Go, viz. from Anathoth to Jerusalem.
Cry in the ears; proclaim it so that they may hear it.
Of Jerusalem; declare God’s will to the inhabitants thereof; a metonymy of the subject.
Thus saith the Lord; the prophet’s usual form of words in this book, whereby he frequently intimates that he came with God’s message, not his own; and therefore directs his sermon here, as in God’s name and person, to the whole body of the people.
I remember thee; I record, or I mind thee of the kindness that was between us: though this be sometimes taken in a way of favour, Nehemiah 13:31, yet not always so, as Nehemiah 13:29 Psalms 137:7.
The kindness of thy youth; either those forward and early affections of thine to me in thy youth; or rather, the kindness that I showed thee in thy youth, Isaiah 46:3; for this relates to the time of God’s bringing them out of Egypt, which is sometimes called the birth of this people, Isaiah 44:2 Hosea 2:3, and their youth, Isaiah 54:6 Hosea 2:15. The story seems to favour most this latter sense, Deuteronomy 9:6,24.
The love of thine espousals, viz. when I entered into a covenant relation with thee at the giving of the law, Exodus 24:7,8 Deu 4:20,23,34 Eze 16:8, &c.
When thou wentest after me in the wilderness; either out of that love and affection that thou didst show to me in following my conduct; or rather, when thou wert led by me in the wilderness, and I took such care of thee, both for protection and provision, in that howling wilderness, though thou didst ill deserve it, where nothing necessary to thy subsistence could have been expected; and therefore it is expressed in the next words by a periphrasis, a land that was not sown; and more enlarged upon Jeremiah 1:6; for it plainly appears by the story that they did not follow him with entire affection, but went a whoring from him, Amos 5:25,26, and which we have a large account of Psalms 106:7, &c.
Israel was holiness, or
holy, the abstract for the concrete, i.e. a people dedicated to God; thus the word is used Leviticus 21:7 27:14; set apart from other people for myself by peculiar laws and rites.
And the first-fruits of his increase: this supplement
and is better left out, it being not in the text, and rendering the sense more obscure; therefore better read, either, being the first-fruits, by apposition; or, as the first-fruits, i.e. as the first-fruits were holy to God, so was Israel.
All that devour; or rather, devoured; for it refers to the time past, not to the future, and so the following words; all that were injurious to him
shall offend; or, did offend, were obnoxious, and liable to punishment, as he that devoured that which is holy, Proverbs 20:25.
Shall come upon them; came upon them: some evil was inflicted on them from the Lord, that was always wont to stand up for the vindication of his people, as upon the Egyptians, Amalekites, Sihon, Og, the Midianites, Canaanites, and others, as the four last books of Moses do abundantly testify; and by these expressions is insinuated that now they are like to find it otherwise, Jeremiah 1:7; this minding of them what God had done for them making way for the closer setting home the following reproofs.
Hear ye the word of the Lord: he bespeaks their attention to what he is about to speak, as unto the word of the Lord, telling them that he deliver’s God’s message, and vents not his own passions: the like Isaiah 1:10, and elsewhere frequently, both in the Old and New Testament, as 1 Corinthians 11:23 1 Thessalonians 4:15.
Jacob, i.e. his posterity; Jacob and Israel here being the same, as it is Isaiah 43:1. The families, viz. tribes, Jeremiah 31:1.
God having, as it were on his own behalf, shown how kind he had been, calls upon them to speak now, if they knew any thing of injury, either in breach of covenant or severity, that they can charge him with, that they have thus apostatized. See Poole "Isaiah 1:18"; See Poole "Isaiah 5:3": compare Micah 6:2-4. By this manner of speech his proceeding appears the more justifiable; he both makes their conviction the clearer, and the reproof the sharper.
Walked after vanity, viz. idols, showing their folly in going from God to such vain things as idols are, Deuteronomy 32:21 1 Samuel 12:20,21; and see on Isaiah 41:29; the abstract for the concrete, Ecclesiastes 1:2.
Become vain, viz. in following their imaginations; fools,
Romans 1:21,22, as senseless as the stocks and stones that they made their idols of, Psalms 115:8; and herein they are said to go far from God, and choose their delusions, Jonah 2:8.
Neither said, i.e. with themselves, thought not.
Brought us up: the expression may have some respect to the situation of the place, as lying lower than Canaan; but the design is to reprove their sloth and stupidity, charging herein their apostacy, not upon their ignorance, but wilfulness; their deliverance from Egypt, and therefore is it here mentioned, being such a deliverance as never greater was wrought for any people, wherein there was so much of his power and love seen; they never regarded the operations of his hands, never concerned themselves about what God had done for them, Jeremiah 2:8, which should have engaged them to a more close cleaving to him.
