Jeremiah 24:3
Then said the LORD to me, What see you, Jeremiah? And I said, Figs; the good figs, very good; and the evil, very evil, that cannot be eaten, they are so evil.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(3) What seest thou, Jeremiah?—The question is asked as if to force the symbol as strongly as possible on the prophet’s mind, leaving him to wait till another word of the Lord should come and reveal its true interpretation. We are reminded, as he must have been, of the vision and the question which had first called him to his work as a prophet (Jeremiah 1:11).

24:1-10 Good and bad figs represent the Jews in captivity, and those who remain in their own land. - The prophet saw two baskets of figs set before the temple, as offerings of first-fruits. The figs in one basket were very good, those in the other basket very bad. What creature viler than a wicked man? and what more valuable than a godly man? This vision was to raise the spirits of those gone into captivity, by assuring them of a happy return; and to humble and awaken the proud and secure spirits of those yet in Jerusalem, by assuring them of a miserable captivity. The good figs represents the pious captives. We cannot determine as to God's love or hatred by what is before us. Early suffering sometimes proves for the best. The sooner the child is corrected, the better effect the correction is likely to have. Even this captivity was for their good; and God's intentions never are in vain. By afflictions they were convinced of sin, humbled under the hand of God, weaned from the world, taught to pray, and turned from sins, particularly from idolatry. God promises that he will own them in captivity. The Lord will own those who are his, in all conditions. God assures them of his protection in trouble, and a glorious deliverance in due time. When our troubles are sanctified to us, we may be sure that they will end well. They shall return to him with their whole heart. Thus they should have liberty to own him for their God, to pray to him, and expect blessings from him. The bad figs were Zedekiah and those of his party yet in the land. These should be removed for their hurt, and forsaken of all mankind. God has many judgments, and those that escape one, may expect another, till they are brought to repent. Doubtless, this prophecy had its fulfilment in that age; but the Spirit of prophecy may here look forward to the dispersion of the unbelieving Jews, in all the nations of the earth. Let those who desire blessings from the Lord, beg that he will give them a heart to know him.Fig-trees bear three crops of figs, of which the first is regarded as a great delicacy. 2. figs … first ripe—the "boccora," or early fig (see on [923]Isa 28:4). Baskets of figs used to be offered as first-fruits in the temple. The good figs represent Jeconiah and the exiles in Babylon; the bad, Zedekiah and the obstinate Jews in Judea. They are called good and bad respectively, not in an absolute, but a comparative sense, and in reference to the punishment of the latter. This prophecy was designed to encourage the despairing exiles, and to reprove the people at home, who prided themselves as superior to those in Babylon and abused the forbearance of God (compare Jer 52:31-34). God having caused the prophet to have such a visible object appear to him, asked him what he saw as Jeremiah 1:11. Then said the Lord unto me, what seest thou, Jeremiah?.... This question is put, in order that, upon his answer to it, he might have an explication of the vision:

and I said, figs; the good figs, very good; and the evil, very evil,

that cannot be eaten, they are so evil; or "so bad", or "because of badness" (b); which may be applied to mankind in general; who may be distinguished into good and bad: those that are good, who are made so by the grace of God; for none are so by nature, or of themselves; they are very good: they have many good things in them; they have a good heart, a new and a clean heart, and a right spirit created in them; they have a good understanding of spiritual things; they have a good will to that which is good, and good affections for God and Christ, and divine things; they have the good Spirit of God and his graces in them, and Christ and his word dwelling in them: and they do good things, and are prepared for every good work; they are good to others; pleasantly and acceptably good to God through Christ; and profitably good to their fellow saints and fellow creatures. On the other hand, those that are bad are exceeding bad; as they are by nature children of wrath, unclean, corrupt, loathsome, and abominable in the sight of God; so they are from their youth upward, and continue so, and are never otherwise; all in them, and that comes from them, are evil; their hearts are desperately wicked, the thoughts and imaginations of their hearts are evil continually; their words are idle, corrupt, and filthy, and all their actions sinful; there is no good in them, nor any done by them; they are good for nothing; they are of no use to God, to themselves, or others; sin has made them like itself, exceeding sinful: and now between these two sorts there is no medium; though all sins are not alike; and some in a comparative sense may be called greater or lesser sinners; yet all are exceeding bad, even the least: they are all of the same nature, and have the same wicked hearts; though some may be outwardly righteous before men; and hypocrites and formal professors are worst of all. There never were but two sorts of persons in the world; the seed of the woman, and the seed of the serpent; the children of God, and the children of the devil; and so things will appear hereafter at the great day; the one will be placed at Christ's right hand as good and righteous men, the other at his left hand as wicked, and will have separate states to all eternity: and so those figs are explained in the Talmud (c); the good figs, they are the perfect righteous; the bad figs, they are the perfect wicked.

