Jeremiah 24
Lange Commentary on the Holy Scriptures
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.

(CHAP 24)

POSTSCRIPT TO 22:13–30. The Fourth King


1The LORD [Jehovah] shewed me, and behold, two baskets1of figs were set 2before the temple of the LORD [Jehovah] 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 2brought them to Babylon. One basket had3 very good figs, like the figs first ripe,4and the other basket had very naughty [bad] figs, which could not be eaten,5they 3were so bad. Then said the LORD [Jehovah] unto me, What seest thou, Jeremiah? And I said, Figs; the good figs very good, and the evil [bad] very evil [bad], that cannot be eaten, they are so evil [bad].

4          Again the word of the LORD [Jehovah] came unto me, saying:

5     Thus saith the LORD [Jehovah], the God of Israel:

Like these good figs, so the captives of Judah,

Whom I have sent away from this place into the land of the Chaldeans,

Will I regard6 for good;

6     And will set mine eye upon them for good,

And will bring them back into this land;

And will build them and not pull them down,

And plant them and not pluck them up;

7     And will give them a heart to know me, that I am Jehovah,

And they shall be my people;

I however will be their God,

When they return to me with their whole heart.

8     But like the bad figs, which cannot be eaten they are so bad,

—Thus saith Jehovah: I will make Zedekiah,

The king of Judah and his princes,

And the residue of Jerusalem, that are left in this land,

And those that dwell in the land of Egypt.

9     And I will make them a horror,

A calamity for all the kingdoms of the earth,

A shame and a proverb, a taunt and a curse,

In all places whither I shall drive them

10     And I will send among them the sword,

The famine and the pestilence;

Till they be entirely extirpated from the land,

Which I gave to them and their fathers.


After the carrying away of Jehoiachin the prophet beholds in vision, two baskets of figs placed before the temple (Jer 24:1). The figs of one basket were very good, those of the other very bad (Jer 24:2). The prophet, when asked, affirms that he has perceived this correctly (Jer 24:3). Thereupon the Lord Himself interprets the vision: the good figs signify the portion of the people already carried away. The Lord will recognize them as good, bring them back, build and plant, inwardly renew them; He will be their God, they shall be His people (Jer 24:4–7). The bad figs signify the people left in Palestine with Zedekiah, and those who had already emigrated to Egypt (Jer 24:8). These shall be to all nations an object of horror and scorn (Jer 24:9), for the Lord will send among them the sword, famine and pestilence, till they are exterminated from the land (Jer 24:10). The date of this passage may be learned exactly from Jer 24:1. It was the time immediately subsequent to the carrying away of Jeconiah (2 Ki. 24:10–12). HITZIG correctly remarks, that the expression אַ‍ֽחֲרִי הַגְלוֹת, after … carried away, Jer 24:1, without further distinction, does not permit us to think of another epoch than that immediately subsequent to the deportation. The prophecy is also best explained by the situation at that period. For, as GRAF remarks, those who remained may have triumphed over the others, and extolled their good fortune. On this feeling the prophet places a damper by the declaration, that the lot of the captives would be preferable to that of the others (comp. 20:10). At all events the prophecy was delivered before the sending of that letter to the captives, which is treated of in Jer 29. On the relation of this passage to the previous chapters consult the introduction to the Eighth Discourse.

