Jeremiah 3:8
And I saw, when for all the causes whereby backsliding Israel committed adultery I had put her away, and given her a bill of divorce; yet her treacherous sister Judah feared not, but went and played the harlot also.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(8) And I saw, when for all the causes.—Better, perhaps (following a conjectural emendation, which gives a much better sense), And she saw that for all the causes. The technical fulness of the words suggests the thought that they were actually the customary formula with which every writing of divorcement began, recapitulating the offences which were alleged by the husband against the wife. The actual repudiation consisted, of course, in the bitter exile and loss of national life, which Hosea (Hosea 2:1-13) had predicted under a like figure. Judah had witnessed the sin and the punishment, and yet was following in the same path.

Jeremiah 3:8. And I saw — As if he had said, That which others discerned not, I saw perfectly; namely, both her hypocrisy and her incorrigibleness, notwithstanding what had befallen Israel, whose correction should have instructed and reformed her. When for all the causes — The various idolatries and other sins, for which I had given her — That is, Israel; a bill of divorce — Delivered her up into the hands of the Assyrians, and thereby taken from her the title of being my church; yet her sister Judah feared not — Was neither afraid of giving me offence, nor of the like punishment; but went and played the harlot also — Was forward enough to worship any idol that was introduced, and to join in any idolatrous usage, although she had seen the judgment of God executed upon Israel before her eyes.

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.Rather, "And I saw" that because apostate "Israel" had "committed adultery, I had put her away, and given her" the writing of her divorcement, "yet" false "Judah her sister feared not."...The expression, "For all the causes whereby," is probably the actual formula with which writings of divorcement commenced. 8. I saw that, though (whereas) it was for this very reason (namely), because backsliding (apostate) Israel had committed adultery I had put her away (2Ki 17:6, 18), and given her a bill of divorce, yet Judah, &c. (Eze 23:11, &c.).

bill of divorce—literally, "a writing of cuttings off." The plural implies the completeness of the severance. The use of this metaphor here, as in the former discourse (Jer 3:1), implies a close connection between the discourses. The epithets are characteristic; Israel "apostate" (as the Hebrew for "backsliding" is better rendered); Judah, not as yet utterly apostate, but treacherous or faithless.

also—herself also, like Israel.

I saw: q.d. That which others discern not I saw well enough, viz. both her hypocrisy and dissimulation, and her incorrigibleness notwithstanding what had befallen Israel, whose correction should have been her instruction; thus God speaks of the notice he took of both, Jeremiah 23:13,14. Israel is said to be backsliding, but Judah

treacherous, because she retained the worship of God, though she did often privately and closely embrace idols. and sometimes publicly, under Manasseh, and Ahaz, and other wicked kings:

When for all the causes; or notwithstanding all the ground and reason I had to deal so with Israel in regard of her adulteries, as to put her away.

Given her a bill of divorce; delivered her up into the hands of the Assyrian, where God took from her the title of being his church, 2 Kings 17:5,6, &c., which he calls here a bill of divorce; not such a one as the Jews were allowed to give upon every slight ground, (for such a one God denies that ever he gave them, and challengeth them to produce it, Isaiah 1:1) but upon just and great occasion, viz. her playing the adulteress against him in her idolatries. Feared not, i.e. was neither afraid of giving me offence, nor of the like punishment. But went and played the harlot also; although she had seen the judgment of God executed upon Israel before her eyes, which made it the more stupendous, that she would take no warning by her sister’s sufferings, Proverbs 28:14, yet she went on still, Ezekiel 23:11,12, &c.

And I saw, when for all the causes, whereby backsliding Israel committed adultery,.... Not only Judah saw, but God, who sees all things, saw the idolatry of the ten tribes which apostatized from him, and all the springs, causes, reasons, and occasions of it, and its consequences; and also the treachery, hardness, and idolatry of Judah:

I had put her away, and given her a bill of divorce; as men did, when they put away their wives, as they might lawfully do in case of adultery; and here being that which answered to it, spiritual adultery or idolatry, the Lord, who was married to this people, put them away from him, and caused them to be carried captive out of their own land into another, 2 Kings 17:6 which is meant by the bill of divorce; so the Targum,

"I caused them to go into captivity, as those that give a bill of divorce (to their wives) and dismiss them:''

yet her treacherous sister Judah feared not; to commit idolatry and offend the Lord, nor stood in awe of his righteous judgments; had no reverence of God, nor fear of punishment; so hardened and daring was she: but went and played the harlot; committed idolatry, as the ten tribes did, taking no warning by what befell them.

