1 I wish that my eyes
were fountains of tears,
so I could cry day and night
for my people
who were killed.
2 I wish I could go into the desert
and find a hiding place
from all who are treacherous
and unfaithful to God.
The Lord Answers Jeremiah
3 The Lord replied:

Lies come from the mouths
of my people,
like arrows from a bow.
With each dishonest deed
their power increases,
and not one of them will admit
that I am God.

4 Jeremiah, all your friends
and relatives
tell lies about you,
so don't trust them.
5 They wear themselves out,
always looking for a new way
to cheat their friends.
6 Everyone takes advantage
of everyone else,
and no one will admit
that I am God.

7 And so I will purify
the hearts of my people
just as gold is purified
in a furnace.
I have no other choice.
8 They say they want peace,
but this lie is deadly,
like an arrow that strikes
when you least expect it.
9 Give me one good reason
not to punish them
as they deserve.
I, the Lord All-Powerful,
have spoken.
Jeremiah Weeps for His People
10 I weep for the pastureland
in the hill country.
It's so barren and scorched
that no one travels there.
No cattle can be found there,
and birds and wild animals
have all disappeared.

11 I heard the Lord reply,
“When I am finished,
Jerusalem and the towns of Judah
will be piles of ruins
where only jackals live.”
Why the Land Was Destroyed
12 I said to the Lord, “None of us can understand why the land has become like an uncrossable desert. Won't you explain why?”
13 The Lord said:
I destroyed the land because the people disobeyed me and rejected my laws and teachings. 14 They were stubborn and worshiped Baal, just as their ancestors did. 15 So I, the Lord All-Powerful, the God of Israel, promise them poison to eat and drink. 16 I'll scatter them in foreign countries that they and their ancestors have never even heard of. Finally, I will send enemy soldiers to kill every last one of them.
The Women Who Are Paid To Weep
17 The Lord All-Powerful said,
“Make arrangements now
for the women who are paid
to weep at funerals,
especially the women
who can cry the loudest.”

18 The people answered,
“Let them come quickly
and cry for us,
until our own eyes
are flooded with tears.
19 Now those of us on Zion cry,
‘We are ruined!
We can't stand the shame.
Our homes have been destroyed,
and we must leave our land.’

20 “We ask you women
to pay attention
to what the Lord says.
We will teach you a funeral song
that you can teach
your daughters and friends:
21 ‘We were in our fortress,
but death sneaked in
through our windows.
It even struck down
children at play
and our strongest young men.’

22 “The Lord has told us
the ground will be covered
with dead bodies,
like ungathered stalks of grain
or manure in a field.”
What the Lord Likes Best
23 The Lord says:

Don't brag about your wisdom
or strength or wealth.
24 If you feel you must brag,
then have enough sense
to brag about worshiping me,
the Lord.
What I like best
is showing kindness,
justice, and mercy
to everyone on earth.

25-26 Someday I will punish the nations of Egypt, Edom, Ammon, and Moab, and the tribes of the desert. The men of these nations are circumcised, but they don't worship me. And it's the same with you people of Judah. Your bodies are circumcised, but your hearts are unchanged.