The LORD shewed me, and, behold, two baskets of figs were set before the temple of the LORD, after that Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon had carried away captive Jeconiah the son of Jehoiakim king of Judah, and the princes of Judah, with the carpenters and smiths, from Jerusalem, and had brought them to Babylon.Jeremiah 24:1. The Lord showed me — Probably in a vision; and behold two baskets of figs — Such as used to be offered up for first-fruits; were set before the temple of the Lord — Hebrew, מועדים, appointed, offered according to law, as Blaney renders the word; that is, they were brought and placed before the temple for an offering of first-fruits, as the law had directed. After Nebuchadnezzar had carried away captive Jeconiah — Concerning which, see 2 Kings 24:11-16. This was in the eighth year of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign. With the carpenters and smiths — Or, the artificers and armorers, as Blaney translates the words; the former, חרשׁ, being “a general name for any handicraftsman, whether working in wood or metal;” but the latter, מסגר, from סגר, to shut in, or enclose, meaning properly, “the armorers who made the coats of mail which enclose the body. And it is reasonable to presume that the king of Babylon would be solicitous to carry all these off, with intent, not to employ them in his own service, but to prevent the Jews, who were left behind, from furnishing themselves with arms in case of a revolt.”
One basket had very good figs, even like the figs that are first ripe: and the other basket had very naughty figs, which could not be eaten, they were so bad.Jeremiah 24:2. One basket had very good figs — Dr. Shaw speaks of three sorts of figs; the first of which he calls “boccore, (being those here spoken of,) which come to maturity toward the middle or latter end of June; the second, the kermez, or summer fig, which ripens seldom before August; and the third, the winter fig. This is usually of a much longer shape, and dark complexion than the kermez, hanging and ripening upon the tree even after the leaves are shed; and, provided the winter proves temperate, is gathered as a delicious morsel in the spring.” — Shaw’s Travels, p. 370, fol. The doctor thinks that the latter sort were those which our Saviour expected to find on the fig-tree at the time of the passover in March, Matthew 21:19; Mark 11:13. See Blaney.
Then said the LORD unto me, What seest thou, Jeremiah? And I said, Figs; the good figs, very good; and the evil, very evil, that cannot be eaten, they are so evil.
Again the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,
Thus saith the LORD, the God of Israel; Like these good figs, so will I acknowledge them that are carried away captive of Judah, whom I have sent out of this place into the land of the Chaldeans for their good.Jeremiah 24:5-7. Thus saith the Lord God of Israel — Here the Lord explains the parable of the good figs, the figs first ripe. These represented the pious captives who were sent first into captivity, as if they had been first ripe for ruin; but who should prove first ripe for mercy, and their captivity should help to ripen them. Among these were Daniel and his companions, and also Ezekiel. The calamities inseparable from a state of captivity were calculated to humble them, and bring them to repentance, and it seems had that good effect: while those who escaped being carried away became more and more hardened in sin. Like these good figs so will I acknowledge them — Namely, for my people, and will favour them accordingly. “The Jews, who were left in their own country,” says Lowth, “thought themselves better beloved of God than their brethren who were carried away captive. To check this vain confidence, God promises to show the latter particular signs of his favour in a strange land, and to show distinguishing marks of his displeasure upon the former: see Jeremiah 29:17. For I will set mine eyes upon them for good — To order every thing for the best, that all the circumstances of the affliction may concur to the answering of the great intention of it. Accordingly we find that many of these, Daniel and his companions, for instance, found great esteem and honour during their captivity. And I will bring them again to this land — Some of them probably returned before the end of the captivity, some at the end of the seventy years. “They were sent abroad,” says Henry, “for improvement awhile under a severe discipline; but they shall be fetched back, when they have gone through their trial there, to their Father’s house.” And I will build them, and not pull them down, &c. — The meaning of these metaphorical expressions is, I will prosper them, and provide for them. And it may be understood, both of the prosperous estate God would give them in the land of their captivity, where they should both build houses and increase their families, (see Jeremiah 29:5-6,) and also of the blessings he would confer upon them and their posterity, after their return to their own land, ibid. Jeremiah 24:10. And he engages to prepare them for the temporal blessings which he designed for them, by conferring