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Unfaithful Israel


If a man divorces his wife

and she goes from him

and becomes another man’s wife,

will he return to her?

Would not such a land be greatly polluted?

You have played the whore with many lovers;

and would you return to me?

says the L ord.


Look up to the bare heights, and see!

Where have you not been lain with?

By the waysides you have sat waiting for lovers,

like a nomad in the wilderness.

You have polluted the land

with your whoring and wickedness.


Therefore the showers have been withheld,

and the spring rain has not come;

yet you have the forehead of a whore,

you refuse to be ashamed.


Have you not just now called to me,

“My Father, you are the friend of my youth—


will he be angry forever,

will he be indignant to the end?”

This is how you have spoken,

but you have done all the evil that you could.


A Call to Repentance

6 The L ord said to me in the days of King Josiah: Have you seen what she did, that faithless one, Israel, how she went up on every high hill and under every green tree, and played the whore there? 7And I thought, “After she has done all this she will return to me”; but she did not return, and her false sister Judah saw it. 8She saw that for all the adulteries of that faithless one, Israel, I had sent her away with a decree of divorce; yet her false sister Judah did not fear, but she too went and played the whore. 9Because she took her whoredom so lightly, she polluted the land, committing adultery with stone and tree. 10Yet for all this her false sister Judah did not return to me with her whole heart, but only in pretense, says the L ord.

11 Then the L ord said to me: Faithless Israel has shown herself less guilty than false Judah. 12Go, and proclaim these words toward the north, and say:

Return, faithless Israel,

says the L ord.

I will not look on you in anger,

for I am merciful,

says the L ord;

I will not be angry forever.


Only acknowledge your guilt,

that you have rebelled against the L ord your God,

and scattered your favors among strangers under every green tree,

and have not obeyed my voice,

says the L ord.


Return, O faithless children,

says the L ord,

for I am your master;

I will take you, one from a city and two from a family,

and I will bring you to Zion.


15 I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding. 16And when you have multiplied and increased in the land, in those days, says the L ord, they shall no longer say, “The ark of the covenant of the L ord.” It shall not come to mind, or be remembered, or missed; nor shall another one be made. 17At that time Jerusalem shall be called the throne of the L ord, and all nations shall gather to it, to the presence of the L ord in Jerusalem, and they shall no longer stubbornly follow their own evil will. 18In those days the house of Judah shall join the house of Israel, and together they shall come from the land of the north to the land that I gave your ancestors for a heritage.



I thought

how I would set you among my children,

and give you a pleasant land,

the most beautiful heritage of all the nations.

And I thought you would call me, My Father,

and would not turn from following me.


Instead, as a faithless wife leaves her husband,

so you have been faithless to me, O house of Israel,

says the L ord.



A voice on the bare heights is heard,

the plaintive weeping of Israel’s children,

because they have perverted their way,

they have forgotten the L ord their God:


Return, O faithless children,

I will heal your faithlessness.


“Here we come to you;

for you are the L ord our God.


Truly the hills are a delusion,

the orgies on the mountains.

Truly in the L ord our God

is the salvation of Israel.

24 “But from our youth the shameful thing has devoured all for which our ancestors had labored, their flocks and their herds, their sons and their daughters. 25Let us lie down in our shame, and let our dishonor cover us; for we have sinned against the L ord our God, we and our ancestors, from our youth even to this day; and we have not obeyed the voice of the L ord our God.”


God here exhorts the Israelites to repent, that by their example he might move the Jews. The benefit of what is here taught might indeed have reached to the miserable captives and exiles; but as Jeremiah was especially the teacher of his own nation, he labored chiefly no doubt for their advantage, as we have before stated. God then here declares, that he would be reconcilable to the Israelites, how grievously soever they had sinned, he afterwards introduces them as answering, Behold, we return, or we shall come to thee: for the Prophet speaks here of the future conversion of the ten tribes.

It is then a dialogue between God and the Israelites. God himself freely invites them to repent: Return, he says, ye rebellious children; and then he promises to be a physician to heal their diseases: I will heal thy transgressions; that is, I will blot out thy sins, and absolve thee from guilt. God then undertakes to do these things; first, to stimulate the Israelites to repentance, and then to give them the hope of pardon: and he says that a remedy was provided for them, except they hardened themselves. Now, the Israelites, on the other hand, make this answer, Behold, we shall come to thee Here Jeremiah condemns the obstinacy of his own nation, by saying, that the Israelites, when thus kindly invited by God, would not be perverse, but would, on the contrary, be tractable and obedient. This indeed was not fulfilled, when a liberty to return was given to the people, except in the case of a few, who had a right feeling, and preferred the glory of God to their temporal advantages. But the number was small; nor was it a matter of surprise; for God had not previously said, without reason, that if one came from a city, and two from a tribe, he would be received, though others continued fixed in their perverseness. However this may have been, God here intimates that the Israelites would not be so refractory as not to obey his admonition when the hope of pardon and salvation would be presented to them: and this is mentioned, that the perverseness of the Jews might appear more detestable.

But some think that the Israelites are here upbraided, because they hypocritically pretended that they always sought God. Hence they elicit this meaning, “Ye indeed say, Behold, we return to thee, thou art our God;” as though he condemned their hypocrisy, because they falsely alleged that they always sought him. But this view seems to me foreign to the intention of the Prophet. Hence I doubt not but that Jeremiah sets before the Jews, as in a picture, what ought to have constrained them not to persist so obstinately in their sinful courses: “Behold,” he says, “God is prepared to receive into favor your brethren, who are undone and past all hope; and when they shall hear God’s voice kindly and graciously inviting them to himself, they will doubtless return: why then do not ye obey?”

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