17:1-4 The sins which men commit make little impression on their minds, yet every sin is marked in the book of God; they are all so graven upon the table of the heart, that they will all be remembered by the conscience. That which is graven in the heart will become plain in the life; men's actions show the desires and purposes of their hearts. What need we have to humble ourselves before God, who are so vile in his sight! How should we depend on his mercy and grace, begging of God to search and prove us; not to suffer us to be deceived by our own hearts, but to create in us a clean and holy nature by his Spirit!
2. children remember—Instead of forsaking the idolatries of their fathers, they keep them up (Jer 7:18). This is given as proof that their sin is "graven upon … altars" (Jer 17:1), that is, is not merely temporary. They corrupt their posterity after them. Castalio less probably translates, "They remember their altars as (fondly as) they do their children."
groves—rather, "images of Astarte," the goddess of the heavenly hosts, represented as a sacred tree, such as is seen in the Assyrian sculptures (2Ki 21:7; 2Ch 24:18). "Image of the grove." The Hebrew for "grove" is Asherah, that is, Assarak, Astarte, or Ashtaroth.
by the green trees—that is, near them: the sacred trees (idol symbols) of Astarte being placed in the midst of natural trees: "green trees" is thus distinguished from "groves," artificial trees. Henderson, to avoid taking the same Hebrew particle in the same sentence differently, "by … upon" translates "images of Astarte on the green trees." But it is not probable that images, in the form of a sacred tree, should be hung on trees, rather than near them.