THE EPISTLE OF JEREMY.
1 A copy of an epistle, which Jeremy sent unto them which were to be led captives into Babylon by the king of the Babylonians, to certify them, as it was commanded him of God.
2 Because of the sins which ye have committed before God, ye shall be led away captives unto Babylon by Nabuchodonosor king of the Babylonians. 3 So when ye come unto Babylon, ye shall remain there many years, and for a long season, even for seven generations: and after that I will bring you out peaceably from thence. 4 But now shall ye see in Babylon gods of silver, and of gold, and of wood, borne upon shoulders, which cause the nations to fear. 5 Beware therefore that ye in no wise become like unto the strangers, neither let fear take hold upon you because of them, when ye see the multitude before them and behind them, worshipping them. 6 But say ye in your hearts, O Lord, we must worship thee. 7 For mine angel is with you, * Or, and he careth and I myself do care for your † Or, lives souls. 8 For their tongue is polished by the workman, and they themselves are overlaid with gold and with silver; yet are they but false, and cannot speak. 9 And taking gold, as it were for a virgin that loveth to go gay, they make crowns for the heads of their gods: 10 and sometimes also the priests convey from their gods gold and silver, and bestow it upon themselves; 11 and will even give thereof to the common harlots: and they deck them as men with garments, even the gods of silver, and gods of gold, and of wood. 12 Yet cannot these gods save themselves from rust and moths, though they be covered with purple raiment. 13 They wipe their faces because of the dust of the temple, which is thick upon them. 14 And he that cannot put to death one that offendeth against him holdeth a sceptre, as though he were judge of a country. 15 He hath also a dagger in his right hand, and an axe: but cannot deliver himself from war and robbers. 16 Whereby they are known not to be gods: therefore fear them not. 17 For like as a vessel that a man useth is nothing worth when it is broken; even so it is with their gods: when they be set up in the temples their eyes be full of dust through the feet of them that come in. 18 And as the courts are made sure on every side upon him that offendeth the king, as being committed to suffer death; even so the priests make fast their temples with doors, with locks, and bars, lest they be carried off by robbers. 19 They light them candles, yea, more than for themselves, whereof they cannot see one. 20 They are as one of the beams of the temple; and men say their hearts are eaten out, when things creeping out of the earth devour both them and their raiment: they feel it not 21 when their faces are blacked through the smoke that cometh out of the temple: 22 upon their bodies and heads alight bats, swallows, and birds; and in like manner the cats also. 23 Whereby ye may know that they are no gods: therefore fear them not. 24 Notwithstanding the gold wherewith they are beset to make them beautiful, except one wipe off the rust, they will not shine: for not even when they were molten did they feel it. 25 Things wherein there is no breath are bought at any cost. 26 Having no feet, they are borne upon shoulders, whereby they declare unto men that they be nothing worth. 27 They also that serve them are ashamed: for if they fall to the ground at any time, they cannot rise up again of themselves: neither, if they be set awry, can they make themselves straight: but the offerings are set before them, as if they were dead men. 28 And the things that are sacrificed unto them, their priests sell and spend; and in like manner their wives also lay up part thereof in salt; but unto the poor and to the impotent will they give nothing thereof. 29 The menstruous woman and the woman in childbed touch their sacrifices: knowing therefore by these things that they are no gods, fear them not. 30 For how can they be called gods? because women set meat before the gods of silver, gold, and wood. 31 And in their temples the priests ‡ Or, bear the litter sit on seats, having their clothes rent, and their heads and beards shaven, and nothing upon their heads. 32 They roar and cry before their gods, as men do at the feast when one is dead. 33 The priests also take off garments from them, and clothe their wives and children withal. 34 Whether it be evil that one doeth unto them, or good, they are not able to recompense it: they can neither set up a king, nor put him down. 35 In like manner, they can neither give riches nor money: though a man make a vow unto them, and keep it not, they will never exact it. 36 They can save no man from death, neither deliver the weak from the mighty. 37 They cannot restore a blind man to his sight, nor deliver any that is in distress. 