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Bible Commentaries
Jeremiah 2

Garner-Howes Baptist CommentaryGarner-Howes

Verses 1-13




Chapter One was, basically, a dialogue between Jeremiah and the Lord concerning his call to the prophetic office.

In Chapter Two it is obvious that God sends forth His message immediately - not merely with information, but with a call for action in the name of the Lord. The oracles recorded In chapters 2-6 are almost universally recognized as having been delivered during the reign of King Josiah - thus, representing the earliest prophetic messages of Jeremiah.


1. At the command of Jehovah (the covenant God of Israel) Jeremiah is sent to "cry in the ears of Jerusalem," (vs. 1-3).

a. He remembers, with fondness, what the nation once was -the kindness ("hesed," implying "covenant fidelity") of her youth (comp. Ezekiel 16:8); the love that she manifested in response to Jehovah’s wooing, when she was first pledged to Him; and her readiness to follow Him into the wilderness where she fully trusted Him for the supply of every need, (Deuteronomy 2:7; Isaiah 63:7-14).

b. As in Hosea, God reminds His people that their spiritual relationship to Him is as intimate as that of marriage, (comp. Hosea 2:2; Hosea 4:12; Hosea 5:7; Hosea 7:13; Ezekiel 16:8-13; Ezekiel 16:30-32; Ezekiel 23:1-7; Ezekiel 23:11-21).

c. Israel was regarded as "holiness to the Lord," -sacred, clean, separated and devoted to Jehovah as the firstfruits (the most precious portion) of His harvest, (Exodus 19:5-6; Numbers 18:12; Deuteronomy 7:6; Deuteronomy 14:2; comp. Leviticus 23:10-14; Leviticus 23:17; Deuteronomy 26:1-11; James 1:18).

d. And whoever set himself against the holy people made himself the enemy of Jehovah and the object of His judgment! (Comp. Jeremiah 30:16; Isaiah 41:11).

2. Now, however, the covenant-people have forsaken their God! and He wants to know WHY! (vs. 4-5).

a. It is significant that He here addresses the faithless nation as "House of Israel" (those who are "God-ruled").

b. Of what can they possibly accuse God in vindication of their appalling infidelity - manifested in abandoning Him to walk after such futility as has left them empty and deluded? (Isaiah 5:4; Micah 6:3; Jeremiah 8:19; 2 Kings 17:15-17). This is the challenge of wounded love, conscious fidelity and absolute integrity to His covenant!

3. Judah has not even INQUIRED after Him Who so marvelously delivered Israel from Egypt and miraculously guided, sustained and preserved her through a waste and howling desert, (vs. 6-7; Exodus 20:2; Deuteronomy 8:12-15; Deuteronomy 32:9-12).

a. How faithful was Jehovah in bringing the covenant-nation into the Land of Promise - a land of abundant fruitfulness! (Deuteronomy 8:7-8; Deuteronomy 11:10-12).

b. But, they soon defiled the land - making His inheritance an abomination! (Jeremiah 3:2; Jeremiah 16:18; Psalms 106:34-40).

4. The most despicable thing about this defection is that it was promoted by their spiritual leaders, (vs. 8).

a. By priests who no longer inquired after Jehovah, (comp. Jeremiah 10:21);

b. By teachers who did not know the Lord, (Jeremiah 4:22);

c. By shepherds (rulers) who rebelled against God, (comp. Ezekiel 34); and

d. By prophets who prophesied by Baall (Jeremiah 23:13; 1 Kings 18:18-21) - all of them pursuing things that were OF NO VALUE! (comp. Jeremiah 16:19-21; Habakkuk 2:18; Isaiah 42:17; Isaiah 44:9).

e. Spiritual leaders who have lost sight of God, and the power of His guiding presence in their lives, forebode terrible darkness and danger for any nation!

5. But, God is not ready to abandon the people of the covenant - those upon whom He has lavished His love; He will state His case against their senseless folly, (vs. 9-11).

a. He challenges them to diligently consider whether the heathen nations round about them have ever acted in such a way -those who have fashioned gods to harmonize with their own lusts.

b. Who ever heard of a nation abandoning the gods of its own choosing?

c. But Judah had forsaken her "glory" - the true, faithful and living God Who has lovingly sustained her through all her history -for graven images (literally, "for Lord Useless"-a pun on Baal) that can do NOTHING for her!

