Wages of Apostasy

If[a] a man divorces his wife

and she leaves him to marry another,

can he ever return to her?

Wouldn’t such a land[b] become totally defiled?

But you!

You have played the prostitute with many partners—

can you return to Me?

This is the Lord’s declaration.

Look to the barren heights and see.

Where have you not been immoral?

You sat waiting for them beside the highways

like a nomad in the desert.

You have defiled the land

with your prostitution and wickedness.

This is why the showers haven’t come—

why there has been no spring rain.

You have the brazen look of a prostitute[c]

and refuse to be ashamed.

Have you not lately called to Me, “My Father.

You were my friend in my youth.

Will He bear a grudge forever?

Will He be endlessly infuriated?”

This is what you have said,

but you have done the evil things

you are capable of.

Unfaithful Israel, Treacherous Judah

In the days of King Josiah the Lord asked me, “Have you seen what unfaithful Israel has done? She has ascended every high hill and gone under every green tree to prostitute herself there. I thought: After she has done all these things, she will return to Me. But she didn’t return, and her treacherous sister Judah saw it. I[d] observed that it was because unfaithful Israel had committed adultery that I had sent her away and had given her a certificate of divorce. Nevertheless, her treacherous sister Judah was not afraid but also went and prostituted herself. Indifferent to[e] her prostitution, she defiled the land and committed adultery with stones and trees. 10 Yet in spite of all this, her treacherous sister Judah didn’t return to Me with all her heart—only in pretense.”

This is the Lord’s declaration.

11 The Lord announced to me, “Unfaithful Israel has shown herself more righteous than treacherous Judah. 12 Go, proclaim these words to the north, and say:

Return, unfaithful Israel.

This is the Lord’s declaration.

I will not look on you with anger,[f]

for I am unfailing in My love.

This is the Lord’s declaration.

I will not be angry forever.

13 Only acknowledge your guilt—

you have rebelled against the Lord your God.

You have scattered your favors to strangers

under every green tree

and have not obeyed My voice.

This is the Lord’s declaration.

14 “Return, you faithless children”—this is the Lord’s declaration—“for I am your master, and I will take you, one from a city and two from a family, and I will bring you to Zion. 15 I will give you shepherds who are loyal to Me,[g] and they will shepherd you with knowledge and skill. 16 When you multiply and increase in the land, in those days”—the Lord’s declaration—“no one will say any longer, ‘The ark of the Lord’s covenant.’ It will never come to mind, and no one will remember or miss it. It will never again be made. 17 At that time Jerusalem will be called, Yahweh’s Throne, and all the nations will be gathered to it, to the name of Yahweh in Jerusalem. They will cease to follow the stubbornness of their evil hearts. 18 In those days the house of Judah will join with the house of Israel, and they will come together from the land of the north to the land I have given your ancestors to inherit.”

True Repentance

19 I thought: How I long to make you My sons

and give you a desirable land,

the most beautiful inheritance of all the nations.

I thought: You will call Me, my Father,

and never turn away from Me.

20 However, as a woman may betray her lover,[h]

so you have betrayed Me, house of Israel.

This is the Lord’s declaration.

21 A sound is heard on the barren heights,

the children of Israel weeping and begging for mercy,

for they have perverted their way;

they have forgotten the Lord their God.

22 Return, you faithless children.

I will heal your unfaithfulness.

“Here we are, coming to You,

for You are the Lord our God.

23 Surely, falsehood comes from the hills,

commotion from the mountains,

but the salvation of Israel

is only in the Lord our God.

24 From the time of our youth

the shameful one[i] has consumed

what our fathers have worked for—

their flocks and their herds,

their sons and their daughters.

25 Let us lie down in our shame;

let our disgrace cover us.

We have sinned against the Lord our God,

both we and our fathers,

from the time of our youth even to this day.

We have not obeyed the voice of the Lord our God.”


  1. Jeremiah 3:1 One Hb ms, LXX, Syr; other Hb mss read Saying: If
  2. Jeremiah 3:1 LXX reads woman
  3. Jeremiah 3:3 Lit have a prostitute’s forehead
  4. Jeremiah 3:8 One Hb ms, Syr read She
  5. Jeremiah 3:9 Lit From the lightness of
  6. Jeremiah 3:12 Lit not cause My face to fall on you
  7. Jeremiah 3:15 Lit shepherds according to My heart
  8. Jeremiah 3:20 Lit friend
  9. Jeremiah 3:24 = Baal