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Bible Commentaries
Jeremiah 2

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal and HomileticalLange's Commentary

Verses 1-37


The Passages relating to the Theocracy, Chaps. 2–44

(with an appendix, Jeremiah 45:0)

The Collection of Discourses, with Appendices, Jeremiah 2-35
1. The First Discourse

Jeremiah 2:0

This chapter contains an independent discourse; it does not, as Graf supposes, form, with chap. 3–4, a connected whole. For, as we shall show, chap. 3 begins a discourse clearly arranged and complete in itself, which would not bear any addition either at the beginning or at the close. The present discourse is of very general import, and contains probably only the quintessence of several discourses made before those in chap. 3–4, since it is scarcely probable that in the course of nearly two decades Jeremiah only addressed this short discourse, besides chap. 3–4, to the people. The position at the beginning, the style, the non-mention of the Chaldeans (comp. rems. on Jeremiah 25:1), besides the command “Go and cry in the ears of Jerusalem” (Jeremiah 2:2), and an intimation probably to be referred to the time of Josiah (Jeremiah 2:35, see the Comm.), all point to the commencement of Jeremiah’s prophetic ministry. This seems to be contradicted by some not obscure allusions to the flight of the remaining Jews to Egypt (Jeremiah 2:16; Jeremiah 2:36-37; coll. chaps. 42–44). But since Jeremiah, as was remarked on Jeremiah 1:2, probably did not finish the second writing out of his book till after the destruction of Jerusalem (Jeremiah 36:32), possibly not till his arrival in Egypt, it is possible that he then added to this earliest discourse some allusions to the eventful journey to Egypt. He may have added them to this discourse for the reason that it contained some passages, the connection and purport of which especially invited such allusions to the emigration to Egypt. Compare Jeremiah 2:15, the predicted devastation so exactly corresponding to the result, and Jeremiah 2:33, the mention of the religio-political errors of the people.

After the introduction (Jeremiah 2:1-3), the ever-recurring theme of complaint and threatening is treated in four tableaux or acts, the particular contents of which may be designated as follows:

1. Israel’s infidelity in the light of the fidelity of Jehovah and the heathen (Jeremiah 2:4-13).

2. Israel’s punishment and its cause (Jeremiah 2:14-19).

3. The lust of idolatry: deeply rooted, outwardly insolent, faise at last (Jeremiah 2:20-28).

4. Whose is the guilt? (Jeremiah 2:29-37).

The Introduction

Jeremiah 2:1-3

1.     And the word of Jehovah came also unto me, saying,

2.     Go and cry in the ears of Jerusalem, saying,

Thus saith Jehovah; I remember of thee,
The kindness of thy youth,
The love of thine espousals,
When thou wentest after me in the desert,
In a land that was not sown.

3.     Israel is a sanctuary unto Jehovah,

The first-fruits of his produce:
All who devour him1 incur guilt;

Calamity will come upon them, saith Jehovah.


These words form the introduction both to the first discourse and at the same time to the whole of Jeremiah’s prophetic announcements. Indeed, it may be said that they contain the thought, which reaches far beyond the prophecies of Jeremiah, and lies at the foundation of the entire history of the theocracy, that not withstanding the revolts on the one side and the punishments on the other, love is the key-note of the relation between God and Israel, and the Lord’s inalienable property.

Jeremiah 2:1-2. And the word … not sown.—It is probable that in the opening words of Jeremiah 2:2 Jeremiah received the command to leave Anathoth and go to Jerusalem as the scene of his prophetic labors. For here only is the audience, to which he was to address himself, designated thus briefly by the word “Jerusalem.” Everywhere else the address reads differently. Comp. Jeremiah 17:19; Jeremiah 19:3; Jeremiah 25:13.—I remember of thee. The expression occurs in malam partem Psalms 79:8; Psalms 137:7; Nehemiah 6:14; Nehemiah 13:29 : in bonam partem Psalms 98:3; Psalms 106:45; Psalms 132:1; Nehemiah 5:19; Nehemiah 13:22; Nehemiah 13:31. In any case of thee contains an emphasis which should not be overlooked in the exposition—The kindness of thy youth. The commentators dispute whether the kindness and love of God toward the people or that of the people toward God is meant. In behalf of the former view it is urged, (1) that in the following context the people is described as rebellious from the first, and (2) that with this the historical representation of the Pentateuch and other declarations of Old Testament passages accord. (Comp. especially Hosea 11:1; Ezekiel 16:0.) To the first argument it may be objected that these verses form the introduction not to the second chapter only, but to the whole book, and although the greater part of this consists of threatenings, or rather because it does so, the prophet places the assurance of God’s unchangeable fidelity in the foreground. Though Israel may have always sinned, yet originally he was united to God in love, and this fundamental relation is eternal and inviolable. Comp. Romans 11:0. It cannot then be disputed that the infidelity of Israel was of an early date (comp. from of old, Jeremiah 2:20) going back to the pilgrimage through the desert (the golden calf and even prior to this, the murmuring of the people, Exodus 15:24; Exodus 16:2; Exodus 17:2), but it must nevertheless be maintained that the acceptance by Israel of the privileges offered by the Lord, when He sent Moses, and the people trustingly followed him into the Red Sea and the wilderness, is to be regarded as the binding of an inviolable and perpetual covenant. Compare the short and significant, “and the people believed,” Exodus 4:31, with Genesis 15:6, “and he believed in Jehovah”; Romans 4:3; Galatians 3:6. To this also point many prophetic declarations, ex. gr.Hosea 11:1 : “When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt.” The period in the youth of Israel at which the Lord loved the people was that in which He brought them out of Egypt. For immediately afterwards (Jeremiah 2:2), it is said of them that they sacrificed to Baalim, and burned incense to graven images. But then, in that important moment, when the Lord delivered Israel from the encircling power of Egypt, displaying His might so grandly, He concluded a covenant of love with Israel; they must therefore then have not only been found worthy of love, but have reciprocated His love. How sweet and precious Israel’s love then was to Him is expressed by Hosea in the splendid image of the early figs, which the pilgrim finds in the desert, Hosea 9:10. So, says the Lord, He found Israel in the wilderness, but alas! He has to add, “they went to Baalpeor, and separated themselves unto their shame.” The objections are then unfounded which have been raised to the rendering of verses 2 and 3 in the sense of Israel’s love for God, and other arguments speak positively in its favor, viz. (1) זָכַרְתִּי לָךְ. This dative has everywhere the sense of a reckoning to one’s account in a good or bad sense. (See the passages cited above.) But since this is not possible here in a bad sense, for the kindness and love of the past are remembered only as good, it can be meant only in a good sense. If, now, Israel has a balance with Jehovah in an active sense, he (Israel) must have done something,—performed some service. It might be said that this service is in allowing himself to be loved, but this is himself to love. We are thus brought again to this point, that Israel in that opening period of his existence turned to the Lord with such love that, though of momentary duration, it sufficed to found an everlasting covenant and imperishable remembrance of its glory. We may also take חֶסֶד in the sense of “the kindness of a maiden towards her master,” being justified in doing so by passages like Hosea 6:4; Hosea 6:6. Indeed, in view of Isaiah 40:6, it might not appear unsuitable to recognize in חֶסֶד the element of loveableness, gracefulness, which in itself is connected with the idea of love and grace, and etymologically in gratia, χάρις, grace; (2) the words לֶכְתֵּךְ אַחֲרַי favor this interpretation, since they represent Israel, a pilgrim through the desert, walking in the foot-prints of the Lord. Some indeed would understand these words as denoting, not the obedient following of the people, but the gracious precedence of the divine Leader. This interpretation, however, is arbitrary. The text expresses only the idea of following, or pushing after; we are not justified in exchanging this idea for another. (3). The third verse is manifestly in favor of Israel. When it is said (Graf, S. 23), “It should be so, but how it became entirely otherwise is shown in what follows,” we reply, it has not become otherwise; but on this point we shall say more presently.

Jeremiah 2:3. Israel … come upon them.—Though in the words remember of thee it is implied that the kindness and love of the espousals are now only an object of remembrance, a lost joy, yet the third verse declares what a permanent relation was the result of that transient one, an indelible character having been impressed upon the people by that sometime connection with their Lord. They thus became a sanctuary of Jehovah, separate from the profanum vulgus of the nations. This thought is further expressed by a beautiful image: Israel is related to the Gentiles as the first fruits sanctified unto the Lord are to the multitude of common wild fruits, and as profane lips were forbidden to eat the former (Exodus 23:19; Numbers 15:20, sq.; Jeremiah 18:12; Deuteronomy 26:1; comp. Leviticus 22:16-26), so will guilt be upon those who touch the sacred first-fruits in the field of humanity. In accord with this image are Jeremiah 10:25; Jeremiah 50:7; Psalms 14:4; Psalms 79:7.—All who devour, etc. The instruments of discipline though chosen by the Lord Himself, by the manner in which they execute their commission, bring guilt upon themselves and call for the vengeance of Jehovah, as is especially set forth in reference to Babylon. Habakkuk 1:11; Jeremiah 50:11; Jer 15:23, 28; Jeremiah 51:5 (N. B.), Jeremiah 51:8; Jeremiah 51:11; Jeremiah 51:24.


1. Although in Jeremiah 31:32 Jeremiah represents the covenant made with Israel at the exodus from Egypt as the worse because broken by them, and that a new one in the future, to be kept faithfully by the people, would be opposed to it (comp. Jeremiah 32:40; Jeremiah 50:5; Isaiah 55:3), and although in Romans 11:28 (“as touching the election beloved for the fathers’ sake”) the steadfastness of God is founded entirely on the promise given by Him and on the worth of the fathers in His sight, it is yet evident from our passage that the entering into covenant relation by Israel at the Exodus was not without significance. Though the covenant does not rest positively and in principle on that acceptance, yet this latter appears to be the negative condition sine qua non. Had Israel decidedly rejected Moses, had they refused to follow him into the wilderness, the promise given to the fathers would have been nullified. But if we should say that the people were obliged to believe in and follow Moses, we should injure the law of freedom, and endanger the moral value of human personality as well as the glory of God.

2. Every important historical appearance has its paradise or golden age. It is thus with humanity in general, with Israel, with the Christian Church (Acts 2:41 to Acts 4:37), with the Reformation, so also with single churches (Galatians 4:14), and with individual Christians. This period of first, nuptial love does not, however, usually continue long, comp. Revelation 2:4.

3. As Israel is called the firstling among the nations, so Christians are called the firstlings of His creatures, being regenerated by the word of truth (James 1:18, comp Wiesinger in loc., Revelation 14:5), in whom first that life-principle is active which is to renew heaven and earth. (Isaiah 65:17; Isaiah 66:22; Revelation 21:1; 2 Peter 3:13). And since Israel as the firstling of the nations is called the sanctuary of God, so Christians by virtue of that principle, implanted in them by word and sacrament, of true, divine, eternal life, without regard to their subjective constitution are ἅγιοι, ἡγιασμένοι (1 Corinthians 1:2; Acts 20:32, etc.), the community of the saints, in antithesis to the home communis, i.e. natural, earthly, profane humanity. Thus as the firstling Israel cannot be devoured by its enemies, so likewise with the Church (community of the saints), Matthew 16:18; Luke 21:17; Matthew 28:20; Revelation 12:5, etc.

