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Bible Commentaries
Jeremiah 2

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - UnabridgedCommentary Critical Unabridged

Verse 1

Moreover the word of the LORD came to me, saying,

Word of the Lord came to me - probably in the 13th year of the reign of Josiah (Jeremiah 1:2; cf. Jeremiah 3:6: cf. with Jeremiah 2:20). The warning not to rely as they did on Egypt (Jeremiah 2:18) was in accordance with Josiah's policy, who took part with Assyria and Babylon against Egypt and Pharaoh-nechoh (2 Kings 23:29). Jeremiah, doubtless, supported the reformation began by Josiah in the previous year (the 12th year of his reign), and fully carried out in the eighteenth.

Verse 2

Go 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.

Cry - proclaim.

In the ears of Jerusalem - the headquarters and center of their idolatry; therefore addressed first.

Thee - rather, 'I remember in regard to thee' (Henderson): for thee (Maurer), or, as margin, 'for thy sake.'

The kindness of thy youth - not so much Israel's kindness toward God, as the kindness which lsrael experienced from God in her early history (cf. Ezekiel 16:8; Hosea 2:15). For Israel from the first showed perversity rather than kindness toward God (cf. Exodus 14:11-12. See also Exodus 15:24; Exodus 32:1-7, The molten calf of gold). The greater were God's favours to them from the first, the fouler was their ingratitude in forsaking Him, (Jeremiah 2:3; Jeremiah 2:5, etc.)

Espousals - the intervals between Israel's betrothal to God at the exodus from Egypt, and the formal execution of the marriage contract at Sinai. Ewald takes the "kindness" and "love" to be Israel's toward God at first (Exodus 19:8; Exodus 35:29; Joshua 24:16-17). But cf. Deuteronomy 32:16-17, and Ezekiel 16:5-6; Ezekiel 16:15; Ezekiel 16:22 ('Days of thy youth'), implies that the love here meant was on God's side, not Israel's.

Thou wentest after me in ... wilderness - the next act of God's love, His leading them in the desert without needing any strange god, such as they since worshipped, to help Him (Deuteronomy 32:12). Jeremiah 2:6 shows it is God's "leading" of them, not their following after God in the wilderness, which is implied.

Verse 3

Israel 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.

Holiness unto the Lord - i:e., was consecrated to the service of Yahweh (Exodus 19:5-6). They thus answered to the motto on their high priest's breastplate, "Holiness to the Lord" (Deuteronomy 7:6; Deuteronomy 14:2; Deuteronomy 14:21). First-fruits of his increase - i:e., of Yahweh's produce: as the first-fruits of the whole produce of the land were devoted to God (Exodus 23:19; Numbers 18:12-13), so Israel was devoted to Him as the first-fruit and representative nation among all nations. So the spiritual Israel (James 1:18; Revelation 14:4.)

All that devour him - carrying on the image of first-fruits, which were eaten Before the Lord by the priests as the Lord's representatives; all who ate (injured) Yahweh's first-fruits - i:e., Israel contracted guilt: e.g., Amalek, the Amorites, etc., extirpated for their guilt toward Israel.

Shall come - rather, came.

Verse 4

Hear ye the word of the LORD, O house of Jacob, and all the families of the house of Israel:

O house of Jacob ... Israel - the whole nation.

Families - (remark, Jeremiah 1:15), hear God's word not only collectively, but individually (Zechariah 12:12-14, "The land shall mourn, every family (Hebrew, families, families) apart".

Verse 5

Thus 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?

Iniquity - wrong done to them (Isaiah 5:4; Micah 6:3; cf. Deuteronomy 32:4.)

Walked after vanity - contrasted with "wentest (walkest: the same Hebrew verb as here, Jeremiah 2:5) after me in the wilderness" (Jeremiah 2:2): then I was their guide in the barren desert; now they take idols as their guides.

Vanity ... vain. An idol is not only vain (impotent and empty), but vanity itself. Its worshippers acquire its character, becoming vain as it is (Deuteronomy 7:26; Psalms 115:8). A people's character never rises above that of its gods, which are its 'better nature' (Bacon). (2 Kings 17:15, "They followed vanity, and became vain;" Jonah 2:8, "They that observe lying vanities forsake their own mercy").

Verse 6

Neither 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?

