Jeremiah 2:14
Is Israel a servant? is he a home born slave? why is he spoiled?
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(14) Is Israel a servant?—The word “servant,” we must remember, had become, through its frequent use in Isaiah (Isaiah 20:3; Isaiah 41:8, et al.), a word not of shame, but honour; and of all servants, he who was born in the house—as in the case of Eleazar (Genesis 15:3)—occupied the most honourable place, nearest to a son. The point of the question is accordingly not “Is Israel become a slave,” kidnapped, as it were, and spoiled, but rather this: “Is Israel the servant of Jehovah, as one born in His house? Why, then, is he treated as one with no master to protect him?”

Jeremiah 2:14. Is Israel a servant? is he a home-born slave? — Is he of a condition to be delivered as a prey to his enemies? Is he of those people whom God regards as slaves and strangers? These interrogations imply, and have the force of, a negative. As if he had said, Is not Israel the son, the chosen and peculiar people of God? Why then hath the Lord treated him as a common slave, and given him up into the power of tyrannical lords and masters? The sense is, God redeemed Israel from the bondage of Egypt, and adopted him to be his son, Exodus 4:22. So that the servitude he now undergoes, and his being made a prey to so many foreign enemies, cannot be owing to his birth, or primitive condition, but must be imputed to his sins, of which his slavery is the consequence. Compare Isaiah 50:1; Isaiah 52:3.2:14-19 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?It was Israel's glory to be Yahweh's servant Jeremiah 30:10, and slaves born in the house were more prized than those bought with money as being more faithful Genesis 14:14. Cannot Yahweh guard His own household? How happens it that a member of so powerful a family is spoiled? In the next verse the prophet gives the reason. Israel is a runaway slave, who has deserted the family to which he belongs by right of birth, and thereby brought upon himself trouble and misery. 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). Is Israel a servant? is he a home-born slave? did I ever account him so? or did I not rather always reckon him my first-born? so some, as Jeremiah 2:31. But it may better relate to his sad condition and abuses from others, as Jeremiah 49:1, which God or the prophet doth here inquire into; and slave is here rightly added to

home-born, ( though not in the text,) to express the baseness of his service, because the master had power to make those slaves who were born of slaves in his house; which argues his condition very low, whether he were thus born, or had been forced to sell himself to be a slave.

Why is he spoiled? He speaks either of the thing that is to be as if it were already done, because of the certainty of it, as of that devastation made by the Assyrians and Chaldeans, who afflicted the remnant of the Jews; or of that havoc that was made of them formerly by Sennacherib, the Assyrians, and Egyptians. Why is he thus tyrannized over, Isaiah 42:24, as if strangers had the same right over him as owners over their slaves? He removes here the false causes of Israel’s misery, that he may the more aggravate and set home the true, as Jeremiah 2:17,19. He was my son; if he now become a slave, he may thank himself: 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.

Is Israel a {u} servant? is he a homeborn slave? why is he laid waste?

(u) Have I ordered them like servants and not like dearly beloved children? Ex 4:22 therefore it is their fault only, if the enemy spoil them.

14. Is Israel a servant? is he a homeborn slave?] An emphatic negative is the reply expected, as in Jeremiah 2:31. Israel is not a slave but a son. Why then is he spoiled? If (which is however doubtful) the early legislation, as given in Exodus 21:1-3, still held good, children born to a slave who married one of the slave girls in his master’s house, remained the permanent property of their owner. The meaning here will be, Is Israel permanently subjected to each whim of a cruel master? Cp. the somewhat similar passages, Jeremiah 8:4, Jeremiah 14:19; and specially Jeremiah 22:28, Jeremiah 49:1.

14–30. Israel’s sin and obstinacy under punishment

14–17. Co. points out that Jeremiah 2:13 connects naturally with Jeremiah 2:18. The cisterns from which Israel has sought water proving unavailable, she has tried the rivers of Egypt and Assyria. Accordingly, while holding that the vv. are genuine utterances of Jeremiah, he thinks with some considerable probability that they are misplaced here.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. And He has done yet more. He has brought them into a fruitful and well-cultivated land. כּרמל, fruitful fields, the opposite of wilderness, Jeremiah 4:26; Isaiah 29:17. To eat up its fruit and its good; cf. the enumeration of the fruits and useful products of the land of Canaan, Deuteronomy 8:7-9. And this rich and splendid land the ungrateful people have defiled by their sins and vices (cf. Leviticus 18:24), and idolatry (cf. Ezekiel 36:18); and the heritage of Jahveh they have thus made an abomination, an object of horror. The land of Canaan is called "my heritage," the especial domain of Jahveh, inasmuch as, being the Lord of the earth, He is the possessor of the land and has given it to the Israelites for a possession, yet dwells in the midst of it as its real lord, Numbers 25:34. - In Jeremiah 2:8 the complaint briefly given in Jeremiah 2:6 is expanded by an account of the conduct of the higher classes, those who gave its tone to the spirit of the people. The priests, whom God had chosen to be the ministers of His sanctuary, asked not after Him, i.e., sought neither Him nor His sanctuary. They who occupy themselves with the law, who administer the law: these too are the priests as teachers of the law (Micah 3:11), who should instruct the people as to the Lord's claims on them and commandments (Leviticus 10:11; Deuteronomy 33:10). They knew not Jahveh, i.e., they took no note of Him, did not seek to discover what His will and just claims were, so as to instruct the people therein, and press them to keep the law. The shepherds are the civil authorities, princes and kings (cf. Jeremiah 23:1.): those who by their lives set the example to the people, fell away from the Lord; and the prophets, who should have preached God's word, prophesied בּבּעל, by Baal, i.e., inspired by Baal. Baal is here a generic name for all false gods; cf. Jeremiah 23:13. ,לא those who profit not, are the Baals as unreal gods; cf. Isaiah 44:9; 1 Samuel 12:21. The utterances as to the various ranks form a climax, as Hitz. rightly remarks. The ministers of public worship manifested no desire towards me; those learned in the law took no knowledge of me, of my will, of the contents of the book of the law; the civil powers went the length of rising up against my law; and the prophets fairly fell away to false gods, took inspiration from Baal, the incarnation of the lying spirit.
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