|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
2:14-19 Is Israel a servant? No, they are the seed of Abraham. We may apply this spiritually: Is the soul of man a slave? No, it is not; but has sold its own liberty, and enslaved itself to divers lusts and passions. The Assyrian princes, like lions, prevailed against Israel. People from Egypt destroyed their glory and strength. They brought these calamities on themselves by departing from the Lord. The use and application of this is, Repent of thy sin, that thy correction may not be thy ruin. What has a Christian to do in the ways of forbidden pleasure or vain sinful mirth, or with the pursuits of covetousness and ambition?
Verses 14-19. - Israel's punishment and its cause. Verse 14. - Is Israel a servant? The speaker is evidently the prophet, who exclaims in surprise at the view which his prophetic insight opens to him: "quasi de re nova et absurda sciscitatur" (Calvin). For Israel is a member of Jehovah's family; he is not a servant (except in the same high sense as in Isaiah 40-53, where "servant" is virtually equivalent to "representative"), but rather in the highest degree a free man, for he is Jehovah's "firstborn son" (Exodus 4:22). How is it, then, that he is dragged away into captivity like a slave who has never known freedom? The view of some, that "servant" means "servant of Jehovah" (comp. Jeremiah 30:10), and that the question therefore is to be answered in the affirmative, is less natural. "Servant," by itself, never has this turning; and there is a precisely similar term in the discourse at ver. 31, where the negative answer of the question does not admit of a doubt.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Is Israel a servant?.... That he does not abide in the house, in his own land, but is carried captive, becomes subject to others, and is used as a slave; so the Targum,
"as a servant;''
is he not the Lord's first born? are not the people of Israel called the children of the living God? how come they then to be treated not as children, as free men, but as servants? this cannot be owing to any breach of covenant or promise on God's part, or to the failure of the blessing of national adoption bestowed on them; but to some sin or sins of theirs, which have brought them into this miserable condition:
is he a home born slave? or born in the house, of the handmaid, and so in the power of the master of the family in whose house he was born, Exodus 21:4 or the sense is, either Israel is a servant,
or a son of the family (d), as some render the words; not the former, being not only the son of a free woman, but Jehovah's firstborn; if the latter,
why is he spoiled? why is he delivered up to the spoilers? as the Targum; why should he be given up into the hands of the Babylonians, and become their prey? is it usual for fathers to suffer their children, or those born in their house, to be so used? some reason must be given for it.
(d) "filius familias", Munster.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
14. is he a homeborn slave—No. "Israel is Jehovah's son, even His first-born" (Ex 4:22). Jer 2:16, 18, 36, and the absence of any express contrast of the two parts of the nation are against Eichorn's view, that the prophet proposes to Judah, as yet spared, the case of Israel (the ten tribes) which had been carried away by Assyria as a warning of what they might expect if they should still put their trust in Egypt. "Were Israel's ten tribes of meaner birth than Judah? Certainly not. If, then, the former fell before Assyria, what can Judah hope from Egypt against Assyria? … Israel" is rather here the whole of the remnant still left in their own land, that is, Judah. "How comes it to pass that the nation which once was under God's special protection (Jer 2:3) is now left at the mercy of the foe as a worthless slave?" The prophet sees this event as if present, though it was still future to Judah (Jer 2:19).
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