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 Yahweh came in the days of Josiah the son of Amon, king of Judah, in the thirteenth year of his reign. 3 It came also in the days of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah, to the end of the eleventh year of Zedekiah, the son of Josiah, king of Judah, to the carrying away of Jerusalem captive in the fifth month.
4 Now the word of Yahweh came to me, saying, 5 “Before I formed you in the belly, I knew you. Before you came forth out of the womb, I sanctified you. I have appointed you a prophet to the nations.” 6 Then I said, “Ah, Lord Yahweh! Behold, I don’t know how to speak; for I am a child.” 7 But Yahweh said to me, Don’t say, I am a child; for to whoever I shall send you, you shall go, and whatever I shall command you, you shall speak. 8 Don’t be afraid because of them; for I am with you to deliver you, says Yahweh. 9 Then Yahweh put forth his hand, and touched my mouth; and Yahweh said to me, Behold, I have put my words in your mouth: 10 behold, I have this day set you over the nations and over the kingdoms, to pluck up and to break down and to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant.
11 Moreover the word of Yahweh came to me, saying, Jeremiah, what do you see? I said, I see a rod of an almond tree. 12 Then said Yahweh to me, You have seen well: for I watch over my word to perform it. 13 The word of Yahweh came to me the second time, saying, What do you see? I said, I see a boiling caldron; and its face is from the north. 14 Then Yahweh said to me, Out of the north evil shall break forth on all the inhabitants of the land. 15 For, behold, I will call all the families of the kingdoms of the north, says Yahweh; and they shall come, and they shall set everyone his throne at the entrance of the gates of Jerusalem, and against all its walls all around, and against all the cities of Judah. 16 I will utter my judgments against them touching all their wickedness, in that they have forsaken me, and have burned incense to other gods, and worshiped the works of their own hands. 17 You therefore gird up your waist, and arise, and speak to them all that I command you: don’t be dismayed at them, lest I dismay you before them. 18 For, behold, I have made you this day a fortified city, and an iron pillar, and bronze walls, against the whole land, against the kings of Judah, against its princes, against its priests, and against the people of the land. 19 They shall fight against you; but they shall not prevail against you: for I am with you, says Yahweh, to deliver you.
The LORD Pleads with Backsliding Israel
2 1 The word of Yahweh came to me, saying, 2 Go, and cry in the ears of Jerusalem, saying, Thus says Yahweh, I remember for you the kindness of your youth, the love of your weddings; how you went after me in the wilderness, in a land that was not sown. 3 Israel was holiness to Yahweh, the first fruits of his increase: all who devour him shall be held guilty; evil shall come on them, says Yahweh. 4 Hear the word of Yahweh, O house of Jacob, and all the families of the house of Israel! 5 Thus says Yahweh, What unrighteousness have your fathers found in me, that they have gone far from me, and have walked after vanity, and are become vain? 6 Neither said they, Where is Yahweh who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, who led us through the wilderness, through a land of deserts and of pits, through a land of drought and of the shadow of death, through a land that none passed through, and where no man lived? 7 I brought you into a plentiful land, to eat its fruit and its goodness; but when you entered, you defiled my land, and made my heritage an abomination. 8 The priests didn’t say, Where is Yahweh? and those who handle the law didn’t know me: the rulers also transgressed against me, and the prophets prophesied by Baal, and walked after things that do not profit.
9 Therefore I will yet contend with you, says Yahweh, and I will contend with your children’s children. 10 For pass over to the islands of Kittim, and see; and send to Kedar, and consider diligently; and see if there has been such a thing. 11 Has a nation changed its gods, which yet are no gods? but my people have changed their glory for that which does not profit. 12 Be astonished, you heavens, at this, and be horribly afraid. Be very desolate, says Yahweh. 13 For my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the spring of living waters, and cut them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.
14 Is Israel a servant? is he a native-born slave? why is he become a prey? 15 The young lions have roared on him, and yelled; and they have made his land waste: his cities are burned up, without inhabitant. 16 The children also of Memphis and Tahpanhes have broken the crown of your head. 17 Haven’t you procured this to yourself, in that you have forsaken Yahweh your God, when he led you by the way? 18 Now what have you to do in the way to Egypt, to drink the waters of the Shihor? or what have you to do in the way to Assyria, to drink the waters of the River? 19 Your own wickedness shall correct you, and your backsliding shall reprove you: know therefore and see that it is an evil thing and a bitter, that you have forsaken Yahweh your God, and that my fear is not in you, says the Lord, Yahweh of Armies.
20 For of old time I have broken your yoke, and burst your bonds; and you said, I will not serve; for on every high hill and under every green tree you bowed yourself, playing the prostitute. 21 Yet I had planted you a noble vine, wholly a right seed: how then have you turned into the degenerate branches of a foreign vine to me? 22 For though you wash yourself with lye, and use much soap, yet your iniquity is marked before me, says the Lord Yahweh. 23 How can you say, I am not defiled, I have not gone after the Baals? see your way in the valley, know what you have done: you are a swift dromedary traversing her ways; 24 a wild donkey used to the wilderness, that snuffs up the wind in her desire; in her occasion who can turn her away? all those who seek her will not weary themselves; in her month they shall find her. 25 Withhold your foot from being unshod, and your throat from thirst: but you said, It is in vain; no, for I have loved strangers, and after them will I go. 26 As the thief is ashamed when he is found, so is the house of Israel ashamed; they, their kings, their princes, and their priests, and their prophets; 27 who tell a stock, You are my father; and to a stone, You have brought me forth: for they have turned their back to me, and not their face; but in the time of their trouble they will say, Arise, and save us. 28 But where are your gods that you have made for yourselves? Let them arise, if they can save you in the time of your trouble: for according to the number of your cities are your gods, Judah.
