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As a divorced woman who has become another man's wife cannot return to her first husband, so Judah, after it has turned away to other gods, will not be received again by Jahveh; especially since, in spite of all chastisement, it adheres to its evil ways. Jeremiah 3:1. " He saith, If a man put away his wife, and she go from him, and become another man's, can he return to her again? would not such a land be polluted? and thou hast whored with many partners; and wouldst thou return to me? saith Jahveh. Jeremiah 3:2. Lift up thine eyes unto the bare-topped hills and look, where hast thou not been lien with; on the ways thou sattest for them, like an Arab in the desert, and pollutedst the land by thy whoredoms and by thy wickedness. Jeremiah 3:3. And the showers were withheld, and the latter rain came not; but thou hadst the forehead of an harlot woman, wouldst not be ashamed. Jeremiah 3:4. Ay, and from this time forward thou criest to me, My father, the friend of my youth art thou. Jeremiah 3:5. Will he always bear a grudge and keep it up for ever? Behold, thou speakest thus and dost wickedness and carriest it out." This section is a continuation of the preceding discourse in Jer 2, and forms the conclusion of it. That this is so may be seen from the fact that a new discourse, introduced by a heading of its own, begins with Jeremiah 3:6. The substance of the fifth verse is further evidence in the same direction; for the rejection of Judah by God declared in that verse furnishes the suitable conclusion to the discourse in Jer 2, and briefly shows how the Lord will plead with the people that holds itself blameless (Jeremiah 2:35).
(Note: The contrary assertion of Ew. and Nägelsb. that these verses do not belong to what precedes, but constitute the beginning of the next discourse (Jer 3-6), rests upon an erroneous view of the train of thought in this discourse. And such meagre support as it obtains involves a violation of usage in interpreting ושׁוב as: yet turn again to me, and needs further the arbitrary critical assertion that the heading in Jeremiah 3:6: and Jahveh said to me in the days of Josiah, has been put by a copyist in the wrong place, and that it ought to stand before Jeremiah 3:1. - Nor is there any reason for the assumption of J. D. Mich. and Graf, that at Jeremiah 3:1 the text has been mutilated, and that by an oversight ויהי has dropped out; and this assumption also contradicts the fact that Jeremiah 3:1-5 can neither contain nor begin any new prophetic utterance.)
But it is somewhat singular to find the connection made by means of לאמר , which is not translated by the lxx or Syr., and is expressed by Jerome by vulgo dicitur . Ros. would make it, after Rashi, possem dicere , Rashi's opinion being that it stands for ישׁ לי לימר . In this shape the assumption can hardly be justified. It might be more readily supposed that the infinitive stood in the sense: it is to be said, one may say, it must be affirmed; but there is against this the objection that this use of the infinitive is never found at the beginning of a new train of thought. The only alternative is with Maur. and Hitz. to join לאמר with what precedes, and to make it dependent on the verb מאס in Jeremiah 2:37: Jahveh hath rejected those in whom thou trustest, so that thou shalt not prosper with them; for He says: As a wife, after she has been put away from her husband and has been joined to another, cannot be taken back again by her first husband, so art thou thrust away for thy whoredom. The rejection of Judah by God is not, indeed, declared expressis verbis in Jeremiah 3:1-5, but is clearly enough contained there in substance. Besides, "the rejection of the people's sureties (Jeremiah 2:37) involves that of the people too" (Hitz.). לאמר , indeed, is not universally used after verbis dicendi alone, but frequently stands after very various antecedent verbs, in which case it must be very variously expressed in English; e.g., in Joshua 22:11 it comes after ישׁמעוּ , they heard: as follows, or these words; in 2 Samuel 3:12 we have it twice, once after the words, he sent messengers to David to say, i.e., and cause them say to him, a second time in the sense of namely; in 1 Samuel 27:11 with the force of: for he said or thought. It is used here in a manner analogous to this: he announces to thee, makes known to thee. - The comparison with the divorced wife is suggested by the law in Deuteronomy 24:1-4. Here it is forbidden that a man shall take in marriage again his divorced wife after she has been married to another, even although she has been separated from her second husband, or even in the case of the death of the latter; and re-marriage of this kind is called an abomination before the Lord, a thing that makes the land sinful. The question, May he yet return to her? corresponds to the words of the law: her husband may not again ( לשׁוּב ) take her to be his wife. The making of the land sinful is put by Jer. in stronger words: this land is polluted; making in this an allusion to Leviticus 18:25, Leviticus 18:27, where it is said of similar sins of the flesh that they pollute the land.
With "and thou hast whored" comes the application of this law to the people that had by its idolatry broken its marriage vows to its God. זנה is construed with the accus. as in Ezekiel 16:28. רעים , comrades in the sense of paramours; cf. Hosea 3:1. רבּים , inasmuch as Israel or Judah had intrigued with the gods of many nations. ושׁוב אלי .snoi is infin. abs ., and the clause is to be taken as a question: and is it to be supposed that thou mayest return to me? The question is marked only by the accent; cf. Ew. §328, a, and Gesen. §131, 4, b. Syr., Targ., Jerome, etc. have taken ושׁוב as imperative: return again to me; but wrongly, since the continuity is destroyed. This argument is not answered by taking ו copul. adversatively with the sig. yet: it is on the contrary strengthened by this arbitrary interpretation. The call to return to God is incompatible with the reference in Jeremiah 3:2 to the idolatry which is set before the eyes of the people to show it that God has cause to be wroth. "Look but to the bare-topped hills." שׁפים , bald hills and mountains (cf. Isaiah 41:18), were favoured spots for idolatrous worship; cf. Hosea 4:13. When hast not thou let thyself be ravished? i.e., on all sides. For שׁגּלתּ the Masoretes have here and everywhere substituted שׁכּבתּ , see Deuteronomy 28:30; Zechariah 14:2, etc. The word is here used for spiritual ravishment by idolatry; here represented as spiritual fornication. Upon the roads thou sattest, like a prostitute, to entice the passers-by; cf. Genesis 38:14; Proverbs 7:12. This figure corresponds in actual fact to the erection of idolatrous altars at the corners of the streets and at the gates: 2 Kings 23:8; Ezekiel 16:25. Like an Arab in the desert, i.e., a Bedouin, who lies in wait for travellers, to plunder them. The Bedouins were known to the ancients, cf. Diod. Sic. 2:48, Plin. Hist. Nat. vi. 28, precisely as they are represented to this day by travellers. - By this idolatrous course Israel desecrated the land. The plural form of the suffix with the singular זנוּת is to be explained by the resemblance borne both in sound and meaning (an abstract) by the termination וּת to the plural ות ; cf. Jeremiah 3:8, Zephaniah 3:20, and Ew. §259, b. רעתך refers to the moral enormities bound up with idolatry, e.g., the shedding of innocent blood, Jeremiah 2:30, Jeremiah 2:35. The shedding of blood is represented as defilement of the land in Numbers 35:33.
