Expostulation with the Jews, Reminding Them of
Their Former Devotedness, and God's Consequent Favor, and a
Denunciation of God's Coming Judgments for Their Idolatry.
Probably in the thirteenth year of the reign of
1:2; compare Jer 3:6, "also … in … days of
Josiah"). The warning not to rely as they did on Egypt (Jer 2:18), was in accordance with Josiah's
policy, who took part with Assyria and Babylon against Egypt (2Ki 23:29). Jeremiah, doubtless, supported
the reformation begun by Josiah, in the previous year (the twelfth of
his reign), and fully carried out in the eighteenth.
Jerusalem—the headquarters and center
of their idolatry; therefore addressed first.
thee—rather, "I remember in regard
to thee" [Henderson]; "for thee"
kindness of thy youth—not so much
Israel's kindness towards God, as the kindness which Israel
experienced from God in their early history (compare Eze 16:8, 22, 60; 23:3, 8, 19; Ho 2:15). For Israel from the first showed
perversity rather than kindness towards God (compare Ex 14:11, 12; 15:24; 32:1-7, &c.). The greater were God's
favors to them from the first, the fouler was their ingratitude in
forsaking Him (Jer 2:3, 5,
espousals—the intervals between
Israel's betrothal to God at the exodus from Egypt, and the formal
execution of the marriage contract at Sinai. Ewald takes the "kindness" and "love" to be Israel's
towards God at first (Ex 19:8; 24:3;
35:20-29; 36:5; Jos 24:16-17). But compare De
32:16, 17; Eze 16:5, 6, 15, 22 ("days of thy youth") implies
that the love here meant was on God's side, not Israel's.
thou wentest after me in …
wilderness—the next act of God's love, His leading them in
the desert without needing any strange god, such as they since
worshipped, to help Him (De 2:7; 32:12). Jer 2:6 shows it is God's "leading" of
them, not their following after God in the wilderness, which is
3. holiness unto the Lord—that is, was
consecrated to the service of Jehovah (Ex 19:5, 6). They thus answered to the motto on
their high priest's breastplate, "Holiness to the Lord" (De 7:6; 14:2,
first-fruits of his increase—that is,
of Jehovah's produce. As the first-fruits of the whole
produce of the land were devoted to God (Ex 23:19;
Nu 18:12, 13), so Israel was
devoted to Him as the first-fruit and representative nation among all
nations. So the spiritual Israel (Jas 1:18; Re 14:4).
devour—carrying on the image of
first-fruits which were eaten before the Lord by the
priests as the Lord's representatives; all who ate (injured)
Jehovah's first-fruits (Israel), contracted guilt: for example, Amalek,
the Amorites, &c., were extirpated for their guilt towards
shall come—rather, "came."
4. Jacob … Israel—the whole
families—(See on Jer 1:15). Hear God's word not only collectively, but
individually (Zec 12:12-14).
5. iniquity—wrong done to them
5:4; Mic 6:3; compare De 32:4).
walked after vanity—contrasted with
"walkest after me in the wilderness" (Jer 2:2): then I was their guide in the
barren desert; now they take idols as their guides.
vanity … vain—An idol is not
only vain (impotent and empty), but vanity itself. Its
worshippers acquire its character, becoming vain as it is (De 7:26;
Ps 115:8). A people's
character never rises above that of its gods, which are its "better
nature" [Bacon] (2Ki 17:15; Jon
6. Neither said they, Where, &c.—The
very words which God uses (Isa 63:9, 11, 13), when, as it were, reminding Himself of
His former acts of love to Israel as a ground for interposing in their
behalf again. When they would not say, Where is Jehovah,
&c., God Himself at last said it for them (compare see on Jer 2:2).
deserts … pits—The desert
between Mount Sinai and Palestine abounds in chasms and pits, in which
beasts of burden often sink down to the knees. "Shadow of death" refers
to the darkness of the caverns amidst the rocky precipices
7. plentiful—literally, "a land of
Carmel," or "well-cultivated land": a garden land, in contrast to the
"land of deserts" (Jer 2:6).
defiled—by idolatries (Jud 2:10-17; Ps 78:58, 59; 106:38).
you … ye—change to the second
person from the third, "they" (Jer 2:6), in order to bring home the guilt to
the living generation.
