Jeremiah 3:2
Lift up your eyes to the high places, and see where you have not been lien with. In the ways have you sat for them, as the Arabian in the wilderness; and you have polluted the land with your prostitutions and with your wickedness.
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(2) Lift up thine eyes.—The consciousness of guilt was, however, the only foundation of repentance, and the prophet’s work, therefore, in very tenderness, is to paint that guilt in the darkest colours possible. Still keeping to the parable of the faithless wife, he bids Israel, as such, to look to the “high places” that have witnessed her adulteries with those other lords for whom she had forsaken Jehovah. Like the harlots of the east, she had sat by the wayside, as Tamar had done (Genesis 38:14; comp. also Proverbs 7:12; Ezekiel 16:31), not so much courted by her paramours as courting them.

As the Arabian in the wilderness.—The Arabian is chosen as the representative of the lawless predatory tribes of the desert. As they, like the modern Bedouins, lay in ambush, waiting eagerly for their victims, so had the harlot Israel laid wait for her lovers, and so the land had been polluted.

Jeremiah 3:2. Lift up thine eyes — Do but look and consider whether I charge thee wrongfully or not; unto the high places — The places of thy spiritual whoredoms or idolatries, their false gods being generally worshipped upon the hills and mountains, 2 Kings 21:3. Thy idolatries have been so frequent that thou canst scarcely show a place where some false god has not been worshipped. In the ways hast thou sat for them — To allure passengers. Thus the fondness of the people for idolatry is compared to the wantonness of a harlot, who lies in wait for men as for her prey; or, as the Arabian hides himself in the desert, to rob and spoil the unwary traveller. “The Arabs,” says Sir John Chardin, in a manuscript quoted by Harmer, “wait for caravans with the most violent avidity, looking about them on all sides, raising themselves upon their horses, running hither and thither, to see if they can perceive any smoke, or dust, or tracks on the ground, or any other marks of people passing along.” And with thy wickedness — Not only with thy idolatries hast thou polluted the land, but with all thy other wicked courses.3:1-5 In repentance, it is good to think upon the sins of which we have been guilty, and the places and companies where they have been committed. How gently the Lord had corrected them! In receiving penitents, he is God, and not man. Whatever thou hast said or done hitherto, wilt thou not from this time apply to me? Will not this grace of God overcome thee? Now pardon is proclaimed, wilt thou not take the benefit? They will hope to find in him the tender compassions of a Father towards a returning prodigal. They will come to him as the Guide of their youth: youth needs a guide. Repenting sinners may encourage themselves that God will not keep his anger to the end. All God's mercies, in every age, suggest encouragement; and what can be so desirable for the young, as to have the Lord for their Father, and the Guide of their youth? Let parents daily direct their children earnestly to seek this blessing.These words are not the language of consolation to the conscience-stricken, but of vehement expostulation with hardened sinners. They prove, therefore, the truth of the interpretation put upon the preceding verse.

As the Arabian ... - The freebooting propensities of the Bedouin had passed in ancient times into a proverb. As eager as the desert-tribes were for plunder, so was Israel for idolatry.

2. high places—the scene of idolatries which were spiritual adulteries.

In … ways … sat for them—watching for lovers like a prostitute (Ge 38:14, 21; Pr 7:12; 23:28; Eze 16:24, 25), and like an Arab who lies in wait for travellers. The Arabs of the desert, east and south of Palestine, are still notorious as robbers.

Lift up thine eyes; do but look, and consider whether I do charge thee wrongfully or no.

Unto the high places: he directs her to the places of her whoredoms and idolatries, called

high places, being principally upon hills, 2 Kings 21:3, and divers other places, though sometimes in valleys, Jeremiah 2:23; which notes also her impudence, that whereas other whores affected privacy, she should be filthy in the open view.

And see where thou hast not been lien with; thy filthiness has been every where so frequent, that thou canst scarce show a place that hath been free from thy pollutions, Jeremiah 3:6,13, where there are not the footsteps of thy fornications and idolatries.

