The Lesson from the Potter Working the Clay
18 1 The word which came to Jeremiah from the Lord, saying, 2 Up! go down to the potter's house, and there I will let my words come to your ears. 3 Then I went down to the potter's house, and he was doing his work on the stones. 4 And when the vessel, which he was forming out of earth, got damaged in the hand of the potter, he made it again into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to make it. 5 Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying, 6 O Israel, am I not able to do with you as this potter does? says the Lord. See, like earth in the potter's hand are you in my hands, O Israel. 7 Whenever I say anything about uprooting a nation or a kingdom, and smashing it and sending destruction on it; 8 If, in that very minute, that nation of which I was talking is turned away from its evil, my purpose of doing evil to them will be changed. 9 And whenever I say anything about building up a nation or a kingdom, and planting it; 10 If, in that very minute, it does evil in my eyes, going against my orders, then my good purpose, which I said I would do for them, will be changed.
11 Now, then, say to the men of Judah and to the people of Jerusalem, This is what the Lord has said: See, I am forming an evil thing against you, and designing a design against you: let every man come back now from his evil way, and let your ways and your doings be changed for the better. 12 But they will say, There is no hope: we will go on in our designs, and every one of us will do what he is moved by the pride of his evil heart to do. 13 So this is what the Lord has said: Make search among the nations and see who has had word of such things; the virgin of Israel has done a very shocking thing. 14 Will the white snow go away from the top of Sirion? will the cold waters flowing from the mountains become dry? 15 For my people have put me out of their memory, burning perfumes to that which is nothing; and because of this, I will put a cause of falling in their ways, even in the old roads, and will make them go on side-roads, in a way not lifted up; 16 Making their land a thing of wonder, causing sounds of surprise for ever; everyone who goes by will be overcome with wonder, shaking his head. 17 I will send them in flight, as from an east wind, before the attacker; I will let them see my back and not my face on the day of their downfall.
The People's Plots and Jeremiah's Prayer
18 Then they said, Come, let us make a design against Jeremiah; for teaching will never be cut off from the priest, or wisdom from the wise, or the word from the prophet. Come, let us make use of his words for an attack on him, and let us give attention with care to what he says. 19 Give thought to me, O Lord, and give ear to the voice of those who put forward a cause against me. 20 Is evil to be the reward of good? for they have made a deep hole for my soul. Keep in mind how I took my place before you, to say a good word for them so that your wrath might be turned away from them. 21 For this cause, let their children be without food, and give them over to the power of the sword; and let their wives be without children and become widows; let their men be overtaken by death, and their young men be put to the sword in the fight. 22 Let a cry for help go up from their houses, when you send an armed band on them suddenly: for they have made a hole in which to take me, and have put nets for my feet secretly. 23 But you, Lord, have knowledge of all the designs which they have made against my life; let not their evil-doing be covered or their sin be washed away from before your eyes: but let it be a cause of falling before you: so do to them in the time of your wrath.
The Lesson from the Broken Vessel
19 1 This is what the Lord has said: Go and get for money a potter's bottle made of earth, and take with you some of the responsible men of the people and of the priests; 2 And go out to the valley of the son of Hinnom, by the way into the door of broken pots, and there say in a loud voice the words which I will give you; 3 Say, Give ear to the word of the Lord, O kings of Judah and people of Jerusalem; the Lord of armies, the God of Israel, has said, See, I will send evil on this place which will be bitter to the ears of anyone hearing of it. 4 Because they have given me up, and made this place a strange place, burning perfumes in it to other gods, of whom they and their fathers and the kings of Judah had no knowledge; and they have made this place full of the blood of those who have done no wrong; 5 And they have put up the high places of the Baal, burning their sons in the fire; a thing which was not ordered by me, and it was never in my mind: 6 For this cause, see, a time is coming, says the Lord, when this place will no longer be named Topheth, or, The valley of the son of Hinnom, but, The valley of Death. 7 I will make the purpose of Judah and Jerusalem come to nothing in this place; I will have them put to the sword by their haters, and by the hands of those who have designs on their life; and their dead bodies I will give to be food for the birds of heaven and the beasts of the earth. 8 And I will make this town a thing of wonder and a cause of surprise; everyone who goes by will be overcome with wonder and make sounds of surprise, because of all its troubles. 9 I will make them take the flesh of their sons and the flesh of their daughters for food, they will be making a meal of one another, because of their bitter need and the cruel grip of their haters and those who have made designs against their life.
