Jeremiah 3:7
And I said after she had done all these things, Turn you to me. But she returned not. And her treacherous sister Judah saw it.
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(7) And I said . . .—The call to Israel to return had been slighted, and Judah, the traitress or faithless, “one with falsehood,” had not taken warning from the sin or its punishment.

Turn thou unto me.—The verb may be either the second or third person, I said, thou shalt return; or, I said, she will return, as expressing a hope rather than a direct return. The latter seems, on the whole, the preferable rendering.

Jeremiah 3:7. After she had done all these things — For which she might justly have been abandoned; I said, Turn thou unto me — Namely, and I will receive thee. Though they had forsaken both the house of David and the house of Aaron, who both had their authority from God without dispute, yet God sent his prophets among them to call them to return to him, that is, to the worship of him only, not insisting so much upon their return to the house of David as to that of Aaron. We do not read that Elijah, that great prophet, ever mentioned their returning to the former, but only to the faithful service of the true God. It is serious and genuine piety that God regards more than any ritual observances, whether with respect to matters civil or religious. But she returned not — Which God observed, and with which he was much displeased; and her treacherous sister Judah saw it — A sister, because descended from the same common stock, Abraham and Jacob; and as Israel had the character of a back-slider, so Judah is called treacherous, because, though she professed to keep close to God when Israel had backslidden, and adhered to the kings and priests that were of God’s own appointing, yet she proved treacherous, false, and unfaithful to her profession and promises, as is stated in the following verses.3:6-11 If we mark the crimes of those who break off from a religious profession, and the consequences, we see abundant reason to shun evil ways. It is dreadful to be proved more criminal than those who have actually perished in their sins; yet it will be small comfort in everlasting punishment, for them to know that others were viler than they.Or, "And I said (i. e., within myself), After she has done all these things, she will return to me." But she did not return.

Treacherous - literally, "Falsehood," i. e., false, faithless. The character of the two sisters is plainly marked. Samaria is apostate; she abandons Yahweh's worship altogether. Judah maintains the form only; her secret desires are set upon the orgies of pagan worship.

7. I said—(2Ki 17:13).

sister—(Eze 16:46; 23:2, 4).

Turn thou unto me, viz. by repentance, Acts 3:19. Although she had been so vile and abominable, yet the Lord waited in expectation of her return.

Her treacherous sister Judah: Benjamin is also here comprised, but Judah being the chief is only named, these two abiding together after the other ten revolted to Jeroboam; called Israel’s

sister, because they were all descended from the patriarch Jacob, Ezekiel 16:46; compare Ezekiel 23:2,4; and treacherous, or the treacherous one, because of her frequent revolts, 2 Chronicles 21:6, &c.; 2 Chronicles 24:17,18, and many other times, and after as frequent renewed covenants and promises, both in conjunction with the rest of the tribes, Deu 5:2,3,23, &c.; Deu 29:10-12, &c., and afterwards, 2 Chronicles 13:9,10, &c.; 2 Chronicles 15:12, &c.; 2 Chronicles 23 16 29:10. Saw it, i.e. they were not strangers to it, but knew it, as the word is, Psalm 40:3. They could not but know how I had dealt with Israel. And I said, after she had done these things,.... All these idolatries, in the several places mentioned, after she had repeated them over and over; the Lord sent to them by the Prophets Hosea, Amos, Micah, and others, who prophesied before the captivity of the ten tribes, and entreated them, saying,

turn unto me: to my worship, as the Targum; from their idols, to him the living God; they were not without admonitions, exhortations, and declarations of grace, and so were without excuse:

but she returned not; to fear and serve the Lord, but remained in idolatry, obstinate and inflexible:

and her treacherous sister Judah saw it; her treachery and breach of covenant, as the Septuagint, Syriac, and Arabic versions add, for explanation sake; Judah, or the two tribes of Judah and Benjamin, and who were allied to the ten tribes by birth and by religion, and equally treacherous to God, the husband of them both, saw all the idolatry of Israel, and the aggravations of it, and what followed upon it, namely, their captivity in Babylon, yet did not learn and take warning hereby.

