The Holy Bible – Knox Translation
The Prophecy of Jeremias
Chapter 4
Do but retrace thy steps, Israel, and return to me, do but cast away the abominations that offend my sight, and in that mind persist;
let but thy oath, As the Lord is a living God! be a true oath, in loyal duty uttered; then shall all the nations learn to bless and to praise him.

And to the men of Juda, to Jerusalem, this is the Lord’s message: Yours to drive a new furrow, nor sow any longer among the briers.
You must be circumcised afresh, men of Juda; citizens of Jerusalem, of heart’s defilement rid yourselves, if you would not see my vengeance burst into flame unquenchable, as your scheming malice has deserved.

News for Juda, news that shall echo through Jerusalem; tell it out, sound the trumpet over the country-side! Loud be the cry raised, for all to muster and to man the fortified cities!
Raise the standard in Sion, and rally to it with all haste! Here is peril I am bringing upon you from the north country, here is great calamity.
Roused is the lion from his lair; he is astir, ready to prey on the nations; he is marching out to make earth a desert, and thy cities too shall be laid waste, and stand there untenanted.
Well may you gird yourselves with sackcloth, well may you beat the breast and cry aloud; fire of the Lord’s vengeance has not passed us by.
When that day comes, the Lord says, heart of king and heart of prince shall be dismayed; dumb-stricken the priest, the prophet unmanned.

Alas, alas, Lord God, said I, can it be that thou hast deceived thy people, deceived Jerusalem, by telling them they should have peace, and here is the sword threatening our very lives?

When that time comes, verdict shall be passed on this people of mine, and on Jerusalem: My people’s wanton ways are like the hot wind that blows from the desert slopes, that will neither winnow nor sift.
And in return, I will summon to my side a wind that blows full, and so I will plead my cause against them.
An overshadowing cloud the invader shall be, his chariots outspread like the storm-wrack, his horses swifter than eagles. Alas the day, we are ruined!

Now, Jerusalem, as thy life thou lovest, rid thy heart of guile; wilt thou never cease to harbour those false thoughts of thine?
Here is news cried from Dan, here are monstrous tidings from the hill-country of Ephraim;
tell it far and wide, Jerusalem has heard the bruit of her besiegers coming from a distant land, that even now raise their battle-cry among the cities of Juda;
even now they keep watch over the country-side about her, the Lord says, and all because she defied my vengeance.
Ill deeds and ill counsel of thine have brought all this upon thee; the due reward of thy wickedness, how bitter the taste of it, how it wrings thy heart!
Deep, deep rankles the wound; my very heart-strings echo lament; no rest is mine, since my ear caught bray of trumpet and cry of battle.
Tale upon tale of ruin; a whole land laid waste, no cabin or hovel spared, suddenly, all in a moment!
Always the sight of men fleeing, always the sound of the trumpet in my ears!

Ah, reckless people of mine, that would not acknowledge me; blind fools, for mischief so shrewd, in well-doing so untutored!

Earthward I looked, and all was void and empty; heavenward, and in heaven no light shone;
looked at mountain and hill-side, and saw them stir and tremble;
looked for some sign of man, and in vain; the very birds in heaven had all taken flight.
It was a garden I looked at, but a garden untenanted; no city in it but had perished at the Lord’s glance, before the frown of his vengeance.
For it was so the Lord’s sentence ran; the whole country-side should be abandoned, and still he will not have taken full toll.
At his sentence, earth should mourn and heaven grow dark with sorrow, yet of his decree there should be no repenting; he would not go back from it.
Everywhere, at the noise of archer and horseman, the townsfolk flee away, take to the hills and climb their high rocks; never a town but is left deserted of its inhabitants.
And thou, Jerusalem, when thy turn comes to be despoiled, what shift wilt thou make? Vain was it to dress in scarlet, and deck thyself with chains of gold, and with antimony darken thy eyes; vain were those arts, thy lovers are weary of thee now, and thy life is forfeit.
Cries of anguish I hear, as from a woman in the throes of travail; it is queen Sion, gasping out her life, and crying with hands outspread, Woe is me, I swoon away, here in the slaughter-house!