Jeremiah 2
Contemporary English Version

Israel's Unfaithfulness

1The Lord told me 2to go to Jerusalem and tell everyone that he had said:

When you were my young bride,

you loved me and followed me

through the barren desert.

3You belonged to me alone,

like the first part of the harvest,

and I severely punished

those who mistreated you.

4Listen, people of Israel,+

5and I, the Lord, will speak.

I was never unfair

to your ancestors,

but they left me

and became worthless

by following worthless idols.

6Your ancestors refused

to ask for my help,

though I had rescued them

from Egypt

and led them through

a treacherous, barren desert,

where no one lives

or dares to travel.

7I brought you here to my land,

where food is abundant,

but you made my land filthy

with your sins.

8The priests who teach my laws

don't care to know me.

Your leaders rebel against me;

your prophets

give messages from Baal

and worship false gods.

The Lord Accuses His People

9I will take you to court

and accuse you

and your descendants

* 10of a crime that no nation

has ever committed before.

Just ask anyone, anywhere,

from the eastern deserts

to the islands in the west.

11You will find that no nation

has ever abandoned its gods

even though they were false.

I am the true and glorious God,

but you have rejected me

to worship idols.

12Tell the heavens

to tremble with fear!

13You, my people, have sinned

in two ways—

you have rejected me, the source

of life-giving water,

and you've tried to collect water

in cracked and leaking pits

dug in the ground.

14People of Israel,

you weren't born slaves;

you were captured in war.

15Enemies roared like lions

and destroyed your land;

towns lie burned and empty.

16Soldiers from the Egyptian towns

of Memphis and Tahpanhes

have cracked your skulls.

17It's all your own fault!

You stopped following me,

the Lord your God,

18and you trusted the power

of Egypt and Assyria.+

19Your own sins will punish you,

because it was a bitter mistake

for you to reject me

without fear of punishment.

I, the Lord All-Powerful,

have spoken.

20Long ago you left me

and broke all ties between us,

refusing to be my servant.

Now you worship other gods

by having sex

on hilltops or in the shade

of large trees.+

21You were a choice grapevine,

but you have become

a wild, useless vine.

Israel Is Stained with Guilt

22The Lord said:

People of Israel,

you are stained with guilt,

and no soap or bleach

can wash it away.

23You deny your sins

and say, “We aren't unclean.

We haven't worshiped Baal.”+

But think about what you do

in Hinnom Valley.+

You run back and forth

like young camels,

as you rush to worship one idol

after another.

24You are a female donkey

sniffing the desert air,

wanting to mate

with just anyone.

You are an easy catch!

25Your shoes are worn out,

and your throat is parched

from running here and there

to worship foreign gods.

“Stop!” I shouted,

but you replied, “No!

I love those gods too much.”

26You and your leaders

are more disgraceful

than thieves—

you and your kings,

your priests and prophets

27worship stone idols

and sacred poles

as if they had created you

and had given you life.

You have rejected me,

but when you're in trouble,

you cry to me for help.

28Go cry to the gods you made!

There should be enough of them

to save you,

because Judah has as many gods

as it has towns.

Israel Rebels against the Lord

29The Lord said to Israel:

You accuse me of not saving you,

but I say you have rebelled.

30I tried punishing you,

but you refused

to come back to me,

and like fierce lions

you killed my prophets.

31Now listen to what I say!

Did I abandon you in the desert

or surround you with darkness?

You are my people,

yet you have told me,

“We'll do what we want,

and we refuse

to worship you!”

32A bride could not forget

to wear her jewelry

to her wedding,

but you have forgotten me

day after day.

33You are so clever

at finding lovers

that you could give lessons

to a prostitute.

34You killed innocent people

for no reason at all.

And even though their blood

can be seen on your clothes,

35you claim to be innocent,

and you want me to stop

being angry with you.

So I'll take you to court,

and we'll see who is right.

36When Assyria let you down,

you quickly ran to Egypt,

but you'll find no help there,

37and you will leave

in great sadness.+

I won't let you find help

from those you trust.


2.4 Israel: After the nation was divided, the northern kingdom was called “Israel,” and the southern kingdom was called “Judah” (see 1 Kings 12.1-20). In 722 b.c. the Assyrians conquered the northern kingdom, and Judah was all that was left. And so in the book of Jeremiah the name “Israel” is most often used of the southern kingdom.
2.18 trusted … Assyria: Hebrew “went to Egypt and drank from the Shihor River, and you went to Assyria and drank from the Euphrates River.”
2.20 having sex … trees: In some Canaanite religions, worshipers had sex with temple prostitutes, who represented their gods; many of the Canaanite places of worship were on hilltops or under large trees.
2.23 Baal: The Hebrew text has “the Baals,” probably because the god Baal was believed to be present in different forms at different places of worship.
2.23 Hinnom Valley: Hebrew “the valley” (see 7.31-32; 19.1-6).
2.37 in great sadness: Or “as prisoners.”

Contemporary English Version, Second Edition (CEV®)

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