Jeremiah Speaks God’s Words

About Jeremiah

Jeremiah was a priest. He was born in Anathoth, a town in Israel in about 650 BC. The LORD spoke to him. ‘You must be a prophet’, he said. He told Jeremiah what he must say to the people in Judah. Jeremiah was afraid, but the LORD promised to make him strong. He went. And he told the people what the LORD had told him to say. He did this for 40 years, but it was very difficult. The LORD told the people that they were very bad. So the people got angry. Jeremiah was very brave and he continued to speak the LORD’s words. He was sad for another reason. He wanted people to stop doing bad things. The LORD would not punish them if they were sorry. Jeremiah knew that. But the people did not listen, so God had to punish them. They were not kind to Jeremiah. But he was only telling them what God had told him to say. Jeremiah knew that the LORD wanted people to worship him, and only him. Their ancestors had promised to do that. If they obeyed the LORD, he would give them many good things. But now they were worshipping many false gods. Jeremiah had to tell them that God would punish them for that.

The LORD sent other prophets to Israel at nearly the same time as Jeremiah. God spoke by his prophets. Most of the people did not listen to their words. But they listened to false prophets. They spoke things that the people wanted to hear.

People would not listen to God’s message. But Jeremiah still obeyed God. So God showed Jeremiah how God himself would, one day, bring people to know him. He told him about the gift of the Holy Spirit. He sent the LORD Jesus Christ to give this gift. But that was many years after Jeremiah had died.

Chapter 1

1 Jeremiah, son of Hilkiah, spoke to the people of Israel. He was a priest. He lived at Anathoth, a town in the land that God gave to the tribe of Benjamin. 2 God spoke to him when Josiah, son of Amon, had been king of Judah for 13 years. 3 God continued to speak to him all the time that Josiah’s son, Jehoiakim, was king. And he went on speaking to Jeremiah for the 11 years and 5 months, that Zedekiah was king. Zedekiah was a son of King Josiah. After this, enemies took the people from Jerusalem away to a far country.

God chooses Jeremiah.

4 God spoke to me. 5 ‘I knew you even before I made your body inside your mother’s body. I chose you before you were born. I decided that you must be a prophet to all the countries in the world’, he said.

6 ‘Great and powerful LORD’, I said. ‘I do not know how to speak. I am only a child.’

7 The LORD said to me, ‘Do not say, “I am only a child.” You must go to everyone that I send you to. You must say whatever I tell you to say. 8 You need not be afraid of them, because I am with you. I will save you’, he said.

9 Then the LORD touched my mouth with his hand. ‘Now I have put my words into your mouth’, he said. 10 ‘Look, I give you authority over countries and kingdoms. You can pull them down or break them up to destroy them. You can build them up and make them safe.’

The LORD shows Jeremiah two pictures.

11 The LORD spoke to me. ‘What do you see, Jeremiah?’ he said.

‘I see the branch of an almond tree’, I replied.

12 ‘Yes, that is correct’, he said. ‘I am watching my words. And I will cause them to happen.’

The words for ‘almond’ and ‘watching’ sound nearly the same (in the language of Israel). The almond tree is the first tree to have flowers, in the spring. God was telling Jeremiah what would happen. All the things that he had said would soon happen.

13 The LORD spoke to me again. ‘What do you see?’ he said. ‘I see a boiling pot. It is in the north and it is pouring this way’, I answered. 14 ‘People from the north will pour out. And they will kill all the people who live in this country’, the LORD said. 15 ‘I will bring all the nations who live in the north’, he said. ‘Their kings will come and they will sit in the gates of Jerusalem. They will rule there. They will be round its walls. They will be round all the towns of Judah. 16 I will be the judge of my people, because they have turned away from me. They have done very wrong things. They have given gifts to false gods. They have worshipped things that they have made with their own hands. 17 You must get ready! Stand up. And say whatever I tell you. Do not be afraid of them. If you are afraid of them, I will make you afraid in front of them! 18 Today I have made you as strong as a city with great walls. You will be like a tree that someone has made out of iron. You will be like a metal wall to stand against the whole nation. You will stand against the kings of Judah and their officers. You will stand against the priests and the people of the country. 19 They will fight against you. But they will not win, because I am with you. I will save you’, says the LORD.

Chapter 2

Israel’s people have turned away from the LORD.

1 God spoke to me again. 2 ‘Speak to the people in Jerusalem’, he said.

‘I remember how you used to love me. That was when I first made you my people.

You loved me as a young wife loves her husband.

You followed me through a wild place,

where nobody grew any food.

3 Israel belonged to me. It was special.

It was like the first food that grew on my land.

Anyone else who ate that food was doing something bad.

And I caused bad things to happen to them.’

The LORD said this.

4 ‘Listen to what the LORD says, you sons of Jacob,

and all the families in Israel.’

5 This is the LORD’s message.

‘Your ancestors were angry with me.

But I did nothing that was wrong. But they went a long way from me.

They went to gods of wood and stone that could not do anything for them.

And then they could not do anything for themselves.

6 They did not ask the LORD for help.

He brought them out of Egypt.

He led them through the place where nothing grows,

an empty place with many valleys.

It was a dry and dark place.

Nobody goes through it and nobody lives in it.

7 I, the LORD, brought you to a good country,

where you could eat very good food.

But you came and you made my country like something dirty.

You made it too bad for me to look at.

8 The priests did not ask “Where is the LORD?”

And the judges did not know me.

Your leaders did not obey me.

The prophets asked Baal what to say to you.

They hoped that gods of wood and stone would help them.

Those gods cannot help anyone.’

9 ‘So I must be your judge’, says the LORD.

‘And I will be the judge of your children and their children.

10 Go to the people who live in the east and the west.

Ask them if anyone has ever done this before.

11 Other nations have not changed their gods.

But their gods are not really gods.

But my people have changed him who is greater than any god.

They have changed him for things of wood and stone that cannot help them.

12 You skies, be very surprised.

Shake and be afraid’, says the LORD.

13 ‘My people have sinned twice.

They have left me. I am like a river of living water.

And they have dug holes in the earth for themselves.

These holes cannot hold water. They let water run away.

14 Israel’s people are not slaves, born to be servants.

But they have become slaves to their enemies.

15 The enemies attacked them like lions.

They have destroyed their country.

They have burnt their towns and nobody lives in them.

16 The men from Memphis and Tahpanhes have removed all the hair from your heads.

So they have made you ashamed.

17 You have caused this to happen.

It is because you stopped following the LORD, your God.

He was leading you in the way that you should go.

18 The water of the River Shihor in Egypt is not better to drink than yours is.

And the water from the river of Assyria is not better to drink than yours is.

19 The very bad things that you have done will punish you.

And your backslidings will show to you that you have done wrong things.

You have gone away from the LORD your God.

And you are not afraid to make me angry.

Those are very bad things and they will cause you to have very bad pain.

You must think about that and you must understand it.’

That is what the great, powerful LORD says.

20 ‘You stopped working for me a long time ago.

You cut through any thing that tied us together.

You said, “I will not work for you!”

So you sold yourselves to any people that would take you.

You were like a woman that sells sex.

21 But I had planted you like a young vine.

You were strong and you had good strong ancestors.

Tell me how you became weak, dirty and really bad.

22 You may wash yourselves with clean water,

and you may use a lot of soap’, says the most powerful LORD.

‘But you will always seem dirty to me.

23 You say that you are not dirty.

And you say that you do not run after false gods.

But remember what you did in the valley.

Think carefully what you have done.

You are like a fast female animal.

You run all over the country.

24 You are like a wild female horse

that lifts its nose in the air.

It is looking for a male horse.

Nobody can keep it from what it wants.

Any males who follow it will catch it easily.

You are like that.

25 Do not run for so long that you become tired.

Do not run for so long that your feet hurt.

“I cannot change”, you say.

“I love foreign gods. I must obey them!”

26 A man may take things that are not his.

He is ashamed when people catch him.

So the people of Israel are ashamed.

They, their kings, their officers, and their prophets all do what is wrong.

27 They say to a piece of wood, “You are my father.”

They call a stone their mother.

They have turned away from me.

They do not show their faces to me.

But then troubles happen to them.

“Come and save us!” they ask me.

28 I tell them to ask the gods that they made for themselves.

Ask them to come and save you.

Ask for their help when you have troubles.

Judah, you have many towns.

And you have as many gods.’

29 ‘You must not judge me.

You have all turned against me’, says the LORD.

30 ‘I punished your people.

But they would not turn back to me.

You have killed your prophets.

You are like hungry animals.’

God will punish Judah.

31 ‘Think about my message, you people who are alive today’, says the LORD.

‘I have not been like a place where nothing grows.

I have not been like a dark place where nobody lives.

But my people say, “We can go where we like.

We do not want to visit you any more.”

32 A young woman does not forget her pretty things.

A wife does not forget her valuable gifts.

But my people have forgotten me for many years.

33 You are so clever. You can always find love!

Very bad women, even, can learn from you.

34 Your clothes have blood on them.

That blood gave life to people who never hurt you.

It was the blood of people who never took your things.

35 But still you say, “I have not done anything that is wrong.

God is not angry with me!”

But I will judge you.

You say “I have not sinned.”

So I will judge you.

36 You look at nations who live near to you.

You want to change.

You know now that Assyria cannot help you.

And you will soon know that Egypt cannot help you.

37 You will become slaves.

You will leave your country with your hands on your heads.

The LORD has not chosen the people that you have chosen.

They will not help you.’

Chapter 3

1 ‘A man may divorce his wife.

Then she may leave him and marry another man.

If her first husband returned to her, he would not be clean.

He would make the whole country bad.

But you have lived with many lovers.

And you want to return to me’, says the LORD.

2 ‘Look at the tops of the hills.

You have loved other gods on all of them.

You sat by the side of the road, waiting for lovers.

You waited to catch men.

You have made the country bad.

It is dirty with all the wrong things that you have done.

You have loved other gods when you should have loved me.

3 That is why I have not sent any rain to you.

And that is why the spring rains have not come.

But you seem to be quite happy.

You are not ashamed.

4 But you say to me, “You have been my friend, who has loved me all my life.

5 Surely you cannot be angry with me!

You cannot always be angry.”

Those are the things that you say.

But you do as many wrong things as you can.’

Israel is not faithful to God.

6 The LORD spoke to me while Josiah was king. ‘Look at what Israel’s people have done’, he said. ‘They have not been faithful to me. They have worshipped false gods under every big tree and on every high hill. They have been like a wife who is not faithful to her husband. 7 I thought that they would come back to me. But they did not return when it was over. Israel’s sister, Judah, saw what Israel did. 8 I sent Israel away, like a wife after her husband has divorced her. I sent her away because she had loved so many other gods. But Judah’s people, who had not been faithful, were not afraid. Judah’s people also went out and they found other lovers. 9 Israel’s people were not sorry that they had not been faithful to me. So they worshipped gods that they made from wood and stone. They made the country like a dirty place because they did very many bad things. 10 Judah saw this, but Judah was not faithful. Judah’s people did not really return to me. They only made it seem that they had returned to me’, says the LORD.

11 And the LORD said to me, ‘Israel’s people have not been faithful to me. So Israel’s backsliding is not as bad as the things that Judah’s people have done. 12 Go. Turn to the north, and say,

“You people in Israel who have not been faithful, return to me”, says the LORD.

“I will not always be angry with you,

because I am full of mercy”, says the LORD.

13 But you must believe that you have done many wrong things.

You must agree with me that you turned against me.

You loved many foreign gods.

You worshipped them under big trees.

You have not obeyed me” ’, says the LORD.

14 ‘Return to me, you people who are backsliding’, says the LORD. ‘I am your husband. I will bring some of you to Zion. I will choose one from a town and two from a family.

15 Then I will give shepherds to you that I can trust. They will lead you and they will teach you good things. 16 After some time, the number of your people will grow. Then you will think in a new way’, says the LORD. ‘You will not talk or even think about the ark of the LORD. You will forget all about it, and you will not make another one. 17 Then they will call Jerusalem “The Throne of the LORD”. At that time, people from all countries will come to Jerusalem. They will all give honour to the name of the LORD. They will not do the wrong things that they want any more. 18 Then the people from Israel and the people from Judah will join together in Jerusalem. They will come from a country in the north. They will come to this country that I gave to your ancestors. I gave it to you and to your ancestors to keep.

19 I myself said,

“I want very much to make you my sons.

I want to give a good country to you.

It is more beautiful than the country that any other people enjoy.”

And I said, “You will call me ‘Father’.

And you will not stop obeying me.”

20 But you have been like a woman who has left her husband to go to another man.

You, Israel’s people, have not been faithful to me’, says the LORD.

21 I can hear a noise on the high places.

Israel’s people are crying and they are asking for help.

They are crying because they have left the good ways.

They have forgotten the LORD, their God.

22 Return to me, you backsliding children.

I will cause you to stop doing that.’

‘Yes, we will come to you

because you are the LORD our God.

23 You hope for help from the other side of the hills and the mountains.

But it will not come.

Only the LORD our God can really save Israel.

24 Since we were young,

we have lost all our good things.

False gods have used them up.

They ate the things that our fathers worked for.

They took their sheep and cows.

They took their sons and daughters.

25 We are ashamed.

We want to lie down and hide ourselves.

From many years ago until now,

we and our ancestors have not obeyed you.’

Chapter 4

1 ‘If you want to return, then return to me’, the LORD says.

‘Throw away your gods that I hate.

You must not go away from me again.

2 And if you make a true, good and fair promise to me,

then you can say, “It is sure that the LORD is alive.”

He will bless all the nations in the world.

And they will be very happy to give honour and praise to him.’

3 This is what the LORD says to the people in Judah, and in Jerusalem.

‘Break up your hard ground.

Do not put seed among weeds.

4 Give all of yourselves to the LORD.

Cut off everything that is not his.

Men in Judah and people in Jerusalem, you must do that.

If you do not do it, I will be angry.

My anger will burn you like a fire.

I will hurt you because of the bad things that you have done.

Nobody will save you.’

An enemy will attack from the north.

5 ‘Shout to the people in Judah. Tell this to the people in Jerusalem.

“Blow the trumpets in all the country!”

Shout to them and say,

“Come together!

We must all run to the cities with strong walls!”

6 Tell everyone to go to Zion!

Do not wait to run to a safe place

because I will bring trouble from the north.

I will destroy your country.

7 A lion was hiding in the hills.

It has come out to destroy the nations.

It has left its home to destroy your country.

It will break down your towns.

They will be empty.

8 So put on special clothes to show that you are sad.

Cry and be very sad.

Cry because the LORD is still angry with us.

He has not forgotten his anger.’

9 ‘The king and his officers will not be happy on that day’,

says the LORD.

‘The priests will be very sad,

and the prophets will be very, very sad.’

10 ‘Oh, great and powerful LORD’, I said. ‘You have not spoken what is true to this people and to Jerusalem. You said, “You will have peace.” But now our enemies will attack us!’

11 ‘A hot wind from the empty mountains will blow towards my people’, the LORD will tell them at that time. ‘But it will not make them clean. It will not blow away the wrong things that they have done.’ The LORD will tell them this. 12 ‘I will send a wind that is too strong for that. Now I will tell you how I will judge them.’

13 Look! He is coming like the clouds.

He is like a strong, fast wind.

He flies faster than a great bird.

We are really in trouble. We will lose everything!

14 Jerusalem, wash away your bad thoughts.

Then the LORD will save you.

You must not hold on to your bad thoughts.

15 A voice is calling out from Dan.

It says that trouble is coming from the hills of Ephraim.

16 ‘Tell this to all the nations,

shout it to Jerusalem.

“An army is coming from a far country.

It will attack Jerusalem.

17 Their soldiers are round its walls.

This is because Jerusalem’s people have not obeyed me” ’,

says the LORD.

18 ‘I have done this to you

because of the wrong things that you have done.

You have caused this trouble.

I am punishing you.

Yes, it is painful.

The pain goes all through you.’

19 I am in such great pain!

All my body hurts. I have to go on moving.

My thoughts are full of pain.

My heart keeps hitting hard inside me.

I feel that I have to shout.

I have heard the noise of the trumpet.

I have heard the enemy when they were shouting.

20 It is bad, but it is getting worse!

Our enemies have destroyed everything in the country.

They have quickly broken down my tents.

They did not wait to destroy my home.

21 I do not know how long the battle will last.

I can still hear the sound of people who are fighting.

22 The LORD says, ‘My people are fools.

They do not know me.

They are like children who do not know anything.

They understand nothing.

They know how to do bad things.

But they have no idea how to do good things.’

23 I looked at the earth,

and it had no shape.

I looked at the sky,

and its light was gone.

24 I looked at the mountains,

and they kept moving about.

All the hills were moving.

25 I looked, and I did not see any people.

All the birds had flown away.

26 I looked at the good country, but no plants grew there.

Our enemies had knocked down all its towns.

The LORD was very angry. He caused them to do all this.

27 ‘I will cause bad things to happen in the whole country’,

the LORD says.

‘But I will not completely destroy it.

28 So the whole earth will be sad.

The sky will become dark.

This will happen as I have said.

And I will not change my plan.

I have spoken and I will not turn back.’

29 The people in every town will run away

when they hear the sound of soldiers and horses.

Some of them hide in bushes.

Some of them climb up among the rocks.

All the towns are empty.

Nobody lives in them.

30 You are like a woman who wears bright red clothes.

You are like a woman who wears things of gold.

You paint your eyes,

but that does not help you.

The men that you loved do not give honour to you.

They want to kill you.

31 I can hear that people are shouting. It is like the noise of a woman while her baby is being born.

It is like the noise of a woman while her first child is being born.

It is the people in Jerusalem, who are shouting for help.

They shout and they say,

‘I am very weak, and I am getting weaker.

I am afraid that they will kill me.’

Chapter 5

1 ‘Go along the streets of Jerusalem, and come back again.

Look all round you, carefully.

Look in all parts of the city.

Try to find one person who is honest. Try to find a person who wants to know the truth.

If you find one, I will forgive all the people in the city.

2 They may say, “As the LORD lives”.

They want people to think that they are honest.

But what they are saying is false.’

3 LORD, you want us to speak words that are true.

But the people that you have hurt do not feel any pain.

You hit them, but they would not change.

They would not do the things that you wanted.

They held on to the bad things that they were doing.

And they refused to turn away from them.

4 ‘These are poor people, and they are fools’, I thought.

‘They do not know what the LORD asks them to do.

They have no idea what he wants.

5 So I will go to speak to the leaders.

They will certainly know what the LORD wants.

They will know what they must do to please him.’

But every one of them turned away from him.

They said that they were not his slaves.

6 A big wild animal from the forest will attack them for that.

Another animal will tear them into pieces.

Other animals will wait near their towns to hurt anyone who leaves.

That is because they have turned so far from the LORD.

It is because they have done very many bad things.

7 ‘I cannot forgive you.

Your children have gone away from me.

They have trusted gods that are not gods.

I gave to them everything that they needed.

But they left me and they went to the houses of false gods.

They are like men who have sex with other men’s wives.

8 They are like wild horses.

Wild horses run after any female that they want.

9 I must punish them for that’, the LORD says.

‘They have hurt me so much.

They are such bad people that I must punish them.’

10 Go through the gardens where their grapes are growing. And destroy their fruits.

But do not completely destroy them.

Pull the branches from the trees

because these people do not belong to the LORD.

11 All the families in Judah and in Israel

have gone far from me’, says the LORD.

12 They spoke about the LORD. They said what is not true.

‘He will not do anything’, they said.

‘He will never hurt us.

We will have enough to eat. Soldiers will not kill us.

13 The prophets speak empty words.

They do not know what the LORD says.

So they may say that something bad will happen.

If that is true, let it happen to them.’

14 ‘So the people have said this’,

says the strong and powerful LORD.

‘I will make the words in your mouth like a fire.

And the people will burn like wood in that fire.’

15 ‘People in Israel’, the LORD says,

‘I will send soldiers to attack you.

They will come from a country far away.

They have lived there for a long time.

You do not know their language.

You cannot understand what they say.

16 They want to kill you and they want to destroy your land.

They are all powerful soldiers.

17 They will eat all the food in your fields

and the food that you have stored.

They will take your sons and daughters.

They will eat your sheep and cows.

They will take the fruit from your trees.

They will fight and break down the strong cities.

You thought that those cities would keep you safe.’

18 ‘But even at that time’, says the LORD, ‘I will not destroy you completely. 19 And when the people ask, “Why has the LORD, our God, done this to us?” you will speak to them. Say, “You have left me, and you serve foreign gods in your own country. So now you will serve foreign people in a country that is not your own.”

20 Tell this to the families of Jacob. Shout it in the country called Judah.

21 Hear this, you people who are fools with no understanding.

You have eyes, but you do not see.

You have ears, but you do not hear.

22 You should be afraid of me’, says the LORD.

‘Your knees should knock together when you are near to me.

I made the sand to be an edge to the sea.

It is like a wall that the sea cannot cross.

The water of the sea may attack it, but it cannot win.

It can make a loud noise, but it cannot cross the sand.

23 These people will not obey me.

They have turned and they have gone away from me.

24 They do not say to themselves,

“We must honour and obey the LORD our God.

He gives the autumn and spring rains to us.

Each year he makes sure that we have food.”

25 But you have done many wrong things.

So he has not sent rain or food to you.

He has taken away good things because you have sinned.

26 Many bad men belong to my people.

They hide like men who catch birds.

They are like people who try to catch men.

27 Their houses are full of valuable things

that they have taken with false words.

They are rich and powerful.

28 Now they are fat and they seem good.

They will never stop doing bad things.

They do not try to help children who have no fathers.

They do not help poor people to get what is theirs.

29 I certainly must punish them for this’,

says the LORD.

‘I must show them how angry I am.

The people are very, very bad.’

30 A really bad thing has happened in this country.

31 The prophets tell people things that are not true.

The priests make their own rules.

And my people like what they do.

I will stop all this. Then they will not know what to do.

Chapter 6

Enemies are all round Jerusalem.

1 ‘You descendants of Benjamin, you must run away to be safe!

Run away from Jerusalem!

Make a noise with the trumpet in Tekoa!

Shout over to Beth-Haccerem!

Big trouble is coming from the north.

2 I will send enemies to destroy Jerusalem and its people.

It is such a lovely city.

3 Men will come with the sheep that they keep.

They will put their tents all round it.

Each man will have a small part of the land.’

4 ‘Get ready to fight against it!

Let us get up and attack at noon!

But the day is getting dark.

It is already evening.

5 Rise up. Let us attack in the night.

Let us destroy their strong cities!’

6 The strong and powerful LORD spoke.

‘Cut down the trees’, he said.

‘Build high hills up to the walls of the city.

I must punish Jerusalem.

It is full of men who hurt other people.

7 It contains so many people who do bad things.

Bad things pour out from it, like water from a well.

It is full of fights and of men who destroy.

All the time I can see how sick and weak it is.’

8 ‘Listen to my words’, says the LORD, to the people in Jerusalem.

‘If you do not listen, I will turn away from you.

I will destroy your country.

Then nobody will be able to live in it.’

9 The strong, powerful LORD spoke again.

‘I will let the enemy take everything from Israel.

They will take things like a farmer who is picking his fruit’, he said.

10 I want to speak to people. And I want to tell them what may happen.

But nobody will listen to me.

They close their ears so that they cannot hear.

They hate the LORD’s message.

It does not give any pleasure to them.

11 But the LORD is full of anger.

He is so angry that he cannot contain it.

His anger will be like water that pours out on the children in the street.

It will pour out on the groups of young men.

It will cover both husbands and wives.

It will pour over the very old people.

12 I will give their houses to other people.

Other people will take their fields and their wives.

This will happen when I decide to punish the people in this country’,

says the LORD.

13 ‘All the people, important and not important, want to get more and more things.

Priests and prophets are all the same.

They all say things that are not true.

14 They tell my people that there is no great trouble.

They say that there is nothing to be afraid of.

Peace, peace”, they say.

But they do not have any peace to give.

15 They are not ashamed of the wrong things that they do.

They seem to think that there is nothing wrong about those things.

They have forgotten how to be sorry.

So they will fall when other people fall.

I will bring them down when I decide to punish them’,

says the LORD.

16 The LORD spoke to the people.

‘Stand at the place where the roads cross. And look’, he said.

‘Ask where the old ways lead.

Find the good way, and walk along that way.

Then I will give proper peace to you.

But you said, “We will not walk that way.”

17 I gave you men to help you and to lead you. I said,

“Listen for the noise of the trumpet!”

But you said, “We will not listen.”

18 So listen to me, all you countries.

Look. And you will see

the things that I will do to them.

19 Hear me, people on the earth.

I am causing great trouble for these people.

They will have trouble because they have done many wrong things.

And they have not listened to my words.

They have not obeyed my law.

20 I do not want nice smells from Sheba.

I do not want oils from countries far away.

The food and drink that you give to me

do not give pleasure to me.’

21 So this is the message from the LORD.

‘I will make things very difficult for you people.

Both sons and their fathers will have difficulties.

Friends and people who live near to each other will die.’

22 The LORD spoke again.

‘Look, an army is coming from the country in the north.

I am calling up a great people from the ends of the earth.

23 They are carrying bows and spears.

They are never kind and they never forgive.

They ride on their horses and

it is like the noise of the sea.

They are ready to fight,

and they are coming to attack you, Jerusalem.’

24 We have heard about them,

and we are afraid.

Pain is all over our bodies.

It is like the pain of a woman who is having a baby.

25 Do not go out into the fields.

Do not walk along the roads.

Our enemies have long, sharp knives.

We are afraid that they are all round us.

26 My people must become very sorry.

They wear special clothes when someone dies.

They must wear clothes like those.

They cry with loud voices.

They cry like a man whose only son has died.

They do that because the enemy will quickly come to destroy us.

27 ‘My people are like metals.

And you must test them to see if they are good.

I want you to watch them.

Then you can see what they do.’

28 They never obeyed God.

They tell stories that are not true. And they enjoy it.

Their minds are as hard as iron.

They all do very bad things.

29 A very hot fire makes metals clean.

I send punishment like a fire.

But it does not cause bad men to do what is good.

30 God will throw them out like dirty metal.

The LORD will not receive them.

Chapter 7

To worship false gods is wrong.

1 The LORD spoke to Jeremiah. 2 ‘Stand at the gate of the LORD’s house and speak to the people there. Say, “Hear the LORD’s message, all you people in Judah. You come through this gate to worship the LORD.” ’ 3 The great, powerful God of Israel says, ‘Change the things that you do. Do the right things. If you do that, I will let you live in this place. 4 People may say, “We are safe. This is the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD!” But do not believe words that are not true. 5 You must really change. You must be fair to each other. 6 You must not be cruel to foreigners, to children without living parents or to widows. You must not kill people. You must not worship other gods. If you do those things, I will destroy you. 7 If you obey me, then I will let you live in this country. This is the country that I gave to your ancestors. I gave it to them to live in for all time. 8 But you believe in words that are not true. They cannot help you.

