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14
The Land Dries Up
1When there had been no rain for a long time, the Lord told me to say to the people:
2Judah and Jerusalem weep
as the land dries up.
3Rulers send their servants
to the storage pits for water.#14.3 storage pits for water: Since water was scarce, pits were dug into solid rock for collecting and storing rainwater. These pits were called “cisterns.”
But there's none to be found;
they return in despair
with their jars still empty.
4There has been no rain,
and farmers feel sick
as they watch cracks appear
in the dry ground.#14.4 cracks … ground: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
5A deer gives birth in a field,
then abandons her newborn fawn
and leaves in search of grass.
6Wild donkeys go blind
from starvation.
So they stand on barren hilltops
and sniff the air,#14.6 sniff the air: The Hebrew text has “sniff the air, like jackals” (see the note at 9.11).
hoping to smell green grass.
The Lord's People Pray
7We rejected you and did evil,
so we deserve to be punished.
But if you rescue us, Lord,
everyone will see
how great you are.
8You're our only hope;
you alone can save us now.
You help us one day,
but you're gone the next.
9Did this disaster
take you by surprise?
Are you a warrior
with your hands tied?
You have chosen us,
and your temple is here.
Don't abandon us!
The Lord's Answer
10My people,
you love to wander away;
you don't even try
to stay close to me.
So now I will reject you
and punish you for your sins.
I, the Lord, have spoken.
Lying Prophets
11The Lord said, “Jeremiah, don't ask me to help these people. 12They may even go without eating#14.12 go without eating: The people of Israel sometimes went without eating to show sorrow for their sins. and offer sacrifices to please me#14.12 sacrifices to please me: These sacrifices have traditionally been called “whole burnt offerings” because the whole animal was burned on the altar. A main purpose of such sacrifices was to please the Lord with the smell of the sacrifice, and so in the CEV they are sometimes called “sacrifices to please the Lord.” and to give thanks.#14.12 sacrifices … to give thanks: These sacrifices have traditionally been called “grain offerings.” A main purpose of such sacrifices was to thank the Lord with a gift of grain, and so in the CEV they are sometimes called “sacrifices to give thanks to the Lord.” But when they cry out for my help, I won't listen, and I won't accept their sacrifices. Instead, I'll send war, starvation, and disease to wipe them out.”
13I replied, “The other prophets keep telling everyone that you won't send starvation or war, and that you're going to give us peace.”
14The Lord answered:
They claim to speak for me, but they're lying! I didn't even speak to them, much less choose them to be my prophets. Their messages come from worthless dreams, useless fortunetelling, and their own imaginations.
15Those lying prophets say there will be peace and plenty of food. But I say that those same prophets will die from war and hunger. 16And everyone who listens to them will be killed, just as they deserve. Their dead bodies will be thrown out into the streets of Jerusalem, because their families will also be dead, and no one will be left to bury them.#14.16 dead bodies … bury them: A proper burial was considered very important.
17Jeremiah, go and tell the people how you feel about all this.
So I told them:
“Tears will flood my eyes
both day and night,
because my nation suffers
from a deadly wound.
18In the fields I see the bodies
of those killed in battle.
And in the towns I see crowds
dying of hunger.
But the prophets and priests
go about their business,
without understanding
what has happened.”#14.18 go about … has happened: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
Jeremiah Prays to the Lord
19Have you rejected Judah, Lord?
Do you hate Jerusalem?
Why did you strike down Judah
with a fatal wound?
We had hoped for peace
and a time of healing,
but all we got was terror.
20We and our ancestors are guilty
of rebelling against you.
21If you save us, it will show
how great you are.
Don't let our enemies
disgrace your temple,
your beautiful throne.
Don't forget that you promised
to rescue us.
22Idols can't send rain,
and showers don't fall
by themselves.
Only you control the rain,
so we put our trust in you,
the Lord our God.
14
1 The word of the Lord that came to Jeremiah concerning the words of the drought.
2 "Judea has mourned. And its gates have fallen and become hard to discern on the ground. And the outcry of Jerusalem has ascended.
3 The greater ones have sent their lesser ones to the water. They went to draw water; they did not find water; they carried their vessels back empty. They were confounded and afflicted, and so they covered their heads.
4 Because of the devastation of the earth, because rain did not fall upon the earth, the farmers were confounded; they covered their heads.
5 For even the doe has given birth in the field, and then left it behind. For there was no grass.
6 And the wild donkeys stood upon the rocks; like dragons, they drew in the wind, but their eyes failed. For there was no grass."
7 "O Lord, if our iniquities have responded against us, let it be for the sake of your name. For our rebellions are many; we have sinned against you.
8 O Hope of Israel, its Savior in time of tribulation, why would you be like a sojourner in the land, and like a traveler turning aside for lodging?
9 Why would you be like a wandering man, like a strong man who is unable to save? But you, O Lord, are with us, and your name is invoked over us, so do not abandon us!"
10 Thus says the Lord to this people, who have loved to move their feet, and who have not rested, but who have not pleased the Lord: "Now he will remember their iniquities, and now he will visit against their sins."
11 And the Lord said to me: "Do not choose to pray for this people for good.
12 When they will fast, I will not heed their petitions. And if they offer holocausts and victims, I will not accept them. For I will consume them by the sword, and by famine, and by pestilence."
13 And I said: "Alas, alas, alas, O Lord God! The prophets are saying to them: 'You will not see the sword, and there will be no famine among you. Instead, he will give you true peace in this place.' "
14 And the Lord said to me: "The prophets prophesy falsely in my name. I did not send them, and I did not instruct them, and I have not spoken to them. They prophesy to you a lying vision, and a divination, and a fraud, and a seduction from their own heart.
15 For this reason, thus says the Lord about the prophets who prophesy in my name, whom I have not sent, who say: 'Sword and famine will not be in this land.' By sword and famine those prophets will be consumed.
16 And the people, to whom they prophesy, will be cast into the streets of Jerusalem, due to famine and the sword, and there will be no one who may bury them, they and their wives, their sons and daughters, and I will pour out their own evil upon them.
17 And you shall speak this word to them: Let my eyes shed tears throughout the night and day, and let them not cease. For the virgin daughter of my people has been crushed by a great affliction, by a very grievous wound."
18 "If I go out into the fields: behold, those slain by the sword. And if I enter into the city: behold, those weakened by famine. Likewise, the prophet, too, and the priest, have gone into a land that they did not know.
19 Could you have utterly cast out Judah? Or has your soul abhorred Zion? Then why have you struck us, so much so that there is no health for us? We have waited for peace, but there is nothing good, and for the time of healing, and behold, trouble.
20 O Lord, we acknowledge our impieties, the iniquities of our fathers, that we have sinned against you.
21 For the sake of your name, do not give us over into disgrace. And do not dishonor in us the throne of your glory. Remember, do not make void, your covenant with us.
22 Could any of the graven images of the Gentiles send rain? Or are the heavens able to give showers? Have we not hoped in you, the Lord our God? For you have made all these things."