Yet I had planted you a noble vine, wholly a right seed: how then are you turned into the degenerate plant of a strange vine to me?
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)A noble vine.—Literally, a Sorek vine. Elsewhere rendered choice or choicest (Genesis 49:11; Isaiah 5:2). The word “Sorek” points primarily to the dark purple of the grape, and then to the valley of Sorek, between Ascalon and Gaza (Judges 16:4).
Wholly a right seed.—Literally, a seed of truth, parallel with the “good seed” in the Parable of the Tares. Here, however, as in Isaiah 5:1-7, which Jeremiah seems to have in his mind, stress is laid not on the mingling of the evil with the good, but on the degeneration which had changed the character of that which God had planted.
Art thou turned . . .?—Better, hast thou changed thyself . . .?
Plant.—Better, branches.Isaiah 5:2), which produced a red wine Proverbs 23:31, and had a lasting reputation Genesis 49:11.
A right seed - literally, "a seed of truth," i. e., true, genuine seed, not mixed with weeds, nor with seed of an inferior quality. Compare Matthew 13:24.
How then art thou turned - Or, "How then" hast thou changed thyself "unto me" (i. e., to my hurt or vexation) "into the degenerate" branches "of a strange vine?" The stock, which was God's planting, was genuine, and of the noblest sort: the wonder was how such a stock could produce shoots of a totally different kind Deuteronomy 32:32.
unto me—with respect to Me.A noble vine; a usual metaphor for the church, Psalm 80:8,9, &c. See Poole "Isaiah 5:1". The Hebrew is Sorek, and may refer to the place or to the plant. With reference to the place, it may be taken either for a proper name, as Carmel for any fruitful place; so here noting either the place whence, viz. a vine of the same kind with those that come from Sorek; possibly that country where Samson saw Delilah, Judges 16:4: or, the place where planted, viz. in a fruitful land, Exodus 15:17. See Poole "Isaiah 1:2". If it be referred to the plant, then it points at the excellency of its kind; and this the next clause seems to favour: and thus it notes both God’s care; he had as great a care of it as of the choicest plant; see on Isaiah 27:2,3; and also his expectation, that it should prove so, Isaiah 5:4. And the sense is, I planted thee, that thou shouldst bring forth choice fruit to me.
A right seed; a right seed of true believers, as ill the days of the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Or supposing with to be understood before right seed, (as it often is in the Hebrew,) we may understand it of the ordinances of his church, which are said to be the plants or seed that God furnisheth it withal, Matthew 13:24; and these are called right, Nehemiah 9:13, not false or counterfeit.
The degenerate plant: though there be only degenerate or declining in the Hebrew text, yet the supplement is necessary in regard of the metaphor.
Strange: this must here be taken in a bad sense, as the word
degenerate going before intimates, though it be sometimes for what is rare and excellent: here it notes their apostacy and infidelity, and other wickednesses, where God speaks after the manner of man, both in a way of wonder and reproof. Isaiah 5:1. Kimchi says this is spoken concerning Abraham; no doubt respect is had to the Jewish fathers, such as Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the twelve patriarchs, Moses, Joshua, and Caleb, and the like; who, having the true and right seed of grace in them, became like choice and noble vines, and brought forth much fruit, and were deserving of imitation by their posterity:
how then art thou turned into the degenerate plant of a strange vine unto me? like a vine that grows in the woods, and brings forth wild grapes; so these, their sons, degenerating in practice from their fathers, became corrupt in themselves, and unprofitable to God. The Targum of the whole is,
"I set you before me as the plant of a choice vine, all of you doing truth; but how are you changed before me in your corrupt works? ye have declined from my worship, ye are become as a vine in which there is no profit.''Yet I had planted thee a noble vine, wholly a right seed: how then art thou turned into the degenerate plant of a strange vine unto me?
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)21. The fault did not lie in Jehovah’s planting, but in Israel’s perversity. Hosea 10:1 has the same illustration. Jeremiah has probably a reminiscence also of Isaiah 5:1 ff., where, however, Israel is not as here the vine, but the vineyard in which it is planted.
a noble vine] a Sorek vine, the word Sorek probably referring to the colour of the fruit, a vine bearing dark-purple grapes. It is the “choice vine” of Genesis 49:11.
how then art thou turned] That which had been sown, in other words the people, when first chosen to be God’s, was uncorrupt. How is it then, He asks, that such “right seed” can have produced such degenerate shoots?
degenerate plant] The Hebrew is harsh, and suggested emendations are rendered either (with LXX) bitterness, or (with Dr.) evil smell.
strange] foreign. For the word in this sense cp. Genesis 42:7; Exodus 21:8; Psalm 114:1 and so
And palmers for to seeken straunge strondes.