But the idolatrous race was not to be brought to reflection or turned from its evil ways, even when judgment fell upon it. God chastised it by withholding the rain, by drought; cf. Jeremiah 14:1., Amos 4:7. רביבים , rain-showers (Deuteronomy 32:2), does not stand for the early rain ( יורה ), but denotes any fall of rain; and the late rain (shortly before harvest) is mentioned along with it, as in Hosea 6:3; Zechariah 10:1. But affliction made no impression. The people persisted in its sinful courses with unabashed effrontery; cf. Jeremiah 5:3; Ezekiel 3:7.
Henceforward, forsooth, it calls upon its God, and expects that His wrath will abate; but this calling on Him is but lip-service, for it goes on in its sins, amends not its life. הלוא , nonne, has usually the force of a confident assurance, introducing in the form of a question that which is held not to be in the least doubtful. מעתּה , henceforward, the antithesis to מעולם , Jeremiah 2:20, Jeremiah 2:27, is rightly referred by Chr. B. Mich. to the time of the reformation in public worship, begun by Josiah in the twelfth year of his reign, and finally completed in the eighteenth year, 2 Chron 34:3-33. Clearly we cannot suppose a reference to distress and anxiety excited by the drought; since, in Jeremiah 3:3, it is expressly said that this had made no impression on the people. On אבי , cf. Jeremiah 2:27. אלּוּף נערי (cf. Proverbs 2:17), the familiar friend of my youth, is the dear beloved God, i.e., Jahveh, who has espoused Israel when it was a young nation (Jeremiah 2:2). Of Him it expects that He will not bear a grudge for ever. נטר , guard, then like τηρεῖν , cherish ill-will, keep up, used of anger; see on Leviticus 19:18; Psalms 103:9, etc. A like meaning has ישׁמר , to which אף , iram, is to be supplied from the context; cf. Amos 1:11. - Thus the people speaks, but it does evil. דּבּרתּי , like קראתי in Jeremiah 3:4, is 2nd pers. fem.; see in Jeremiah 2:20. Hitz. connects דּבּרתּי so closely with ותּעשׂי as to make הרעות the object to the former verb also: thou hast spoken and done the evil; but this is plainly contrary to the context. "Thou speakest" refers to the people's saying quoted in the first half of the verse: Will God be angry for ever? What they do is the contradiction of what they thus say. If the people wishes that God be angry no more, it must give over its evil life. הרעות , not calamity, but misdeeds, as in Jeremiah 2:33. תּוּכל , thou hast managed it, properly mastered, i.e., carried it through; cf. 1 Samuel 26:25; 1 Kings 22:22. The form is 2nd pers. fem., with the fem. ending dropped on account of the Vav consec. at the end of the discourse, cf. Ew. §191, b. So long as this is the behaviour of the people, God cannot withdraw His anger.
Israel's backsliding and rejection a warning for Judah. - Jeremiah 3:6. " And Jahveh spake to me in the days of King Josiah, Hast thou seen what the backsliding one, Israel, hath done? she went up on every high mountain, and under every green tree, and played the harlot there. Jeremiah 3:7. And I thought: After she hath done all this, she will return to me; but she returned not. And the faithless one, her sister Judah, saw it. Jeremiah 3:8. And I saw that, because the backsliding one, Israel, had committed adultery, and I had put her away, and had given her a bill of divorce, yet the faithless one, Judah, her sister, feared not even on this account, and went and played the harlot also. Jeremiah 3:9. And it befell that for the noise of her whoredom the land was defiled, and she committed adultery with stone and wood. Jeremiah 3:10. And yet with all this, the faithless one, her sister Judah, turned not to me with her whole heart, but with falsehood, saith Jahveh." The thought of these verses is this: notwithstanding that Judah has before its eyes the lot which Israel (of the ten tribes) has brought on itself by its obdurate apostasy from the covenant God, it will not be moved to true fear of God and real repentance. Viewing idolatry as spiritual whoredom, the prophet developes that train of thought by representing the two kingdoms as two adulterous sisters, calling the inhabitants of the ten tribes משׁבה , the backsliding, those of Judah בּגודה , the faithless. On these names Venema well remarks: " Sorores propter unam eandemque stirpem, unde uterque populus fuit, et arctam ad se invicem relationem appellantur. Utraque fuit adultera propter idololatriam et faederis violationem; sed Israel vocatur uxor aversa; Juda vero perfida, quia Israel non tantum religionis sed et regni et civitatis respectu, adeoque palam erat a Deo alienata, Juda vero Deo et sedi regni ac religionis adfixa, sed nihilominus a Deo et cultu ejus defecerat, et sub externa specie populi Dei faedus ejus fregerat, quo ipso gravius peccaverat ." This representation Ezekiel has in Jer 23 expanded into an elaborate allegory. The epithets משׁבה and בּגודה or בּגדה (Jeremiah 3:11) are coined into proper names. This is shown by their being set without articles before the names; as mere epithets they would stand after the substantives and have the article, since Israel and Judah as being nomm. propr . are definite ideas. משׁוּבה is elsewhere an abstract substantive: apostasy, defection (Jeremiah 8:5; Hosea 11:7, etc.), here concrete, the apostate, so-called for her many משׁבות , Jeremiah 3:22 and Jeremiah 2:19. בּגודה , the faithless, used of perfidious forsaking of a husband; cf. Jeremiah 3:20, Malachi 2:14. הלכה היא , going was she, expressing continuance. Cf. the same statement in Jeremiah 2:20. ותּזני , 3rd pers. fem., is an Aramaizing form for ותּזנה or ותּזן ; cf. Isaiah 53:10.