Jer 24:1, 2. The Lord … they were so bad.The opening is like that of Amos 7:1, 4, 7; 8:1. Comp. Jer. 1:11, 13.—Shewed me. This distinguishes the subjective act of vision from the object seen, and designates the former as caused by Jehovah. This distinction with respect to physical vision is found times innumerable, (comp. the mode of expression in Gen. 13:10; 18:2; 22:4, 13, etc.), but has only a rhetorical significance. In passages like this and the above from Amos, to which may be added Zech. 1:8; 2:1, etc., it cannot be a seeing with the outward eye which is spoken of. This is apparent, 1, from the object of vision; it is not supposable that baskets of bad and good figs were in reality placed before the temple; 2, from the question, What seest thou? The question evidently has a proper meaning, when there is a possibility of seeing incorrectly. On the point whether this is supposable in visions in a subjective and objective respect comp. the remarks on 1:11; 3, from the general character of the state in which the prophet must have been while talking with God. Such a conversation as is here reported can only have taken place ἐν πνεύματι. For man cannot see and hear God with the bodily senses. But if as talking with God he is ἐν πνεύματι, then he must also see what God shows him ἐν πνεύματι. For it is not supposable that in such a case there would be a duplicity of perception. The case being thus, KÖHLER is right in his remark (on Zech. 1:7) “wherever the description of a prophetic vision is introduced with the words רָאִיתִי or וָאֶרְאֶה (here הִרְאַני) followed by חִנֵּה, the prophet thus declares that as רֹאֶה or הֹזֶה he has beheld a vision, or had a vision, Isai. 30:10.” As to the way in which the Lord opens the inner sense so that it can behold spiritual things, comp. 2 Ki. 6:17.—Carpenters and smiths. According to 2 Ki. 24:14–16, Nebuchadnezzar carried away beside the king, his mother and his wives, the princes, the officers, the mighty of the land, the strong and apt for war, and then the craftsmen and smiths. These were all the mighty men of valor, and only the poorest sort of the people were left. Nebuchadnezzar evidently wished to remove all who were fit for war, as well as those who were skilled in the preparation of warlike instruments. The smiths had once before been carried off for a similar purpose by the Philistines (1 Sam. 13:19). So far all is clear. But who now especially are the מַסְגֵּר? The word occurs only in the accounts of this occurrence: 29:2; 2 Ki. 24:14, 16. Besides with the meaning of “custody, prison,” in Isai. 24:22; 42:7; Ps. 142:8. The ancient translations greatly differ from each other. The LXX. have here δεσμώτας (comp. Bar. 1:9) in 2 Ki. 24:14 and 16, τὸν συγκλείοντα: Syr. milites, satellites; Chald. janitores (so also RASCHI); Arab. mancipia (comp. the interpretation of HITZIG) [who translates “hod-carriers,” and refers the term to the descendants of the aborigines, who were condemned to be wood-splitters and water-carriers in Israel (Deut. 29:10; comp. Jos. 9:21) deriving it from מַםsocager, and גֵרstranger.—S. R. A.] If we derive the word, which is certainly most natural, from סָגַר, we have either the primitive meaning clausor, shutter, gate-shutter, or the derived: he who prepares what is necessary for shutting, shutting in, i.e., either locksmith; or if we derive from סֻגַּר, those who prepare siege-works, engineers (EWALD). EWALD would certainly also allow the word to be taken in the sense of “purveyor,” by which he understands people “who procure for the king the sup-plies of his kingdom.” But he omits any further proof. HITZIG, THENIUS, who are followed by GRAF and (as it seems also) by MEIER, who translates “daily laborer,” compose the word of מַםtribute-service and גֵּרsojourner, and understand by it common laborers, or hod-carriers, in contrast to skilled artizans. For this interpretation however we find, 1, no analogy in the language, for neither הִדֶּקֶל which alone is adduced by HITZIG, nor מַם עֹבֵד (Josh. 16:10) suit here; 2. that in 2 Ki. 24:14 it is expressly stated that דַּלַּת עַס־הָאָרֶץ, the common people, remained, and to these must have necessarily belonged those classes of the people, who were מַם and גֵּרCompare the connection of the passage (2 Ki. 24:13–16) and it will be found that HITZIG’S explanation does not agree with it. Since then, grammatically, the derivation from סָגַרclaudere is most natural, as there is further a מַסְגֵּר which signifies “custody,” etc., and consequently the meaning of shutting or of employment in that which serves to shut, or shut up (ex. gr., the bolts of gates, Deut. 3:5; 1 Ki. 4:13; Neh. 3:3, 6, 13, etc.), which is the best founded etymologically, I understand, with most recent Comm. the locksmith, the workman, who makes what serves for shutting up in custody. What may be the relation of מַסְנֵר to הָרָשׁ (carpenters), is certainly obscure. GRAF is meanwhile wrong in supposing that something more general is here to be designated. It may just as well be intended to set forth only a kind of artificer.