Neither said they, Where ... The very words which God uses (Isaiah 63:9; Isaiah 63:11; Isaiah 63:13) when, as it were, reminding Himself of His former acts of love to Israel as a ground for interposing in their behalf again. When they would not say, Where is Yahweh, etc., God Himself at last said it for them (cf. remark, Jeremiah 2:2, above).

Deserts ... pits. The desert between Mount Sinai and Palestine abounds in chasms and pits, in which beasts of burden often sink down to the knees.

A land of the shadow of death - refers to the darkness of the caverns amidst the rocky precipices (Deuteronomy 8:15, "That great and terrible wilderness").

Verse 7

And 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.

Plentiful - literally, a land of Carmel, or well-cultivated land: a garden-land, in contrast to the "land of deserts" (Jeremiah 2:6).

Ye defiled my land - by idolatries (Judges 2:10-17; Psalms 106:38).

You ... ye - change to the second person from the third, "they" (Jeremiah 2:6), in order to bring home the guilt to the living generation.

Verse 8

The 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.

Priests ... pastors ... prophets. The three leading classes, whose very office under the theocracy was to lead the people to God, disowned Him in the same language as the nation at large, "Where is the Lord" (see Jeremiah 2:6)?

(1) The priests, whose office it was to expound the law (Malachi 2:6-7). Handle - are occupied with as the subject of their profession.

(2) The pastors: civil, not religious; princes (Jeremiah 3:15) whose duty it was to tend their people.

(3) The prophets, who should have reclaimed the people from their apostasy, encouraged them in it by pretended oracles from Baal, the Phoenician false god.

By Baal - in his name and by his authority (cf. Jeremiah 11:21).

Walked after things ... not profit - answering to "walked after vanity" - i:e., idols (Jeremiah 2:5: cf. Jeremiah 2:11; Habakkuk 2:18).

Verse 9

Wherefore I will yet plead with you, saith the LORD, and with your children's children will I plead.

Yet plead - namely, by inflicting still further judgments on you.

Children's children - three manuscript and Jerome omit "children's;" they seem to have thought it unsuitable to read "children's children," when "children" had not preceded. But it is designedly so written, to intimate that the final judgment on the nation would be suspended for many generations (Horsley). (cf. Ezekiel 20:35-36; Micah 6:2).

Verse 10

For pass over the isles of Chittim, and see; and send unto Kedar, and consider diligently, and see if there be such a thing.

Pass over the isles - rather, 'cross over to the isles.'

Chittim ... Kedar - i:e., the pagan nations, West and East, Go where you will, you cannot find an instance of any pagan nation forsaking their own for other gods. Israel alone does this. Yet the pagan gods are false gods; whereas Israel, in forsaking Me for other gods, forsakes their "glory" for unprofitable idols.

Chittim - Cyprus, colonized by Phoenicians, who built in it the city of Citium, the modern Chitti. Then the term came to be applied to all maritime coasts of the Mediterranean, especially Greece (Numbers 24:24; Isaiah 23:1; Daniel 11:30). Kedar - descended from Ishmael, the Bedouins and Arab, East of Palestine.

Verse 11

Hath a nation changed their gods, which are yet no gods? but my people have changed their glory for that which doth not profit.

Glory - Yahweh, the glory of Israel (Psalms 106:20; Romans 1:23). The Shekinah, or cloud resting on the sanctuary, was the symbol of "the glory of the Lord" (1 Kings 8:11; cf. Romans 11:4). The golden calf was intended as an image of the true God (cf. Exodus 32:4-5, "These be thy gods (Hebrew, 'Elohiym (H430)), O Israel, which brought thee up out of Egypt. Tomorrow is a feast to the Lord;" yet it is called an "idol" - Acts 7:41, "They made a calf, and offered sacrifice unto the idol"). It (like Roman Catholic images) was a violation of the second commandment, as the pagan multiplying of gods is a violation of the first.

Not profit - (Jeremiah 2:8).

Verse 12

Be astonished, O ye heavens, at this, and be horribly afraid, be ye very desolate, saith the LORD.

Be astonished, O ye heavens - impassioned personification (Isaiah 1:2).

Horribly afraid - rather, 'be horrified.'

Be ... very desolate - rather, 'be exceedingly aghast' at the monstrous spectacle [chaarab] - literally, go be dried up, or devastated: places devastated have such an unsightly look (Maurer.)

Verse 13

For 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.

