Then I said, “[a]Alas, Lord God! Surely You have completely deceived and misled this people and Jerusalem, [for the prophets represented You as] saying [to Your people], ‘You will have peace,’ but [in fact] a sword reaches to their throat.”
In that time it will be said to this people and to Jerusalem, “A scorching wind from the barren heights in the wilderness [comes at My command] against the daughter of My people—not [a wind] to winnow and not to cleanse [from chaff, as when threshing, but] a wind too strong and full for this comes at My word. Now I will also speak judgment against My people.”
“Behold, the enemy comes up like clouds,
His chariots like the whirlwind;
His horses are swifter than eagles.
Woe (judgment is coming) to us, for we are ruined!”
O Jerusalem, wash your heart from wickedness,
That you may be saved.
How long will your wicked and immoral thoughts
Lodge within you?
For a voice declares from Dan [far in the north],
And proclaims evil from [b]Mount Ephraim.
“Warn the [neighboring] nations now [that our enemy is coming]!
Announce to Jerusalem,
‘Besiegers are coming from a far country,
And they lift their voices and shout against the cities of Judah.
‘Like watchmen of a field they are against her on all sides,
Because she has rebelled against Me,’ says the Lord.
“Your ways and your deeds
Have brought these things on you.
This is your tragedy and doom; how bitter,
How it has touched your heart!”
Lament over Judah’s Devastation
My soul, my soul! I writhe in anguish and pain! Oh, the walls of my heart!
My heart is pounding and throbbing within me;
I cannot be silent,
For you have heard, O my soul,
The sound of the trumpet,
The alarm of war.
News of one [terrible] disaster comes close after another,
For the whole land is devastated;
Suddenly my tents are spoiled and destroyed,
My [tent] curtains [ruined] in a moment.
How long [O Lord] must I see the banner [marking the way for flight]
And hear the sound of the trumpet [urging the people to run for safety]?
“For My people are stupid and foolish,” [says the Lord to Jeremiah];
“They do not know Me;
They are foolish children
And have no understanding.
They are shrewd [enough] to do evil,
But they do not know [how] to do good.”
I looked at the earth [in my vision], and behold, it was [as at the time of creation] formless and void;
And to the heavens, and they had no light.
I looked at the mountains, and behold, they were trembling,
And all the hills moved back and forth.
I looked, and behold, there was no man,
And all the birds of the air had fled.
I looked, and behold, the fertile land was a wilderness,
And all its cities were pulled down
Before the [presence of the] Lord, before His fierce anger.
Therefore says the Lord,
“The whole land shall be a desolation,
Yet I will not cause total destruction.
“For this reason the earth shall mourn
And the heavens above shall become dark,
Because I have spoken, I have decided,
And I will not change my mind (relent), nor will I turn back from it.”
Every city runs away at the sound of the horsemen and archers.
They go into the thickets and climb among the rocks;
Every city is deserted,
And no man lives in them.
And you, O desolate one, what will you do?
Though you clothe yourself in scarlet,
Though you adorn yourself with ornaments of gold,
Though you enlarge your eyes with paint,
You make yourself beautiful in vain.
Your lovers (allies) despise you;
They seek your life.
For I heard a cry like a woman in labor,
The anguish as of one giving birth to her first child,
The cry of the Daughter of Zion (Jerusalem), who gasps for breath,
Who stretches out her hands, saying,
“Woe is me [my judgment comes]! I faint [in fear] before the murderers.”
- Jeremiah 4:10 Jeremiah could not reconcile the tragedy he was now commanded to announce with his previous prophecy.
- Jeremiah 4:15 The northern mountain dividing Israel from Judah.
“Roam back and forth through the streets of Jerusalem,
And look now and take note.
And look in her open squares
To see if you can find a man [as Abraham sought in Sodom],
One who is just, who [has integrity and moral courage and] seeks truth (faithfulness);
Then I will pardon Jerusalem—[for the sake of one uncompromisingly righteous person].
“And though they say, ‘As the Lord lives,’
Surely they swear [their oaths] falsely.”
O Lord, do not Your eyes look for truth?
You [have seen their faithless heart and] have stricken them,
But they did not weaken;
You have consumed them,
But they refused to take correction or instruction.
They have made their faces harder than rock;
They have refused to repent and return to You.
Then I said, “[Surely] these are only the poor (uneducated);
They are [sinfully] foolish and have no [spiritual] understanding,
For they do not know the way of the Lord
Or the ordinance of their God [and the requirements of His just and righteous law].
“I will go to the great [men]
And speak to them,
For they [must] know the way of the Lord,
The ordinance of their God.”
