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Monday, July 22nd, 2024
the Week of Proper 11 / Ordinary 16
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Bible Commentaries
Jeremiah 3

The Expositor's Bible CommentaryThe Expositor's Bible Commentary

Verses 1-5




Jeremiah 2:1-37; Jeremiah 3:1-5

THE first of the prophet’s public addresses is, in fact, a sermon which proceeds from an exposure of national sin to the menace of coming judgment. It falls naturally into three sections, of which the first {Jeremiah 2:1-13} sets forth Iahvah’s tender love to His young bride Israel in the old times of nomadic life, when faithfulness to Him was rewarded by protection from all external foes; and then passes on to denounce the unprecedented apostasy of a people from their God. The second (Jeremiah 2:14-28) declares that if Israel has fallen a prey to her enemies, it is the result of her own infidelity to her Divine Spouse; of her early notorious and inveterate falling away to the false gods, who are now her only resource, and that a worthless one. The third section {Jeremiah 2:29-37; Jeremiah 3:1-5} points to the failure of Iahvah’s chastisements to reclaim a people hardened in guilt, and in a self-righteousness which refused warning and despised reproof; affirms the futility of all human aid amid the national reverses; and cries woe on a too late repentance. It is not difficult to fix the time of this noble and pathetic address. That which follows it, and is intimately connected with it in substance, was composed "in the days of Josiah the king," {Jeremiah 3:6} so that the present one must be placed a little earlier in the same reign; and, considering its position in the book, may very probably be assigned to the thirteenth year of Josiah, i.e., B.C. 629, in which the prophet received his Divine call. This is the ordinary opinion; but one critic (Knobel) refers the discourse to the beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim, on account of the connection with Egypt which is mentioned in Jeremiah 2:18, Jeremiah 2:36, and the humiliation suffered at the hands of the Egyptians which is mentioned in Jeremiah 2:16; while another (Graf) maintains that chapters 2-6 were composed in the fourth year of Jehoiakim, as if the prophet had committed nothing to writing before that date-an assumption which seems to run counter to the implication conveyed by his own statement, Jeremiah 36:2. This latter critic has failed to notice the allusions in Jeremiah 4:14; Jeremiah 6:8 to an approaching calamity which may be averted by national reformation, to which the people are invited; -an invitation wholly incompatible with the prophet’s attitude at that hopeless period. The series of prophecies beginning at Jeremiah 4:3 is certainly later in time than the discourse we are now considering; but as certainly belongs to the immediate subsequent years.

It does not appear that the first two of Jeremiah’s addresses were called forth by any striking event of public importance, such as the Scythian invasion. His new born consciousness of the Divine call would urge the young prophet to action; and in the present discourse we have the firstfruits of the heavenly impulse. It is a retrospect of Israel’s entire past and an examination of the state of things growing out of it. The prophet’s attention is not yet confined to Judah; he deplores the rupture of the ideal relations between Iahvah and His people as a whole (Jeremiah 2:4; Jeremiah 3:6). As Hitzig has remarked, this opening address, in its finished elaboration, leaves the impression of a first outpouring of the heart, which sets forth at once without reserve the long score of the Divine grievances against Israel. At the same time, in its closing judgment, {Jeremiah 3:5} in its irony, {Jeremiah 2:28} in its appeals, {Jeremiah 2:21; Jeremiah 2:31} and its exclamations, {Jeremiah 2:12} it breathes an indignation stern and deep to a degree hardly characteristic of the prophet in his other discourses, but which was natural enough, as Hitzig observes, in a first essay at moral criticism, a first outburst of inspired zeal.

In the Hebrew text the chapter begins with the same formula as chapter 1 (Jeremiah 2:4): "And there fell a word of Iahvah unto me, saying." But the LXX reads: "And he said, Thus saith the Lord," a difference which is not immaterial, as it may be a trace of an older Hebrew recension of the prophet’s work, in which this second chapter immediately followed the original superscription of the book, as given in Jeremiah 1:1-2, from which it was afterwards separated by the insertion of the narrative of Jeremiah’s call and visions. {cf. Amos 1:2} Perhaps we may see another trace of the same thing in the fact that whereas chapter 1 sends the prophet to the rulers and people of Judah, this chapter is in part addressed to collective Israel (Jeremiah 2:4); which constitutes a formal disagreement. If the reference to Israel is not merely retrospective and rhetorical, -if it implies, as seems to be assumed, that the prophet really meant his words to affect the remnant of the northern kingdom as well as Judah, -we have here a valuable contemporary corroboration of the much disputed assertion of the author of Chronicles, that king Josiah abolished idolatry "in the cities of Manasseh and Ephraim and Simeon even unto Naphtali, to wit, in their ruins round about," {2 Chronicles 34:6} as well as in Judah and Jerusalem; and that Manasseh and Ephraim and "the remnant of Israel" (2 Chronicles 34:9; 2 Chronicles 34:21) contributed to his restoration of the temple. These statements of the Chronicler imply that Josiah exercised authority in the ruined northern kingdom, as well as in the more fortunate south; and so far as this first discourse of Jeremiah was actually addressed to Israel as well as to Judah, those disputed statements find in it an undesigned confirmation. However this may be, as a part of the first collection of the author’s prophecies, there is little doubt that the chapter was read by Baruch to the people of Jerusalem in the fourth year of Jehoiakim. {Jeremiah 36:6}

"Go thou and cry in the ears of Jerusalem: Thus hath Iahvah said" (or "thought": This is the Divine thought concerning thee!) "I have remembered for thee the kindness of thy youth, the love of thine espousals; thy following Me" (as a bride follows her husband to his tent) "in the wilderness, in a land unsown. A dedicated thing" (like the high priest, on whose mitre was graven) "was Israel to Iahvah, His first fruits of increase; all who did eat him were held guilty, ill would come to them, saith Iahvah" (Jeremiah 2:2-3). "I have remembered for thee," i.e., in thy favour, to thy benefit-as when Nehemiah prays, "Remember in my favour, O my God, for good, all that I have done upon this people," {Nehemiah 5:19} -"the kindness"-the warm affection of thy youth, "the love of thine espousals," or the charm of thy bridal state; {Hosea 2:15; Hosea 11:1} the tender attachment of thine early days, of thy new born national consciousness, when Iahvah had chosen thee as His bride, and called thee to follow Him out of Egypt. It is the figure which we find so elaborately developed in the pages of Hosea. The "bridal state" is the time from the Exodus to the taking of the covenant at Sinai, {Ezekiel 16:8} which was, as it were, the formal instrument of the marriage; and Israel’s young love is explained as consisting in turning her back upon "the flesh pots of Egypt," {Ezekiel 16:3} at the call of Iahvah, and following her Divine Lord into the barren steppes. This forsaking of all worldly comfort for the hard life of the desert was proof of the sincerity of Israel’s early love. [The evidently original words "in the wilderness, a land unsown," are omitted by the LXX, which renders: "I remembered the mercy of thy youth, and the love of thy nuptials, (consummation), so that thou followedst the Holy One of Israel, saith Iahvah."] Iahvah’s "remembrance" of this devotion, that is to say, the return He made for it, is described in the next verse. Israel became not "holiness," but a holy or hallowed thing; a dedicated object, belonging wholly and solely to Iahvah, a thing which it was sacrilege to touch; Iahvah’s "firstfruits of increase." This last phrase is to be explained by reference to the well known law of the firstfruits, {Exodus 23:19; Deuteronomy 18:4, Deuteronomy 26:10} according to which the first specimens of all agricultural produce were given to God. Israel, like the firstlings of cattle and the firstfruits of corn and wine and oil, was consecrated to Iahvah; and therefore none might eat of him without offending. "To eat" or devour is a term naturally used of vexing and destroying a nation (Jeremiah 10:25; Jeremiah 1:7; Deuteronomy 7:16, "And thou shalt eat up all the peoples, which Jehovah thy God is about to give thee"; Isaiah 1:7; Psalms 14:4, "Who eat up My people as they eat bread"). The literal translation is, "All his eaters become guilty (or are treated as guilty, punished); evil cometh to them"; and the verbs, being in the imperfect, denote what happened again and again in Israel’s history; Iahvah suffered no man to do His people wrong with impunity. This, then, is the first count in the indictment against Israel, that Iahvah had not been unmindful of her early devotion, but had recognised it by throwing the shield of sanctity around her, and making her inviolable against all external enemies (Jeremiah 2:1-3). The prophet’s complaint, as developed in the following section (Jeremiah 2:4-8), is that, in spite of the goodness of Iahvah, Israel has forsaken Him for idols. "Hear ye the word of Iahvah, O house of Jacob, and all the clans of the house of Israel." All Israel is addressed, and not merely the surviving kingdom of Judah, because the apostasy had been universal. A special reference apparently made in Jeremiah 2:8 to the prophets of Baal, who flourished only in the northern kingdom. We may compare the word of Amos "against the whole clan, " which Iahvah "brought up from the land of Egypt," {Amos 3:1} spoken at a time when Ephraim was yet in the heyday of his power.

"Thus hath Iahvah said, What found your fathers in Me, that was unjust, a single act of injustice, Psalms 7:4; not to be found in Iahvah, {Deuteronomy 32:4} that they went far from Me and followed the Folly and were befooled (or ‘the Delusion and were deluded’)" (Jeremiah 2:5). The phrase is used 2 Kings 17:15 in the same sense; "the (mere) breath," "the nothingness" or "vanity," being a designation of the idols which Israel went after; {cf. also Jeremiah 23:16; Psalms 62:11; Job 27:12} much as St. Paul has written that an "idol is nothing in the world," {1 Corinthians 8:4} and that, with all this boasted culture, the nations of classical antiquity "became vain," or were befooled "in their imaginations," "and their foolish heart was darkened". {Romans 1:21} Both the prophet and the apostle refer to that judicial blindness which is a consequence of persistently closing the eyes to truth, and deliberately putting darkness for light and light for darkness, bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter, in compliance with the urgency of the flesh. For ancient Israel, the result of yielding to the seductions of foreign worship was, that "They were stultified in their best endeavours. They became false in thinking and believing, in doing and forbearing, because the fundamental error pervaded the whole life of the nation and of the individual. They supposed that they knew and honoured God, hut they were entirely mistaken; they supposed they were doing His will, and securing their own welfare, while they were doing and securing the exact contrary" (Hitzig). And similar consequences will always flow from attempts to serve two masters; to gratify the lower nature, while not breaking wholly with the higher. Once the soul has accepted a lower standard than the perfect law of truth, it does not stop there. The subtle corruption goes on extending its ravages farther and farther; while the consciousness that anything is wrong becomes fainter and fainter as the deadly mischief increases, until at last the ruined spirit believes itself in perfect health, When it is, in truth, in the last stage of mortal disease. Perversion of the will and the affections leads to the perversion of the intellect. There is a profound meaning in the old saying that, Men make their gods in their own likeness. As a man is, so will God appear to him to be. "With the loving Thou wilt shew Thyself loving; With the perfect, Thou wilt shew Thyself perfect; With the pure, Thou wilt shew Thyself pure; And with the perverse, Thou wilt shew Thyself froward". {Psalms 18:25 sq.} Only hearts pure of all worldly taint see God in His purity. The rest worship some more or less imperfect semblance of Him, according to the varying degrees of their selfishness and sin.

"And they said not, Where is Iahvah, who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, that guided us in the wilderness, in a land of wastes and hollows (or desert and defile), in a land of drought and darkness (dreariness), in a land that no man passed through, and where no mortal dwelt" (Jeremiah 2:6). "They said not, Where is Iahvah, who brought us up out of the land of Egypt." It is the old complaint of the prophets against Israel’s black ingratitude. So, for instance, Amos {Amos 2:10} had written: "Whereas I-I brought you up from the land of Egypt, and guided you in the wilderness forty years"; and Micah: {Micah 6:3 sq.} "My people, what have I done unto thee, and how have I wearied thee? Answer against Me. For I brought thee up from the land of Egypt, and from a house of bondmen redeemed I thee." In common gratitude, they were bound to be true to this mighty Saviour; to enquire after Iahvah, to call upon Him only, to do His will, and to seek His grace. {cf. Jeremiah 29:12 sq.} Yet, with characteristic fickleness, they soon forgot the fatherly guidance, which had never deserted them in the period of their nomadic wanderings in the wilds of Arabia Petraea; a land which the prophet poetically describes as "a land of waste and hollows"-alluding probably to the rocky defiles through which they had to pass-and "a land of drought and darkness"; the latter an epithet of the Grave or Hades, {Job 10:21} fittingly applied to that great lone wilderness of the south, which Israel had called "a fearsome," {Jeremiah 21:1} and "a land of trouble and anguish," {Jeremiah 30:6} whither, according to the poet of Job, "The caravans go up and are lost". {Jeremiah 6:18}

"And I brought you into the garden land, to eat its fruits and its choicest things; {Isaiah 1:19; Genesis 45:18; Genesis 45:20; Genesis 45:23} and ye entered and defiled My land, and My. domain ye made a loathsome thing!" (Jeremiah 2:7). With the wilderness of the wanderings is contrasted the "land of the carmel, " the land of fruitful orchards and gardens, as in Jeremiah 4:26; Isaiah 10:18; Isaiah 16:10; Isaiah 29:17. This was Canaan, Iahvah’s own land, which He had chosen out of all countries to be His special dwelling place and earthly sanctuary; but which Israel no sooner possessed, than they began to pollute this holy land by their sins, like the guilty peoples whom they had displaced, making it thereby an abomination to Iahvah (Leviticus 18:24 sq., cf. Jeremiah 3:2).