And I said after she had done all these things, Turn thou unto me. But she returned not. And her treacherous sister Judah saw it.
7. I said] to myself; I thought.

after she had done, etc.] mg. better, After she hath done all these things, she, etc.Verse 7. - And I said after she had done, etc.; rather, and I said, After she hath done all these things, she will return unto me. And her treacherous sister. Observe the distinction between the two sisters. Israel had openly broken the political and religious connection with Jehovah (Hosea 8:4); Judah nominally retained both, but her heart was towards the false gods (comp. the allegory in Ezekiel 23, which is evidently founded upon our passage). As a divorced woman who has become another man's wife cannot return to her first husband, so Judah, after it has turned away to other gods, will not be received again by Jahveh; especially since, in spite of all chastisement, it adheres to its evil ways. Jeremiah 3:1. "He saith, If a man put away his wife, and she go from him, and become another man's, can he return to her again? would not such a land be polluted? and thou hast whored with many partners; and wouldst thou return to me? saith Jahveh. Jeremiah 3:2. Lift up thine eyes unto the bare-topped hills and look, where hast thou not been lien with; on the ways thou sattest for them, like an Arab in the desert, and pollutedst the land by thy whoredoms and by thy wickedness. Jeremiah 3:3. And the showers were withheld, and the latter rain came not; but thou hadst the forehead of an harlot woman, wouldst not be ashamed. Jeremiah 3:4. Ay, and from this time forward thou criest to me, My father, the friend of my youth art thou. Jeremiah 3:5. Will he always bear a grudge and keep it up for ever? Behold, thou speakest thus and dost wickedness and carriest it out." This section is a continuation of the preceding discourse in Jeremiah 2, and forms the conclusion of it. That this is so may be seen from the fact that a new discourse, introduced by a heading of its own, begins with Jeremiah 3:6. The substance of the fifth verse is further evidence in the same direction; for the rejection of Judah by God declared in that verse furnishes the suitable conclusion to the discourse in Jeremiah 2, and briefly shows how the Lord will plead with the people that holds itself blameless (Jeremiah 2:35).

(Note: The contrary assertion of Ew. and Ngelsb. that these verses do not belong to what precedes, but constitute the beginning of the next discourse (Jeremiah 3-6), rests upon an erroneous view of the train of thought in this discourse. And such meagre support as it obtains involves a violation of usage in interpreting ושׁוב as: yet turn again to me, and needs further the arbitrary critical assertion that the heading in Jeremiah 3:6 : and Jahveh said to me in the days of Josiah, has been put by a copyist in the wrong place, and that it ought to stand before Jeremiah 3:1. - Nor is there any reason for the assumption of J. D. Mich. and Graf, that at Jeremiah 3:1 the text has been mutilated, and that by an oversight ויהי has dropped out; and this assumption also contradicts the fact that Jeremiah 3:1-5 can neither contain nor begin any new prophetic utterance.)

