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6
A warning for the people of Jerusalem
The LORD said:
1Run for your lives,
people of Benjamin.
Get out of Jerusalem.
Sound a trumpet in Tekoa
and light a signal fire
in Beth-Haccherem.
Soon you will be struck
by disaster from the north.
2-3Jerusalem is a lovely pasture,
but shepherds will surround it
and divide it up,
then let their flocks
eat all the grass.#6.2,3 Jerusalem…grass: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
4Kings will tell their troops,
“If we reach Jerusalem
in the morning,
we'll attack at midday.
But if we arrive later,
5we'll attack after dark
and destroy its fortresses.”
6I am the LORD All-Powerful,
and I will command these armies
to chop down trees
and build a ramp up to the walls
of Jerusalem.
People of Jerusalem,
I must punish you
for your injustice.
7Evil pours from your city
like water from a spring.
Sounds of violent crimes
echo within your walls;
victims are everywhere,
wounded and dying.
8Listen to me,
you people of Jerusalem
and Judah.
I will abandon you,
and your land will become
an empty desert.
9I will tell your enemies
to leave your nation bare
like a vine stripped of grapes.
I, the LORD All-Powerful,
have spoken.
Jeremiah's anger
10I have told the people
that you, LORD,
will punish them,
but they just laugh
and refuse to listen.
11Your anger against Judah
flames up inside me,
and I can't hold it in
much longer.
The LORD's anger will sweep everyone away
The LORD answered:
Don't hold back my anger!
Let it sweep away everyone—
the children at play
and all adults,
young and old alike.
12I'll punish the people of Judah#Jr 8.10-12.
and give to others
their houses and fields,
as well as their wives.
I, the LORD, have spoken.
13Everyone is greedy and dishonest,
whether poor or rich.
Even the prophets and priests
cannot be trusted.
14All they ever offer#Ez 13.10.
to my deeply wounded people
are empty hopes for peace.
15They should be ashamed
of their disgusting sins,
but they don't even blush.
And so, when I punish Judah,
they will end up on the ground,
dead like everyone else.
I, the LORD, have spoken.
The people of Judah rejected God's way of life
16The LORD said:
My people, when you stood
at the crossroads,
I told you, “Follow the road
your ancestors took,
and you will find peace.”
But you refused.
17I also sent prophets
to warn you of danger,
but when they sounded the alarm,
you paid no attention.
18-19So I tell all nations on earth,
“Watch what I will do!
My people ignored me
and rejected my laws.
They planned to do evil,
and now the evil they planned
will happen to them.”
20People of Judah,
you bring me incense from Sheba
and spices from distant lands.
You offer sacrifices of all kinds.
But why bother?
I hate these gifts of yours!
21So I will put stumbling blocks
in your path,
and everyone will die,
including parents and children,
neighbours and friends.
An army from the north
22The LORD said,
“Look towards the north,
where a powerful nation
has prepared for war.
23Its well armed troops are cruel
and never show mercy.
Their galloping horses sound
like ocean waves
pounding on the shore.
This army will attack you,
lovely Jerusalem.”
24Then the people said,
“Just hearing about them
makes us tremble with fear,
and we twist and turn in pain
like a woman giving birth.”
25The LORD said,
“Don't work in your fields
or walk along the roads.
It's too dangerous.
The enemy is well armed
26and attacks without warning.
So mourn, my people, as though
your only child had died.
Wear clothes made of sackcloth#6.26 sackcloth: See the note at 4.8.
and roll in the ash heap.”
The LORD's people must be tested
The LORD said:
27Jeremiah, test my people
as though they were metal.
28And you'll find they are hard
like bronze and iron.
They are stubborn rebels,
always spreading lies.
29-30Silver can be purified
in a fiery furnace,
but my people are too wicked
to be made pure,
and so I have rejected them.
6
1 "O sons of Benjamin, be strengthened in the midst of Jerusalem, and sound the trumpet in Tekoa, and lift up a banner over the house of Haccherem. For an evil has been seen from the north, with great destruction.