Two evils - not merely one evil, like the idolaters who know no better: besides simple idolatry, my people add the sin of forsaking the true God whom they have known; the pagan, though having the sin of idolatry, are free from the further sin of 'changing' the true God for idols (Jeremiah 2:11).

Forsaken me. The Hebrew collocation brings out the only Living God into more prominent contrast with idol non-entities. "ME they have forsaken, the Fountain," etc. (Jeremiah 17:13; Psalms 36:9; the Lord Jesus identifies Himself with Yahweh in this respect (John 4:14).

Broken cisterns - tanks for rain water, common in the East, where wells are scarce. The tanks not only cannot give forth an ever-flowing fresh supply, as fountains can, but cannot even retain the water poured into them; the stone-work within being broken, the earth drinks up the collected water. So, in general, all earthly, compared with heavenly, means of satisfying man's highest desires (Isaiah 55:1-2: cf. Luke 12:33).

Verse 14

Is Israel a servant? is he a homeborn slave? why is he spoiled?

Is he a home-born slave? - No. (Exodus 4:22, "Thus saith the Lord (Yahweh), Israel is my son, even my first-born.") Jeremiah 2:16; Jeremiah 2:18; Jeremiah 2:36, and the absence of any express contrast of the two parts of the nation are against Eichorn's view, that the prophet proposes to Judah, as yet spared, the case of Israel (the ten tribes), which had been carried away by Assyria, as a warning of what they might expect if they should still put their trust in Egypt. 'Were Israel's ten tribes of meaner birth than Judah? Certainly not. If, then, the former fell before Assyria, what can Judah hope from Egypt against Assyria?' "Israel" is rather here the whole of the remnant still left in their own land, i:e., Judah, the surviving representative of the Jewish nation. 'How comes it to pass that the nation which once was under God's special protection (Jeremiah 2:3) is now left at the mercy of the foe as a worthless slave?' The prophet sees this event as if present, though it was still future to Judah (Jeremiah 2:19).

Verse 15

The young lions roared upon him, and yelled, and they made his land waste: his cities are burned without inhabitant.

Lions - the Babylonian princes (Jeremiah 4:7; cf. Amos 3:4). The disaster from the Babylonians in the fourth year of Jehoiakim's reign, and again three years later when, after having been Nebuchadnezzar's servant for those three years, relying on Egypt, he revolted from Nebuchadnezzar, is here referred to (Jeremiah 46:2; 2 Kings 24:1-2).

Verse 16

Also the children of Noph and Tahapanes have broken the crown of thy head.

Noph ... Tahapanes - Noph is Memphis, capital of Lower Egypt, on the west bank of the Nile, near the pyramids of Gizeh, opposite the site of modern Cairo. Tahapanes is Daphne, on the Tanitic branch of the Nile, near Pelusium, on the frontier of Egypt toward Palestine. Isaiah, Isaiah 30:4, contracts it Hanes. These two cities, one the capital, the other that with which the Jews came most in contact, stand for the whole of Egypt. Tahapanes takes its name from a goddess, Tphnet (Champollion). Memphis is from Man-nofri, 'the abode of good men:' written in Hebrew, 'Moph' (Hosea 9:6), or Noph. The reference is to the coming invasion of Judah by Pharaoh-nechoh of Egypt, on his return from the Euphrates, when he deposed Jehoahaz, raised Eliakim, under the name Jehoiakim, to the throne, and levied a heavy tribute on the land (2 Kings 23:33-35). Josiah's death in battle at Megiddo with the same Pharaoh is probably included (2 Kings 23:29-30).

Have broken - rather, 'shall feed down the crown,' etc. - i:e., affect with the greatest ignominy, such as baldness was regarded in the East. (Jeremiah 48:37; 2 Kings 2:23, The mocking children at Bethel said to Elisha, "Go up thou bald head!") Instead of 'also,' translate, 'even' the Egyptians, in whom thou dost trust, shall miserably disappoint thy expectation (Maurer). Jehoiakim was twice leagued with them (2 Kings 23:34-35): when he received the crown from them, and when he revolted from Nebuchadnezzar (2 Kings 24:1-2; 2 Kings 24:7). The Chaldeans, having become masters of Asia, threatened Egypt. Judea, situated between the contending powers, was thus exposed to the inroads of the one or other of the hostile armies; and unfortunately, except in Josiah's reign, took side with Egypt, contrary to God's warnings. Nebuchadnezzar "took from the river of Egypt unto the river Euphrates all that pertained to the king of Egypt" (2 Kings 24:7).