"The priests they said not, Where is Iahvah? and they that handle the law, they knew (i.e., regarded, heeded) Me not; and as for the shepherds (i.e., the king and princes, Jeremiah 2:26), they rebelled against Me, and the prophets, they prophesied by (through) the Baal, and them that help not (i.e., the false gods) they followed" (Jeremiah 2:8). In the form of a climax, this verse justifies the accusation contained in the last, by giving particulars. The three ruling classes are successively indicted. {cf. Jeremiah 2:26, Jeremiah 18:18} The priests, part of whose duty was to "handle the law," i.e., explain the Torah, to instruct the people in the requirements of Iahvah, by oral tradition and out of the sacred law books, gave no sign of spiritual aspiration (cf. Jeremiah 2:6); like the reprobate sons of Eli, "they knew not" {1 Samuel 2:12} "Iahvah," that is to say, paid no heed to Him and His will as revealed in the book of the law; the secular authorities, the king and his counsellors, {"wise men," Jeremiah 18:18} not only sinned thus negatively, but positively revolted against the King of kings, and resisted His will; while the prophets went further yet in the path of guilt, apostatising altogether from the God of Israel, and seeking inspiration from the Phoenician Baal, and following worthless idols that could give no help. There seems to be a play on the words Baal and Belial, as if Baal meant the same as Belial, "profitless," "worthless" (cf. 1 Samuel 2:12: "Now Eli’s sons were sons of Belial; they knew not Iahvah." The phrase "they that help not," or "cannot help," suggests the term Belial; which, however, may be derived from "not," and "supreme," "God," and so mean "not-God," "idol," rather than "worthlessness," "unprofitableness," as it is usually explained). The reference may be to the Baal worship of Samaria, the northern capital, which was organised by Ahab, and his Tyrian queen. {Jeremiah 23:13}

"Therefore"-on account of this amazing ingratitude of your forefathers, -"I will again plead (reason, argue forensically) with you (the present generation in whom their guilt repeats itself) saith Iahvah, and with your sons’ sons (who will inherit your sins) will I plead." The nation is conceived as a moral unity, the characteristics of which are exemplified in each successive generation. To all Israel, past, present, and future, Iahvah will vindicate his own righteousness. "For cross" (the sea) "to the coasts of the Citeans" (the people of Citium in Cyprus) "and see; and to Kedar" (the rude tribes of the Syrian desert) "send ye, and mark well, and see whether there hath arisen a case like this. Hath a nation changed gods-albeit they are no gods? Yet My people hath changed his" (true) "glory for that which helpeth not" (or is worthless). "Upheave, ye heavens" (a fine paronomasia), "at this, and shudder (and) be petrified," "be sore amazed" but Hitzig "be dry" stiff and motionless, {1 Kings 13:4} "saith Iahvah; for two evil things hath My people done: Me they have forsaken-a Fountain of living water-to hew them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that cannot" (imperf. potential) "hold water" (Hebrews the waters: generic article) (Jeremiah 2:9-13). In these five verses, the apostasy of Israel from his own God is held up as a fact unique in history-unexampled and inexplicable by comparison with the doings of other nations. Whether you look westward or eastward, across the sea to Cyprus, or beyond Gilead to the barbarous tribes of the Cedrei, {Psalms 120:5} nowhere will you find a heathen people that has changed its native worship for another; and if you did find such, it would be no precedent or palliation of Israel’s behaviour. The heathen in adopting a new worship simply exchanges one superstition for another; the objects of his devotion are "non-gods" (Jeremiah 2:11). The heinousness and the eccentricity of Israel’s conduct lies in the fact that he has bartered truth for falsehood; he has exchanged "his Glory"-whom Amos {Amos 8:7} calls the Pride (A.V., Excellency) of Jacob-for a useless idol; an object which the prophet elsewhere calls "The Shame" (Jeremiah 3:24, Jeremiah 11:13), because it can only bring shame and confusion upon those whose hopes depend upon it. The wonder of the thing might well be supposed to strike the pure heavens, the silent witnesses of it, with blank astonishment (cf. a similar appeal in Deuteronomy 4:26; Deuteronomy 31:28; Deuteronomy 32:1, where the earth is added). For the evil is not single but twofold. With the rejection of truth goes the adoption of error; and both are evils. Not only has Israel turned his back upon "a fountain of living waters"; he has also "hewn him out cisterns, broken cisterns, that cannot hold water." The "broken cisterns" are, of course, the idols which Israel made to himself. As a cistern full of cracks and fissures disappoints the wayfarer, who has reckoned on finding water in it; so the idols, having only the semblance and not the reality of life, avail their worshippers nothing (Jeremiah 2:8-11). In Hebrew the waters of a spring are called "living," {Genesis 21:19} because they are more refreshing and, as it were, life giving, than the stagnant waters of pools and tanks fed by the rains. Hence by a natural metaphor, the mouth of a righteous man, or the teaching of the wise, and the fear of the Lord, are called a fountain of Proverbs 10:11; Proverbs 13:14; Proverbs 14:27. "The fountain of life" is with Iahvah; {Psalms 36:10} nay, He is Himself the Fountain of living waters; {Jeremiah 17:13} because all life, and all that sustains or quickens life, especially spiritual life, proceeds from Him. Now in Psalms 19:8 it is said that "The law of the Lord-or, the teaching of Iahvah-is perfect, reviving (or restoring) the soul"; {cf. Lamentations 1:11 Ruth 4:15} and a comparison of Micah and Isaiah’s statement that "Out of Zion will go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem," {Isaiah 2:3 Micah 4:2} with the more figurative language of Joel {Joel 3:18} and Zechariah, {Zechariah 14:8} who speak of "a fountain going forth from the house of the Lord," and "living waters going forth from Jerusalem," suggests the inference that "the living waters," of which Iahvah is the perennial fountain, are identical with His law as revealed through priests and prophets. It is easy to confirm this suggestion by reference to the river "whose streams make glad the city of God"; {Psalms 46:4} to Isaiah’s poetic description of the Divine teaching, of which he was himself the exponent, as "the waters of Shiloah that flow softly," {Isaiah 8:6} Shiloah being a spring that issues from the temple rock; and to our Lord’s conversation with the woman of Samaria, in which He characterises His own teaching as "living waters," {St. John 4:10} and as "a well of waters, springing up unto eternal Life" (ibid. John 4:14).

"Is Israel a bondman, or a homeborn serf? Why hath he become a prey? Over him did young lions roar; they uttered their voice; and they made his land a waste; his cities, they are burnt up" (or "thrown down"), "so that they are uninhabited. Yea, the sons of Noph and Tahpanes, they did bruise thee on the crown; Is not this what" (the thing that) "thy forsaking Iahvah thy God brought about for thee at the time He was guiding thee in the way?" (Jeremiah 2:14-17), As Iahvah’s bride, as a people chosen to be His own, Israel had every reason to expect a bright and glorious career. Why was this expectation falsified by events? But one answer was possible, in view of the immutable righteousness, the eternal faithfulness of God. "The ruin of Israel was Israel’s own doing." It is a truth which applies to all nations, and to all individuals capable of moral agency, in all periods and places of their existence. Let no man lay his failure in this world or in the world to come at the door of the Almighty. Let none venture to repeat the thoughtless blasphemy which charges the All-Merciful with sending frail human beings to expiate their offences in an everlasting hell! Let none dare to say or think, God might have made it otherwise, but He would not! Oh, no; it is all a monstrous misconception of the true relations of things. You and I are free to make our choice now, whatever may be the case hereafter. We may choose to obey God, or to disobey; we may seek His will, or our own. The one is the way of life; the other, of death, and nothing can alter the facts; they are part of the laws of the universe. Our destiny is in our own hands, to make or to mar. If we qualify ourselves for nothing better than a hell-if our daily progress leads us farther and farther from God and nearer and nearer to the devil-then hell will be our eternal home. For God is love, and purity, and truth, and glad obedience to righteous laws; and these things, realised and rejoiced in, are heaven. And the man that lives without these as the sovereign aims of his existence-the man whose heart’s worship is centred upon something else than God-stands already on the verge of hell, which is "the place of him that knows not (and cares not for) God." And unless we are prepared to find fault with that natural arrangement whereby like things are aggregated to like, and all physical elements gravitate towards their own kind, I do not see how we can disparage the same law in the spiritual sphere, in virtue of which all spiritual beings are drawn to their own place, the heavenly minded rising to the heights above, and the contrary sort sinking to the depths beneath.

The precise bearing of the question (Jeremiah 2:14), "Is Israel a bondman, or a homeborn slave?" is hardly self-evident. One commentator supposes that the implied answer is an affirmative. Israel is a "servant," the servant, that is, the worshipper of the true God. Nay, he is more than a mere bondservant; he occupies the favoured position of a slave born in his lord’s house cf. Abraham’s three hundred and eighteen young men, {Genesis 14:14} and therefore, according to the custom of antiquity, standing on a different footing from a slave acquired by purchase. The "home" or house is taken to mean the land of Canaan, which the prophet Hosea had designated as Iahvah’s "house" (Hosea 9:15; Hosea 9:3); and the "Israel" intended is supposed to be the existing generation born in the holy land. The double question of the prophet then amounts to this: If Israel be, as is generally admitted, the favourite bondservant of Iahvah, how comes it that his lord has not protected him against the spoiler? But, although this interpretation is not without force, it is rendered doubtful by the order of the words in the Hebrew, where the stress lies on the terms for "bondman" and "homeborn slave"; and by its bold divergence from the sense conveyed by the same form of question in other passages of the prophet, Jeremiah 2:31 infra, where the answer expected is a negative one (cf. also Jeremiah 8:4-5; Jeremiah 14:19; Jeremiah 49:1. The formula is evidently characteristic). The point of the question seems to lie in the fact of the helplessness of persons of servile condition against occasional acts of fraud and oppression, from which neither the purchased nor the homebred slave could at all times be secure. The rights of such persons, however humane the laws affecting their ordinary status, might at times be cynically disregarded both by their masters and by others (see a notable instance, Jeremiah 34:8 sqq.). Moreover, there may be a reference to the fact that slaves were always reckoned in those times as a valuable portion of the booty of conquest; and the meaning may be that Israel’s lot as a captive is as bad as if he had never known the blessings of freedom, and had simply exchanged one servitude for another by the fortune of war. The allusion is chiefly to the fallen kingdom of Ephraim. We must remember that Jeremiah is reviewing the whole past, from the outset of Iahvah’s special dealings with Israel. The national sins of the northern and more powerful branch had issued in utter ruin. The "young lions," the foreign invaders, had "roared against" Israel properly so called, and made havoc of the whole country (cf. Jeremiah 4:7). The land was dispeopled, and became an actual haunt of lions, {2 Kings 17:25} until Esarhaddon colonised it with a motley gathering of foreigners. {Ezra 4:2} Judah too had suffered greatly from the Assyrian invasion in Hezekiah’s time, although the last calamity had then been mercifully averted (Sanherib boasts that he stormed and destroyed forty-six strong cities, and carried off 200,000 captives, and an innumerable booty). The implication is that the evil fate of Ephraim threatens to overtake Judah; for the same moral causes are operative, and the same Divine will which worked in the past is working in the present, and will continue to work in the future. The lesson of the past was plain for those who had eyes to read and hearts to understand it. Apart from this prophetic doctrine of a Providence which shapes the destinies of nations, in accordance with their moral deserts, history has no value except for the gratification of mere intellectual curiosity.

