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God Pleads with Israel to Repent


The word of the L ord came to me, saying: 2Go and proclaim in the hearing of Jerusalem, Thus says the L ord:

I remember the devotion of your youth,

your love as a bride,

how you followed me in the wilderness,

in a land not sown.


Israel was holy to the L ord,

the first fruits of his harvest.

All who ate of it were held guilty;

disaster came upon them,

says the L ord.


4 Hear the word of the L ord, O house of Jacob, and all the families of the house of Israel. 5Thus says the L ord:

What wrong did your ancestors find in me

that they went far from me,

and went after worthless things, and became worthless themselves?


They did not say, “Where is the L ord

who brought us up from the land of Egypt,

who led us in the wilderness,

in a land of deserts and pits,

in a land of drought and deep darkness,

in a land that no one passes through,

where no one lives?”


I brought you into a plentiful land

to eat its fruits and its good things.

But when you entered you defiled my land,

and made my heritage an abomination.


The priests did not say, “Where is the L ord?”

Those who handle the law did not know me;

the rulers transgressed against me;

the prophets prophesied by Baal,

and went after things that do not profit.



Therefore once more I accuse you,

says the L ord,

and I accuse your children’s children.


Cross to the coasts of Cyprus and look,

send to Kedar and examine with care;

see if there has ever been such a thing.


Has a nation changed its gods,

even though they are no gods?

But my people have changed their glory

for something that does not profit.


Be appalled, O heavens, at this,

be shocked, be utterly desolate,

says the L ord,


for my people have committed two evils:

they have forsaken me,

the fountain of living water,

and dug out cisterns for themselves,

cracked cisterns

that can hold no water.



Is Israel a slave? Is he a homeborn servant?

Why then has he become plunder?


The lions have roared against him,

they have roared loudly.

They have made his land a waste;

his cities are in ruins, without inhabitant.


Moreover, the people of Memphis and Tahpanhes

have broken the crown of your head.


Have you not brought this upon yourself

by forsaking the L ord your God,

while he led you in the way?


What then do you gain by going to Egypt,

to drink the waters of the Nile?

Or what do you gain by going to Assyria,

to drink the waters of the Euphrates?


Your wickedness will punish you,

and your apostasies will convict you.

Know and see that it is evil and bitter

for you to forsake the L ord your God;

the fear of me is not in you,

says the Lord G od of hosts.



For long ago you broke your yoke

and burst your bonds,

and you said, “I will not serve!”

On every high hill

and under every green tree

you sprawled and played the whore.


Yet I planted you as a choice vine,

from the purest stock.

How then did you turn degenerate

and become a wild vine?


Though you wash yourself with lye

and use much soap,

the stain of your guilt is still before me,

says the Lord G od.


How can you say, “I am not defiled,

I have not gone after the Baals”?

Look at your way in the valley;

know what you have done—

a restive young camel interlacing her tracks,


a wild ass at home in the wilderness,

in her heat sniffing the wind!

Who can restrain her lust?

None who seek her need weary themselves;

in her month they will find her.


Keep your feet from going unshod

and your throat from thirst.

But you said, “It is hopeless,

for I have loved strangers,

and after them I will go.”



As a thief is shamed when caught,

so the house of Israel shall be shamed—

they, their kings, their officials,

their priests, and their prophets,


who say to a tree, “You are my father,”

and to a stone, “You gave me birth.”

For they have turned their backs to me,

and not their faces.

But in the time of their trouble they say,

“Come and save us!”


But where are your gods

that you made for yourself?

Let them come, if they can save you,

in your time of trouble;

for you have as many gods

as you have towns, O Judah.



Why do you complain against me?

You have all rebelled against me,

says the L ord.


In vain I have struck down your children;

they accepted no correction.

Your own sword devoured your prophets

like a ravening lion.


And you, O generation, behold the word of the L ord!

Have I been a wilderness to Israel,

or a land of thick darkness?

Why then do my people say, “We are free,

we will come to you no more”?


Can a girl forget her ornaments,

or a bride her attire?

Yet my people have forgotten me,

days without number.



How well you direct your course

to seek lovers!

So that even to wicked women

you have taught your ways.


Also on your skirts is found

the lifeblood of the innocent poor,

though you did not catch them breaking in.

Yet in spite of all these things


you say, “I am innocent;

surely his anger has turned from me.”

Now I am bringing you to judgment

for saying, “I have not sinned.”


How lightly you gad about,

changing your ways!

You shall be put to shame by Egypt

as you were put to shame by Assyria.


From there also you will come away

with your hands on your head;

for the L ord has rejected those in whom you trust,

and you will not prosper through them.


Hence he says, Yea, pass over unto the islands; and then he adds, see whether there is a thing like this; that is, such a monstrous and execrable thing can nowhere be found. An explanation follows, No nation has changed its gods, and yet they are no gods; that is, religion among all nations continues the same, so that they do not now and then change their gods, but worship those who have been as it were handed down to them by their fathers. And yet, he says, they are no gods If it had been only said, that no nation has changed its gods, the impiety of Israel would not have been so grievously exposed; but the Prophet takes it for granted, that all the nations were deceived and led away after fictitious gods, and yet remained constant in their delusions. Now, God does not set this forth as a virtue; he does not mean that the constancy of the nations was worthy of praise in not departing from their own superstitions; but, compared with the conduct of the chosen people, this constancy might however appear as laudable. We hence see that the whole is to be thus read connectively, — “Though no nation worships the true God, yet religion remains unchangeable among them all; and yet ye have perfidiously forsaken me, and you have not forsaken a mere phantom, but your glory.”

He sets here the favor of God in opposition to the delusions of false gods, when he says, My people have changed their own glory For the people knew, not only through the teaching of the law, but also by sure evidences, that God was their glory; and yet they departed from him. It is then the same as though Jeremiah had said, that all the nations would condemn the Israelites at the last day, because their very persistency in error would prove the greater wickedness of the Jews, inasmuch as they were apostates from the true God, and from that God who had so clearly manifested to them his power.

Now, if one asks, whether religion has been changed by any of the nations? First, we know that this principle prevailed everywhere, — that there was to be no innovation in the substance of religion: and Xenophon highly commends this oracle of Apollo, — that those gods were rightly worshipped who have been received by tradition from ancestors. The devil had thus bewitched all nations, — “No novelty can please God; but be ye content with the usual custom which has descended to you from your forefathers.” This principle then was held by the Greeks and the Asiatics, and also by Europeans. It was therefore for the most part true what the Prophet says here: and we know that when a comparison is made, it is enough if the illustration is for the most part, επὶ τὸ πολὺ, as Aristotle says, confirmed by custom and constant practice. We hence see that the charge of levity against the Jews was not unsuitably brought by Jeremiah, when he said, that no nation had changed its gods, but that God had been forsaken by his people whose glory he was; that is, to whom he had given abundant reasons for glorying. 3838     “Their glory” are by some considered to be God himself, and not the glory, that is, the honor, dignity, and greatness which he bestowed on the people, as Calvin here intimates: but the latter is more consistent with what follows, which literally is, “for nothing that profits:” for the לא here, as in Jeremiah 2:8, is evidently a noun, or a pronoun. The comparison here is between what God gives and what false gods give; the comparison before was between God himself and the false gods. God gives glory, renders his people great and illustrious; but the false gods give nothing that profits, that really benefits, or does any good. — Ed

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