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Bible Commentaries

John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible
Jeremiah 2

 

 

Verses 1-30


The Prophet Sets Forth the Sin of the Nation and Points Out the Inevitable Result (Reign of Josiah, and Probably Before the Reforms of that King: cp.
Jeremiah 3:6)

This section furnishes us with the gist of the prophet's testimony during the early years of his ministry, and doubtless represents the commencement of the roll written by Baruch at Jeremiah's dictation. In these five chapters he lays before his hearers the grossness of their conduct in deserting Jehovah, and urges repentance and amendment while yet the impending judgment is delayed. For the idolatrous and 'high place' worship of the period see Intro., and cp. Intro, to Hosea.


Verses 1-37


Jeremiah's Second Prophecy (2:1-3:5)

The prophet expostulates with Israel because of their unfaithfulness to Jehovah.

1-13. Under the figure of the marriage relation Jehovah reminds the people of His past favours, and charges them with faithlessness to their first love, as shown by their idolatry.

2. The kindness of thy youth, etc.] Israel's earliest devotion to Jehovah at Sinai (Exodus 24:8).

3. Firstfruits of.. increase] i.e. the consecrated part. All that devour, etc.] The priest and his family alone were to eat of the first fruits (Leviticus 22:10, Leviticus 22:16). If any unhallowed person took of them, he trespassed or 'offended.' In like manner if heathen nations meddle with Israel (the consecrated people), they will be guilty as those who eat the fruits.

5. Vanity] i.e. idols: cp. Jeremiah 10:15.

6. The shadow of death] RV 'deep darkness,' as referring to a region where the supply of the necessaries of life was so precarious that the fear of death was always present.

8. The priests, the pastors (i.e. rulers) and the prophets were all alike in sympathy with the degraded worship of Jehovah, at the high places, mingled as it was with the worship of the Baalim. The priests were more concerned with gain than with purity of worship; and the prophetic guilds had also become corrupted by the general idolatry and immorality. It was the most degraded period of both these orders.

9. Plead] 'argue,' or 'contend.'

10. Chittim] probably Citium in Cyprus. Kedar] As Chittim represented the parts to the westward of Palestine, so did Kedar (the NW. of Arabia) those to the Oast.

11. None of the nations have forsaken their ancestral worship, false though it be. Israel has forsaken her ancient religion, though true.

13. Grod's blessing, under the figure of fresh water as supplied by a spring or rivulet, is contrasted with the vanity of serving idols, which is as devoid of profit as is a cracked reservoir (dug to collect rain water) for that which it is intended to supply.

14-35. Not only by her idolatry, but by her quests for alliance, now with Egypt and now with Assyria, has Judah shown her faithlessness. For both these sins she will be punished.

14. Is Israel, etc.] The meaning here probably is, How is it that Israel, the people of God, has become a slave to neighbouring powers? Jeremiah 2:17 gives the answer.

15. The young lions, etc.] the enemies of Israel.

16. Noph] probably Memphis, the capital of northern (lower) Egypt. Tahapanes] the classic Daphnæ, an Egyptian fortress on the E. frontier of Lower Egypt. It is again mentioned (Jeremiah 43:7-10) as the future scene of the acknowledgment of Nebuchadnezzar's supremacy over Egypt. The sense of the v. is, Egypt is God's instrument for punishing Judah. Have broken] RM 'fed on,' so as to make it bald; a disgrace.

18. Egypt] Some of Judah's politicians desired an alliance with Egypt; others with Assyria, or rather with Babylonia, Assyria's successor in the command of the East. Sihor] here the Nile; so in Isaiah 23:3. Assyria] The Assyrian power had passed to Babylonia, but the name had been familiar for generations and was still in use for the great Eastern power. The river] Euphrates.

20. See Intro, respecting worship in 'high places,' simultaneously with that of Jehovah, which they thought a lawful combination. I have broken.. and burst, etc.] RM 'thou hast broken,' etc., i.e. thou hast cast off allegiance to Me, thy Maker. Transgress] RV'serve.'

When] RV 'for.' Wanderest] RV. 'didst bow thyself,' in idolatry, thus dishonouring thy rightful spouse.

21. A noble vine] a 'Sorek' vine, the word probably indicating the darkpurple colour of the fruit. Strange vine] cp. Isaiah 5:2, Isaiah 5:24.

22. Nitre] RV 'lye,'i.e. natron, or carbonate of soda.

23. Baalim] the Heb. plural of 'Baal':': cp. 'cherubim,' 'seraphim.' The Baalim were the images of the local Baals under the form of a bull at the various shrines. The valley] Most likely Hinnom (S. of Jerusalem), which was defiled by Josiah in order that the impure rites (viz. the worship of Moloch = Baal) here referred to might cease. Traversing] running quickly hither and thither in the eagerness of her passion. Jeremiah 2:23-25 are figurative of Israel's shameless love of idolatry.

24. At her pleasure] RV 'in her desire.'

25. Withhold, etc.] pursue not thy reckless wanton quest with parched throat and worn-out sandal.

30. Your prophets] Such as Isaiah (said to have been sawn asunder) and Zechariah son of Jehoiada (2 Chronicles 24:20), and those whom Jezebel (1 Kings 18:13) or Manasseh (2 Kings 21:16) slew: cp. Matthew 23:29-39.

31. A wilderness] i.e. fruitless, useless. We are lords] RV'we are broken loose'; we are our own masters.

33. Why art thou so careful in thy devotion to strange gods? In so doing thou hast made wicked ways to be a second nature to thee (or, thou hast taught the wicked women thy ways).

34. Poor innocents] RV 'the innocent poor.'

By secret search] RV 'at the place of breaking in.' The allusion is to the law (Exodus 22:2) by which it was permissible to slay a thief caught in the act of breaking into a house. But those 'innocent poor' had committed no such crime, yet their blood had been wantonly shed: cp. the cruelties of Manasseh 2 Kings 21:16.

Upon all these] RM 'upon every oak,' or, perhaps, 'because of this,' i.e. your lust for idolatry.

35. Plead] RV 'enter into judgement.'

36. Ashamed of Egypt] literally fulfilled when the Egyptians in the reign of Zedekiah were expected to raise the siege of Jerusalem, but failed to do so: cp. Jeremiah 37:5. Ashamed of Assyria] A conspicuous instance was in the reign of Ahaz (2 Chronicles 28:21).

37. Thine hands upon thine head] clasped in disgrace.

Jeremiah 3:1. That land] an allusion to the law (Deuteronomy 24:1-4) that under such circumstances the reunion of husband and wife would pollute the land. Yet return again, etc.] RM 'and thinhest thou to return again.'

2. The Arabian] the Bedouin freebooters. As they are eager to despoil a passing caravan, so is Israel eager for the worship of false gods.

5. Behold, thou hast spoken, etc.] RM 'Thou hast spoken thus, but hast done evil things.' As thou couldest] RV 'and hast had thy way.'

 


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Bibliography Information
Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Jeremiah 2:4". "John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcb/jeremiah-2.html. 1909.

Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, September 22nd, 2019
the Week of Proper 20 / Ordinary 25
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