|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
2:1-8 Those who begin well, but do not persevere, will justly be upbraided with their hopeful and promising beginnings. Those who desert religion, commonly oppose it more than those who never knew it. For this they could have no excuse. God's spiritual Israel must own their obligations to him for safe conduct through the wilderness of this world, so dangerous to the soul. Alas, that many, who once appeared devoted to the Lord, so live that their professions aggravate their crimes! Let us be careful that we do not lose in zeal and fervency, as we gain knowledge.
Verse 3. - Israel was holiness, etc. Israel was a consecrated people (comp. Exodus 19:5, 6; Deuteronomy 7:6; Deuteronomy 14:2; Deuteronomy 26:19). Isaiah, fond as he is of the phrase "Israel's Holy One," does not expressly enforce the correlative truth, as Jeremiah does here. The first-fruits of his increase; rather, his firstfruits of increase. Israel is compared to the firstfruits (reshith) of the land, which were devoted to the house of the Lord (Exodus 23:19; Numbers 18:12, 13). So in Amos 6:1, the title given him is "the chief [margin, 'firstfruits'] of the nations" (in Jeremiah 31:7, a synonymous and cognate word, rosh, takes the place of reshith for "chief"). All that devour him shall offend; rather, all that ate him incurred guilt, or became guilty of a trespass. Foreigners were forbidden to eat of consecrated things; by breaking this law they became guilty of a "trespass," having invaded the rights of Jehovah (Leviticus 22:10, 15, 16). The word for "trespass" is the same as that rendered "guilt."
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Israel was holiness unto the Lord,.... When first brought out of Egypt into the wilderness, by the Lord's choice and separation of them to be a holy people to him above all others; by covenant with him, and profession of him; and by his giving them holy laws, and placing a sanctuary among them; and by their high priest, who represented them in the most holy place; and had on the front of his mitre written,
holiness unto the Lord; so the spiritual Israel are chosen in Christ to be holy, and he is made sanctification to them; they are sanctified in him, and by his Spirit; they are called with a holy calling, and unto holiness; and, under the influence of grace, live holy lives and conversations, which the grace of God teaches, and young converts are remarkable for; their consciences being just awakened, and their hearts tender:
and the firstfruits of his increase; Israel was the first nation that God separated for himself; and this being the firstfruits, shows that he would separate others also, and take out of the Gentiles a people for his name, which he has since done; and the elect of God among the Israelites were the firstfruits of his chosen ones elsewhere; it were some of them that first believed in Christ, and received the firstfruits of the Spirit; and all converted ones are a kind of firstfruits of his creatures; the grace they receive at conversion is the firstfruits of a later increase of it, and even of eternal glory:
all that devour him shall offend; or, "all that eat him shall be guilty" (x); and be condemned and punished, who eat up the Lord's people, as they eat bread; see Psalm 53:4, these shall not go unpunished; for his people are as the apple of his eye, and whoever touches and hurts them fall under the divine displeasure, and will be looked upon as criminals and offenders, and will be judged and condemned as such. The allusion is to the eating of the firstfruits, which only belonged to the priests; nor might any of the increase be eaten until the firstfruits were brought to them, Leviticus 23:10. This is expressed in the Chaldee paraphrase of the text,
"whosoever eats of them (the firstfruits) is guilty of death; for as the beginning of the harvest, the sheaf of oblation, whoever eats of it before the priests, the sons of Aaron, have offered of it upon the altar, shall be guilty or condemned; so all that spoil the house of Israel shall be guilty or condemned;''
so Jarchi and Kimchi:
evil shall come upon them, saith the Lord; that is, the evil of punishment, either in this world, or in that which is to come, or in both.
(x) "rcos fuisse", Junius & Tremellius; "rei peragebantur", Piscator; "rei fiunt", Cocceius.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
3. holiness unto the Lord—that is, was consecrated to the service of Jehovah (Ex 19:5, 6). They thus answered to the motto on their high priest's breastplate, "Holiness to the Lord" (De 7:6; 14:2, 21).
first-fruits of his increase—that is, of Jehovah's produce. As the first-fruits of the whole produce of the land were devoted to God (Ex 23:19; Nu 18:12, 13), so Israel was devoted to Him as the first-fruit and representative nation among all nations. So the spiritual Israel (Jas 1:18; Re 14:4).
devour—carrying on the image of first-fruits which were eaten before the Lord by the priests as the Lord's representatives; all who ate (injured) Jehovah's first-fruits (Israel), contracted guilt: for example, Amalek, the Amorites, &c., were extirpated for their guilt towards Israel.
shall come—rather, "came."
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