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JEREMIAH CHAPTER 3
God’s forbearance with the idolatry of Judah, who is worse than Israel, Jeremiah 3:1-11. Both called to repent, with gospel promises, Jeremiah 3:12-19. Misery by sin; salvation only of God, Jeremiah 3:20-25.
They say; or, Men use to say. If this, with the four following verses, belong to the former chapter, then it seems to express God’s condescension to them: q. d. Though if a woman forsake her husband, and be married to another man, the law will not permit him to receive her again; yet God would receive thee again upon thy returning to him; but thou choosest rather obstinately to adhere to thy other confidences, wherein thou shalt not prosper. But if we look upon them as beginning a new argument, then here God declares his readiness to receive them again upon their repentance, though it be very unusual for husbands so to do, when their wives have proved treacherous unto them, in betaking themselves to other husbands; and so this chapter may very well begin with such a proverbial speech, They say, or, Men use to say, or, It is commonly said. Put away his wife; or give her a bill of divorce, Deuteronomy 24:1. Shall he return unto her again? q. d. He cannot take her again, according to the law, Deuteronomy 24:1-4. Or rather, will a man do such a thing? If the law were not against it, would any man be so easily wrought upon as to take her again? No, certainly. It is an argument from the less to the greater, to set forth God’s great lenity towards them: q.d. If a husband should turn away his wife merely because he pleased her not, though she gave him no just cause, and she should bestow herself on another, he would not be reconciled to her, neither might he take her again; but you have gone a whoring from me, and sufficiently provoked me to reject and turn you off. I will dispense with my own law for your sakes, and will act by my prerogative; I am ready to be reconciled, to follow them that fly from me, as in the close of the verse, and Zechariah 1:3; Matthew 3:7. God will pardon sins of apostacy, and falls after repentance.
Shall not that land be greatly polluted? Heb. in being profane be profaned. Would not so great a sin greatly pollute a state or nation? Leviticus 18:27,Leviticus 18:28. It must needs be polluted by such marriages to and fro, and promiscuous couplings, Deuteronomy 24:4.
With many lovers; not with one only, as being sufficient to make thee an adulteress, but a common strumpet, joining in fellowship with divers associates and companions, or many idols.
Lift up thine eyes; do but look, and consider whether I do charge thee wrongfully or no.
Unto the high places: he directs her to the places of her whoredoms and idolatries, called
high places, being principally upon hills, 2 Kings 21:3, and divers other places, though sometimes in valleys, Jeremiah 2:23; which notes also her impudence, that whereas other whores affected privacy, she should be filthy in the open view.
And see where thou hast not been lien with; thy filthiness has been every where so frequent, that thou canst scarce show a place that hath been free from thy pollutions, Jeremiah 3:6,Jeremiah 3:13, where there are not the footsteps of thy fornications and idolatries.
In the ways, viz. to allure passengers, see Ezekiel 16:24,Ezekiel 16:25 and waiting for them, viz. thy associates; not being drawn by others’ allurements, but thine own lasciviousness.
As the Arabian; an allusion to the manner and custom of that people, either lying in wait by the way for passengers, as robbers use to do, Hosea 6:9, they being noted for robbers. Or rather, in way of traffic, that were wont to pitch their tents by the way-sides, that they might meet with their customers to trade, as they passed along; very properly pointing out the practice of harlots. See Proverbs 7:11,Proverbs 7:12. Thy wickedness; not only thy idolatries, but all other thy wicked courses.
Therefore the showers have been withholden, viz. by me, according to my threatening, Leviticus 26:19; Deuteronomy 28:23,Deuteronomy 28:24, i.e. a drought sent upon thee, either as a punishment of thy wickedness; thus public sins bring public judgments; or as an aggravation of it; and then it must be read though, as it often is; q. d. notwithstanding the great drought; and this the last words of the verse seem to favour. There hath been no latter rain: this, added to showers before mentioned, seems to imply there had been no former nor latter rain, the former for the springing of the corn, the latter for the plumping and ripening it; this coming a little before harvest.
Thou hadst a whore’s forehead: for all this, thou didst still remain impudent and obstinate, as ashamed of nothing, Jeremiah 6:15; thus proverbially expressed, because shame doth first and mostly appear in the forehead. Thus antichrist’s impudence is expressed, Revelation 17:5. And some ancient heretics were called effrontes.
