God's Mercy notwithstanding Judah's
Contrary to all precedent in the case of adultery,
Jehovah offers a return to Judah, the spiritual adulteress (Jer 3:1-5). A new portion of the book,
ending with the sixth chapter. Judah worse than Israel; yet both shall
be restored in the last days (Jer 3:6-25).
1. They say—rather, as Hebrew,
"saying," in agreement with "the Lord";
2:37 of last chapter [Maurer]. Or, it is equivalent to, "Suppose
this case." Some copyist may have omitted, "The word of the Lord came
to me," saying.
shall he return unto her—will he take
her back? It was unlawful to do so (De 24:1-4).
shall not—Should not the land be
polluted if this were done?
3:22; Jer 4:1; Zec 1:3;
compare Eze 16:51, 58, 60). "Nevertheless," &c. (see on Isa 50:1).
2. high places—the scene of idolatries
which were spiritual adulteries.
In … ways … sat for
them—watching for lovers like a prostitute (Ge 38:14, 21; Pr 7:12; 23:28; Eze 16:24, 25), and like an Arab who lies in
wait for travellers. The Arabs of the desert, east and south of
Palestine, are still notorious as robbers.
3. no latter rain—essential to the crops
in Palestine; withheld in judgment (Le 26:19; compare Joe 2:23).
whore's forehead—(Jer 8:12; Eze
4. from this time—not referring, as
Michaelis thinks, to the reformation
begun the year before, that is, the twelfth of Josiah; it
means—now at once, now at last.
me—contrasted with the "stock" whom
they had heretofore called on as "father" (Jer 2:27; Lu
thou art—rather, "thou wast."
guide of … youth—that is,
husband (Jer 2:2; Pr 2:17; Ho 2:7, 15). Husband and father are
the two most endearing of ties.
5. he—"thou," the second person, had
preceded. The change to the third person implies a putting away of God
to a greater distance from them; instead of repenting and
forsaking their idols, they merely deprecate the continuance of their
punishment. Jer 3:12 and Ps 103:9, answer their question in the event of
spoken and—rather (God's reply to
them), "Thou hast spoken (thus), and yet (all the while) thou
hast done evil," &c.
as thou couldest—with all thy might;
with incorrigible persistency [Calvin].
6. Jer 3:6-6:30, is a new discourse, delivered in
Josiah's reign. It consists of two parts, the former extending to Jer 4:3, in which he warns Judah from the
example of Israel's doom, and yet promises Israel final restoration;
the latter a threat of Babylonian invasion; as Nabopolassar founded the
Babylonian empire, 625 B.C., the
seventeenth of Josiah, this prophecy is perhaps not earlier than that
date (Jer 4:5, &c.; Jer 5:14, &c.; Jer 6:1,
&c.; Jer 22:1-30); and
probably not later than the second thorough reformation in the
eighteenth year of the same reign.
backsliding—literally, "apostasy"; not
merely apostate, but apostasy itself, the essence of it
7. I said—(2Ki 17:13).
sister—(Eze 16:46; 23:2, 4).
8. I saw that, though (whereas) it was for
this very reason (namely), because backsliding (apostate) Israel had
committed adultery I had put her away (2Ki 17:6, 18), and given her a bill of divorce, yet
Judah, &c. (Eze 23:11,
bill of divorce—literally, "a writing
of cuttings off." The plural implies the completeness of
the severance. The use of this metaphor here, as in the former
discourse (Jer 3:1),
implies a close connection between the discourses. The epithets are
characteristic; Israel "apostate" (as the Hebrew for
"backsliding" is better rendered); Judah, not as yet utterly
apostate, but treacherous or faithless.
also—herself also, like Israel.
9. it—Some take this verse of
Judah, to whom the end of Jer 3:8 refers. But Jer 3:10 puts Judah in contrast to
Israel in this verse. "Yet for all this," referring to the sad
example of Israel; if Jer 3:9 referred to Judah, "she" would
have been written in Jer 3:10, not
"Judah." Translate, "It (the putting away of Israel) had come to pass
through … whoredom; and (that is, for) she (Israel) had defiled
the land" &c. [Maurer]. English
Version, however, may be explained to refer to
lightness—"infamy." [Ewald]. Maurer not so
well takes it from the Hebrew root, "voice," "fame."
10. yet—notwithstanding the lesson given
in Israel's case of the fatal results of apostasy.
not … whole heart—The
reformation in the eighteenth year of Josiah was not thorough on the
part of the people, for at his death they relapsed into idolatry (2Ch
34:33; Ho 7:14).
11. justified herself—has been made to
appear almost just (that is, comparatively innocent) by the surpassing
guilt of Judah, who adds hypocrisy and treachery to her sin; and who
had the example of Israel to warn her, but in vain (compare Eze 16:51;
more than—in comparison with.
12. Go—not actually; but turn and
proclaim towards the north (Media and Assyria, where the ten tribes
were located by Tiglath-pileser and Shalmaneser, 2Ki
15:29; 17:6; 18:9, 11).
