God will judge his people.
1 The LORD spoke to Jeremiah. He spoke about the Jews who lived in Egypt. They lived in Migdol, Tahpanhes and Memphis and in other places. He said, 2 ‘The great and powerful LORD, the God of Israel, says, “You saw the great trouble that I caused to Jerusalem and to all the towns in Judah. Your enemies have broken them down and nobody lives there now. 3 That is because of the evil things that the people did there. They made me angry because they made nice smells to give pleasure to other gods. And they worshipped those gods. Neither they nor their ancestors knew those gods. 4 Again and again I sent my servants the prophets to them. They gave my message to them. ‘Do not do this bad thing that I hate!’ they said. 5 But the people did not listen to my words and they did not obey me. They did not stop doing wrong things. And they did not stop making nice smells to give pleasure to other gods. 6 So I became very angry. I punished the towns in Judah and the streets in Jerusalem. I destroyed them. And I broke those places down as you can see today.”’
7 Now the great and powerful LORD, the God of Israel, says, ‘You are causing more trouble for yourselves. You are taking all the men, women, children and babies out of Judah. You have not let anybody stay in Israel. 8 You are making me very angry by the things that you have made with your hands. You are making nice smells to give pleasure to the gods of Egypt where you have come to live. Those things will destroy your nation. You will become a nation that all other nations hate. They will think that you do not have any value. 9 You must remember the evil things that your ancestors did. The kings and queens of Judah and you and your wives also did many wrong things. You did evil things in Jerusalem and in all Judah. 10 Even now your people have not become sorry. They have not agreed that they have done wrong things. They have not given any honour to me. They have not obeyed the rules that I gave to them and to their ancestors.’
11 So the great and powerful LORD, the God of Israel, says, ‘I will certainly give much trouble to you and I will destroy all Judah. 12 I will take away the few Jews who decided to come to Egypt. They will all die there. Soldiers will kill them. Or they will die because they do not have any food to eat. Other people will hate them and they will make them ashamed. They will say how bad the Jews are. They will tell them that they have done wrong things. 13 I will punish those people in Egypt. I will use soldiers with swords. Or I might make them ill. Or I will not give any food to them so then they will die. I will punish them, as I punished the people in Jerusalem. 14 None of the few people from Judah who went to live in Egypt will return. They want very much to return to Judah. But not one Jew will be able to leave Egypt, except for a very small group who will run away.’
15 A large crowd came together from all the places in Egypt where they lived. The men knew that their wives were burning nice smelling oils to other gods. And there were many women with them. They spoke to Jeremiah. 16 ‘You have said that the LORD has given a message to you. But we will not listen to you’, they said.
17 ‘We will certainly do everything that we want to do. We will make nice smells for the Queen of Heaven and we will offer drinks to her. We will do what our ancestors did. We and our kings and our officers did this in Jerusalem and in all the towns in Judah. We had plenty of food then. We were rich and we did not have any troubles. 18 But since we stopped offering those things to the Queen of Heaven we have not had anything. Some of us have died because they did not have any food. And soldiers have killed other people.’
44:18The Queen of Heaven was a female god that some people worshipped. They thought that she had the power to give them much food and to make them rich. They believed that she could cause them to have many strong children. And they believed that she could cause their animals to have many strong young animals. They thought that gifts would cause her to do good things for them.
19 The women spoke. ‘Our husbands knew that we were burning oils to make nice smells to the Queen of Heaven. And we made cakes in her shape and we offered wine to her, too’, they said.
20 Then Jeremiah spoke to all the men and to all the women who had answered him. 21 ‘The LORD knew about the things that you and your ancestors, your kings and officers and all the people did. He knew that you burned those oils with nice smells in the towns in Judah. He knew that you burned them in the streets in Jerusalem’, he said.
22 ‘He saw the things that you were doing. So he made your country empty and he did not let anything grow there. The LORD saw the bad things that you were doing. So he made the country a place where nobody wanted to live. He caused it to become empty and now nobody lives there. 23 The LORD did that because of the wrong things that you were doing. He would not let you continue to do them. You burned the nice oils. You did not obey his rules. And you did not do any of the things that he wanted you to do. So he has caused these bad things that you see.’
24 ‘Hear the LORD's word, all you people from Judah who are in Egypt’, Jeremiah said. ‘I am speaking to the men and to the women. 25 The great and powerful LORD, the God of Israel, says this: You and your wives have certainly done as you promised. You said, “We will do the things that we have said. We will burn nice smelling oils and we will offer drink to the Queen of Heaven.” So go. And do what you promised to do!
26 But listen to the words that the LORD has to say to all you Jews in Egypt: “I am promising something to you. I will do this as certainly as I am alive”, says the LORD. “Nobody from Judah who lives in Egypt will again be able to say, ‘As certainly as the LORD, the ruler, lives.’ 27 I will not help the Jews in Egypt. I will kill all those Jews. They will die because they do not have any food. Or soldiers will kill them. 28 Only a few of those people that they do not kill will leave Egypt to return to Judah. Then all the Jews who came to live in Egypt will know this. They will know that my word and not theirs is true.”
29 “I will punish you in this place”, says the LORD. “I will tell you something that will happen soon. Then you will know that my promise to destroy you is a true promise.” 30 The LORD says, “I will deliver Hophra king of Egypt to his enemies. They want to kill him. I will do that in the same way that I delivered Zedekiah king of Judah to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar wanted to kill Zedekiah.”’