Jerusalem is like a useless vine
1 The Lord gave this message to me: 2 ‘Son of man, the wood of a vine is no better than the wood of any other tree that grows in the forest. 3 Nobody can use its wood to make anything that is useful. They cannot even make pegs to hang clothes on! 4 You can throw it on a fire to make the fire burn. But after the fire has finished, only a useless black piece of vine remains. 5 It was useless before you put it on the fire. It is even more useless after the fire has burnt it. You cannot make anything with it.
15:2In the picture language of the Bible, a vine often means Israel.
6 So this is what the Almighty Lord says: Among the trees of the forest, I have provided the wood of vines to burn on a fire. In the same way, I will take the people of Jerusalem to punish them. 7 I will become their enemy. They may have escaped from the fire once, but soon the fire will destroy them. When I punish them like that, then you will know that I am the Lord. 8 They have not served me faithfully. So I will destroy their land. That is what the Almighty Lord says.’
1 The Lord gave this message to me: 2 ‘Son of man, warn Jerusalem's people about the disgusting things that they do. 3 Say to them, “This is what the Almighty Lord says to Jerusalem's people: You were born in the land of Canaan. That is where you came from. Your father was an Amorite and your mother was a Hittite. 4 They did not take proper care of you on the day that you were born. They did not wash you properly. They did not cut your cord. They did not put salt or oil on your skin. They did not put cloths around you. 5 Nobody was kind enough to do any of these things for you. Instead, they threw you out into a field. Nobody loved you on the day that you were born.
16:3Amorite and Hittite were names for the people who lived in Canaan before the time of Abraham. The people of Jerusalem were not really Canaanites, but they were doing bad things as if they were Canaanites. That is why God is angry with them.
16:4The custom in those days was to wash the new baby. The nurse would cut the baby's cord. She would wash it with salt and oil. Then she would put cloths around the baby. She would repeat this every seven days until the baby was 40 days old.
6 Then I saw you as I went that way. You were lying there on the ground in your blood. You were trying to move. While you lay there, I said to you, ‘Stay alive.’ 7 I made you grow well, like the plants in a field. You became tall and beautiful, like a bright jewel. Your breasts grew and your hair became long. But you still had no clothes to cover your bare body.
8 Later, I saw you again as I went that way. I saw that you had become a woman who was old enough to marry. So I covered your bare body with my coat. I promised to marry you. I made a covenant with you so that you became my wife. That is what the Almighty Lord says.
9 Then I washed your body with water. I washed away the blood and I put sweet oil on your body. 10 I put a beautiful dress on you. I put the best leather shoes on your feet. I dressed you with clothes made from linen and other expensive cloths. 11 I put beautiful jewels on you. I put rings on your hands and a necklace around your neck. 12 I put a gold ring in your nose. I put rings in your ears. And I put a beautiful crown on your head. 13 I used gold and silver to make you beautiful. I gave you expensive clothes that were made of linen and other pretty cloth. I gave you good food to eat, flour, honey and olive oil. You became a very beautiful woman. You even became a queen. 14 The people of other nations heard news about your beauty. That was because of all the good things that I had given you to make you very beautiful. That is what the Almighty Lord says.
15 But you trusted your beauty to give you what you wanted. Because you were famous, you lived like a prostitute. You had sex with any man that you liked. They all enjoyed your beautiful body. 16 You used some of your clothes to give honour to idols. You made their altars beautiful. You had sex with those men there on your beautiful cloths. Those things should never happen! 17 You took your beautiful gold and silver rings and your jewels. You used them to make images of male idols for yourself. You worshipped them instead of me. 18 You put your beautiful clothes on them. You gave them my oil and my incense as an offering. 19 You also offered to those idols the food that I had given to you, the good flour, the olive oil and the honey. You wanted to please your idols with sweet smells. Yes, that is what happened! That is what the Almighty Lord says.
20 You also offered your sons and your daughters as sacrifices to those idols. They were my children too! But you offered them as food to your idols. Like a prostitute, you were not faithful to me. 21 But you did an even worse thing. You killed my children. You offered them as sacrifices to idols! 22 You forgot what you were like when I first found you. At that time you had no clothes to cover your bare body. You lay on the ground in your own blood. You did not remember this. Instead, you chose to do disgusting things and live as a prostitute.
23 Terrible trouble will come to you! That is what the Almighty Lord says. You did even more wicked things than these. 24 In the public places of every town you built huts to worship your idols. 25 You built these high places at the end of every street. There you made your beauty a disgusting thing. You offered your body to anyone who went past. Everyone knew that you were a prostitute. 26 You had sex with the Egyptians, who lived near to you. They were ready to have sex with you at any time. So you lived as a prostitute more and more and you made me very angry.
27 So I decided to punish you. I took from you things that belonged to you. I gave your enemies, the Philistines, power over you. Even they were ashamed because of the disgusting things that you were doing. 28 You has sex with the Assyrians, too. You wanted more and more sex! You sold yourself to them, but you still wanted more 29 You also had sex with the traders from Babylon. Like a prostitute, you sold yourself to more and more people. But they could still not make you happy.
