The Enemy Surrounds Jerusalem
“Run for your lives, people of Benjamin!
Run away from the city of Jerusalem!
Blow the war trumpet in the city of Tekoa!
Put up the warning flag in the city of Beth Hakkerem!
Do these things because disaster is coming from the north.*
Terrible destruction is coming to you.
Jerusalem, you are like a beautiful meadow.
But I will destroy you!
Enemy shepherds will surround you
with all their flocks.
They will set up their tents all around you,
and each one will let his sheep eat the grass.
Get ready to fight against Jerusalem.
Get up! We will attack the city at noon.
But it is already getting late.
The evening shadows are growing long.
So get up! We will attack the city at night!
Let’s destroy the strong walls that are around Jerusalem.”
This is what the LORD All-Powerful says:
Cut down the trees around Jerusalem,
and build a siege mound§ against it.
This city should be punished
because inside there is no justice—only slavery.
As a well keeps its water fresh,
so Jerusalem keeps its wickedness fresh.
I hear about the robbing and violence in this city all the time.
I see nothing but pain and sickness there all the time.
Listen to this warning, Jerusalem,
or I will turn my back on you.
I will make your land an empty desert.
No one will be able to live there.”
This is what the LORD All-Powerful says:
Gather* the people of Israel who were left on their land.
Gather them the way you would gather the last grapes on a grapevine.
Check each vine,
like the workers check each vine when they pick the grapes.”
10 Who can I speak to?
Who can I warn?
Who will listen to me?
The people of Israel have closed their ears,
so they cannot hear my warnings.
They don’t like the LORD’S teachings.
They don’t want to hear his message.
11 But I am full of the LORD’S anger,
and I am tired of holding it in!
Pour out my anger on the children playing in the streets
and on the young soldiers gathered there as well.
A man and his wife will both be captured
as well as all the old people.
12 Their houses will be given to others.
Their fields and their wives will be given to other people.
I will raise my hand and punish the people of Judah.”
This message is from the LORD.
13 All the people of Israel want more and more money.
All of them, from the least important to the most important, are like that.
Even the prophets and priests tell lies.
14 They should bandage the wounds my people have suffered,
but they treat their wounds like small scratches.
They say, ‘It’s all right, everything is all right.’
But it is not all right!
15 They should be ashamed of the evil things they do,
but they are not ashamed at all.
They don’t know enough to be embarrassed by their sins.
So they will be punished with everyone else.
They will be thrown to the ground when I punish the people.”
This is what the LORD said.
16 This is what the LORD says:
Stand at the crossroads and look.
Ask where the old road is.
Ask where the good road is,
and walk on that road.
If you do, you will find rest for yourselves.
But you people have said, ‘We will not walk on the good road.’
17 I chose watchmen to watch over you.
I told them, ‘Listen for the sound of the war trumpet.’
But they said, ‘We will not listen!’
18 So listen, all you nations,
and pay attention, you people in those countries.
19 Hear this, people of the earth:
I am going to bring disaster to the people of Judah
because of all the evil they planned,
and because they ignored my messages.
They refused to obey my law.
20 Why do you bring me incense from the country of Sheba?
Why do you bring me sweet-smelling cane from a faraway country?
Your burnt offerings don’t make me happy.
Your sacrifices don’t please me.”
21 So this is what the LORD says:
I will give the people of Judah problems.
They will be like stones that make people fall.
Fathers and sons will stumble over them.
Friends and neighbors will die.”
22 This is what the LORD says:
An army is coming from the north.§
A great nation is coming from faraway places on earth.
23 The soldiers carry bows and spears.
They are cruel; they have no mercy.
They are so powerful.
They sound like the roaring ocean as they ride their horses.
That army is coming, ready for battle.
It is coming to attack you, Jerusalem.*
24 We have heard the news about that army,
and we are paralyzed with fear.
We feel trapped by our troubles,
in pain like a woman giving birth.
25 Don’t go out into the fields.
Don’t go on the roads
because the enemy has swords,
and there is danger everywhere.
26 My people, put on sackcloth
and roll in the ashes.
Cry loudly for the dead.
Cry as if you lost an only son.
Do this because the destroyer
will come against us very quickly.
27 “Jeremiah, I want you to be
like a worker who tests metals.
You will test my people
and watch how they live.
28 My people have turned against me,
and they are very stubborn.
They say bad things about people.
They are like bronze and iron
that are covered with rust and tarnish.
29  They are like a worker who tried to make silver pure.
The bellows blew strongly, and the fire became hotter,
but only lead came from the fire.§
The worker wasted his time
trying to make that silver pure.
In the same way the evil was not removed from my people.
30 My people will be calledRejected Silver.’
They will be given that name because the LORD did not accept them.”
* 6:1 north The Babylonian army came from this direction to attack Judah. Armies from countries north and east of Israel often came this way to attack Judah and Israel. 6:2 Jerusalem Literally, “daughter Zion.” See “Zion” in the Word List. 6:2 you are like a beautiful meadow The Hebrew text here is hard to understand. § 6:6 siege mound A large pile of dirt and rock that an army put against the wall of a city they were attacking. This made it easier for the enemy soldiers to climb over the wall into the city. * 6:9 Gather Or “glean.” There was a law that a farmer must leave some grain in his field during harvest, so that poor people and travelers could find something to eat. See Leviticus 19:9; 23:22. 6:18 pay … countries The Hebrew text here is hard to understand. 6:20 Sheba A land south of Israel, located where part of Saudi Arabia is today. Sheba controlled the spice trade in the time of Jeremiah. § 6:22 north The Babylonian army came from this direction to attack Judah. Armies from countries north and east of Israel often came this way to attack Judah and Israel. * 6:23 Jerusalem Literally, “daughter Zion.” See “Zion” in the Word List. 6:26 roll in the ashes This is one way people showed that they were sad or crying for a dead person. 6:29 bellows A tool for blowing air on a fire to make the fire hotter. § 6:29 lead came from the fire Workers melted metals like silver to make the metals pure. Lead was the first metal to melt, so the workers poured the lead out, leaving the other metal pure. Here, Jeremiah is saying the people are all bad—they are all lead and no silver!