Jeremiah 2:2
Go and cry in the ears of Jerusalem, saying, Thus saith the LORD; I remember thee, the kindness of thy youth, the love of thine espousals, when thou wentest after me in the wilderness, in a land that was not sown.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(2) Go and cry . . .—The scene of the call, was, we may believe, in his home at Anathoth. Now the prophet is sent to begin his work in Jerusalem.

I remember thee.—Literally, I have remembered for thee.

The love of thine espousals.—The imagery was one derived, as we find so often in Jeremiah’s writings, from the older prophets. It was implied in the “jealous God” of Exodus 20:5, illustrated by an actual history, which was also a parable, in Hosea 1-3, and after its use by Jeremiah, expanded more fully by Ezekiel (Ezekiel 16). The “espousals” are thought of as coinciding with the great covenant of Exodus 24:8, when the people solemnly entered into the relation to which God called them. Then the bride was ready to follow her lord and husband even in an “unsown land”—the “waste howling wilderness” of Deuteronomy 32:10. The faithfulness of the past is contrasted with the unfaithfulness of the present.

When thou wentest after me.—Literally, thy going after me.

Jeremiah 2:2-3. Go and cry in the ears of Jerusalem — In the most public parts of the city, that all may hear; saying, Thus saith the Lord — I deliver his message, and not my own. I come to you with a commission from God, and speak in God’s name. I remember thee, &c. — I remember my first kindness to thee, when I delivered thee out of Egypt; (see Hosea 2:15;) and espoused thee to myself, to be my own peculiar people. The covenant which God made with the Israelites, at mount Sinai, is commonly represented under the metaphor of a marriage contract. Upon this account idolatry is represented as spiritual adultery, because it is the same degree of unfaithfulness to God which an adulteress is guilty of in respect of her husband. When thou wentest after me in the wilderness — Out of that love and affection that thou didst manifest to me in following my conduct. Or rather, when thou wast led by me through the wilderness, and I took such care both to protect and provide for thee, and that by a train of miracles; in a land that was not sown — Or, as Houbigant reads it, in an uncultivated land. Israel was holiness to the Lord — A people dedicated to God; and the first-fruits of his increase — Or, as the first-fruits. As the first-fruits are holy to God, so was Israel. All that devour, or rather, devoured, him — For it refers to the time past, not to the future; and so the following words: all that were injurious to him; shall, or, did, offend — Were obnoxious and liable to punishment, as if they had devoured holy things, Proverbs 20:25. Evil shall come, rather, came, upon them — Some evil was inflicted on them from the Lord, who was always wont to stand forth for the vindication of his people; as upon the Egyptians, Amalekites, Sihon, Og, the Midianites, Canaanites, and others, as the four last books of Moses abundantly testify.

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.Up to this time Jeremiah had lived at Anathoth, he is now to make Jerusalem the scene of his ministrations.

I remember ... - Or, I have remembered for thee the grace "of thy youth, the love of thine espousals," thy going "after me in the wilderness" in an unsown land. Jeremiah contrasts the present unfriendly relations between Yahweh and His people with their past love. Israel, as often elsewhere, is represented as a young bride Ezekiel 16:8; Hosea 2:20; Joel 1:8. The walking after God in the wilderness was an act of love on Israel's part. Israel did leave Egypt at Moses' bidding, and at Sinai was solemnly espoused to Yahweh.

2. cry—proclaim.

Jerusalem—the headquarters and center of their idolatry; therefore addressed first.

thee—rather, "I remember in regard to thee" [Henderson]; "for thee" [Maurer].

kindness of thy youth—not so much Israel's kindness towards God, as the kindness which Israel experienced from God in their early history (compare Eze 16:8, 22, 60; 23:3, 8, 19; Ho 2:15). For Israel from the first showed perversity rather than kindness towards God (compare Ex 14:11, 12; 15:24; 32:1-7, &c.). The greater were God's favors to them from the first, the fouler was their ingratitude in forsaking Him (Jer 2:3, 5, &c.).

espousals—the intervals between Israel's betrothal to God at the exodus from Egypt, and the formal execution of the marriage contract at Sinai. Ewald takes the "kindness" and "love" to be Israel's towards God at first (Ex 19:8; 24:3; 35:20-29; 36:5; Jos 24:16-17). But compare De 32:16, 17; Eze 16:5, 6, 15, 22 ("days of thy youth") implies that the love here meant was on God's side, not Israel's.

thou wentest after me in … wilderness—the next act of God's love, His leading them in the desert without needing any strange god, such as they since worshipped, to help Him (De 2:7; 32:12). Jer 2:6 shows it is God's "leading" of them, not their following after God in the wilderness, which is implied.