9 You take things that are not yours. And you kill people. You tell judges things that are not true. You have sex with wives or husbands of other people. You offer gifts to the false god, Baal. You worship other gods. 10 And then you come to this, my house! You stand in front of this house that is mine. You say, “We are safe!” 11 My temple is not a place for people who hurt other people. It is not a place for people who kill other people. And it is not a place for people who speak lies! I have seen what you are doing’, says the LORD.

12 ‘Go to Shiloh. It was the first place that I chose as a house for my name. See what I did to it. I destroyed it because you had done so many bad things. 13 I spoke to you while you were doing those bad things’, the LORD said. ‘I spoke to you again and again, but you would not listen. I called you, but you did not answer. 14 I gave this temple to you and to your ancestors. But I will do to it what I did to the house at Shiloh. You think that the house for my name will save you. 15 But I will push you away from me, as I pushed away the other Israelites, Ephraim’s tribe.’

16 ‘Jeremiah, you must not pray for this people. You must not ask me to help them. If you ask me, I will not listen to you. 17 You can see what they are doing in the towns in Judah. You see what they are doing in the streets in Jerusalem. 18 The children fetch wood and their fathers light a fire. The women prepare and cook cakes of bread. Then they offer them to the “Queen of Heaven”. And they offer gifts of drink to other false gods. That makes me very angry. 19 I am angry. But they are the people who will hurt themselves’, says the LORD. ‘They will be ashamed.’

20 ‘So I will send out my anger’, says the strong, powerful LORD. ‘I will send it, like fire, on this place. I will send it on men, animals, trees and fruits. It will burn them up, and nothing will stop it.’

21 ‘Continue to give your offerings to me. Give burnt-offerings of meat and other things, and eat the meat yourselves! 22 I brought your ancestors out of Egypt. Then I did not only tell them how to give burnt-offerings. 23 I also told them to obey me, and to keep all my laws. Then I would be their God, and they would be my people. I said that they should obey me. They would have good lives if they did that. 24 But they did not listen. They did not think that my words had any value. Instead, they did the bad things that they liked to do. They went away from me, and they did not want to come to me. 25 I sent my servants, the prophets to you again and again. I did that from the day that you left Egypt until today. 26 But they did not listen to me. They did not try to do as I asked them. They went on doing the same bad things. And they did even worse things than their ancestors had done.’

27 ‘Jeremiah, you will tell them all that I have said. But when you tell them, they will not listen to you. When you call them, they will not answer. 28 So you will have to speak to them. “The people in this country have not obeyed the LORD, their God. They have not turned away from the wrong things that they were doing”, you must say. “Nobody now says anything that is true. 29 Cut off your hair. Sing sad songs on the empty hills. The LORD has turned away from the people who are still alive. He has left them because he is so angry.” ’

The valley of death

30 ‘The people in Judah have done wrong things. I told them that those things were wrong’, says the LORD. ‘They have put false gods in my house. I hate that. They have made it like a dirty thing. 31 They have made big fires in Topheth. There, in Ben-Hinnom Valley, they burn their sons and daughters. I did not tell them to do that. I never thought to ask them to do such a thing. 32 So you must be careful. The day will come when it will not be called Topheth or the Valley of Ben-Hinnom. No, it will be called Death Valley. They will put dead persons in the earth there, until it is full up. 33 Birds and animals will eat the dead persons, and nobody will make them afraid. They will not go away. 34 I will make the place quiet. Nobody will sing or be happy there. Nobody in the towns in Judah or in Jerusalem will have marriage parties. Nobody will live in the country any more.’

Chapter 8

1 ‘Enemies will remove the bones of the kings of Judah and their officers. And they will remove the bones of the priests and prophets and the people from Jerusalem. They will take them out of the earth at that time. 2 The sun will shine on them, and the moon, too. My people worked for and loved the sun and moon. They worshipped them. Nobody will take the bones and put them back in the ground. They will be like dirt. 3 All the people in this bad country will want to die, and not to live’, says the great, powerful LORD.

God will punish people who choose to do wrong things.

4 Speak to the people, and tell them,

‘When men fall down, they get up again.

When a man goes away, he comes back.

5 I ask why these people have turned away.

The people in Jerusalem always turn away.

They choose to believe things that are not true.

They refuse to return to me.

6 I have listened carefully.

But they do not say what is right.

Nobody is sorry for the bad things that they have done.

They think, “Nobody knows what we have done.”

Each person does the things that he wants.

He is like a horse that is running to the fight.

7 Even a big bird in the sky knows when it should go away.

Small birds know when it is time for them to fly away.

But my people do not know

what I want them to do.’

8 ‘You must not say, “We know what is right.

We know it because we have the law of the LORD.”

Your writers have written what is not true!

9 Some people think that they are clever.

Those people will be ashamed. Enemies will catch them like animals in a field.

They have refused to hear the LORD’s message.

They are not very clever.

10 So I will give their wives to other men.

Other men will have their fields.

All people, rich and poor, want to have more and more things.

Both priests and prophets

tell people things that are not true.

11 They can see that my people have pain.

But they say that it is not important.

They say, “Peace, peace”, when there is no peace.

12 They are not ashamed of the wrong things that they do.

They are not sorry.

Their faces do not get red.

So they will fall when other men fall.

I will bring them down when I punish them’,

says the LORD.

13 ‘I will take away the fruit and seed from their fields’,

says the LORD.

‘No figs or grapes will grow on their trees.

The leaves of the trees will dry up and die.

I will take away everything that I have given to them.’

14 We say to ourselves,

‘We should not be sitting here like this.

We must come together.

Let us run to the cities with strong walls.

We will die there!

The LORD our God has said that we must die.

He has given to us water to drink that has poison in it

because we have not obeyed him.

15 We wanted peace, but it has not happened.

We wanted God to make us well, but he made us afraid.

16 The people can hear the noise of the enemy’s horses.

They can hear them, even from Dan.

All the country shakes when they hear their noise.

They have come to destroy the country and everything in it.

They will get power over the city and over all the people who live there.’

17 ‘I will send snakes to you that have poison in their mouths.

Nobody can cause them to sleep.

They will bite you’, says the LORD.

18 LORD, you made me happy when I was sad.

But now I feel weak and afraid.

19 Listen to your people who are crying from a country far away.

They ask if the LORD is still in Jerusalem.

They think that their king has gone away.

‘They have made me angry with their false gods.

Their foreign gods do not have any value.’

20 ‘We have taken in all the food from the fields.

The summer is finished.

And you have not saved us.’

21 I am very sad because my people are so sad.

I feel sad as if they were dead. And I am afraid for them.

22 God has hurt his people so that no doctor can help them.

He will not make them better.

Chapter 9

1 My head should be like a river of water,

and my eyes like a pool of tears.

Then I would cry all day and night

for my people who have died.

2 I would like to have a place to stay in the desert.

Then I could leave my people.

I could go away from them.

They have all gone away from God like men who have left their wives for other women.

Not one person trusts him.

3 Their tongues are like bows.

They shoot words that are not true.

These people win their fights when they say false things.

They sin many times.

They do not give honour to me’,

says the LORD.

4 ‘Watch your friends.

Every brother says words that are not true.

So do not trust in your brothers.

And every friend speaks words that can hurt you.

5 One friend will say words that are not true to another friend.

Nobody speaks true words.

They have taught their tongues to say things that are false.

They have sinned so much that they are tired.

6 False words are all round you.

People say so many things that are not true.

So they refuse to know me’,

says the LORD.

7 So this is what the great, strong LORD says:

‘I will see how clean they are.

I want to make them more clean.

A man uses a very hot fire to remove other metals from gold.

It will be like that.

I must do that because my people have sinned.

8 Their tongue is like poison.

It does not say things that are true.

A man may speak kind words to his friend,

but he is really trying to hurt him.

9 I must punish men for that’,

says the LORD.

‘I must be angry

because the people in this country do not give honour to me.

10 There are no people on the mountains.

So I will cry and I will be sad.

No animals live on the hills where they ate the grass.

The hills and mountains are empty.

Nobody can hear the sound of cows and sheep.

No birds fly in the air,

and the animals are gone.

11 I will make Jerusalem a hill of broken stones.

Wild animals will live there.

I will destroy the towns in Judah

so that nobody can live there.’

12 Nobody can understand this. The LORD has not told anyone how it happened. No man can say why the LORD has made the country into a desert. Now nobody can walk across it.

13 ‘It is because they have not obeyed my law’, the LORD said. ‘They have not obeyed the law that I gave to them. They have gone away from it and they have chosen to do bad things. 14 They have left me and they have gone to worship the Baals. They are doing as their ancestors taught them.’ 15 So the great, strong LORD, the God of Israel says, ‘I will cause these people to eat food that is bad. I will put poison in the water that they drink. 16 I will send them to many foreign countries. Neither they nor their ancestors knew these countries. I will send enemies after them to kill and to destroy them.’

17 ‘Call the women who cry for people in trouble. Call them now!’

the great powerful LORD says.

‘Send for those who cry the loudest.

18 Tell them to come quickly to make their sad noise.

Then our eyes will make water.

And it will be like rivers that fall from them.

19 We can hear the sound of people who are crying in Zion.

“People have taken all our good things! We are very ashamed!

We have to leave our country

because our enemies have destroyed all our houses.” ’

20 Now hear the LORD’s message, you women.

Listen to the words of his mouth.

Teach your daughters how to cry about their troubles.

Teach each other sad songs.

21 We are all dying. Dead bodies fill our strong cities.

No children play in the streets.

The open places of the city are empty.

The young men have all gone.

22 ‘Men’s dead bodies will lie on the open fields.

Nobody will take them away’, says the LORD.

‘They will lie like plants that people have cut for food.

But nobody will pick them up.’

23 ‘The wise man must not say that he is wise.

And the strong man must not say that he is strong’,

says the LORD.

24 ‘But they can say that they know me. And they can say that they understand me.

Then they would be able to say that they were clever.

They would know that I am the LORD.

They would know that I am kind.

And I do only good things.

I am fair when I judge the earth.

They would know that too.

Those are the things that give pleasure to me’, says the LORD.

25 ‘Very soon’, says the LORD, ‘I will punish many people. Those people have bodies that their parents have not circumcised. Other people have bodies that their parents have circumcised. But I will punish those people at the same time. 26 I will punish the people in Egypt, Judah, Edom, Ammon and Moab. And I will punish the people who remove the hair from the front of their heads. And I will punish the people who live in the desert. Their parents have not circumcised the people who live in other countries. And all the descendants of Israel live like people that their parents have not circumcised. That is because they have never really wanted to obey me.’

Chapter 10

1 People in Israel, listen to what the LORD says to you.

2 ‘Do not do the things that people in other countries do’, he says.

‘You should not be afraid of things that happen in the sky.

You must not be like people in other countries.

3 The things that those people do have no value.

They take a tree from the forest,

and a worker gives shape to it with a knife.

4 They make it pretty with silver and gold.

They fix it to the floor so that it will not fall.

5 We put things like them in the fields.

Our things save the fruit from the birds.

And they cannot speak.

Men carry idols, because they cannot walk.

Do not be afraid of them.

They cannot hurt you

and they cannot help you.’

6 There is nobody like you, LORD.

You are great and your name is powerful.

7 Everyone should honour you,

King of the countries.

That is their duty.

There is nobody like you in all the countries.

No men are as wise as you are.

There is no king like you.

8 All men are fools, and they learn from fools.

Things that people have made out of wood cannot teach them anything.

9 They cover the wood with silver from Spain.

They make it pretty with gold from Uphaz.

Then they take expensive clothes that men have made with their hands.

They put them on this idol that other men have made.

10 But the LORD is really the only God.

He is the God who is alive. He is the King who will always be alive.

When he is angry, the earth moves like a leaf in the wind.

When he is angry, the people in a country cannot stand.

11 Speak to them. Say, ‘Your gods did not make the earth or the sky. The LORD will destroy them. He will push them out of the earth and from all places under the sky.’

12 But God made the earth by his power.

Only he could do that.

It was he who put the sky over the earth.

13 When he shouts, there are loud noises in the sky.

He causes clouds to rise from the ends of the earth.

He causes the lightning with the rain.

And he brings the winds from the place where he hides them.

14 Nobody knows God or understands him.

Men who work to make things from metal are ashamed.

Idols that they make have no life in them.

15 They are silly because they do not have any value.

God will destroy them when he judges them.

16 The God of Jacob is not like those idols.

He made everything.

He made Israel to be the people that he chose.

He is the great and powerful LORD.

17 Get all your things together, ready to leave the country.

Your enemies are all round you.

18 This is what the LORD says,

‘I will now throw out those people who live in this country.

I will make their lives difficult,

then their enemies will take them as their prisoners.’

19 I am hurt and in great pain.

Nobody can make me well.

I said to myself, ‘This is my pain, and I must live with it!’

20 They have destroyed my tent.

They have broken all its ropes.

My sons have gone away, and they are dead.

This means that the people in Judah, like Jeremiah, had no children.

Now nobody will put up my tent.

21 The shepherds are fools.

They do not ask the LORD to help them,

so their work does not make them rich.

And all their sheep have run away.

22 Listen to the noise!

People are coming from the country in the north.

They will take the people out from the towns in Judah.

Only wild animals will live there.

Jeremiah is saying that Judah is like a broken tent. Its leaders (shepherds) are fools because they will not listen to God. So enemies will come to take them all away.

Jeremiah’s prayer

23 I know, LORD, that you give life to each man.

Only you can say where he should walk.

24 Please lead me back to the right path, LORD, but be fair to me.

Do not be angry with me.

If you become angry, you might completely destroy me.

25 Be angry, LORD, with the people in the countries that do not honour you.

Be angry with the nations who do not ask you to lead them.

The people in those countries have completely destroyed your people,

the descendants of Jacob.

They have destroyed the country that you gave to your people.

Chapter 11

The people have not obeyed the rules of the covenant that they had with God.

1 God spoke to Jeremiah, the prophet. 2 ‘Listen to the rules of this covenant’, he said. ‘Tell them to the people in Judah and the people who live in Jerusalem. 3 Tell them that the LORD, the God of Israel says. “I will send curses to the man who does not obey the rules of this covenant. 4 I gave the rules to your ancestors when I brought them out of Egypt. Enemies caught your ancestors like wood in a fire, but I took them out. I said, ‘Listen to me. And obey me about everything that I say to you. Then you will be my people and I will be your God.’ 5 Then I will do what I promised to your ancestors. I promised to give to them a country that would give to them plenty of milk and honey. This is the country that you now live in.” ’

I answered, ‘Amen, LORD.’

6 ‘Speak out all these words in the towns in Judah and the streets in Jerusalem’, the LORD said to me. ‘Say, “Listen to these rules of the covenant, and obey them. 7 I have said that all the time since I brought your ancestors out of Egypt. Again and again, until now, I have said, ‘You must obey me.’ 8 But they did not listen. They did not think that my rules were important. Instead, they did all the bad things that they wanted to do. All their thoughts were evil. So I had to punish them. I sent to them all the curses that I promised. I promised those curses if they did not obey me. I punished them because they did not obey the rules of the covenant.” ’

9 ‘The people in Judah and those who live in Jerusalem have agreed together. They have agreed to do wrong things. 10 They are doing the same sins that their ancestors did. Their ancestors refused to listen to my words. They left me and now they work for other gods. I made a covenant with their ancestors. None of the people from Judah or Israel has obeyed the rules of the covenant.’ 11 Because of that, the LORD says, ‘I will bring great trouble to you. You will not get away from it. Even if you call out to me, I will not listen to you. 12 The people in the towns in Judah and in Jerusalem will shout to the gods that they worship. But those gods will not help them when trouble happens to them. 13 Judah, you have different gods in every town. You have made altars for the god that you should be ashamed of. You have made altars to burn oils that make nice smells for Baal. You have built as many altars as there are streets in Jerusalem.

14 Jeremiah, do not pray for these people and do not ask me to do anything for them. I will not listen to them when they ask me for help.

15 The people that I love are doing evil things in my temple.

They cannot stop me from punishing them.

If you give gifts of meat to me, I will still punish you.

You enjoy doing these wrong things.’

16 The LORD said that you were like an olive tree.

It was beautiful and it gave much fruit.

But now he will burn the tree with a loud noise,

and he will break all its branches.

17 The LORD, who has all power, planted you like a tree. Now he will cause great trouble to Israel and to Judah. That is because you have burnt oils with nice smells to worship the god Baal. You have caused the LORD to be very angry.

The men in Anathoth want to kill Jeremiah.

18 I knew what the people wanted to do. The LORD had showed me what they were doing. 19 I was like a young animal that is waiting for men to kill it. I had no idea what they had been saying.

‘Sometimes people have to destroy the tree and its fruit’, they said. ‘In the same way, he must not go on living. Men will forget all about him.’

20 ‘But LORD of all power, you judge in a fair way. You can see into the thoughts and minds of men. I believe that I have not done anything wrong. So I ask you to punish them.

21 The men in Anathoth wanted to kill me. “Do not go on telling us what the LORD says”, they said. “If you do continue to give his messages to us, we will kill you.” ’ 22 So the LORD of all power spoke to me. ‘I will punish them. Their young men will die as they fight. And their children will not have enough food and so they will die’, he said. 23 He said, ‘I will destroy all the men in Anathoth when I punish them. There will not be one living man there at that time.’

Chapter 12

Jeremiah tells the LORD about his troubles.

1 You always judge me in a good and fair way LORD,

when I tell you about my problems.

But I must ask you some questions.

Why do bad people have such an easy life?

Why does everything seem to happen in the way that pleases them?

Why do you help the people who do not obey you to be very comfortable?

2 They are like plants that you have planted. And they are growing.

They grow and they make fruit.

They talk about you a lot.

But they do not think about what you want them to do.

3 But you know me, LORD.

You watch me. And you judge the thoughts that I have about you.

Take those bad men away like animals to kill them!

Put them in a special place, ready to die.

4 The country has been dry for a long time.

The grass in every field is brown and dry.

The people who live in this country are bad.

So all the animals and birds have died.

It is even worse than that. People are saying,

‘He will not see what happens to us.’

God answers Jeremiah.

5 ‘You get very tired when you try to run faster than other men.

So you will never run faster than horses.

You fall over on flat fields.

So you will certainly fall near the River Jordan,

when you are among many trees and bushes.

6 Even your brothers and your own family

are against you.

They join in the attacks against you.

Do not believe them,

even when they speak kind words about you.’

God is telling Jeremiah about the troubles that will come to him. Those things will happen because he is speaking God’s words to the people.

7 ‘I will leave my house and I will go away.

And my people’s country will be empty.

I will let their enemies take the people that I love.

8 The people that belong to me

are like a lion.

They are like a lion that is hiding in the trees.

They shout, ready to jump on me.

This is why I hate them.

9 The people that I chose are like a small bird.

Their enemies are like big birds. They will attack them and they will kill them.

Call to the wild animals

to come and to eat them!

10 My people are like a garden where soft plants grow.

But the men who keep the garden are walking all over it.

They are making my garden into a desert.

11 It will become dry and empty

and nothing will grow there.

The whole country will become empty

because nobody cares for it.

12 Enemies will come over the empty country.

They will come to destroy my people.

Nobody will be safe in any part of the country.

13 They will plant good seed, but bad plants will grow.

My people will work very hard, but they will get nothing.

Because I am very angry, they will not have any food.

14 I will remove all the enemies who took this country. They took the country that I gave to my people, Israel. I will take them out of their countries. I will separate the people of Judah from them’, says the LORD. 15 ‘But after I have taken away the people from Judah, I will be kind to them. I will bring them back, each to the country of his ancestors. I will bring them back to their own country. 16 Then they must learn to obey the rules of my people. They must give honour to me. They must not continue to believe in the name of Baal. They must learn to say, “As the LORD lives”. Then they will become part of my people. 17 But if the people in any country will not obey these rules, I will destroy it completely’, says the LORD.

Chapter 13

A belt that someone has made from cloth

1 ‘Go. And buy a belt that someone has made from cloth. And put it round your body’, the LORD said to me. ‘But you must not put it into water.’ 2 So I bought a belt, as the LORD had said. I tied it on.

3 The LORD spoke to me again. 4 ‘Take the belt that you bought. You are now wearing it. Take it to the River Euphrates and hide it in a hole in the rocks.’ 5 So I went. And I hid it at the River Euphrates as the LORD had said to me.

6 Many days after that, the LORD said to me, ‘Now go to the River Euphrates. Get the belt that I sent you to hide there.’ 7 So I went to the River Euphrates, to the place where I had hidden the belt. I dug it up. But it was dirty and I could not use it.

8 Then the LORD spoke to me.

9 ‘I will destroy everything that has any value in Judah and in Jerusalem. I will make it like this belt. 10 These people are very bad. They refuse to listen to my words. They do what they want. They work for other gods and they worship them’, he said. ‘They will be like this belt. Nobody will be able to use them for anything. 11 My people are like a belt. I tied all Israel’s people and all Judah’s people round myself. They should have been my people and they should have brought honour and praise to me. But they have not listened to me.’

12 ‘You must speak to them. Say, “ ‘People should fill with wine every skin of a goat that is to keep wine in’, says the LORD.” They may answer, “We know that.” 13 Then say to them, “I will make all the people who live in this country like drunks. All the kings, prophets, priests and people who live in Jerusalem will be like drunks. 14 I will hit them against each other like jars, whether they are old or young”, says the LORD. “I will not be sorry for them and I will not be kind to them. I will destroy them, and nothing can stop me.” ’

The people must not think that they are better than other people.

15 Listen to me.

Listen very carefully.

Do not think that you do not need to listen!

The LORD has spoken.

16 Give honour to the LORD your God,

before he makes it dark.

Then your feet will not find the path,

as the hills become dark.

You want it to get light.

But God will make it very dark.

17 If you do not listen,

I will weep in secret.

You think that you do not need the LORD.

That is why I will cry.

Water will fall from my eyes

like a great river.

This will happen because the LORD will make his people prisoners.

18 Speak to the king and to the queen, his mother.

Say, ‘Come down from your thrones.

The gold crowns will fall from your heads.’

This means that they will not continue to rule the people.

19 The cities in the south of Judah will not be open,

and there will be nobody to open them.

Enemies will take all the people in Judah to a foreign country.

They will take them away completely.

20 Look up. See people who are coming from the north.

The people that made you important are gone.

You are like shepherds who have lost their sheep.

21 The LORD will give your authority to other people.

People from the country that was your special friend will rule over you.

You will have pain,

pain like the pain of a woman who is having a baby.

22 You may ask, ‘Why is this happening to me?’

It is because of the many wrong things that you have done.

That is why people have torn off your clothes.

And they have hurt you.

23 A black man cannot make himself white,

and an animal cannot change its colour.

In the same way, you cannot do good things

if you have always done evil things.

24 ‘I will blow you away

as the desert wind blows a leaf.

25 That is what I have decided to do to you’, says the LORD.

‘I will do it because you have forgotten me.

And you have listened to false gods.

26 I will pull off your clothes.

You will be ashamed.

27 You have had sex with women who are not your wives.

And everyone will see that you have done that.

They will know that men have paid women

to have sex with them.

I have seen the bad things that you do

on the hills and in the fields.

People in Jerusalem, you will never be happy.

You should not always do wrong things.’

Here Jeremiah is telling the people in Jerusalem that God will use enemies to punish them. God sees all the wrong things that they are doing. He knows that they do not honour him. He knows that they worship false gods. God says that his people are not faithful to him. They are like a wife who has sex with a man. But the man is not her husband.

Chapter 14

God will stop sending food and water and he will send wars.

1 This is what the LORD told Jeremiah. He said that he would stop sending rain.

2 ‘Judah’s people are very sad. The people in their cities are tired.

They are sitting on the ground and they are crying.

Jerusalem’s people are weeping.

3 Rich men send their servants for water.

But they do not find any water

in the big holes where they keep it.

They return with empty water jars.

Their trouble is great and they are sad.

They cover their heads.

4 The ground has long holes in it

because God has sent no rain.

The farmers have great trouble.

They cover their heads.

Men covered their heads to show that they were sad. They did it when a person died.

5 Mother animals let their new babies lie in the fields and they will leave them

because the grass is dead.

6 Wild horses stand on the empty hills and they are breathing very fast.

They cannot see well because they do not have any food.’

7 We know that we have done many bad things.

But please help us, LORD.

People will give honour to you if you will help us.

We have been backsliding people many times.

We have not obeyed your laws.

8 We trust you. Israel’s people trust you.

You saved us from our troubles.

But now you are like a foreigner.

You are like a visitor who stays for only one night.

9 You are like a man who is surprised.

He is surprised when enemies make him a prisoner.

Yes, you are like a soldier who cannot save anyone.

You are among us, LORD.

People call us by your name.

Do not leave us alone!

10 ‘This people love to go away from me.

They let their feet go anywhere that they like.

So they cannot please the LORD.

Now he will remember the bad things that they have done.

And he will punish them for their sins.’

That is what the LORD says.

11 The LORD spoke to me again. ‘Do not pray that I will do good things for this people. 12 Even if they stop eating food, I will not listen to them. If they burn meat and seeds to offer to me, I will not accept their gifts. Instead, I will kill them. They will not have any food. Or they will become ill and they will die. I will send men to kill some of them’, the LORD said to me.

13LORD, ruler of all, the prophets say other things’, I said. ‘They say that soldiers will not kill the people. They do not believe that they will not have any food. The prophets say that they will not have any troubles. They say that their peace will continue.’

14 ‘The prophets are saying what is not true’, the LORD said to me. ‘And they said that I had said it. I did not send them. And I did not give my authority to them. I did not speak to them. Their words are false. They are telling to you prophecies and pictures that their own minds have made. They worship false gods. 15 So this is what the LORD says about these prophets. “I did not send them. But they are saying that I have spoken to them.” They say, “Enemies will not kill anyone in this country. Nobody will die because they do not have any food.” But I say, “Those same prophets will not have any food and they will die. Or soldiers will kill them. 16 And men will throw the people that listened to them into the streets of Jerusalem. They will die because they do not have any food. Or they may die because soldiers will kill them. Nobody will bury the dead people. They and their dead wives, sons and daughters will lie in the street. I will punish them because they did not obey me.” ’

17 Say this to them.

‘Water runs from my eyes

all day and all night and it does not stop.

I am crying because a heavy weapon has broken my own people.

They have a very bad illness.

18 I see dead people

when I go into the country.

Soldiers have killed them.

In the city, I see dead people.

They died because they did not have any food.

Both prophets and priests

have gone to a place that they never knew.’

