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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.

By way of amplification he adds, Also the sons of Noph and of Tephanes shall for thee break the head, or, the crown of the head. We shall hereafter see that the Israelites were wont to seek help from the Egyptians. The particle גם, gam, may be thus explained, “Not only those who have been hitherto professed enemies to thee, but even thy friends, in whose help thou didst confide, shall turn their power against thee and break for thee thy head.” Some think that their degradation is here enhanced, because the Egyptians were an unwarlike people; and ancient historians say that men there followed the occupations of women; but as this is not mentioned in Scripture, and as the Egyptians are not thus spoken of in it, I prefer to follow the usual explanation, that the Egyptians, though confederate with Israel, would yet be adverse to them, and had been so already. By the head, some understand the chief men among the people of Israel: but we may render it thus, they will break for thee the head, as we say in our language, Ils to romperont la tete, or, Ils to frotteront la tete; and this, in my judgment, is the real meaning. 4343     There have been many expositions of this latter clause, which may be seen in the Assembly’s Annotations, which were written, as to Isaiah and Jeremiah, by the learned Gataker. He gives the preference to the idea, that the crown of the head means the best and the principal part of the land, and to break the crown means the plunder of this portion. See Isaiah 28:4. This seems to correspond in meaning with the previous verse. It was the opinion of Blarney that an allusion is prophetically made to the slaying of Josiah by the Egyptians. The words literally are, —
   They shall break thee, the crown of the head.

   “The crown of the head” seems to be explanatory of “thee;” it might then be rendered, —

   They shall break thee, even the crown of thy head.

   The Septuagint mistook one letter for another, and took the verb to be, ידעוך, “they knew thee,” instead of ירעוך “they shall break thee;” but what they made the last word to be, it is hard to know, for they rendered it, “and searched thee.” The Vulgate has followed the Septuagint; and the idea is a very indecent one: and there is nothing in the context to favor it. The Targum’s paraphrase is this, “They shall slay thy brave men, and plunder thy riches;” which countenances the idea evidently conveyed by the figurative terms of the Hebrew.

   The next verse literally rendered is as follows, —

   Is not this what thou wilt do for thyself,
By thy forsaking of Jehovah thy God,
At the time he was leading thee in the way?

   The first verb is no doubt future, whether it be rendered in the second or third person. The sentence may be rendered in Welsh without “Is,” or the relative “what,” and word for word, —

   Ai nid hyn a wnai i’th hun?

   And the future is understood as the present. Blayney’s version is, —

   Shall not this be done unto thee,
Because thou hast forsaken Jehovah thy God,
At the time that he led thee in the way?

   — Ed.

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