Passage: Jeremiah 18, 19, 20, 21 (RSV)

Jeremiah 18

1The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD:
2"Arise, and go down to the potter's house, and there I will let you hear my words."
3So I went down to the potter's house, and there he was working at his wheel.
4And the vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter's hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to do.
5Then the word of the LORD came to me:
6"O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter has done? says the LORD. Behold, like the clay in the potter's hand, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel.
7If at any time I declare concerning a nation or a kingdom, that I will pluck up and break down and destroy it,
8and if that nation, concerning which I have spoken, turns from its evil, I will repent of the evil that I intended to do to it.
9And if at any time I declare concerning a nation or a kingdom that I will build and plant it,
10and if it does evil in my sight, not listening to my voice, then I will repent of the good which I had intended to do to it.
11Now, therefore, say to the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem: `Thus says the LORD, Behold, I am shaping evil against you and devising a plan against you. Return, every one from his evil way, and amend your ways and your doings.'
12"But they say, `That is in vain! We will follow our own plans, and will every one act according to the stubbornness of his evil heart.'
13"Therefore thus says the LORD: Ask among the nations, who has heard the like of this? The virgin Israel has done a very horrible thing.
14Does the snow of Lebanon leave the crags of Si'rion? Do the mountain waters run dry, the cold flowing streams?
15But my people have forgotten me, they burn incense to false gods; they have stumbled in their ways, in the ancient roads, and have gone into bypaths, not the highway,
16making their land a horror, a thing to be hissed at for ever. Every one who passes by it is horrified and shakes his head.
17Like the east wind I will scatter them before the enemy. I will show them my back, not my face, in the day of their calamity."
18Then they said, "Come, let us make plots against Jeremiah, for the law shall not perish from the priest, nor counsel from the wise, nor the word from the prophet. Come, let us smite him with the tongue, and let us not heed any of his words."
19Give heed to me, O LORD, and hearken to my plea.
20Is evil a recompense for good? Yet they have dug a pit for my life. Remember how I stood before thee to speak good for them, to turn away thy wrath from them.
21Therefore deliver up their children to famine; give them over to the power of the sword, let their wives become childless and widowed. May their men meet death by pestilence, their youths be slain by the sword in battle.
22May a cry be heard from their houses, when thou bringest the marauder suddenly upon them! For they have dug a pit to take me, and laid snares for my feet.
23Yet, thou, O LORD, knowest all their plotting to slay me. Forgive not their iniquity, nor blot out their sin from thy sight. Let them be overthrown before thee; deal with them in the time of thine anger.

Jeremiah 19

1Thus said the LORD, "Go, buy a potter's earthen flask, and take some of the elders of the people and some of the senior priests,
2and go out to the valley of the son of Hinnom at the entry of the Potsherd Gate, and proclaim there the words that I tell you.
3You shall say, `Hear the word of the LORD, O kings of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem. Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, Behold, I am bringing such evil upon this place that the ears of every one who hears of it will tingle.
4Because the people have forsaken me, and have profaned this place by burning incense in it to other gods whom neither they nor their fathers nor the kings of Judah have known; and because they have filled this place with the blood of innocents,
5and have built the high places of Ba'al to burn their sons in the fire as burnt offerings to Ba'al, which I did not command or decree, nor did it come into my mind;
6therefore, behold, days are coming, says the LORD, when this place shall no more be called Topheth, or the valley of the son of Hinnom, but the valley of Slaughter.
7And in this place I will make void the plans of Judah and Jerusalem, and will cause their people to fall by the sword before their enemies, and by the hand of those who seek their life. I will give their dead bodies for food to the birds of the air and to the beasts of the earth.
8And I will make this city a horror, a thing to be hissed at; every one who passes by it will be horrified and will hiss because of all its disasters.
9And I will make them eat the flesh of their sons and their daughters, and every one shall eat the flesh of his neighbor in the siege and in the distress, with which their enemies and those who seek their life afflict them.'
10"Then you shall break the flask in the sight of the men who go with you,
11and shall say to them, `Thus says the LORD of hosts: So will I break this people and this city, as one breaks a potter's vessel, so that it can never be mended. Men shall bury in Topheth because there will be no place else to bury.
12Thus will I do to this place, says the LORD, and to its inhabitants, making this city like Topheth.
13The houses of Jerusalem and the houses of the kings of Judah -- all the houses upon whose roofs incense has been burned to all the host of heaven, and drink offerings have been poured out to other gods -- shall be defiled like the place of Topheth.'"
14Then Jeremiah came from Topheth, where the LORD had sent him to prophesy, and he stood in the court of the LORD's house, and said to all the people:
15"Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, Behold, I am bringing upon this city and upon all its towns all the evil that I have pronounced against it, because they have stiffened their neck, refusing to hear my words."

