Jeremiah 2


God expresses his continued regard for his people, long since

chosen, 1-3.

He then expostulates with them on their ungrateful and worse

than heathen return to his regard, 4-11;

at which even the inanimate creation must be astonished,

12, 13.

After this their guilt is declared to be the sole cause of the

calamities which their enemies had power to inflict on them,


They are upbraided for their alliances with idolatrous

countries, 18, 19;

and for their strong propensity to idolatry, notwithstanding

all the care and tender mercy of God, 20-29.

Even the chastenings of the Almighty have produced in this

people no repentance, 30.

The chapter concludes with compassionately remonstrating

against their folly and ingratitude in revolting so deeply from

God, and with warning them of the fearful consequences, 31, 37.


Verse 2. I remember thee] The youth here refers to their infant

political state when they came out of Egypt; they just then began

to be a people. Their espousals refer to their receiving the law

at Mount Sinai, which they solemnly accepted, Ex 24:6-8, and

which acceptance was compared to a betrothing or espousal.

Previously to this they were no people, for they had no

constitution nor form of government. When they received the law,

and an establishment in the Promised Land, then they became a

people and a nation.

Wentest after me] Receivedst my law, and wert obedient to it;

confiding thyself wholly to my guidance, and being conscientiously

attached to my worship. The kindness was that which God showed

them by taking them to be his people, not their kindness to him.

Verse 3. Israel was holiness unto the Lord] Fully consecrated

to his service.

The first fruits of his increase] They were as wholly the

Lord's, as the first fruits were the property of the priests

according to the law, Nu 18:13. These the priests alone had a

right to devote to their own use.

All that devour him shall offend] As they were betrothed to the

Lord, they were considered his especial property; they therefore

who injured them were considered as laying violent hands on the

property of God. They who persecute God's children have a grievous

burden to bear, an awful account to give.

Verse 5. What iniquity have your fathers found in me] Have they

ever discovered any thing cruel, unjust, oppressive in my laws?

Any thing unkind or tyrannical in my government? Why then have

they become idolaters?

Verse 6. Through the wilderness] Egypt was the house of their

bondage: the desert through which they passed after they came out

of Egypt, was a place where the means of life were not to be

found; where no one family could subsist, much less a company of

600,000 men. God mentions these things to show that it was by the

bounty of an especial providence that they were fed and preserved

alive. Previously to this, it was a land through which no man

passed, and in which no man dwelt. And why? because it did not

produce the means of life; it was the shadow of death in its

appearance, and the grave to those who committed themselves to it.

Verse 7. And I brought you into a plentiful country] The land of


My land] The particular property of God, which he gave to them

as an inheritance, they being his peculiar people.

Verse 8. They that handle the law] vethophe shey, they

that draw out the law; they whose office it is to explain it, draw

out its spiritual meanings, and show to what its testimonies


The pastors also] Kings, political and civil rulers.

Prophesied by Baal] Became his prophets, and were inspired with

the words of lying spirits.

Verse 9. I will yet plead with you] arib, I will maintain

my process, vindicate my own conduct, and prove the wickedness of


Verse 10. The isles of Chittim] This is the island of Cyprus,

according to Josephus. In 1 Maccabees, 1Mac 8:5, it is taken for

Macedonia. Besides this, how they (the Romans) had discomfited in

battle Philip and Perseus, king of the Chittims. Chittim was the

grandson of Japhet; and Bochart has made it appear that the

countries inhabited by the Chittim were Italy and the adjacent

provinces of Europe, lying along the coast of the Mediterranean

Sea; and probably this is the prophet's meaning.

Send unto Kedar] The name of an Arabian tribe. See if nations

either near or remote, cultivated or stupid, have acted with such

fickleness and ingratitude as you have done! They have retained

their gods to whom they had no obligation; ye have abandoned your

God, to whom ye owe your life, breath, and all things!

Verse 12. Be astonished, O ye heavens] Or, the heavens are

astonished. The original will admit either sense. The conduct of

this people was so altogether bad, that among all the iniquities

of mankind, neither heaven nor earth had witnessed any thing so

excessively sinful and profligate.

Verse 13. Two evils] First, they forsook God, the Fountain of

life, light, prosperity, and happiness. Secondly, they hewed out

broken cisterns; they joined themselves to idols, from whom they

could receive neither temporal nor spiritual good! Their conduct

was the excess of folly and blindness. What we call here broken

cisterns, means more properly such vessels as were ill made, not

staunch, ill put together, so that the water leaked through them.