8. The three leading classes, whose very
office under the theocracy was to lead the people to God, disowned Him
in the same language as the nation at large, "Where is the Lord?" (See
priests—whose office it was to expound
the law (Mal 2:6, 7).
handle—are occupied with the law as
the subject of their profession.
pastors—civil, not religious: princes
3:15), whose duty it was to
tend their people.
prophets—who should have reclaimed the
people from their apostasy, encouraged them in it by pretended oracles
from Baal, the Phœnician false god.
by Baal—in his name and by his
authority (compare Jer 11:21).
walked after things … not
profit—answering to, "walked after vanity," that is,
2:5; compare Jer 2:11; Hab
9. yet plead—namely, by inflicting still
further judgments on you.
children's children—Three manuscripts
and Jerome omit "children's"; they seem
to have thought it unsuitable to read "children's children," when
"children" had not preceded. But it is designedly so written, to
intimate that the final judgment on the nation would be suspended
for many generations [Horsley].
(Compare Eze 20:35, 36; Mic 6:2).
10. pass over the isles—rather, "cross
over to the isles."
Chittim … Kedar—that is, the
heathen nations, west and east. Go where you will, you
cannot find an instance of any heathen nation forsaking their own for
other gods. Israel alone does this. Yet the heathen gods are false
gods; whereas Israel, in forsaking Me for other gods, forsake their
"glory" for unprofitable idols.
Chittim—Cyprus, colonized by
Phœnicians, who built in it the city of Citium, the modern
Chitti. Then the term came to be applied to all maritime coasts
of the Mediterranean, especially Greece (Nu 24:24; Isa 23:1; Da
Kedar—descended from Ishmael; the
Bedouins and Arabs, east of Palestine.
11. glory—Jehovah, the glory of Israel
(Ps 106:20; Ro 1:23). The Shekinah, or cloud resting on the
sanctuary, was the symbol of "the glory of the Lord" (1Ki 8:11; compare Ro 9:4). The golden calf was intended as an
image of the true God (compare Ex 32:4, 5), yet it is called an "idol" (Ac 7:41). It (like Roman Catholic images)
was a violation of the second commandment, as the heathen
multiplying of gods is a violation of the first.
not profit—(Jer 2:8).
12. Impassioned personification (Isa 1:2).
horribly afraid—rather, be
be … very desolate—rather, "be
exceedingly aghast" at the monstrous spectacle. Literally, "to be dried
up," or "devastated," (places devastated have such an unsightly look)
13. two evils—not merely one
evil, like the idolaters who know no better; besides simple
idolatry, My people add the sin of forsaking the true God whom
they have known; the heathen, though having the sin of idolatry, are
free from the further sin of changing the true God for idols (Jer 2:11).
forsaken me—The Hebrew
collocation brings out the only living God into more prominent contrast
with idol nonentities. "Me they have forsaken, the Fountain,"
&c. (Jer 17:13; Ps 36:9; Joh 4:14).
broken cisterns—tanks for rain water,
common in the East, where wells are scarce. The tanks not only cannot
give forth an ever-flowing fresh supply as fountains can, but cannot
even retain the water poured into them; the stonework within being
broken, the earth drinks up the collected water. So, in general, all
earthly, compared with heavenly, means of satisfying man's highest
wants (Isa 55:1, 2; compare Lu 12:33).
14. is he a homeborn slave—No. "Israel
is Jehovah's son, even His first-born" (Ex 4:22). Jer 2:16, 18, 36, and the absence of any express
contrast of the two parts of the nation are against Eichorn's view, that the prophet proposes to Judah,
as yet spared, the case of Israel (the ten tribes) which had been
carried away by Assyria as a warning of what they might expect if they
should still put their trust in Egypt. "Were Israel's ten tribes of
meaner birth than Judah? Certainly not. If, then, the former fell
before Assyria, what can Judah hope from Egypt against Assyria? …
Israel" is rather here the whole of the remnant still left in their own
land, that is, Judah. "How comes it to pass that the nation which once
was under God's special protection (Jer 2:3) is now left at the mercy of the foe as
a worthless slave?" The prophet sees this event as if present,
though it was still future to Judah (Jer 2:19).
15. lions—the Babylonian princes (Jer 4:7; compare Am 3:4). The disaster from the Babylonians in
the fourth year of Jehoiakim's reign, and again three years later when,
relying on Egypt, he revolted from Nebuchadnezzar, is here referred to
(Jer 46:2; 2Ki 24:1, 2).