Return … backsliding—Hebrew,
Shubah, Meshubah, a play on sounds. In order to excite Judah to
godly jealousy (Ro 11:14),
Jehovah addresses the exiled ten tribes of Israel with a loving
cause … anger to fall—literally,
"I will not let fall My countenance" (compare Ge 4:5, 6; Job
29:3), that is, I will not
continue to frown on you.
keep—"anger" is to be supplied (see on
13. Only acknowledge—(De 30:1, 3;
scattered thy ways, &c.—(Jer 2:25). Not merely the calves at
Beth-el, but the idols in every direction, were the objects of their
worship (Eze 16:15, 24, 25).
14. I am married—literally, "I am Lord,"
that is, husband to you (so Jer 31:32;
compare Ho 2:19, 20; Isa 54:5). Gesenius, following the Septuagint version of
31:32, and Paul's quotation
of it (Heb
8:9), translates, "I have
rejected you"; so the corresponding Arabic, and the idea
of lordship, may pass into that of looking down upon, and
so rejecting. But the Septuagint in this passage
translates, "I will be Lord over you." And the "for" has much more
force in English Version than in that of Gesenius. The Hebrew hardly admits the
rendering though [Hengstenberg].
take you one of a city—Though but
one or two Israelites were in a (foreign) city, they shall not
be forgotten; all shall be restored (Am 9:9). So, in the spiritual Israel, God
gathers one convert here, another there, into His Church; not the least
one is lost (Mt 18:14; Ro 11:5; compare Jer 24:5-7).
family—a clan or tribe.
15. pastors—not religious, but civil
rulers, as Zerubbabel, Nehemiah (Jer 23:4; 2:8).
16. they shall say no more—The Jews
shall no longer glory in the possession of the ark; it shall not be
missed, so great shall be the blessings of the new dispensation. The
throne of the Lord, present Himself, shall eclipse and put out
of mind the ark of the covenant and the mercy seat between the
cherubim, God's former throne. The ark, containing the two tables of
the law, disappeared at the Babylonian captivity, and was not restored
to the second temple, implying that the symbolical "glory" was to be
superseded by a "greater glory" (Hag 2:9).
neither … visit it—rather,
"neither shall it be missed" (so in Jer 23:4).
done—rather, "neither shall it (the
ark) be made (that is, be restored) any more" [Maurer].
17. Jerusalem—the whole city, not
merely the temple. As it has been the center of the Hebrew
theocracy, so it shall be the point of attraction to the whole earth
(Isa 2:2-4; Zec 2:10, 11; 14:16-21).
throne of … Lord—The Shekinah,
the symbol of God's peculiar nearness to Israel (De 4:7) shall be surpassed by the antitype,
God's own throne in Jerusalem (Ps 2:6, 8; Eze 34:23,
24; Zec 2:5).
imagination—rather, as Margin,
"the obstinacy" or stubbornness.
18. Judah … Israel …
together—Two distinct apostasies, that of Israel and that of
Judah, were foretold (Jer 3:8, 10). The two have never been united since
the Babylonish captivity; therefore their joint restoration must be
still future (Isa 11:12, 13; Eze 37:16-22; Ho 1:11).
land … given …
19. The good land covenanted to Abraham is to
be restored to his seed. But the question arises, How shall this be
put … among … children—the
Greek for adoption means, literally, "putting among the
the children—that is, My children.
"How shall I receive thee back into My family, after thou hast so long
forsaken Me for idols?" The answer is, they would acknowledge Him as
"Father," and no longer turn away from Him. God assumes the language of
one wondering how so desperate apostates could be restored to His
family and its privileges (compare Eze 37:3; Calvin
makes it, How the race of Abraham can be propagated again, being
as it were dead); yet as His purpose has decreed it so, He shows how it
shall be effected, namely, they shall receive from Him the spirit of
adoption to cry, "My Father" (Joh 1:12; Ga 4:6). The elect are "children" already in
God's purpose; this is the ground of the subsequent realization of this
relationship (Eph 1:5; Heb 2:13).
11:5; Eze 20:6; Da 11:16,
heritage of … hosts—a heritage
the most goodly of all nations [Maurer];
or a "heritage possessed by powerful hosts" (De 4:38; Am
2:9). The rendering
"splendors," instead of "hosts," is opposed by the fact that the
Hebrew for "splendor" is not found in the plural.
20. Surely—rather, "But."
21. In harmony with the preceding promises of
God, the penitential confessions of Israel are heard.
high places—The scene of their
idolatries is the scene of their confessions. Compare Jer 3:23, in which they cast aside their trust in
these idolatrous high places. The publicity of their penitence is also
implied (compare Jer 7:29; 48:38).
22. Jehovah's renewed invitation (Jer 3:12, 14) and their immediate response.
heal—forgive (2Ch 30:18,
20; Ho 14:4).
unto thee—rather, "in obedience to
thee"; literally, "for thee" [Rosenmuller].
23. multitude of mountains—that is, the
multitude of gods worshipped on them (compare Ps 121:1, 2, Margin).
24. shame—that is, the idols,
whose worship only covers us with shame (Jer 11:13; Ho
9:10). So far from bringing
us "salvation," they have cost us our cattle and even our children,
whom we have sacrificed to them.
25. (Ezr 9:7).