Jeremiah 2:23
How canst thou say, I am not polluted, I have not gone after Baalim? see thy way in the valley, know what thou hast done: thou art a swift dromedary traversing her ways;
Jump to: BarnesBensonBICalvinCambridgeClarkeDarbyEllicottExpositor'sExp DctGaebeleinGSBGillGrayGuzikHaydockHastingsHomileticsJFBKDKellyKingLangeMacLarenMHCMHCWParkerPoolePulpitSermonSCOTTBWESTSK
(23) How canst thou say . . .?—The prophet hears, as it were, the voice of the accused criminal, with its plea of “not guilty.” Had not the worship of Jehovah been restored by Josiah? Had he not, acting on Hilkiah’s counsels, suppressed Baal-worship (2Kings 23:4-5; 2Chronicles 34:4)? The answer to such pleas is to point to the rites that were still practised openly or in secret. In the “valley” of Ben-Hinnom, which Josiah had defiled (2Kings 23:10), the horrid ritual of Molech (Leviticus 18:21; Leviticus 20:2) was still in use (Jeremiah 7:31), reviving, we may believe, on the death of Josiah; and this, though not actually the worship of Baal, was at least as evil, and probably, in the confluence of many forms of worship which marked the last days of the monarchy of Judah, was closely associated and practically identified with it, both by the prophet and the people (Jeremiah 19:5; Jeremiah 32:35).

A swift dromedary.—Better, she-camel, the Hebrew word not pointing to any specific difference. The words paint with an almost terrible vividness the eager, restless state of the daughter of Zion in its harlot-like lust for the false gods of the heathen. The female camel, in the uncontrollable violence of its brute passion, moving to and fro with panting eagerness—that was now the fit image for her who had once been the betrothed of Jehovah.

Jeremiah 2:23-24. How canst thou say, I am not polluted? — With what face canst thou go about to excuse thyself, or deny what is so evident, and so truly charged upon thee? see Jeremiah 2:20. I have not gone after Baalim — The word is plural, because meant to comprehend all their idols; being a name usually given to several of them, as Baal-peor, Numbers 25:3; Baal-zebub, 2 Kings 1:16. Because they had the temple, and sacrifices offered therein, &c., they still persuaded themselves that they worshipped the true God, though they joined their idolatries with his worship. Thus the Papists, though they make use of idols in their worship, yet pretend they are not idolaters. See thy way in the valley — Whether of Hinnom, (where they burned their children in sacrifice,) or in any valleys where thou hast been frequent in thy idolatries. Know what thou hast done — Look on, and consider thy ways. Thou art a swift dromedary, traversing her ways — Or, as a swift dromedary. The prophet compares their fondness for a variety of idols to the eagerness with which, in the time of breeding, the swift dromedaries are wont to traverse the plain, and run to and fro in every direction. “And the impossibility of restraining one of those fleet animals, when hurried away by the impetuous call of nature, is represented as a parallel to that unbridled lust and eagerness with which the people of Judah ran after the gratification of their passion for idolatry, called spiritual whoredom.” — Blaney. A wild ass — Or, as a wild ass; used to the wilderness — Another similitude, for the more lively description of the same thing. That snuffeth up the wind at her pleasure — This should rather be rendered, When she snuffeth up the wind in her lust; meaning the time when the female asses seek the males by the wind, smelling them afar off. In her occasion — When she is desirous of the male; who can turn her away? — She bears down all opposition. All that seek her will not weary themselves — They will not bestow their labour in vain, but will let her take her course, and wait their time and opportunity for taking her. In her month they shall find her — Hebrew, בחדשׁה, which Blaney renders, when her heat is over; or, in her renewal, deriving the noun from the verb חדשׁ, to renew. “That is,” says he, “when the heat is abated, and she begins to come about again to the same state as before the fit came on. The LXX. seem so to have understood it: εν τη ταπεινωσει αυτης ευρησουσιν αυτην, ‘when she is humbled, they shall find her.’ And perhaps it was designed to insinuate to the Jews, by way of reproach, that they were less governable than even the brute beast, which, after having followed the bent of appetite for a little time, would cool again, and return quietly home to her owners: but the idolatrous fit in them seemed never to abate, nor to suffer the people to return to their duty. Or else it may mean, that when their affairs took a new turn, and became adverse, then would be the time when, being humbled, they would again have recourse to the true God who alone could save them.” The expression, in her month, is explained in the margin of our ancient Bible to mean, when she is with foal, an interpretation which many commentators follow. Thus Henry: “They that seek her will have a little patience till she is big with young, heavy, and unwieldy; and then they shall find her, and she cannot outrun them.” And he thus applies it: “The time will come when the most fierce will be tamed, and the most wanton will be manageable: when distress and anguish come upon them, then their ears will be open to discipline; that is the month in which you may find them.” Psalm 141:5-6.

