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1“If you return, O Israel,
declares the Lord,
to me you should return.
If you remove your detestable things from my presence,
and do not waver,
2and if you swear, ‘As the Lord lives,’
in truth, in justice, and in righteousness,
then nations shall bless themselves in him,
and in him shall they glory.”

3For thus says the Lord to the men of Judah and Jerusalem:

“Break up your fallow ground,
and sow not among thorns.
4Circumcise yourselves to the Lord;
remove the foreskin of your hearts,
O men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem;
lest my wrath go forth like fire,
and burn with none to quench it,
because of the evil of your deeds.”

Disaster from the North

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

“Blow the trumpet through the land;
cry aloud and say,
‘Assemble, and let us go
into the fortified cities!’
6Raise a standard toward Zion,
flee for safety, stay not,
for I bring disaster from the north,
and great destruction.
7A lion has gone up from his 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.
8For this put on sackcloth,
lament and wail,
for the fierce anger of the Lord
has not turned back from us.”

9“In that day, declares the Lord, courage shall fail both king and officials. The priests shall be appalled and the prophets astounded.” 10Then I said, “Ah, Lord God, surely you have utterly deceived this people and Jerusalem, saying, ‘It shall be well with you,’ whereas the sword has reached their very life.”

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

13Behold, he comes up like clouds;
his chariots like the whirlwind;
his horses are swifter than eagles—
woe to us, for we are ruined!
14O Jerusalem, wash your heart from evil,
that you may be saved.
How long shall your wicked thoughts
lodge within you?
15For a voice declares from Dan
and proclaims trouble from Mount Ephraim.
16Warn the nations that he is coming;
announce to Jerusalem,
“Besiegers come from a distant land;
they shout against the cities of Judah.
17Like keepers of a field are they against her all around,
because she has rebelled against me,
declares the Lord.
18Your ways and your deeds
have brought this upon you.
This is your doom, and it is bitter;
it has reached your very heart.”

Anguish over Judah's Desolation

19My 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.
20Crash follows hard on crash;
the whole land is laid waste.
Suddenly my tents are laid waste,
my curtains in a moment.
21How long must I see the standard
and hear the sound of the trumpet?

22“For my people are foolish;
they know me not;
they are stupid children;
they have no understanding.
They are ‘wise’—in doing evil!
But how to do good they know not.”

23I looked on the earth, and behold, it was without form and void;
and to the heavens, and they had no light.
24I looked on the mountains, and behold, they were quaking,
and all the hills moved to and fro.
25I looked, and behold, there was no man,
and all the birds of the air had fled.
26I looked, and behold, the fruitful land was a desert,
and all its cities were laid in ruins
before the Lord, before his fierce anger.

27For thus says the Lord, “The whole land shall be a desolation; yet I will not make a full end.

28“For this the earth shall mourn,
and the heavens above be dark;
for I have spoken; I have purposed;
I have not relented, nor will I turn back.”

29At the noise of horseman and archer
every city takes to flight;
they enter thickets; they climb among rocks;
all the cities are forsaken,
and no man dwells in them.
30And you, O desolate one,
what do you mean that you dress in scarlet,
that you adorn 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.
31For I heard a cry as of a woman in labor,
anguish as of one giving birth to her first child,
the cry of the daughter of Zion gasping for breath,
stretching out her hands,
“Woe is me! I am fainting before murderers.”


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14. Only one means of deliverance is left to the Jews—a thorough repentance.

vain thoughts—namely, projects for deliverance, such as enlisting the Egyptians on their side. Gesenius translates, "How long wilt thou harbor vain thoughts?"

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