Text of The Spoken Word Set 12 Volume 32 Jeremiah, Nahum and Habakkuk
The Book of the prophet Jeremiah – early Jeremiah (during the reign of King Josiah)
Chapter 1:1-3 The Spoken Word Set 12 Vol 32 Track 1
The words ofJeremiah son of Hilkiah, one of the priests living at Anathoth in the territory of Benjamin. The word of Yahweh came to him in the days of Josiah son of Amon, king of Judah, in the thirteenth year of his reign; then in the days of Jehoiakim son of Josiah, king of Judah, until the end of the eleventh year of Zedekiah son of Josiah, king of Judah, until the deportation of Jerusalem, in the fifth month.
Call and early preaching
Chapter 1:4-19 The Spoken Word Set 12 Vol 32 Track 2
The call of Jeremiah
The word of Yahweh came to me, saying:
‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you;
before you came to birth I consecrated you;
I appointed you as prophet to the nations.’
I then said, ‘Ah, ah, ah, Lord Yahweh; you see, I do not know how to speak:
I am only a child!’
But Yahweh replied,
‘Do not say, “I am only a child,”
for you must go to all to whom I send you
and say whatever I command you.
Do not be afraid of confronting them,
for I am with you to rescue you,
Then Yahweh stretched out his hand and touched my mouth, and Yahweh said to me:
‘There! I have put my words into your mouth.
Look, today I have set you
over the nations and kingdoms,
to uproot and to knock down,
to destroy and to overthrow,
to build and to plant.’
The word of Yahweh came to me, asking, ‘Jeremiah, what do you see?’ I answered, ‘I see a branch of the Watchful Tree.’ Then Yahweh said, ‘Well seen, for I am watching over my word to perform it.’
A second time the word of Yahweh came to me, asking, ‘What do you see?’ I answered, ‘I see a cooking pot on the boil, with its mouth tilting from the north.’
Then Yahweh said:
‘From the north disaster will come boiling over
on all who live in the country,
for I am now summoning
all the families of the kingdoms of the north,
They will come, and each will set his throne
in front of the gates of Jerusalem,
all round, against its walls
and against all the towns of Judah.
I shall pronounce my judgements on them
because of all their wickedness,
since they have abandoned me,
offering incense to other gods
and worshipping what their own hands have made.
‘As for you, prepare yourself for action.
Stand up and tell them all I command you.
Have no fear of them
and in their presence I will make you fearless.
For look, today I have made you
into a fortified city,
a pillar of iron, a wall of bronze
to stand against the whole country:
the kings of Judah, its princes,
its priests and the people of the country.
They will fight against you
but will not overcome you,
for I am with you,
to rescue you.’
Chapter 2 ; Chapter 18:13-17 The Spoken Word Set 12 Vol 32 Track 3
The early preaching of Jeremiah
- the infidelity of Israel
The word of Yahweh came to me, saying, ‘Go and shout this in Jerusalem’s ears:
‘Yahweh says this:
“I remember your faithful love,
the affection of your bridal days,
when you followed me through the desert,
through a land unsown.
Israel was sacred to Yahweh;
the first-fruits of his harvest;
all who ate this incurred guilt,
disaster befell them, Yahweh declares.” ‘
Listen to Yahweh’s word, House of Jacob
and all the families of the House of Israel.
Yahweh says this,
‘What did your ancestors find wrong in me
for them to have deserted me so far
as to follow Futility
and become futile themselves?
They never said, “Where is Yahweh,
who brought us out of Egypt
and led us through the desert,
through a land of plains and ravines,
through a land of drought, of shadow dark as death,
a land through which no one passes
and where no human being lives?”
I brought you to a country of plenty,
to enjoy its produce and good things;
but when you entered you defiled my country
and made my heritage loathsome.
The priests never asked, “Where is Yahweh?”
Those skilled in the Law did not know me,
the shepherds too rebelled against me
and the prophets prophesied by Baal
and followed the Useless Ones.
So I must state my case against you once more,
and state my case against your children’s children:
Cross to the isles of the Kittim and look,
send to Kedar and carefully observe,
see if anything like this has happened before!
Does a nation change its gods?
- and these are not gods at all!
Yet my people have exchanged their Glory
for the Useless One!
