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If you return, O Israel,

says the L ord,

if you return to me,

if you remove your abominations from my presence,

and do not waver,


and if you swear, “As the L ord lives!”

in truth, in justice, and in uprightness,

then nations shall be blessed by him,

and by him they shall boast.

3 For thus says the L ord to the people of Judah and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem:

Break up your fallow ground,

and do not sow among thorns.


Circumcise yourselves to the L ord,

remove the foreskin of your hearts,

O people of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem,

or else my wrath will go forth like fire,

and burn with no one to quench it,

because of the evil of your doings.


Invasion and Desolation of Judah Threatened

5 Declare in Judah, and proclaim in Jerusalem, and say:

Blow the trumpet through the land;

shout aloud and say,

“Gather together, and let us go

into the fortified cities!”


Raise a standard toward Zion,

flee for safety, do not delay,

for I am bringing evil from the north,

and a great destruction.


A lion has gone up from its thicket,

a destroyer of nations has set out;

he has gone out from his place

to make your land a waste;

your cities will be ruins

without inhabitant.


Because of this put on sackcloth,

lament and wail:

“The fierce anger of the L ord

has not turned away from us.”


9 On that day, says the L ord, courage shall fail the king and the officials; the priests shall be appalled and the prophets astounded. 10Then I said, “Ah, Lord G od, how utterly you have deceived this people and Jerusalem, saying, ‘It shall be well with you,’ even while the sword is at the throat!”


11 At that time it will be said to this people and to Jerusalem: A hot wind comes from me out of the bare heights in the desert toward my poor people, not to winnow or cleanse— 12a wind too strong for that. Now it is I who speak in judgment against them.


Look! He comes up like clouds,

his chariots like the whirlwind;

his horses are swifter than eagles—

woe to us, for we are ruined!


O Jerusalem, wash your heart clean of wickedness

so that you may be saved.

How long shall your evil schemes

lodge within you?


For a voice declares from Dan

and proclaims disaster from Mount Ephraim.


Tell the nations, “Here they are!”

Proclaim against Jerusalem,

“Besiegers come from a distant land;

they shout against the cities of Judah.


They have closed in around her like watchers of a field,

because she has rebelled against me,

says the L ord.


Your ways and your doings

have brought this upon you.

This is your doom; how bitter it is!

It has reached your very heart.”


Sorrow for a Doomed Nation


My anguish, my anguish! I writhe in pain!

Oh, the walls of my heart!

My heart is beating wildly;

I cannot keep silent;

for I hear the sound of the trumpet,

the alarm of war.


Disaster overtakes disaster,

the whole land is laid waste.

Suddenly my tents are destroyed,

my curtains in a moment.


How long must I see the standard,

and hear the sound of the trumpet?


“For my people are foolish,

they do not know me;

they are stupid children,

they have no understanding.

They are skilled in doing evil,

but do not know how to do good.”



I looked on the earth, and lo, it was waste and void;

and to the heavens, and they had no light.


I looked on the mountains, and lo, they were quaking,

and all the hills moved to and fro.


I looked, and lo, there was no one at all,

and all the birds of the air had fled.


I looked, and lo, the fruitful land was a desert,

and all its cities were laid in ruins

before the L ord, before his fierce anger.

27 For thus says the L ord: The whole land shall be a desolation; yet I will not make a full end.


Because of this the earth shall mourn,

and the heavens above grow black;

for I have spoken, I have purposed;

I have not relented nor will I turn back.



At the noise of horseman and archer

every town takes to flight;

they enter thickets; they climb among rocks;

all the towns are forsaken,

and no one lives in them.


And you, O desolate one,

what do you mean that you dress in crimson,

that you deck yourself with ornaments of gold,

that you enlarge your eyes with paint?

In vain you beautify yourself.

Your lovers despise you;

they seek your life.


For I heard a cry as of a woman in labor,

anguish as of one bringing forth her first child,

the cry of daughter Zion gasping for breath,

stretching out her hands,

“Woe is me! I am fainting before killers!”


