Chapter 1

    The words of Jeremiah the son of Hilkiah, of the priests that were in Anathoth in the land of Benjamin, to whom the word of the Lord came in the days of Josiah the son of Amon, king of Judah, in the thirteenth year of his reign. It came also in the days of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah, unto the end of the eleventh year of Zedekiah the son of Josiah, king of Judah, unto the carrying away of Jerusalem captive in the fifth month.

  1. Then the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, Before I formed you in the belly I knew you, and before you came forth out of the womb I sanctified you, and I ordained you a prophet unto the nations. Then said I, Ah, Lord God, behold, I cannot speak, for I am a child. But the Lord said unto me, Say not, I am a child — for you shall go to all that I shall send you, and whatever I command you, you shall speak. Be not afraid of their faces, for I am with you to deliver you, says the Lord. Then the Lord put forth his hand and touched my mouth. And the Lord said unto me, Behold, I have put my words in your mouth. See, I have this day set you over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down, to build, and to plant.
  2. Moreover, the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, Jeremiah, what do you see? And I said, I see a rod of an almond tree. Then said the Lord unto me, You have seen well, for I will hasten my word to perform it. And the word of the Lord came unto me the second time, saying, What do you see? And I said, I see a boiling pot, and the face thereof is toward the north. Then the Lord said unto me, Out of the north an evil shall break forth upon all the inhabitants of the land. For I will call all the families of the kingdoms of the north, says the Lord, and they shall come and they shall set every one his throne at the entering of the gates of Jerusalem, and against all the walls thereof round about, and against all the cities of Judah. And I will utter my judgments against them touching all their wickedness, who have forsaken me, and have burned incense unto other gods, and worshipped the works of their own hands. Therefore, gird up your loins and arise and speak unto them all that I command you; be not dismayed at their faces, lest I confound you before them. For behold, I have made you this day a fortified city, and an iron pillar, and brazen walls against the whole land, against the kings of Judah, against the princes thereof, against the priests thereof, and against the people of the land. And they shall fight against you, but they shall not prevail against you, for I am with you, says the Lord, to deliver you.
  3. Moreover, the word of the Lord came to me, saying, Go and cry in the ears of Jerusalem, saying, Thus says the Lord: I remember you, the kindness of your youth, the love of your espousals, when you went after me in the wilderness in a land that was not sowed. Israel was holiness unto the Lord and the firstfruits of his increase. All that devour him shall offend, evil shall come upon them, says the Lord.
  4. Hear the word of the Lord, O house of Jacob, and all the families of the house of Israel, thus says the Lord: What iniquity have your fathers found in me that they have gone far from me, and have walked after vanity, and have become vain? Neither said they, Where is the Lord that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, that led us through the wilderness, through a land of deserts and of pits, through a land of drought and of the shadow of death, through a land that no man passed through and where no man dwelled? And I brought you into a plentiful country to eat the fruit thereof and the goodness thereof, but when you entered, you defiled my land and made my heritage an abomination. The priests said not, Where is the Lord? And they that handle the law knew me not. The shepherds also transgressed against me, and the prophets prophesied by Baal and walked after things that do not profit. Wherefore, I will yet plead with you, says the Lord, and with your children’s children will I plead.
  5. For pass over the coasts of Kittim and see, and send unto Kedar and consider diligently, and see if there be such a thing: has a nation changed their gods, which are yet no gods? But my people have changed their glory for that which does not profit. Be astonished, O you heavens, at this, and be horribly afraid; be very desolate, says the Lord. For my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns that can hold no water.
  6. Is Israel a servant? Is he a homeborn slave? Why is he spoiled? The young lions roared upon him and yelled, and they made his land waste. His cities are burned without inhabitant. Also, the children of Noph and Tahpanhes have broken the crown of your head. Have you not procured this unto yourself, in that you have forsaken the Lord your God when he led you by the way? And now what have you to do in the way of Egypt, to drink the waters of Shihor? Or what have you to do in the way of Assyria, to drink the waters of the river?
  7. Your own wickedness shall correct you and your backslidings shall reprove you. Know therefore and see that it is an evil thing, and bitter, that you have forsaken the Lord your God and that my fear is not in you, says the Lord God of Hosts. For of old time I have broken your yoke and burst your bands, and you said, I will not transgress — when upon every high hill and under every green tree you wander, playing the harlot. Yet I had planted you a noble vine, wholly a right seed. How then are you turned into the degenerate plant of a strange vine unto me? For though you wash with natron and take much soap, yet your iniquity is marked before me, says the Lord God. How can you say, I am not polluted, I have not gone after the Baalim? See your way in the valley, know what you have done. You are a swift dromedary traversing her ways, a wild ass used to the wilderness that snuffs up the wind at her pleasure; in her heat, who can turn her away? All they that seek her will weary themselves, in her month they shall not find her. Withhold your foot from being unshod and your throat from thirst; but you said, There is no hope, no, for I have loved strangers and after them will I go. As the thief is ashamed when he is found, so is the house of Israel ashamed — they, their kings, their princes, and their priests, and their prophets; saying to a stock, You are my father — and to a stone, You have brought me forth. For they have turned their back unto me and not their face, but in the time of their trouble they will say, Arise and save us. But where are your gods that you have made yourself? Let them arise, if they can save you in the time of your trouble; for according to the number of your cities are your gods, O Judah. Why will you plead with me? You all have transgressed against me, says the Lord. In vain have I smitten your children; they received no correction. Your own sword has devoured your prophets like a destroying lion.
  8. O generation, see the word of the Lord: Have I been a wilderness unto Israel? A land of darkness? Why do my people say, We are lords, we will come no more unto you? Can a virgin forget her ornaments? Or a bride her attire? Yet my people have forgotten me, days without number. Why do you embellish your way to seek love? Thus have you also taught the wicked ones your ways. Also, in your skirts is found the blood of the souls of the poor innocents; I have not found it by secret search, but upon all these. Yet you say, Because I am innocent, surely his anger shall turn from me. Behold, I will plead with you because you say, I have not sinned. Why do you go about so much to change your way? You also shall be ashamed of Egypt as you were ashamed of Assyria. Yea, you shall go forth from him and your hands upon your head, for the Lord has rejected your confidences and you shall not prosper in them.
  9. They say, If a man divorce his wife and she go from him and become another man’s, shall he return unto her again? Shall not that land be greatly polluted? But you have played the harlot with many lovers, yet return again to me, says the Lord. Lift up your eyes unto the high places and see where you have not been lain with. In the ways have you sat for them, as the Arabian in the wilderness, and you have polluted the land with your whoredoms and with your wickedness. Therefore, the showers have been withheld and there has been no spring rain. And you had a whore’s forehead, yet you refused to be ashamed. Will you not from this time cry unto me, My father, you are the guide of my youth? Will he reserve his anger for ever? Will he keep it to the end? Behold, you have spoken and done evil things as you could.