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Jeremiah 12 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Chapter 12

You would be in the right, O Lord,
    if I should dispute with you;
    even so, I must lay out the case against you.
Why does the way of the wicked prosper,
    why do all the treacherous live in contentment?
You planted them; they have taken root,
    they flourish and bear fruit as well.
You are upon their lips,
    but far from their thoughts.
Lord, you know me, you see me,
    you have found that my heart is with you.
Pick them out like sheep for the butcher,
    set them apart for the day of slaughter.[a]
How long must the land mourn,
    the grass of the whole countryside wither?
Because of the wickedness of those who dwell in it
    beasts and birds disappear,
    for they say, “God does not care about our future.”

If running against men has wearied you,
    how will you race against horses?
And if you are safe only on a level stretch,
    what will you do in the jungle of the Jordan?

Your kindred and your father’s house, even they betray you; they have recruited a force against you. Do not believe them, even when they speak fair words to you.

The Lord’s Complaint

I have abandoned my house,
    cast off my heritage;
The beloved of my soul I have delivered
    into the hand of her foes.
My heritage has become for me
    like a lion in the thicket;
She has raised her voice against me,
    therefore she has incurred my hatred.
My heritage is a prey for hyenas,
    is surrounded by vultures;
Come, gather together, all you wild animals,
    come and eat!
10 Many shepherds have ravaged my vineyard,
    have trampled down my heritage;
My delightful portion they have turned
    into a desert waste.
11 They have made it a mournful waste,
    desolate before me,
Desolate, the whole land,
    because no one takes it to heart.
12 Upon every height in the wilderness
    marauders have appeared.
The Lord has a sword that consumes
    the land from end to end:
    no peace for any living thing.
13 They have sown wheat and reaped thorns,
    they have tired themselves out for no purpose;
They are shamed by their harvest,
    the burning anger of the Lord.

Judah’s Neighbors. 14 Thus says the Lord, against all my evil neighbors[b] who plunder the heritage I gave my people Israel as their own: See, I will uproot them from their land; the house of Judah I will uproot in their midst.

15 But after uprooting them, I will have compassion on them again and bring them back, each to their heritage, each to their land. 16 And if they truly learn my people’s custom of swearing by my name, “As the Lord lives,” just as they taught my people to swear by Baal, then they shall be built up in the midst of my people. 17 But if they do not obey, I will uproot and destroy that nation entirely—oracle of the Lord.


  1. 12:3 Jeremiah calls the Lord to account for allowing the wicked to flourish while he himself is persecuted for his fidelity to the Lord’s mission; cf. 20:12. See Jesus’ judgment, Mk 9:42. The metaphors indicate that Jeremiah has even greater trials ahead of him.
  2. 12:14 My evil neighbors: nations surrounding Israel, the land belonging to the Lord; cf. Is 8:8.
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 12 New International Version (NIV)

Jeremiah’s Complaint

12 You are always righteous, Lord,
    when I bring a case before you.
Yet I would speak with you about your justice:
    Why does the way of the wicked prosper?
    Why do all the faithless live at ease?
You have planted them, and they have taken root;
    they grow and bear fruit.
You are always on their lips
    but far from their hearts.
Yet you know me, Lord;
    you see me and test my thoughts about you.
Drag them off like sheep to be butchered!
    Set them apart for the day of slaughter!
How long will the land lie parched
    and the grass in every field be withered?
Because those who live in it are wicked,
    the animals and birds have perished.
Moreover, the people are saying,
    “He will not see what happens to us.”

God’s Answer

“If you have raced with men on foot
    and they have worn you out,
    how can you compete with horses?
If you stumble[a] in safe country,
    how will you manage in the thickets by[b] the Jordan?
Your relatives, members of your own family—
    even they have betrayed you;
    they have raised a loud cry against you.
Do not trust them,
    though they speak well of you.

“I will forsake my house,
    abandon my inheritance;
I will give the one I love
    into the hands of her enemies.
My inheritance has become to me
    like a lion in the forest.
She roars at me;
    therefore I hate her.
Has not my inheritance become to me
    like a speckled bird of prey
    that other birds of prey surround and attack?
Go and gather all the wild beasts;
    bring them to devour.
10 Many shepherds will ruin my vineyard
    and trample down my field;
they will turn my pleasant field
    into a desolate wasteland.
11 It will be made a wasteland,
    parched and desolate before me;
the whole land will be laid waste
    because there is no one who cares.
12 Over all the barren heights in the desert
    destroyers will swarm,
for the sword of the Lord will devour
    from one end of the land to the other;
    no one will be safe.
13 They will sow wheat but reap thorns;
    they will wear themselves out but gain nothing.
They will bear the shame of their harvest
    because of the Lord’s fierce anger.”

14 This is what the Lord says: “As for all my wicked neighbors who seize the inheritance I gave my people Israel, I will uproot them from their lands and I will uproot the people of Judah from among them. 15 But after I uproot them, I will again have compassion and will bring each of them back to their own inheritance and their own country. 16 And if they learn well the ways of my people and swear by my name, saying, ‘As surely as the Lord lives’—even as they once taught my people to swear by Baal—then they will be established among my people. 17 But if any nation does not listen, I will completely uproot and destroy it,” declares the Lord.


  1. Jeremiah 12:5 Or you feel secure only
  2. Jeremiah 12:5 Or the flooding of
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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