Jeremiah 2:6
Neither said they, Where is the LORD that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, that led us through the wilderness, through a land of deserts and of pits, through a land of drought, and of the shadow of death, through a land that no man passed through, and where no man dwelled?
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(6) Neither said they.—In somewhat of the same tone as in Deuteronomy 8:15; Deuteronomy 32:10, the horrors of the wilderness are painted in vivid colours, to heighten the contrast with the land into which they had been brought. The picture was true of part, but not of the whole, of the region of the wanderings. But the people had forgotten this. There was no seeking for the Lord who had then been so gracious. The question, Where is He? never crossed their thoughts.

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.Modern researches have shown that this description applies only to limited portions of the route of the Israelites through the Sinaitic peninsula. 6. Neither said they, Where, &c.—The very words which God uses (Isa 63:9, 11, 13), when, as it were, reminding Himself of His former acts of love to Israel as a ground for interposing in their behalf again. When they would not say, Where is Jehovah, &c., God Himself at last said it for them (compare see on [893]Jer 2:2).

deserts … pits—The desert between Mount Sinai and Palestine abounds in chasms and pits, in which beasts of burden often sink down to the knees. "Shadow of death" refers to the darkness of the caverns amidst the rocky precipices (De 8:15; 32:10).

Neither said, i.e. with themselves, thought not.

Brought us up: the expression may have some respect to the situation of the place, as lying lower than Canaan; but the design is to reprove their sloth and stupidity, charging herein their apostacy, not upon their ignorance, but wilfulness; their deliverance from Egypt, and therefore is it here mentioned, being such a deliverance as never greater was wrought for any people, wherein there was so much of his power and love seen; they never regarded the operations of his hands, never concerned themselves about what God had done for them, Jeremiah 2:8, which should have engaged them to a more close cleaving to him.

Through a land of deserts; desolate places, Jeremiah 1:13; and then what follows is to amplify the greatness of their dangers in the wilderness, and therein the greatness of their deliverance. And of pits; either those natural dangerous pits that were there; or put for the grave, where passengers are so often buried quick in the heaps of sand suddenly blown up by the wind; or threatening in every respect nothing but death, which may be implied in that expression of the

shadow of death in this verse, which may allude to several kinds or fears of death in passing through a wilderness. See in the Synopsis.

A land of drought, where they had no water but by miracle; the LXX. render it a land without water. The shadow of death: see on the word pits: the LXX. render it a land without fruit, bringing forth nothing that might have a tendency to the support of life, therefore nothing but death could be expected; and besides, it yielding so many venomous creatures, as scorpions, and serpents, &c., as also the many enemies that they went in continual danger of; all which could not but look formidable, and as the

shadow of death. That no man passed through, and where no man dwelt; as having in it no accommodation for travel, much less for habitation. In these respects may it well be called a waste howling wilderness, Deu 32:10. Neither said they, where is the Lord?.... They did not ask after him, nor seek his face and favour, nor worship him, nor took any notice of the blessings he bestowed upon them:

that brought us up out of the land of Egypt? by means of Moses the deliverer, with a mighty hand, and outstretched arm; for, though Moses was the instrument, God was the efficient cause of the deliverance; the favour was his, and the glory of it ought to have been given to him:

that led us through the wilderness; of "Shur", or of "Sin", the desert of Arabia, Exodus 15:22 and a dreadful and terrible one it was:

through a land of deserts and of pits, through a land of drought, and of the shadow of death; where were scorpions, fiery serpents, drought, and no water, and so very dangerous as well as uncomfortable travelling; and yet through all this they were led, and wonderfully supplied and preserved;

through a land that no man passed through, and where no man dwelt; there was no passenger in it, nor inhabitants on it, so that there were none to relieve them; whence it appears, that all their supply, support, and preservation, were from the Lord. The Jews (y) interpret this of the first man Adam, after this manner,

"all land, concerning which the first man decreed that it should be inhabited, it is inhabited; and all land, concerning which he did not decree it should be inhabited, it is not inhabited; and such they suggest was this wilderness;''

see Deuteronomy 8:15.

(y) T. Bab. Beracot, fol. 31. 1. & Sota, fol. 46. 2.

Neither said they, Where is the LORD that brought us out of the land of Egypt, that led us through the wilderness, through a land of deserts and of pits, through a land of drought, and of {g} the shadow of death, through a land that no man passed through, and where no man dwelt?

(g) Where for lack of all things needed for life, you could look for nothing every hour but present death.

6. The prophet brings their thanklessness into bolder relief by depicting in the strongest colours the care lavished upon them of old. Utter forgetfulness is their return for the deliverance from Egyptian bondage, the preservation from the various dangers of the wilderness, and the bestowal of Canaan.

pits] one of the difficulties and dangers of travellers consisted in the rifts or clefts which had to be crossed or avoided by a circuitous route.

shadow of death] mg. (better) deep darkness. The difference depends on the vowels which we attach to the consonants of the Hebrew word. For its application, as here, to circumstances of peril, cp. Psalm 23:4; Psalm 44:19. The pathless desert is as bewildering as would be profound darkness.Verse 6. - Neither said they, etc.; as their children's children were forced by stress of trouble to say (Isaiah 63:11; see note). A land of desserts and of pits. The first phrase applied to the region through which the Israelites passed ("a wilderness") was vague, and might mean merely pasture-land. The remainder of the description, however, shows that "wilderness" is here meant, as often (e.g. Isaiah 35:1; Isaiah 50:2), in the sense of "desert." Though recent travelers have shown that the Sinaitie peninsula is not by any means universally a "desert," and that in ancient times it was still less so, it is not unnatural that an agricultural people should regard it as a most inhospitable region, and should even idealize its terrors (comp. Deuteronomy 8:15). "Pits," i.e. rents and fissures in the soil, in which the unwary traveler might lose his life (Jeremiah 18:20, 22). 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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