1The LORD told me to go and buy a clay jar. He also told me to take some of the elders of the people and some of the older priests, 2and to go through Potsherd Gate out to the Valley of Hinnom. There I was to proclaim the message that he would give me. 3The LORD told me to say, “Kings of Judah and people of Jerusalem, listen to what I, the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, have to say. I am going to bring such a disaster on this place that everyone who hears about it will be stunned. 4I am going to do this because the people have abandoned me and defiled this place by offering sacrifices here to other gods — gods that neither they nor their ancestors nor the kings of Judah have known anything about. They have filled this place with the blood of innocent people, 5and they have built altars for Baal in order to burn their children in the fire as sacrifices. I never commanded them to do this; it never even entered my mind. 6So then, the time will come when this place will no longer be called Topheth or the Valley of Hinnom. Instead, it will be known as the Valley of Slaughter. 7In this place I will frustrate all the plans of the people of Judah and Jerusalem. I will let their enemies triumph over them and kill them in battle. I will give their corpses to the birds and the wild animals as food. 8I will bring such terrible destruction on this city that everyone who passes by will be shocked and amazed. 9The enemy will surround the city and try to kill its people. The siege will be so terrible that the people inside the city will eat one another and even their own children.”
10Then the LORD told me to break the jar in front of those who had gone with me 11and to tell them that the LORD Almighty had said, “I will break this people and this city, and it will be like this broken clay jar that cannot be put together again. People will bury their dead even in Topheth because there will be nowhere else to bury them. 12I promise that I will make this city and its inhabitants like Topheth. 13The houses of Jerusalem, the houses of the kings of Judah, and indeed all the houses on whose roofs incense has been burnt to the stars and where wine has been poured out as an offering to other gods — they will all be as unclean as Topheth.”
14Then I left Topheth, where the LORD had sent me to proclaim his message. I went and stood in the court of the Temple and told all the people 15that the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, had said, “I am going to bring on this city and on every nearby town all the punishment that I said I would, because you are stubborn and will not listen to what I say.”
Jeremiah's Conflict with Pashhur the Priest
1When the priest Pashhur son of Immer, who was the chief officer of the Temple, heard me proclaim these things, 2he ordered me to be beaten and placed in chains near the upper Benjamin Gate in the Temple. 3The next morning, after Pashhur had released me from the chains, I said to him, “The LORD did not name you Pashhur. The name he has given you is ‘Terror Everywhere’. 4The LORD himself has said, ‘I am going to make you a terror to yourself and to your friends, and you will see them all killed by the swords of their enemies. I am going to put all the people of Judah under the power of the king of Babylonia; he will take some away as prisoners to his country and put others to death. 5I will also let their enemies plunder all the wealth of this city and seize all its possessions and property, even the treasures of the kings of Judah, and carry everything off to Babylonia. 6As for you, Pashhur, you and all your family will also be captured and taken off to Babylonia. There you will die and be buried, along with all your friends to whom you have told so many lies.’ ”
Jeremiah Complains to the LORD
7LORD, you have deceived me,
and I was deceived.
You are stronger than I am,
and you have overpowered me.
Everyone jeers at me;
they mock me all day long.
8Whenever I speak, I have to cry out
and shout, “Violence! Destruction!”
LORD, I am ridiculed and scorned all the time
because I proclaim your message.
9But when I say, “I will forget the LORD
and no longer speak in his name,”
then your message is like a fire
burning deep within me.
I try my best to hold it in,
but can no longer keep it back.
10I hear everybody whispering,
“Terror is everywhere!
So let's report him to the authorities!”
Even my close friends wait for my downfall.
“Perhaps he can be tricked,” they say;
“then we can catch him and get revenge.”
11But you, LORD, are on my side, strong and mighty,
and those who persecute me will fail.
They will be disgraced for ever,
because they cannot succeed.
Their disgrace will never be forgotten.
12But, Almighty LORD, you test people justly;
you know what is in their hearts and minds.
So let me see you take revenge on my enemies,
for I have placed my cause in your hands.
13Sing to the LORD!
Praise the LORD!
He rescues the oppressed from the power of evil people.
14Curse the day I was born!
Forget the day my mother gave me birth!
15Curse the one who made my father glad
by bringing him the news,
“It's a boy! You have a son!”
16May he be like those cities
that the LORD destroyed without mercy.
May he hear cries of pain in the morning
and the battle alarm at noon,
17because he didn't kill me before I was born.
Then my mother's womb would have been my grave.
18Why was I born?
Was it only to have trouble and sorrow,
to end my life in disgrace?
Jerusalem's Defeat is Predicted
1King Zedekiah of Judah sent Pashhur son of Malchiah and the priest Zephaniah son of Maaseiah to me with this request: 2“Please speak to the LORD for us, because King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylonia and his army are besieging the city. Maybe the LORD will perform one of his miracles for us and force Nebuchadnezzar to retreat.”
