Jeremiah's Complaint and God's Answer
121 You are in the right, O Lord, when I put my cause before you: still let me take up with you the question of your decisions: why does the evil-doer do well? why are the workers of deceit living in comfort? 2 They have been planted by you, they have taken root; they go on and give fruit: you are near in their mouths but far from their thoughts. 3 But you, O Lord, have knowledge of me; you see me, searching and testing how my heart is with you: let them be pulled out like sheep to be put to death, make them ready for the day of death. 4 How long will the land have grief, and the plants of all the land be dry? because of the sins of the people living in it, destruction has overtaken the beasts and the birds; because they said, God does not see our ways. 5 If running with the fighting-men has made you tired, how will you be able to keep up with horses? and if in a land of peace you go in flight, what will become of you in the thick growth of Jordan? 6 For even your brothers, your father's family, even they have been untrue to you, crying loudly after you: have no faith in them, though they say fair words to you.
7 I have given up my house, I have let my heritage go; I have given the loved one of my soul into the hands of her haters. 8 My heritage has become like a lion in the woodland to me; her voice has been loud against me; so I have hate for her. 9 My heritage is like a brightly coloured bird to me; the cruel birds are attacking her on every side: go, get together all the beasts of the field, make them come for destruction. 10 The keepers of sheep have been the destruction of my vine-garden, crushing my heritage under their feet; they have made my fair heritage an unplanted waste; 11 They have made it waste; it is weeping to me, being wasted; all the land is made waste, because no man takes it to heart. 12 Those who make waste have come on all the open hilltops in the waste land; for the sword of the Lord sends destruction from one end of the land to the other end of the land: no flesh has peace. 13 Though good grain was planted, they have got in thorns: they have given themselves pain without profit: they will be shamed on account of their produce, because of the burning wrath of the Lord.
14 This is what the Lord has said against all my evil neighbours, who put their hands on the heritage which I gave my people Israel: See, I will have them uprooted from their land, uprooting the people of Judah from among them. 15 And it will come about that, after they have been uprooted, I will again have pity on them; and I will take them back, every man to his heritage and every man to his land. 16 And it will be that, if they give their minds to learning the ways of my people, using my name in their oaths, By the living Lord; as they have been teaching my people to take oaths by the Baal; then their place will be made certain among my people. 17 But if they will not give ear, then I will have that nation uprooted, and given to destruction, says the Lord.
The Lesson from the Marred Girdle
131 This is what the Lord said to me: Go and get yourself a linen band and put it round you and do not put it in water. 2 So, as the Lord said, I got a band for a price and put it round my body. 3 And the word of the Lord came to me a second time, saying, 4 Take the band which you got for a price, which is round your body, and go to Parah and put it in a secret place there in a hole of the rock. 5 So I went and put it in a secret place by Parah, as the Lord had said to me. 6 Then after a long time, the Lord said to me, Up! go to Parah and get the band which I gave you orders to put there. 7 So I went to Parah and, uncovering the hole, took the band from the place where I had put it away: and the band was damaged and of no use for anything. 8 Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying, 9 The Lord has said, In this way I will do damage to the pride of Judah and to the great pride of Jerusalem. 10 These evil people who say they will not give ear to my words, who go on in the pride of their hearts and have become servants and worshippers of other gods, will become like this band which is of no use for anything. 11 For as a band goes tightly round a man's body, so I made all the people of Israel and all the people of Judah tightly united to me; so that they might be a people for me and a name and a praise and a glory: but they would not give ear.
The Lesson from the Filled Bottles
12 So you are to say this word to them: This is the word of the Lord, the God of Israel: Every skin bottle will be full of wine; and they will say to you, Is it not quite clear to us that every skin bottle will be full of wine? 13 Then you are to say to them, The Lord has said, I will make all the people of this land, even the kings seated on David's seat, and the priests and the prophets and all the people of Jerusalem, overcome with strong drink. 14 I will have them smashed against one another, fathers and sons together, says the Lord: I will have no pity or mercy, I will have no feeling for them to keep me from giving them to destruction.