Through a land of deserts; desolate places, Jeremiah 1:13; and then what follows is to amplify the greatness of their dangers in the wilderness, and therein the greatness of their deliverance. And of pits; either those natural dangerous pits that were there; or put for the grave, where passengers are so often buried quick in the heaps of sand suddenly blown up by the wind; or threatening in every respect nothing but death, which may be implied in that expression of the
shadow of death in this verse, which may allude to several kinds or fears of death in passing through a wilderness. See in the Synopsis.
A land of drought, where they had no water but by miracle; the LXX. render it a land without water. The shadow of death: see on the word pits: the LXX. render it a land without fruit, bringing forth nothing that might have a tendency to the support of life, therefore nothing but death could be expected; and besides, it yielding so many venomous creatures, as scorpions, and serpents, &c., as also the many enemies that they went in continual danger of; all which could not but look formidable, and as the
shadow of death. That no man passed through, and where no man dwelt; as having in it no accommodation for travel, much less for habitation. In these respects may it well be called a waste howling wilderness, Deuteronomy 32:10.
Plentiful country, Heb.
land of Carmel, Isaiah 29:17; understand Canaan, Numbers 13:27: See Poole "Isaiah 35:2".
To eat the fruit thereof and the goodness; to enjoy all the blessing of it.
My land, i.e. consecrated to my name, Leviticus 25:23; and this you have defiled by going a whoring after your idols, Jeremiah 3:1, and many other abominations, Psalms 106:29,35,37-39.
Mine heritage; in the same sense that it is said in the foregoing clause my land, and which you received from me as your heritage, the place that I chose for my church’s present habitation, and earnest of their future heavenly one.
They that handle the law knew me not: q.d. They that should have taught others knew as little as they, or regarded as little to know, Hosea 4:6, who are said here to handle or teach the law, viz. the priests and Levites, who Were the ordinary teachers of the law; not that they did so, but that either they ought to do so, or pretended to do so. This was their office, Deuteronomy 33:10, and their practice, Nehemiah 8:8. The phrase is a metaphor taken from warriors, that are said tractare bellum, to handle their arms.
The pastors; either teachers, as instructors; or kings and princes, as conductors. See 1 Kings 22:17.
The prophets prophesied by Baal; they that should have taught the people the true worship of God were themselves worshippers of Baal, 1 Kings 18:22. Or, instead of fetching their oracles from me, saying,
Thus saith the Lord, they would say, Thus saith Baal; or they did make use of lesser deities (for so doth Baal or Baalim signify) in conjunction with God, persuading themselves they could honour God together with them, as the calves, 1 Kings 12:28.
Things that do not profit, viz. idols, a periphrasis, that were never able to do them any service, as Jeremiah 2:5,11. See Poole "Isaiah 44:10". Sure the state must be very bad, when priests, prophets, and people were thus corrupt.
I will yet plead with you: this is to be understood either really, by his judgments, Psalms 74:22, and that with great severities; or verbally, he will go on to deal with them, to convince them by his prophets, as he did with their fathers, that they may be left without excuse, Jeremiah 7:25,26.
With your children’s children; either for the heinousness of their fathers’ sins; for God doth often visit the iniquities of the parents upon their children, Exodus 20:5; or because they do imitate their parents.
The isles of Chittim; a synecdochical expression, extending to all isles in the Mediterranean Sea, or any other the neighbouring coasts; for the Hebrews call all people that are separated from them by the Mediterranean Sea islanders, because they come to them by shipping. See of Chittim, Isaiah 23:1.
Send unto Kedar; understand Arabia, that lay east-south-east of Judea, as Chittim did more north or north-west: q. d. Go from north to south, east to west, and make the experiment; look to Chittim, the most civilized, or Kedar, the most. barbarous, yet neither have changed their gods.
See if there be such a thing; not that they were to pass over locally, or send messengers thither actually; but, q.d. Cast your eyes thither, and make your observations; by what you have ever seen or heard, did you ever hear of such a prodigious thing? If you should either go or send, you will find it so.
Hath a nation changed their gods? q.d. No, they are unmovable and fixed to their idols, although they are false gods; what they receive from their fathers they tenaciously hold.
Their glory, viz. the true God, who was their glory; a metonymy of the adjunct, Psalms 106:20; and who always did them good, giving them cause to glory in him, and to make their boast of him.
For that which doth not profit; for those which never did or can do them good, that have no essence or power; but of whom they must necessarily be ashamed, as Jeremiah 2:26.
Be astonished, O ye heavens; angels, say some, but rather the visible heavenly bodies; a pathetical expression in a poetical prosopopoeia, as Deuteronomy 4:26 32:1, intimating that it is such a tiring that the very inanimate creatures, could they be sensible of it, would be astonished.
Be horribly afraid; the Hebrew imports as much as,
let your hair be lifted up; such a fright, as we usually say, makes our hair stand on end; such a trembling as some dreadful tempest doth sometimes cause in a man. Be ye very desolate; lose your brightness, lustre, and shining, as the sun, that heavenly body, seemed to do when Christ suffered, Matthew 27:45; or melting, the heinousness of such a thing, as it were, dissolving them.