4. Zinzendorf: “Jeremiah a preacher of Righteousness,” (S. 148). “Behold this maiden who is here described! Listen to her leaders, Moses and Aaron! Consider the rods with which she has been beaten and that unbelief and disobedience swept all but two away in the desert, and compare that with the words, ‘I remember still that we were together in the wilderness,’ quasi re bene gesta; and with the others which we heard before from Moses: ‘Happy art thou, O Israel: who is like unto thee, O people saved by Jehovah,’ (Deuteronomy 33:29). The cause is to be found in this, ‘Thou followedst me.’ ”

5. Idem (S. 150): “In the application to the people it is useful and well to show them that they also were once a maiden who ‘followed’ partly in the beginnings of the Gospel (see Acts 4:4), partly in the beginnings of the Reformation. There is an important trace of this in the letter of Luther to the Elector Johann Friedrich. So it then appeared. Likewise in the earlier ages of the Church, even so late as last century, since certainly in the sermons of an Arndt, a Joh. Gerhard, a Selnecker, a Martin Heger, a Scriver, a Spener, a Schade, the people still made quite another figure, and had not only another form, but certainly also a different feeling.”


1. The period of first love (in a spiritual sense). (1) In experience extremely precious. (2) In duration relatively brief. (3) In effect a source of everlasting blessing.—2. The nuptial state of Christ’s Church in its stages. (1) The first stage, first love, (2) second stage, alienation, (3) third stage, return.—3. The covenant of Christ with His Church, (1) its ground, election, (2) its condition, faith, (3) its promise, the Church an indestructible sanctuary.


Jeremiah 2:3; Jeremiah 2:3.—For תְּבוּאָתֹה (Comp. Naegelsb. Gram. S. 93, Anm.) some Codd. read תּבוּאָתוֹ. It would be natural to pronounce the consonants תְּבוּאָתָהּ which has been also done by J. D. Michaelis who refers the word to אֶרֶץ לֹא זְרוּעָה Jeremiah 2:2, but the reference of the suffix to Jehovah is demanded by the connection.

2. The Infidelity of Israel viewed in the light of the Fidelity of Jehovah and of the Heathen

Jeremiah 2:4-13

4          Hear ye the word of Jehovah, O house of Jacob!

And all the families of the house of Israel!

5     Thus saith Jehovah, What injustice have your fathers found in me,

That they went far from2 me,

And followed vacuity arid became vacuous?

6     They said not: Where is Jehovah?

Who brought us up from the land of Egypt,
Who led us through the wilderness,
A land of deserts and pits,
A land of drought and the shadow of death,
A land which no man traversed,
And where no man dwelt?

7     And I brought you into the garden-[literally, Carmel-] land

To eat its fruit and its goodliness;
But ye came and defiled my land,
And made my heritage an abomination.

8     The priests said not, Where is Jehovah?

And those that handle the law knew me not;
The shepherds also rebelled against me,
And the prophets prophesied by Baal,
And followed those that cannot profit.

9     Wherefore I will reckon with you, saith Jehovah,

And with your children’s children will I reckon.

10     For pass over to the isles [or countries] of Chittim, and see,

And send to Kedar, and well consider,
And see if there has been anything like this.

11     Has a people changed3 gods, which yet are no gods?

But my people has changed its glory for that which cannot profit.

12     Be ye astonished, O ye heavens! at this,

Be ye horrified, utterly amazed [lit., shudder and be withered away], saith Jehovah.

13     For my people have committed two evils:

Me they have forsaken, the fountain of living waters,
To hew out for themselves cisterns,
Broken cisterns that hold no water.


The conduct of Israel is compared (a) with the conduct of Jehovah towards him (Jeremiah 2:4-9) (b), with the conduct of the heathen nations towards their gods (Jeremiah 2:10-13.)

Jeremiah 2:4. Hear ye … house of Israel. Although the reformation of Josiah extended over the rest of the kingdom of Israel (2 Kings 23:15-20; 2 Chronicles 34:33), and although some from the tribes of Israel were present at divine service in Jerusalem (2 Chronicles 35:18), the expression used here is too comprehensive to designate these only; it includes the whole nation. Comp. Isaiah 46:3; Jeremiah 31:1.—Jeremiah addresses himself not only to those who are actually present, but to an ideal audience: to the whole people of Israel of all times and places, to all those whose common fathers had incurred the guilt reproved in the following verses, and bequeathed it to their descendants. Comp. the address to a still greater circle of ideal hearers, Deuteronomy 32:1; Isaiah 1:2; Micah 1:2; Micah 6:1-2.

Jeremiah 2:5. Thus saith … vacuous. Observe the gradation: your fathers, you (Jeremiah 2:7; Jeremiah 2:9), your children’s children; an historical survey which proceeds from the conduct of the fathers in the past and present, to the fate of the children in the future. The prophet by beginning with “the fathers,” shows that Israel’s ingratitude and disobedience was of ancient date. Moreover, these fathers were not those of any definite period, and therefore not as Kimchi supposes, those who have lived since the entrance into the promised land. Could those who had accompanied the journey through the desert indeed speak thus?—The expression “What iniquity have your fathers found in me?” is an exhibition of the condescending love of God, who speaks just as though He were under obligation to Israel, and they had a right to call Him to account. Comp. Micah 6:3; Isaiah 5:3. Theodoret: οὐ γὰρ ὡς κριτὴς κρίνει, ἀλλ’ ὡς ὑπεύθυνος�, καὶ ἐλεγχθῆαι βούλεται εἵτι πράξαι δέον οὔκ ἔπραξε.—Followed vacuity and became vacuous. הֶבֶל are the idols (Jeremiah 10:15; Jeremiah 14:22; Deuteronomy 32:21, etc.). He who devotes himself to that which is nothing and vanity, becomes himself vain. LXX. ἐματαιώθησαν, of which there seems to be a reminiscence in Romans 1:21. The words are found reproduced verbatim in 2 Kings 17:15.

Jeremiah 2:6. They said not … no man dwelt.—Comp. Jeremiah 2:8. To ask “where is Jehovah?” is to ask after him, to seek Him. To ask after him implies that He is forgotten or lightly esteemed. A land of desertsעֲרָבָה, comp. Jeremiah 50:12; Jeremiah 51:43. שׁוּחה, comp. Jeremiah 18:20; Proverbs 22:16; Proverbs 23:27. They are pits or holes in which man and beast sink. Comp. Rosenmueller, ad loc.Shadow of death. Psalms 23:4; Job 3:5; Job 28:3; Isaiah 9:1; Amos 5:8. [For a similar description of the Arabian desert, see Robinson, Bibl. Res., II., 502.—S. R. A.]

Jeremiah 2:7. And I brought you … an abomination.—וָאָבִיא resumes the address of Jehovah from Jeremiah 2:5. On the subject-matter compare Deuteronomy 8:0. If כַּרְמֶל stood here in a merely appellative signification, the article would be either superfluous or insufficient. We should expect either merely ברמל (or fruitful land, or כַּרְמֶל הַזוֹת (in this fruitful land) for Palestine cannot be called the fruitful land κατ’ ἐξοχήν, since there are many others more fruitful. To ascribe a demonstrative signification to the article is not allowable, since it has this only in formulas like הַפַּעַם הַיּוֹם. I believe, therefore, that the Prophet here intended Carmel for a proper name, with a hint, however, at the appellative meaning. So the Vulgate: in terram Carmeli. Carmel, in this reference, is contrasted with the desert, as a mountain with the plain, as a fertile cultivated land of forests, vineyards, gardens, and fields, with the desert sand, as a place of springs with the land of drought. Comp. Jerome on Jeremiah 4:26.—And its goodliness. This addition is not superfluous. The Vau is here the climactic and indeed, Genesis 4:4But ye came. After that has been enumerated which the Lord did for the people, we are told what the people did against their Lord. Herein a comparison is instituted between the conduct of Jehovah and the conduct of the people.

Jeremiah 2:8. The priests said not … that cannot profit. That which in Jeremiah 2:6 was laid as a reproach upon all, is now declared specially of the priests. It was their especial duty to seek and inquire after the Lord, comp. דָּרַשׁ י׳, Jeremiah 10:21; Psalms 9:11; Psalms 34:5, שָׁאַל י, Judges 1:1; 28:5; 1 Samuel 22:13; Joshua 9:14.—Who handle the law, not those who decide legal cases, but those who handle the book of the law. We see that the handling is intended in this external sense from the contrast, knew me not. Comp. Jeremiah 18:18; Ezekiel 7:26; Malachi 2:7.—The shepherds ought to keep the flock well together and lead it, and how can they do this when they are themselves in rebellion against the chief shepherd? Comp. Jeremiah 10:21; Jeremiah 12:10; Jeremiah 23:1; Jeremiah 50:6.—By Baal (Jeremiah 23:13) or through Baal, that is, through the influence and inspiration of Baal. It is opposed to “in the name of Jehovah” Jeremiah 11:21; Jeremiah 14:15; Jeremiah 26:9; Jeremiah 26:20. Remark the antithesis: They would be prophets, and yet are the organs of falsehood, they would be leaders, yet themselves go astray. The imperfect יוֹעלוּ is used of a permanent quality. Comp. Naegelsb. Gr., § 87 d. There appears, moreover, in this expression, to be an allusion to בְּלִיַּעַל (comp. especially בַּל יוֹעִלוּIsa 44:9), perhaps also to לֹא אֱלֹהִים, comp. also 1 Samuel 12:21.

Jeremiah 2:9. Wherefore … will I reckon.—The comparison of Israel’s conduct in the past and present, with that of Jehovah, results so much to the disadvantage of the former, that in the future, remote as well as proximate, only רִיבlitigatio is to be expected. Jehovah will now prosecute His claims. Isaiah 3:13; Isaiah 57:16; coll. Psalms 103:9.

Jeremiah 2:10. For pass over … anything like this. Jeremiah 2:9 divides the two halves of the strophe, belonging to both, as the statement of the result. It is affixed to the first half by means of לָכֵן, and prefixed to the second by כִּי. Comp. Amos 5:10-12.—Chittim. The word כִּתִּים or כִּתִּיִּים occurs eight times in the Old Testament: Genesis 10:4 (1 Chronicles 1:7), Numbers 24:24; Isaiah 23:1; Isaiah 23:12; Jeremiah 2:10; Ezekiel 27:6; Deuteronomy 11:30. Comp. Malachi 1:1; Malachi 1:1; 1Ma 8:5. It is acknowledged that it denotes primarily the inhabitants of the “islands of the Eastern Mediterranean” (Knobel on Genesis 10:4). The name seems to have been given by way of preference to the island of Cyprus, the ancient capital of which was Citium, (Herzog, Real-Enc., III. S. 215). We have, therefore, translated אֵיִּי “islands” in preference to “coasts.” It is evident that Chittim, in a wider sense, denoted Greece, and even the North-western coasts of the Mediterranean in general, since according to Daniel 11:30, Antiochus Epiphanes was attacked by ships from Chittim, according to Malachi 1:1; Malachi 1:1, Alexander the Great, and according to Jeremiah 8:5, Perseus came from Chittim [pronounced Kittim]. The Chittæans are here the representatives of the West, Kedar of the East. For Kedar, according to Genesis 25:13, is a son of Ishmael; Jeremiah 49:28, Kedar is reckoned with the men of the East, בְּנֵי קֶדֶם. They are a pastoral people inhabiting the Arabian desert (Isaiah 21:13-17; Isaiah 42:11; Isaiah 60:7; Ezekiel 27:21; Psalms 120:5; Song of Solomon 1:5). The Rabbins designate the Arabians generally by Kedar. לְֹשׁוֹן קֵדָר is the Arabic language. Comp. Knobel on Genesis 25:13. Buxtorf, Lex. Talm. et Rabb. p. 1976.—If, הֵן in the conditional sense as ex. gr.Exodus 4:1; Exodus 8:22; Isaiah 54:15; Jeremiah 3:1. Hence it may also be used as an interrogative particle, like אִם (comp. si in French). It never occurs in this sense, however, except in this passage. The passages, Job 12:14; Job 23:8, which Fuerst adduces, may be otherwise explained.