16:29The Lord is telling Jerusalem's people that they have not been faithful to him. They have been like a woman who is not faithful to her husband. Like a prostitute, they have loved foreign people and foreign gods.
30 The Almighty Lord says this: Your mind no longer knows what is right. You do disgusting things, like a prostitute who is not ashamed. 31 You built places to worship your idols on every street. You offered yourself to people, like a prostitute. But you did not want them to pay you anything, as a prostitute would do.
32 You are like a wife who is not faithful. You want to have sex with strangers more than with your own husband! 33 Prostitutes receive money when they have sex with someone. Instead, you give gifts to all the men who have sex with you. You pay them to come from many different places to have sex with you. 34 Those men did not come and ask you to have sex with them. So you are different from other prostitutes. You paid money to those men. They did not pay money to you. So you are very different from those other women!
35 So listen to Lord's message, you prostitute! 36 This is what the Almighty Lord says: You wanted to have sex with many men. You offered your bare body to them, like a prostitute. You have worshipped disgusting idols. You have killed your own children as sacrifices to those idols. 37 So listen to me! I will bring all those men that you had sex with. You liked some of them and you hated others. I will bring all of them to stand around you. Then I will remove all your clothes and they will all see your completely bare body. 38 I will punish you as you deserve, because you are an adulteress and a murderer. I am very angry with you because you have not been faithful to me. So my punishment will destroy you. 39 I will put you under the power of those men that you gave yourself to. They will destroy the places that you built for your idols. They will remove all your clothes. They will take your beautiful jewels. Then they will leave you with nothing, completely bare. 40 They will bring a crowd of people to attack you. They will throw stones at you. They will cut you in pieces with their swords. 41 They will use fire to destroy your houses. Many women will watch while those people punish you. I will stop you from having sex as a prostitute. You will no longer pay men to have sex with you. 42 I will continue to punish you until I am no longer angry with you. I will not be upset or angry any more.
43 The Almighty Lord says this: I am punishing you as you deserve for all the things that you have done. You have forgotten how I helped you when you were young. You have done many disgusting things and you have also lived like a prostitute.
44 Look! Everyone says that this proverb is true about you: A daughter will do the same things that her mother does. 45 Yes, you are a true daughter of your mother! Your mother hated her husband and her children. And you are the same as your sisters too. They also hated their husbands and their children. Your mother was a Hittite and your father was an Amorite. 46 Your older sister was Samaria. She and her daughters lived north of you. Your younger sister was Sodom. She and her daughters lived south of you. 47 You lived like them and you did all the same disgusting things that they did. But you quickly became even worse than them. 48 Your sister Sodom and her daughters never did such wicked things as you and your daughters have done. That is true as surely as I live, says the Almighty Lord.
16:45See note on verse 3.
16:48The Lord is calling these other cities the ‘sisters’ of Jerusalem. When he speaks about the ‘daughters’ of those cities, he may mean the smaller towns and villages that were around them. He is talking about the sins of the people in those places.
49 Listen to me! This is the wicked thing that your sister Sodom did: She and her daughters were very proud. They had plenty of food to eat and they enjoyed life. But they did not help people who were poor and weak. 50 They were proud and they did whatever they wanted to do. When I saw the disgusting things that they were doing, I removed them. 51 Samaria's people did less than half as many sins as you have done. You have done many more disgusting things than they did. The many wicked things that you have done make your sisters seem righteous!
16:50God destroyed the city of Sodom because the people were so wicked. See Genesis 19.
52 So now you must accept that you are guilty. You have done such wicked things that your sisters think that they are good people. You have done much worse things than they ever did. I must punish you even more than I punished them. So you should be ashamed and you should accept your punishment. You have made your sisters seem to be righteous.
53 But one day I will cause Sodom and her daughters to enjoy life again. I will also cause Samaria and her daughters to enjoy life again. And I will also do that for you, Jerusalem. 54 You will be sorry and ashamed that you did such wicked things. Your sisters will be happy that their punishment was less than yours. 55 Sodom and her daughters will become as happy as they were before. Samaria and her daughters will become as happy as they were before. And you and your daughters will also become as happy as you were before.
56 In the days when you were proud of yourselves, you did not respect your sister Sodom. 57 But now everyone can see how wicked you are. So the other nations around you laugh at you. The people of Syria and Philistia and the nations near to them all insult you. 58 You must accept your punishment because of the disgusting things that you have done. You have not been faithful to me. That is what the Almighty Lord says.
59 This is what the Almighty Lord says: You have not done the things that you promised to do when I made a covenant with you. So I will punish you as you deserve. 60 But I will remember the covenant that I made with you when you were still young. I will make that covenant strong and it will continue for ever. 61 Then you will remember the wicked things that you have done and you will be ashamed. You will welcome again your sisters, Sodom and Samaria. I will make them like daughters for you. But they will not share in the same covenant that I make with you. 62 I will cause the covenant that I make with you to be strong. Then you will know that I am the Lord. 63 I will forgive you for your sins so that you are no longer guilty. Then you will remember your sins. You will be too ashamed to say anything. That is what the Almighty Lord says.” ’