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Bible Commentaries

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible
Jeremiah 2

 

 

Introduction

Jeremiah 2:1 to Jeremiah 4:4. These chapters belong to the time of Josiah (626ff. B.C.), and contain some of the earliest prophecies of Jeremiah. Their central thought is the faithlessness of the people as Yahweh's bride, an idea developed in the previous century by Hosea. Note that the name "Israel" frequently denotes the whole people, including both kingdoms, sometimes (cf. Jeremiah 3:6 ff.) the northern kingdom only, in contrast with the southern. The aim of the prophet is naturally to rebuke the infidelity of the surviving Judah, but, in order to do this, he reviews the conduct and character of the Hebrew nation.


Verses 1-3

Jeremiah 2:1 to Jeremiah 4:4. These chapters belong to the time of Josiah (626ff. B.C.), and contain some of the earliest prophecies of Jeremiah. Their central thought is the faithlessness of the people as Yahweh's bride, an idea developed in the previous century by Hosea. Note that the name "Israel" frequently denotes the whole people, including both kingdoms, sometimes (cf. Jeremiah 3:6 ff.) the northern kingdom only, in contrast with the southern. The aim of the prophet is naturally to rebuke the infidelity of the surviving Judah, but, in order to do this, he reviews the conduct and character of the Hebrew nation.

Jeremiah 2:1-3. Early Loyalty and Security.—The prophet reminds the people of its desert wanderings, when it loved Yahweh as a young bride does her husband. In those days, Israel was safe from all interference, like a gift laid on the altar, Yahweh's first-fruits (Exodus 23:19). This idealisation of the nomadic period was carried furthest by the Rechabites (Jeremiah 35), who "abstained" from the civilisation of Canaan.

Jeremiah 2:3, holiness: lit. "a consecrated thing", the word has no moral significance here; Israel was under taboo, and so inviolable.


Verses 4-13

Jeremiah 2:4-13. Yahweh's Reproaches.—Yahweh asks why His redeeming acts are forgotten and His (true) worship abandoned; other nations do not abandon their gods, though these are worthless, but Yahweh's people have forsaken the one true God. Jeremiah here treats all other gods as worthless, though explicit monotheism is not found until the next century (Deutero-Isaiah). When Israel entered Canaan under its desert-God, Yahweh, it was natural to worship the local Baalim (p. 87), as well, since they were regarded as the gods of agriculture and fertility. But when the land came to be regarded as Yahweh's heritage, there was a strong tendency for Him to be worshipped as the Baalim had been, and under the name of Baal ("Lord"). Both the worship and the name are here treated as heathenism.

Jeremiah 2:5. vanity: lit. "breath"; cf. Jeremiah 8:19.

Jeremiah 2:10. Kittim: the people of Kition in Cyprus (Numbers 24:23 f.*); Kedar (Genesis 25:13, Jeremiah 49:28, Psalms 120:5*): an Arabian tribe; thus, W. and E. are here graphically indicated.

Jeremiah 2:12. be horribly afraid, be ye very desolate: read, with LXX, "shudder exceedingly".

Jeremiah 2:13. For the contrast between the fountain, or spring, and the cistern, see Thomson, op. cit., p. 287; the latter, though hewn in rock, is said to crack easily, and its water, collected from the roof, is in any case inferior.


Verses 14-28

Jeremiah 2:14-28. Israel's False Religion.—Israel has forfeited the privileges of a son, and incurred disaster by forsaking Yahweh for the sensuous worship of the Baalim (cf. Jeremiah 2:20; Jeremiah 2:28). Jeremiah 2:14-17 may be a later insertion, as it seems to break the connexion between Jeremiah 2:13 and Jeremiah 2:18; Jeremiah 2:15 apparently refers to the devastation of the northern kingdom by Assyria, Jeremiah 2:16 to the defeat of Judah by Pharaoh Necho (pp. 60, 72) at Megiddo in 608 (Noph (Isaiah 19:13*) is Memphis, Tahpanhes is Daphne, these being taken as representative cities of Egypt). In Jeremiah 2:16, the Hebrew reads as mg. The last clause of Jeremiah 2:17, "when he led thee by the way", should be omitted with LXX. Jeremiah 2:18 resumes the figure of Jeremiah 2:13, and remonstrates against the pro-Egyptian policy, which was the chief alternative to subjection to Assyria. In Jeremiah 2:20, read as mg., with Jeremiah 2:21 employs the familiar figure of Israel as a vine, which might be called the national emblem (Jeremiah 12:10 ff., Hosea 10:1, Isaiah 5:1-7, Ezekiel 17:5 ff.). In Jeremiah 2:22, "lye" and "soap" denote a vegetable and a mineral alkali respectively; "marked" should be "ingrained". Israel protests (cf. Jeremiah 2:27; Jeremiah 2:35) that she has not abandoned Yahweh, in worshipping Him according to the manner of the Baalim (Jeremiah 2:23); she is answered by a reference to the valley (Hinnom; Jeremiah 7:31*, Mark 9:43*), and the sensuality of her worship (so repugnant to the God of righteousness) is suggested by the figures of the young camel (Jeremiah 2:23 mg.), and the ass (Jeremiah 2:24) when in heat. Reference is made in Jeremiah 2:25 to the eager pursuit of strange gods, in Jeremiah 2:27 to the Asherah (p. 100, 1 Kings 15:13*) and Mazzebah (p. 98) employed in their worship (Deuteronomy 16:21 f.*), in each locality (Jeremiah 11:13).


Verses 29-37

Jeremiah 2:29-37. The Deserved Punishment.—Israel's sorrows are well deserved, for Yahweh's love has been forgotten. In spite of wrong-doing, there is no penitence for sin. The help of Egypt will be as futile as that of Assyria.

Jeremiah 2:29. plead: "complain".

Jeremiah 2:30. For your own read "the" with LXX.

Jeremiah 2:32. attire: properly "sash" (Isaiah 3:20, RV).

Jeremiah 2:33. trimmest: lit. "makest good", i.e. "pickest".—wicked women: better, "evil things", same word as in Jeremiah 3:5; "even to evil things hast thou accustomed thy ways".

Jeremiah 2:34 as it stands apparently refers to social injustice (Jeremiah 7:6); men are slain where no excuse of justifiable homicide (mg.) can be offered. But the verse seems corrupt, and the last clause gives no good sense, even if we supply "garments" with "all these".

Jeremiah 2:36. gaddest should be simply "goest"; "ashamed of" (bis), rather, "put to shame by".

Jeremiah 2:37. The gesture is one of deep sorrow (2 Samuel 13:19). The precise occasion of the political reference in this verse is not known; cf. Isaiah 30:3 ff.

 


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Bibliography Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Jeremiah 2:4". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pfc/jeremiah-2.html. 1919.

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