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Jeremiah 4 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Chapter 4

If you return, Israel—oracle of the Lord
    return to me.
If you put your detestable things out of my sight,
    and do not stray,
And swear, “As the Lord lives,”[a]
    in truth, in judgment, and in justice,
Then the nations shall bless themselves in him
    and in him glory.

For to the people of Judah and Jerusalem, thus says the Lord:

Till your untilled ground,
    and do not sow among thorns.
Be circumcised for the Lord,[b]
    remove the foreskins of your hearts,
    people of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem;
Or else my anger will break out like fire,
    and burn so that no one can quench it,
    because of your evil deeds.

The Invasion from the North

Proclaim it in Judah,
    in Jerusalem announce it;
Blow the trumpet throughout the land,
    call out, “Fill the ranks!”
Say, “Assemble, let us march
    to the fortified cities.”
Raise the signal—to Zion!
    Seek refuge! Don’t stand there!
Disaster I bring from the north,
    and great destruction.
Up comes the lion from its lair,
    the destroyer of nations has set out,
    has left its place,
To turn your land into a desolation,
    your cities into an uninhabited waste.
So put on sackcloth,
    mourn and wail:
“The blazing anger of the Lord
    has not turned away from us.”
    In that day—oracle of the Lord
The king will lose heart, and the princes;
    the priests will be horrified,
    and the prophets stunned.
10 “Ah! Lord God,” they will say,
    “You really did deceive[c] us
When you said: You shall have peace,
    while the sword was at our very throats.”
11 At that time it will be said
    to this people and to Jerusalem,
A scorching wind from the bare heights comes
    through the wilderness toward my daughter, the people.[d]
Not to winnow, not to cleanse,
12     a strong wind from there comes at my bidding.
Now I too pronounce
    sentence upon them.
13 See! like storm clouds he advances,
    like a whirlwind, his chariots;
Swifter than eagles, his horses:
    “Woe to us! we are ruined.”
14 Cleanse your heart of evil, Jerusalem,
    that you may be saved.
How long will you entertain
    wicked schemes?
15 A voice proclaims it from Dan,
    announces wickedness from Mount Ephraim:
16 “Make this known to the nations,
    announce it against Jerusalem:
Besiegers are coming from the distant land,
    shouting their war cry against the cities of Judah.”
17 Like watchers in the fields they surround her,
    for she has rebelled against me—oracle of the Lord.
18 Your conduct, your deeds, have done this to you;
    how bitter is this evil of yours,
    how it reaches to your very heart!
19 My body! my body! how I writhe![e]
    The walls of my heart!
My heart beats wildly,
    I cannot be still;
For I myself have heard the blast of the horn,
    the battle cry.
20 Ruin upon ruin is reported;
    the whole land is laid waste.
In an instant my tents are ravaged;
    in a flash, my shelters.
21 How long must I see the signal,
    hear the blast of the horn!
22 My people are fools,
    they do not know me;
They are senseless children,
    without understanding;
They are wise at evil,
    but they do not know how to do good.
23 I looked at the earth—it was waste and void;
    at the heavens—their light had gone out!
24 I looked at the mountains—they were quaking!
    All the hills were crumbling!
25 I looked—there was no one;
    even the birds of the air had flown away!
26 I looked—the garden land was a wilderness,
    with all its cities destroyed
    before the Lord, before his blazing anger.
27     For thus says the Lord:
The whole earth shall be waste,
    but I will not wholly destroy it.
28 Because of this the earth shall mourn,
    the heavens above shall darken;
I have spoken, I will not change my mind,
    I have decided, I will not turn back.
29 At the shout of rider and archer
    each city takes to flight;
They shrink into the thickets,
    they scale the rocks:
All the cities are abandoned,
    no one lives in them.
30 You now who are doomed, what are you doing
    dressing in purple,
    bedecking yourself with gold,
Enlarging your eyes with kohl?
    You beautify yourself in vain!
Your lovers reject you,
    they seek your life.
31 Yes, I hear the cry, like that of a woman in labor,
    like the anguish of a mother bearing her first child—
The cry of daughter Zion gasping,
    as she stretches out her hands:
“Ah, woe is me! I sink exhausted
    before my killers!”