You heavens, stand aghast at this,
horrified, utterly appalled,
For my people have committed two crimes:
they have abandoned me,
the fountain of living water,
and dug water-tanks for themselves,
that hold no water.
‘Is Israel a slave?
Was he born into serfdom,
for him to be preyed on like this?
Lions have roared at him,
they have made their voices heard.
They have left this country a desert,
his towns lie burnt and uninhabited.
The people of Noph and Tahpanhes
have shaved your skull!
Have you not brought this on yourself,
by abandoning Yahweh your God,
when he was guiding you on the way?
What is the good of going to Egypt now
to drink the water of the Nile?
What is the good of going to Assyria
to drink the water of the River?
Your wickedness will bring its own punishment,
your infidelities will bring you to book,
so give thought and see
how evil and bitter it is
to abandon Yahweh your God
and not to stand in awe of me,
the Lord Yahweh Sabaoth declares.
‘It is long ago now since you broke your yoke,
burst your bonds
and said, “I will not serve!”
Yet on every high hill
and under every green tree
you have sprawled and played the whore.
Yet I had planted you, a red vine
of completely sound stock.
How is it you have turned into seedlings
of a vine that is alien to me?
Even though you scrub yourself with soda
and put in quantities of soap,
the stain of your guilt would still be visible to me,
the Lord Yahweh declares.
How dare you say, “I am not defiled,
I have not run after the Baals?”
Look at your behaviour in the Valley,
realise what you have done.
A wild she-donkey, at home in the desert,
snuffing the breeze in desire;
who can control her when she is on heat?
Males need not trouble to look for her,
they will find her in her month.
Beware! Your own foot will go unshod,
your own throat grow dry!
But you said, “It is no use! No!
For I love the Strangers
and they are the ones I shall follow.”
‘Like a thief ashamed at being caught,
so will the House of Israel be:
they, their kings, their chief men,
their priests and their prophets,
who say to a piece of wood, “You are my father,”
and to a stone, “You gave birth to me.”
For they turn to me their backs,
never their faces;
yet when trouble comes they shout,
“Get up! Save us!”
Where are your gods you made for yourself?
Let them get up if they can save you
when trouble comes!
For you have as many gods
as you have towns, Judah!
Why make out a case against me?
You have all rebelled against me,
In vain I have struck your children,
they have not accepted correction;
your own sword has devoured your prophets
like a marauding lion.
Now you of this generation, listen to what Yahweh says:
Have I been a desert for Israel,
or a land of gloom?
Why do my people say,
“We are our own masters,
we will come to you no more”?
Does a girl forget her ornaments,
a bride her sash?
And yet my people have forgotten me,
days beyond number.
‘How well you set your course
in pursuit of love!
And so you have schooled the ways
to wicked deeds.
The very skirts of your robe are stained
with the blood of the poor,
of innocent men you never caught breaking and entering!
And in spite of all this,
you say, “I am innocent,
let his anger turn from me!”
Now I pass sentence on you
for saying, “I have not sinned.”
Therefore, Yahweh says this,
‘Ask, please, among the nations
if anyone has heard anything like this.
The Virgin of Israel has done a very horrible thing.
Does the snow of Lebanon
ever leave the rocks of its slopes?
Do the rivers of foreign lands,
their cold flowing waters, ever run dry?
And yet my people have forgotten me!
They burn incense to a Nothing!
They have been made to stumble in their ways,
the ancient paths,
to walk in paths,
on an unmade road,
to make their country an object of horror,
every passer-by will be appalled at it
and shake his head.
Like the east wind, I shall scatter them
before the enemy.
I shall show them my back, not my face,
the day they are ruined.’
Chapter 3:1-5 and 3:19-4:4 The Spoken Word Set 12 Vol 32 Track 4
‘If a man divorces his wife
and she leaves him
and becomes someone else’s,
has he the right to go back to her?
Has not that piece of land been totally polluted?
And you, having played the whore with many lovers,
you claim the right to come back to me!
‘Lift your eyes to the bare heights and look!
Where have you not offered your sex!
You waited by the roadside for them
like an Arab in the desert.
You have polluted the country
with your prostitution and your vices:
this is why the showers have been withheld,
the late rains have not come.