Jeremiah 2:11. Has a people … cannot profit.—But my people has changed, comp. Amos 8:7.—Which cannot profit. The idols are meant, comp. rem. on Jeremiah 2:8,—Jeremiah 16:19; Habakkuk 2:18.—This is the second comparison unfavorable to Israel which is instituted in this strophe. The heathen nations who have good reason to change their gods do not, but Israel, whose preeminence over all other nations is founded in their possession of the true God, exchanges Him for vain idols.

Jeremiah 2:12. Be ye astonished … saith Jehovah. The greatness of the crime can be estimated by none so well as be over-arching heavens, which can behold and compare all that takes place. Comp. Deuteronomy 32:1; Isaiah 1:2. חָרֵב, to be dry, stiff, is found here only in the sense of to be amazed. The imperative with o, corresponds to the intransitive signification: transitive תִרְבוּ, Jeremiah 50:27.

Jeremiah 2:13. For my people … water. The two evils are a negative and a positive. The Lord, the fountain of living waters, who offered Himself to them, they have forsaken, and leaky cisterns they have dug, comp. Jeremiah 17:13. In the physical sense the phrase is used in Genesis 26:19; “a well of springing water.”—Fountain of living water; Psalms 36:10; Proverbs 10:11; Proverbs 13:14; Proverbs 16:22. Ὕδωρ ζῶν, John 4:10; John 7:37 sqq.—The repetition of בֹּארוֹת, cisterns, reminds us of Genesis 14:10. Leaky wells are cisterns dug in the ground, which, having cracks in them will not retain the collected rain-water. לאֹ יָכִילוּ reminds us in sense and sound of לֹאֹ יוֹעִילוּ, ver 8.


1. God’s love is “meek and lowly of heart,” Matthew 11:29, comp. 1 Corinthians 13:4. It is not a love which desires only to receive. It will take, but only on the ground of that which it has given. But since in giving it has done its duty, in taking it demands its rights. It would reap where it has sowed, and not let the devil reap what God has sowed, Isaiah 42:8; Isaiah 48:11. Comp. Matthew 25:14-30.

2. Only the true is the real. Falsehood is mere appearance, and all that is based on falsehood, is only an apparent life. It disappears in the fire of judgment, Psalms 62:11; Psalms 115:9; Psalms 132:18.

3. When God tells us, lam doing this for thee, what art thou doing for me? we cannot answer Him one for a thousand. Every sin is at the same time the basest ingratitude towards the greatest benefactor and the most disgraceful rebellion against the truest, most gracious and wisest Lord.

4. Since priests, pastors, and prophets, who have been regularly inducted into office may be deceivers, it is necessary to try the spirits according to the criterion given in 1 John 4:1 sqq.

5. As we read here that the heathen adhere more faithfully to their false gods than Israel to the true God, so is it generally confirmed by experience that men, as a rule, pursue a bad cause with more zeal, devotion and wisdom, than a good one. Comp. the case of the unrighteous steward; Luke 16:1-8; 1 Kings 18:27-28; Jeremiah 4:22.

6. “His people, the nation on which He has bestowed the true religion, have the fountain, they can obtain water without difficulty, as much as they want, but they choose in preference, means difficult, new, insufficient, deceptive, rejected on trial and even in daily experience, rather than be willing to do as they should. Hence come the works of supererogation, the many ceremonies, vows, ecclesiastical regulations, which unquestionably are twice as difficult as to follow the Saviour, and have no promise for this life or for the life to come. … The sin is twofold; (1) they do not obey the Lord. (2) They will labor tooth and nail, if only they may not obey Him.” Zinzendorf, ut sup., S. 162.


1. On Jeremiah 2:4 sqq. The ingratitude of man towards God: (1) It is not to be laid to the charge of God (2). It consists in this, that men (a) forget the divine benefits, (b) they adhere to idols (both coarse and refined), (3). It does not remain unpunished.

2. On Jeremiah 2:12. [“These strongest terms in the language show how intensely amazed all the holy in heaven are at the monstrous folly of human sinning. That when men might have the infinite God for their Friend, they choose to have Him their enemy; that when they might have Him their exhaustless portion of unmeasured and eternal good, they spurn Him away and set themselves to the fruitless task of making some ruinous substitute: this is beyond measure amazing! Verily, sin is a mockery of human reason! It defies all the counsels of prudence and good sense, and glories only in its own shame and madness:” Cowles.—S. R. A].

3. On Jeremiah 2:13. All hunger and thirst is a desire for nourishment by those elements which are necessary to life. This brings us to the question:

What can quench the thirst of the soul?
1. It cannot be quenched by drawing from the broken cisterns of earthly good.
2. It can be quenched only by drawing from the fountain of life, from which the soul originally sprang, even from God.

4. On Jeremiah 2:13. “Our double sin. It consists in this, that we (1) have forsaken the Lord, the living fountain, and (2) have dug for ourselves cisterns which hold no water.” Genzken, Epistelpredigten, 1853.—“How is it that the Lord has to say, they have forsaken me, the living spring? It arises from this, that the hewn cisterns please us better. The creature attracts us so powerfully, all that is below has such an influence on the wavering heart, that it is drawn away from the living spring, and finds the cistern-water of this world more to its taste than the living water, the living God and His word.” Hochstetter. “Twelve Parables from the prophet Jer.,” 1865, S. 6, sq. [“This may be applied to every sinner: qui relicto fonte fodit sibi cisternas rimosas; and to heretics: qui purum doctrinæ fontem in Scripturis et Ecclesia Dei deserunt et fodiunt sibi cisternas cœnosas falsorum dogmatum (S. Irenæus, III. 40; S. Cyprian, Ep. 40; a. Lapide). Comp. Sir 21:13-14, and Bp. Sanderson, I. 361.” Wordsworth. Comp. Thomson, The Land and the Book, I. 443.—S. R. A.]

5. Those who have forsaken the true God, the Creator of all, and serve false gods, are worthy that all creatures should refuse them service. Deuteronomy 28:23. Starke.


Jeremiah 2:5; Jeremiah 2:5.—מֵעָלַי [from upon=from near). Comp. Genesis 32:12; Exodus 35:22; Jeremiah 3:18; Amos 3:15. The Hebrew loves to consider that as cumulation, which we represent as association.

Jeremiah 2:11; Jeremiah 2:11.—The form הֵימִיר seems to require the root יָמַר, which occurs besides only in Hithpael, Isaiah 61:6. Since the form הֵמִיר follows directly afterwards, the present form may have originated in a mere oversight, as Olshausen supposes (§ 39 f.; 255 e. i.)

3. Israel’s Punishment and its Cause

Jeremiah 2:14-19

14          Was Israel a slave? Was he a house-born (slave)?

Why then is he become a spoil?

15     The young lions roar over him,

They raise their voice,
And they made his land desolate:
His cities were burned up4 without an inhabitant.5

16     Even the children of Noph and Tahpanhes6

Will depasture the crown of thy head.

17     Did not thy forsaking7 of Jehovah, thy God, procure thee this,

At the time when he was leading thee8 in the way?

18     And now what hast thou to do9 in the way to Egypt,

To drink the water of the Black river [Nile]?
And what hast thou to do in the way to Assyria,
To drink the water of the river [Euphrates]?

19     Thine own wickedness shall correct thee,

And thine apostasies shall punish thee,
That thou mayest know and see10 how evil and bitter it is,

That thou hast forsaken Jehovah thy God,
And that11 the fear of me12 is not in thee,

Saith the Lord Jehovah of Hosts.


In a new picture the prophet sees Israel in the form of slaves, evil entreated and dragged away by enemies, their land desolated, their cities destroyed. He asks the question: Why is this? The answer is: This is the consequence of their revolt from Jehovah, and their devotion to their idols.

Jeremiah 2:14. Was Israel a slave? … become a spoil? Who is the interrogator? God, the people, the prophet, or some other? Not the people; for this condition of misery is still future, perceived only prophetically, therefore still hidden from the people. It would then also read עָרַי אַרְצִי. God also is not the questioner, for He it is who is asked, and who answers, (Jeremiah 2:17-18). A third person at a distance cannot be the interrogator, since the subject of inquiry being still future is not known by him. The prophet only can be the questioner. He perceives prophetically the future calamitous condition of his people, and he implores from God a disclosure concerning it.—As to the import of the question, it cannot possibly be regarded as requiring an affirmative answer, as Hitzig supposes, explaining the meaning: “for is not Israel the servant of God or son of the house?” For, 1. We must then read הֲלֹא; 2. We must then have עֶבֶד יהוה, or עַבְדִּי; 3. יְלִיד בַּיִת never signifies the son of the house, but always the house-born slave in opposition to one who is bought. Genesis 14:14; Genesis 17:12-13; Genesis 17:23; Genesis 17:27; Leviticus 22:11.—The question must then be one requiring a negative answer; Israel is not a purchased slave but one born in the house. But how then could he be left like a mere thing for a spoil to the enemy? How far this has taken place is shown in the following verse.

Jeremiah 2:15. The young lions roar … without an inhabitant. This is the condition of Israel which the prophet sees with prophetic glance, and from which it seems to proceed that Israel has ceased to be God’s son (comp. Exodus 4:22; Deuteronomy 26:18; Deuteronomy 32:9 sqq.). עָלָיוGraf renders =against him, because the lion only growls (הגהIsa 31:4) over prey that is slain. Strange! As though the lion could not roar for joy and from a desire for more, etc. Comp. Amos 3:4. The connection requires the sense of “over,” since Israel appears to have already become a prey; his land is wasted, his cities destroyed. On this account the inquiry is made, whether then he is a slave and no longer Jehovah’s first-born son. The imperfect יִשְׁאֲגוּ denotes that the fact is not yet an objective reality but still pertains to the subjective conception of the prophet. What further follows is nevertheless represented as present or past. Comp. Naeglsb., Gr. § 84, h.

