Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
EXPOSTULATION WITH THE
FAVOR, AND A
Probably in the thirteenth year of the reign of Josiah
"also . . . in . . . days of Josiah"). The
warning not to rely as they did on Egypt
was in accordance with Josiah's policy, who took part with Assyria and
Babylon against Egypt
Jeremiah, doubtless, supported the reformation begun by Josiah, in the
previous year (the twelfth of his reign), and fully carried out in the
Jerusalem--the headquarters and center of their idolatry; therefore
thee--rather, "I remember in regard to thee"
kindness of thy youth--not so much Israel's kindness towards God, as
the kindness which Israel experienced from God in their early
Eze 16:8, 22, 60; 23:3, 8, 19;
For Israel from the first showed perversity rather than kindness
towards God (compare
Ex 14:11, 12; 15:24; 32:1-7,
&c.). The greater were God's favors to them from the first, the fouler
was their ingratitude in forsaking Him
(Jer 2:3, 5,
espousals--the intervals between Israel's betrothal to God at the
exodus from Egypt, and the formal execution of the marriage contract at
takes the "kindness" and "love" to be Israel's towards God
(Ex 19:8; 24:3; 35:20-29; 36:5;
De 32:16, 17;
Eze 16:5, 6, 15, 22
("days of thy youth") implies that the love here meant
was on God's side, not Israel's.
thou wentest after me in . . . wilderness--the next act of God's love,
His leading them in the desert without needing any strange god, such as
they since worshipped, to help Him
(De 2:7; 32:12).
shows it is God's "leading" of them, not their following
after God in the wilderness, which is implied.
3. holiness unto the Lord--that is, was consecrated to
the service of Jehovah
(Ex 19:5, 6).
They thus answered to the motto on their high priest's breastplate,
"Holiness to the Lord"
(De 7:6; 14:2, 21).
first-fruits of his increase--that is, of Jehovah's produce. As the
first-fruits of the whole produce of the land were devoted to
Nu 18:12, 13),
so Israel was devoted to Him as the first-fruit and representative
nation among all nations. So the spiritual Israel
devour--carrying on the image of first-fruits which were eaten before the Lord by the priests as the Lord's representatives; all who
ate (injured) Jehovah's first-fruits (Israel), contracted guilt: for
example, Amalek, the Amorites, &c., were extirpated for their guilt
shall come--rather, "came."
4. Jacob . . . Israel--the whole nation.
Hear God's word not only collectively, but individually
5. iniquity--wrong done to them
walked after vanity--contrasted with "walkest after me in the
then I was their guide in the barren desert; now they take
idols as their guides.
vanity . . . vain--An idol is not only vain (impotent and empty),
but vanity itself. Its worshippers acquire its character, becoming
vain as it is
A people's character never rises above that of its gods, which are its
"better nature" [BACON]
6. Neither said they, Where, &c.--The very words which God uses
(Isa 63:9, 11, 13),
when, as it were, reminding Himself of His former acts of love to
Israel as a ground for interposing in their behalf again. When
they would not say, Where is Jehovah, &c., God Himself at
last said it for them (compare see on
deserts . . . pits--The desert between Mount Sinai and Palestine
abounds in chasms and pits, in which beasts of burden often sink down to
the knees. "Shadow of death" refers to the darkness of the caverns
amidst the rocky precipices
(De 8:15; 32:10).
7. plentiful--literally, "a land of Carmel," or "well-cultivated land":
a garden land, in contrast to the "land of deserts"
Ps 78:58, 59; 106:38).
you . . . ye--change to the second person from the third, "they"
in order to bring home the guilt to the living generation.