2 I have compared the daughter of Zion to a beautiful and delicate woman.
3 The pastors will come to her with their flocks. They have pitched their tents against her all around. Each one will feed those who are under his hand.
4 'Sanctify a war against her! Rise up together, and let us ascend at midday.' 'Woe to us! For the day has declined; for the shadows of the evening have grown longer.'
5 'Rise up, and let us ascend in the night, and let us destroy her houses.' "
6 For thus says the Lord of hosts: "Cut down her trees, and build a rampart around Jerusalem. This is the city of visitation! Every kind of false claim is in her midst.
7 Just as a cistern makes its water cold, so has she made her wickedness cold. Iniquity and devastation will be heard in her; sickness and wounds will be ever before me.
8 O Jerusalem, accept instruction, lest perhaps my soul may withdraw from you; lest perhaps I may set you in a desert, in an uninhabitable land."
9 Thus says the Lord of hosts: "They will gather the remnant of Israel, even as a single cluster of grapes is gathered from a vine. Direct your hand, as a grape-gatherer directs his hand to the basket.
10 To whom should I speak, and to whom should I testify, so as to be heard? Behold, their ears are uncircumcised, and so they are unable to hear. Behold, for them, the word of the Lord has become a disgrace. And so they will not accept it.
11 For this reason, I have been filled with the fury of the Lord. I labor to bear it. Let it be poured out upon the child outside, or upon a group of young men meeting together. For a man will be taken captive with a woman, an elder will be taken captive with one who is full of days.
12 And their houses will be given over to others, with both their lands and their wives. For I will extend my hand over the inhabitants of the earth, says the Lord.
13 Certainly, from the least of them even to the greatest, all of them practice greed. And from the prophet even to the priest, all of them act with deceit.
14 And they healed the destruction of the daughter of my people with disgrace, by saying: 'Peace, peace.' And there was no peace.
15 They were confounded, because they committed an abomination. Or rather, they were not confounded with shame, because they did not know how to blush. For this reason, they will fall among those who are being destroyed. In the time of their visitation, they will fall, says the Lord."
16 Thus says the Lord: "Stand above the ways, and see and ask, about the ancient paths, as to which is the good way, and then walk in it. And you will find refreshment for your souls. But they said: 'We will not walk.'
17 And I appointed watchers over you, saying: 'Listen for the sound of the trumpet.' And they said: 'We will not listen.'
18 For this reason, hear, O Gentiles, and know, O congregation, how much I will do to them.
19 Hear, O earth! Behold, I will lead evils over this people, as the fruits of their own thoughts. For they have not listened to my words, and they have cast aside my law.
20 For what reason are you bringing me frankincense from Sheba, and sweet smelling reeds from a far away land? Your holocausts are not acceptable, and your sacrifices are not pleasing to me."
21 Therefore, thus says the Lord: "Behold I will bring this people to utter ruin, and they will fall, with their fathers and sons; neighbor and relative will perish together."
22 Thus says the Lord: "Behold, a people is coming from the land of the north, and a great nation will rise up from the ends of the earth.
23 They will take hold of arrow and shield. They are cruel, and they will not take pity. Their voice will roar like the ocean. And they will climb upon horses, for they have been prepared like men for battle, against you, O daughter of Zion.
24 'We have heard of their fame. Our hands have become weakened. Tribulation has overtaken us, like the pains of a woman giving birth.'
25 Do not choose to go out into the fields, and you should not walk along the roadway. For the sword and the terror of the enemy is on every side.
26 Wrap yourself in haircloth, O daughter of my people. And sprinkle yourself with ashes. Make a mourning for yourself, as for an only son, a bitter lamentation: 'for the destroyer will overwhelm us suddenly.'
27 I have presented you as a strong tester among my people. And you will test and know their way.
28 All these leaders who are turning away and walking deceitfully, they are brass and iron; they have all been corrupted.
29 The bellows has failed; the lead has been consumed by fire; the molten metal was melted to no purpose. For their wickedness has not been consumed.
30 Call them: 'Rejected silver.' For the Lord has cast them aside."