Jeremiah 2:32
Can a maid forget her ornaments, or a bride her attire? yet my people have forgotten me days without number.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(32) Or a bride her attire.—The word is rendered “headbands” in Isaiah 3:20, but here it probably means the “girdle” which formed the special distinction of the wife as contrasted with the maiden. Such a girdle, like the marriage ring with us, would be treasured by the bride all her life long. Even the outward memorial of her union with her husband would be dear to her. But Israel had forgotten her lord and husband Himself.

2:29-37 The nation had not been wrought upon by the judgements of God, but sought to justify themselves. The world is, to those who make it their home and their portion, a wilderness and a land of darkness; but those who dwell in God, have the lines fallen to them in pleasant places. Here is the language of presumptuous sinners. The Jews had long thrown off serious thoughts of God. How many days of our lives pass without suitable remembrance of him! The Lord was displeased with their confidences, and would not prosper them therein. Men employ all their ingenuity, but cannot find happiness in the way of sin, or excuse for it. They may shift from one sin to another, but none ever hardened himself against God, or turned from him, and prospered.A bride treasures all her life the girdle, which first indicated that she was a married woman, just as brides now treasure the wedding ring; but Israel, Yahweh's bride Jeremiah 2:2, cherishes no fond memorials of past affection. 32. Oriental women greatly pride themselves on their ornaments (compare Isa 61:10).

attire—girdles for the breast.

forgotten me—(Jer 13:25; Ho 8:14).

Can a maid forget her ornaments? how seldom is it, and how unlikely, that a maid should forget her ornaments!

Or a bride her attire? whether it belongs to the head, or the breast, or arms, whether bracelets or jewels, wherever worn, is not worth the disputing; but understand those rich jewels which the bridegroom was wont to present his bride with, partly for a general obligation, and partly of particular signification, and all of them ornamental, whatever may render her amiable in the eyes of her bridegroom; virgins, and especially brides, will not usually neglect any thing that may make them comely.

Have forgotten me, viz. in the neglect of my worship; me, who was not only their defence, but their glory, Jeremiah 2:11, &c., that for which other nations honoured them, Psalm 148:14 Ezekiel 16:10-14.

Days without number, i.e. for a long time past, time out of mind, or, as the Hebrew, days of which there is no number.

Can a maid forget her ornaments,.... Which she has provided for her wedding day, and is then to wear, and which may be the next; such as ear rings, bracelets, and jewels, which are never out of her mind, and can scarce sleep for thinking of them, how richly she shall be adorned with them; wherefore it follows:

or a bride her attire? or, "her bindings" (o); her knots about her head or breast. The word is rendered "head bands" in Isaiah 3:20 and here, by the Septuagint version, "her stomacher"; set with sparkling precious stones; see Isaiah 61:10, these things her heart being set upon, and priding herself with, cannot be forgotten by her, at least not long:

yet, my people have forgotten me days without number; which shows great stupidity and ingratitude; the Lord not being so much to them, from whom they had received so many favours, as the ornaments of a maid, and the attire of a bride, are to them.

(o) "fasciae suae", Tigurine version; "ligaminum suorum", Munster, Calvin; "ligamentorum suorum", Piscator.

Can a maid forget her ornaments, or a bride her attire? yet my people have forgotten me days without number.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
32. attire] sash, and so rendered by R.V. in Isaiah 3:20. The exact meaning is unknown, but it was plainly an indispensable part of a bride’s costume.