8. The three leading classes, whose very office under the theocracy
was to lead the people to God, disowned Him in the same language as the
nation at large, "Where is the Lord?" (See
priests--whose office it was to expound the law
(Mal 2:6, 7).
handle--are occupied with the law as the subject of their profession.
pastors--civil, not religious: princes
whose duty it was to tend their people.
prophets--who should have reclaimed the people from their
apostasy, encouraged them in it by pretended oracles from Baal, the
Phœnician false god.
by Baal--in his name and by his authority (compare
walked after things . . . not profit--answering to, "walked after
vanity," that is, idols
9. yet plead--namely, by inflicting still further judgments on you.
children's children--Three manuscripts and
JEROME omit "children's";
they seem to have thought it unsuitable to read "children's children,"
when "children" had not preceded. But it is designedly so written, to
intimate that the final judgment on the nation would be suspended
for many generations
Eze 20:35, 36;
10. pass over the isles--rather, "cross over to the isles."
Chittim . . . Kedar--that is, the heathen nations, west and
east. Go where you will, you cannot find an instance of any heathen
nation forsaking their own for other gods. Israel alone does this. Yet
the heathen gods are false gods; whereas Israel, in forsaking Me for
other gods, forsake their "glory" for unprofitable idols.
Chittim--Cyprus, colonized by Phœnicians, who built in it
the city of Citium, the modern Chitti. Then the term came to be
applied to all maritime coasts of the Mediterranean, especially Greece
Kedar--descended from Ishmael; the Bedouins and Arabs, east of
11. glory--Jehovah, the glory of Israel
The Shekinah, or cloud resting on the sanctuary, was the symbol of "the
glory of the Lord"
The golden calf was intended as an image of the true God (compare
Ex 32:4, 5),
yet it is called an "idol"
It (like Roman Catholic images) was a violation of the second
commandment, as the heathen multiplying of gods is a violation of the
12. Impassioned personification
horribly afraid--rather, be horrified."
be . . . very desolate--rather, "be exceedingly aghast" at the
monstrous spectacle. Literally, "to be dried up," or "devastated,"
(places devastated have such an unsightly look)
13. two evils--not merely one evil, like the idolaters who know
no better; besides simple idolatry, My people add the sin of
forsaking the true God whom they have known; the heathen, though having
the sin of idolatry, are free from the further sin of changing the true
God for idols
forsaken me--The Hebrew collocation brings out the only living God
into more prominent contrast with idol nonentities. "Me they have
forsaken, the Fountain," &c.
broken cisterns--tanks for rain water, common in the East, where
wells are scarce. The tanks not only cannot give forth an ever-flowing
fresh supply as fountains can, but cannot even retain the water poured
into them; the stonework within being broken, the earth drinks up the
collected water. So, in general, all earthly, compared with heavenly,
means of satisfying man's highest wants
(Isa 55:1, 2;
14. is he a homeborn slave--No. "Israel is Jehovah's son, even
Jer 2:16, 18, 36,
and the absence of any express contrast of the two parts of the
nation are against EICHORN'S view, that the
prophet proposes to Judah, as yet spared, the case of Israel (the ten
tribes) which had been carried away by Assyria as a warning of what
they might expect if they should still put their trust in Egypt. "Were
Israel's ten tribes of meaner birth than Judah? Certainly not. If,
then, the former fell before Assyria, what can Judah hope from Egypt
against Assyria? . . . Israel" is rather here the whole of
the remnant still left in their own land, that is, Judah. "How comes it
to pass that the nation which once was under God's special protection
is now left at the mercy of the foe as a worthless slave?" The prophet
sees this event as if present, though it was still future
15. lions--the Babylonian princes
The disaster from the Babylonians in the fourth year of Jehoiakim's
reign, and again three years later when, relying on Egypt, he revolted
from Nebuchadnezzar, is here referred to
2Ki 24:1, 2).
16. Noph . . . Tahapanes--Memphis, capital of Lower Egypt, on
the west bank of the Nile, near the pyramids of Gizeh, opposite the site
of modern Cairo. Daphne, on the Tanitic branch of the Nile, near
Pelusium, on the frontier of Egypt towards Palestine.
contracts it, Hanes. These two cities, one the capital, the other
that with which the Jews came most in contact, stand for the whole of
Egypt. Tahapanes takes its name from a goddess, Tphnet
Memphis is from Man-nofri, "the abode of good men"; written in
or Noph. The reference is to the coming invasion of Judah by
Pharaoh-necho of Egypt, on his return from the Euphrates, when he
deposed Jehoahaz and levied a heavy tribute on the land
Josiah's death in battle with the same Pharaoh is probably included
(2Ki 23:29, 30).
have broken--rather, shall feed down the crown, &c., that is,
affect with the greatest ignominy, such as baldness was regarded in
Instead of "also," translate, "even" the Egyptians, in whom thou dost
trust, shall miserably disappoint thy expectation [MAURER]. Jehoiakim was twice leagued with them
(2Ki 23:34, 35):
when he received the crown from them, and when he revolted from
(2Ki 24:1, 2, 7).
