1You would be in the right, O LORD,
if I should dispute with you;
even so, I must lay out the case against you.
Why does the way of the wicked prosper,
why do all the treacherous live in contentment?a
2You planted them; they have taken root,
they flourish and bear fruit as well.
You are upon their lips,
but far from their thoughts.b
3LORD, you know me, you see me,
you have found that my heart is with you.c
Pick them out like sheep for the butcher,
set them apart for the day of slaughter.*
4How long must the land mourn,
the grass of the whole countryside wither?
Because of the wickedness of those who dwell in it
beasts and birds disappear,
for they say, “God does not care about our future.”
5If running against men has wearied you,
how will you race against horses?
And if you are safe only on a level stretch,
what will you do in the jungle of the Jordan?
6Your kindred and your father’s house, even they betray you; they have recruited a force against you. Do not believe them, even when they speak fair words to you.d
The Lord’s Complaint
7I have abandoned my house,
cast off my heritage;
The beloved of my soul I have delivered
into the hand of her foes.e
8My heritage has become for me
like a lion in the thicket;
She has raised her voice against me,
therefore she has incurred my hatred.f
9My heritage is a prey for hyenas,
is surrounded by vultures;
Come, gather together, all you wild animals,
come and eat!g
10Many shepherds have ravaged my vineyard,
have trampled down my heritage;
My delightful portion they have turned
into a desert waste.h
11They have made it a mournful waste,
desolate before me,
Desolate, the whole land,
because no one takes it to heart.
12Upon every height in the wilderness
marauders have appeared.
The LORD has a sword that consumes
the land from end to end:
no peace for any living thing.i
13They have sown wheat and reaped thorns,
they have tired themselves out for no purpose;
They are shamed by their harvest,
the burning anger of the LORD.
Judah’s Neighbors. 14Thus says the LORD, against all my evil neighbors* who plunder the heritage I gave my people Israel as their own: See, I will uproot them from their land; the house of Judah I will uproot in their midst.j
15But after uprooting them, I will have compassion on them again and bring them back, each to their heritage, each to their land.k 16And if they truly learn my people’s custom of swearing by my name, “As the LORD lives,” just as they taught my people to swear by Baal, then they shall be built up in the midst of my people.l 17But if they do not obey, I will uproot and destroy that nation entirely—oracle of the LORD.m
* [12:3] Jeremiah calls the Lord to account for allowing the wicked to flourish while he himself is persecuted for his fidelity to the Lord’s mission; cf. 20:12. See Jesus’ judgment, Mk 9:42. The metaphors indicate that Jeremiah has even greater trials ahead of him.
* [12:14] My evil neighbors: nations surrounding Israel, the land belonging to the Lord; cf. Is 8:8.
c. [12:3] Jer 17:18; Jb 23:10.
e. [12:7] Ps 78:62; Lam 2:1–2.
g. [12:9] 2 Kgs 24:2; Is 56:9.
j. [12:14] 2 Kgs 24:2.