Judah Threatened with Invasion
1“If you will return, O Israel,” says the Lord,
“If you will return to Me,
And if you will put away your detestable things and remove your man-made gods from My sight,
And not stray or waver,
2And if you swear [your oaths], ‘As the Lord lives,’
In truth, in justice, and in righteousness,
Then the nations will bless themselves in Him,
And in Him they will glory.”
3For this is what the Lord says to the men of Judah and to Jerusalem,
“Plow your uncultivated ground [for a season],
And do not sow among thorns.
4Circumcise (dedicate, sanctify) yourselves to the Lord
And remove the foreskin [sins] of your heart,
Men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem,
Or else My wrath will go forth like fire [consuming all that gets in its way]
And burn and there will be no one to quench it,
Because of the evil of your acts.”
5Declare in Judah and proclaim in Jerusalem, and say,
“Blow the trumpet in the land;
Cry aloud and say,
‘Assemble yourselves, and let us go
Into the fortified cities.’
6Raise a banner toward Zion [to mark the way for those seeking safety inside Jerusalem’s walls]!
Seek refuge, do not stand [immobile],
For I am bringing evil from the north (the army of Babylon),
And great destruction.
7A lion has left his lair,
And a destroyer of nations is on his way.
He has gone out from his place
To desolate your land;
Your cities will be in ruins
Without an inhabitant.
8For this reason, put on sackcloth [for mourning],
Lament (mourn with expressions of grief for the dead) and wail,
For the fierce anger of the Lord
Has not turned back from us.”
9“It shall come about in that day,” says the Lord, “that the heart and courage of the king will fail (be paralyzed), and also the heart of the princes; the priests will be appalled and the prophets will be astounded and horrified.”
10Then I said, “Alas, Lord God! Surely You have completely deceived and misled this people and Jerusalem, [for the prophets represented You as] saying [to Your people], ‘You will have peace,’ but [in fact] a sword reaches to their throat.”
11In that time it will be said to this people and to Jerusalem, “A scorching wind from the barren heights in the wilderness [comes at My command] against the daughter of My people—not [a wind] to winnow and not to cleanse [from chaff, as when threshing, but] 12a wind too strong and full for this comes at My word. Now I will also speak judgment against My people.”
13“Behold, the enemy comes up like clouds,
His chariots like the whirlwind;
His horses are swifter than eagles.
Woe (judgment is coming) to us, for we are ruined!”
14O Jerusalem, wash your heart from wickedness,
That you may be saved.
How long will your wicked and immoral thoughts
Lodge within you?
15For a voice declares from Dan [far in the north],
And proclaims evil from Mount Ephraim.
16“Warn the [neighboring] nations now [that our enemy is coming]!
Announce to Jerusalem,
‘Besiegers are coming from a far country,
And they lift their voices and shout against the cities of Judah.
17Like watchmen of a field they are against her on all sides,
Because she has rebelled against Me,’ says the Lord.
18Your ways and your deeds
Have brought these things on you.
This is your tragedy and doom; how bitter,
How it has touched your heart!”
Lament over Judah’s Devastation
19My soul, my soul! I writhe in anguish and pain! Oh, the walls of my heart!
My heart is pounding and throbbing within me;
I cannot be silent,
For you have heard, O my soul,
The sound of the trumpet,
The alarm of war.
20News of one [terrible] disaster comes close after another,
For the whole land is devastated;
Suddenly my tents are spoiled and destroyed,
My [tent] curtains [ruined] in a moment.
21How long [O Lord] must I see the banner [marking the way for flight]
And hear the sound of the trumpet [urging the people to run for safety]?
22“For My people are stupid and foolish,” [says the Lord to Jeremiah];
“They do not know Me;
They are foolish children
And have no understanding.
They are shrewd [enough] to do evil,
But they do not know [how] to do good.”
23I looked at the earth [in my vision], and behold, it was [as at the time of creation] formless and void;
And to the heavens, and they had no light.
24I looked at the mountains, and behold, they were trembling,
And all the hills moved back and forth.
25I looked, and behold, there was no man,
And all the birds of the air had fled.
26I looked, and behold, the fertile land was a wilderness,
And all its cities were pulled down
Before the [presence of the] Lord, before His fierce anger.
27Therefore says the Lord,
“The whole land shall be a desolation,
Yet I will not cause total destruction.
28For this reason the earth shall mourn
And the heavens above shall become dark,
Because I have spoken, I have decided,
And I will not change my mind (relent), nor will I turn back from it.”
29Every city runs away at the sound of the horsemen and archers.
They go into the thickets and climb among the rocks;
Every city is deserted,
And no man lives in them.
30And you, O desolate one, what will you do?
Though you clothe yourself in scarlet,
Though you adorn yourself with ornaments of gold,
Though you enlarge your eyes with paint,
You make yourself beautiful in vain.
Your lovers (allies) despise you;
They seek your life.
31For I heard a cry like a woman in labor,
The anguish as of one giving birth to her first child,
The cry of the Daughter of Zion (Jerusalem), who gasps for breath,
Who stretches out her hands, saying,
“Woe is me [my judgment comes]! I faint [in fear] before the murderers.”