Bible Book List

Jeremiah 2 Contemporary English Version (CEV)

Israel’s Unfaithfulness

The Lord told me to 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.
You belonged to me alone,
like the first part of the harvest,
    and I severely punished
    those who mistreated you.

Listen, people of Israel,[a]
    and I, the Lord, will speak.
I was never unfair
    to your ancestors,
but they left me
and became worthless
    by following worthless idols.
Your 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.

I brought you here to my land,
    where food is abundant,
but you made my land filthy
    with your sins.
The 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

I will take you to court
and accuse you
    and your descendants
10 of a crime that no nation
    has ever committed before.
Just ask anyone, anywhere,
from the eastern deserts
    to the islands in the west.
11 You 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.
12 Tell the heavens
    to tremble with fear!
13 You, 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.

14 People of Israel,
you weren’t born slaves;
    you were captured in war.
15 Enemies roared like lions
and destroyed your land;
    towns lie burned and empty.
16 Soldiers from the Egyptian towns
of Memphis and Tahpanhes
    have cracked your skulls.
17 It’s all your own fault!
You stopped following me,
    the Lord your God,
18 and you trusted the power
    of Egypt and Assyria.[b]
19 Your 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.

20 Long 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.[c]
21 You were a choice grapevine,
but now you produce nothing
    but small, rotten grapes.

Israel Is Stained with Guilt

22 The Lord said:

People of Israel,
    you are stained with guilt,
and no soap or bleach
    can wash it away.
23 You deny your sins
and say, “We aren’t unclean.
    We haven’t worshiped Baal.”[d]
But think about what you do
    in Hinnom Valley.[e]
And you run back and forth
    like young camels,
as you rush to worship one idol
    after another.
24 You are a female donkey
    sniffing the desert air,
wanting to mate
with just anyone.
    You are an easy catch!
25 Your 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.”

26 You and your leaders
are more disgraceful
    than thieves—
you and your kings,
    your priests and prophets
27 worship 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.
28 Go 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

29 The Lord said to Israel:

You accuse me of not saving you,
    but I say you have rebelled.
30 I tried punishing you,
but you refused
    to come back to me,
and like fierce lions
    you killed my prophets.

31 Now 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!”
32 A bride could not forget
to wear her jewelry
    to her wedding,
but you have forgotten me
    day after day.
33 You are so clever
    at finding lovers
that you could give lessons
    to a prostitute.
34 You killed innocent people
    for no reason at all.
And even though their blood
    can be seen on your clothes,
35 you 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.

36 When Assyria let you down,
    you ran to Egypt,
but you’ll find no help there,
37 and you will leave
    in great sadness.[f]
I won’t let you find help
    from those you trust.


  1. 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. 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.”
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 2.23 Hinnom Valley: Hebrew “the valley” (see 7.31-32; 19.1-6).
  6. 2.37 in great sadness: Or “as prisoners.”

Jeremiah 2 New International Version (NIV)

Israel Forsakes God

The word of the Lord came to me: “Go and proclaim in the hearing of Jerusalem:

“This is what the Lord says:

“‘I remember the devotion of your youth,
    how as a bride you loved me
and followed me through the wilderness,
    through a land not sown.
Israel was holy to the Lord,
    the firstfruits of his harvest;
all who devoured her were held guilty,
    and disaster overtook them,’”
declares the Lord.

Hear the word of the Lord, you descendants of Jacob,
    all you clans of Israel.

This is what the Lord says:

“What fault did your ancestors find in me,
    that they strayed so far from me?
They followed worthless idols
    and became worthless themselves.
They did not ask, ‘Where is the Lord,
    who brought us up out of Egypt
and led us through the barren wilderness,
    through a land of deserts and ravines,
a land of drought and utter darkness,
    a land where no one travels and no one lives?’
I brought you into a fertile land
    to eat its fruit and rich produce.
But you came and defiled my land
    and made my inheritance detestable.
The priests did not ask,
    ‘Where is the Lord?’
Those who deal with the law did not know me;
    the leaders rebelled against me.
The prophets prophesied by Baal,
    following worthless idols.

