Jeremiah 2

Listen to Jeremiah 2

Israel Forsakes the Lord

1 The word of the LORD came to me, saying,
2 "Go and proclaim in the hearing of Jerusalem, Thus says the LORD, "I remember the devotion of 1your youth, your love 2as a bride, 3how you followed me in the wilderness, 4in a land not sown.
3 5Israel was holy to the LORD, 6the firstfruits of his harvest. 7All who ate of it incurred guilt; disaster came upon them, declares the LORD."
4 Hear the word of the LORD, O house of Jacob, and all the clans of the house of Israel.
5 Thus says the LORD: 8"What wrong did your fathers find in me that they went far from me, 9and went after 10worthlessness, and became worthless?
6 They did not say, 11'Where is the LORD who brought us up from the land of Egypt, who led us 12in the wilderness, in a land of deserts and pits, in a land of drought and deep darkness, in a land that none passes through, where no man dwells?'
7 13And I brought you into a plentiful land to enjoy its fruits and its good things. But when you came in, 14you defiled my land and made my heritage an abomination.
8 The priests did not say, 'Where is the LORD?' 15Those who handle the law did not know me; 16the shepherds[a] transgressed against me; 17the prophets prophesied by Baal and went after 18things that do not profit.
9 "Therefore 19I still contend with you, declares the LORD, and 20with your children's children I will contend.
10 For cross to the coasts of 21Cyprus and see, or send to 22Kedar and examine with care; see if there has been such a thing.
11 23Has a nation changed its gods, 24even though they are no gods? But my people 25have changed their glory for 26that which does not profit.
12 Be appalled, 27O heavens, at this; be shocked, be utterly desolate, declares the LORD,
13 for my people have committed two evils: 28they have forsaken 29me, the fountain of 30living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water.
14 31"Is Israel a slave? Is he a homeborn servant? Why then has he become a prey?
15 32The lions have roared against him; they have roared loudly. They have made his land a waste; his cities are in ruins, 33without inhabitant.
16 Moreover, the men of 34Memphis and 35Tahpanhes 36have shaved[b] the crown of your head.
17 37Have you not brought this upon yourself by forsaking the LORD your God, when 38he led you in the way?
18 39And now what do you gain by going to Egypt to drink the waters of 40the Nile? 41Or what do you gain by going to Assyria to drink the waters of 42the Euphrates?
19 43Your evil will chastise you, and 44your apostasy will reprove you. Know and see that it is evil and 45bitter for 46you to forsake the LORD your God; the fear of me is not in you, declares the Lord GOD of hosts.
20 "For long ago I 47broke your yoke and burst your bonds; but you said, 48'I will not serve.' Yes, 49on every high hill and under every green tree you bowed down 50like a whore.
21 51Yet I planted you a choice vine, wholly of pure seed. 52How then have you turned degenerate and become a wild vine?
22 Though you wash yourself with lye and use much soap, 53the stain of your guilt is still before me, declares the Lord GOD.
23 54How can you say, 'I am not unclean, I have not gone after the Baals'? Look at your way 55in the valley; know what you have done-- a restless young camel running here and there,
24 56a wild donkey used to the wilderness, in her heat sniffing the wind! Who can restrain her lust? None who seek her need weary themselves; in her month they will find her.
25 Keep 57your feet from going unshod and 58your throat from thirst. But you said, 'It is hopeless, 59for I have loved foreigners, and after them I will go.'
26 "As a thief is shamed when caught, so the house of Israel shall be shamed: 60they, their kings, their officials, their priests, and their prophets,
27 who say to a tree, 'You are my father,' and to a stone, 'You gave me birth.' For they have turned their back to me, and not their face. But 61in the time of their trouble they say, 'Arise and save us!'
28 But 62where are your gods that you made for yourself? Let them arise, 63if they can save you, in your time of trouble; for 64as many as your cities are your gods, O Judah.
29 "Why do you contend with me? You have all transgressed against me, declares the LORD.
30 In vain have I 65struck your children; they took no correction; 66your own sword devoured your prophets like a ravening lion.
31 And you, O generation, behold the word of the LORD. Have I been a wilderness to Israel, or a land of thick darkness? Why then do my people say, 'We are free, we will come no more to you'?
32 67Can a virgin forget her ornaments, or a bride her attire? Yet 68my people have forgotten me days without number.
33 "How well you direct your course to seek love! So that even to wicked women you have taught your ways.
34 Also on your skirts is found 69the lifeblood of the guiltless poor; you did not find them 70breaking in. Yet in spite of all these things
35 you say, 'I am innocent; surely his anger has turned from me.' 71Behold, I will bring you to judgment for 72saying, 'I have not sinned.'
36 73How much you go about, changing your way! You shall be 74put to shame by Egypt as you were put to shame by Assyria.
37 From it too you will come away with 75your hands on your head, for the LORD has rejected those in whom you trust, and you will not prosper by them.

