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Judah, Egypt, and Assyria

1ALAS for the proud garlands of Ephraim's drunkards, fading flowers, lovely in their beauty, on the heads of those who drip with perfumes, on those who are overcome with wine!

2The Lord has one at his bidding, mighty and strong; like a sweeping storm of hail, like a destroying tempest, like a torrent of water in overwhelming flood he will beat down on the land with violence.

3The proud garlands of Ephraim's drunkards will be trampled underfoot.

4The fading flowers, lovely in their beauty, on those who drip with perfumes, will be like early figs ripe before summer. Whoever sees them plucks them, and their bloom is gone while they lie in the hand.

5On that day the LORD of Hosts shall be a lovely garland, a fair diadem for the remnant of his people,

6a spirit of justice for one who sits as a judge, and of valour for those who repel enemy attacks at the gate.

7These also lose their way through wine and are set wandering by strong drink: priest and prophet lose their way through strong drink and are befuddled with wine; they are set wandering by strong drink, lose their way through tippling, and stumble in judgement.

8Every table is covered with vomit; filth is everywhere.

9Who is there that can be taught? Who makes sense of what he hears? They are babes newly weaned, just taken from the breast.

10A babble of meaningless noises, mere sounds on every side!

11So through barbarous speech and a strange tongue the Lord will address this people,

12a people to whom he once said, “This is true rest; let the exhausted have rest. This is repose,” but they would not listen.

13Now to them the word of the LORD will be a babble of meaningless noises, mere sounds on every side. And so, as they walk, they will fall backwards, they will be injured, trapped, and caught.

14Therefore listen to the word of the LORD, you arrogant rulers of this people in Jerusalem.

15You say, “We have made a treaty with Death and signed a pact with Sheol: when the raging flood sweeps by, it will not touch us; for we have taken refuge in lies and sheltered behind falsehood.”

16Therefore these are the words of the Lord GOD: I am laying a stone in Zion, a block of granite, a precious corner-stone well founded; he who has faith will not waver.

17I shall use justice as a plumb-line and righteousness as a plummet. Then hail will sweep away your refuge of lies and floodwaters carry away your shelter.

18Your treaty with Death will be annulled and your pact with Sheol will not stand; the raging waters will sweep by, and you will be like land overwhelmed by flood.

19As often as it sweeps by, it will take you; daily, morning and night, it will sweep by. When you understand what you hear, it will mean sheer terror.

20As the saying goes: “The bed is too short for a person to stretch, and the blanket too narrow for a cover.”

21But the LORD will arise as he rose on Mount Perazim and storm with rage as he did in the vale of Gibeon to do what he must do, how strange a deed; to perform his task, an alien task!

22But now have done with your arrogance, or your bonds will be tightened; for I have heard destruction decreed for the whole land by the Lord GOD of Hosts.

23Listen and hear what I say, attend and hear my words.

24Will the ploughman spend his whole time ploughing, breaking up his ground and harrowing it?

25Does he not, once he has levelled it, broadcast the dill and scatter the cummin? Does he not put in the wheat and barley in rows, and vetches along the edge?

26Does not his God instruct him and train him aright?

27Dill must not be threshed with a threshing-sledge, nor the cartwheel rolled over cummin; but dill is beaten out with a rod, and cummin with a flail.

28Grain is crushed, but not too long or too finely; cartwheels rumble over it and thresh it, but they do not grind it fine.

29Even this knowledge comes from the LORD of Hosts, whose counsel is wonderful and whose wisdom is great.


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