In the ways, viz. to allure passengers, see Ezekiel 16:24,25 and waiting for them, viz. thy associates; not being drawn by others’ allurements, but thine own lasciviousness.

As the Arabian; an allusion to the manner and custom of that people, either lying in wait by the way for passengers, as robbers use to do, Hosea 6:9, they being noted for robbers. Or rather, in way of traffic, that were wont to pitch their tents by the way-sides, that they might meet with their customers to trade, as they passed along; very properly pointing out the practice of harlots. See Proverbs 7:11,12. Thy wickedness; not only thy idolatries, but all other thy wicked courses. Lift up thine eyes unto the high places,.... Where idols were set and worshipped; either places naturally high, as hills and mountains, which were chosen for this service; or high places, artificially made and thrown up for this purpose; see 2 Kings 17:9, Jarchi interprets the word of "rivulets of water"; and so the Targum, where also idolatry was committed:

and see where thou hast not been lien with; see if there is a hill or mountain, or any high place, where thou hast not committed idolatry; the thing was so notorious, and the facts and instances so many, there was no denying it; every hill and mountain witnessed to their idolatry; to which agrees the Targum,

"see where thou hast not joined thyself to worship idols:''

in the ways hast thou sat for them; for the idolaters, waiting for them, to join with them in their idolatries; as harlots used to sit by the wayside to meet with their lovers, to be picked up by them, or to offer themselves to them as prostitutes, Genesis 38:14 which shows that these people were not drawn into idolatry by the temptations and solicitations of others: but they put themselves in the way of it, and solicited it, and others to join with them in it:

as the Arabian in the wilderness; who dwelt in tents in the wilderness, and sat by the wayside to trade with those that passed by; or else lay in wait in desert and by places to rob all that passed by them; and so the Vulgate Latin version renders it,

in the ways thou didst sit, expecting them as a thief in the wilderness; the Arabians being noted for thieves and robbers. The Septuagint, Syriac, and Arabic versions, render it,

as a crow, or raven, of the desert; the same word signifying a "raven" and an "Arabian": see 1 Kings 17:4,

and thou hast polluted the land with thy whoredoms and with thy wickedness; the land of Judea, where idolatry was so openly and frequently committed, which brought a load of guilt upon it, and exposed it to the wrath and judgments of God; so the Targum,

"thou hast made the land guilty with thine idols and with thy wickedness.''

Lift up thy eyes to the high places, and see where thou hast not been lain with. In the ways hast thou sat for them, as the {e} Arabian in the wilderness; and thou hast polluted the land with thy harlotry and with thy wickedness.

(e) Who dwells in tent and waits for them that pass by to rob them.

2. Israel is shameless and wholly given up to idolatrous excesses.

bare heights] a favourite word in this Book (Jeremiah 3:21, Jeremiah 4:11 etc.).