16. Noph …
Tahapanes—Memphis, capital of Lower Egypt, on the west
bank of the Nile, near the pyramids of Gizeh, opposite the site of
modern Cairo. Daphne, on the Tanitic branch of the Nile, near
Pelusium, on the frontier of Egypt towards Palestine. Isa 30:4 contracts it, Hanes. These two
cities, one the capital, the other that with which the Jews came most
in contact, stand for the whole of Egypt. Tahapanes takes its
name from a goddess, Tphnet [Champollion]. Memphis is from
Man-nofri, "the abode of good men"; written in Hebrew,
9:6), or Noph. The
reference is to the coming invasion of Judah by Pharaoh-necho of Egypt,
on his return from the Euphrates, when he deposed Jehoahaz and levied a
heavy tribute on the land (2Ki 23:33-35). Josiah's death in battle with the same
Pharaoh is probably included (2Ki 23:29, 30).
have broken—rather, shall feed
down the crown, &c., that is, affect with the greatest
ignominy, such as baldness was regarded in the East (Jer
48:37; 2Ki 2:23). Instead of
"also," translate, "even" the Egyptians, in whom thou dost trust, shall
miserably disappoint thy expectation [Maurer]. Jehoiakim was twice leagued with them
23:34, 35): when he received
the crown from them, and when he revolted from Nebuchadnezzar (2Ki 24:1, 2,
7). The Chaldeans, having
become masters of Asia, threatened Egypt. Judea, situated between the
contending powers, was thus exposed to the inroads of the one or other
of the hostile armies; and unfortunately, except in Josiah's reign,
took side with Egypt, contrary to God's warnings.
17. Literally, "Has not thy forsaking the Lord
… procured this (calamity) to thee?" So the Septuagint:
the Masoretic accents make "this" the subject of the verb,
leaving the object to be understood. "Has not this procured
(it, that is, the impending calamity) unto thee, that hast
forsaken?" &c. (Jer 4:18).
the way—The article expresses the
right way, the way of the Lord: namely, the moral
training which they enjoyed in the Mosaic covenant.
18. now—used in a reasoning
sense, not of time.
the way of Egypt—What hast thou to do
with the way, that is, with going down to Egypt; or
what … with going to Assyria?
drink … waters—that is, to seek
reinvigorating aid from them; so Jer 2:13, 36; compare "waters," meaning numerous
forces (Isa 8:7).
Sihor—that is, the black river,
in Greek, Melas ("black"), the Nile: so called from the black
deposit or soil it leaves after the inundation (Isa 23:3). The Septuagint identifies it
with Gihon, one of the rivers of Paradise.
the river—Euphrates, called by
pre-eminence, the river; figurative for the Assyrian power. In
625 B.C., the seventeenth year of
Josiah, and the fourth of Jeremiah's office, the kingdom of Assyria
fell before Babylon, therefore Assyria is here put for
Babylon its successor: so in 2Ki 23:29; La 5:6. There was doubtless a league between
Judea and Assyria (that is, Babylon), which caused Josiah to march
against Pharaoh-necho of Egypt when that king went against Babylon: the
evil consequences of this league are foretold in this verse and Jer 2:36.
19. correct … reprove—rather, in
the severer sense, "chastise … punish" [Maurer].
plural, to express the number and variety of their defections.
The very confederacies they entered into were the occasion of their
overthrow (Pr 1:31; Isa 3:9; Ho 5:5).
know … see—imperative for
futures: Thou shalt know and see to thy cost.
my fear—rather, "the fear of
20. I—the Hebrew should be
pointed as the second person feminine, a form common in
Jeremiah: "Thou hast broken," &c. So the Septuagint,
and the sense requires it.
thy yoke … bands—the yoke and
bands which I laid on thee, My laws (Jer 5:5).
transgress—so the Keri, and
many manuscripts read. But the Septuagint and most authorities
read, "I will not serve," that is, obey. The sense of English
Version is, "I broke thy yoke (in Egypt)," &c., "and (at that
time) thou saidst, I will not transgress; whereas thou hast (since
then) wandered (from Me)" (Ex 19:8).
hill … green tree—the scene of
idolatries (De 12:2; Isa 57:5, 7).
wanderest—rather, "thou hast bowed
down thyself" (for the act of adultery: figurative of shameless
idolatry, Ex 34:15, 16; compare Job 31:10).
21. The same image as in De
32:32; Ps 80:8, 9; Isa 5:1,
unto me—with respect to Me.
22. nitre—not what is now so called,
namely, saltpeter; but the natron of Egypt, a mineral alkali, an
incrustation at the bottom of the lakes, after the summer heat has
evaporated the water: used for washing (compare Job 9:30; Pr
soap—potash, the carbonate of which is
obtained impure from burning different plants, especially the
kali of Egypt and Arabia. Mixed with oil it was used for
marked—deeply ingrained, indelibly
marked; the Hebrew, catham, being equivalent to cathab.
Others translate, "is treasured up," from the Arabic. Maurer from a Syriac root, "is
23. (Pr 30:12).
