The Lesson from the Potter Working the Clay
18 1 The word which came to Jeremiah from Yahweh, saying, 2 Arise, and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will cause you to hear my words. 3 Then I went down to the potter’s house, and behold, he was making a work on the wheels. 4 When the vessel that he made of the clay was marred in the hand of the potter, he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it. 5 Then the word of Yahweh came to me, saying, 6 House of Israel, can’t I do with you as this potter? says Yahweh. Behold, as the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand, house of Israel. 7 At what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up and to break down and to destroy it; 8 if that nation, concerning which I have spoken, turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil that I thought to do to them. 9 At what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it; 10 if they do that which is evil in my sight, that they not obey my voice, then I will repent of the good, with which I said I would benefit them.
11 Now therefore, speak to the men of Judah, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, saying, Thus says Yahweh: Behold, I frame evil against you, and devise a device against you: return you now everyone from his evil way, and amend your ways and your doings. 12 But they say, It is in vain; for we will walk after our own devices, and we will do everyone after the stubbornness of his evil heart. 13 Therefore thus says Yahweh: Ask now among the nations, who has heard such things; the virgin of Israel has done a very horrible thing. 14 Shall the snow of Lebanon fail from the rock of the field? or shall the cold waters that flow down from afar be dried up? 15 For my people have forgotten me, they have burned incense to false gods; and they have been made to stumble in their ways, in the ancient paths, to walk in byways, in a way not built up; 16 to make their land an astonishment, and a perpetual hissing; everyone who passes thereby shall be astonished, and shake his head. 17 I will scatter them as with an east wind before the enemy; I will show them the back, and not the face, in the day of their calamity.
The People's Plots and Jeremiah's Prayer
18 Then said they, Come, and let us devise devices against Jeremiah; for the law shall not perish from the priest, nor counsel from the wise, nor the word from the prophet. Come, and let us strike him with the tongue, and let us not give heed to any of his words. 19 Give heed to me, Yahweh, and listen to the voice of those who contend with me. 20 Shall evil be recompensed for good? for they have dug a pit for my soul. Remember how I stood before you to speak good for them, to turn away your wrath from them. 21 Therefore deliver up their children to the famine, and give them over to the power of the sword; and let their wives become childless, and widows; and let their men be slain of death, and their young men struck of the sword in battle. 22 Let a cry be heard from their houses, when you shall bring a troop suddenly on them; for they have dug a pit to take me, and hid snares for my feet. 23 Yet, Yahweh, you know all their counsel against me to kill me; don’t forgive their iniquity, neither blot out their sin from your sight; but let them be overthrown before you; deal you with them in the time of your anger.
The Lesson from the Broken Vessel
19 1 Thus said Yahweh, Go, and buy a potter’s earthen bottle, and take of the elders of the people, and of the elders of the priests; 2 and go forth to the valley of the son of Hinnom, which is by the entry of the gate Harsith, and proclaim there the words that I shall tell you; 3 and say, Hear the word of Yahweh, kings of Judah, and inhabitants of Jerusalem: thus says Yahweh of Armies, the God of Israel, Behold, I will bring evil on this place, which whoever hears, his ears shall tingle. 4 Because they have forsaken me, and have estranged this place, and have burned incense in it to other gods, that they didn’t know, they and their fathers and the kings of Judah; and have filled this place with the blood of innocents, 5 and have built the high places of Baal, to burn their sons in the fire for burnt offerings to Baal; which I didn’t command, nor spoke it, neither came it into my mind: 6 therefore, behold, the days come, says Yahweh, that this place shall no more be called Topheth, nor The valley of the son of Hinnom, but The valley of Slaughter. 7 I will make void the counsel of Judah and Jerusalem in this place; and I will cause them to fall by the sword before their enemies, and by the hand of those who seek their life: and their dead bodies will I give to be food for the birds of the sky, and for the animals of the earth. 8 I will make this city an astonishment, and a hissing; everyone who passes thereby shall be astonished and hiss because of all its plagues. 9 I will cause them to eat the flesh of their sons and the flesh of their daughters; and they shall eat everyone the flesh of his friend, in the siege and in the distress, with which their enemies, and those who seek their life, shall distress them.