  1. 4:2 As the Lord lives: this oath, made sincerely, implies Israel’s return and loyal adherence to God. Thus the ancient promises are fulfilled; cf. Gn 12:3; 18:18; 22:18; 26:4; Ps 72:17.
  2. 4:4 The external rite of circumcision accomplishes nothing unless it is accompanied by the removal of blindness and obstinacy of heart. Jeremiah’s view is reflected in Rom 2:25, 29; 1 Cor 7:19; Gal 5:6; 6:13, 15.
  3. 4:10 You really did deceive: Jeremiah complains that the Lord misled the people by fostering their complacency, leaving them unprepared and unrepentant as judgment approaches.
  4. 4:11 My daughter, the people: the covenant people personified as a young woman. Ezekiel 16 presents Israel and Judah as female infants whom the Lord adopts and then abandons and punishes because they desire other lords.
  5. 4:19–21 Probably the prophet’s own anguish at the coming destruction of Judah.
New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Scripture texts, prefaces, introductions, footnotes and cross references used in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC All Rights Reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

Jeremiah 4 New International Version (NIV)

“If you, Israel, will return,
    then return to me,”
declares the Lord.
“If you put your detestable idols out of my sight
    and no longer go astray,
and if in a truthful, just and righteous way
    you swear, ‘As surely as the Lord lives,’
then the nations will invoke blessings by him
    and in him they will boast.

This is what the Lord says to the people of Judah and to Jerusalem:

“Break up your unplowed ground
    and do not sow among thorns.
Circumcise yourselves to the Lord,
    circumcise your hearts,
    you people of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem,
or my wrath will flare up and burn like fire
    because of the evil you have done—
    burn with no one to quench it.

Disaster From the North

“Announce in Judah and proclaim in Jerusalem and say:
    ‘Sound the trumpet throughout the land!’
Cry aloud and say:
    ‘Gather together!
    Let us flee to the fortified cities!’
Raise the signal to go to Zion!
    Flee for safety without delay!
For I am bringing disaster from the north,
    even terrible destruction.”

A lion has come out of his lair;
    a destroyer of nations has set out.
He has left his place
    to lay waste your land.
Your towns will lie in ruins
    without inhabitant.
So put on sackcloth,
    lament and wail,
for the fierce anger of the Lord
    has not turned away from us.

“In that day,” declares the Lord,
    “the king and the officials will lose heart,
the priests will be horrified,
    and the prophets will be appalled.”

10 Then I said, “Alas, Sovereign Lord! How completely you have deceived this people and Jerusalem by saying, ‘You will have peace,’ when the sword is at our throats!”

11 At that time this people and Jerusalem will be told, “A scorching wind from the barren heights in the desert blows toward my people, but not to winnow or cleanse; 12 a wind too strong for that comes from me. Now I pronounce my judgments against them.”

13 Look! He advances like the clouds,
    his chariots come like a whirlwind,
his horses are swifter than eagles.
    Woe to us! We are ruined!
14 Jerusalem, wash the evil from your heart and be saved.
    How long will you harbor wicked thoughts?
15 A voice is announcing from Dan,
    proclaiming disaster from the hills of Ephraim.
16 “Tell this to the nations,
    proclaim concerning Jerusalem:
‘A besieging army is coming from a distant land,
    raising a war cry against the cities of Judah.
17 They surround her like men guarding a field,
    because she has rebelled against me,’”
declares the Lord.
18 “Your own conduct and actions
    have brought this on you.
This is your punishment.
    How bitter it is!
    How it pierces to the heart!”

19 Oh, my anguish, my anguish!
    I writhe in pain.
Oh, the agony of my heart!
    My heart pounds within me,
    I cannot keep silent.
For I have heard the sound of the trumpet;
    I have heard the battle cry.
20 Disaster follows disaster;
    the whole land lies in ruins.
In an instant my tents are destroyed,
    my shelter in a moment.
21 How long must I see the battle standard
    and hear the sound of the trumpet?

22 “My people are fools;
    they do not know me.
They are senseless children;
    they have no understanding.
They are skilled in doing evil;
    they know not how to do good.”

23 I looked at the earth,
    and it was formless and empty;
and at the heavens,
    and their light was gone.
24 I looked at the mountains,
    and they were quaking;
    all the hills were swaying.
25 I looked, and there were no people;
    every bird in the sky had flown away.
26 I looked, and the fruitful land was a desert;
    all its towns lay in ruins
    before the Lord, before his fierce anger.

27 This is what the Lord says:

“The whole land will be ruined,
    though I will not destroy it completely.
28 Therefore the earth will mourn
    and the heavens above grow dark,
because I have spoken and will not relent,
    I have decided and will not turn back.

29 At the sound of horsemen and archers
    every town takes to flight.
Some go into the thickets;
    some climb up among the rocks.
All the towns are deserted;
    no one lives in them.

30 What are you doing, you devastated one?
    Why dress yourself in scarlet
    and put on jewels of gold?
Why highlight your eyes with makeup?
    You adorn yourself in vain.
Your lovers despise you;
    they want to kill you.

31 I hear a cry as of a woman in labor,
    a groan as of one bearing her first child—
the cry of Daughter Zion gasping for breath,
    stretching out her hands and saying,
“Alas! I am fainting;
    my life is given over to murderers.”

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.

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