Study

a Bible passage

Click a verse to see commentary
Select a resource above

2. Israel Forsakes God

Moreover the word of the Lord came to me, saying, 2Go and cry in the ears of Jerusalem, saying, Thus saith the Lord; I remember thee, the kindness of thy youth, the love of thine espousals, when thou wentest after me in the wilderness, in a land that was not sown. 3Israel was holiness unto the Lord, and the firstfruits of his increase: all that devour him shall offend; evil shall come upon them, saith the Lord. 4Hear ye the word of the Lord, O house of Jacob, and all the families of the house of Israel:

5Thus saith the Lord, What iniquity have your fathers found in me, that they are gone far from me, and have walked after vanity, and are become vain? 6Neither said they, Where is the Lord that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, that led us through the wilderness, through a land of deserts and of pits, through a land of drought, and of the shadow of death, through a land that no man passed through, and where no man dwelt? 7And I brought you into a plentiful country, to eat the fruit thereof and the goodness thereof; but when ye entered, ye defiled my land, and made mine heritage an abomination. 8The priests said not, Where is the Lord? and they that handle the law knew me not: the pastors also transgressed against me, and the prophets prophesied by Baal, and walked after things that do not profit.

9Wherefore I will yet plead with you, saith the Lord, and with your children’s children will I plead. 10For pass over the isles of Chittim, and see; and send unto Kedar, and consider diligently, and see if there be such a thing. 11Hath a nation changed their gods, which are yet no gods? but my people have changed their glory for that which doth not profit. 12Be astonished, O ye heavens, at this, and be horribly afraid, be ye very desolate, saith the Lord. 13For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.

14 Is Israel a servant? is he a homeborn slave? why is he spoiled? 15The young lions roared upon him, and yelled, and they made his land waste: his cities are burned without inhabitant. 16Also the children of Noph and Tahapanes have broken the crown of thy head. 17Hast thou not procured this unto thyself, in that thou hast forsaken the Lord thy God, when he led thee by the way? 18And now what hast thou to do in the way of Egypt, to drink the waters of Sihor? or what hast thou to do in the way of Assyria, to drink the waters of the river? 19Thine own wickedness shall correct thee, and thy backslidings shall reprove thee: know therefore and see that it is an evil thing and bitter, that thou hast forsaken the Lord thy God, and that my fear is not in thee, saith the Lord GOD of hosts.

20For of old time I have broken thy yoke, and burst thy bands; and thou saidst, I will not transgress; when upon every high hill and under every green tree thou wanderest, playing the harlot. 21Yet I had planted thee a noble vine, wholly a right seed: how then art thou turned into the degenerate plant of a strange vine unto me? 22For though thou wash thee with nitre, and take thee much sope, yet thine iniquity is marked before me, saith the Lord GOD. 23How canst thou say, I am not polluted, I have not gone after Baalim? see thy way in the valley, know what thou hast done: thou art a swift dromedary traversing her ways; 24A wild ass used to the wilderness, that snuffeth up the wind at her pleasure; in her occasion who can turn her away? all they that seek her will not weary themselves; in her month they shall find her. 25Withhold thy foot from being unshod, and thy throat from thirst: but thou saidst, There is no hope: no; for I have loved strangers, and after them will I go. 26As the thief is ashamed when he is found, so is the house of Israel ashamed; they, their kings, their princes, and their priests, and their prophets, 27Saying to a stock, Thou art my father; and to a stone, Thou hast brought me forth: for they have turned their back unto me, and not their face: but in the time of their trouble they will say, Arise, and save us. 28But where are thy gods that thou hast made thee? let them arise, if they can save thee in the time of thy trouble: for according to the number of thy cities are thy gods, O Judah. 29Wherefore will ye plead with me? ye all have transgressed against me, saith the Lord. 30In vain have I smitten your children; they received no correction: your own sword hath devoured your prophets, like a destroying lion.

31O generation, see ye the word of the Lord. Have I been a wilderness unto Israel? a land of darkness? wherefore say my people, We are lords; we will come no more unto thee? 32Can a maid forget her ornaments, or a bride her attire? yet my people have forgotten me days without number. 33Why trimmest thou thy way to seek love? therefore hast thou also taught the wicked ones thy ways. 34Also in thy skirts is found the blood of the souls of the poor innocents: I have not found it by secret search, but upon all these. 35Yet thou sayest, Because I am innocent, surely his anger shall turn from me. Behold, I will plead with thee, because thou sayest, I have not sinned. 36Why gaddest thou about so much to change thy way? thou also shalt be ashamed of Egypt, as thou wast ashamed of Assyria. 37Yea, thou shalt go forth from him, and thine hands upon thine head: for the Lord hath rejected thy confidences, and thou shalt not prosper in them.

When the Prophet saw that he had to do with besotted men, almost void of all reason, he turned to address the heavens: and it is a way of speaking, common in the Prophets, — that they address the heaven and the earth, which have no understanding, and leave men endued with reason and knowledge. This they were wont to do in hopeless cases, when they found no disposition to learn.

Hence now the Prophet bids the heavens to be astonished and to be terrified and to be reduced as it were unto desolation; as though he had said, “This is a wonder, which almost confounds the whole order of nature; it is the same as though we were to see heaven and earth mixed together.” We now then perceive the meaning of the Prophet: for by this representation he intended to shew, how detestable was the impiety of the people, since the heavens, though destitute of reason, ought justly to dread such a monstrous thing.

As to the words, some render them, “Be desolate, ye heavens,” and then repeat the same: but as שמם shemem, means to be astonished, the rendering I have given suits the present passage better, “Be astonished, ye heavens, for this,” and then, “be ye terrified and dried up;” for: חרב chareb, signifies to become dry, and sometimes, to be reduced to a solitude or a waste. 3939     Blarney, following the Septuagint, renders the verbs as in the third person plural. “The heavens are astonished,” etc.; but it is better to take them as being in the second person in the imperative mood, as both Aquila and Symmachus do. Similar passages are so construed, see Isaiah 1:2. There is alliteration in the two first words, as though we said in our language, “Heave, ye heavens:” and there is a gradation in the expressions — be astonished — be horrified — be wholly wasted, or consumed, or dried up, —
   Astonished be ye, the heavens, for this, And be horrified, Be ye wholly wasted, saith Jehovah.

   The alteration in the last verb, in accordance with the Syriac, חרדו, which means to “tremble,” instead of חרבו, though proposed by Secker and approved by Horsley, is by no means necessary, and countenanced by no MSS. Nor is the emendation of Blarney, in conformity with the Septuagint, to be at all approved. These alterations are not only unnecessary, but destroy the expressive and striking character of the passage. Learned men are sometimes led too much by an innovating spirit. — Ed
It afterwards follows: —


VIEWNAME is study