And I said, sc. to myself, i.e., I thought. A speaking by the prophets (Rashi) is not to be thought of; for it is no summons, turn again to me, but only the thought, they will return. It is true that God caused backsliding Israel to be ever called again to repentance by the prophets, yet without effect. Meantime, however, no reference is made to what God did in this connection, only Israel's behaviour towards the Lord being here kept in view. The Chet. ותּראה is the later usage; the Keri substitutes the regular contracted form ותּרא . The object, it (the whoredom of Israel), may be gathered from what precedes.
Many commentators have taken objection to the וארא , because the sentence, "I saw that I had therefore given Israel a bill of divorce," is as little intelligible as "and the faithless Judah saw it, and I saw it, for," etc. Thus e.g., Graf, who proposes with Ew. and Syr. to read ותּרא , "and she saw," or with Jerome to omit the word from the text. To this we may add, that either the change or the omission destroys the natural relation to one another of the clauses. In either case we would have this connection: "and the faithless one, her sister Judah, saw that, because the backslider Israel had committed adultery, I had put her away...yet the faithless one feared not." But thus the gist of the thing, what Judah saw, namely, the repudiation of Israel, would be related but cursorily in a subordinate clause, and the 7th verse would be shortened into a half verse; while, on the other hand, the 8th verse would be burdened with an unnaturally long protasis. Ros. is right in declaring any change to be unnecessary, provided the two halves of Jeremiah 3:7 and Jeremiah 3:8 are connected in this sense: vidi quod quum adulteram Israelitidem dimiseram, tamen non timeret ejus perfida soror Juda . If we compare Jeremiah 3:7 and Jeremiah 3:8 together, the correspondence between the two comes clearly out. In the first half of either verse Israel is spoken of, in the second Judah; while as to Israel, both verses state how God regarded the conduct of Israel, and as to Judah, how it observed and imitated Israel's conduct. וארא corresponds to ואמר in Jeremiah 3:7. God thought the backsliding Israel will repent, and it did not, and this Judah saw. Thus, then, God saw that even the repudiation of the backsliding Israel for her adultery incited no fear in Judah, but Judah went and did whoredom like Israel. The true sense of Jeremiah 3:8 is rendered obscure or difficult by the external co-ordination to one another of the two thoughts, that God has rejected Israel just because it has committed adultery, and, that Judah nevertheless feared not; the second thought being introduced by Vav. In reality, however, the first should be subordinated to the second thus: that although I had to reject Israel, Judah yet feared not. What God saw is not the adultery and rejection or divorce of Israel, but that Judah nevertheless had no fear in committing and persisting in the self-same sin. The כּי belongs properly to לא יראה , but this relation is obscured by the length of the prefixed grounding clause, and so לא יראה is introduced by , על־כּל־אדות å גו ו yb decud literally: that for all the reasons, because the backslider had committed adultery, I put her away and gave her a bill of divorce; yet the faithless Judah feared not. In plain English: that, in spite of all my putting away the backsliding Israel, and my giving her...because she had committed adultery, yet the faithless Judah feared not. On ספר כּריתוּת , cf. Deuteronomy 24:1, Deuteronomy 24:3.
In Jeremiah 3:9 Judah's fornication with the false gods is further described. Here מקּל זנ åּ תהּ ereH is rather stumbling, since ob vocem scortationis cannot well be simply tantamount to ob famosam scortationem ; for קול , voice, tone, sound, din, noise, is distinct from שׁם or שׁמע , fame, rumour. All ancient translators have taken קל from קלל , as being formed analogously to עז תּם חם ; and a Masoretic note finds in the defective spelling קל an indication of the meaning levitas . Yet we occasionally find קול , vox, written defectively, e.g., Exodus 4:8; Genesis 27:22; Genesis 45:16. And the derivation from קלל gives no very suitable sense; neither lightness nor despisedness is a proper predicate for whoredom, by which the land is polluted; only shame or shameful would suit, as it is put by Ew. and Graf. But there is no evidence from the usage of the language that קל has the meaning of קלון . Yet more inadmissible is the conjecture of J. D. Mich., adopted by Hitz., that of reading מקּל gnid a er fo taht , stock, for מקּל , a stock being the object of her unchastity; in support of which, reference is unfairly made to Hosea 4:12. For there the matter in hand is rhabdomancy, with which the present passage has evidently nothing to do. The case standing thus, we adhere to the usual meaning of קל : for the noise or din of her whoredom, not, for her crying whoredom (de Wette). Jeremiah makes use of this epithet to point out the open riotous orgies of idolatry. תּחנף is neither used in the active signification of desecrating, nor is it to be pointed ותּחנף ( Hiph.). On the last clause cf. Jeremiah 2:27.
But even with all this, i.e., in spite of this deep degradation in idolatry, Judah returned not to God sincerely, but in hypocritical wise. "And yet with all this," Ros., following Rashi, refers to the judgment that had fallen on Israel (Jeremiah 3:8); but this is too remote. The words can bear reference only to that which immediately precedes: even in view of all these sinful horrors the returning was not "from the whole heart," i.e., did not proceed from a sincere heart, but in falsehood and hypocrisy. For (the returning being that which began with the abolition of idolatrous public worship in Josiah's reformation) the people had returned outwardly to the worship of Jahveh in the temple, but at heart they still calve to the idols. Although Josiah had put an end to the idol-worship, and though the people too, in the enthusiasm for the service of Jahveh, awakened by the solemn celebration of the passover, had broken in pieces the images and altars of the false gods throughout the land, yet there was imminent danger that the people, alienated in heart from the living God, should take the suppression of open idolatry for a true return to God, and, vainly admiring themselves, should look upon themselves as righteous and pious. Against this delusion the prophet takes his stand.