Jeremiah 2:16. Even the children of Noph … thy head.—נֹף (Isaiah 19:13; Jeremiah 44:1; Jeremiah 46:14; Jeremiah 46:19; Ezekiel 30:13; Ezekiel 30:16) or מֹף (only in Hosea 9:6 : both forms are explained by the Egyptian Mon-nufi, see Arnold in HerzogReal-Enc. Art. Memphis), is the Hebrew name for Memphis, the ancient capital of lower Egypt. Tahpanhes (Δάφναι Πελούσιαι, Herod. II 30. Τάφνας not Τάφναι, LXX. Jeremiah 43:8-9; Jeremiah 44:1), was a fortified border city to the east. In these two cities especially, the Jews who fled to Egypt after the murder of Gedaliah, appear to have settled (Jeremiah 43:7; Jeremiah 44:1; Jeremiah 46:14).—Depasture the crown, etc. Triple explanation: 1. The LXX and translations dependent upon it appear to have read יֵדְעוּךְ or יְדָעוּךְ. For they translate ἔγνωσάν σε καὶ κατέπαιξάν σε (the latter probably κατὰ σύνεσιν). The Vulgate also has constupraverunt te usque ad verticem. 2. Most expositors up to the time of the Reformation follow the Peschito version in translating affligent, contundent, conterent. They derive the word from רָעַעconfregit. 3. The only grammatically admissible derivation from רָעָהpascere, depascere is found first (according to Seb. Schmidt) in Luther (but not in his translation). He is followed by most of the modern commentators. But it is decidedly wrong to take the imperfect here in the past sense, as Graf does. If a definite, past fact, viz., the incursion of Shishak (1 Kings 14:25 sq.) were alluded to, we should have the perfect here. For there is no occasion to render this act of depasturing as taking place in the past (comp. Naegelsb. Gr., § 87, 3). We are rather led by the mention of Noph and Tahpanhes to the conclusion that something in the future, resulting from the residence of the Jews in the places named (Jeremiah 43:7; Jeremiah 44:1) is alluded to. We read in Jeremiah 42:15-22, that Jeremiah predicted complete destruction to the Jews who were proposing to flee from the vengeance of Nebuchadnezzar into Egypt. Particularly in Jeremiah 44:12 he insists that the last remnant of the fugitives in Egypt would be destroyed (Jeremiah 2:14, “none of the remnant of Judah, which are gone into the land of Judah to sojourn there, shall escape or remain”). To this I refer the depasturing of the crown. The last and only covering, the natural covering of the hair, shall be taken from Judah, he shall be made entirely bald, that is, he shall be entirely swept away: “and they shall all be consumed,” Jeremiah 44:12, [“The hair of the head being held in high estimation among the Hebrews, baldness was regarded as ignominious and humbling.” Henderson.—S. R. A.] In the meantime I confess that the definite mention by name of these places is remarkable. The prophet has hitherto mentioned no names. As was shown above on 1:44 sqq., he does not yet know what nation is appointed for the accomplishment of the divine judgment on Judah. Why, when he is ignorant of the northern enemy, should he know so exactly the southern, who in comparison with the former is of almost no importance? Although I cannot agree with Ewald that Jeremiah 2:14-17 did not originally belong here, since if we divide correctly, there is no break in the connection, yet Jeremiah 2:16 may possibly be an addition which the prophet himself made when writing out his book the second time (Jeremiah 36:32), after the destruction of Jerusalem, in Palestine or in Egypt. (Comp. Comm. on Jeremiah 1:3 and Jeremiah 2:36, and the Introduction to chapter 2). [“I render it, ‘The children of Noph and Tahpanhes have pastured down the crown of thy head.’—Memphis and Daphne, distinguished cities of Egypt, are here put for Egypt herself. Jehoiakim made league with Egypt, but was subjected to severe and shameful taxation. Such a process of shaving, taxation and consequent disgrace our passage forcibly describes.” Cowles.—S. R. A.]

Jeremiah 2:17. Did not thy … leading thee in the way? The fate of the people described in Jeremiah 2:14-16, so directly contradictory to the filial relation, is explained by their revolt from Jehovah. Comp. Jeremiah 4:18.—This, is without doubt the object, forsaking, the subject. As here the leader is put for the leading, so elsewhere the proclaimer for the message (Isaiah 41:27), the destroyer for the destruction (Exodus 12:13), the shooter for the shot (Genesis 21:16), the retractor for the retraction (Genesis 38:29). Comp. Naeglsb. Gr., § 50, 2; 61, 2 b, and below, Jeremiah 2:25מִיָּחֵף and the remarks thereon.—The expression leading thee points back to led thee, Jeremiah 2:6. It is not then God’s leading in general which is meant, but His leading through the desert, the rather, as the following verse shows that their forsaking of Him was not confined to the time of their pilgrimage. [“Most of the moderns take זֹאת to be the nominative to the verb and in opposition to עָזְבֵךְ and render: ‘Is it not this that hath procured it to thee,—thy forsaking,’ etc.; but the common rendering seems more appropriate, as it includes both the agent and the act, charging directly on the former the guilt contracted by the latter.—By the way is meant the right way, the way of the Lord; and the leading of the Jews therein denotes the whole of the moral training which they enjoyed under the Mosaic dispensation. In spite of every motive to the contrary, they forsook Jehovah as the object of their fear and confidence.” Henderson.—S. R. A.]

Jeremiah 2:18. And now what hast thou to do in the way to Egypt … to drink the water of the river?וְעַתָּה is in antithesis to בְּעֵת מוֹלִּיכֵךְ Jeremiah 2:17. The latter points to the ancient time, the former to the present. The way to Egypt according to the analogy of Amos 8:14, is not the Egyptian idol-worship. We see this from the statement of its object,—to drink the water of Shihor. The sense is, what will the way to Egypt (or Assyria) avail thee, which thou takest in order to drink the water of the Nile, &c.: that is, to draw from this source power and re-invigoration, i. e. to procure help in Egypt (or Assyria)? Here the question arises, whether the facts experienced by the prophet were the occasion of this mode of expression. Josiah so far from seeking to obtain help from the Egyptians lost his life in contending against them (2 Kings 23:29; 2 Chronicles 35:20). He did not undertake this contest as an ally of Assyria, for his object undoubtedly was to prevent these powers from encountering each other. Comp. the Article “Josia” in Herzog, Real-Enc.—Subsequently, indeed (Jeremiah 37:5; comp. 2 Kings 24:20, and Jeremiah 43:0), we find Jeremiah’s contemporaries laying claim to aid from Egypt, but at the same time the northern empire, by which we must understand Assyria, was the enemy which menaced them. Hence it appears that Jeremiah does not here, as in Jeremiah 2:16 and probably also in Jeremiah 2:3, allude to definite facts of recent date, but that he has in view only in general the propensity repeatedly manifested in the later history of Israel since Phul to seek help from the two heathen empires between which it was placed, instead of from Jehovah. In this period Egypt and Assyria are, as it were, two poles, which are always mentioned together in a stereotyped form in the most various connections. (Hosea 11:11; Isaiah 7:23; Isaiah 10:24; Isaiah 19:23 sqq.; Isaiah 27:13; Isaiah 52:4; Ezekiel 31:0.) Particularly the seeking aid from Egypt and Assyria is a reproach made both by the older prophets (Hosea 7:11, “They call to Egypt, they go to Assyria,” Jeremiah 12:2, comp. Jeremiah 11:5) by his contemporaries (Ezekiel 16:26 sqq; Jeremiah 23:2) and by Jeremiah himself elsewhere (Lamentations 5:6). There is therefore no reason here for the inquiry whether by Assyria Jeremiah meant Babylon, for he has really, at least in the first intention, the true Assyria in mind.—שּׁחוֹר here as in Isaiah 23:3 is the Nile. The name signifies “the black, black-water” (Leyrer, Art. Sichor in HerzogR.-Enc.); hence, also, among the Greeks and Romans the name Μέλας, Melo, from the black mud of the Nile (Comp. Servius on Virg. Georg. IV. 288 sqq. Æn. I. 745, IV. 246). נָהָר the Euphrates, as in Genesis 31:21; Exodus 23:31; Numbers 22:5, &c.

Jeremiah 2:19. Thine own wickedness shall correct thee … Jehovah of hosts. There is here a reference to Jeremiah 2:17-18. The wickedness described in these verses will correct Israel, that is, will produce the effects portrayed in Jeremiah 2:14-16, and this correction will lead Israel to shameful but yet wholesome knowledge.—Apostasies (מְשׁוּבָה) is a word used especially by Jeremiah. Except in this book it occurs in only three passages (Proverbs 1:32; Hosea 11:7; Hosea 14:5), the plural only in Jeremiah 3:22; Jeremiah 5:6; Jeremiah 14:7. With this the train of thought in this strophe seems to conclude. It begins with astonishment at the desolate condition of the people (Jeremiah 2:14 to Jeremiah 2:16), then explains why it must be so (Jeremiah 2:17-18), and finally designates salutary knowledge as the intended effect of this severe discipline (Jeremiah 2:19). The full form, “Saith the Lord,” &c., seems to denote the close of a section. The following strophe, though an independent tableau, is closely connected with the preceding, opening a deeper insight into the source of the apostasy described in Jeremiah 2:17-19.


Jeremiah 2:15; Jeremiah 2:15.—The Keri נִצְּתוּ is an unnecessary correction by the Masoretes, who here as in Jeremiah 22:6, regarded the plural as necessary with עָרָיו. But the singular may be used, in accordance with the capacity of the 3d Per. Fem. Sing., to involve an ideal plural. Naegelsb. Gr., § 105, 4, 6. Ewald, § 317, a. Whether נִצְּתָה is derived from צָת (comp. Ewald, § 140, a. Fuerst, s. v. צוּת) יָצַת to kindle (Olshausen regards it as a derivative from a root כּו֮, Lehrb. d. Hebr. Spr., S. 591), or נָצָה to destroy (Jeremiah 4:7; Jeremiah 9:11; Isaiah 37:26; 2 Kings 19:25) is undecided.

Jeremiah 2:15; Jeremiah 2:15.—מִבְּלִי ישֵּׁב. מִן is not to be taken as causal but local=away from without. Comp. Jeremiah 4:7; Jeremiah 9:9-11. There are two negatives: without no inhabitant. Gesen., § 152, 2.

Jeremiah 2:16; Jeremiah 2:16.—The reading תַּחְפְּנֵם for תַּחֲפַנְחֵם (vide Jeremiah 43:7-9; Jeremiah 44:1; Jeremiah 46:14, תַּחִפַּנְחֵם; Ezekiel 30:18 תְּחַפְנְחֵם) is probably no more than an ancient clerical error.

Jeremiah 2:17; Jeremiah 2:17.—The Infinitive, in accordance with its abstract signification, is regarded as feminine, and therefore has the predicate in the fem. (comp. 1 Samuel 18:23) as for the same reason it frequently assumes a fem. termination, ex. gr. שִׂנְאָה ,גֶשֶׁת, etc. Comp. Naegelsb. Gr., § 22, Anm. 3.

Jeremiah 2:17; Jeremiah 2:17.—בְּעֵת מוֹליכֵךְ, we should expect הוֹלִיכֵךְ. The participle is used in a somewhat unusual manner, as concretum pro abstracto.

Jeremiah 2:18; Jeremiah 2:18.—The construction is not the same as in the formula מַה לִי וָלָךְ, for this means: What have I and thou in common? The construction here, without the Vau, expresses only having to do with, having reference to. Comp. Psalms 50:16; Hosea 14:9.

Jeremiah 2:19; Jeremiah 2:19.—ודעי וראי. The intended consequences are represented as a command. Comp. Psalms 128:5; Genesis 20:7; Genesis 41:2; Ruth 1:9; Ewald, § 347, a. Naegelsb. Gr., § 90, 2.

