Bible: Jer 2:1-3:10

The Lord Recalls Israel’s Earlier Faithfulness

2:1 The Lord spoke to me. He said: 2:2 Go and declare in the hearing of the people of Jerusalem: 1  ‘This is what the Lord says: “I have fond memories of you, 2  how devoted you were to me in your early years. 3  I remember how you loved me like a new bride; you followed me through the wilderness, through a land that had never been planted. 2:3 Israel was set apart to the Lord; they were like the first fruits of a harvest to him. 4  All who tried to devour them were punished; disaster came upon them,” says the Lord.’

The Lord Reminds Them of the Unfaithfulness of Their Ancestors

2:4 Now listen to what the Lord has to say, you descendants 5  of Jacob,

all you family groups from the nation 6  of Israel.

2:5 This is what the Lord says:

“What fault could your ancestors 7  have possibly found in me

that they strayed so far from me? 8 

They paid allegiance to 9  worthless idols, and so became worthless to me. 10 

2:6 They did not ask:

‘Where is the Lord who delivered us out of Egypt,

who brought us through the wilderness,

through a land of desert sands and rift valleys,

through a land of drought and deep darkness, 11 

through a land in which no one travels,

and where no one lives?’ 12 

2:7 I brought you 13  into a fertile land

so you could enjoy 14  its fruits and its rich bounty.

But when you entered my land, you defiled it; 15 

you made the land I call my own 16  loathsome to me.

2:8 Your priests 17  did not ask, ‘Where is the Lord?’ 18 

Those responsible for teaching my law 19  did not really know me. 20 

Your rulers rebelled against me.

Your prophets prophesied in the name of the god Baal. 21 

They all worshiped idols that could not help them. 22 

The Lord Charges Contemporary Israel with Spiritual Adultery

2:9So, once more I will state my case 23  against you,” says the Lord.

“I will also state it against your children and grandchildren. 24 

2:10 Go west 25  across the sea to the coasts of Cyprus 26  and see.

Send someone east to Kedar 27  and have them look carefully.

See if such a thing as this has ever happened:

2:11 Has a nation ever changed its gods

(even though they are not really gods at all)?

But my people have exchanged me, their glorious God, 28 

for a god that cannot help them at all! 29 

2:12 Be amazed at this, O heavens! 30 

Be shocked and utterly dumbfounded,”

says the Lord.

2:13Do so because my people have committed a double wrong:

they have rejected me,

the fountain of life-giving water, 31 

and they have dug cisterns for themselves,

cracked cisterns which cannot even hold water.”

Israel’s Reliance on Foreign Alliances (not on God)

2:14Israel is not a slave, is he?

He was not born into slavery, was he? 32 

If not, why then is he being carried off?

2:15 Like lions his enemies roar victoriously over him;

they raise their voices in triumph. 33 

They have laid his land waste;

his cities have been burned down and deserted. 34 

2:16 Even the soldiers 35  from Memphis and Tahpanhes

have cracked your skulls, people of Israel. 36 

2:17 You have brought all this on yourself, Israel, 37 

by deserting the Lord your God when he was leading you along the right path. 38 

2:18 What good will it do you 39  then 40  to go down to Egypt

to seek help from the Egyptians? 41 

What good will it do you 42  to go over to Assyria

to seek help from the Assyrians? 43 

2:19 Your own wickedness will bring about your punishment.

Your unfaithful acts will bring down discipline on you. 44 

Know, then, and realize how utterly harmful 45 

it was for you to reject me, the Lord your God, 46 

to show no respect for me,” 47 

says the Lord God who rules over all. 48 

The Lord Expresses His Exasperation at Judah’s Persistent Idolat

2:20Indeed, 49  long ago you threw off my authority

and refused to be subject to me. 50 

You said, ‘I will not serve you.’ 51 

Instead, you gave yourself to other gods on every high hill

and under every green tree,

like a prostitute sprawls out before her lovers. 52 

2:21 I planted you in the land

like a special vine of the very best stock.

Why in the world have you turned into something like a wild vine

that produces rotten, foul-smelling grapes? 53 

2:22 You can try to wash away your guilt with a strong detergent.

You can use as much soap as you want.

But the stain of your guilt is still there for me to see,” 54 

says the Lord God. 55 

2:23How can you say, ‘I have not made myself unclean.

I have not paid allegiance to 56  the gods called Baal.’

Just look at the way you have behaved in the Valley of Hinnom! 57 

Think about the things you have done there!

