4 1 If you will come back, O Israel, says the Lord, you will come back to me: and if you will put away your disgusting ways, you will not be sent away from before me. 2 And you will take your oath, By the living Lord, in good faith and wisdom and righteousness; and the nations will make use of you as a blessing, and in you will they take a pride.
3 For this is what the Lord says to the men of Judah and to Jerusalem: Get your unworked land ploughed up, do not put in your seeds among thorns. 4 Undergo a circumcision of the heart, you men of Judah and people of Jerusalem: or my wrath may come out like fire, burning so that no one is able to put it out, because of the evil of your doings.
Judah Threatened with Invasion
5 Say openly in Judah, give it out in Jerusalem, and say, Let the horn be sounded in the land: crying out in a loud voice, Come together, and let us go into the walled towns. 6 Put up a flag for a sign to Zion: go in flight so that you may be safe, waiting no longer: for I will send evil from the north, and a great destruction. 7 A lion has gone up from his secret place in the woods, and one who makes waste the nations is on his way; he has gone out from his place, to make your land unpeopled, so that your towns will be made waste, with no man living in them. 8 For this put on haircloth, with weeping and loud crying: for the burning wrath of the Lord is not turned back from us. 9 And it will come about in that day, says the Lord, that the heart of the king will be dead in him, and the hearts of the rulers; and the priests will be overcome with fear, and the prophets with wonder. 10 Then said I, Ah, Lord God! your words were not true when you said to this people and to Jerusalem, You will have peace; when the sword has come even to the soul. 11 At that time it will be said to this people and to Jerusalem, A burning wind from the open hilltops in the waste land is blowing on the daughter of my people, not for separating or cleaning the grain; 12 A full wind will come for me: and now I will give my decision against them. 13 See, he will come up like the clouds, and his war-carriages like the storm-wind: his horses are quicker than eagles. Sorrow is ours, for destruction has come on us. 14 O Jerusalem, make your heart clean from evil, so that you may have salvation. How long are evil purposes to have a resting-place in you? 15 For a voice is sounding from Dan, giving out evil from the hills of Ephraim: 16 Make this come to the minds of the nations, make a statement openly against Jerusalem, that attackers are coming from a far country and their voices will be loud against the towns of Judah. 17 Like keepers of a field they are against her on every side; because she has been fighting against me, says the Lord. 18 Your ways and your doings have made these things come on you; this is your sin; truly it is bitter, going deep into your heart.
19 My soul, my soul! I am pained to my inmost heart; my heart is troubled in me; I am not able to be quiet, because the sound of the horn, the note of war, has come to my ears. 20 News is given of destruction on destruction; all the land is made waste: suddenly my tents, straight away my curtains, are made waste. 21 How long will I go on seeing the flag and hearing the sound of the war-horn? 22 For my people are foolish, they have no knowledge of me; they are evil-minded children, without sense, all of them: they are wise in evil-doing, but have no knowledge of doing good. 23 Looking at the earth, I saw that it was waste and without form; and to the heavens, that they had no light. 24 Looking at the mountains, I saw them shaking, and all the hills were moved about. 25 Looking, I saw that there was no man, and all the birds of heaven had gone in flight. 26 Looking, I saw that the fertile field was a waste, and all its towns were broken down before the Lord and before his burning wrath. 27 For this is what the Lord has said: All the land will become a waste; I will make destruction complete. 28 The earth will be weeping for this, and the heavens on high will be black: because I have said it, and I will not go back from it; it is my purpose, and it will not be changed. 29 All the land is in flight because of the noise of the horsemen and the bowmen; they have taken cover in the woodland and up on the rocks: every town has been given up, not a man is living in them. 30 And you, when you are made waste, what will you do? Though you are clothed in red, though you make yourself beautiful with ornaments of gold, though you make your eyes wide with paint, it is for nothing that you make yourself fair; your lovers have no more desire for you, they have designs on your life. 31 A voice has come to my ears like the voice of a woman in birth-pains, the pain of one giving birth to her first child, the voice of the daughter of Zion, fighting for breath, stretching out her hands, saying, Now sorrow is mine! for my strength is gone from me before the takers of life.