"Aye, and the children of Noph and Tahpanhes they bruise(?) used to bruise; are bruising: thee on the crown" (Jeremiah 2:16). This obviously refers to injuries inflicted by Egypt, the two royal cities of Noph or Memphis, and Tahpanhes or Daphnae, being mentioned in place of the country itself. Judah must be the sufferer, as no Egyptian attack on Ephraim is anywhere recorded; while we do read of Shishak’s invasion of the southern kingdom in the reign of Rehoboam, both in the 1 Kings 14:25, and in Shishak’s own inscriptions on the walls of the temple of Amen at Karnak. But the form of the Hebrew verb seems to indicate rather some contemporary trouble; perhaps plundering raids by an Egyptian army, which about this time was besieging the Philistine stronghold of Ashdod (Herod., 2:157). "The Egyptians are bruising (or crushing) thee" seems to be the sense; and so it is given by the Jewish commentator Rashi (diffringunt). Our English marginal rendering "fed on" follows the traditional pronunciation of the Hebrew term which is also the case with the Targum and the Syriac versions; but this can hardly be right, unless we suppose that the Egyptians infesting the frontier are scornfully compared to vermin of a sort which, as Herodotus tells us, the Egyptians particularly disliked (but cf. Micah 5:5; Ges., depascunt, "eating down":)

The A.V. of Jeremiah 2:17 presents a curious mistake, which the Revisers have omitted to correct. The words should run, as I have rendered them, "Is not this"-thy present ill fortune-"the thing that thy forsaking of Iahvah thy God did for thee-at the time when He was guiding thee in the way?" The Hebrew verb does not admit of the rendering in the perf. tense, for it is an impf. nor is it a 2d pers. fem. but a 3d. The LXX has it rightly, but leaves out the next clause which specifies the time. The words, however, are probably original; for they insist, as Jeremiah 2:5 and Jeremiah 2:31 insist, on the groundlessness of Israel’s apostasy. Iahvah had given no cause for it; He was fulfilling His part of the covenant by "guiding them in the way." Guidance or leading is ascribed to Iahvah as the true "Shepherd of Israel" (Jeremiah 31:9; Psalms 80:1). It denotes not only the spiritual guidance which was given through the priests and prophets; but also that external prosperity, those epochs of established power and peace and plenty, which were precisely the times chosen by infatuated Israel for defection from the Divine Giver of her good things. As the prophet Hosea expresses it, Hosea 2:8 sq., " She knew not that it was I who gave her the corn and the new wine and the oil; and silver I multiplied unto her, and gold, which they made into the Baal. Therefore will I take back My corn in the time of it, and My new wine in its season, and will snatch away My wool and My flax, which were to cover her nakedness." And {Jeremiah 13:6} the same prophet gives this plain account of his people’s thankless revolt from their God: "When I fed them, they were sated; sated were they, and their heart was lifted up: therefore they forgot Me." It is the thought so forcibly expressed by the minstrel of the Book of the Law {Deuteronomy 32:15} first published in the early days of Jeremiah: "And Jeshurun waxed fat and kicked; Thou waxedst fat, and gross and fleshy! And he forsook the God that made him, And made light of his protecting Rock." And, lastly, the Chronicler has pointed the same moral of human fickleness and frailty in the case of an individual, Uzziah or Azariah, the powerful king of Judah, whose prosperity seduced him into presumption and profanity: {2 Chronicles 26:16} "When he grew strong, his heart rose high, until he dealt corruptly, and was unfaithful to Iahvah his God." I need not enlarge on the perils of prosperity; they are known by bitter experience to every Christian man. Not without good reason do we pray to be delivered from evil "In all time of our wealth"; nor was that poet least conversant with human nature who wrote that "Sweet are the uses of adversity."

"And now"-a common formula in drawing an inference and concluding an argument-"what hast thou to do with the way of Egypt, to drink the waters of Shihor" (the Black River, the Nile); "and what hast thou to do with the way to Assyria, to drink the waters of the River?" (par excellence, i.e., the Euphrates). "Thy wickedness correcteth thee, and thy revolts it is that chastise thee. Know then, and see that evil and bitter is thy forsaking Iahvah thy God, and thine having no dread of Me, saith the Lord Iahvah Sabaoth" (Jeremiah 2:18-19). And now-as the cause of all thy misfortunes lies in thyself-what is the use of seeking a cure for them abroad? Egypt will prove as powerless to help thee now, as Assyria proved in the days of Ahaz (Jeremiah 2:36 sq.). The Jewish people, anticipating the views of certain modern historians, made a wrong diagnosis of their own evil case. They traced all that they had suffered, and were yet to suffer, to the ill will of the two great powers of their time; and supposed that their only salvation lay in conciliating the one or the other. And as Isaiah found it necessary to cry woe on the rebellious children, "that walk to go down into Egypt, and have not asked at My mouth; to strengthen themselves in the strength of Pharaoh, and to trust in the shadow of Egypt!," {Isaiah 30:1 sq.} so now, after so much experience of the futility and positive harmfulness of these unequal alliances, Jeremiah has to lift his voice against the same national folly.

The "young lions" of Jeremiah 2:15 must denote the Assyrians, as Egypt is expressly named in Jeremiah 2:16. The figure is very appropriate, for not only was the lion a favourite subject of Assyrian sculpture; not only do the Assyrian kings boast of their prowess as lion hunters, while they even tamed these fierce creatures, and trained them to the chase; but the great strength and predatory habits of the king of beasts made him a fitting symbol of that great empire whose irresistible power was founded upon and sustained by wrong and robbery. This reference makes it clear that the prophet is contemplating the past; for Assyria was at this time already tottering to its fall, and the Israel of his day, i.e., the surviving kingdom of Judah, had no longer any temptation to court the countenance of that decaying if not already ruined empire. The sin of Israel is an old one; both it and its consequences belong to the past (Jeremiah 2:20 compared with Jeremiah 2:14); and the national attempts to find a remedy must be referred to the same period. Jeremiah 2:36 makes it evident that the prophet’s contemporaries concerned themselves only about an Egyptian alliance.

It is an interesting detail that for "the waters of Shihor," the LXX gives "waters of Gihon," which it will be remembered is the name of one of the four rivers of Paradise, and which appears to have been the old Hebrew name of the Nile (Sirach 24:27; Jos., "Ant.," 1:1, 3). Shihor may be an explanatory substitute. For the rest, it is plain that the two rivers symbolise the two empires; {cf. Isaiah 8:7; Jeremiah 46:7} and the expression "to drink the waters" of them must imply the receiving and, as it were, absorption of whatever advantage might be supposed to accrue from friendly relations with their respective countries. At the same time, a contrast seems to be intended between these earthly waters, which could only disappoint those who sought refreshment in them, and that "fountain of living waters" (Jeremiah 2:13) which Israel had forsaken. The nation sought in Egypt its deliverance from self-caused evil, much as Saul had sought guidance from witches when he knew himself deserted by the God whom by disobedience he had driven away. In seeking thus to escape the consequences of sin by cementing alliances with heathen powers, Israel added sin to sin. Hence (in Jeremiah 2:19) the prophet reiterates with increased emphasis what he has already suggested by a question (Jeremiah 2:17): "Thy wickedness correcteth thee, and thy revolts it is that chastise thee. Know then, and see that evil and bitter is thy forsaking of Iahweh thy God, and thine having no dread of Me!" Learn from these its bitter fruits that the thing itself is bad Job 21:33, quoted by Hitzig, is not a real parallel; nor can the sentence, as it stands, be rendered, ("Und dass die Scheu vor mir nicht an-dich kam"); and renounce that which its consequences declare to be an evil course, instead of aggravating the evil of it by a new act of unfaithfulness.

"For long ago didst thou break thy yoke, didst thou burst thy bonds, and saidst, I will not serve: for upon every high hill, and under each evergreen tree thou wert crouching in fornication" (Jeremiah 2:20-24). Such seems to be the best way of taking a verse which is far from clear as it stands in the Masoretic text. The prophet labours to bring home to his hearers a sense of the reality of the national sin; and he affirms once more (Jeremiah 2:5, Jeremiah 2:7) that Israel’s apostasy originated long ago, in the early period of its history, and implies that the taint thus contracted is a fact which can neither be denied nor obliterated The punctuators of the Hebrew text, having pointed the first two verbs as in the 1st pers. instead of the 2d feminine, were obliged, further, to suggest the reading "I will not transgress," for the original phrase "I will not serve"; a variant which is found in the Targum, and many MSS. and editions. "Serving" and "bearing the yoke" are equivalent expressions; {Jeremiah 27:11-12} so that, if the first two verbs were really in the 1st pers., the sentence ought to be continued with, "And I said, Thou shalt not serve." But the purport of this verse is to justify the assertion of the last, as is evident from the introductory particle "for," The Syriac supports; and the LXX and Vulg. have the two leading verbs in the 2d pers. {Jeremiah 4:19} The meaning is that Israel, like a stubborn ox, has broken the yoke imposed on him by Iahvah; a statement which is repeated in Jeremiah 5:5: "But these have altogether broken the yoke, they have burst the bonds." {cf. Jeremiah 2:31, infra; Hosea 4:16 Acts 26:14}

"Yet I-I planted thee with" (or, "as") "noble vines, all of them genuine shoots; and how hast thou turned Me thyself into the wild offshoots of a foreign vine?" (Jeremiah 2:21). The thought seems to be borrowed from Isaiah’s Song of the Beloved’s Vineyard. {Isaiah 5:1 sqq.} The nation is addressed as a person, endowed with a continuity of moral existence from the earliest period. "The days of the life of a man may be numbered; but the days of Israel are innumerable" (Sirach 37:25). It was with the true seed of Abraham, the real Israel, that Iahvah had entered into covenant; {Exodus 18:19; Romans 9:7} and this genuine offspring of the patriarch had its representatives in every succeeding generation, even in the worst of times. {1 Kings 19:18} But the prophet’s argument seems to imply that the good plants had reverted to a wild state, and that the entire nation had become hopelessly degenerate; which was not far from the actual condition of things at the close of his career. The culmination of Israel’s degeneracy, however, was seen in the rejection of Him to whom "gave all the prophets witness." The Passion of Christ sounded a deeper depth of sacred sorrow than the passion of any of His forerunners. "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem! Thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee!"

"Then on My head a crown of thorns I wear;

For these are all the grapes Sion doth bear,

Though I My vine planted and watered there:

Was ever grief like Mine?"

"For if thou wash with natron, and take thee much soap, spotted (crimsoned; Targ. Isaiah 1:18: or written, recorded) is thy guilt before Me, saith My Lord Iahvah." Comparison with Isaiah 1:18, "Though thy sins be as scarlet though they be red like crimson," suggests that the former rendering of the doubtful word is correct; and this idea is plainly better suited to the context than a reference to the Books of Heaven, and the Recording Angel; for the object of washing is to get rid of spots and stains.

