Jeremiah 2

Israel's people have turned away from the Lord.

1 God spoke to me again. 2 He said, ‘Say this to the people in Jerusalem,

“This is what the Lord says: I remember how you used to love me. That was when I first made you my people.

You loved me as a young wife loves her husband.

You followed me through the wilderness,

where nobody grew any food.

3 Israel belonged to me. It was special.

It was like the first food that grew on my land.

Anyone else who ate that food was doing something bad.” ’

That is what the Lord said.

4 Listen to what the Lord says, you sons of Jacob,

and all the families in Israel.

5 This is the Lord's message:

‘Your ancestors were angry with me.

But I did nothing that was wrong. But they went a long way from me.

They went to gods of wood and stone that could not do anything for them.

And then they could not do anything for themselves.

6 They did not ask the Lord for help.

He brought them out of Egypt.

He led them through the wilderness where nothing grows,

an empty place with many valleys.

It was a dry and dark place.

Nobody goes through it and nobody lives in it.

7 I, the Lord, brought you to a good country,

where you could eat very good food.

But you came and you made my country like something dirty.

You made it too bad for me to look at.

8 The priests did not ask, “Where is the Lord?”

And the judges did not know me.

Your leaders did not obey me.

The prophets asked Baal what to say to you.

They hoped that gods of wood and stone would help them.

Those gods cannot help anyone.

9 So I must be your judge,’ says the Lord.

‘And I will be the judge of your children and their children.

10 Go to the people who live in the east and the west.

Ask them if anyone has ever done this before.

11 Other nations have not changed their gods.

But their gods are not really gods.

But my people have changed him who is greater than any god.

They have changed him for things of wood and stone that cannot help them.

12 You skies, be very surprised.

Shake and be afraid,’ says the Lord.

13 ‘My people have sinned twice.

They have left me. I am like a river of living water.

And they have dug holes in the earth for themselves.

These holes cannot hold water. They let water run away.

14 Israel's people are not slaves, born to be servants.

But they have become slaves to their enemies.

15 The enemies attacked them like lions.

They have destroyed their country.

They have burnt their towns and nobody lives in them.

16 The men from Memphis and Tahpanhes have removed all the hair from your heads.

So they have made you ashamed.

17 You have caused this to happen.

It is because you stopped following the Lord, your God.

He was leading you in the way that you should go.

18 The water of the River Shihor in Egypt is not better to drink than yours is.

And the water from the river of Assyria is not better to drink than yours is.

19 The very bad things that you have done will punish you.

And your backslidings will show to you that you have done wrong things.

You have gone away from the Lord your God.

And you are not afraid to make me angry.

Those are very bad things and they will cause you to have very bad pain.

You must think about that and you must understand it.’

That is what the great, powerful Lord says.

20 ‘You stopped working for me a long time ago.

You cut through any thing that tied us together.

You said, “I will not work for you!”

So you sold yourselves to any people that would take you.

You were like a prostitute.

21 I had planted you like a young vine.

You were strong and you had the best ancestors.

But now you have become weak, and bad.

You are like a wild vine that has useless grapes.

22 You may wash yourselves with clean water,

and you may use a lot of soap,’ says the most powerful Lord.

‘But you will always seem dirty to me.

23 You say that you are not unclean.

And you say that you do not worship false gods.

But remember what you did in the valley.

Think carefully what you have done.

You are like a fast female animal.

You run all over the country.

24 You are like a wild donkey

that lifts its nose in the air.

It is looking for a male horse.

Nobody can keep it from what it wants.

Any males who follow it will catch it easily.

You are like that.

25 Do not run for so long that you become tired.

Do not run for so long that your feet hurt.

You say, “I cannot change.

I love foreign gods. I must obey them!”

26 A man may take things that are not his.

He is ashamed when people catch him.

So the people of Israel are ashamed.

They, their kings, their officers, and their prophets all do what is wrong.

27 They say to a piece of wood, “You are my father.”

They call a stone their mother.

They have turned away from me.

They do not show their faces to me.

But then troubles happen to them.

“Come and save us!” they ask me.

28 I tell them to ask the gods that they made for themselves.

Ask them to come and save you.

Ask for their help when you have troubles.

Judah, you have many towns.

And you have as many gods.

29 You must not judge me.

You have all turned against me,’ says the Lord.

30 ‘I punished your people.

But they would not turn back to me.

You have killed your prophets.

You are like hungry animals.’

God will punish Judah.

31 ‘Think about my message, you people who are alive today,’ says the Lord.

‘I have not been like a desert where nothing grows.

I have not been like a dark place where nobody lives.

But my people say, “We can go where we like.

We do not want to visit you any more.”

32 A young woman does not forget her pretty things.

A wife does not forget her valuable gifts.

But my people have forgotten me for many years.

33 You are so clever. You can always find love!

Very bad women, even, can learn from you.

34 Your clothes have blood on them.

That blood gave life to people who never hurt you.

It was the blood of people who never took your things.

35 But still you say, “I have not done anything that is wrong.

God is not angry with me!”

But I will judge you.

You say “I have not sinned.”

So I will judge you.

36 You look at nations who live near to you.

You want to change.

You know now that Assyria cannot help you.

And you will soon know that Egypt cannot help you.

37 You will become slaves.

You will leave your country with your hands on your heads.

The Lord has not chosen the people that you have chosen.

They will not help you.’