Jeremiah 44-45 New International Reader’s Version

August 14 (Year Six)

A message from the Lord came to Jeremiah. It was about all the Jews living in Lower Egypt. They were living in Migdol, Tahpanhes and Memphis. It was also about all the Jews living in Upper Egypt. The Lord who rules over all is the God of Israel. He said, “You saw all the trouble I brought on Jerusalem. I also brought it on all the towns in Judah. Today they lie there deserted and destroyed. That’s because of the evil things their people did. They made me very angry. They burned incense to other gods. And they worshiped them. They and you and your people of long ago never knew those gods. Again and again I sent my servants the prophets. They said, ‘Don’t worship other gods! The Lord hates it!’ But the people didn’t listen. They didn’t pay any attention. They didn’t turn from their sinful ways. They didn’t stop burning incense to other gods. So my burning anger was poured out. It blazed out against the towns of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem. It made them the dry and empty places they are today.”

The Lord God who rules over all is the God of Israel. He says, “Why do you want to bring all this trouble on yourselves? You are removing from Judah its men and women, its children and babies. Not one of you will be left. Why do you want to make me angry with the gods your hands have made? Why do you burn incense to the gods of Egypt, where you now live? You will destroy yourselves. All the nations on earth will use your name as a curse. They will say you are shameful. Have you forgotten the evil things done by your people of long ago? The kings and queens of Judah did those same things. So did you and your wives. They were done in the land of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem. To this day the people of Judah have not made themselves humble in my sight. They have not shown any respect for me. They have not obeyed my law. They have not followed the rules I gave you and your people of long ago.”

The Lord who rules over all is the God of Israel. He says, “I have decided to bring horrible trouble on you. I will destroy the whole land of Judah. I will destroy the people of Judah who are left. They had decided to go to Egypt and make their homes there. But all of them will die in Egypt. They will die of war or hunger. All of them will die, from the least important of them to the most important. They will die of war or hunger. People will use their name as a curse. They will be shocked at them. They will say bad things about them. And they will say they are shameful. I will use war, hunger and plague to punish the Jews who live in Egypt. I punished Jerusalem in the same way. None of the people of Judah who have gone to live in Egypt will escape. Not one of them will live to return to Judah. They long to return and live there. But only a few will escape from Egypt and go back.”

All the Jews who were living in Lower and Upper Egypt gathered to give Jeremiah their answer. A large crowd had come together. It included men who knew that their wives were burning incense to other gods. Their wives were there with them. All of them said to Jeremiah, “We won’t listen to the message you have spoken to us in the Lord’s name! We will certainly do everything we said we would. We’ll burn incense to the female god called the Queen of Heaven. We’ll pour out drink offerings to her. We’ll do just as we and our people of long ago have done. Our kings and our officials also did it. All of us did it in the towns of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem. At that time we had plenty of food. We were well off. We didn’t suffer any harm. But then we stopped burning incense to the Queen of Heaven. We stopped pouring out drink offerings to her. And ever since that time we haven’t had anything. Instead, we’ve been dying of war and hunger.”

The women added, “We burned incense to the Queen of Heaven. We poured out drink offerings to her. And our husbands knew we were making cakes that looked like her. They knew we were pouring out drink offerings to her.”

Then Jeremiah spoke to all the people who were answering him. He spoke to men and women alike. He said, “Didn’t the Lord know you were burning incense in the towns of Judah? Didn’t he care that you were also doing it in the streets of Jerusalem? You and your people of long ago were doing it. Your kings and officials were doing it too. So were the rest of the people in the land. The Lord couldn’t put up any longer with the evil things you were doing. He hated the things you did. So your land became a curse. It became a dry and empty desert. No one lived there. And that’s the way it still is today. You have burned incense to other gods. You have sinned against the Lord. You haven’t obeyed him or his law. You haven’t followed his rules. You haven’t lived up to the terms of the covenant he made with you. That’s why all this trouble has come on you. You have seen it with your own eyes.”

Then Jeremiah spoke to all the people. That included the women. He said, “All you people of Judah in Egypt, listen to the Lord’s message. The Lord who rules over all is the God of Israel. He says, ‘You and your wives have done what you promised you would do. You said, “We will certainly keep the promises we made to the Queen of Heaven. We’ll burn incense to her. We’ll pour out drink offerings to her.” ’

“Go ahead then. Do what you said you would! Keep your promises! But listen to the Lord’s message. Listen, all you Jews living in Egypt. ‘I make a promise by my own great name,’ says the Lord. ‘Here is what I promise. “No one from Judah who lives anywhere in Egypt will ever again pray in my name. None of them will ever make this promise. They will never say, ‘You can be sure that the Lord and King is alive.’ ” I am watching over them to do them harm and not good. The Jews in Egypt will die of war and hunger until all of them are destroyed. Some will not be killed. They will return to Judah from Egypt. But they will be very few. Then all the people of Judah who came to live in Egypt will know the truth. They will know whether what I say or what they say will come true.

“ ‘I will give you a sign that I will punish you in this place,’ announces the Lord. ‘Then you can be sure that my warnings of harm against you will come true.’ The Lord says, ‘I am going to hand over Pharaoh Hophra king of Egypt. I will hand him over to his enemies who want to kill him. In the same way, I handed over King Zedekiah to Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon. He was the enemy who wanted to kill Zedekiah.’ ”

45Jeremiah talked to Baruch, the son of Neriah. It was in the fourth year that Jehoiakim, the son of Josiah, was king of Judah. It was when Baruch had written down on a scroll the words Jeremiah the prophet told him to write. Jeremiah had said, “The Lord is the God of Israel. Baruch, he says to you, ‘You have said, “How terrible it is for me! The Lord has added sorrow to my pain. I’m worn out from all my groaning. I can’t find any rest.” ’ But here is what the Lord has told me to say to you, Baruch. ‘The Lord says, “I will destroy what I have built up. I will pull up by the roots what I have planted. I will do this throughout the earth. So should you seek great things for yourself? Do not seek them. I will bring trouble on everyone,” announces the Lord. “But no matter where you go, I will let you escape with your life.” ’ ”

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