Committed two evils, viz. remarkable ones, and with a witness.
Living waters; a metaphor taken from springs, called living here, and Genesis 26:19, and elsewhere, because they never cease or intermit; such had God’s care and kindness been over and to them; see on Isaiah 58:11; his Spirit continually proceeding from the Father and the Son to refresh their consciences. Compare John 4:10 7:38,39.
Cisterns: it is doubled, to show the multitude of their shifts; and
broken is added, to show the helplessness of them, as being able to hold no water; but when a man hath made many hard shifts to get water, he cannot keep it, but it dries away; or if it abide, proves unwholesome: by which understand either their
idols, which are empty, vain things, that never answer expectation; or the Assyrians and Egyptians, as Jeremiah 2:18, which proved but broken reeds, and as all other supports or props, friends, traditions, merits, &c. are that are trusted to besides God; they are but cisterns at the best, whose water will putrify, or broken, riven vessels, through which they will soak, and leave nothing but mud and dirt behind them.
Is Israel a servant? is he a home-born slave? did I ever account him so? or did I not rather always reckon him my first-born? so some, as Jeremiah 2:31. But it may better relate to his sad condition and abuses from others, as Jeremiah 49:1, which God or the prophet doth here inquire into; and slave is here rightly added to
home-born, ( though not in the text,) to express the baseness of his service, because the master had power to make those slaves who were born of slaves in his house; which argues his condition very low, whether he were thus born, or had been forced to sell himself to be a slave.
Why is he spoiled? He speaks either of the thing that is to be as if it were already done, because of the certainty of it, as of that devastation made by the Assyrians and Chaldeans, who afflicted the remnant of the Jews; or of that havoc that was made of them formerly by Sennacherib, the Assyrians, and Egyptians. Why is he thus tyrannized over, Isaiah 42:24, as if strangers had the same right over him as owners over their slaves? He removes here the false causes of Israel’s misery, that he may the more aggravate and set home the true, as Jeremiah 2:17,19. He was my son; if he now become a slave, he may thank himself:
The young lions; understand the Assyrians, Babylonians, and Egyptians, &c., called
lions from their fierceness, and young from their strength. See this Jeremiah 4:7 50:17.
Roared upon him, and yelled; noting the terrible voice that the lion puts forth, either in the seizing the prey, some say in sport, Lamentations 2:7; or the devouring it, Isaiah 5:29. A metaphor, noting the cruelty of the enemy, Psalms 74:4.
Burned without inhabitant, i.e. so consumed and wasted that they are uninhabitable, or shortly shall so consume and waste them. See Jeremiah 2:14.
Noph and Tahapanes; two of the king of Egypt’s principal seats. Concerning Noph, sometimes called Memphis, now Cairo, see on Isaiah 19:13. Concerning Tahapanes, see Ezekiel 30:18, probably taking its name from Tahpenes, queen of Egypt, 1 Kings 11:19; called also Hanes: See Poole "Isaiah 30:4". And the inhabitants and natives of these cities are called here their children, Isaiah 37:12. Broken the crown of thy head: they that take the Hebrew word in the notion of breaking understand this of destroying whatever is chief or principal among them, either of persons or things; wounds in the head being most dangerous. Or, defiling the chief of the land, either by their corporal adulteries, and so take the word under the notion of knowing, as Genesis 19:5; or spiritual, namely, idolatries, Jeremiah 44:17, or their cruel, tyrannical oppressions, trampling upon all their glory, expressed by riding over their heads, and that universally, in a most insulting manner. But the word may be better taken in the notion of feeding, as the word is used Jeremiah 3:15, i.e. they have fed upon her most fruitful and pleasant, the top and head of all her pastures, that lay in the southern borders towards Egypt; see Jeremiah 13:18-20; thus depriving them of all way of subsistence, Jeremiah 12:10. In short, they shall make havoc of all that is excellent in thee, Isaiah 28:4. The sum is, Thy league, O Judea, with Egypt against the Chaldeans will be the cause of thy total ruin. For the kings of Judah had not rebelled against the Babylonians, but to gratify the Egyptians, in expectation of help from them.
Hast thou not procured this unto thyself? here God by his prophet shows that they may thank themselves for all that is hastening upon them. See Numbers 32:23.
In that thou hast forsaken the Lord: here he shows wherein, viz. in forsaking God: not that he left them, but they him, and that without any temptation or provocation; and therefore were the more inexcusable.
When he led thee by the way, viz. by the conduct of his providence in the wilderness, keeping thee in safety from all dangers, Exodus 13:21,22 Isa 63:12,13; or in the way of his counsels, which the ways of their own carnal wisdom were so opposite unto.
What hast thou to do in the way of Egypt? what business hast thou there? or what dost thou expect from thence? or what need hast thou to go or send messengers thither, if thou wouldst but keep close to me?
