Jeremiah 2:3
Israel was holiness unto the LORD, and the firstfruits of his increase: all that devour him shall offend; evil shall come upon them, saith the LORD.
Jump to: BarnesBensonBICalvinCambridgeClarkeDarbyEllicottExpositor'sExp DctGaebeleinGSBGillGrayGuzikHaydockHastingsHomileticsJFBKDKellyKingLangeMacLarenMHCMHCWParkerPoolePulpitSermonSCOTTBWESTSK
(3) Holiness unto the Lord.—The thought was that expressed in the inscription on the gold plate worn on the high priest’s forehead (Exodus 28:36), and in the term “holy thing” (Leviticus 22:10; Matthew 7:6), applied to the consecrated gifts which were the portion of the priests. The prophet was taught that Israel, as a nation, had a priestly character, and was consecrated to the Lord as the “firstfruits” of the great harvest of the world. Compare the use of the same figure in James 1:18; Romans 11:16.

All that devour him shall offend.—The imagery of the firstfruits is continued. The Hebrew for the word “offend” is used for transgressions against the ceremonial law in Leviticus 5:5; Leviticus 5:19; Numbers 5:7. Here, however, it is probably better rendered, shall be condemned, or shall be made to suffer, as in Psalm 34:21-22, where the Authorised version has “shall be desolate.” Those who devour Israel—the enemies and invaders, the tyrants and oppressors—are guilty as of a sacrilege that will not remain unpunished.

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.Render: "Israel" is an offering consecrated to Yahweh, His firstfruits of increase. The firstfruits were God's consecrated property, His portion of the whole harvest. Pagan, i. e., unconsecrated, nations must not meddle with Israel, because it is the nation consecrated to God. If they do, they will bring such guilt upon themselves as those incur who eat the first-fruits Leviticus 22:10, Leviticus 22:16. 3. holiness unto the Lord—that is, was consecrated to the service of Jehovah (Ex 19:5, 6). They thus answered to the motto on their high priest's breastplate, "Holiness to the Lord" (De 7:6; 14:2, 21).

first-fruits of his increase—that is, of Jehovah's produce. As the first-fruits of the whole produce of the land were devoted to God (Ex 23:19; Nu 18:12, 13), so Israel was devoted to Him as the first-fruit and representative nation among all nations. So the spiritual Israel (Jas 1:18; Re 14:4).

devour—carrying on the image of first-fruits which were eaten before the Lord by the priests as the Lord's representatives; all who ate (injured) Jehovah's first-fruits (Israel), contracted guilt: for example, Amalek, the Amorites, &c., were extirpated for their guilt towards Israel.

shall come—rather, "came."

Israel was holiness, or

holy, the abstract for the concrete, i.e. a people dedicated to God; thus the word is used Leviticus 21:7 27:14; set apart from other people for myself by peculiar laws and rites.

And the first-fruits of his increase: this supplement

and is better left out, it being not in the text, and rendering the sense more obscure; therefore better read, either, being the first-fruits, by apposition; or, as the first-fruits, i.e. as the first-fruits were holy to God, so was Israel.

All that devour; or rather, devoured; for it refers to the time past, not to the future, and so the following words; all that were injurious to him

shall offend; or, did offend, were obnoxious, and liable to punishment, as he that devoured that which is holy, Proverbs 20:25.

Shall come upon them; came upon them: some evil was inflicted on them from the Lord, that was always wont to stand up 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 do abundantly testify; and by these expressions is insinuated that now they are like to find it otherwise, Jeremiah 1:7; this minding of them what God had done for them making way for the closer setting home the following reproofs.

Israel was holiness unto the Lord,.... When first brought out of Egypt into the wilderness, by the Lord's choice and separation of them to be a holy people to him above all others; by covenant with him, and profession of him; and by his giving them holy laws, and placing a sanctuary among them; and by their high priest, who represented them in the most holy place; and had on the front of his mitre written,

holiness unto the Lord; so the spiritual Israel are chosen in Christ to be holy, and he is made sanctification to them; they are sanctified in him, and by his Spirit; they are called with a holy calling, and unto holiness; and, under the influence of grace, live holy lives and conversations, which the grace of God teaches, and young converts are remarkable for; their consciences being just awakened, and their hearts tender:

