1 O ye children of Benjamin, gather yourselves to flee out of the midst of Jerusalem, and blow the trumpet in Tekoa, and set up a sign of fire in Bethhaccerem: for evil appeareth out of the north, and great destruction.
Historically the tribe of Benjamin was supposed to set up a beacon when they heard the trumpet of the Babylonians. The north brings judgement.
2 I have likened the daughter of Zion to a comely and delicate woman.
The meaning of Hebrew is uncertain but the implication is that Fair Zion will be destroyed.
3 The shepherds with their flocks shall come unto her; they shall pitch their tents against her round about; they shall feed every one in his place.
The invading army is likened to shepherds that lay siege.
4 Prepare ye war against her; arise, and let us go up at noon. Woe unto us! for the day goeth away, for the shadows of the evening are stretched out.
5 Arise, and let us go by night, and let us destroy her palaces.
The attack goes on all day and night. There is no defense from Jerusalem. It's a very successful battle for the invaders.
6 For thus hath the LORD of hosts said, Hew ye down trees, and cast a mount against Jerusalem: this is the city to be visited; she is wholly oppression in the midst of her.
The city is destined for punishment. Only fraud is found in her.
7 As a fountain casteth out her waters, so she casteth out her wickedness: violence and spoil is heard in her; before me continually is grief and wounds.
The situation in Jerusalem is dire. Like a well flowing with water the city flows with wickedness. There is lawlessness and theft or plunder. The whole society is sick and filled with wounds. Social injustice. The strong beating down the weak.
8 Be thou instructed, O Jerusalem, lest my soul depart from thee; lest I make thee desolate, a land not inhabited.
They are told to accept rebuke or God might come to loathe them and make them a desolation, an uninhabited land.
9 Thus saith the LORD of hosts, They shall throughly glean the remnant of Israel as a vine: turn back thine hand as a grapegatherer into the baskets.
Jeremiah and God having a dialogue. God says, using grapes as an allegory, that the invading army will glean or slay the people and pass over again through the streets and kill more. It's thorough. Until everyone is dead.
10 To whom shall I speak, and give warning, that they may hear? behold, their ear is uncircumcised, and they cannot hearken: behold, the word of the LORD is unto them a reproach; they have no delight in it.
Jeremiah speaks now, he is frustrated, saying who am I going to tell? Who will listen to me? They are deaf. Gods word is offensive to the people. They find no pleasure in it at all.
11 Therefore I am full of the fury of the LORD; I am weary with holding in: I will pour it out upon the children abroad, and upon the assembly of young men together: for even the husband with the wife shall be taken, the aged with him that is full of days.
God then says, tell everyone from children to the young men to the husbands and wives and the elderly.
12 And their houses shall be turned unto others, with their fields and wives together: for I will stretch out my hand upon the inhabitants of the land, saith the LORD.
The covenant God coming against his covenant people. God is fighting his own people in his own land.
13 For from the least of them even unto the greatest of them every one is given to covetousness; and from the prophet even unto the priest every one dealeth falsely.
The priests and prophets are greedy for gain. If they had been speaking the word of God society might have some hope. Everyone is covetous. They are liars and robbers.
14 They have healed also the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly, saying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace.
The false prophets and priests are telling the people they will be okay, but nothing is okay in their society. They are full of abominations and evil yet they teach that there will be peace.
15 Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? nay, they were not at all ashamed, neither could they blush: therefore they shall fall among them that fall: at the time that I visit them they shall be cast down, saith the LORD.
It's embarrassing what the people are doing. They will fall among the falling. They will stumble when God punishes them.
16 Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein.
Gods says, the people are at a crossroads. They are told to inquire about the ancient paths, which is the road to happiness? Travel it and find tranquillity for yourselves. But the people say, we will not.
17 Also I set watchmen over you, saying, Hearken to the sound of the trumpet. But they said, We will not hearken.
God sent them prophets and gave them warning. But they would not listen.
18 Therefore hear, ye nations, and know, O congregation, what is among them.
19 Hear, O earth: behold, I will bring evil upon this people, even the fruit of their thoughts, because they have not hearkened unto my words, nor to my law, but rejected it.
God then calls witnesses the nations all around and the earth, He says he will bring disaster on His own people, the outcome of their own schemes, because they would not listen to God's words and rejected his instruction.
20 To what purpose cometh there to me incense from Sheba, and the sweet cane from a far country? your burnt offerings are not acceptable, nor your sacrifices sweet unto me.
The people are so heavily into rituals that they believe they can satisfy the God of Israel with mere offering and sacrifices. They go to distant lands and come back and offer to Jehovah. God will not accept that kind of worship.
21 Therefore thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will lay stumblingblocks before this people, and the fathers and the sons together shall fall upon them; the neighbour and his friend shall perish.
God is going to put stumbling blocks before His people which will cause them to stumble, it extends to everyone. It's a political and spiritual doctrine taught by the priests and prophets and layman.
22 Thus saith the LORD, Behold, a people cometh from the north country, and a great nation shall be raised from the sides of the earth.
23 They shall lay hold on bow and spear; they are cruel, and have no mercy; their voice roareth like the sea; and they ride upon horses, set in array as men for war against thee, O daughter of Zion.
The invading army from the North the Babylonians will come and destroy His people. They are cruel and have no mercy. The Babylonians had several tactics during warfare. They would behead people, and pile up the heads at the gates of the city they just conquered. They would put people on pikes, etc.
They hear them coming before they even get there.
24 We have heard the fame thereof: our hands wax feeble: anguish hath taken hold of us, and pain, as of a woman in travail.
25 Go not forth into the field, nor walk by the way; for the sword of the enemy and fear is on every side.
The people will say they have heard of the Babylonians. Word spreads fast when barbaric warfare is practiced. Their limbs will be limp because they are so nervous and have so much anxiety about the coming the invaders. The Prophet likens it to a woman in travail during child birth.
The statement fear is on every side or terror on every side is a main theme in the book of Jeremiah and he later calls Pashur by this name.
26 O daughter of my people, gird thee with sackcloth, and wallow thyself in ashes: make thee mourning, as for an only son, most bitter lamentation: for the spoiler shall suddenly come upon us.
The Prophet is telling the people to get extreme. Go into intense repentance. Put on sackcloth and roll around on the ground and mourn as if they lost their only son, maybe then God will hear them.
It's also prophetic that when the invaders come in the people will be in the most bitter lamentation, because the army comes suddenly upon them.
27 I have set thee for a tower and a fortress among my people, that thou mayest know and try their way.
God is telling Jeremiah that he is accomplishing something among the people. He is a tower and fortress among them that he may know and be a refiner and assay their ways. The object is not to save some of them, but to expose their wickedness.
28 They are all grievous revolters, walking with slanders: they are brass and iron; they are all corrupters.
29 The bellows are burned, the lead is consumed of the fire; the founder melteth in vain: for the wicked are not plucked away.
30 Reprobate silver shall men call them, because the LORD hath rejected them.
None of them are worth saving. All of them act corruptly. The lead is consumed by fire in the furnace through Jeremiahs preaching. Yet they are smelted to no purpose. The dross is not separated out. It's all burned. God is utterly rejected His people because they are not salvageable. It may seem harsh but the extent of the evil of the people is in reality what is harsh. They are harsh towards each other. God is going to wipe them out because of it.