1'Because of the sins which you have committed before God you are to be deported to Babylon byNebuchadnezzar king of the Babylonians.
2Once you have reached Babylon you wil stay there for many years, as long as seven generations; afterwhich I shall bring you home in peace.
3Now in Babylon you wil see gods made of silver, of gold, of wood, being carried shoulder-high, andfilling the gentiles with fear.
4Be on your guard! Do not imitate the foreigners, do not have any fear of their gods
5as you see their worshippers prostrating themselves before and behind them. Instead, say in yourhearts, "Master, it is you that we must worship."
6For my angel is with you; your lives wil be in his care.
7'Overlaid with gold and silver, their tongues polished smooth by a craftsman, they are counterfeit andhave no power to speak.
8As though for a girl fond of finery, these people take gold and make crowns for the heads of their gods.
9And sometimes, the priests filch gold and silver from their gods to spend on themselves, even givingsome of it to the prostitutes on the terrace.
10They dress up these gods of silver, gold and wood, in clothes, like human beings; on their own theycannot protect themselves from either tarnish or woodworm;
11when they have been dressed in purple cloaks, their faces have to be dusted, because of the templedust which settles thick on them.
12One holds a sceptre like the governor of a province, yet is powerless to put to death anyone whooffends him;
13another holds sword and mace in his right hand, yet is powerless to defend himself against war orthieves.
14From this it is evident that they are not gods; do not be afraid of them.
15'Just as a pot in common use becomes useless once it is broken, so are these gods enshrined insidetheir temples.
16Their eyes are ful of dust raised by the feet of those who enter.
17Just as the doors are locked on al sides on someone who has offended a king and is under sentenceof death, so the priests secure the temples of these gods with gates and bolts and bars for fear of burglary.
18They light more lamps for them than they do for themselves, and the gods see none of them.
19They are like one of the temple beams, which are said to be gnawed away from within; the termitescreep out of the ground and eat them and their clothes too, and they feel nothing.
20Their faces are blackened by the smoke that rises from the temple.
21Bats, swal ows, birds of every kind perch on their bodies and heads, and so do cats.
22From this, you can see for yourselves that they are not gods; do not be afraid of them.
23'The gold with which they are parading their futility before the world is supposed to make them lookbeautiful, but if someone does not rub off the tarnish, these gods wil not be shining much on their own, and evenwhile they were being cast, they felt nothing.
24However much was paid for them, there is still no breath of life in them.
25Being unable to walk, they have to be carried on men's shoulders, which shows how futile they are. Itis humiliating for their worshippers, too, who have to stand them up again if they fal over.
26Once they have been stood up, they cannot move on their own; if they tilt askew, they cannot rightthemselves; offerings made to them might as wel be made to the dead.
27Whatever is sacrificed to them, the priests re-sel and pocket the profit; while their wives salt down partof it, but give nothing to the poor or to the helpless. As to the sacrifices themselves, why, women during theirperiods and women in childbed are not afraid to touch them!
28From all this you can tel that they are not gods; do not be afraid of them.
29'Indeed, how can they even be cal ed gods, when women do the offering to these gods of silver, goldand wood?
30In their temples, the priests stay sitting down, their garments torn, heads and beard shaved and headsuncovered;
31they roar and shriek before their gods as people do at funeral feasts.
32The priests take robes from the gods to clothe their own wives and children.
33Whether these gods are treated badly or well, they are incapable of paying back either treatment; asincapable too of making or unmaking kings,
34equal y incapable of distributing wealth or money. If anyone fails to honour a vow he has made tothem, they cannot cal him to account.
35They can neither save anyone from death nor rescue the weak from the strong,
36nor restore sight to the blind, nor save anyone in trouble,
37nor take pity on a widow, nor be generous to an orphan.
38These wooden gods overlaid with gold and silver are about as much use as rocks cut out of themountain side. Their worshippers wil be confounded!
39So how can anyone think or say that they are gods?
40'The Chaldaeans themselves do them no honour; if they find someone who is dumb and cannot speak,they present him to Bel, entreating him for the gift of speech, as though he could perceive it!
41And they are incapable of drawing the conclusion and abandoning those gods -- such is their lack ofperception.
42Women with strings round their waists sit in the streets, burning bran like incense;
43when one of these has been picked up by a passer-by and been to bed with him, she then gloats overher neighbour for not having been thought as worthy as herself and for not having had her string broken.
44Whatever is done for them is spurious. So how can anyone think or say that they are gods?
45'Made by woodworkers and goldsmiths, they are only what those workmen decide to make them.
46Their makers have not long to live themselves, so how can the things they make be gods?
47Their legacy to their descendants is nothing but delusion and dishonour.
48If war or disasters befal them, the priests discuss where best to hide themselves and these gods;
49how can anyone fail to realise that they are not gods, if they cannot save themselves from war or fromdisasters?
50And since they are only made of wood overlaid with gold or silver, it wil later become apparent thatthey are spurious; it wil be obvious to everyone, to nations as to kings, that they are not gods but the work ofhuman hands, and that there is no divine activity in them.
51Does anyone still need convincing that they are not gods?
52'They can neither appoint a king over a country, nor give rain to humankind,
53nor regulate their own affairs, nor rescue anyone who suffers a wrong; they are as helpless as crowsbetween sky and ground.
54If fire fal s on the temple of these wooden gods overlaid with gold or silver, their priests fly to safetywhile they for their part stay there like beams, to be burnt.
55They cannot put up any resistance to a king or to enemies.
56So how can anyone think or say that they are gods?
57'These wooden gods overlaid with gold or silver cannot evade thieves or marauders; strong men mayrob them of their gold and silver and make off with the robes they are dressed in; yet they are powerless to helpeven themselves.
58Better to be a king displaying his prowess, a household pot of use to its owner, than to be thesecounterfeit gods; or merely the door of a house, protecting what is inside, than these counterfeit gods; or awooden pil ar in a palace than these counterfeit gods.
59The sun, the moon and the stars, which shine and have been given work to do, are obedient;
60similarly, the lightning, as it flashes, is a fine sight; in the same way, the wind blows across everycountry,
61the clouds execute the order God gives them to pass over the whole earth, and the fire, sent fromabove to consume mountain and forest, carries out its orders.
62Now these gods are not their equals, either in beauty or in power.
63So, no one can think or say that they are gods, powerless as they are to administer justice or to doanyone any good.
64Therefore, knowing that they are not gods, do not be afraid of them.
65'For they can neither curse nor bless kings,
66nor produce signs in heaven for the nations, nor shine like the sun, nor shed light like the moon.
67The animals are better off than they are, being able to look after themselves by making for cover.
68There is not the slightest shred of evidence that they are gods; so do not be afraid of them!
69'Their wooden gods overlaid with gold and silver are like a scarecrow in a field of cucumbers --protecting nothing.
70Or again, their wooden gods overlaid with gold and silver are like a thorn-bush in a garden -- any kind of bird may perch on it -- or like a corpse thrown out into the dark.
71From the purple and linen rotting on their backs you can tell that they are not gods; and in the end,eaten away, they wil be the dishonour of the country.
72Better, then, someone upright who has no idols; dishonour wil never come near him.'
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