Baalim—plural, to express manifold
excellency: compare Elohim.
the valley—namely, of Hinnom, or
Tophet, south and east of Jerusalem: rendered infamous by the human
sacrifices to Moloch in it (compare Jer 19:2, 6, 13, 14;
32:35; see on Isa 30:33).
thou art—omit. The substantive
that follows in this verse (and also that in Jer 2:24) is in apposition with the preceding
dromedary—rather, a "young
making its ways complicated by wandering hither and thither,
lusting after the male. Compare as to the Jews' spiritual lust, Ho 2:6, 7.
24. (Jer 14:6; Job 39:5). "A wild ass," agreeing with "thou"
at her pleasure—rather, "in her
ardor," namely, in pursuit of a male, sniffing the wind to ascertain
where one is to be found [Maurer].
occasion—either from a Hebrew
root, "to meet"; "her meeting (with the male for sexual intercourse),
who can avert it?" Or better from an Arabic root: "her
heat (sexual impulse), who can allay it?" [Maurer].
all they—whichever of the males desire
her company [Horsley].
will not weary themselves—have no need
to weary themselves in searching for her.
her month—in the season of the year
when her sexual impulse is strongest, she puts herself in the way
of the males, so that they have no difficulty in finding
25. Withhold, &c.—that is, abstain
from incontinence; figuratively for idolatry [Houbigant].
unshod, &c.—do not run so
violently in pursuing lovers, as to wear out thy shoes: do not
"thirst" so incontinently after sexual intercourse. Hitzig thinks the reference is to penances performed
barefoot to idols, and the thirst occasioned by loud and
continued invocations to them.
no hope—(Jer 18:12;
Isa 57:10). "It is hopeless,"
that is, I am desperately resolved to go on in my own
strangers—that is, laying aside the
metaphor, "strange gods" (Jer 3:13; De 32:16).
26. is ashamed—is put to
Israel—that is, Judah (Jer 2:28).
27. Thou art my father—(Contrast Jer 3:4;
in … trouble they will
say—namely, to God (Ps 78:34; Isa 26:16). Trouble often brings men to their
senses (Lu 15:16-18).
28. But—God sends them to the gods for
whom they forsook Him, to see if they can help them (De
32:37, 38; Jud 10:14).
according to the number of thy
cities—Besides national deities, each city had its tutelary
29. plead with me—that is, contend with
Me for afflicting you (Jer 2:23, 35).
30. (Jer 5:3; 6:29; Isa 1:5;
your children—that is, your people,
your … sword … devoured …
prophets—(2Ch 36:16; Ne 9:26; Mt 23:29,
31. The Hebrew collocation is, "O, the
generation, ye," that is, "O ye who now live." The generation needed
only to be named, to call its degeneracy to view, so palpable was
wilderness—in which all the
necessaries of life are wanting. On the contrary, Jehovah was a
never-failing source of supply for all Israel's wants in the
wilderness, and afterwards in Canaan.
darkness—literally, "darkness of
Jehovah," the strongest Hebrew term for "darkness; the densest
darkness"; compare "land of the shadow of death" (Jer 2:6).
We are lords—that is, We are our own
masters. We will worship what gods we like (Ps 12:4; 82:6). But it is better to translate
from a different Hebrew root: "We ramble at large," without
restraint pursuing our idolatrous lusts.
32. Oriental women greatly pride themselves on
their ornaments (compare Isa 61:10).
attire—girdles for the breast.
forgotten me—(Jer 13:25; Ho
33. Why trimmest—Maurer translates, "How skilfully thou dost
prepare thy way," &c. But see 2Ki 9:30. "Trimmest" best suits the image of one
decking herself as a harlot.
way—course of life.
therefore—accordingly. Or else,
"nay, thou hast even," &c.
also … wicked ones—even
the wicked harlots, that is, (laying aside the metaphor) even the
Gentiles who are wicked, thou teachest to be still more so [Grotius].
34. Also—not only art thou polluted with
idolatry, but also with the guilt of shedding innocent blood
[Maurer]. Rosenmuller not so well translates, "even in thy
skirts," &c.; that is, there is no part of thee (not even thy
skirts) that is not stained with innocent blood (Jer
19:4; 2Ki 21:16; Ps 106:38).
See as to innocent blood shed, not as here in honor of idols, but of
prophets for having reproved them (Jer 2:30;
souls—that is, persons.
search—I did not need to "search deep"
to find proof of thy guilt; for it was "upon all these" thy skirts. Not
in deep caverns didst thou perpetrate these atrocities, but openly in
the vale of Hinnom and within the precincts of the temple.
35. (Jer 2:23, 29).
36. gaddest—runnest to and fro, now
seeking help from Assyria (2Ch 28:16-21), now from Egypt (Jer 37:7, 8;
hands upon … head—expressive of
mourning (2Sa 13:19).
in them—in those stays in which thou