2:20-28 Notwithstanding all their advantages, Israel had become like the wild vine that bears poisonous fruit. Men are often as much under the power of their unbridled desires and their sinful lusts, as the brute beasts. But the Lord here warns them not to weary themselves in pursuits which could only bring distress and misery. As we must not despair of the mercy of God, but believe that to be sufficient for the pardon of our sins, so neither must we despair of the grace of God, but believe that it is able to subdue our corruptions, though ever so strong.In their defense of themselves (compare Jeremiah 2:35), the people probably appealed to the maintenance of the daily sacrifice, and the Mosaic ritual: and even more confidently perhaps to Josiah's splendid restoration of the temple, and to the suppression of the open worship of Baal. All such pleas availed little as long as the rites of Moloch were still privately practiced.

Thy way in the valley - i. e., of Hinnom (see 2 Kings 23:10 note). From the time of Ahaz it had been the seat of the worship of Moloch, and the prophet more than once identifies Moloch with Baal. "Way" is put metaphorically for "conduct, doings."

Traversing - Interlacing her ways. The word describes the tangled mazes of the dromedary's course, as she runs here and there in the heat of her passion.

23. (Pr 30:12).

Baalim—plural, to express manifold excellency: compare Elohim.


the valley—namely, of Hinnom, or Tophet, south and east of Jerusalem: rendered infamous by the human sacrifices to Moloch in it (compare Jer 19:2, 6, 13, 14; 32:35; see on [894]Isa 30:33).

thou art—omit. The substantive that follows in this verse (and also that in Jer 2:24) is in apposition with the preceding "thou."

dromedary—rather, a "young she-camel."

traversing—literally, "enfolding"; making its ways complicated by wandering hither and thither, lusting after the male. Compare as to the Jews' spiritual lust, Ho 2:6, 7.

How canst thou say? with what face canst thou go about to excuse thyself, or deny what is so evident, and so truly charged upon thee? Jeremiah 2:20.

I have not gone after Baalim: the word is plural, as comprehensive of all their idols, Hosea 11:2, and is a name usually given to several of them, as Baal-zebub, 2 Kings 1:16, and Baal-peor, Numbers 25:3, and therefore their worshipping of many. Because they had the temple and sacrifices, &c., they still persuaded themselves that they worshipped the true God, though they joined their idolatries with it; as the papists though they make use of idols in worship, yet would not be accounted idolaters.

Thy way; the filthiness thou hast left behind thee, whereby thou mayst be traced, where thou leftest, as it were, thy footsteps, and monuments of thy frequent idolatries.

Thy way in the valley; thy frequent course in the valleys, whether of Hinnom, where they burnt their children’s bones in sacrifice, Jeremiah 7:31, or in any valleys where thou hast been frequent in thy idolatries; it seems to be thus largely taken.

Know what thou hast done; look on and consider thy ways, as Jeremiah 2:19.

Thou art a swift dromedary; or, thou art as, &c.; or, O dromedary, a beast much used by carriers in Arabia, being rife there. See on Isaiah 60:6.

