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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."
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Jerusalem is Surrounded by Enemies
1People of Benjamin, run for safety! Escape from Jerusalem! Sound the trumpet in Tekoa and build a signal fire in Beth Haccherem. Disaster and destruction are about to come from the north. 2The city of Zion is beautiful, but it will be destroyed; 3kings will camp there with their armies. They will pitch their tents round the city, and they will each camp wherever they want. 4They will say, “Prepare to attack Jerusalem! Get ready! We'll attack at noon!” But then they will say, “It's too late, the day is almost over, and the evening shadows are growing long. 5We'll attack by night; we'll destroy the city's fortresses.”
6The LORD Almighty has ordered these kings to cut down trees and build mounds in order to besiege Jerusalem. He has said, “I will punish this city because it is full of oppression. 7As a well keeps its water fresh, so Jerusalem keeps its evil fresh. I hear violence and destruction in the city; sickness and wounds are all I see. 8People of Jerusalem, let these troubles be a warning to you, or else I will abandon you; I will turn your city into a desert, a place where no one lives.”
Rebellious Israel
9The LORD Almighty said to me, “Israel will be stripped clean like a vineyard from which every grape has been picked. So you must rescue everyone you can while there is still time.”
10I answered, “Who would listen to me if I spoke to them and warned them? They are stubborn and refuse to listen to your message; they laugh at what you tell me to say. 11Your anger against them burns in me too, LORD, and I can't hold it in any longer.”
Then the LORD said to me, “Pour out my anger on the children in the streets and on the gatherings of the young people. Husbands and wives will be taken away, and even the very old will not be spared. 12#Jer 8.10–12Their houses will be given to others, and so will their fields and their wives. I am going to punish the people of this land. 13Everyone, great and small, tries to make money dishonestly; even prophets and priests cheat the people. 14#Ezek 13.10They act as if my people's wounds were only scratches. ‘All is well,’ they say, when all is not well. 15Were they ashamed because they did these disgusting things? No, they were not at all ashamed; they don't even know how to blush. And so they will fall as others have fallen; when I punish them, that will be the end of them. I, the LORD, have spoken.”
Israel Rejects God's Way
16The LORD said to his people, “Stand at the crossroads and look. Ask for the ancient paths and where the best road is. Walk on it, and you will live in peace.”
But they said, “No, we will not!” 17Then the LORD appointed watchmen to listen for the trumpet's warning. But they said, “We will not listen.”
18So the LORD said, “Listen, you nations, and learn what is going to happen to my people. 19Listen, earth! As punishment for all their schemes I am bringing ruin on these people, because they have rejected my teaching and have not obeyed my words. 20What do I care about the incense they bring me from Sheba, or the spices from a distant land? I will not accept their offerings or be pleased with their sacrifices. 21And so I will make these people stumble and fall. Parents and children will die, and so will friends and neighbours.”
Invasion from the North
22The LORD says, “People are coming from a country in the north; a mighty nation far away is preparing for war. 23They have taken up their bows and swords; they are cruel and merciless. They sound like the roaring sea, as they ride their horses. They are ready for battle against Jerusalem.”
24“We have heard the news,” say the people of Jerusalem, “and our hands hang limp; we are seized by anguish and pain like a woman in labour. 25We dare not go to the countryside or walk on the roads, because our enemies are armed and terror is all round us.”
26The LORD says to his people, “Put on sackcloth and roll in ashes. Mourn with bitter tears as you would for an only son, because the one who comes to destroy you will suddenly attack. 27Jeremiah, test my people, as you would test metal, and find out what they are like. 28They are all stubborn rebels, hard as bronze and iron. They are all corrupt, going round and spreading gossip. 29The furnace burns fiercely, but the waste metals do not melt and run off. It is useless to go on refining my people, because those who are evil are not taken away. 30They will be called worthless dross, because I, the LORD, have rejected them.”