|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
2:29-37 The nation had not been wrought upon by the judgements of God, but sought to justify themselves. The world is, to those who make it their home and their portion, a wilderness and a land of darkness; but those who dwell in God, have the lines fallen to them in pleasant places. Here is the language of presumptuous sinners. The Jews had long thrown off serious thoughts of God. How many days of our lives pass without suitable remembrance of him! The Lord was displeased with their confidences, and would not prosper them therein. Men employ all their ingenuity, but cannot find happiness in the way of sin, or excuse for it. They may shift from one sin to another, but none ever hardened himself against God, or turned from him, and prospered.
Verse 34. - Also in thy skirts, etc.; or, there is even fennel in thy skirts (or, perhaps, in thy sleeves - the wide sleeves of an Eastern mantle). The fact which follows is adduced as the crowning evidence of wickedness. Blood of the souls is explained by the statement in Leviticus 17:11, "The soul of the flesh [i.e. of the body] is in the blood;" hence the importance of the blood in the Mosaic sacrifices. The historical reference of this passage of Jeremiah may well be to the persecution of Manasseh, who is said to have "shed innocent blood very much" (2 Kings 21:16). It is Judah, no doubt, who is addressed, but the prophets mostly assume the "solidarity" of king and people (analogous to that of a forefather and his posterity); Manasseh, moreover, probably had the support of a large section of the population, at any rate in so far as he favored the inveterate cultus of the high places or local sanctuaries. I have not found it by secret search; rather, thou hast not found them breaking through (houses). The phraseology agrees with that of Exodus 22:2, the law against "breaking through;" it suggests that the houses of all but the highest class in ancient as well as often in modern Palestine, were made of mere sun-dried brick, which could be easily "dug into" (comp. Ezekiel 12:5; Matthew 6:19, 20, in the Greek). [Lieut. Conder states, it is true, that in hilly districts of Palestine the houses of the villages are built of stone, but he adds that the stone is simply taken from the ruins of the ancient towns.] Burglars caught in the act might be killed (Exodus 22:2), but the innocent victims of persecution could not be brought under this category, and hence those who slew them were really guilty of murder. But upon all these; rather, but because of all these things; i.e. not for any crime, but because of thine things," as in Jeremiah 3:7); so Hitzig, Keil Payne Smith; less naturally De Dieu, "because of those false gods"
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Also in thy skirts is found the blood of the souls of the poor innocents,.... Either of the innocent infants of poor persons, who were sacrificed to Moloch; or of the poor prophets of the Lord, whom they slew, because they faithfully reproved them for their sins; and the blood of those being found in their skirts is expressive of the publicness and notoriety of their sin, and also of the large quantity of blood shed, inasmuch as the skirts of their garments were filled with it, as if they had trod and walked in blood; see Isaiah 63:3.
I have not found it by secret search; or, "by digging" (q); there was no need to dig for it; it lay above ground; it was upon their skirts, public enough: or, "in ditches", as the Septuagint and Vulgate Latin (r) versions; as when murders are privately and secretly committed; but these were done openly. Some read the words, "thou didst not find them with a digging instrument" (s); so Jarchi interprets the words,
"you did not find them with a digging instrument, or in digging, when you slew them;''
you did not find them prepared as thieves to break up your houses, or digging down your walls, and breaking through into your houses, then you would have been justified by the law in slaying them, Exodus 22:2, but this was not the case:
but upon all these; upon all their skirts, and not in ditches, or under ground; or, "for all these"; thou hast so done; not for their sins, for theft, or any other; but for their faithful reproofs and rebukes; so Jarchi, for all these words with which they reproved thee; or for all these, the idols on whose account, in the worship of them, the blood of the innocents was shed.
(q) "in suffossione", Vatablus, Calvin, De Dieu; "effossione", Junius & Tremellius; "perfossione", Schmidt. (r) , Sept. "in fossis", V. L. (s) "Cum perfossorio", Pagninus, Montanus; "sub. instrumento", Grotius; "terebro", Cocceius.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
34. Also—not only art thou polluted with idolatry, but also with the guilt of shedding innocent blood [Maurer]. Rosenmuller not so well translates, "even in thy skirts," &c.; that is, there is no part of thee (not even thy skirts) that is not stained with innocent blood (Jer 19:4; 2Ki 21:16; Ps 106:38). See as to innocent blood shed, not as here in honor of idols, but of prophets for having reproved them (Jer 2:30; Jer 26:20-23).
souls—that is, persons.
search—I did not need to "search deep" to find proof of thy guilt; for it was "upon all these" thy skirts. Not in deep caverns didst thou perpetrate these atrocities, but openly in the vale of Hinnom and within the precincts of the temple.
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