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Jeremiah 2

Israel Forsakes God

1 The word of the LORD came to me:
2 “Go and proclaim in the hearing of Jerusalem: “This is what the LORD says: “ ‘I remember the devotion of your youth, how as a bride you loved me and followed me through the wilderness, through a land not sown.
3 Israel was holy to the LORD, the firstfruits of his harvest; all who devoured her were held guilty, and disaster overtook them,’ ” declares the LORD.
4 Hear the word of the LORD, you descendants of Jacob, all you clans of Israel.
5 This is what the LORD says: “What fault did your ancestors find in me, that they strayed so far from me? They followed worthless idols and became worthless themselves.
6 They did not ask, ‘Where is the LORD, who brought us up out of Egypt and led us through the barren wilderness, through a land of deserts and ravines, a land of drought and utter darkness, a land where no one travels and no one lives?’
7 I brought you into a fertile land to eat its fruit and rich produce. But you came and defiled my land and made my inheritance detestable.
8 The priests did not ask, ‘Where is the LORD?’ Those who deal with the law did not know me; the leaders rebelled against me. The prophets prophesied by Baal, following worthless idols.
9 “Therefore I bring charges against you again,” declares the LORD. “And I will bring charges against your children’s children.
10 Cross over to the coasts of Cyprus and look, send to Kedar [a] and observe closely; see if there has ever been anything like this:
11 Has a nation ever changed its gods? (Yet they are not gods at all.) But my people have exchanged their glorious God for worthless idols.
12 Be appalled at this, you heavens, and shudder with great horror,” declares the LORD.
13 “My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.
14 Is Israel a servant, a slave by birth? Why then has he become plunder?
15 Lions have roared; they have growled at him. They have laid waste his land; his towns are burned and deserted.
16 Also, the men of Memphis and Tahpanhes have cracked your skull.
17 Have you not brought this on yourselves by forsaking the LORD your God when he led you in the way?
18 Now why go to Egypt to drink water from the Nile [b] ? And why go to Assyria to drink water from the Euphrates?
19 Your wickedness will punish you; your backsliding will rebuke you. Consider then and realize how evil and bitter it is for you when you forsake the LORD your God and have no awe of me,” declares the Lord, the LORD Almighty.
20 “Long ago you broke off your yoke and tore off your bonds; you said, ‘I will not serve you!’ Indeed, on every high hill and under every spreading tree you lay down as a prostitute.
21 I had planted you like a choice vine of sound and reliable stock. How then did you turn against me into a corrupt, wild vine?
22 Although you wash yourself with soap and use an abundance of cleansing powder, the stain of your guilt is still before me,” declares the Sovereign LORD.
23 “How can you say, ‘I am not defiled; I have not run after the Baals’? See how you behaved in the valley; consider what you have done. You are a swift she-camel running here and there,
24 a wild donkey accustomed to the desert, sniffing the wind in her craving— in her heat who can restrain her? Any males that pursue her need not tire themselves; at mating time they will find her.
25 Do not run until your feet are bare and your throat is dry. But you said, ‘It’s no use! I love foreign gods, and I must go after them.’
26 “As a thief is disgraced when he is caught, so the people of Israel are disgraced— they, their kings and their officials, their priests and their prophets.
27 They say to wood, ‘You are my father,’ and to stone, ‘You gave me birth.’ They have turned their backs to me and not their faces; yet when they are in trouble, they say, ‘Come and save us!’
28 Where then are the gods you made for yourselves? Let them come if they can save you when you are in trouble! For you, Judah, have as many gods as you have towns.
29 “Why do you bring charges against me? You have all rebelled against me,” declares the LORD.
30 “In vain I punished your people; they did not respond to correction. Your sword has devoured your prophets like a ravenous lion.
31 “You of this generation, consider the word of the LORD: “Have I been a desert to Israel or a land of great darkness? Why do my people say, ‘We are free to roam; we will come to you no more’?
32 Does a young woman forget her jewelry, a bride her wedding ornaments? Yet my people have forgotten me, days without number.
33 How skilled you are at pursuing love! Even the worst of women can learn from your ways.
34 On your clothes is found the lifeblood of the innocent poor, though you did not catch them breaking in. Yet in spite of all this
35 you say, ‘I am innocent; he is not angry with me.’ But I will pass judgment on you because you say, ‘I have not sinned.’
36 Why do you go about so much, changing your ways? You will be disappointed by Egypt as you were by Assyria.
37 You will also leave that place with your hands on your head, for the LORD has rejected those you trust; you will not be helped 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 94