Jeremiah 2:19; Jeremiah 2:19.—וְלֹא פַחְדָתִי אֵלַיִןְ is to be regarded as one conception, and as the subject, co-ordinate with עָזְבֵךְ to the predicate רַע וָמַר. Comp. Jeremiah 5:7; Isaiah 10:15; Isaiah 31:8. This passage moreover has this specialty, that besides the negation, the preposition with the suffix also pertains to the one conception.

Jeremiah 2:19; Jeremiah 2:19.—פַּחְדָּתִי might be taken in an objective sense like מֹרֵאֲבֶם, Genesis 9:2 (comp. Naegelsb. Gr., § 164, 4)=timor mei. אֵל would then have to be taken as a fortified לְ as it in fact occurs, ex. gr., after verbs like נָתַן (Exodus 25:16) נִמְשַׁל (Isaiah 14:10) נִגְלָה (1 Samuel 2:27). But the suffix may also be regarded as the genitive of subject=terror, quem injicio. Then the construction would be entirely like that in Job 31:23, פַּחַד אֵלַי and אֵל would be taken in its proper sense: my fear enters not into thee. The latter view seems to me the more correct, because in this the preposition receives its full significance.


Jeremiah 2:20-28

20      For from of old thou hast broken thy yoke,13

Thou hast burst thy bonds,
And hast said, I will not serve.
For upon every high hill
And under every green tree
Thou stretchest thyself as a harlot.

21     And yet I had planted thee a noble14 vine,

It was wholly of genuine seed.15

But how art thou changed16 with respect to me

Into bastards of a strange vine!

22     For though thou wash thyself with alkali

And take thee much of the soap,
Yet thine iniquity is a stain before me,
Saith the Lord Jehovah.

23     How canst thou then say: I am not polluted,

I have not followed the Baalim.
Look at thy way in the valley!
Know what thou hast done!
A she camel, young, fast, involving her courses;

24     A wild she-ass,17 accustomed to the desert;

In the desire of her soul she gasps for air,
Her leaping,18 who can repel it?

All, who seek her, become not weary;
In her month they find her.

25     Guard thy foot from the loss of shoe,

And thy throat19 from thirst!

But thou sayest: In vain! No!

26     For I love strangers, and after them I will go.

As a thief is ashamed when caught,
So the house of Israel is put to shame,
They, their kings, their princes, their priests, their prophets:

27     Who say to a block, My father thou!

And to a stone, Thou hast begotten me.20

For they turn to me the back and not the face,
But in the time of their calamity
They say, Up and deliver us!

28     But where are thy gods which thou madest for thyself?

Let them arise, if they can save thee in the time of thy trouble.
For as many as thy cities
Are thy gods, O Judah!


Israel’s propensity to idolatry is ancient (Jeremiah 2:20), deeply rooted (Jeremiah 2:21-22), yet at the same time betraying itself outwardly by the most passionate behaviour (Jeremiah 2:23-25), but finally causing deep shame on account of the nothingness of its objects (Jeremiah 2:26-28). The connection with the previous strophe is this, that here the forsaking of Jehovah (Jeremiah 2:17), and the wickedness and apostasies (Jeremiah 2:19), are more particularly explained. The כִי is, therefore, to be regarded as explicative.

Jeremiah 2:20. For from of old … as a harlot. עוֹלָם here as frequently (comp. Isaiah 42:14; Isaiah 46:9; Isaiah 63:16; Psalms 24:7, etc.), is used of inconceivable duration.—Israel is compared with wild refractory draught cattle (‘a bullock untrained,’ Jeremiah 31:18; a ‘backsliding heifer,’ Hosea 4:16), because they refuse the discipline and guidance of the Lord (comp. Jeremiah 5:5; Proverbs 2:3), and are obstinate in carrying out their own carnal will. —I will not serve. The second כִּי is also explicative. It forms the transition to the explanation of the imagery employed in Hemist. a.—Every high hill, etc., a frequent designation of the places especially sacred to the worship of nature. Comp. 1 Kings 14:23; 2 Kings 16:4; 2 Kings 17:10; Isaiah 57:5; Jeremiah 3:6; Jeremiah 3:13; Jeremiah 17:2; Ezekiel 6:13.—Stretchest thyself. צָעָה occurs only in Isaiah 51:14 of one who is bound and thus bent crooked, in Isaiah 63:1 of the strong man, who bends proudly backwards; Jeremiah 48:12 of the vessel, which we bend over in order to pour from it. Hence it seems to be used in the sense of παρακλίνεσθαι or inclinari of the bending of the body in a woman who lies with a man. Comp. כָּרַע of the man, in Job 31:10.

Jeremiah 2:21. And yet I had planted thee … strange vine.—And I stands in strong antithesis to thou, Jeremiah 2:20.—The antithesis is similar, which Isaiah sets forth between the vineyard for which all has been done, and the proprietor, whose hope is disappointed, Isaiah 5:1 sqq. Comp. Psalms 80:9 sqq.—That we are not to translate (with Ewald): “I have planted thee with noble vines,” as in Isaiah 5:2, is clear from the identity of the object of גטעתי with the subject of נהפכת.—Noble vine, properly reddish from שָׂרֵקsplendere, subrubicundum esse, comp. Isaiah 11:8; Zechariah 1:8, and Koehler, ad loc.—That the red wine was considered the nobler, may be inferred from the fact that it was prescribed for the feast of the Passover. See Lightfoot, Hor. Hebr. p. 478.—But how art thou changed, etc. It is not inadmissible to regard מוּרֵי as the accusative, as Graf, Hitzig, and others suppose. The mere accusative frequently stands in apposition with the object, (or in passive construction with the subject, where we use a preposition of motion, and the Hebrew more commonly uses לְ, comp. יוֹס לַיְלָה הֶחְשִׁיךְ. Amos 5:8; Amos 6:11; Isa. 28:38; Isaiah 37:26. See Naegelsb., Gr. § 69, 3.—The absence of the article before נָכְרִיָּה is certainly abnormal, but not without example: Jeremiah 22:26; Isaiah 37:4; Isaiah 37:17; 2 Samuel 6:3. See Naegelsb. Gr. § 73, 2. Anm.

Jeremiah 2:22. For though thou wash thyself … thy iniquity is a stain before me. כְּי is causal. Israel is to be compared with degenerate vines; their depravation, therefore, is essential, since it cannot be removed by outward means.—This figure of speech is based on the work of the fuller. For simple washing is רָחַץ; כָּבַס properly to tread, to stamp, is the technical expression for the work of the fuller. Hence, also, we have Piel here, comp. Naegelsb., Gr. § 41, 2; 61, 2, c. תְּכַבְּסִי is, therefore, properly. even if thou doest the work of a fuller, comp. Malachi 3:2. The reflexive meaning is implied in the connection, and is sufficiently indicated by the following לָךְ.—נֶתֶרνίτρον, is a mineral, בֹּרִית (בֹּר among the Greeks and Romans, also called nitrum) is a vegetable alkali. The former is obtained from water, the latter from the soap-plant. Comp. Winer, R. B. W., s. v. Laugensalz. [Thomson, The Land and the Book, II. pp. 302, 303.—S. R. A.]—נִכְתָּם is an ἅπαξ λεγόμενον. Some commentators render it (כָּתַב=) “ingrained, indelibly engraven is thy guilt.” Some render, “hidden, laid up,” others; “spotted, dirty, a stain.” The last meaning, which is certified by the dialects (Aram. כִּתְמָאmacula, כְּתִיםmaculosus) is also required by the connection. Comp. Psalms 51:3; Psalms 51:9.

Jeremiah 2:23. How canst thou then say? … involving her courses. The prophet has in mind an assertion actually made and often repeated by his contemporaries. This is the sense of the imperfect, comp. Naegelsb., Gr. § 87, c.—Thy way in the valley, גַּיְא must mean a definite valley, since hills, and not valleys were the places usually appropriated by the Israelites to idolatrous worship. In the vicinity of Jerusalem there was, however, a valley celebrated as a place of worship; the vale of Hinnom (Jeremiah 7:31; Jeremiah 29:2; Jeremiah 29:6; Jeremiah 32:35; Joshua 15:8; 2 Kings 23:10).—That the valley might be called absolutely הַגַּיְא is seen from the fact that the gate leading to it was called absolutely שַׁעַר הַגַּיְא (2 Chronicles 26:9; Nehemiah 2:13; Nehemiah 2:15), comp. Raumer, Palästina, 4 Aufl. S. 291.—A she-camel, etc., בִכְרָה and פֶּרֶה stand in apposition to the subject of the preceding sentence, viz., Israel. The former is feminine of בֵּכֶר (Isaiah 60:6), camel-foal. The (unused) root בָּכַּר signifies “to be early there,” hence בְּכוֹר,בַּכֻּר .—מְשָׂרֶכֶת is found here only as a verb. It means to “weave, cross, involve.” Hence שָׂרוֹךְ shoestring, Genesis 14:23; Isaiah 5:27.

Jeremiah 2:24. A wild she-ass … they find her. It is clear that the female is meant both from the connection and the construction of the following sentence:—Accustomed to the desert, (Job 24:5; Job 39:5), therefore, in general shy, wild and unconfined.—All who seek her, etc. Since they meet her half-way, there is no need to weary themselves with seeking her. In her month, that is, in her period of heat, they find her. This is the natural rendering. Other artificial explanations are found in J. D. Michaelis, Obsv., p. 17, and in Rosenmueller, ad h. loc.

Jeremiah 2:25. Guard thy foot … after them I will go. As a further proof of the intensity of this proneness to idolatry (Jeremiah 2:21-22), the prophet adduces the answer of the people to all warnings against it, their decided declaration that they would not relinquish it. The words of admonition, “Guard,” etc., are not to be regarded as spoken by commission from the Lord. The figure of passionate running is continued, but man is now understood as the subject.—The construction is that of the concrete for the abstract. Comp. 1 Samuel 15:23, where it reads “hath rejected thee from king,” while afterwards it is, “hath rejected thee from being king,” Jeremiah 2:26; Jeremiah 8:7; in Jeremiah 16:1, it is “from reigning.” Comp. further Jeremiah 2:17 and 1 Kings 15:13; Ezekiel 16:41.—יָחֵף is not of the same gender as רַגְלֵןְ, being feminine, but this variation is of no account. See remark on Jeremiah 2:24.—We might as well translate: “Hold back thy foot, to be somewhat unshod,” as in Psalms 73:2, נָטוּי רַגְלַי means inclinatum, aliquid sunt pedes mei.—On the general subject, comp. Jeremiah 31:16; Proverbs 1:15.—As to the import of the warning, we are certainly not to take רֶגֶל with Schnurrer, Rosenmueller and others, as in Genesis 49:10; Deuteronomy 28:57; Ezekiel 16:25 in the sense of crura et pudenda, and the discalceatio as denudatio. The prophet would merely say, ‘Cease from thy mad running after idols, from which nothing accrues to thee, but wounded feet and a dry throat, i.e., bitter injury instead of the expected advantage.’—נואשׁ Part. Niph., from יָאַשׁ (comp. 1 Samuel 27:1; Job 6:26; Isaiah 57:10; Jeremiah 18:12) = desperatum, perditum. The sense is: the warning is in vain. לוֹאֹ No! as in. Genesis 42:10; Numbers 22:30, etc.—The following verses portray the contrast between the passionate striving of Israel after the favor of their gods, and the results thereof.

