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