Jeremiah's Call and Commission
1 1 The words of Jeremiah, the son of Hilki'ah, of the priests who were in An'athoth in the land of Benjamin, 2 to whom the word of the Lord came in the days of Josi'ah the son of Amon, king of Judah, in the thirteenth year of his reign. 3 It came also in the days of Jehoi'akim the son of Josi'ah, king of Judah, and until the end of the eleventh year of Zedeki'ah, the son of Josi'ah, king of Judah, until the captivity of Jerusalem in the fifth month.
4 Now the word of the Lord came to me saying, 5 "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations." 6 Then I said, "Ah, Lord GOD! Behold, I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth." 7 But the Lord said to me, "Do not say, 'I am only a youth'; for to all to whom I send you you shall go, and whatever I command you you shall speak. 8 Be not afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, says the Lord." 9 Then the Lord put forth his hand and touched my mouth; and the Lord said to me, "Behold, I have put my words in your mouth. 10 See, I have set you this day over nations and over kingdoms, to pluck up and to break down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant."
11 And the word of the Lord came to me, saying, "Jeremiah, what do you see?" And I said, "I see a rod of almond." 12 Then the Lord said to me, "You have seen well, for I am watching over my word to perform it." 13 The word of the Lord came to me a second time, saying, "What do you see?" And I said, "I see a boiling pot, facing away from the north." 14 Then the Lord said to me, "Out of the north evil shall break forth upon all the inhabitants of the land. 15 For, lo, I am calling all the tribes of the kingdoms of the north, says the Lord; and they shall come and every one shall set his throne at the entrance of the gates of Jerusalem, against all its walls round about, and against all the cities of Judah. 16 And I will utter my judgments against them, for all their wickedness in forsaking me; they have burned incense to other gods, and worshiped the works of their own hands. 17 But you, gird up your loins; arise, and say to them everything that I command you. Do not be dismayed by them, lest I dismay you before them. 18 And I, behold, I make you this day a fortified city, an iron pillar, and bronze walls, against the whole land, against the kings of Judah, its princes, its priests, and the people of the land. 19 They will fight against you; but they shall not prevail against you, for I am with you, says the Lord, to deliver you."
The LORD Pleads with Backsliding Israel
2 1 The word of the Lord came to me, saying, 2 "Go and proclaim in the hearing of Jerusalem, Thus says the Lord, I remember the devotion of your youth, your love as a bride, how you followed me in the wilderness, in a land not sown. 3 Israel was holy to the Lord, the first fruits of his harvest. All who ate of it became guilty; evil came upon them, says the Lord." 4 Hear the word of the Lord, O house of Jacob, and all the families of the house of Israel. 5 Thus says the Lord: "What wrong did your fathers find in me that they went far from me, and went after worthlessness, and became worthless? 6 They did not say, 'Where is the Lord who brought us up from the land of Egypt, who led us in the wilderness, in a land of deserts and pits, in a land of drought and deep darkness, in a land that none passes through, where no man dwells?' 7 And I brought you into a plentiful land to enjoy its fruits and its good things. But when you came in you defiled my land, and made my heritage an abomination. 8 The priests did not say, 'Where is the Lord?' Those who handle the law did not know me; the rulers transgressed against me; the prophets prophesied by Ba'al, and went after things that do not profit.
9 "Therefore I still contend with you, says the Lord, and with your children's children I will contend. 10 For cross to the coasts of Cyprus and see, or send to Kedar and examine with care; see if there has been such a thing. 11 Has a nation changed its gods, even though they are no gods? But my people have changed their glory for that which does not profit. 12 Be appalled, O heavens, at this, be shocked, be utterly desolate, says the Lord, 13 for my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.
14 "Is Israel a slave? Is he a homeborn servant? Why then has he become a prey? 15 The lions have roared against him, they have roared loudly. They have made his land a waste; his cities are in ruins, without inhabitant. 16 Moreover, the men of Memphis and Tah'panhes have broken the crown of your head. 17 Have you not brought this upon yourself by forsaking the Lord your God, when he led you in the way? 18 And now what do you gain by going to Egypt, to drink the waters of the Nile? Or what do you gain by going to Assyria, to drink the waters of the Euphra'tes? 19 Your wickedness will chasten you, and your apostasy will reprove you. Know and see that it is evil and bitter for you to forsake the Lord your God; the fear of me is not in you, says the Lord GOD of hosts.