Jeremiah 2 Commentary

Chapter 2

God expostulates with his people. (1-8) Their revolt beyond example. (9-13) Guilt the cause of sufferings. (14-19) The sins of Judah. (20-28) Their false confidence. (29-37)

Verses 1-8 Those who begin well, but do not persevere, will justly be upbraided with their hopeful and promising beginnings. Those who desert religion, commonly oppose it more than those who never knew it. For this they could have no excuse. God's spiritual Israel must own their obligations to him for safe conduct through the wilderness of this world, so dangerous to the soul. Alas, that many, who once appeared devoted to the Lord, so live that their professions aggravate their crimes! Let us be careful that we do not lose in zeal and fervency, as we gain knowledge.

Verses 9-13 Before God punishes sinners, he pleads with them, to bring them to repentance. He pleads with us, what we should plead with ourselves. Be afraid to think of the wrath and curse which will be the portion of those who throw themselves out of God's grace and favour. Grace in Christ is compared to water from a fountain, it being cooling and refreshing, cleansing and making fruitful: to living water, because it quickens dead sinners, revives drooping saints, supports and maintains spiritual life, and issues in eternal life, and is ever-flowing. To forsake this Fountain is the first evil; this is done when the people of God neglect his word and ordinances. They hewed them out broken cisterns, that could hold no water. Such are the world, and the things in it; such are the inventions of men when followed and depended on. Let us, with purpose of heart, cleave to the Lord only; whither else shall we go? How prone are we to forego the consolations of the Holy Spirit, for the worthless joys of the enthusiast and hypocrite!

Verses 14-19 Is Israel a servant? No, they are the seed of Abraham. We may apply this spiritually: Is the soul of man a slave? No, it is not; but has sold its own liberty, and enslaved itself to divers lusts and passions. The Assyrian princes, like lions, prevailed against Israel. People from Egypt destroyed their glory and strength. They brought these calamities on themselves by departing from the Lord. The use and application of this is, Repent of thy sin, that thy correction may not be thy ruin. What has a Christian to do in the ways of forbidden pleasure or vain sinful mirth, or with the pursuits of covetousness and ambition?

Verses 20-28 Notwithstanding all their advantages, Israel had become like the wild vine that bears poisonous fruit. Men are often as much under the power of their unbridled desires and their sinful lusts, as the brute beasts. But the Lord here warns them not to weary themselves in pursuits which could only bring distress and misery. As we must not despair of the mercy of God, but believe that to be sufficient for the pardon of our sins, so neither must we despair of the grace of God, but believe that it is able to subdue our corruptions, though ever so strong.