Some interpreters think that the Prophet is here affected with grief, because he saw that his own nation would soon perish; but I know not whether this is a right view. It is indeed true, that the prophets, though severe when denouncing God’s vengeance, did not yet put off the feelings of humanity. Hence they often bewailed the evils which they predicted; and this we shall see more clearly in its proper place. The prophets then had two feelings: when they were the heralds of God’s vengeance, they necessarily forgot their own sensibilities; but this courage did not prevent them from feeling sorrow for others; for they could not but sympathize with their brethren, when they saw them, even their own flesh, doomed to ruin. But in this place the Prophet seems not so much to mourn the calamities of the people, but employs figurative terms in order to awaken their stupor, for he saw that they were torpid, and that they neither feared God nor were touched with any shame. Since then there was so much insensibility in the people, it was necessary for Jeremiah and other servants of God to embellish their discourses, so as not simply to teach, but also forcibly and strongly to rouse their dormant minds.

He therefore says, My bowels, my bowels! We shall see that the Prophet in other places thus laments, when he speaks of Babylon, of Edom, and of other enemies of his people, and why? The Prophet was not indeed affected with grief when he heard that the Chaldeans would perish, and when God declared to him the same thing respecting other heathen nations, who had cruelly persecuted the holy people; but since thoughtless men, as I have said, take no notice of what God from heaven threatens them with, it is necessary to use such expressions as may rouse them from their torpor. So I interpret this place: the Prophet does not express his own grief for the calamities of his people, but by the prophetic spirit enlarges on what he had previously said; for he saw that what he had stated had no effect, or was not sufficient to rouse their minds. My bowels! he says. He had indeed grief in his bowels, for he was a member of the community; but we now speak of his object or the purpose he had in view in speaking thus. It is not then the expression of his own grief, but an affecting description, in order that what he had said might thoroughly rouse the minds of those who heedlessly laughed at the judgment of God.

He then adds, My heart tumultuates, or makes a noise: the verb means to resound, and hence it is metaphorically taken for tumultuating. He speaks of the palpitation of the heart, which takes place when there is great fear. But he calls it noise or tumult, as though he had said, that he was not now master of himself, so as to retain a calm and tranquil mind, for God smote his heart with horrible dread. He afterwards adds, I will not be silent, for the sound of the trumpet has my soul heard, or thou, my soul, hast heard, and the clamor of battle; for the word מלחמהchme, is to be thus taken here. He says that he would not be silent because this clamor made a noise in his heart. We hence conclude that he grieved not from a feeling of human sorrow, but he did that which he had been bidden to do by God; for he had been chosen to be the herald of God’s vengeance, which was nigh, though not dreaded by the Jews. 116116     Remarkably concise and striking are the words of this verse, —
   My bowels! my bowels! I am in pain! O the enclosures of my heart! Turbulent is my heart within me; I will not be silent; for the sound of the trumpet Have I heard; my soul, the shout of battle.

   To change the person of the verb, “I am in pain,” or in labor, as it literally means, as Blayney does, destroys the force and the vehemence of the passage; and all the early versions retain the first person. “The enclosures,” literally “the walls,” that is, what encloses or surrounds the heart, he mentions first the bowels, then what surrounds the heart, and afterwards the heart itself: and his pain was like that of a woman in travail. Being in this state, he resolved not to be silent but to declare their danger to the people. — Ed.

Some think that soul is here to be taken for the prophetic spirit, for trumpets had not yet sounded, nor was yet heard the clamor of battle. They therefore suppose that there is to be understood here a contrast, that Jeremiah did not perceive the noise by his ears, but in his heart. But I know not whether this refinement may be fitly applied to the Prophet’s words. I therefore think that Jeremiah means, that he spoke in earnest, because he saw God’s vengeance as though it were already made evident. And this availed not a little to gain credit to what he had stated, so that the Jews might know that he did not speak of himself, nor act a part as players do on the stage. They were then to know that he did not relate what God had pronounced, but that he was God’s herald in such a way, that he heard in his soul or heart, to his great terror, the tumult of war and the sound of the trumpet. It follows —

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