The Holy Bible – Knox Translation
The Prophecy of Jeremias
Rally, tribesmen of Benjamin that live in the midst of Jerusalem; at Thecua sound the trumpet, raise the standard on Bethacarem; it is from the north peril may be seen coming, peril of great calamity.✻
Poor Sion, all too fair she seems, all too delicate!
Alas, what strange shepherds are these, what troops that follow them? See how they pitch their tents about her! See how many each has at his back, and there must be pasture for them all!
Sound we the attack on the city; to move now were best, and march up under the light of noon! Plague upon it, the day is already spent, the shadows of evening lengthen already;
up, then, march we on by night, by night plunder their houses!
Down with yonder trees, the Lord of hosts says, and build siege-works about Jerusalem; here is a city must be called to account for all the oppression that is harboured there.
Never cistern kept its waters so fresh, as she her store of wickedness; no news from her but of wrong and waste, no sight I see there but distress and violence.
Jerusalem, be warned in time; else my love thou shalt forfeit, and I will make a ruin of thee, a land uninhabited.
Israel, says the Lord of hosts, is a vineyard for the gleaning; no cluster shall be left; back with thee, vintager, to the baskets!
Vain appeal, whom shall I cite for witness of it? Oh that it should fall on ears uncircumcised, oh that God’s word should be slighted, and find no welcome!
Nay, but the divine anger burns within me, I can forbear no longer. I must blurt out my message to all, children playing in the streets, no less than warriors met in council; none shall be spared, husband or wife, greybeard or man of many summers.
Homes, lands and wedded wives, all must pass into other hands; none that dwells in Juda, the Lord says, but shall feel my vengeance.
High and low, ill-gotten gains they covet; treacherous the ways alike of prophet and of priest;
here lies my people grievously hurt, and they tend her unconcernedly; All’s well, they say, all’s well, when in truth all goes amiss.
Shamed they needs must be, that did so detestably; shamed, but never ashamed, for indeed they have lost the power to blush;✻ theirs to fall amid the common ruin, crushed to earth, the Lord says, when I call all to account.
The Lord’s message was, Halt at the cross-roads, look well, and ask yourselves which path it was that stood you in good stead long ago. That path follow, and you shall find rest for your souls. But follow they would not;
and next, I would set watchmen on the heights; let them only listen, when these sounded the trumpet; but listen they would not.
To the nations, then, I proclaim it; let my doom be pronounced in the public ear;
all earth shall hear it. I mean to bring upon this people of mine the punishment their scheming wickedness has earned, so deaf to my calls, of my law so defiant.
What avails it to offer me incense from Saba, and the fragrant calamus that grows far away? Unwelcome to me your burnt-sacrifice, undesired your victims.
This doom the Lord pronounces; I mean so to entangle this people of mine that they shall stumble to their undoing all of them, father and son together, neighbour with neighbour, friend with friend.
Here is a people marching from the north country, the Lord says, a great nation from the world’s end.
Arrow and shield✻ they ply, and their hard hearts pity none; loud their battle-cry as the roaring of the sea. So they ride on, as warriors ride, poor Sion, thy enemies.
Unnerved our hands droop at the very rumour of it; grief overmasters us, sharp as the pangs of travail;
forbidden is the country-side, the high roads untravelled; the drawn sword threatens, and peril is all about us.
Juda, poor widowed queen, put sackcloth about thee and strew thyself with ashes; as for an only son make loud lament; without warning the spoiler will be upon us.
I have a task for thee to perform among my people; thou shalt be my trusty assayer, putting the quality of their lives to the test.
These faithless rulers that go about on their slanderous errands, what are they but copper and iron, base metal all?
Bellows have done their work, the lead streams away in the fire, carrying nothing with it; vain, smelter, thy toil, the dross remains unpurged.
Refuse-silver they shall be called; has not the Lord refused them?
The Holy Bible