The Chaldeans, having become masters of Asia, threatened Egypt. Judea,
situated between the contending powers, was thus exposed to the inroads
of the one or other of the hostile armies; and unfortunately, except in
Josiah's reign, took side with Egypt, contrary to God's warnings.
17. Literally, "Has not thy forsaking the Lord . . . procured this
(calamity) to thee?" So the Septuagint: the Masoretic accents make
"this" the subject of the verb, leaving the object to be
understood. "Has not this procured (it, that is, the impending calamity)
unto thee, that hast forsaken?" &c.
the way--The article expresses the right way, the way
of the Lord: namely, the moral training which they enjoyed in the
18. now--used in a reasoning sense, not of time.
the way of Egypt--What hast thou to do with the way, that is,
with going down to Egypt; or what . . . with going to
drink . . . waters--that is, to seek reinvigorating
aid from them; so
Jer 2:13, 36;
compare "waters," meaning numerous forces
Sihor--that is, the black river, in Greek, Melas ("black"),
the Nile: so called from the black deposit or soil it leaves after the
The Septuagint identifies it with Gihon, one of the rivers of
the river--Euphrates, called by pre-eminence, the river;
figurative for the Assyrian power. In 625 B.C., the seventeenth year of
Josiah, and the fourth of Jeremiah's office, the kingdom of Assyria fell
before Babylon, therefore Assyria is here put for Babylon its
successor: so in
There was doubtless a league between Judea and Assyria (that is,
Babylon), which caused Josiah to march against Pharaoh-necho of Egypt
when that king went against Babylon: the evil consequences of this
league are foretold in this verse and
19. correct . . . reprove--rather, in the severer sense,
"chastise . . . punish" [MAURER].
backslidings--"apostasies"; plural, to express the number and
variety of their defections. The very confederacies they entered into
were the occasion of their overthrow
know . . . see--imperative for
futures: Thou shalt know and see to thy cost.
my fear--rather, "the fear of Me."
20. I--the Hebrew should be pointed as the second person
feminine, a form common in Jeremiah: "Thou hast broken," &c. So
the Septuagint, and the sense requires it.
thy yoke . . . bands--the yoke and bands which I laid on thee, My laws
transgress--so the Keri, and many manuscripts read. But the
Septuagint and most authorities read, "I will not serve," that is,
obey. The sense of English Version is, "I broke thy yoke (in Egypt),"
&c., "and (at that time) thou saidst, I will not transgress;
whereas thou hast (since then) wandered
hill . . . green tree--the scene of idolatries
Isa 57:5, 7).
wanderest--rather, "thou hast bowed down thyself" (for the act
of adultery: figurative of shameless idolatry,
Ex 34:15, 16;
21. The same image as in
Ps 80:8, 9;
unto me--with respect to Me.
22. nitre--not what is now so called, namely, saltpeter; but the
natron of Egypt, a mineral alkali, an incrustation at the bottom of
the lakes, after the summer heat has evaporated the water: used for
soap--potash, the carbonate of which is obtained impure from burning
different plants, especially the kali of Egypt and Arabia. Mixed
with oil it was used for washing.
marked--deeply ingrained, indelibly marked; the Hebrew, catham, being equivalent to cathab. Others translate, "is treasured up,"
from the Arabic.
MAURER from a Syriac root, "is polluted."