Sihor, viz. Nilus; it signifies black, from whence called Melas by the Greeks, either from the blackness of the land it passed through, or of the soil it casteth up. See on Isaiah 23:3.
To drink the waters: here, and by the same words before, is meant, to seek help from either place, noting their strength, Isaiah 8:6. A metaphorical allegory, wherein God minds them of two of their broken cisterns, and shows them their folly to go so far when they might have been better supplied nearer home; as if God were not able to help them. Compare Jeremiah 2:36. The river, i.e. Euphrates, often called so by way of eminency; the chief river of Assyria, Isaiah 7:20.
Thine own wickedness shall correct thee: the meaning is either,
1. There need no further evidence against thee than thine own evil courses, Hosea 5:5. Or rather, might correct thee, i.e. one would think should be sufficient to reclaim thee: see Hosea 2:7. Or,
2. Thy own wickedness is the cause of thy correction. Or,
3. Thy wickedness will be an evidence that whatever thou sufferest is just.
Thy backslidings shall reprove thee; the same with the former, but in other words, after the manner of the Hebrews, or a metonymy of the effect for the cause; Thou wilt not be persuaded fill thou come to suffer, thou wilt not be instructed until corrected: or rather, as before, Thy many backslidings might teach thee more wisdom, and convince thee of thy folly: so doth the word reprove signify, Job 6 25.
Know, i.e. call to mind thy experiences, and consider well with thyself, and thou canst not but be convinced of those things, what forsaking of God hath cost thee.
An evil thing and bitter, viz. of punishment principally; so Isaiah 45:7; though it be true also of sin: therefore he calls it bitter, because the effect of it will be so; it will be unpleasing and bitterness in the latter end.
The Lord thy God, i.e. me.
My fear is not in thee; or, the fear of me; or, thou hast not my fear in thee; this being the ground of all thy sin and suffering, Psalms 36:1 Romans 3:16,18.
Of old time I have broken thy yoke, i.e. the bondage and tyranny that thou wert under in old time in Egypt, as also divers times besides, as appears through the Book of Judges. The Hebrew elam, that signifies everlasting, is sometimes used for a long time to come, and also for a long time past; so here, and Genesis 6:4 Isaiah 57:11.
And burst thy bands; a double allusion, either to the bands and fetters with which prisoners are wont to be bound, Jeremiah 40:4, or those bands wherewith the ends of the yoke of beasts were wont to be bound. See Poole "Isaiah 58:6".
Thou saidst, I will not transgress; when the deliverance was fresh, thou didst put on good resolutions. Heb.
serve, i.e. serve or worship idols: the word is of the feminine gender, because God speaks of his people as of a woman promising faithfulness, but breaking covenant. Some understand thee; I will not serve time, q.d. which thou madest appear,
when upon every hill, & c. And thus he accuseth them of their ingratitude, who owed themselves to their Redeemer. But this doth not so well agree with their engagement, Exodus 19:8. When; or, notwithstanding all thy promises.
Upon every high hill: idolaters were wont to sacrifice upon the tops of high hills, because there they thought themselves nearer heaven; nay, some have esteemed high hills to be gods, as the Indians of Peru at this day.
Under every green tree: under these shades idolaters thought there lay some hidden deity, with which they conversed.
Thou wanderest, viz. changing thy way to gad after idols, as one that hast broken covenant. See on Isaiah 57:8. The word properly signifies to go from one’s place, as harlots use to do, instigated either by unbridled lust, or covetousness; i.e. making great haste from one tree to another, or from one idol to another. See Jeremiah 2:23,24. Others, thou liest down, or, thou settest thyself.
Playing the harlot; committing idolatry, which is a spiritual harlotry, Jeremiah 3:1,2. This is frequent. Some read the former part of the text otherwise, making it the daring boast of the people, Thou hast said, I have broken, &c. and saidst, I will not serve, i.e. I will not obey. But this will not suit well with the rest of the text.
A noble vine; a usual metaphor for the church, Psalms 80:8,9, &c. See Poole "Isaiah 5:1". The Hebrew is Sorek, and may refer to the place or to the plant. With reference to the place, it may be taken either for a proper name, as Carmel for any fruitful place; so here noting either the place whence, viz. a vine of the same kind with those that come from Sorek; possibly that country where Samson saw Delilah, Jude 16:4: or, the place where planted, viz. in a fruitful land, Exodus 15:17. See Poole "Isaiah 1:2". If it be referred to the plant, then it points at the excellency of its kind; and this the next clause seems to favour: and thus it notes both God’s care; he had as great a care of it as of the choicest plant; see on Isaiah 27:2,3; and also his expectation, that it should prove so, Isaiah 5:4. And the sense is, I planted thee, that thou shouldst bring forth choice fruit to me.