Jeremiah asks the LORD to save his people.

19 I cannot believe that you have completely turned away from Judah.

I cannot believe that you hate Zion.

You have hurt us so much

that nobody can make us well again.

We trusted you to save us from trouble.

But you have not done anything good for us.

We trusted you to make us well.

But we are only very afraid.

20 LORD, we agree that we have done many bad things.

We remember, too, the bad things that our ancestors did.

We have not obeyed you, and we have hurt you.

21 We are bad. So people may think that you are bad because of that.

We do not want that.

We want people to give honour to you.

Remember that you promised something to us.

Please do what you promised to do.

22 Gods that men made from wood and stone belong to other countries.

They cannot bring rain.

The sky itself does not make rain.

No, you our LORD, our God,

you bring rain.

Only you can do all these things.

So we hope that you will help us.

Chapter 15

1 ‘Even if Moses and Samuel asked me not to punish my people, I would not listen to them’, the LORD said to me. ‘Send my people away from me. Let them go! 2 They may ask you, “Where should we go?” Then tell them that the LORD says,

“Those who should die will die.

Other soldiers will kill those who are soldiers.

Those that should not have any food will not have any food.

Those who should be prisoners will become prisoners.” ’

3 ‘I will send 4 kinds of punishments to destroy them’, the LORD says. ‘I will send soldiers to kill them and dogs to carry them away. And I will send birds from the air and wild animals to eat and to destroy them. 4 I will cause all the nations on the earth to hate them. I will do that because of the evil things that Manasseh, Hezekiah’s son, did in Jerusalem.’

5 ‘Nobody will be sorry for you, people in Jerusalem.

Nobody will weep for you.

Nobody will stop to ask how you are.

6 You have turned away from me’, says the LORD.

‘You are often backsliding people.

So I will attack you and I will destroy you.

I am tired of being sorry for you.

7 I will judge you at the gates of the country.

Many of you will see your sons die.

And I will kill many people

because they have not returned to me.

8 I will kill many husbands.

More men will die than you can count.

I will send an enemy at midday

against mothers and young children.

They will become afraid quickly.

9 A mother who has 7 children will fall.

And she will die.

Her life will finish before she is old.

She will be ashamed and without honour.

I will send soldiers to kill

those people who are not already dead’,

says the LORD.

Jeremiah is angry with the LORD.

10 I am sorry, mother, that I was ever born.

Everyone in the country is against me.

I have not lent money and I have not taken it.

Jeremiah is saying that he has not done anything wrong.

But everyone says bad things about me.

11 ‘I will save you so that I can do good things.

I will cause your enemies to ask you for help.

They will come to you when they have great trouble’, the LORD said to me.

12 ‘A man cannot break iron or other metals.

He cannot break the iron from the north.’

This iron belongs to the armies of Babylon.

13 ‘I will give all your valuable things and all your money

to enemies who will attack you.

They will not pay for them

because you have done so many wrong things.

You have done bad things all over the country.

14 Your enemies will make you slaves.

They will take you to a country that you do not know.

I am very angry. And so I am like a fire that will burn you.’

15 You understand my problems, LORD.

Remember me and care for me.

Please punish those who cause so much trouble to me.

You are patient but do not let them kill me. Remember me.

They have made my life difficult because I work for you.

16 Your words were like sweet food to me.

They made me very happy.

I belong to you, LORD, powerful God.

17 I never sat with happy people at a party.

I sat alone, because you had touched me.

You had made me very angry.

18 My pain has no end.

And there is nothing that can help me to feel better.

It seems to me that you are not always there.

You are not always there when I need your help.

19 So the LORD spoke to me.

‘If you will turn to me, I will take you back.

Then you can be my servant.

If you will speak good words and not bad words,

you can speak for me.

These people will return to you,

but you must not become like them.

20 I will make you like a wall to this people.

You will be like a wall of strong metal.

They will fight against you,

but they will not win the fight.

They will not win because I am with you.

I will save you’, says the LORD.

21 ‘I will save you from bad men who attack you.

I will save you from people who want to hurt you.’

Chapter 16

The LORD tells Jeremiah about great troubles that he will cause for his people.

1-2 The LORD said to me, ‘You must not marry and you must not have sons or daughters here. 3 Sons and daughters who are born in this country will die from bad illnesses. Their mothers and fathers will die, too. 4 Their bodies will lie on the ground. And nobody will be sad and nobody will bury them. Nobody will give any honour to them. Soldiers will kill them. Or they will die because they do not have any food. Birds and wild animals will eat the dead bodies.’

5 ‘Do not go into a house where they are eating a meal to remember a dead person. You may be sorry that the person is dead. But do not show them that you are sorry. Do that because I have taken my love and my blessings away from them’, says the LORD. 6 ‘Nobody will bury dead persons. Nobody will bury them, whether they are rich or poor. Nobody will be sad. Nobody will show other people how sad they are. They will not cut themselves, or remove the hair from their heads. 7 Nobody will give food to families when someone has died. They will not even give food to them if their mother or father has died. And nobody will give a drink to them to try to make them happy.

8 And do not go into a house where they are having a party. Do not sit down with them to eat and to drink.’ 9 And the LORD of power, the God of Israel, said to me, ‘That is because I will stop their happy songs and marriage parties in this place. I will do that while you are still alive. And you will see it.

10 You must tell to the people everything that I have said. Then they will ask questions. “Why has the LORD said all these bad things about us? What wrong things have we done? What sin have we done against the LORD, our God?” 11 Then you must speak to them. “It is because your ancestors went away from me”, says the LORD. “They worshipped other gods and they became their servants. They turned away from me and they did not obey my law. 12 But you have done worse things than your ancestors. Each of you does what he wants. You know that. You do it even when it is wrong. You do not obey me. 13 So I will throw you out of this country into a country that you and your ancestors have not known. There you will be servants to other gods, day and night, because I will not help you.” ’

14 ‘But a better time will come’, says the LORD. ‘Men will not talk about the time when I, the living God, took them out of Egypt. 15 I will bring them back to the country that I gave to their ancestors. So, instead they will say, “The LORD brought the people out from the country in the north. He brought them out from all the countries that he had sent them to. Certainly the LORD lives.” ’

16 ‘But now I will make them like fish. I will send for many men to fish for them’, says the LORD. ‘And these men will catch them. Then I will send hunters to run after them like wild animals. The hunters will find them in the mountains and hills and in holes in the rocks. 17 I am watching them all the time. They cannot hide from me. And they cannot hide the wrong things that they do. 18 I will punish them twice as much for their sin and for the bad things that they have done. That is because they have made my country like a place full of dirt. They have filled it with their idols that do not have any life. They have made the country that I gave to you full of their disgusting idols.’

19 LORD, you are the person who makes me strong.

You are like a city with strong walls – a city that I can hide in.

I can hide in you when troubles happen to me.

People will come to you from countries all over the earth.

They will say, ‘Our ancestors had only false gods.

They did not have any power and they did not help us.

20 Men make “gods”, but they are not really gods.’

21 ‘So I will teach them.

This time I will teach them

how strong and powerful I am.

Then they will know that the LORD is my name.’

Chapter 17

1 ‘All the people in Judah are full of sin.

It is deep in every part of their bodies.

It is like something that someone has written with a pen of iron.

And they use their altars to sin against me.

It is like something that someone has written on those altars too.

2 Even their children

use their altars and sticks that they call gods.

They put those tall sticks on high hills

and under big trees.

3 Enemies will come to my mountain that is in your country.

They will take away all the valuable things from there.

They will take away all the things that make you rich.

I will do that because of the sin of the people in all my country.

4 You will lose the country that I gave to your ancestors.

You will lose it because of your own sin.

Your enemies will make you their slaves.

You will live in a country that you do not know.

You have made me very angry,

and you cannot stop me being angry.’

5 The LORD spoke again.

‘Some people trust human people.

I will punish everyone who thinks like that.

They think that human people can make them strong.

They do not ask the LORD for help.

6 Those people will be like a bush in a wild place.

They will not become rich when other people become rich.

They will stay in dry salty places where nobody lives.

7 The person who lets the LORD lead him is not like that.

The LORD will bless the man who follows him.

8 He will be like a tree near water

that drinks from the river.

He will not be afraid of the sun’s heat.

He will be like a tree that is always green.

The tree gives much fruit and it always has enough water.

9 A man’s mind can decide what he will do.

But that can cause trouble for him.

I do not know anybody except me who can understand the things in a man’s mind.

It is bad and sick and nobody can make it better.

10 But I, the LORD, can look inside a man.

I can see what he feels. And I can see what he thinks.

I will give good gifts to him if he does good things.

And I will punish him if he does bad things.

11 A man may get rich because he is not fair to other people.

He is like a bird that sits on eggs. But the eggs are not its own.

He will lose his riches before he is old.

At the end of his life, people will see that he is a fool.’

12 Our God’s throne was from the beginning.

It is high up in the holy place.

The holy place is the temple on Mount Zion.

13 LORD, Israel’s people are your people. And they trust you.

All who go away from you will be ashamed.

Those who turn away from you will die.

They will die because they have gone away from the LORD.

He is the living water that gives life to them.

Jeremiah tells the LORD about his troubles.

14 LORD, make me well, and I will be well.

Save me and I will be safe.

Save me because I praise you.

15 People keep asking me questions.

‘Where are the words of the LORD?

When will they come true?’

16 LORD, I have not stopped giving help to your people who are like your sheep.

You know that I did not want bad things to happen to them.

You know that I have spoken your words.

17 Please do not make me afraid!

When bad things happen, I run to you to hide me.

18 I want you to make the people ashamed who hurt me.

Please make them very afraid.

But help me not to be afraid.

Cause them to have a lot of trouble.

Destroy them again and again.

The LORD tells Jeremiah about his rules for the Sabbath.

19 ‘Go and stand in the gate of the city’, the LORD said to me. ‘Stand in the gate that the kings of Judah use to go in and out of the city. And stand at the other city gates, too. 20 Speak to the people. Say, “Listen, you kings of Judah, people of Judah, and everyone who lives in Jerusalem. Hear the message from the LORD. 21 This is what the LORD says. ‘Do not carry anything on the Sabbath day. Do not carry anything through the gates of Jerusalem. 22 Do not carry anything out of your houses and do not do any work on the Sabbath day. You must keep the Sabbath day holy as I told your ancestors. 23 But they did not listen to me and they did not obey me. They thought that my words did not have any value. They would not listen when I corrected them. 24 But you must be careful to listen to me and to obey me. Then you will neither carry things through these gates nor work on the Sabbath. You will keep the Sabbath day holy’, says the LORD. 25 ‘Then kings who sit on David’s throne will come to the city. They will come through the gates with their officers. Some kings will ride on horses. Some kings will ride in beautiful chariots that horses are pulling. The men of Judah and those who live in Jerusalem will come with them. Then people will always live in this city. 26 People will come from the towns and villages in Judah. They will come from the land that belongs to Benjamin. They will come from the hills and the little hills in the west. They will come from the south. They will bring animals, grain and oils with nice smells. They will offer those things to the LORD in his temple. They will offer them to the LORD to thank him. They will thank him for all the good things that he has done. 27 If you do not obey me, I will punish you. You must not carry things on the Sabbath day. You must not even take them through the gates. If you do not obey me, I will send fire to the gates of Jerusalem. You will not be able to put it out. Your strong city will burn down.’ ” ’

Chapter 18

Jeremiah at the potter’s house

1 The LORD spoke to Jeremiah. 2 ‘Go down to the potter’s house, and there I will tell you my message’, he said. 3 So I went down to the potter’s house. There I saw him when he was working at his wheel. 4 He was working with clay to make a pot with his hands. But, as he worked, it became the wrong shape. So he made it into a pot of another shape, as he chose.

5 Then the LORD spoke to me. ‘You know that I can change the Jewish people. I can change them as the potter changes the shape of the clay’, he said. 6 ‘You Jewish people are in my hands. I hold you as the potter holds the clay in his hands. 7 I may say at any time that I will break down a country. I may say that I will destroy it. 8 But the people in that country might hear my words. And they might stop doing the things that made me angry. Then I would change my mind. I would not cause the trouble that I had promised. 9 Or I might say that I will build up a country. I might say that I will make it strong. 10 But the people in that country might do wrong things, and they might not obey my rules. Then I would think again about the good things that I had said. I might not do them.’

11 ‘So now you must speak to the people who live in Judah and in Jerusalem. Tell them that the LORD says, “Look! I will cause great trouble for you. I have decided to come against you. So each person must stop doing bad things and he must start to do good things. You must live in the way that gives pleasure to me.” 12 But they will say to you, “We do not want to do that. We will continue to do what we want to do. We will do every bad thing that we choose to do.” ’

13 So the LORD said to Jeremiah,

‘The people in other countries have never heard about anything like this.

My people, Israel, have done a very wrong thing.

14 The snow stays on the rocky sides of Mount Lebanon.

Cold water never stops falling from its high rocks.

15 But my people have forgotten me.

They burn oils with a nice smell

to give pleasure to gods that do not have any value.

Those gods cause them to become lost.

They go away from the right paths.

They walk along side paths and poor roads.

16 I will send their enemies to get power over their country.

They will destroy everything in it.

My people will be ashamed.

Men who pass the country will be very surprised.

They will show how sad they are.

17 I will come to my people like the east wind.

I will blow them like sand in front of their enemies.

I will not show my face to them.

I will turn my back to them when that day comes.’

18 The people said, ‘Let us attack Jeremiah. We do not need him. The priests will still teach the law, and wise men will still lead us. We will still have the words of the prophets. So we will speak against Jeremiah with our tongues. We will not listen to anything that he says.’

19 Listen to me, LORD.

Hear what people are saying against me.

20 I have tried to teach them well,

but they will do bad things to me.

Remember that I stood in front of you. And I spoke to you.

I asked you not to be angry with them.

21 So now cause them not to have any food.

Let their enemies kill them with sharp knives.

I want their wives to lose their husbands and their children.

Let their enemies kill the men.

And let the young men die while they are fighting.

22 They will shout from their houses

when you bring enemies to surprise them.

They are trying to catch me in a hole

or to tie me like an animal.

23 But you, LORD, know

the bad things that they want to do to me.

Please do not forgive them.

And do not forget the bad things that they have done.

Watch as their enemies win the fight against them.

Punish them while you are angry.

Chapter 19

The LORD sends Jeremiah to a valley.

1 The LORD said to me, ‘Go. And buy a pot from a potter that he has made out of clay. Take some of the leaders of the people and some priests with you. 2 Go out into Ben-Hinnom Valley, near to the Piece of Pot gate. There you must speak the words that I will give to you. 3 Say, “Hear the LORD’s message, you kings of Judah and people in Jerusalem. The great and powerful LORD says, ‘Listen! I will bring very great trouble to this place. It will be very bad. It will hurt the ears of everyone who hears about it. 4 I will do that because you have brought foreign gods to this place. People have burnt animals here to offer to these gods. Neither their ancestors nor the kings of Judah knew those gods. People have killed those who had not done any wrong thing. 5 People burned their own sons in fires on the high hills. They offered them to the false god, Baal. That is something that I never asked you to do. I would never have thought to ask it. 6 That is why this valley will have a new name’, says the LORD. ‘At a future time, it will not be called Topheth or Ben-Hinnom Valley. No, it will be called “Death Valley”.

7 Judah and Jerusalem will not grow in the way that they want. In this place, I will cause their enemies to destroy them. They will kill those who live here. I will give their dead bodies to the birds and to the wild animals for food. 8 I will completely destroy this city so that people will be ashamed. Anyone who walks past it will see it. They will see that I have destroyed it. They will think that it did not have any value. That will be because of all its troubles. 9 Enemies who want to kill its people will be all round the city. And its people will not have any food. They will be so hungry that they will eat the dead bodies of their children and of each other.’ ”

10 Then break the pot that you bought. Break it in front of all those people who are watching you. 11 Say to them, “The great and powerful LORD says, ‘I will break this country. I will break this city as someone breaks a pot. Nobody will be able to mend it. Topheth will not be able to hold all the dead bodies. 12 I will make this city like Topheth. That is what I will do to this city. And I will do it to those who live here. 13 I will make the houses in Jerusalem and those of the kings of Judah full of dead bones like Topheth. I will do that to all the places where they burned nice oils. And I will do that to all the places where they poured drinks. That is because they offered them to the stars in the sky and to other gods.’ ” ’

14 Jeremiah returned from Topheth where he had given the LORD’s message to the rulers. Then he went and he stood in the outside part of the LORD’s temple. He spoke to the people. He said, 15 ‘The great and powerful LORD is saying to you, “Listen! I will do all the really bad things that I promised to do. I will destroy this city and the villages near to it. I will do it because the people in them did not listen to me. I will do it because they would not obey my words.” ’

Topheth was a high place on a hill. There people burnt animals or children to offer them to false gods. The LORD had said that the Jews must not burn their children as gifts to the gods. (See Leviticus 18:21.) Ben-Hinnom Valley was a place outside the city. People put things there that they did not want. People put food that was bad there too. The LORD is telling the rulers of Judah that their dead bodies would join these bad things in that place.

Chapter 20

Jeremiah and Pashhur

1 Pashhur, son of Immer, was the leader of the priests in the LORD’s temple. He heard the things that Jeremiah was prophesying. 2 So he caused his men to hit Jeremiah, and to tie him up. They tied him on a seat by the highest gate. That is the gate of Benjamin at the LORD’s temple. 3 The next day, Pashhur let Jeremiah go. ‘The LORD’s name for you is not Pashhur, but Magor-Missabib’, Jeremiah said.

The name Magor-Missabib means ‘things everywhere round you will make you afraid’.

4 ‘The LORD says, “I will make you afraid of yourself and your friends will be afraid of you too. With your own eyes, you will see their enemies kill all your friends. I will give all the people in Judah to the king of Babylon and he will take them away. He will take them to Babylon or he will cause his soldiers to kill them. 5 I will give all the valuable things in the city to the people’s enemies. I will give all your valuable things, the things that you have made, to them. They will take all the valuable things of the kings of Judah. They will take them away to Babylon because they have won their fight against you. 6 And they will take you, Pashhur, and everybody who lives in your house, to Babylon. You will die there and all your friends will die there too. You spoke false prophecies to them. They will bury you there.” ’

Jeremiah cries out to the LORD.

7 LORD, you did not tell me how bad they would be to your prophet.

You caused me to believe something that was not true.

You fought against me.

You are stronger than I am. And you won.

Nobody believes the words that I speak. They think all the time that I am a fool.

8 Every time that I speak, I have to tell them bad things.

I shout out that their enemies are all round them.

And I shout that their enemies will fight. I shout that they will kill them.

These words of yours make them angry with me.

So they say bad things about me all the time.

9 I want to keep quiet. I do not want to talk about you.

I tried to do that. I said that I would not speak on your behalf.

But then your words burned like a fire inside me. They did not give me any rest.

I am too tired to hold them in. I cannot do it.

10 I hear voices that say, ‘Everything round you should make you afraid!

Let us tell the officers what he is saying.’

All my friends are waiting for me to make a mistake. They say,

‘Perhaps we can cause him to believe something that is not true.

Then we can punish him for the bad things that he has said.’

11 But the LORD is with me like a strong soldier.

So those who are against me will fail. They will not win.

They will fail completely. They will be very ashamed for all time.

People will never forget that nobody should honour them.

12 Great and powerful LORD, you look at all the people.

You know what they think. They think that they are right.

Let me see you punish them. Do that because I am trusting you to help me.

13 Sing to the LORD!

Give praise to the LORD!

He saves the lives of poor people from the things that bad men do.

14 I will put a curse on the day that I was born.

I do not want the day that I was born ever to be happy.

15 I will put a curse on the man who told the news to my father.

He made my father very happy. He said,

‘You have a son!’

16 I want the LORD to kill the man who said that.

The LORD was not sorry to destroy our towns.

Destroy that man like that.

I want him to hear people who are crying in the morning.

I want him to hear the shouts of men who fight at noon.

17 The LORD did not kill me before I was born. I am angry about that.

I was not a dead body buried inside my mother.

That body would have kept her big for her whole life.

18 I do not know why I came out from my mother.

I only get troubles and things that make me sad.

People will only say bad things about me when I die.

Chapter 21

King Zedekiah asks the LORD for help.

1 King Zedekiah sent Pashhur, son of Malchijah, and the priest Zephaniah, son of Maaseiah, to Jeremiah. 2 ‘Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, is attacking us’, they said. ‘Ask the LORD for us if he will do something great for us. He did many good things for us before now. Perhaps he will cause Nebuchadnezzar to go away.’

The LORD uses Jeremiah to speak to them.

3 ‘Tell Zedekiah’, Jeremiah answered them, ‘that the LORD says this: 4 “You have weapons in your hands to fight the king of Babylon and his soldiers. But I will turn your weapons against you. The enemy are everywhere round your city’s walls. And I will bring them together inside this city. 5 I will fight against you myself with my own hand. I am very strong and very angry. 6 I will attack all the people who live in this city. I will kill them with a very bad illness, both people and animals. 7 After that”, the LORD says, “I will take Zedekiah, king of Judah. With him, I will take any of his officers or people that are still alive. I will take anybody that the soldiers have not killed. And I will take everybody who has not died from illness. I will give them to Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon. I will give them to the enemies who want to kill them. He will kill them. He will not be sorry and he will not be kind to them.”

8 And tell the people more. Tell them that the LORD says, “I am showing two different paths to you. One path is the way to life and the other path is the way to death. 9 Anyone who stays in the city will die from hunger or illness. Or soldiers will kill them. But anyone can go out and he can give himself to the soldiers from Babylon. If he goes outside the city, he will save his life. 10 I have decided to hurt this city and not to help it”, says the LORD. “I will give it to the king of Babylon, and he will destroy it with fire.”

11 Then to the king of Judah and to his family, say this: 12Descendants of David, the LORD says this:

‘You must judge people fairly every day.

Perhaps men have taken things from another man.

Then save that man from those who have taken his things.

If you do not do that, I will be very, very angry.

I will be angry because of the bad thing that you have done.

I will be so angry that my anger will burn like a fire.

Nobody can put out that fire.

13 I am your enemy, people in Jerusalem.

You live over this valley on a rocky hill’,

the LORD says.

‘You say, “Nobody can attack us.

Nobody can get into our strong city.”

14 But I will punish you for all the bad things that you have done’,

says the LORD.

‘I will light a fire in your trees.

Then that fire will destroy everything that is round you.’ ” ’

Chapter 22

The LORD will judge kings that are evil.

1 ‘Go down to the house of the king of Judah’, the LORD said to me. ‘You must say this to them there. 2 “Hear the LORD’s message, king of Judah, who sits on the throne of David. These words are for you. And they are for your officers and for all the people who come here. 3 The LORD says, ‘You must do the things that are right and fair. If someone has taken away a person’s things, you should save that person. Save him from the man who took them. Do not hurt foreign people or children without living parents. Do not hurt widows. Do not kill anyone who has not done anything wrong. 4 If you are careful to obey all these rules, your kings will stay here. The descendants of David will ride in on horses, and on chariots. Their officers and people will come with them. 5 But you will have trouble if you do not obey my rules’, the LORD says. ‘I, myself, promise that your enemies will break down your house.’ ” ’

6 The LORD says this: He is speaking about the palace of the king of Judah.

‘I will make you like a desert.

You may be like Gilead or like the mountains of Lebanon.

But I will make you like towns where nobody lives.

7 I will send enemies against you with their weapons.

They will cut down your strong walls of wood

and they will throw them into the fire.

8 People from many countries will pass by. They will ask, “Why has the LORD done this to such a great city?” 9 Other people will answer, “They have not done what they promised to the LORD, their God. They have worshipped other gods, and they have become their servants. That is why he has done this.” ’

10 Do not cry because the king is dead. Do not be sad that he is gone.

But cry much for the people that enemies have taken to a foreign country.

Cry because they will never come back.

They will never see their own country again.

11 The LORD says this about Shallum, son of Josiah: ‘He became king after his father, but he has gone away. He will never return to this place. 12 He will die in the place that they have taken him to. They have put him in a prison there. He will not see this country again.’

Many Bible students think that Shallum is another name for Jehoahaz.

13 ‘A man might use the bad things that he does to build his palace.

But he will never be happy.

The person who is not fair to his workers will also never be happy.

He causes people in his own country to work for nothing.

He does not give to them the money for their work.

14 He says, “I will build myself a great palace.

I will build rooms on the ground and big rooms over them.

I will make big windows and I will cover the walls with nice smelling wood.

I will make it beautiful with red paint.”

15 But red wood does not make you a greater king.

Your father had enough food and drink.

And he did what was right and fair. So his life was good.

16 He helped people who were poor. And he helped those who needed his help.

So everything was good for you.

That happens when people know me’,

the LORD says.

17 ‘But you only want to get rich in ways that are not fair.

People do not do anything wrong, but you kill them.

And you cause people to give money to you that is not yours.’

18 So the LORD says this about Jehoiakim, son of Josiah, king of Judah.

‘They will not be sad when he dies.

They will not say, “My brother, how sad, my sister.”

They will not say, “My poor master, how great he was.”

19 They will bury him like a dead animal.

They will pull his dead body to the gate and they will throw it outside Jerusalem.

20 Go up to Lebanon and shout.

Shout loudly in Bashan.

Shout out from Abarim.

Shout because all your friends are gone.

21 I did tell you that it would happen.

But you thought that you were safe.

And you said, “I will not listen!”

You have been like that since you were young.

You have not obeyed me.

22 Your rulers will leave you, as if the wind had blown them away.

Enemies will take your friends to a country far away.

Then you will be ashamed and you will feel sad.

You will be sorry for all the wrong things that you have done.

23 Some of you live in Lebanon in houses of wood that smells nice.

But you will shout with pain when you start to have troubles.

It will be like the pain of a woman who is having a baby.’

24 ‘This is as sure as the fact that I am alive’, says the LORD. ‘I will let this happen to you, Coniah, son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah. I will pull you off as I would pull a valuable ring from my right hand. 25 I will give you to those men that you are afraid of. I will give you to those people who want to kill you. I will give Nebuchadnezzar and the people from Babylon power over you. 26 I will throw you and your mother into another country. I will send you both to a country that you do not know. It is a country where neither of you was born. You will both die there. 27 You will never return to the country where you want to be.’

28 This man Coniah must be like a pot that somebody has broken. Nobody seems to want him.

He and his children will go out into a country that they do not know.

29 Country, country, country, listen to the LORD’s message!

30 ‘Write this man’s name. Write it as the name of a man without any children.’

The LORD says,

‘Nothing good will happen to this man while he lives.

And no good thing will happen to his descendants.

Not one descendant will sit on the throne of David.

None of them will rule in Judah.’

Chapter 23

A son of David will rule one day. He will rule in the right way.

