Jeremiah 2:4-13

4 Hear the word of the Lord, O house of Jacob, and all the families of the house of Israel.
5 Thus says the Lord: What wrong did your ancestors find in me that they went far from me, and went after worthless things, and became worthless themselves?
6 They did not say, "Where is the Lord who brought us up from the land of Egypt, who led us in the wilderness, in a land of deserts and pits, in a land of drought and deep darkness, in a land that no one passes through, where no one lives?"
7 I brought you into a plentiful land to eat its fruits and its good things. But when you entered you defiled my land, and made my heritage an abomination.
8 The priests did not say, "Where is the Lord?" Those who handle the law did not know me; the rulers transgressed against me; the prophets prophesied by Baal, and went after things that do not profit.
9 Therefore once more I accuse you, says the Lord, and I accuse your children's children.
10 Cross to the coasts of Cyprus and look, send to Kedar and examine with care; see if there has ever been such a thing.
11 Has a nation changed its gods, even though they are no gods? But my people have changed their glory for something that does not profit.
12 Be appalled, O heavens, at this, be shocked, be utterly desolate, says the Lord,
13 for my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living water, and dug out cisterns for themselves, cracked cisterns that can hold no water.

Jeremiah 2:4-13 Meaning and Commentary

INTRODUCTION TO JEREMIAH 2

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 2:4-13 In-Context

2 Go and proclaim in the hearing of Jerusalem, Thus says the Lord: I remember the devotion of your youth, your love as a bride, how you followed me in the wilderness, in a land not sown.
3 Israel was holy to the Lord, the first fruits of his harvest. All who ate of it were held guilty; disaster came upon them, says the Lord.
4 Hear the word of the Lord, O house of Jacob, and all the families of the house of Israel.
5 Thus says the Lord: What wrong did your ancestors find in me that they went far from me, and went after worthless things, and became worthless themselves?
6 They did not say, "Where is the Lord who brought us up from the land of Egypt, who led us in the wilderness, in a land of deserts and pits, in a land of drought and deep darkness, in a land that no one passes through, where no one lives?"
7 I brought you into a plentiful land to eat its fruits and its good things. But when you entered you defiled my land, and made my heritage an abomination.
8 The priests did not say, "Where is the Lord?" Those who handle the law did not know me; the rulers transgressed against me; the prophets prophesied by Baal, and went after things that do not profit.
9 Therefore once more I accuse you, says the Lord, and I accuse your children's children.
10 Cross to the coasts of Cyprus and look, send to Kedar and examine with care; see if there has ever been such a thing.
11 Has a nation changed its gods, even though they are no gods? But my people have changed their glory for something that does not profit.
12 Be appalled, O heavens, at this, be shocked, be utterly desolate, says the Lord,
13 for my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living water, and dug out cisterns for themselves, cracked cisterns that can hold no water.
14 Is Israel a slave? Is he a homeborn servant? Why then has he become plunder?
15 The lions have roared against him, they have roared loudly. They have made his land a waste; his cities are in ruins, without inhabitant.

Footnotes 1

New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.