(b) "prae pravitate", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Cocceius; "prae malitia", Schmidt. (c) T. Bab. Erubim, fol. 21. 2.

Then said the LORD unto me, What seest thou, Jeremiah? And I said, Figs; the good figs, very good; and the evil, very evil, that cannot be eaten, they are so evil.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
A rebuke of their mockery at Jeremiah's threatening predictions. - Jeremiah 23:33. "And when this people, or the prophet, or a priest ask thee, saying: What is the burden of Jahveh? then say to them: What the burden is - now I will cast you off, saith Jahveh. Jeremiah 23:34. And the prophet, the priest, and the people that shall say: burden of Jahveh, on that man will I visit it and on his house. Jeremiah 23:35. Thus shall ye say each to the other, and each to his brother: What hath Jahveh answered, and what hath Jahveh spoken? Jeremiah 23:36. But burden of Jahveh shall ye mention no more, for a burden to every one shall his own word be; and ye wrest the words of the living God Jahveh of hosts, our God. Jeremiah 23:37. Thus shalt thou say to the prophet: What hath Jahveh answered thee, and what hath He spoken? Jeremiah 23:38. But if ye say: burden of Jahveh, therefore thus saith Jahveh: Because ye say this word: burden of Jahveh, and yet I have sent unto you, saying, Ye shall not say: burden of Jahveh; Jeremiah 23:39. Therefore, behold, I will utterly forget you, and cast away from my face you and this city that I gave you and your fathers, Jeremiah 23:40. And will lay upon you everlasting reproach, and everlasting, never-to-be-forgotten disgrace."

The word משּׂא, from נשׂא, lift up, bear, sig. burden, and, like the phrase: lift up the voice, means a saying of weighty or dread import. The word has the latter sig. in the headings to the prophecies of threatening character; see on Nahum 1:1, where this meaning of the word in the headings is asserted, and the widespread opinion that it means effatum is refuted. Jeremiah's adversaries - as appears from these verses - used the word "burden" of his prophetic sayings by way of mockery, meaning burdensome prophecies, in order to throw ridicule on the prophet's speeches, by them regarded as offensive. Thus if the people, or a prophet, or a priest ask: What is the burden of Jahveh, i.e., how runs it, or what does it contain? he is to answer: The Lord saith: I will cast you off, i.e., disburden myself of you, as it were - the idea of "burden" being kept up in the answer to the question. The article on the word prophet is used to show that the word is used generally of the class of prophets at large. The את in the answering clause is nota accus., the following phrase being designedly repeated from the question; and hence the unusual combination את־מה. The sense is: as regards the question what the burden is, I will cast you away. There is no reason to alter the text to fit the lxx translation: ὑμεῖς ἐστὲ τὸ λῆμμα, or Vulg.: vos estis onus, as Cappell., J. D. Mich., Hitz., Gr., etc., do. The lxx rendering is based, not on another reading, but on another division of the words, viz., אתם המשׂא. - In Jeremiah 23:34 the meaning of this answer is more fully explained. On every one that uses the word "burden" in this sneering way God will avenge the sneer, and not only on his person, but on his house, his family as well. In Jeremiah 23:35 they are told how they are to speak of prophecy. Jeremiah 23:36. They are no longer to make use of the phrase "burden of Jahveh," "for the burden shall his word be to each one," i.e., the word "burden" will be to each who uses it a burden that crushes him down. "And ye wrest," etc., is part of the reason for what is said: and ye have equals for ye have wrested the words of the living God. The clause is properly a corollary which tells what happens when they use the forbidden word.

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