1 ‘I will cause trouble to the rulers who are destroying my people. They cause them to run away’, the LORD says. 2 So he says to them, ‘You rulers should care for my people as a shepherd cares for his sheep. I will punish you because you have done this evil thing. You have caused my people to run away to many different places. You have not cared for them’, says the LORD. 3 ‘I myself will fetch all my people who are still alive. I will fetch them from the countries that they ran to. I will bring them back to their own country. There they will have children and they will grow in number. 4 I will give to them rulers who will care for them. My people will not be afraid. Not one person will be missing’, says the LORD.

5 ‘The time is coming’, says the LORD,

‘when I will give a good son to David’s descendants.

He will rule in a right way and with understanding.

He will judge fairly in the country.

6 When he is ruling, Judah will be safe.

And Israel will not be afraid then.

People will give this name to him:

“The LORD makes us right and good”.’

7 ‘People will speak in a new way at a future time’, says the LORD. ‘They will not say again, “This is as sure as the fact that the LORD is alive. I am sure that he brought Israel’s people out of Egypt.” 8 But they will say, “This is as sure as the fact that the LORD is alive. I am sure that he brought Israel’s descendants out of the countries in the north. And he brought them out of all the countries that he had sent them to.” Then they will live in their own country.’

Prophets who say things that are not true

9 I must speak about the prophets.

My mind is not happy.

My body feels weak and ill.

I am like a man who has drunk too much wine.

The LORD has spoken to me, and his words are holy.

10 The country is full of men who have sex with other men’s wives.

Because of that, the country is as dry as dead bones.

And all the plants in the fields are dead.

The prophets are doing things that are wrong.

And they do not use their power in the right way.

11 ‘And the prophets and the priests do not give honour to me.

Even in my temple I see them. And they are doing things that are very wrong’,

says the LORD.

12 ‘Because of that, I will make it difficult for them to do their work.

I will send them away to a dark place where they will fall.

Many bad things will happen to them when I start to punish them’,

says the LORD.

13 ‘I saw a very bad thing that the prophets in Samaria did.

They were speaking the name of the false god, Baal when they were prophesying.

They did not tell my people things that were right.

So they caused them to do wrong things.

14 Some prophets in Jerusalem

were doing wrong things too.

I saw them having sex with other men’s wives.

But they let people think that they were good.

They say that it is good for men to do evil things.

So they let them continue to do things that are wrong.

They seem as bad to me as were the people in Sodom.

The people in Jerusalem are as bad as the people in Gomorrah.’

There were not even 10 good men in the cities called Sodom and Gomorrah. So the LORD had destroyed those cities. (See Genesis 18:20-33.) The men there had sex with other men and they wanted to cause male visitors to have sex with them. (See Genesis 19:5-9.)

15 So the great and powerful LORD says this about the prophets:

‘I will cause them to eat food that tastes bad.

And I will cause them to drink water that will make them ill.

That is because of the things that the prophets in Jerusalem have done.

They have caused all the people in the country to turn away from God.’

16 The great and powerful LORD says:

‘Do not listen to the words that the prophets are prophesying to you.

They cause you to believe things that are not true.

They tell you about pictures that they have made in their own minds.

They do not speak the words that come from the LORD’s mouth.

17 They continue to think that I am worth nothing.

And they cause other people to think as they think.

They say that the LORD has said to them,

“You will have peace.

Nothing bad will happen to you.”

Some people refuse to change the things that they are doing.

But the prophets say those good things to all those people.

18 But none of them has been with the LORD.

They have not seen him and they have not heard his word.

They have not listened to him.

19 But you will see that the LORD will be very angry.

He will be angry like a storm and a strong wind.

He will knock down people who do wrong things.

20 Nothing will cause the LORD to stop being angry.

He will finish completely everything that he wants to do.

At a future time, you will understand all of this.

21 I did not send these prophets.

But they have still run to tell their message to you.

I did not speak to them,

but they have prophesied.

22 If they had met with me,

they would have spoken my words to the people.

Then my people would have turned away from the things that are wrong.

They would have stopped doing bad things.

23 I can see things that happen a long way away.

I do not see only what is close to me.

24 Nobody can hide in a secret place

so that I cannot see him’, says the LORD.

‘I am in all the earth and in all the sky’, says the LORD.

25 ‘I have heard the things that these prophets say. They say things that are not true. They give false messages. They say that they are messages from me. They say, “I had a dream.” 26 They should stop speaking false words. They make pictures in their own minds. And they say that they are prophecies. 27 They tell their dreams to each other. They think that their dreams will cause my people to forget my name. Then they would be like their ancestors who forgot me. They forgot me when they worshipped the false god, Baal. 28 A prophet may have a dream. That prophet can tell people that it is only a dream. But anyone who has heard my words must be sure to give my message to people. The dream and my message are very different. Their dream is nothing but my message is everything good’, says the LORD. 29 ‘My word is like a fire’, says the LORD. ‘It is like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces.’

30 ‘The prophets take each other’s words. Then they say that they came from me. That is why I am against them’, says the LORD. 31 ‘Yes’, says the LORD, ‘They tell people what they think. But they say, “The LORD says.” ’ 32 ‘Yes, I am against those who prophesy false dreams’, says the LORD. ‘Those dreams that they tell to the people lead the people away from me. Their stories cause people to believe things that are not true. I did not send them and I did not give my authority to them. They do not help my people’, the LORD says.

False prophets and their false prophecies

33 ‘These people or a prophet or a priest may ask you, “What is the LORD saying?” Then you must say to them, “ ‘I will leave you’, he says”. 34 If a prophet or a priest says, “This is a message from the LORD”, I will punish him. I will punish that man and all the people who are in his house. 35 You can ask your friends and families questions. “What is the LORD’s answer?” or “What has the LORD said?” you can say. 36 But you must not speak again about the LORD’s message. You say that it is a message from the LORD. But you are really speaking your own words. In that way, you change the words of the living God. You change the words of the great powerful LORD, our God. 37 You can ask a prophet, “What is the LORD’s answer to you?” or “What did the LORD say?” 38 You might say, “This is the LORD’s message.” But the LORD says to you, “You said that your words were my message. You did that. But I had told you not to use the words, ‘This is the LORD’s message.’ ” 39 Because of that, I will certainly forget you. I will push you away from me and from this city. You will leave the city that I gave to you and to your ancestors. 40 I will make you ashamed. People will always remember that I made you ashamed. They will not forget.’

Chapter 24

The LORD shows another picture to Jeremiah.

1 Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon took Jeconiah away to Babylon. Jeconiah was the son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah. He took with him all Jeconiah’s officers and all the men who had clever hands. After that, the LORD showed two baskets of figs to me. 2 One basket had very good fruit, like the first fruit on a tree. The other basket had very bad fruit. It was so bad that nobody could eat it.

3 Then the LORD asked me, ‘What do you see, Jeremiah?’

Figs’, I answered, ‘the good ones are very good. But the bad ones are so bad that nobody can eat them.’

4 Then the LORD spoke to me,

5 ‘The LORD, the God of Israel, says, “The people that I sent away from Judah are like the good figs. I see them as good. I sent them away from this place to Babylon. 6 I will watch them, and I will cause good things to happen to them. I will bring them back to this country. I will build them like a strong building and I will not destroy them. I will put them where they can grow like a plant. And I will not pull them up. 7 I will cause them to want to know me, the LORD. They will be my people and I will be their God. That will happen because they will completely return to me.

8-9 But Zedekiah, his officers and the people who are still in Jerusalem are like the bad figs. They are like the figs that nobody can eat. They may stay in this country or they may live in Egypt. But I will cause them to have to run from one country to another country. The people in all the kingdoms on the earth will hate them. People will not want them. And they will say that they are silly. And they will say bad things about them and they will curse them. They will do that in every place that I send them to. 10 I will send soldiers and illness to kill them. They will not have enough food to eat. So I will kill all the people still in the country that I gave to their ancestors.” ’

Chapter 25

Israel’s people will be prisoners for 70 years.

1 The LORD spoke to Jeremiah in the 4th year of Jehoiakim. Jehoiakim was the son of Josiah king of Judah. The LORD spoke about the people in Judah. It was the first year when Nebuchadnezzar was the king of Babylon. 2 So Jeremiah the prophet spoke to all the people in Judah and to those who were living in Jerusalem. He said, 3 ‘For 23 years the LORD has spoken to me. And I have told you the words that he has said. I have done that since the 13th year of Josiah. He was the son of Amon, king of Judah. I have spoken to you again and again, but you have never listened.

4 And you have not listened to the prophets, the LORD’s servants, at all. Even when the LORD sent them again and again, you would not listen to their words. 5 “Turn away from all the wrong things that you are doing. You know that they are bad”, they said. “If you stop doing evil things, you can stay in the country. It is the country that the LORD gave to you and to your ancestors for all time. 6 Do not work for other gods and do not worship them. You must not do the things that their servants do. Stop making the LORD angry. You are making him angry because you are making false gods with your hands. If you stop making the LORD angry, he will not hurt you.” ’

7 ‘But you did not listen to me’, the LORD says. ‘And you have made me angry because of the things that you have made. So I will cause trouble for you. That is only because you refused to obey me.’

8 The great and powerful LORD says, ‘You have not listened to my words. 9 So I will call the nations in the north. And I will call my servant Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon’, he says. ‘And I will bring them to fight against this country and against the people who live here. They will also fight against all the countries round you. I will destroy all of those countries completely. They will be places that people are afraid of. They will say that people could not keep their countries safe. They will remain like a desert for all time. 10 I will stop any sounds of happy parties. Nobody will get married here. Nobody will make flour here. No lights will shine here. 11 The whole country will be empty and nobody will live here. The people from all these countries will work for 70 years for the king of Babylon. 12 But after the 70 years, I will punish the king of Babylon and his country. I will punish the people in Babylon for the bad things that they did’, says the LORD. ‘I will make Babylon empty for all time. Nobody will live there. 13 I will cause everything to happen to it that I have spoken about. You can read all those things in this book. They are the prophecies of Jeremiah against the countries. 14 Many countries and great kings will take the people from Babylon themselves as slaves. I will do to them all the bad things that they did to other nations.’

Jeremiah takes a cup from the LORD.

15 The LORD, the God of Israel, said to me, ‘Here is a cup that is full of wine. The wine is a picture of my anger. In the countries that I send you to, you must cause the people there to drink this wine. 16 I will send armies against them. Then when they drink the wine of my anger they will become crazy.’

17 So I took the cup from the LORD’s hand. As in a picture, I saw all the countries that he had sent me to. Their people were drinking from the cup. 18 The people in Jerusalem and in all the towns in Judah drank from it. And their kings and officers also drank. Then God would break up all their country. He would make it a thing that people would turn away from. People would think that they did not have any value. And they would curse them. That is what they do today. 19 Pharaoh, king of Egypt and all his officers, his slaves and all his people would drink from the cup. 20 And all the foreign people in Egypt would drink from it too. The kings that must drink from the cup include the kings of Uz and all the kings of Philistia. (The kings of Philistia include the kings of the people in Ashkelon, Gaza, and Ekron. And they include the king of all the people who are still at Ashdod.) 21 Edom, Moab and Ammon 22 and all the kings of Tyre and Sidon would drink, too. The kings of the countries across the sea, 23 Dedan, Tema, and Buz would drink from the cup. And everyone in far places would drink from the cup. 24 All the kings of Arabia and the kings of the foreign people who live in the desert would drink. 25 And all the kings of Zimri, Elam and Media would drink. 26 All the kings of the north would drink whether they live near or a long way away. The people in all the kingdoms on the earth will drink, one after another. The last to drink will be the king of Sheshach (Babylon).

27 Then tell them that the great and powerful LORD, the God of Israel, says, “Drink. Become ill with drink and be sick. Fall down and never get up again. I will send men with swords to hurt you.” 28 But they may refuse to take the cup and to drink from it. Then you must tell them that they must drink my wine. Say, “The great and powerful LORD says, 29 ‘See the things that I am beginning to do. I am beginning to destroy the city that has my name. And I will punish all you people. I will bring war against everyone who lives on the earth. And that is the time when I will punish you.’ The great and powerful LORD is saying those things.”

30 Now prophesy all these words against them. Say to them,

“The LORD will shout from his high place.

He will make a noise like a storm from his holy place.

His great voice will shout against this country.

He will shout like the men who jump on grapes to make wine.

He will shout against all people who live on the earth.

31 The noise will be so great that all the earth will hear it.

That is because the LORD will punish all the countries.

He will judge all the people on the earth.

Soldiers will kill those people who have done any wrong things.”

Those are the LORD’s words.’

32 The great and powerful LORD says,

‘Look! I am destroying one country after another.

A great storm is coming from the ends of the earth.’

33 At that time dead bodies will lie everywhere. They will cover the earth. Nobody will cry because they are dead. Nobody will take them to bury them in the ground. They will lie there like things that people have thrown away.

34 You shepherds of my people will cry aloud.

Roll on the ground, you who lead them.

The time for you to die has come.

You will fall and you will break in pieces, like a pot.

35 The shepherds will not find anywhere to run and to hide.

The leaders will not be able to run away.

36 You will hear the leaders shout out.

They will shout loudly

because the LORD is destroying their country.

37 The LORD will destroy the quiet fields

because he is very angry.

38 He will come out of his home like a lion.

And he will make their country a desert.

It will be empty because of the enemy’s army.

It will be empty because the LORD is very angry.

Chapter 26

Men say that they will kill Jeremiah.

1 The LORD spoke to Jeremiah soon after Jehoiakim, son of Josiah, became king. He said, 2 ‘The LORD says. “Stand in front of my house and speak to all the people there. People from all the towns in Judah come to worship in the LORD’s house. Tell them everything that I say. Do not leave out one word. 3 Perhaps they will listen. And perhaps they will each turn away from the evil things that they are doing. Then I will change the thing that I had decided to do to them. I will not send very bad trouble to them.” 4 Say to them, “The LORD says, ‘You must obey the law that I have given to you. 5 You must obey me and you must listen to the words of my prophets. If you do not obey me, I will punish you. I have sent my prophets to you again and again. But you have not listened to them. 6 So I will destroy this house. I will make it like Shiloh. And people in other countries will call this city a curse.’ ” ’

An enemy had destroyed the holy place at Shiloh, a long time before this.

7 The priests, the prophets and all the people heard Jeremiah while he was speaking. He spoke the LORD’s words in the LORD’s house. 8 Jeremiah said everything that the LORD had given to him to say. When he had finished, the priests, prophets and people took him. They said, ‘You must die! 9 You should not prophesy that this house will be like Shiloh. You have said, “Enemies will destroy this city. And it will be empty after they have gone.” But you must not say that.’ And all the people became a crowd round Jeremiah in the LORD’s house.

10 The officers of Judah heard those words. So they left the king’s house and they went up to the LORD’s house. They sat in their places at the way into the New Gate. 11 Then the priests and the prophets spoke to the officers and to all the people. They said, ‘You must decide to kill this man. He has prophesied against this city. Your ears heard him say it!’

12 Then Jeremiah said to all the officers and to all the people, ‘The LORD sent me to prophesy against this house and against this city. He told me that I must say those things. And you have heard the words that he gave to me. 13 Now you must turn away from the wrong things that you are doing. You must obey the LORD your God. Then the LORD will change his thoughts. He will not do all these bad things that he has told you about. 14 I am in your power. Do with me whatever you think to be good and right. 15 But I am sure that I have not done any wrong things. If you kill me, God will punish you. And he will punish your city and all the people who live in it. The LORD really did send me to speak all these words for you to hear. They are true.’

16 Then the officers and all the people spoke to the priests and to the prophets. They said, ‘This man should not die. He has spoken to us on behalf of the LORD.’

17 Some of the leaders of the people came to speak to everyone who was there. They said, 18 ‘Micah from Moresheth prophesied when Hezekiah was king of Judah. He told all the people in Judah the words that the LORD had said. He said,

Zion will be like a field.

Jerusalem will become a lot of stones.

The hill that the temple is on will have weeds everywhere.”

19 Neither King Hezekiah nor anyone else in Judah caused Micah to die. Hezekiah was afraid to make the LORD angry and he wanted to honour the LORD. And he wanted to give pleasure to him. And then the LORD changed what he had decided to do. He did not send to them what he had promised to send. We will cause a lot of trouble for ourselves!’

20 (Uriah, son of Shemaiah from Kiriath-Jearim, was another prophet. He prophesied on behalf of the LORD against this city and against this country. He prophesied with the LORD’s authority against this city and against this country. He said things like the things that Jeremiah said. 21 When King Jehoiakim and all his officers heard those words, the king wanted to kill Uriah. But Uriah was afraid when people told him about that. So he ran away to Egypt. 22 But King Jehoiakim sent Elnathan, son of Achbor, to Egypt. He went with some other men. 23 They brought Uriah back to King Jehoiakim. The king caused his soldiers to kill Uriah. And they threw his dead body down in the place where they buried poor people.)

24 Ahikam, son of Shaphan, also said that Jeremiah spoke the true words of the LORD. So the officers did not let the people kill Jeremiah.

Chapter 27

God tells Jeremiah that people from many countries will become Nebuchadnezzar’s servants.

1 The LORD spoke to Jeremiah soon after Zedekiah became king. Zedekiah was the son of Josiah and he had become king of Judah. 2 The LORD said to me, ‘Make a yoke from wood and leather, and put it on your neck. 3 Then send for the messengers in Jerusalem. They have come from other countries to see Zedekiah, king of Judah. The kings of Edom, Moab, Ammon, Tyre and Sidon sent them here. 4 Give to them a message for their masters. Say, “The great powerful LORD, the God of Israel, says this: ‘Tell this to your masters: 5 I made this earth with my long arm and with my great power. I made the people and the animals on the earth. And I will give it to anyone that I choose. 6 Now I will give all your countries to my servant Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon. He will have power over you and even over the wild animals. 7 People from all countries will serve him and his son and his grandson. They will serve him and his sons for as long as I let him and his sons rule. Then people from many countries will join together and they will take away his power.

8 If the people from any country will not serve Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, I will punish those people. I will send soldiers or illness or I will destroy their food. I will cause Nebuchadnezzar to do that if the people in that country will not be his servants. 9 So do not listen to your prophets, or to your people. They think that they know about future things. But they do not know. Do not listen to those who ask spirits for help. Do not listen to those who try to understand dreams. They might tell you that you will not become servants of the king of Babylon. 10 They would not be telling you what is true. That would make it sure that an enemy would take you a long way from your own country. I would send you away and you would die there. 11 But the people from a country might decide to obey the king of Babylon. They might become his servants. Then I would let those people remain in their own country. They could continue to live there’ ” ’, says the LORD.

12 I gave the same message to the king of Judah. I said, ‘Put on the yoke of the king of Babylon. You and your people must become his servants. Then you will live. 13 You and your people do not want to die. Any people who do not serve the king of Babylon will die. The LORD has promised this. He will kill those people with soldiers or with illness. Or they will die because they do not have any food. 14 Do not listen to the words of the prophets who say, “You will not serve the king of Babylon.” They are prophesying lies. 15 “I have not sent those prophets”, says the LORD. “They are using my name. But they are saying things that are not true. So I will send you away and you will die. You and the prophets who are prophesying to you will die.” ’

16 Then I spoke to the priests and to all the people. I said, ‘The LORD says, “Do not listen to the prophets. They tell you that people will soon bring back from Babylon the things from the LORD’s house. But the things that they say are not true. 17 Do not listen to them. If you serve the king of Babylon, you will live. You do not want him to destroy this city! 18 Proper prophets who had heard the LORD’s message would ask him for help. They would ask the great powerful God to let the things still in the LORD’s house stay there. They would ask him not to let people take them to Babylon. They would ask that the things from the king’s house and in Jerusalem would remain there.” 19 The LORD says that there are beautiful things of stone and metal still in the city. 20 Nebuchadnezzar let them remain here when he took Jehoiakim, king of Judah, away. He took him then with all the great people in Judah and in Jerusalem. He took them from Jerusalem to Babylon. 21 Yes, the LORD says. He says this about all the things that they had let remain in the LORD’s house and in the king’s palace: 22 “Nebuchadnezzar’s people will take them to Babylon. They will stay there until I come for them. Then I will bring them and I will put them back in this place.” ’

Chapter 28

The false prophet Hananiah

1 The prophet Hananiah, son of Azzur, spoke to me. He spoke to me in the house of the LORD that same year. It was the 5th month of the 4th year, soon after Zedekiah had become king of Judah. Hananiah came from Gibeon. He spoke to me in front of the priests and all the people. 2 ‘The great and powerful LORD, the God of Israel says this’, he said. ‘I will break the yoke of the king of Babylon. 3 Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon took many things from the LORD’s house. He took them to Babylon. In less than two years, I will bring them back to this place. 4 I will also bring back Jeconiah, king of Judah, and many other people. I will bring back all the people that Nebuchadnezzar took to Babylon. I will break his yoke’, says the LORD.

People made yokes from wood. And they put them on the shoulders of men or animals. They could tie heavy things to a yoke. Then the men could carry the things, or animals could pull them. Nebuchadnezzar was causing the men in Israel to do his work.

5 Jeremiah replied to the prophet Hananiah in front of the priests and in front of all the people. They were all standing in the house of the LORD. 6Amen!’ he said. ‘I want the LORD to do that! I want him to bring back all the things to the LORD’s house. I want him to bring back all the people that Nebuchadnezzar took to Babylon. I want him to do as you have prophesied. 7 But hear what I say to you and to all the people here. 8 Many prophets have prophesied for many years before us. They said that war and illness would happen. They said that people would not have any food. Those things would happen in many countries and kingdoms, they said. 9 Other prophets say that peace will happen. That peace may happen. Only then can we know that their words are true. And we will know that the LORD has sent them.’

10 Then the prophet Hananiah took the yoke off the neck of the prophet Jeremiah and he broke it. 11 He said in front of all the people, ‘The LORD says, “I will break the yoke of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon like that. In less than two years I will break his yoke from the neck of all the countries.” ’ After that, the prophet Jeremiah went away.

12 A short time after Hananiah had broken the yoke from Jeremiah’s neck, the LORD spoke to Jeremiah. 13 ‘Go. And tell my words to Hananiah’, he said. ‘Tell him that the LORD says, “You have broken a yoke of wood, but I will give to you a yoke of iron in its place.” 14 The great and powerful LORD says this: The God of Israel says, “I will put an iron yoke on the neck of all those countries to make them slaves. They will serve Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon. I will even give to him power over the wild animals.” ’

15 Then the prophet Jeremiah said to the prophet Hananiah, ‘Listen! The LORD has not sent you, Hananiah. But you have spoken things that are not true to the people in this country. And they believed that they were the LORD’s words. 16 So the LORD says, “I will cause you to die this year because you have taught people not to obey the LORD.” ’

17 In that same year, in the 7th month, Hananiah the prophet died.

Chapter 29

Jeremiah’s letter

1 Jeremiah sent a letter from Jerusalem to Babylon. He sent it to the Jewish leaders and to the priests, prophets and people who were still there. Nebuchadnezzar had taken them from Jerusalem to Babylon. 2 (That was after Nebuchadnezzar had taken King Jeconiah and his mother. He had taken them to Babylon with Jeconiah’s officers. The leaders of Judah and Jerusalem and all the men who worked with clever hands had gone with them.) 3 Zedekiah was the king of Judah. He sent some men to King Nebuchadnezzar in Babylon. They were Elasah, son of Shaphan, and Gemariah, son of Hilkiah. Jeremiah gave his letter to them. It said this:

4 The great and powerful LORD, the God of Israel, says this to all the people. They were the people that he sent away to Babylon. 5 ‘Build houses and get comfortable. Plant gardens. And eat what grows in them. 6 You must marry each other and you must have sons and daughters. Find wives for your sons, and let your daughters marry. Then they too can have sons and daughters. I want the numbers of the people of Israel in Babylon to grow more. I do not want them to become fewer. 7 Try to make the city where you are living rich. Pray to the LORD that it will do well. If it does become rich, you will become rich too.’ 8 Yes, the great and powerful LORD, the God of Israel says, ‘The prophets and the people look for signs. They tell false stories to you. Do not listen to them. Do not listen to the dreams that you ask them to have. 9 They say that they are prophesying with my authority. But the things that they are telling you are not true. I have not sent them’, says the LORD.

10 The LORD says, ‘I will come to you when you have been in Babylon for 70 years. Then I will do as I kindly promised you. I will bring you back to this place. 11 I want to do many good things for you’, the LORD says. ‘I want you to become rich and strong, and I do not want to hurt you. I want you to believe that you will have a good future life. 12 Then you will ask for my help. And you will come and you will pray to me. And I will listen to you. 13 You will look for me. And you will find me when you really want to find me.’ 14 ‘You will find me’, says the LORD. ‘And I will bring you back from the foreign countries where you were slaves. I will bring you back from all the countries and from among the people that I sent you to’, he says. ‘I will bring you back from the places that I sent you away to.’

15 You may say, ‘The LORD has made prophets for us here in Babylon.’ 16 But I must tell you what the LORD says about all the people in this city (Jerusalem). He is speaking to the king who sits on David’s throne. And he speaks to all his people who are still in this city. They are the people who did not go with you to Babylon. 17 Yes, the great powerful LORD says, ‘I will send men with swords to hurt them. They will not have enough to eat and I will make them ill. They will be like bad figs that nobody can eat. 18 I will send men to run after them with swords. They will not have any food and I will make them ill. I will cause the people in all the other countries to hate them. People will say many bad things about them. I will send them to many nations. The people in other countries will all think that they are worth nothing. 19 I will cause that to happen because they have not listened to my words’, says the LORD. ‘I sent these words to them again and again by my servants the prophets. And you, my people in Babylon, have not listened either’, says the LORD.

20 ‘So you people that I have sent away from Jerusalem to Babylon must listen to me. 21 The great and powerful LORD, the God of Israel, says this: Ahab, son of Kolaiah, and Zedekiah, son of Maaseiah, say that they are prophesying with my authority. But they are telling you things that are not true. So I will give them to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and he will kill them in front of you. 22 Because of them, the people from Judah that I sent to Babylon will use this curse. “We want the God of Israel to make you like Zedekiah and Ahab. He caused them to burn in the fire.” 23 That is because they have done very bad things in Israel. They have had sex with other men’s wives. They have used my name to speak words that are not true. I did not tell them to say those words. I know this and I have seen it’, says the LORD.