Traversing; a metaphor taken from creatures that are hunted, that keep no direct path; alluding to the nature of the she dromedary, which in gendering time runs capering this way, and crossing that way, making many vagaries to find out sometimes one male, sometimes another, without any rule or order; setting forth hereby the disposition of this people, that were so mad upon their idols, that they ran sometimes after this, and sometimes after that, called wandering, Jeremiah 2:20, and that with great eagerness, fitly termed traversing, much like the description of a whore, Proverbs 7:11,12; the word being no where found but here, and being derived from a word that signifies a shoe-latchet, If any be curious, let the learned consult Synop. Critic., and the English reader the English Annotations on the place.

How canst thou say, I am not polluted,.... No man can say this; for all are defiled with sin; but this was the cast and complexion of these people in all ages; they were a generation of men that were pure in their own eyes, but were not cleansed from their filthiness; they fancied that their ceremonial washings and sacrifices cleansed them from moral impurities, when those only sanctified to the purifying of the flesh; still their iniquity remained marked before the Lord; they acted the part of the adulterous woman in Proverbs 30:20 to whom they are compared in the context; and, therefore, as wondering at their impudence, they having a whore's forehead, this question is put, how and with what face they could affirm this, and what follows:

I have not gone after Baalim? or, "the Baalim"; the idols of the people, as the Targum interprets it; for there were many Baals, as Baalzephon, Baalpeor, Baalzebub, and others:

see thy way in the valley; where idols were set up and worshipped; or through which the way lay, as Kimchi observes, to the hills and mountains where idolatry was frequently committed; perhaps no particular valley is meant, but any in which idols were worshipped, or which they passed through to the worshipping of them; though the Targum interprets it of the valley in which they dwelt, over against Baalpeor, so Jarchi and Abarbinel, when they worshipped that idol; and seems to design the valley of Shittim, Numbers 25:1, but rather, if any particular valley is intended, the valley of Hinnom seems to bid fair for it; and to this it may be the Septuagint version has respect, rendering it , "in the sepulchre of the multitude"; multitudes being burnt and buried here:

know what thou hast done; in the valley, especially in the valley of Hinnom, where they caused their children to pass through the fire to Molech:

thou art a swift dromedary. The Targum, Jarchi, and Kimchi, interpret it a young camel; and so the word in the Arabic language signifies; and the epithet "swift" better agrees with that than with the dromedary. Curtius (z) makes mention of dromedary camels of great swiftness; but it may be this is to be understood, not of its swiftness in running, but of its impetuous lust, as Calvin observes; and, indeed, each of these creatures are very libidinous; and therefore these people are compared to them; See Gill on Micah 1:13, it follows:

traversing her ways; running about here and there after the male, burning with lust, sometimes one way, and sometimes another; and so these people sometimes run after one idol, and sometimes another, and followed a multitude of them. The Targum renders it, "which corrupts or depraves her ways". De Dieu observes, that the word in the Ethiopic language, signifies "the evening"; and so may intend walking in the evening, in the dark, rather than in the light; which, as it is the way of dromedaries, and almost of all beasts, so of harlots, to whom these people are likened; and he further observes, that, in the Arabic language, it signifies to make common, which agrees with adulterous persons, as these were in a spiritual sense. The word is only used in this place, and is deduced from, or has some relation to, the word which signifies a "shoelatchet", Genesis 14:23 as Jarchi and Kimchi observe; and may denote, as the shoe is bound and fastened with the latchet, the binding of her ways to her heart, as the former suggests, the strengthening and confirming of her in her evil ways, and her constant persisting therein; but the first sense of running here and there through lust is best; and is approved by Bynaeus (a) and by Buxtorf (b).

(z) (Curtius) L. 5. c. 2.((a) De Calceis Heb. l. 1. c. 7. sect. 4. (b) Lex. Heb. rad.

How canst thou say, I am not polluted, I have not {h} gone after Baalim? see thy way in the valley, know what thou hast done: thou art a swift {i} dromedary traversing her ways;

(h) Meaning that hypocrites deny that they worship the idols, but that they honour God in them, and therefore they call their doings God's service.

(i) He compares the idolaters to these beasts, because they never cease running to and fro: for both valleys and hills are full of their idolatry.

