The Holy Bible – Knox Translation
The Prophecy of Jeremias
Chapter 23
Out upon them, the Lord says, the shepherds who ravage and disperse my flock, sheep of my own pasturing!
This is the Lord’s word to the shepherds that guide his people: You are the men who have dispersed my flock, driven it to and fro, and made no account of it; account you must give it me, says the Lord, Israel’s God, for all you have done amiss.
Then will I reassemble all that is left of my flock, scattered over so many lands, and restore them to their old pasture-ground, to increase and grow numerous there;
shepherds I mean to give them that will do shepherd’s work; fears and alarms shall be none to daunt them, and none shall be missing from their full count, the Lord says.
Nay, a time is coming, the Lord says, when I will raise up, from the stock of David, a faithful scion at last. The land shall have a king to reign over it, and reign over it wisely, giving just sentence and due award.
When that time comes, Juda shall find deliverance, none shall disturb Israel’s rest; and the name given to this king shall be, The Lord vindicates us.
In those days to come, says the divine message, the living Lord men swear by will no longer be the God who rescued Israel from Egypt;
the living God will be one who rescued Israel and brought them home from the north country, and from all the places of exile he had once designed for them, to live in their own land again.

A message to the prophets: Crushed is the heart in me, and my whole being trembles; my thoughts whirl like a drunken man’s, bemused by a divine presence, by awe of a divine voice.
The whole land is a nest of adulterers; their guilt it is that widows the countryside, parches the upland meadows; reckless their pursuit of mischief, through the power they wield all goes amiss.
Prophet and priest alike are impious; in my own house, the Lord says, those ill-doings of theirs are plain to view.
Perilously they shall fare as one that walks by night in slippery places; falter and fall they must; punishment awaits them, the Lord says, my audit-year is at hand.
For the prophets of Samaria how was it I lost all liking? Because they were the spokesmen of Baal, and did but lead Israel astray, that was my people.
And now the same foul adultery I find in the prophets of Jerusalem, the same treacherous dealings; and the sinner is encouraged to go on in his evil ways, till city and citizens, for me, are one with Sodom and Gomorrha.
A warning to you then, prophets, from the Lord God of hosts, that he will give you wormwood to eat, gall to drink; you, the fountain-head of that pollution which overflows all the land.

Do not listen, says the Lord of hosts, to the prophets who prophesy only to fool you; fancy of theirs, not word of mine, inspires the utterance.
To my blasphemers they bring divine assurance that all shall go well with them; never a man so set on his own false aims but they will tell him, Harm shall never touch thee.
Never a one of them privy to the Lord’s designs, never one looked and learned, listened and heard his message.

Like a whirlwind it will suddenly appear, the Lord’s vengeance; will break in storm over rebel heads.
Nor shall the divine anger be appeased till the blow has been struck and the decree executed; what his design was, you shall know all too well, all too late.

An errand these prophets ran, but none of mine; a message they gave, but not of my sending.
Privy to my design had they been, ah, then they should have uttered my own warnings, and so I might have turned my people aside from false paths, and erring thoughts!
God am I, the Lord says, only when I stand near, and not when I am far away?
Where, he would know, will you hide so close that he is not watching you, he, the Lord, that fills heaven and earth?
No word, he says, but reaches my ears when one of these prophets gives false guidance in my name; I had a dream, he will tell you, I had a dream!
Will they never have had enough of their lying divinations, their cheating fantasies?
Dreams bandied from mouth to mouth, for these would they have my people barter away the memory of me, as their fathers did for Baal?
Nay, let the dreamer be content to tell his dreams, and the prophet to whom my word comes utter my word faithfully; chaff and grain must not be mingled.
My word is a fire, the Lord says, a hammer to break rocks in pieces;
out upon the prophets, I say, who proclaim divine utterances they have borrowed from their fellow men;
out upon the prophets, I say, who let their tongues wag and then cry, Oracle.
Out upon the prophets, I say, who dream all amiss and recount their dreams, leading my people astray with their lies and their mummeries; yet errand or warrant they had none from me, the Lord says, nor yet to this people of mine bring any advantage.

And if people, or prophet, or priest, should greet thee with the question, Pray, what burden is the Lord taking up today? thy answer shall be, You are the burden I bear, the Lord says, and I mean to cast you from my shoulders.
Prophet, priest or simple citizen that asks thus about the Lord’s burden does it at his own peril, and the peril of all his household;
be content to ask friend or neighbour, What oracle, what message has the Lord given?
Do not speak any more of his burden. If you do, you lay a heavy charge upon yourselves, by bandying words with the living God, the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel.
Ask the prophet what the Lord’s oracle, what the Lord’s message is;
if you ask after the Lord’s burden, this warning I give you from him: For your disobedience to the message I sent, commanding you to use the word Burden no longer,
I will make a burden of you, and carry you away, and leave you abandoned, you and your city, my gift to you and to your fathers.
You shall be a laughing-stock for ever, a by-word eternally; time shall never efface the memory of your shame.