A right seed; a right seed of true believers, as ill the days of the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Or supposing with to be understood before right seed, (as it often is in the Hebrew,) we may understand it of the ordinances of his church, which are said to be the plants or seed that God furnisheth it withal, Matthew 13:24; and these are called right, Nehemiah 9:13, not false or counterfeit.
The degenerate plant: though there be only degenerate or declining in the Hebrew text, yet the supplement is necessary in regard of the metaphor.
Strange: this must here be taken in a bad sense, as the word
degenerate going before intimates, though it be sometimes for what is rare and excellent: here it notes their apostacy and infidelity, and other wickednesses, where God speaks after the manner of man, both in a way of wonder and reproof.
Though interpreters do greatly vary. in describing what is particularly meant here by
nitre and soap, and it would be superfluous to mention here; yet all agree they are some materials that artists make use of for the cleansing away spots from the skin, clothes, or other things; and the sense is plain, that the blot of his people is by no art to be taken out: it cannot be covered by excuses; Though thou wouldst dissemble thy idolatries, thou canst not deceive me: nor expiated by sacrifices; it is beyond the power of all superstitious or religious washings to cleanse away, which may be understood by these natural and artificial ways of cleansing.
Thine iniquity is marked: the meaning seems to be either, Thy filthiness is so foul that it leaves a brand behind it that cannot be hid or washed out, but will abide: see Jeremiah 17:1. Or, according to another acceptation of the word,
it is laid up with God. See the like Deuteronomy 32:34 Hosea 13:12. Purge thee, wash thee, do what thou wilt, thou canst by no means conceal thy wickedness from me, Job 9:20. They that would see greater variety of interpretations, let them consult the Synopsis.
How canst thou say? with what face canst thou go about to excuse thyself, or deny what is so evident, and so truly charged upon thee? Jeremiah 2:20.
I have not gone after Baalim: the word is plural, as comprehensive of all their idols, Hosea 11:2, and is a name usually given to several of them, as Baal-zebub, 2 Kings 1:16, and Baal-peor, Numbers 25:3, and therefore their worshipping of many. Because they had the temple and sacrifices, &c., they still persuaded themselves that they worshipped the true God, though they joined their idolatries with it; as the papists though they make use of idols in worship, yet would not be accounted idolaters.
Thy way; the filthiness thou hast left behind thee, whereby thou mayst be traced, where thou leftest, as it were, thy footsteps, and monuments of thy frequent idolatries.
Thy way in the valley; thy frequent course in the valleys, whether of Hinnom, where they burnt their children’s bones in sacrifice, Jeremiah 7:31, or in any valleys where thou hast been frequent in thy idolatries; it seems to be thus largely taken.
Know what thou hast done; look on and consider thy ways, as Jeremiah 2:19.
Thou art a swift dromedary; or, thou art as, &c.; or, O dromedary, a beast much used by carriers in Arabia, being rife there. See on Isaiah 60:6.
Traversing; a metaphor taken from creatures that are hunted, that keep no direct path; alluding to the nature of the she dromedary, which in gendering time runs capering this way, and crossing that way, making many vagaries to find out sometimes one male, sometimes another, without any rule or order; setting forth hereby the disposition of this people, that were so mad upon their idols, that they ran sometimes after this, and sometimes after that, called wandering, Jeremiah 2:20, and that with great eagerness, fitly termed traversing, much like the description of a whore, Proverbs 7:11,12; the word being no where found but here, and being derived from a word that signifies a shoe-latchet, If any be curious, let the learned consult Synop. Critic., and the English reader the English Annotations on the place.
A wild ass; or, O wild ass; another similitude for the more lively description of the same thing; neither need we be solicitous about the variety or extravagancies of conjectures about this beast; or you may consult as before. It is said to be wild and untamed, as being
used to the wilderness doth also imply; and as to satisfying its lust, much of the nature of the other.
That snuffeth up the wind: this snuffing properly appertains to the sense of smelling, by which certain creatures, by a natural sagacity, find out what they miss, which huntsmen express by a proper term of
winding, or having in the wind; and thus it is understood here; for this creature, by the wind; smells afar off which way her male is; for there is another sense of
snuffing up the wind, viz. for the service of health, as allaying inward heat and drought, &c., Jeremiah 14:6.
At her pleasure; as her desire or lust serves when it runs out after the male; implying also that no choice, or judgment, or measure is observed in these beasts, when carried out after their lusts.
In her occasion who can turn her away? i.e. when she is set upon it, and hath an occasion and opportunity to run impetuously to her male for the satisfying her pleasure, she bears down all opposition before her; there is none can stop or put a bridle upon her raging lust.
Will not weary themselves, i.e. either they need not weary themselves; (speaking of Jerusalem, to which all the rest also is to be applied as in an allegory;) they that have a mind to be filthy with her may easily trace her, Jeremiah 2:23, she refuges none: or rather, they will not bestow their labour in vain, when she is hot upon her lust, but let her take her course until she be satisfied, and wait their time and opportunity; and this agrees with the next words.