Jeremiah 2:26-27. As a thief … deliver us. Comp. Exodus 22:1; Exodus 22:6-7. The thief is ashamed not merely because he is caught in his wickedness, but because at the moment of discovery he makes a ridiculous figure. Israel also plays this ridiculous part when the “poodle’s heart” is displayed.—Put to shame. Comp. Jeremiah 6:15; Jeremiah 8:9; Jeremiah 8:12.—Who say, אמרים, apposition to the nomen determinatum without the article, as frequently in the later books. See Naegelsb., Gr. § 97, 2 a.—For they turn to me the back, etc. This period to the end of Jeremiah 2:28, shows in three clauses the shameful character of idol-worship: (a) they turn their back on me; (b) in the time of calamity I am yet to help them; (c) I cannot then do so, but must direct them to their gods. These, however, are nowhere to be found, though as numerous as the cities in Israel.

Jeremiah 2:28. But where are thy gods.—O Judah! This inquiry is made of the idolaters as a punishment for their having previously made it in scorn of the faithful, comp. Psalms 42:4; Psalms 42:11; Psalms 79:10; Psalms 115:2.—If they can save. We are reminded of Deuteronomy 32:37-38. See Kueper, S. 6. Comp. Jeremiah 11:12. The indirect interrogative sentence is best understood as dependent on a verb to be supplied: let us see?For as many as the cities, etc., is repeated verbatim in Jeremiah 11:13. כִּי is causal. One would think they could save thee, since they are so numerous. The close of this strophe corresponds to the close of the preceding, (Jeremiah 2:19).


Jeremiah 2:20; Jeremiah 2:20.—The Masoretes take שָׁבַרְתִּי and נִתַּקְתִּי as in the first person. So, also, the Chaldee and Syriac versions and most of the Jewish expositors. As אֶ‍ֽעֱברֹ, then, does not give a good meaning, unless with the Syriac, we arbitrarily assume the false gods to be objects of service, the Keri reads אֶ‍ֽעֱבוֹר which must then he taken in the sense—transgredi verbum divinum. But neither does עָבַר occur in this sense without an accusative of the object, nor does this explanation suit the following כִּי.—The Masoretic punctuation is therefore erroneous, and the words are to be punctuated as 2nd Pers. Fem. according to the analogy of Jeremiah 2:33; Jeremiah 3:4-5; Jeremiah 4:19; Jeremiah 13:21; Jeremiah 22:23; Jeremiah 46:11; Ezekiel 16:18; Ezekiel 16:20; Ezekiel 16:22; Ezekiel 16:31; Ezekiel 16:36; Ezekiel 16:43-44; Ezekiel 16:47; Ezekiel 16:51 etc. Comp. on this form Ewald, § 190 c; Olshausen, § 226, b: 232, h; and Naegelsb. Gr. § 21. Anm. 3.

Jeremiah 2:21; Jeremiah 2:21.—שׂוֹרֵק only here and in Isaiah 5:2. The fem. form שׂרֵקָה Genesis 49:11.

Jeremiah 2:21; Jeremiah 2:21.—זֶרַע אֱמֶת literally: seed of truth, i.e. genuine seed, (Comp. Proverbs 11:18), opposed to גֶּפֶן נָכְרִיָח.

Jeremiah 2:21; Jeremiah 2:21.—סור. The passive participial form (Comp. Ewald, § 149, f) occurs, except here, only in the fem. form סוּרָה (Isaiah 49:21) and as Keri, Jeremiah 17:13. (Chethibh יְסוּרַי.) The meaning is not doubtful, —anomalous, alienated, bastard.

Jeremiah 2:24; Jeremiah 2:24.—Instead of פֶּרֶה, many editions read פֶּרֶא, which we usually find elsewhere, Genesis 16:12; Job 6:5; Job 11:12; Job 39:5; Hosea 8:9.—It is clear that the female is meant, both from the connection and the construction of the following sentence. The masc. stands in לִמֻד and נַפְשׁוֹ, under the immediate influence of the form פֶּרֶא, but further on, the gender, which the prophet has in mind, comes to light, hence, שָׁ‍ֽאֲפָה, etc —The Masoretes would incorrectly read נַפָשָׁהּ. The Hebrew language is much freer with respect to gender, number, and person than our modern languages. Comp. Naegelsb. Gr. § 60, 4. Comp. Jeremiah 14:6.

Jeremiah 2:24; Jeremiah 2:24.—תַּאֲנָתָהּ is also an ἅπ. λεγ.—There is a double root אָנָה: I. respirare, suspirare, ejulare (Isaiah 3:26; Isaiah 19:8), from which the substantive forms תִּ‍ֽאֲנִיָה וַ‍ֽאֲנִיָּה (groan, and groaning, Isaiah 29:2; Lamentations 2:5) are derived. From this derivation we obtain for תַּאֲנָה the meaning of deep breathing, snorting, catching for air, which is usually a symptom of excited passions. II. Kal inus. Piel.=a meeting, to prepare to meet (Exodus 21:12); Pual, to be made to meet, occurrere (Psalms 91:10; Proverbs 12:21); Hithp. to prepare a meeting for one’s self, to seek occasion (2 Kings 5:7).—From this root is derived תִּ‍ֽאֲנָח (Comp. תֹּאֲנָה, Judges 14:4) encounter, occursus. Etymologically both are possible. The connection favors the latter view.

Jeremiah 2:25; Jeremiah 2:25.—The Chethibh גוֹרְנֵךְ is an anomaly which is by no means to be traced back to a form גּוֹרֵן for גָּרוֹן as עֹשֵׁק (Jeremiah 21:12) for עָשׁוֹק (Jeremiah 22:3), but as frequently (Jeremiah 17:23; Jeremiah 27:1; Jeremiah 29:23; Jeremiah 32:23) through an oversight, a displacement of the mater lectionis seems to have occurred. See on Jeremiah 17:23.

Jeremiah 2:27; Jeremiah 2:27.—ילדתני. So according to Jeremiah 15:10 the Chethibh is to be spoken. The יְלִדְתָּנוּ is occasioned by אֹמִרִים, but needlessly, for the sing. may be used collectively. Those who pronounce Keri יְלִרְתָּנַי overlook the fact that אַתְּ precedes, and that this second member is doubtless intended to designate the part of that mother. Wood my father,—a stone my mother!


Jeremiah 2:29-37

29          Why do you contend against Me?

Ye have, all of you, offended against Me, saith Jehovah.

30     In vain have I smitten your children,

Chastisement they have not accepted.
Your sword has devoured your prophets
Like a ravening lion.

31     O ye generation! see the word of Jehovah:

Have I been a desert, O Israel?
Or a land of deepest night?21

Why do my people say: We ramble,22

No more will we come to thee?

32     Can a virgin forget her ornaments?—

A bride her girdle?
But my people have forgotten Me days without number.

33     How well trimmest thou thy way to seek love intrigue!

Therefore also to wickedness thou hast accustomed23 thy ways.

34     Even on thy skirts [wings] has been found

The blood of the souls of poor innocents.
Not at the place of burglary have I found it,
But on all these.

35     Yet thou sayest,24 I am innocent,25

Surely His anger is turned from me.
Behold, I enter into judgment with thee concerning this,
That thou sayest: I have not sinned.

36     How goest thou asunder26 much in changes of thy ways?

Even by Egypt shalt thou be put to shame,
As thou hast been put to shame by Assyria.

37     Also from thence27 wilt thou go forth, thy hands on thy head,

For Jehovah rejects thy supports,
And thou wilt have no success with them.


As in the beginning of the discourse (Jeremiah 2:5), (the prophet proceeds on the ground, that Israel’s revolt cannot be excused by any neglect on the part of Jehovah, but Israel is alone to blame (Jeremiah 2:20). The Lord has allowed nothing to fail: neither discipline (Jeremiah 2:30), nor the necessaries of life (Jeremiah 2:31), not even ornament and splendor (Jeremiah 2:32). But the people have shown a taste and fitness only for the service of idols (Jeremiah 2:33 a). The consequence is two-fold: (1) deep moral corruption (Jeremiah 2:33-34Jeremiah 2:33-34Jeremiah 2:33-34) which at the same time affords the most striking proof of the rebellion of the people, which they boldly deny (Jeremiah 2:35); (2) the shame of the people resulting from their political and religious wanderings (Jeremiah 2:36-37).

Jeremiah 2:29. Why do you contend … saith Jehovah. Israel’s propensity to complain of the Lord was displayed even in the wilderness at Meribah (Exodus 17:2-3; Exodus 17:7), and that Jeremiah’s contemporaries manifested the same disposition is evident from Jeremiah 5:19; Jeremiah 13:22; Jeremiah 16:10. Not I, saith the Lord, towards you have failed, but you towards Me, even all of you. Comp. Jeremiah 2:26.—The following verses enumerate what the Lord has done for Israel. Three things are mentioned; first, discipline.

Jeremiah 2:30. In vain … ravening lion—לַשָׁוְאin vain, used only by Jeremiah among the prophets, Jeremiah 4:30 : Jeremiah 6:29; Jeremiah 46:11. Comp. besides, Exodus 20:7 : Deuteronomy 5:11; Psalms 24:4; Psalms 139:20.—אֶת־בְּנֵיכֶם cannot be taken in a proper sense = your young men, as Hitzig maintains, for Jehovah’s blows were upon the whole people. When we reflect that the persons smitten by the Lord are those, who instead of accepting chastisement, slay God’s servants, and further, that these same are afterwards, Jeremiah 2:31, addressed as generation, and previously, in Jeremiah 2:28, as Judah, there can be no doubt that the prophet has here in view the abstract communities, the people being designated as their children. Comp. Jeremiah 5:7; Leviticus 19:18; Joel 4:6; Zechariah 9:13.—The smiting had not the intended effect (comp. Jeremiah 5:3) but was answered by the murder of the prophets, 1 Kings 18:4; 1 Kings 18:13; 2 Chronicles 24:20 sqq. Comp. Matthew 23:35; Matthew 23:37; Luke 11:47, etc.—The second fact, with which the charge is indignantly repelled, is Jehovah’s liberal provision for all the wants of the people.

Jeremiah 2:31. O ye generation … come to thee? The first words of this verse are attached by Jerome and Maurer to the preceding verse: tanquam leo vastator est hæc vestra ætas. But the beginning of the following sentence is then altogether too bald. It is better to take them as in the vocative, and the subject of the following verb. On the article with the vocative, comp. Ewald, § 327, a;Naegelsb. Gr., § 71, Anm. 4.—It is disputed whether דּוֹר is to be taken in the sense of “age, generation” (Ewald: “The present people”) or in the sense of “race, kind, breed.” It is not clear why the generation then living should be rendered so expressly prominent, דּוֹר does not occur again, at least not alone in a bad sense. But from passages like Jeremiah 7:29; Deuteronomy 1:35; Deuteronomy 32:5; Psalms 78:8; Proverbs 30:11 it is evident that the word is at any rate capable of such a determinatio in malam partem.—ראוSee, comp. Jeremiah 2:19. is a stronger הִנֵה. The word of the Lord is held before them with the demand that they regard it.—Desert, i.e., barren land, where no bodily nourishment or necessaries are found.—Here follows the third point, which the Lord has not neglected; glory and adornment. He is Himself His people’s highest glory, Israel’s crown of glory is He (Genesis 9:27; Isaiah 28:5). But they have forgotten this emblem of royalty, which causes them to rank above all other nations. The Lord is however Israel’s jewel as her husband. This is the thought which suggests the figure in Jeremiah 2:32.