29 Why will you contend with me? You all have transgressed against me, says Yahweh. 30 I have struck your children in vain. They received no correction. Your own sword has devoured your prophets, like a destroying lion. 31 Generation, see the word of Yahweh. Have I been a wilderness to Israel? or a land of thick darkness? why say my people, We are broken loose; we will come no more to you? 32 Can a virgin forget her ornaments, or a bride her attire? yet my people have forgotten me days without number. 33 How well you prepare your way to seek love! Therefore you have taught even the wicked women your ways. 34 Also the blood of the souls of the innocent poor is found in your skirts. You did not find them breaking in; but it is because of all these things. 35 Yet you said, I am innocent; surely his anger is turned away from me. Behold, I will enter into judgment with you, because you say, I have not sinned. 36 Why do you go about so much to change your way? You will be ashamed of Egypt also, as you were ashamed of Assyria. 37 From there also you shall go forth, with your hands on your head: for Yahweh has rejected those in whom you trust, and you shall not prosper with them.
3 1 They say, If a man puts away his wife, and she goes from him, and become another man’s, will he return to her again? Won’t that land be greatly polluted? But you have played the prostitute with many lovers; yet return again to me, says Yahweh. 2 Lift up your eyes to the bare heights, and see! Where have you not been lain with? By the ways have you sat for them, as an Arabian in the wilderness; and you have polluted the land with your prostitution and with your wickedness. 3 Therefore the showers have been withheld, and there has been no latter rain; yet you have a prostitute’s forehead, you refused to be ashamed. 4 Will you not from this time cry to me, My Father, you are the guide of my youth? 5 Will he retain his anger forever? will he keep it to the end? Behold, you have spoken and have done evil things, and have had your way.
Israel and Judah Entreated to Repent
6 Moreover Yahweh said to me in the days of Josiah the king, Have you seen that which backsliding Israel has done? she is gone up on every high mountain and under every green tree, and there has played the prostitute. 7 I said after she had done all these things, She will return to me; but she didn’t return: and her treacherous sister Judah saw it. 8 I saw, when, for this very cause that backsliding Israel had committed adultery, I had put her away and given her a bill of divorce, yet treacherous Judah, her sister, didn’t fear; but she also went and played the prostitute. 9 It happened through the lightness of her prostitution, that the land was polluted, and she committed adultery with stones and with stocks. 10 Yet for all this her treacherous sister Judah has not returned to me with her whole heart, but only in pretense, says Yahweh. 11 Yahweh said to me, Backsliding Israel has shown herself more righteous than treacherous Judah.
12 Go, and proclaim these words toward the north, and say, Return, you backsliding Israel, says Yahweh; I will not look in anger on you; for I am merciful, says Yahweh, I will not keep anger forever. 13 Only acknowledge your iniquity, that you have transgressed against Yahweh your God, and have scattered your ways to the strangers under every green tree, and you have not obeyed my voice, says Yahweh. 14 Return, backsliding children, says Yahweh; for I am a husband to you: and I will take you one of a city, and two of a family, and I will bring you to Zion: 15 and I will give you shepherds according to my heart, who shall feed you with knowledge and understanding. 16 It shall come to pass, when you are multiplied and increased in the land, in those days, says Yahweh, they shall say no more, The ark of the covenant of Yahweh; neither shall it come to mind; neither shall they remember it; neither shall they miss it; neither shall it be made any more. 17 At that time they shall call Jerusalem the throne of Yahweh; and all the nations shall be gathered to it, to the name of Yahweh, to Jerusalem: neither shall they walk any more after the stubbornness of their evil heart. 18 In those days the house of Judah shall walk with the house of Israel, and they shall come together out of the land of the north to the land that I gave for an inheritance to your fathers. 19 But I said, How I would put you among the children, and give you a pleasant land, a goodly heritage of the armies of the nations! and I said, You shall call me My Father, and shall not turn away from following me.
20 Surely as a wife treacherously departs from her husband, so you have dealt treacherously with me, house of Israel, says Yahweh. 21 A voice is heard on the bare heights, the weeping and the petitions of the children of Israel; because they have perverted their way, they have forgotten Yahweh their God. 22 Return, you backsliding children, I will heal your backsliding.
“Behold, we have come to you; for you are Yahweh our God.” 23 Truly in vain is the help that is looked for from the hills, the tumult on the mountains: truly in Yahweh our God is the salvation of Israel. 24 But the shameful thing has devoured the labor of our fathers from our youth, their flocks and their herds, their sons and their daughters. 25 Let us lie down in our shame, and let our confusion cover us; for we have sinned against Yahweh our God, we and our fathers, from our youth even to this day; and we have not obeyed the voice of Yahweh our God.