Wilt thou not from this time, viz. that I have withholden showers? Some refer this,
1. To the time to come; Wilt thou not yet be wise, and for the future seek to me, having found all thy other ways successless? Isaiah 9:13; Jeremiah 8:14.
2. To the time present; How canst thou challenge me for my present severity, and continuing it towards thee, when thou still retainest thy filthiness, thy whore’s forehead, Jeremiah 3:3. Thou still continuest worshipping idols, and yet fanciest thyself faithful to me.
3. To the time past, i.e. Hast thou not all along pretended kindness to me, and as if thou hadst walked close with me? 2 Kings 17:32,2 Kings 17:33; Ezekiel 23:39.
Cry unto me, My father; wilt thou not as a child call upon, me, whom thou hast thus greatly provoked, and own me as a father? Jeremiah 3:19; for such have I been to thee, Psalms 103:13; Malachi 1:6; Malachi 3:17.
The guide of my youth; either on whom I have depended, as being brought up by thee; or the submissive expression of a wife seeking to be reconciled to her husband, that God would be to her as he had been in the days of her youth; such a case as is expressed 1 Corinthians 7:11; words of flattery usual with hypocrites: or rather, being married to thee in thy youth; a periphrasis for husband, Proverbs 2:17; which argues great tenderness towards her, Jeremiah 3:2. Thus the tenderness of this relation is expressed Malachi 2:14, and so God is said to espouse them to himself Ezekiel 16:8.
Will he reserve his anger for ever? here being a defect of the noun, the Jews supply it with thy sin, Isaiah 43:25, but the most and best, as we do,
his anger. Compare it with Jeremiah 3:12; Psalms 103:9; Nahum 1:2, in which texts there is a defect of the same word. This may seem to be the words of the prophet, and so the connexion is easy with the foregoing words: q.d. If thou wouldst do so, try me now, &c.: would he reserve his anger? would he not be reconciled? but thou hast taken quite another course. Or they may be the words of God, as it were, teaching his people how they should accost him: God is more forward and earnest for reconciliation than sinners themselves.
The end; the same with the former for ever.
Behold, thou hast spoken and done evil things as thou couldest: God’s challenge of the people, charging them, either with their resolved wickedness, that they had made good all their evil words by their evil actions, they had even done as they said; or rather, with their hypocrisy: q.d. Notwithstanding all thy former promises, yet thou persistest still in thy lewdness and obstinacy, Isaiah 58:2; Hosea 7:14.
The Lord said also, or again; showing that here begins a new sermon, in which the prophet from God,
1. Declares Israel’s apostacy, and how it fared with them for it.
2. Aggravates Judah’s sin for not taking warning.
3. Issues forth an invitation of them both to repentance, with a promise of acceptation, and reuniting them under the Messiah.
4. Relates the compliance of the faithful among them with this invitation.
Unto me, viz. by revelation; for he speaks of things that Israel had done when they were carried away by the king of Assyria, 2 Kings 17:5-13, long before Jeremiah was born; therefore he saith, Hast thou not seen, i.e. considered, wherefore God gave her a bill of divorce?
In the days of Josiah the king; when he would have purged the land, and restored the pure worship of God.
Hast thou seen that which backsliding Israel hath done, viz. the ten tribes, who fell off from Judah, and set up a distinct kingdom of their own under Jeroboam? what they did, viz. in their idolatries? expressed in the next words, and Jeremiah 2:20; see there; when they openly apostatized from God, and that with one common consent, insomuch that all their kings proved wicked and idolatrous; and possibly it may look as far back as Solomon’s defection, 1 Kings 11:4, &c., which may now come in remembrance.
Turn thou unto me, viz. by repentance, Acts 3:19. Although she had been so vile and abominable, yet the Lord waited in expectation of her return.
Her treacherous sister Judah: Benjamin is also here comprised, but Judah being the chief is only named, these two abiding together after the other ten revolted to Jeroboam; called Israel’s
sister, because they were all descended from the patriarch Jacob, Ezekiel 16:46; compare Ezekiel 23:2,Ezekiel 23:4; and treacherous, or the treacherous one, because of her frequent revolts, 2 Chronicles 21:6, &c.; 2 Chronicles 24:17,2 Chronicles 24:18, and many other times, and after as frequent renewed covenants and promises, both in conjunction with the rest of the tribes, Deuteronomy 5:2,Deuteronomy 5:3,Deuteronomy 5:23, &c.; Deuteronomy 29:10-12, &c., and afterwards, 2 Chronicles 13:9,2 Chronicles 13:10, &c.; 2 Chronicles 15:12, &c.; 2 Chronicles 23:16; 2 Chronicles 29:10. Saw it, i.e. they were not strangers to it, but knew it, as the word is, Psalms 40:3. They could not but know how I had dealt with Israel.
