Epistle of Jeremiah
[The Epistle of Jeremiah is often included as the sixth
chapter of the book of Baruch, thus the numbering.]
1: A copy of a letter which Jeremiah sent to those
who were to be taken to Babylon as captives by the king of the Babylonians, to
give them the message which God had commanded him.
2: Because of the
sins which you have committed before God, you will be taken to Babylon as
captives by Nebuchadnezzar, king of the Babylonians.
when you have come to Babylon you will remain there for many years, for a long
time, up to seven generations; after that I will bring you away from there in
4: Now in Babylon you will see gods made of silver and gold
and wood, which are carried on men's shoulders and inspire fear in the heathen.
5: So take care not to become at all like the foreigners or to let
fear for these gods possess you, when you see the multitude before and behind
them worshiping them.
6: But say in your heart, "It is thou, O Lord,
whom we must worship."
7: For my angel is with you, and he is
watching your lives.
8: Their tongues are smoothed by the craftsman,
and they themselves are overlaid with gold and silver; but they are false and
9: People take gold and make crowns for the heads of
their gods, as they would for a girl who loves ornaments;
sometimes the priests secretly take gold and silver from their gods and spend it
11: and even give some of it to the harlots in the
brothel. They deck their gods out with garments like men -- these gods of silver
and gold and wood,
12: which cannot save themselves from rust and
corrosion. When they have been dressed in purple robes,
faces are wiped because of the dust from the temple, which is thick upon them.
14: Like a local ruler the god holds a scepter, though unable to
destroy any one who offends it.
15: It has a dagger in its right
hand, and has an axe; but it cannot save itself from war and robbers.
16: Therefore they evidently are not gods; so do not fear them.
17: For just as one's dish is useless when it is broken, so are the
gods of the heathen, when they have been set up in the temples. Their eyes are
full of the dust raised by the feet of those who enter.
18: And just
as the gates are shut on every side upon a man who has offended a king, as
though he were sentenced to death, so the priests make their temples secure with
doors and locks and bars, in order that they may not be plundered by robbers.
19: They light lamps, even more than they light for themselves,
though their gods can see none of them.
20: They are just like a beam
of the temple, but men say their hearts have melted, when worms from the earth
devour them and their robes. They do not notice
21: when their faces
have been blackened by the smoke of the temple.
22: Bats, swallows,
and birds light on their bodies and heads; and so do cats.
this you will know that they are not gods; so do not fear them.
As for the gold which they wear for beauty -- they will not shine unless some
one wipes off the rust; for even when they were being cast, they had no feeling.
25: They are bought at any cost, but there is no breath in them.
26: Having no feet, they are carried on men's shoulders, revealing to
mankind their worthlessness.
27: And those who serve them are ashamed
because through them these gods are made to stand, lest they fall to the ground.
If any one sets one of them upright, it cannot move itself; and if it is tipped
over, it cannot straighten itself; but gifts are placed before them just as
before the dead.
28: The priests sell the sacrifices that are offered
to these gods and use the money; and likewise their wives preserve some with
salt, but give none to the poor or helpless.
29: Sacrifices to them
may be touched by women in menstruation or at childbirth. Since you know by
these things that they are not gods, do not fear them.
30: For why
should they be called gods? Women serve meals for gods of silver and gold and
31: and in their temples the priests sit with their clothes
rent, their heads and beards shaved, and their heads uncovered.
They howl and shout before their gods as some do at a funeral feast for a man
who has died.
33: The priests take some of the clothing of their gods
to clothe their wives and children.
34: Whether one does evil to them
or good, they will not be able to repay it. They cannot set up a king or depose
35: Likewise they are not able to give either wealth or money;
if one makes a vow to them and does not keep it, they will not require it.
36: They cannot save a man from death or rescue the weak from the
37: They cannot restore sight to a blind man; they cannot
rescue a man who is in distress.
38: They cannot take pity on a widow
or do good to an orphan.
39: These things that are made of wood and
overlaid with gold and silver are like stones from the mountain, and those who
serve them will be put to shame.
40: Why then must any one think that
they are gods, or call them gods? Besides, even the Chaldeans themselves
41: for when they see a dumb man, who cannot speak,
they bring him and pray Bel that the man may speak, as though Bel were able to
42: Yet they themselves cannot perceive this and abandon
them, for they have no sense.
43: And the women, with cords about
them, sit along the passageways, burning bran for incense; and when one of them
is led off by one of the passers-by and is lain with, she derides the woman next
to her, because she was not as attractive as herself and her cord was not
44: Whatever is done for them is false. Why then must any one
think that they are gods, or call them gods?
45: They are made by
carpenters and goldsmiths; they can be nothing but what the craftsmen wish them
46: The men that make them will certainly not live very long
themselves; how then can the things that are made by them be gods?
47: They have left only lies and reproach for those who come after.
48: For when war or calamity comes upon them, the priests consult
together as to where they can hide themselves and their gods.
then can one fail to see that these are not gods, for they cannot save
themselves from war or calamity?
50: Since they are made of wood and
overlaid with gold and silver, it will afterward be known that they are false.
51: It will be manifest to all the nations and kings that they are
not gods but the work of men's hands, and that there is no work of God in them.
52: Who then can fail to know that they are not gods?
For they cannot set up a king over a country or give rain to men.
They cannot judge their own cause or deliver one who is wronged, for they have
no power; they are like crows between heaven and earth.
55: When fire
breaks out in a temple of wooden gods overlaid with gold or silver, their
priests will flee and escape, but the gods will be burnt in two like beams.
56: Besides, they can offer no resistance to a king or any enemies.
Why then must any one admit or think that they are gods?
made of wood and overlaid with silver and gold are not able to save themselves
from thieves and robbers.
58: Strong men will strip them of their
gold and silver and of the robes they wear, and go off with this booty, and they
will not be able to help themselves.
59: So it is better to be a king
who shows his courage, or a household utensil that serves its owner's need, than
to be these false gods; better even the door of a house that protects its
contents, than these false gods; better also a wooden pillar in a palace, than
these false gods.
60: For sun and moon and stars, shining and sent
forth for service, are obedient.
61: So also the lightning, when it
flashes, is widely seen; and the wind likewise blows in every land.
62: When God commands the clouds to go over the whole world, they
carry out his command.
63: And the fire sent from above to consume
mountains and woods does what it is ordered. But these idols are not to be
compared with them in appearance or power.
64: Therefore one must not
think that they are gods nor call them gods, for they are not able either to
decide a case or to do good to men.
65: Since you know then that they
are not gods, do not fear them.
66: For they can neither curse nor
67: they cannot show signs in the heavens and among the
nations, or shine like the sun or give light like the moon.
wild beasts are better than they are, for they can flee to cover and help
69: So we have no evidence whatever that they are gods;
therefore do not fear them.
70: Like a scarecrow in a cucumber bed,
that guards nothing, so are their gods of wood, overlaid with gold and silver.
71: In the same way, their gods of wood, overlaid with gold and
silver, and like a thorn bush in a garden, on which every bird sits; or like a
dead body cast out in the darkness.
72: By the purple and linen that
rot upon them you will know that they are not gods; and they will finally
themselves be consumed, and be a reproach in the land.
therefore is a just man who has no idols, for he will be far from reproach.