3Then the LORD spoke to me, and I told the men who had been sent to me 4to tell Zedekiah that the LORD, the God of Israel, had said, “Zedekiah, I am going to defeat your army that is fighting against the king of Babylonia and his army. I will pile up your soldiers' weapons in the centre of the city. 5I will fight against you with all my might, my anger, my wrath, and my fury. 6I will kill everyone living in this city; people and animals alike will die of a terrible disease. 7But as for you, your officials, and the people who survive the war, the famine, and the disease — I will let all of you be captured by King Nebuchadnezzar and by your enemies, who want to kill you. Nebuchadnezzar will put you to death. He will not spare any of you or show mercy or pity to any of you. I, the LORD, have spoken.”
8Then the LORD told me to say to the people, “Listen! I, the LORD, am giving you a choice between the way that leads to life and the way that leads to death. 9Anyone who stays in the city will be killed in war or by starvation or disease. But those who go out and surrender to the Babylonians, who are now attacking the city, will not be killed; they will at least escape with their lives. 10I have made up my mind not to spare this city, but to destroy it. It will be given over to the king of Babylonia and he will burn it to the ground. I, the LORD, have spoken.”
Judgement on the Royal House of Judah
11-12The LORD told me to give this message to the royal house of Judah, the descendants of David: “Listen to what I, the LORD, am saying. See that justice is done every day. Protect the person who is being cheated from the one who is cheating him. If you don't, the evil you are doing will make my anger burn like a fire that cannot be put out. 13You, Jerusalem, are sitting high above the valleys, like a rock rising above the plain. But I will fight against you. You say that no one can attack you or break through your defences. 14But I will punish you for what you have done. I will set your palace on fire, and the fire will burn down everything round it. I, the LORD, have spoken.”
3“I, the LORD, command you to do what is just and right. Protect the person who is being cheated from the one who is cheating him. Do not ill-treat or oppress foreigners, orphans, or widows; and do not kill innocent people in this holy place. 4If you really do as I have commanded, then David's descendants will continue to be kings. And they, together with their officials and their people, will continue to pass through the gates of this palace in chariots and on horses. 5But if you do not obey my commands, then I swear to you that this palace will fall into ruins. I, the LORD, have spoken.
6“To me, Judah's royal palace is as beautiful as the land of Gilead and as the Lebanon Mountains; but I will make it a desolate place where no one lives. 7I am sending men to destroy it. They will all bring their axes, cut down its beautiful cedar pillars, and throw them into the fire.
8“Afterwards many foreigners will pass by and ask one another why I, the LORD, have done such a thing to this great city. 9Then they will answer that it is because you have abandoned your covenant with me, your God, and have worshipped and served other gods.”
Jeremiah's Message concerning Joahaz
10People of Judah, do not weep for King Josiah;
do not mourn his death.
But weep bitterly for Joahaz, his son;
they are taking him away, never to return,
never again to see the land where he was born.
11The LORD says concerning Josiah's son Joahaz, who succeeded his father as king of Judah, “He has gone away from here, never to return. 12He will die in the country where they have taken him, and he will never again see this land.”
Jeremiah's Message concerning Jehoiakim
13Doomed is the man who builds his house by injustice
and enlarges it by dishonesty;
who makes his countrymen work for nothing
and does not pay their wages.
14Doomed is the one who says,
“I will build myself a mansion
with spacious rooms upstairs.”
So he puts windows in his house,
panels it with cedar,
and paints it red.
15Does it make you a better king
if you build houses of cedar,
finer than those of others?
Your father enjoyed a full life.
He was always just and fair,
and he prospered in everything he did.
16He gave the poor a fair trial,
and all went well with him.
That is what it means to know the LORD.
17But you can only see your selfish interests;
you kill the innocent
and violently oppress your people.
The LORD has spoken.
18So then, the LORD says about Josiah's son Jehoiakim, king of Judah,
“No one will mourn his death or say,
‘How terrible, my friend, how terrible!’
No one will weep for him or cry,
‘My lord! My king!’
19With the funeral honours of a donkey,
he will be dragged away
and thrown outside Jerusalem's gates.”
Jeremiah's Message about the Fate of Jerusalem
20People of Jerusalem, go to Lebanon and shout,
go to the land of Bashan and cry;
call out from the mountains of Moab,
because all your allies have been defeated.
21The LORD spoke to you when you were prosperous,
but you refused to listen.
That is what you've done all your life;
you never would obey the LORD.
22Your leaders will be blown away by the wind,
your allies taken as prisoners of war,
your city disgraced and put to shame
because of all the evil you have done.
23You rest secure among the cedars brought from Lebanon;
but how pitiful you'll be when pains strike you,
pains like those of a woman in labour.
God's Judgement on Jehoiachin
24The LORD said to King Jehoiachin, son of King Jehoiakim of Judah, “As surely as I am the living God, even if you were the signet ring on my right hand, I would pull you off 25and give you to people you are afraid of, people who want to kill you. I will give you to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylonia and his soldiers. 26I am going to force you and your mother into exile. You will go to a country where neither of you was born, and both of you will die there. 27You will long to see this country again, but you will never return.”
28I said, “Has King Jehoiachin become like a broken jar that is thrown away and that no one wants? Is that why he and his children have been taken into exile to a land they know nothing about?”