The Sins of Jerusalem and Judah
5 1 Go quickly through the streets of Jerusalem, and see now, and get knowledge, and make a search in her wide places if there is a man, if there is one in her who is upright, who keeps faith; and she will have my forgiveness. 2 And though they say, By the living Lord; truly their oaths are false. 3 O Lord, do not your eyes see good faith? you have given them punishment, but they were not troubled; you have sent destruction on them, but they did not take your teaching to heart: they have made their faces harder than a rock; they would not come back. 4 Then I said, But these are the poor: they are foolish, for they have no knowledge of the way of the Lord or of the behaviour desired by their God. 5 I will go to the great men and have talk with them; for they have knowledge of the way of the Lord and of the behaviour desired by their God. But as for these, their one purpose is a broken yoke and burst bands. 6 And so a lion from the woods will put them to death, a wolf of the waste land will make them waste, a leopard will keep watch on their towns, and everyone who goes out from them will be food for the beasts; because of the great number of their sins and the increase of their wrongdoing. 7 How is it possible for you to have my forgiveness for this? your children have given me up, taking their oaths by those who are no gods: when I had given them food in full measure, they were false to their wives, taking their pleasure in the houses of loose women. 8 They were full of desire, like horses after a meal of grain: everyone went after his neighbour's wife. 9 Am I not to give punishment for these things? says the Lord: will not my soul take payment from such a nation as this?
10 Go up against her vines and make waste; let the destruction be complete: take away her branches, for they are not the Lord's. 11 For the people of Israel and the people of Judah have been very false to me, says the Lord. 12 They would have nothing to do with the Lord, saying, He will do nothing, and no evil will come to us; we will not see the sword or be short of food: 13 And the prophets will become wind, and the word is not in them; so it will be done to them. 14 For this reason the Lord, the God of armies, has said: Because you have said this, I will make my words in your mouth a fire, and this people wood, and they will be burned up by it. 15 See, I will send you a nation from far away, O people of Israel, says the Lord; a strong nation and an old nation, a nation whose language is strange to you, so that you may not get the sense of their words. 16 Their arrows give certain death, they are all men of war. 17 They will take all the produce of your fields, which would have been food for your sons and your daughters: they will take your flocks and your herds: they will take all your vines and your fig-trees: and with the sword they will make waste your walled towns in which you put your faith. 18 But even in those days, says the Lord, I will not let your destruction be complete. 19 And it will come about, when you say, Why has the Lord our God done all these things to us? that you will say to them, As you gave me up, making yourselves servants to strange gods in your land, so will you be servants to strange men in a land which is not yours.
20 Say this openly in Jacob and give it out in Judah, saying, 21 Give ear now to this, O foolish people without sense; who have eyes but see nothing, and ears without the power of hearing: 22 Have you no fear of me? says the Lord; will you not be shaking with fear before me, who have put the sand as a limit for the sea, by an eternal order, so that it may not go past it? and though it is ever in motion, it is not able to have its way; though the sound of its waves is loud, they are not able to go past it. 23 But the heart of this people is uncontrolled and turned away from me; they are broken loose and gone. 24 And they do not say in their hearts, Now let us give worship to our God, who gives the rain, the winter and the spring rain, at the right time; who keeps for us the ordered weeks of the grain-cutting.
25 Through your evil-doing these things have been turned away, and your sins have kept back good from you. 26 For there are sinners among my people: they keep watch, like men watching for birds; they put a net and take men in it. 27 As the fowl-house is full of birds, so are their houses full of deceit: for this reason they have become great and have got wealth. 28 They have become fat and strong: they have gone far in works of evil: they give no support to the cause of the child without a father, so that they may do well; they do not see that the poor man gets his rights. 29 Am I not to give punishment for these things? says the Lord: will not my soul take payment from such a nation as this? 30 A thing of wonder and fear has come about in the land; 31 The prophets give false words and the priests give decisions by their direction; and my people are glad to have it so: and what will you do in the end?