“Therefore I bring charges against you again,”
declares the Lord.
    “And I will bring charges against your children’s children.
10 Cross over to the coasts of Cyprus and look,
    send to Kedar[a] and observe closely;
    see if there has ever been anything like this:
11 Has a nation ever changed its gods?
    (Yet they are not gods at all.)
But my people have exchanged their glorious God
    for worthless idols.
12 Be appalled at this, you heavens,
    and shudder with great horror,”
declares the Lord.
13 “My people have committed two sins:
They have forsaken me,
    the spring of living water,
and have dug their own cisterns,
    broken cisterns that cannot hold water.
14 Is Israel a servant, a slave by birth?
    Why then has he become plunder?
15 Lions have roared;
    they have growled at him.
They have laid waste his land;
    his towns are burned and deserted.
16 Also, the men of Memphis and Tahpanhes
    have cracked your skull.
17 Have you not brought this on yourselves
    by forsaking the Lord your God
    when he led you in the way?
18 Now why go to Egypt
    to drink water from the Nile[b]?
And why go to Assyria
    to drink water from the Euphrates?
19 Your wickedness will punish you;
    your backsliding will rebuke you.
Consider then and realize
    how evil and bitter it is for you
when you forsake the Lord your God
    and have no awe of me,”
declares the Lord, the Lord Almighty.

20 “Long ago you broke off your yoke
    and tore off your bonds;
    you said, ‘I will not serve you!’
Indeed, on every high hill
    and under every spreading tree
    you lay down as a prostitute.
21 I had planted you like a choice vine
    of sound and reliable stock.
How then did you turn against me
    into a corrupt, wild vine?
22 Although you wash yourself with soap
    and use an abundance of cleansing powder,
    the stain of your guilt is still before me,”
declares the Sovereign Lord.
23 “How can you say, ‘I am not defiled;
    I have not run after the Baals’?
See how you behaved in the valley;
    consider what you have done.
You are a swift she-camel
    running here and there,
24 a wild donkey accustomed to the desert,
    sniffing the wind in her craving—
    in her heat who can restrain her?
Any males that pursue her need not tire themselves;
    at mating time they will find her.
25 Do not run until your feet are bare
    and your throat is dry.
But you said, ‘It’s no use!
    I love foreign gods,
    and I must go after them.’

26 “As a thief is disgraced when he is caught,
    so the people of Israel are disgraced—
they, their kings and their officials,
    their priests and their prophets.
27 They say to wood, ‘You are my father,’
    and to stone, ‘You gave me birth.’
They have turned their backs to me
    and not their faces;
yet when they are in trouble, they say,
    ‘Come and save us!’
28 Where then are the gods you made for yourselves?
    Let them come if they can save you
    when you are in trouble!
For you, Judah, have as many gods
    as you have towns.

29 “Why do you bring charges against me?
    You have all rebelled against me,”
declares the Lord.
30 “In vain I punished your people;
    they did not respond to correction.
Your sword has devoured your prophets
    like a ravenous lion.

31 “You of this generation, consider the word of the Lord:

“Have I been a desert to Israel
    or a land of great darkness?
Why do my people say, ‘We are free to roam;
    we will come to you no more’?
32 Does a young woman forget her jewelry,
    a bride her wedding ornaments?
Yet my people have forgotten me,
    days without number.
33 How skilled you are at pursuing love!
    Even the worst of women can learn from your ways.
34 On your clothes is found
    the lifeblood of the innocent poor,
    though you did not catch them breaking in.
Yet in spite of all this
35     you say, ‘I am innocent;
    he is not angry with me.’
But I will pass judgment on you
    because you say, ‘I have not sinned.’
36 Why do you go about so much,
    changing your ways?
You will be disappointed by Egypt
    as you were by Assyria.
37 You will also leave that place
    with your hands on your head,
for the Lord has rejected those you trust;
    you will not be helped by them.


  1. Jeremiah 2:10 In the Syro-Arabian desert
  2. Jeremiah 2:18 Hebrew Shihor; that is, a branch of the Nile
New International Version (NIV)

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Viewing of
Cross references