Seventy Years of Exile. 1The word that came to Jeremiah concerning all the people of Judah, in the fourth year of Jehoiakim,* son of Josiah, king of Judah (the first year of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon).a 2This word the prophet Jeremiah spoke to all the people of Judah and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem: 3Since the thirteenth year of Josiah, son of Amon, king of Judah, to this day—that is, twenty-three years—the word of the LORD has come to me and I spoke to you untiringly, but you would not listen.b 4The LORD kept sending you all his servants the prophets,c but you refused to listen or pay attention 5to this message: Turn back, each of you, from your evil way and from your evil deeds; then you shall remain in the land which the LORD gave you and your ancestors, from of old and forever. 6Do not follow other gods to serve and bow down to them; do not provoke me with the works of your hands, or I will bring evil upon you.d 7But you would not listen to me—oracle of the LORD—and so you provoked me with the works of your hands to your own harm.e 8Hence, thus says the LORD of hosts: Since you would not listen to my words, 9I am about to send for and fetch all the tribes from the north—oracle of the LORD—and I will send for Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, my servant; I will bring them against this land, its inhabitants, and all these neighboring nations. I will doom them, making them an object of horror, of hissing, of everlasting reproach.f 10Among them I will put to an end the song of joy and the song of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, the sound of the millstone and the light of the lamp. 11This whole land shall be a ruin and a waste. Seventy years these nations shall serve the king of Babylon;g 12but when the seventy years have elapsed, I will punish the king of Babylon and that nation and the land of the Chaldeans for their guilt—oracle of the LORD. Their land I will turn into everlasting waste.h 13Against that land I will fulfill all the words I have spoken against it, all that is written in this book, which Jeremiah prophesied against all the nations. 14They also shall serve many nations and great kings, and thus I will repay them according to their own deeds and according to the works of their hands.i
The Cup of Judgment on the Nations. 15* For thus said the LORD, the God of Israel, to me: Take this cup of the wine of wrath* from my hand and have all the nations to whom I will send you drink it.j 16They shall drink, and retch, and go mad, because of the sword I will send among them.k 17I took the cup from the hand of the LORD and gave it as drink to all the nations to whom the LORD sent me: 18to Jerusalem, the cities of Judah, its kings and princes, to make them a ruin and a waste, an object of hissing and cursing, as they are today; 19to Pharaoh, king of Egypt, and his servants, princes, all his people 20and those of mixed ancestry; all the kings of the land of Uz;* all the kings of the land of the Philistines: Ashkelon, Gaza, Ekron, and the remnant of Ashdod; 21Edom, Moab, and the Ammonites; 22all the kings of Tyre, of Sidon, and of the shores beyond the sea;* 23Dedan and Tema and Buz,* all the desert dwellers who shave their temples; 24all the kings of Arabia; 25all the kings of Zimri, of Elam, of the Medes; 26all the kings of the north, near and far, one after the other; all the kingdoms upon the face of the earth and after them the king of Sheshach* shall drink.
27Tell them: Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Drink! Get drunk and vomit! Fall, never to rise, before the sword that I will send among you!l 28If they refuse to take the cup from your hand and drink, say to them: Thus says the LORD of hosts: You must drink!m 29Now that I am inflicting evil on this city, called by my name, how can you possibly escape? You shall not escape! I am calling down the sword upon all the inhabitants of the earth—oracle of the LORD of hosts. 30As for you, prophesy against them all these words and say to them:
The LORD roars from on high,
from his holy dwelling he raises his voice;
Mightily he roars over his sheepfold,
a shout like that of vintagers echoesn
over all the inhabitants of the earth.
31The uproar spreads
to the end of the earth;
For the LORD has an indictment against the nations,
he enters into judgment against all flesh:
The wicked shall be given to the sword—
oracle of the LORD.
32Thus says the LORD of hosts:
Look! disaster stalks
nation after nation;
A violent storm surges
from the recesses of the earth.
33On that day, those whom the LORD has slain will be strewn from one end of the earth to the other. They will not be mourned, they will not be gathered, they will not be buried; they shall lie like dung upon the ground.o
34Howl, you shepherds, and wail!
roll on the ground, leaders of the flock!
The time for your slaughter has come;
like choice rams you shall fall.
35There is no flight for the shepherds,
no escape for the leaders of the flock.p
36Listen! Wailing from the shepherds,
howling from the leaders of the flock!
For the LORD lays waste their grazing place;
37desolate are the peaceful pastures,
from the burning wrath of the LORD.
38Like a lion he leaves his lair,
and their land is made desolate
By the sweeping sword,
and the burning wrath of the LORD.q
* [25:1–14] The fourth year of Jehoiakim: 605 B.C. Officially, the first year of Nebuchadnezzar began the following year; but as early as his victory over Egypt at Carchemish in 605, Nebuchadnezzar wielded dominant power in the Near East. Jeremiah saw in him the fulfillment of his prophecy of the enemy to come from the north (cf. 1:13; 6:22–24). In vv. 11–12 the prophecy of the seventy years’ exile occurs for the first time; cf. 29:10. This number signifies that the present generation must die out; cf. forty in the exodus tradition (Nm 14:20–23).
* [25:15–17] Jeremiah is a prophet to the nations (cf. 1:5) as well as to his own people. All the nations mentioned here appear again in the more extensive collection of Jeremiah’s oracles against the nations in chaps. 46–51.
* [25:20] Uz: the homeland of legendary Job, in Edomite or Arabian territory.
* [25:22] The shores beyond the sea: Phoenician commercial colonies located throughout the Mediterranean world.
* [25:23] Dedan and Tema and Buz: North Arabian tribes.
* [25:26] Sheshach: a contrived word from the Hebrew letters of Babylon.