Israel's Unfaithfulness
1The Lord told me 2to go to Jerusalem and tell everyone that he had said:
When you were my young bride,
you loved me and followed me
through the barren desert.
3You belonged to me alone,
like the first part of the harvest,
and I severely punished
those who mistreated you.
4Listen, people of Israel,#2.4 Israel: After the nation was divided, the northern kingdom was called “Israel,” and the southern kingdom was called “Judah” (see 1 Kings 12.1-20). In 722 b.c. the Assyrians conquered the northern kingdom, and Judah was all that was left. And so in the book of Jeremiah the name “Israel” is most often used of the southern kingdom.
5and I, the Lord, will speak.
I was never unfair
to your ancestors,
but they left me
and became worthless
by following worthless idols.
6Your ancestors refused
to ask for my help,
though I had rescued them
from Egypt
and led them through
a treacherous, barren desert,
where no one lives
or dares to travel.
7I brought you here to my land,
where food is abundant,
but you made my land filthy
with your sins.
8The priests who teach my laws
don't care to know me.
Your leaders rebel against me;
your prophets
give messages from Baal
and worship false gods.
The Lord Accuses His People
9I will take you to court
and accuse you
and your descendants
* 10of a crime that no nation
has ever committed before.
Just ask anyone, anywhere,
from the eastern deserts
to the islands in the west.
11You will find that no nation
has ever abandoned its gods
even though they were false.
I am the true and glorious God,
but you have rejected me
to worship idols.
12Tell the heavens
to tremble with fear!
13You, my people, have sinned
in two ways—
you have rejected me, the source
of life-giving water,
and you've tried to collect water
in cracked and leaking pits
dug in the ground.
14People of Israel,
you weren't born slaves;
you were captured in war.
15Enemies roared like lions
and destroyed your land;
towns lie burned and empty.
16Soldiers from the Egyptian towns
of Memphis and Tahpanhes
have cracked your skulls.
17It's all your own fault!
You stopped following me,
the Lord your God,
18and you trusted the power
of Egypt and Assyria.#2.18 trusted … Assyria: Hebrew “went to Egypt and drank from the Shihor River, and you went to Assyria and drank from the Euphrates River.”
19Your own sins will punish you,
because it was a bitter mistake
for you to reject me
without fear of punishment.
I, the Lord All-Powerful,
have spoken.
20Long ago you left me
and broke all ties between us,
refusing to be my servant.
Now you worship other gods
by having sex
on hilltops or in the shade
of large trees.#2.20 having sex … trees: In some Canaanite religions, worshipers had sex with temple prostitutes, who represented their gods; many of the Canaanite places of worship were on hilltops or under large trees.
21You were a choice grapevine,
but you have become
a wild, useless vine.
Israel Is Stained with Guilt
22The Lord said:
People of Israel,
you are stained with guilt,
and no soap or bleach
can wash it away.
23You deny your sins
and say, “We aren't unclean.
We haven't worshiped Baal.”#2.23 Baal: The Hebrew text has “the Baals,” probably because the god Baal was believed to be present in different forms at different places of worship.
But think about what you do
in Hinnom Valley.#2.23 Hinnom Valley: Hebrew “the valley” (see 7.31-32; 19.1-6).
You run back and forth
like young camels,
as you rush to worship one idol
after another.
24You are a female donkey
sniffing the desert air,
wanting to mate
with just anyone.
You are an easy catch!
25Your shoes are worn out,
and your throat is parched
from running here and there
to worship foreign gods.
“Stop!” I shouted,
but you replied, “No!
I love those gods too much.”
26You and your leaders
are more disgraceful
than thieves—
you and your kings,
your priests and prophets
27worship stone idols
and sacred poles
as if they had created you
and had given you life.
You have rejected me,
but when you're in trouble,
you cry to me for help.
28Go cry to the gods you made!
There should be enough of them
to save you,
because Judah has as many gods
as it has towns.
Israel Rebels against the Lord
29The Lord said to Israel:
You accuse me of not saving you,
but I say you have rebelled.
30I tried punishing you,
but you refused
to come back to me,
and like fierce lions
you killed my prophets.
31Now listen to what I say!
Did I abandon you in the desert
or surround you with darkness?
You are my people,
yet you have told me,
“We'll do what we want,
and we refuse
to worship you!”
32A bride could not forget
to wear her jewelry
to her wedding,
but you have forgotten me
day after day.
33You are so clever
at finding lovers
that you could give lessons
to a prostitute.
34You killed innocent people
for no reason at all.
And even though their blood
can be seen on your clothes,
35you claim to be innocent,
and you want me to stop
being angry with you.
So I'll take you to court,
and we'll see who is right.
36When Assyria let you down,
you quickly ran to Egypt,
but you'll find no help there,
37and you will leave
in great sadness.#2.37 in great sadness: Or “as prisoners.”
I won't let you find help
from those you trust.
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