Verse 17

Hast thou not procured this unto thyself, in that thou hast forsaken the LORD thy God, when he led thee by the way?

Thou hast forsaken - literally, 'Has not thy forsaking the Lord, etc., procured this (calamity) to thee?' So Septuagint: the Masoretic accents make 'this' the subject of the verb, leaving the object to be understood. 'Has not this procured (literally, i:e., the impending calamity) unto thee, that thou hast forsaken?' etc. (Jeremiah 4:18, "Thy way and thy doings have procured these things unto thee.")

Led - (Deuteronomy 32:10).

The way. The article expresses the right way, the way of the Lord-namely, the moral training which they enjoyed in the Mosaic covenant.

Verse 18

And now what hast thou to do in the way of Egypt to drink the waters of Sihor? or what hast thou to do in And 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?

Now - seeing that this is so: used in a reasoning sense, not of time.

The way of Egypt. What hast thou to do with the way? - i:e., with going down to Egypt; or what, etc., with going to Assyria?

Drink ... waters - i:e., to seek reinvigorating aid from them-so Jeremiah 2:13; Jeremiah 2:36: cf. "waters," meaning numerous forces (Isaiah 8:7).

Sihor - i:e., the black river, in Greek Melas (black), the Nile: so called from the black deposit or soil it leaves after the inundation (Isaiah 23:3). The Septuagint identify it with Gihon, one of the rivers of Paradise.

The river - Euphrates, called by preeminence the "river," figurative for the Assyrian power. In 625 BC, the seventeenth year of Josiah, and the fourth of Jeremiah's office, the kingdom of Assyria fell before Babylon, therefore Assyria is here put for Babylon, its successor: so in 2 Kings 23:29; Lamentations 5:6. There was doubtless a league between Judea and Assyria (i:e., Babylon), which caused Josiah to march against Pharaoh-nechoh of Egypt, when that king went against Babylon: the evil consequences of this league are foretold in this verse and Jeremiah 2:36.

Verse 19

Thine 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.

Correct ... reprove - rather, in the severer sense, chastise ... punish (Maurer).

Backslidings - `apostasies;' plural, to express the number and variety of their defections. The very confederacies they entered into were the occasion of their overthrow (Proverbs 1:31; Isaiah 3:9; Hosea 5:5).

Know ... see - imper. for futures: Thou shalt know and see to thy cost.

My fear - rather, 'the fear of me.'

Verse 20

For 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.

I. The Hebrew should he pointed as the second person feminine, a form common in Jeremiah: 'Thou hast broken ... burst,' [shaabarteey ... nitaqtªy) - not as the English version reads shaabaritiy ... nitaqtiy]. So Septuagint, and the sense requires it.

Thy yoke ... bands - the yoke and bands which I laid on thee, my laws (Jeremiah 5:5). Which passage confirms the reading, 'Thou hast broken the yoke ... burst thy bonds,' not "I have," etc.

Transgress - [so the Qeri' and many manuscript read 'e`ªbowr (H5674)]: so the Chaldaic version. But the Septuagint and most authorities read, 'I will not serve' - i:e., obey, ['e`ªbod]. The sense of the English version is, 'I broke thy yoke (in Egypt), etc., and (at that time) thou saidst, I will not transgress; whereas thou hast (since then) wandered' (from me) (Exodus 19:8).

Hill ... green tree - the scene of idolatries (Deuteronomy 12:2; Isaiah 57:5; Isaiah 57:7).

Wanderest - rather, 'thou hast bowed down thyself' (for the act of adultery: figurative of shameless idolatry; Exodus 34:15 (cf. Job 31:10).

Verse 21

Yet 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?

Planted thee. The same image as Deuteronomy 32:32. Contrast Isaiah 5:1, etc., Psalms 80:8-9.

Unto me - in relation to me.

Verse 22

For though thou wash thee with nitre, and take thee much soap, yet thine iniquity is marked before me, saith the Lord GOD.

Nitre - not what is now so called, namely, salt-petre; but the natron of Egypt, a mineral alkali, an incrustation at the bottom of the lakes, after the summer heat has evaporated the water: used for washing (cf. remarks, Job 9:30; Proverbs 25:20.)