"How canst thou say, I have not defiled myself; after the Baals I have not gone: See thy way in the valley, know what thou hast done, O swift she-camel, running hither and thither" (literally, intertwining or crossing her ways) (Jeremiah 2:23). The prophet anticipates a possible attempt at self-justification; just as in Jeremiah 2:35 he complains of Israel’s self-righteousness. Both here and there he is dealing with his own contemporaries in Judah; whereas the idolatry described in Jeremiah 2:20 sqq. is chiefly that of the ruined kingdom of Ephraim. {Jeremiah 3:24; 2 Kings 17:10} It appears that the worship of Baal proper only existed in Judah for a brief period in the reign of Ahaziah’s usurping queen Athaliah, side by side with the worship of Iahvah; {2 Chronicles 23:17} while on the high places and at the local sanctuaries the God of Israel was honoured. {2 Kings 18:22} So far as the prophet’s complaints refer to old times, Judah could certainly boast of a relatively higher purity than the northern kingdom; and the manifold heathenism of Manasseh’s reign had been abolished a whole year before this address was delivered. {2 Chronicles 34:3 sqq.} "The valley" spoken of as the scene of Judah’s misdoings is that of Ben-Hinnom, south of Jerusalem, where, as the prophet elsewhere relates, {Jeremiah 7:31, 2 Kings 23:10} the people sacrificed children by fire to the God Molech, whom he expressly designates as a Baal, {Jeremiah 19:5; Jeremiah 32:35} using the term in its wider significance, which includes all the aspects of the Canaanite sun god. And because Judah betook herself now to Iahvah, and now to Molech, varying, as it were, her capricious course from right to left and from left to right, and halting evermore between two opinions, {1 Kings 18:21} the prophet calls her "a swift young she-camel," (swift, that is, for evil) intertwining, or crossing her ways." The hot zeal with which the people wantonly plunged into a sensual idolatry is aptly set forth in the figure of the next verse. A "wild ass, used to the wilderness, {Job 24:5} in the craving of her soul she snuffeth up {Jeremiah 14:6} the wind" (not "lasst sie kaum Athem genug finden, indem sie denselben vorweg vergeudet," as Hitzig; but, as a wild beast scenting prey, cf. Jeremiah 14:6, or food afar off, she scents companions at a distance); "her greedy lust, who can turn it back? None that seek her need weary themselves; in her month they find her." While passion rages, animal instinct is too strong to be diverted from its purpose; it is idle to argue with blind appetite; it goes straight to its mark, like an arrow from a bow. Only when it has had its way, and the reaction of nature follows, does the influence of reason become possible. Such was Israel’s passion for the false gods. They had no need to seek her; {Hosea 2:7; Ezekiel 16:34} in the hour of her infatuation she fell an easy victim to their passive allurements. (The "month" is the season when the sexual instinct is strong.) Warnings fell on deaf ears. "Keep back thy foot from bareness, and thy throat from thirst!" This cry of the prophets availed nothing: "Thou saidst, It is vain! (sc. that thou urgest me.) No, for I love the strangers and after them will I go!" The meaning of the admonition is not very clear. Some (e.g., Rosenmuller) have understood a reference to the shameless doings and the insatiable cravings of lust. Others (as Gesenius) explain the words thus: "Do not pursue thy lovers in such hot haste as to wear thy feet bare in the wild race!" Others, again, take the prohibition literally, and connect the barefootedness and the thirst with the orgies of Baal worship (Hitz.), in which the priests leaped or rather limped with bare feet (what proof?) on the blazing altar, as an act of religious mortification, shrieking the while till their throats were parched and dry {Psalms 69:4} in frenzied appeal to their lifeless god. {cf. Exodus 3:5; 2 Samuel 15:30; 1 Kings 18:26} In this case the command is, Cease this self-torturing and bootless worship! But the former sense seems to agree better with the context.

"Like the shame of a thief, when he is detected, so are the house of Israel ashamed they, their kings, their princes, and their priests, and their prophets"; in that they say (are ever saying) to the wood, {Jeremiah 3:9 in Hebrews masc.} Thou art my father! {Jeremiah 3:4} and to the stone (in Hebrews fem.), Thou didst bring me forth! For they {Jeremiah 32:33} have turned towards Me the back and not the face; but in the time of their trouble they say (begin to say), O rise and save us! But where are thy gods that thou madest for thyself? Let them arise, if they can save thee in the time of thy trouble; for numerous as thy cities are thy gods become, O Judah!" (Jeremiah 2:26-28). "The Shame" is the well known title of opprobrium which the prophets apply to Baal. Even in the histories, which largely depend on prophetic sources, we find such substitutions as Ishbosheth for Eshbaal, the "Man of Shame" for "Baal’s Man." Accordingly, the point of Jeremiah 2:26 sqq. is, that as Israel has served the Shame, the idol gods, instead of Iahvah, shame has been and will be her reward: in the hour of bitter need, when she implores help from the One true God, she is put to shame by being referred back to her senseless idols. The "Israel" intended is the entire nation, as in Jeremiah 2:3, and not merely the fallen kingdom of Ephraim. In Jeremiah 2:28 the prophet specially addresses Judah, the surviving representative of the whole people. In the book of Judges {Judges 10:10-14} the same idea of the attitude of Iahvah towards His faithless people finds historical illustration. Oppressed by the Ammonites they "cried unto the Lord, saying, We have sinned against Thee, in that we have both forsaken our own God, and have served the Baals"; but Iahvah, after reminding them of past deliverances followed by fresh apostasies, replies: "Go, and cry unto the gods which ye have chosen; let them save you in the time of your distress!" Here also we hear the echoes of a prophetic voice. The object of such ironical utterances was by no means to deride the self-caused miseries in which Israel was involved; but, as is evident from the sequel of the narrative in Judges, to deepen penitence and contrition, by making the people realise the full flagrancy of their sin, and the suicidal folly of their desertions of the God whom, in times of national distress, they recognised the only possible Saviour. In the same way and with the same end in view, the prophetic psalmist of Deuteronomy 32:1-52 represents the God of Israel as asking (Jeremiah 2:37) "Where are their gods: the Rock in which they sought refuge? That used to eat the flesh of their sacrifices, that drank the wine of their libation? Let them arise and help you; let them be over you a shelter!" The purpose is to bring home to them a conviction of the utter vanity of idol worship; for the poet continues: "See now that I even I am He (the One God) and there is no god beside Me (with Me, sharing My sole attributes); ‘Tis I that kill and save alive; I have crushed, and I heal." The folly of Israel is made conspicuous, first by the expression "Saying to the wood, Thou art my father, and to the stone, Thou didst bring me forth"; and secondly, by the statement, "Numerous as thy cities are thy gods become, O Judah!" In the former we have a most interesting glimpse of the point of view of the heathen worshipper of the seventh century B.C., from which it appears that by a god he meant the original, i.e., the real author of his own existence. Much has been written in recent years to prove that man’s elementary notions of deity are of an altogether lower kind than those which find expression in the worship of a Father in heaven; but when we see that such an idea could subsist even in connection with the most impure nature worships, as in Canaan, and when we observe that it was a familiar conception in the religion of Egypt several thousand years previously, we may well doubt whether this idea of an Unseen Father of our race is not as old as humanity itself.

The sarcastic reference to the number of Judah’s idols may remind us of what is recorded of classic Athens, in whose streets it was said to be easier to find a god than a man. The irony of the prophet’s remark depends on the consideration that there is, or ought to be, safety in numbers. The impotency of the false gods could hardly be put in a stronger light in words as few as the prophet has used. In Jeremiah 11:13 he repeats the statement in an amplified form: "For numerous as thy cities have thy gods become, O Judah; and numerous as the streets of Jerusalem have ye made altars for The Shame, altars for sacrificing to the Baal." From this passage, apparently, the LXX derived the words which it adds here: "And according to the number of the streets of Jerusalem did they sacrifice to the (image of) Baal."

"Why contend ye with Me? All of you have rebelled against Me, saith Iahvah. In vain have I smitten your sons"; correction they (i.e., the people; but LXX may be correct), received not! your own sword hath eaten up your prophets, like a destroying lion. Generation that ye are! See the word of Iahvah! Is it a wilderness that I have been to Israel, or a land of deepest gloom? Why have My people said, We are free; we will come no more unto Thee? Doth a virgin forget her ornaments, a bride her bands (or garlands, Rashi)? yet My people hath forgotten Me days Without number (Jeremiah 2:29-32). The question why contend or dispute ye or, as the LXX has it, talk ye towards or about Me implies that the people murmured at the reproaches and menaces of the prophet (Jeremiah 2:26 sqq.). He answers them by denying their right to complain. Their rebellion has been universal; no chastisement has reformed them; Iahvah has done nothing that can be alleged in excuse of their unfaithfulness; their sin is, therefore, a portentous anomaly, for which it is impossible to find a parallel in ordinary human conduct. In vain had "their sons," the young men of military age, fallen in battle; {Amos 4:10} the nation had stubbornly refused to see in such disasters a sign of Iahvah’s displeasure; a token of Divine chastisement; or rather, while recognising the wrath of heaven, they had obstinately persisted in believing in false explanations of its motive, and refused to admit that the purpose of it was their religious and moral amendment. And not only had the nation refused warning, and despised instruction, and defeated the purposes of the Divine discipline. They had slain their spiritual monitors, the prophets, with the sword; the prophets who had founded upon the national disasters their rebukes of national sin, and their earnest calls to penitence and reform. {1 Kings 19:10; Nehemiah 9:26; Matthew 23:37} And so when at last the long deferred judgment arrived, it found a political system ready to go to pieces through the feebleness and corruption of the ruling classes; a religious system, of which the spirit had long since evaporated, and which simply survived in the interests of a venal priesthood, and its intimate allies, who made a trade of prophecy; and a kingdom and people ripe for destruction.

At the thought of this crowning outrage, the prophet cannot restrain his indignation. "Generation that ye are!" he exclaims, "behold the word of the Lord. Is it a wilderness that I have been to Israel, or a land of deepest gloom?" Have I been a thankless, barren soil, returning nothing for your culture? The question is more pointed in Hebrew than in English; for the same term means both to till the ground, and to serve and worship God. We have thus an emphatic repetition of the remonstrance with which the address opens: Iahvah has not been unmindful of Israel’s service; Israel has been persistently ungrateful for Iahvah’s gracious love. The cry "We are free!" implies that they had broken away from a painful yoke and a burdensome service (cf. Jeremiah 2:20); the yoke being that of the Moral Law, and the service that perfect freedom which consists in subjection to Divine Reason. Thus sin always triumphs in casting away man’s noblest prerogative; in trampling under foot that loyalty to the higher ideal which is the bridal adornment and the peculiar glory of the soul.

"Why hurriest thou to seek thy love?" (Lit. "why dost thou make good thy way?" somewhat as we say, "to make good way with a thing") (Jeremiah 2:33). The key to the meaning here is supplied by Jeremiah 2:36: "Why art thou in such haste to change thy way? In (Of) Egypt also shalt thou be disappointed, as thou wert in Assyria." The "way" is that which leads to Egypt; and the "love" is that apostasy from Iahvah which invariably accompanies an alliance with foreign peoples (Jeremiah 2:18). If you go to Assyria, you "drink the waters of the Euphrates," i.e., you are exposed to all the malign influences of the heathen land. Elsewhere, also, {Jeremiah 4:30} Jeremiah speaks of the foreign peoples, whose connection Israel so anxiously courted, as her "lovers"; and the metaphor is a common one in the prophets.

The words which follow are obscure. "Therefore the evil things also hast thou taught thy ways." What "evil things"? Elsewhere the term denotes "misfortunes, calamities."; {Lamentations 3:38} and so probably here (cf. Jeremiah 3:5). The sense seems to be: Thou hast done evil, and in so doing hast taught Evil to dog thy steps! The term evil obviously suggests the two meanings of sin and the punishment of sin; as we say, "Be sure your sin will find you out!" Jeremiah 2:34 explains what was the special sin that followed and clung to Israel: "Also in thy skirts (the borders of thy garments) are they (the evil things) found (viz.), the life blood of innocent helpless ones; not that thou didst find them house breaking, (and so hadst excuse for slaying them); {Exodus 22:2} but for all these (warnings or, because of all these apostasies and dallyings with the heathen, which they denounced) (cf. Jeremiah 3:7), thou slewest them." The murder of the prophets (Jeremiah 2:30) was the unatoned guilt which clung to the skirts of Israel.

"And thou saidst, Certainly I am absolved! Surely His wrath is turned away from me! Behold I will reason with thee, because thou sayest, I sinned not!" (Jeremiah 35:1). This is what the people said when they murdered the prophets. They, and doubtess their false guides, regarded the national disasters as so much atonement for their sins. They believed that Iahvah’s wrath had exhausted itself in the infliction of what they had already endured, and that they were now absolved from their offences. The prophets looked at the matter differently. To them, national disasters were warnings of worse to follow, unless the people would take them in that sense, and turn from their evil ways. The people preferred to think that their account with Iahvah had been balanced and settled by their misfortunes in war (Jeremiah 2:30). Hence they slew those who never wearied of affirming the contrary, and threatening further woe, as false prophets. {Deuteronomy 18:20} The saying, "I sinned not!" refers to these cruel acts; they declared themselves guiltless in the matter of slaying the prophets, as if their blood was on their own heads. The only practical issue of the national troubles was that instead of reforming, they sought to enter into fresh alliances with the heathen, thus, from the point of view of the prophets, adding sin to sin. "Why art thou in such haste to change thy way? (i.e., thy course of action, thy foreign policy). Through Egypt also shalt thou be shamed, as thou hast been shamed through Assyria. Out of this affair also (or, from him, as the country is perhaps personified as a lover of Judah;) shalt thou go forth with thine hands upon thine head (in token of distress, 2 Samuel 13:19: Tamar); for Iahvah hath rejected the objects of thy trust, so that thou canst not be successful regarding them" (Jeremiah 2:36-37). The Egyptian alliance, like the former one with Assyria, was destined to bring nothing but shame and confusion to the Jewish people. The prophet urges past experience of similar undertakings, in the hope of deterring the politicians of the day from their foolish enterprise. But all that they had learnt from the failure and loss entailed by their intrigues with one foreign power was, that it was expedient to try another. So they made haste to "change their way," to alter the direction of their policy from Assyria to Egypt. King Hezekiah had renounced his vassalage to Assyria, in reliance, as it would seem, on the support of Taharka, king of Egypt and Ethiopia; {2 Kings 18:7; cf. Isaiah 30:1-5} and now again the nation was coquetting with the same power. As has been stated, an Egyptian force lay at this time on the confines of Judah, and the prophet may be referring to friendly advances of the Jewish princes towards its leaders.

