The Holy Bible – Knox Translation
The Prophecy of Jeremias
Go the rounds of Jerusalem, search the streets of it with hue and cry; and if you find one man there that faithfully does his duty, and keeps troth, then the city shall be pardoned.
Nay, though they call on the living God to be their witness, they forswear themselves none the less.
On faithfulness, Lord, thy eyes are set. And these, when thou smitest them, are unrepentant still; when thou crushest them to earth, will not heed reproof; brows are theirs unyielding as rock, and return they will not.
But indeed, thought I, perhaps they are poor men and foolish, that have never learnt the divine command, or what their God requires of them.
I will go and have speech with the men of rank; what the divine command is, what their God requires of them, these will surely know. And these I found conspiring, as none other, to throw off the yoke, to break through their bonds.
What wonder if they are attacked and despoiled by robbers, that leave the woods at night-time, stealthily as lion or wolf or prowling leopard, to beleaguer their towns and catch all who venture forth? So many their rebellions, so obstinate their defiance!
For all this, how should I pardon thee? Thy sons have deserted me, by gods that are no gods their vows are taken; full-fed with my bounty, they left their wedded troth, to wanton in the bower of a mistress;
bold in their adultery as stallion at grass neighing for its mate.
What, shall I let all this pass me by, the Lord says; shall I not take my fill of vengeance against such a nation as this?
Scale those ramparts, and fall to pillage, not taking full toll even yet; root out the slips of yonder vine, the Lord will not claim them.
Obstinately they have defied me, the Lord says, Israel and Juda both;
they disown me; Nay, they tell one another, this is none of his doing, harm shall never befall us, we shall have neither slaughter nor famine here;
the prophets did but waste breath, no word of revelation made to them; on their own heads be it!
Vain words; but not vainly the Lord, the God of hosts, has spoken; flaming words of his he has entrusted to my lips, and fuel this people shall be for their devouring.
A nation from far away I am summoning, even now, Israel, to the attack; a warlike nation, of ancient lineage, whose very tongue shall be strange to thee, no word of it well understood;
greedily as the tomb their quivers gape, and they are warriors all.
They shall rob thee of harvest and of food, rob thee of son and daughter, rob thee of flock and herd, rob thee of vine and fig-tree; and all the strongholds, wherein thy hope lies, at the sword’s point shall be overthrown.
Yet even then, the Lord says, I will not take full toll of thee.
Ask you why the Lord has so much misused you, this is to be my answer: Did you not forsake me, to worship alien gods in your own land? Alien gods you shall worship in an alien land, for your punishment.
To Israel’s race proclaim it, for all Juda to hear,
Listen, foolish folk and unperceiving, with sightless eyes, ears that had as well been deaf!
Have you no fear of me, the Lord says, will you stand unmoved in my presence? Was it not I gave the sea its frontier of sand, by my eternal decree inviolate? Vainly the waves boil and toss, they cannot pass beyond it.
A faithless heart, a rebellious heart this people of mine has; in a moment they swerve aside from the path, and are gone;
never a thought of reverence for the Lord their God, who gives them autumn and spring rains when the time comes, and secures them a full harvest.
It is your wrong-doing that has altered their course; to guilt such as yours, blessings are denied.
Godless men there are among my people that lie in wait like any fowler, but noose and trap of theirs is set to catch men.
Never was cage so full of birds, as their homes of wealth ill gotten; men of power and riches,
pampered and sleek, they defy my will past all bearing; redress they deny to the widow, right to the orphan, justice to the poor.
What, shall I let all this pass me by, the Lord says, shall I not take my fill of vengeance against such a nation as this?
A wonder this land has seen beyond all belief;
here are prophets that utter a lying message, priests that clap their hands in applause, and this people of mine is well content. And what shift will you make when the end comes?
The Holy Bible