Jerusalem under siege
1‘Flee for safety, people of Benjamin!
Flee from Jerusalem!
Sound the trumpet in Tekoa!
Raise the signal over Beth Hakkerem!
For disaster looms out of the north,
even terrible destruction.
2I will destroy Daughter Zion,
so beautiful and delicate.
3Shepherds with their flocks will come against her;
they will pitch their tents round her,
each tending his own portion.’
4‘Prepare for battle against her!
Arise, let us attack at noon!
But, alas, the daylight is fading,
and the shadows of evening grow long.
5So arise, let us attack at night
and destroy her fortresses!’
6This is what the Lord Almighty says:
‘Cut down the trees
and build siege ramps against Jerusalem.
This city must be punished;
it is filled with oppression.
7As a well pours out its water,
so she pours out her wickedness.
Violence and destruction resound in her;
her sickness and wounds are ever before me.
8Take warning, Jerusalem,
or I will turn away from you
and make your land desolate
so that no one can live in it.’
9This is what the Lord Almighty says:
‘Let them glean the remnant of Israel
as thoroughly as a vine;
pass your hand over the branches again,
like one gathering grapes.’
10To whom can I speak and give warning?
Who will listen to me?
Their ears are closed
so that they cannot hear.
The word of the Lord is offensive to them;
they find no pleasure in it.
11But I am full of the wrath of the Lord,
and I cannot hold it in.
‘Pour it out on the children in the street
and on the young men gathered together;
both husband and wife will be caught in it,
and the old, those weighed down with years.
12Their houses will be turned over to others,
together with their fields and their wives,
when I stretch out my hand
against those who live in the land,’
declares the Lord.
13‘From the least to the greatest,
all are greedy for gain;
prophets and priests alike,
all practise deceit.
14They dress the wound of my people
as though it were not serious.
“Peace, peace,” they say,
when there is no peace.
15Are they ashamed of their detestable conduct?
No, they have no shame at all;
they do not even know how to blush.
So they will fall among the fallen;
they will be brought down when I punish them,’
says the Lord.
16This is what the Lord says:
‘Stand at the crossroads and look;
ask for the ancient paths,
ask where the good way is, and walk in it,
and you will find rest for your souls.
But you said, “We will not walk in it.”
17I appointed watchmen over you and said,
“Listen to the sound of the trumpet!”
But you said, “We will not listen.”
18Therefore hear, you nations;
you who are witnesses,
observe what will happen to them.
19Hear, you earth:
I am bringing disaster on this people,
the fruit of their schemes,
because they have not listened to my words
and have rejected my law.
20What do I care about incense from Sheba
or sweet calamus from a distant land?
Your burnt offerings are not acceptable;
your sacrifices do not please me.’
21Therefore this is what the Lord says:
‘I will put obstacles before this people.
Parents and children alike will stumble over them;
neighbours and friends will perish.’
22This is what the Lord says:
‘Look, an army is coming
from the land of the north;
a great nation is being stirred up
from the ends of the earth.
23They are armed with bow and spear;
they are cruel and show no mercy.
They sound like the roaring sea
as they ride on their horses;
they come like men in battle formation
to attack you, Daughter Zion.’
24We have heard reports about them,
and our hands hang limp.
Anguish has gripped us,
pain like that of a woman in labour.
25Do not go out to the fields
or walk on the roads,
for the enemy has a sword,
and there is terror on every side.
26Put on sackcloth, my people,
and roll in ashes;
mourn with bitter wailing
as for an only son,
for suddenly the destroyer
will come upon us.
27‘I have made you a tester of metals
and my people the ore,
that you may observe
and test their ways.
28They are all hardened rebels,
going about to slander.
They are bronze and iron;
they all act corruptly.
29The bellows blow fiercely
to burn away the lead with fire,
but the refining goes on in vain;
the wicked are not purged out.
30They are called rejected silver,
because the Lord has rejected them.’