The Holy Bible – Knox Translation
The Prophecy of Jeremias
The Lord’s word came to Jeremias,
bidding him betake himself to the potter’s house; there a divine message awaited him.
So I went to the potter’s house, and found him working at his wheel;
just then, the thing of clay he was a-fashioning broke in his hands, and he, as the whim took him, turned it into another thing of clay.
Then it was the Lord’s word came to me:
You are in my hands, men of Israel, as the clay in the potter’s; why may I not do as the potter did?
All at once to a nation here, a kingdom there, I pronounced my sentence, for the uprooting and undoing of it, for its utter destruction.
Let but that nation repent of the crimes I brought against it, I too will repent of the punishment I thought to exact.
All at once to a nation here, a kingdom there, I promise restoration of its fortunes and new life.
Let but that nation defy my will, shut its ears to my claim, I too will repent of all the fair promises I made it.
Be this, then, thy message from the Lord to Juda’s folk, to the citizens of Jerusalem: Ill days I have in store for you; all my plans are laid; time that each one of you should return from the false path, shape aims and thoughts anew.
Ah no, they tell me, too late! Each one clings to his own course, follows his own bent still.
Search the world over, the Lord says, where were ever such deeds heard of as this deed Israel, false maid, has most foully done?
What, shall the snows of Lebanon melt from those wild peaks,✻ shall they be dried up at their source, those icy torrents that flow down from it?
Not less strange that this people of mine should forget me, and resort to vain sacrifices; that they should find their own paths too rough for them, the tracks marked out so long ago, and journey on instead along by-paths untrodden.
Desolate their country shall lie, doomed to everlasting scorn; every passer-by will shudder at it, or toss his head in derision.
I will sweep them away before the enemy’s onset, as the east wind sweeps all before it; turn my back and never look their way in the hour of need.
Hereupon they summoned a conclave to plot against me, Jeremias; What, they said, would he have us believe we need no more priests to expound the law, no more wise men to counsel us, no more prophets to say their word? They thought to compass my death by their clamour; to all my warnings would pay heed no longer.
Lord, give me audience; listen to these pratings of my enemies.
Must they make such a return for my good will, laying a snare to take my life? Bethink thee, how I ever stood up before thee to plead for them, to avert thy anger from them.
Henceforth leave their children to famish, or give them up to butchery; may their wives be childless widows, their grown men die of pestilence, their young men by the sword-thrust in battle;
let their homes ring with lamentation, a prey to the sudden onslaught of robbers! Cunning the snare they laid, deep the pit they dug to entrap me;
but there is no hiding from thee, Lord, the designs they have on my life. Do not forgive their malice, keep their guilt ever in thy sight; cast them down to earth at thy presence, and in thy anger make an end of them.
The Holy Bible