Verse 14. Is Israel a servant?] Is he a slave purchased with

money, or a servant born in the family? He is a son himself. If

so, then, why is he spoiled? Not because God has not shown him

love and kindness; but because he forsook God, turned to and is

joined with idols.

Verse 15. The young lions roared upon him] The Assyrians, who

have sacked and destroyed the kingdom of Israel, with a fierceness

like that of pouncing upon their prey.

Verse 16. The children of Noph and Tahapanes] Noph and Tahapanes

were two cities of Egypt, otherwise called Memphis and Daphni. It

is well known that the good king was defeated by the Egyptians,

and slain in battle. Thus was the crown of Judah's head broken.

Verse 18. What hast thou to do in the way of Egypt] Why dost

thou make alliances with Egypt?

To drink the waters of Sihor?] This means the Nile. See on

Isa 23:3.

The way of Assyria] Why make alliances with the Assyrians? All

such connexions will only expedite thy ruin.

To drink the waters of the river?] The Euphrates, as nahar

or hannahar always means Euphrates, the country between the

Tigris and Euphrates, is termed to this day Maher alnahar, "the

country beyond the river," i.e., Mesopotamia.

Instead of cleaving to the Lord, they joined affinity and made

alliances with those two nations, who were ever jealous of them,

and sought their ruin. Egypt was to them a broken reed instead of

a staff; Assyria was a leaky cistern, from which they could derive

no help.

Verse 20. Of old time I have broken thy yoke] It is thought by

able critics that the verbs should be read in the second person

singular, THOU hast broken thy yoke, THOU hast burst thy bonds;

and thus the Septuagint, συνετριψαςτονζυγονσου, "thou hast

broken thy yoke." And the Vulgate, Confregisti jugum meum,

rupisti, vincula mea; "Thou hast broken my yoke; thou hast burst

my bonds;" and so the Arabic. But the Chaldee gives it a meaning

which removes the difficulty: "I have broken the yoke of the

people from thy neck; I have cut your bonds asunder." And when

this was done, they did promise fair: for "thou saidst, I will not

transgress;" but still they played the harlot-committed idolatrous

acts in the high places, where the heathen had built their altars,

pretending that elevation of this kind assisted their devotion.

Verse 21. I had planted thee a noble vine] I gave thee the

fullest instruction, the purest ordinances, the highest

privileges; and reason would that I should expect thee to live

suitably to such advantages; but instead of this thou art become

degenerate; the tree is deteriorated, and the fruit is bad.

Instead of being true worshippers, and of a holy life and

conversation, ye are become idolaters of the most corrupt and

profligate kind. See Isa 5:1, &c., where the same image is used.

Verse 22. For though thou wash thee with nitre] It should be

rendered natar or natron, a substance totally different from our

nitre. It comes from the root nathar, to dissolve, loosen,

because a solution of it in water is abstersive, taking out spots,

&c., from clothes. It is still used in the east for the purpose of

washing. If vinegar be poured on it, Dr. Shaw says, a strong

effervescence is the immediate consequence, which illustrates

Pr 25:20: "The singing of songs to a heavy heart is like

vinegar upon natron;" that is, there is no affinity between them;

opposition and strife are occasioned by any attempt to unite them.

Thine iniquity is marked before me] No washing will take out thy

spots; the marks of thy idolatry and corruption are too deeply

rooted to be extracted by any human means.

Verse 23. See thy way in the valley] The valley of Hinnom, where

they offered their own children to Moloch, an idol of the


A swift dromedary traversing her ways] Dr. Blayney translates,

"A fleet dromedary that hath taken to company with her."

Dr. Dahler rather paraphrases, thus:-

Semblable a une dromedaire en chaleur,

Qui court d'une tote a l'autre.

"Like to a dromedary in her desire for the male,

Which runs hither and thither."

This is an energetic comparison; and shows the unbridled

attachment of those bad people to idolatry, and the abominable

practices by which it was usually accompanied.

Verse 24. A wild ass used to the wilderness] Another comparison

to express the same thing.

Snuffeth up the wind] In a high fever from the inward heat felt

at such times, these animals open their mouths and nostrils as

wide as possible, to take in large draughts of fresh air, in order

to cool them.

In her mouth they shall find her.] The meaning is, that although

such animals are exceedingly fierce and dangerous when they are in

this state; yet, as soon as they have found the male, the desire

is satisfied, and they become quiet and governable as before. But

it was not so with this idolatrous people: their desires were ever

fierce and furious; they were never satiated, one indulgence

always leading to an other. The brute beasts had only a short

season in which this appetite prevailed; but they acted without

restraint or limit.