In the Hebrew, chapter 3 opens with the word "saying". No real parallel to this can be found elsewhere, and the Sept. and Syriac omit the term. Whether we follow these ancient authorities, and do the same, or whether we prefer to suppose that the prophet originally wrote, as usually, "And the Word of Iahvah came unto me, saying," will not make much difference. One thing is clear; the division of the chapters is in this instance erroneous, for the short section, Jeremiah 3:1-5, obviously belongs to and completes the argument of chapter 2. The statement of Jeremiah 2:37, that Israel will not prosper in the negotiations with Egypt, is justified in Jeremiah 3:1 by the consideration that prosperity is an outcome of the Divine favour, which Israel has forfeited. The rejection of Israel’s "confidences" implies the rejection of the people themselves. {Jeremiah 7:29} "If a man divorce his wife and she go away from him, (de chez lui), and become another man’s, doth he (her former husband) return unto her again? Would not that land be utterly polluted?" It is the case contemplated in the Book of the Law, {Deuteronomy 24:1-4} the supposition being that the second husband may divorce the woman, or that the bond between them may be dissolved by his death. In either contingency, the law forbade reunion with the former husband, as "abomination before Iahvah"; and David’s treatment of his ten wives, who had been publicly wedded by his rebel son Absalom, proves the antiquity of the usage in this respect. {2 Samuel 20:3} The relation of Israel to Iahvah is the relation to her former husband of the divorced wife who has married another. If anything it is worse. "And thou, thou hast played the harlot with many paramours; and shalt thou return unto Me? saith Iahvah." The very idea of it is rejected with indignation. The author of the law will not so flagrantly break the law. (With the Hebrews form of the question, cf. the Latin use of the infin. "Mene incepto desist, re victam?") The details of the unfaithfulness of Israel-the proofs that she belongs to others and not to Iahvah-are glaringly obvious; contradiction is impossible. "Lift up thine eyes upon the bare fells, and see!" cries the prophet; "where hast thou not been forced? By the roadsides thou satest for them like a Bedawi in the wilderness, and thou pollutedst the land with thy whoredom and with thrine evil." On every hilltop the evidence of Judah’s sinful dalliance with idols was visible; in her eagerness to consort with the false gods, the objects of her infatuation, she was like a courtesan looking out for paramours by the wayside, {Genesis 38:14} or an Arab lying in wait for the unwary traveller in the desert. There may be a reference to the artificial bamoth, or "high places" erected at the top of the streets, on which the wretched women, consecrated to the shameful rites of the Canaanite goddess Ashtoreth, were wont to sit plying their trade of temptation. {2 Kings 23:8; Ezekiel 16:25} We must never forget that, repulsive and farfetched as these comparisons of an apostate people to a sinful woman may seem to us, the ideas and customs of the time made them perfectly apposite. The worship of the gods of Canaan involved the practice of the foulest impurities; and by her revolt from Iahvah, her lord and husband, according to the common Semitic conception of the relation between a people and their god, Israel became a harlot in fact as well as in figure. The land was polluted with her "whoredoms," i.e., her worship of the false gods, and her practice of their vile rites; and with her "evil," as instanced above {Jeremiah 2:30; Jeremiah 2:35} in the murder of those who protested against these things (Numbers 35:33; Psalms 106:38. As a punishment for these grave offences, "the showers were withholden, and the spring rains fell not"; but the merciful purpose of this Divine chastisement was not fulfilled; the people were not stirred to penitence, but rather hardened in their sins: "but thou hadst a harlot’s forehead; thou refusedst to be made ashamed!" And now the day of grace is past, and repentance comes too late. "Hast thou not but now called unto Me, My Father! Friend of my youth wert Thou? Will He retain His wrath forever? or keep it without end?" (Jeremiah 3:3, Jeremiah 3:5). The reference appears to be to the external reforms accomplished by the young king Josiah in his twelfth year-the year previous to the utterance of this prophecy; when, as we read in 2 Chronicles 34:3, "He began to purge Judah and Jerusalem from the high places, and the Asherim, and the carven images, and the molten images. To all appearances was a return of the nation to its old allegiance; the return of the rebellious child to its father, of the erring wife to the husband of her youth. By those two sacred names which in her inexcusable fickleness and ingratitude she had lavished upon stocks and stones, Israel now seemed to be invoking the relenting compassion of her alienated God. {Jeremiah 2:27; Jeremiah 2:2} But apart from the doubt attaching to the reality of reformations to order, carried out in obedience to a royal decree apart from the quest on whether outward changes so easily and rapidly accomplished, in accordance with the will of an absolute monarch, were accompanied by any tokens of a genuine national repentance; the sin of Israel had gone too far, and been persisted in too long, for its terrible consequences to be averted. "Behold,"-it is the closing sentence of the address; a sentence fraught with despair and the certainty of coming rum; -"Behold, thou hast planned and accomplished the evil; {Jeremiah 2:33} and thou hast prevailed! The approaches of the people are met by the assurance that their own plans and doings, rather than Iahvah’s wrath, are the direct cause of past and prospective adversity; ill doing is the mother of ill fortune. Israel inferred from her troubles that God was angry with her; and she is informed by His prophet that, had she been bent on bringing those troubles about, she could not have chosen any other line of conduct than that which she had actually pursued. The term "evils" again suggests both the false and impure worships, and their calamitous moral consequences. Against the will of Iahvah, His people "had wrought for its own ruin," and had prevailed.

And now let us take a farewell look at the discourse in its entirety. Beginning at the beginning, the dawn of his people’s life as a nation, the young prophet declares that in her early days, in the old times of simple piety and the uncorrupted life of the desert, Israel had been true to her God; and her devotion to her Divine spouse had been rewarded by guidance and protection. "Israel was a thing consecrated to Iahvah; whoever eat of it was held guilty, and evil came upon them." {Jeremiah 2:1-3} This happy state of mutual love and trust between the Lord and His people began to change with the great change in outward circumstances involved in their conquest of Canaan and settling among the aboriginal inhabitants as the ruling race. With the lands and cities of the conquered, the conquerors soon learned to adopt also their customs of worship, and the licentious merriment of their sacrifices and festivals. Gradually they lost all sense of any radical distinction between the God of Israel and the local deities at whose ancient sanctuaries they now worshipped Him. Soon they forgot their debt to Iahvah; His gracious and long-continued guidance in the Arabian steppes, and the loving care which had established them in the goodly land of orchards and vineyards and cornfields. The priests ceased to care about ascertaining and declaring His will; the princes openly broke His laws; and the popular prophets spoke in the name of the popular Baals (Jeremiah 3:4-8). There was something peculiarly strange and startling in this general desertion of the national God and Deliverer; it was unparalleled among the surrounding heathen races. They were faithful to gods that were no gods; Israel actually exchanged her Glory, the living source of all her strength and well-being, for a useless, helpless idol. Her behaviour was as crazy as if she had preferred a cistern, all cracks and fissures, that could not possibly hold water, to a never failing fountain of sweet spring water (Jeremiah 3:9-13). The consequences were only too plain to such as had eyes to see. Israel, the servant, the favoured slave of Iahvah, was robbed and spoiled. The "lions," the fierce and rapacious warriors of Assyria, had ravaged his land; and ruined his cities; while Egypt was proving but a treacherous friend, pilfering and plundering on the borders of Judah. It was all Israel’s own doing; forsaking his God, he had forfeited the Divine protection. It was his own apostasy, his own frequent and flagrant revolts which were punishing him thus. Vain, therefore, utterly vain were his endeavours to find deliverance from trouble in an alliance with the great heathen powers of South or North (Jeremiah 3:14-19). Rebellion was no new feature in the national history. No; for of old the people had broken the yoke of Iahvah, and burst the bonds of His ordinances, and said, I will not serve! and on every high hill, and under every evergreen tree, Israel had bowed down to the Baalim of Canaan, in spiritual adultery from her Divine Lord and Husband. The change was a portent; the noble vine shoot had degenerated into a worthless wilding (Jeremiah 3:20-21). The sin of Israel was inveterate and ingrained: nothing could wash out the stain of it. Denial of her guilt was futile; the dreadful rites in the valley of Hinnom witnessed against her. Her passion for the foreign worships was as insatiable and headstrong as the fierce lust of the camel or the wild ass. To protests and warnings her sole reply was:-"It is in vain! I love the strangers, and them will I follow!" The outcome of all this wilful apostasy was the shame of defeat and disaster, the humiliation of disappointment, when the helplessness of the stocks and stones, which had supplanted her Heavenly Father, was demonstrated by the course of events. Then she bethought her of the God she had so lightly forsaken, only to hear in His silence a bitterly ironical reference to the multitude of her helpers, the gods of her own creation. The national reverses failed of the effect intended in the counsels of Providence. Her sons had fallen in battle; but instead of repenting of her evil ways, she slew the faithful prophets who warned her of the consequences of her misdeeds (Jeremiah 3:20-25). It was the crowning sin; the cup of her iniquity was full to overflowing. Indignant at the memory of it, the prophet once more insists that the national crimes are what has put misfortune on the track of the nation; and chiefly, this heinous one of killing the messengers of God like housebreakers caught in the act; and then aggravating their guilt by self-justification, and by resorting to Egypt for that help which they despaired of obtaining from an outraged God. All such negotiations, past or present, were doomed to failure beforehand; the Divine sentence had gone forth, and it was idle to contend against it (Jeremiah 2:31-37). Idle also it was to indulge in hopes of the restoration of Divine favour. Just as it was not open to a discarded wife to return to her husband after living with another; so might not Israel be received back into her former position of the Bride of Heaven, after she had "played the harlot with many lovers." Doubtless of late she had given tokens of remembering her forgotten Lord, calling upon the Father who had been the Guide of her youth, and deprecating the continuance of His wrath. But the time was long since past when it was possible to avert the evil consequences Of her misdoings. She had, as it were, steadily purposed and wrought out her own evils; both her sins and her sufferings past and to come: the iron sequence could not be broken; the ruin she had courted lay before her in the near future: she had "prevailed." All efforts such as she was now making to stave it off were like a deathbed repentance; in the nature of things, they could not annihilate the past, nor undo what had been done, nor substitute the fruit of holiness for the fruit of sin, the reward of faithfulness and purity for the wages of worldliness, sensuality, and forgetfulness of God.

Thus the discourse starts with impeachment, and ends with irreversible doom. Its tone is comminatory throughout; nowhere do we hear, as in other prophecies, the promise of pardon in return for penitence. Such preaching was necessary, if the nation was to be brought to a due sense of its evil; and the reformation of the eighteenth of Josiah, which was undoubtedly accompanied by a considerable amount of genuine repentance among the governing classes, was in all likelihood furthered by this and similar prophetic orations.

Verses 1-25

{e-Sword Note: In the printed edition, this material appeared near the end of 2 Kings.}


Jereremiah 1:1 - Jeremiah 5:31

"Count me o’er earth’s chosen heroes-they were souls that stood alone, While the men they agonized for hurled the contumelious stone; Stood serene, and down the future saw the golden beam incline To the side of perfect justice, mastered by their faith divine, By one man’s plain truth to manhood and to God’s supreme design."


TRULY Jeremiah was a prophet of evil. The king might have addressed him in the words with which Agamemnon reproaches Kalchas.

"Augur accursed! denouncing mischief still:

Prophet of plagues, forever boding ill!

Still must that tongue some wounding message bring,

And still thy priestly pride provoke thy king."

Never was there a sadder man. Like Phocion, he believed in the enemies of his country more than he believed in his own people. He saw "Too late" written upon everything. "He saw himself all but universally execrated as a coward, as a traitor, as one who weakened the nerves and damped the courage of those who were fighting against fearful odds for their wives and children, the ashes of their fathers, their altars, and their hearths. It had become his fixed conviction that any prophets-and there were a multitude of them-who prophesied peace were false prophets, and ipso facto proved themselves conspirators against the true well-being of the land Jeremiah 6:14; Jeremiah 8:11 Ezekiel 13:10. In point of fact, Jeremiah lived to witness the death struggle of the idea of religion in its predominantly national character. {; Jeremiah 7:8-16; Jeremiah 6:8} The continuity of the national faith refused to be bound up with the continuance of the nation. When the nation is dissolved into individual elements, the continuity and ultimate victory of the true faith depends on the relations of Jehovah to individual souls out of which the nation shall be bound up."