6. Thus, God calls the leaders of Judah (the "heavens," the high and mighty) to astonishment, fear and desolation in view of His unveiling of their TRUE spiritual condition! (vs. 12-13; comp. Micah 6:1).

a. The nation ("my people," says the Lord) has forsaken Him Who is the never-failing "fountain of living waters" - her ONLY source of life and sustenance!

b. In His place they have turned to dumb idols - hewing out for themselves "broken cisterns" that cannot give or hold water.

c. Selfish, forgetful, unthankful and sinful, they must be disciplined; the very holiness of God requires it! (comp. Amos 3:1-3).

Verses 14-19


1. In ancient times a person could become a slave: 1) through defeat in battle, 2) by purchase, 3) by indebtedness or, 4) by being born of slave-parents; but none of this covers Israel’s situation, (vs.14-17).

a. He has become a prey to "young lions" whose voices have been lifted against him - laying his land waste, and burning his cities with fire, (vs. 15; comp. Jeremiah 4:7).

b. The Egyptians also have broken (or, "fed on") the crown of his head, (vs. 16; comp. Jeremiah 48:45); Noph and Tahapanes recall an earlier humiliation of the covenant-nation before Egypt.

c. The present servitude is a self-inflicted bondage - brought on by a deliberate forsaking of the Lord and the way wherein He leads; when men forsake His "way" they must not expect the fellowship of His presence, or the protection of His mighty hand, (Vs. 17; Jeremiah 4:18; comp. Deuteronomy 32:10).

2. Repudiating the way (and counsel) of the Lord, the people of God have committed themselves to "the way" of Egypt and Assyria - a deliberate, willfulness that has led to their humiliation and shame, (vs. 18-19).

a. What suicidal folly to distrust and reject the life-giving fountain, which flows from the Rock of Ages, while drinking from the dark waters of the Sihor and the treacherous waters of the Euphratesl (vs. 18).

b. By commitment to a life of wicked rebellion and backsliding, the people of the covenant (Exodus 20) have brought upon themselves the certainty of divine discipline and judgment -designed to turn back their hearts to Jehovah, their God, (vs. 19; Jeremiah 4:18; Isaiah 3:9; Jeremiah 5:23-25).

1) Sin always carries with it the seed of judgment.

2) The ancient warning, given to Israel, is still applicable today: "Be sure your sin will find you out!" (Numbers 32:23).

Verses 20-28


1. Spotlighting the atrociousness of Judah’s sin, Jeremiah employs six figures to illustrate her infidelity to Jehovah, (vs. 20-25).

a. She is likened to an unyoked oxen, (vs. 20).

1) God broke the yoke of Egypt - liberating her from bondage there, (Leviticus 26:13);

2) In spite of His liberating grace, she has refused to serve Him, (Jeremiah 17:1-2; comp. Deuteronomy 12:1-3; Isaiah 57:5-8).

3) Like a harlot, she has, rather, enslaved herself to the fertility-deities of Canaan, (Isaiah 57:5-8).

b. Judah was a "sorek vine" - a red grape of excellent quality, (vs. 21; Exodus 15:17; Psalms 44:2; Psalms 80:8-11).

1) The divine husbandman planted His vineyard with the choicest of vines; He made them noble, (comp. Isaiah 5:1-7).

2) But Judah soon degenerated to such a state of wildness that she brought forth not fruit to the glory of God - only wild grapes! (Ezekiel 17:5-10).

c. Next, Judah is said to have an indelible stain; so deeply ingrained was her perversity before the Lord that it could not be scrubbed away with the strongest of soaps, (vs. 22-23a).

1) Of course, Judah denied having polluted herself by going after Baal -the fertility god of Canaan, (comp. Proverbs 30:12).

