Keil and Delitzsch OT 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.The Two Fig Baskets-an emblem of the future of Judah's people. - Jeremiah 24:1. "Jahveh caused me to see, and behold two baskets of figs set before the temple of Jahveh, after Nebuchadrezzar had carried captive Jechoniah, the son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, and the princes of Judah, and the work-people and the smiths from Jerusalem, and had brought them to Babylon. Jeremiah 24:2. One basket had very good figs like the early figs, the other basket very bad figs, which could not be eaten for badness. Jeremiah 24:3. And Jahveh said to me: What seest thou, Jeremiah? and I:said: Figs; the good figs are very good, and the bad figs very bad, which cannot be eaten for badness. Jeremiah 24:4. Then came the word of Jahveh unto me, saying: Jeremiah 24:5. Thus saith Jahveh, the God of Israel: Like these good figs, so will I look on the captives of Judah, whom I have sent out of this place into the land of the Chaldeans, for good; Jeremiah 24:6. And I will set mine eye upon them for good, and will bring them back again to this land, and build them and not pull down, and plant them and not pluck up. Jeremiah 24:7. And I give them an heart to know me, that I am Jahveh; and they shall be my people, and I will be their God; for they will return unto me with their whole heart. Jeremiah 24:8. And as the bad figs, which cannot be eaten for badness, yea thus saith Jahveh, so will I make Zedekiah the king of Judah, and his princes and the residue of Jerusalem, them that are left remaining in this land and them that dwell in Egypt. Jeremiah 24:9. I give them up for ill-usage, for trouble to all kingdoms of the earth, for a reproach and a by-word, for a taunt and for a curse in all the places whither I shall drive them. Jeremiah 24:10. and I send among them the sword, the famine, and the plague, till they be consumed from off the land that I gave to them and to their fathers."
This vision resembles in form and substance that in Amos 8:1-3. The words: Jahveh caused me to see, point to an inward event, a seeing with the eyes of the spirit, not of the body. The time is, Jeremiah 24:1, precisely given: after Nebuchadnezzar had carried to Babylon King Jechoniah, with the princes and a part of the people; apparently soon after this deportation, at the beginning of the reign of Zedekiah, the king set up by Nebuchadnezzar over Judah. Cf. 2 Kings 24:14-17. - The Lord caused the prophet to see in spirit two baskets of figs (דּוּדאים, from דּוּדי, equivalent to דּוּד, Jeremiah 24:2), מוּעדים (from יעד) in the place appointed therefor (מועד( rofereh) before the temple. We are not to regard these figs as an offering brought to Jahveh (Graf); and so neither are we to think here of the place where first-fruits or tithes were offered to the Lord, Exodus 23:19., Deuteronomy 26:2. The two baskets of figs have nothing to do with first-fruits. They symbolize the people, those who appear before the Lord their God, namely, before the altar of burnt-offering; where the Lord desired to appear to, to meet with His people (נועד, Exodus 29:42.), so as to sanctify it by His glory, Exodus 29:43. מוּעדים therefore means: placed in the spot appointed by the Lord for His meeting with Israel.
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."The one basket very good figs" is short for: the basket was quite full of very good figs; cf. Friedr. W. M. Philippi, on the Nature and Origin of the Status constr. in Hebrew (1871), p. 93. The comparison to early figs serves simply to heighten the idea of very good; for the first figs, those ripened at the end of June, before the fruit season in August, were highly prized dainties. Cf. Isaiah 28:4; Hosea 9:10.
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.The question: what seest thou? serves merely to give the object seen greater prominence, and does not imply the possibility of seeing wrong (Ng.).
Again the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,The interpretation of the symbol. Jeremiah 24:5. Like the good figs, the Lord will look on the captives in Chaldea for good ("for good" belongs to the verb "look on them"). The point of resemblance is: as one looks with pleasure on good figs, takes them and keeps them, so will I bestow my favour on Judah's captives. Looking on them for good is explained, Jeremiah 24:6 : the Lord will set His eye on them, bring them back into their land and build them up again. With "build them," etc., cf. Jeremiah 1:10. The building and planting of the captives is not to consist solely in the restoration of their former civil well-being, but will be a spiritual regeneration of the people. God will give them a heart to know Him as their God, so that they may be in truth His people, and He their God. "For they will return," not: when they return (Ew., Hitz.). The turning to the Lord cannot be regarded as the condition of their receiving favour, because God will give them a heart to know Him; it is the working of the knowledge of the Lord put in their hearts. And this is adduced to certify the idea that they will then be really the Lord's people.
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.
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.
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.
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:And as one deals with the bad uneatable figs, i.e., throws them away, so will the Lord deliver up to ignominious ruin Zedekiah with his princes and the remainder of the people, both those still staying in the land and those living in Egypt. This, the fate awaiting them, is more fully described in Jeremiah 24:9 and Jeremiah 24:10. In Jeremiah 24:8 the "yea, thus saith," is inserted into the sentence by way of repetition of the "thus saith," Jeremiah 24:5. כּן is resumed and expanded by וּנתתּים in Jeremiah 24:9. The "princes" are Zedekiah's courtiers. Those in Egypt are they who during the war had fled thither to hide themselves from judgment. From the beginning of Jeremiah 24:9 to הארץ is verbally the same as Jeremiah 15:4, save that לרעה is added to make more marked the contrast to לטובּהּ, Jeremiah 24:5 - the evil, namely, that is done to them. Hitz., Ew., Umbr., Gr., following the lxx, delete this word, but without due cause. The further description of the ill-usage in "for a reproach," etc., is based on Deuteronomy 28:37; and is intensified by the addition of "and for an object of cursing," to show that in their case the curse there recorded will be fulfilled. From the last words, according to which disgrace will light on them in all the lands they are driven into, it appears that captivity will fall to the lot of such as are yet to be found in the land. But captivity involves new hostile invasions, and a repeated siege and capture of Jerusalem; during which many will perish by sword, famine, and plague. Thus and by deportation they shall be utterly rooted out of the land of their fathers. Cf. Jeremiah 29:17., where Jeremiah repeats the main idea of this threatening.
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.
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.