Israel's return, pardon, and blessedness. - Jeremiah 3:11. " And Jahveh said to me, The backsliding one, Israel, is justified more than the faithless one, Judah. Jeremiah 3:12. Go and proclaim these words towards the north, and say, Turn, thou backsliding one, Israel, saith Jahveh; I will not look darkly on you, for I am gracious, saith Jahveh; I will not always be wrathful. Jeremiah 3:13. Only acknowledge thy guilt, for from Jahveh thy God art thou fallen away, and hither and thither hast thou wandered to strangers under every green tree, but to my voice ye have not hearkened, saith Jahveh. Jeremiah 3:14. Return, backsliding sons, saith Jahveh; for I have wedded you to me, and will take you, one out of a city and two out of a race, and will bring you to Zion; Jeremiah 3:15. And will give you shepherds according to my heart, and they will feed you with knowledge ad wisdom. Jeremiah 3:16. And it comes to pass, when ye increase and are fruitful in the land, in those days, saith Jahveh, they will no more say, 'The ark of the covenant of Jahveh;' and it will no more come to mind, and ye will not longer remember it or miss it, and it shall not be made again. Jeremiah 3:17. In that time they shall call Jerusalem the throne of Jahveh; and to it all peoples shall gather themselves, because the name of Jahveh is at Jerusalem: and no longer shall they walk after the stubbornness of their evil heart. Jeremiah 3:18. In those days shall the house of Judah go along with the house of Israel, and together out of the land of midnight shall they come into the land which I have given for an inheritance unto your fathers." In Jeremiah 3:11, from the comparison of the faithless Judah with the backsliding Israel, is drawn the conclusion: Israel stands forth more righteous than Judah. The same is said in other words by Ezekiel 16:51.; cf. (Ezek.) Jeremiah 23:11. צדק in Piel is to show to be righteous, to justify. נפשׁהּ , her soul, i.e., herself. Israel appears more righteous than Judah, not because the apostasy and idolatry of the Israelites was less than that of the people of Judah; in this they are put on the same footing in Jeremiah 3:6-10; in the like fashion both have played the harlot, i.e., stained themselves with idolatry (while by a rhetorical amplification the apostasy of Judah is in Jeremiah 3:9 represented as not greater than that of Israel). But it is inasmuch as, in the first place, Judah had the warning example of Israel before its eyes, but would not be persuaded to repentance by Israel's punishment; then again, Judah had more notable pledges than the ten tribes of divine grace, especially in the temple with its divinely-ordained cultus, in the Levitical priesthood, and in its race of kings chosen by God. Hence its fall into idolatry called more loudly for punishment than did that of the ten tribes; for these, after their disruption from Judah and the Davidic dynasty, had neither a lawful cultus, lawful priests, nor a divinely-ordained kingship. If, then, in spite of these privileges, Judah sank as far into idolatry as Israel, its offence was greater and more grievous than that of the ten tribes; and it was surely yet more deserving of punishment than Israel, if it was resolved neither to be brought to reflection nor moved to repentance from its evil ways by the judgment that had fallen upon Israel, and if, on the contrary, it returned to God only outwardly and took the opus operatum of the temple-service for genuine conversion. For "the measure of guilt is proportioned to the measure of grace." Yet will not the Lord utterly cast off His people, Jeremiah 3:12. He summons to repentance the Israelites who had now long been living in exile; and to them, the backsliding sons, who confess their sin and return to Him, He offers restoration to the full favours of the covenant and to rich blessings, and this in order to humble Judah and to provoke it to jealousy. The call to repentance which the prophet is in Jeremiah 3:12 to proclaim towards the region of midnight, concerns the ten tribes living in Assyrian exile. צפנה , towards midnight, i.e., into the northern provinces of the Assyrian empire the tribes had been carried away (2 Kings 17:6; 2 Kings 18:11). שׁוּבה , return, sc. to thy God. Notwithstanding that the subject which follows, משׁבה , is fem., we have the masculine form here used ad sensum , because the faithless Israel is the people of the ten tribes. לא אפּיל פּני , I will not lower my countenance, is explained by Genesis 4:5; Job 29:24, and means to look darkly, frowningly, as outward expression of anger; and this without our needing to take פּני for כּעסי as Kimchi does. For I am חסיד , gracious; cf. Exodus 34:6. As to אטּור , see on Jeremiah 3:5.
An indispensable element of the return is: Acknowledge thy guilt, thine offence, for grievously hast thou offended; thou art fallen away ( פּשׁע ), and תּפזּרי את־דּרכיך , lit., hast scattered thy ways for strangers; i.e., hither and thither, on many a track, hast thou run after the strange gods: cf. Jeremiah 2:23.
The repeated call שׁוּבוּ , Jeremiah 3:14, is, like that in Jeremiah 3:12, addressed to Israel in the narrower sense, not to the whole covenant people or to Judah. The "backsliding sons" are "the backsliding Israel" of Jeremiah 3:7, Jeremiah 3:8, Jeremiah 3:11., and of Jeremiah 3:22. In Jeremiah 3:18 also Judah is mentioned only as it is in connection with Israel. בּעלתּי בכם , here and in Jeremiah 31:32, is variously explained. There is no evidence for the meaning loathe, despise, which Ges. and Diet. in the Lex., following the example of Jos. Kimchi, Pococke, A Schultens, and others, attribute to the word בּעל ; against this, cf. Hgstb. Christol. ii. p. 375; nor is the sig. "rule" certified (lxx διότι ἐγὼ κατακυριεύσω ὑμῶν ); it cannot be proved from Isaiah 26:13. בּעל means only, own, possess; whence come the meanings, take to wife, have oneself married, which are to be maintained here and in Jeremiah 31:32. In this view Jerome translates, quia ego vir vester ; Luther, denn ich will euch mir vertrauen ; Hgstb., denn ich traue euch mir an ;-the reception anew of the people being given under the figure of a new marriage. This acceptation is, however, not suitable to the perf. בּעלתּי , for this, even if taken prophetically, cannot refer to a renewal of marriage which is to take place in the future. The perf. can be referred only to the marriage of Israel at the conclusion of the covenant on Sinai, and must be translated accordingly: I am your husband, or: I have wedded you to me. This is demanded by the grounding כּי ; for the summons to repent cannot give as its motive some future act of God, but must point to that covenant relationship founded in the past, which, though suspended for a time, was not wholly broken up.
