Jeremiah 2:36
Why gad you about so much to change your way? you also shall be ashamed of Egypt, as you were ashamed of Assyria.
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(36) Why gaddest thou . . .?—The vigorous English expresses well, perhaps even with some added force, the frequentative force of the Hebrew. What meant this perpetual change of policy, this shifting of alliances? Shame and confusion should follow from the alliance with Nechoh, as it had followed from that with Tiglath-pileser (2Kings 16:10; 2Chronicles 28:20).

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.To change thy way - The rival parties at Jerusalem looked one to Assyria, the other to Egypt, for safety. As one or other for the time prevailed, the nation "changed its way," sending its embassies now eastward to Nineveh, now westward to Memphis.

Thou also ... - literally, also of Egypt "shalt thou be ashamed." This was literally fulfilled by the failure of the attempt to raise the siege of Jerusalem Jeremiah 37:5.

36. gaddest—runnest to and fro, now seeking help from Assyria (2Ch 28:16-21), now from Egypt (Jer 37:7, 8; Isa 30:3). Thy way, i.e. thy actions; a metaphor. See Poole "Jeremiah 2:33". Why dost thou shuffle thus with me, to seek auxiliaries any where, rather than to cleave to me, Jeremiah 2:18; See Poole "Isaiah 52:9", See Poole "Isaiah 52:10". Or, like strumpets, whose love is never fixed, but sometimes set on one, sometimes on another.

Thou also shalt be ashamed of Egypt: thou hast run to Assyria, and then to Egypt, and they shall both make thee ashamed by their disappointing of thee; thou shalt be ashamed of Egypt, as others have been, Isaiah 36:6. Or rather, Egypt shall stand thee in no more stead than Assyria hath done, Isaiah 30:3,5. And how Tilgath-pilneser served them, see 2 Chronicles 28:20. Before Hezekiah’s time the Jews made a league with the Assyrians against the Syrians and the Israelites, and then against the Egyptians; neither prospered. He tells them they must expect no better success from Egypt. Why gaddest thou about so much to change thy way?.... Or, "by changing thy way" (t); sometimes going one way, and sometimes another; sometimes to Egypt, and then to Assyria; seeking sometimes to the one for help, and sometimes to the other; at one time serving the gods of the one, in order to curry favour with them, and then the gods of the other, like a lascivious woman that gads about from place to place to increase her lovers, and satisfy her lust. The Vulgate Latin version is, "how exceeding vile art thou become, changing thy ways"; and so Jarchi says, the word signifies "contempt", or "vileness": deriving it from or to be "vile" or "contemptible"; and to this sense are the Septuagint and Arabic versions; but Kimchi derives it from to go; to which our version and others agree:

thou also shalt be ashamed of Egypt; as they were in the times of Jehoahaz and Jehoiakim, when Pharaohnecho king of Egypt took the former, and put him in bands, and carried him into Egypt; and set the latter upon the throne, and took tribute of him, for which the land was taxed, 2 Kings 23:33.

as thou wast ashamed of Assyria; in the times of Ahaz, who sent to the king of Assyria for help, when Judah was smitten by the Edomites, and invaded by the Philistines; but when he came to him, he distressed him, and strengthened and helped him not, 2 Chronicles 28:16.

(t) "mutando viam tuam", Vatablus, Piscator, Junius & Tremellius.

Why dost thou go about so much to change thy way? thou also shalt be ashamed of Egypt, {y} as thou wast ashamed of Assyria.

(y) For the Assyrians had taken away the ten tribes out of Israel and destroyed Judah even to Jerusalem: and the Egyptians slew Josiah, and vexed the Jews in various ways.

36. to change thy way] to turn from Assyria and seek the aid of Egypt. The negotiations here referred to are unknown. LXX, vocalising MT. differently, render, Why makest thou so light of changing thy way?

] See on Jeremiah 2:26.

thou shalt be ashamed of Egypt also] This was literally fulfilled, when the Egyptians were expected to raise the siege of Jerusalem in the reign of Zedekiah, but failed to do so (Jeremiah 37:5).

thou wast ashamed of Assyria] An instance of this occurred in the reign of Ahaz, when in spite of his presents to the king of Assyria, that monarch helped him not (2 Chronicles 28:21. See also Isaiah 7, 8).Verse 36. - Why gaddest thou about so much - many render, Why runnest thou so quickly; but the verb simply means to go, and it is enough to refer to foreign embassies, such as are alluded to in this very chapter (ver. 18) - to change thy way? The "way" or policy of Judah was "changed," according as the party in power favored an Egyptian or an Assyrian alliance. Thou also shalt be ashamed of; rather, thou shalt also be brought to shame through. As thou art ashamed of Assyria (correct rendering as before). This is certainly difficult, for in the reign of Josiah it would appear that the political connection with Assyria still continued, Is it possible that Jeremiah, in these words, has in view rather the circumstances of Jehoiakim than those of Josiah? Does he not appear to look back upon Judah's final "putting to shame through Assyria" as a thing of the past? And to what event can this expression refer but to the overthrow of Josiah at Megiddo (so Graf)? Judah 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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