But it is somewhat singular to find the connection made by means of לאמר, which is not translated by the lxx or Syr., and is expressed by Jerome by vulgo dicitur. Ros. would make it, after Rashi, possem dicere, Rashi's opinion being that it stands for ישׁ לי לימר. In this shape the assumption can hardly be justified. It might be more readily supposed that the infinitive stood in the sense: it is to be said, one may say, it must be affirmed; but there is against this the objection that this use of the infinitive is never found at the beginning of a new train of thought. The only alternative is with Maur. and Hitz. to join לאמר with what precedes, and to make it dependent on the verb מאס in Jeremiah 2:37 : Jahveh hath rejected those in whom thou trustest, so that thou shalt not prosper with them; for He says: As a wife, after she has been put away from her husband and has been joined to another, cannot be taken back again by her first husband, so art thou thrust away for thy whoredom. The rejection of Judah by God is not, indeed, declared expressis verbis in Jeremiah 3:1-5, but is clearly enough contained there in substance. Besides, "the rejection of the people's sureties (Jeremiah 2:37) involves that of the people too" (Hitz.). לאמר, indeed, is not universally used after verbis dicendi alone, but frequently stands after very various antecedent verbs, in which case it must be very variously expressed in English; e.g., in Joshua 22:11 it comes after ישׁמעוּ, they heard: as follows, or these words; in 2 Samuel 3:12 we have it twice, once after the words, he sent messengers to David to say, i.e., and cause them say to him, a second time in the sense of namely; in 1 Samuel 27:11 with the force of: for he said or thought. It is used here in a manner analogous to this: he announces to thee, makes known to thee. - The comparison with the divorced wife is suggested by the law in Deuteronomy 24:1-4. Here it is forbidden that a man shall take in marriage again his divorced wife after she has been married to another, even although she has been separated from her second husband, or even in the case of the death of the latter; and re-marriage of this kind is called an abomination before the Lord, a thing that makes the land sinful. The question, May he yet return to her? corresponds to the words of the law: her husband may not again (לשׁוּב) take her to be his wife. The making of the land sinful is put by Jer. in stronger words: this land is polluted; making in this an allusion to Leviticus 18:25, Leviticus 18:27, where it is said of similar sins of the flesh that they pollute the land.

With "and thou hast whored" comes the application of this law to the people that had by its idolatry broken its marriage vows to its God. זנה is construed with the accus. as in Ezekiel 16:28. רעים, comrades in the sense of paramours; cf. Hosea 3:1. רבּים, inasmuch as Israel or Judah had intrigued with the gods of many nations. ושׁוב אלי .snoi is infin. abs., and the clause is to be taken as a question: and is it to be supposed that thou mayest return to me? The question is marked only by the accent; cf. Ew. 328, a, and Gesen. 131, 4, b. Syr., Targ., Jerome, etc. have taken ושׁוב as imperative: return again to me; but wrongly, since the continuity is destroyed. This argument is not answered by taking ו copul. adversatively with the sig. yet: it is on the contrary strengthened by this arbitrary interpretation. The call to return to God is incompatible with the reference in Jeremiah 3:2 to the idolatry which is set before the eyes of the people to show it that God has cause to be wroth. "Look but to the bare-topped hills." שׁפים, bald hills and mountains (cf. Isaiah 41:18), were favoured spots for idolatrous worship; cf. Hosea 4:13. When hast not thou let thyself be ravished? i.e., on all sides. For שׁגּלתּ the Masoretes have here and everywhere substituted שׁכּבתּ, see Deuteronomy 28:30; Zechariah 14:2, etc. The word is here used for spiritual ravishment by idolatry; here represented as spiritual fornication. Upon the roads thou sattest, like a prostitute, to entice the passers-by; cf. Genesis 38:14; Proverbs 7:12. This figure corresponds in actual fact to the erection of idolatrous altars at the corners of the streets and at the gates: 2 Kings 23:8; Ezekiel 16:25. Like an Arab in the desert, i.e., a Bedouin, who lies in wait for travellers, to plunder them. The Bedouins were known to the ancients, cf. Diod. Sic. 2:48, Plin. Hist. Nat. vi. 28, precisely as they are represented to this day by travellers. - By this idolatrous course Israel desecrated the land. The plural form of the suffix with the singular זנוּת is to be explained by the resemblance borne both in sound and meaning (an abstract) by the termination וּת to the plural ות; cf. Jeremiah 3:8, Zephaniah 3:20, and Ew. 259, b. רעתך refers to the moral enormities bound up with idolatry, e.g., the shedding of innocent blood, Jeremiah 2:30, Jeremiah 2:35. The shedding of blood is represented as defilement of the land in Numbers 35:33.

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