(Note: Calvin gives it rightly: " Dixerat enim, se dedisse libellum repudii h. e. quasi publicis tabulis se testatum fuisse, nihil amplius sibi esse conjunctionis cum populo illo. Nam exilium erat instar divortii. Jam dicit: Ego sum maritus vester. Nam etiamsi ego tam graviter laesus a vobis fuerim, quia fefellistis fidem mihi datam, tamen maneo in proposito, ut sim bovis maritus;...et perinde ac si mihi semper fidem praestitissetis, iterum assuman vos, inqiut.")
The promise of what God will do if Israel repents is given only from ולקחתּי (with ו consec.) onwards. The words, I take you, one out of a city, two out of a race, are not with Kimchi to be so turned: if even a single Israelite dwelt in a heathen city; but thus: if from amongst the inhabitants of a city there returns to me but one, and if out of a whole race there return but two, I will gather even these few and bring them to Zion. Quite aside from the point is Hitz.'s remark, that in Micah 5:1, too, a city is called אלף , and is equivalent to משׁפּחה . The numbers one and two themselves show us that משׁפּחה is a larger community than the inhabitants of one town, i.e., that it indicates the great subdivisions into which the tribes of Israel were distributed. The thought, then, is this: Though but so small a number obey the call to repent, yet the Lord will save even these; He will exclude from salvation no one who is willing to return, but will increase the small number of the saved to a great nation. This promise is not only not contradictory of those which declare the restoration of Israel as a whole; but it is rather a pledge that God will forget no one who is willing to be saved, and shows the greatness of the divine compassion.
As to the historical reference, it is manifest that the promise cannot be limited, as it is by Theodrt. and Grot., to the return from the Assyrian and Babylonian exile; and although the majority of commentators take it so, it can as little be solely referred to the Messianic times or to the time of the consummation of the kingdom of God. The fulfilment is accomplished gradually. It begins with the end of the Babylonian exile, in so far as at that time individual members of the ten tribes may have returned into the land of their fathers; it is continued in Messianic times during the lives of the apostles, by the reception, on the part of the Israelites, of the salvation that had appeared in Christ; it is carried on throughout the whole history of the Church, and attains its completion in the final conversion of Israel. This Messianic reference of the words is here the ruling one. This we may see from "bring you to Zion," which is intelligible only when we look on Zion as the seat of the kingdom of God; and yet more clearly is it seen from the further promise, Jeremiah 3:15-17, I will give you shepherds according to my heart, etc. By shepherds we are not to understand prophets and priests, but the civil authorities, rulers, princes, kings (cf. Jeremiah 2:8, Jeremiah 2:26). This may not only be gathered from the parallel passage, Jeremiah 23:4, but is found in the כּלבּי , which is an unmistakeable allusion to 1 Samuel 13:14, where David is spoken of as a man whom Jahveh has sought out for Himself after His heart ( כּלבבו ), and has set to be prince over His people. They will feed you דּעה . Both these words are used adverbially. דּעה is a noun, and השׂכּיל an infin.: deal wisely, possess, and show wisdom; the latter is as noun generally השׂכּל , Daniel 1:17; Proverbs 1:3; Proverbs 21:16, but is found also as infin. absol. Jeremiah 9:23. A direct contrast to these shepherds is found in the earlier kings, whom Israel had itself appointed according to the desire of its heart, of whom the Lord said by Hosea, They have set up kings (to themselves), but not by me (Hosea 8:4); kings who seduced the people of God to apostasy, and encouraged them in it. "In the whole of the long series of Israelitish rulers we find no Jehoshaphat, no Hezekiah, no Josiah; and quite as might have been expected, for the foundation of the throne of Israel was insurrection" (Hgstb.). But if Israel will return to the Lord, He will give it rulers according to His heart, like David (cf. Ezekiel 34:23; Hosea 3:5), who did wisely ( משׂכּיל ) in all his ways, and with whom Jahveh was (1 Samuel 18:14.; cf. 1 Kings 2:3). The knowledge and wisdom consists in the keeping and doing of the law of God, Deuteronomy 4:6; Deuteronomy 29:8. As regards form, the promise attaches itself to the circumstances of the earlier times, and is not to be understood of particular historical rulers in the period after the exile; it means simply that the Lord will give to Israel, when it is converted to Him, good and faithful governors who will rule over it in the spirit of David. But the Davidic dynasty culminates in the kingship of the Messiah, who is indeed named David by the prophets; cf. Jeremiah 22:4.