Chaucer, Cant. Tales, prol.
unto me] to my grief—a frequent use of the dative case.Verse 21. - A noble vine. Jeremiah means the choicest kind of Oriental vine, called sorek (from the dark-red color of its grapes), and mentioned again in Isaiah 5:2. The figure of the vine is one endeared to us by its association especially with our Lord; it was endeared to the Jews by the annual festivities of the vintage. The sacred writers are never afraid of its palling on the ear by repetition (comp. Jeremiah 5:10; Jeremiah 6:9; Jeremiah 12:10; Isaiah 5:1-7; Isaiah 27:2, 3; Ezekiel 17:6; Psalm 80:8-16). A right seed; i.e. a vine-shoot of the genuine sort. "Seed" for "shoot," as in Isaiah 17:11 (scrap. ver. 10). The degenerate plant; rather, degenerate shoots (if at least the text is right). Jeremiah 2:14. "Is Israel a servant? is he a home-born slave? why is he become a booty? Jeremiah 2:15. Against him roared the young lions, let their voice be heard, and made his land a waste; his cities were burnt up void of inhabitants. Jeremiah 2:16. Also the sons of Noph and Tahpanes feed on the crown of thy head. Jeremiah 2:17. Does not this bring it upon thee, thy forsaking Jahveh thy God, at the time when He led thee on the way? Jeremiah 2:18. And now what hast thou to do with the way to Egypt, to drink the waters of the Nile? and what with the way to Assur, to drink the waters of the river? Jeremiah 2:19. Thy wickedness chastises thee, and thy backslidings punish thee; then know and see that it is evil and bitter to forsake Jahveh thy God, and to have no fear of me, saith the Lord Jahveh of hosts." The thought from Jeremiah 2:14-16 is this: Israel was plundered and abused by the nations like a slave. To characterize such a fate as in direct contradiction to its destiny is the aim of the question: Is Israel a servant? i.e., a slave or a house-born serf. עבד is he who has in any way fallen into slavery, יליד בּיתa slave born in the house of his master. The distinction between these two classes of salves does not consist in the superior value of the servant born in the house by reason of his attachment to the house. This peculiarity is not here thought of, but only the circumstance that the son of a salve, born in the house, remained a slave without any prospect of being set free; while the man who has been forced into slavery by one of the vicissitudes of life might hope again to acquire his freedom by some favourable turn of circumstances. Another failure is the attempt of Hitz. to interpret עבד as servant of Jahveh, worshipper of the true God; for this interpretation, even if we take no account of all the other arguments that make against it, is rendered impossible by .יליד That expression never means the son of the house, but by unfailing usage the slave born in the house of his master. Now the people of Israel had not been born as serf in the land of Jahveh, but had become עבד, i.e., slave, in Egypt (Deuteronomy 5:15); but Jahveh has redeemed it from this bondage and made it His people. The questions suppose a state of affairs that did not exist. This is shown by the next question, one expressing wonder: Why then is he it become a prey? Slaves are treated as a prey, but Israel was no slave; why then has such treatment fallen to his lot? Propheta per admirationem quasi de re nova et absurda sciscitatur. An servus est Israel? atqui erat liber prae cunctis gentibus, erat enim filius primogenitus Dei; necesse est igitur quaerere aliam causam, cur adeo miser sit (Calv.). Cf. the similar turn of the thought in Jeremiah 2:31. How Israel became a prey is shown in Jeremiah 2:15 and Jeremiah 2:16. These verses do not treat of future events, but of what has already happened, and, according to Jeremiah 2:18 and Jeremiah 2:19, will still continue. The imperff. ישׁאגוּ and ירעוּך alternate consequently with the perff. נתנוּ and נצּתה, and are governed by היה לבז, so that they are utterances regarding events of the past, which have been and are still repeated. Lions are a figure that frequently stands for enemies thirsting for plunder, who burst in upon a people or land; cf. Micah 5:7; Isaiah 5:29, etc. Roared עליו, against him, not, over him: the lion roars when he is about to rush upon his prey, Amos 3:4, Amos 3:8; Psalm 104:21; Judges 14:5; when he has pounced upon it he growls or grumbles over it; cf. Isaiah 31:4. - In Jeremiah 2:15 the figurative manner passes into plain statement. They made his land a waste; cf. Jeremiah 4:7; Jeremiah 18:16, etc., where instead of שׁית we have the more ordinary שׂוּם. The Cheth. נצּתה from יצת, not from the Ethiop. נצה (Graf, Hitz.), is to be retained; the Keri here, as in Jeremiah 22:6, is an unnecessary correction; cf. Ew. 317, a. In this delineation Jeremiah has in his eye chiefly the land of the ten tribes, which had been ravaged and depopulated by the Assyrians, even although Judah had often suffered partial devastations by enemies; cf. 1 Kings 14:25.
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