1. Jeremiah received a message from the Lord. It was for all the Jews living in Egypt. It was for the Jews in Migdol, Tahpanhes, Memphis and southern Egypt. This was the message:
2. “The Lord of heaven’s armies, the God of Israel, says: You saw the terrible things I brought on Jerusalem and the towns of Judah. Those towns are empty ruins today.
3. And it is because the people who lived there did evil. Those people burned incense to other gods. And that made me angry! Your people and your ancestors did not worship those gods before.
4. I sent my prophets to them again and again. Those prophets were my servants. They spoke my message and said to the people, ‘Don’t do this terrible thing. The Lord hates for you to worship other gods.’
5. But they did not listen to the prophets. They did not pay attention. They did not stop doing evil things. They did not stop burning incense to other gods.
6. So I showed my great anger against them. I punished the towns of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem. My anger made Jerusalem and the towns of Judah empty. They are only ruins and piles of stones today.
7. “So the Lord of heaven’s armies, the God of Israel, says: Why are you doing such great harm to yourselves by continuing to worship other gods? You are cutting off the men and women, children and babies from the family of Judah. So you leave yourselves without anyone from the family of Judah.
8. Why do you want to make me angry by making idols? Why do you burn incense to the gods of Egypt, where you have come to live? You will destroy yourselves. Other nations will speak evil of you. And all the other nations on the earth will make fun of you.
9. Have you forgotten about the evil things your ancestors did? And have you forgotten the evil the kings and queens of Judah did? Have you forgotten about the evil you and your wives did? They did these things in Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem.
10. Even to this day the people of Judah are still too proud. They have not learned to respect 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 of heaven’s armies, the God of Israel, says: I am determined to bring disasters on you. I will destroy the whole family of Judah.
12. There were a few left alive from Judah. They were determined to go to Egypt and settle there. But they will all die in Egypt. They will be killed in war or die from hunger. From the least important to the greatest, they will be killed in war or die from hunger. Other nations will speak evil about them. People will be shocked by what has happened to them. They will become a curse word. People will insult them.
13. I will punish those people who have gone to live in Egypt. I will use swords, hunger and terrible diseases to punish them. I will punish them just as I punished Jerusalem.
14. Of the people of Judah who were left alive and have gone to Egypt none will escape my punishment. They want to return to Judah and live there. But none of them will live to return to Judah. None of them will return to Judah, except a few people who escape.”
15. A large group of the people of Judah, who lived in southern Egypt, were meeting together. Among them were many women of Judah who lived in Egypt. They were burning incense to other gods, and their husbands knew it. All these people 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 Goddess! And we will do everything we promised. We will burn incense and pour out drink offerings to worship her. We did that in the past. And our ancestors, kings and officers did that in the past. All of us did those things in the towns of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem. At that time we had plenty of food. We were successful. Nothing bad happened to us.
18. But then we stopped making sacrifices to the Queen Goddess. And we stopped pouring out drink offerings to her. Since then we have had problems. Our people have been killed in war and by hunger.”
19. The women said, “Our husbands knew what we were doing. We had their permission to burn incense to the Queen Goddess! We had their permission to pour out drink offerings to her. Our husbands knew we were making cakes that looked like her and that we poured out drink offerings to her.”
20. Then Jeremiah spoke to all the people—men and women—who answered him.
21. He said to them, “The Lord remembered that you burned incense. You burned it in the towns of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem. You and your ancestors, kings and officers did that. And the people of the land did that. The Lord remembered and thought about it.
22. Then he could not be patient with you any longer. He hated the terrible things you did. So he made your country an empty desert. No one lives there now. Other people curse that country.
23. All this happened because you burned incense to other gods. You sinned against the Lord. You did not obey him. You did not follow his teachings or the laws he gave you. You did not keep your part of the agreement. This disaster has happened. It is there for you to see.”
24. Then Jeremiah spoke to all those men and also to the women. He said, “People of Judah who are now in Egypt, hear the word of the Lord:
25. The Lord of heaven’s armies, the God 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 to the Queen Goddess. And we promised to pour out drink offerings to her.’ So, go ahead. Do the things you promised you would do. Keep your promises.
26. But hear the word of the Lord. Listen, all you Jews living in Egypt. The Lord says, ‘I use my great name and make this promise: The people of Judah now living in Egypt will never again use my name to make promises. They will never again say, “As surely as the Lord God lives . . .”
27. I am watching over them. I am not watching over them to take care of them, but to hurt them. The Jews who live in Egypt will die from swords or hunger until they are all destroyed.
28. Some people will escape being killed by the sword. They will come back to Judah from Egypt. But there will only be a very few who escape. Then, of the people of Judah who came to live in Egypt, those who are left alive will know. They will know whether my word or their word came true.
29. I will give you a sign that I will punish you here in Egypt,’ says the Lord. ‘Then you will know my promises to hurt you will really happen.’
30. This is what the Lord says: ‘Hophra king of Egypt has enemies who want to kill him. I will hand over King Hophra to his enemies. I will do this just as I handed Zedekiah king of Judah over to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar wanted to kill Zedekiah.’”