In her month they shall find her: if this relate to the former sense of not wearying themselves, it notes her impudence and unsatiableness; you may have her at any time, even in her months or new moons, a season wherein such acts are abhorrent even to nature itself. Some understand this of the idolatry they committed every new moon; but it more properly points at the month of her breeding, or growing big and weighty; month put collectively for months, such as Job speaks of, Job 39:1,2. Or, in her last month, because they grow then unwieldy. That this creature sleeps one month in the year, and that is the month she may be taken, is generally deemed but a fancy. The sense of the verse is, that though Jerusalem be now madly bent upon going after her idols, and other unclean courses, that there is no stopping or controlling of her, as in the next verse, and Jeremiah 2:31 22:21; yet the time may come, in their afflictions, that they may grow more tame, and willing to receive counsel, as Jeremiah 2:27, and Hosea 5:15.
Withhold thy foot from being unshod; good counsel given them by the prophet to tarry at home; either that they do not go a gadding after their spiritual or corporal adulteries, or seek foreign aids, thereby to wear out their shoes; a metonymy of the effect, Joshua 9:13: or, that thou put not off thy shoes to go into the bed of lust, or uncover thy feet; a modest Hebrew expression, as also of other languages, for
exposing thy nakedness, Ezekiel 16:25: or, take not those courses that will reduce thee to poverty, to go bare-foot, and bare-legged, and to want wherewith to quench thy thirst, as in the next clause, Pr 6 26 Isa 20:2,4. See Isaiah 5:13. There is no hope: she seems to return a cross answer, the word pointing at somewhat that is desperate, Ecclesiastes 2:20. It either expresseth the desperateness of their condition: q.d. We are as bad as we can be, and there is no hope that God should receive us into favour. Or, else by way of interrogation, Is there no hope? May we not hold on still, and prosper? Must we desist from our ways? No, we will not; but we will go after other gods, and they shall defend us, Isaiah 57:10 Jeremiah 18:12. Or the desperateness of their resolution upon it: q.d. We care not since there is no remedy; you lose your labour to go about to reclaim us; which agrees with the next clause. Strangers, viz. idols, or strange gods.
After them will I go, come what will of it.
Ashamed when he is found; not ashamed of his sin of theft, but that he is found, that his shifts and blinds would serve him no longer, especially if he have had the reputation of an honest man.
The house of Israel; or families, the twelve tribes; a metonymy of the subject.
Ashamed; or, confounded, in the passive voice; viz. when they shall be taken by Nebuchadnezzar, then their idols, which they went a whoring after, shall be discovered, and so put them to shame: in the active voice, their inability to help them, Jeremiah 2:28 Isaiah 1:29 Hosea 4:19; and their shame will be the more, because they had the repute of being my people.
Their kings, their princes, and their priests, and their prophets; rulers and teachers, such as should have given better examples, and better instruction.
A stone; idol; a metonymy of the matter, because idols are made of these materials, Daniel 5:4.
Brought me forth; or, begotten me; so is the word used, Genesis 4:18. This notes the sottish stupidity of this people, to take a lifeless stock or stone to be their maker, and to give the honour of God unto them, Isaiah 44:17. They that make them are like unto them, as senseless as they, Psalms 115:8.
They have turned their back unto me, and not their face; they turn their faces wholly towards their idols: it notes the openness of their apostacy, Jeremiah 7:24.
Arise, and save us; the usual language of God’s children in distress, Psalms 3:7, and often elsewhere; then they found the vanity of their idols, and their own folly in relying on them, that cannot help or save, and rejecting me, Jeremiah 2:31, then they will come to me, Jude 10:10 Hosea 5:15; the same thing with finding her in her month, Jeremiah 2:24; herein abusing God’s gentleness, making him their necessity, not their choice.
Thy gods; thy idols, viz. gods of thy own making; what do they do for thee? Isaiah 31:3.
Let them arise: either by way of challenge, let them produce their idols now, to help them, if they can, whom they call their fathers and their makers; or by way of scoff, as Elijah to Baal’s priests: see Jude 10:14. Besides, in this word arise there is an insinuation of their lifelessness and deadness, Isaiah 46:7 Jeremiah 10:15. And further, there may be a secret reply couched in it: q.d. In your trouble you will say to me, Arise, save us; now say so to them, and see if they can arise, and save you.
According to the number of thy cities are thy gods: q.d. Thou hast them near to thee, and enough of them, imitating the heathens, who had according to Varro above thirty thousand deities; no marvel if I, who am but one, be slighted, when thou hast in every city at least one, 2 Kings 17:29-31, and in Jerusalem one in every street, Jeremiah 11:13. It is a hard case if none nor all these thy tutelar gods can help thee: see Deuteronomy 32:37-39. Make trial if any, or all of them together, can help thee.