And now a sad misfortune happened to Jeremiah. His home was not at Jerusalem, but at Anathoth, though he had long been driven from his native village by the murderous plots of his own kindred, and of those who had been infuriated by his incessant prophecies of doom. When the Chaldaeans retired from Jerusalem to encounter Pharaoh, he left the distressed city for the land of Benjamin, "to receive his portion from thence in the midst of the people"-apparently, for the sense is doubtful, to claim his dues of maintenance as a priest. But at the city gate he was arrested by Irijah, the son of Shelemiah, the captain of the watch, who charged him with the intention of deserting to the Chaldaeans. Jeremiah pronounced the charge to be a lie; but Irijah took him before the princes, who hated him, and consigned him to dreary and dangerous imprisonment in the house of Jonathan the scribe. In the vaults of this house of the pit he continued many days. {Jeremiah 37:11-15} The king sympathized with him: he would gladly have delivered him, if he could, from the rage of the princes; but he did not dare. Meanwhile, the siege went on, and the people never forgot the anguish of despair with which they waited the re-investiture of the city. Ever since that day it has been kept as a fast-the fast of Tebeth. Zedekiah, yearning for some advice, or comfort-if comfort were to be had-from the only man whom he really trusted, sent for Jeremiah to the palace, and asked him in despicable secrecy, "Is there any word from the Lord?" The answer was the old one: "Yes! Thou shalt be delivered into the hands of the King of Babylon." Jeremiah gave it without quailing, but seized the opportunity to ask on what plea he was imprisoned. Was he not a prophet? Had he not prophesied the return of the Chaldaean host? Where now were all the prophets who had prophesied peace? Would not the king at least save him from the detestable prison in which he was dying by inches? The king heard his petition, and he was removed to a better prison in the court of the watch where he received his daily piece of bread out of the bakers’ street until all the bread in the city was spent. For now utter famine came upon the wretched Jews, to add to the horrors and accidents of the siege. If we would know what that famine was in its appalling intensity, we must turn to the Book of Lamentations. Those elegies, so unutterably plaintive, may not be by the prophet himself, but only by his school but they show us what was the frightful condition of the people of Jerusalem before and during the last six months of the siege. "The sword of the wilderness"-the roving and plundering Bedouin-made it impossible to get out of the city in any direction. Things were as dreadfully hopeless as they had been in Samaria when it was besieged by Benhadad. {; Lamentations 5:4} Hunger and thirst reduce human nature to its most animal conditions. They obliterate the merest elements of morality. They make men like beasts, and reveal the ferocity which is never quite dead in any but the purest and loftiest souls. They arouse the least human instincts of the aboriginal animal. The day came when there was no more bread left in Jerusalem. {Jeremiah 37:21; Jeremiah 38:9; Jeremiah 52:6} The fair and ruddyNazarites, who had been purer than snow, whiter than milk, more ruddy than corals, lovely as sapphires, became like withered boughs, {; Lamentations 4:7-8} and even their friends did not recognize them in those ghastly and emaciated figures which crept about the streets. The daughters of Zion, more cruel in their hunger than the very jackals, lost the instincts of pity and motherhood. Mothers and fathers devoured their own little unweaned children. There was parricide as well as infanticide in the horrible houses. They seemed to plead that none could blame them, since the lives of many had become an intolerable anguish, and no man had bread for his little ones, and their tongues cleaved to the roof of their mouth. All that happened six centuries later, during the siege of Jerusalem by Titus, happened now. Then Martha, the daughter of Nicodemus ben-Gorion, once a lady of enormous wealth, was seen picking the grains of corn from the offal of the streets; now the women who had fed delicately and been brought up in scarlet were seen sitting desolate on heaps of dung. And Jehovah did not raise His hand to save His guilty and dying people. It was too late!

And as is always the case in such extremities, there were men who stood defiant and selfish amid the universal misery. Murder, oppression, and luxury continued to prevail. The godless nobles did not intermit the building of their luxurious houses, asserting to themselves and others that, after all, the final catastrophe was not near at hand. The sudden death of one of them-Pelatiah, the son of Benaiah-while Ezekiel was prophesying, terrified the prophet so much that he flung himself on his face and cried with a loud voice, "Ah, Lord God! wilt Thou make a full end of the remnant of Israel?" But on the others this death by the visitation of God seems to have produced no effect; and the glory of God left the city, borne away upon its cherubim-chariot. {Ezekiel 11:22}

Even under the stress of these dreadful circumstances the Jews held out with that desperate tenacity which has often been shown by nations fighting behind strong walls for their very existence, but by no nation more decidedly than by the Jews. And if the rebel-party, and the lying prophets who had brought the city to this pass, still entertained any hopes either of a diversion caused by Pharaoh Hophrah, or of some miraculous deliverance such as that which had saved the city from Sennacherib years earlier, it is not unnatural that they should have regarded Jeremiah with positive fury. For he still continued to prophesy the captivity. What specially angered them was his message to the people that all who remained in Jerusalem should die by the sword, the famine, and the pestilence, but that those who deserted to the Chaldaeans should live. It was on the ground of his having said this that they had imprisoned him as a deserter; and when Pashur and his son Gedaliah heard that he was still saying this, they and the other princes entreated Zedekiah to put him to death as a pernicious traitor, who weakened the hands of the patriot soldiers. Jeremiah was not guilty of the lack of patriotism with which they charged him. The day of independence had passed forever, and Babylon, not Egypt, was the appointed suzerain. The counseling of submission-as many a victorious chieftain has been forced at last to counsel it, from the days of Hannibal to those of Thiers-is often the true and the only possible patriotism in doomed and decadent nations. Zedekiah timidly abandoned the prophet to the rage of his enemies; but being afraid to murder him openly as Urijah had been murdered, they flung him into a well in the dungeon of Mal-chiah, the king’s son. Into the mire of this pit he sank up to the arms, and there they purposely left him to starve and rot. But if no Israelite pitied him, his condition moved the compassion of Ebed-Melech, an Ethiopian, one of the king’s eunuch-chamberlains. He hurried to the king in a storm of pity and indignation. He found him sitting, as a king should do, at the post of danger in the gate of Benjamin; for Zedekiah was not a physical, though he was a moral, coward. Ebed-Melech told the king that Jeremiah was dying of starvation, and Zedekiah bade him take three men with him and rescue the dying man. The faithful Ethiopian hurried to a cellar under the treasury, took with him some old, worn fragments of robes, and, letting them down by cords, called to Jeremiah to put them under his arm-pits. He did so, and they drew him up into the light of day, though he still remained in prison.

It seems to have been at this time that, in spite of his grim vaticination of immediate retribution, Jeremiah showed his serene confidence in the ultimate future by accepting the proposal of his cousin Hanameel to buy some of the paternal fields at Anathoth, though at that very moment they were in the hands of the Chaldaeans. Such an act, publicly performed, must have caused some consolation to the besieged, just as did the courage of the Roman senator who gave a good price for the estate outside the walls of Rome on which Hannibal was actually encamped.

Then Zedekiah once more secretly sent for him, and implored him to tell the unvarnished truth. "If I do, " said the prophet, "will you not kill me? and will you in any case hearken to me?" Zedekiah swore not to betray him to his enemies; and Jeremiah told him that, even at that eleventh hour, if he would go out and make submission to the Babylonians, the city should not be burnt, and he should save the lives of himself and of his family. Zedekiah believed him, but pleaded that he was afraid of the mockery of the deserters to whom he might be delivered. Jeremiah assured him that he should not be so delivered, and, that, if he refused to obey, nothing remained for the city, and for him and his wives and children, but final ruin. The king was too weak to follow what he must now have felt to be the last chance which God had opened out for him. He could only "attain to half-believe." He entrusted the result to chance, with miserable vacillation of purpose; and the door of hope was closed upon him. His one desire was to conceal the interview; and if it came to the ears of the princes-of whom he was shamefully afraid-he begged Jeremiah to say that he had only entreated the king not to send him back to die in Jonathan’s prison.

As he had suspected, it became known that Jeremiah had been summoned to an interview with the king. They questioned the prophet in prison. He told them the story which the king had suggested to him, and the truth remained undiscovered. For this deflection from exact truth it is tolerably certain that, in the state of men’s consciences upon the subject of veracity in those days, the prophet’s moral sense did not for a moment reproach him. He remained in his prison, guarded probably by the faithful Ebed-Melech, until Jerusalem was taken.

Let us pity the dreadful plight of Zedekiah, aggravated as it was by his weak temperament. "He stands at the head of a people determined to defend itself, but is himself without either hope or courage."

Verses 6-25



Jeremiah 3:6-25; Jeremiah 4:1-2

THE first address of our prophet was throughout of a sombre cast, and the darkness of its close was not relieved by a single ray of hope. It was essentially a comminatory discourse, the purpose of it being to rouse a sinful nation to the sense of its peril, by a faithful picture of its actual condition, which was so different from what it was popularly supposed to be. The veil is torn aside; the real relations between Israel and his God are exposed to view; and it is seen that the inevitable goal of persistence in the course which has brought partial disasters in the past, is certain destruction in the imminent future. It is implied, but not said, that the only thing that can save the nation is a complete reversal of policies hitherto pursued, in Church and State and private life; and it is apparently taken for granted that the thing implied is no longer possible. The last word of the discourse was: "Thou hast purposed and performed the evils, and thou hast conquered." {Jeremiah 3:5} The address before us forms a striking contrast to this dark picture. It opens a door of hope for the penitent. The heart of the prophet cannot rest in the thought of the utter rejection of his people; the harsh and dreary announcement that his people’s woes are self-caused cannot be his last word. "His anger was only love provoked to distraction; here it has come to itself again," and holds out an offer of grace first to that part of the whole nation which needs it most, the fallen kingdom of Ephraim, and then to the entire people. The all Israel of the former discourse is here divided into its two sections, which are contrasted with each other, and then again considered as a united nation. This feature distinguishes the piece from that which begins Jeremiah 4:3, and which is addressed to Judah and Jerusalem rather than to Israel and Judah, like the one before us. An outline of the discourse may be given thus. It is shown that Judah has not taken warning by Iahvah’s rejection of the sister kingdom (Jeremiah 3:6-10); and that Ephraim may be pronounced less guilty than Judah, seeing that she had witnessed no such signal example of the Divine vengeance on hardened apostasy. She is, therefore, invited to repent and return to her alienated God, which will involve a return from exile to her own land; and the promise is given of the reunion of the two peoples in a restored theocracy, having its centre in Mount Zion (Jeremiah 3:11-19). All Israel has rebelled against God; but the prophet hears the cry of universal penitence and supplication ascending to heaven; and Iahvah’s gracious answer of acceptance. {Jeremiah 3:20-25; Jeremiah 4:1-2}