A message to Shemaiah

24 You must say to Shemaiah from Nehelam, 25 ‘You sent letters on your own behalf to all the people in Jerusalem’, says the great and powerful LORD, the God of Israel. ‘You wrote to Zephaniah, son of Maaseiah the priest, and to all the other priests. You said to Zephaniah, 26 “The LORD has made you priest instead of Jehoiada to care for the house of the LORD. You should put silly men who say that they are prophets into the stocks. You should put their feet between two pieces of wood and you should put their neck in an iron ring. 27 So I do not know why you have not punished Jeremiah from Anathoth. He is among you. And he says that he is a prophet. 28 He has sent a message to us in Babylon. He says that we will be here for a long time. He tells us that we should build houses. He says that we should make ourselves comfortable. And he says that we should grow food to eat.” ’

29 But Zephaniah the priest read the letter to Jeremiah the prophet. 30 Then the LORD said to Jeremiah, 31 ‘Send this message to all the Jews in Babylon’, he said. ‘The LORD says about Shemaiah from Nehelam. “Shemaiah has prophesied to you. But I did not send him. And he has caused you to believe a lie.” 32 So the LORD says, “I will certainly punish Shemaiah and his descendants. He will not have any descendants that are still alive among my people. He will not see the good things that I will do for my people”, says the LORD, “That is because he has taught my people not to obey me.” ’

Chapter 30

The LORD promises to bring his people back to Israel.

1 This is the word that the LORD spoke to Jeremiah. 2 ‘The LORD, the God of Israel, says, “Write all the words that I have spoken in a book. 3 The time is coming”, says the LORD, “when I will bring back my people. I will bring Israel’s people and Judah’s people back from the countries where they are prisoners. I will take them back to the country that I gave to their ancestors”, says the LORD.’

4 The LORD spoke these words about Israel and Judah. 5 ‘The LORD says,

“People will shout because they are afraid. They will not have any peace.

6 Men cannot have children.

But every strong man is holding his body

like a woman who is giving birth to a child.

Every face is as white as death.

7 That will be a day when everyone is afraid.

There will not be any other day like that day.

It will be a time of trouble for Jacob.

But I will save him out of all that trouble.”

Jacob was the ancestor of all the Jews.

8 “On that day I will break the yoke from your necks.

The LORD will save his people so that they will not continue to be slaves in Babylon.

I will destroy the things that make them prisoners.

They will not be still slaves to people from other countries.

9 Instead they will serve the LORD their God.

And they will serve David their king.

I will raise him up for them.

10 So do not be afraid, Jacob my servant.

Do not let yourself be afraid, Israel”, says the LORD.

“I will certainly bring you from a place that is far away.

I will save your sons from the country where they are prisoners.

Jacob (Israel) will again have peace and he will be safe.

And nobody will make him afraid.

11 I am with you and I will save you”, says the LORD.

“I may destroy completely all the countries that I send you to.

But I will not destroy you completely.

I will punish you in a fair way.

I certainly will punish you.”

12 The LORD says,

“Your enemies have hurt you so badly that nobody can make you better.

Nobody can make you completely well.

13 There is nobody who will ask people to help you.

There is no medicine that can make you well.

14 All those who were your friends have forgotten you.

They do not feel pain for your troubles.

I have hit you as an enemy would hit you.

I have punished you because you have not obeyed me very many times.

I have punished you because you have done many very bad things.

15 You shout because you people have hurt you.

And nobody can make you well again.

Your sin is great and you have done many wrong things.

So I have done these things to you.

16 People have hurt you and they have killed you. But I will hurt those people and I will kill them.

I will send all your enemies away to be prisoners in other countries.

I will take away the good things

from those people who took away your good things.

17 I will give back your health to you.

I will take away everything that hurts you”, says the LORD.

“I will do that because of the words that people say.

They threw you out.

They call you the people from Zion that nobody wants.”

18 The LORD says,

“I will repair the places where Jacob (Israel) lives.

I will be kind to his descendants.

You will build the city again over its broken stones.

The palace will stand again in its proper place.

19 You will hear people who are singing with thanks to God.

They will be making a happy noise.

I will make the number of my people larger.

It will not become less.

I will cause the nations to honour my people.

They will not think that my people have no value.

20 My children will be as they were before now.

I will make them into one strong people.

I will punish all the people who try to make them their slaves.

21 A Jew will lead them.

A Jew will become their ruler.

I will bring him near and he will come close to me.

Nobody can come to me if I do not call him”, says the LORD.

22 “So you will be my people and I will be your God.” ’

23 Look! The LORD will rush like a storm when he is angry.

He will be like a powerful wind that blows people away.

It blows away the people who do wrong things.

24 The LORD will not turn away his great anger.

He will completely finish all the work that he decides to do.

Only then will he stop being angry.

You will understand these things at a future time.

Chapter 31

Israel’s return to their own country

1 ‘When that time comes’, says the LORD, ‘I will be the God of every family in Israel. And they will be my people.’

2 The LORD says,

‘I was kind in the desert to the people who did not die.

That was when Israel’s people wanted to rest.’

3 Before now, the LORD showed himself to us. He said,

‘I have loved you with a love that has no end.

So I am showing my love to you so that you will move towards me.

4 I will build you up again.

You will again make music together,

and you will dance a happy dance.

5 You will again plant vines on the hills in Samaria.

Farmers will plant vines and they will enjoy their fruit.

6 In a future day men who watch

will shout from the hills of Ephraim.

They will say, “Let us go up to Zion,

to the LORD our God.” ’

7 The LORD says,

‘Sing and be happy for Jacob (Israel).

Shout for your great country.

Let the LORD hear you while you praise him.

Say, “LORD, save your people.

LORD, save the few people from Israel who are still alive.”

8 Look, I will bring them from the country in the north.

I will bring them from the ends of the earth.

They will bring with them those who cannot see.

And I will bring also those who cannot walk well.

Women who will soon have babies will come.

And those who will very soon give birth will come.

A very big crowd of my people will return here.

9 They will be crying as they come.

They will pray while I am bringing them back.

I will lead them along by streams of water.

They will walk along flat paths so that they will not fall.

I will do that because I am Israel’s father.

And Ephraim (Israel) is my oldest son.

10 People in many countries, you must hear the LORD’s message.

Shout it by the coasts of countries that are far away.

“He who pushed Israel’s people away will fetch them back.

And he will watch them as a shepherd watches his sheep.”

11 The LORD will buy back Jacob (Israel).

He will take them away from the people who were stronger than them.

12 They will come and they will shout on the top of Mount Zion.

They will shout because they are very happy.

They will be happy with all the good things that the LORD gives to them.

He will give bread, new wine and oil to them.

The sheep and cows will have young ones.

Israel will grow like a garden that has much water.

Its people will not still be sad.

13 Girls will dance and they will be happy.

The young men and the old men will dance too.

I will make them happy and they will not be sad.

I will do things for them that will help them to feel better.

Their faces will smile and they will not be sad.

14 I will give plenty of good things to the priests.

And I will give to my people plenty of good things. They will have more than they need’, says the LORD.

15 The LORD says,

‘You will hear a voice in Ramah,

a loud voice that cries sadly.

It is the voice of Rachel (Israel’s people). She is crying for her children.

Nobody can stop her crying,

because her children are dead.’

16 The LORD says,

‘Stop the loud noise of your voice,

and stop your eyes from crying.

I will be happy about the work that you do’, says the LORD.

‘Your children will return from the country of your enemies.

17 You are right to believe that your future days will be better’,

says the LORD.

‘Your children will return to their own country.

18 I have certainly heard my people when they were crying.

“You have punished me.

I feel like an animal that does not obey”, they said.

“And you did punish me.

Bring me back, and I will return.

I will come back because you are the LORD, my God.

19 After I had gone away from you, I became very sorry.

After you helped me to understand, I felt pain inside.

I was ashamed and I felt very small.

I had done wrong things when I was young.

I became ashamed of those things.”

20 But Ephraim (Israel) is the son that I love.

He is like a child that gives pleasure to me.

I may often say that he is doing wrong things.

But while I have been speaking against him, I have always remembered him.

So I want very much to see him again.

I love him very much.

And I will certainly be merciful to him’, says the LORD.

21 ‘Put up signs along the roads,

to show people the way.

Return, Israel, the people that I love. Return to your towns.

22 You have been away from me for a long time.

You are like a daughter who loved another man.

The LORD will do a new thing.

A woman will keep a man safe.’

23 The great and powerful LORD, the God of Israel, says, ‘I will bring my people back from the country where they are prisoners. Then the people in Judah and in its towns will again say, “We pray that the LORD will be good to the holy mountain. It is the special place where he lives!” 24 People will live together in the towns in Judah. Farmers and shepherds will work in the fields. 25 I will make the tired people feel less tired. I will make the weak ones strong.’

The holy mountain in verse 23 is the hill at Jerusalem where the temple is.

26 Then I woke from my dream. My sleep had been good.

27 ‘There will be a time’, says the LORD, ‘when I will be like a gardener to my people. Young men and animals will be like plants that I will plant. I will put young men and animals in the nations called Judah and Israel. 28 Before now, I pulled up the roots of those “plants” to bring them down and to destroy them. Now I will plant them and I will watch over them. I want to cause them to grow’, says the LORD. 29 ‘When that happens, people will not say, “The fathers have eaten sour fruit but the children’s mouths will taste bad.”

30 Instead, the mouth of anyone who eats sour fruit will taste bad. I will punish everyone for his own sin.’

31 ‘A time is coming’, says the LORD,

‘when I will make a new covenant.

I will make it with Israel’s people and with Judah’s people.

32 It will not be like the covenant that I made with their ancestors.

When I took them to lead them out of Egypt,

I was like a husband to them.

But they did not obey the rules in my covenant’, says the LORD.

33 ‘This is the covenant that I will make with Israel.

I will make it when that time comes’, says the LORD.

‘I will put my law in their minds,

and they will always remember it.

I will be their God, and they will be my people.

34 A man will not teach his friend then.

And he will not teach his brother how to know the LORD.

That will be because they will all know me.

From the least of them to the greatest of them, they will all know me.’

The LORD says,

‘I will forgive all the wrong things that they have done.

I will not continue to remember their sins.’

35 The LORD is the God who causes the sun to shine in the day.

He causes the moon and the stars to shine at night.

He causes the sea to move and to make a loud sound.

He is the great, powerful LORD. That is his name.

And he says,

36 ‘I will never stop watching over Israel’s children.

They will always be a nation

unless I forget those laws (about the sun, moon, stars and sea) completely.’

37 The LORD says,

‘I will leave the children of Israel alone only if these things happen.

I will leave if men can measure the sky above.

Men can try to find the rock that I built the earth on.

I will leave if they can find that rock.

Then I will leave the children of Israel alone

because of all the things that they have done’, says the LORD.

Because none of these things will happen, the LORD will never leave his people alone.

38 ‘At a future time’, says the LORD,

‘you will build this city again. You will build it for me from the tower of Hananel to the corner gate. 39 The wall will go straight from there to Gareb. Then you must turn and cause it to go to Goah. 40 The whole valley will be holy to the LORD. It will include the place where they throw dead bodies. They throw things that they have burnt there. And it will include all the big steps to the east of the Kidron valley. It will end at the corner of the Horse Gate. I will never again destroy the city and I will never again take away its people.’

Chapter 32

Jeremiah buys a field.

1 The LORD spoke to Jeremiah when Zedekiah, king of Judah, had ruled for 10 years. Nebuchadnezzar had ruled for 18 years. 2 The army of the king of Babylon was all round Jerusalem at that time. They would not let anybody take food into the city. Jeremiah was in a prison in the soldiers’ yard. That was in the king’s house.

3 Zedekiah had put Jeremiah there. He did not like this message that the LORD had given to him by Jeremiah: ‘I will give power over this city to the king of Babylon. And he will win the city. 4 Zedekiah, the king, will not be able to run away. They will take him to the king of Babylon and he will see his face. They will speak to each other. 5 Then he will take Zedekiah to Babylon. He will stay there until I come to see him. If you fight against the soldiers from Babylon, you will not win.’ The LORD had said that to Zedekiah.

6 Jeremiah said, ‘The LORD has spoken to me. 7 He told me that Hanamel, the son of my uncle Shallum, will come to see me. He will ask me to buy his field in Anathoth. I should do that because I am the cousin closest to his family. It is the right thing for me to do.’

8 Then my cousin Hanamel came to the prison in the soldiers’ yard where they kept me. He said, “Buy my field at Anathoth. It is in the land of Benjamin. You must do that because it is right for you to buy it. You are the closest cousin. So buy it back and keep it for yourself.”

I knew that this was the LORD’s message. 9 So I bought the field at Anathoth from my cousin Hanamel. I weighed 17 shekels of silver. 10 I wrote my name on a special piece of paper and I closed it up. The paper showed that the field was mine. I did that in front of other men who put their names on it. Then I gave to Hanamel the silver that I had weighed. 11 I took the paper that I had closed up and a copy of that piece of paper. 12 I gave both pieces of paper to Baruch, the son of Neriah. Neriah was the son of Mahseiah. I did that in front of Hanamel and the other men who had written their names. And I did it in front of all the Jews who were sitting in the soldiers’ yard.

13 The men watched me as I spoke to Baruch. I said to him, 14 “The great and powerful LORD of Israel says this: Take these two pieces of paper. Take the piece that is closed and the piece that is open. Put them in a jar of clay to keep them safe. They will be safe there for a long time. 15 The great and powerful LORD, the LORD of Israel, says, ‘Men will again buy houses, fields and fields of vines in this country.’ ”

16 After I had given the important paper to Baruch, the son of Neriah, I prayed to the LORD.

17 I prayed, “LORD, king of all people, you have made the earth and the sky by your great power. Your hands have made them. Nothing is too difficult for you to do. 18 You teach thousands of people to understand that you love them. But you punish children for the sins that their ancestors did in past times. Great and powerful LORD, your name is ‘All-powerful LORD’. 19 You are so wise that you do very great things. You see everything that men do. You give good things to those who give pleasure to you. Those who do good things give pleasure to you. And you punish everyone who has done wrong things. 20 You did miracles in Egypt. And you continue to do miracles in Israel and for all people. So your name is great and all people know it. 21 You brought your people out of Egypt with many great miracles. You put out your strong hand and arm to save them. So you caused men to be afraid of you. 22 You gave this country to your people as you had promised to their ancestors. Much good food grows in this country and cows give much milk. 23 Your people came in and they got power over this country. But they did not obey you. They did not obey the law that you had given to them. They did not do the things that you wanted them to do. So you caused them to have this great trouble. You sent it to them.

24 You can see the great hills that enemies have built to attack the city. Because of their sharp knives, they will win the fight. And because we are hungry and ill, they will win the fight. The soldiers from Babylon who are attacking the city will get power over it. You said that it would happen. You can see that all those things have happened. 25 The soldiers from Babylon will get power over the city. But you still told me that I must buy this field. You told me that I must buy it with silver. And men must see certainly that I had bought it.” ’

26 Then the LORD spoke to Jeremiah. He said, 27 ‘I am the LORD, the God of all people. Nothing is too difficult for me to do. 28 So I say this: I will give this city to the soldiers from Babylon. I will give it to Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon. They will get power over it. 29 The soldiers from Babylon who are attacking it will come in. And they will burn it with fire. They will burn down the houses where people made me angry. There they burned oils that smell nice on their roofs for Baal. They made me angry because they gave gifts to other gods.’

30 ‘The people in Israel and Judah have done only evil things from the time when they were young. Israel’s people have always done the things that made me angry. They did that with the things that they have made with their hands’, says the LORD. 31 ‘This city has made me angry from the time when they built it even until this day. So I must destroy it. 32 The people in Israel and in Judah have made me very angry. I became angry because of all the evil things that they and their kings and their officers have done. And the men in Judah and Jerusalem and their prophets and priests did many evil things. 33 They turned away from me and they would not look at me. They would not listen to me when I punished them. And they would not turn back to me. Again and again, I taught them the right things to do. 34 People have made the house that is called by my name disgusting. They have a put a “god” that is not God in my house. 35 They have built high places to worship Baal in Ben-Hinnom Valley. There they kill their sons and daughters to offer them to Molech. I never told them to do such a bad thing. I never thought that they would do such a wrong thing. It caused Judah’s people to sin.’

God promises his people that they can continue to trust him.

36 ‘You are hungry and you do not have any food. So you say that swords and illness will cause the king of Babylon to get power over this city. But the LORD, the God of Israel says, 37 “I am very angry with them. So I will send them to countries that are far away. But I will certainly bring my people back to this place. I will let them live here and they will be safe. 38 They will be my people and I will be their God. 39 I will give the same purpose to all the people. I will do that so that their lives and their children’s lives can be good. They will always give honour to me. 40 I will make a covenant with them that will last for all time. I will never stop doing good things for them. I will cause them to want to give honour to me so that they will never turn away from me. 41 I will be happy when I do good things for them. I really want to plant them in this country to grow, like trees. Nobody wants to do anything more than I want to do that.” ’

42 The LORD says, ‘I have caused much trouble to this people. In the same way, I will give great riches to them as I promised. 43 Men will buy fields in this country again. You say, “It is an empty country, without people or animals, because the soldiers from Babylon have taken them.” 44 But people will buy fields in this country for silver. And people will write on papers to show who owns the land. People will close the pieces of paper and they will keep them in a safe place. Men will watch to see that they do it in a fair way. They will sell fields again in the land of Benjamin and the in the villages round Jerusalem. They will sell land in the towns of Judah. And they will sell it in the hills in the west and in the south. I will give back to them the good things that they lost. Those are the words of the LORD.’

Chapter 33

The promise that God will bring the people back

1 Jeremiah was still in the prison in the yard where the king’s soldiers were. God spoke to Jeremiah a second time while he was there. He said, 2 ‘I am the LORD who made the earth. I gave a shape to it and I put it in its place. The LORD is my name. And I say, 3 “Call to me and I will answer you. I will tell you great, strange things that you do not know.” 4 The LORD is the God of Israel. And he says this about the houses in this city and about the houses of the kings of Judah: “The people had broken them down. They used the stones to make the city’s walls stronger against the enemy. 5 That was during their battle with the army from Babylon.” The LORD says, “The houses will be full of dead bodies. I will kill the people when I am very angry with them. I will not be kind to this city. That is because of all the bad things that the people have done. 6 But I will make the people in this city well again. I will make my people well. They will enjoy peace. 7 I will bring back Judah’s people and Israel’s people and I will make them safe and comfortable. I will build them up again. Then they will be as they were before. 8 I will make them clean from all their sin. They refused to obey me. But I will forgive all the wrong things that they did. 9 Then this city will cause the people in all the countries on the earth to praise me. They will hear about all the good things that I am doing for Jerusalem. So they will give honour to me. I will make the city rich and I will give peace to it. They will be afraid when they see that.” ’

10 The LORD says, ‘You say that this place is empty, without men or animals. But people will return to the empty streets in Jerusalem. People will make a happy noise where now there are no men and no animals. 11 You will hear the voices of men and women who are just married. People will bring gifts to the house of the LORD to thank him. You will hear their voices as they say,

            “Give thanks to the great, powerful LORD,

            because the LORD is good.

            His love lasts for all time.”

I will make the country as rich as it was before’, says the LORD.

12 The great and powerful LORD says, ‘This place is empty now, without people or animals. But I will put grass round its towns where sheep can rest with their shepherds. 13 Shepherds will count their sheep again in the towns among the hills. And they will do that in the towns in the west and in the south. And they will count them in the land of Benjamin. They will do it again in the villages round Jerusalem. And they will count them in the towns in Judah’, says the LORD.

14 ‘At a future time’, says the LORD, ‘I will do the kind things that I have promised to do. I promised those things to the people of both Judah and Israel.

15 David and his descendants are like a tree. In that day, when the time is right, I will cause a good branch to grow from that tree. He will do things that are good and fair in my country. 16 At that time, the people from Judah and Jerusalem will come back and they will be safe. People will call the city, “The LORD makes us right and good.” ’

‘A branch to grow from that tree’ means a ‘son that will be born from David’s descendants’.

17 The LORD says, ‘A man from David’s descendants will always be a king of Israel. 18 And there will always be a priest from Levi’s descendants to offer meat and food to me. They will burn their gifts on the altar to show honour to me.’

19 Jeremiah heard the LORD who was saying to him, 20 ‘The LORD says, “You can never change my rules about the day and the night. They will always come at their proper times. 21 My promise to David my servant, and to the Levites is like that. They will always be priests who will serve me. And David will always have a descendant to sit on his throne. 22 I will cause David my servant and the Levites to have many descendants. There are many stars in the sky. And there are many pieces of sand by the sea. The number of their descendants will be like the number of those stars and like the number of those pieces.” ’

23 The LORD spoke to Jeremiah. 24 And he said, ‘The people are saying that the LORD has left his people. But they are the people that he chose. They say that he is not still the God of Israel and Judah. They think that Israel and Judah are not still a nation. They do not think that they are important.’ 25 But the LORD says, ‘Nobody can change my rules about the day and the night. And I have made the laws about earth and sky. 26 I will never turn away from the descendants of Jacob and of David my servant. I will always choose one from among their descendants to rule over the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. I will bring them back to the place that is theirs. I will be kind to them.’

Chapter 34

A message to Zedekiah

1 Nebuchadnezzar and his army and all the people from all the countries that he ruled were fighting. They were attacking Jerusalem and the towns that were near to it. At this time, Jeremiah heard the LORD who was saying to him, 2 ‘The LORD, the God of Israel says this: Go to Zedekiah, king of Judah, and say to him, “The LORD says this: I will give power over this city to the king of Babylon and he will burn it down. 3 You will not be able to run away because his soldiers will certainly catch you. They will give you to him. You will see the king of Babylon with your own eyes. And you will speak with him and you will see his face. Then you will go to Babylon.

4 But listen to the promise of the LORD, Zedekiah, king of Judah. The LORD says this about you: They will not kill you with a sword, 5 but you will die in peace. People will make a big fire when you die to give honour to you. People were sad when the kings, your ancestors, died. They will cry when you die, too. And they will be sad. They will say, ‘Our master has died!’ This is my promise”, says the LORD.’

6 Then Jeremiah, the prophet, told all this to Zedekiah, the king, in Jerusalem. 7 At this time, the king of Babylon and his army were fighting against Judah. He was fighting against Jerusalem and Lachish and Azekah, the cities that he had not got power over yet. They were the only walled cities in Judah that he had not got power over.

Zedekiah and the slaves

8 King Zedekiah promised the people in Jerusalem that he would let their slaves go. After that, the LORD spoke to Jeremiah. 9 The king had said that no Israelite, neither man nor woman, should be a slave. They must all be free people. 10 All the officers and the people who promised to do that agreed with the king. They would not continue to have male or female slaves. They made them free men and women. 11 But after that, they did not do what they had promised to do. They took the people back and they made them slaves again.

12 Then the LORD said to Jeremiah, 13 ‘The LORD, the God of Israel, says this: I made a covenant with your ancestors when I brought them out of Egypt. They were slaves when they were there. 14 I said that you must do something. Each 7th year you must let any of your Jewish brothers that you had bought become a free person. After he has worked for you for 6 years, you must let him go. But your ancestors did not listen to me. They did not obey me. 15 A little time ago, you were sorry that you had not obeyed me. I had said that you must do a good thing. And you did it. Each man made his Jewish slaves free men and women. You even made a promise to me in my house, the temple. 16 But now you have turned back to your old ways. You have taken away my honour. You have said to your slaves, “You can go where you want to go.” But now you have taken them back. You have caused free men and women again to become your slaves.

17 So the LORD says: You have not obeyed me. You have not let your slaves become free men and women. So now I will make you free, he says. I will make you free to die. Men will kill you with swords. You will not have enough to eat. And you will become ill and you will die. All the people in all the countries on the earth will hate you. 18 I will do this to the men who did not obey me. They will be like an animal that people offer to me. They will be like the young cow that they cut in half. They cut it in half so that they could walk between the pieces.’

See Genesis 15:10-18.

19 ‘I will punish the leaders of Judah and Jerusalem. I will punish the king’s officers, the priests and all the people in the country. I will punish all the people who promised that to me. They walked between the pieces of the young cow. 20 I will give to their enemies power over them. The enemies will kill them and I will give their dead bodies to the birds and wild animals for food.’

At that time, people showed that they agreed to a promise in a special way. They killed animals and they cut them into two halves. Then they walked between the pieces. Perhaps they would not do what they had promised. Then the person that they had promised something to could kill them, like the animals. This was to show that. These leaders must do what they had promised to do. If they did not do it, the LORD would kill them.

21 ‘I will give Zedekiah, king of Judah, and his officers to the enemies who want to kill them. The army of the king of Babylon has left you. But I will give to them power over Zedekiah and his officers. 22 I will tell their army that they must return to this city. They will fight and they will get power over it. And they will burn it down. And I will destroy the towns in Judah so that nobody can live there.’

Chapter 35

Rechab’s descendants

1 The LORD spoke to Jeremiah in the time that Jehoiakim, son of Josiah, ruled Judah. He said, 2 ‘Go to Rechab’s descendants and ask them to come to the temple. Take them into a little room at the side of the temple and give to them wine to drink.’

3 So I went to get all Rechab’s descendants. They were Jaazaniah, son of Jeremiah, son of Habazziniah, and his relatives and all his sons. 4 I took them into a room in the LORD’s house. It was the room of the sons of Hanan. He was the son of Igdaliah, the man of God. It was next to the officer’s room, and that was over the door keeper’s room. The keeper of the door was Maaseiah, son of Shallum. 5 Then I took some bowls of wine and some cups. I put them in front of the men from Rechab’s descendants and I said, ‘Drink some wine.’

6 They replied, ‘We do not drink wine. Our ancestor Jonadab, son of Rechab, said to us, “You and your descendants must never drink wine. 7 And you must not build houses, or plant seed or vines. You must never have any of those things, but you must always live in tents. Then you will live for a long time while you move through the country.” 8-9 We have obeyed all the rules that our ancestor Jonadab, son of Rechab, gave to us. We have never drunk wine. And we have never built houses. And we have never planted seeds. And our wives and children have never done any of those things. 10 We have obeyed completely all our ancestor Jonadab’s rules. 11 But, when Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came into this country, we came to Jerusalem. We said, “We must go to Jerusalem. We must save ourselves from the armies of Babylon and Aram.” So we stayed in Jerusalem.’

12 Then the LORD said to Jeremiah, 13 ‘The great, powerful LORD, the God of Israel, says this: Go and speak to the people in Judah and in Jerusalem. Ask them to learn a lesson from the descendants of Rechab. 14 Jonadab, Rechab’s son, said that his descendants must not drink wine. And they have always obeyed him. They have not drunk wine even to this day. They have always obeyed their ancestor’s rules. But I have spoken to you again and again and you have not obeyed me. 15 I have sent my servants the prophets to you again and again, but you have not obeyed me. The prophets said, “Each of you must stop doing wrong things. You must change the things that you do. Start doing the things that are right. Do not be servants of other gods. Then you will live in the country that I have given to you and to your ancestors.” But you did not think that this was important. You did not listen to me. 16 The descendants of Jonadab, Rechab’s son, obeyed the rules that their ancestor gave to them. But these people have not obeyed me.