23. If we may assume that this utterance relates to the time before Josiah’s reforms, the people could not deny that their worship at the high places included observances outside those belonging to Jehovah. They maintained, however, that it was to Him and not to the Baals, that their service was all the time actually rendered. The prophet here replies that in adopting heathen rites they ipso facto, whatever intention they might plead, rendered their worship abhorrent to the God of Israel.

Baalim] The Hebrew plural. See on Jeremiah 2:8.

the valley] The valley of Hinnom; see on Jeremiah 7:31. It was devoted under idolatrous kings to impure sacrifices and human offerings to Molech, who no doubt was one of the gods called collectively Baalim. (Cp. Jeremiah 7:31 f., Jeremiah 19:5, Jeremiah 32:35.) The valley was defiled by Josiah in order that such sacrifices might cease, and here dead bodies of men and animals were cast. From the Hebrew word in a Greek dress (Gehenna) comes one of the names for the place of future punishment, of which this valley was considered by the later Jews a symbol, and which some of them believed to contain the entrance to hell.

dromedary] better, as mg. young camel. The Hebrew denotes a female that has not yet had a foal.

traversing] (lit. entangling) running quickly hither and thither in the eagerness of her passion, crossing and recrossing her own course. So Israel runs now here now there, ever in search of a fresh object of devotion, and forsaking her lawful Spouse.

