1Now the word of the Lord came to me saying, 2 “Go and proclaim in the ears of Jerusalem, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord,
“I remember [earnestly] the lovingkindness and devotion of [a]your youth,
Your time of betrothal [like that of a bride during the early years in Egypt and again at Sinai],
When you followed Me in the wilderness,
Through a land not sown.
“[b]Israel was holy [something set apart from ordinary purposes, consecrated] to the Lord,
The first fruits of His harvest [in which no outsider was allowed to share].
All who ate of it [injuring Israel] became guilty;
Evil came on 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 injustice or unrighteousness did your fathers find in Me,
That they have wandered far from Me
And [habitually] walked after emptiness and futility and became empty?
“They did not say, ‘Where is the Lord
Who brought us up from the land of Egypt,
Who led us through the wilderness,
Through a land of deserts and of pits,
Through a land of drought and of the deep darkness [of the shadow of death],
Through a land that no man passed through
And where no man lived?’
“I brought you into a plentiful land
To eat its fruit and [enjoy] its good things.
But you came and defiled My land
And you made My inheritance repulsive.
“[Even] the priests did not say, ‘Where is the Lord?’
And those who deal with the law [given to Moses] did not know Me.
The rulers and shepherds also transgressed against Me,
And the prophets prophesied by [the authority and in the name of] Baal
And walked after [idolatrous] things that did not benefit [them].
“Therefore I will still contend (struggle) with you [by bringing judgment on you],” says the Lord,
“And I will contend with your children’s children.”
“For cross over to the coasts of Kittim (Cyprus) [to the west] and see,
Send also to Kedar (Arabia) [to the east] and carefully observe and consider
And see whether there has been such [a thing] as this!
“Has a nation [ever] changed gods
Even though they were not gods [but merely man-made objects]?
But My people have exchanged their Glory (the true God)
For that [man-made idol] which does not benefit [them].
“Be appalled, O heavens, at this;
Be shocked and shudder with horror [at the behavior of the people],” says the Lord.
“For My people have committed two evils:
They have abandoned (rejected) Me,
The fountain of living water,
And they have carved out their own cisterns,
That cannot hold water.
“Is Israel a servant? Is he a slave by birth?
Why has he become a captive and a prey?
“The young lions have roared at him,
They have made their voices heard and roared loudly.
And they have made his land a waste;
His cities have been destroyed and are burned ruins, without inhabitant.
“Moreover, the men of [c]Memphis and [d]Tahpanhes [as powerful enemies]
Have shaved the crown of your head [to degrade you].
“Have you not brought this on yourself
By abandoning (rejecting) the Lord your God
When He led you in the way?
“Now what are you doing by going to Egypt [in search of an ally],
To drink the [muddy] waters of the Nile?
Or what are you doing by going to Assyria [in search of an ally],
To drink the [muddy] waters of the Euphrates?
“Your own wickedness will discipline you,
And your desertion of the faith will punish you.
Know therefore that it is an evil and bitter thing
For you to abandon (reject) the Lord your God,
And for you to be indifferent to Me and dismiss the [reverent] fear of Me,” says the Lord God of hosts.
“For long ago you broke your yoke [in deliberate disobedience]
And tore off your bonds [of the law that I gave you];
You said, ‘I will not serve and obey You!’
For on every high hill
And under every green tree
You have lain down [in idolatrous worship] like a [compliant] prostitute.
“Yet I had planted you [O house of Israel as] a choice vine,
A completely faithful seed.
How then have you turned against Me
Into degenerate shoots of a foreign and wild vine [alien to Me]?
“For though you wash yourself with lye
And use much soap,
The stain of your guilt is [still] before Me [and you are soiled and dirty],” says the Lord God.
“How can you say, ‘I am not defiled,
I have not gone after [man-made gods like] the Baals’?
Look at your way in the valley;
Know [without any doubt] what you have done!
You are a swift and restless young [female] camel [in the heat of her passion] running here and there,
Or [you have the untamed and reckless nature of] a wild donkey accustomed to the wilderness,
That sniffs the wind in her passion [for the scent of a mate].
In her mating season who can restrain her?
No males seeking her need to weary themselves;
In her month they will find her [looking for them].
“[Cease your mad running after idols to]
Keep your feet from becoming bare
And your throat from becoming dry;
But you said, ‘It is hopeless!
For I have loved strangers and foreign gods,
And I will walk after them.’
“As the thief is shamed when he is caught,
So the house of Israel is shamed—
They, their kings, their leaders,
Their priests, and their prophets—
Who 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 will say,
‘Arise [O Lord] and save us.’
“But where are your gods
Which you made for yourself?
Let them get up, 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. [Why do not your many man-made idols run to help you?]
“Why do you complain and contend with Me?
You have all rebelled (transgressed) against Me,” says the Lord.
“In vain I have punished your people [with the consequences of their disobedience];
They received no insight from correction [and refused to change].
Your [own] sword has devoured your prophets
Like a destroying lion.
“O generation [that you are], consider and regard carefully the word of the Lord.
Have I been a wilderness to Israel [like a land without food],
A land of thick and deep darkness [like a path without light]?
Why do My people say, ‘We [have broken loose and we] are free to roam [at will];
We will no longer come to You’?
“Can a virgin forget [to wear] her ornaments,
Or a bride her attire [that identifies her as a married woman]?
Yet My people have forgotten Me
Days without number.
“How well you prepare your path
To seek and obtain [adulterous] love!
Even the most wicked of women
Have learned [indecent] ways from you.
“Also on your skirts is found
The lifeblood of the innocent poor;
You did not find them breaking in [a house].
But in spite of all these things [your disobedience, your love of idolatry, your lack of compassion]—
Yet you keep saying, ‘I am innocent;
Surely His anger has turned away from me.’
Behold (listen very carefully), I will bring you to judgment and will plead my case against you
Because you say, ‘I have not sinned.’
“Why do you go around and wander so much
Changing your way?
Also, you will be shamed by Egypt
As you were shamed by Assyria.
“From Egypt also you will come away [as captives]
With your hands on your head;
For the Lord has rejected those in whom you trust (confide),
And you will not be successful with them.”