1 IF YOU will return, O Israel, says the Lord, if you will return to Me, and if you will put away your abominable false gods out of My sight and not stray or waver,
2 And if you swear, As the Lord lives, in truth, in judgment and justice, and in righteousness (uprightness in every area and relation), then the nations will bless themselves in Him and in Him will they glory.
3 For thus says the Lord to the men of Judah and to Jerusalem: Break up your ground left uncultivated for a season, so that you may not sow among thorns.
4 Circumcise yourselves to the Lord and take away the foreskins of your hearts, you men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem, lest My wrath go forth like fire [consuming all that gets in its way] and burn so that no one can quench it because of the evil of your doings.
5 Declare in Judah and publish in Jerusalem and say: Blow the trumpet in the land; cry aloud and say: Assemble yourselves, and let us go into the fortified cities.
6 Raise a standard toward Zion [to mark out the safest route to those seeking safety within Jerusalem's walls]! Flee for safety, stay not, for I bring evil from the north, and great destruction.
7 A lion has gone up from his thicket, and a destroyer of nations is on his way. He has gone forth from his place to make your land a desolate waste; and your cities shall be left in ruins without an inhabitant.
8 For this, gird yourselves with sackcloth, lament and wail, for the fierce anger of the Lord has not turned back from us.
9 And it shall be in that day, says the Lord, that the understanding and courage of the king shall fail (be paralyzed), and also that of the princes; the priests shall be appalled and the prophets astounded and dazed with horror.
10 Then I [Jeremiah] said, Alas, Lord God! Surely You have greatly deceived and misled this people and Jerusalem, [for the prophets represented You as] saying [to Your people], You shall have peace, whereas the sword has reached to [their very] life.
11 At that time it will be said to this people and to Jerusalem, A hot wind from the bare heights in the wilderness [comes at My command] against the daughter of My people–not [a wind] to fan or cleanse [from chaff, as when threshing, but]
12 A wind too strong and full for winnowing comes at My word. Now I will also speak in judgment against [My people].
13 Behold, [the enemy] comes up like clouds, his chariots like the whirlwind; his horses are swifter than eagles. Woe to us, for we are ruined (destroyed)!
14 O Jerusalem, wash your heart from wickedness, that you may be saved! How long shall your iniquitous and grossly offensive thoughts lodge within you?
15 For a voice declares from Dan [in the north] and proclaims evil from Mount Ephraim [the range dividing Israel from Judah].
16 Warn the [neighboring] nations [that our adversary is coming]; announce to Jerusalem that besiegers are coming from a far country, and they shout against the cities of Judah.
17 Like keepers of a field they are against her round about, because she has been rebellious against Me, says the Lord.
18 Your ways and your doings have brought these things upon you. This is your calamity and doom; surely it is bitter, for surely it reaches your very heart!
19 [It is not only the prophet but also the people who cry out in their thoughts] My anguish, my anguish! I writhe in pain! Oh, the walls of my heart! My heart is disquieted and throbs aloud within me; I cannot be silent! For I have heard the sound of the trumpet, the alarm of war.
20 News of one violent disaster and calamity comes close after another, for the whole land is laid waste; suddenly are my tents spoiled and destroyed, and my [tent] curtains ruined in a moment.
21 [O Lord] how long must I see the flag [marking the route for flight] and hear the sound of the trumpet [urging the people to flee for refuge]?
22 [Their chastisement will continue until it has accomplished its purpose] for My people are stupid, says the Lord [replying to Jeremiah]; they do not know and understand Me. They are thickheaded children, and they have no understanding. They are wise to do evil, but to do good they have no knowledge [and know not how].
23 [In a vision Jeremiah sees Judah laid waste by conquest and captivity.] I looked at the land, and behold, it was [as at the time of creation] waste and vacant (void); and at the heavens, and they had no light.
24 I looked at the mountains, and behold, they trembled, and all the hills moved lightly to and fro.
25 I looked, and behold, there was no man, and all the birds of the air had fled.
26 I looked, and behold, the fruitful land was a desert, and all its cities were laid waste before the Lord's presence, before His fierce anger.
27 For thus says the Lord: The whole land will be a desolation, yet I will not make a full and complete end of it. [Jer. 5:10, 18; 30:11; 46:28.]
28 For this will the earth mourn and the heavens above be black; because I have spoken, I have purposed, and I will not relent, nor will I turn back [from it].
29 Every city flees because of the noise of the horsemen and bowmen. They go into the thickets and climb among the rocks; every city is forsaken, and not a man dwells in them.
30 And you [plundered one], when you are made desolate, what will you do? Though you clothe yourself with scarlet, though you deck yourself with ornaments of gold, though you paint your eyelids and make them look farther apart, in vain you beautify yourself. Your lovers (allies) despise you; they seek your life.
31 For I have heard a cry as of a woman in travail, the anguish as of one who brings forth her first child–the cry of the Daughter of Zion, who gasps for breath, who spreads her hands, saying, Woe is me now! I am fainting before the murderers.