spiritual blessings upon them. It is this that would make their captivity for their good: this would be both the improvement of their affliction and their qualification for deliverance. I will give them a heart to know me — I, who at first commanded light to shine out of darkness, will shine into their hearts, to give them the knowledge of my glory; even that true and saving knowledge of me which is eternal life; which is always productive of faith in, and love to, me, 1 John 4:7-8; of obedience to my will, 1 John 2:3-4; and a conformity to mine image, 2 Corinthians 3:18. They shall become acquainted with me in a higher degree, and to a better purpose, than formerly; and shall learn more of me by my providences and grace in Babylon than they had learned by my oracles and ordinances in Jerusalem. Mark well the expression, reader, I will give them a heart to know me; not only the mind, but the heart; not only the understanding and judgment, but the will and affections are concerned in the true knowledge of God, which does not consist in mere notions and speculations, but implies the exercise of all spiritual graces and the practice of all divine virtues. And this knowledge is the supernatural gift of God, communicated by the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, Ephesians 1:17. The mere natural and unenlightened man has it not: for God and divine things knoweth no man but by the Spirit of God, 1 Corinthians 2:11; 1 Corinthians 2:14 : see also 1 John 5:20. And they shall be my people — I will own them for my people as formerly, as well in the discoveries of myself to them, as in my acceptances of their services, and my gracious appearance in their behalf. And I will be their God — They shall have liberty to own me for their God, both in their prayers and praises offered to me, and their expectations from me. For they shall return unto me with their whole heart — They shall be so thoroughly changed in heart and life that they shall make my will their rule, and my glory their end, in all their intentions, affections, and actions, and my service their chief and most delightful business from day to day. This follows upon the former: for they that have a heart to know God aright will not only turn to him, but turn with their whole heart: while those who are either lukewarm in their services, or formal and hypocritical in their religion, may be truly said to be unacquainted with him.
For I will set mine eyes upon them for good, and I will bring them again to this land: and I will build them, and not pull them down; and I will plant them, and not pluck them up.
And I will give them an heart to know me, that I am the LORD: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God: for they shall return unto me with their whole heart.
And as the evil figs, which cannot be eaten, they are so evil; surely thus saith the LORD, So will I give Zedekiah the king of Judah, and his princes, and the residue of Jerusalem, that remain in this land, and them that dwell in the land of Egypt:Jeremiah 24:8-10. As the evil figs — so will I give Zedekiah — Or rather, so will I make Zedekiah, as אתןshould be rendered here, and as the same verb is rendered Jeremiah 29:17. And they that dwell in the land of Egypt — Whither, it is probable, many of the Jews had fled upon the coming, or the report of the coming, of the king of Babylon: see chap. 43., 44. I will deliver them to be removed into all the kingdoms, &c. — The Lord, by his prophet, uses the words of Moses, wherewith to express those tremendous judgments which he designed to bring upon this wicked prince and people, as well because the Jews had, or professed to have, great reverence for that man of God, how little soever they had for Jeremiah, as to let them see that what the Lord here threatened, and soon would bring to pass, was but an accomplishment of what he foretold by Moses should befall them in case of their disobedience, by which predictions they ought to have taken warning. To be a reproach, and a proverb, and a taunt —
To be made a jest of and a by-word: see Daniel 9:16. And a curse in all places whither I shall drive them — Men shall use this phrase as a form of execration, “God make thee like Zedekiah, and those who remained with him;” compare Jeremiah 29:22. On the contrary, to make a man a blessing, implies that his name should be mentioned as a signal instance of God’s favour: see Genesis 48:20; Zechariah 8:13. Till they be consumed from off the land — My judgments shall follow them so closely that neither they nor any of their posterity shall ever enjoy any possession or property in their own country. This seems to be spoken of those miserable remains of the Jews who, when the rest were carried into captivity, were, either by secreting themselves, or some other means left in the desolated country.
And I will deliver them to be removed into all the kingdoms of the earth for their hurt, to be a reproach and a proverb, a taunt and a curse, in all places whither I shall drive them.
And I will send the sword, the famine, and the pestilence, among them, till they be consumed from off the land that I gave unto them and to their fathers.