LETTER OF YIRMEYAH (Letter of Jeremiah)

1 A copy of a letter, which Yirmeyahu sent to those who were to be led captive into Baḇel by the sovereign of the Baḇelians, to make known to them, as it was commanded him by Elohim:

2 Because of the sins which you have committed before Elohim, you shall be led away captives into Baḇel by Neḇuḵaḏnetstsar sovereign of Baḇel.

3 Therefore when you have come to Baḇel, you shall remain there many years – for a long time – seven generations; and after that I shall bring you away from there in peace.

4 Now in Baḇel you shall see mighty ones of silver, and of gold, and of wood, borne upon shoulders, which cause the nations to fear.

5 Beware therefore that you by no means be like foreigners, neither be afraid of them, when you see the multitude before them and behind them, worshipping them.

6 But say in your hearts, “O 𐤉𐤄𐤅𐤄, we must worship You.”

7 For My Messenger is with you, and I Myself look after your beings.

8 As for their tongue; it is carved by the workman, and they themselves are gilded and overlaid with silver; yet they are false, and cannot speak.

9 And taking gold, as though for a maiden that loves finery, they make crowns for the heads of their mighty ones.

10 Sometimes the priests also take gold and silver from their mighty ones, and bestow it upon themselves,

11 also giving some to the common whores – and adorn them as men with garments – mighty ones of silver, and mighty ones of gold, and wood.

12 Yet these mighty ones cannot save themselves from moth and rust, though they are covered with purple robes.

13 They wipe their faces because of the dust of the temple, when there is much upon them.

14 And that which cannot put to death he who offends it, holds a sceptre, as though it were a judge of the land.

15 It also has in its right hand a dagger and an axe, but cannot deliver itself from battle and thieves.

16 By this they are known to be no mighty ones; therefore do not fear them.

17 For as a vessel that a man uses is worth naught when it is broken; even so it is with their mighty ones. When they are put up in the temple, their eyes are full of dust through the feet of those who come in.

18 And as the doors are secured on every side against he who offends the sovereign, as though sentenced to death; even so the priests secure their temples with doors, with locks and bars, lest their mighty ones be plundered by robbers.

19 They light them candles, even more than for themselves, of which they cannot see one.

20 They are as one of the beams of the temple, yet it is said their hearts are gnawed upon by creeping creatures out of the earth; but when they eat them and their garments, they do not feel it.

21 Their faces are blackened by the smoke that comes out of the temple.

22 Upon their bodies and heads sit bats, swallows, and birds, and also the cats.

23 By this you may know that they are no mighty ones; therefore do not fear them.

24 Despite the gold that is around them to make them lovely, unless they wipe off the tarnish, they shall not shine; for neither did they feel it when they were moulded.

25 Those in which there is no breath are bought for a very high price.

26 They are borne upon shoulders, having no feet; thereby they declare to men that they are of no worth.

27 Those who serve them are also ashamed; for if they fall to the ground at any time, they cannot rise up again by themselves. Nor if one puts them upright, could they move by themselves. Neither, if they are bowed down, could they make themselves straight; but they put gifts before them as to dead men.

28 As for that which is offered to them, their priests sell and misuse; similarly their wives preserve some of it in salt; but to the poor and helpless they give none of it.

29 Women in monthly separation and women in childbirth eat their offerings; by these you know that they are not mighty ones. Do not fear them.

30 For how could they be called mighty ones? For women place meat before the mighty ones of silver, gold, and wood.

31 And the priests sit in their temples, having their garments torn, and their heads and beards shaven, and their heads bare.

32 They roar and cry before their mighty ones, as men do at the feast when one is dead.

33 The priests also take off their garments, and clothe their wives and children.

34 Whether it be evil that one does to them or good, they are not able to repay it; they could neither appoint a sovereign, nor put him down.

35 In like manner, they neither give wealth nor silver; though a man makes a vow to them, and does not guard it, they do not require it.

