The Lord Warns the People of Judah
1 Jeremiah received a message from the Lord for all the people of Judah living in Egypt. The message was for the people of Judah living in the towns of Migdol, Tahpanhes, Memphis, and southern Egypt. This was the message: 2 “This is what the LORD All-Powerful, the God of Israel, says: ‘You people saw the disasters that I brought on the city of Jerusalem and on all the towns of Judah. The towns are empty piles of stones today. 3 They were destroyed because the people living in them did evil. They gave sacrifices to other gods, and that made me angry! Your people and your ancestors did not worship those gods in the past. 4 I sent my servants, the prophets, to those people again and again. They spoke my message and said to the people, “Don’t do this terrible thing. I hate for you to worship idols.” 5 But they didn’t listen to the prophets or pay attention to them. They didn’t stop doing wicked things. They didn’t stop making sacrifices to other gods. 6 So I showed my anger against them. I punished the towns of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem. My anger made Jerusalem and the towns of Judah the empty piles of stone they are today.’
7 “So this is what the LORD God All-Powerful, the God of Israel, says: ‘Why are you hurting yourselves by continuing to worship idols? You are separating the men and women, the children and babies from the family of Judah. And so you leave yourselves without anyone left from the family of Judah. 8 Why do you people want to make me angry by making idols? Now you are living in Egypt. And now you are making me angry by offering sacrifices to the false gods of Egypt. You will destroy yourselves, and it will be your own fault. The people of all the other nations on the earth will say bad things about you and make fun of you. 9 Have you forgotten about the wicked things your ancestors did? And have you forgotten about the wicked things the kings and queens of Judah did? Have you forgotten about the wicked things you and your wives did in Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem? 10 Even to this day the people of Judah have not made themselves humble. They have not shown any respect for me, and they have not followed my teachings. They have not obeyed the laws I gave you and your ancestors.’
11 “So this is what the LORD All-Powerful, the God of Israel, says: ‘I have decided to make terrible things happen to you. I will destroy the whole family of Judah. 12 There were a few survivors from Judah. They came here to Egypt. But I will destroy the few survivors from the family of Judah. They will be killed with swords or die from hunger. The people of other nations will point at them and wish evil for them. People will be shocked and frightened by what has happened to them. The name Judah will become a curse word and an insult. 13 I will punish those who have gone to live in Egypt. I will use war, hunger, and disease to punish them. I will punish them just as I punished the city of Jerusalem. 14 Not one of the few survivors of Judah who have gone to live in Egypt will escape my punishment. None of them will survive to come back to Judah. They want to come back to Judah and live there. But not one of them will go back to Judah, except a few people who escape.’ ”
15 There were many people from Judah living in southern Egypt. Many of the women from Judah were meeting together in a large group and making sacrifices to other gods, and their husbands knew what they were doing. Those men said to Jeremiah, 16 “We will not listen to the message from the LORD that you spoke to us. 17 We promised to make sacrifices to the Queen of Heaven, and we will do everything we promised. We will offer sacrifices and pour out drink offerings in worship to her. We did that in the past. Our ancestors, our kings, and our officials did that in the past. All of us did those things in the towns of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem. When we worshiped the Queen of Heaven, we had plenty of food. We were successful. Nothing bad happened to us. 18 But then we stopped making sacrifices to the Queen of Heaven, and we stopped pouring out drink offerings to her. And we have had problems ever since we stopped worshiping her. Our people have been killed by war and hunger.”
19 Then the women spoke up* Then the women spoke up This is from the ancient Greek version. and said to Jeremiah, “Our husbands knew what we were doing. We had their permission to make sacrifices to the Queen of Heaven. We had their permission to pour out drink offerings to her. Our husbands also knew that we were making cakes that looked like her.”
20 Then Jeremiah spoke to all the men and women who told him these things. 21 He said, “The LORD remembered that you made sacrifices in the towns of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem. You and your ancestors, your kings, your officials, and the people of the land did that. He remembered what you had done and thought about it. 22 The LORD hated the terrible things you did, and he could not be patient with you any longer. So he made your country an empty desert. No one lives there now. Other people say bad things about that country. 23 The reason all those bad things happened to you is that you made sacrifices to other gods. You sinned against the LORD. You didn’t obey him or follow his teachings or the laws he gave you. You didn’t keep your part of the agreement.† agreement This probably means the Law of Moses, the commands and agreement God made with the Israelites.”
24 Then Jeremiah spoke to all the men and women. He said, “All you people of Judah who are now in Egypt, listen to this message from the LORD. 25 This is what the LORD All-Powerful, the God of the people of Israel, says: ‘You women did what you said you would do. You said, “We will keep the promises we made. We promised to make sacrifices and pour out drink offerings to the Queen of Heaven.” So go ahead. Do what you promised you would do. Keep your promises.’ 26 But listen to this message from the LORD, all you people of Judah who are living in Egypt: ‘I, the LORD, use my own great name to make this promise: None of the people of Judah who are now living in Egypt will ever again use my name to make promises. They will never again say, “As surely as the Lord GOD lives ….” 27 I am watching over the people of Judah, but I am not watching over them to take care of them. I am watching over them to bring them harm. The people of Judah who live in Egypt will die from hunger or be killed in war until they are completely destroyed. 28 Some people of Judah will escape being killed by the sword. They will come back to Judah from Egypt. But only a few people of Judah will escape. Then the survivors of Judah who came to live in Egypt will know whose word proves to be true. They will know whether it was my word or their word that came true. 29 I will give you people proof,’ says the LORD, ‘that I will punish you here in Egypt. Then you will know for sure that my promises to harm you will really happen. 30 This will be your proof that I will do what I say.’ This is what the LORD says: ‘Pharaoh Hophra is the king of Egypt. His enemies want to kill him. I will give Pharaoh Hophra to his enemies. Just as I gave Zedekiah king of Judah to his enemy Nebuchadnezzar, in the same way I will give Pharaoh Hophra to his enemies.’ ”
*44:19 Then the women spoke up This is from the ancient Greek version.
†44:23 agreement This probably means the Law of Moses, the commands and agreement God made with the Israelites.