Soap - potash, the carbonate of which is obtained impure from burning different plants, especially the kali of Egypt and Arabia. Mixed with oil, it was used for washing. Marked - deeply ingrained, indelibly marked; the Hebrew [ kaatam (H3799)] being equivalent to [ kaatab (H3789)]. Others translate 'is treasured up,' from the Arabic. Maurer, from a Syriac root, is polluted.

Verse 23

How 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;

I am not polluted - (Proverbs 30:12, "There is a generation that are pure in their own eyes, and yet is not washed from their filthiness").

Baalim - plural, to express manifold excellency: cf. 'Elohiym (H430).

See - consider.

The valley - namely, of Hinnom, or Tophet: south and east of Jerusalem: rendered infamous by the human sacrifices to Moloch in it (cf. Jeremiah 7:31-32; Jeremiah 19:2; Jeremiah 19:6; Jeremiah 19:13-14; Jeremiah 32:35), the type of hell with its ever-burning fire. (Isaiah 30:33); cf. remark.)

Thou art - omit, as not being in the Hebrew. The substantive that follows in this verse (and also that in Jeremiah 2:24) is in opposition with the preceding "thou."

Dromedary - rather, a young she-camel.

Traversing - literally, infolding; making its ways complicated by wandering here and there, lusting after the male. (Compare as to the Jews' spiritual lust, Hosea 2:6-7.)

Verse 24

A 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.

A wild ass - agreeing with "thou" (Jeremiah 2:23). (Jeremiah 14:6; Job 39:5).

At her pleasure - rather, 'in her ardour'-namely, in pursuit of a male, snuffing the wind to ascertain where one is to be found (Maurer).

Occasion - either from a Hebrew root 'to meet;''her meeting (with the male for sexual intercourse) who can Occasion - either from a Hebrew root, 'to meet;' 'her meeting (with the male for sexual intercourse), who can avert it?' Or, better, from an Arabic root: 'her heat (sexual impulse), who can allay?' (Maurer.)

All they - whichever of the males desire her company (Horsley).

Will not weary themselves - have no need to weary themselves in searching for her.

Her month - in the season of the year when her sexual impulse is strongest, she puts herself in the way of the males, so that they have no difficulty in finding her.

Verse 25

Withhold 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.

Withhold ... - i:e., Abstain from incontinence; figurative for idolatry (Houbigant).

Unshod ... - do not run so violently in pursuing lovers as to wear out thy shoes: do not 'thirst' so incontinently after sexual intercourse. Hitzig thinks the reference is to penances performed barefoot to idols, and the thirst occasioned by loud and continued invocations to them. I prefer taking the language as figurative of eager desire for idols. Contrast "My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?" (Psalms 42:2.)

No hope - (Jeremiah 18:12). Though thus giving up all hope as to the true God, yet Judah would not give up hope of help from vain idols, which had so often disappointed their expectations with all their pains to serve them. "Thou art wearied in the greatness of thy way (in the tedious journeys thou hast had after strange gods); yet saidst thou not, There is no hope!" (Isaiah 57:10.) Here Judah says, as to all invitations to return to Yahweh, 'It is hopeless' - i:e., I am desperately resolved to go on in my own course.

Strangers - i:e., laying aside the metaphor, strange gods (Jeremiah 3:13; Deuteronomy 32:16).

Verse 26

As 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,

Is ashamed - is put to shame.

Thief - (John 10:1, "He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber," spiritually; in contrast to "the shepherd of the sheep," Jeremiah 2:2).

Israel - i:e., Judah (Jeremiah 2:28.)

Verse 27

Saying 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.

Saying to a stock, Thou art my father - (contrast Jeremiah 3:4; Isaiah 64:8).

In ... trouble they will say - namely, to God (Psalms 78:34; Isaiah 26:16). Trouble often brings men to their senses, as it did the prodigal son (Luke 15:16-18).

Verse 28

But 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.

But - God sends them to the gods for whom they forsook Him, to see if they can help them (Deuteronomy 32:37-38; Judges 10:14).

According to the number of thy cities - besides national deities, each city had its tutelary god (Jeremiah 11:13).

Verse 29

Wherefore will ye plead with me? ye all have transgressed against me, saith the LORD.

Wherefore will ye plead with me? - i:e., contend with me for afflicting you (Jeremiah 2:23; Jeremiah 2:35.)

Verse 30

In vain have I smitten your children; they received no correction: your own sword hath devoured your prophets, like a destroying lion.

