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Bible Commentaries

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible
Jeremiah 3

 

 

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 1-5

Jeremiah 3:1-5. Israel's Infidelity.—(Some introductory formula, like that of Jeremiah 2:1, has dropped out before Jeremiah 3:1; note mg.). Israel's marital unfaithfulness to Yahweh is too gross for a facile repentance to avail. The analogy of the law of divorce (mg. reference) suggests that Israel cannot deal with her Divine Husband as lightly as she will. She has waited for her lovers as persistently as a nomad plunderer for his victims. The loss of that prosperity which depended on the latter rain (of the spring) has brought no compunction. Recent promises have not been kept.

Jeremiah 3:1. land should be "woman", with LXX mg.3 to be read.

Jeremiah 3:4. Render "Hast thou not just cried; some see a reference here and in Jeremiah 3:5 to the Reformation under Josiah, and its relative failure.—guide is "friend" or lover (cf. mg.); for the idea of Yahweh as both "father" and "husband" to Israel, see Hosea 2:16; Hosea 11:1.

Jeremiah 3:5. hast . . . done: read mg.


Verses 6-18

Jeremiah 3:6-18. Israel's Sin less than Judah's.—This passage interrupts the continuity of Jeremiah 3:19 with Jeremiah 3:5 (note also the interruptive introductory formula, Jeremiah 3:6), and seems to be a separate prophecy, though it employs the predominant figure of this section, i.e. the marriage of Yahweh and His people, and is probably by Jeremiah (to Jeremiah 3:16). The northern kingdom was faithless to this marriage, through the Baal-cult; Yahweh waited for her return in vain (Jeremiah 3:7 mg.), and at length divorced her (Jeremiah 3:8; see on Jeremiah 3:1-5). Judah saw the consequences of that divorce, in the devastation of Israel (a century earlier), without learning the lesson, and repeated the offence. Such repentance as Judah did show (in the Deuteronomic Reformation?) was unreal, and her sin was worse than Israel's, because the fate of Israel was before her eyes as a warning. The prophet now (Jeremiah 3:12 ff.) invites Israel, or at least its righteous remnant (Jeremiah 3:14; cf. Isaiah 1:25 f.), to return to Him, that they may be restored to their land under worthy kings ("shepherds"); the Ark, as the external sign of His presence, will no longer be needed (Jeremiah 3:16, both mgg.). This prophecy has been expanded by a Messianic promise that Jerusalem shall be the religious centre of the changed world (Jeremiah 3:17) and that Judah shall share in the return of Israel (Jeremiah 3:18).

Jeremiah 3:9. The Hebrew reads "She was polluted with the land", which RV silently emends, as often; read "she polluted the land" with Vulg. and Targ.

Jeremiah 3:10. Omit her" and "sister", with LXX.

Jeremiah 3:17. Omit, with LXX, "to the name of the Lord to Jerusalem". Note that "backsliding" (Jeremiah 3:6; Jeremiah 3:11; Jeremiah 3:14, etc.) should be "back-turning", with play in "return" (Jeremiah 3:7, etc) on the double sense of "turn back," i.e. from and to Yahweh.


Verses 19-25

Jeremiah 3:19 to Jeremiah 4:4. A Dialogue of Yahweh's Grace.—This directly continues Jeremiah 3:5, the "I" of Jeremiah 3:19 being emphatically contrasted with the "thou" of Jeremiah 3:5. Yahweh expresses His desire (Jeremiah 3:19 mg.) to give Judah, though a daughter, a son's portion in the best of lands (mg.2), but Judah (here called Israel in narrower sense, Jeremiah 3:20) has left Him. When, speechless, she weeps in penitence (Jeremiah 3:21) on the bare heights, the place of her former sin, Yahweh will bid her return to Him; she comes making confession that Baal (Jeremiah 3:24 mg.) has not profited her. Yahweh assures Judah (Jeremiah 4:1) that true penitence will be followed by the conversion of the heathen, who will use Yahweh's name in blessings (Isaiah 65:16). Let Judah, then, reform in earnest (Jeremiah 4:3; cf. Hosea 10:12), with an inner consecration, before Yahweh punishes (Jeremiah 4:4).

Jeremiah 3:19. children: "sons"; (cf. Hosea 11:1 ff.)

Jeremiah 3:23. Some word parallel to "tumult" (better "throng" with mg.) has fallen out (RV italics); the cult of Baal is meant by both; cf. 1 Kings 18:26 ff.

Jeremiah 4:1. Read mg.1; for the first "shalt" render "if".—abominations denote such heathen emblems as are named in Jeremiah 2:27, etc.

 


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Bibliography Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Jeremiah 3:4". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pfc/jeremiah-3.html. 1919.

Lectionary Calendar
Friday, November 22nd, 2019
the Week of Proper 28 / Ordinary 33
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