I saw: q.d. That which others discern not I saw well enough, viz. both her hypocrisy and dissimulation, and her incorrigibleness notwithstanding what had befallen Israel, whose correction should have been her instruction; thus God speaks of the notice he took of both, Jeremiah 23:13,Jeremiah 23:14. Israel is said to be backsliding, but Judah
treacherous, because she retained the worship of God, though she did often privately and closely embrace idols. and sometimes publicly, under Manasseh, and Ahaz, and other wicked kings:
When for all the causes; or notwithstanding all the ground and reason I had to deal so with Israel in regard of her adulteries, as to put her away.
Given her a bill of divorce; delivered her up into the hands of the Assyrian, where God took from her the title of being his church, 2 Kings 17:5,2 Kings 17:6, &c., which he calls here a bill of divorce; not such a one as the Jews were allowed to give upon every slight ground, (for such a one God denies that ever he gave them, and challengeth them to produce it, Isaiah 1:1) but upon just and great occasion, viz. her playing the adulteress against him in her idolatries. Feared not, i.e. was neither afraid of giving me offence, nor of the like punishment. But went and played the harlot also; although she had seen the judgment of God executed upon Israel before her eyes, which made it the more stupendous, that she would take no warning by her sister’s sufferings, Proverbs 28:14, yet she went on still, Ezekiel 23:11,Ezekiel 23:12, &c.
The lightness of her whoredom; whether of Judah’s or of Israel’s is not agreed upon, but the right applying of it doth depend much upon the right acceptation of the word lightness, which comes from a Hebrew word that signifies voice; and so it may refer either to the noise or fame of it, that would fly abroad, and thus it is applied to Israel, i.e. though Israel’s whoredoms were never so much blazed abroad, yet Judah regarded it not. Or it may be taken for the heinousness of it, a crying voice, as Genesis 4:10, and so by an hypallage, her whoredoms of fame, or notorious whoredoms; and is not ill expressed here by
lightness of her whoredom, noting her impudence in it, as we use to term a common harlot a light woman; and thus it is applied to Judah, both the foregoing and following words seeming to be an aggravation of Judah’s refractoriness.
Defiled the land; brought the whole land under the imputation of filthiness.
With stones and with stocks, i.e. with idols made of stone and wood, a metonymy of the matter, to note the baseness of the fact.
Though God saw what she did, and though she saw the shameful idolatry of Israel, and what she had suffered, yet she was not warned; see Jeremiah 3:8; but fell to idolatry under Manasseh, who undid what Hezekiah had done, 2 Chronicles 33:3, though under fair pretences she dissembled with God in the days of Josiah, 2 Chronicles 34:32,2 Chronicles 34:33, as appeared by her sudden revolt, viz. in less than three months after Josiah’s death, 2 Kings 23:31,2 Kings 23:32.
Was less vile, hath more to say for herself; Judah’s sin being greatly aggravated compared with Israel, Ezekiel 16:51; Ezekiel 23:11. See Luke 18:14. For though Israel’s sins were more, and their idolatry continued, yet in Judah it was more heinous,
1. Because of their unruly headstrongness, that broke the reins and restraint which their external worship ought to have had upon them.
2. Because of their stupid security in not being warned by the judgments that they had seen befall Israel for the very same things.
3. Because of their intolerable pride, boasting that their state was still unshaken.
4. Because of their gross perfidiousness in making promises, and breaking them, which Israel did not, because she brought not herself under such solemn and frequent obligations: see Jeremiah 3:7. Lastly, Because they were a great deal more zealous in their idolatries than Israel was, viz. under Manasseh, when they slew all the prophets of the Lord.
Go: it may possibly be used here as an adverb of exciting, namely, to go, as is usual; or it notes speed, Go quickly, out of hand; not locally, but set thy face, Jeremiah 2:2, or feet, that way, or by thy office address thyself to them, viz. by way of proclamation, crying aloud; possibly implying the distance of place: this voice may in time reach them, though a great way off. Or rather the deafness of Israel, or the obdurateness of Judah, that they might hear what God saith to Israel, conceive hope, and be reclaimed by their example, and be excited to emulation.