In Jeremiah 3:16 and Jeremiah 3:17 also the thought is clothed in a form characteristic of the Old Testament. When the returned Israelites shall increase and be fruitful in the land, then shall they no more remember the ark of the covenant of the Lord or feel the want of it, because Jerusalem will then be the throne of the Lord. The fruitfulness and increase of the saved remnant is a constant feature in the picture of Israel's Messianic future; cf. Jeremiah 23:3; Ezekiel 36:11; Hosea 2:1. This promise rests on the blessing given at the creation, Genesis 1:28. God as creator and preserver of the world increases mankind together with the creatures; even so, as covenant God, He increases His people Israel. Thus He increased the sons of Israel in Egypt to be a numerous nation, Exodus 1:12; thus, too, He will again make fruitful and multiply the small number of those who have been saved from the judgment that scattered Israel amongst the heathen. In the passages which treat of this blessing, פּרה generally precedes רבה ; here, on the contrary, and in Ezekiel 36:11, the latter is put first. The words ' לא יאמרוּ וגו must not be translated: they will speak no more of the ark of the covenant; אמר c. accus. never has this meaning. They must be taken as the substance of what is said, the predicate being omitted for rhetorical effect, so that the words are to be taken as an exclamation. Hgstb. supplies: It is the aim of all our wishes, the object of our longing. Mov. simply: It is our most precious treasure, or the glory of Israel, 1 Samuel 4:21.; Psalms 78:61. And they will no more remember it. Ascend into the heart, i.e., come to mind, joined with זכר here and in Isaiah 65:17; cf. Jeremiah 7:31; Jeremiah 32:35; Jeremiah 51:50; 1 Corinthians 2:9. ולא יפקדוּ , and they will not miss it; cf. Isaiah 34:16; 1 Samuel 20:6, etc. This meaning is called for by the context, and especially by the next clause: it will not be made again. Hitz.'s objection against this, that the words cannot mean this, is an arbitrary dictum. Non fiet amplius (Chr. B. Mich.), or, it will not happen any more, is an unsuitable translation, for this would be but an unmeaning addition; and the expansion, that the ark will be taken into the battle as it formerly was, is such a manifest rabbinical attempt to twist the words, that it needs no further refutation. Luther's translation, nor offer more there, is untenable, since עשׂה by itself never means offer.
The thought is this: then they will no longer have any feeling of desire or want towards the ark. And wherefore? The answer is contained in Jeremiah 3:17: At that time will they call Jerusalem the throne of Jahveh. The ark was the throne of Jahveh, inasmuch as Jahveh, in fulfilment of His promise in Exodus 25:22, and as covenant God, was ever present to His people in a cloud over the extended wings of the two cherubim that were upon the covering of the ark of the law; from the mercy-seat too, between the two cherubs, He spake with His people, and made known to them His gracious presence: Leviticus 16:2; cf. 1 Chronicles 13:6; Psalms 80:2; 1 Samuel 4:4. The ark was therefore called the footstool of God, 1 Chronicles 28:2; Psalms 99:5; Psalms 132:7; Lamentations 2:1. But in future Jerusalem is to be, and to be called, the throne of Jahveh; and it is in such a manner to take the place of the ark, that the people will neither miss it nor make any more mention of it. The promise by no means presumes that when Jeremiah spoke or wrote this prophecy the ark was no longer in existence; "was gone out of sight in some mysterious manner," as Movers, Chron. S. 139, and Hitz. suppose,
(Note: Against this Hgstb. well says, that this allegation springs from the incapacity of modern exegesis to accommodate itself to the prophetic anticipation of the future; and that we might as well infer from Jeremiah 3:18, that at the time these words were spoken, the house of Judah must already in some mysterious manner have come into the land of the north. 2 Chronicles 35:5 furnishes unimpeachable testimony to the existence of the ark in the 18th year of Josiah. And even Graf says he cannot find anything to justify Movers' conclusion, since from the special stress laid on the fact that at a future time they will have the ark no longer, it might more naturally be inferred that the ark was still in the people's possession, and was an object of care to them.)
but only that it will be lost or destroyed. This could happen only at and along with the destruction of Jerusalem; and history testifies that the temple after the exile had no ark. Hence it is justly concluded that the ark had perished in the destruction of Jerusalem by the Chaldeans, and that upon the rebuilding of the temple after the exile, the ark was not restored, because the nucleus of it, the tables of the law written by the finger of God, could not be constructed by the hand of man. Without the ark the second temple was also without the gracious presence of Jahveh, the Shechinah or dwelling-place of God; so that this temple was no longer the throne of God, but only a seeming temple, without substance or reality. And thus the Old Testament covenant had come to an end. "We have here then before us," Hgstb. truly observes, "the announcement of an entire overthrow of the earlier form of the kingdom; but it is such an overthrow of the form that it is at the same time the highest perfection of the substance - a process like that in seed-corn, which only dies in order to bring forth much fruit; like that in the body, which is sown a corruptible that it may rise an incorruptible." For the dwelling and enthronement of the Lord amidst His people was again to come about, but in a higher form. Jerusalem is to become the throne of Jahveh, i.e., Jerusalem is to be for the renewed Israel that which the ark had been for the former Israel, the holy dwelling-place of God. Under the old covenant Jerusalem had been the city of Jahveh, of the great King (Psalms 48:3); because Jerusalem had possessed the temple, in which the Lord sat enthroned in the holy of holies over the ark. If in the future Jerusalem is to become the throne of the Lord instead of the ark, Jerusalem must itself become a sanctuary of God; God the Lord must fill all Jerusalem with His glory ( כּבוד ), as Isaiah prophesied He would in Isaiah 60, of which prophecy we have the fulfilment portrayed in Apoc. 21 and 22. Jeremiah does not more particularly explain how this is to happen, or how the raising of Jerusalem to be the throne of the Lord is to be accomplished; for he is not seeking in this discourse to proclaim the future reconstitution of the kingdom of God. His immediate aim is to clear away the false props of their confidence from a people that set its trust in the possession of the temple and the ark, and further to show it that the presence of the temple and ark will not protect it from judgment; that, on the contrary, the Lord will reject faithless Judah, destroying Jerusalem and the temple; that nevertheless He will keep His covenant promises, and that by receiving again as His people the repentant members of the ten tribes, regarded by Judah as wholly repudiated, with whom indeed He will renew His covenant.
