The Holy Bible – Knox Translation
The Prophecy of Jeremias
Here is a message for the whole people of Juda, entrusted to Jeremias in the fourth year of Joakim’s reign (that was son to Josias) in Juda, the first of Nabuchodonosor’s in Babylon.
To all Juda, and to all the citizens of Jerusalem, the prophet Jeremias delivered it:
These twenty-three years, ever since the thirteenth year of Josias’ reign, that was son to Amon, the Lord’s word has been coming to me, and ever I was early at your doors repeating it, but you would not listen.
Early to your doors the Lord sent all those prophets that were servants of his, but hearing there was none, nor heeding.
False aims, he warned you, lead you by false paths astray; come back to me, and you shall dwell yet in this land, my gift to you and to your fathers from the beginning to the end of time.
Would you court slavery by worshipping alien gods, defy my vengeance with your ill-doings, till I plague you?
But you would not listen to me, the Lord says; ill was done yet, and my vengeance was yet defied.
And now, says the Lord of hosts, finding you disobedient still,
I mean to summon all the nations of the north country, with Nabuchodonosor, that servant of mine that is king in Babylon; I, the Lord, will bid him march on this land and its citizens, and all its neighbours. I mean to make an end of them, and leave it a thing to provoke wonder and scorn, desolate for all time.
Never again cries of joy and mirth, never again the voice of bridegroom and of bride, never a mill turning, never a lamp to shine.
For seventy years this whole land shall be a desert and a portent, and the king of Babylon shall have all these peoples for his slaves.
Then, when seventy years have passed, I will call the king of Babylon to account, the Lord says, for all the wrongs he has done, with his people and with that Chaldaean country of his; that country in its turn I will leave desolate for ever.
The sentence I have pronounced against it shall be executed in full, all the doom Jeremias has foretold in this book of prophecy against all the nations of the world.
Great nations, proud kings, have held Israel enslaved; now for their own lives, their own deeds, they too must make amends.✻
The Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, bade me take the cup of vengeance that was in his hand, and give drink out of it to all the nations to which my errand lay;
drink it they should, and reel to and fro, bemused by the threat of his sword let loose among them.
So I took the cup from the Lord’s hand; nor was there any of the nations the Lord had sent me to threaten but must drink of it.
Jerusalem must drink, and the townships of Juda, kings and nobles with the rest; the land was doomed to become a desert, a thing of wonder and scorn, a name to be used in cursing, as it is at this day.
Pharao king of Egypt and all his court and his nobles must drink,
and all the mingled people of his realm. No king in the land of Hus but must drink of it, nor among the Philistine cities, Ascalon, Gaza, Accaron and Azotus,
nor in Edom, Moab and Ammon,
no king in Tyre, and the Sidonian country, and the islands that lie beyond the sea.
Dedan must drink, and Thema, and Buz, and all the folk with shaven heads,
all the kings of Arabia, and the western desert kings.✻
Nor any king in Zambri, Elam, and Media,
nor any king in the north country, far or near, but must pledge his neighbour; all the kings of the earth must have their share, and Sesach✻ not till the last.
This message I was to give them from the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, Drink, besot yourselves, and then fall to vomiting; and topple over at last, never to rise again, so well shall my sword do its work among you!
If they made to refuse the cup I offered them, this more I should add: Nay, but drink you must, says the Lord of hosts;
here am I beginning my work of vengeance with that city which is the shrine of my name, and shall you be acquitted, you others, and go scot-free? That shall never be, says the Lord of hosts; to the sword if I appeal, it is for a whole world’s punishment.
With such words as these thou shalt prophesy to them: From on high, from his holy dwelling-place, the Lord makes his voice heard, terrible as lion roaring; as roar of lion against sheep-fold, and that fold his own! Loud echoes his vintage-cry as he treads down all the dwellers on earth;
to the ends of the world it must echo; a whole world he calls to account, impleads the whole race of men; The sword’s point for my adversaries, the Lord says.
From nation to nation, says the Lord of hosts, calamity will spread, like a great whirlwind sprung up from the corners of the earth,
and from end to end of it the bodies of the Lord’s foes, unwept, ungathered, unburied, shall lie like dung on the ground.
Cry out, make loud lament, shepherds of the nations, and you, the lordliest among their flocks, go strewn with ashes; your day is done, slain you must lie there, unvalued as some delicate vase broken to pieces.
For shepherds, and the pride of the flock, no refuge now;
hark how they lament, shepherds and pride of the flock, for pasture-grounds the Lord has laid waste!
Silent they lie now, once happy fields, under ban of the Lord’s vengeance.
Lion springs not from his lair more suddenly; all their land lies waste, so pitiless the invader’s onset,✻ so pitiless the Lord’s anger.
The Holy Bible