The opening section depicts the sin which had brought ruin on Israel, and Judah’s readiness in following her example, and refusal to take warning by her fate. This twofold sin is aggravated by an insincere repentance. "And Iahvah said unto me, in the days of Josiah the king, Sawest thou what the Turncoat or Recreant Israel did? she would go up every high hill, and under every evergreen tree, and play the harlot there. And me thought that after doing all this she would return to Me; but she returned not; and the Traitress, her sister Judah saw it." And I saw that when for the very reason that she, the Turncoat Israel, had committed adultery, I had put her away, and given her her bill of divorce, the Traitress Judah, her sister, was not afraid, but she too went off and played the harlot. And so, through the cry {cf. Genesis 4:10; Genesis 18:20 sq.} of her harlotry (or defect through her manifold or abounding harlotry) she polluted the land (Jeremiah 3:2), in that she committed adultery with the Stone and with the Stock. And yet though she was involved in all this guilt (lit. and even in all this.) Perhaps the sin and the penalties of it are identified; and the meaning is: "And yet for all this liability," cf. {Isaiah 5:25} the Traitress Judah returned not unto Me with all her heart (with a whole or undivided heart, with entire sincerity) but in falsehood, saith Iahvah. "The example of the northern kingdom is represented as a powerful influence for evil upon Judah. This was only natural; for although from the point of view of religious development Judah is incomparably the more important of the sister kingdoms; the exact contrary is the case as regards political power and predominance. Under strong kings like Omri and Ahab, or again, Jeroboam II, Ephraim was able to assert itself as a first-rate power among the surrounding principalities; and in the case of Athaliah, we have a conspicuous instance of the manner in which Canaanite idolatry might be propagated from Israel to Judah. The prophet declares that the sin of Judah was aggravated by the fact that she had witnessed the ruin of Israel, and yet persisted in the same evil courses of which that ruin was the result. She sinned against light. The fall of Ephraim had verified the predictions of her prophets; yet she was not afraid," but went on adding to the score of her own offences, and polluting the land with her unfaithfulness to her Divine Spouse. The idea that the very soil of her country was defiled by Judah’s idolatry may be illustrated by reference to the well known words of Psalms 106:38: "They shed innocent blood, even the blood of their sons and their daughters whom they sacrificed unto the idols of Canaan; and the land was defiled with the bloodshed." We may also remember Elohim’s words to Cain: "The voice of thy brother’s blood is crying unto Me from the ground!" {Genesis 4:10} As Iahvah’s special dwelling place, moreover, the land of Israel was holy; and foreign rites desecrated and profaned it. and made it offensive in His sight. The pollution of it cried to heaven for vengeance on those who had caused it. To such a state had Judah brought her own land, and the very city of the sanctuary; and yet in all this amid this accumulation of sins and liabilities she turned not to her Lord with her whole heart. The reforms set on foot in the twelfth year of Josiah were but superficial and halfhearted; the people merely acquiesced in them, at the dictation of the court, and gave no sign of any inward change or deep-wrought repentance. The semblance without the reality of sorrow for sin is but a mockery of heaven, and a heinous aggravation of guilt. Hence the sin of Judah was of a deeper dye than that which had destroyed Israel. And Iahvah said unto me, The Turncoat or Recreant Israel hath proven herself more righteous than the Traitress Judah. Who could doubt it, considering that almost all the prophets had borne their witness in Judah; and that, in imitating her sister’s idolatry, she had resolutely closed her eyes to the light of truth and reason? On this ground, that Israel has sinned less and suffered more, the prophet is bidden to hold out to her the hope of Divine mercy. The greatness of her ruin, as well as the lapse of years since the fatal catastrophe, might tend to diminish in the prophet’s mind the impression of her guilt; and his patriotic yearning for the restoration of the banished Ten Tribes, who, after all, were the near kindred of Judah, as well as the thought that they had borne their punishment, and thus atoned for their sin, {Isaiah 11:2} might cooperate with the desire of kindling in his own countrymen a noble rivalry of repentance, in moving the prophet to obey the impulse which urged him to address himself to Israel. Go thou, and cry these words northward (toward the desolate land of Ephraim), and say: Return, Turncoat or Recreant Israel, saith Iahvah; I will not let My countenance fall at the sight of you; {lit. against you, cf. Genesis 4:5} for I am loving, saith Iahvah, I keep not anger forever. Only recognise thy guilt, that thou hast rebelled against Iahvah thy God, and hast scattered {or lavished: Psalms 112:9} thy ways to the strangers hast gone now in this direction, now in that, worshipping first one idol and then another; cf. Jeremiah 2:23; and so, as it were, dividing up and dispersing thy devotion under every evergreen tree; "but My voice ye have not obeyed, saith Iahvah." The invitation, "Return Apostate Israel!"-contains a play of words which seems to suggest that the exile of the Ten Tribes was voluntary, or self-imposed; as if, when they turned their backs upon their true God, they had deliberately made choice of the inevitable consequence of that rebellion, and made up their minds to abandon their native land. So close is the connection, in the prophet’s view, between the misfortunes of his people and their sins.

"Return, ye apostate children" (again there is a play on words-"Turn back, ye back-turning sons," or "ye sons that turn the back to Me) saith Iahvah; for it was I that wedded you" (Jeremiah 3:14), and am, therefore, your proper lord. The expression is not stranger than that which the great prophet of the Return addresses to Zion: "Thy sons shall marry thee." But perhaps we should rather compare another passage of the Book of Isaiah, where it is said: "Iahvah, our God! other lords beside Thee have had dominion over us," {Isaiah 26:13} and render: "For it is I that will be your lord"; or perhaps, "For it is I that have mastered you," and put down your rebellion by chastisements; "and I will take you, one of a city and two of a clan, and will bring you to Zion." As a "city" is elsewhere spoken of as a "thousand," {Micah 5:1} and a "thousand" is synonymous with a "clan," as providing a thousand warriors in the national militia, it is clear that the promise is that one or two representatives of each township in Israel shall be restored from exile to the land of their fathers. In other words, we have here Isaiah’s doctrine of the remnant, which he calls a "tenth," {Isaiah 6:13} and of which he declared that "the survivors of the house of Judah that remain, shall again take root downwards, and bear fruit upwards." {Isaiah 37:31} And as Zion is the goal of the returning exiles, we may see, as doubtless the prophets saw, a kind of anticipation and foreshadowing of the future in the few scattered members of the northern tribes of Asher, Manasseh, and Zebulun, who "humbled themselves," and accepted Hezekiah’s invitation to the passover; {2 Chronicles 30:11; 2 Chronicles 30:18} and, again, in the authority which Josiah is said to have exercised in the land of the Ten Tribes (2 Chronicles 34:6; 2 Chronicles 34:9). We must bear in mind that the prophets do not contemplate the restoration of every individual of the entire nation; but rather the return of a chosen few, a kind of "firstfruits" of Israel, who are to be a "holy seed," {Isaiah 6:13} from which the power of the Supreme will again build up the entire people according to its ancient divisions. So the holy Apostle in the Revelation hears that twelve thousand of each tribe are sealed as servants of God. {Revelation 7:1-17}

The happy time of restoration will also be a time of reunion. The estranged tribes will return to their old allegiance. This is implied by the promise, "I will bring you to Zion," and by that of the next verse: "And I will give you shepherds after My own heart; and they shall shepherd you with knowledge and wisdom." Obviously, kings of the house of David are meant; the good shepherds of the future are contrasted with the "rebellious" ones of the Jeremiah 2:8. It is the promise of Isaiah: {Isaiah 1:26} "And I will restore thy judges as at the first, and thy counsellors as at the beginning." In this connection, we may recall the fact that the original schism in Israel was brought about by the folly of evil shepherds. The coming King will resemble not Rehoboam but David. Nor is this all; for "It shall come to pass, when ye multiply and become fruitful in the land, in those days, saith Iahvah, men shall not say any more, The ark of the covenant of Iahvah," or, as LXX, "of the Holy One of Israel; nor shall it" (the ark) "come to mind; nor shall men remember it, nor miss it; nor shall it be made any more" (although the verb may be impersonal.) I do not understand why Hitzig asserts "Man wird keine andere machen" (Movers) oder; "sic wird nicht wieder gemacht" (Ew., Graf) "als ware nicht von der geschichtlichen Lade die Rede, sondern von ihr begrifflich, konnen die Worte nicht bedeuten." But cf. Exodus 25:10; Genesis 6:14; where the same verb is used. Perhaps, however, the rendering of C.B. Michaelis, which he prefers, is more in accordance with what precedes: "nor shall all that be done any more," Genesis 29:26; Genesis 41:34. But it does not mean "nachforschen." {cf. 1 Samuel 20:6; 1 Samuel 25:15} "In that time men will call Jerusalem the throne of Iahvah; and all the nations will gather into it," {Genesis 1:9} "for the name of Iahvah" (at Jerusalem: LXX om.); "and they" (the heathen) "will no longer follow the stubbornness of their evil heart." {Jeremiah 7:24; Deuteronomy 29:19}

In the new Theocracy, the true kingdom of God, the ancient symbol of the Divine presence will be forgotten in the realisation of that presence. The institution of the New Covenant will be characterised by an immediate and personal knowledge of Iahvah in the hearts of all His people. {Jeremiah 31:31 sq.} The small object in which past generations had loved to recognise the earthly throne of the God of Israel, will be replaced by Jerusalem itself, the Holy City, not merely of Judah, nor of Judah and Israel, but of the world. Thither will all the nations resort "to the name of Iahvah"; ceasing henceforth "to follow the hardness (or callousness) of their own evil heart." That the more degraded kinds of heathenism have a hardening effect upon the heart; and that the cruel and impure worships of Canaan especially tended to blunt the finer sensibilities, to enfeeble the natural instincts of humanity and justice, and to confuse the sense of right and wrong, is beyond question. Only a heart rendered callous by custom, and stubbornly deaf to the pleadings of natural pity, could find genuine pleasures in the merciless rites of the Molech worship; and they who ceased to follow these inhuman superstitions, and sought light and guidance from the God of Israel, might well be said to have ceased "to walk after the hardness of their own evil heart." The more repulsive features of heathenism chime in too well with the worst and most savage impulses of our nature; they exhibit too close a conformity with the suggestions and demands of selfish appetite; they humour and encourage the darkest passions far too directly and decidedly, to allow us to regard as plausible any theory of their origin and permanence which does not recognise in them at once a cause and an effect of human depravity. {cf. Romans 1:1-32}

The repulsiveness of much that was associated with the heathenism with which they were best acquainted, did not hinder the prophets of Israel from taking a deep spiritual interest in those who practised and were enslaved by it. Indeed, what has been called the universalism of the Hebrew seers-their emancipation in this respect from all local and national limits and prejudices-is one of the clearest proofs of their divine mission. Jeremiah only reiterates what Micah and Isaiah had preached before him; that "in the latter days the mountain of Iahvah’s House shall be established as the chief of mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all the nations will flow unto it". {Isaiah 2:2} In Jeremiah 16:19 sq. our prophet thus expresses himself upon the same topic. "Iahvah, my strength and my stronghold, and my refuge in the day of distress! unto Thee shall nations come from the ends of the earth, and shall say: Our forefathers inherited naught but a lie, vanity, and things among which is no helper. Shall a man make him gods, when they are no gods?" How largely this particular aspiration of the prophets of the seventh and eighth centuries B.C. has since been fulfilled in the course of the ages is a matter of history. The religion which was theirs has, in the new shape given it by our Lord and His Apostles, become the religion of one heathen people after another, until at this day it is the faith professed, not only in the land of its origin, but by the leading nations of the world. So mighty a fulfilment of hopes, which at the time of their first conception and utterance could only be regarded as the dreams of enthusiastic visionaries, justifies those who behold and realise it in the joyful belief that the progress of true religion has not been maintained for six and twenty centuries to be arrested now; and that these old world aspirations are destined to receive a fulness of illustration in the triumphs of the future, in the light of which the brightest glories of the past will pale and fade away.

The prophet does not say, with a prophet of the New Covenant, that "all Israel shall be saved". {Romans 11:26} We may, however, fairly interpret the latter of the true Israel, "the remnant according to the election of grace," rather than of "Israel according to the flesh," and so both will be at one, and both at variance with the unspiritual doctrine of the Talmud, that "All Israel," irrespective of moral qualifications, will have "a portion in the world to come," on account of the surpassing merits of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and even of Abraham alone. {cf. St. Matthew 3:9; St. John 8:33}

The reference to the ark of the covenant in the sixteenth verse is remarkable upon several grounds. This sacred symbol is not mentioned among the spoils which Nebuzaradan (Nabuziriddin) took from the temple; {Jeremiah 52:17 sqq.} nor is it specified among the treasures appropriated by Nebuchadrezzar at the surrender of Jehoiachin. The words of Jeremiah prove that it cannot be included among "the vessels of gold" which the Babylonian conqueror "cut in pieces". {2 Kings 24:13} We learn two facts about the ark from the present passage: (1) that it no longer existed in the days of the prophet; (2) that people remembered it with regret, though they did not venture to replace the lost original by a new substitute. It may well have been destroyed by Manasseh, the king who did his utmost to abolish the religion of Iahvah. However that may be, the point of the prophet’s allusion consists in the thought that in the glorious times of Messianic rule the idea of holiness will cease to be attached to things, for it will be realised in persons; the symbol will become obsolete, and its name and memory will disappear from the minds and affections of men, because the fact symbolised will be universally felt and perceived to be a present and self-evident truth. In that great epoch of Israel’s reconciliation, all nations will recognise in Jerusalem "the throne of Iahvah," the centre of light and source of spiritual truth; the Holy City of the world. Is it the earthly or the heavenly Jerusalem that is meant? It would seem, the former only was present to the consciousness of the prophet, for he concludes his beautiful interlude of promise with the words: "In those days will the house of Judah walk beside the house of Israel; and they will come together from the land of the North" ("and from all the lands": LXX add. cf. Jeremiah 16:15) "unto the land that I caused your fathers to possess." Like Isaiah {Isaiah 11:12 sqq.} and other prophets his predecessors, Jeremiah forecasts for the whole repentant and united nation a reinstatement in their ancient temporal rights, in the pleasant land from which they had been so cruelly banished for so many weary years.