10 Then you shall break the bottle in the sight of the men who go with you, 11 and shall tell them, Thus says Yahweh of Armies: Even so will I break this people and this city, as one breaks a potter’s vessel, that can’t be made whole again; and they shall bury in Topheth, until there be no place to bury. 12 Thus will I do to this place, says Yahweh, and to its inhabitants, even making this city as Topheth: 13 and the houses of Jerusalem, and the houses of the kings of Judah, which are defiled, shall be as the place of Topheth, even all the houses on whose roofs they have burned incense to all the army of the sky, and have poured out drink offerings to other gods. 14 Then came Jeremiah from Topheth, where Yahweh had sent him to prophesy; and he stood in the court of Yahweh’s house, and said to all the people: 15 Thus says Yahweh of Armies, the God of Israel, Behold, I will bring on this city and on all its towns all the evil that I have pronounced against it; because they have made their neck stiff, that they may not hear my words.
The Curse on Pashur for Imprisoning Jeremiah
20 1 Now Pashhur, the son of Immer the priest, who was chief officer in the house of Yahweh, heard Jeremiah prophesying these things. 2 Then Pashhur struck Jeremiah the prophet, and put him in the stocks that were in the upper gate of Benjamin, which was in the house of Yahweh. 3 It happened on the next day, that Pashhur brought forth Jeremiah out of the stocks. Then said Jeremiah to him, Yahweh has not called your name Pashhur, but Magormissabib. 4 For thus says Yahweh, Behold, I will make you a terror to yourself, and to all your friends; and they shall fall by the sword of their enemies, and your eyes shall see it; and I will give all Judah into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall carry them captive to Babylon, and shall kill them with the sword. 5 Moreover I will give all the riches of this city, and all its gains, and all the precious things of it, yes, all the treasures of the kings of Judah will I give into the hand of their enemies; and they shall make them a prey, and take them, and carry them to Babylon. 6 You, Pashhur, and all who dwell in your house shall go into captivity; and you shall come to Babylon, and there you shall die, and there you shall be buried, you, and all your friends, to whom you have prophesied falsely.
7 Yahweh, you have persuaded me, and I was persuaded; you are stronger than I, and have prevailed: I am become a laughing-stock all the day, every one mocks me. 8 For as often as I speak, I cry out; I cry, Violence and destruction! because the word of Yahweh is made a reproach to me, and a derision, all the day. 9 If I say, I will not make mention of him, nor speak any more in his name, then there is in my heart as it were a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I am weary with forbearing, and I can’t contain. 10 For I have heard the defaming of many, terror on every side. Denounce, and we will denounce him, say all my familiar friends, those who watch for my fall; perhaps he will be persuaded, and we shall prevail against him, and we shall take our revenge on him. 11 But Yahweh is with me as an awesome mighty one: therefore my persecutors shall stumble, and they shall not prevail; they shall be utterly disappointed, because they have not dealt wisely, even with an everlasting dishonor which shall never be forgotten. 12 But, Yahweh of Armies, who tests the righteous, who sees the heart and the mind, let me see your vengeance on them; for to you have I revealed my cause. 13 Sing to Yahweh, praise Yahweh; for he has delivered the soul of the needy from the hand of evildoers.
14 Cursed is the day in which I was born: don’t let the day in which my mother bore me be blessed. 15 Cursed is the man who brought news to my father, saying, A boy is born to you; making him very glad. 16 Let that man be as the cities which Yahweh overthrew, and didn’t repent: and let him hear a cry in the morning, and shouting at noontime; 17 because he didn’t kill me from the womb; and so my mother would have been my grave, and her womb always great. 18 Why came I forth out of the womb to see labor and sorrow, that my days should be consumed with shame?
The Destruction of Jerusalem Foretold
21 1 The word which came to Jeremiah from Yahweh, when king Zedekiah sent to him Pashhur the son of Malchijah, and Zephaniah the son of Maaseiah, the priest, saying, 2 Please inquire of Yahweh for us; for Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon makes war against us: perhaps Yahweh will deal with us according to all his wondrous works, that he may go up from us. 3 Then said Jeremiah to them, You shall tell Zedekiah: 4 Thus says Yahweh, the God of Israel, Behold, I will turn back the weapons of war that are in your hands, with which you fight against the king of Babylon, and against the Chaldeans who besiege you, without the walls; and I will gather them into the midst of this city. 5 I myself will fight against you with an outstretched hand and with a strong arm, even in anger, and in wrath, and in great indignation. 6 I will strike the inhabitants of this city, both man and animal: they shall die of a great pestilence. 7 Afterward, says Yahweh, I will deliver Zedekiah king of Judah, and his servants, and the people, even such as are left in this city from the pestilence, from the sword, and from the famine, into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and into the hand of their enemies, and into the hand of those who seek their life: and he shall strike them with the edge of the sword; he shall not spare them, neither have pity, nor have mercy.
