Jeremiah 9

1 ‘My head should be like a pool of water.

My eyes should be like a river of tears.

Then I would never stop crying

for my dear people who have died in war.

2 I would like to live in a hut in the desert.

Then I could leave my people.

I could forget about them.

They have all turned away from God.

They have not been faithful to him.

They are a crowd of people that nobody can trust.’

The Lord answers Jeremiah

3 The Lord says,

‘The tongues of these people speak lies,

like the bows of soldiers shoot arrows.

They have become powerful in the land,

but they have used lies to do that.

They do more and more evil things,

and they do not respect me.

4 Be careful of your friends.

Do not even trust your brothers!

They will always try to cheat you.

All your friends will speak lies about you.

5 They deceive each other,

and they never tell the truth.

They have taught their tongues to speak lies.

They love to do bad things

and they cannot stop themselves.

6 They hurt and they deceive each other.

They do that more and more.

They refuse to respect me.’

That is what the Lord says.

7 So the Lord Almighty says this:

‘Listen! I will test my people,

like a man uses fire to make metal become pure.

I must punish them like this because they are so wicked.

There is nothing else that I can do!

8 Their tongues are like arrows that have poison.

They hurt people with their lies.

They speak kind words to their neighbours,

but they are looking for a way to cheat them.

9 I must certainly punish them for what they have done.

I will pay back this wicked nation for their sins.’

That is what the Lord says.

Jeremiah is sad

10 ‘I will weep for the mountains.

I will cry for the fields in the wilderness.

There is no grass for the animals to eat.

Nobody travels through those places.

There is no sound of cows and sheep.

The birds and the wild animals have all disappeared.’

11 The Lord replied,

‘I will make Jerusalem a heap of stones.

Only wild animals will live there.

I will destroy the towns of Judah

so that nobody can live in them.’

12 I said,

‘Nobody is wise enough to understand this. The Lord has not told anyone, so that he can explain it to others. Why has our land become like a desert so that nobody travels through it? Does anyone know the answer?’

13 The Lord answered, ‘It is because my people have not accepted the laws that I gave to them. They have not obeyed me. They have not lived in the way that I told them to live. 14 Instead, they have done whatever they wanted to do. They have served the gods of Baal, as their ancestors taught them to do.’ 15 So the Lord Almighty, Israel's God, says this: ‘I will punish my people with trouble and pain. I will give them food that is bitter. They will drink water that is poison. 16 I will send them away as prisoners. They will live among foreign nations that they had never heard about. Their ancestors had not heard about them either. I will send enemies to chase after them until I have destroyed them.’

17 The Lord Almighty said this:

‘Think about what is happening!

Call the women who weep at funerals.

Bring those women who know what to do.’

18 ‘Yes, tell them to come quickly

to sing funeral songs for us.

9:18This may be what Jeremiah says. Or it may be what the people say.

Then tears will pour from our eyes,

and we will not stop weeping.

19 Listen to the people who are crying in Jerusalem!

They say,

“A terrible thing has happened to us!

We are very ashamed!

Our enemies have destroyed our houses.

Now we have to leave our land.” ’

20 ‘Now hear the Lord's message, you women.

Listen to what he says to you.

Teach your daughters how to weep.

Teach each other this funeral song:

21 “Death has come to visit us!

It has come into our strong houses.

Death has taken away our children

who play in the streets.

It has taken away our young men

who meet together in the streets.”

22 The Lord says this:

Dead bodies of people will lie everywhere on the ground.

They will lie there like dung

that a farmer puts on his fields.

They will lie there like crops at harvest time

that nobody has picked up.’

23 The Lord says,

Wise people should not be proud of their wisdom.

Powerful people should not be proud of their power.

And rich people should not be proud that they are rich.

24 If they want to be proud about something,

they should be proud that they know me.

They should boast that they understand who I am.

I am the Lord.

I am faithful in my love for my people.

I always do what is right and fair.

It makes me happy when people live in that way too.’

25 The Lord says, ‘Be careful! Very soon I will punish all people who do not respect me. Those people may be circumcised, but if they do not respect me, I will punish them. 26 Those people include the Egyptians, the Edomites, the Ammonites, the Moabites and the people of Judah. I will also punish the people who live in the desert and who cut their hair short. Those people are not circumcised to give honour to me. The Israelites are the same. Their bodies are circumcised, but they do not want to obey my covenant with them.’