Toward the north, i.e. to Assyria and Media, and the regions thereabouts, that lay northward from Judea, whither the ten tribes were carried by Tiglath-pileser and Shulmaneser, 2 Kings 15:29; 2 Kings 17:6.
And I will not cause mine anger; upon condition of returning to their former true worship of God, that thereby Judah might be awakened, he promiseth that he will not let his anger, or his face, as in the Hebrew, (because anger principally appears in the face,) his angry face, or countenance, to be upon them; so it is used Leviticus 17:10; Psalms 34:16; and not be inexorable, viz.
for ever, which is to be supplied from the next words; for otherwise his anger lay heavy upon them at this time.
To fall a metaphor from things on high that drop down to the hurt of whatever is under them, and so Jeremiah 23:34; compare Genesis 19:24.
For I am merciful: here is the ground of this conditional promise, taken from the nature of God, that sinners may not despair, Psalms 86:15; Psalms 103:8,Psalms 103:9, &c.
Only acknowledge thine iniquity; which will be the evidence of thy repentance, without which thou canst not lay claim to any pardon, Proverbs 28:13; Isaiah 55:7. This is spoken by way of limitation, lest the Israelites should fancy a too easy pardon from God’s merciful nature. Exhortations to repentance should always accompany the exhibition of promises.
Hast scattered thy ways to the strangers, viz. to other nations, or rather to other gods, or to idols, running here and there, up and down, like a light, impudent harlot. sometimes to one, sometimes to another, thus sucking in divers superstitions, called
scattering thy ways, Jeremiah 3:6; 2 Kings 17:4,2 Kings 17:9,2 Kings 17:10; Jeremiah 2:23,Jeremiah 2:25. Feet, whereby we go on in ways; a metaphorical metonymy. Ye have not obeyed my voice; so that your sin is not a sin of ignorance, but of obstinacy, shutting your ears against my counsels, which I sent you by my prophets for your reclaiming, 2 Kings 17:13, &c.
Turn, O backsliding children; for I am married unto you; I am in covenant with you, Deuteronomy 29:1,Deuteronomy 29:10-12, &c., and this covenant, notwithstanding all your unfaithfulness, I am ready to renew with you, Hosea 2:19,Hosea 2:20.
One of a city, and two of a family: this word family is not always to be taken strictly for a household; for then the expression would seem to imply more in a family than in a city; but frequently for a country or nation; compare Genesis 12:3, with Genesis 22:18; see Jeremiah 1:15; or for a tribe; and this may partly respect the fewness of those that will be found penitents and return. God will have a sprinkling in every city, and in every family, or tribe, or country. But chiefly it respects God’s exact care of them, that being now married to them, there shall not be one in a city, or two in a country or tribe, but he will find them out; if there be but one or two, he will not overlook them: this seems to be intimated Isaiah 27:12, a text that points at the same thing.
I will bring you to Zion, i.e. to JerusaLem, a type of the church; a double metonymy of the subject. It is the manner of the prophets, when they are treating of temporal deliverances, especially from Babylon, frequently to break out abruptly into the spiritual deliverance by Christ, and so probably he doth here; and therefore bringing them to Zion must be understood, either of joining them to his church under the Messiah, or bringing them again to worship with Judah at Jerusalem; as may seem to be intimated, Jeremiah 31:6; but the ten tribes did never return into their own land, and therefore that text must be understood of a spiritual going up to Zion, viz. when all Israel shall be saved, Romans 11:26. See Isaiah 56:7,Isaiah 56:8; Isaiah 66:20; and this chapter, Jeremiah 3:18. Thus we may look upon this part of the prophecy to have respect, partly to what God was at that time about to do, in this verse; and partly what he would hereafter do, when they should be again settled in their own land, under the Messiah, Jeremiah 3:16-19.
Pastors; either civil magistrates, which are sometimes so called, Micah 5:5; or rather ecclesiastical, as appears both from the reason of God’s judgments upon Israel, viz. their pastors being generally either thieves or dumb dogs; and also from the nature of their office, in the close of the verse, and thus they are called Ephesians 4:11.
According to mine heart; such as I will both choose for you and approve of, and that shall faithfully and skilfully declare unto you my mind; which intimates not only a single act of deliverance, but his constant preservation of them.
