1 AND THE word of the Lord came to me [Jeremiah], saying,
2 Go and cry in the ears of Jerusalem, saying, Thus says the Lord: I [earnestly] remember the kindness and devotion of your youth, your love after your betrothal [in Egypt] and marriage [at Sinai] when you followed Me in the wilderness, in a land not sown.
3 Israel was holiness [something set apart from ordinary purposes, dedicated] to the Lord, the firstfruits of His harvest [of which no stranger was allowed to partake]; all who ate of it [injuring Israel] offended and became guilty; evil came upon them, says the Lord.
4 Hear the word of the Lord, O house of Jacob, and all the families of the house of Israel.
5 Thus says the Lord: What unrighteousness did your fathers find in Me, that they went far from Me and [habitually] went after emptiness, falseness, and futility and themselves became fruitless and worthless?
6 Nor did they say, Where is the Lord, Who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, Who led us through the wilderness, through a land of deserts and pits, through a land of drought and of the shadow of death and deep darkness, through a land that no man passes through and where no man dwells?
7 And I brought you into a plentiful land to enjoy its fruits and good things. But when you entered, you defiled My land and made My heritage an abomination [detestable and loathsome].
8 [Even] the priests did not say, Where is the Lord? And those who handle the law [given by God to Moses] knew Me not. The rulers and secular shepherds also transgressed against Me, and the prophets prophesied by [the authority and in the name of] Baal and followed after things that do not profit.
9 Therefore I will still contend with you [by inflicting further judgments on you], says the Lord, and with your children's children will I contend.
10 For cross over to the coasts of Cyprus [to the west] and see, send also to Kedar [to the east] and carefully consider; and see whether there has been such a thing as this:
11 Has a nation [ever] changed its gods, even though they are not gods? But My people have changed their Glory [God] for that which does not profit.
12 Be astonished and appalled, O heavens, at this; be shocked and shrivel up with horror, says the Lord [at the behavior of the people].
13 For My people have committed two evils: they have forsaken Me, the Fountain of living waters, and they have hewn for themselves cisterns, broken cisterns which cannot hold water.
14 Is Israel a servant? Is he a homeborn slave? Why has he become a captive and a prey?
15 The young lions have roared over him and made their voices heard. And they have made his land a waste; his cities are burned ruins without inhabitant.
16 Moreover, the children of Memphis and Tahpanhes (Egypt) [have in times past shown their power as a foe; they] have broken and fed on the crown of your head [Israel]–so do not rely on them as an ally now.
17 Have you not brought this upon yourself by forsaking the Lord your God when He led you in the way?
18 And now what have you to gain by allying yourself with Egypt and going her way, to drink the [black and roiled] waters of the Nile? Or what have you to gain in going the way of Assyria, to drink the waters of the Euphrates?
19 Your own wickedness shall chasten and correct you, and your backslidings and desertion of faith shall reprove you. Know therefore and recognize that this is an evil and bitter thing: [first,] you have forsaken the Lord your God; [second,] you are indifferent to Me and the fear of Me is not in you, says the Lord of hosts.
20 For long ago [in Egypt] I broke your yoke and burst your bonds [not that you might be free, but that you might serve Me] and long ago you shattered the yoke and snapped the bonds [of My law which I put upon you]; you said, I will not serve and obey You! For upon every high hill and under every green tree you [eagerly] prostrated yourself [in idolatrous worship], playing the harlot.
21 Yet I had planted you [O house of Israel] a choice vine, wholly of pure seed. How then have you turned into degenerate shoots of wild vine alien to Me?
22 For though you wash yourself with lye and use much soap, yet your iniquity and guilt are still [upon you; you are] spotted, dirty, and stained before Me, says the Lord.
23 How can you say, I am not defiled; I have not gone after the Baals [other gods]? Look at your way in the valley; know what you have done. You are a restive young female camel [in the uncontrollable violence of her brute passion eagerly] running hither and thither,
24 Or [you have the untamed and reckless nature of] a wild donkey used to the desert, in her heat sniffing the wind [for the scent of a male]. In her mating season who can restrain her? No males seeking her need weary themselves; in her month they will find her [seeking them].
25 [Cease from your mad running after idols, from which you get nothing but bitter injury.] Keep your feet from being unshod and your throat from thirst. But you said, It is hopeless! For I have loved strangers and foreigners, and after them I will go.
26 As the thief is brought to shame when he is caught, so shall the house of Israel be brought to shame–they, their kings, their princes, their priests, and their prophets–
27 [Inasmuch as] they say to a tree, You are my father, and to a stone, You gave me birth. For they have turned their backs to Me and not their faces; but in the time of their trouble, they say, Arise [O Lord] and save us!
28 But where are your gods that you made for yourself? Let them arise if they can save you in the time of your trouble! For [as many as] the number of your cities are your gods, O Judah. [Surely so many handmade idols should be able to help you!]
29 Why do you complain and remonstrate against My wrath? You all have rebelled and revolted against Me, says the Lord.
30 In vain have I stricken your children (your people); they received no discipline (no correction). Your own sword devoured your prophets like a destroying lion.
31 O generation [that you are]! Behold, consider, and regard the word of the Lord: Have I been a wilderness to Israel [like a land without food]? A land of deep darkness [like a way without light]? Why do My people say, We have broken loose [we are free and will roam at large]; we will come no more to You?
32 Can a maid forget and neglect [to wear] her ornaments, or a bride her [marriage] girdle [with its significance like that of a wedding ring]? Yet My people have forgotten Me, days without number.
33 How you deck yourself and direct your way to procure [adulterous] love! Because of it even wicked women have learned [indecent] ways from you.
34 Also on your skirts is found the lifeblood of the persons of the innocent poor; you did not find them housebreaking, nor have I found it out by secret search. But it is because of [your lust for idolatry that you have done] all these things–[that is everywhere evident.]
35 Yet you keep saying, I am innocent; surely His anger has turned away from Me. Behold, I will bring you to judgment and will plead against you because you say, I have not sinned.
36 Why do you gad or wander about so much to change your way? You shall be put to shame by Egypt as you were put to shame by Assyria.
37 From [Egypt] also you will come away with your hands upon your head, for the Lord has rejected those in whom you confide, and you will not prosper with [respect to] them.