Verses 29-37 The nation had not been wrought upon by the judgements of God, but sought to justify themselves. The world is, to those who make it their home and their portion, a wilderness and a land of darkness; but those who dwell in God, have the lines fallen to them in pleasant places. Here is the language of presumptuous sinners. The Jews had long thrown off serious thoughts of God. How many days of our lives pass without suitable remembrance of him! The Lord was displeased with their confidences, and would not prosper them therein. Men employ all their ingenuity, but cannot find happiness in the way of sin, or excuse for it. They may shift from one sin to another, but none ever hardened himself against God, or turned from him, and prospered.

Cross References 75

  • 1. Jeremiah 3:4
  • 2. Ezek. 16:8, 43, 60; [Revelation 2:4]
  • 3. Deuteronomy 2:7
  • 4. Deuteronomy 8:2, 3
  • 5. Exodus 28:36; [Exodus 19:5, 6]
  • 6. James 1:18; [Exodus 4:22]
  • 7. Jeremiah 12:14; Ezekiel 25:12, 13; [Genesis 12:3]
  • 8. ver. 31; Isaiah 5:4; Micah 6:3
  • 9. 2 Kings 17:15
  • 10. Jeremiah 10:15; Jeremiah 14:22; Jeremiah 16:19
  • 11. [Isaiah 63:11-13; Hosea 13:4, 5]
  • 12. Deuteronomy 8:15; Deuteronomy 32:10
  • 13. See Deuteronomy 8:7-10
  • 14. Psalms 106:38; [Leviticus 18:24, 25]
  • 15. Jeremiah 18:18; [Malachi 2:7; Romans 2:20]
  • 16. [Jeremiah 5:5]
  • 17. Jeremiah 23:13; [Jeremiah 5:31]
  • 18. [Habakkuk 2:18]
  • 19. ver. 35; Ezekiel 17:20; Ezekiel 20:35, 36
  • 20. Exodus 20:5, 6
  • 21. See Genesis 10:4
  • 22. See Isaiah 21:16
  • 23. [Micah 4:5]; See Jeremiah 18:13-15
  • 24. Jeremiah 16:20; Isaiah 37:19; Galatians 4:8
  • 25. Psalms 106:20
  • 26. [See ver. 8 above]
  • 27. Isaiah 1:2
  • 28. Jeremiah 17:13
  • 29. Psalms 36:9
  • 30. John 4:10
  • 31. [Exodus 4:22]
  • 32. Jeremiah 4:7; Isaiah 5:29
  • 33. Jeremiah 9:11; Jeremiah 46:19
  • 34. Jeremiah 44:1; Jeremiah 46:14; Ezekiel 30:16
  • 35. Jeremiah 43:7-9
  • 36. [Deuteronomy 33:20]
  • 37. Jeremiah 4:18
  • 38. ver. 6
  • 39. ver. 36; Isaiah 30:1, 2; Isaiah 31:1
  • 40. Isaiah 23:3
  • 41. [Hosea 7:11]
  • 42. Genesis 31:21; Isaiah 7:20; Isaiah 8:7
  • 43. Isaiah 3:9; Hosea 5:5
  • 44. Jeremiah 3:22; Jeremiah 5:6; Jeremiah 14:7
  • 45. Jeremiah 4:18
  • 46. ver. 13, 17
  • 47. Jeremiah 5:5; Jeremiah 30:8
  • 48. ver. 31
  • 49. Jeremiah 3:2; Jeremiah 17:2
  • 50. Jeremiah 3:1; Isaiah 1:21
  • 51. Exodus 15:17; Psalms 44:2; Psalms 80:8; Isaiah 5:2
  • 52. Isaiah 5:4; [Deuteronomy 32:32]
  • 53. [Jeremiah 17:1]
  • 54. ver. 35
  • 55. Jeremiah 7:31, 32; Jeremiah 19:2, 6
  • 56. Jeremiah 14:6
  • 57. Deuteronomy 29:5
  • 58. Exodus 17:6
  • 59. Jeremiah 3:13; Deuteronomy 32:16
  • 60. Jeremiah 13:13; Jeremiah 32:32; [Jeremiah 8:1]
  • 61. Judges 10:9, 10; Isaiah 26:16
  • 62. Deuteronomy 32:37, 38
  • 63. Isaiah 45:20
  • 64. Jeremiah 11:13
  • 65. Jeremiah 5:3; Isaiah 1:5; Isaiah 9:13
  • 66. Nehemiah 9:26; 1 Thessalonians 2:15
  • 67. Isaiah 3:20; Isaiah 61:10
  • 68. Jeremiah 3:21; Jeremiah 18:15; Deuteronomy 32:18; Psalms 106:21; Isaiah 17:10; Hosea 8:14
  • 69. Jeremiah 19:4; 2 Kings 21:16; 2 Kings 24:4; Psalms 106:38
  • 70. Exodus 22:2
  • 71. Psalms 143:2
  • 72. Proverbs 28:13; 1 John 1:8, 10
  • 73. [Jeremiah 31:22]
  • 74. Isaiah 30:3
  • 75. 2 Samuel 13:19