Wherefore will ye plead with me? ye all: q.d. You are all at my mercy, why will you contend? all this that I charge you with is clear and evident, and all makes against you, Jeremiah 2:23,34. Wherefore do you expostulate, and put me to my proofs? This they were good at, Jeremiah 16:10. There is nothing that you can justly reply, Jeremiah 2:19.
Ye all have transgressed against me, i.e. some of all sorts; there is not any one sort of you innocent.
Your children; either your posterity, that you breed up like yourselves; or rather, your inhabitants in every city, they being frequently called the children of such a city, or such a place: children of Seir, 2 Chronicles 25:14, children, of the province, Ezra 2:1, and children of thy people, Leviticus 19:18, and abundance more the like; and thus it is comprehensive both of parents and children.
Correction, i.e. The fruit of correction, viz. instruction. The same word is rendered correction, Proverbs 23:13, which signifies instruction, Proverbs 5:12, and in other places; and so to be taken here: it notes their refractoriness, that though they were corrected, yet they would not be instructed; though God did smite them, yet the rod prevailed as little with them as the word.
Your own sword hath devoured your prophets; either the sword that I have sent to destroy you hath destroyed your false prophets together with you, Hosea 4:5, and so it is both a prophecy and a threatening; or rather, you have been so far from receiving counsel and instruction, that you have, by the sword, and other ways of destruction, (which is to be understood by the sword,) murdered those that I sent to reprove your follies in the days of Asa, Joash, Manasseh, &c., Nehemiah 9:26. See Matthew 23:34,35.
Devoured; or, eaten up; a metaphor. Hence we read of the edge of the sword, which both in Hebrew and Greek is called the mouth of the sword, Jeremiah 21:7 Luke 21:24. Like a destroying lion; without respect or pity; with all manner of savage usage; see Psalms 7:2; laying aside all humanity.
O generation; or, O ye men of this generation, a note of admiration; or rather, O generation, a note of compellation: it is to you I speak,
see ye the word of the Lord, i.e. look well to it, consider it; as the rod is to teach, and therefore ought to be heard, Micah 6:9, so the word is to be considered of, and therefore ought to be looked into, Jeremiah 2:19. He speaketh here not so much of the doctrine of the word as of the thing itself: q.d. You shall see the thing with your eyes, because you give the doctrine the hearing only, as we use to say, i.e. your ears are shut against it.
Have I been a wilderness? here God challengeth them again to tell him what unkindness he had showed them, as before, Jeremiah 2:5. Have I been like the wilderness of Arabia? have not I accommodated you with all necessaries at all times? Deuteronomy 32:13,14 Eze 34:13-15; nay, in the wilderness itself I was not a wilderness unto you: an account whereof Nehemiah gives, Nehemiah 9:15-23. And you have the story of it Psa 78.
A land of darkness: divers interpreters derive this word from a different root, and accordingly render the sense variously. Some from a root that signifies to fade or fall, as a land where fruits fall off before they be ripe, bringing nothing to perfection; and so Tremelius and Junius translate it, Isaiah 28:1,4: q.d. Have you found me to fail your expectations in any thing that I have promised you? Joshua 21:45 23:14. Others derive it from a word that signifies late, as a land that brings forth its fruit late in the year, which either ripeneth not, or ripeneth unkindly: q.d. Have you found me backward in any thing to do you good? have I not fed you to the full? Others from darkness, properly thick darkness, Exodus 10:22 Joel 2:2. And it is the more significant, because Jah, the name of God, is added to it; q.d. the darkness of God; as a sleep of God, for a deep sleep, 1 Samuel 26:12; flame of God, for a vehement flame, Song of Solomon 8:6; as if it were a land uninhabitable, because of the total want of light: q.d. Have I been a God of no use or comfort to them, that they thus leave me? Have they had nothing from me but misery and affliction? as this notion of darkness may import, Isaiah 8:22 Lamentations 3:2. Hence the LXX. express it by a land bringing forth thorns. Or this expression, a land of darkness, may be put by apposition to the former.
Say, i.e. in their heart.
We are lords; words of pride and boasting: God had endeavoured to make them sensible that all their happiness they owed to him, and now, q.d. you rule as lords without us; see 1 Corinthians 4:8; now you cast me off: or rather, We are well enough established in our government by foreign aids, and compacts with the Egyptians, and Assyrians, &c., and have rulers of our own; we have no such great need of thee. Hence the LXX. render it in the passive voice, We will not be ruled; which agrees with the text words of the verse, Deuteronomy 32:15,16. Something of this appeared in Uzziah, 2 Chronicles 26:15,16, and Hezekiah, 2 Chronicles 32:25; neither was David wholly clear, Psalms 30:6.
Can a maid forget her ornaments? how seldom is it, and how unlikely, that a maid should forget her ornaments!
