The LORD shewed me, and, behold, two baskets of figs were set before the temple of the LORD, after that Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon had carried away captive Jeconiah the son of Jehoiakim king of Judah, and the princes of Judah, with the carpenters and smiths, from Jerusalem, and had brought them to Babylon.
The Lord showed me. Amos 7:1; Amos 7:4; Amos 7:7; Amos 8:1, contains the same formula, with the addition of "thus" prefixed.
After that Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon has carried away captive Jeconiah - (Jeremiah 22:24; Jeremiah 29:2; 2 Kings 24:12 etc.; 2 Chronicles 36:10).
Carpenters ... One thousand artisans, "craftsmen and smiths," were carried to Babylon, both to work for the king there, and to deprive Jerusalem of their services in the event of a future siege (2 Kings 24:16).
One basket had very good figs, even like the figs that are first ripe: and the other basket had very naughty figs, which could not be eaten, they were so bad.
Figs that are first ripe - the boccora, or early fig (note, Isaiah 28:4). Baskets of figs used to be offered as first-fruits in the temple. The good figs represent Jeconiah and the exiles in Babylon; the bad, Zedekiah and the obstinate Jews in Judea. They are called good and bad respectively, not in an absolute, but a comparative sense, and in reference to the punishment of the latter. This prophecy was designed to encourage the despairing exiles, and to reprove the people at home, who prided themselves as superior to those in Babylon, and abused the forbearance of God (cf. Jeremiah 52:31-34 for the fulfillment of the prophecy).
Then said the LORD unto me, What seest thou, Jeremiah? And I said, Figs; the good figs, very good; and the evil, very evil, that cannot be eaten, they are so evil.
No JFB commentary on these verses.
Thus saith the LORD, the God of Israel; Like these good figs, so will I acknowledge them that are carried away captive of Judah, whom I have sent out of this place into the land of the Chaldeans for their good.
So will I acknowledge them - regard with favour, like as thou lookest on the good figs favourably.
Sent out of this place ... for their good - their removal to Babylon saved them from the calamities which befell the rest of the nation, and led them to repentance there: so God bettered their condition (2 Kings 25:27-30). Daniel and Ezekiel were among these captives.
For I will set mine eyes upon them for good, and I will bring them again to this land: and I will build them, and not pull them down; and I will plant them, and not pluck them up.
I will build them, and not pull them down; and I will plant them, and not pluck them up - only partially fulfilled in the restoration from Babylon; antitypically and fully to be fulfilled hereafter (Jeremiah 12:15; Jeremiah 32:41; Jeremiah 33:7).
And I will give them an heart to know me, that I am the LORD: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God: for they shall return unto me with their whole heart.
I will give them an heart to know me, that I am the Lord; and they shall be my people, and I ... their God (Jeremiah 30:22; Jeremiah 31:33-34; Jeremiah 32:38). Their conversion from idolatry to the one true God, through the chastening effect of the Babylonian captivity, is here expressed in language which, in its fullness, applies to the more complete conversion hereafter of the Jews, "with their whole heart" (Jeremiah 29:13), through the painful discipline of their present dispersion. The source of their conversion is here stated to be God's prevenient grace - "I will give them an heart to know me."
For they shall return unto me with their whole heart - repentance, though not the cause of pardon, is its invariable accompaniment: it is the effect of God's giving a heart to know Him.
And as the evil figs, which cannot be eaten, they are so evil; surely thus saith the LORD, So will I give Zedekiah the king of Judah, and his princes, and the residue of Jerusalem, that remain in this land, and them that dwell in the land of Egypt:
Them that dwell in the land of Egypt - many Jews had fled for refuge to Egypt, which was leagued with Judea against Babylon.
And I will deliver them to be removed into all the kingdoms of the earth for their hurt, to be a reproach and a proverb, a taunt and a curse, in all places whither I shall drive them.
I will deliver them to be removed ... - (Jeremiah 15:4). Calvin translates, 'I will give them up to agitation, in all,' etc. This verse quotes the curse, Deuteronomy 28:25; Deuteronomy 28:37. (Compare Jeremiah 29:18; Jeremiah 29:22; Psalms 44:13-14).
(1) The captives already in Babylon are compared to good fruit, such as is fit for use and sweet to the taste. The party in Jerusalem, as yet free, is compared to bad fruit, unfit for use and nauseous to the palate. And yet, if one judged by the mere outward aspect of things, the state of the captives in the enemies' city seemed a much more undesirable one than that of their brethren in the metropolis of their own land. Hence, we see that the good or evil of one's circumstances is not to be judged by outward appearances. Often what seems a peculiarly hard and distressing position proves to have been the very best for us. God humbles and tries us sorely at first, in order to do us good in our latter end. By afflictions the first captives in Babylon were convinced of sin, weaned from idols, and taught to turn to God with their whole heart (Jeremiah 24:7). Thus in the end they learned to look back on their trials as mercies in disguise, and to feel that God had indeed "sent them out of their native land into the land of the Chaldeans for their good" (Jeremiah 24:5). So may many a believer testify, "Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now have I kept thy word" (Psalms 119:67). When sorrow is sanctified to us, we may be sure it will end well.
(2) True repentance and conversion are not man's work, but the gift of God's grace preventing us; that is, going before us in the first instance, and "giving us an heart to know the Lord" (Jeremiah 24:7), and to become His people, anterior to any good-will or effort on our part. When God thus works with prevenient grace, the sinner returns to the Lord, not partially and outwardly, but "with the whole heart." Pardon is an act of grace, not the reward of our good-will or good works; yet it is invariably accompanied by repentance, and produces the fruits of love.
(3) Zedekiah, and the Jews still free in their own city and land, seemed to their brethren in exile an object of envy, and to themselves the special objects of God's favour, as contrasted with the exiles, whom they looked down upon as castaways from God; but really the case was very different from what it seemed. The relative state of the exiles and of those still in Jerusalem would ere long be reversed: the latter were to be "removed into all the kingdoms of the earth for their hurt (Jeremiah 24:9), to be a reproach, a proverb, a taunt, and a curse in all places." Let us hence learn, there is no stability or reality in that prosperity which is unaccompanied with the true fear of God, and which only puffs us up with a self-sufficient and haughty spirit toward our brethren who seem less outwardly favoured than ourselves. Let us ask God to give us such things only as are truly expedient for us.
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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Jeremiah 24". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Sunday after Epiphany