36 They save no man from death, nor deliver the weak from the mighty.

37 They do not restore sight to a blind man, nor help any man in his distress.

38 They show no kindness to the widow, nor do good to the fatherless.

39 Their mighty ones of wood, and which are overlaid with gold and silver, are like the stones that are hewn out of the mountain; those who worship them shall be put to shame.

40 How should a man then think and say that they are mighty ones, when even the Kasdites themselves shame them?

41 For if they shall see one dumb who cannot speak, they bring him and entreat Bĕl that he might speak, as though it were able to understand.

42 Yet they cannot understand this themselves, and leave them; for they have no knowledge.

43 The women with cords about them also sit in the byways, burning bran for perfume; but if any of them, drawn by some that passes by, lies with him, she reproaches her companion, that she was not thought as worthy as herself, nor her cord broken.

44 Whatever is done by them is false; how is it then even thought or said that they are mighty ones?

45 They are made by carpenters and goldsmiths; they are no other than what the workmen wants them to be.

46 And they themselves who made them do not live long; how could those which are made by them be mighty ones?

47 For they left lies and reproaches to those who come after.

48 For when any battle or plague comes upon them, the priests consult with themselves, where they might hide with them.

49 How then do men not perceive that they are not mighty ones, which neither save themselves from battle, nor from plague?

50 For seeing they are only of wood, and overlaid with silver and gold, it shall be known after this that they are false.

51 And it shall clearly appear to all nations and sovereigns that they are not mighty ones, rather the works of men’s hands, and that there is no work of Elohim in them.

52 Who then does not know that they are not mighty ones?

53 For neither do they appoint a sovereign in the land, nor give rain to men.

54 Neither could they judge their own cause, nor are they able to correct a wrong; for they are as crows between the shamayim and earth.

55 So when fire falls upon the house of mighty ones of wood, or overlaid with gold or silver, their priests shall flee away and escape; but they themselves shall be burned up like timbers.

56 And they cannot withstand any sovereign or enemies; how is it then thought or said that they are mighty ones?

57 Neither are those mighty ones of wood and overlaid with silver or gold able to escape from either thieves or robbers.

58 Whose gold, and silver, and garments with which they are clothed are taken by those who are strong, and go away with it all; nor are they able to help themselves.

59 Therefore it is better to be a sovereign that shows his strength, or even a useful vessel in a house, which the owner has use of, than such false mighty ones; or to be a door in a house, to guard such objects within, than such false mighty ones; or a column of wood in a palace, than such false mighty ones.

60 For sun, moon, and stars, being bright and sent to do their service, are obedient.

61 In like manner the lightning when it breaks is easy to be seen; and after the same manner the wind blows in every land.

62 And when Elohim commands the clouds to go over the whole world, they do as they are ordered.

63 And the fire sent from above to consume hills and woods does as it is commanded; but these are like them neither in appearance nor power.

64 Therefore it is neither to be supposed nor said that they are mighty ones, seeing they are neither able to judge causes, nor to do good to men.

65 Knowing therefore that they are not mighty ones, do not fear them,

66 for they neither curse nor baraḵ sovereigns;

67 neither they show signs in the shamayim among the gentiles, nor shine as the sun, nor give light as the moon.

68 The beasts are better than they; for they move under cover and help themselves.

69 It is then by no means apparent to us that they are mighty ones; therefore do not fear them.

70 For as a scarecrow in a garden of cucumbers guards naught; so are their mighty ones of wood, laid over with silver and gold.

71 And likewise their mighty ones of wood, and laid over with silver and gold, are like a thornbush in an orchard, on which every bird perches; as also like a dead body, that is cast into the darkness.

72 And you shall know them to be non mighty ones by the bright purple that rots upon them; and they themselves afterward shall be consumed, and shall be a reproach in the land.

73 Better therefore is the righteous man that has no idols; for he shall be far from reproach.