But [I found the reverse to be true, that] they too had all alike broken the yoke [of God’s law]
And had burst the bonds [of obedience to Him].
Therefore a lion from the forest will kill them,
A wolf of the deserts will destroy them,
A leopard is watching their cities.
Everyone who goes out of them shall be torn in pieces,
Because their transgressions are many,
Their desertions of faith are countless.
“Why should I [overlook these offenses and] forgive you?
Your children have abandoned (rejected) Me
And sworn [their oaths] by those who are not gods.
When I had fed them until they were full [and bound them to Me by a promise],
They committed [spiritual] adultery,
Assembling in troops at the houses of prostitutes (idols).
“They were like well-fed, lusty stallions,
Each one neighing after his neighbor’s wife.
“Shall I not punish them [for these things]?” says the Lord;
“Shall I not avenge Myself
On a nation such as this?”
“Go up through the rows of Jerusalem’s vineyards and destroy [them],
But do not completely destroy everything.
Strip away her branches and the tendrils [of her vines],
For they are not the Lord’s.
“For the house of Israel and the house of Judah
Have dealt very treacherously (faithlessly) with Me,” declares the Lord.
They have lied about and denied the Lord
By saying, “It is not He [who speaks through His prophets];
Misfortune and evil shall not come on us,
Nor will we see war or famine.
“The prophets are like the [a]wind [their prophecy will not come to pass],
And the word [of God] is not in them.
In this manner it will be done to them [as they prophesied, not to us].”
Therefore, thus says the Lord God of hosts,
“Because you [people] have spoken this word,
Behold, I am making My words a fire in your mouth [Jeremiah]
And this people wood, and My words will consume them.
“Behold, I am bringing a nation against you from far away, O house of Israel,” says the Lord.
“It is a mighty and enduring nation,
It is an ancient nation,
A nation whose language you do not know,
Whose words you do not comprehend.
“Their quiver is [filled with the dead] like an open grave;
They are all mighty men [heroes of their nation].
“They will consume your harvest and [eat up] your bread;
They will consume your sons and your daughters;
They will consume your flocks and your herds;
They will consume your vines and your fig trees.
With the sword they will break down and demolish your fortified cities in which you trust.
“But even in those days,” says the Lord, “I will not totally destroy you. It will come about when your people say, ‘Why has the Lord our God done all these things to us?’ then you shall answer them, ‘As you have abandoned (rejected) Me,’ [says the Lord,] ‘and have served strange and foreign gods in your land, so you will serve strangers in a land that is not yours.’
“Declare this in the house of Jacob
And proclaim it in Judah, saying:
‘Now hear this, O foolish people without heart,
Who have eyes but do not see,
Who have ears but do not hear.
‘Do you not fear Me?’ says the Lord.
‘Do you not tremble [in awe] in My presence?
For I have placed the sand as a boundary for the sea,
An eternal decree and a perpetual barrier beyond which it cannot pass.
Though the waves [of the sea] toss and break, yet they cannot prevail [against the sand ordained to hold them back];
Though the waves and the billows roar, yet they cannot cross over [the barrier].
[Is not such a God to be feared?]
‘But this people has a stubborn heart and a rebellious will [that draws them away from Me];
They have turned away and have gone [into idolatry].
‘They do not say in their heart,
“Let us now fear and worship the Lord our God [with profound awe and reverence],
Who gives rain in its season,
Both the autumn and the spring rain,
Who keeps for us
The appointed weeks of the harvest.”
‘Your wickedness has turned these [blessings] away,
And your sins have withheld good [harvests] from you.
‘For wicked men are found among My people,
They watch like fowlers who lie in wait;
They set a trap,
They catch men.
‘As a cage is full of birds,
So are their houses full of deceit and treachery;
Therefore they have become influential and rich.
‘They are fat and they are sleek (prosperous),
They [b]excel in acts of wickedness;
They do not plead the cause,
The cause of the orphan, so that they [the wicked] may prosper,
And they do not defend the rights of the poor.
‘Shall I not punish them [for these things]?’ says the Lord.
‘Shall I not avenge Myself
On such a nation as this?’
“An appalling and horrible thing [bringing desolation and destruction]
Has come to pass in the land:
The prophets prophesy falsely,
And the priests rule [c]on their own authority;
And My people love [to have] it so!
But what will you do when the end comes?
- Jeremiah 5:13 The same Hebrew word (ruach) means both “wind” and “spirit,” so this statement was actually a subtle wordplay insulting not only the prophets but also the Holy Spirit who inspired them.
- Jeremiah 5:28 Lit pass over, or, overlook deeds.
- Jeremiah 5:31 Lit by their own hands.