1. 'If you come back, Israel, Yahweh declares, if you come back to me, if you take your Horrors out of my sight, if you go roving no more,
2. if you swear, "As Yahweh lives!" truthfully, justly, uprightly, then the nations will bless themselves by him and glory in him.
3. 'For Yahweh says this to the men of Judah and Jerusalem, "Clear the ground that lies neglected, do not sow among thorns.
4. Circumcise yourselves for Yahweh, apply circumcision to your hearts, men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem, or my wrath will leap out like a fire and burn with no one to quench it, in return for the wickedness of your deeds." '
5. Announce it in Judah, proclaim it in Jerusalem, say, 'Sound the trumpet in the countryside, shout the message aloud: Mobilise! Take to the fortified towns!
6. Signpost the way to Zion! Run! Do not delay! For I am bringing disaster from the north, an immense calamity.
7. The lion is up from his thicket, the destroyer of nations is on his way, he has come from his home to reduce your land to a desert; your towns will be in ruins, uninhabited.
8. So wrap yourselves in sackcloth, lament and wail, since Yahweh's burning anger has not turned away from us.
9. 'That day,' Yahweh declares, 'the king's heart will fail him, the princes' hearts will fail them too, the priests will stand aghast, the prophets stupefied.'
10. Then I said, 'Ah, Lord Yahweh, how sadly you deceived this people and Jerusalem when you used to say, "You will have peace," whereas the sword is now at our throats!
11. When that time comes, this will be said to this people and to Jerusalem: The scorching wind from the desert heights comes towards the daughter of my people -and not to winnow or to cleanse!
12. A gale of wind comes to me from over there. Now I myself shall pass sentence on them!'
13. Look, he is advancing like the clouds, his chariots like a hurricane, his horses swifter than eagles. Disaster for us! We are lost!
14. Wash your heart clean of wickedness, Jerusalem, and so be saved. How long will you go on harbouring your pernicious thoughts?
15. For a voice from Dan shouts the news, proclaims disaster from the highlands of Ephraim.
16. Report it to the nations, proclaim it to Jerusalem, 'Enemies are coming from a distant country, shouting their war cry against the towns of Judah;
17. they surround her like watchmen round a field because she has rebelled against me', Yahweh declares.
18. 'Your own behaviour and actions have brought this on yourself. Your wickedness, how bitter, has stabbed you to the heart!'
19. In the pit of my stomach how great my agony! Walls of my heart! My heart is throbbing! I cannot keep quiet, for I have heard the trumpet call, the battle cry.
20. Ruin on ruin is the news: the whole land is laid waste, my tents are suddenly destroyed, in one moment all that sheltered me.
21. How long must I see the standard and hear the trumpet call?
22. 'This is because my people are stupid, they do not know me, they are slow-witted children, they have no understanding, they are clever enough at doing wrong, but do not know how to do right.'
23. I looked to the earth -- it was a formless waste; to the heavens, and their light had gone.
24. I looked to the mountains -- they were quaking and all the hills rocking to and fro.
25. I looked -- there was no one at all, the very birds of heaven had all fled.
26. I looked -- the fruitful land was a desert, all its towns in ruins before Yahweh, before his burning anger.
27. Yes, Yahweh has said this, 'The whole country will be laid waste, though I shall not annihilate it completely.
28. For this, the earth will go into mourning and the heavens above grow dark. For I have spoken, I have decided, I shall not change my mind or go back on it.'
29. At the din of horseman and archer the entire city takes to flight: some plunge into the thickets, others scale the rocks; every town is abandoned, not a single person is left there.
30. And, once despoiled, what are you going to do? You may dress yourself in scarlet, put on ornaments of gold, enlarge your eyes with paint but you make yourself pretty in vain. Your former lovers disdain you, your life is what they are seeking.
31. Yes, I hear screams like those of a woman in labour, anguish like that of a woman giving birth to her first child; they are the screams of the daughter of Zion, gasping, hands outstretched, 'Unhappy me! I am dying, the murderers have killed me!'