The Doom of Jerusalem and Judah
6 1 Go in flight out of Jerusalem, so that you may be safe, you children of Benjamin, and let the horn be sounded in Tekoa, and the flag be lifted up on Beth-haccherem: for evil is looking out from the north, and a great destruction. 2 The fair and delicate one, the daughter of Zion, will be cut off by my hand. 3 Keepers of sheep with their flocks will come to her; they will put up their tents round her; everyone will get food in his place. 4 Make war ready against her; up! let us go up when the sun is high. Sorrow is ours! for the day is turned and the shades of evening are stretched out. 5 Up! let us go up by night, and send destruction on her great houses. 6 For this is what the Lord of armies has said: Let trees be cut down and an earthwork be placed against Jerusalem: sorrow on the false town! inside her there is nothing but cruel ways. 7 As the spring keeps its waters cold, so she keeps her evil in her: the sound of cruel and violent behaviour is in her; before me at all times are disease and wounds. 8 Undergo teaching, O Jerusalem, or my soul will be turned away from you, and I will make you a waste, an unpeopled land.
9 This is what the Lord of armies has said: Everything will be taken from the rest of Israel as the last grapes are taken from the vine; let your hand be turned to the small branches, like one pulling off grapes. 10 To whom am I to give word, witnessing so that they may take note? see, their ears are stopped, and they are not able to give attention: see, the word of the Lord has been a cause of shame to them, they have no delight in it. 11 For this reason I am full of the wrath of the Lord, I am tired of keeping it in: may it be let loose on the children in the street, and on the band of the young men together: for even the husband with his wife will be taken, the old man with him who is full of days. 12 And their houses will be handed over to others, their fields and their wives together: for my hand will be stretched out against the people of the land, says the Lord. 13 For from the least of them even to the greatest, everyone is given up to getting money; from the prophet even to the priest, everyone is working deceit. 14 And they have made little of the wounds of my people, saying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace. 15 Let them be put to shame because they have done disgusting things. They had no shame, they were not able to become red with shame: so they will come down with those who are falling: when my punishment comes on them, they will be made low, says the Lord. 16 This is what the Lord has said: Take your place looking out on the ways; make search for the old roads, saying, Where is the good way? and go in it that you may have rest for your souls. But they said, We will not go in it. 17 And I put watchmen over you, saying, Give attention to the sound of the horn; but they said, We will not give attention.
18 So then, give ear, you nations, and ... 19 Give ear, O earth: see, I will make evil come on this people, even the fruit of their thoughts, because they have not given attention to my words, and they would have nothing to do with my law. 20 To what purpose does sweet perfume come to me from Sheba, and spices from a far country? your burned offerings give me no pleasure, your offerings of beasts are not pleasing to me. 21 For this reason the Lord has said, See, I will put stones in the way of this people: and the fathers and the sons together will go falling over them; the neighbour and his friend will come to destruction. 22 The Lord has said, See, a people is coming from the north country, a great nation will be put in motion from the inmost parts of the earth. 23 Bows and spears are in their hands; they are cruel and have no mercy; their voice is like the thunder of the sea, and they go on horses; everyone in his place like men going to the fight, against you, O daughter of Zion. 24 The news of it has come to our ears; our hands have become feeble: trouble has come on us and pain, like the pain of a woman in childbirth. 25 Go not out into the field or by the way; for there is the sword of the attacker, and fear on every side. 26 O daughter of my people, put on haircloth, rolling yourself in the dust: give yourself to sorrow, as for an only son, with most bitter cries of grief; for he who makes waste will come on us suddenly. 27 I have made you a tester among my people, so that you may have knowledge of their way and put it to the test. 28 All of them are turned away, going about with false stories; they are brass and iron: they are all workers of deceit. 29 The blower is blowing strongly, the lead is burned away in the fire: they go on heating the metal to no purpose, for the evil-doers are not taken away. 30 They will be named waste silver, because the Lord has given them up.