Which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding: this notes either the nature of their food: see Nehemiah 8:8; Malachi 2:7. Or rather the manner of their feeding: see Psalms 78:72; 1 Peter 5:2. See more of this promise Jeremiah 23:4.
When ye be multiplied; after the growth of the church under the Messiah.
In those days; pointing at the great work of conversion that should be among them, especially in the days of the Messias, and how greatly the church should be increased by the accession of the Gentiles, a beginning whereof we read Acts 2:41; Acts 4:4.
The ark; a synecdoehical expression for all the legal ceremonies, whereof the ark was a chief part: the sense is, that whole worship, with all the rites and ceremonies belonging to it, should wholly cease, Christ being come, who was the substance of what the ark and all other rites did but shadow out for a time he being now our propitiatory, instead of the covering of the ark or mercy-seat, Romans 3:25; he answers all the uses and purposes thereof. In the ark was laid up the manna, Aaron’s rod, and the tables of the law, Hebrews 9:4. He is now the bread of life, John 6:35, he is our rod of government, Psalms 23:4, in him is the whole law fulfilled, Romans 10:4; and now God shall reign gloriously in his church by his word and Spirit, and shall be so worshipped without ceremony, John 4:21,John 4:23. For if this so eminent and comprehensive a token of God’s presence must cease in the days of the gospel, much more the temple service, with all the rites belonging to it, John 1:17; Colossians 2:17; Hebrews 10:8,Hebrews 10:9.
The ark of the covenant; called also the ark of the testimony, Exodus 25:22; Exodus 30:26; Exodus 31:7; and the reason is, because the two tables of the law, which were the testimony or witness of the covenant, were closed up in it, Exodus 25:16,Exodus 25:21; Exodus 40:20.
Neither shall it come to mind, & c., i.e. it shall be no more in use, neither shall there be any miss of it, or any thing like it, there shall be no such thing; men shall not trouble their thoughts about it, or mention it; compare Isaiah 65:17; or repair to it as an oracle to receive the answers of God; nor for God’s worship; compare Jeremiah 16:14,Jeremiah 16:15; or the place of its residence, as if no where else to be had; in a word, it shall not at all be had in honour or respect, or made much of. The word עשה hhasah, done or made, signifies to magnify, as it seems to be used, Deuteronomy 32:6; 1 Samuel 12:6. The whole church shall now be the throne of God, Jeremiah 3:17, to which purpose the ark formerly served; now God foreseeing, partly how hard a thing it would be to be believed, and partly the pleas that the corrupt wit and invention of man would find out for the retaining of these rites, and by consequence their lothness to forego them, he useth such a heap and variety of expressions to the same thing, that he may leave no room for doubting in a thing so plainly and fully prohibited in gospel times.
They shall call Jerusalem the throne of the Lord; instead of the ark, whereon was the mercy-seat, now the church, typified by Jerusalem, Galatians 4:26; Revelation 21:2, shall be the place of God’s residence, where by his Spirit he will rule and act in his word and ordinances, and in special the Messias. See Jeremiah 14:21, and Jeremiah 3:16.
All the nations shall be gathered unto it; intimating both their readiness to come in, and their number, according to first prophecy of Jacob, Genesis 49:10. See Isaiah 2:2. By
nations here understand either the ten tribes, who are called many people, both Israel and Judah united, their distance being taken away; see Jeremiah 3:18; or rather some of all nations, that shall flock into the gospel church; for when the prophets foretell this state, they generally usher it in with the return of this people, at which time the church shall be greatly enlarged.
To the name of the Lord, to Jerusalem, i.e. dwelling in Jerusalem, or where the Lord placed his name, viz. of old in Jerusalem, Psalms 122:2,Psalms 122:3, &c., but now in the church, Revelation 21:2,Revelation 21:3, without ark or temple, Revelation 21:22, where he will be known as it were by his proper name, Isaiah 60:9, or as manifest in the flesh.
Neither shall they walk any more after the imagination of their evil heart; both Jew and Gentile shall now conform themselves to the will of God, Isaiah 2:3.
The word imagination here comes from a root that signifies to see, and thus it is sometimes applied to the judgment, Psalms 17:2, and sometimes to the affection, Psalms 66:18; here it may comprehend both, they will follow neither their own judgment nor affection, but wholly the word of God. The word is thus phrased Numbers 15:39; Ecclesiastes 11:9; some read it after the hardness, Deuteronomy 29:19.