Go, viz. from Anathoth to Jerusalem.

Cry in the ears; proclaim it so that they may hear it.

Of Jerusalem; declare God’s will to the inhabitants thereof; a metonymy of the subject.

Thus saith the Lord; the prophet’s usual form of words in this book, whereby he frequently intimates that he came with God’s message, not his own; and therefore directs his sermon here, as in God’s name and person, to the whole body of the people.

I remember thee; I record, or I mind thee of the kindness that was between us: though this be sometimes taken in a way of favour, Nehemiah 13:31, yet not always so, as Nehemiah 13:29 Psalm 137:7.

The kindness of thy youth; either those forward and early affections of thine to me in thy youth; or rather, the kindness that I showed thee in thy youth, Isaiah 46:3; for this relates to the time of God’s bringing them out of Egypt, which is sometimes called the birth of this people, Isaiah 44:2 Hosea 2:3, and their youth, Isaiah 54:6 Hosea 2:15. The story seems to favour most this latter sense, Deu 9:6,24.

The love of thine espousals, viz. when I entered into a covenant relation with thee at the giving of the law, Exodus 24:7,8 Deu 4:20,23,34 Eze 16:8, &c.

When thou wentest after me in the wilderness; either out of that love and affection that thou didst show to me in following my conduct; or rather, when thou wert led by me in the wilderness, and I took such care of thee, both for protection and provision, in that howling wilderness, though thou didst ill deserve it, where nothing necessary to thy subsistence could have been expected; and therefore it is expressed in the next words by a periphrasis, a land that was not sown; and more enlarged upon Jeremiah 1:6; for it plainly appears by the story that they did not follow him with entire affection, but went a whoring from him, Amos 5:25,26, and which we have a large account of Psalm 106:7, &c.

Go, and cry in the ears of Jerusalem,.... Of the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the metropolis of Judea. The prophet seems now to have been at Anathoth, and therefore is bid to go from thence to Jerusalem, and there prophesy before the people in it, as the Targum paraphrases it:

saying, thus saith the Lord, I remember thee; the Lord never forgets his people, though they sometimes think he does; it cannot be for they are engraven on the palms of his hands, yea, are set as a seal on his heart; nor does he forget his covenant with them, nor favours and blessings promised them: or, "I remember for thee"; or, "to thee" (w): things in thy favour, and which will be to thy advantage:

the kindness of thy youth; either the lovingkindness of the Lord, which he had shown unto them; and the benefits, as the fruits thereof, which he had bestowed upon them in former times, when they were brought out of Egypt, and into the wilderness, which was the infancy both of their civil and church state; see Hosea 11:1 and when they received many favours from the Lord, Jeremiah 31:2 or the kindness of the people of Israel to the Lord, which was influenced and drawn forth by his love to them; though this can only be understood of some few of them, since the greater part tempted him, grieved, and provoked him:

the love of thine espousals; for the covenant God made with that people, when he brought them out of Egypt, was in the form of a marriage contract; he became their husband, and they became his spouse and bride; and which is an aggravation of their violation of it, Jeremiah 31:32 and this love, as before, may be understood either of the love of God to them, or of their love to him. The Targum interprets the former clause of the divine goodness to them, and this of their love to him, paraphrasing the whole thus,

"I remember unto you the blessings of ancient days, and the love of your fathers, who believed in my word:''

when thou wentest after me; the Lord going before them in a pillar of cloud by day, and in a pillar of fire by night; even the angel of God's presence, who was their leader, guide, and preserver:

in the wilderness, in a land that was not sown; where they passed through many difficulties, and lived upon the providence of God, which, in a wonderful manner, supported them with the necessaries of life, which otherwise they could not have had. The Targum is,

"and they walked after my two messengers, after Moses and Aaron, in the wilderness forty years without food, in a land that was not sown.''

The whole of this may be applied to the case of God's people at first conversion, when they are as newly born babes, and become young men in Christ; at which time they are openly espoused to him, having been secretly betrothed in covenant before; but now, through the efficacy of the Spirit attending the word, they are made willing to give up themselves to the Lord, and are espoused to one husband, Christ, 2 Corinthians 11:2 at which time also great kindness and love is expressed both by the Lord to them, by quickening them who before were dead; by bringing them out of a most miserable condition; by speaking comfortably to them; by manifesting and applying his pardoning grace; and by openly taking them into his family: and also by them to him again; for the grace of love is then implanted, which, as it is hearty and sincere, is very ardent and fervent; which shows itself by parting with and bearing all for Christ; and by a concern for his company and presence; and by a regard to his people, Gospel, ways, and worship; particularly by following him in his ordinances with great zeal, fervency, and constancy, even though attended with many difficulties and discouragements; and though the way may seem to flesh and blood very unpleasant and unpromising; all which is remembered by the Lord when forgotten by them; and when their love is become cold to him, he not only remembers them, and his love to them, which is always the same, but also their love to him.