- (Jeremiah 5:3; Jeremiah 6:29; Isaiah 1:5; Isaiah 9:13).

Your children - i:e., your people, you.

Your ... sword ... devoured ... prophets - (2 Chronicles 36:16, "They mocked the messengers of God, and despised his words, and misused his prophets;" Nehemiah 9:26; Matthew 23:29; Matthew 23:31).

Verse 31

O 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?

O generation - The Hebrew collocation is, O, the generation, ye - i:e., 'O ye who now live.' The generation needed only to be named, to call its degeneracy to view, so palpable was it.

Wilderness - in which all the necessaries of life are wanting. On the contrary, Yahweh was a never-failing source of supply for all Israel's wants in the wilderness, and afterward in Canaan.

Darkness - literally, darkness of Yahweh, the strongest Hebrew term for darkness; the densest darkness: cf. "land of the shadow of death" (Jeremiah 2:6.)

We are lords. - i:e., We are our own masters - [radnuw] from [ raadaah (H7287), to rule, to lord it]. We will worship what gods we like. But it is better to translate from a different Hebrew root [namely, ruwd (H7300), to wander or ramble]: 'we ramble at large,' without restraint pursuing our idolatrous lusts.

Verse 32

Can a maid forget her ornaments, or a bride her attire? yet my people have forgotten me days without number.

Can a maid forget - Oriental females greatly pride themselves on their ornaments (cf. Isaiah 61:10, "As a bride adorneth herself with her jewels").

Attire - girdles for the breasts. Forgotten me - (Jeremiah 13:25; Hosea 8:14, "Israel hath forgotten his Maker").

Verse 33

Why trimmest thou thy way to seek love? therefore hast thou also taught the wicked ones thy ways.

Why trimmest? Maurer translates, 'How skillfully thou dost prepare thy way,' etc. But see 2 Kings 9:30, "When Jehu was come to Jezreel, Jezebel painted her face, and attired her head." "Trimmest" best suits the image of one bedecking herself as a harlot.

Way - course of life.

Therefore - accordingly. Or else, 'nay, thou hast even,' etc.

Also ... wicked ones - even the wicked harlots; i:e., (laying aside the metaphor), even the Gentiles who are nationally and universally wicked, thou teachest to be still more so (Grotius).

Verse 34

Also 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.

Also. Not only art thou polluted with idolatry, but also with the guilt of shedding innocent blood (Maurer). Rosenmuller; not so well, translates, 'even in thy skirts,' etc.; i:e., there is no part of thee (not even thy skirts) that is not stained with innocent blood (2 Kings 21:16; Psalms 106:38). See as to innocent blood shed, not as here in honour of idols, but of prophets for having reproved them, Jeremiah 2:30; Jeremiah 26:20-23, King Jehoiakim slew the prophet Urijah by the hand of Elnathan and others.

Souls - i:e., persons.

Search. I did not need to 'search deep' to find proofs of thy guilt; for it was 'upon all these' thy skirts. Not in deep caverns didst thou perpetrate these atrocities, but openly in the vale of Hinnom and within the precincts of the temple.

Verse 35

Yet 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.

Yet thou sayest. So the Jewish nation is introduced justifying herself before God in Jeremiah 2:23; Jeremiah 2:29.

Verse 36

Why gaddest thou about so much to change thy way? thou also shalt be ashamed of Egypt, as thou wast ashamed of Assyria.

Gaddest - runnest to and fro, now seeking help from Assyria (as Ahaz did, 2 Chronicles 28:16-21), now from Egypt (Isaiah 30:3).

Verse 37

Yea, 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.

Him - Egypt.

Hands upon thine head - expressive of mourning (2 Samuel 13:19).

In them - in those stays and 'confidences' in which thou trusteth.


(1) There is nothing which so much aggravates the heinousness of sin as that it is an offence against the God who from our youth has lavished so many kindnesses upon us.

(2) God might justly cast off His people on account of their many backsliding; but He remembers His own love from everlasting, which chose them as His own special treasure, consecrated to His service as "a kind of first-fruits of His creatures." He calls to mind also the special tokens of His favour which He has vouchsafed to them in times past, when first He called them out of the Egypt of this world, and delivered them from all the spiritual enemies who sought to "devour" them (Jeremiah 2:3).