Jeremiah 2:32. Can a virgin forget … without number?קִשֻׁרִים besides only in Isaiah 3:20. Comp. Isaiah 49:18. Is it a girdle or a fillet? Drechsler on Isa. l. c. translates “a small girdle of fine material,” which unites both meanings.—The failure then is not in this, that the Lord has forgotten to make provision for the adornment of His bride, but that the bride has forgotten to make use of the ornament. Comp. Jeremiah 18:14.—Days without number. Comp. of old, Jeremiah 2:20.

Jeremiah 2:33. How well trimmest thou … accustomed thy ways. הֵיטִיב cannot here be rendered in the sense of bonum simulare, exornare, as many of the ancients rendered, because then the following לבקשׁ אהבה does not afford a suitable meaning. It is therefore necessary to take it in the sense of scite instituere (Maurer) according to the analogy of Jeremiah 7:3; Isaiah 23:16; Deuteronomy 9:21, etc. Observe the contrast: the people in criminal frivolity forget Jehovah, their highest glory, but with the greatest diligence employ means and ways to procure illicit love (with foreign nations and their idols). The effects of this are shown in what follows.—לָכֵן is neither = but, as De Wette proposes, nor לְהָבֵן= (Venema, Dathe: ut confirmes malitiam, assuefacis vias tuas), but simply = therefore, thus, in this way.—To wickedness. The article before רָעוֹת (comp. Jeremiah 3:5) is general. Israel has accustomed his ways not to particular wickedness, but to wickedness in general, to wickedness of every kind.—לִמֵּד to teach, to accustom, as לִמֻּד, Jeremiah 2:24. In meaning the expression is coincident with that in Jeremiah 13:23, “accustomed to do evil.”—On the subject-matter, comp. Romans 1:24 sqq.—In what follows the statement is verified by an instance.

Jeremiah 2:34. Even on thy wings … on all these. The גַם here resumes the גָם in Jeremiah 2:33 b. The special fact is introduced by the same particle as the general statement. In German “nämlich” [videlicet, namely] would be used. כָּנָף is used here, as frequently of the skirts, (wings) of a coat, 1 Samuel 24:6; Haggai 2:12; Zechariah 8:23, etc.Has been found. The plural נִמְצְאוּ is explained thus, (1) an ideal plural is contained in דּם, namely, the idea of innocent blood, in which sense דָּמים is usually employed (the sing. ex. gr. Jeremiah 19:4; Lamentations 4:13). The same construction in Ezekiel 22:13, comp. Nalgelsb. Gr., § 61, 2, e, (2) with connected subjects the predicate may be governed in number by the main grammatical or logical idea. So also here the conception of the multiplicity of what has been stained by blood may have determined the number of the predicate. Comp. Naegelsb. Gr., § 105, 6.—Not at the place, etc.מַחְתֶּרֶת occurs only in Exodus 22:1 (2), and our passage maybe explained by this. “If a thief be found breaking up (or at the place of burglary) and he be smitten and die, he (the doer) shall incur no guilt.” Jeremiah alludes to this both in words and sense. The Lord has found the blood of the murdered (and we may here understand the blood of the prophets, Jeremiah 2:30) not in the place of the crime committed by them. In this case their murderers would according to the law quoted above, be without guilt. But he says, “On all these have I found it.” These words have given much trouble to the commentators. Disregarding the circumstance that the LXX, the Syriac and Arabic translations instead of אֵלֶה read אֵלָה, and therefore translate ἐπί πάσῃ δρυί or sub quacunque arbore, and that Jerome combines the two renderings: “in omnibus istis quæ supra memoravi, sive sub quercu,” having in mind the often denounced hill-worship (comp. Jeremiah 2:20),—omitting those interpretations which are based on a wrong reading we mention only three proposed by eminent modern commentators: (1) Ewald translates after Abarbanel, “not in the murderer’s den found I it, but on all these, viz., summits.” The objection to this is, that the word does not signify “den of murderers,” and that the reference to Exodus 22:1 (2) is wholly ignored. (2) Venema, Dathe, Vogel, Gaab, Maurer, Umbreit and others attach the final clause to the next verse and take עַל in the sense of “notwithstanding—notwithstanding all this thou sayest.” This rendering leaves both the כִּי and the Vau cons. before תאמרי without any satisfactory explanation. (3) Graf: “not for the sake of a crime didst thou kill the poor ones, but on account of all this,” i.e. because they stood in the way of thy harlotry and opposed thy revolt. But it must be objected to this that we cannot say, “not at the breaking in hast thou met them (Graf takes מצאתיּם as 2d person), but on account of all this.” For here the verb “met” does not suit the second clause of the sentence. We should have to supply a suitable verb “hast thou killed them,” which would be arbitrary, because the author, if he had this verb in mind, could not have omitted it. The whole question seems to me to turn on the correct rendering of מַחִתֶּרֶת, namely, not as burglary in general, but the place of burglary. It is well known that substantives with מ (Mem loci) have this meaning, Ewald, § 160 b.—In the original passage Exodus 22:1, we may indeed translate “at the breaking in,” but in the text, where it is not the seizure of the thief, but the subsequent discovery of blood-stains, which is spoken of, the place of burglary must be meant. Traces of blood are subsequently discovered, not at a burglary, but at the place where the surprised thief was wounded. If this is the correct rendering of this word, the final clause must also designate a place. If we consider that in the first clause the Lord has rebuked Israel for the murder of the innocents, it is appropriate that in the second He should bring a proof of this heavy charge. This proof is afforded in this way;—the Lord says He found the blood of the slain not in places where they had commuted burglary, but on the persons of those He addresses. Thus “on all these” refers back certainly to thy skirts, but only indirectly. אלה refers primarily to persons. We may suppose that the prophet pointed with his hand to his hearers.—In spite of this flagrant proof of guilt, Israel is so bold as to continue to maintain his innocence, and dares even to boast that the divine anger is already turned away from him.

Jeremiah 2:35. Yet thou sayest … not sinned. אַךְ שָׁב. The translation of the LXX., ἄποστραφήται and of the Vulgate, aversatur would suit very well in the connection, if it were grammatically justifiable. As the words read they make declaration of a fact, not a wish. אַךְ=nothing but, only, i.e. sure, certain. Comp. Genesis 26:9; Genesis 29:14, etc.—To what historical fact this erroneous assumption of Israel refers, it is difficult to say; perhaps to the narrative of 2 Kings 23:26 (observe also the resemblance of the words). Josiah’s reforms might have given rise to the idea that the wrath of the Lord formerly threatened (comp. 2 Kings 22:17) was now turned away from Judah. The people are here assured that this was not the case, because the reform was more outward than inward (at least among the masses).—I enter into judgment. Comp. Jeremiah 1:16; Jeremiah 25:31. He who denies the sin he has committed adds to his guilt and provokes a new manifestation of the divine judgment.

Jeremiah 2:36-37. How goest thou? … no success with them. אָזַל (in Aramaic אֲזַל frequently = הָלַךְ) has in Hebrew throughout the meaning of to melt, dissolve, go asunder. So of yielding to a misfortune (Proverbs 20:14), of the flowing away of water (Job 14:11), of the running out of the means of subsistence (1 Samuel 9:7), of the disappearance of power (Deuteronomy 32:36). The infinitive לְשַׁנּוֹת designates not the end but the mode of the going asunder: quid diffluis mutando viam? The לְ is the particle of the Infin. modalis. Comp. Naegelsb. Gr., § 95, e. On the meaning comp. Jeremiah 3:13.—As Jeremiah 2:34-35 are dependent on Jeremiah 2:33 b, so Jeremiah 2:36-37 on 33a. The inquiry, “how trimmest thou thy ways?” is resumed here more definitely.—In respect to the historical bearing of the passage, as we have already remarked on Jeremiah 2:18, it is not known that Josiah ever sought aid from the Egyptians. From the time of Jehoiakim, who was an Egyptian vassal (2 Kings 23:33 sqq.), much aid was continually sought. To this Jeremiah 2:36 may refer. The expression “also from thence wilt thou go forth,” seems even to imply a residence in Egypt. Comp. on Jeremiah 2:16. As was remarked on this passage we admit the possibility of Jeremiah’s having made this addition on the completion of his second writing. Comp. Graf, ad loc.—זה Masc. referring to the people. Comp. Naegelsb. Gr. § 60, 3, Anm.—It appears as if the story of Tamar and Absalom hovered before the prophet’s mind. Comp. Kueper, S. 55; 2 Samuel 13:19, “Est ibi nostra manus, in qua nos parte dolemus” (Bugenhagen).


Jeremiah 2:31; Jeremiah 2:31.—מַאְפֶּלְיפה is ἅπααξ λεγ. Composed of מַאְפֵּל and יָה = caligo Jovæ, as שַׁלְהֶבֶת־יָהּ = God’s flame (of love) Song of Solomon 8:6. יָהּ serves to enhance the force of the expression according to the analogy of הִֽרֲרֵי אֶל “great deep” Psalms 36:6. יַּרְדֵּמֵתי֝) 1 Samuel 26:12, חֶרְדַּת אֵל 1 Samuel 14:15.—יָהּ is also punctuated יָהּ in connections, ex. gr., Jeremiah 27:1, etc. The Masoretes have given two accents to the whole word in the text, because they were uncertain as to the etymology of the syllable יָה and consequently as to its accentuation. Kimchi found מַאְפִלִיָה in some codices which Ewald also accepts and translates simply “darkness” ad form. מַבְלִגִית Jeremiah 8:18, coll. פְּלִילִיָה עֲלִילִיָה.

Jeremiah 2:31; Jeremiah 2:31.—רוד, רדנו only in Genesis 27:40; Psalms 55:3; Hosea 12:1. Radical signification vagari. We are not with Rosenmueller to translate vagabimur. The perfect is used expressly to designate an accomplished fact.

Jeremiah 2:33; Jeremiah 2:33.—למדתי. On this form comp. rem. on Jeremiah 2:20.—On the double accusative comp. Ewald, § 283, c; Naegelsb. Gr., § 69, 2, c.

[24]Ver.35.—כִּי before a direct address, as frequently, ex. gr., Joshua 2:24; 1 Samuel 10:19. Comp. Naegelsb. Gr., § 109 1, a.

Jeremiah 2:35; Jeremiah 2:35.—נִקֵּיתִי Niph. Comp. Numbers 5:28; Numbers 5:31.

Jeremiah 2:36; Jeremiah 2:36.—תְֵּזלִי contracted from תֶּאֶזְלִי as אֵהַב from אֶֽאֱהַב (Proverbs 8:17), אֵחַר from אֶאֱחַר (Genesis 32:5), comp. Naegelsb. Gr., § 10, II., Anm.

Jeremiah 2:37; Jeremiah 2:37.—זה Masc. referring to the people. Comp. Naegelsb. Gr., § 60, 3, Anm.


1. On Jeremiah 2:14 : “Whoever makes himself a servant of sin makes himself also a servant of punishment, for sticks and cudgels are for a bad servant. Malitiæ comes individua est miseria.” Cramer.

