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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.

Some expound the beginning of this verse as though the meaning were, — that God chastised the Jews on account of their folly, because they habituated themselves to falsehoods: but the latter clause does not correspond. There is therefore no doubt but that God here expostulates with the Jews, because he had tried to bring them to the right way and found them wholly irreclaimable. A similar expostulation is found in Isaiah,

“In vain,” he says, “have I chastised you; for from the sole of the foot to the crown of the head there is no soundness.”
(Isaiah 1:6)

There God shews that he had tried every remedy, but that the Jews, being wholly refractory in their spirit, were wholly incurable. Jeremiah speaks now on the same subject: and God thus exaggerates the wickedness of the people; for he testifies that he had tried whether they would be taught, not only by words, but also by scourges and chastisements, but that his labor in both instances had been in vain. He spoke before of teaching, “Keep thy foot from being unshod, and thy throat from thirst.” The Prophets, then, had exhorted the Jews by God’s command to rest quietly. This teaching had been useless and unfruitful. God now adds, that he had tried in another way to bring them back to a right mind; but this effort had been also useless and in vain: In vain have I chastised you; for ye have not received correction

But he speaks of children, in order to shew that the whole people were unteachable: for though lusts boil more in youth, yet their obduracy is not so great as in the old; as he who has through his whole life hardened himself in the contempt of God, can hardly be ever healed and be amended by correction; for old age is of itself morose and difficult to be pleased, and the old also think, that wrong is in a manner done them when they are reproved: but when the insolence and obduracy of the young are so great that they reject all correction, it is more strange and monstrous. The Prophet then shews that there was nothing sound or right in that people, since their very children refused correction. 6262     Blayney renders the word “instruction.” The Septuagint have “παιδείαν — discipline: “the Syriac, Vulgate, and the Targum are the same; but the Arabic has “instruction — eruditionem.” The strict meaning of the word מוסר, is restraint, check, discipline, correction. Not to receive restraint or correction, is not to be thereby improved or reformed, but to proceed in the same course, see Jeremiah 5:3. The word has also a secondary meaning, instruction, as the effect of correction, see Zephaniah 3:7. But here it clearly means correction. — Ed

We now perceive his object, — that, as God had sent his prophets, and as their labor availed nothing, he now shews, that not only the ears of the people had been deaf to wholesome teaching, but that they were hard — necked and untamable; for he had tried to correct them by scourges, but effected nothing. It follows, their sword has devoured the prophets But I cannot finish now.


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