Jeremiah 5

Is Anyone Honest and Faithful?

The Lord said to me:
5 “Search Jerusalem
    for honest people
        who try to be faithful.
    If you can find even one,
        I’ll forgive the whole city.

2 Everyone breaks promises
        made in my name.”

3 I answered, “I know
        that you look for truth.
    You punished your people
        for their lies,
    but in spite of the pain,
        they became more stubborn
    and refused to turn back
        to you.”
4 Then I thought to myself,
“These common people
    act like fools,
and they have never learned
what the Lord their God
    demands of them.
5 I’ll go and talk to the leaders.
They know what God demands.”
    But even they had decided
    not to obey the Lord.

6 The people have rebelled
and rejected the Lord
    too many times.
So enemies will attack
like lions from the forest
    or wolves from the desert.
Those enemies will watch
    the towns of Judah,
and like leopards
they will tear to pieces
    whoever goes outside.

Enemies Will Punish Judah

The Lord said:
7 People of Judah,
    how can I forgive you?
I gave you everything,
but you abandoned me
    and worshiped idols.
You men go to prostitutes
and are unfaithful
    to your wives.
8 You are no better than animals,
and you always want sex
    with someone else’s wife.

9 Why shouldn’t I punish
        the people of Judah?
10 I will tell their enemies,
    “Go through my vineyard.
Don’t destroy the vines,
    but cut off the branches,
because they are the people
    who don’t belong to me.”

11 In every way, Judah and Israel
        have been unfaithful to me.
*12 Their prophets lie and say,
    “The Lord won’t punish us.
We will have peace
and plenty of food.”
13 They tell these lies in my name,
    so now they will be killed in war
        or starve to death.

14 I am the Lord God All-Powerful.
    Jeremiah, I will tell you
        exactly what to say.
    Your words will be a fire;
    Israel and Judah
        will be the fuel.

15 People of Israel,
        I have made my decision.
    An army from a distant country
        will attack you.
    I’ve chosen an ancient nation,
    and you won’t understand
        their language.
16 All of them are warriors,
        and their arrows bring death.
17 This nation will eat your crops
        and livestock;
    they will leave no fruit
        on your vines or trees.
    And although you feel safe
        behind thick walls,
    your towns will be destroyed
        and your children killed.

Israel Refused To Worship the Lord

18 The Lord said:
Jeremiah, the enemy army won’t kill everyone in Judah. 19 And the people who survive will ask, “Why did the Lord our God do such terrible things to us?” Then tell them:

    I am the Lord,
        but you abandoned me
    and worshiped other gods
        in your own land.
    Now you will be slaves
        in a foreign country.
20 Tell these things to each other,
    you people of Judah,
        you descendants of Jacob.

21 You fools! Why don’t you listen
        when I speak?
    Why can’t you understand
22 that you should worship me
        with fear and trembling?
    I’m the one who made the shore
        to hold back the ocean.
    Waves may crash on the beach,
        but they can come no farther.
23 You stubborn people have rebelled
        and turned your backs on me.
24 You refuse to say,
        “Let’s worship the Lord!
    He’s the one who sends rain
    in spring and autumn
        and gives us a good harvest.”
25 That’s why I cannot bless you!

*26 A hunter traps birds
        and puts them in a cage,
    but some of you trap humans
        and make them your slaves.
27 You are evil, and you lie and cheat
        to make yourselves rich.
    You are powerful
28     and prosperous,
    but you refuse to help the poor
        get the justice they deserve.
29 You need to be punished,
        and so I will take revenge.
30 Look at the terrible things
    going on in this country.
        I am shocked!
31 Prophets give their messages
        in the name of a false god,
    my priests don’t want
        to serve me,
    and you—my own people—
        like it this way!
    But on the day of disaster,
        where will you turn for help?

The Contemporary English Version, c1995 by the American Bible Society.
Selected texts provided for use with the Hypertext Bible Commentary