Verse 23. - How canst thou say, etc.? This is not a mere rhetorical fiction equivalent to "or if thou shouldst perhaps say," but probably represents an objection really made by the inhabitants of the kingdom of Judah. Their fault was not in neglecting the public worship of Jehovah in his appointed temple, but in superadding to this, idolatrous rites inconsistent with the spiritual religion taught by Jeremiah. The people did not, it seems, regard this as tantamount to "following Baalim," just as some converts to Christianity in our own foreign missions might exclaim against being accused of apostasy, because they secretly carry on certain heathen practices. The prophet, however, applies a more rigorous test to their conduct. Baalim; the plural of Baal, used for "other gods" (Jeremiah 1:16; comp. on ver. 8). Thy way in the valley. The valley in this context can only be that of Hinnom (see on Jeremiah 7:31), which from the time of Ahaz had been defiled with the rites of "Moloch, horrid king" (see ' Paradise Lost,' 1:392-396). Thou art a swift dromedary. Ewald would attach this half of the verse to ver. 24; and there is something to be said for this plan. Swift dromedary is, properly speaking, in the vocative. The ardor of the people for idolatry is expressed by the comparison of it to the uncontrollable instinct of brute beasts. The word rendered "dromedary" is in the feminine gender; it means strictly the young she-camel which has not yet had a foal. Traversing her ways; rather, interlacing her ways; i.e. running backwards and forwards at the impulse of passion. Jeremiah 2:23And yet Judah professes to be pure and upright before God. This plea Jeremiah meets by pointing to the open practising of idolatrous worship. The people of Judah personified as a woman - זונה in Jeremiah 2:20 - is addressed. איך is a question expressing astonishment. נדמאתי, of defilement by idolatry, as is shown by the next explanatory clause: the Baals I have not followed. בּעלים is used generically for strange gods, Jeremiah 1:16. The public worship of Baal had been practised in the kingdom of Judah under Joram, Ahaziah, and Athaliah only, and had been extirpated by Jehu, 2 Kings 10:18. Idolatry became again rampant under Ahaz (by his instigation), Manasseh, and Amon, and in the first year of Josiah's reign. Josiah began to restore the worship of Jahveh in the twelfth year of his reign; but it was not till the eighteenth that he was able to complete the reformation of the public services. There is then no difficulty in the way of our assuming that there was yet public worship of idols in Judah during the first five years of Jeremiah's labours. We must not, however, refer the prophet's words to this alone. The following of Baal by the people was not put an end to when the altars and images were demolished; for this was sufficient neither to banish from the hearts of the people the proneness to idolatry, nor utterly to suppress the secret practising of it. The answer to the protestation of the people, blinded in self-righteousness, shows, further, that the grosser publicly practised forms had not yet disappeared. "See thy way in the valley." Way, i.e., doing and practising. בּגּיא with the article must be some valley known for superstitions cultivated there; most commentators suggest rightly the valley of Ben or Bne-Hinnom to the south of Jerusalem, where children were offered to Moloch; see on Jeremiah 7:31. The next words, "and know what thou hast done," do not, taken by themselves, imply that this form of idol-worship was yet to be met with, but only that the people had not yet purified themselves from it. If, however, we take them in connection with what follows, they certainly do imply the continued existence of practices of that sort. The prophet remonstrates with the people for its passionate devotion to idolatry by comparing it to irrational animals, which in their season of heat yield themselves to their instinct. The comparison gains in pointedness by his addressing the people as a camel-filly and a wild she-ass. 'בּכרה is vocative, co-ordinate with the subject of address, and means the young filly of the camel. קלּה, running lightly, nimbly, swiftly. 'משׂרכת דר, intertwining, i.e., crossing her says; rushing right and left on the paths during the season of heat. Thus Israel ran now after one god, now after another, deviating to the right and to the left from the path prescribed by the law, Deuteronomy 28:14. To delineate yet more sharply the unruly passionateness with which the people rioted in idolatry, there is added the figure of a wild ass running herself weary in her heat. Hitz. holds the comparison to be so managed that the figure of the she-camel is adhered to, and that this creature is compared to a wild ass only in respect of its panting for air. But this view could be well founded only if the Keri נפשׁהּ were the original reading. Then we might read the words thus: (like) a wild ass used to the wilderness she (the she-camel) pants in the heat of her soul for air. But this is incompatible with the Cheth. נפשׁו, since the suffix points back to פּרה, and requires בּאוּת נפשׁו to be joined with 'פּרה ל, so that שׁאפה must be spoken of the latter. Besides, taken on its own account, it is a very unnatural hypothesis that the behaviour of the she-camel should be itself compared to the gasping of the wild ass for breath; for the camel is only a figure of the people, and Jeremiah 2:24 is meant to exhibit the unbridled ardour, not of the camel, but of the people. So that with the rest of the comm. we take the wild ass to be a second figure for the people. פּרה differs only orthographically from פּרא, the usual form of the word, and which many codd. have here. This is the wood ass, or rather wild ass, since the creature lives on steppes, not in woods. It is of a yellowish colour, with a white belly, and forms a kind of link between the deer species and the ass; by reason of its arrow-like speed not easily caught, and untameable. Thus it is used as an emblem of boundless love of freedom, Genesis 16:12, and of unbridled licentiousness, see on Job 24:5 and Job 39:5. פּרהas nom. epicaen. has the adj. next it, למּד ,ti t, in the masc., and so too in the apposition בּאוּת נפשׁו; the fem. appears first in the statement as to its behaviour, שׁאפה: she pants for air to cool the glow of heat within. תּאנה sig. neither copulation, from אנה, approach (Dietr.), nor aestus libidinosus (Schroed., Ros.). The sig. approach, meet, attributed to אנה, Dietr. grounds upon the Ags. gelimpan, to be convenient, opportune; and the sig. slow is derived from the fact that Arab. ̀ny is used of the boiling of water. The root meaning of אנה, Arab. ̀ny, is, according to Fleischer, tempestivus fuit, and the root indicates generally any effort after the attainment of the aim of a thing, or impulse; from which come all the meanings ascribed to the word, and for תּאנה in the text before us the sig. heat, i.e., the animal instinct impelling to the satisfaction of sexual cravings.
Jeremiah 2:23 Interlinear
Jeremiah 2:23 Parallel Texts

Jeremiah 2:23 NIV
Jeremiah 2:23 NLT
Jeremiah 2:23 ESV
Jeremiah 2:23 NASB
Jeremiah 2:23 KJV

Jeremiah 2:23 Bible Apps
Jeremiah 2:23 Parallel
Jeremiah 2:23 Biblia Paralela
Jeremiah 2:23 Chinese Bible
Jeremiah 2:23 French Bible
Jeremiah 2:23 German Bible

Bible Hub

Jeremiah 2:22
Top of Page
Top of Page