2) But one had only look to the valley (possibly that of Ben­Hinnom - just south of Jerusalem) to see where heathen rites were performed by Judah just prior to the days of Josiah, (Jeremiah 7:21; Jeremiah 9:13-14; 2 Kings 23:10).

d. Judah is then likened to a swift she-camel which, with no driver, runs here and there - with no sense of purpose, (vs. 24a; comp. vs. 33, 36; Jeremiah 31:22).

e. Like a wild she-ass, passionately controlled by the heat of physical lust, Judah is pictured as offering herself to ANY false deity, (vs. 24b; Jeremiah 14:6).

f. Completing the vicious circle, she is finally pictured as enslaved to her idols, (vs. 25).

1) Ironically, God warns them against chasing their idol­lovers until their shoes wear out and their throats are parched with thirst!

2) But, the reply He receives is that "It. is no use to try; I have loved strangers, and after them will I go!" (Jeremiah 18:12; Jeremiah 14:10; Deuteronomy 32:15-21).

3) Judah has turned her back to Jehovah (vs. 27b; comp. Jeremiah 18:17; Jeremiah 32:32-35).

2. The utter stupidity of idolatry is clearly set forth in verses 26­28, (compare Jeremiah 10:1-16).

a. As a thief is ashamed when caught in the act of his sin; so do the leaders of Judah (kings, princes, priests and prophets) blush when the spotlight of God’s word reveals the perversity of their foolish ways.

b. How ridiculous for men to bow before a "stock" or "stone" and say: "You are MY FATHER! You have begotten me!"

c. Yet, when trouble comes, they will inevitably cry out for Jehovah to: "Get up! Deliver us!" - assuming Him to be both obligated and glad to help them, immediately! (vs. 28; comp. Isaiah 26:16).

d. But, with a touch of sarcasm, the Lord suggests that they collect their dues from the many gods of their own making, and upon whom they have lavished their love; if these are truly gods, then let THEM meet the needs OF THEIR OWN DEVOTEES! (vs. 28; Jeremiah 11:12-13; comp. Deuteronomy 32:37-38; Isaiah 45:20).

Verses 29-37


1. Judah has no right to complain against Jehovah; SHE is the one who has defected! (vs. 29-30; Jeremiah 5:1; Jeremiah 6:13; Daniel 9:11-14).

a. God’s attempts to discipline her have proved fruitless, for she has refused to receive instruction! (vs. 30; Jeremiah 5:3; Jeremiah 7:28; comp. Isaiah 1:4-6).

b. As a destroying lion, the sword of Judah has destroyed her true prophets, (Jeremiah 26:20-24; Nehemiah 9:26; comp. 2 Kings 21:16; Matthew 23:37­-39).

2. Why will not this GENERATION hearken to the word of the Lord, (vs.31-32)?

a. Has He been to them as a desert? or a land of darkness -unable to meet their needs? (Isaiah 45:19).

b. Then, why do they insist on being "lords" - who will no longer permit the rule of Jehovah over their destinies? (comp. Judges 10:6-7).

c. Is it not as unnatural for Judah to forget her covenant­obligations as for a virgin to neglect her jewels? or a bride the attire which identifies her as married? (vs. 32; 3:21; Jeremiah 13:25-27; Isaiah 17:10; Hosea 8:14).

3. Then the Lord charges the nation with SPECIFIC sins, (vs. 33-­34).

a. So deliberately has she chatted her course to seek a "strange love" that she has taught the wicked new ways of sinning! (vs. 33).

b. In this reckless abandon she has covered her skirts with the innocent blood of those who opposed her, (vs. Jeremiah 34; Jeremiah 19:4-8).

4. Because of her contention that she is INNOCENT (and, thus, that Jehovah has no right to be angry with her), judgment is inevitable; the unrepentant heart can never rightfully expect God’s mercy! (vs. 35; Proverbs 28:13; comp. Jeremiah 25:30-31).

5. The unholy alliances Judah seeks with Egypt (instead of submitting herself to God) will prove futile, (vs. 36-37).

a. Egypt will be a shame to her - even as Assyria has been, (Jeremiah 37:7-8; Isaiah 30:1-3).

b. She will go away from Egypt with her "hands upon her head" -as Tamar went out from Ammon who had abused her, (vs. 37a; comp. 2 Samuel 13:19).

c. There is no prosperity for those who put their trust in what the Lord has rejected! (vs. 37b; Jeremiah 17:5-8; Jeremiah 37:7-10).

Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on Jeremiah 2". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghb/jeremiah-2.html. 1985.
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