(w) "recordor tibi", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator; so Schmidt, and some in Vatablus; which is preferred by Gussetius, Ebr. Comment. p. 228.

Go and cry in the ears of Jerusalem, saying, Thus saith the LORD; I remember thee, the {a} kindness of thy youth, the love of thy espousals, when thou wentest after me in the wilderness, {b} in a land that was not sown.

(a) According to that grace and favour which I showed you from the beginning, when I first chose you to be my people, and married you to myself, Eze 16:8.

(b) When I had delivered you out of Egypt.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Verse 2. - In the cars of Jerusalem. Presumably Jeremiah had received his call at Anathoth (comp. Jeremiah 1:1). I remember thee, etc.; rather, 1 remember for thy good the kindness of thy youth. It is an open question whether the "kindness" spoken of is that of God towards the people, or of the people towards God. The usage of the Hebrew (khesed) admits of either acceptation; comp. for the first, Psalm 5:7, 36:5, and many other passages; for the second, Hosea 6:4, 6 (in ver. 6 rendering for "mercy," "goodness") and Isaiah 57:1 (rendering "men of piety"). But the context, which dwells so strongly on the oblivion into which the Divine benefits had been allowed to pass, is decidedly in favor of the first view. How beautiful is this condescending language! Jehovah's past feelings come Back to him; at least, so it appears to the believer, when God lets the light of his countenance shine forth again (comp. Jeremiah 31:20; Hosea 9:10). He even condescends to overlook the weakness and inconsistency of the Israel of antiquity. He idealizes it (i.e. Jeremiah is permitted to do so). This is in harmony with other prophetic passages (see Isaiah 1:26 ("as at the first"); Hosea 11:1, 3, 4; Ezekiel 16:6-14). The figure of the bride recurs constantly (see Hosea 2:19, 20; Isaiah 54:4, 5; Ezekiel 16:8). Thine espousals; rather, thy bridal state. When thou wentest after me (comp. Deuteronomy 8:2, "all the way which Jehovah thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness"). Jeremiah 2:2"And then came to me the word of Jahveh, saying: Go and publish in the ears of Jerusalem, saying: I have remembered to thy account the love of thy youth, the lovingness of thy courtship time, thy going after me in the wilderness, in a land unsown. Holy was Israel to the Lord, his first-fruits of the produce: all who would have devoured him brought guilt upon themselves: evil came upon him, is the saying of Jahveh." The Jeremiah 2:2 and Jeremiah 2:3 are not "in a certain sense the text of the following reproof" (Graf), but contain "the main idea which shows the cause of the following rebuke" (Hitz.): The Lord has rewarded the people of Israel with blessings for its love to Him. זכר with ל pers. and accus. rei means: to remember to one's account that it may stand him in good stead afterwards - cf. Nehemiah 5:19; Nehemiah 13:22, Nehemiah 13:31; Psalm 98:3; Psalm 106:45, etc. - that it may be repaid with evil, Nehemiah 6:14; Nehemiah 13:29; Psalm 79:8, etc. The perfect זכרתּי is to be noted, and not inverted into the present. It is a thing completed that is spoken of; what the Lord has done, not what He is going on with. He remembered to the people Israel the love of its youth. חסד, ordinarily, condescending love, graciousness and favour; here, the self-devoting, nestling love of Israel to its God. The youth of Israel is the time of the sojourn in Egypt and of the exodus thence (Hosea 2:17; Hosea 11:1); here the latter, as is shown by the following: lovingness of the courtship. The courtship comprises the time from the exodus out of Egypt till the concluding of the covenant at Sinai (Exodus 19:8). When the Lord redeemed Israel with a strong hand out of the power of Egypt, He chose it to be His spouse, whom He bare on eagles' wings and brought unto Himself, Exodus 19:4. The love of the bride to her Lord and Husband, Israel proved by its following Him as He went before in the wilderness, the land where it is not sown, i.e., followed Him gladly into the parched, barren wilderness. "Thy going after me" is decisive for the question so much debated by commentators, whether חסד and אהבה stand for the love of Israel to its God, or God's love to Israel. The latter view we find so early as Chrysostom, and still in Rosenm. and Graf; but it is entirely overthrown by the לכתּך אחרי, which Chrysost. transforms into ποιῆσας ἐξακολουθῆσαι μου, while Graf takes no notice of it. The reasons, too, which Graf, after the example of Rosenm. and Dathe, brings in support of this and against the only feasible exposition, are altogether valueless. The assertion that the facts forbid us to understand the words of the love of Israel to the Lord, because history represents the Israelites, when vixdum Aegypto egressos, as refractarios et ad aliorum deorum cultum pronos, cannot be supported by a reference to Deuteronomy 9:6, Deuteronomy 9:24; Isaiah 48:8; Amos 5:25., Psalm 106:7. History knows of no apostasy of Israel from its God and no idolatry of the people during the time from the exodus out of Egypt till the arrival at Sinai, and of this time alone Jeremiah speaks. All the rebellions of Israel against its God fall within the time after the conclusion of the covenant at Sinai, and during the march from Sinai to Canaan. On the way from Egypt to Sinai the people murmured repeatedly, indeed, against Moses; at the Red Sea, when Pharaoh was pursuing with chariots and horsemen (Exodus 14:11.); at Marah, where they were not able to drink the water for bitterness (15:24); in the wilderness of Sin, for lack of bread and meat (Jeremiah 16:2.); and at Massah, for want of water (Jeremiah 17:2.). But in all these cases the murmuring was no apostasy from the Lord, no rebellion against God, but an outburst of timorousness and want of proper trust in God, as is abundantly clear from the fact that in all these cases of distress and trouble God straightway brings help, with the view of strengthening the confidence of the timorous people in the omnipotence of His helping grace. Their backsliding from the Lord into heathenism begins with the worship of the golden calf, after the covenant had been entered into at Sinai (Exodus 32), and is continued in the revolts on the way from Sinai to the borders of Canaan, at Taberah, at Kibroth-hattaavah (Numbers 11), in the desert of Paran at Kadesh (Numbers 13; 20); and each time it was severely punished by the Lord.