(3) How infinitely happier were God's people when they "walked after" Him than now when they have turned aside from Him, and "walked after vanity." They who pursue vanity become vain themselves (Jeremiah 2:5). Our character never rises higher than our aim. So long as we keenly follow earthly objects of desire, we are, like them, earthly and grovelling. The pleasure-seeker becomes light and volatile as the butterfly-phantom which he chases. The mammon-worshipper becomes sordid and mean as the idol which he bows down to. Our prayer, therefore, should be "Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity; and quicken thou me in thy way" (Psalms 119:37).

(4) When we have declined from the God whose grace we have experimentally tasted, let us take to heart God's touching appeal to us, "What iniquity have ye found in me, that ye are gone far from me? Nay, not only has there been no iniquity in God in relation to us, but His whole dealings with us, as with Israel, have been marked by the most tender and considerate love, from the day that He first called us by His grace out of the bondage of sin in which we had lain, doomed not merely to "the shadow of death," but to its awful reality (Jeremiah 2:6).

(5) The transgression of God's people is much more grievous than that of those who never knew God. God pleads with His people in order that they may plead with themselves (Jeremiah 2:9): Consider, He says (Jeremiah 2:10-11), even pagan nations do not change their idol-gods for those of another country: How awful and monstrous, therefore, is the perversity of "my people" who "have changed their glory for that which doth not profit!" God is the glory of His children; whatever else we gain, we lose our true glory when we lose Him. To lose Him is to lose our souls; and what is a man profited if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul? (Matthew 16:26). It is enough to make all nature stand aghast with horror to witness man's suicidal perversity in a professedly God-fearing land. They who are, by calling, the people of God, and who yet forsake Him for earthly objects of pursuit, "commit two evils" (Jeremiah 2:13); they both "forsake God, the fountain of living waters," and "hew them out broken cisterns which can hold no water." Man, made originally in the likeness of God, can find his only satisfying portion in God. David might well say to God (Psalms 36:9), "With thee is the fountain of life." Without God i n the soul, this world is an arid wilderness.

`In vain I seek for rest In every earthly good, It leaves me still unblest, And makes me thirst for God; And sure at rest I cannot be Until my soul finds rest in thee.'

Man, who is by creation and redemption "the firstborn" of God, when severed from his heavenly Father, becomes a prey to every evil (Jeremiah 2:14-16).

(6) What will at last prove especially mortifying to the lost sinner will be the self-tormenting reflection I procured this unto myself (Jeremiah 2:17). The Lord would have led me on the way to heaven but I deliberately forsook Him for earthly confidences, even as Israel forsook God, and leant upon human stays, Egypt and Assyria (Jeremiah 2:18). Men's "own wickedness" (Jeremiah 2:19) shall be their punishment, in righteous retribution; and no more awful punishment can be conceived than that they should be given up wholly, without any intervention of preventing grace, to the unrestricted workings of their own sin: if in this life the passionate, envious, and malicious man is his own tormentor while he seeks to hurt others, much more so in the region of the damned: then, indeed, it shall be fully seen that "the way of the transgressor is hard," and that "it is, an evil thing and bitter, to forsake the Lord God."

(7) Men of the world exhaust their ingenuity in devising novelties, shifting from change to change (Jeremiah 2:36), in order to escape from care But they who change their position do not thereby change their disposition. Wherever they flee to, they cannot flee from themselves. The only true happiness is to be found in Christ. All our other "confidences" (Jeremiah 2:37) fail "in our time of trouble" (Jeremiah 2:28): then sinners will in vain appeal to God, who turn their back on him now. But the grace which His Spirit bestows on believers is like everflowing water from a fountain, refreshing, cleansing, and making fruitful: it quickens the dead in sin, it revives the drooping, it maintains spiritual life, and issues in eternal life.

(8) In vain we wash in all other self-devised means of cleansing (Jeremiah 2:22), our iniquity remains marked before God. Correction is lost on the degenerate apostate (Jeremiah 2:21; Jeremiah 2:30): he gives himself up to his own way, casting aside all hope (Jeremiah 2:25) of repentance and reconciliation with God. Yet even for him there is hope, if he will but hearken to the loving Spirit who still waits to be gracious, and who "pleads with" him by chastisements (Jeremiah 2:9). Then shall there be joy in heaven over the reclaimed backslider: and God shall say, This my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost and is found.

Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Jeremiah 2". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jfu/jeremiah-2.html. 1871-8.
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