0. A copy of the letter which Jeremiah sent to those who were to be taken captive to Babylon by the king of the Babylonians, to let them know what God had ordered him.
1. "Because of the sins you have committed against God, you will be led captive to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar, king of the Babylonians.
2. After your arrival in Babylon you will remain there for a number of years - a long time, for seven generations; but after that I shall bring you home in peace.
3. In Babylon you will see gods of silver, gold and wood, carried on men's shoulders and filling the people with fear.
4. Take care not to copy what foreigners do and not to let yourselves be terrified by them
5. when you see the crowds pressing in front and behind to adore them.
6. Say rather to yourselves: 'Master, it is you we are to adore.' My angel is with you to take care of your lives.
7. Their tongues have been polished by a craftsman and even if they are of gold and silver, they are false and are unable to speak.
8. As for a maiden conscious of her appearance, these pagans make golden crowns for their gods.
9. Yet at times the priests steal the gold and silver from their gods for their own use and for the prostitutes in their temples.
10. They give clothes to these gods as if they were men, but they are only things of gold, silver and wood, which cannot defend themselves from rust or woodworm.
11. So, after clothing them in purple, they wipe their faces because of the thick dust of the temple that covers them.
12. The god has a scepter like a governor of a province, but he cannot destroy the person who has wronged him.
13. He carries sword and axe in his right hand, but he is helpless both in war and against thieves.
14. This clearly proves they are not gods; have no fear of them.
15. A broken pot is useless for anyone. So are those gods enshrined in their temples.
16. Their eyes are full of the dust raised by those who enter.
17. Just as doors are carefully closed on a man who has offended the king or on a convict sentenced to death, in the same way the priests lock and bolt the doors of the temple for fear of thieves.
18. They light lamps, far more numerous than what they need for themselves, and yet the god sees no one.
19. He is no more than any of the beams of the temple and some whisper that the inner part is gnawed by termites; worms out of the ground devour both the god and his clothes, but he feels nothing.
20. Their faces have become black because of the smoke of the temple.
21. Owls alight on their heads and shoulders, swallows and other birds perch on them and cats prowl around them.
22. This tells you they are not gods, so have no fear of them.
23. If the rust on the gold that adorns them is not removed, they cannot shine. Yet what does it matter? Even when they were cast they felt nothing.
24. They may be bought at a high price but there is not a breath of life in them.
25. As they are without feet, they are carried on men's shoulders, showing publicly their shame. What a confusion for their worshipers if the god falls! They must lift him up.
26. Once he has been stood up, he does not move. If tilted, he is helpless to straighten up. So you make offerings to these gods as you make to dead men.
27. The priests collect what has been offered for sacrifice, selling it, while the wives salt some of it but give nothing to the poor and helpless. Do you think these are true offerings? Even women giving birth or who are ritually unclean touch them.
28. See that they are not gods and have no fear of them.
29. How can they be called gods? Women carry offerings to things made of silver, wood and gold.
30. The priests remain seated in the temple, their garments torn, head and beard shaved, and no covering on their heads.
31. They roar and cry in the presence of their gods as do certain people during funeral meals.
32. With the garments taken from the gods the priests clothe their wives and their children.
33. Whether they are treated well or shabbily, the gods can make no return, neither can they make or unmake a king.
34. They are incapable of bestowing riches or money. If someone fails to keep a vow, he is not called to account.
35. They can neither save a man from death nor rescue a helpless person from the clutch of the powerful.
36. They cannot restore sight to the blind or save someone in distress.
37. They will show no compassion to the widow nor do good to the orphan.
38. These pieces of wood plated with gold and silver are no more worthy than rocks hewn out of a mountain and their worshipers shall be humiliated.
39. How then can anyone believe they are gods? How can they be called gods?
40. The Chaldeans themselves have put them to shame. If they see someone who is dumb, unable to speak, they bring him before Bel, entreating him to make him speak, as if the god could hear them!
41. And yet these thinking people are unable to abandon gods that are completely devoid of sense.
42. Women with cord round their waists sit in the street burning bran.
43. When one of them has been picked up by a passerby and has slept with him, she taunts her companion for not having been so highly regarded as herself and for failing to have her cord broken.
44. All that goes on anywhere near these gods is false. How can they be considered or declared to be gods?
45. They have been fashioned by craftsmen and goldsmiths; they are nothing more than what the artisans decided they were to be.
46. Those who made them haven't long to live; so how could the work of their hands be gods?
47. What they leave to their descendants is nothing more than illusion and shame.
48. For when war or other disasters come upon them, they discuss among themselves where they, with their gods, will hide.
49. How could anyone fail to be convinced that what cannot save from war and disaster is not a god?
50. Later on, these pieces of wood plated with silver and gold will be known to be false. It will be plain to all kings and nations that they are not gods, but merely the handicraft of men and God does nothing through them.
51. Is there anyone unconvinced that these are not gods?
52. They are incapable of establishing a king in a country or of sending rain to people.
53. They are unable to discern what is just or to rescue a person who has been wronged. They are as helpless as crows between the sky and the ground.
54. When fire breaks out in the temple of these wooden gods plated with silver and gold, the priests flee to safety but their gods are burnt with the beams in the midst of the flames.
55. They can neither resist a king nor a hostile army.
56. How can it be admitted or believed that they are gods?
57. These gods cannot escape either from thieves or brigands. These are more powerful and despoil them of their gold, their silver and their robes. Such gods are unable to defend themselves.
58. Better to be a king with a show of power, or even a household pot that is of some use to its owner than to be a false god; better even to be the door of a house that guards what is within, or a wooden column in a royal palace than to be a false god.
59. The sun, moon and stars that shine and serve us are obedient to God;
60. likewise the lightning that is beautiful to see, and the wind that blows over the country
61. and the clouds passing over the earth at God's command, fire sent from on high to consume mountain and forest - all do what is commanded.
62. But these wooden objects can in no way compare with them,
63. that is why it must not be either believed or said that these are gods, since they are powerless to administer justice or benefit mankind in any way.
64. Since you know they are not gods, have no fear of them.
65. They can neither curse
66. nor bless kings, nor bring about signs in the heavens for the nations to see. They can neither shine like the sun nor give light like the moon.
67. Animals are of more worth, since by taking cover they can look after themselves.
68. So in no way whatever is it evident to us that these are gods; for that reason have no fear of them.
69. For like a scarecrow in a field of melons, these gods plated with silver and gold protect nothing.
70. Again these wooden gods may be compared to a thornbush in a garden where any bird can perch, or to a corpse thrown into a dark place.
71. You know by the purple and scarlet robes rotting on them that they are not gods. They end up by being eaten away and become a disgrace to the country.
72. Better then a just man who has no idols, he will not be dishonored.