And I saw, when for all the causes by which backsliding Israel committed adultery I had put {k} her away, and given her a bill of divorce; yet her treacherous sister Judah feared not, but went and played the harlot also.

(k) And gave her into the hands of the Assyrians.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
8. I saw] rather (as mg.) she (Judah) saw that etc., thus harmonizing with the similar passage, Ezekiel 23:11.

Verse 8. - And I saw, when for all the causes, etc.; rather, and I saw that even because apostate Israel had, etc. But this is exceedingly strange in this connection. The preceding words seem to compel us either (with the Vulgate) to omit "and I saw" altogether, or (with Ewald) to read the first letter of the verb differently, and render "and she saw," taking up the statement of ver. 7 ("saw; yea, she saw," etc.). The latter view is favored by a phrase in ver. 10 (see note below). The same corruption of the text (which is palaeographically an easy one) occurs probably in Ezekiel 23:13. The error must, however, be a very ancient one, for the Septuagint already has καὶ εῖδον. Jeremiah 3:8Many commentators have taken objection to the וארא, because the sentence, "I saw that I had therefore given Israel a bill of divorce," is as little intelligible as "and the faithless Judah saw it, and I saw it, for," etc. Thus e.g., Graf, who proposes with Ew. and Syr. to read ותּרא, "and she saw," or with Jerome to omit the word from the text. To this we may add, that either the change or the omission destroys the natural relation to one another of the clauses. In either case we would have this connection: "and the faithless one, her sister Judah, saw that, because the backslider Israel had committed adultery, I had put her away...yet the faithless one feared not." But thus the gist of the thing, what Judah saw, namely, the repudiation of Israel, would be related but cursorily in a subordinate clause, and the 7th verse would be shortened into a half verse; while, on the other hand, the 8th verse would be burdened with an unnaturally long protasis. Ros. is right in declaring any change to be unnecessary, provided the two halves of Jeremiah 3:7 and Jeremiah 3:8 are connected in this sense: vidi quod quum adulteram Israelitidem dimiseram, tamen non timeret ejus perfida soror Juda. If we compare Jeremiah 3:7 and Jeremiah 3:8 together, the correspondence between the two comes clearly out. In the first half of either verse Israel is spoken of, in the second Judah; while as to Israel, both verses state how God regarded the conduct of Israel, and as to Judah, how it observed and imitated Israel's conduct. וארא corresponds to ואמר in Jeremiah 3:7. God thought the backsliding Israel will repent, and it did not, and this Judah saw. Thus, then, God saw that even the repudiation of the backsliding Israel for her adultery incited no fear in Judah, but Judah went and did whoredom like Israel. The true sense of Jeremiah 3:8 is rendered obscure or difficult by the external co-ordination to one another of the two thoughts, that God has rejected Israel just because it has committed adultery, and, that Judah nevertheless feared not; the second thought being introduced by Vav. In reality, however, the first should be subordinated to the second thus: that although I had to reject Israel, Judah yet feared not. What God saw is not the adultery and rejection or divorce of Israel, but that Judah nevertheless had no fear in committing and persisting in the self-same sin. The כּי belongs properly to לא יראה, but this relation is obscured by the length of the prefixed grounding clause, and so לא יראה is introduced by ,על־כּל־אדות וגו' .ו yb decud literally: that for all the reasons, because the backslider had committed adultery, I put her away and gave her a bill of divorce; yet the faithless Judah feared not. In plain English: that, in spite of all my putting away the backsliding Israel, and my giving her...because she had committed adultery, yet the faithless Judah feared not. On ספר כּריתוּת, cf. Deuteronomy 24:1, Deuteronomy 24:3.
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