Or a bride her attire? whether it belongs to the head, or the breast, or arms, whether bracelets or jewels, wherever worn, is not worth the disputing; but understand those rich jewels which the bridegroom was wont to present his bride with, partly for a general obligation, and partly of particular signification, and all of them ornamental, whatever may render her amiable in the eyes of her bridegroom; virgins, and especially brides, will not usually neglect any thing that may make them comely.
Have forgotten me, viz. in the neglect of my worship; me, who was not only their defence, but their glory, Jeremiah 2:11, &c., that for which other nations honoured them, Psalms 148:14 Ezekiel 16:10-14.
Days without number, i.e. for a long time past, time out of mind, or, as the Hebrew, days of which there is no number.
Why trimmest, or deckest, Ezekiel 23:40, thinking thereby to entice others to thy help? thus is the word used, Jeremiah 4:30. Or, Why dost thou use so much art and skill, and take so much pains, to go and send here and there to contract a friendship with foreign people, and to bring them to thy embraces, Isaiah 57:9,10, or thinking to set a good face or gloss upon the matter, and excuse thyself, as if thou couldst delude God, whereas all thou dost is to get acquaintance with other idolaters?
To seek love, i.e. to commit filthiness with thy idols; a synecdoche of the kind.
Therefore hast thou also taught the wicked ones, i.e. thou art become so vile, that even strumpets themselves may come to learn of thee, 2 Chronicles 33:9. Or by thy example; nations that have been vile enough of themselves, by thy example are become more vile.
Thy ways, i.e. thy actions; a metaphor.
In thy skirts, viz. of thy garments; a synecdoche of the kind; the tokens of thy cruelty may be seen openly there: or, in thy hands, as the LXX.: or a metaphor from birds of rapine, whose wings are bloody with their prey; but not so well. Is found the blood of the souls of the poor innocents, i.e. in thee is found the murders expressed here by blood of innocent persons, meant here by souls, comprising both their sacrificing of their little children to their idols, Psalms 106:37,38 Eze 16:20,21,36, murdering souls as well as bodies; and also all those cruelties, oppressions, and murders that they executed upon poor innocent persons, which were not a few in what Manasseh did, 2 Kings 21:16 Ezekiel 7:23 9:9, and in special the prophets, Jeremiah 2:30, that came in God’s name to reclaim them; which notes their desperate malice as well as cruelty, to slay their physicians.
By secret search, Heb. by digging; as if the earth had covered the blood, or as if they had committed their wickedness in some obscure places.
But upon all these; upon thy garments openly enough, as exposed to public view. There needs no such strict scrutiny to be made.
Yet thou sayest; or interrogatively, Darest thou say? hast thou the impudence to affirm it?
Innocent; clear of this whole charge. Shall turn; shall not break out against me, Isaiah 5:25.
I will plead with thee; I will proceed in my judgment against thee, Jeremiah 2:9 Jeremiah 25:31. Or it is a soft expression, wherein he shows that he will not act like a tyrant, carried on rashly and furiously; but as a judge, regularly and righteously, Ezekiel 20:35; and it shows that he will convince her.
Because thou sayest, I have not sinned; because thou dost justify thyself, as if I had no cause to be angry with thee. God is not angry with her so much because she hath sinned, as because she will not acknowledge her sin.
Thy way, i.e. thy actions; a metaphor. See Poole "Jeremiah 2:33". Why dost thou shuffle thus with me, to seek auxiliaries any where, rather than to cleave to me, Jeremiah 2:18; See Poole "Isaiah 52:9", See Poole "Isaiah 52:10". Or, like strumpets, whose love is never fixed, but sometimes set on one, sometimes on another.
Thou also shalt be ashamed of Egypt: thou hast run to Assyria, and then to Egypt, and they shall both make thee ashamed by their disappointing of thee; thou shalt be ashamed of Egypt, as others have been, Isaiah 36:6. Or rather, Egypt shall stand thee in no more stead than Assyria hath done, Isaiah 30:3,5. And how Tilgath-pilneser served them, see 2 Chronicles 28:20. Before Hezekiah’s time the Jews made a league with the Assyrians against the Syrians and the Israelites, and then against the Egyptians; neither prospered. He tells them they must expect no better success from Egypt.
Thou shalt go forth from him: some apply it to the sad and ineffectual return of the ambassadors, being disappointed in their expectation from the king of Egypt; but rather, All the help thou canst procure from abroad shall not prevent thy captivity, but from hence thou shalt go.
Thine hands upon thine head; a usual posture of sadness and mourning, 2 Samuel 13:19, suited here to her going into captivity.
Rejected thy confidences; refused to give success unto them, 2 Chronicles 16:7. Or, rejected thee for thy confidences; or, he disapproves thy confidences, viz. all thy refuges which thou seekest out of God.
Thou shalt not prosper in them, viz. in thy refuges and dependencies.
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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Jeremiah 2". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://beta.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 21 / Ordinary 26