10 Then let the potter's bottle be broken before the eyes of the men who have gone with you, 11 And say to them, This is what the Lord of armies has said: Even so will this people and this town be broken by me, as a potter's bottle is broken and may not be put together again: and the bodies of the dead will be put in the earth in Topheth, till there is no more room. 12 This is what I will do to this place, says the Lord, and to its people, making this town like Topheth: 13 And the houses of Jerusalem, and the houses of the kings of Judah, which they have made unclean, will be like the place of Topheth, even all the houses on whose roofs perfumes have been burned to all the army of heaven, and drink offerings drained out to other gods. 14 Then Jeremiah came from Topheth, where the Lord had sent him to give the prophet's word; and he took his place in the open square of the Lord's house, and said to all the people, 15 The Lord of armies, the God of Israel, has said: See, I will send on this town and on all her towns all the evil which I have said; because they made their necks stiff, so that they might not give ear to my words.
The Curse on Pashur for Imprisoning Jeremiah
20 1 Now it came to the ears of Pashhur, the son of Immer the priest, who was chief in authority in the house of the Lord, that Jeremiah was saying these things; 2 And Pashhur gave blows to Jeremiah and had his feet chained in a framework of wood in the higher doorway of Benjamin, which was in the house of the Lord. 3 Then on the day after, Pashhur let Jeremiah loose. Then Jeremiah said to him, The Lord has given you the name of Magor-missabib (Cause-of-fear-on-every-side), not Pashhur. 4 For the Lord has said, See, I will make you a cause of fear to yourself and to all your friends: they will come to their death by the sword of their haters, and your eyes will see it: and I will give all Judah into the hands of the king of Babylon, and he will take them away prisoners into Babylon and put them to the sword. 5 And more than this, I will give all the wealth of this town and all its profits and all its things of value, even all the stores of the kings of Judah will I give into the hands of their haters, who will put violent hands on them and take them away to Babylon. 6 And you, Pashhur, and all who are in your house, will go away prisoners: you will come to Babylon, and there your body will be put to rest, you and all your friends, to whom you said false words.
7 O Lord, you have been false to me, and I was tricked; you are stronger than I, and have overcome me: I have become a thing to be laughed at all the day, everyone makes sport of me. 8 For every word I say is a cry for help; I say with a loud voice, Violent behaviour and wasting: because the word of the Lord is made a shame to me and a cause of laughing all the day. 9 And if I say, I will not keep him in mind, I will not say another word in his name; then it is in my heart like a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I am tired of keeping myself in, I am not able to do it. 10 For numbers of them say evil secretly in my hearing (there is fear on every side): they say, Come, let us give witness against him; all my nearest friends, who are watching for my fall, say, It may be that he will be taken by deceit, and we will get the better of him and give him punishment. 11 But the Lord is with me as a great one, greatly to be feared: so my attackers will have a fall, and they will not overcome me: they will be greatly shamed, because they have not done wisely, even with an unending shame, kept in memory for ever. 12 But, O Lord of armies, testing the upright and seeing the thoughts and the heart, let me see your punishment come on them; for I have put my cause before you. 13 Make melody to the Lord, give praise to the Lord: for he has made the soul of the poor man free from the hands of the evil-doers.
14 A curse on the day of my birth: let there be no blessing on the day when my mother had me. 15 A curse on the man who gave the news to my father, saying, You have a male child; making him very glad. 16 May that man be like the towns overturned by the Lord without mercy: let a cry for help come to his ears in the morning, and the sound of war in the middle of the day; 17 Because he did not put me to death before my birth took place: so my mother's body would have been my last resting-place, and she would have been with child for ever. 18 Why did I come from my mother's body to see pain and sorrow, so that my days might be wasted with shame?
The Destruction of Jerusalem Foretold
21 1 The word which came to Jeremiah from the Lord, when King Zedekiah sent to him Pashhur, the son of Malchiah, and Zephaniah, the son of Maaseiah the priest, saying, 2 Will you get directions from the Lord for us; for Nebuchadrezzar, king of Babylon, is making war against us; it may be that the Lord will do something for us like all the wonders he has done, and make him go away from us. 3 Then Jeremiah said to them, This is what you are to say to Zedekiah: 4 The Lord God of Israel has said, See, I am turning back the instruments of war in your hands, with which you are fighting against the king of Babylon and the Chaldaeans, who are outside the walls and shutting you in; and I will get them together inside this town. 5 And I myself will be fighting against you with an outstretched hand and with a strong arm, even with angry feeling and passion and in great wrath. 6 And I will send a great disease on the people living in this town, on man and on beast, causing their death. 7 And after that, says the Lord, I will give up Zedekiah, king of Judah, and his servants and his people, even those in the town who have not come to their end from the disease and the sword and from need of food, into the hands of Nebuchadrezzar, king of Babylon, and into the hands of their haters, and into the hands of those desiring their death: he will put them to the sword; he will not let anyone get away, he will have no pity or mercy.
