But I say to you, do not take oaths at all – not by heaven, because it is the throne of God,
For we never appeared 1 with flattering speech, as you know, nor with a pretext for greed – God is our witness –
For you have not come to something that can be touched, 1 to a burning fire and darkness and gloom and a whirlwind
You must gather all of its plunder into the middle of the plaza 1 and burn the city and all its plunder as a whole burnt offering to the Lord your God. It will be an abandoned ruin 2 forever – it must never be rebuilt again.
The whole land will be covered with brimstone, salt, and burning debris; it will not be planted nor will it sprout or produce grass. It will resemble the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, Admah and Zeboiim, which the Lord destroyed in his intense anger. 1
We will come against him wherever he happens to be found. We will descend on him like the dew falls on the ground. Neither he nor any of the men who are with him will be spared alive – not one of them!
For a man may do his work with wisdom, knowledge, and skill; however, he must hand over 1 the fruit of his labor 2 as an inheritance 3 to someone else who did not work for it. This also is futile, and an awful injustice! 4
For the fate of humans 1 and the fate of animals are the same: As one dies, so dies the other; both have the same breath. There is no advantage for humans over animals, for both are fleeting.
For no one knows what is best for a person during his life 1 – during the few days of his fleeting life – for 2 they pass away 3 like a shadow. Nor can anyone tell him what the future will hold for him on earth. 4
Here is 1 another 2 enigma 3 that occurs on earth: Sometimes there are righteous people who get what the wicked deserve, 4 and sometimes there are wicked people who get what the righteous deserve. 5 I said, “This also is an enigma.”
“Run for safety, people of Benjamin! Get out of Jerusalem! 1 Sound the trumpet 2 in Tekoa! Light the signal fires at Beth Hakkerem! For disaster lurks 3 out of the north; it will bring great destruction. 4
Then I said, 1 “Lord, you give me strength and protect me. You are the one I can run to for safety when I am in trouble. 2 Nations from all over the earth will come to you and say, ‘Our ancestors had nothing but false gods – worthless idols that could not help them at all. 3
“The Lord did indeed remember and call to mind what you did! He remembered the sacrifices you and your ancestors, your kings, your leaders, and all the rest of the people of the land offered to other gods 1 in the towns of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem. 2
This is what the Lord who rules over all 1 says, “Babylon’s thick wall 2 will be completely demolished. 3 Her high gates will be set on fire. The peoples strive for what does not satisfy. 4 The nations grow weary trying to get what will be destroyed.” 5