Destruction of Jerusalem Impending
“Run for safety, you children of Benjamin,
Out of the midst of Jerusalem!
And blow a trumpet in Tekoa [in Judah]
And raise a signal-fire in Beth-haccherem [near Jerusalem];
For evil is looking down [with eager anticipation] from the north,
And great destruction.
“I will destroy the Daughter of Zion (Jerusalem), the lovely and delicate one [so like a luxurious pasture].
“Shepherds with their flocks will come against her;
They will pitch their tents all around her;
They will pasture, each one in his place [eating up all her rich grasses].
“[They shout], ‘Prepare for war against her;
Arise, let us [take her by surprise and] attack her at noon.
But alas, the daylight pales,
The evening shadows grow long.
‘Arise, let us [awaken to] attack her at night
And destroy her [fortified] palaces!’”
For the Lord of hosts has said,
“Cut down her trees
And build a siege [mound] against Jerusalem.
This is the city which must be punished;
There is nothing but oppression inside her [walls].
“As a fountain springs up and pours out its fresh waters,
So she [continually] pours out her fresh wickedness.
Violence and destruction are heard inside her [walls];
Sickness and wounds are always before Me.
“Be wise and be warned, O Jerusalem,
Or I will be alienated from you,
And make you a desolation,
An uninhabited land.”
Thus says the Lord of hosts,
“They will thoroughly gather like [fruit on] a vine what is left of Israel;
Pass your hand [over the vine] again and again [Babylon, tool of destruction] like a grape gatherer,
Over the branches [stripping the tendrils off the vine].”
To whom shall I (Jeremiah) speak and give warning
That they may hear?
Behold, their ears are [a]closed [absolutely deaf to God]
And they cannot listen.
Behold, the word of the Lord has become a reprimand and an object of scorn to them;
They have no delight in it.
But I am full of the wrath (judgment) of the Lord;
I am tired of restraining it.
“[I will] pour it out on the children in the street
And on the young men gathered together;
For both the husband and wife shall be taken,
The aged and the very old [though full of days they are not exempt from judgment].
“Their houses shall be turned over to others,
Their fields and their wives together;
For I will stretch out My hand
Against the inhabitants of the land,” says the Lord.
“For from the least of them even to the greatest of them,
Everyone is greedy for [unfair] gain;
And from the prophet even to the priest
Everyone deals deceitfully.
“They have treated superficially the [bloody] broken wound of My people,
Saying, ‘Peace, peace,’
When there is no peace.
“Were they ashamed because they had committed disgusting and vile things?
No, they were not at all ashamed;
They did not even know how to blush [at their idolatry].
Therefore they will fall among those who fall;
At the time that I punish them
They will be overthrown,” says the Lord.
Thus says the Lord,
“Stand by the roads and look; ask for the ancient paths,
Where the good way is; then walk in it,
And you will find rest for your souls.
But they said, ‘We will not walk in it!’
“I have set watchmen (prophets) over you,
Saying, ‘Listen and pay attention to the [warning] sound of the trumpet!’
But they said, ‘We will not listen.’
“Therefore hear, O [Gentile] nations,
And see, O congregation, what [vengeful act] is to be done to them.
“Hear, O earth: behold, I am bringing disaster on this people,
The fruit of their schemes,
Because they have not listened and paid attention to My words,
And as for My law, they have rejected it also.
“For what purpose does frankincense come to Me from [b]Sheba
And the sweet cane from a distant land?
Your burnt offerings are not acceptable
And your sacrifices are not sweet and pleasing to Me.”
Therefore, thus says the Lord,
“Behold, I am laying stumbling blocks before this people.
The fathers and the sons together
Will stumble against them;
The neighbor and his friend will perish.”
The Enemy from the North
Thus says the Lord,
“Behold, a people is coming from the north country,
And a great nation shall be stirred up and put into action from the remote parts of the earth.
“They seize bow and spear;
They are cruel and inhuman and have no mercy.
Their voice sounds like the roaring sea;
They ride [in formation] on horses,
Arrayed as a man for battle
Against you, O Daughter of Zion (Jerusalem)!”
We have heard the report of it;
Our hands become limp and helpless.
Anguish has gripped us,
Pain like that of a woman in childbirth.
Do not go out into the field
Nor walk on the road,
For the enemy is armed with the sword;
Terror is on every side.
O daughter of my people [says Jeremiah],
Clothe yourself in sackcloth and wallow in ashes;
Mourn [aloud] as for an only son,
A most bitter cry [of sorrow and regret],
For suddenly the destroyer will come upon us [on both prophet and people].
“I [the Lord] have set you as an assayer [O Jeremiah] and as a tester [of the ore] of My people,
That you may know and analyze their acts.”
They are all the worst [kind] of [stiff-necked, godless] rebels,
Going around spreading slander.
