Jeremiah 2:12
Be astonished, O you heavens, at this, and be horribly afraid, be you very desolate, said the LORD.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(12) Be astonished, O ye heavens.—The adjuration had been made familiar by a like utterance in Isaiah 1:2; Deut. 32 1 “Astonished”—in the old sense, “thunder-stricken,” stupefied. The whole universe is thought of as shocked and startled at the offence against its Creator.

Jeremiah 2:12-13. Be astonished, O ye heavens, at this — A pathetical expression, in the poetic style, signifying that the wickedness of these apostates from God was so great, that the very inanimate creatures, could they be sensible of it, might well stand amazed at it: that the heavens might be affrighted to behold it, and the celestial bodies withdraw their light and influences from that part of the world where such enormities were practised. “Such rhetorical apostrophes import the unusualness, and likewise the indignity, of the things spoken of; implying them to be such that, if men take no notice of them, the elements themselves will testify against such practices.” — Lowth. See note on Isaiah 1:2. For my people have committed two evils — Two remarkable evils, ingratitude and folly: they have acted contrary both to their duty and to their interest; they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters — In whom they had an abundant and constant supply of all that comfort and relief they stood in need of, and had it freely; and hewed them out cisterns — Have had recourse to creatures, and to schemes of their own devising; to gods of their own making, for relief in their necessities, for deliverance out of, or support and comfort in, their troubles. Broken cisterns — False at the bottom, and leaky, so that they can hold no water — They have acted as foolishly as persons would do who should reject the waters of a clear, perpetual spring, to drink rain-water, received in cisterns, which could neither be so sweet nor so wholesome as that of pure springs; and not only so, but should betake themselves to such cisterns as, being broken, could hold no water, or none for any length of time, and therefore could give them no assurance of finding any upon having recourse to them. God may, indeed, be justly compared to a perpetual spring, as he is the fountain or origin of all good things; the author and giver of all blessings, both spiritual and temporal, from whom all good gifts are derived, as from an inexhaustible source; see Psalm 36:9. “And wherever else men place their happiness, whether in false religions, or in the uncertain comforts of worldly blessings, they will find themselves as wretchedly disappointed as those who expect to find water in broken cisterns or conduits. Hereby is strongly set forth the folly of the Jews in renouncing the worship of the true God, and their dependance upon him, and betaking themselves to the worship of idols, and the alliance and protection of idolaters.” — Lowth.2:9-13 Before God punishes sinners, he pleads with them, to bring them to repentance. He pleads with us, what we should plead with ourselves. Be afraid to think of the wrath and curse which will be the portion of those who throw themselves out of God's grace and favour. Grace in Christ is compared to water from a fountain, it being cooling and refreshing, cleansing and making fruitful: to living water, because it quickens dead sinners, revives drooping saints, supports and maintains spiritual life, and issues in eternal life, and is ever-flowing. To forsake this Fountain is the first evil; this is done when the people of God neglect his word and ordinances. They hewed them out broken cisterns, that could hold no water. Such are the world, and the things in it; such are the inventions of men when followed and depended on. Let us, with purpose of heart, cleave to the Lord only; whither else shall we go? How prone are we to forego the consolations of the Holy Spirit, for the worthless joys of the enthusiast and hypocrite!Be astonished - The King James Version uses this word as equivalent "to be stupefied."

Desolate - Or, "be dry." In horror at Israel's conduct the heavens shrivel and dry up.

12. Impassioned personification (Isa 1:2).

horribly afraid—rather, be horrified."

be … very desolate—rather, "be exceedingly aghast" at the monstrous spectacle. Literally, "to be dried up," or "devastated," (places devastated have such an unsightly look) [Maurer].

Be astonished, O ye heavens; angels, say some, but rather the visible heavenly bodies; a pathetical expression in a poetical prosopopoeia, as Deu 4:26 32:1, intimating that it is such a tiring that the very inanimate creatures, could they be sensible of it, would be astonished.

Be horribly afraid; the Hebrew imports as much as,

let your hair be lifted up; such a fright, as we usually say, makes our hair stand on end; such a trembling as some dreadful tempest doth sometimes cause in a man. Be ye very desolate; lose your brightness, lustre, and shining, as the sun, that heavenly body, seemed to do when Christ suffered, Matthew 27:45; or melting, the heinousness of such a thing, as it were, dissolving them. Be astonished, O ye heavens, at this,.... Meaning either the angels in heaven, or the heavens themselves, by a personification:

and be horribly afraid, be ye very desolate, saith the Lord; all which may be signified by storms and tempests, by thunder and lightning, and by the sun's withdrawing its light. This is said to aggravate the wickedness committed, as if the heavens blushed and were ashamed, and were confounded and amazed at it; and as if, on account of it, the Jews deserved not the benefit of the heavens, and the orbs in them.

Be astonished, O ye {s} heavens, at this, and be horribly afraid, be ye very desolate, saith the LORD.

(s) He shows that the insensible creatures abhor this vile ingratitude, and as it were tremble for fear of God's great judgments against the same.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
12. be ye very desolate] lit. be ye dry. The heavens are bid to shrivel up in horror at the behaviour of the people. By a figure common in all poetry nature is called upon to adapt herself, as though a living being, to the complexion of human affairs. By a slight alteration of MT., however, we get (instead of “be ye very desolate”) the rendering of LXX, viz. exceedingly, as an epithet of the preceding verb. Render therefore, Shudder exceedingly. Cp. Psalm 50:4; Psalm 50:6; Isaiah 44:23; Isaiah 49:13.Verse 12. - Be astonished. "Be appalled" would more nearly express the force of the Hebrew (so Jeremiah 18:16; Jeremiah 19:8). Be ye very desolate; literally, become dry; i.e. not so much "shrivel and roll up" (on the analogy of Isaiah 34:4), as "become stiff with horror." They said not, Where is Jahveh? i.e., they have no longer taken any thought of Jahveh; have not recalled His benefits, though they owed to Him all they had become and all they possessed. He has brought them out of Egypt, freed them from the house of bondage (Micah 6:4), and saved them from the oppression of the Pharaohs, meant to extirpate them (Exodus 3:7.). He has led them through pathless and inhospitable deserts, miraculously furnished them with bread and water, and protected them from all dangers (Deuteronomy 8:15). To show the greatness of His benefits, the wilderness is described as parched unfruitful land, as a land of deadly terrors and dangers. ,ארץ ערבה land of steppes or heaths, corresponds to the land unsown of Jeremiah 2:2. "And of pits," i.e., full of dangerous pits and chasms into which one may stumble unawares. Land of drought, where one may have to pine through thirst. And of the shadow of death: so Sheol is named in Job 10:21 as being a place of deep darkness; here, the wilderness, as a land of the terrors of death, which surround the traveller with darkness as of death: Isaiah 8:22; Isaiah 9:1; Job 16:16. A land through which no one passes, etc., i.e., which offers the traveller neither path nor shelter. Through his frightful desert God has brought His people in safety.
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