The house of Judah shall walk with the house of Israel; these two kingdoms shall become one, that had been so long divided; the enmity that was between them shall be taken away, and they shall walk hand in hand in a friendly manner one with another, which is implied in this phrase of walking together, Psalms 55:14; Amos 3:3; and this points at their incorporating into one body united by the same Spirit, as members of the same body under Christ their Head, and that without distinction of nations. See Isaiah 11:12,Isaiah 11:13; Ezekiel 37:16,Ezekiel 37:17; Ephesians 2:14-16; Ephesians 3:6.
Of the north, viz. of their captivity: see the place, Jeremiah 3:12.
To the land, viz. Canaan; both a promise of their enjoying again their ancient possession at their last conversion, and typifying the church of Christ, which they shall be of, when brought out of their spiritual captivity.
How shall I words that speak either, first, God’s putting them to their own thoughts, how they could think he should bring such a perfidious people as they were into the land which he had promised; else, secondly, his considering within himself how or what course he should take to bring such a thing about, and accomplish it, they had so greatly degenerated from him and disobliged him; see Hosea 6:4; both implying that such a thing could not be brought about without repentance and true conversion to him, wrought by his free grace, Ephesians 1:5,Ephesians 1:6.
Put thee among the children; esteem thee as my child, till thou give some clearer proof and demonstration of thy repentance.
And give thee a pleasant land; how shall I put thee into possession of that pleasant land of desire that I have promised thee? Canaan is so called, Psalms 106:24; Daniel 8:9; Daniel 11:16,Daniel 11:41.
A goodly heritage, Heb. heritage of glory, or beauty: see Isaiah 4:2.
Of the hosts of nations; so called, either because possessed by several potent nations, Numbers 13:28; Deuteronomy 4:38; or rather, it may note the great hosts and multitudes of nations, or Gentiles, that should be joined to them in the gospel church, viz. of God’s elect, and so a heritage of the greatest delights, or the desire of nations; a people to whom all the nations would desire to flock; see Ezekiel 20:6; and may be spoken also of the heavenly Canaan: the LXX. render it, the heritage of God, the omnipotent Governor of the nations.
And I said, Thou shalt call me, My father: God comes now to a resolution how he would do it. Either it is a direction: q.d. On this condition, that thou wilt own me, and not return any more to idols, this shall be done; or a promise, I will cause thee to own me, and give thee perseverance, that thou shalt not depart from me; and this is very applicable to the work of Christ; see John 1:12; see also 2 Corinthians 6:17,2 Corinthians 6:18; and the condition is indeed no more than God promiseth to effect in them.
God hereby telling her what she had formerly been, endeavours to engage her to what she ought to be, namely, considering her former unfaithfulness in time past, how she ought to carry it for the future. See 1 Peter 4:3.
A voice was heard: here the prophet seems to express Israel’s repentance and turning to God; and that which they were at present engaging themselves in; (the word being participial, and in the present tense;) delivered in a prophetical style, as that in Jeremiah 31:15; and that not only out of a sense of their judgments that they were under, but chiefly of their sins they were guilty of, and the pardon of which they were now begging. which is intimated by weeping and supplication.
Upon the high places, viz. that their cry might be the more public, both open and loud, Jeremiah 22:20; Matthew 10:27; possibly alluding to the usual practice of praying on the tops of houses in great calamities, Isaiah 15:3; Isaiah 22:1; Jeremiah 7:29.
Weeping and supplications; or rather, weeping supplications; showing the intenseness of it; praying in weeping, and weeping in prayer, Zechariah 12:10, like Peter’s weeping, Matthew 26:75.
Of the children of Israel; the end of which might be to provoke Judah also to repentance, or otherwise to charge upon them their stupidity, and threaten them with the like judgments, if they would not return upon Israel’s example.
They have perverted their way, and they have forgotten the Lord their God: this expresseth rather the matter of their prayer than the cause of it, Lamentations 5:16, drawn chiefly from their sins, as also from their calamities.
Return, viz. repent for sin and from sin. Here God calls upon them, and invites them to consider whither they are going, and to hearken unto the voice of his ministers, Hosea 14:1; Acts 3:19. See Jeremiah 3:12. God doth as it were bid them hearken to his messengers, and then he will heal their backsliding.