20 "For long ago you broke your yoke and burst your bonds; and you said, 'I will not serve.' Yea, upon every high hill and under every green tree you bowed down as a harlot. 21 Yet I planted you a choice vine, wholly of pure seed. How then have you turned degenerate and become a wild vine? 22 Though you wash yourself with lye and use much soap, the stain of your guilt is still before me, says the Lord GOD. 23 How can you say, 'I am not defiled, I have not gone after the Ba'als'? Look at your way in the valley; know what you have done--a restive young camel interlacing her tracks, 24 a wild ass used to the wilderness, in her heat sniffing the wind! Who can restrain her lust? None who seek her need weary themselves; in her month they will find her. 25 Keep your feet from going unshod and your throat from thirst. But you said, 'It is hopeless, for I have loved strangers, and after them I will go.' 26 "As a thief is shamed when caught, so the house of Israel shall be shamed: they, their kings, their princes, their priests, and their prophets, 27 who say to a tree, 'You are my father,' and to a stone, 'You gave me birth.' For they have turned their back to me, and not their face. But in the time of their trouble they say, 'Arise and save us!' 28 But where are your gods that you made for yourself? Let them arise, if they can save you, in your time of trouble; for as many as your cities are your gods, O Judah.
29 "Why do you complain against me? You have all rebelled against me, says the Lord. 30 In vain have I smitten your children, they took no correction; your own sword devoured your prophets like a ravening lion. 31 And you, O generation, heed the word of the Lord. Have I been a wilderness to Israel, or a land of thick darkness? Why then do my people say, 'We are free, we will come no more to thee'? 32 Can a maiden forget her ornaments, or a bride her attire? Yet my people have forgotten me days without number. 33 "How well you direct your course to seek lovers! So that even to wicked women you have taught your ways. 34 Also on your skirts is found the lifeblood of guiltless poor; you did not find them breaking in. Yet in spite of all these things 35 you say, 'I am innocent; surely his anger has turned from me.' Behold, I will bring you to judgment for saying, 'I have not sinned.' 36 How lightly you gad about, changing your way! You shall be put to shame by Egypt as you were put to shame by Assyria. 37 From it too you will come away with your hands upon your head, for the Lord has rejected those in whom you trust, and you will not prosper by them.
3 1 "If a man divorces his wife and she goes from him and becomes another man's wife, will he return to her? Would not that land be greatly polluted? You have played the harlot with many lovers; and would you return to me? says the Lord. 2 Lift up your eyes to the bare heights, and see! Where have you not been lain with? By the waysides you have sat awaiting lovers like an Arab in the wilderness. You have polluted the land with your vile harlotry. 3 Therefore the showers have been withheld, and the spring rain has not come; yet you have a harlot's brow, you refuse to be ashamed. 4 Have you not just now called to me, 'My father, thou art the friend of my youth-- 5 will he be angry for ever, will he be indignant to the end?' Behold, you have spoken, but you have done all the evil that you could."
Israel and Judah Entreated to Repent
6 The Lord said to me in the days of King Josi'ah: "Have you seen what she did, that faithless one, Israel, how she went up on every high hill and under every green tree, and there played the harlot? 7 And I thought, 'After she has done all this she will return to me'; but she did not return, and her false sister Judah saw it. 8 She saw that for all the adulteries of that faithless one, Israel, I had sent her away with a decree of divorce; yet her false sister Judah did not fear, but she too went and played the harlot. 9 Because harlotry was so light to her, she polluted the land, committing adultery with stone and tree. 10 Yet for all this her false sister Judah did not return to me with her whole heart, but in pretense, says the Lord." 11 And the Lord said to me, "Faithless Israel has shown herself less guilty than false Judah.
12 Go, and proclaim these words toward the north, and say, 'Return, faithless Israel, says the Lord. I will not look on you in anger, for I am merciful, says the Lord; I will not be angry for ever. 13 Only acknowledge your guilt, that you rebelled against the Lord your God and scattered your favors among strangers under every green tree, and that you have not obeyed my voice, says the Lord. 14 Return, O faithless children, says the Lord; for I am your master; I will take you, one from a city and two from a family, and I will bring you to Zion. 15 "'And I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding. 16 And when you have multiplied and increased in the land, in those days, says the Lord, they shall no more say, "The ark of the covenant of the Lord." It shall not come to mind, or be remembered, or missed; it shall not be made again. 17 At that time Jerusalem shall be called the throne of the Lord, and all nations shall gather to it, to the presence of the Lord in Jerusalem, and they shall no more stubbornly follow their own evil heart. 18 In those days the house of Judah shall join the house of Israel, and together they shall come from the land of the north to the land that I gave your fathers for a heritage. 19 "'I thought how I would set you among my sons, and give you a pleasant land, a heritage most beauteous of all nations. And I thought you would call me, My Father, and would not turn from following me.
20 Surely, as a faithless wife leaves her husband, so have you been faithless to me, O house of Israel, says the Lord.'" 21 A voice on the bare heights is heard, the weeping and pleading of Israel's sons, because they have perverted their way, they have forgotten the Lord their God. 22 "Return, O faithless sons, I will heal your faithlessness." "Behold, we come to thee; for thou art the Lord our God. 23 Truly the hills are a delusion, the orgies on the mountains. Truly in the Lord our God is the salvation of Israel. 24 "But from our youth the shameful thing has devoured all for which our fathers labored, their flocks and their herds, their sons and their daughters. 25 Let us lie down in our shame, and let our dishonor cover us; for we have sinned against the Lord our God, we and our fathers, from our youth even to this day; and we have not obeyed the voice of the Lord our God."