Jeremiah 20

1Now Pashhur the priest, the son of Immer, who was chief officer in the house of the LORD, heard Jeremiah prophesying these things.
2Then Pashhur beat Jeremiah the prophet, and put him in the stocks that were in the upper Benjamin Gate of the house of the LORD.
3On the morrow, when Pashhur released Jeremiah from the stocks, Jeremiah said to him, "The LORD does not call your name Pashhur, but Terror on every side.
4For thus says the LORD: Behold, I will make you a terror to yourself and to all your friends. They shall fall by the sword of their enemies while you look on. And I will give all Judah into the hand of the king of Babylon; he shall carry them captive to Babylon, and shall slay them with the sword.
5Moreover, I will give all the wealth of the city, all its gains, all its prized belongings, and all the treasures of the kings of Judah into the hand of their enemies, who shall plunder them, and seize them, and carry them to Babylon.
6And you, Pashhur, and all who dwell in your house, shall go into captivity; to Babylon you shall go; and there you shall die, and there you shall be buried, you and all your friends, to whom you have prophesied falsely."
7O LORD, thou hast deceived me, and I was deceived; thou art stronger than I, and thou hast prevailed. I have become a laughingstock all the day; every one mocks me.
8For whenever I speak, I cry out, I shout, "Violence and destruction!" For the word of the LORD has become for me a reproach and derision all day long.
9If I say, "I will not mention him, or speak any more in his name," there is in my heart as it were a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I am weary with holding it in, and I cannot.
10For I hear many whispering. Terror is on every side! "Denounce him! Let us denounce him!" say all my familiar friends, watching for my fall. "Perhaps he will be deceived, then we can overcome him, and take our revenge on him."
11But the LORD is with me as a dread warrior; therefore my persecutors will stumble, they will not overcome me. They will be greatly shamed, for they will not succeed. Their eternal dishonor will never be forgotten.
12O LORD of hosts, who triest the righteous, who seest the heart and the mind, let me see thy vengeance upon them, for to thee have I committed my cause.
13Sing to the LORD; praise the LORD! For he has delivered the life of the needy from the hand of evildoers.
14Cursed be the day on which I was born! The day when my mother bore me, let it not be blessed!
15Cursed be the man who brought the news to my father, "A son is born to you," making him very glad.
16Let that man be like the cities which the LORD overthrew without pity; let him hear a cry in the morning and an alarm at noon,
17because he did not kill me in the womb; so my mother would have been my grave, and her womb for ever great.
18Why did I come forth from the womb to see toil and sorrow, and spend my days in shame?

Jeremiah 21

1This is the word which came to Jeremiah from the LORD, when King Zedeki'ah sent to him Pashhur the son of Malchi'ah and Zephani'ah the priest, the son of Ma-asei'ah, saying,
2"Inquire of the LORD for us, for Nebuchadrez'zar king of Babylon is making war against us; perhaps the LORD will deal with us according to all his wonderful deeds, and will make him withdraw from us."
3Then Jeremiah said to them:
4"Thus you shall say to Zedeki'ah, `Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel: Behold, I will turn back the weapons of war which are in your hands and with which you are fighting against the king of Babylon and against the Chalde'ans who are besieging you outside the walls; and I will bring them together into the midst of this city.
5I myself will fight against you with outstretched hand and strong arm, in anger, and in fury, and in great wrath.
6And I will smite the inhabitants of this city, both man and beast; they shall die of a great pestilence.
7Afterward, says the LORD, I will give Zedeki'ah king of Judah, and his servants, and the people in this city who survive the pestilence, sword, and famine, into the hand of Nebuchadrez'zar king of Babylon and into the hand of their enemies, into the hand of those who seek their lives. He shall smite them with the edge of the sword; he shall not pity them, or spare them, or have compassion.'
8"And to this people you shall say: `Thus says the LORD: Behold, I set before you the way of life and the way of death.
9He who stays in this city shall die by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence; but he who goes out and surrenders to the Chalde'ans who are besieging you shall live and shall have his life as a prize of war.
10For I have set my face against this city for evil and not for good, says the LORD: it shall be given into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall burn it with fire.'
11"And to the house of the king of Judah say, `Hear the word of the LORD,
12O house of David! Thus says the LORD: "`Execute justice in the morning, and deliver from the hand of the oppressor him who has been robbed, lest my wrath go forth like fire, and burn with none to quench it, because of your evil doings.'"
13"Behold, I am against you, O inhabitant of the valley, O rock of the plain, says the LORD; you who say, `Who shall come down against us, or who shall enter our habitations?'
14I will punish you according to the fruit of your doings, says the LORD; I will kindle a fire in her forest, and it shall devour all that is round about her."

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