‘But you maintained a prostitute’s bold front,
with no trace of a blush.
From now on, do not cry out at me, “My father!
My beloved ever since I was young!
Will he keep up his anger for ever,
maintain his wrath to the end?”
You say this but still go on sinning,
being so obstinate.’
‘And I was thinking:
How am I to rank you as my children?
I shall give you a country of delights,
the fairest heritage of all the nations!
I thought: You will call me Father
and will never cease to follow me.
But like a woman betraying her lover,
House of Israel, you have betrayed me,’
A noise is heard on the bare heights:
the weeping and entreaty of the Israelites,
for they have gone wildly astray,
have forgotten Yahweh their God.
‘Come back, disloyal sons,
I want to cure your disloyalty.’
‘We are here, we are coming to you,
for you are Yahweh our God.
The hills are a delusion after all,
so is the tumult of the mountains.
Yahweh our God is, after all,
the saving of Israel.
Shame has devoured what our ancestors worked for
ever since we were young,
their flocks and herds, their sons and their daughters.
Let us lie down in our shame,
let our confusion cover us,
for we have sinned against Yahweh our God,
we and our ancestors, from our youth until today,
and have not listened to the voice of Yahweh our God.’
‘If you come back, Israel,
if you come back to me,
if you take your Horrors out of my sight,
if you go roving no more,
if you swear, “As Yahweh lives!”
truthfully, justly, uprightly,
then the nations will bless themselves by him
and glory in him.
‘For Yahweh says
this to the men of Judah and Jerusalem,
“Clear the ground that lies neglected,
do not sow among thorns.
Circumcise yourselves for Yahweh,
apply circumcision to your hearts,
men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem,
or my wrath will leap out like a fire
and burn with no one to quench it,
in return for the wickedness of your deeds.” ‘
Chapter 3:6-13 The Spoken Word Set 12 Vol 32 Track 5
The Northern Kingdom urged to repent
In the days of King Josiah, Yahweh said to me, ‘Have you seen what disloyal Israel has done? How she has made her way up every high hill and to every green tree, and played the whore there? I thought, “After doing all this she will come back to me.” But she did not come back. Her faithless sister Judah saw this. She also saw that I had repudiated disloyal Israel for all her adulteries and given her her divorce papers. Her faithless sister Judah, however, was not afraid: she too went and played the whore. And with her shameless whoring, she polluted the country; she committed adultery with stones and pieces of wood. Worse than all this: Judah, her faithless sister, has come back to me not in sincerity, but only in pretence, Yahweh declares.’
And Yahweh said to me, ‘Disloyal Israel is upright, compared with faithless Judah. So go and shout words towards the north, and say:
“Come back, disloyal Israel,
I shall frown on you no more,
since I am merciful,
I shall not keep my anger for ever.
Only acknowledge your guilt:
how you have rebelled against Yahweh your God,
how you have prostituted yourself with the Strangers
under every green tree
and have not listened to my voice,
Chapter 4:5-31 The Spoken Word Set 12 Vol 32 Track 6
Invasion from the north
Announce it in Judah,
proclaim it in Jerusalem, say,
‘Sound the trumpet in the countryside,
shout the message aloud:
Take to the fortified towns!
Signpost the way to Zion!
Run! Do not delay!
For I am bringing disaster from the north,
an immense calamity.
The lion is up from his thicket,
the destroyer of nations is on his way,
he has come from his home
to reduce your land to a desert;
your towns will be in ruins, uninhabited.
So wrap yourselves in sackcloth,
lament and wail,
since Yahweh’s burning anger
has not turned away from us.
That day,’ Yahweh declares,
‘the king’s heart will fail him,
the princes’ hearts will fail them too,
the priests will stand aghast,
the prophets stupefied.’
Then I said, ‘Ah, Lord Yahweh,
how sadly you deceived this people and Jerusalem
when you used to say, “You will have peace,”
whereas the sword is now at our throats!
When that time comes, this will be said
to this people and to Jerusalem:
The scorching wind from the desert heights
comes towards the daughter of my people -
and not to winnow or to cleanse!
A gale of wind comes to me from over there.
Now I myself shall pass sentence on them!’
Look, he is advancing like the clouds,
his chariots like a hurricane,
his horses swifter than eagles.