17 So the great and powerful LORD says, “Listen! I will send all the bad things that I told you about. I am sending them to all those people who live in Judah and in Jerusalem. I spoke to them, but they did not listen. I called to them but they did not answer.” ’

18 Then Jeremiah spoke to the descendants of Rechab. ‘The great and powerful LORD, the God of Israel, says, “You have obeyed the rules of your ancestor Jonadab. You have done everything that he asked you to do.” 19 So the great and powerful LORD, the God of Israel, says to you, “Jonadab, son of Rechab, will always have a male descendant to be my servant. This promise is for all time.” ’

Chapter 36

Jehoiakim burns the words that Jeremiah had written.

1 The LORD spoke to Jeremiah in the 4th year that Jehoiakim was king of Judah. He said, 2 ‘Write down all the words that I have spoken to you about Israel, Judah and the other countries. I began to speak to you when Josiah was king. Write everything that I have said from that time until now. 3 Perhaps the people of Israel will listen to my words. Perhaps they will hear about all the punishments that I will do. Then they may each turn away from the wrong things that they are doing. Then I will forgive those bad things and their sin.’

4 So Jeremiah asked Baruch, son of Neriah to come. While Jeremiah spoke all the LORD’s words, Baruch wrote them down. He wrote them on a long dry piece of a sheep’s skin. 5 Then Jeremiah said to Baruch, ‘They will not let me go to the LORD’s temple. 6 So you must go to the temple on a day when people choose not to eat. Read these words to the people. You wrote the LORD’s words as I spoke them to you. Read them to all the people. Do that when they come from the towns in Judah. 7 Perhaps they will ask the LORD for help and they will stop doing wrong things. Perhaps they will stop because of the LORD’s words. He has said that he will punish them. He will punish them because he is very angry with them.’

8 Baruch, son of Neriah, did everything that Jeremiah the prophet had said. He read out the words of the LORD in the LORD’s temple. 9 The king said that he wanted the people to fast in the temple for one day. That was in the 9th month of the 5th year since he became king. He caused all the people to come from Jerusalem and from the towns in Judah. 10 Baruch stood in the room of Gemariah the secretary. He was the son of Shaphan. The room was in the yard by the temple’s New Gate. There Baruch read the LORD’s words to all the people. He read to them the words that Jeremiah had caused him to write.

To fast meant that people would choose not to eat for a day or more. It was one way to show to God that they were sorry for their sins. Or people might not eat any food to show God that they wanted him to help them.

11 Micaiah, son of Gemariah, heard all the words of the LORD that Baruch had read out. 12 Then he went to the secretary’s room in the king’s house. All the king’s officers were sitting there. They included Elishama who was the secretary and Delaiah, son of Shaphan. Elnathan, Achbor’s son, Gemariah, Shaphan’s son and Zedekiah, Hananiah’s son were also there. 13 Micaiah told everything that he had heard to them. He heard it when Baruch read to the people. 14 The officers sent Jehudi to speak to Baruch. (Jehudi’s father was Nethaniah, the son of Shelemiah, the son of Cushi.) They said, ‘Bring the piece of skin with the words that you read to the people. And come here.’ So Baruch, Neriah’s son, went to them and he took the skin with him. 15 ‘Please sit down and read it to us’, they said. So Baruch read it to them.

16 They heard the words that Baruch had written. And they became afraid. They looked at each other and they said to Baruch, ‘We must tell the king what these words say.’ 17 They asked Baruch, ‘How did you write these words? Did you write them down as Jeremiah spoke them to you?’

18 ‘Yes’, said Baruch, ‘he spoke the words and I wrote them in ink on this skin.’

19 ‘You and Jeremiah go and hide yourselves’, the officers said to Baruch. ‘Do not tell anyone where you are.’

20 The officers put the skin into Elishama’s room. Elishama was the secretary. Then they went to the king, who was in the yard. They told him all that they had heard. 21 They told the king about the skin on which Baruch had written God’s words. So, he sent Jehudi to fetch it. Jehudi brought the skin from the room of Elishama the secretary. Then he read the words to the king and to all the officers who there. 22 The king was in his winter rooms. A fire was burning because it was the 9th month. 23 Jehudi read a small part of the words that Baruch had written on the skin. Then the king took a knife and he cut off that part of the skin. He threw it into the fire. Soon he had burned all the skin in the fire. 24 Neither the king nor the officers who were with him were afraid. And they did not want to show that they were sorry. So they did not tear their clothes. 25 Elnathan, Delaiah and Gemariah asked the king not to burn the skin on which Baruch had written. But he would not listen to them. 26 Instead, the king told his son Jerahmeel that he should take Baruch the secretary and Jeremiah the prophet. Then Jerahmeel should put them in a prison. But the LORD had hidden them.

27 So the king burnt the piece of skin on which Baruch had written Jeremiah’s words. After that, the LORD spoke to Jeremiah. 28 ‘Take another piece of skin’, he said. ‘Write on it all the words that were on the other skin. That was the skin that Jehoiakim king of Judah burned up. 29 Also say to the king, “You burned the skin. And you asked why I wrote such bad things about Judah. You did not believe that the king of Babylon would come to destroy this country. You did not think that he would take both men and animals away from it.” 30 So the LORD says this about Jehoiakim, king of Judah: None of his descendants will become king of Judah. People will throw out his dead body. And the sun will burn it in the day and it will be cold at night. 31 His children and his servants have done bad things. I will punish them. I will do all the bad things that I promised to do. I will do them to your children and to the people in Jerusalem. I will punish them and the people in Judah for all the wrong things that they have done. I will do that because they have not listened to me.’

32 So Jeremiah took another piece of skin and he gave it to the secretary, Baruch, Neriah’s son. Then Jeremiah spoke the words that had been on the first skin. King Jehoiakim had burnt the first skin in the fire. And Baruch wrote the words down with many other words that said the same things.

Chapter 37

Jeremiah in the prison

1 Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon would not let Coniah, son of Jehoiakim continue to be king of Judah. He chose Josiah’s son Zedekiah to be the king of Judah instead. 2 Zedekiah did not listen to the words of the LORD that Jeremiah had told him about. And neither the king’s servants nor the people of the country listened to the LORD’s words.

3 But King Zedekiah sent a message to Jeremiah the prophet. He sent Jehucal, son of Shelemiah, with the priest Zephaniah, son of Maaseiah, to deliver this message. ‘Please pray to the LORD our God for us.’

4 Jeremiah was a free man at this time. They had not yet put him into the prison. He could walk among the people. 5 The army of Pharaoh, king of Egypt, had marched out of Egypt. People told the soldiers from Babylon who were round Jerusalem about that. So they went away.

6 Then the LORD said to Jeremiah the prophet, 7 ‘Speak to the king of Judah, who sent you to ask for my help’, he said. ‘Say to him, “Pharaoh’s army, which marched out to help you, will turn back. They will return to Egypt, their own country. 8 Then the soldiers from Babylon will return and they will attack this city. They will get power over it and they will burn it completely.”

9 The LORD says, “Do not make a mistake. Do not think that the soldiers from Babylon will go away. They will not go away! 10 You might win the fight against the whole army that is attacking you. There might be only sick men in their tents after you had beaten them. But those sick men would still come and they would burn down this city.” ’

11 The army from Babylon had left Jerusalem because of Pharaoh’s army. 12 So Jeremiah started to leave the city to go to the land of Benjamin. He wanted to visit his part of the country that was among his people. 13 When he came to the Benjamin gate of the city, Irijah, Shelemiah’s son, stopped him. He was the captain of the soldiers at the gate. And he put Jeremiah into the prison. ‘You are going to join the soldiers from Babylon!’ he said. 14 ‘That is not true!’ said Jeremiah. ‘I am not going to join the soldiers from Babylon.’ But Irijah would not listen to him. So he took Jeremiah, his prisoner, to the king’s officers. 15 The officers were angry with Jeremiah. They hit him with a stick and they put him in the house of Jonathan the secretary. They had made Jonathan’s house into a prison.

16 They put Jeremiah in a small room with a high ceiling. It was deep under the house. He stayed there for a long time. 17 Then King Zedekiah sent for him and he brought him to his house. When they were alone, the king asked him, ‘Is there any message from the LORD?’

‘Yes’, Jeremiah replied, ‘they will deliver you to the hands of the king of Babylon.’

18 Then Jeremiah spoke to King Zedekiah. ‘I do not know what bad things I have done to you or to your officers. I do not know why you have put me into the prison. 19 Your prophets told you things that were not true. They said that the king of Babylon would not attack you or your country. 20 I want you to help me. Do not send me back to the house of Jonathan the secretary. If you do, I will die there.’

21 Then King Zedekiah told his officers to put Jeremiah into the yard of his house with his soldiers. He told them to give bread from the bakers to him until there was no more bread in the city. So Jeremiah stayed in the yard with the soldiers.

Chapter 38

Men put Jeremiah into a large hole where they had stored water.

1 Some men heard the things that Jeremiah was telling all the people. They were Pashhur’s son Shephatiah, Shelemiah’s son Jehucal and Malchijah’s son Pashhur. 2 Jeremiah had told the people that the LORD had said, ‘Any people who stay in this city will die. Soldiers or illness will kill them, or they will not have any food to eat. But those people who join the soldiers from Babylon will not die. They will live. 3 And the LORD says, “I will give this city to the soldiers from Babylon. Their king’s army will get power over it.” ’

4 Then the officers spoke to the king. ‘You should kill this man’, they said. ‘He is making the soldiers who remain in the city afraid. And the people are becoming afraid because of the things that he is saying to them. This man does not want to help these people. He wants to destroy them.’

5 ‘You can do what you want to do’, King Zedekiah said. ‘I cannot stop you.’

6 So they took Jeremiah. And they put him in a big hole in the yard where the soldiers were. Malchijah, the king’s son had made the hole to store water. They tied a long piece of rope round Jeremiah and they held the end of it. Then they slowly dropped him into the deep hole. There was no water in the hole, but only wet ground. The ground pulled Jeremiah down.

7 Ebed-Melech was an officer in the king’s house. He came from the country called Ethiopia. People told him that other people had put Jeremiah into the hole in the yard. 8 He went out of the king’s house and he spoke to the king. The king was sitting in the Benjamin gate of the city. 9 ‘My master, the king’, he said. ‘these men have done very bad things to Jeremiah the prophet. They have put him in a deep hole. He will die there when there is no food in the city.’

10 Then the king told Ebed-Melech what he should do. ‘Take 30 men with you’, he said. ‘And lift Jeremiah the prophet out of the hole before he dies.’

11 So Ebed-Melech took the men with him. He went to a room under the king’s house and he found some old clothes and some pieces of cloth. He tied them to ropes. And he let them drop down into the hole where Jeremiah was. 12 ‘Put these clothes under your arms’, he said. ‘Then tie the ropes over them so that they will not hurt you.’ Jeremiah did as Ebed-Melech had said. 13 Then they pulled Jeremiah out of the hole. And he stayed in the yard with the soldiers.

Zedekiah asks Jeremiah more questions.

14 Then King Zedekiah sent messengers to bring Jeremiah the prophet to see him. They brought him to the third gate of the LORD’s temple. ‘I will ask you something’, the king said to Jeremiah. ‘Do not hide anything from me.’

15 ‘If I give an answer to you, you may kill me’, Jeremiah said to the king. ‘I might tell you the things that you should do. But you would not listen to me.’

16 But King Zedekiah made a secret promise to Jeremiah. ‘I believe that the LORD lives. So I will not kill you. And I will not give you to the men who are trying to kill you.’

17 Then Jeremiah spoke to Zedekiah. ‘The great and powerful LORD, the God of Israel says this: “If you let the officers of the king of Babylon get power over your kingdom, you will not die. And they will not burn down this city. You and your family will live. 18 But you must let those officers get power over your kingdom. If you do not do that, I will cause much trouble for you. I will give this city to the soldiers from Babylon and they will burn it down. And they will make you their prisoner.” ’

19 ‘I am afraid of the Jews who have left to join the king of Babylon’, King Zedekiah said to Jeremiah. ‘Perhaps the soldiers from Babylon will give me to them, and they may hurt me.’

20 ‘They will not give you to those Jews’, Jeremiah replied. ‘Do as I tell you. That is how you can obey the LORD. Then your life will be good and you will not lose it. 21 But if you do not give power over your kingdom to the officers from Babylon, these things will happen: The LORD has shown them to me. 22 Your enemies will bring out all the women in the king of Judah’s house. They will give them to the officers of the king of Babylon. Those women will say this to you:

“You have believed the words of your friends. But they have said to you things that are not true.

Your feet are stuck in the ground and your friends have left you alone.”

23 The officers from Babylon will give all your wives and children to the soldiers from Babylon. You yourself will not get away. The king of Babylon will make you his prisoner and his soldiers will burn down this city.’

24 ‘Do not tell anyone what we have talked about’, Zedekiah said to Jeremiah. ‘If you do tell them, you might die. 25 My officers may come. And they may ask you what we talked about. They may want to kill you if you do not tell them. 26 So say, “I was asking the king not to send me back to Jonathan’s house where I might die.” ’

27 All the officers did come to Jeremiah to ask about his meeting with the king. And he said everything that the king had told him to say. Nobody had heard what Jeremiah and the king had really said. So the officers did not ask him again.

28 And Jeremiah stayed in the yard where the soldiers were. He stayed there until the day when the soldiers from Babylon got power over Jerusalem.

Chapter 39

The soldiers from Babylon get power over Jerusalem.

1 This is how the soldiers of the king of Babylon got power over Jerusalem. After King Zedekiah had ruled Judah for eight years, Nebuchadnezzar marched to Jerusalem. His whole army went round the city to attack it. 2 And 10 years, 4 months and 9 days after Zedekiah had become king, soldiers from Babylon attacked Jerusalem. And they broke through the walls of the city. 3 Then the officers of the king of Babylon came into the city. And they sat in the Middle Gate. They were Nergal-Sar-Ezer, Samgar-Nebu, Sar-Sekim, an important officer and Nergal-Sar-Ezer, another important officer. There were also all the other officers of the king of Babylon. 4 Zedekiah, king of Judah, and all his soldiers ran away when they saw them. They left the city at night, through the king’s garden. They left through the gate between the two walls. And then they ran towards the flat land called the Arabah.

5 But the soldiers from Babylon ran after them. And they caught them on the flat land near Jericho. They took Zedekiah to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon. He was at Riblah in the place called Hamath. 6 In that place, Nebuchadnezzar decided how he would punish Zedekiah. He caused the soldiers to kill all Zedekiah’s sons. Zedekiah had to watch while they killed his sons. And Nebuchadnezzar killed all the important men from Judah. 7 Then the soldiers destroyed Zedekiah’s eyes. Then they put metal rings round his legs and they tied them together. Then they took him to Babylon.

8 The soldiers from Babylon burned the king’s house and the people’s houses. They broke down the walls of Jerusalem. 9 Nebuzaradan, the captain of the king’s own special soldiers, took away all the people who remained in Jerusalem. He took them as prisoners to Babylon with all the other people. With them, he took those who had joined the soldiers from Babylon. 10 But captain Nebuzaradan let some very poor people, who had nothing, remain in Judah. At that time he gave fields to them. Some of those fields had vines on them.

11 Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, had told Nebuzaradan, captain of his own soldiers, about Jeremiah. 12 ‘Take him and be good to him. Do not hurt him. And do anything that he asks you to do’, he had said. 13 So Nebuzaradan, an important officer called Nebushazban, Nergal-Sar-Ezer and all the other officers of the king of Babylon obeyed Nebuchadnezzar. 14 They sent for Jeremiah and they took him out of the yard. It was where Zedekiah’s soldiers had put him. Then Gedaliah, who was Ahikam’s son and Shaphan’s grandson, took Jeremiah back to his own home. So Jeremiah stayed with his own people.

15 The LORD had spoken to Jeremiah while he was still a prisoner in the king’s house. 16 ‘Go. And tell Ebed-Melech from Ethiopia, this’, the LORD said to him. ‘The great and powerful LORD of Israel says this: Now I will to do as I promised. I will destroy this city. I will not make it rich. You will see it when it happens. 17 But I will save you on that day. They will not give you to the people that you are afraid of. 18 I will save you and soldiers will not kill you. You believed that I could keep you safe. So I will keep you safe, says the LORD.’

Chapter 40

The soldiers from Babylon make Jeremiah free.

1 Nebuzaradan, captain of the king’s special soldiers, found Jeremiah at Ramah. They had tied him up with all the prisoners from Jerusalem and Judah. Nebuzaradan caused the soldiers to let Jeremiah go free. Then the LORD spoke to Jeremiah. They were taking the prisoners to Babylon. 2 Nebuzaradan said to Jeremiah, ‘The LORD your God promised that he would help me to destroy this place. 3 And now, your God has done that. He has done all that he promised. He did that because your people did not obey the LORD. That was their sin. 4 But today I am taking off the ropes that tie you up. You are a free man. You can come with me to Babylon if you want to do that. If you do come, I will help you. But you do not have to come with me. You can go to any part of the country that you like.’ 5 But before Jeremiah left, Nebuzaradan said, ‘Return to Gedaliah, who is Ahikam’s son and Shaphan’s grandson, and to the people. The king of Babylon has chosen Gedaliah to rule over the towns in Judah. Live with Gedaliah and all the people there. Or you can go to any other place that you want to go to.’

Then Nebuzaradan gave food and a gift to Jeremiah and he let him go. 6 So Jeremiah went to Gedaliah, Ahikam’s son, at Mizpah. He stayed there with him and with the people who remained in Judah.

Some people kill Gedaliah.

7 Some Jewish army officers and soldiers were living in the fields in Judah. Somebody told them that the king of Babylon had chosen Gedaliah, Ahikam’s son, as the ruler over the people. These people were the poorest men, women and children in the country. The soldiers from Babylon had not taken them to Babylon. 8 Some army officers and their men came to Gedaliah at Mizpah. They were Nethaniah’s son Ishmael, and Johanan and Jonathan, who were Kareah’s sons. They came with Seraiah, who was Tanhumeth’s son. The sons of Ephai from Netophah came. And the son of Jaazaniah from Maachah and their men also came. 9 Gedaliah, Ahikam’s son, saw that they were afraid. So he said, ‘Do not be afraid to be servants to the soldiers from Babylon. Stay here and serve the king of Babylon. If you do that, good things will happen. 10 I myself will stay with you. I will speak on your behalf when the men from Babylon come. But you can take in the summer fruits and the food seeds and you can make wine and oil. Then you can store them in jars. And you can live in the towns that you have got power over.’

11 People told this news to the Jews in Moab, Ammon, Edom and all the other countries. People told them that the king of Babylon had let a few people remain in Judah. And they told them that he had chosen Gedaliah, son of Ahikam, son of Shaphan, as their ruler. 12 So all those Jews came back to Judah. They came to Gedaliah at Mizpah. They came from all the countries where they were hiding. And they took very much wine and summer fruit from the fields and they stored them.

13 Kareah’s son Johanan and all the officers that were in the fields came to Gedaliah. 14 ‘You should know that Baalis, king of Ammon, has sent Ishmael, Nethaniah’s son, to kill you’, they said to him. But Gedaliah, son of Ahikam, did not believe them.

15 Johanan, son of Kareah, went to speak to Gedaliah secretly. ‘Let me go and kill Ishmael, son of Nethaniah. And nobody will know about it’, he said. ‘We should not let him kill you. There are many Jews with you. If he kills you, all those Jews will run away to different places. Then the few people from Israel that remain will die.’

16 But Gedaliah, son of Ahikam, spoke to Johanan, son of Kareah. ‘Do not do anything like that’, he said. ‘The things that you are saying about Ishmael are not true.’

Chapter 41

1 Ishmael, Nethaniah’s son, came to Gedaliah, Ahikam’s son, at Mizpah in the 7th month. Ishmael was a relative of the king and he had 10 men with him. He had been an officer of the king. They were all eating a meal together. 2 During the meal, Ishmael and his 10 men stood up and they killed Gedaliah, Ahikam’s son. Ahikam was the son of Shaphan. They killed Gedaliah with their swords. They killed the man that the king of Babylon had chosen to rule the country. 3 Ishmael also killed the Jews who were with Gedaliah at Mizpah. And he killed the soldiers from Babylon who were there.

4-5 The day after Gedaliah died, 80 Jews came to the temple with grain and with nice oils. They came from Shechem, Shiloh and Samaria to offer them to the LORD. Nobody knew that Ishmael had killed Gedaliah. 6 Ishmael, son of Nethaniah, went out from Mizpah to meet them. He was crying while he went. ‘Come to Gedaliah, son of Ahikam’, he said, when he met them. 7 They came into the city. Then Nethaniah’s son Ishmael and the men who were with him killed them. They threw their dead bodies into a hole in the ground. 8 But 10 men said, ‘Do not kill us! We have wheat, barley, oil and honey that we have hidden in a field.’ So he let them go and he did not kill them with the other men. 9 He had thrown Gedaliah’s body into a hole that King Asa had dug. Asa had dug many holes to save himself from Baasha king of Israel. Ishmael, son of Nethaniah, filled this hole with dead bodies.

10 Ishmael caused all the other people who were in Mizpah to become his prisoners. He took the king’s daughters and all the other people who remained there. Nebuzaradan, captain of the king’s special soldiers, had said that Gedaliah, Ahikam’s son, must rule over those people. Ishmael, Nethaniah’s son, made them his prisoners. And he started to take them to the country called Ammon.

11 People told Johanan, Kareah’s son, and the army officers with him about the bad things that Ishmael had done. 12 So they took all their men and they went to fight Ishmael, Nethaniah’s son. They found him near the big pool in Gibeon. 13 All the people that were with Ishmael saw Johanan and the soldiers with him. They were happy when they saw them. 14 All the people that Ishmael had taken as prisoners at Mizpah left Ishmael. They went to join Johanan, son of Kareah. 15 But Ishmael, son of Nethaniah, ran away from Johanan. He and 8 men went to Ammon.

Johanan takes the people to Egypt.

16 Johanan, Kareah’s son, and the officers with him took away the people who had come from Mizpah. They were the people that he had saved from Ishmael, son of Nethaniah. Ishmael had killed Gedaliah, son of Ahikam. These people were the soldiers, women, children and officers that Johanan brought from Gibeon. 17 These people went towards Egypt. They stopped at Geruth-Chimham on the way to Egypt. That is near Bethlehem. 18 They wanted to run away from the soldiers from Babylon. They were afraid because Ishmael, son of Nethaniah, had killed Gedaliah. And the king of Babylon had said that Gedaliah should rule Israel.

Chapter 42

1 Then all the army officers and the people went to speak to Jeremiah the prophet. They included Johanan, son of Kareah, Jezaniah, son of Hoshaiah, and other people. The important people went. And those who were not important also went. 2 ‘Please listen to us and pray for us’, they said. ‘Pray to the LORD your God for us who remain here. You can see that we are now only a few. But before now, we were many people. 3 Ask the LORD to tell us where we should go. Ask him what we should do.’

4 ‘I have heard you’, Jeremiah the prophet replied. ‘I will certainly pray to the LORD your God as you have asked me. I will tell everything that the LORD says to you. I will not hide anything from you.’

5 ‘We will do everything that the LORD has sent you to say to us. We want the LORD to punish us if we do not do that’, they said to Jeremiah. 6 ‘We have asked you to pray to the LORD our God and we will obey him. We will obey him whether he tells us good things or bad things. We will obey him because we want good things to happen to us.’

7 Ten days after that, the LORD spoke to Jeremiah. 8 So Jeremiah brought Johanan, son of Kareah, and the soldiers and all the people together. He brought together all the people who were with him. He brought the important people and those who were not important. 9 ‘You sent me to the LORD, the God of Israel. He says this’, he said to them. 10 ‘If you will stay in this country, I will build you up. I will plant you like a seed and you will grow. I will not pull you up and I will not kill you. I am sad about the way that I hurt you. That is why I will do this. 11 Do not be afraid of the king of Babylon. You are afraid of him now but do not be afraid of him’, says the LORD. ‘I am with you and I will save you from him. 12 I will be kind to him. So then he will be kind to you and he will give your country back to you.’

13 ‘But you may not obey the LORD your God. Or you may say, “We will not stay in this country.” 14 You may say, “No, we will go to live in Egypt where we will not have to fight. And we will have enough food there.” 15 Then listen to me, you few people from Judah who remain here. The great and powerful LORD, the God of Israel, says this. I will cause this to happen if you decide to live in Egypt: If you make it your home, 16 you will die there. The soldiers that you are afraid of will kill you. Or you will not have enough food. 17 But all the people who decide to go to make their home in Egypt will die there. Soldiers will kill some of them. I will cause other people to die because they become ill. And other people will die because they do not have any food. Nobody will save any of them from the trouble that I will send. 18 The great and powerful LORD, the God of Israel, says this: I was very angry with the people who lived in Jerusalem. In the same way, I will be very angry with you when you go to Egypt. People will hate you and they will shout bad things about you. They will say that you have done wrong things. You will never see this place again.

19 You people from Judah that are still here, I am speaking to you. The LORD has said what you must do. He has said, “Do not go to Egypt.” 20 You made a bad mistake when you asked me to pray to the LORD for you. You said, “Tell us everything that he says. And then we will do it.” 21 I told you today, but you still have not obeyed the LORD your God. You have not done anything that he sent me to tell to you. 22 I will tell you something. You will die in the place where you want to live. Soldiers may kill you. Or you may die because you are ill. Or you will die because you do not have any food.’

Chapter 43

1 So Jeremiah finished telling the people all the words of the LORD their God. He told them everything that the LORD had sent him to tell them. 2 Then Hoshaiah’s son Azariah and Kareah’s son Johanan and some other men spoke to Jeremiah. All those men thought that they knew everything. They thought that they were better than other people. ‘You are speaking lies!’ they said to Jeremiah. ‘The LORD our God has not sent you to say that we must not go to Egypt to live there. 3 But you are doing what Baruch, son of Neriah, wants. He is against us. He wants the soldiers from Babylon to kill us or to take us as prisoners to Babylon.’

4 So Johanan, son of Kareah, and all the officers in the army did not obey the LORD’s message. They did not stay in Judah. 5 Instead, Johanan and the officers led the people away from Judah. These were the few people who had returned to Judah. They had come from all the countries where their enemies had sent them. 6 They took with them the men, women and children and the king’s daughters. Nebuzaradan, the captain of Nebuchadnezzar’s special soldiers, had let those people remain with Gedaliah. (Gedaliah was Ahikam’s son and Shaphan’s grandson.) And Nebuzaradan had let Jeremiah the prophet and Baruch, son of Neriah, remain there with them. 7 So they did not obey the LORD. They went into Egypt and they went as far as Tahpanhes.