and the firstfruits of his increase; Israel was the first nation that God separated for himself; and this being the firstfruits, shows that he would separate others also, and take out of the Gentiles a people for his name, which he has since done; and the elect of God among the Israelites were the firstfruits of his chosen ones elsewhere; it were some of them that first believed in Christ, and received the firstfruits of the Spirit; and all converted ones are a kind of firstfruits of his creatures; the grace they receive at conversion is the firstfruits of a later increase of it, and even of eternal glory:

all that devour him shall offend; or, "all that eat him shall be guilty" (x); and be condemned and punished, who eat up the Lord's people, as they eat bread; see Psalm 53:4, these shall not go unpunished; for his people are as the apple of his eye, and whoever touches and hurts them fall under the divine displeasure, and will be looked upon as criminals and offenders, and will be judged and condemned as such. The allusion is to the eating of the firstfruits, which only belonged to the priests; nor might any of the increase be eaten until the firstfruits were brought to them, Leviticus 23:10. This is expressed in the Chaldee paraphrase of the text,

"whosoever eats of them (the firstfruits) is guilty of death; for as the beginning of the harvest, the sheaf of oblation, whoever eats of it before the priests, the sons of Aaron, have offered of it upon the altar, shall be guilty or condemned; so all that spoil the house of Israel shall be guilty or condemned;''

so Jarchi and Kimchi:

evil shall come upon them, saith the Lord; that is, the evil of punishment, either in this world, or in that which is to come, or in both.

(x) "rcos fuisse", Junius & Tremellius; "rei peragebantur", Piscator; "rei fiunt", Cocceius.

Israel was {c} holiness to the LORD, and the firstfruits of his increase: all {d} that devour him shall offend; evil shall come upon them, saith the LORD.

(c) Chosen above all others to serve the Lord only and the first offered to the Lord of all other nations.

(d) Whoever challenged this people, or else annoyed them, was punished.

3. Israel was holiness unto the Lord, the firstfruits of his increase] Cp. Exodus 19:6; Deuteronomy 8:6; Deuteronomy 14:2; cp. Jeremiah 26:18 and Amos 3:2. There is no moral significance attached to the word holiness here. It means simply setting apart from ordinary uses, dedication to God. Israel is as the most precious part of the harvest, that part which is consecrated as God’s portion. The notion was familiar through the yearly custom, prescribed Leviticus 23:10-14, that a measure of the firstfruits should be waved by the priest before the Lord, and that none of the harvest should be enjoyed till this rite had been fulfilled. Cp. Exodus 23:19; Deuteronomy 26:2 ff.

all that devour him shall be held guilty] The priest and his family alone were to eat of the firstfruits. No stranger was allowed to partake. If any unhallowed person profaned the firstfruits by taking of them, he bore “the iniquity that bringeth guilt.” See Leviticus 22:16 (where the Heb. root is the same as here). Thus the sense is that if unconsecrated (i.e. heathen) nations assail Israel, their fate shall be that of such as eat the firstfruits unlawfully.

Verse 3. - Israel was holiness, etc. Israel was a consecrated people (comp. Exodus 19:5, 6; Deuteronomy 7:6; Deuteronomy 14:2; Deuteronomy 26:19). Isaiah, fond as he is of the phrase "Israel's Holy One," does not expressly enforce the correlative truth, as Jeremiah does here. The first-fruits of his increase; rather, his firstfruits of increase. Israel is compared to the firstfruits (reshith) of the land, which were devoted to the house of the Lord (Exodus 23:19; Numbers 18:12, 13). So in Amos 6:1, the title given him is "the chief [margin, 'firstfruits'] of the nations" (in Jeremiah 31:7, a synonymous and cognate word, rosh, takes the place of reshith for "chief"). All that devour him shall offend; rather, all that ate him incurred guilt, or became guilty of a trespass. Foreigners were forbidden to eat of consecrated things; by breaking this law they became guilty of a "trespass," having invaded the rights of Jehovah (Leviticus 22:10, 15, 16). The word for "trespass" is the same as that rendered "guilt." Jeremiah 2:3"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.

Jeremiah 2:3 Interlinear
Jeremiah 2:3 Parallel Texts

Jeremiah 2:3 NIV
Jeremiah 2:3 NLT
Jeremiah 2:3 ESV
Jeremiah 2:3 NASB
Jeremiah 2:3 KJV

Jeremiah 2:3 Bible Apps
Jeremiah 2:3 Parallel
Jeremiah 2:3 Biblia Paralela
Jeremiah 2:3 Chinese Bible
Jeremiah 2:3 French Bible
Jeremiah 2:3 German Bible

Bible Hub

Jeremiah 2:2
Top of Page
Top of Page