Disaster for us! We are lost!
Wash your heart clean of wickedness, Jerusalem,
and so be saved.
How long will you go on harbouring
your pernicious thoughts?
For a voice from Dan shouts the news,
proclaims disaster from the highlands of Ephraim.
Report it to the nations,
proclaim it to Jerusalem,
‘Enemies are coming from a distant country,
shouting their war cry against the towns of Judah;
they surround her like watchmen round a field
because she has rebelled against me’,
‘Your own behaviour and actions
have brought this on yourself.
Your wickedness, how bitter,
has stabbed you to the heart!’
In the pit of my stomach how great my agony!
Walls of my heart!
My heart is throbbing!
I cannot keep quiet,
for I have heard the trumpet call,
the battle cry.
Ruin on ruin is the news:
the whole land is laid waste,
my tents are suddenly destroyed,
in one moment all that sheltered me.
How long must I see the standard
and hear the trumpet call?
‘This is because my people are stupid,
they do not know me,
they are slow-witted children,
they have no understanding,
they are clever enough at doing wrong,
but do not know how to do right.’
I looked to the earth – it was a formless waste;
to the heavens, and their light had gone.
I looked to the mountains – they were quaking
and all the hills rocking to and fro.
I looked – there was no one at all,
the very birds of heaven had all fled.
I looked – the fruitful land was a desert,
all its towns in ruins
before his burning anger.
Yes, Yahweh has said this,
‘The whole country will be laid waste,
though I shall not annihilate it completely.
For this, the earth will go into mourning
and the heavens above grow dark.
For I have spoken, I have decided,
I shall not change my mind or go back on it.’
At the din of horseman and archer
the entire city takes to flight:
some plunge into the thickets,
others scale the rocks;
every town is abandoned,
not a single person is left there.
And, once despoiled, what are you going to do?
You may dress yourself in scarlet,
put on ornaments of gold,
enlarge your eyes with paint
but you make yourself pretty in vain.
Your former lovers disdain you,
your life is what they are seeking.
Yes, I hear screams like those of a woman in labour,
anguish like that of a woman giving birth to her first child;
they are the screams of the daughter of Zion, gasping,
‘Unhappy me! I am dying,
the murderers have killed me!’
Chapter 5:1-17, 26-31; 6 The Spoken Word Set 12 Vol 32 Track 7
Rove the streets of Jerusalem,
now look and enquire,
see in her squares
if you can find an individual,
one individual who does right
and seeks the truth,
and I will pardon her,
Although they say, ‘As Yahweh lives,’
they are, in fact, swearing a false oath.
Yahweh, do your eyes not look for truth?
You have struck them; they have not felt it.
You have annihilated them, for they ignored the lesson.
They have set their faces harder than rock,
they have refused to repent.
I thought, ‘These are only the poor!
They behave stupidly
since they do not know Yahweh’s way
or the ruling of their God.
I shall approach the great men
and speak to them,
for these will know Yahweh’s way
and the ruling of their God.’
But these, too, have broken the yoke,
have burst the bonds.
And so, a lion from the forest will slaughter them,
a wolf from the plains will despoil them,
a leopard will be lurking round their towns:
anyone who goes out will be torn to pieces –
because of their many crimes,
their countless infidelities.
‘Why should I pardon you?
Your sons have abandoned me,
to swear by gods that are not gods at all.
I fed them full, and they became adulterers,
they hurried to the brothel.
They are well-fed, roving stallions,
each neighing for his neighbour’s wife.
Shall I fail to punish this,
or on such a nation
to exact vengeance?
Scale her terraces! Destroy!
But do not annihilate her completely!
Strip off her branches,
for Yahweh does not own them!
How treacherously they have treated me,
the House of Israel and the House of Judah!
‘They have denied Yahweh,
they have said, “He is nothing;
no evil will overtake us,
we shall not see sword or famine.
And the prophets? Nothing but wind;
the word is not in them;
let those very things happen to them!”’
Because of this,
Yahweh, God Sabaoth, says this,
‘Since you have said such things,
now I shall make my words
a fire in your mouth,
and make this people wood,
for the fire to devour.
Now I shall bring on you
a nation from afar, House of Israel,
an enduring nation,
an ancient nation,
a nation whose language you do not know,
nor can you grasp what they say.