Verse 25. Withhold thy foot from being unshod] When it was said

to them, "Cease from discovering thy feet; prostitute thyself no

more to thy idols."

And thy throat from thirst] Drink no more of their libations,

nor use those potions which tend only to increase thy appetite for

pollution. Thou didst say, There is no hope: it is useless to

advise me thus; I am determined; I have loved these strange gods,

and to them will I cleave.

Verse 26. As the thief is ashamed] As the pilferer is confounded

when he is caught in the fact; so shalt thou, thy kings, princes,

priests, and prophets, be confounded, when God shall arrest thee

in thy idolatries, and deliver thee into the hands of thine


Verse 27. Thou art my father] By thee we have been produced, and

by thee we are sustained. This was the property of the true God;

for he is the Author and Supporter of being. How deeply fallen

and brutishly ignorant must they be when they could attribute this

to the stock of a tree!

Verse 28. According to the number of thy cities are thy gods]

Among heathen nations every city had its tutelary deity. Judah,

far sunk in idolatry, had adopted this custom. The Church of Rome

has refined it a little: every city has its tutelary saint, and

this saint has a procession and worship peculiar to himself. So

here; not much of the old idolatry is lost.

Verse 31. Have I been a wilderness unto Israel?] Have I ever

withheld from you any of the blessings necessary for your support?

A land of darkness] Have you, since you passed through the

wilderness, and came out of the darkness of Egypt, ever been

brought into similar circumstances? You have had food and all the

necessaries of life for your bodies; and my ordinances and word to

enlighten and cheer your souls. I have neither been a wilderness

nor a land of darkness to you.

We are lords] We wish to be our own masters; we will neither

brook religious nor civil restraint; we will regard no laws, human

or Divine. It was this disposition that caused them to fall in so

fully with the whole system of idolatry.

Verse 32. Can a maid forget her ornaments] This people has not

so much attachment to me as young females have to their dress and

ornaments. They never forget them; and even when arrived at old

age, look with pleasure on the dress and ornaments which they have

worn in their youth.

Days without number.] That is, for many years; during the whole

reign of Manasses, which was fifty-five years, the land was

deluged with idolatry, from which the reform by good King Josiah

his grandson had not yet purified it.

Verse 33. Why trimmest thou thy way] Ye have used a multitude of

artifices to gain alliances with the neighbouring idolatrous


Hast thou also taught the wicked ones thy ways.] Ye have made

even these idolaters worse than they were before. Dr. Blayney

translates, "Therefore have I taught calamity thy ways." A

prosopopoeia: "I have instructed calamity where to find thee."

Thou shalt not escape punishment.

Verse 34. The blood of the souls of the poor innocents] We find

from the sacred history that Manasseh had filled Jerusalem with

innocent blood; see 2Ki 21:16, and Eze 34:10.

I have not found it by secret search, but upon all these.] Such

deeds of darkness and profligacy are found only in Israel. Dr.

Blayney translates, "I have not found it in a digged hole, but

upon every oak." Others cover the blood that it may not appear;

but ye have shed it openly, and sprinkled it upon your consecrated

oaks, and gloried in it.

Verse 35. Because I am innocent] They continued to assert their

innocence, and therefore expected that God's judgments would be

speedily removed!

I will plead with thee] I will maintain my process, follow it up

to conviction, and inflict the deserved punishment.

Verse 36. Why gaddest thou about] When they had departed from

the Lord, they sought foreign alliances for support. 1. The

Assyrians, 2Ch 28:13-21; but they injured instead of helping

them. 2. The Egyptians: but in this they were utterly

disappointed, and were ashamed of their confidence. See

Jer 37:7, 8, for the fulfilment of this prediction.

Verse 37. Thou shalt go forth from him, and thine hands upon

thine head] Thou shalt find all thy confidence in vain,-thy hope

disappointed;-and thy state reduced to desperation. The hand being

placed on the head was the evidence of deep sorrow, occasioned by

utter desolation. See the case of Tamar, when ruined and abandoned

by her brother Amnon, 2Sa 13:19.

Thou shalt not prosper in them.] They shall all turn to thy

disadvantage; and this as we shall see in the history of this

people, was literally fulfilled. O what a grievous and bitter

thing it is to sin against the Lord, and have him for an enemy!

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