"The letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life." If, when we look at the whole course of subsequent events, when we review the history of the Return and of the narrow religious commonwealth which was at last, after many bitter struggles, established on mount Sion; when we consider the form which the religion of Iahvah assumed in the hands of the priestly caste, and the half-religious, half-political sects, whose intrigues and conflicts for power constitute almost all we know of their period; when we reflect upon the character of the entire post-exilic age down to the time of the birth of Christ, with its worldly ideals, its fierce fanaticisms, its superstitious trust in rites and ceremonies; if, when we look at all this, we hesitate to claim that the prophetic visions of a great restoration found fulfilment in the erection of this petty state, this paltry edifice, upon the ruins of David’s capital; shall we lay ourselves open to the accusation that we recognise no element of truth in the glorious aspirations of the prophets? I think not.

After all, it is clear from the entire context that these hopes of a golden time to come are not independent of the attitude of the people towards Iahvah. They will only be realised, if the nation shall truly repent of the past, and turn to Him with the whole heart. The expressions "at that time," "in those days" (Jeremiah 3:17-18), are only conditionally determinate; they mean the happy time of Israel’s repentance, "if such a time should ever come." From this glimpse of glorious possibilities, the prophet turns abruptly to the dark page of Israel’s actual history. He has, so to speak, portrayed in characters of light the development as it might have been; he now depicts the course it actually followed. He restates Iahvah’s original claim upon Israel’s grateful devotion, {Jeremiah 2:2} putting these words into the mouth of the Divine Speaker: "And I indeed thought, How will I set thee among the sons" (of the Divine household), "and give thee a lovely land, a heritage the fairest among the nations! And me thought, thou wouldst call Me ‘My Father,’ and wouldst not turn back from following Me." Iahvah had at the outset adopted Israel, and called him from the status of a groaning bondsman to the dignity of a son and heir. When Israel was a child, He had loved him, and called His son out of Egypt, {Hosea 11:1} to give him a place and a heritage among nations. It was Iahvah, indeed, who originally assigned their holdings to all the nations, and separated the various tribes of mankind, "fixing the territories of peoples, according to the number of the sons of God". {Deuteronomy 32:8 Sept.} If He had brought up Israel from Egypt, He had also brought up the Philistines from Caphtor, and the Arameans from Kir. {Amos 9:7} But He had adopted Israel in a more special sense, which may be expressed in St. Paul’s words, who makes it the chief advantage of Israel above the nations that "unto them were committed the oracles of God". {Romans 3:2} What nobler distinction could have been conferred upon any race of men than that they should have been thus chosen, as Israel actually was chosen, not merely in the aspirations of prophets, but as a matter of fact in the divinely directed evolution of human history, to become the heralds of a higher truth, the hierophants of spiritual knowledge, the universally recognised interpreters of God? Such a calling might have been expected to elicit a response of the warmest gratitude, the most enthusiastic loyalty and unswerving devotion. But Israel as a nation did not rise to the level of these lofty prophetic views of its vocation; it knew itself to be the people of Iahvah, but it failed to realise the moral significance of that privilege, and the moral and spiritual responsibilities which it involved. It failed to adore Iahvah as the Father, in the only proper and acceptable sense of that honourable name, the sense which restricts its application to one sole Being. Heathenism is blind and irrational as well as profane and sinful; and so it does not scruple to confer such absolutely individual titles as "God" and "Father" upon a multitude of imaginary powers.

"Methought thou wouldst call Me ‘My Father,’ and wouldst not turn back from following Me. But" {Zephaniah 3:7} "a woman is false to her fere; so were ye false to Me, O house of Israel, saith Iahvah." The Divine intention toward Israel, God’s gracious design for her everlasting good, God’s expectation of a return for His favour, and how that design was thwarted so far as man could thwart it, and that expectation disappointed hitherto; such is the import of the last two verses (Jeremiah 3:19-20). Speaking in the name of God, Jeremiah represents Israel’s past as it appears to God. He now proceeds to show dramatically, or as in a picture, how the expectation may yet be fulfilled, and the design realised. Having exposed the national guilt, he supposes his remonstrance to have done its work, and he overhears the penitent people pouring out its heart before God. Then a kind of dialogue ensues between the Deity and His suppliants. "Hark! upon the bare hills is heard the weeping of the supplications of the sons of Israel, that they perverted their way, forgot Iahvah their God." The treeless hill tops had been the scene of heathen orgies miscalled worship. There the rites of Canaan performed by Israelites had insulted the God of heaven (Jeremiah 3:2 and Jeremiah 3:6). Now the very places which witnessed the sin, witness the national remorse and confession. The ‘high places’ are not condemned even by Jeremiah as places of worship, but only as places of heathen and illicit worships. The solitude and quiet and purer air of the hill tops, their unobstructed view of heaven and suggestive nearness thereto, have always made them natural sanctuaries both for public rites and private prayer and meditation: cf. 2 Samuel 15:32; and especially St. Luke 6:12.

In this closing section of the piece {Jeremiah 3:19-25; Jeremiah 4:1-2} "Israel" means not the entire people, but the northern kingdom only, which is spoken of separately also in Jeremiah 3:6-18, with the object of throwing into higher relief the heinousness of Judah’s guilt. Israel-the northern kingdom-was less guilty than Judah, for she had no warning example, no beacon light upon her path, such as her own fall afforded to the southern kingdom; and therefore the Divine compassion is more likely to be extended to her, even after a century of ruin and banishment, than to her callous, impenitent sister. Whether at the time Jeremiah was in communication with survivors of the northern Exile, who were faithful to the God of their fathers, and looked wistfully toward Jerusalem as the centre of the best traditions and the sole hope of Israelite nationality, cannot now be determined. The thing is not unlikely, considering the interest which the prophet afterwards took in the Judean exiles who were taken to Babylon with Jehoiachin (chapter 29) and his active correspondence with their leaders. We may also remember that "divers of Asher and Manasseh and Zebulun humbled themselves" and came to keep passover with king Hezekiah at Jerusalem. It cannot, certainly, be supposed, with any show of reason, that the Assyrians either carried away the entire population of the northern kingdom, or exterminated all whom they did not carry away. The words of the Chronicler who speaks of "a remnant escaped out of the hand of the kings of Assyria," are themselves perfectly agreeable to reason and the nature of the case, apart from the consideration that he had special historical sources at his command. {2 Chronicles 30:6; 2 Chronicles 30:11} We know that in the Maccabean and Roman wars the rocky fastnesses of the country were a refuge to numbers of the people, and the history of David shows that this had been the case from time immemorial. {cf. Judges 6:2} Doubtless in this way not a few survived the Assyrian invasions and the destruction of Samaria (B.C. 721). But to return to the text. After the confession of the nation that they have "perverted their way" (that is, their mode of worship, by adoring visible symbols of Iahvah, and associating with Him as His compeers a multitude of imaginary gods, especially the local Baalim, Jeremiah 2:23, and Ashtaroth), the prophet hears another voice, a voice of Divine invitation and gracious promise, responsive to penitence and prayer: "Return, ye apostate sons, let Me heal your apostasies!" or "If ye return, ye apostate sons, I will heal your apostasies!" It is an echo of the tenderness of an older prophet. {Hosea 14:1; Hosea 14:4} And the answer of the penitents quickly follows: "Behold us, we are come unto Thee, for Thou art Iahvah our God." The voice that now calls us, we know by its tender tones of entreaty, compassion, and love to be the voice of Iahvah our own God; not the voice of sensual Chemosh, tempting to guilty pleasures and foul impurities, not the harsh cry of a cruel Molech, calling for savage rites of pitiless bloodshed. Thou, Iahvah-not these nor their fellows-art our true and only God.

"Surely, in vain" (for naught, bootlessly, 1 Samuel 25:21; Jeremiah 5:2; Jeremiah 16:19) "on the hills did we raise a din" (lit. "hath one raised";) surely in Iahvah our God is the safety of Israel! The Hebrew cannot be original as it now stands in the Masoretic text, for it is ungrammatical. The changes I have made will be seen to be very slight, and the sense obtained is much the same as Ewald’s "Surely in vain from the hills is the noise, from the mountains" (where every reader must feel that "from the mountains" is a forcible feeble addition which adds nothing to the sense). We might also perhaps detach the mem from the term for "hills," and connect it with the preceding word, thus getting the meaning: "Surely, for Lies are the hills, the uproar of the mountains!" that is to say, the high places are devoted to delusive nonentities, who can do nothing in return for the wild orgiastic worship bestowed on them; a thought which contrasts very well with the second half of the verse: "Surely, in Iahvah our God is the safety of Israel!"

The confession continues: "And as for the Shame"-the shameful idol, the Baal whose worship involved shameful rites, {Jeremiah 11:13; Hosea 9:10} and who put his worshippers to shame, by disappointing them of help in the hour of their need {Jeremiah 2:8; Jeremiah 2:26-27} -"as for the Shame"-in contrast with Iahvah, the Safety of Israel, who gives all, and requires little or nothing of this kind in return-"it devoured the labour of our fathers from our youth, their flocks and their herds, their sons and their daughters." The allusion is to the insatiable greed of the idol priests, and the lavish expense of perpetually recurring feasts and sacrifices, which constituted a serious drain upon the resources of a pastoral and agricultural community; and to the bloody rites which, not content with animal offerings, demanded human victims for the altars of an appalling superstition. "Let us lie down in our shame, and let our infamy cover us! for toward Iahvah our God we trespassed, we and our fathers, from our youth even unto this day, and obeyed not the voice of Iahvah our God." A more complete acknowledgment of sin could hardly be conceived; no palliating circumstances are alleged, no excuses devised, of the kind with which men usually seek to soothe a disturbed conscience. The strong seductions of Canaanite worship, the temptation to join in the joyful merriment of idol festivals, the invitation of friends and neighbours, the contagion of example, -all these extenuating facts must have been at least as well known to the prophet as to modern critics, but he is expressively silent on the point of mitigating circumstances in the case of a nation to whom such light and guidance had come as came to Israel. No, he could discern no ground of hope for his people except in a full and unreserved admission of guilt, an agony of shame and contrition before God, a heartfelt recognition of the truth that from the outset of their national existence to the passing day they had continually sinned against Iahvah their God and resisted His holy Will.

Finally, to this cry of penitents humbled in the dust, and owning that they have no refuge from the consequences of their sin but in the Divine Mercy, comes the firm yet loving answer: "If thou wilt return, O Israel, saith Iahvah, unto Me wilt return, and if thou wilt put away thine Abominations" ("out of thy mouth and," LXX) "out of My Presence, and sway not to" and 1 Kings 14:15, "but wilt swear ‘By the Life of Iahvah!’ in good faith, justice, and righteousness; then shall the nations bless themselves by Him, and in Him shall they glory." {Jeremiah 4:1-2} Such is the close of this ideal dialogue between God and man. It is promised that if the nation’s repentance be sincere-not half-hearted like that of Judah {Jeremiah 3:10; 2 Chronicles 34:33} -and if the fact be demonstrated by a resolute and unwavering rejection of idol worship, evinced by the disuse of their names in oaths, and the expulsion of their symbols "from the Presence," that is, out of the sanctuaries and domain of Iahvah, and by adhering to the Name of the God of Israel in oaths and compacts of all kinds, and by a scrupulous loyalty to such engagements; {Psalms 15:4 Isaiah 48:1} then the ancient oracle of blessing will be fulfilled, and Israel will become a proverb of felicity, the pride and boast of mankind, the glorious ideal of perfect virtue and perfect happiness. {Genesis 12:3; Isaiah 65:16} Then, "all the nations will gather together unto Jerusalem for the Name of Iahvah"; {Jeremiah 3:17} they will recognise in the religion of Iahvah the answer to their highest longings and spiritual necessities, and will take Israel for what Iahvah intended him to be, their example and priest and prophet.

Jeremiah could hardly have chosen a more extreme instance for pointing the lesson he had to teach than the long since ruined and depopulated kingdom of the Ten Tribes. Hopeless as their actual condition must have seemed at the time, he assures his own countrymen in Judah and Jerusalem that even yet, if only the moral requirements of the case were fulfilled, and the heart of the poor remnant and of the survivors in banishment aroused to a genuine and permanent repentance, the Divine promises would be accomplished in a people whose sun had apparently set in darkness forever. And so he passes on to address his own people directly in tones of warning, reproof, and menace of approaching wrath. {Jeremiah 4:3 - Jeremiah 6:30}

Bibliographical Information
Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on Jeremiah 3". "The Expositor's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/teb/jeremiah-3.html.
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