a Bible passage

Click a verse to see commentary
Select a resource above

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.


The particle עוד oud, yet, or still, is not without weight; for the Prophet intimates, that if God had already punished the perfidy and wickedness of the people, he still retained whole his right to do so, as though he had said, “Think not that you have suffered all your punishment, though I have already severely visited your fathers for their wickedness and obstinacy; for as ye proceed in the same course, and as there is no moderation nor limits to your sins, I will not desist from what I have a right to do, but will punish to the last both you and your children, and all succeeding generations.” We now then understand what the Prophet means.

It is indeed usual with hypocrites foolishly to cast off all fear, especially after having been once chastised by the Lord; for they think it enough that they have suffered punishment for their sins; and they do not consider that God moderately punishes the sins of men to invite others to repentance, and that he is in such a way sharp and severe as yet to restrain himself, in order that there may be room for hope, and that they who have sinned, while waiting for pardon, may thus more readily and willingly return to the right way. This is what hypocrites do not consider; but they think that God on the first occasion expends all his rigor, and so they promise themselves impunity as to the future. As for instance, — When God chastises a city, or a country, with war, pestilence, or famine, while the evils continue there is dread and anxiety: most of those whom God thus afflicts sigh and groan, and even howl; but as soon as some relaxation takes place, they shake off the yoke, and having no concern for their wickedness, they return again as dogs to their vomit. It is hence necessary to declare to hypocrites what we see to have been done here by Jeremiah, — that God so visits men for their sins, that in future he ceases not to pursue the same course, when he sees men so refractory as not to profit under his scourges.

Still, therefore, he says: this threat no doubt exasperated the minds of the nation: for as they dared to clamor against God, as we find in many places, and said that his ways were thorny, they spared not the prophets, and this we shall hereafter see: they indeed gave the prophets an odious character; and what? “These prophets,” they said, “chatter nothing else but burdens, burdens, as though God ever fulminated against us; it would be better to close our ears than to be continually frightened by their words.” It must then have been a severe thing to the Jews, when the Prophet said, Still God will contend with you But it was needful so to do.

Let us then learn from this passage, that whenever God reproves us, not only in words, but in reality, and reminds us of our sins, we do not so suffer for one fault as to be free for the future, but that until we from the heart repent, he ever sounds in our ears these words, Still God will contend with you: and a real contention is meant; for Jeremiah speaks not of naked doctrine, but intimates that the Jews were to be led before God’s tribunal, because they ceased not to provoke his wrath: 3636     Gataker thinks that it was verbal pleading: “It is as if he had said, ‘I have argued the case with your forefathers already, let me debate the matter a little further with you, and let your posterity also consider well what I now say,‘ (see Deuteronomy 31:19, 21.) And so is the same word afterwards used for debating the case or pleading, verse 29 (Jeremiah 2:29).” Henry, Adam Clarke, and Blayney, take the same view; but Scott seems to agree with Calvin The verb רוב, followed as it is here by את, ever means a verbal dispute or contention. See Numbers 20:13; Nehemiah 13:11, 17; Proverb 25:9; Isaiah 45:9. — Ed and he declares the same thing respecting their children and the third generation. It afterwards follows —

VIEWNAME is study