Jeremiah 2:5
Thus said the LORD, What iniquity have your fathers found in me, that they are gone far from me, and have walked after vanity, and are become vain?
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(5) Vanity.—In the special sense, as a synonym for idol-worship (Deuteronomy 32:21; 1Kings 16:13). As in the character of a husband wronged by his wife’s desertion Jehovah pleads with His people, and asks whether He has failed in anything.

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. 5. iniquity—wrong done to them (Isa 5:4; Mic 6:3; compare De 32:4).

walked after vanity—contrasted with "walkest after me in the wilderness" (Jer 2:2): then I was their guide in the barren desert; now they take idols as their guides.

vanity … vain—An idol is not only vain (impotent and empty), but vanity itself. Its worshippers acquire its character, becoming vain as it is (De 7:26; Ps 115:8). A people's character never rises above that of its gods, which are its "better nature" [Bacon] (2Ki 17:15; Jon 2:8).

God having, as it were on his own behalf, shown how kind he had been, calls upon them to speak now, if they knew any thing of injury, either in breach of covenant or severity, that they can charge him with, that they have thus apostatized. See Poole "Isaiah 1:18"; See Poole "Isaiah 5:3": compare Micah 6:2-4. By this manner of speech his proceeding appears the more justifiable; he both makes their conviction the clearer, and the reproof the sharper.

Walked after vanity, viz. idols, showing their folly in going from God to such vain things as idols are, Deu 32:21 1 Samuel 12:20,21; and see on Isaiah 41:29; the abstract for the concrete, Ecclesiastes 1:2.

Become vain, viz. in following their imaginations; fools,

Romans 1:21,22, as senseless as the stocks and stones that they made their idols of, Psalm 115:8; and herein they are said to go far from God, and choose their delusions, Jonah 2:8. Thus saith the Lord, what iniquity have your fathers found in me,.... What injustice or injury has been done them? there is no unrighteousness in God, nor can any be done by him; or what unfaithfulness, or want of truth and integrity in performing promises, had they found in him? he never suffers his faithfulness to fail, or any of the good things he has promised. So the Targum,

"what falsehood have your fathers found in my word?''

none at all; God is a covenant keeping God:

that they are gone far from me; from my fear, as the Chaldee paraphrase; from the word and worship, and ways of God:

and have walked after vanity; after idols, the vanities of the Gentiles, Jeremiah 14:22,

and are become vain? in their imaginations and in their actions, in their knowledge and in their practice, worshipping idols, as well as guilty of many other sins.

Thus saith the LORD, What iniquity have your fathers found in me, that they have gone {e} far from me, and have walked after vanity, and have become {f} vain?

(e) That is, fallen to vile idolatry.

(f) Altogether given to vanity, and are become blind and insensible as the idols that they serve.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
5. Has Israel had any excuse for their disloyalty to Me? None.

have walked after vanity] ‘vanity’ (lit. a breath) is here used in the same sense as in 1 Kings 16:13. Jehovah and His prophets regarded idols simply as unsubstantial, unreal things. Hence ‘vanity’ (i.e. idols) expresses their view. So in 1 Corinthians 8:4. Cp. Jeremiah 2:8; Jeremiah 2:11, Jeremiah 16:19; 1 Samuel 12:21; Isaiah 44:9 f. Ch. Jeremiah 10:10 contrasts God as “the true God,” “the living God”; while the notions of that which is unreal and that which is positively injurious are combined in Jeremiah 16:19.

and are become vain] have their characters assimilated to the objects which they serve. Cp. Romans 1:21 f., they “became vain in their reasonings … they became fools.”Verse 5. - What iniquity, etc.; rather, what unrighteousness, etc. (comp. Deuteronomy 32:4, "a God of faithfulness, and without unrighteousness," alluding to the "covenant" between Jehovah and Israel). God's condescending grace (his 'anavah, Psalm 18:36). As if he were under an obligation to Israel (comp. Micah 6:3, etc.; Isaiah 5:3). Vanity; i.e. the idols; literally, a breath (so Jeremiah 10:15; Jeremiah 14:22; Jeremiah 16:19). Are become vain. The whole being of man is affected by the want of solid basis to his religion (comp. Jeremiah 23:16; Psalm 115:8); and the evident allusion to our passage in Romans 1:21 (St. Paul has ἐματαιώθησαν, as Septuagint here). The clause is verbally repeated in 2 Kings 17:15, with reference to the ten tribes. The interpretation of the symbols is followed by a charge to Jeremiah to address himself stoutly to his duties, and to discharge them fearlessly, together with still further and fuller assurance of powerful divine assistance.

"But thou, gird up thy loins, and arise, and speak to them all that I command thee: be not dismayed before them, lest I dismay thee before them. Jeremiah 1:18. And I, behold I make thee this day a strong city, an iron pillar, a brazen wall against the whole land, the kings of Judah its princes, its priests, and the people of the land. Jeremiah 1:19. They shall strive against thee, but not prevail against thee; for I am with thee, saith Jahveh, to save thee." To gird up the loins, i.e., to fasten or tuck up with the girdle the long wide garment, in order to make oneself fit and ready for labour, for a journey, or a race (Exodus 12:11; 1 Kings 18:46; 2 Kings 4:29; 2 Kings 9:1), or for battle (Job 38:3; Job 40:7). Meaning: equip thyself and arise to preach my words to the inhabitants of the land. In 'אל־תּחת and ' אחתּך לthere is a play on words. The Niph. sig. broken in spirit by terror and anxiety; the Hiph. to throw into terror and anguish. If Jeremiah appears before his adversaries in terror, then he will have cause to be terrified for them; only if by unshaken confidence in the power of the word he preaches in the name of the Lord, will he be able to accomplish anything. Such confidence he has reason to cherish, for God will furnish him with the strength necessary for making a stand, will make him strong and not to be vanquished. This is the meaning of the pictorial statement in Jeremiah 1:18. A strong city resists the assaults of the foes; the storm cannot shatter an iron pillar; and walls of brass defy the enemy's missiles. Instead of the plural חמות, the parallel passage Jeremiah 15:20 has the sing. חומת, the plural being used as frequently as the singular to indicate the wall encircling the city; cf. 2 Kings 25:10 with 1 Kings 3:1; Nehemiah 2:13; Nehemiah 4:1 with Nehemiah 1:3, and Nehemiah 2:17; Nehemiah 4:10. With such invincible power will God equip His prophet "against the whole land," i.e., so that he will be able to hold his own against the whole land. The mention of the component parts of "all the land," i.e., the several classes of the population, is introduced by למלכי, so that "the kings," etc., is to be taken as an apposition to "against all the land." Kings in the plural are mentioned, because the prophet's labours are to extend over several reigns. שׂרים are the chiefs of the people, the heads of families and clans, and officers, civil and military. "The people of the land" is the rest of the population not included in these three classes, elsewhere called men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem, Jeremiah 17:25; Jeremiah 32:32, and frequently. אליך for עליך; so in Jeremiah 15:20, and often. With the promise in Jeremiah 15:19, cf. Jeremiah 1:8.

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