As a consequence of Jerusalem's being raised to the glory of being the Lord's throne, all nations will gather themselves to her, the city of God; cf. Zechariah 2:1-13:15. Indeed in the Old Testament every revelation of the glory of God amongst His people attracted the heathen; cf. Joshua 9:9. לשׁם יהוה , not, to the name of Jahveh towards Jerusalem (Hitz.), but, because of the name of Jahveh at Jerusalem (as in Joshua 9:9), i.e., because Jahveh reveals His glory there; for the name of Jahveh is Jahveh Himself in the making of His glorious being known in deeds of almighty power and grace. לירוּשׁלם , prop. belonging to Jerusalem, because the name makes itself known there; cf. Jeremiah 16:19; Micah 4:2; Zechariah 8:22. - The last clause, they will walk no more, etc., refers not to the heathen peoples, but to the Israelites as being the principal subject of the discourse (cf. Jeremiah 5:16), since שׁררוּת is used of Israel in all the cases (Jeremiah 7:24; Jeremiah 9:13; Jeremiah 11:8; Jeremiah 13:10; Jeremiah 16:12; Jeremiah 18:12; Jeremiah 23:17, and Psalms 81:13), thus corresponding to the original in Deuteronomy 29:18, whence it is taken. שׁררוּת prop. firmness, but in Hebr. always sensu malo : obstinacy, obduracy of heart, see in Deut. l.c.; here strengthened by the adjective הרע belonging to לבּם .
In those days when Jerusalem is glorified by being made the throne of the Lord, Judah along with Israel will come out of the north into the land which the Lord gave to their fathers. As the destruction of Jerusalem and of the temple is foretold implicite in Jeremiah 3:16, so here the expulsion of Judah into exile is assumed as having already taken place, and the return not of Israel, only, but of Judah too is announced, as in Hosea 2:2, and more fully in Ezekiel 27:16. We should note the arrangement, the house of Judah with ( על , prop. on) the house of Israel; this is as much as to say that Israel is the first to resolve on a return and to arise, and that Judah joins itself to the house of Israel. Judah is thus subordinated to the house of Israel, because the prophet is here seeking chiefly to announce the return of Israel to the Lord. It can surely not be necessary to say that, as regards the fulfilment, we are not entitled hence to infer that the remnant of the ten tribes will positively be converted to the Lord and redeemed out of exile sooner than the remnant of Judah. For more on this point see on Jeremiah 31:8.
The return of Israel to its God. - Jeremiah 3:19. " I thought, O how I will put thee among the sons, and give thee a delightful land, a heritage of the chiefest splendour of the nations! and thought, 'My Father,' ye will cry to me, and not turn yourselves away from me. Jeremiah 3:20. truly as a wife faithlessly forsakes her mate, so are ye become faithless towards me, house of Israel, saith Jahveh. Jeremiah 3:21. A voice upon the bare-topped hills is heard, suppliant weeping of the sons of Israel; for that they have made their way crooked, forsaken Jahveh their God. Jeremiah 3:22. 'Return, ye backsliding sons, I will heal your backsliding,' Behold, we come to thee; for Thou Jahveh art our God. Jeremiah 3:23. Truly the sound from the hills, from the mountains, is become falsehood: truly in Jahveh our God is the salvation of Israel. Jeremiah 3:24. And shame hath devoured the gains of our fathers from our youth on; their sheep and their oxen, their sons and their daughters. Jeremiah 3:25. Let us lie down in our shame, and let our disgrace cover us; for against Jahveh our God have we sinned, we and our fathers, from our youth even unto this day, and have not listened to the voice of our God." Hitz. takes Jeremiah 3:18 and Jeremiah 3:19 together, without giving an opinion on ואנכי אמרתּי . Ew. joins Jeremiah 3:19 to the preceding, and begins a new strophe with Jeremiah 3:21. Neither assumption can be justified. With Jeremiah 3:18 closes the promise which formed the burden of the preceding strophe, and in Jeremiah 3:19 there begins a new train of thought, the announcement as to how Israel comes to a consciousness of sin and returns penitent to the Lord its God (Jeremiah 3:21-25). The transition to this announcement is formed by Jeremiah 3:19 and Jeremiah 3:20, in which the contrast between God's fatherly designs and Israel's faithless bearing towards God is brought prominently forward; and by ואנכי אמרתּי it is attached to the last clause of the 18th verse. His having mentioned the land into which the Israelites would again return, carries the prophet's thoughts back again to the present and the past, to the bliss which Jahveh had designed for them, forfeited by their faithless apostasy, and to be regained only by repentant return (Graf). "I thought," refers to the time when God gave the land to their fathers for an inheritance. Then spake, i.e., thought, I; cf. Psalms 31:23. How I will set thee or place thee among the sons! i.e., how I will make thee glorious among the sons ( שׁית c. accus. and ב , as in 2 Samuel 19:29). No valid objection against this is founded by Hitz.'s plea that in that case we must read אשׁיתך , and that by Jeremiah, the teacher of morals, no heathen nation, or any but Israel, can ever be regarded as a son of God (Jeremiah 31:9, Jeremiah 31:20). The fem. אשׁיתך is explained by the personification of Judah and Israel as two sisters, extending throughout the whole prophecy. The other objection is erroneous as to the fact. In Jeremiah 31:9 Jahveh calls Ephraim, = Israel, his first-born son, as all Israel is called by God in Exodus 4:22. But the conception of first-born has, as necessary correlate, that of other "sons." Inasmuch as Jahveh the God of Israel is creator of the world and of all men, all the peoples of the earth are His בּנים ; and from amongst all the peoples He has made choice of Israel as סגלּה , or chosen him for His first-born son. Hitz.'s translation: how will I endow thee with children, is contrary to the usage of the language. - The place which God willed to give Israel amongst His children is specified by the next clause: and I willed to give thee a delightful land ( ארץ חמדּה as in Zechariah 7:14; Psalms 106:24). צבי צבאות , ornament of ornaments, i.e., the greatest, most splendid ornament. For there can be no doubt that צבאות does not come from צבא , but, with Kimchi after the Targum, is to be derived from צבי ; for the plural צביים from צבי may pass into צבאים , cf. Gesen. §93. 6 b, as Ew., too, in §186, c, admits, though he takes our צבאות from צבא , and strains the meaning into: an heirloom-adornment amidst the hosts of heathen. After such proofs of a father's love, God expected that Israel would by a true cleaving to Him show some return of filial affection. To cry, "My father," is a token of a child's love and adherence. The Chet. תּקראוּ and תּשׁוּבוּ are not to be impugned; the Keris are unnecessary alterations.
