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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."
Babylonia Will Attack Jerusalem
1The Lord says, "People of Benjamin, run for safety!
Run away from Jerusalem!
Blow trumpets in Tekoa!
Warn everyone in Beth Hakkerem!
Horrible trouble is coming from the north.
The Babylonians will destroy everything with awful power.
2I will destroy the city of Zion,
even though it is very beautiful.
3Shepherds will come against it with their flocks.
They will set up their tents around it.
All of them will take care of their own sheep."
4The Babylonians say, "Prepare for battle against Judah!
Get up! Let's attack them at noon!
But the daylight is fading.
The shadows of evening are getting longer.
5So get up! Let's attack them at night!
Let's destroy their strongest forts!"
6The Lord who rules over all speaks to the Babylonians. He says, "Cut some trees down.
Use the wood to build ramps against Jerusalem's walls.
I must punish that city.
It is filled with people who treat others badly.
7Wells keep giving fresh water.
And Jerusalem keeps on sinning.
Its people are always fighting and causing trouble.
When I look at them,
I see nothing but sickness and wounds.
8Jerusalem , listen to my warning.
If you do not, I will turn away from you.
Your land will become a desert.
No one will be able to live there."
9The Lord rules over all. He says to me, "People gather the few grapes that are left on a vine.
So let Israel's enemies gather the few people
who are left alive in the land.
Look carefully at the branches again.
Do it like someone who gathers the last few grapes."
10Who can I speak to? Who can I warn?
Who will even listen to me?
Their ears are closed
so they can't hear.
The Lord's message displeases them.
They don't take any delight in it.
11But the Lord's anger burns inside me.
I can no longer hold it in. The Lord says to me, "Pour out my anger on the children in the street.
Pour it out on the young people who are gathered together.
Husband and wife alike will be caught in it.
So will those who are very old.
12I will reach out my hand
against those who live in the land,"
announces the Lord.
"Then their houses will be turned over to others.
So will their fields and their wives.
13Everyone wants to get richer and richer,
from the least important of them to the most important.
Prophets and priests alike
try to fool everyone they can.
14They bandage the wounds of my people
as if they were not very deep.
'Peace, peace,' they say.
But there isn't any peace.
15Are they ashamed of their hateful actions?
No. They do not feel any shame at all.
They do not even know how to blush.
So they will fall like others who have already fallen.
They will be brought down when I punish them,"
says the Lord.
16The Lord tells the people of Judah, "Stand where the roads cross, and look around.
Ask where the old paths are.
Ask for the good path, and walk on it.
Then your hearts will find rest in me.
But you said, 'We won't walk on it.'
17I appointed prophets to warn you. I said,
'Listen to the sound of the trumpets!'
But you said, 'We won't listen.'
18So pay attention, you nations.
Be witnesses for me.
Watch what will happen to my people.
19Earth, pay attention.
I am going to bring trouble on them.
I will punish them because of the evil things they have done.
They have not listened to my words.
They have said no to my law.
20What do I care about incense from the land of Sheba?
Why should I bother with sweet-smelling cane from a land far away?
I do not accept your burnt offerings.
Your sacrifices do not please me."
21So the Lord says, "I will bring an army against the people of Judah.
Parents and children alike will trip and fall.
Neighbors and friends will die."
22The Lord says to Jerusalem, "Look! An army is coming
from the land of the north.
I am stirring up a great nation.
Its army is coming from a land that is very far away.
23Its soldiers are armed with bows and spears.
They are mean. They do not show any mercy at all.
They come riding in on their horses.
They sound like the roaring ocean.
They are lined up for battle.
They are marching out
to attack you, city of Zion."
24We have heard reports about them.
And our hands can't help us.
We are suffering greatly.
It's like the pain of a woman having a baby.
25Don't go out to the fields.
Don't walk on the roads.
Our enemies have swords.
And there is terror on every side.
26Put on black clothes, my people.
Roll among the ashes.
Cry with bitter sobbing
just as you would cry for an only child.
The one who is going to destroy us
will come suddenly.
27The Lord says to me, "I have made you like one who tests metals.
My people are the ore.
I want you to watch them
and test the way they live.
28All of them are used to disobeying me.
They go around telling lies about others.
They are like bronze mixed with iron.
All of them do very sinful things.
29The fire is made very hot
so the lead will burn away.
But it is impossible to make those people pure.
Those who are evil are not removed.
30They are like silver that is thrown away.
That is because I have not accepted them."