8 The LORD spoke to Jeremiah in Tahpanhes. ‘The king of Egypt’s house is in Tahpanhes. 9 Choose some large stones while the Jews are watching you’, he said. ‘Take them and put them under the path to the king’s house. 10 Then you must speak to the people. Say, “The strong, powerful LORD, the God of Israel, says this: I will send my servant, Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, here. He will put his throne here, over these stones that I have hidden. They will make his king’s tent over him. 11 He will come and he will attack Egypt. He will kill those people that I have chosen to die. He will take as prisoners those that I choose to be prisoners. His soldiers will kill those people that I choose to die in that way. 12 He will use fire when he attacks the temples of the gods of Egypt. He will burn them and he will take away their gods. He will do what he wants with Egypt. Nobody will stop him. 13 He will break down the places where the people in Egypt worship in the temple of the sun. And he will burn down the temples of the gods there.” ’

Chapter 44

God will judge his people.

1 The LORD spoke to Jeremiah. He spoke about the Jews who lived in Egypt. They lived in Migdol, Tahpanhes and Memphis and in other places. He said, 2 ‘The great and powerful LORD, the God of Israel, says, “You saw the great trouble that I caused to Jerusalem and to all the towns in Judah. Your enemies have broken them down and nobody lives there now. 3 That is because of the evil things that the people did there. They made me angry because they made nice smells to give pleasure to other gods. And they worshipped those gods. Neither they nor their ancestors knew those gods. 4 Again and again I sent my servants the prophets to them. They gave my message to them. ‘Do not do this bad thing that I hate!’ they said. 5 But the people did not listen to my words and they did not obey me. They did not stop doing wrong things. And they did not stop making nice smells to give pleasure to other gods. 6 So I became very angry. I punished the towns in Judah and the streets in Jerusalem. I destroyed them. And I broke those places down as you can see today.

7 Now the great and powerful LORD, the God of Israel, says, ‘You are causing more trouble for yourselves. You are taking all the men, women, children and babies out of Judah. You have not let anybody stay in Israel. 8 You are making me very angry by the things that you have made with your hands. You are making nice smells to give pleasure to the gods of Egypt where you have come to live. Those things will destroy your nation. You will become a nation that all other nations hate. They will think that you do not have any value. 9 You must remember the evil things that your ancestors did. The kings and queens of Judah and you and your wives also did many wrong things. You did evil things in Jerusalem and in all Judah. 10 Even now your people have not become sorry. They have not agreed that they have done wrong things. They have not given any honour to me. They have not obeyed the rules that I gave to them and to their ancestors.’ ”

11 So the great and powerful LORD, the God of Israel, says, “I will certainly give much trouble to you and I will destroy all Judah. 12 I will take away the few Jews who decided to come to Egypt. They will all die there. Soldiers will kill them. Or they will die because they do not have any food to eat. Other people will hate them and they will make them ashamed. They will say how bad the Jews are. They will tell them that they have done wrong things. 13 I will punish those people in Egypt. I will use soldiers with swords. Or I might make them ill. Or I will not give any food to them so then they will die. I will punish them, as I punished the people in Jerusalem. 14 None of the few people from Judah who went to live in Egypt will return. They want very much to return to Judah. But not one Jew will be able to leave Egypt, except for a very small group who will run away.” ‘

15 A large crowd came together from all the places in Egypt where they lived. The men knew that their wives were burning nice smelling oils to other gods. And there were many women with them. They spoke to Jeremiah. 16 ‘You have said that the LORD has given a message to you. But we will not listen to you’, they said. 17 ‘We will certainly do everything that we want to do. We will make nice smells for the Queen of Heaven and we will offer drinks to her. We will do what our ancestors did. We and our kings and our officers did this in Jerusalem and in all the towns in Judah. We had plenty of food then. We were rich and we did not have any troubles. 18 But since we stopped offering those things to the Queen of Heaven we have not had anything. Some of us have died because they did not have any food. And soldiers have killed other people.’

The Queen of Heaven was a female god that some people worshipped. They thought that she had the power to give them much food and to make them rich. They believed that she could cause them to have many strong children. And they believed that she could cause their animals to have many strong young animals. They thought that gifts would cause her to do good things for them.

19 The women spoke. ‘Our husbands knew that we were burning oils to make nice smells to the Queen of Heaven. And we made cakes in her shape and we offered wine to her, too’, they said.

20 Then Jeremiah spoke to all the men and to all the women who had answered him. 21 ‘The LORD knew about the things that you and your ancestors, your kings and officers and all the people did. He knew that you burned those oils with nice smells in the towns in Judah. He knew that you burned them in the streets in Jerusalem’, he said. 22 ‘He saw the things that you were doing. So he made your country empty and he did not let anything grow there. The LORD saw the bad things that you were doing. So he made the country a place where nobody wanted to live. He caused it to become empty and now nobody lives there. 23 The LORD did that because of the wrong things that you were doing. He would not let you continue to do them. You burned the nice oils. You did not obey his rules. And you did not do any of the things that he wanted you to do. So he has caused these bad things that you see.’

24 ‘Hear the LORD’s word, all you people from Judah who are in Egypt’, Jeremiah said. ‘I am speaking to the men and to the women. 25 The great and powerful LORD, the God of Israel, says this: You and your wives have certainly done as you promised. You said, “We will do the things that we have said. We will burn nice smelling oils and we will offer drink to the Queen of Heaven.” So go. And do what you promised to do!

26 But listen to the words that the LORD has to say to all you Jews in Egypt: “I am promising something to you. I will do this as certainly as I am alive”, says the LORD. “Nobody from Judah who lives in Egypt will again be able to say, ‘As certainly as the LORD, the ruler, lives.’ 27 I will not help the Jews in Egypt. I will kill all those Jews. They will die because they do not have any food. Or soldiers will kill them. 28 Only a few of those people that they do not kill will leave Egypt to return to Judah. Then all the Jews who came to live in Egypt will know this. They will know that my word and not theirs is true.”

29 “I will punish you in this place”, says the LORD. “I will tell you something that will happen soon. Then you will know that my promise to destroy you is a true promise.” 30 The LORD says, “I will deliver Hophra king of Egypt to his enemies. They want to kill him. I will do that in the same way that I delivered Zedekiah king of Judah to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar wanted to kill Zedekiah.” ’

Chapter 45

God’s message to Baruch

1 Baruch wrote down on a scroll the words that I gave to him. That was in the 4th year that Jehoiakim, Josiah’s son, was king of Judah. Then I told him 2 these words that the LORD the God of Israel had said to me: ‘Baruch, 3 you said, “I am not a happy man! I have pain and now the LORD has made me sad too. I am so sad that it has made me feel very tired. And there is no rest for me.” ’

4 Then the LORD asked me to say this to Baruch. ‘But I, the LORD, am pushing down the things that I have built. And I am pulling up the things that I have planted. I will do that to all the country. 5 You may want to be very important. Do not want that. I will punish all men and women. But in any place that you go to, I will let you keep your life safe.’

Chapter 46

God tells Jeremiah about the things that he will do to Egypt.

1 The LORD told Jeremiah the prophet about the things that he will do to the people in many countries.

2 This is the message against the army of King Neco of Egypt. Nebuchadnezzar, Babylon’s king, fought with them at Carchemish on the River Euphrates. Nebuchadnezzar won that fight in the 4th year after Josiah’s son Jehoiakim became king of Judah.

3 ‘Get ready to march to the fight!

Prepare your shields, whether you are important or not.

4 Make the horses ready to obey you.

Stand ready with hard hats on your heads.

Make sharp the knives that you throw.

Put on strong clothes of leather and metal.

5 I see that the army are afraid.

They are running away.

Their soldiers have not won the fight.

They are running away fast.

They do not look behind them.

Everything round them makes them afraid’,

says the LORD.

6 But they cannot run as fast as they need to run.

The strong men cannot run away.

They are falling by the River Euphrates.

In the north, they fall down.

7 A country is rising up.

It rises like the great waters of the River Nile.

8 Egypt is rising like the River Nile,

like rivers of fast waters.

Egypt says, ‘I will rise up and I will cover the earth.

I will destroy cities and I will kill their people.’

9 The horses run fast.

Men in their chariots cause them to go faster.

The soldiers continue to march.

Men from Ethiopia and Put are carrying their shields.

Men from the people called Lydians are bringing their bows.

10 But that day is a day when the LORD, the great powerful LORD will punish his enemies.

He is angry with his enemies and he will punish them.

His soldiers will kill with their swords.

They will kill many people.

They will be like a hungry man. He eats until he is not still hungry.

The LORD, the great and powerful LORD, will offer up the dead people.

He will offer them in a place in the north by the River Euphrates.

11 Go to Gilead to get medicine to make you well.

Go, you young women in Egypt.

But many medicines will not make you better.

Nothing will make you well.

12 All countries will see that you are ashamed.

All the people on earth will hear you when you cry.

Two soldiers will knock against each other.

They will fall down together.

13 This is the message that the LORD spoke to Jeremiah the prophet about Nebuchadnezzar. He, the king of Babylon, would come to attack Egypt.

14 ‘Tell this to the people in Egypt and shout it in Migdol.

And tell it to the people in Memphis and in Tahpanhes.

“Get ready to fight because they are killing all the people round you.”

15 Enemies will knock down your soldiers.

They cannot stand because the LORD will push them down.

16 They will go on falling.

They will fall over each other.

They will say, “Get up. Let us return to our own people and to our own country.

We want to run from these fights and from our enemies.”

17 When they get back they will shout,

“The king of Egypt is weak. He is like a loud noise.

He is too late to win the fight.” ’

18 The King, the great and powerful LORD says,

‘I am giving a promise to you. Someone will come who will be great.

He will be as great among men as Tabor and Carmel are great among the mountains.

19 You people who live in Egypt, pack your things ready to go to a far country.

They will destroy Memphis. Its buildings will lie in pieces and nobody will live there.

20 Egypt is like a good cow that a fly from the north is coming to hurt.

21 Egypt has bought soldiers. But they are like animals that men are ready to kill.

They will run away together. They will not stand and fight.

Now the day is coming when the LORD will kill those soldiers.

22 Egypt’s people will run from the enemy when many men come near to attack it.

They will attack it with axes.

They will be like men who cut down trees,

23 to destroy thick forests’, says the LORD.

‘There are too many enemies to count.

They are like many insects that seem like a great cloud.

24 They will make the people in Egypt ashamed.

The people from the north will make them their prisoners.’

25 ‘Now I will punish Amon, god of Thebes. And I will punish Pharaoh, the king of Egypt. And I will punish their other gods and kings, and the people that they rule. 26 I will give them to those who want to kill them. Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and his officers will take them’, says the great and powerful LORD. ‘But in later years, people will again live in Egypt as they did before’, he says.

27 ‘Do not be afraid, my servant Jacob. Do not be afraid of trouble, Israel.

I will certainly bring you from a far country.

I will save your children from the places where they went as prisoners.

Jacob (Israel) will again have peace and he will be safe.

Then nobody will make him afraid.

28 Do not be afraid, Jacob my servant,

because I am with you’, says the LORD.

‘I may completely destroy all the countries where I send you.

But I will never completely destroy you.

I will be fair when I punish you. But I certainly will punish you.’

Jacob here means the nation, Israel.

Chapter 47

The LORD tells Jeremiah about the things that he will do to the Philistines.

1 The LORD told this to Jeremiah the prophet before Pharaoh, king of Egypt, attacked Gaza. He spoke about the Philistines.

2 The great and powerful LORD, the God of Israel says,

‘See how the armies in the north are rising like water.

I will make them as strong as a great fast river.

They will cover the country and everything in it.

They will cover the towns and the people who live in them.

The people will shout. All the people who live in the country will cry.

3 They will cry when they hear the sound of horses

and the noise of their enemies’ war chariots.

They will hear them when they are coming.

Fathers will not turn to help their children.

Their hands will not move.

4 This is the day when God will kill all the Philistines.

He will not let anybody live to help Tyre and Sidon.

The LORD will soon remove the Philistines.

He will remove those who remain by the sea. He will remove them from the country called Caphtor.

5 The people in Gaza will be very sad.

No voice will speak in Ashkelon.

Stop cutting yourselves, you who live near the sea!’

The Philistines would cut themselves so that their gods would see the blood. They thought that this would cause their gods to help them.

6 ‘You shout to the LORD, “Your sword is attacking.

We want it to stop!

Put it back in its bag and make it still.”

7 But it cannot rest because the LORD has caused his sword to do this.

He has caused it to attack Ashkelon and the country by the sea.’

The Philistines had always been enemies of Israel. They lived in the country west of Israel, near the sea. Now the LORD will destroy their country. He will use the armies of Babylon from the north, to do that.

Chapter 48

A message about Moab

1 The great and powerful LORD, the God of Israel says,

‘I will cause the people in Nebo city to cry, because I will destroy it.

The people in Kiriathaim city will be ashamed and its enemies will get power over it.

They will break its strong buildings, and its people will be ashamed.

2 Nobody will again say good things about Moab.

In Heshbon, men will think about how they can destroy Moab.

They will say, “Let us completely destroy that nation.”

And the town called Madmen will become completely quiet.

3 You will hear sad voices from Horonaim.

Its people will be afraid. And they will cry while enemies destroy it.

4 The LORD will break the country called Moab.

The children who live there will cry.

5 They will go to Luhith. And they will cry while they walk.

They will go towards Horonaim. And they will cry while enemies destroy their cities.

6 Go! Run away to save your lives!

Live like bushes in the empty country where no people live.

7 You thought that your rich things would save you.

But your enemies will take you away too.

The people and the god Chemosh will go to a foreign country

together with their priests and their officers.

8 The enemy’s armies will attack every town.

They will not save one town.

They will destroy the valley and the flat country.

The LORD has spoken.

9 They will put salt on Moab’s country so that nothing will grow there.

Nobody will live in their towns. They will be empty.

10 The LORD will punish any man who will not do God’s work!

He will punish anyone who does not kill with his sword!

11 Moab’s people have had peace since they became a nation.

They have been like wine that rests in a cupboard.

Nobody has ever taken them away to a foreign country.

So it is the same as it always was.’

12 ‘But the time will come’, says the LORD,

‘when I will send men to it.

They will pour out Moab’s people like wine. They will empty Moab like wine jars.

They will break the jars completely.

13 Then the people from Moab will be ashamed of Chemosh.

They will be like the people in Israel who worshipped the god at Bethel.

Those people became ashamed when they did that.

14 You should not say, “We are soldiers who are strong in a fight.”

15 I will destroy Moab. Enemies will get power over its towns.

They will kill the best of its young men.’

The King, the great and powerful LORD says,

16 ‘Moab will fall very soon.

Enemies will destroy it quickly.

17 The people who live round it must be sorry for it.

They all knew how great it had been.

They will say, “Moab’s great kingdom is broken.

Their king is not still ruling there!”

18 You people who live round Dibon, sit on the ground.

Come from your beautiful houses and sit in the dirt.

The enemy who is destroying Moab will come to attack you.

He will break down your cities that have walls round them.

19 Stand by the road, you people who live in Aroer. And watch.

You will see men and women who are running away.

Ask them, “Why are you running away from the city?”

20 Moab is ashamed because enemies have broken it.

Shout!

Tell the people by the River Arnon that enemies have destroyed Moab.

21 The LORD has judged the cities on the flat country.

He has judged Holon, Jahzah and Mephaath,

22 and Dibon, Nebo and Beth-Diblathaim.

23 Tell Kiriathaim, Beth-Gamul and Beth-Meon,

24 Kerioth and Bozrah that he has judged them.

Tell the people in all the towns in Moab, near or far away.

25 Moab does not have any power now.

Their enemies have destroyed the things that made them strong’,

says the LORD.

26 ‘Moab has not obeyed the LORD. So make it like a woman who is drunk.

She will be sick and she will sit in her own dirt.

People will point at Moab. They will not give any honour to their people.

27 You said things that were not kind about Israel.

You said that they did not have any value.

You did not find Israel’s people when they were with many robbers.

So you do not have any good reason to speak like that about them.

28 You people in Moab,

leave your towns and go to live among the rocks.

Live like a bird that builds its house by a hole in the hill.

29 We have heard about the people in Moab.

They think that they are better than anyone else.

They think that other people are like dirt.

They think that nobody is good enough to speak to them.

30 I know about Moab’s thoughts.

They think that Israel does not have any value.

But their thoughts do not have any value’, says the LORD.

‘The loud words that they say will not help them.

31 So I am sad for Moab. I am crying for all their people.

I am sorry for the men in Kir-Heres.

32 I am weeping for your vines of Sibmah.

They reach as far as the sea.

Their branches reach to the sea called Jazer.

The enemy is destroying their fruit and their grapes.

33 The fruit farms and the fields of Moab are empty.

They make people sad.

They are not happy

because I have stopped them making wine.

They are not singing now and they are not happy now.

34 They are crying with a loud voice.

The noise rises from Heshbon to Elealeh and Jahaz.

It reaches from Zoar to Horonaim and Eglath-Shelishiyah.

Even the River Nimrim has become dry.

35 ‘The people in Moab worship other gods.

They offer food to them on the high places.

They burn nice smelling oils to their gods.

I will cause them to stop that’, says the LORD.

36 ‘So I am very, very sad for the people in Moab.

I will sing a sad song.

It is a song for the men in Kir-Heres

because they have lost their valuable things.

37 All the men have cut off the hair from their heads and faces.

They have cut their hands.

And they are wearing hard material.

38 On all the roofs and in the streets,

the people are sad and they are crying.

They are sad because I have broken Moab.

I have broken it like a jar that I do not want’,

says the LORD.

39 ‘I have really broken Moab. So its people cry with loud voices.

They are ashamed and they turn away.

People look at Moab’s troubles. They do not give any honour to its people.

All who live near there are afraid to look at Moab.’

40 The LORD says,

‘Look! A big bird is flying down.

Its wings are open while it flies over Moab.’

This is like a picture of an attack by an enemy.

41 ‘An enemy will win the fight for Kerioth

and he will get power over its strong buildings.

Then Moab’s soldiers will be afraid.

They will be afraid like a woman who is having a baby.

42 The LORD will destroy the nation of Moab

because they have not obeyed him.

43 He will catch their people and he will punish them.

And they will be very afraid’, says the LORD.

44 ‘People who run from dangerous things will fall into holes.

They will fall into holes that their enemies have dug.

And the enemy will catch those who climb out of the holes.

That will happen because now I will punish Moab’, says the LORD.

45 ‘Those people who tried to run away will stand near to Heshbon.

Nobody will help them.

I have been like a fire that is coming from Heshbon.

It is like a fire from the centre of Sihon.

It burns the faces of Moab’s people.

And it burns the heads of the drunks who make a lot of noise.

46 Cry, you people in Moab!

I have destroyed the people of Chemosh.

The enemy has taken your sons to a far country.

They have taken your daughters to become slaves.

47 But one day I will cause Moab to become a nation again.’

That is what the LORD says.

That is what the LORD says as the judge of Moab.

Chemosh was the god of the people in Moab.

Chapter 49

A message about Ammon

1 The LORD says,

‘You have let Molech rule the people from Gad.

Your sons have not sent him away.

His people live in the country that I gave to Gad.’

Molech was the god of the people in Ammon.

2 ‘But at a future time, I will call my people to fight’, says the LORD.

‘They will fight against Rabbah, that city in Ammon.

They will pull it down to become a lot of stones.

And they will burn the villages round it with fire.

Then Israel’s people will push out the people who pushed them out’, says the LORD.

When they were fighting in an earlier war, some people in Ammon had run away from their own country. They got power over part of the country that God had given to Gad to live in.

3 ‘Cry, you people in Heshbon, because they have destroyed Ai.

Cry aloud, you people who live in Rabbah.

You wear hard material when a friend has died.

Put on those clothes now and be very sad.

You do not know what to do. So you will run about.

Enemies will take the people from Moab to a far country.

They will take them with their priests and their officers.

4 You say to everyone that your valleys are full of fruit.

You are like a daughter that does not obey me.

You think that your valuable things will save you from your enemies.

5 But I will make you afraid of all the people who live round you’,

says the great and powerful LORD.

‘Enemies will push everyone away from his home.

Nobody will save those people who are running away.

6 But, after this, I will bring back Ammon’s people’, says the LORD.

A message about Edom

7 The great and powerful LORD says this about Edom:

‘The men from Teman do not have any more clever thoughts.

Their great ideas have left them.

8 You people in Dedan, turn and run away. Hide in deep holes.

I will punish Esau’s descendants and I will cause a lot of trouble for them.

9 I will not be like men who pick fruits. They let a few fruits remain behind.

And I will not be like a robber who takes only a few things.

10 No, I will take everything and Esau’s country will be empty.

I will show enemies where Esau’s descendants hide. And they will find Esau’s descendants.

They will kill all their children, family and friends.

And they will die.

11 Leave those who do not have living fathers. Then I will save them.

And widows will be safe with me.’

12 The LORD says, ‘Not all the people that I have punished were bad. So I must certainly punish you people who are bad. 13 I will do that as certainly as the fact that I am LORD. Enemies will destroy Bozrah. People will see that enemies have broken it down. And they will be afraid. They will point to it. And they will say how bad it was. All its villages will be heaps of stones for all time.’

14 I have heard a message from the LORD. He has sent his messenger to the nations. He says, ‘Get ready to attack Edom. Prepare to fight!’

15 ‘The LORD will make you (Edom) weak and nobody will honour you.

16 You made people afraid. So you thought that you were great and strong.

But your thoughts were wrong.

You may hide in small holes in the rock or high up on the hill.

Even if you live as high as the homes of great birds, I will bring you down.’

Those are the words of the LORD.

17 ‘Edom will change so much that people will not want to look at it.

Those who walk past will say bad things about it.

They will turn away from it because its enemies have destroyed it completely.

18 Nobody will live there, not one man.

It will be like Sodom and Gomorrah

when men destroyed them and the towns near them’,

says the LORD.

19 ‘I will be like a lion that comes into green fields.

I will come like a lion out of the trees by the River Jordan.

I will push Edom’s people quickly out of their country.

The leader that I choose will rule the people.

Nobody is like me. Nobody can say that they are as great as me.’

20 So listen to the things that the LORD will do to Edom.

Listen to the things that he will do to the people in Teman.

Your people will be like sheep. He will take away their young sheep.

He will completely destroy their country

because they do not obey him.

21 The whole earth will move with the noise when they fall.

They will cry by seas that are far away.

People will hear them when they cry.

22 God will make the men who fight in Bozrah afraid.

They will feel like an animal that sees a big bird. The bird is flying to catch it.

They will be afraid like a woman who will soon have a child.

A message about Damascus

23 The LORD says about Damascus,

‘People have brought bad news to the people who live in Hamath and in Arpad.

They are afraid. Their minds are full of trouble.

Their thoughts move like the waters of the sea.

24 Damascus has become weak.

Its people want to run away.

They are so afraid that they feel pain.

Their pain is like the pain of a woman who is having a baby.

25 They have not left their famous city,

a city that gives pleasure to me.

26 The young men in it will die in its streets.

Then enemies will kill all its soldiers’, says the great and powerful LORD.

27 ‘I will burn the walls of Damascus.

Fire will burn up the strong places of Ben-Hadad.’

A message about Kedar and Hazor

28 Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had attacked Kedar and the kingdoms of Hazor. The LORD said about them,

‘Get up and attack Kedar.

And take all their valuable things from the people in the East.

29 Enemies will take their tents and their animals.

They will take their homes and all their things and their camels.

Men will shout at them, “Everything round you makes you afraid.

30 Run away as fast as you can!

You people in Hazor, hide in deep holes in the ground” ’, says the LORD.

‘Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon has decided to attack you.

He wants to get power over your country.

31 They think that they are safe. But he will attack them’, says the LORD.

‘The nation is comfortable. It does not have any gates. Its people live alone.

32 His soldiers will take their camels.

And they will lead away their animals.

I will send people who live far away to places all over the earth.

33 Only wild animals will live in Hazor.

It will always be a place where no people live.’

A message about Elam

34 The LORD spoke to Jeremiah the prophet soon after Zedekiah became king of Judah. He spoke about Elam. 35 The great and powerful LORD said,

‘I will destroy the weapons of Elam that make them strong.

36 I will bring against them the winds from every direction.

The wind will push them to the far places of the earth.

Some people from Elam will run to every nation.

37 Their enemies want to kill them.

They will run away from those who attack them.

I am very angry with them and I will cause much trouble to them’,

says the LORD.

‘I will send enemies to run after them with swords

until they are all dead.

38 I will become the ruler of Elam.

And I will kill their king and his officers’, says the LORD.

39 ‘But at a time that is still future,

I will make Elam a nation again’, says the LORD.

Chapter 50

A message about Babylon

1 The LORD spoke about the people in Babylon and about their country. He spoke by the prophet Jeremiah. He said,

2 ‘Tell this to the nations. Shout it out to the countries.

Write it on a large piece of material and lift it up.

Do not hide anything but say,

“Enemies will get power over Babylon.

Bel will be ashamed and Marduk will be afraid.

All the gods that they have made with their hands will be ashamed.” ’

Bel and Marduk were gods of the people in Babylon.

3 ‘A nation from the north will attack Babylon and they will destroy that country.

Nobody will live in it. Men and animals will run away.’

4 ‘When that happens’, the LORD says,

‘The people from Judah and from Israel will be sorry.

They will cry while they go to find the LORD their God.

5 They will ask for the way to Zion. And they will go towards it.

They will return and they will promise to be the LORD’s servants.

They will make a covenant that will be for all time.

Nobody will forget that covenant.

6 My people have been like sheep that are lost.

Those who should have led them to me have led them away.

They have been walking on the mountains and hills.

They have walked about and they have forgotten their place to rest.

7 Anyone who found them killed them.

Their enemies said, “They have caused this trouble to themselves.

They did many wrong things.

They did not obey the LORD who was really their leader.

He was the leader that their ancestors followed. They trusted him.”

8-9 I will wake up the people in many nations. I will bring many great nations together from the country in the north. They will get ready to fight against Babylon.

They will come against Babylon from the north. And they will take its people away to be prisoners.

Their arrows will kill many people.

So run away from Babylon. Leave the country called Babylon.

Be the first people to leave Babylon.

10 Enemies will take all the things that they want from Babylon.

Every enemy will have enough things’, says the LORD.

11 ‘Listen, you people who take away my things.

You are so happy that you dance like young cows.

You shout aloud like a horse that wants sex.

12 Your country will be like a mother who is very ashamed.

Her child does not bring honour to the woman who gave life to him.

Your people will be less important than other nations.

Your country will be a desert, dry and empty.

13 Nobody will live there because the LORD is angry with you.

Your country will be completely empty.

All who pass Babylon will be very afraid.