I will heal your backslidings, i.e. idolatries, whereby you turned from me, and rebelled against me; I will take you into that state, as if you had never turned from me; I will make all whole again among you, and reconcile you to myself, Isaiah 57:18; Jeremiah 32:40. See Zechariah 10:6; Zechariah 13:9. I will not only remove your judgments, but your sins also shall be forgiven.
Behold, we come unto thee. This is either God’s framing their answer for them, prescribing the manner and form of their repentance, by a figure called mimesis, Hosea 14:2,Hosea 14:3; or it is their reply to God by way of promise, which they performed under Josiah, 2 Kings 22:0; 2 Kings 23:0, which with their confession reacheth to the end of the chapter.
For thou art the Lord our God; words expressing the strongest inducements to it imaginable, because God hath right to them, is willing to accept them, and able to save them, Isaiah 55:7; Jeremiah 14:22.
From the hills, i.e. either from their idols, which were worshipped upon hills, a metonymy of the subject, Jeremiah 2:20, idols of the hills; or from any other external power whatsoever, either of persons or things, as the strength of hills, or forts, high places, and strong places, and assistance from kings, Hosea 14:3.
The multitude of mountains, viz, the abundance of them that they have in their mountains, or the multitude of sacrifices which they offer in the mountains, or to multiply sacrifices.
Quest. But doth not the psalmist hope for salvation from the hills? Psalms 121:1.
Answ. Yes, the hills of the Land of Promise, which were a pledge of God’s favour to his people, especially those two of Zion and Moriah, where God did peculiarly manifest his presence, Psalms 87:0.
In the Lord our God is the salvation of Israel; or, our salvation which we do now acknowledge is only in our God, and not in idols, of which we have had ample experience, Psalms 44:7; Psalms 130:7,Psalms 130:8. See Isaiah 43:10,Isaiah 43:11; Hosea 13:4,Hosea 13:9.
Shame; either in general put for sin, which causeth shame, a metonymy of the effect; for that brought shame first into the world, Genesis 2:25. Or in particular the idol Baal, called the shameful thing, Jeremiah 11:13; Hosea 9:10. Hath devoured the labour of our fathers: q.d. This hath been the fruit of our idolatry, to have all things go to ruin, both in respect of expense; that which our fathers having got for themselves and us by their industry, they have expended upon Baal, and other idols, Ezekiel 16:16-21; and also of the heavy judgments that God brought upon us for it, Jeremiah 5:17.
From our youth; either with reference to the nation, ever since they began first to be a people unto God, and followed him in the wilderness, Jeremiah 2:2; or rather, ever since we were born, or took notice of any thing, thus it was from time to time; we find from our childhood that our fathers have laboured in vain, and all things have succeeded ill with us, because of their departure from God. Their flocks and their herds, their sons and their daughters: all these things are mentioned to show that they did thrive in nothing; but either a blast upon all from God, Hosea 9:11, to the end; Malachi 2:2,Malachi 2:3; or idolatrous sacrifices, consumed all, Amos 4:4,Amos 4:5, the idols not sparing even their very children, Psalms 106:37; or the enemy spoiled them of all, Jeremiah 5:17; and all this as the sad effect of their idolatries.
We lie down in our shame; we are perplexed and confounded within ourselves; we are such a reproach, both to God and man, that we cannot but lift up our hands for shame, even we, that had once a whore’s forehead, Jeremiah 3:3, but must lie down in our shame; an expression to set forth tho greatness of their repentance and sorrow; as one in great perplexity, not knowing what to do, throws himself down upon his couch or bed, 1 Kings 21:4.
Our confusion covereth us; a metaphor from persons muffled up in the bed-clothes, as ashamed to be seen: the like expression Psalms 44:15.
We and our fathers this notes the universality of their sins, the whole generation of us, like fathers, like children. True confession wraps up our own and others’ sins, Ezra 9:7; Nehemiah 9:33,Nehemiah 9:34; Psalms 106:6,Psalms 106:7; Jeremiah 14:20, and keeps us from all excuse by others’ examples, 2 Kings 17:41, which gross guilt of theirs in this kind is described Jeremiah 44:17.
From our youth even unto this day: as the former sets forth the universality of their sins, so this the continuance of them, Deuteronomy 9:7; 2 Kings 17:34,2 Kings 17:41.
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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Jeremiah 3". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 5 / Ordinary 10