1 ‘My head should be like a river of water,
and my eyes like a pool of tears.
Then I would cry all day and night
for my people who have died.
9:1Jeremiah was very sad about the death of his own people.
2 I would like to have a place to stay in the desert.
Then I could leave my people.
I could go away from them.
They have all gone away from God like men who have left their wives for other women.
Not one person trusts him.
3 Their tongues are like bows.
They shoot words that are not true.
These people win their fights when they say false things.
They sin many times.
They do not give honour to me,’
says the Lord.
4 ‘Watch your friends.
Every brother says words that are not true.
So do not trust in your brothers.
And every friend speaks words that can hurt you.
5 One friend will say words that are not true to another friend.
Nobody speaks true words.
They have taught their tongues to say things that are false.
They have sinned so much that they are tired.
6 False words are all round you.
People say so many things that are not true.
So they refuse to know me,’
says the Lord.
7 So this is what the great, strong Lord says:
‘I will see how clean they are.
I want to make them more clean.
A man uses a very hot fire to remove other metals from gold.
It will be like that.
I must do that because my people have sinned.
8 Their tongue is like poison.
It does not say things that are true.
A man may speak kind words to his friend,
but he is really trying to hurt him.
9 I must punish men for that,’
says the Lord.
‘I must be angry
because the people in this country do not give honour to me.
10 There are no people on the mountains.
So I will cry and I will be sad.
No animals live on the hills where they ate the grass.
The hills and mountains are empty.
Nobody can hear the sound of cows and sheep.
No birds fly in the air,
and the animals are gone.
11 I will make Jerusalem a heap of stones.
Wild animals will live there.
I will destroy the towns in Judah
so that nobody can live there.’
12 Nobody can understand this. The Lord has not told anyone how it happened. No man can say why the Lord has made the country into a desert. Now nobody can walk across it.
13 ‘It is because they have not obeyed my law,’ the Lord said. ‘They have not obeyed the law that I gave to them. They have gone away from it and they have chosen to do bad things. 14 They have left me and they have gone to worship the Baals. They are doing as their ancestors taught them.’ 15 So the great, strong Lord, Israel's God says, ‘I will cause these people to eat food that is bad. I will put poison in the water that they drink. 16 I will send them to many foreign countries. Neither they nor their ancestors knew these countries. I will send enemies after them to kill and to destroy them.’
17 ‘Call the women who cry for people in trouble. Call them now!’
the great powerful Lord says.
‘Send for those who cry the loudest.
18 Tell them to come quickly to make their sad noise.
Then our eyes will make water.
And it will be like rivers that fall from them.
19 We can hear the sound of people who are crying in Zion.
“People have taken all our good things! We are very ashamed!
We have to leave our country
because our enemies have destroyed all our houses.” ’
20 Now hear the Lord's message, you women.
Listen to the words of his mouth.
Teach your daughters how to cry about their troubles.
Teach each other sad songs.
21 We are all dying. Dead bodies fill our strong cities.
No children play in the streets.
The open places of the city are empty.
The young men have all gone.
22 ‘Men's dead bodies will lie on the open fields.
Nobody will take them away,’ says the Lord.
‘They will lie like plants that people have cut for food.
But nobody will pick them up.’
23 ‘The wise man must not say that he is wise.
And the strong man must not say that he is strong,’
says the Lord.
24 ‘But they can say that they know me. And they can say that they understand me.
Then they would be able to say that they were clever.
They would know that I am the Lord.
They would know that I am kind.
And I do only good things.
I am fair when I judge the earth.
They would know that too.
Those are the things that give pleasure to me,’ says the Lord.
25 ‘Very soon,’ says the Lord, ‘I will punish many people. Those people have bodies that their parents have not circumcised. Other people have bodies that their parents have circumcised. But I will punish those people at the same time. 26 I will punish the people in Egypt, Judah, Edom, Ammon and Moab. And I will punish the people who remove the hair from the front of their heads. And I will punish the people who live in the desert. Their parents have not circumcised the people who live in other countries. And all the descendants of Israel live like people that their parents have not circumcised. That is because they have never really wanted to obey me.’