And they will say all kinds of bad things about it when they see its troubles.

14 All you men who can shoot arrows with a bow,

stand round Babylon.

Shoot at it! Use all your arrows.

Shoot because its people have done bad things against the LORD.

15 Shoot at them from all sides.

Its people will let you get power over it. Its strong buildings will fall.

You will pull down its walls.

That is how the LORD will punish them. You will punish them.

You must do to them what they have done to other people.

16 Do not let anyone remain in Babylon to work on the land.

And do not let anyone remain to get food from the fields at the proper time.

All the foreign workers will return to their own nation because they are afraid of the attacking enemies.

All those workers will run away to their own country.

17 Israel is like a group of sheep that have all run to different places.

They ran away because lions ran after them.

The first to eat them was the king of Assyria.

The man who finished the meal was Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon.’

18 So the great and powerful LORD, the God of Israel says,

‘I will punish the king of Babylon and his country

as I punished the king of Assyria.

19 But I will bring Israel back to their own country.

And their cows will feed on Carmel and in Bashan.

They will eat and they will be full on the hills of Ephraim and Gilead.

20 At that time’, says the LORD,

‘I will forgive the people in Israel and Judah that remain.

Nobody will find any sin in Israel.

There will not be any sin in Judah or in Israel.’

21 ‘Attack the place called Merathaim. And attack the people who live in Pekod.

Run after them and kill all those people’, says the LORD.

‘Do everything that I have asked you to do.

Merathaim and Pekod are names of other parts of Babylon.

22 There is a noise of fights in the country.

It is like the noise when enemies are destroying everything.

23 Babylon was like a hammer to the whole earth.

But now enemies have broken it into small pieces.

It is now alone among the nations.

24 I meant to catch you, Babylon, but you did not know.

And now I have caught you!

Your enemies found you and they got power over you. They got power over you because you did not obey the LORD.

25 The LORD is angry.

He has taken out the weapons from where he had stored them.

The great and powerful LORD has work to do in the country called Babylon.

26 He will send people against Babylon from far places.

They will break open the places where people had put their food.

They will break its buildings into pieces.

They will destroy it completely. Nothing will still be there.

27 They will kill all its young male cows.

They will be sorry. They will all die. It is time for me to punish them.’

The young male cows mean all Babylon’s young men.

28 ‘People have run away from Babylon to Zion.

They will tell how the LORD has punished Babylon.

The LORD has punished Babylon because Babylon destroyed the LORD’s temple.

29 Bring the men with bows and arrows against Babylon.

They will stay all round it so that nobody will be able to run away.

You must punish it for all the bad things that its people have done.

Do to them as they did to you.

Do that because they proudly refused to obey the LORD, the holy God of Israel.

30 So, on that day, their young men will die in their streets.

Then none of their soldiers will be able to fight’, says the LORD.

31 ‘You think that you are very important.

But you will see that I am against you’, says the great and powerful LORD.

‘That is because the day for your punishment has come.

32 Your proud people will trip and they will fall.

And nobody will help them to get up.

I will make a fire in your towns to burn up all who are near to it.’

33 The great and powerful LORD says,

‘You have been cruel to the people from Israel and Judah.

You have taken them as prisoners,

and you will not let them go.

34 But the powerful LORD is great and strong.

He will come to redeem them.

He will fight hard to save them.

Then their country will have rest.

But Babylon’s people will not have any rest.’

35 ‘I am sending an army against Babylon’, says the LORD.

‘I am against those who live in Babylon.

And I am against its officers and its clever men.

36 I am against its false prophets.

I will cause them to become fools.

My sword will make its soldiers afraid.

37 My army will attack its horses and its chariots

and foreign men who fight for it.

They will be as weak as women.

I will cause them to give their valuable things to you.

You will take them away.

38 I will not send any rain and so its wet places will become dry places.

Their country is full of idols.

Their false gods will be afraid.

39 Wild animals, including wild dogs, will live there.

Birds that fly at night will live there, too.

Men will never live there again.

Nobody’s sons or grandsons will live there.

40 God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah

and the towns near to them’, says the LORD.

‘Babylon will be like those towns,

so nobody will live there, not one man.

41 Look. You will see an army that is coming from the north.

A great nation and kings from all over the earth

are coming towards Babylon.

42 They have bows and knives that they throw.

They are cruel and they are not kind.

They make a noise like the moving sea while they ride on their horses.

They are an army that is ready to attack you, people in Babylon.

43 The king of Babylon has heard about them.

He is weak because he is afraid.

He feels pain like the pain of a woman who is having a baby.

44 I will be like a lion

that is coming out of the woods by the River Jordan.

I will come into your rich fields.

I will soon cause the people in Babylon to run from their country.

I will choose a man to do that, and nobody can stand against me.

Nobody can stop me.’

45 So now listen to the things that the LORD will do to Babylon.

Hear about the things that he will do to their country.

He will pull the young children away from their mothers.

And he will completely destroy their good country

because of the bad things that they have done.

46 All the people in the world will hear how your people got power over Babylon.

Then people will be afraid.

All the nations will hear when its people shout with pain.

Chapter 51

1 The LORD says,

‘I will wake up those people who want to destroy Babylon and the people in Leb-Kamai.

2 I will send foreign armies to Babylon.

They will break it and they will destroy its country.

They will be all round it at that time.

3 Its men will not have time to shoot

or to pick up their weapons.

You will kill all its young men.

You will completely destroy its army.

4 Babylon’s soldiers will lie dead in the streets.

5 The great, powerful LORD is with Israel and Judah.

They have done many wrong things.

And they have not obeyed him.

But he has not left them.

6 Run away from Babylon!

Run to save your lives!

My armies are coming to punish Babylon.

Do not let them hurt you.

The time has come to punish Babylon.

The LORD will punish them for the bad things that they have done.

7 Babylon was like a great cup of wine.

The LORD saw that the wine made the whole earth drunk.

The nations drank the wine and they became angry.

8 Babylon will fall quickly. Cry about it!

If you get medicine, perhaps you may make it well.

9 We would have made Babylon well if we could.

But nobody can make it well.

We will leave it and each person will go to his own country.

Its punishment is very great.

It is as great as how far the sky is from the earth.

10 The LORD has saved us.

We must tell the people in Zion

about the things that our God has done.

11 Get your arrows ready and prepare your weapons.

The LORD has caused the kings of Media to prepare for war.

He wants them to destroy Babylon.

The LORD will punish its people because they destroyed his temple.

12 Get ready to attack the walls of Babylon.

Watch. And be ready to catch those who try to run away.

The LORD will do as he has promised against Babylon’s people.

13 It is the time for the end of their lives.

I speak to those rich people who live by the rivers of Babylon.

14 The LORD has given a serious promise that he will not change. He used his own name to promise this:

I will fill Babylon with men. They will come like a very big number of insects. And they will shout happily because they have beaten you.

15 The LORD used his power to make the earth.

He was so wise that he made it and the sky over it.

16 When he shouts, the waters in the sky make a loud noise.

He causes the clouds to rise from the ends of the earth.

He sends arrows of light with the rain.

And he causes the wind to blow.

17 No man is really clever. Nobody knows anything.

Men who work with gold should be ashamed.

They make idols, but those are not gods. They are not alive.

18 Idols do not have any value. We do not give any honour to them.

The LORD will judge them and he will destroy them.

19 The God of Jacob is the God who made all things.

So he is not like the idols.

He chose Israel’s people to be his own people.

His is called the great and powerful LORD.

20 You people are my weapons for war.

I use you to fight for me.

You will break the nations for me.

I will use you to destroy kingdoms.

21 With you I will break horses and those who ride on them.

With you I will break chariots and the men in them.

22 With you I will break men and women.

With you, I will break old men and young men.

With you, I will break young men and girls.

23 With you I will break sheep and the men with them.

With you, I will break farmers and their animals.

With you, I will break those in authority and their officers.

24 I will punish Babylon and all the people in it.

I will punish them for all the evil things that they did to Jerusalem.

You will see it with your own eyes’, says the LORD.

25 ‘Babylon, you are like a mountain that destroys the whole earth’,

says the LORD.

‘I will put out my hands towards you and I will push you down.

I will burn you up.

26 Nobody will ever use any of your stones for a new building.

You will be like a desert for all time’, the LORD says.

27 ‘Show to the people in the country that you are ready to fight.

You must make a noise with the trumpet so that all the nations can hear.

Cause the nations to prepare for war against Babylon.

Ask the armies of the kingdoms called Ararat, Minni and Ashkenaz to attack it.

They must choose their captain to lead them. They will have many horses.

Their horses will be like so many insects that they seem like a cloud.

28 Send messengers to the kings of Media

and to their officers and leaders.

Ask them to prepare for war against Babylon.

Cause them to bring armies from the places that they rule.

29 The LORD has decided to punish Babylon. He will not change.

The country is shaking because it is afraid.

The LORD will destroy Babylon and he will make it a desert.

Nobody will live there.

30 The strong men from Babylon have stopped fighting.

They are staying in their strong buildings.

They are very tired and they have become like women.

Soldiers are burning the city.

They have broken down its gates and they have burnt its houses.

31 One messenger follows another to the king of Babylon.

They all tell him that his enemies have got power over his city.

32 And they have got power over the places where men cross the rivers.

Enemies have made the country like a fire and the soldiers of Babylon are afraid.’

33 The great and powerful LORD, the God of Israel says this:

‘Babylon is like the place where men walk on the grain to make the seeds separate from everything else.

It is time for men to walk over the city.

It will soon be time for men to take away the city’s valuable things.’

34 ‘Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon has destroyed us.

He has confused us. He has made us like an empty jar.

Like a snake, he has eaten us and he has filled himself with our good things.

Then he threw us away.’

35 That is what Zion’s people will say. They will also say, ‘We are asking the LORD to punish Nebuchadnezzar.

‘We are asking him to do to Nebuchadnezzar all the bad things that he did to our people.’

‘We ask him to punish Babylon’s people because they killed our people’, say Jerusalem’s people.

36 So the LORD says,

‘Watch. And see that I will fight for you. I will punish them.

I will cause its sea and its rivers to become dry.

37 I will make Babylon a hill of stones.

Wild animals will live there.

Men will hate the place and nobody will live there.

38 Its people may make a loud noise

like angry lions or like their young ones.

39 But even when they are shouting, I will prepare a feast for them.

I will cause them to get drunk. And so they will laugh.

They will sleep and they will never wake again’, says the LORD.

40 ‘I will bring them down. They will be like sheep that people will soon kill.

They will be like sheep and goats and their young animals.

41 Enemies will get power over Sheshach (Babylon), the city that was the greatest city on the earth.

None of the nations will want to look at Babylon.

42 The sea will rise over it. Its water will cover it.

43 Its towns will be empty. Its land will be a dry desert.

Nobody will live there. Nobody will walk on its land.

44 I will punish Bel.

I will cause him to give back everything that he has taken.

Nations will never run to him again.

And the walls of Babylon will fall.

45 Come out of it, my people! Run away and save your lives!

Run away because the LORD is very angry with it.

46 You must not be afraid

when people say things to make you afraid.

They will tell stories this year and they will tell more stories next year.

They will tell stories about men who hurt each other badly.

They will say that rulers will fight each other.

47 Certainly the time will come

when I will punish the idols of Babylon.

Men will be ashamed of its whole country.

And its dead people will lie in its streets.

48 Then the earth and the sky and all the people in them will shout.

They will be so happy that they will shout. And they will dance.

They will be happy because people will come to destroy Babylon.

They will come from the north to attack it’, says the LORD.

49 ‘Enemies must destroy Babylon because its people have killed many people in Israel.

People killed the people in Babylon as they caused many to die in all the earth.

50 You Jews who have not died must run away.

Do not wait for anything, but go quickly.

Remember the LORD. Think about Jerusalem, you who are far away.’

51 We are ashamed. They have taken away our honour.

We cannot look at people’s faces.

We are ashamed because foreigners have gone into the holy places of the LORD’s house.

52 ‘But the time will come’, says the LORD,

‘when I will punish Babylon’s idols.

And I will hurt many people all over that country.

They will cry with pain.

53 Babylon’s people may build their city very high.

They may make its walls very strong.

But I will send men to destroy it’, says the LORD.

54 ‘The sound of people who are shouting will come from Babylon.

It will be the noise of the country of Babylon as men destroy it.

55 The LORD will destroy Babylon. It will not continue to make any noise.

Enemies will come against it like a hill of waters.

Their voices will sound like the sea when it is moving like an angry person.

56 They will come against Babylon to destroy it.

They will take its soldiers and they will break their bows.

The LORD will be paying back those who have hurt his people.

He will give full punishment to them.

57 I will make its officers and its wise men drunk.

I will do that also to its rulers and to its soldiers.

They will sleep and they will never wake up’, says the King.

He is the great and powerful LORD.

58 The great and powerful LORD says,

‘They will knock down the thick walls of Babylon.

They will burn its high gates.

The nations run about and are tired. But they cannot do anything.

All the things that the nations do only make the fire worse.’

59 This is the message that Jeremiah gave to the officer Seraiah. He was the son of Neriah, the son of Mahseiah. Seraiah gave it when he went to Babylon with Zedekiah, Judah’s king. It was in the 4th year of his rule. 60 Jeremiah had written his message on a piece of clean dry skin. He had written down all the punishment that the LORD would cause to happen to Babylon. 61 Jeremiah spoke to Seraiah. He said, ‘When you reach Babylon, certainly read all these words aloud. 62 Then say, “LORD you have said that you will destroy this place. Then no man or animal will live in it. It will be empty for all time.” 63 When you have finished reading all the words, tie a big stone to the skin. And throw the stone and the skin into the River Euphrates. 64 Then say, “Babylon will go down like that stone and it will never rise again. I will cause all these bad things. Its people will be too tired and too weak to do anything about it.” ’

That is the end of Jeremiah’s words.

Chapter 52

Nebuchadnezzar gets power over Jerusalem.

1 Zedekiah was 21 years old when he became king. He ruled in Jerusalem for 11 years. His mother’s name was Hamutal, daughter of Jeremiah. She came from Libnah.

Zedekiah’s grandfather was another Jeremiah, not the prophet.

2 Zedekiah did not obey the LORD. He did all the bad things that Jehoiakim had done. 3 The LORD was angry, so he caused these things to happen to Jerusalem and Judah. They became so bad that the LORD sent his people away. He did not want them to be near to him. The king of Babylon had told Zedekiah what he must do. But Zedekiah did not do it. 4 So Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, and all his army marched against Jerusalem. That was when Zedekiah had been king for almost 9 years, on the 10th day of the 10th month. The army stayed outside the city. They built hills round it so that they could attack it from those hills. 5 The army stayed there until the 11th year of King Zedekiah.

6 By the 9th day of the 4th month there was no food in the city. The people had nothing to eat. 7 The soldiers from Babylon broke down part of the city’s wall. The whole army of Judah ran away at night. They went out between the two walls near the king’s garden. The soldiers from Babylon were still round the city. The Jews ran towards the flat land called the Arabah. 8 But the soldiers from Babylon ran after King Zedekiah. They caught him near Jericho. All his soldiers ran different ways 9 and the enemy caught Zedekiah.

They took him to the king of Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar the king was at Riblah in the country called Hamath. There Nebuchadnezzar decided what to do to him. 10 At Riblah, he killed all Zedekiah’s sons in front of their father’s eyes. He also killed all the officers of Judah. 11 Then he took out Zedekiah’s eyes and he tied him with metal ropes. He took him to Babylon. And he kept him in a prison until he died.

12 Nebuzaradan, the leader of the king’s special soldiers, came to Jerusalem. It was the 19th year of Nebuchadnezzar’s rule. He came on the 10th day of the 5th month. 13 He burned the LORD’s temple and the king’s house and all the houses in Jerusalem. He burned down every important building. 14 He told the whole army to break down the walls round Jerusalem. 15 Nebuzaradan took away some of the very poor people and those who remained in the city. And he also took those who had clever hands. 16 But he let the poorest people stay to work with the vines and in the fields.

17 The soldiers from Babylon broke up all the big things of bronze that were in the temple. And they took the bronze to Babylon. 18 And they took away all the small bronze tools that the priests used in the temple. 19 The leader of the king’s soldiers took all the bowls. And he took all the things that people had made from gold or from silver.

20 They had a lot of bronze from the things that King Solomon had made for the temple. There was so much that they could not weigh it. 21 The metal parts of the doors were more than 6 metres high and 4 metres round. Each was as thick as 4 fingers and they were empty inside. 22 Over each of these two parts there were two very beautiful metal tops nearly two metres high. 23 They had 96 bronze fruits round their sides and 100 bronze fruits above those.

24 Nebuchadnezzar’s captain took Seraiah the leader of the priests and his most important helper as his prisoners. And he took the three men who were keepers of the doors of the temple. 25 He also took the most important officer of the soldiers who remained in the city. Seven men had helped Judah’s king to decide what he should do. Nebuchadnezzar’s captain took them also. He took away the most important man who chose men to become soldiers and 60 of his helpers.

26 Nebuzaradan, Nebuchadnezzar’s most important officer, took all those men to the king of Babylon at Riblah. 27 There, at Riblah in the country called Hamath, the king’s soldiers killed all those men.

So he took the people from Judah to live as prisoners in a country far away. 28 This is the number of the people that Nebuchadnezzar took away:

He took 3023 Jews in his 7th year.

29 He took 832 people from Jerusalem in his 18th year.

30 And he took 745 Jews in his 23rd year.

So Nebuzaradan, Nebuchadnezzar’s captain, took 4600 people away.

31 Jehoiachin had been in prison for 37 years when Evil-Merodach became king of Babylon. Evil-Merodach let Jehoiachin king of Judah go free. He let him go out from the prison on the 25th day of the 12th month. 32 He spoke kind words to him. He gave to him a more important place than the other kings who were with him in Babylon. 33 So Jehoiachin took off the clothes that he had worn in the prison. And he ate his food at the king’s table until the day that he died. 34 The king of Babylon gave something to Jehoiachin every day until he died.

Word List

almond
a very hard fruit (hard fruits are sometimes called nuts).
altar
special table for people to burn animals or other gifts that they offer to God or to a false god.
Amen
we agree; it is true; that is right.
ancestors
people centuries ago that your grandparents’ grandparents came from.
anger
what you feel when you are angry.
ark
a special box that Moses made from wood; he covered it with gold. God told Moses that he must make it; it contained God’s 10 rules.
arrow
short stick with a point that you shoot from a bow.
Baal
a false male god.
backsliding
someone who is doing good things starts to do bad things instead.
barley
a plant; people make bread from its seeds.
battle
big fight between armies.
BC
years before Christ came to the earth.
Bel
the god of Babylon.
bless
to say or to do good things to a person; to ask God for good things to happen.
blessing
a good thing that God does for us.
breathe
to take air in and out of the mouth.
bronze
a kind of metal; you mix two metals to make it.
burnt-offering
an animal that the priests killed and burned; that is how they gave animals to God.
camel
a big animal that people ride on in a desert.
care
to do everything that we can to help someone or something and to make them happy.
chariot
a box with wheels that soldiers ride in. Horses pull it.
circumcise
to cut off the skin that covers the end of the sex part of a boy or a man; a mark for Israelites to show that a man agreed to obey God’s rules.
clay
special kind of earth that people can use to make things like pots.
clean
when a person does good things and thinks good thoughts; or, when something is right to use because God is happy about it.
covenant
This meant that Israel’s people were special to God as his people. And the LORD was special to them as their God. He gave to them rules about things that they should do. And he also gave to them rules about things that they should not do. If they obeyed those rules, he would cause them to do well. If they did not obey them, the LORD would punish them.
crown
special hat that a king wears; it means that he has authority.
curse
to say bad words against another person; to say that you want bad things to happen to someone; or bad things that happen to a person.
descendant
a child, grandchild, their grandchild and so on.
desert
a place where not many people live because it is very dry.
dirty
not clean inside a person.
disgusting
something that you really do not like; you do not want to touch it; something that is really not good.
divorce
when a man sends his wife away because he wants to marry another woman.
drunk
to drink too much alcohol makes you drunk.
evil
things or people that are very bad. There is nothing good in them.
faithful
to believe in someone or something; to believe in God completely; or a person that you can always trust.
false
something that is not true. A false prophet is not really a prophet. But he says that he is one.
fast
not to eat any food for a time.
feast
special time to eat and to drink.
fig
a fruit.
foreigner
a person who comes from another country.
forgive
when someone stops being angry with another person who has done bad things.
grain
a hard seed that you can eat; or you can make it into bread.
grape
a fruit. People make a drink with alcohol from grapes.
hate
not to like someone or something; not to love them; to want bad things to happen to them.
heap
a lot of things on top of each other.
heaven
the place where God lives and rules; but sometimes this word means the sky.
holy
all good, with nothing bad in it. God is holy. He is too clean to touch.
honey
a special sugar that insects called bees make.
honour
when you think that somebody is great and good.
hunger
what you feel when you are hungry.
idol
anything that people worship instead of God. It could be something that people made out of stone or wood.
Israelite
someone who lives in Israel; a descendant of Jacob.
Jew
anyone who is born from Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and their children
Jewish
a word that describes a Jew or anything that a Jew has.
judge
to say who is right and who is wrong; or, the person that says who is right or wrong; or, the person who says what someone’s punishment must be; to judge may mean to say what someone’s punishment must be.
keeper
the keeper of a prison keeps the people in the prison safe; they cannot get out of the prison; the keeper of a door keeps out people who should not go through it.
kingdom
where a king rules; a country where a king rules.
law
the rules that God or rulers make.
Levite
a descendant of Levi, who was a son of Jacob. God chose Levites to work in his temple.
lie
something that somebody has said that is not true.
lightning
the bright light that happens in the sky during a storm.
lion
a wild animal (like a very big cat) that kills other animals and eats them; it can kill people too.
LORD
a special name for God that his people use. He will do what he has promised to them. And he does not change. That is what this name means.
merciful
a merciful person gives help to people who need it; God is merciful when he forgives people; a merciful person is kind to bad people.
mercy
God’s love to all people; when he does not remember the bad things that we do.
messenger
person who has something to tell to other people.
miracle
a surprising thing that God does; a surprising thing that shows that a person brings a message from God.
missing
someone or something that should be there is not there.
Mount
a short word for mountain; small mountain.
nation
people who live together in one country.
offering
something that people gave to God. It could be food or drink as well as an animal. Some offerings were to give thanks to God. People also gave offerings when they had sinned.
olive
a tree with small fruits (or the fruits themselves) that people use to make oil. They burned the oil to give them light. They used it in other ways too.
palace
a building where the king lives.
peace
a time of rest without war or fights; a time when people do not argue.
Pharaoh
the king of Egypt.
Philistine
a person from a country near Israel called Philistia.
potter
person who makes things from clay.
praise
say how great somebody is; or, words that say how great someone is.
prayer
to talk to God; or the words that we use to talk to God.
priest
special servant of God. He worked in the temple. He burned gifts to please God.
prisoner
person that people keep in a prison; or, a person that someone keeps where he does not want to be.
prophecy
messages that God wants to tell people, often about future events.
prophesy
to tell people what God thinks; or to tell people what God will do; to tell about things before they happen; to speak with God’s (or a false god’s) help and on God’s (or a false god’s) behalf.
prophet
person who hears God’s words and tells them to people; but some prophets spoke messages that were not really from God.
proud
proud people think that they are very important; or they think that they are better than other people.
punish
to hurt someone for the wrong things that they have done. For example, a person who has robbed another person must go to a prison.
punishment
when people hurt someone for the wrong things that they have done. For example, a person who has robbed another person must go to a prison.
redeem
when someone pays the price so that a prisoner can become a free person.
relative
a descendant of your grandparents or of their parents.
roots
the part of a plant that is in the ground.
rope
long thin material that people use to tie things together.
Sabbath
day for rest when people should not work. That was the 7th day of the week for the Jews.
scroll
a very long piece of paper or other material that people wrote on; they fixed it round two pieces of wood.
secretary
servant who wrote things for his master.
serve
what a servant does.
shake
to move up and down or from one side to another and back again very fast many times.
shekel
approximately 90 shekels are 1 kilo and approximately 40 shekels are 1 pound.
shepherd
someone who feeds sheep and keeps them safe.
shield
a soldier holds this over himself to stop things that would hit him.
silver
a valuable metal like gold but it is white.
sin
when a person does bad things against God or other people; we sin when we do not obey God’s rules.
sour
opposite of sweet; not nice when you taste it. In Jeremiah, it means that God was punishing bad people’s children. That was what people thought.
spear
a long stick with a sharp point at the end. Soldiers used spears to fight.
spirit
spirits are alive, but we cannot see them. Bad spirits (also called evil spirits or demons) live in the air round us.
stocks
a kind of seat that people tied a bad man to. Then people threw things at the bad man, to punish him.
sword
long sharp knife to fight enemies with.
temple
special building where people went to talk with God (or a god) and to worship him.
tent
a home or a house that people have made from animals’ skins; a place to live in that people have made out of cloth. You can move a tent-house to different places.
test
try to see if something is good or bad.
throne
special big chair that a king sits on.
tongue
large red part (of the body) in the mouth. It helps us to speak. It is the part of our mouth that we talk with.
tower
very tall building.
tribe
The first Jews were the 12 sons of Jacob. The descendants of each son became a tribe.
trip
when your foot hits something and you fall down.
trumpet
you use your mouth to make loud music with a trumpet.
trust
believe that someone (usually God) will be good to you; believe that something is true; or believe that someone will not rob anyone; or believe that someone will do their job well..
truth
something that is true; an idea that is true; usually words that are true.
uncle
your father’s brother; your mother’s brother; the husband of your father’s sister or of your mother’s sister.
vine
plant that climbs. People make wine from its fruits (that are called grapes).
walled
with a wall round it.
weapon
something to fight people with, like a sword or a spear.
wheat
a special kind of grass. People use its seeds to make bread.
wheel
chariots and cars all need these to move; but a potter uses something like a wheel on a table when he is working.
widow
this woman’s husband is dead.
wine
drink that has alcohol in it; people make it from the fruit of the vine.
wing
a bird uses its wings to fly.
wise
a wise person always decides in the best way; a wise person always chooses to do what is right.
worship
to give thanks to God (or to a false god); to tell him that he is great; to show that we love God (or a false god).
yoke
they put this on the necks of two animals and the animals pulled things along.
Zion
the name of a hill in Jerusalem. People often use it to mean all Jerusalem.

Book List

R. K. Harrison ~ Jeremiah and Lamentations ~ OT Commentaries ~ IVP

J. Paterson ~ Jeremiah ~ Chapter in Peake’s Commentary on the Bible

Info

© Wycliffe Associates (UK), 1997-2015

This version published January 2015

The translated Bible text has been through Advanced Checking.