1If you return, Israel—oracle of the LORD—
return to me.
If you put your detestable things out of my sight,
and do not stray,a
2And swear, “As the LORD lives,”*
in truth, in judgment, and in justice,
Then the nations shall bless themselves in him
and in him glory.b
3For to the people of Judah and Jerusalem, thus says the LORD:
Till your untilled ground,
and do not sow among thorns.c
4Be circumcised for the LORD,*
remove the foreskins of your hearts,
people of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem;
Or else my anger will break out like fire,
and burn so that no one can quench it,
because of your evil deeds.d
The Invasion from the North
5Proclaim it in Judah,
in Jerusalem announce it;
Blow the trumpet throughout the land,
call out, “Fill the ranks!”
Say, “Assemble, let us march
to the fortified cities.”
6Raise the signal—to Zion!
Seek refuge! Don’t stand there!
Disaster I bring from the north,
and great destruction.
7Up comes the lion from its lair,
the destroyer of nations has set out,
has left its place,
To turn your land into a desolation,
your cities into an uninhabited waste.e
8So put on sackcloth,
mourn and wail:
“The blazing anger of the LORD
has not turned away from us.”f
9In that day—oracle of the LORD—
The king will lose heart, and the princes;
the priests will be horrified,
and the prophets stunned.
10“Ah! Lord GOD,” they will say,
“You really did deceive* us
When you said: You shall have peace,
while the sword was at our very throats.”g
11At that time it will be said
to this people and to Jerusalem,
A scorching wind from the bare heights comes
through the wilderness toward my daughter, the people.*
Not to winnow, not to cleanse,
12a strong wind from there comes at my bidding.
Now I too pronounce
sentence upon them.h
13See! like storm clouds he advances,
like a whirlwind, his chariots;
Swifter than eagles, his horses:
“Woe to us! we are ruined.”
14Cleanse your heart of evil, Jerusalem,
that you may be saved.
How long will you entertain
15A voice proclaims it from Dan,
announces wickedness from Mount Ephraim:
16“Make this known to the nations,
announce it against Jerusalem:
Besiegers are coming from the distant land,
shouting their war cry against the cities of Judah.”i
17Like watchers in the fields they surround her,
for she has rebelled against me—oracle of the LORD.j
18Your conduct, your deeds, have done this to you;
how bitter is this evil of yours,
how it reaches to your very heart!k
19My body! my body! how I writhe!*
The walls of my heart!
My heart beats wildly,
I cannot be still;
For I myself have heard the blast of the horn,
the battle cry.
20Ruin upon ruin is reported;
the whole land is laid waste.
In an instant my tents are ravaged;
in a flash, my shelters.l
21How long must I see the signal,
hear the blast of the horn!
22My people are fools,
they do not know me;
They are senseless children,
They are wise at evil,
but they do not know how to do good.m
23I looked at the earth—it was waste and void;
at the heavens—their light had gone out!n
24I looked at the mountains—they were quaking!
All the hills were crumbling!
25I looked—there was no one;
even the birds of the air had flown away!
26I looked—the garden land was a wilderness,
with all its cities destroyed
before the LORD, before his blazing anger.o
27For thus says the LORD:
The whole earth shall be waste,
but I will not wholly destroy it.p
28Because of this the earth shall mourn,
the heavens above shall darken;
I have spoken, I will not change my mind,
I have decided, I will not turn back.q
29At the shout of rider and archer
each city takes to flight;
They shrink into the thickets,
they scale the rocks:
All the cities are abandoned,
no one lives in them.
30You now who are doomed, what are you doing
dressing in purple,
bedecking yourself with gold,
Enlarging your eyes with kohl?
You beautify yourself in vain!
Your lovers reject you,
they seek your life.
31Yes, I hear the cry, like that of a woman in labor,
like the anguish of a mother bearing her first child—
The cry of daughter Zion gasping,
as she stretches out her hands:
“Ah, woe is me! I sink exhausted
before my killers!”r
* [4:2] As the LORD lives: this oath, made sincerely, implies Israel’s return and loyal adherence to God. Thus the ancient promises are fulfilled; cf. Gn 12:3; 18:18; 22:18; 26:4; Ps 72:17.
* [4:4] The external rite of circumcision accomplishes nothing unless it is accompanied by the removal of blindness and obstinacy of heart. Jeremiah’s view is reflected in Rom 2:25, 29; 1 Cor 7:19; Gal 5:6; 6:13, 15.
* [4:10] You really did deceive: Jeremiah complains that the Lord misled the people by fostering their complacency, leaving them unprepared and unrepentant as judgment approaches.
* [4:11] My daughter, the people: the covenant people personified as a young woman. Ezekiel 16 presents Israel and Judah as female infants whom the Lord adopts and then abandons and punishes because they desire other lords.
* [4:19–21] Probably the prophet’s own anguish at the coming destruction of Judah.
b. [4:2] Jer 12:16; Dt 10:20; Is 65:16.
c. [4:3] Hos 10:12; Mt 13:7, 22.