Their quiver a gaping tomb,
they are all of them fighters.
They will devour your harvest and your food,
devour your sons and daughters,
devour your flocks and herds,
devour your vines and fig trees,
and demolish your fortified towns
in which you trust – with the sword!’
Yes, there are wicked men among my people
who watch like fowlers on the alert;
they set traps
and they catch human beings.
Like a cage full of birds
so are their houses full of loot;
they have grown rich and powerful because of it,
they are fat, they are sleek,
in wickedness they go to any lengths:
they have no respect for rights,
for orphans’ rights, and yet they succeed!
They have not upheld the cause of the needy.
Shall I fail to punish this,
or on such a nation to exact vengeance?
Horrible, disgusting things
are happening in the land:
the prophets prophesy falsely
and the priests exploit the people.
And my people love it!
But when the end comes, what will you do?
Flee in a body, Benjaminites,
right away from Jerusalem!
Sound the trumpet in Tekoa!
Light the beacon on Beth-ha-Cherem!
For disaster lowers from the north,
an immense calamity.
Beautiful, delicate as she is,
I shall destroy the daughter of Zion!
Shepherds are advancing on her
with their flocks.
They have pitched their tents all round her,
each grazes his part.
Prepare for holy war against her!
To arms! We shall attack at noon!
Disaster for us! The light is fading,
the evening shadows lengthen.
To arms! We shall attack at night
and destroy her palaces.
For Yahweh Sabaoth says this,
‘Cut down trees,
throw up an earthwork outside Jerusalem:
this is the city to be punished,
with nothing but oppression in her.
As a well keeps its water fresh
so she keeps her wickedness fresh.
Violence and ruin are what you hear in her,
wounds and blows always forced on my attention.
or I shall turn my attention away from you
and reduce you to a desert,
a land without people.’
Yahweh Sabaoth says this,
‘They will glean, glean what is left of Israel
like a vine.
Like a grape-picker, pass your hand again over the branches!’
To whom should I speak, whom warn,
for them to hear?
Look, their ears are uncircumcised,
they cannot listen.
Look, for them Yahweh’s word is something to sneer at,
they have no taste for it.
So I am full of Yahweh’s wrath,
I am weary of holding it in.
Then pour it on the children in the streets,
and on the bands of youths as well,
for husband and wife will both be taken,
the greybeard and the man weighed down with years.
Their houses will pass to other men,
so will their fields and wives.
Yes, I shall stretch my hand
over those living in this country,
For, from the least to greatest,
they are all greedy for gain;
prophet no less than priest,
all of them practise fraud.
Without concern they dress my people’s wound,
saying, ‘Peace! Peace!’ whereas there is no peace.
They should be ashamed of their loathsome deeds.
Not they! They feel no shame,
they do not even know how to blush.
And so as others fall, they too will fall,
will be thrown down when I come and punish them,
Yahweh says this, ‘Stand at the crossroads and look,
ask for the ancient paths:
which was the good way? Take it
and you will find rest for yourselves.
But they have said, “We will not take it.”
I posted look-outs on your behalf:
Listen to the sound of the trumpet!
But they said, “We will not listen.”
Then hear, you nations,
and know, assembly,
what is going to happen to them!
Watch, I shall bring disaster
on this people:
it is the fruit of the way they think,
since they have not listened to my words
nor to my law, but have rejected it.
What do I care about incense
imported from Sheba,
or fragrant cane
from a distant country?
Your burnt offerings are not acceptable,
your sacrifices do not please me.’
And so, Yahweh says this,
‘In front of this people I shall now lay obstacles
for them to stumble over;
father and son alike,
neighbour and friend will perish.’
Yahweh says this,
‘Look, a people is coming from the land of the north,
from the far ends of the earth a great nation is rising;
they are armed with bow and spear,
they are cruel and pitiless;
their noise is like the roaring of the sea;
they are riding horses,
they are ready to fight against you as one man,
against you, daughter of Zion.
We have heard the news,
our hands fall limp,
anguish has gripped us,
pain like that of a woman in labour.
Do not go out into the countryside,
do not venture onto the roads,
for the enemy’s sword is there,
terror on every side.