Baalim--plural, to express manifold excellency: compare Elohim.
the valley--namely, of Hinnom, or Tophet, south and east of Jerusalem:
rendered infamous by the human sacrifices to Moloch in it (compare
Jer 19:2, 6, 13, 14; 32:35;
thou art--omit. The substantive that follows in this
verse (and also that in
is in apposition with the preceding "thou."
dromedary--rather, a "young she-camel."
traversing--literally, "enfolding"; making its ways
complicated by wandering hither and thither, lusting after the
male. Compare as to the Jews' spiritual lust,
Ho 2:6, 7.
"A wild ass," agreeing with "thou"
at her pleasure--rather, "in her ardor," namely, in pursuit of a
male, sniffing the wind to ascertain where one is to be found
occasion--either from a Hebrew root, "to meet"; "her meeting
(with the male for sexual intercourse), who can avert it?" Or better
from an Arabic root: "her heat (sexual impulse), who can allay
all they--whichever of the males desire her company
will not weary themselves--have no need to weary themselves in
searching for her.
her month--in the
season of the year when her sexual impulse is strongest, she puts
herself in the way of the males, so that they have no difficulty in
25. Withhold, &c.--that is, abstain from incontinence; figuratively
for idolatry [HOUBIGANT].
unshod, &c.--do not run so violently in pursuing lovers, as to
wear out thy shoes: do not "thirst" so incontinently after sexual
thinks the reference is to penances performed
barefoot to idols, and the thirst occasioned by loud and
continued invocations to them.
"It is hopeless," that is, I am desperately resolved to go on in
my own course.
strangers--that is, laying aside the metaphor, "strange gods"
26. is ashamed--is put to shame.
Israel--that is, Judah
27. Thou art my father--(Contrast
in . . . trouble they will say--namely, to God
Trouble often brings men to their senses
28. But--God sends them to the gods for whom they forsook Him, to
see if they can help them
(De 32:37, 38;
according to the number of thy cities--Besides national deities,
each city had its tutelary god
29. plead with me--that is, contend with Me for afflicting you
(Jer 2:23, 35).
(Jer 5:3; 6:29;
Isa 1:5; 9:13).
your children--that is, your people, you.
your . . . sword . . . devoured . . .
Mt 23:29, 31).
31. The Hebrew collocation is, "O, the generation, ye," that is,
"O ye who now live." The generation needed only to be named, to call its
degeneracy to view, so palpable was it.
wilderness--in which all the necessaries of life are wanting. On the
contrary, Jehovah was a never-failing source of supply for all Israel's
wants in the wilderness, and afterwards in Canaan.
darkness--literally, "darkness of Jehovah," the strongest
Hebrew term for "darkness; the densest darkness"; compare "land
of the shadow of death"
We are lords--that is, We are our own masters. We will worship what
gods we like
(Ps 12:4; 82:6).
But it is better to translate from a different Hebrew root: "We
ramble at large," without restraint pursuing our idolatrous lusts.
32. Oriental women greatly pride themselves on their ornaments
attire--girdles for the breast.
33. Why trimmest--MAURER
translates, "How skilfully thou dost
prepare thy way," &c. But see
"Trimmest" best suits the image of one decking herself as a
way--course of life.
therefore--accordingly. Or else, "nay, thou hast even," &c.
also . . . wicked ones--even the wicked harlots, that is, (laying
aside the metaphor) even the Gentiles who are wicked, thou teachest to
be still more so [GROTIUS].
34. Also--not only art thou polluted with idolatry, but also with the guilt of shedding innocent blood
ROSENMULLER not so
well translates, "even in thy skirts," &c.; that is, there is no part
of thee (not even thy skirts) that is not stained with innocent
See as to innocent blood shed, not as here in honor of idols, but of
prophets for having reproved them
souls--that is, persons.
search--I did not need to "search deep" to find proof of thy guilt;
for it was "upon all these" thy skirts. Not in deep caverns didst thou
perpetrate these atrocities, but openly in the vale of Hinnom and within
the precincts of the temple.
(Jer 2:23, 29).
36. gaddest--runnest to and fro, now seeking help from Assyria
now from Egypt
(Jer 37:7, 8;
hands upon . . . head--expressive of mourning
in them--in those stays in which thou trustest.