Footnotes 2

Chapter Summary


This chapter contains the prophet's message from the Lord to the people of the Jews; in which they are reminded of their former favours, in order to aggravate their sins and transgressions they were chargeable with; to show their ingratitude and unkindness, and to bring them to a conviction and acknowledgment of their iniquities, without which punishment would be inflicted on them. The preface to this message is in Jer 2:1,2, and the discourse begins with an account of their former state and condition when they came out of Egypt; what kindness was shown them by the Lord, and what was returned to him by them; what they were to him, and how much regarded by him, Jer 2:2,3 and so far were they from being injured by him, that might cause them to depart from him, which they are desired to give attention to, that they were followed with various instances of goodness, which are particularly enumerated; and yet no notice was taken of them, neither by people, priests, pastors, and prophets, who were guilty of the grossest ignorance and wickedness, Jer 2:4-8, wherefore the Lord determines to plead with them and theirs; and charges them with such idolatry as was not to be found among the Gentiles, Jer 1:9-11 the heavens are called upon to be astonished at it; and the reason given for it, the ingratitude and folly of this people, Jer 2:12,13 in order to reclaim them, the Lord by the prophet proceeds to observe to them the corrections and chastisement they had already endured, being brought into bondage, their land wasted, cities burnt, and their glory taken from them; all which were owing to their revoltings and backslidings, and by which they might see what an evil and bitter thing sin is in its effects, Jer 2:14-19 and again reminds them of former favours; how that he loosed them from their yoke and bonds, when they promised to transgress no more, and yet did more and more; how he had raised them from a right seed, and planted them a noble vine, and yet they were sadly degenerated, and were guilty of such crimes as were not to be removed by anything done by them, Jer 2:20-22, and notwithstanding all this, they had the impudence to deny that they were tainted with idolatry, when they had been so guilty of it in the valley of Hinnom, and elsewhere; and were comparable to the lustful dromedary and wild ass, and so fond of strange gods, that they thirsted after them, and were resolved to follow them, Jer 2:23-25 and yet the time would come when all ranks of men among them would be ashamed of their worship of stocks and stones, and in the time of their trouble call upon the Lord to save them, when they would be sent to their gods, who were as numerous as their cities, Jer 2:26-28 wherefore it was in vain to plead their innocence, when they were all so guilty, and had received correction without amendment, and had even slain the prophets of the Lord, Jer 2:29,30 and then the Lord again upbraids them with their ingratitude to him, who had been so good and kind to them; with their forgetfulness of him, illustrated by a maid's not forgetting her ornaments, and a bride her attire; with their artful methods to entice others to idolatry, and with their shedding of innocent blood; and yet, after all this, they asserted their innocence, and affirmed they had never sinned, Jer 2:31-35, for all which sentence is pronounced against them, and punishment is threatened them, Jer 2:36,37.

Jeremiah 2 Commentaries

The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers.