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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."
6
The Enemy at the Gates
1Seek refuge, Benjaminites,
from the midst of Jerusalem!
Blow the trumpet in Tekoa,
raise a signal over Beth-haccherem;
For disaster threatens from the north,
and mighty destruction.#a. [6:1] Jer 1:14–15.
2Lovely and delicate
daughter Zion, you are ruined!
3Against her, shepherds come with their flocks;#Shepherds come with their flocks: foreign invaders with their armies.
all around, they pitch their tents against her;
each one grazes his portion.#b. [6:3] Jer 4:17.
4“Prepare for war against her,
Up! let us rush upon her at midday!”
“Woe to us! the day is waning,
evening shadows lengthen!”
5“Up! let us rush upon her by night,
destroy her palaces!”#c. [6:5] 2 Chr 36:19.
6For thus says the Lord of hosts:
Hew down her trees,
throw up a siege mound against Jerusalem.
Woe to the city marked for punishment;
there is nothing but oppression within her!#d. [6:6] Jer 32:24; Zep 3:1–4.
7As a well keeps its waters fresh,
so she keeps fresh her wickedness.
Violence and destruction resound in her;
ever before me are wounds and blows.#e. [6:7] Is 57:20.
8Be warned, Jerusalem,
or I will be estranged from you,
And I will turn you into a wilderness,
a land where no one dwells.
9Thus says the Lord of hosts:
Glean, glean like a vine
the remnant of Israel;
Pass your hand, like a vintager,
repeatedly over the tendrils.
10To whom shall I speak?
whom shall I warn, and be heard?
See! their ears are uncircumcised,
they cannot pay attention;
See, the word of the Lord has become for them
an object of scorn, for which they have no taste.#f. [6:10] Jer 7:26; 20:8.
11But the wrath of the Lord brims up within me,
I am weary of holding it in.
I will pour it out upon the child in the street,
upon the young men gathered together.
Yes, husband and wife will be taken,
elder with ancient.#g. [6:11] Ez 9:6.
12Their houses will fall to others,
their fields and their wives as well;
For I will stretch forth my hand
against those who dwell in the land—oracle of the Lord.#h. [6:12] Jer 8:10; Dt 28:30–32.
13Small and great alike, all are greedy for gain;
prophet and priest, all practice fraud.#i. [6:13] Jer 8:10; 23:11.
14They have treated lightly
the injury to my people:
“Peace, peace!” they say,
though there is no peace.#j. [6:14] Jer 8:11.
15They have acted shamefully, committing abominations,
yet they are not at all ashamed,
they do not know how to blush.
Therefore they will fall among the fallen;
in the time of their punishment they shall stumble,
says the Lord.#k. [6:15] Jer 3:3; 8:12.
16Thus says the Lord:
Stand by the earliest roads,
ask the pathways of old,#Pathways of old: history and the lessons to be learned from it.
“Which is the way to good?” and walk it;
thus you will find rest for yourselves.
But they said, “We will not walk it.”#l. [6:16] Jer 7:23–24; 18:15.
17I raised up watchmen#Watchmen: the prophets who, like Jeremiah, had upheld God’s moral law. for them:
“Pay attention to the sound of the trumpet!”
But they said, “We will not pay attention!”
18Therefore hear, O nations,
and know, O earth,
what I will do with them:
19See, I bring evil upon this people,
the fruit of their own schemes,
Because they did not pay attention to my words,
because they rejected my law.#m. [6:19] Prv 1:31.
20Of what use to me is incense that comes from Sheba,
or sweet cane from far-off lands?
Your burnt offerings find no favor with me,
your sacrifices do not please me.#n. [6:20] Is 1:11; 43:24.
21Therefore, thus says the Lord:
See, I will place before this people
obstacles to trip them up;
Parents and children alike,
neighbors and friends shall perish.#o. [6:21] Is 8:14–15.
22Thus says the Lord:
See, a people comes from the land of the north,
a great nation, rising from the very ends of the earth.#p. [6:22] Jer 1:15; 5:15.
23Bow and javelin they wield;
cruel and pitiless are they.
They sound like the roaring sea
as they ride forth on horses,
Each in his place for battle
against you, daughter Zion.
24We hear news of them;
our hands hang helpless,
Anguish takes hold of us,
pangs like a woman in childbirth.#q. [6:24] Jer 4:31.
25Do not go out into the field,
do not step into the street,
For the enemy has a sword;
terror on every side!
26Daughter of my people, dress in sackcloth,
roll in the ashes.
Mourn as for an only child
with bitter wailing:
“How suddenly the destroyer
comes upon us!”#r. [6:26] Jer 25:34; Am 8:10.
27#God appoints Jeremiah to be a “tester” of his people. The passage uses the metaphor of the refining of silver: the silver was extracted from lead ore, but the process in ancient times was inexact, so that sometimes all that was left was a scummy mess, to be thrown out. A tester for my people I have appointed you,
to search and test their way.#s. [6:27] Jer 1:18.
28Arch-rebels are they all,
dealers in slander,
bronze and iron, all of them,
destroyers they are.
29The bellows are scorched,
the lead is consumed by the fire;
In vain has the refiner refined,
the wicked are not drawn off.
30“Silver rejected” they shall be called,
for the Lord has rejected them.