But Israel did not meet the expectation. Like a faithless wife from her husband, Israel fell away from its God. The particle of comparison כּאשׁר is omitted before the verb, as in Isaiah 55:9, cf. Isaiah 55:10 and Isaiah 55:11. רע does not precisely mean husband, nor yet paramour, but friend and companion, and so here is equal to wedded husband. בּגד c. מן , withdraw faithlessly from one, faithlessly forsake - c. בּ , be faithless, deal faithlessly with one.
Yet Israel will come to a knowledge of its iniquity, and bitterly repent it, Jeremiah 3:21. From the heights where idolatry was practised, the prophet already hears in spirit the lamentations and supplications of the Israelites entreating for forgiveness. על שׁפיים points back to Jeremiah 3:2, when the naked heights were mentioned as the scenes of idolatry. From these places is heard the supplicating cry for pardon. כּי העווּ , because (for that) they had made their way crooked, i.e., had entered on a crooked path, had forgotten their God.
The prophet further overhears in spirit, as answer to the entreaty of the Israelites, the divine invitation and promise: Return, ye backsliding children (cf. Jeremiah 3:14), I will heal your backslidings. ארפּה for ארפּא . Backslidings, i.e., mischief which backsliding has brought, the wounds inflicted by apostasy from God; cf. Hosea 14:5, a passage which was in the prophet's mind; and fore the figure of healing, cf. Jeremiah 30:17; Jeremiah 33:6. To this promise they answer: Behold, we come to Thee ( אתנוּ for אתאנוּ from אתא , Isaiah 21:12, for אתה ), for Thou art Jahveh, art our God. Of this confession they further state the cause in Jeremiah 3:23-25.
From the false gods they have gained but disgrace; the salvation of Israel is found only in Jahveh their God. The thought now given is clearly expressed in the second clause of the verse; less clear is the meaning of the first clause, which tells what Israel had got from idolatry. The difficulty lies in המון הרים , which the early commentators so joined together as to make המון stat. constr. ( המון ). Similarly Hitz. and Graf: from the hills the host (or tumult) of the mountains is (for) a delusion; Hitz. understanding by the host of the mountains the many gods, or the numerous statues of them that were erected at the spots where they were worshipped, while Graf takes the tumult of the mountains to mean the turmoil of the pilgrims, the exulting cries of the celebrants. But it is as impossible that "the sound of the hills" should mean the multitude of the gods, as that it should mean the tumult of the pilgrims upon the mountains. Besides, the expression, "the host or tumult of the mountains comes from the hills," would be singularly tautological. These reasons are enough to show that הרים cannot be a genitive dependent on המון , but must be taken as coordinate with מגּבעות , so that the preposition מן will have to be repeated before הרים . But המון must be the subject of the clause, else where would be no subject at all. המון means bustle, eager crowd, tumult, noise, and is also used of the surging mass of earthly possessions or riches, Psalms 37:16; Isaiah 60:5. Schnur., Ros., Maur., de W., have preferred the last meaning, and have put the sense thus: vana est ex collibus, vana ex montibus affluentia , or: delusive is the abundance that comes from the hills, from the mountains. This view is not to be overthrown by Graf's objection, that we cannot here entertain the idea of abundance, however, imaginary, acquired by the Israelites through idolatry, seeing that in the next verses it is declared that the false gods have devoured the wealth which the Israelites had inherited and received from God. For in the present connection the abundance would be not a real but expected or imagined abundance, the delusiveness of which would be shown in the next verse by the statement that the false gods had devoured the acquisitions of Israel. But to take המון in the sense of affluentia seems questionable here, when the context makes no reference to wealth or earthly riches, and where the abundance of the hills and mountains cannot be understood to mean their produce; the abundance is that which the idolatry practised upon the hills and mountains brought or was expected to bring to the people. Hence, along with Ew., we take this word in the sig. tumult or noise, and by it we understand the wild uproarious orgies of idolatry, which, according to Jeremiah 3:2 and Jeremiah 3:6, were practised on the hills and mountains ( קל זנוּתהּ , Jeremiah 3:9). Thus we obtain the sense already given by the Targ.: in vanum coluimus super collibus et non in utilitatem congregavimus nos ( אתרגישׁנא ( son , prop. tumultuati sumus) super montibus , i.e., delusive and profitless were our idolatrous observances upon the heights.
In Jeremiah 3:24 we are told in what particulars idolatry became to them הבּשׁת לשׁקר , the shame, opprobrious expression for הבּעל , equal to shame-god, cf. Jeremiah 11:13 and Hosea 9:10; since the worship of Baal, i.e., of the false gods, resulted in disgrace to the people. He devoured the wealth of our fathers, namely, their sheep and oxen, mentioned as a specimen of their wealth, and their sons and daughters. The idols devoured this wealth, to in respect that sheep and oxen, and, on Moloch's altar, children too, were sacrificed, for sheep and oxen were offered to Jahveh; but because idolatry drew down judgments on the people and brought about the devastation of the land by enemies who devoured the substance of the people, and slew sons and daughters, Deuteronomy 28:30, Deuteronomy 28:33. From our youth on; - the youth of the people is the period of the judges.
The people does not repudiate this shame and disgrace, but is willing to endure it patiently, since by its sin it has fully deserved it. נשׁכּבה , not: we lie, but: we will lay us down in our shame, as a man in pain and grief throws himself on the ground, or on his couch (cf. 2 Samuel 12:16; 2 Samuel 13:31; 1 Kings 21:4), in order wholly to give way to the feelings that crush him down. And let our disgrace cover us, i.e., enwrap us as a mourning robe or cloak; cf. Psalms 35:26; Psalms 109:29; Micah 7:10, Obadiah 1:10.
The Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary is a derivative of a public domain electronic edition.
Keil, Carl Friedrich & Delitzsch, Franz. "Commentary on Jeremiah 3". Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary. https://studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 21 / Ordinary 26