The Holy Bible – Knox Translation
The Prophecy of Jeremias
Listen, men of Israel, to the Lord’s utterance concerning you.✻
Thus says the Lord: Do not learn to follow Gentile ways, or be dismayed by portents in the heavens, as the Gentiles are.
How empty the observances the heathen use! What is the stuff upon which the carver works but a trunk of wood, felled by an axe out in the forest?
Only he has tricked it out with gold and silver, hammer and nail must do their work, lest it should fall to pieces.
Idols cunningly plated as palm-trees,✻ yet dumb as they, and men must carry them to and fro, for movement they have none! To these give no reverence; they can neither mar nor make thee.
No, Lord, thou hast no rival; so great thou art, so great is the sovereignty of thy name.
King of all nations, how should we not fear thee in that majesty of thine? Boast the world as it will of wisdom or of empire, none can rival thee.
Ah, folly and blindness, ah, fond teaching, lifeless as wood itself!
Ay, bring plates of silver from Tharsis, gold from Ophaz, it is all man’s work, fresh from the smithy; bring robes of blue and purple, they are man’s work still!
But the Lord is God in good earnest, a God that lives, that has eternal dominion, and can make earth tremble with his frown, strike the nations powerless when he threatens them.
No place on earth or under heaven, you must tell the nations, for gods that could fashion neither heaven nor earth.✻
Power that made the earth, wisdom that orders nature, foresight that spread out the heavens!
At the sound of his voice, what mustering of the waters overhead! He summons up the cloud-wrack from the world’s end, turns the lightning into a rain-storm, brings the winds out of his store-house;✻
how puny, then, is man’s skill, how sorry a thing is the carver’s workmanship; after all his pains, only a lifeless counterfeit!
Fond imaginations, fantastic figures, when the time comes for reckoning, they will be heard of no more.
Not such the worship that is the heirloom of Jacob’s line; their God is the God who made all things, Israel his patrimony, the Lord of hosts his name.
Take up from the ground, poor besieged one, thy load of shame.✻
This time, the Lord says, I mean to hurl them far away, the dwellers in this land, and great distress shall be theirs, that they may be found …✻
Alas, for my wounding, for the grievous hurt that is mine! Hitherto I had thought to bear my sickness, if this were all;
but now what am I? A tent broken down, all its ropes severed: all my citizens have deserted me, and are no more to be found; who shall raise the pole, who shall stretch the curtains now?
And the cause of it? Unskilful shepherds that would have no recourse to the Lord; see how their art has failed them, and all the flock is scattered far and wide!
A sound comes to me that brings tidings with it, a great stir from the north country; all Juda is to become a desert, a lair for serpents✻ now.
Lord, I know it well enough, it is not for man to choose his lot; not human wisdom guides our steps aright.
Chasten me, Lord, but with due measure kept; not as thy anger demands, or thou wilt grind me to dust.
Pour out this indignation of thine upon the nations that do not acknowledge thee, on the tribes that never invoke thy name; by whom Jacob is devoured, devoured and devastated, and all his pride scattered to the winds.✻
The Holy Bible