Captivity Threatened for Judah's Impenitence
15 Give ear and let your ears be open; be not lifted up: for these are the words of the Lord. 16 Give glory to the Lord your God, before he makes it dark, and before your feet are slipping on the dark mountains, and, while you are looking for a light, he makes it into deep dark, into black night. 17 But if you do not give ear to it, my soul will be weeping in secret for your pride; my eye will be weeping bitterly, streaming with water, because the Lord's flock has been taken away as prisoners. 18 Say to the king and to the queen-mother, Make yourselves low, be seated on the earth: for the crown of your glory has come down from your heads. 19 The towns of the south are shut up, and there is no one to make them open: Judah is taken away as prisoners; all Judah is taken away as prisoners. 20 Let your eyes be lifted up (O Jerusalem), and see those who are coming from the north. Where is the flock which was given to you, your beautiful flock? 21 What will you say when he puts over you those whom you yourself have made your friends? will not pains take you like a woman in childbirth?
22 And if you say in your heart, Why have these things come on me? because of the number of your sins, your skirts have been uncovered and violent punishment overtakes you. 23 Is it possible for the skin of the Ethiopian to be changed, or the markings on the leopard? Then it might be possible for you to do good, who have been trained to do evil. 24 So I will send them in all directions, as dry grass is taken away by the wind of the waste land. 25 This is your fate, the part measured out to you by me, says the Lord, because you have put me out of your memory and put your faith in what is false. 26 So I will have your skirts uncovered before your face, in order that your shame may be seen. 27 I have seen your disgusting acts, even your false behaviour and your cries of desire and your loose ways on the hills in the field. Unhappy are you, O Jerusalem, you have no desire to be made clean; how long will you be in turning back to me?
The Message about the Drought
141 The word of the Lord came to Jeremiah when there was no water. 2 Judah is weeping and its doors are dark with sorrow, and people are seated on the earth clothed in black; and the cry of Jerusalem has gone up. 3 Their great men have sent their servants for water: they come to the holes and there is no water to be seen; they come back with nothing in their vessels; they are overcome with shame and fear, covering their heads. 4 Those who do work on the land are in fear, for there has been no rain on the land, and the farmers are shamed, covering their heads. 5 And the roe, giving birth in the field, lets her young one be uncared for, because there is no grass. 6 And the asses of the field on the open hilltops are opening their mouths wide like jackals to get air; their eyes are hollow because there is no grass. 7 Though our sins give witness against us, do something, O Lord, for the honour of your name: for again and again we have been turned away from you, we have done evil against you. 8 O you hope of Israel, its saviour in time of trouble, why are you like one who is strange in the land, and like a traveller putting up his tent for a night? 9 Why are you like a man surprised, like a man of war who is not able to give help? but you, O Lord, are with us, and we are named by your name; do not go away from us.
10 This is what the Lord has said about this people: Even so they have been glad to go from the right way; they have not kept their feet from wandering, so the Lord has no pleasure in them; now he will keep their wrongdoing in mind and send punishment for their sins. 11 And the Lord said to me, Make no prayer for this people for their good. 12 When they go without food, I will not give ear to their cry; when they give burned offerings and meal offerings, I will not take pleasure in them: but I will put an end to them by the sword and by need of food and by disease. 13 Then I said, Ah, Lord God! see, the prophets say to them, You will not see the sword or be short of food; but I will give you certain peace in this place. 14 Then the Lord said to me, The prophets say false words in my name, and I gave them no orders, and I said nothing to them: what they say to you is a false vision and wonder-working words without substance, the deceit of their hearts. 15 So this is what the Lord has said about the prophets who make use of my name, though I sent them not, and say, The sword and need of food will not be in this land: the sword and need of food will put an end to those prophets. 16 And the people to whom they are prophets will be pushed out dead into the streets of Jerusalem, because there is no food, and because of the sword; and they will have no one to put their bodies into the earth, them or their wives or their sons or their daughters: for I will let loose their evil-doing on them.
17 And you are to say this word to them, Let my eyes be streaming with water night and day, and let it not be stopped; for the virgin daughter of my people is wounded with a great wound, with a very bitter blow. 18 If I go out into the open country, there are those put to death by the sword! and if I go into the town, there are those who are diseased from need of food! for the prophet and the priest go about in the land and have no knowledge. 19 Have you completely given up Judah? is your soul turned in disgust from Zion? why have you given us blows from which there is no one to make us well? we were looking for peace, but no good came; and for a time of well-being, but there was only a great fear. 20 We are conscious, O Lord, of our sin and of the wrongdoing of our fathers: we have done evil against you. 21 Do not be turned from us in disgust, because of your name; do not put shame on the seat of your glory: keep us in mind, let not your agreement with us be broken. 22 Are any of the false gods of the nations able to make rain come? are the heavens able to give showers? are you not he, O Lord our God? so we will go on waiting for you, for you have done all these things.