will no longer say, The ark of the agreement of the Lord: it will not come into their minds, they will not have any memory of it, or be conscious of the loss of it, and it will not be made again. 17 At that time Jerusalem will be named the seat of the Lord's kingdom; and all the nations will come together to it, to the name of the Lord, to Jerusalem: and no longer will their steps be guided by the purposes of their evil hearts. 18 In those days the family of Judah will go with the family of Israel, and they will come together out of the land of the north into the land which I gave for a heritage to your fathers. 19 But I said, How am I to put you among the children, and give you a desired land, a heritage of glory among the armies of the nations? and I said, You are to say to me, My father; and not be turned away from me.
20 Truly, as a wife is false to her husband, so have you been false to me, O Israel, says the Lord. 21 A voice is sounding on the open hilltops, the weeping and the prayers of the children of Israel; because their way is twisted, they have not kept the Lord their God in mind. 22 Come back, you children who have been turned away, and I will take away your desire for wandering. See, we have come to you, for you are the Lord our God. 23 Truly, the hills, and the noise of an army on the mountains, are a false hope: truly, in the Lord our God is the salvation of Israel. 24 But the Baal has taken all the work of our fathers from our earliest days; their flocks and their herds, their sons and their daughters. 25 Let us be stretched on the earth in our downfall, covering ourselves with our shame: for we have been sinners against the Lord our God, we and our fathers, from our earliest years even till this day: and we have not given ear to the voice of the Lord our God.