The Holy Bible – Knox Translation
The Prophecy of Jeremias
Chapter 13
The Lord’s word came to me: Go and buy a girdle of linen, and put it about thy loins, one that was never yet soaked in water.
Girdle I bought me as the Lord had bidden, and wore it;
and now the Lord spoke again:
Is the girdle bought and worn? Up, take it with thee to Euphrates river, and hide it there in a crevice of the rock.
So I went obediently, and hid it away in the Euphrates.
Many days afterwards, the Lord sent me on my travels again to the Euphrates, to recover the girdle hidden there at his command;
so thither I went, and unearthed the girdle from its hiding-place, to find it all perished and useless.
Whereupon the Lord’s word came to me,
and this was his message: Not less the great pride of Juda, the great pride of Jerusalem, must perish.
Here is a rebellious people that will not listen to my call; they must needs take their own false path, courting alien gods and submitting to their worship. No better, then, than yonder useless girdle;
close as a man’s girdle fits about his loins I had bound Israel and Juda to myself; my people they were to be, my renown and prize and pride; but no, they would not listen.

Tell them this, too, from the Lord God of Israel, Flagons must have wine to fill them. And when they answer, it is no news to them that flagons are for wine,
give them this message from the Lord: Ay, but the people of this land, king of David’s line sitting on David’s throne, priest and prophet and citizens of Jerusalem every one, are flagons waiting to be filled. I mean to bemuse them, as with wine,
and then shatter them; brother torn away from brother, and fathers from their children; ruth and respite none shall have, nor be spared in the common ruin.

Hear and heed and humble yourselves; it is the Lord who speaks.
Give God his due, ere the shadows fall, and your feet begin to stumble on the dark mountain-ways. For day you shall long, but he will have turned it into night; dark as death the lowering of the storm.
Sirs, if you will not listen now, give me leave to hide myself away and bemoan your proud hearts; weep I must and wail, and my eyes run down with tears, if the Lord’s flock is doomed to captivity.

To king and queen-mother say this, Come down and take your places with the rest, discrowned of your royalty.
Shut off are the cities of the south, entry is none; dispeopled lies Juda, of all her sons dispeopled.
New-comers from the north country, look about you and see! …

… Ah, Jerusalem, what has become of the flock once entrusted to thee, thy honourable care?
What wilt thou say when thou art called to give account of it? Thy enemies are such as thou hast taught how to attack thee; thy schooling has recoiled on thy own head; sharper than travail-throes the anguish that shall overtake thee.
And wilt thou find room for surmise, why this should have befallen thee? Doubt not it is thy own wrong-doing that has stripped thee naked, and plunged thy steps deep in defilement.
Sooner may Ethiop turn white, leopard’s hide unmarked, than Juda unlearn the lesson of ill-doing and amend.
Far and wide I will scatter thy sons, like straws caught in the desert wind;
such is the fortune sent thee, such thy retribution exactly awarded, because thou hast forgotten me, and in lying fables put thy trust.
That is why I will pull thy skirts about thy ears and manifest thy shame;
adulteries of thine, and lasciviousness, and all the guilt of thy debauchery, the foul deeds I have seen done on hill-tops, in the open country-side. Fie on thee, Jerusalem, that wilt not come back to me and be cleansed! Shall it last for ever?