Destruction of Jerusalem Impending
1 Flee for safety, you children of Benjamin, out of the midst of Jerusalem! And blow the trumpet in Tekoa [a town far south in Judah], and raise a [fire] signal over Beth-haccherem [a town near Jerusalem]! For evil is looking forth with eagerness from the north, and great destruction. 2 The comely and delicate one, [Jerusalem] the Daughter of Zion, I will destroy. [To a pasturage, yes, a luxurious pasturage, have I likened her.] 3 Shepherds with their flocks shall come against her; they shall pitch their tents round about her; they shall pasture, each one in his place [eating up all her luxurious herbage on every side]. 4 Prepare yourselves for war against her [they cry]; up, let us attack her at noon! But alas, the day declines, the evening shadows lengthen. 5 Arise, let us go by night and destroy her palaces!
6 For the Lord of hosts has said, Hew down her trees and cast up a siege mound against Jerusalem. This is the city which must be punished; there is nothing but oppression within her. 7 As a fountain wells up and casts forth its waters and keeps them fresh, so she is [continually] casting forth [fresh] wickedness. Violence and destruction are heard within her; sickness and wounds are continually before Me. 8 Be corrected, reformed, instructed, and warned, O Jerusalem, lest I be alienated and parted from you, lest I make you a desolation, an uninhabited land.
9 Thus says the Lord of hosts: They shall thoroughly glean as a vine what is left of Israel; turn back your hand again and again [O minister of destruction] into the baskets, like a grape gatherer, and strip the tendrils [of the vine]. 10 To whom shall I [Jeremiah] speak and give warning, that they may hear? Behold, their ears are uncircumcised [never brought into covenant with God or consecrated to His service], and they cannot hear or obey. Behold, the word of the Lord has become to them a reproach and the object of their scorn; they have no delight in it. 11 Therefore I am full of the wrath of the Lord; I am weary of restraining it. I will pour it out on the children in the street and on the gathering of young men together; for even the husband with the wife will be taken, the aged with the very old. 12 And their houses will 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. 13 For from the least of them even to the greatest of them, everyone is given to covetousness (to greed for unjust gain); and from the prophet even to the priest, everyone deals falsely. 14 They have healed also the wound of the daughter of My people lightly and neglectfully, saying, Peace, peace, when there is no peace. 15 Were they brought to shame because they had committed abominations (extremely disgusting and vile things)? No, they were not at all ashamed, nor could they blush [at their idolatry]. Therefore they shall fall among those who fall; at the time that I punish them they shall be overthrown, says the Lord.
16 Thus says the Lord: Stand by the roads and look; and ask for the eternal paths, where the good, old way is; then walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk in it! 17 Also I set watchmen over you, saying, Hear and obey the sound of the trumpet! But they said, We will not listen or obey. 18 Therefore hear, O [Gentile] nations, and know, O congregation [of believing ones], what [great things I will do] to them. 19 Hear, O earth: behold, I am bringing evil upon this people, the fruit of their thoughts (their schemes and devices) because they have not listened and obeyed My words, and as for My law, they have rejected it. 20 To what purpose does frankincense come to Me from Sheba [in southwestern Arabia] and the sweet cane from a far country? Your burnt offerings are not acceptable, nor are your sacrifices sweet or pleasing to Me.
21 Therefore thus says the Lord: Behold, I will lay stumbling blocks before this people. And the fathers and the sons together will stumble against them; the neighbor and his friend will perish.
The Enemy from the North
22 Thus says the Lord: Behold, a people is coming from the north country, and a great nation is arousing itself from the ends of the earth. 23 They lay hold on bow and spear; they are cruel (ruthless and inhuman) and have no mercy. Their voice sounds like the roaring sea; they ride on horses, every one set in array as a man for battle against you, O Daughter of Zion! 24 We have heard the report of it; our hands become feeble and helpless. Anguish has taken hold of us, pangs like that of a woman in childbirth. 25 Go not out into the field nor walk on the road, for the enemy is armed with the sword; terror is on every side. 26 O daughter of my people [says Jeremiah], gird yourself with sackcloth and wallow in ashes; make mourning as for an only son, a most bitter lamentation, for the destroyer will suddenly come upon us [on prophet and people].
27 I [says the Lord] have set you [Jeremiah] as an assayer and a prover of ore among My people, that you may know and try their doings and be like a watchtower. 28 They are all the worst [kind] of rebels and utter and total revolters against God, going about publishing slander. They are [not gold and silver ore, but] bronze and iron; they are all corrupters. 29 The bellows blow fiercely, the lead is consumed by the fire; in vain do they continue refining, for the wicked [the dross] are not removed. 30 Men will call them reprobate and rejected silver [only dross, without good metal], because the Lord has rejected them.