8 To this people you shall say, Thus says Yahweh: Behold, I set before you the way of life and the way of death. 9 He who remains in this city shall die by the sword, and by the famine, and by the pestilence; but he who goes out, and passes over to the Chaldeans who besiege you, he shall live, and his life shall be to him for a prey. 10 For I have set my face on this city for evil, and not for good, says Yahweh: it shall be given into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall burn it with fire. 11 Touching the house of the king of Judah, hear the word of Yahweh: 12 House of David, thus says Yahweh, Execute justice in the morning, and deliver him who is robbed out of the hand of the oppressor, lest my wrath go forth like fire, and burn so that none can quench it, because of the evil of your doings. 13 Behold, I am against you, O inhabitant of the valley, and of the rock of the plain, says Yahweh; you that say, Who shall come down against us? or who shall enter into our habitations? 14 I will punish you according to the fruit of your doings, says Yahweh; and I will kindle a fire in her forest, and it shall devour all that is around her.
Prophecies against the Kings of Judah
22 1 Thus said Yahweh: Go down to the house of the king of Judah, and speak there this word, 2 Say, Hear the word of Yahweh, king of Judah, who sits on the throne of David, you, and your servants, and your people who enter in by these gates. 3 Thus says Yahweh: Execute justice and righteousness, and deliver him who is robbed out of the hand of the oppressor: and do no wrong, do no violence, to the foreigner, the fatherless, nor the widow; neither shed innocent blood in this place. 4 For if you do this thing indeed, then shall there enter in by the gates of this house kings sitting on the throne of David, riding in chariots and on horses, he, and his servants, and his people. 5 But if you will not hear these words, I swear by myself, says Yahweh, that this house shall become a desolation. 6 For thus says Yahweh concerning the house of the king of Judah: You are Gilead to me, and the head of Lebanon; yet surely I will make you a wilderness, and cities which are not inhabited. 7 I will prepare destroyers against you, everyone with his weapons; and they shall cut down your choice cedars, and cast them into the fire. 8 Many nations shall pass by this city, and they shall say every man to his neighbor, Why has Yahweh done thus to this great city? 9 Then they shall answer, Because they forsook the covenant of Yahweh their God, and worshiped other gods, and served them.
10 Don’t weep for the dead, neither bemoan him; but weep bitterly for him who goes away; for he shall return no more, nor see his native country. 11 For thus says Yahweh touching Shallum the son of Josiah, king of Judah, who reigned instead of Josiah his father, and who went forth out of this place: He shall not return there any more. 12 But in the place where they have led him captive, there shall he die, and he shall see this land no more. 13 Woe to him who builds his house by unrighteousness, and his chambers by injustice; who uses his neighbor’s service without wages, and doesn’t give him his hire; 14 who says, I will build me a wide house and spacious chambers, and cuts him out windows; and it is ceiling with cedar, and painted with vermilion. 15 Shall you reign, because you strive to excel in cedar? Didn’t your father eat and drink, and do justice and righteousness? then it was well with him. 16 He judged the cause of the poor and needy; then it was well. Wasn’t this to know me? says Yahweh. 17 But your eyes and your heart are not but for your covetousness, and for shedding innocent blood, and for oppression, and for violence, to do it. 18 Therefore thus says Yahweh concerning Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah: they shall not lament for him, saying, Ah my brother! or, Ah sister! They shall not lament for him, saying Ah lord! or, Ah his glory! 19 He shall be buried with the burial of a donkey, drawn and cast forth beyond the gates of Jerusalem.
20 Go up to Lebanon, and cry; and lift up your voice in Bashan, and cry from Abarim; for all your lovers are destroyed. 21 I spoke to you in your prosperity; but you said, I will not hear. This has been your manner from your youth, that you didn’t obey my voice. 22 The wind shall feed all your shepherds, and your lovers shall go into captivity: surely then you will be ashamed and confounded for all your wickedness. 23 Inhabitant of Lebanon, who makes your nest in the cedars, how greatly to be pitied you will be when pangs come on you, the pain as of a woman in travail! 24 As I live, says Yahweh, though Coniah the son of Jehoiakim king of Judah were the signet on my right hand, yet would I pluck you there; 25 and I will give you into the hand of those who seek your life, and into the hand of them of whom you are afraid, even into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and into the hand of the Chaldeans. 26 I will cast you out, and your mother who bore you, into another country, where you were not born; and there you will die. 27 But to the land whereunto their soul longs to return, there shall they not return. 28 Is this man Coniah a despised broken vessel? is he a vessel in which none delights? why are they cast out, he and his seed, and are cast into the land which they don’t know? 29 O earth, earth, earth, hear the word of Yahweh. 30 Thus says Yahweh, Write you this man childless, a man who shall not prosper in his days; for no more shall a man of his seed prosper, sitting on the throne of David, and ruling in Judah.