The Holy Bible – Knox Translation
The Prophecy of Jeremias
Then the Lord’s word came to me:
Go and cry out so that all Jerusalem may hear, with this message from the Lord: What memories I have of thee, gracious memories of thy youth, of the love that plighted troth between us, when I led thee through the desert; alone in the barren wastes, thou and I!
Israel was set apart for the Lord, first-fruits vowed to be his revenue; he lay under a ban that plucked them, and must rue his rashness, the Lord says.
Listen, then, to the Lord’s word, men of Jacob; listen, every clan that bears the name of Israel,
to the Lord’s message: What fault did they find in me, those fathers of yours, that they should keep their distance from me, and court false gods, false as themselves?
And never a thought to ask where I, the Lord, was, that rescued them from Egypt, and led them on their way through the desert, wild and solitary, parched and dead, far from haunt of traveller and the homes of men!
Into a land of plenty I brought you, to enjoy the fruits and the blessings of it; and you had no sooner entered it than you must needs defile it, my own land, turn my chosen home into a place abominable.
Never a priest to ask where I, the Lord, was; never a man of law but made a stranger of me, never a ruler but played me false, never a prophet but took Baal for his oracle, and had recourse to powers that were impotent.
Against you, the Lord says, my appeal still lies, and with your children I will yet be at issue.
Sail the seas till you reach the isles of Cethim; send envoys out to the wilds of Cedar; look for yourselves and make earnest enquiry, to know if the like was ever heard!
What nation ever changed its gods, though gods indeed they were not? And should my people barter away the glory that dwelt among them, for powers that power have none?
In horror and dismay witness, you heavens, the sight; crumble in ruins!✻
Two wrongs this people of mine committed; me they forsook, the fountain of living water, and thereupon they dug cisterns of their own, leaking cisterns, that water had none to give them.
What, is the race of Israel a slave, a chattel, that it should pass from hand to hand as the prize of war?
Roaring lions have claimed it for their prey; the land lies waste, the cities burnt and desolate.
Even the Egyptians have come from Memphis and Taphne, to strip thee bare;
tell me, Israel, how came this? Was it not because thou hadst forsaken the Lord thy God, that till then had led thee?✻
What, wouldst thou turn to Egypt, to Assyria, and slake thy thirst with Nile or Euphrates?✻
Here is the very proof of thy wickedness, the measure of thy unfaithfulness; see how ill it has gone with thee, says the Lord, the God of hosts, ever since thou didst forsake the Lord thy God, ever since thou didst banish the fear of me!
It is an old tale, now, how thou didst break in pieces the yoke of my dominion, didst sever all the bonds between us, crying out, I will serve no more! Thou wast off to play the wanton, the nearest hill-top or secret forest for thy bower.
Alas, vineyard of mine, that I planted with such care, never a worthless shoot! How is it thou hast played me false, and art no vineyard of mine?
Ay, use nitre for thy cleansing, spread potash as thou mayst, foul with guilt I shall still find thee, says the Lord God.
Nay, never boast that thou art undefiled, to countryside gods hast no recourse; bethink thee of thy traffickings in Ben-Ennom valley, and read there the story of thy doings. Camel never found its way so lightly;
wild ass in its familiar desert, scenting its mate, never obeyed the fire in its blood more uncontrollably! Little search it needs to find thy haunts, as its mate in spring-time.✻
Reckless of unshod feet, of parching throat, thou criest out despairingly, Return I cannot; to alien gods all my heart is vowed, and I must follow still!
Thief caught in the act has less cause to blush than the men of Israel, king and prince, priest and prophet, with the rest.
Stock of wood and block of stone they hailed as the father that had begotten them; on me they turned their backs, and gave me never a glance. And now, in their distress, it is Up, Lord, and bring us rescue!
Where are those other gods thou madest for thyself? Bid them rise up and aid thee in the hour of peril; gods thou hadst a many; no city of thine, Juda, but must have its own!
And would you still implead me? Nay, says the Lord, you have forsaken me, one and all.
In vain I have smitten them, all those sons of yours; still you turned your swords against the prophets, bloodthirsty as lions.
Out upon this age! Here is the Lord’s message, give good heed to it. Have I shewn myself unfriendly to Israel, like a desert, like a land overcast by shadows, that my own people has resolved to keep its distance, and come my way no more?
What, should maid forget her jewels, bride her stomacher? And my own people, all these long days, has forgotten me!
What avails it to justify thyself, in hope of winning back my love, when thou thyself dost blazon so openly thy doings, thy foul misdoings?
There is blood on thy hands, the blood of friendless folk and innocent. It is not thieves I have found, but men guilty of such crimes as these.✻
And still thou declarest thyself innocent of any fault, still thou biddest me withhold my vengeance! Come, let me answer thy plea of innocence.
How light a woman thou art, ever at thy old ways! Not less than thy hopes of Assyria, thy hopes of Egypt shall be disappointed;
thence, too, thou shalt come away wringing thy hands; all the confidence thou hast the Lord means to destroy; thou shalt make no shift with Egypt.
The Holy Bible