8 And to this people you are to say, The Lord has said, See, I put before you the way of life and the way of death. 9 He who keeps in this town will come to his death by the sword and through need of food and through disease; but he who goes out and gives himself up to the Chaldaeans who are shutting you in, will go on living, and will keep his life safe. 10 For my face is turned to this town for evil and not for good, says the Lord: it will be given into the hands of the king of Babylon, and he will have it burned with fire. 11 About the family of the king of Judah. Give ear to the word of the Lord; 12 O family of David, this is what the Lord has said: Do what is right in the morning, and make free from the hands of the cruel one him whose goods have been violently taken away, or my wrath will go out like fire, burning so that no one may put it out, because of the evil of your doings. 13 See, I am against you, you who are living on the rock of the valley, says the Lord; you who say, Who will come down against us? or who will get into our houses? 14 I will send punishment on you in keeping with the fruit of your doings, says the Lord: and I will put a fire in her woodlands, burning up everything round about her.
Prophecies against the Kings of Judah
22 1 This is what the Lord has said: Go down to the house of the king of Judah and there give him this word, 2 And say, Give ear to the word of the Lord, O king of Judah, seated on the seat of David, you and your servants and your people who come in by these doors. 3 This is what the Lord has said: Do what is right, judging uprightly, and make free from the hands of the cruel one him whose goods have been violently taken away: do no wrong and be not violent to the man from a strange country and the child without a father and the widow, and let not those who have done no wrong be put to death in this place. 4 For if you truly do this, then there will come in through the doors of this house kings seated on the seat of David, going in carriages and on horseback, he and his servants and his people 5 But if you do not give ear to these words, I give you my oath by myself, says the Lord, that this house will become a waste. 6 For this is what the Lord has said about the family of the king of Judah: You are Gilead to me, and the top of Lebanon: but, truly, I will make you waste, with towns unpeopled. 7 And I will make ready those who will send destruction on you, everyone armed for war: by them your best cedar-trees will be cut down and put in the fire. 8 And nations from all sides will go past this town, and every man will say to his neighbour, Why has the Lord done such things to this great town? 9 And they will say, Because they gave up the agreement of the Lord their God, and became worshippers and servants of other gods.
10 Let there be no weeping for the dead, and make no songs of grief for him: but make bitter weeping for him who has gone away, for he will never come back or see again the country of his birth. 11 For this is what the Lord has said about Shallum, the son of Josiah, king of Judah, who became king in place of Josiah his father, who went out from this place: He will never come back there again: 12 But death will come to him in the place where they have taken him away prisoner, and he will never see this land again. 13 A curse is on him who is building his house by wrongdoing, and his rooms by doing what is not right; who makes use of his neighbour without payment, and gives him nothing for his work; 14 Who says, I will make a wide house for myself, and rooms of great size, and has windows cut out, and has it roofed with cedar and painted with bright red. 15 Are you to be a king because you make more use of cedar than your father? did not your father take food and drink and do right, judging in righteousness, and then it was well for him? 16 He was judge in the cause of the poor and those in need; then it was well. Was not this to have knowledge of me? says the Lord. 17 But your eyes and your heart are fixed only on profit for yourself, on causing the death of him who has done no wrong, and on violent and cruel acts. 18 So this is what the Lord has said about Jehoiakim, the son of Josiah, king of Judah: They will make no weeping for him, saying, Ah my brother! or, Ah sister! they will make no weeping for him, saying, Ah lord! or, Ah his glory! 19 They will do to him what they do to the dead body of an ass; his body will be pulled out and placed on the earth outside the doors of Jerusalem.
20 Go up to Lebanon and give a cry; let your voice be loud in Bashan, crying out from Abarim; for all your lovers have come to destruction 21 My word came to you in the time of your well-being; but you said, I will not give ear. This has been your way from your earliest years, you did not give attention to my voice. 22 All the keepers of your sheep will be food for the wind, and your lovers will be taken away prisoners: truly, then you will be shamed and unhonoured because of all your evil-doing. 23 O you who are living in Lebanon, making your living-place in the cedars, how greatly to be pitied will you be when pains come on you, as on a woman in childbirth! 24 By my life, says the Lord, even if Coniah, the son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, was the ring on my right hand, even from there I would have you pulled off; 25 And I will give you into the hands of those desiring your death, and into the hands of those whom you are fearing, even into the hands of Nebuchadrezzar, king of Babylon, and into the hands of the Chaldaeans. 26 I will send you out, and your mother who gave you birth, into another country not the land of your birth; and there death will come to you. 27 But to the land on which their soul's desire is fixed, they will never come back. 28 Is this man Coniah a broken vessel of no value? is he a vessel in which there is no pleasure? why are they violently sent out, he and his seed, into a land which is strange to them? 29 O earth, earth, earth, give ear to the word of the Lord! 30 The Lord has said, Let this man be recorded as having no children, a man who will not do well in all his life: for no man of his seed will do well, seated on the seat of the kingdom of David and ruling again in Judah.