  • 1. Isaiah 38:4; Ezekiel 1:3; Micah 1:1
  • 2. Psalms 71:17; Isaiah 54:4; Jeremiah 3:4; Eze 16:8-14,60; Hosea 2:15; Hosea 11:1; Revelation 2:4
  • 3. S Exodus 13:21; S Deuteronomy 1:19; Deuteronomy 2:7
  • 4. S Deuteronomy 7:6
  • 5. S Exodus 19:6; S Deuteronomy 7:6
  • 6. Leviticus 23:9-14; James 1:18; Revelation 14:4
  • 7. Isaiah 41:11; Jeremiah 10:25; Jeremiah 30:16
  • 8. Jeremiah 50:7
  • 9. S Deuteronomy 32:21; S 1 Samuel 12:21; Psalms 31:6
  • 10. 2 Kings 17:15
  • 11. S Exodus 6:6; Hosea 13:4
  • 12. S Deuteronomy 1:19; Deuteronomy 8:15
  • 13. S Deuteronomy 32:10
  • 14. Jeremiah 51:43
  • 15. S Numbers 13:27; Deuteronomy 8:7-9; Deuteronomy 11:10-12
  • 16. Psalms 106:34-39; Jeremiah 3:9; Jeremiah 7:30; Jeremiah 16:18; Ezekiel 11:21; Ezekiel 36:17
  • 17. S 1 Samuel 2:12; Jeremiah 4:22
  • 18. Jeremiah 3:15; Jeremiah 23:1; Jeremiah 25:34; Jeremiah 50:6
  • 19. S 1 Kings 18:22; Jeremiah 23:13
  • 20. ver 25; S Isaiah 40:19; S Isaiah 56:10; Jeremiah 5:19; Jeremiah 9:14; Jeremiah 16:19; Jeremiah 22:9
  • 21. Jeremiah 25:31; Hosea 4:1; Ezekiel 20:35-36; Micah 6:2
  • 22. S Genesis 10:4
  • 23. S Genesis 25:13
  • 24. S Isaiah 37:19; Jeremiah 16:20; Galatians 4:8
  • 25. S 1 Samuel 4:21; Psalms 106:20; Romans 1:23
  • 26. S Deuteronomy 31:16; S Isaiah 65:11
  • 27. Psalms 36:9; S Isaiah 12:3; John 4:14
  • 28. Exodus 4:22; Jeremiah 31:9
  • 29. Jeremiah 4:7; Jeremiah 50:17
  • 30. S Isaiah 1:7
  • 31. S 2 Kings 25:9
  • 32. S Leviticus 26:43
  • 33. S Isaiah 19:13
  • 34. Jeremiah 43:7-9
  • 35. Jeremiah 4:18
  • 36. S Isaiah 1:28; Jeremiah 17:13; Jeremiah 19:4
  • 37. S Isaiah 30:2
  • 38. S Joshua 13:3
  • 39. S 2 Kings 16:7; Hosea 5:13; Hosea 7:11; Hosea 8:9
  • 40. S Isaiah 7:20
  • 41. Jeremiah 3:11,22; Jeremiah 7:24; Jeremiah 11:10; Jeremiah 14:7; Hosea 14:4
  • 42. Isaiah 3:9; Isaiah 59:12; Hosea 5:5
  • 43. S Job 20:14; Amos 8:10
  • 44. Jeremiah 19:4
  • 45. S Psalms 36:1
  • 46. S Leviticus 26:13
  • 47. Psalms 2:3; Jeremiah 5:5
  • 48. S Job 21:14
  • 49. Isaiah 57:7; Jeremiah 3:23; Jeremiah 17:2
  • 50. S Deuteronomy 12:2
  • 51. S Isaiah 1:21; Ezekiel 16:15
  • 52. S Exodus 15:17
  • 53. S Psalms 80:8
  • 54. S Isaiah 5:4
  • 55. S Psalms 51:2; Lamentations 1:8,17
  • 56. S Job 9:30
  • 57. Jeremiah 17:1
  • 58. S Proverbs 30:12
  • 59. ver 25; Jeremiah 9:14; Jeremiah 23:27
  • 60. S 2 Kings 23:10; Jeremiah 7:31; Jeremiah 19:2; Jeremiah 31:40
  • 61. ver 33; Jeremiah 31:22
  • 62. S Genesis 16:12; Jeremiah 14:6
  • 63. S Job 39:6
  • 64. S Isaiah 57:10
  • 65. Deuteronomy 32:16; Jeremiah 3:13; Jeremiah 14:10
  • 66. S ver 8,S 23
  • 67. Jeremiah 48:27; Lamentations 1:7; Ezekiel 16:54; Ezekiel 36:4
  • 68. Ezekiel 22:26
  • 69. Jeremiah 32:32; Jeremiah 44:17,21
  • 70. Jeremiah 10:8
  • 71. Jeremiah 3:9
  • 72. S 1 Kings 14:9; S 2 Chronicles 29:6; Psalms 14:3; Ezekiel 8:16
  • 73. Jeremiah 18:17; Jeremiah 32:33; Ezekiel 7:22
  • 74. Judges 10:10; Isaiah 26:16
  • 75. Isaiah 37:20; Hosea 5:15
  • 76. S Isaiah 45:20
  • 77. S Deuteronomy 32:37; S Isaiah 40:19
  • 78. S 2 Kings 17:29; Jeremiah 11:13
  • 79. Jeremiah 5:1; Jeremiah 6:13; Daniel 9:11; Micah 3:11; Micah 7:2
  • 80. S Leviticus 26:23
  • 81. S Nehemiah 9:26; S Jeremiah 11:21; Acts 7:52; 1 Thessalonians 2:15
  • 82. Isaiah 45:19
  • 83. S Job 21:14
  • 84. S Deuteronomy 32:18; S Isaiah 57:11
  • 85. S ver 23
  • 86. S 2 Kings 21:16; S Proverbs 6:17
  • 87. S Exodus 22:2
  • 88. S Proverbs 30:12
  • 89. Isaiah 66:16; Jeremiah 25:31; Jeremiah 39:7; Jeremiah 45:5; Ezekiel 17:20; Ezekiel 20:35; Joel 3:2
  • 90. S 2 Samuel 12:13; 1 John 1:8,10
  • 91. Jeremiah 31:22
  • 92. S Psalms 108:12; S Isa 30:2,3,7; Jeremiah 37:7
  • 93. 2 Samuel 13:19
  • 94. Jeremiah 37:7

Footnotes 2

  • [a]. In the Syro-Arabian desert
  • [b]. Hebrew "Shihor" ; that is, a branch of the Nile

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

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