These are the words of Jeremias, son of Helcias, one of the priests who dwelt at Anathoth, in the lands of Benjamin.
The word of the Lord came to him during the reign of Josias, son of Amon, over Juda, in the thirteenth year of it;
came to him during the reign of Josias’ son, Joachim, and did not cease till the men of Jerusalem went into exile, when Sedecias, that was also son to Josias, had been reigning eleven years and five months.
The word of the Lord came to me, and his message was:
I claimed thee for my own before ever I fashioned thee in thy mother’s womb; before ever thou camest to the birth, I set thee apart for myself; I have a prophet’s errand for thee among the nations.
Alas, alas, Lord God (said I), I am but a child that has never learned to speak.
A child, sayest thou? the Lord answered. Nay, I have a mission for thee to undertake, a message to entrust to thee.
Have no human fears; am I not at thy side, to protect thee from harm? the Lord says.
And with that, the Lord put out his hand, and touched me on the mouth; See, he told me, I have inspired thy lips with utterance.
Here and now I give thee authority over nations and kingdoms everywhere; with a word thou shalt root them up and pull them down, overthrow and lay them in ruins; with a word thou shalt build them up and plant them anew.
Then the Lord’s word came to me, Tell me, Jeremias, what is this thou seest? A branch of a tree, I told him, with the eyes already open.
Well seen, he answered; and I too have my eyes open, watching for the opportunity to carry out the threats I utter.
And again it came, Tell me, what is this thou seest? A boiling caldron, said I, that is coming from the north.
And it is from the north, the Lord told me, that calamity is brewing for all thy fellow-countrymen.
All the tribes the northern kings rule I mean to muster, the Lord says; hither they will march, and each will set up his throne where gate of Jerusalem stands, or encircling wall, or fortified city of Juda.
And there I will plead my cause against the men of Juda, charging them with their rebellion in forsaking me; in offering libation to gods not theirs, and worshipping idols of their own making.
Up, then, gird thee like a man, and speak out all the message I give thee. Meet them undaunted, and they shall have no power to daunt thee.
Strong I mean to make thee this day as fortified city, or pillar of iron, or wall of bronze, to meet king, prince, priest of Juda, and common folk all the country through;
impregnable thou shalt be to their attack; am I not at thy side, the Lord says, to deliver thee?