|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
17:1-4 The sins which men commit make little impression on their minds, yet every sin is marked in the book of God; they are all so graven upon the table of the heart, that they will all be remembered by the conscience. That which is graven in the heart will become plain in the life; men's actions show the desires and purposes of their hearts. What need we have to humble ourselves before God, who are so vile in his sight! How should we depend on his mercy and grace, begging of God to search and prove us; not to suffer us to be deceived by our own hearts, but to create in us a clean and holy nature by his Spirit!
Verse 2. - Whilst their children remember, etc. The connection of this with the preceding verse is rather obscure. Probably it is intended as an exemplification of the "sin of Judah," the inveterateness of which is shown by their thoughts spontaneously turning to the altars and symbols of the false gods whenever they are near a leafy tree or a high hill (probably "under the green trees" is the right reading; comp. 1 Kings 14:23; so Targum). To make "their sons" the accusative (with Hitzig and Keil), rendering, "As they remember their children, [even so they remember their altars]," seems unnatural; why should "children" and "altars" be associated in idea? Groves; rather, idols of Asherah, the Canaanitish goddess.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Whilst their children remember their altars,.... Which is a further proof of their long continuance in idolatrous practices, and a fresh witness against them; they trained up their children in them; who, when grown up, could not forget them, but imitated them, and went on in the same evil ways. Some render the words, "as they remember their children, so they remember their altars (i), and their groves, by the green trees upon the high hills"; they had the same love to their idols, and the worship of them, as they had to their children. This sense is received by Kimchi (k); yea, they had a greater affection for their idols than for their children; since they made their children pass through the fire to Moloch, and burnt their sons and their daughters to Baal. The Targum renders it, "their groves under every green tree": see Jeremiah 2:20. Kimchi and Ben Melech connect green trees not with groves but with altars; and take the sense to be, that their altars were by green trees; since groves and green trees were the same, and which altars also were upon high hills.
(i) "sicut recordantur filiorum suorum, ita recordantur ararum suarum"; so some in Vatablus. (k) So in T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 63. 2. & Gloss in ib.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
2. children remember—Instead of forsaking the idolatries of their fathers, they keep them up (Jer 7:18). This is given as proof that their sin is "graven upon … altars" (Jer 17:1), that is, is not merely temporary. They corrupt their posterity after them. Castalio less probably translates, "They remember their altars as (fondly as) they do their children."
groves—rather, "images of Astarte," the goddess of the heavenly hosts, represented as a sacred tree, such as is seen in the Assyrian sculptures (2Ki 21:7; 2Ch 24:18). "Image of the grove." The Hebrew for "grove" is Asherah, that is, Assarak, Astarte, or Ashtaroth.
by the green trees—that is, near them: the sacred trees (idol symbols) of Astarte being placed in the midst of natural trees: "green trees" is thus distinguished from "groves," artificial trees. Henderson, to avoid taking the same Hebrew particle in the same sentence differently, "by … upon" translates "images of Astarte on the green trees." But it is not probable that images, in the form of a sacred tree, should be hung on trees, rather than near them.
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