Jer 24:3-7. Then said the Lord … with their whole heart. The construction is: as I acknowledge these good figs (am pleased with them), so I acknowledge the captives …—for good, i.e., to render them good. Comp. 14:11; Ps. 86:17; Neh. 5:19; 13:31.—The tertium comparationis is: as one is pleased with good figs and retains them, but throws the bad away, so shall I be pleased with the captives of Judah and retain them, but reject those who remain.—And I will set, etc. Comp. 21:10.—and will bring them back. Comp. rems. on 11:14–17.—and will build, etc. Comp. 1:10.—And they shall be my,etc. Comp. rems. on 11:4.—When they, etc. Not “if” but “ when.” In accordance with the opening words of the verse the thought cannot be expressed hypothetically. Comp. moreover 3:14–17; 4:1–4.

Jer 24:8-10. But like the bad. … their fathers.—Thus saith Jehovah is a parenthesis. The כּי is phonastic at the beginning of a direct sentence (comp. NAEGELSB. Gr. § 109, 1, 4), so that the verbum dicendi to be supplied is to be borrowed from Jer 24:5, to which the כּי refers. It is as though the prophet would say, I have already said, I repeat it, that, etc. As to the Jews then already living in Egypt, reference may not be made to 22:11. For those who were carried away with Jehoahaz are certainly included under the promised blessing, Jer 24:5–7, not under the curse. But it is to be supposed that since the invasion of Nebuchadnezzar, after the battle of Carchemish, many Jews fled from Egypt to the king conquered in this battle as to their natural ally, as they also did afterwards (Jer 42. sqq.)—A horror, comp. remarks on 15:4.—A calamity. This after the example of the LXX. is struck out by HITZIG, EWALD, UMBREIT, GRAF. But why should not the prophet wish to say that the Jews should not merely be given up themselves to destruction but should be the cause of destruction to others also? Has not the Jewish people, sighing under the curse, even to the most recent times developed the bad elements of its native peculiarity in many ways, to the destruction of the nations among whom it has been driven?—A proverb, comp. 29:18, 22; Deut. 28:37.—And I will send, comp. 29:17–22, where Jeremiah repeats the main thoughts of Jer 24.


[1]Jer 24:1.—דודהים. This plural form is found in this sense here only (in another sense Gen. 30:14). It is to be derived from a sing. דּוּדַי. Comp. OLSH. § 216, d. Elsewhere the plural of דּוּד is דּוּדִים and דְּוָדִים 2 Chron. 35:13; 2 Ki. 10:7.

[2]Jer 24:1.—יָעַד is to determine, appoint. The Hiph. is diem dixit, in jus vocavit aliquem (Job 9:19; Jer. 49:19; 50:44). The Hoph. cannot therefore mean simply positum, collocatum esse. SEB. SCHMIDT: duo calathi singulariter a Deo ante templum propositi, ut prophetia inde sumeretur. GAAB: The baskets were appointed; they would not have stood there, if God had not had a special object in it. I also believe that in מועדים is implied the idea of ex mandato. Yet it seems less probable to me that a mandatum speciale is meant, than that the prophet had in view that mandatum generale, of which we read in Exod. 23:19; 34:26; Deut. 26:2 sqq. The latter passage is particularly important.

[3]Jer 24:2.—אֶחָד. Comp. NAEGELSB. Gr., § 82, 4.—Observe the tropical use of the nominative: continens pro contento. Comp. EBRARD, Dogma v. h. A. M. [Doctrine of the Lord’s Supper] I. S. 14.

[4]Jer 24:2.—הבכרות ἄπ. λεγ. On account of תְּאֵנֵי it is to be regarded as the subject: ficus præcocitatum. The early figs are the nicest. Comp. Isai. 28:4; Hos. 9:10; Mic. 7:1.

[5]Jer 24:2.—תאכלנה. The imperf. here as in Jer 24:3 and 8, might certainly be taken as a simple future;—which are not eaten. The prophet then expresses the certainty, that no one will be in a condition to eat these figs. But the sentence may also be taken with אֲשֶר in the sense of a general declaration; אשׁר is then = quales, which kind of figs cannot be eaten. The imperf. is then used to designate the permanent quality. Comp. NAEGELSB. Gr., § 87, d.

[6]Jer 24:5.—הִכִיר = to recognize, with the collateral idea of approval, allowal. Comp. Ruth 2:10, 19; and the expression הִכִּיר פַנִים in Deut. 1:17; 16:19; Prov. 24:23.

Lange, John Peter - Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical

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