Put on sackcloth, daughter of my people,
roll in ashes;
mourn as for an only son,
a very bitter dirge.
For on us suddenly
the destroyer is coming.
‘I have appointed you as tester of my people,
to learn and to test how they behave.
All of them are total rebels
peddlers of slander,
hard as bronze and iron,
all agents of corruption.
The bellows blast away
to make the fire burn away the lead.
In vain the smelter does his work,
for the dross is not purged out.
“Silver-reject”, men call them,
and indeed Yahweh has rejected them!’
Chapter 5:20-25 The Spoken Word Set 12 Vol 32 Track 8
‘Announce this in the House of Jacob,
proclaim it in Judah, and say,
“Now listen to this,
stupid, brainless people
who have eyes and do not see,
who have ears and do not hear!
Have you no fear of me?
Will you not tremble before me
who set the sand as limit to the sea,
as an everlasting barrier it cannot pass?
Its waves may toss but not prevail,
they may roar but cannot pass beyond.
But this people has a rebellious, unruly heart;
they have rebelled and gone!
Nor do they say to themselves:
Now we ought to fear Yahweh our God
who gives the rain, of autumn
and of spring, at the right season,
and reserves us the weeks appointed for harvest.
Your misdeeds have upset all this,
your sins have deprived you of these blessings.”
Chapter 8:18-23 The Spoken Word Set 12 Vol 32 Track 9
Incurable sorrow overtakes me,
my heart fails me.
Hark, from the daughter of my people the cry for help,
ringing far and wide throughout the land!
‘Is Yahweh no longer in Zion,
her King no longer there?’
‘Harvest is over, summer at an end,
and we have not been saved!’
The wound of the daughter of my people wounds me too,
all looks dark to me, terror grips me.
Is there no balm in Gilead any more?
Is no doctor there?
Then why is there no progress
in the cure of the daughter of my people?
Who will turn my head into a fountain,
and my eyes into a spring of tears,
that I can weep day and night
over the slain of the daughter of my people?
Chapter 23: 9-40 The Spoken Word Set 12 Vol 32 Track 10
My heart is broken within me,
I tremble in all my bones;
I am like a drunken man,
like a man overcome with wine,
because of Yahweh and his holy words:
‘For the country is full of adulterers;
yes, because of a curse, the country is in mourning
and the pasturage in the desert has dried up;
they are prompt to do wrong,
make no effort to do right.
Yes, even prophet and priest are godless,
I have detected their wickedness in my own House,
Because of this, their way will prove
treacherous going for them;
in the darkness where they are driven,
there they will fall.
For I shall bring disaster on them,
when the year for punishing them comes,
‘In the prophets of Samaria I have seen insanity:
they prophesied in the name of Baal
and led my people Israel astray.
But in the prophets of Jerusalem
I have seen something horrible:
adultery, persistent lying,
such abetting of the wicked
that no one renounces his wickedness.
To me they are all like Sodom
and its inhabitants are like Gomorrah.
So this is what Yahweh Sabaoth says about the prophets,
“Now I shall give them wormwood to eat
and make them drink poisoned water,
since from the prophets of Jerusalem
godlessness has spread throughout the land.”
‘Yahweh Sabaoth says this,
“Do not listen to what those prophets prophesy to you;
they are deluding you,
they retail visions of their own,
and not what comes from Yahweh’s mouth.
To those who despise me, they keep saying:
Yahweh has spoken: you will have peace!
and to all who follow their own stubborn inclinations:
No disaster will touch you.”
But who has been present in Yahweh’s council and seen, and heard his word? Who has paid attention to his word and listened to it?
Look, Yahweh’s hurricane, his wrath, bursts out,
a fearsome hurricane,
to burst on the heads of the wicked;
Yahweh’s anger will not withdraw
until he has performed, has carried out,
what he has in mind.
In the final days, you will understand this clearly,
‘I did not send these prophets,
yet they ran!
I did not speak to them,
yet they prophesied!
Had they been present in my council,
they could have proclaimed my words to my people
and turned them from their evil way
and from the wickedness of their deeds!
‘Am I a God when near, Yahweh demands,
and not a God when far away?
Can anyone hide somewhere secret
without my seeing him? Yahweh demands.
Do I not fill heaven and earth?
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