an Arabian in the wilderness] lit. steppe-dwellers (of N. Arabia). See on Jeremiah 25:24. As they lie in wait for companies of travellers passing, so does Israel seek eagerly its unholy rites.Verse 2. - Lift up thine eyes, etc. No superficial reformation can be called "returning to Jehovah." The prophet, therefore, holds up the mirror to the sinful practices which a sincere repentance must extinguish. The high places; rather, the bare hills (comp. on Jeremiah 2:20). In the ways hast thou sat for them. By the roadside (comp. Genesis 38:14; Proverbs 7:12). As the Arabian in the wilderness. So early was the reputation of the Bedouin already won (comp. Judges 6.). Jerome ad loc. remarks, "Quae gens latrociniis dedita usque hodie incursat terminos Palaestinae." In Jeremiah 2:33 the style of address is ironical. How good thou makest thy way! i.e., how well thou knowest to choose out and follow the right way to seek love. היטיב דּרך sig. usually: strive after a good walk and conversation; cf. Jeremiah 7:3, Jeremiah 7:5; Jeremiah 18:11, etc.; here, on the other hand, to take the right way for gaining the end in view. "Love" here is seen from the context to be love to the idols, intrigues with the heathen and their gods. Seek love equals strive to gain the love of the false gods. To attain this end thou hast taught thy ways misdeeds, i.e., accustomed thy ways to misdeeds, forsaken the commandments of thy God which demand righteousness and the purifying of one's life, and accommodated thyself to the immoral practices of the heathen. הרעות, with the article as in Jeremiah 3:5, the evil deeds which are undisguisedly visible; not: the evils, the misfortunes which follow thee closely, as Hitz. interprets in the face of the context. For in Jeremiah 2:34 we have indisputable evidence that the matter in hand is not evils and misfortunes, but evil deeds or misdemeanours; since there the cleaving of the blood of innocent souls to the hems of the garments is mentioned as one of the basest "evils," and as such is introduced by the גּם of gradation. The "blood of souls" is the blood of innocent murdered men, which clings to the skirts of the murderers' clothes. כּנפים are the skirts of the flowing garment, Ezekiel 5:3; 1 Samuel 15:27; Zechariah 8:23. The plural נמצאוּ before דּם is explained by the fact that נפשׁות is the principal idea. אביונים are not merely those who live in straitened circumstances, but pious oppressed ones as contrasted with powerful transgressors and oppressors; cf. Psalm 40:18; Psalm 72:13., Psalm 86:1-2, etc. By the next clause greater prominence is given to the fact that they were slain being innocent. The words: not בּמּחתּרת, at housebreaking, thou tookest them, contain an allusion to the law in Exodus 22:1 and onwards; according to which the killing of a thief caught in the act of breaking in was not a cause of blood-guiltiness. The thought runs thus: The poor ones thou hast slain were no thieves or robbers whom thou hadst a right to slay, but guiltless pious men; and the killing of them is a crime worthy of death. Exodus 21:12. The last words כּי על כּל־אלּה are obscure, and have been very variously interpreted. Changes upon the text are not to the purpose. For we get no help from the reading of the lxx, of the Syr. and Arab., which seem to have read אלּה as אלה, and which have translated δρυΐ́ oak or terebinth; since "upon every oak" gives no rational meaning. Nor from the connection of the words with the next verse (Venem., Schnur., Ros., and others): yet with all this, or in spite of all this, thou saidst; since neither does כּי mean yet, nor can the ו before תאמרי, in this connection, introduce the sequel thought. The words manifestly belong to what goes before, and contain a contrast: not in breaking in by night thou tookest them, but upon, or on account of all this. על in the sig. upon gives a suitable sense only if, with Abarb., Ew., Ng., we refer אלּה to בּכנפיך and take מצאתים as 1st:pers.: I found it (the blood of the slain souls) not on the place where the murder took place, but upon all these, sc. lappets of the clothes, i.e., borne openly for display. But even without dwelling on the fact that מחתּרת does not mean the scene of a murder or breaking in, this explanation is wrecked on the unmistakeably manifest allusion to the law, אם בּמּחתּרת ימּצא הגּנּב, Exodus 21:1, which is ignored, or at least obscured, by that view. The allusion to this passage of the law shows that מצאתים is not 1st but 2nd pers., and that the suffix refers to the innocent poor who were slain. Therefore, with Hitz. and Graf, we take על כּל־ אלּה in the sig. "on account of all this," and refer the "all this" to the idolatry before mentioned. Consequently the words bear this meaning: Not for a crime thou killedst the poor, but because of thine apostasy from God and thy fornication with the idols, their blood cleaves to thy raiment. the words seem, as Calv. surmised, to point to the persecution and slaying of the prophets spoken of in Jeremiah 2:30, namely, to the innocent blood with which the godless king Manasseh filled Jerusalem, 2 Kings 21:16; 2 Kings 24:4; seeking as he did to crush out all opposition to the abominations of idolatry, and finding in his way the prophets and the godly of the land, who by their words and their lives lifted up their common testimony against the idolaters and their abandoned practices.
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