Neither are we to conclude, with J. D. Mich., that God interprets the journey through the desert in meliorem partem, and makes no mention of their offences and revolts; nor with Graf, that Jeremiah looks steadily away from all that history tells of the march of the Israelites through the desert, of their discontent and refractoriness, of the golden calf and of Baal Peor, and, idealizing the past as contrasted with the much darker present, keeps in view only the brighter side of the old times. Idealizing of this sort is found neither elsewhere in Jeremiah nor in any other prophet; nor is there anything of the kind in our verse, if we take up rightly the sense of it and the thread of the thought. It becomes necessary so to view it, only if we hold the whole forty years' sojourn of the Israelites in the wilderness to be the espousal time, and make the marriage union begin not with the covenanting at Sinai, but with the entrance of Israel into Canaan. Yet more entirely without foundation is the other assertion, that the words rightly given as the sense is, "stand in no connection with the following, since then the point in hand is the people's forgetfulness of the divine benefits, its thanklessness and apostasy, not at all the deliverances wrought by Jahveh in consideration of its former devotedness." For in Jeremiah 2:2 it is plainly enough told how God remembered to the people its love. Israel was so shielded by Him, as His sanctuary, that whoever touched it must pay the penalty. קדשׁ are all gifts consecrated to Jahveh. The Lord has made Israel a holy offering consecrated to Him in this, that He has separated it to Himself for a סגלּה, for a precious possession, and has chosen it to be a holy people: Exodus 19:5.; Deuteronomy 7:6; Deuteronomy 14:2. We can explain from the Torah of offering the further designation of Israel: his first-fruits; the first of the produce of the soil or yield of the land belonged, as קדשׁ, to the Lord: Exodus 23:19; Numbers 8:8, etc. Israel, as the chosen people of God, as such a consecrated firstling. Inasmuch as Jahveh is Creator and Lord of the whole world, all the peoples are His possession, the harvest of His creation. But amongst the peoples of the earth He has chosen Israel to Himself for a firstling-people (,ראשׁית הגּוים Amos 6:1), and so pronounced it His sanctuary, not to be profaned by touch. Just as each laic who ate of a firstling consecrated to God incurred guilt, so all who meddled with Israel brought guilt upon their heads. The choice of the verb אכליו is also to be explained from the figure of firstling-offerings. The eating of firstling-fruit is appropriation of it to one's own use. Accordingly, by the eating of the holy people of Jahveh, not merely the killing and destroying of it is to be understood, but all laying of violent hands on it, to make it a prey, and so all injury or oppression of Israel by the heathen nations. The practical meaning of יאשׁמוּ is given by the next clause: mischief came upon them. The verbs יאשׁמוּ and תּבא dna יא are not futures; for we have here to do not with the future, but with what did take place so long as Israel showed the love of the espousal time to Jahveh. Hence rightly Hitz.: "he that would devour it must pay the penalty." An historical proof of this is furnished by the attack of the Amalekites on Israel and its result, Exodus 17:8-15.

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