38 They can shew no mercy to the widow, nor do good to the fatherless. 39 They are like the stones that be hewn out of the mountain, these gods of wood, and that are overlaid with gold and with silver: they that minister unto them shall be confounded. 40 How should a man then think or say that they are gods, when even the Chaldeans themselves dishonour them? 41 Who if they shall see one dumb that cannot speak, they bring him, and intreat him to call upon Bel, as though he were able to understand. 42 Yet they cannot perceive this themselves, and forsake them: for they have no understanding. 43 The women also with cords about them sit in the ways, burning bran for incense: but if any of them, drawn by some that passeth by, lie with him, she reproacheth her fellow, that she was not thought as worthy as herself, nor her cord broken. 44 Whatsoever is done among them is false: how should a man then think or say that they are gods? 45 They are fashioned by carpenters and goldsmiths: they can be nothing else than the workmen will have them to be. 46 And they themselves that fashioned them can never continue long; how then should the things that are fashioned by them? 47 For they have left lies and reproaches to them that come after. 48 For when there cometh any war or plague upon them, the priests consult with themselves, where they may be hidden with them. 49 How then cannot men understand that they be no gods, which can neither save themselves from war, nor from plague? 50 For seeing they be but of wood, and overlaid with gold and with silver, it shall be known hereafter that they are false: 51 and it shall be manifest to all nations and kings that they are no gods, but the works of men’s hands, and that there is no work of God in them. 52 Who then may not know that they are no gods? 53 For neither can they set up a king in a land, nor give rain unto men. 54 Neither can they judge their own cause, nor § Another reading is, deliver him that is wronged. redress a wrong, being unable: for they are as crows between heaven and earth. 55 For even when fire falleth upon the house of gods of wood, or overlaid with gold or with silver, their priests will flee away, and escape, but they themselves shall be burnt asunder like beams. 56 Moreover they cannot withstand any king or enemies: how should a man then allow or think that they be gods? 57 Neither are those gods of wood, and overlaid with silver or with gold, able to escape either from thieves or robbers. 58 Whose gold, and silver, and garments wherewith they are clothed, they that are strong will take from them, and go away withal: neither shall they be able to help themselves. 59 Therefore it is better to be a king that sheweth his manhood, or else a vessel in a house profitable for that whereof the owner shall have need, than such false gods; or even a door in a house, to keep the things safe that be therein, than such false gods; or a pillar of wood in a palace, than such false gods. 60 For sun, and moon, and stars, being bright and sent to do their offices, are obedient. 61 Likewise also the lightning when it glittereth is fair to see; and after the same manner the wind also bloweth in every country. 62 And when God commandeth the clouds to go over the whole world, they do as they are bidden. 63 And the fire sent from above to consume mountains and woods doeth as it is commanded: but these are to be likened unto them neither in shew nor power. 64 Wherefore a man should neither think nor say that they are gods, seeing they are able neither to judge causes, nor to do good unto men. 65 Knowing therefore that they are no gods, fear them not. 66 For they can neither curse nor bless kings: 67 neither can they shew signs in the heavens among the nations, nor shine as the sun, nor give light as the moon. 68 The beasts are better than they: for they can get under a covert, and help themselves. 69 In no wise then is it manifest unto us that they are gods: therefore fear them not. 70 For as a scarecrow in a garden of cucumbers that keepeth nothing, so are their gods of wood, and overlaid with gold and with silver. 71 Likewise also their gods of wood, and overlaid with gold and with silver, are like to a white thorn in an orchard, that every bird sitteth upon; as also to a dead body, that is cast forth into the dark. 72 And ye shall know them to be no gods by the ** Gr. purple and brightness. bright purple that rotteth upon them: And they themselves afterward shall be consumed, and shall be a reproach in the country. 73 Better therefore is the just man that hath none idols: for he shall be far from reproach.
*6:7 Or, and he careth
†6:7 Or, lives
‡6:31 Or, bear the litter
§6:54 Another reading is, deliver him that is wronged.
**6:72 Gr. purple and brightness.
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