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Bible Commentaries

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments
Jeremiah 2

 

 

Verses 1-37

Jeremiah 2:2. I remember thee, the kindness of thy youth. God now addressed them, that he might do the same to the children as he had done to the fathers, and rejoice over them as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride in the day of her espousals. Base must be the heart that could reject so gracious a message, and from a prophet so young. But the Israelites in those days, as Judah in later times, made ungrateful returns for favours so divine.

Jeremiah 2:6. Neither said they, where is the Lord that—led us through—a land of deserts and of pits? ושׁוחה veshuchah designates glens, gills, ravines, as well as pits, deep places, gloomy like the shadow of death, and where the sun cannot shine: a country without roads, a waste howling wilderness. Psalms 23:4.

Jeremiah 2:9. I will yet plead with you, saith the Lord; concerning the crime, the grievous crime and blindness of idolatry. I will yet plead with your children, and argue the question at large, if it can be adduced why you of all the nations of the earth should be the only people which have changed their gods? Is there any such thing in the more enlightened Isles of Chittim, and in all the nations of the Greeks, of whom you borrow arts and sciences? What benefit has this change of gods brought to your country? In the days of David, and other upright kings, you were happy; now the fine promises of Baal have superinduced the worst of miseries.

Jeremiah 2:13. They have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters. The figures here are beautiful. Fountains of water are the joy of citizens, around which villages and towns are built. God is a fountain of joy to his people, and a well of salvation; while the idols of the age, pleasure, music, feasting and dancing are but broken cisterns to the conscious mind, which seeks for happiness not dependent on created good.

Jeremiah 2:15. The young lions, the princes of Chaldea, have roared upon him, as on their prey.

Jeremiah 2:16. The children of Noph and Tahapanes. The inhabitants of Memphis and Daphni, cities of Egypt, Isaiah 19:11; Isaiah 19:13, have broken the crown from off thy head, by depriving thee of national independence.

Jeremiah 2:18. What hast thou to do in the way of Egypt, to drink the waters of Sihor, the old name of the Nile, whose waters were black and muddy, according to Virgil: Et viridem Ægyptum nigrâ fœcundat arenâ. Georg. 4:291. This great river was called Siris by the Ethiopians, but the Hebrews retain the old name.—Or in the way of Assyria, to drink the waters of the river. The Euphrates in Syria is called by way of eminence, the River. Why vacilate, oh Judah, between those two great powers for safety? Egypt will strip thee. Babylon will destroy thee. Why not cast thy gods into the fire, and cry to heaven, as Samuel in Mizpeh, and Hezekiah in the day of rebuke and blasphemy? This idea is repeated, Jeremiah 2:33.

Jeremiah 2:22. Though thou wash thyself with nitre; that is, natron, steatite, or a peculiar kind of fuller’s earth found in Syria and Egypt: yet thine iniquity is marked before me. Natron will effervesce with acids like calcareous earths.

Jeremiah 2:23. How canst thou say, I am not polluted. Thy glory is thy shame. Hast thou not departed from me, the best of husbands, filling the valley of Jehoshaphat with thy bloody worship, immolating poor innocents to Moloch, and multiplying thy gods, as thy cities. Ah Judah, once the choice vine of Sorek, but now bitter as the apples of Sodom.

Jeremiah 2:24. A wild ass, flying from me as the swift-footed dromedary, to every criminal excess. The בכרה bichra, onager, is said to be the wild ass of the woods. Job 6:5. This animal, most difficult to tame, strikingly expressed the impetuous passions of gentile excesses, enormities, and shame, to which there is here a delicate allusion. In her occasion, when she strays for society with the male, who can turn her away. But in her month thou shalt find her. Those breaks of the jews for gentile feasts, are here rebuked by the wanton ass, the lowest of the brutes. Well might the kings, the prophets, and the priests of Judah be ashamed as a thief when apprehended for robbing his neighbour’s house.

Jeremiah 2:32. Can a maid forget her ornaments. בתולה betoolah, a virgin. Isaiah applies the word to Babylon, and other virgin cities, which had never been taken by storm, and plundered. Virgins were distinguished in the east from married women by the superior ornaments of dress: and the better sort of women would never appear without proper attention to that distinction. This was a very ingenious mode of reproving a harlot nation.

Jeremiah 2:33. Why trimmest thou thy way. See on Jeremiah 2:18.

REFLECTIONS.

Our young prophet, being divinely inspired, goes from Anathoth to open his commission in Jerusalem. His sword is sharp, his words are strong, and his confidence divine. Oh what a sight, to see a child going to reclaim greyheaded rulers and priests from apostasy and crimes! He attacks them single-handed, and in their grand fort, the courts of the temple. Sinners and nations should be allured to repentance by the hallowed recollections of former years. The Lord remembered the kindness and love which distinguished the Hebrew piety in their youth, and the love of righteousness they sometimes showed in the day of their espousals. But ah, whither, whither are ye fled, oh happy days of infantine simplicity and active zeal. Shall man, who ought to grow in grace, degenerate into ignorance, and be carried away with the worst of crimes? Let him call to mind his first love, that he may weep and do his first works.

God expostulates with backsliders in most conclusive arguments. What iniquity have your fathers found in me, that they are gone after vain idols; and that in their troubles they have never enquired for the God who delivered them from the Egyptians! Was I ever wanting to bless their labours, and to defend their country, while they walked in my ways? Men who forsake the good ways of the Lord will one day be called upon to assign a reason for their conduct, and at a tribunal where they shall not dare to offer a specious defence. How grievous in the eyes of heaven is the criminal preference which men give to the pleasures of the age to all the hallowed delights of communion with God!

Apostasy is a crime not only grievous, but peculiar in its nature. Which of the nations of Chittim have changed their gods? Which of the southern nations, of whom Kedar is first, have changed their gods? These interrogations mark the highest displeasure of heaven against degeneracy of heart and conduct. God is indeed greatly dishonoured by a blasphemous and profligate public, but he is not so much dishonoured by them as by men who forsake the ways of righteousness. The heavens themselves are astonished and tremble at this.

Apostasy is a complicated crime. It forsakes God the fountain of living waters, to hew out cisterns, broken cisterns that can hold no water. God in the effusion of his Spirit, which flows in the channel of his ordinances, is this fountain of life; but they who seek help in idols, or in the pleasures, riches and honours of the world, shall be as much disappointed as those who come to seek water in broken cisterns.

Israel’s apostasy was horrible in its characters, worse than beasts in their feasts, and destitute of help in war. They relied on Egypt, though that nation had often plundered their country; and they immolated their infants to idols, wanted for glory and defence; yet neither Tophet nor Moloch pitied the fathers when bleeding by the sword. How awful that a people who have once known the Lord should ever return to their vomit, and commit the enormities of the age. Oh save my soul from the slightest shades of guilt, that righteousness may be my glory, my salvation and defence.

 


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Bibliography Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Jeremiah 2:4". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jsc/jeremiah-2.html. 1835.

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