They are [not gold and silver ore, but] bronze and iron;
They are all corrupt.
The bellows blow fiercely,
The lead is consumed by the fire;
In vain they continue refining,
But the wicked are not separated and removed.
They call them rejected silver [only dross, without value],
Because the Lord has rejected them.
- Jeremiah 6:10 Lit uncircumcised.
- Jeremiah 6:20 Located in southwestern Arabia, Sheba was ruled by the priest-kings of the Sabeans whose primary deity was Attar, a god of procreation. The ruins of the capital city of Mariaba attest to the splendor of the ancient kingdom. The Queen of Sheba visited Solomon the king of Israel in about 950 b.c. The purpose of her 1,200 mile journey was most likely to establish a fair trade agreement. Incense was among the most desirable and valuable exports of Sheba.
Message at the Temple Gate
The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord, saying, “Stand in the gate of the Lord’s house and proclaim there this word and say, ‘Hear the word of the Lord, all you of Judah who enter by these gates to worship the Lord.’” Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, “Change your ways and your behavior, and I will let you live in this place. Do not trust in the deceptive and lying words [of the false prophets who claim that Jerusalem will be protected by God because of the temple], saying, ‘This is the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord.’ For if you thoroughly change your ways and your behavior, if you thoroughly and honestly practice justice between a man and his neighbor, if you do not oppress the transient and the foreigner, the orphan, or the widow, and do not shed innocent blood [by oppression and by unjust judicial murders] in Jerusalem, nor follow after other gods to your own ruin, then I will let you live in this place, in the land that I gave to your fathers [to live in] forever and ever.
“Behold, you are trusting in deceptive and useless words that bring no benefit. Will you steal, murder, commit adultery, swear [oaths] falsely, offer sacrifices or burn incense to Baal, and follow after other gods that you have not known, and [then dare to] come and stand before Me in this house, which is called by My [a]Name, and say, ‘We are protected and set free [by this act of religious ritual]!’—only to go on with this wickedness and these disgusting and loathsome things? Has this house, which is called by My Name, become a den of robbers in your eyes [a place of retreat for you between acts of violence]? Behold, I Myself have seen it,” says the Lord.
“But go now to My place which was in Shiloh [in Ephraim], where I first set My Name, and see what I did to it because of the wickedness of My people Israel. And now, because you have done all these things,” says the Lord, “and I spoke [persistently] to you, even rising up early and speaking, but you did not listen, and I called you but you did not answer, therefore, I will do to this house (the temple) which is called by My Name, in which you trust, and to the place which I gave you and your fathers, just as I did to Shiloh. I will cast you out of My sight, as I have cast out all your brothers (relatives through Jacob), all the descendants of Ephraim.
“Therefore, do not pray for this people [of Judah] or lift up a cry or entreaty for them or make intercession to Me, for I do not hear you. Do you not see what they are doing in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem? The children gather wood, the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead the dough to make cakes for the [b]queen of heaven; and they pour out drink offerings to other gods that they may offend and provoke Me to anger. Do they offend and provoke Me to anger?” says the Lord. “Is it not themselves [they offend], to their own shame?” Therefore thus says the Lord God, “Behold, My anger and My wrath will be poured out on this place, on man and beast, on the trees of the field and the fruit of the ground; and it will burn and [the fire will] not be quenched.”
Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, “Add your burnt offerings to your sacrifices and eat the meat. For in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, I did not speak to your fathers or command them concerning burnt offerings or sacrifices. But this thing I did command them: ‘Listen to and obey My voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be My people; and you will walk in all the way which I command you, so that it may be well with you.’ But they did not obey Me or bend their ear [to hear Me], but followed the counsels and the stubbornness of their [own] evil heart (mind), and [they turned and] went backward instead of forward. Since the day that your fathers came out of the land of Egypt until this day, I have [persistently] sent you all My servants the prophets, sending them daily, early [and late]. Yet they did not listen to Me and obey Me or bend their ear [to hear Me], but stiffened their neck; they did more evil and behaved worse than their fathers.
“You shall speak all these words to them, but they will not listen to you; and you shall [also] call to them, but they will not answer you. You shall say to them, ‘This is the nation that did not obey the voice of the Lord their God or accept correction and warning; truth and faithfulness have perished and have completely vanished from their mouths.
‘Cut off your hair [your crown, O Jerusalem] and throw it away,
And take up a mournful cry on the barren heights,
For the Lord has rejected and abandoned
The generation of His wrath.’
- Jeremiah 7:10 The “Name” of God is equivalent to His gracious presence in passages such as this one. The place where God puts His Name is the place where He chooses to dwell.
- Jeremiah 7:18 A goddess of fertility, probably the Babylonian title for Ishtar. She is identified with the planet Venus. Offerings to this goddess included cakes made in the shape of a star (44:19).