Verse 32. - Or a bride her attire. The prophet perhaps means the magnificently adorned girdle which the bride wore on her wedding day (comp. Isaiah 49:18). But the word only occurs again in Isaiah 3:20, and its precise signification is uncertain. Jeremiah 2:32Judah has refused to let itself be turned from idolatry either by judgments or by the warnings of the prophets; nevertheless it holds itself guiltless, and believes itself able to turn aside judgment by means of its intrigues with Egypt. Jeremiah 2:29. "Wherefore contend ye against me? ye are all fallen away from me, saith Jahveh. Jeremiah 2:30. In vain have I smitten your sons; correction have they not taken: your sword hath devoured your prophets, like a devouring lion. Jeremiah 2:31. O race that ye are, mark the word of Jahveh. Was I a wilderness to Israel, or a land of dread darkness? Why saith my people, We wander about, come no more to thee? Jeremiah 2:32. Does a maiden forget her ornaments, a bride her girdle? but my people hath forgotten me days without number. Jer 2:33. How finely thou trimmest thy ways to seek love! therefore to misdeeds thou accustomest thy ways. Jeremiah 2:34. Even in thy skirts is found the blood of the souls of the innocent poor ones; not at housebreaking hast thou caught them, but by reason of all this. Jeremiah 2:35. And thou sayest, I am innocent, yea His wrath hath turned from me: behold, I will plead at law with thee for that thou hast said, I have not sinned. Jeremiah 2:36. Why runnest thou so hard to change thy way? for Egypt too thou shalt come to shame, as thou wast put to shame for Asshur. Jeremiah 2:37. From this also shalt thou come forth, beating thy hands upon thy head; for Jahveh rejecteth those in whom thou trustest, and thou shalt not prosper with them." The question in Jeremiah 2:29, Wherefore contend ye against me? implies that the people contended with God as to His visitations, murmured at the divine chastisements they had met with; not as to the reproaches addressed to them on account of their idolatry (Hitz., Graf). ריב with אל, contend, dispute against, is used of the murmuring of men against divine visitations, Jeremiah 12:1; Job 33:13. Judah has no ground for discontent with the Lord; for they have all fallen away from Him, and (Jeremiah 2:31) let themselves be turned to repentance neither by afflictions, nor by warnings, nor by God's goodness to them. לשּׁוא, to vanity, i.e., without effect, or in vain. Hitz. and Graf wish to refer "your sons" to the able-bodied youth who had at different times been slain by Jahveh in war. The lxx seem to have taken it thus, expression לקחוּ by ἐδέξασθε; for the third pers. of the verb will not agree with this acceptation of "your sons," since the reproach of not having taken correction could not apply to such as had fallen in war, but only to those who had escaped. This view is unquestionably incorrect, because, as Hitz. admits the subject, those addressed in לקחוּ, must be the people. Hence it follows of necessity that in בּניכם too the people is meant. The expression is similar to בּני עמּך, Leviticus 19:18, and is used for the members of the nation, those who constitute the people; or rather it is like בּני יהוּדה, Joel 3:6, where Judah is looked on by the prophet as a unity, where sons are the members of the people. הכּה, too, is not to be limited to those smitten or slain in war. It is used of all the judgments with which God visits His people, of sword, pestilence, famine, failure of crops, drought, and of all kinds of diseases; cf. Leviticus 26:24., Deuteronomy 28:22, Deuteronomy 28:27. מוּסר is instruction by word and by warning, as well as correction by chastisement. Most comm. take the not receiving of correction to refer to divine punitive visitations, and to mean refusal to amend after such warning; Ros., on the other hand, holds the reference to be to the warnings and reproofs of the prophets (מוּסר( stehpohic instructionem valet, ut Proverbs 5:12, Proverbs 5:23 cet.). But both these references are one-sided. If we refer "correction have they not taken" to divine chastisement by means of judgments, there will be no connection between this and the following clause: your sword devoured your prophets; and we are hindered from restraining the reference wholly to the admonitions and rebukes of the prophets by the close connection of the words with the first part of the verse, a connection indicated by the omission of all particles of transition. We must combine the two references, and understand מוּסר both of the rebukes or warnings of the prophets and of the chastisements of God, holding at the same time that it was the correction of the people by the prophets that Jer. here chiefly kept in view. In administering this correction the prophets not only applied to the hearts of the people as judgments from God all the ills that fell upon them, but declared to the stiff-necked sinners the punishments of God, and by their words showed those punishments to be impending: e.g., Elijah, 1 Kings 17 and 18, 2 Kings 1:9.; Elisha, 2 Kings 2:23; the prophet at Bethel, 1 Kings 13:4. Thus this portion of the verse acquires a meaning for itself, which simplifies the transition from the first to the third clause, and we gain the following thought: I visited you with punishments, and made you to be instructed and reproved by prophets, but ye have slain the prophets who were sent to you. Nehemiah puts it so in Nehemiah 9:26; but Jeremiah uses a much stronger expression, Your sword devoured your prophets like a lion which destroys, in order to set full before the sinners' eyes the savage hatred of the idolatrous people against the prophets of God. Historical examples of this are furnished by 1 Kings 18:4, 1 Kings 18:13; 1 Kings 19:10; 2 Chronicles 24:21., 2 Kings 21:16; Jeremiah 26:23.

The prophet's indignation grows hotter as he brings into view God's treatment of the apostate race, and sets before it, to its shame, the divine long-suffering and love. הדּור, O generation ye! English: O generation that ye are! (cf. Ew. 327, a), is the cry of indignation; cf. Deuteronomy 32:5, where Moses calls the people a perverse foolish generation. ראוּ: see, observe, give heed to the word of the Lord. This verb is often used of perceptions by any sense, as expressive of that sense by which men apprehend most of the things belonging to the outward world. Have I been for Israel a wilderness, i.e., an unfruitful soil, offering neither means of support nor shelter? This question contains a litotes, and is as much as to say: have not I richly blessed Israel with earthly goods? Or a land of dread darkness? מאפּליה, lit., a darkness sent by Jahveh; cf. the analogous form שׁלהבתיה, Sol 8:6.

(Note: Ewald, Gram. 270, c, proposes to read with the lxx מאפלּיּה, because (he says) it is nowhere possible, at least not in the language of the prophets, for the name Jah (God) to express merely greatness. But this is not to the point. Although a darkness sent by Jah be a great darkness, it by no means follows that the name Jah is used merely to express greatness. But by תּרדּמת ; 1 Samuel 26:12, it is put beyond a doubt that darkness of Jah means a darkness sent or spread out by Jah.)

The desert is so called not merely because it is pathless (Job 3:23), but as a land in which the traveller is on all sides surrounded by deadly dangers; cf. Jeremiah 2:6 and Psalm 55:5. Why then will His people insist on being quit of Him? We roam about unfettered (as to רוּד, see on Hosea 12:1), i.e., we will no longer bear the yoke of His law; cf. Jeremiah 2:20. By a comparison breathing love and longing sadness, the prophet seeks to bring home to the heart of the people a feeling of the unnaturalness of their behaviour towards the Lord their God. Does a bride, then, forget her ornaments? etc. קשׁרים, found besides in Isaiah 3:20, is the ornamental girdle with which the bride adorns herself on the wedding-day; cf. Isaiah 3:20 with Isaiah 49:18. God is His people's best adornment; to Him it owes all the precious possessions it has. It should keep fast hold of Him as its most priceless treasure, should prize Him more highly than the virgin her jewels, than the bride her girdle. but instead of this it has forgotten its God, and that not for a brief time, but throughout countless days. ימים is accus. of duration of time. Jeremiah uses this figure besides, as Calv. observed, to pave the way for what comes next. Volebat enim Judaeos conferre mulieribus adulteris, quae dum feruntur effreni sua libidine, rapiuntur post suos vagos amores.

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