Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
The LORD shewed me, and, behold, two baskets of figs were set before the temple of the LORD, after that Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon had carried away captive Jeconiah the son of Jehoiakim king of Judah, and the princes of Judah, with the carpenters and smiths, from Jerusalem, and had brought them to Babylon.
Jer 24:1-10. The Restoration of the Captives in Babylon and the Destruction of the Refractory Party in Judea and in Egypt, Represented under the Type of a Basket of Good, and One of Bad, Figs.
1. Lord showed me—Am 7:1, 4, 7; 8:1, contains the same formula, with the addition of "thus" prefixed.
carried … captive Jeconiah—(Jer 22:24; 2Ki 24:12, &c.; 2Ch 36:10).
carpenters, &c.—One thousand artisans were carried to Babylon, both to work for the king there, and to deprive Jerusalem of their services in the event of a future siege (2Ki 24:16).
One basket had very good figs, even like the figs that are first ripe: and the other basket had very naughty figs, which could not be eaten, they were so bad.
2. figs … first ripe—the "boccora," or early fig (see on 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).
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.
Again the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,
Thus saith the LORD, the God of Israel; Like these good figs, so will I acknowledge them that are carried away captive of Judah, whom I have sent out of this place into the land of the Chaldeans for their good.
5. acknowledge—regard with favor, like as thou lookest on the good figs favorably.
for their good—Their removal to Babylon saved them from the calamities which befell the rest of the nation and led them to repentance there: so God bettered their condition (2Ki 25:27-30). Daniel and Ezekiel were among these captives.
For I will set mine eyes upon them for good, and I will bring them again to this land: and I will build them, and not pull them down; and I will plant them, and not pluck them up.
6. (Jer 12:15).
not pull … down … not pluck … up—only partially fulfilled in the restoration from Babylon; antitypically and fully to be fulfilled hereafter (Jer 32:41; 33:7).
And I will give them an heart to know me, that I am the LORD: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God: for they shall return unto me with their whole heart.
7. (Jer 30:22; 31:33; 32:38). Their conversion from idolatry to the one true God, through the chastening effect of the Babylonish captivity, is here expressed in language which, in its fulness, applies to the more complete conversion hereafter of the Jews, "with their whole heart" (Jer 29:13), through the painful discipline of their present dispersion. The source of their conversion is here stated to be God's prevenient grace.
for they shall return—Repentance, though not the cause of pardon, is its invariable accompaniment: it is the effect of God's giving a heart to know Him.
And as the evil figs, which cannot be eaten, they are so evil; surely thus saith the LORD, So will I give Zedekiah the king of Judah, and his princes, and the residue of Jerusalem, that remain in this land, and them that dwell in the land of Egypt:
8. in … Egypt—Many Jews had fled for refuge to Egypt, which was leagued with Judea against Babylon.
And I will deliver them to be removed into all the kingdoms of the earth for their hurt, to be a reproach and a proverb, a taunt and a curse, in all places whither I shall drive them.
9. removed, &c.—(Jer 15:4). Calvin translates, "I will give them up to agitation, in all," &c.; This verse quotes the curse (De 28:25, 37). Compare Jer 29:18, 22; Ps 44:13, 14.
And I will send the sword, the famine, and the pestilence, among them, till they be consumed from off the land that I gave unto them and to their fathers.