Yet you say, Because I am innocent, surely his anger shall turn from me. Behold, I will plead with you, because you say, I have not sinned.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Yet thou sayest . . .—Once again we have the equivocating plea of the accused. She takes up the word that had been used by the accuser: “You speak of the innocents; I, too, am innocent. His anger has turned away from me. Here, as in Jeremiah 2:33, there is an implied reference to the partial reformation under Josiah. The accuser retorts, and renews his pleadings against her. Confession might have led to forgiveness, but this denial of guilt excluded it, and was the token of a fatal blindness (comp. 1John 1:8).Jeremiah 2:35-36. Yet thou sayest — Or interrogatively, Darest thou say? Hast thou the impudence to affirm it? Because I am innocent — Clear of this whole charge; surely his anger shall turn from me — Shall not break out against me, Isaiah 5:25. Behold, I will plead with thee — I will proceed in my judgment against thee; because thou sayest, I have not sinned — Because thou continuest to justify thyself, as if I had no cause to be angry with thee. Why gaddest thou about so much to change thy way? — That is, thy actions. Why hast thou recourse to so many different expedients for relief? Why dost thou seek auxiliaries anywhere rather than cleave to me? Or act like those adulterous women, whose love is never fixed, but sometimes set on one, sometimes on another. This is rendered by the Vulgate, “How vile art thou become, changing or repeating thy ways!” Continuing still to seek new succours from strangers, though thou hast been so often deceived! Egypt now shall fail thee, as Assyria has done before. Blaney renders this last clause, “By means of Egypt also shalt thou be put to shame, even as thou hast been put to shame by Assyria.” “The people of Judah,” he observes, “seem to have courted the assistance of foreign nations, by a sinful compliance with their idolatrous customs. But this measure had already failed them, and they had been disappointed in their expectations from Assyria in the time of King Ahaz, who, as we read 2 Chronicles 28:16-21, called upon the king of Assyria to help him in his need; but he distressed him only, instead of helping him. In the same manner, also, it is here prophesied they would be served by the Egyptians, whose alliance would only disappoint them, and make them ashamed of having trusted to so ineffectual a support; and it turned out accordingly.” See Jeremiah 37:7-8.
Shall turn from me - Or, has turned away "from me."Yet thou sayest; or interrogatively, Darest thou say? hast thou the impudence to affirm it?
Innocent; clear of this whole charge. Shall turn; shall not break out against me, Isaiah 5:25.
I will plead with thee; I will proceed in my judgment against thee, Jeremiah 2:9 Jeremiah 25:31. Or it is a soft expression, wherein he shows that he will not act like a tyrant, carried on rashly and furiously; but as a judge, regularly and righteously, Ezekiel 20:35; and it shows that he will convince her.
Because thou sayest, I have not sinned; because thou dost justify thyself, as if I had no cause to be angry with thee. God is not angry with her so much because she hath sinned, as because she will not acknowledge her sin. Proverbs 30:20 to whom the Jews are all along compared in this chapter; which shows the hardness of their hearts, and their impudence in sinning:
surely his anger shall turn from me; the anger of God, since innocent; or, "let his anger be turned from me", as the Septuagint and Arabic versions; pleading for the removing of judgments upon the foot of innocency, which is pretended:
behold, I will plead with thee; enter into judgment with thee, and examine the case closely and thoroughly:
because thou sayest, I have not sinned; it would have been much better to have acknowledged sin, and pleaded for mercy, than to insist upon innocence, when the proof was so evident; nothing can be got by entering into judgment with God, upon such a foundation; and to sin, and deny it, is an aggravation of it: the denial of sin is a double sin, as the wise man says, whom Kimchi cites.Yet thou sayest, Because I am innocent, surely his anger shall turn from me. Behold, I will plead with thee, because thou sayest, I have not sinned.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)35. Israel protests that her innocence is proved by her prosperity, which marks Jehovah’s favour. He replies that judgement awaits her for her denial of guilt.Verse 35. - Because. This "because" is misleading; there is no argument, but the statement of a supposed fact. The particle so rendered merely serves to introduce the speech of the Jews (like ὅτι). Shall turn; rather, hath turned. Judah had so long been undisturbed by any foreign power, that the people fancied the promises of Deuteronomy were being fulfilled, and that they, on their part, had pleased God by their formal obedience (comp. 2 Kings 22:17). I will plead with thee. Here, as in some other passages (e.g. Isaiah 66:16; Ezekiel 38:22), the word includes the sense of punishing. 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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