2. On Jeremiah 2:14 : “Peccatum ex hominibus liberis facit miserrimos servos; ex filiis Dei mancipia diaboli.” Seb. Schmidt.—“Is then Israel a servant or a bondman? So that get him who may, except the one father, whose son he is, he may starve him? A noble question to lead the soul to reflect what it is; a subject on which Joh. Arndt much labored and in which Fr. Richter of Halle lived altogether. He wrote a book on the exceeding nobility of the soul. … . We can also form an idea from his poems, ‘The soul is born to enjoy, something that is divine,’—‘Hew bright the Christian’s inner life,’—‘O how happy are the souls,’ etc., how important this subject was to him. And it is a great subject even if we leave aside all exaggerated mystical or still more loftily conceived ideas. It is enough that we are ‘His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works.’ We must indeed be ashamed, and a preacher may well grieve his whole life long (as Spener is said to have done), that our glory is so departed.” Zinzendorf.

3. On Jeremiah 2:17 : Sin is the destruction of a people, Proverbs 14:34. But the Lord is not willing that any be lost but that all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9). He therefore chastises them, not to destroy them, but by bodily sufferings to save the soul (1 Peter 4:1).

4. On Jeremiah 2:15 : “The sins of men, especially of God’s people, strengthen the arm of their enemies, encourage them to their hurt (Jdt 5:22).” Starke.

5. On Jeremiah 2:16 : “If God wishes to chastise His people He usually employs the ungodly for this purpose (Deuteronomy 28:49-50).” Idem.

6. On Jeremiah 2:16 : “It often happens that those redound to the injury and destruction of the ungodly, from whom they have promised themselves the greatest help (Judges 15:3).” Idem.

7. On Jeremiah 2:17 : What a man soweth that will he also reap (Galatians 6:7). They sow wind and reap the whirlwind (Hosea 8:1). “What they’ve done, that they’ve won.” Bullinger. Comp. Micah 7:9.

8. On Jeremiah 2:19 : “Sanitatis initium immo dimidium est agnoscere morbum.” Seb. Schmidt.

O si ista videremus

Quantum flere deberemus.” Thom. Aquinas.

9. On Jeremiah 2:20 : Although the Lord’s yoke is easy (Matthew 11:29), it seems intolerable to our flesh, and we would rather sacrifice our children to Moloch and cut ourselves with knives and lancets (1 Kings 18:28) than bow to the chastisement of the Spirit and renounce carnal freedom.

10. On Jeremiah 2:21 : “Peccata tam contra sanam hominis naturam sunt quam labruscæ contra naturam bonæ vitis.” Seb. Schmidt.

11. On Jeremiah 2:21 : Whatever comes from God’s hand is good and welcome. Man was originally כֻּלּהֹ זֶרַע אֱמֶת. He bore no principle of corruption within him. This came from without. Hence such depravity has become possible [actual, S. R. A.], as on its side renders necessary a complete remoulding (regeneration) of man.

12. On Jeremiah 2:22 : “We gee in nature that affected beauties, which are intended either to hide deformities or give new adornments not proper to the person, only render one uglier than before” Zinzendorf.

13. On Jeremiah 2:25 : [“The passage suggests that in many cases the plea of despair is not half honest. The heart takes it up simply as an apology for rushing madly and headlong into sin To quiet conscience and to seem to lend some ear to reason, men try and even pretend to think there is no longer any hope from God, and hence that they may as well get all the good from sin they can while they can get any.” Cowles.—S. R. A.]

14. On Jeremiah 2:26 : “It often occurs in the office of a preacher that he sees poor humanity in its nakedness. He must be on his guard that he use his victory with moderation and in such a way that the souls ashamed may see more hearty love and compassion than tyranny and assumption. … There ought not to be mere Hildebrands or mere Henry Fourths; a village schoolmaster may also show to one of his scholars that he is more concerned about his own authority than the pupil’s salvation; and this has no better effect on the youth than his penance in the court at Canossa had on the Emperor Henry IV.” Zinzendorf.

15. On Jeremiah 2:28. Necessity teaches prayer. Necessity compels men to cast away all false props and to stay themselves on Him, who alone endures everlastingly. Yet this may be done with insincerity, merely for outward advantage. Then will God say: He who will not serve Me, but will only serve himself with Me, has nothing to hope from Me. He may serve himself with those whom only he wishes to serve.

16. On Jeremiah 2:30 : Mich. Ghislerus, in his commentary, discusses the question at length:—In how far it may be said that the Lord has smitten Israel in vain, since the means which God uses always correspond exactly to the end in view, and therefore the application of means without the attainment of the object is inconceivable. He answers in the words of Petrus a Figueira: “Dicitur autem Deus frustra percussisse quantum ad finem extrinsecum, qui erat emendatio percussorum, non quantum ad internum, qui erat ipsemet. Ideo enim percutiebat etiam eos, quos sciebat non recepturos disciplinam nec emendationem, ut omnibus se bonum medicum, bonumque parentem demonstraret, utpote omnia faciendo ad ægrotorum sanitatem et filiorum disciplinam necessaria. Atque quoad hunc finem non frustra percussit, sed finem consecutus est.” Ghislerus more correctly distinguishes between a percussio gratiæ and a percussio justitiæ, the former for salvation, the latter for judgment. We must, indeed, say that the strokes of God are relatively, but not absolutely in vain. If they do not attain the end of conversion, they show at least that God has done His part, which is the meaning also of this passage; and they serve for “a testimony against them.” Comp. Galatians 3:4.

17. On Jeremiah 2:30. In order that the divine chastisement may have the desired result, it is necessary that man enter into the divine purpose, i. e., that he understand what God would say to him, and whereto He would move him, and that he also hear and obey. This is to accept the chastisement. To accept chastisement is a sign of wisdom (Proverbs 8:10; Proverbs 19:20), while not to accept it is a sign of folly (Proverbs 1:7; Proverbs 3:11-12; Proverbs 5:12; Proverbs 5:23; Proverbs 13:18; Proverbs 15:32. Comp. Psalms 50:17; Isaiah 1:5).

18. On “Ye generation,” Jeremiah 2:31. “That is not to be denied, which Paul says to the Cretans, they are altogether κακὰ νηρία. This applies sometimes to whole nations, sometimes to certain cities and places. Servants of Christ, who have fallen in such places where their hearers are of a bad sort, experience it indeed.” Zinzendorf.—On “Have I been a desert,” etc. “Where God bestows most benefits, there He receives the least gratitude.” Foerster.

19. On Jeremiah 2:32. The children of this world are wiser in their generation than the children of light (Luke 16:8).—A virgin who forgets her bridal ornaments might be compared to the foolish virgins who forgot their oil (Matthew 25:1), nay, she is even worse than these.

20. On Jeremiah 2:33, a. Not only zealous, but clever and inventive is man in evil, but lazy and unskilful for good; comp. Jeremiah 4:22.

21. On Jeremiah 2:33, b. φνείρουσιν ἤνη χρηστὰ ὁμιλίαι κακαί (1 Corinthians 15:33). Every man is as his God. Everything, which is called a god, is inimical to the true God, therefore also to the absolute idea of the True and the Good. All kinds of idolatry, therefore, whether gross or refined, must demoralize men.

22. On Jeremiah 2:35, a. Men frequently from obstinacy and pride will not confess their sins. Comp. 1 John 1:8. But Zinzendorf (Pred. d. Ger. S., 184) remarks with justice on this passage: “It is not so absolutely obstinacy and wickedness, hypocrisy, dogmatism; but men really come by many sins in such a way that they do not know them. As that savage at Copenhagen who killed his comrade and was severely wounded, thought that he should die for such a legitimate cause (for the other had insulted him).”

23. On Jeremiah 2:36-37. “Serus post pœnam luctus. Sero sapiunt Phryges, si tamen vere sapiant, non sero sapiunt.” Seb. Schmidt.


1. On Jeremiah 2:14-19. Israel’s slavery an emblem of the universal human slavery of sin: (1) In both it is not original. (2) In both cases it is self-incurred. (3) In both it is severely punished. (4) In both the punishment is the means of salvation. [1. “The nature of sin; it is forsaking the Lord as our God. 2. The cause of sin; it is because His fear is not in us. 3. The malignity of sin, it is an evil thing and a bitter. 4. The fatal consequences of sin. 5. The use and application of all this—repent of thy sin.” Henry.—S. R. A.].

2. On Jeremiah 2:17. Penitential sermon: on a retrospect of the past three things are manifest. (1) The goodness of God who sought to lead us in the right way. (2) Our disobedience, in forsaking the Lord our God. (3) God’s justice, in not allowing our rebellion to go unpunished.

3. On Jeremiah 2:19. The evils of the present time are (1), The consequences of sin (not natural accessity, not chance, not the effect of an overpowering evil influence), (2) Means of salvation from sin, since by them we learn that (a) sin is ruinous deception, (b) godliness is life and salvation.

4. On Jeremiah 2:20. The endeavor to cast off the yoke of God is (1) an ancient one (the angels, the apostasy, Israel), (2) a ruinous one; for (a) it deprives us of true freedom: (b) it renders us the servants of powers hostile to God and destructive to ourselves.

5. On Jeremiah 2:21-25. The sinful corruption of humanity is (1) not original, but (2) very deep. (3) It cannot be denied away; (4) it cannot be removed by external means.

6. On Jeremiah 2:26-28. How ruinous a course it is to trust in a creature: (1) who on account of his weakness leaves us disgracefully in the lurch: (2) we thus insult God and lose His help.

7. On Jeremiah 2:29-32. When man quarrels with God, the fault is always on the side of man (Psalms 51:6). For (1) God chastises us, but we do not obey: (2) He bestows on us the necessaries of life, but we do not thank Him: (3) He makes us partakers of the highest glory, but we reject it with disdain.

8. On Jeremiah 2:31. “Have I been a desert,” etc., there is extant a homily of Origen on this text, the third of his homilies on Jeremiah. His fundamental thought is, God is a desert to none. This is true (1) in reference to all men (comp. Matthew 5:45) (a) in a bodily, (b) in a spiritual regard. For He was always a fruitful land to Israel, (a) when He blessed them and punished the heathen, (b) when He blessed the heathen and punished them, (c) even when He allowed the church of Christ to pass from the Jews to the heathen.—[“An unjust imputation repelled by Jehovah. To an ingenuous mind God never appears so irresistible as when He addresses His creatures in the language of tender expostulation. Christians treat God as a wilderness (1) when they are reluctant to serve Him, (2) when they seek their happiness in the world. The ground of complaint is in them, not in God.” Payson.—S. R. A.]

9. On Jeremiah 2:32. “What is the adornment of clothes compared with the imperishable adornment of the righteousness of Christ! Food for moths and worms, and nothing more. Shall such a perishable adornment be so dear to thy heart that thou never forgettest to put it on when thou art going out, or when thou preparest thyself for church on Sunday: but the imperishable adornment be so unimportant that thou art ever forgetting it, even though so frequently spoken to concerning it? No, be followers of the apostle Paul, Philippians 3:0 ” Hochstetter. “Twelve Parables from the prophet Jeremiah,” S. 9.

10. On Jeremiah 2:35. Obstinate impenitence. (1) It is blind to its own guilt. (2) It blasphemes God, accusing Him of unjust anger. (3) It will not escape just punishment. 

Bibliographical Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Jeremiah 2". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/lcc/jeremiah-2.html. 1857-84.
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