Jeremiah 2

Israel’s Unfaithfulness

The Lord told me 2 to go to Jerusalem and tell everyone that he had said:
   When you were my young bride,
   you loved me and followed me
      through the barren desert.
3 You belonged to me alone,
   like the first part of the harvest,
      and I severely punished
      those who mistreated you.

4 Listen, people of Israel,
5    and I, the Lord, will speak.
   I was never unfair
      to your ancestors,
   but they left me
   and became worthless
      by following worthless idols.
6 Your ancestors refused
      to ask for my help,
   though I had rescued them
      from Egypt
   and led them through
   a treacherous, barren desert,
      where no one lives
      or dares to travel.

7 I brought you here to my land,
      where food is abundant,
   but you made my land filthy
      with your sins.
8 The priests who teach my laws
      don’t care to know me.
   Your leaders rebel against me;
   your prophets
      give messages from Baal
      and worship false gods.

The Lord Accuses His People

9 I will take you to court
   and accuse you
        and your descendants
10 of a crime that no nation
        has ever committed before.
    Just ask anyone, anywhere,
    from the eastern deserts
        to the islands in the west.
11 You will find that no nation
     has ever abandoned its gods
        even though they were false.
     I am the true and glorious God,
     but you have rejected me
        to worship idols.
12 Tell the heavens
        to tremble with fear!
13 You, my people, have sinned
        in two ways—
    you have rejected me, the source
        of life-giving water,
    and you’ve tried to collect water
    in cracked and leaking pits
        dug in the ground.

14 People of Israel,
     you weren’t born slaves;
        you were captured in war.
15 Enemies roared like lions
     and destroyed your land;
        towns lie burned and empty.
16 Soldiers from the Egyptian towns
     of Memphis and Tahpanhes
        have cracked your skulls.
17 It’s all your own fault!
     You stopped following me,
        the Lord your God,
18 and you trusted the power
        of Egypt and Assyria.
19 Your own sins will punish you,
     because it was a bitter mistake
        for you to reject me
        without fear of punishment.
     I, the Lord All-Powerful,
        have spoken.

20 Long ago you left me
     and broke all ties between us,
        refusing to be my servant.
     Now you worship other gods
        by having sex
     on hilltops or in the shade
        of large trees.
21 You were a choice grapevine,
     but now you produce nothing
         but small, rotten grapes.

Israel Is Stained with Guilt

22 The Lord said:
      People of Israel,
         you are stained with guilt,
      and no soap or bleach
         can wash it away.
23 You deny your sins
      and say, “We aren’t unclean.
         We haven’t worshiped Baal.”
      But think about what you do
         in Hinnom Valley.
      And you run back and forth
         like young camels,
      as you rush to worship one idol
         after another.
24 You are a female donkey
         sniffing the desert air,
      wanting to mate
      with just anyone.
         You are an easy catch!
25 Your shoes are worn out,
         and your throat is parched
      from running here and there
         to worship foreign gods.
     “Stop!” I shouted,
      but you replied, “No!
         I love those gods too much.”

26 You and your leaders
      are more disgraceful
         than thieves—
      you and your kings,
         your priests and prophets
27 worship stone idols
         and sacred poles
      as if they had created you
         and had given you life.
      You have rejected me,
      but when you’re in trouble,
         you cry to me for help.
28 Go cry to the gods you made!
      There should be enough of them
         to save you,
      because Judah has as many gods
         as it has towns.

Israel Rebels against the Lord

29 The Lord said to Israel:
     You accuse me of not saving you,
         but I say you have rebelled.
30 I tried punishing you,
     but you refused
         to come back to me,
     and like fierce lions
         you killed my prophets.

31 Now listen to what I say!
     Did I abandon you in the desert
         or surround you with darkness?
      You are my people,
         yet you have told me,
     “We’ll do what we want,
      and we refuse
         to worship you!”
32 A bride could not forget
     to wear her jewelry
         to her wedding,
      but you have forgotten me
         day after day.
33 You are so clever
         at finding lovers
      that you could give lessons
         to a prostitute.
34 You killed innocent people
         for no reason at all.
      And even though their blood
         can be seen on your clothes,
35 you claim to be innocent,
     and you want me to stop
         being angry with you.
      So I’ll take you to court,
         and we’ll see who is right.

36 When Assyria let you down,
         you ran to Egypt,
      but you’ll find no help there,
37  and you will leave
         in great sadness.
      I won’t let you find help
         from those you trust.

The Contemporary English Version, c1995 by the American Bible Society.
Selected texts provided for use with the Hypertext Bible Commentary