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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."
Prepare for war
1Escape, people of Benjamin,
get out of Jerusalem!
Blow the trumpet in Tekoa,
sound the alarm in Beth-haccherem;
for disaster looms from the north,
massive devastation.
2You are like a lovely pasture, Daughter Zion.#Heb uncertain
3Shepherds come to her with their flocks.
They pitch their tents around her
and graze in their place.
4"Prepare for battle against her;
get ready; let’s attack by noon!
Oh, no! Daylight is fading,
and the evening shadows lengthen.
5Get ready, let’s attack by night
and destroy her fortresses!"
6The LORD of heavenly forces proclaims:
Cut down her trees,
and build siege ramps against Jerusalem.
This city must be held accountable,#Heb uncertain
for there’s nothing but oppression in her midst.
7As a well brings forth fresh water,
she brings forth evil.
Violence and destruction are heard within her;
injury and wounds are ever before me.
8Hear me out,#Or Accept correction Jerusalem,
or else I’ll turn away from you
and reduce you to ruins,
a land unfit to live in.
Unresponsive people
9This is what the LORD of heavenly forces says:
From top to bottom, let them harvest
the remaining few in Israel.
Pick clean every
last grape on the vine!
10To whom can I speak and warn?
How can I get someone’s attention?
Their ears are shut tight,#Or uncircumcised
so they won’t hear.
They are ashamed of the LORD’s word
and take no pleasure in it.
11But I’m filled with the LORD’s rage
and am tired of holding it in.
Pour it out on the children in the streets
and on the youths gathered together;
husband with wife will be trapped,
as will those old and gray.
12Their homes will be turned over to others,
their fields and wives as well.
I will stretch out my hand
against the people of this land,
declares the LORD.
13From the least to the greatest,
each is eager to profit;
from prophet to priest,
each trades in dishonesty.
14They treat the wound of my people
as if it were nothing:
"All is well, all is well," they insist,
when in fact nothing is well.
15They should be ashamed
of their detestable practices,
but they have no shame;
they don’t even blush!
Therefore, they will fall among the fallen
and stumble when I bring disaster,
declares the LORD.
16The LORD proclaims:
Stop at the crossroads and look around;
ask for the ancient paths.
Where is the good way?
Then walk in it
and find a resting place for yourselves.
But you#Or they said, "We won’t go!"
17Still, I have appointed watchmen to warn you.
But you#Or they said, "We won’t listen!"
18Therefore, pay attention, nations;
take notice, assembly,
what is ahead of them.#Heb uncertain
19Pay attention, earth:
I’m bringing disaster upon my people,
the fruit of their own devices,
because they have ignored my words
and they have rejected my teaching.
20What use to me is incense from Sheba
or sweet cane from a faraway land?
Your entirely burned offerings won’t buy your pardon;
your sacrifices won’t appease me.
21Therefore, the LORD proclaims:
I’m putting obstacles before this people,
and both parents and children will stumble over them;
neighbor and friend alike will perish.
Panic-stricken Zion
22The LORD proclaims:
An army is on the move
from the northern regions;
a great nation is roused
from the ends of the earth.
23Equipped with bow and spear,
they are cruel;
they show no mercy.
Their horsemen sound
like the roaring sea,
arrayed in battle formation
against you, Daughter Zion.
24We have heard reports of them
and are panic-stricken;
distress overwhelms us,
pain like that of a woman in labor.
25Don’t go out into the field!
Don’t walk on the road!
The enemies’ sword
terrorizes at every turn.
26My people,
put on funeral clothes and roll in ashes;
weep and wail as for an only child,
because the destroyer will suddenly descend upon us.
Prophet as tester
27I have made you a tester of metals,
to examine my people#Heb uncertain
to know and prove their ways.
28They are tin#Or bronze and iron;
they are headstrong and rebellious.
They live to slander.
They act corruptly—every last one!
29The bellows roar;
the lead is consumed.#Heb uncertain
Yet the refining fails;
the impurities#Or wicked remain.
30They are called "rejected silver,"
for the LORD has rejected them.