William Kelly Major Works Commentary
Moreover the word of the LORD came to me, saying,Jeremiah Chapter 2
The opening charge of the prophet to the people occupies these five chapters.
Jer. 2 Nothing can be more affecting than the Lord's appeal as He reminds them, as it were, of plighted troth and consecration to Jehovah at the beginning of their history. (Ver. 1-3.) Was it iniquity in the Lord that their fathers walked after vanity? Were they not willingly ignorant, who felt not His goodness in bringing them out of the furnace of Egypt, through the dreary desert, and into His good land, which they had made defiled and an abomination? (Ver. 4-7.) Nor were the priests, the pastors, or the prophets one whit better, but rather worse, or at least more conspicuous in their sin against Him. (Ver. 8.)
Next, how slow is the Lord to abandon His people, pleading with those before Him then, to their children's children! Go where they pleased - north-west or south-east, to Greeks or to Arabians: they would hear of none so false to their false gods as Israel to the true God. Well might the heavens be amazed and afraid and greatly wasted, at the sight of God's people guilty of two such evils: forsaking Him, the fountain of living waters, to hew them out cisterns, broken cisterns that hold not the waters! (Ver. 9-13.)
And why such exposure to enemies? Was Israel a slave from without or one born at home, that he should suffer the grossest wrong and indignity even from those they most trusted - the sons of Noph and Tahapanes - feeble as they were? Jehovah forsaken was Israel's punishment and shame. What had they to do with drinking of the Egyptian river or of the Assyrian? They must yet learn the bitterness of abandoning the Lord their God. (Ver. 14-19.) Of old they had been set free, and promised obedience, but turned to all licentiousness. God had failed in no case: the fault was their own, their stain indelible.
(Ver. 20-22.) Self-righteous were they, yet swift to do evil and irreclaimable, given up to others hopelessly (Ver. 23-25. ), and as palpably as a thief caught in the very act; and this, not the masses only, but their kings, their heads, and their priests, and their prophets, saying to a stock, My father art thou, and to a stone, Thou hast brought me forth. In their trouble they might turn to God with Arise and save us; but God challenges their gods to arise if they can save them. It was from no lack of number alas! for Judah's gods were as many as their cities. In vain did they excuse themselves. They were all guilty, and far from accepting Jehovah's correction, their own sword had devoured their prophets. (Ver. 26-30. ) The prophet closes this appeal on the Lord's part by asking if He had been a desert or land of darkness to Israel that they came no more to Him, forgetting Him unnaturally and continually, and teaching the wicked their ways, and with the most evident blood-guiltiness yet pretending to innocence. And truly it was but a shift of sin. It had been Assyria, it was now Egypt: but shame and sorrow would be the lot of their depraved affections.
Go and cry in the ears of Jerusalem, saying, Thus saith the LORD; I remember thee, the kindness of thy youth, the love of thine espousals, when thou wentest after me in the wilderness, in a land that was not sown.
Israel was holiness unto the LORD, and the firstfruits of his increase: all that devour him shall offend; evil shall come upon them, saith the LORD.
Hear ye the word of the LORD, O house of Jacob, and all the families of the house of Israel:
Thus saith the LORD, What iniquity have your fathers found in me, that they are gone far from me, and have walked after vanity, and are become vain?
Neither said they, Where is the LORD that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, that led us through the wilderness, through a land of deserts and of pits, through a land of drought, and of the shadow of death, through a land that no man passed through, and where no man dwelt?
And I brought you into a plentiful country, to eat the fruit thereof and the goodness thereof; but when ye entered, ye defiled my land, and made mine heritage an abomination.
The priests said not, Where is the LORD? and they that handle the law knew me not: the pastors also transgressed against me, and the prophets prophesied by Baal, and walked after things that do not profit.
Wherefore I will yet plead with you, saith the LORD, and with your children's children will I plead.
For pass over the isles of Chittim, and see; and send unto Kedar, and consider diligently, and see if there be such a thing.
Hath a nation changed their gods, which are yet no gods? but my people have changed their glory for that which doth not profit.
Be astonished, O ye heavens, at this, and be horribly afraid, be ye very desolate, saith the LORD.
For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.
Is Israel a servant? is he a homeborn slave? why is he spoiled?
The young lions roared upon him, and yelled, and they made his land waste: his cities are burned without inhabitant.
Also the children of Noph and Tahapanes have broken the crown of thy head.
Hast thou not procured this unto thyself, in that thou hast forsaken the LORD thy God, when he led thee by the way?
And now what hast thou to do in the way of Egypt, to drink the waters of Sihor? or what hast thou to do in the way of Assyria, to drink the waters of the river?
Thine own wickedness shall correct thee, and thy backslidings shall reprove thee: know therefore and see that it is an evil thing and bitter, that thou hast forsaken the LORD thy God, and that my fear is not in thee, saith the Lord GOD of hosts.
For of old time I have broken thy yoke, and burst thy bands; and thou saidst, I will not transgress; when upon every high hill and under every green tree thou wanderest, playing the harlot.
Yet I had planted thee a noble vine, wholly a right seed: how then art thou turned into the degenerate plant of a strange vine unto me?
For though thou wash thee with nitre, and take thee much soap, yet thine iniquity is marked before me, saith the Lord GOD.
How canst thou say, I am not polluted, I have not gone after Baalim? see thy way in the valley, know what thou hast done: thou art a swift dromedary traversing her ways;
A wild ass used to the wilderness, that snuffeth up the wind at her pleasure; in her occasion who can turn her away? all they that seek her will not weary themselves; in her month they shall find her.
Withhold thy foot from being unshod, and thy throat from thirst: but thou saidst, There is no hope: no; for I have loved strangers, and after them will I go.
As the thief is ashamed when he is found, so is the house of Israel ashamed; they, their kings, their princes, and their priests, and their prophets,
Saying to a stock, Thou art my father; and to a stone, Thou hast brought me forth: for they have turned their back unto me, and not their face: but in the time of their trouble they will say, Arise, and save us.
But where are thy gods that thou hast made thee? let them arise, if they can save thee in the time of thy trouble: for according to the number of thy cities are thy gods, O Judah.
Wherefore will ye plead with me? ye all have transgressed against me, saith the LORD.
In vain have I smitten your children; they received no correction: your own sword hath devoured your prophets, like a destroying lion.
O generation, see ye the word of the LORD. Have I been a wilderness unto Israel? a land of darkness? wherefore say my people, We are lords; we will come no more unto thee?
Can a maid forget her ornaments, or a bride her attire? yet my people have forgotten me days without number.
Why trimmest thou thy way to seek love? therefore hast thou also taught the wicked ones thy ways.
Also in thy skirts is found the blood of the souls of the poor innocents: I have not found it by secret search, but upon all these.
Yet thou sayest, Because I am innocent, surely his anger shall turn from me. Behold, I will plead with thee, because thou sayest, I have not sinned.
Why gaddest thou about so much to change thy way? thou also shalt be ashamed of Egypt, as thou wast ashamed of Assyria.
Yea, thou shalt go forth from him, and thine hands upon thine head: for the LORD hath rejected thy confidences, and thou shalt not prosper in them.