The Lord's message came to me, saying, 2
Go and announce to the people of Jerusalem that this is what the Lord says:*
I remember when you were young how devoted to me you were. I remember how you loved me when you were my bride. I remember how you followed me in the desert, in a land where nothing is grown.
3 Israel was holy to the Lord, the firstfruits of his harvest. Anyone who ate this harvest was guilty of sin, and they experienced the disastrous results, declares the Lord.
4 Listen to the Lord's message, descendants of Jacob, all you Israelites. 5 This is what the Lord says: What did your forefathers think was wrong with me that they went so far away from me? They went off to worship useless idols, and as a result became useless themselves! 6 They didn't ask themselves, “Where is the Lord who led us from Egypt, who led us through the wasteland, through a land of deserts and ravines, a land of drought and darkness, a land that no one travels through and where no one lives?”
7 I led you into a productive land to eat all the good things that grow there. But you came and made my land unclean, making it offensive to me. 8 Your priests did not ask, “Where is the Lord?” Your teachers of the law no longer believed in me, and your leaders rebelled against me. Your prophets prophesied by calling on Baal and followed worthless idols.
9 So I'm going to confront you again, declares the Lord, and I will bring charges against your children's children.
Travel over to the islands of Cyprus†
and take a look; go to the land of Kedar‡
and examine carefully to see if anything like this has ever happened before. 11
Has a nation ever changed its gods? —even though they're not gods at all! Yet my people have traded their glorious God for worthless idols.
12 You heavens, you should be appalled, shocked and horrified! declares the Lord. 13 For my people have done two evil things. They have abandoned me, the source of living water, and they have dug their own cisterns—broken cisterns that can't hold water.
Are Israelites slaves? Were they born into slavery? So why have they become victims? 15
The young lions roared at you; they growled loudly. They have devastated your country; your towns lie in ruins. No one lives there. 16
The men of Memphis§
and Tahpanhes have shaved your heads.
Didn't you bring this on yourself by abandoning the Lord your God when he was leading you in the right way? 18
Now what will you benefit as you travel back to Egypt to drink the waters of Shihor River?*
What will you gain on your way to Assyria to drink the waters of the Euphrates River?
19 Your own wickedness will discipline you; your own disobedience will teach you a lesson. Think about it and you'll recognize what a bitter evil it is for you to abandon the Lord your God and not to respect me, declares the Lord God Almighty.
20 You broke off your yoke and ripped off your chains long ago. “I won't worship you!” you declared. On the contrary, you lay down like a prostitute on every high hill and under every green tree.
21 I was the one who planted you like the finest vine, grown from the very best seed. How could you degenerate into a useless wild vine?
22 Even bleach and plenty of soap can't get rid of your guilty stains. I still see them, declares the Lord God. 23 How dare you say, “I'm not unclean! I haven't gone to worship the Baals!” Look at what you've been doing down in the valley. Admit what you've done! You're a young female camel, racing around everywhere. 24 You're a female donkey living in the desert, sniffing the wind for a mate because she's in heat. No one can control her at mating time. All those who're looking for her won't have trouble finding her when she's in heat.
25 You don't have to run around barefoot or have your throat go dry. But you reply, “No, it's impossible! I'm in love with foreign gods—I must go to them.”
26 In the same way that a thief feels guilty when they're caught, so the people of Israel have been shamed. All of them—their kings, their officials, their priests, and their prophets. 27 They say to an idol made of wood, “You are my father,” and one made of stone, “You gave birth to me.” They turn their backs on me, and hide their faces from me. But when they're in trouble they come begging to me, saying, “Please come and save us!” 28 So where are these “gods” of yours that you made for yourselves? Let them come and help you when you're in trouble! Let them save you if they can, because you Israelites have as many gods as you have towns.
29 Why are you complaining to me? It's all of you who have all rebelled against me! declares the Lord. 30 It was pointless of me to punish your children because they refused to accept any discipline. You used your own swords to kill your prophets, destroying them like a ferocious lion.
31 You people of today, think about what the Lord is saying: Israel, have I treated you like an empty desert, or a land of thick darkness? Why are my people saying, “We can go where we like! We don't have to come and worship you any more”?
Does a girl forget her jewelry or a bride her wedding dress?†
Yet my people have forgotten me for too many years to count. 33
How cleverly you look for your lovers! Even prostitutes could learn something from you!
34 On top of that, your clothes are stained with the blood of the poor and the innocent. It's not like you killed them breaking into your homes.
Despite all this, 35 you go on saying, “I'm innocent! Surely he can't still be upset with me!”
Watch out! I'm going to punish you because you go on saying, “I haven't sinned.” 36 You're just so fickle—you keep on changing your mind! You will end up just as disappointed by your alliance with Egypt as you were with Assyria. 37 In fact you will go into exile with your hands on your head as prisoners, because the Lord will have nothing to do with those you trust; they will be no help to you.