You are like a flighty, young female camel

that rushes here and there, crisscrossing its path. 58 

2:24 You are like a wild female donkey brought up in the wilderness.

In her lust she sniffs the wind to get the scent of a male. 59 

No one can hold her back when she is in heat.

None of the males need wear themselves out chasing after her.

At mating time she is easy to find. 60 

2:25 Do not chase after other gods until your shoes wear out

and your throats become dry. 61 

But you say, ‘It is useless for you to try and stop me

because I love those foreign gods 62  and want to pursue them!’

2:26 Just as a thief has to suffer dishonor when he is caught,

so the people of Israel 63  will suffer dishonor for what they have done. 64 

So will their kings and officials,

their priests and their prophets.

2:27 They say to a wooden idol, 65  ‘You are my father.’

They say to a stone image, ‘You gave birth to me.’ 66 

Yes, they have turned away from me instead of turning to me. 67 

Yet when they are in trouble, they say, ‘Come and save us!’

2:28 But where are the gods you made for yourselves?

Let them save you when you are in trouble.

The sad fact is that 68  you have as many gods

as you have towns, Judah.

2:29Why do you try to refute me? 69 

All of you have rebelled against me,”

says the Lord.

2:30It did no good for me to punish your people.

They did not respond to such correction.

You slaughtered your prophets

like a voracious lion.” 70 

2:31 You people of this generation,

listen to what the Lord says.

“Have I been like a wilderness to you, Israel?

Have I been like a dark and dangerous land to you? 71 

Why then do you 72  say, ‘We are free to wander. 73 

We will not come to you any more?’

2:32 Does a young woman forget to put on her jewels?

Does a bride forget to put on her bridal attire?

But my people have forgotten me

for more days than can even be counted.

2:33My, how good you have become

at chasing after your lovers! 74 

Why, you could even teach prostitutes a thing or two! 75 

2:34 Even your clothes are stained with

the lifeblood of the poor who had not done anything wrong;

you did not catch them breaking into your homes. 76 

Yet, in spite of all these things you have done, 77 

2:35 you say, ‘I have not done anything wrong,

so the Lord cannot really be angry with me any more.’

But, watch out! 78  I will bring down judgment on you

because you say, ‘I have not committed any sin.’

2:36 Why do you constantly go about

changing your political allegiances? 79 

You will get no help from Egypt

just as you got no help from Assyria. 80 

2:37 Moreover, you will come away from Egypt

with your hands covering your faces in sorrow and shame 81 

because the Lord will not allow your reliance on them to be successful

and you will not gain any help from them. 82 

3:1If a man divorces his wife

and she leaves him and becomes another man’s wife,

he may not take her back again. 83 

Doing that would utterly defile the land. 84 

But you, Israel, have given yourself as a prostitute to many gods. 85 

So what makes you think you can return to me?” 86 

says the Lord.

3:2Look up at the hilltops and consider this. 87 

You have had sex with other gods on every one of them. 88 

You waited for those gods like a thief lying in wait in the desert. 89 

You defiled the land by your wicked prostitution to other gods. 90 

3:3 That is why the rains have been withheld,

and the spring rains have not come.

Yet in spite of this you are obstinate as a prostitute. 91 

You refuse to be ashamed of what you have done.

3:4 Even now you say to me, ‘You are my father! 92 

You have been my faithful companion ever since I was young.

3:5 You will not always be angry with me, will you?

You will not be mad at me forever, will you?’ 93 

That is what you say,

but you continually do all the evil that you can.” 94 

3:6 When Josiah was king of Judah, the Lord said to me, “Jeremiah, you have no doubt seen what wayward Israel has done. 95  You have seen how she went up to every high hill and under every green tree to give herself like a prostitute to other gods. 96  3:7 Yet even after she had done all that, I thought that she might come back to me. 97  But she did not. Her sister, unfaithful Judah, saw what she did. 98  3:8 She also saw 99  that I gave wayward Israel her divorce papers and sent her away because of her adulterous worship of other gods. 100  Even after her unfaithful sister Judah had seen this, 101  she still was not afraid, and she too went and gave herself like a prostitute to other gods. 102  3:9 Because she took her prostitution so lightly, she defiled the land 103  through her adulterous worship of gods made of wood and stone. 104  3:10 In spite of all this, 105  Israel’s sister, unfaithful Judah, has not turned back to me with any sincerity; she has only pretended to do so,” 106  says the Lord.

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